2.21 – A Method to the Madness
The plan was simple: sneak into the MorcuCorp Headquarters, bribe the guards, and copy any and all files that could be located
. At least, it had sounded simple last night.
Donovan was committed to going in. Nothing was stopping him. I went along in the hopes of getting some kind of useful information: proof of tax evasion or embezzlement, dirty dealings with locals, anything
that would give me an upper edge for dealing with these people. Lucy was coming along to act as an extra pair of eyes and ears. Her camera wasn’t bad either. We’d all come this far, risking life and deportment, none of us were backing out now.
. The lock popped open easily in Donovan’s hand. He glanced behind at Lucy and I.
“Ready?” he whispered.
Lucy and I shared a glance and nodded. He pushed the door open. No going back.
The place was a house. The owner was some foreign person who’d wanted a vacation home but never seemed to have the time to visit. Someone by the name of James Vaughn. At least, that was the story according to Ms. Lufti. The person’s name sounded familiar, but I couldn’t place it at the time. Occasionally, someone would come by to keep the house in good repair, but today was an Egyptian day of rest, a holiday of sorts. In short, no one was home. We entered.
“Downstairs,” I muttered, staring at the map Lufti had scribbled for us. “We’re looking 2 to 3 levels down.”
Donovan nodded, then winced. “Could you think a bit quieter Lucy? No one’s gonna die!”
Lucy blushed, but nodded.
“It’s locked,” Donovan muttered. “And I’m not that good with lock-picking.”
I looked around. There has to be something
— “What about this?” I asked, pointing.
“Hmmm…” Donovan fiddled with it. “I think—” He grunted. “There’s a switch…Yes!”
Something whirred behind the walls and a part of the floor dropped open, revealing a staircase.
Of course there’s a secret staircase
, I thought. Why wouldn’t there be?
I was beginning to feel uneasy, but I shook my head and followed Donovan down the stairs.
We marched down the steps, only to be confronted with a dead-end corridor.
“This place gives me the creeps,” Lucy muttered with a grimace, staring at the mildew on the walls.
“You’re not alone,” I responded, staring at my phone. I was picking up some network signals through the modifications I’d made. And they seemed to originate from somewhere in the building. The people in the village above didn’t have wireless internet…or any kind of internet, so I could only assume that the signals were coming from wherever we were supposed to be going. There’s a server somewhere here
. I grinned at the thought.
A soft click
sounded somewhere beyond us, and Donovan giggled. The tile of flooring he was standing sank a bit.
“Pressure plate,” he said, catching my look. “I think we’re in an old tomb below HQ. Ms. Lufti mentioned this, old access tunnels that could get us in. Sort of a back door thing.”
, I thought. Of course
. I followed my siblings through the door.
“Now what?” Lucy asked, staring into the gloom ahead of us.
“Um…” I began. I stared at our only source of direction, a map drawn by a person who’d failed “Stick Figures” class.
“Don’t touch the floor!” Donovan hissed. “I think there’s pressure plates down there!”
Room after room of pressure plate puzzles. Each one had a specific sequence that had to be stomped down before the doors leading forward would open. As we passed through each room, that foreboding feeling I had earlier grew. This all just felt…too easy. Like we were meant to be there.
Donovan was good at puzzles, I’d give him that. Down an offshoot of a corridor we’d found some chests, empty. Donovan played around with them, opening them in different sequences. Then he’d told me to open one. Then he’d ran over, opened a third chest just as the other had snapped closed. There was another click and Lucy had opened the last chest and there was a sandstone key inside, shaped like a crescent moon.
The crescent moon key opened up a slab of solid stone wall. The corridor beyond that had another hidden pressure plate, which opened up another chunk of what I’d assumed to be just a regular wall. At this point, I was definitely feeling “the creeps”.
“You don’t have to stare suspiciously at every wall, Chloe,” Donovan whispered, a small frown on his narrow face.
I felt my face heat. I hadn’t realized I was so obvious!
He chuckled softly. “Don’t worry! I know how to recognize secret bits from regular bits of wall.” He grinned and went back to probing at another innocent looking wall.
“Yep!” he crowed a few minutes later. He threw a grin over his shoulder at me, then pulled another moon key from his bag. He inserted it into the hole that had appeared from behind a camouflage panel.
sound started up from behind a nearby wall. I heard a few squeaks, then the whirring
seemed to travel higher. Up the wall, across the ceiling, then farther up. From high above us came a soft click. Then everything was silent.
“How much you wanna bet that was first locked door we saw up there?” Donovan grinned cheekily.
“No bet,” I responded, dead-pan.
Lucy looked from me to Donovan and back. “Should we…?” She gestured in the direction of the stairs.
“Might as well!” Donovan grinned again, then set off.
The door we came in and the previously locked, stainless steel door were the only things up there. I turned the handle on the latter. It opened easily. I glanced back at Donovan and Lucy before pushing the door completely open.
It wasn’t what I’d expected. A room full of bookshelves and a few rows of desktop computers.
Donovan quickly found what he was looking for. The computer was at the very back of the room, and was marked with a star on Lufti’s map.
A matching star was drawn on a separate room. And it looked close by, according to the map. I wandered over while Donovan inserted the flashdrive given to him by Lufti. I’d already scanned it. It was just a set of files meant to replace any files pertaining to the Relics of Life and Death. Not the most efficient, but effective enough. I guess.
Lucy kept on eye out in the hallway while I searched the bookcases. Nothing relevant. No files. A few books on egyptology. Most of the shelves contained classic hardbacks that looked like they’d never been cracked open.
I poked around on MorcuCorp’s system for a bit, but the computers in the room were just lines to the server. I needed a more direct link.
I was feeling very downtrodden by the lack of useful resources by the time Donovan finished replacing the files on the first computer. There’s nothing here
. What files I could find were records of business transactions. Everything in order and very precise. MorcuCorp seemed like a well-run and very legal company. That wasn’t what I’d expected to find. I needed something to hurt them! Some kind of leverage to make them convince Langraab Labs to leave us alone! And I wasn’t finding anything.
When Donovan moved on to the second star on the map, the main office, I pulled out my computer. I was getting a strong network signal. It was most likely the same network the dektops were running on, but I still held onto a smidgen of hope.
“What’re you doing?” Lucy asked, looking up at me.
“Searching for something,” I mumbled in response, a bit more distracted than I usually was.
There was a second network! I took a deep breath and calmed myself. Most corporations had a second network. At least, most smart
ones did. It was often a safety measure in case the main crashed. That way no data could be lost.
This one was harder to access. It might have been impossible for anyone without my brain. Just saying.
Tax records, business transactions, stock information. Everything’s here!
I downloaded it all, skimming as I went. My spirits sank a little. Just like on the first network, everything on this database was extremely legal, not a hint of tax evasion or the like. MorcuCorp might have been a cutthroat business screwing over an entire group of people, but they weren’t stupid.
I moved on. Every database and file storage I could find, I copied over. My computer didn’t really have a harddrive, but I had plenty of secure cloud storage.
“Hey, what’s that?” Lucy asked, pointing.
I scrolled back a few pages. And froze. “Um…Check on Donovan!”
Lucy gave me a strange look, but shrugged and went to stand behind Donovan, watching as he copied files.
I stared at what Lucy had found. Too good to be true
, I muttered to myself. My hands moved. I ran a few worms. Then a few keygens. I frowned. What bank is this? Simica National.
“Hmm…” I stroked my chin and chewed my lip. I wanted to hurt the company. Through hitting MorcuCorp, I’d be hitting Landgraab Labs, at least, indirectly. I couldn’t go about it the legal way, MorcuCorp was too smart for that. But maybe
I took a steadying breath and cracked my knuckles. I was never very good at questions of morality.