Entry 33 – The Heist
Against all odds, we managed to hit our small targets. Both were supremely accurate shots and the armored helmets slumped down a bit, although the exoskeleton kept the bodies upright. Aside from the sharp crack of our rifles, the only truly loud sound was the clang of the ceremonial halberds both guards carried, as they fell to the ground.
We could do nothing with the bodies in the courtyard as they were way too heavy to carry. We quickly arranged the halberds in their hands and propped their heads so that they'd still appear to be just standing guard at first glance but this wouldn't fool anyone willing to give them a second look and then there were the regular radio checks (or an equivalent thereof). In short, the clock was ticking.
With our silenced handguns raised, we entered the premises and started making our way through the maze of offices, hallways and archive rooms in search of a terminal. Most of the building seemed empty. Occasional voices could be heard in the distance but the oppressive nature of the combination of low ceilings and narrow corridors seemed to mute the sound and made it impossible to identify its direction. Once we ran into a librarian so deep in thought that we passed almost right by without him noticing but otherwise there were no guards, nothing. It's possible the priests thought it best not to draw any attention to the building and considering camouflage the best form of defense.
After some time, we found a basement entrance and that's where things started to get interesting. The stairs led to a massive underground hall split into warehouse-like structures. Each of these was chock-full of wooden crates with their content marked only by a string of numbers and a bar code. I suppressed the urge to find a crowbar and open one up because whatever their contents were, they were bound to be valuable. So far we've been incredibly lucky not only evading capture but also navigating through, but at that point we seemed to have reached a dead end.
Our hacker was as confused as we were. Given the information from the Sage database we had raided earlier, the place was supposed to be filled with high-tech hardware of whatever 'Eclipse' was but there was nothing, only a small disabled PC from the nineties in one of the side offices.
A clever guise, that was, but couldn't fool Li – the hidden USB port in the back gave it away. This small box wasn't what it looked like. Our suspicions were all but confirmed upon booting it up – instead of a DOS system, a rather high-tech black and green interface appeared on the monitor. From my position covering the door I couldn't read any of the texts slowly appearing on the screen but Li's deepening frown clearly indicated something was wrong.
"This shouldn't be here..." she muttered to herself as she was putting it one line of commands after another, working her magic.
Suddenly, a sharp crack followed by loud static could be heard through our headsets. We all winced and started disabling them – all of us except for me and Espinoza who heard this kind of signal before. She looked me with fear in her eyes, clearly unprepared to go through the ordeal again.
The sound sounded different though, more muted, perhaps adjusted to our mortal ears and minds. Nevertheless, the droning intensified as if more and more voices were being added to the dissonant chorus, eventually coalescing into a single word.
All of us looked at each other but before we could figure out anything, a hole in the floor suddenly opened right in the middle of the corridor outside of the office with a narrow staircase like a gaping maw leading to the bowels of the beast. At the same time, the door through which we entered closed shut. We were locked in and a part of me wondered if we'd been lured here all along for reasons unknown. We were about to find out, I realized, as we carefully descended towards whatever was lurking below.