Episode 3 – Perfect Heist?
Five minutes until midnight and the final guard rotation for the night, Buckley thought eyeing her watch. Second and third shifts would go through the events for the evening, leaving the building at its most vulnerable state. Access to and from the room in which they held this nightly debrief was controlled by magnetic locks and a security system that granted access when a valid badge had been read.
She wasn’t worried about gaining access to the security room, instead, she was interested in a way to keep them right where they were located.
The CEO of this company hired Global Insights Security to outfit their new security system. During the design sessions they decided they would rely only on an Uninterrupted Power Supply, UPS, to backup this security should the building lose power. The Global Insight’s team lead by Veronica King advised another backup option, but to save a buck it was shot down early in the conversations.
“And that will be your downfall,” Terri said aloud.
“What was that?” came the voice of Molly Jenkins over the comms.
Terri forgetting about the lightweight barely perceptible device responded, “Two minutes before we get started.” She kneeled, opened the case that sat by her side and began the countdown.
“It’s simple and straight forward,” she recalled Molly telling her when she picked up the device. “When you’re ready, open the case and press the button. It’ll start a ten second countdown and when the timer hits zero, the building will go dark.”
“And what exactly is this again,” Terri inquired.
“It’s an Electromagnetic Pulse, EMP for short. When triggered, it’ll force their system to rely on the UPS to provide the continuous energy needed to keep the system running. With the hardline to the UPS being severed, the system won’t have a choice but to shut down and you’ll have a ten-minute window to get in and get out.”
Skepticism rearranged the features on Terri’s face. “And this won’t harm me in any way?” she asked.
“Nope, you’ll be perfectly fine. In fact, when you set if off, be sure to do so from the middle of the roof. The engineers have assured me they’ve perfected the calibration, so it only impacts that building. No one else will be the wiser.”
Terri checked her watch once again, time to begin, she thought as she pushed the button. She watched as the device began to countdown. Instead of numbers, it was a red circle that ticked off 1/10 with each passing second. These darn engineers. Can’t use a simple clock.
When the last tenth disappeared, the device emitted a sound she wasn’t prepared for and shortly thereafter the building she was standing on top of went dark. Just as she prepared to rescind her rebuke about the countdown clock, the adjacent buildings began to go dark as well. If this damn device harms me in any way, I will kill each one of them slowly and painfully.
Molly’s voice played in her ear, “Looks like we lost a three-block radius. I’ll need to let Jasper in engineering know.”
Terri simply shook her head as she disappeared into the building. She had ten minutes to locate the artifact and exit the building. She received confirmation the item, a rare Egyptian golden figurine, was stored in the safe of the CEO. It was scheduled to hit the black-market auction block in two days and had an asking price of $7.2 million. Terri couldn’t fathom spending a thousand bucks on it but if that’s what someone was willing to pay, then who was she to complain.
“His office is down the hall and to your left,” Molly said. Terri certainly didn’t need the reminder but decided to let it go. As she turned the corner, she immediately sensed something wasn’t right. The air which should have been stale seemed to have been recently disturbed. The feel of the nearby body heat of an unseen being radiated around her. The hairs on the back of her neck stood on end and she cautiously entered the office space.
Once inside she immediately realized why her senses were working overtime. The painting that hid the inwall safe stared back at her from the floor. The door securing the safe was open, and the artifact she came to retrieve was no longer present.
An unknown voice disrupted her thoughts, “Sorry, you were just a bit too late. You had a solid plan, but mine was better.”
She spun to face the voice. The person, by stature and tone, appeared to be a woman, but she couldn’t tell as they wore a mask obscuring any recognizable features. They were situated behind the tempered glass door that led directly out of the building. The same escape route Terri had planned. It operated on a rotating one-time code which was now obsolete and would take too long for Molly to hack and obtain a new one.
“I see your brain working overtime. How can you stop me before I make my escape? Truth is, you can’t. Consider this a loss and escape while you can. Speaking of which, you don’t have a much time as you originally planned.”
The unnamed thief pulled a device from her pocket and in one fluid motion pressed a sequence of buttons. The lights flickered back to life, just as the alarm began to sound. With a smile and a wave, the thief disappeared leaving Terri to fend for herself.
“What the hell!” Molly exclaimed.
“Someone beat us to the artifact,” she said running out the office and toward the stairwell. “They’ve somehow managed to activate the lights and the alarms. My exit is blown. I’m headed back to the roof.”
“The roof! How do you expect to reach the ground from there?”
Terri didn’t answer as she heard the elevator ding shortly after she passed it. Three, maybe four, guards yelled after her to stop and gave chase. She paid their request, their demands, no mind and jetted for the steps.
She burst through the door and began to climb. As she rounded the landing, the door banged open again. From her calculations, they were gaining on her, not good, she thought as she climbed faster.
“Freeze!” a voice yelled out. At the realization she would not obey any commands, the report of a handgun firing echoed in the stairwell. The round pinged against the handrail narrowly missing Buckley. She tucked herself on the outside of the stairs giving them less of a target to hit. Nonetheless, the rounds came in a flurry and each harmlessly missing her.
At the exit to the roof, she yanked open the door and quickly built back up to top speed. She willed her legs to carry her faster as she heard her pursuers accessing the roof. This time no words were spoken. They opened fire as she ran all out. Bullet fragments exploded around her as they sighted in on her quickly moving frame.
She heard one gun click dry, followed by another. But two more were still firing. As her distance grew, their aim worsened. As she approached the edge, she calibrated the steps in her mind. 5,4,3,2,1 she said in quick succession and jumped from the building.
In that brief moment time slowed as her body flew into the darkness. And in a snap instance later gravity took over and she began to plummet. She pulled at the cord that lay across her chest. Her parachute grabbled for the sky and finally opened yanking her upward. With the lights still out in the remainder of the neighborhood no one noticed as she drifted away from the building.
While she waited to touch down, she pondered how this person foiled her plan and worse, how she was going to explain this failure to her superior.
“Oh well. You win some, you lose some. For now, I’m going to enjoy my twenty-three seconds of gliding silently through the night.”