by Amalyr Roe
Get in, get the intel, and get out. Even the best-laid plans go awry.
|Autumn, cold, brisk wind played with the loose brown hair escaping the black knit cap covering the top of her head. Karyll knelt on one knee and positioned the crossbow against her shoulder. She inhaled slowly, caressing the trigger like an old friend. A soft twang followed by the hiss of line and the grappling hook zipping across the intervening gap between. Karyll peered over the side, then across to the other building. When no one appeared, she picked up the zip line and pulled, slowly at first, and winced at the grating sound as the hook scraped against concrete until it caught against the ledge. She gave it a tug, then a second more forceful, ensuring it would not budge, secured the end, and attached a fifteen-inch handle to the cable.
Once her escape route was secure, she slinked across the roof, crouched down before the access door, and listened intently for sounds on the other side. Nothing, she smiled, if the intel was correct and it usually was. Not a soul would be on the top few floors. Any guards on duty would be situated below the sixteenth floor preventing intruders from making their way up from the bottom. Karyll took a small handheld case from a pocket, opened it, and selected the picks she would need for this lock.
Karyll hesitated, Jake had affirmed the roof access alarm would be dismantled, she bit her lip and weighed her options one last time. She could drop the contract and allow someone else to make a grab for it or...Karyll bit her lip, silencing an amused snort that threatened to escape. No, the pay was too good to let it go to someone else, and Jake went through a lot of trouble to get her this shot. Karyll could not let him down, could not let herself down. She inserted the first lockpick, then added the second, adjusting and moving the tools until she felt one tumbler after another snap into place, a self-satisfied smile stole across her face as the door swung open. Easy peasy, she thought.
Cautiously she made her way through the building following the blueprints committed to memory. Down a couple flights of stairs, through the door, down the corridor. First left at the end of the hall and the second office on the right. She had been told it would be the big office with the Renoir on the wall above the desk. She picked the lock, slipped inside, and closed the door behind her with a soft snick. She swept the room with her gaze. The office was lavishly appointed, and yes, there was a Renoir on the wall, the La Grenouille, if memory served. Karyll, a sly grin stole across her features as she contemplated whether or not it was an original or a skilled reproduction of the famous painting.
She crossed the room, placed both hands flat on the north wall, her palms moving over the cool smooth paneling until she found what she was looking for. Karyll pressed lightly, soft snick, and a small square panel came away from the wall and slid to the side, exposing what she sought set deep within. "Well, well, well." She whispered under her breath. The safe had an old-fashioned look to it. The dial, however, was anything but old fashioned. Karyll bit the inside of her cheek, this would need to be worked with care.
Karyll removed the imitation dial exposing the wiring and circuitry beneath and studied where each wire went, then in turn, attaching a small alligator clip from her handheld device and turned it on and keyed in the decoding sequence. The small digital lockpick hummed, the numbers ticked and flashed rapidly on the screen as it sorted through all the possible combinations until first, then another locked into place. Until the device vibrated its success, Karyll unhooked the machine and tucked it back into one of her pouches.
She opened the safe, reached inside, withdrew a manila folder, and flipped through its contents. This was what she had come for. Karyll closed the safe, put the false dial back on, slid the panel back into place once more concealing the safe and gave it a critical eye, nothing looked out of place.
Now for the last part...Karyll turned, walked around the expensive-looking mahogany desk, and seated herself beneath the painting. She flipped on the computer, inserted the thumb drive, and flexed her fingers. Karyll needed to be quick. She typed in the password she had been given, and the screen came to life.
Her mouth dried; these had been precisely what she had been sent for. A series of folders, images, and documents filled the screen all written in that scientific research jargon she'd become all too accustomed to lately.
Karyll initiated the download, her legs bouncing with nervous energy. This was going too smoothly, she had not heard anything, not a peep, not a footstep, and for a place with such high security, it did not make sense. She pocketed the thumb drive, shut down the computer, and stood just as the door swung open. Two armed men moved into the room weapons drawn and aimed at her chest. "You don't belong here." Snarled one. "How did you get up here?" The second said in tandem to the first. "Move away from the desk." The first motioned with his gun. "Get down on your knees." Again the words were said in tandem. She briefly wondered if Frick and Frack here practice their lines in the hopes of being able to use them or if they realized how cartoony they sounded.
Karyll held up her hands in a non-threatening manner. "Don't hurt me..." She allowed quaver, a hint of fear to enter her voice, enough for them to think they had cowed her and did as instructed. She moved slowly out from behind the desk. Frick was closer to her than Frack was, both within striking distance, big mistake. Frick moved to push her to her knees, and she reacted, grabbed the large desk lamp and hit him over the head, Frick collapsed in a heap at her feet. Karyll ducked and spun just in time to feel a burst of air and a whistle by her ear. That had been closer than she liked, coiled like a spring she burst upward, and kicked out with all of her momentum, the heel of her foot connecting solidly with Frack's chest. He grunted at the impact and fell backward.
Before he could get off another shot, she was out the door without a backward glance and racing down the hall, up the stairs and out onto the rooftop. Quick as a cat, Karyll grabbed the duffle, and with a running leap, caught the grip to the zip. The door behind her crashed open, just as her feet touched the ground. She released the zip, caught her balance, released the hook, and let it drop down to the other building, they would need to find another way to catch her.
She looked up and across to the other building. Two more men had joined Frack, she had no idea if Frick was still out cold. She ducked behind the wall just as the guns came out. The crack of bullets hitting the wall where Karyll had been was disconcerting. She cringed and waited for a lull in gunfire before she followed the wall until close enough to the roof access to chance darting across.
Karyll peeked over the edge, just long enough to see two of the men disappear from sight, the remaining one...she almost snickered. Frack was determined to put a bullet in her. She took a chance just as he spotted her, she lunged through the roof access and into the safety of the stairwell. Karyll could not wait here, they would be after her. She flew down the stairs taking two at a time, unconcerned with the possibility of falling. She was more concerned with what they would do if they caught her. The regular guards did not fire real ammunition at someone, they used Tasers and rubber pellets. She cursed fervently.
Ryll checked a couple of doors that seemed promising, locked, and she dared not take the time to try and pick one. The last door she tried, swung open, the cleaning woman inside shrieked at her, shouted something in heavily accented English as Ryll, raced past her, opened the window, and disappeared on to the fire escape. Karyll heard another shriek, more shouting followed by the deep voices of men Karyll did not recognize. She could only assume they were the ones after her.
Karyll hurried down the fire escape, glanced up as a bald head disappeared back into the room she had just vacated. She slid the rest of the way down the ladder. Dropped the last two feet to the ground, grunting with the impact, and raced down the alleyway and out of sight. Winded, she stopped long enough to strip out of her shirt, discard gloves and knitted hat into a garbage can. She pulled a soft blouse from her duffle, followed by a leather jacket. She glanced behind her, dropped the duffle in the garbage with the rest of the clothing she had elected to toss, then tucked the manila envelope into her jacket along with the thumb drive.
A loud crash followed by a shout, and the sound of running feet drawing near, sent her racing for the streets. Karyll burst onto the crowded sidewalk and smiled an apology at the startled looks of surprise thrown in her direction. "Sorry, sorry, I'm running late." She raced away across the street. Dodging oncoming traffic, if she could get lost in the crowd, find a distraction, disappear? She paused and searched for a solution, anything that she could use to her advantage.