Sean jogged along the fence separating the backside of Drive, Bye LLC from Stockton Avenue in San Jose. He was looking for a hole.
The fence was topped with old-school barbed-wire. If he had more time, he would just throw a canvas tarp over it and climb over. But, he didn’t have time. He wanted to get to Fishburne and Lita before security came and secured them more than they were. Sean felt like there was a window and he could still get them, though he’d prefer to get Lita and leave Fishburne. Fishburne was such an idiot. Just leave him be. Bashing a window with a trash can? That was nuts.
Through an earbud in one ear, Sean’s “Jogging” playlist pumped out a nice beat. In his other, the earbud for his burner phone, Stoney was telling him he had gotten the security camera feed but there were hundreds of cameras and he was trying to find the right ones. It had been four days since they’d heard from the voice, but life came at Sean in full stereo.
Lita and Sam had gotten in by social engineering. They had dressed up, they had forged badges, they had worn fake baby-bellies. Sean was in a hurry and did none of that. He was looking for an opportunity. No way a fence along a sidewalk in this neighborhood, industrial on one side, residential on the other, would risk being electrified…
Then he saw it, a rift. There was a telephone pole along the fence line. Because it would be easy to climb the pole and jump the fence, there was all kinds of extra security, A-200s, Sprengs, two teller spikes and three pairs Hawkins lids. But, at the bottom, all the security had been defeated by a nearly invisible rift in the wire, abraded along the pole. It would be tight. He needed a way to make the opening larger.
As if reading his thoughts, Avanta said, “I’ll go first.” Sean was so focused on finding a way through the fence he hadn’t noticed her following him. Without an answer, or really even breaking stride, she shot through the fence on all fours, hopped to her feet and pulled back on the fence for Sean to get through. Sean was easily fifty-percent again larger than Avanta. It wouldn’t have been possible without her help.
Sean went over the layout of the warehouse in his head. They probably were relatively close to Lita and Sam, but Sean wasn’t exactly sure. He held the burner up and said to Stoney, “hey man, I’d love some good news about security cameras right now.”
Stoney didn’t reply. Sean motioned for Avanta to follow, and he trotted over to a dumpster with a pile of computer parts, including, quite incredibly, hard drives. People were the dumbest. Sean picked up a couple of drives, found one with a nice heft, and hurled it at a window twenty feet up the wall. He missed. He found another and tried again. Nothing. Seeing what Sean was doing, Avanta grabbed one and shattered a window on the first try. Sean said, “Nice!” and Avanta shrugged. She said, “I played softball in college.”
Sean then said, “Okay, hopefully they’ll come check that out, let’s hide over here.” Sean went to an exit door near the dumpster. He pulled Avanta into the shadows with him. They waited. They were pushed in close together, trying to stay out of sight. Avanta smelled good, not like the stale cigarette smell that usually defined her. She felt good, too, pushed up against Sean like that.
In his ear, Stoney said, “I got cameras and I’m tracking your burner’s GPS. Two guys are heading your way. Probably less than a minute.” Sean then heard Q say, “Hey, D, since you got a minute, and I got your attention, can you explain why you claim you can’t pay us, but you have 500 Bitcoin sitting in one of your wallets?”
Distinctive said, “What are you talking about?”
Q said, “Bitslapt just messaged me in IRC. He said that he watches any wallet ID that has ever sent one of his wallets money. You know the one you used for us on payday?”
“What about it?” said Distinctive.
“Well, the wallet you’ve used to pay us for the last eight months. It’s got five-hundred bitcoin in it.”
Sean answered, “well, there’s some kind of mistake.”
Right then, just about at that minute Stoney had given him, the door burst open and two security guards came charging out, passing right by them without noticing. Sean stopped the door from closing, waited a beat, and pulled Avanta through. They were in.
It took a moment for their eyes to adjust. They were in an area Sean recognized from the video feed from Sam and Lita’s collar. Avanta must have, too. She whispered loudly, “It’s this way.”
The floor was wide open, and they could see workers. No one who paid them any mind, even though it was obvious something was up. Several security guards were jogging the other direction. In the distance, Sean saw a row of offices, like a little city in the middle of the huge warehouse. Sean guessed it was where Lita and Sam were trapped. They’d have to cross an empty floor to get there. Sean looked at Avanta and said, “ready?” She nodded.
Sean guessed soldiers must feel like this during a battle, maybe crossing an open field or a bridge. But, with people shooting at you. Sean and Avanta were exposed, but there was nothing to do but just go for it. They made it all way across, and they could see the trash can and bashed in window of the office Lita and Fishburne were in. And just then, they heard someone nearby yelling. Avanta tried an office door. Locked. Sean tried a different office door. It was open. They slid in and shut the door.
Sean tried to lock the door, but the lock had been disabled. The room was completely empty except for the table that stood in the far corner. They flattened themselves against the wall as a security guard stopped right outside the window, cupping his hands around his eyes, trying to peer in. That guard turned and motioned to another guard and Avanta saw an opportunity. She grabbed Sean’s hand and quickly led him to the table in the corner. She hopped up on it, in a seated position. She pulled Sean to her and started kissing him. Sean had not been prepared for this. He hadn’t kissed anyone in, who knows how long? Forever.
When the guards opened the door and came in, Avanta arched her back, moving rhythmically, and moaned loudly. Then, acting like she’d just noticed the guards, without stopping her movements, she said breathlessly, “Do you mind?” She held Sean tightly. The guards snickered and one said, “We got ourselves another pair of love-birds. I swear these office grunts rent the room out by the hour.”
The guards left. Avanta looked at Sean bashfully. Sean leaned in and they returned to kissing.
After a couple of minutes of that, Sean’s head was spinning again, but in a good way. They knew they were fighting time, so they were leaving, and, as they were, from the corner of his eye, Sean noticed a second door. The second door was on a different wall. It had two deadbolts and a handle. Sean crossed the empty room and unlocked it, and opened it. To his surprise, in the room on the other side of the door, crouched hiding in the corner, was Lita and Sam. They were surprised, too, but hurried over. Neither Avanta or Sean could meet Sam’s eyes. Sam carried a lock box the size of a thick briefcase. He was beaming.
Crossing the warehouse again was surprisingly easy, like everyone had gone home, or were at lunch. The place looked like it had plenty of security. But, why were they so inept? Sean asked Stoney if he saw anything. Were they all gathered somewhere for an ambush? Stoney said there was a lot of activity, but on the other side of the warehouse. They were in the clear.
They made it across the warehouse, out the door he and Avanta had entered through, and made it to the same hole in the fence. Avanta grabbed the fence and pulled, making a hole big enough for Sam and Sean to crawl through, and she waved Lita through, too. Avanta was the smallest one, and could make it through the hole without anyone holding the fence.
Lita made it through and then the shooting started. Shots rang out, landing at Avanta’s feet, splintering the telephone pole near Sean’s head, causing chaos.
Sean yelled to Avanta, “Come on!” But she instead ran toward the dumpster and ducked behind it. Sean looked behind him. Sam and Lita were already high-tailing it across the street and down the road as several shots followed them. Sean tried to get back through the fence where Avanta was stuck, but he couldn’t make throught without Avanta’s help.
In his ear, Stoney where he was, and what had happened.
Sean said someone had shot at them. Shot at? What the hell? No cop in their right mind opens fire without a better reason than climbing through a hole. Why would Drive, Bye’s security be shooting? Sean looked around and saw the shooter, on the top of the warehouse.
Then Stoney told him a pickup was heading his way. Stoney said, “This is bad.”
And, suddenly, a big four-door pickups came barrelling around the corner and slid to a stop between him and Avanta, on Avanta’s side of the fence.
Sean stood up, prepping a quick lie to explain why he was there and to give Avanta time to get away. Three large men and a single, normal-sized man emerged from the truck. The three men hurried off toward Avanta while the normal-man walked slowly over to Sean, stood on the other side of the fence, and said in a British accent, “Get out of here, or I call the coppers.” Sean started to explain his lie as the three men wrestled a frantic Avanta into the truck. One man had a hand over her mouth. The Brit repeated. “Get out of here. I mean it. This is over.”
Sean was shouting at the truck as the man hopped back in, and drove away, spitting gravel all over Sean, who despite chasing the truck along the fence as far as he could, had never felt more useless in his life.