Kennith and Shoshannah entered Waypoint Alpha and found Kleg and Niko already seated at a round booth along the far wall. Niko sat casually yet intensely while holding his drink on the table. Kleg sat at the edge of the booth and stood up to let Kennith or Shosh take a seat. Shosh was quick to take the offer and slid next to Niko. Kennith sat on the other side of him.
“The plot thickens,” Niko began. “Kleg and I uncovered more information about our friend.”
“He’s the Assistant Director of Acquisitions,” Kleg said while finally sitting down.
“Yes, he’s quite up the food chain but potentially not the actual instigator of the takeover currently in progress.”
“We managed to check out some of the facility,” said Kennith. “The place doubles as an urgent care clinic with a complimentary assortment of armed personnel.”
Shoshannah nodded her head and said, “the guards didn’t seem to pay me any mind, but the staff were quite cruel!”
“Do you know his whereabouts?”
Niko shook his head and replied, “No, but we do have his home address.” This made Shoshannah lean forward.
“So,” she said while looking at each of them before continuing, “let’s go check his place out.” They quietly agreed and made arrangements with each other to stake out his place and his neighborhood.
The team travelled by light rail and arrived at the nearest stop to Joshua Monson’s corner of the station. It was immediately clear that the area was more arranged as a living area with several restaurants and stores sprawled across each street corner and intersection. As part of their plan, they had split up into two new groups as they disembarked from separate cars.
Kennith and Niko headed straight for Joshua’s home address while Shoshannah and Kleg checked out neighboring streets for possible flight routes. Shoshannah had her hood pulled over her head to hide her distinctive set of four ears, but the attention from passersby was focused on the hulking Legionnaire with the large auto cannon slung on his back. Neither of them paid any mind to the attention they’re drawing as they continued through each neighborhood.
Upon reaching the address, Kennith and Niko discovered his home to be an apartment or condo in a five-story building. It had a small set of stairs that climbed up to the main entrance to the building which donned a synth steel frame for a large, transparent, synth steel door flanked by two transparent synth steel windows. The side of the building facing the street in the upper floors had full windows (presumably also synth steel) for the hallways, revealing the stairs and occupants therein.
They had a plan to get in.
A man exited the building and trotted downstairs. Kennith bumped into him and struck up a conversation while Niko from the other side lightly ran up the stairs to try to catch the door before it shut. It closed before he could get halfway up the stairs. He turned to Kennith and shrugged before heading back downstairs.
“Anyway,” Kennith was concluding, “sorry I bumped into you like that. I’m looking for a better place, and your building caught my eye.” The man thanked him and gave him a contact number to reach the manager for inquires. With a forced smile, he turned and left to whatever business he was attending to.
“The door closes too fast,” Niko told Kennith. “I have another idea, though. Stay here and watch for anyone passing by.”
“We’ve got eyes on you,” chattered Kleg on comms. “Have you located the mark?”
“Negative, but I’ll be attempting to ‘hack’ the door.”
“We’ll keep watch across the street in the alley.”
Niko proceeded back up the stairs while taking out the card he neglected to return to the hostess at Cat’s Cable. He recalls most keycard locks had a signature that can be imprinted on new cards by tripping the sensor a few times before leaving the card in place to receive the digital imprint. The trick is to get it to think the card he’s using is a new card.
He pulled out a small capacitor from somewhere inside his coat and touched the extended prongs to where the chip may be on the card. While it didn’t emit a sound or spark, he felt the capacitor discharge upon contact with the card. Almost shrugging to himself, he inserted the card a few times into the door’s lock and watched the sensor light flash red each time. He then left the card in the lock to see the light change from solid red to a blinking yellow before turning solid yellow. He removed the card and inserted it again.
The light flashed green, and the door unlocked with a hefty click. “We’re in,” Niko said on comms. He opened the door and gestured Kennith to come inside.
Kennith and Niko entered the building. It was twice as long as it was wide. A single elevator was to their right, and a door to the stairway was on their left. Confirming on the evacuation map by the stairway door, they both took the elevator to the third floor based on the address they acquired earlier.
They reached Joshua Monson’s apartment and checked for any sound from inside by listening through the door. Nothing was heard which matches their expectations given that it was a workday in the late afternoon. Niko looked down at the door handle; it was a conventional lock.
“It’s locked, and I don’t have the tools to unlock this door,” Niko said on comms.
After a short air of silence, Kleg responded, “Shoshannah says she knows a guy that can get us what we need.” While he continued to relay what Shosh was saying, Kennith reached for the handle and squeezed the trigger. The door lock clicked, and the door was partially opened.
Kennith gave a wide eyed, frowning smile of acknowledgement towards Niko as if to say, “well, what do you know?”
“Never mind,” Niko interrupted Kleg. “It turns out it was already unlocked.” He could swear he heard Shoshannah laughing across the street.
Stepping inside the apartment, Niko and Kennith took note of the lightly tossed up living room and bedroom. It was certainly vacant and not entirely large. The living room had a big television screen, coffee table, and two-seated sofa. It also had a personal computer in the corner of the room. The bedroom was very unkempt with clothes scattered across the floor, drawers left open, and an unmade bed. The kitchen and bathroom looked untouched.
“Hello there,” Niko said curiously towards the computer. Kennith stayed by the front door and closed it while Niko sat at the desk.
The computer wasn’t too difficult for him to break into, and it wasn’t long before he found a folder containing documents related to Harp Industries. One particular document caught his eye: ‘Logistics Project’.
He opened and flipped through the file that revealed a multi-page document summarizing yadda-yadda-yadda before he stopped at a full-page, landscape image of a blown up blueprint. It was for a missile delivery system of which its warhead was annotated with a hex grid of elements.
“I think I found something,” he said aloud. Kennith was in the kitchen admiring the knives when he heard him. He walked over to Niko to see the blueprint displayed on the screen. Niko was staring at it intently.
The hex grid was a formula for a potent and deadly virus.
“C.U.R.E doesn’t want Harp to build a logistics center for aiding people,” he remarked. “They must want Harp to develop a payload system for delivering viruses remotely with a biological attack… but why?”
“You’ve got company,” Kleg said in a raised voice on comms. “Two vans of armed personnel are heading your way. Get out of there!”
“We gotta go,” Niko stood up and said to Kennith. “Get ready to head upstairs. Trouble’s coming.” He downloaded what files he could before disconnecting from the computer, closed all files, and shut down the system.
Two-by-two, the men and women in combat armor hopped out of the back of two white vans and stormed the apartment building. Most went up the stairs, others went around both alleyways of the building, and a few posted by the street at the bottom of the stairs. They already had a keycard to open the main door, and they systemically posted a couple outside the elevators of each floor.
Kleg and Shosh were able to see their comrades running down the apartment and taking the door to the stairway. Kleg was relaying the play-by-play. They were seen leaving the stairway on the fourth floor and running down the hallway while the mysterious soldiers were seen entering the third floor of Joshua Monson’s apartment.
“I think you’re clear,” Kleg said over comms. “They stopped at the third floor and proceeded straight to the apartment.”
“Thank you, Kleg,” huffed Niko. “We’re positioned out of line-of-sight in the left side hallway. Keep us updated.”
Kleg continued to relay what he saw. The soldiers paused at the apartment before they disappeared from view—presumably from all entering the apartment. A short amount of time passed before the soldiers posted across the building began to head out of their respective floors and locations to the vans parked outside. The soldiers in the apartment also departed. They hustled out of the building almost as fast as they entered it.
The vans took off and were out of sight before Kleg called them down. Niko had a better idea and instead called them up.
“Hah,” Shoshannah sparked. “You Corporates aren’t all buttoned up!”
“Shosh, please,” Kennith replied. “Obviously, this guy is being targeted, and folks are tossing up his home.” He paused before telling her, “wait until you hear what Niko found.”
The apartment was even more tossed up than it was when Niko and Kennith visited. More so, the computer that Niko had used was destroyed inside and out.
“Whatever was on that computer,” Niko commented, “those people didn’t want anyone else to find out.” He explained what was on the file to Shosh and Kleg.
Kleg was carefully rummaging through the living room and proceeded into the bedroom while Niko was explaining the ramifications of what was found and tying that with the armed visitors.
“He’s on the run,” Kleg said while leaving the bedroom. “He wasted little time collecting things to go on a trip.” He highlighted the large amounts of clothing missing from the closet and dresser drawers. “A long trip.”
Niko recalled something. “You just reminded me, and it makes so much sense now. Before I found that file, I noticed a collection of unread emails sent today. One was from presumably his boss threatening to fire him if he doesn’t show up for work today.”
“This isn’t a bounty,” Kleg said solemnly. “It’s a hit.”