The next morning came quickly for the three and Mary left to meet the hacker Fuel had made mention of. As she navigated the underground town, Abe spoke up in her mind, [Hey, I have another idea,] he said.
[Let me guess first,] she replied, [You want to test your power over our mana and see if you can make this idea easier for us, yes?]
Stunned for a moment, Abe mentally nodded his head, [Yeah, that. If you can get something like a mana gem or even just a device, I might be able to infiltrate their system somewhere more remote.]
[Heh,] she laughed, [You didn’t expect me to get that, did you? But your idea could work. It’s all up to you. First, we need to get the thing.] As they discussed their idea, they arrived at their destination. In front of them stood a wide, short building that cropped out of the rocky wall of the cave. The front was featureless, with a wooden door in the middle of the wall being the only thing of note. Mary wasted no time in knocking on the door, the sound reverberating in the room beyond.
For a few minutes nothing happened, but just when she decided to knock again, the door opened. Behind the door was a large demi-human, covered in rock-like protrusions on his arms that extended all the way down to his wrists but leaving his hands untouched. His face seemed to be a rocky mask of the same material, leaving holes for his eyes, nose, and mouth. He wore an oversized hoodie and a pair of sweatpants, “What do you want?” he hissed in a voice reminiscent of two rocks being smashed together, “I can’t keep upgrading the firewall until they actually try something, so leave me the hell alone!” With his shout, he slammed the door in Mary’s face, leaving her stunned.
Before any other thoughts came to her, her face twisted in anger. She banged on the door, “Get the hell out here!” she shouted, “I need your help, dammit!” Her shout reverberated across the cave, attracting the attention of others around them, but the demi-human man opened the door again.
“Well what the hell do you want,” he growled in annoyance.
She shot him a glare, but toned down her voice, “I need your help in stealing information from the Purists,” she said in a low tone.
He looked at her, stunned for a moment, but sighed and nodded, letting her into the building. The room beyond was a living room, similar to the one in Huk and Fuel’s house, with some furniture. The man sat on the couch and gestured for her to sit as well. Complying, she sat in the armchair across from him and gazed at him for a while, sizing him up. He was slightly slouched, not sitting up in his seat, but giving her an unreadable expression. Their staring contest ended when the man nodded to himself, “So, the guys on high finally want real results?” he asked with an edge in his voice.
She took a moment to process what he said and gave a low chuckle, “Nope. I’m just so sick of sitting on my ass that I’m looking for a way to put the ball in their court, so to say,” she replied with a grin.
The man tensed for a moment before deflating, “Ugh… they never care about my line of work, do they? All they care about is ‘getting people out’ and ‘reducing damage.’ All be damned to the void, they could be doing so much more… But you get it, right? You get how we need information about all of this, right?” he asked, with passion in his eyes.
Mary nodded slowly, “Yeah. I want to infiltrate a Purist department or the like and take some info. I don’t know what I’ll find, but I’ll take anything I can get. Do you have something that can help me?”
He chuckled in response, soon turning into a full-blown laugh, “HA! Can I help you!? I can indeed! I’ve been waiting for them to get off their asses and for them to do something productive. Here’s the thing though,” he said as he stood and walked to one of the doors across the room. He opened it, revealing a well lit room with a few computer screens with a large amount of windows open. He walked into the room and retrieved a thumb drive, walked back out and closed the door, “The thing is that you won’t have to plug this little thing into the pope’s computer or anything like that. Just get the thing in their system, and I’ll do the rest. Unfortunately, no matter where you get it, it will still take a while; maybe a few days. Here,” he said as he threw the thumb drive, “Call me Gel. If you aren’t too adverse to a bit of danger, go to the Hall of Cardinals and find a computer somewhere. Plug this in and keep it in there for a few seconds and your job will be done. Alright, get to it.”
His words left no room to negotiate, so Mary left Gel’s house. As she left the cave, Abe spoke up in her mind, [So… no digital infiltration for me then?]
[No,] she laughed, [No there isn’t.]
It was the tail end of morning when Mary arrived at the Hall of Cardinals. The luxurious hall was taken from the previous government of Olsvania and renamed on the Day of Purity; to the Purists, it signified the superiority of their religion, to those against Purism, it signified the corruption of their society into a madhouse.
The symbolism of the building was something that Mary was quite interested in as an idle curiosity. The idea of the halls of power being the same but the occupants changing was something she wanted to learn about when her revenge was over; she had work to do before that, however.
Lying low in an alley across the street from the building, armed with nothing but a small pistol and wearing a long-sleeved shirt to hide her arm, she observed the front of the building. A massive atrium made of glass and steel with the desks of clerks lining the far wall, and found the security to be unexpectedly lax.
There were cameras on the ceilings of the corners of the room, some enforcers sitting idly on a bench next to the door, and the enforcement headquarters was just at the end of the street. [Huh. The security’s pretty lax here,] Mary idly observed to Abe.
[Obviously it is,] he replied, [This is, quite literally, in the middle of their territory. That fact alone is enough to make it daunting to attack. Besides, security is simply projecting the illusion of impregnability. A determined enough attacker moves beyond a security concern and becomes a military one. Apart from that, they’re likely just arrogant, thinking they’re invincible or the like.]
[Good,] she replied, [That makes this easy. Do you know anywhere to get in? In fact, is there some sort of way we could navigate that place?] she asked. Abe raised a mental eyebrow and thought for a few moments. Before he responded, Mary held up her hand, [Wait, could we use something like radar?] she asked.
[Radar?] he wondered, [Something like echolocation then. That’s easy. Just have one spell that puts out sound and one that receives it. I can translate the sound manually from there into a comprehensive image.]
Mary smiled at his words, [Nice! Now that I think about it, why doesn’t anyone else do this? It seems so convenient…]
[Maybe it’s because they can’t just make sound with a snap of their fingers and they don’t have a secondary soul with the physical hardware capable of understanding the sound that comes back,] he replied in a flat tone and mental deadpan.
Mary simply sighed and nodded. She fell back into the alley, moved a bit up the street, and merged into the crowd. She followed the flow, ducking into an alley a few hundred feet before the Hall of Cardinals and making her way to the walls of the building. [So, where to from here?] she asked.
[Hmm… Alright, we’re going to need a very high frequency sound that no one can hear. Okay, I’m ready. Here we go.] As he finished his statement, a dull white glow emanated from Mary’s hand, soon pulsing lightly. With her enhanced hearing, she heard a high-pitched screeching from her hand that danced on the edges of her perceptibility. She heard the sound come back, and images began to form in her soul of what the building looked like. Beyond the wall was a small, dingy janitors closet filled to the brim with cleaning supplies, cleaning tools, and a computer tucked in the corner.
Mary pumped her mechanical fist and examined the rest of the image in her mind, which was not much. The janitor’s closet led to an empty hallway that led beyond her ‘sight’. [Do we need to move to get the rest of the image?] she asked.
[Pretty much. Walls block sound, obviously, but even this much is a lot of info. Must be some weirdness with magic.] he muttered, [Anyway, try going deeper into the alley, maybe we can get a better image from there.]
Mary followed his instructions, going further into the alley and waiting as another image appeared in her mind. This time, it was of two bathrooms and more of the hallway, but without an end in sight. They moved once more, and rounded the corner of the building, finding a back door that led out into the alley waiting for them. Before they burst through the door, another pulse went through the mana in her hand and another image appeared in her mind. The image was of the hallway at the end of the corridor, but there was nothing else of note. Apart from the bathroom and the janitor’s closet, there was nothing at either end of the hallway nor on the walls.
After a brief exchange of mental stares, Mary picked the lock on the door and entered. The hallway was just as she thought it would be, simply darker as a result of the flickering light that sat in the middle of the hallway. [I don’t like how you know how to do that. Even now,] Abe said simply. Mary smiled in amusement and crept her way down the hallway and into the janitor’s closet. Nothing stopped her along the way. Quickly finding the computer, she plugged in the hard drive, she let it sit for half a minute and pulled it out. After that, she quickly left the same way she came in, making sure to lock the door on her way out.
Escaping through the maze of alleys, she eventually found herself far from the Central District and deep into the Factory district. With a sigh she looked up to the midday sun, [Did we really just do that? Did we really just invade the Purity Union through some poor janitor’s computer without having a single issue?] she asked Abe.
He mentally shrugged, [Who knows. Maybe they’re just lying in wait for us, but given that I took it upon myself to send a pulse out ever so often and found no one chasing us, I think it’s safe to say that we’re good,] he replied, [Either way, let’s get back and see what Gel can do.]
[Agreed. Let’s go.] With their work complete they headed off to the slums, free of any pursuers.