June 6, 2004 – 23:40
There is evil afoot, taking sanctuary in the depths of the very structure erected by the people for their defense, the government. The government is unable to do anything against it, no more than a patient could remove their own cancer. I am the answer, I am the surgeon who will remove this malignance. Tonight, Blackwing and I will conduct an exploratory surgery, we will go into the body where the evil is hidden and find out about it; what it is, and where it is.
PRIMUS headquarters is a formidable structure, it covers an entire city block, a central tower rising 38 floors surrounded on all sides by a parking garage that is 6 levels above ground and 3 below, and it is totally isolated from the outside, accessible only by two well watched entries which access the garage from the street. The central tower also has a heliport on the roof. The buildings adjacent to it are all inferior to it in height, on three sides they clear the garage, but not the central tower, and the fourth side fronts on public park land, not even the trees are taller than four floors there.
The data sticks J. Cranton Lawless was kind enough to load full of information about the facility have yielded up much about the security. All four sides are carefully monitored by manned security decks, at the level of the opposing roofs on three sides and at the edge of the garage itself on the fourth; no simple leap from the opposing roofs to the garage will gain access. There are also armed patrols walking the garage, no scaling the garage’s concrete walls to break in through the chain link protecting the gaps between floors unless you are willing to catch bullets. The roof is kept clear and uncluttered, helos are stored below the roof via elevator. That makes it easy for the security forces to see anything approaching from the air, and if they miss something, the short range ehf radar will not only spot it coming in, but engage with automatic weapons once the target is within 50 feet of the roof. The sides of the central tower are smooth and sealed to prevent even air getting in or out of the building.
And yet, evil has gotten in. Nightwing and I must get in too. We are both still badly weakened from our encounter with Tor. We do not have our full faculties, access will not be assured. The Batmobile is waiting nearby if we need it, ready to speed us across the public park and hide us among the foulest parts of the city where we can evade any pursuit.
Ordinarily, I wouldn’t concern myself so heavily with ensuring our escape, even injured as we are, but we have company tonight, an unknown quantity. Last week we were rescued from Police captivity by a girl who calls herself Robyn. She appears to have loosely styled herself after a comic book character named Robin, the partner of my own childhood comic book hero, Batman. I say loosely, because she has chosen her own colors, closely mimicking an American Red Breasted Robin. She has added one of my utility belts to her costume, a brilliant yellow variation on an otherwise correct color scheme, worn bandolier style over her left shoulder, crossing at her right hip and wrapping around her right thigh. I suppose I should not be surprised that she has it.
These past few weeks she followed us on our patrols, not to study how to defeat us, but to learn how to join us; so she says. Tonight we will find out. If her goal is to eliminate us, tonight she will have a perfect opportunity to betray us to PRIMUS.
I don’t think she will betray us. She is a metaX, coming here with us is as much a risk to her as it is to Blackwing and I. Worse for her, because until last week, she had stayed entirely under the radar. Other than Blackwing and I, no one knew she existed, she had concealed all her exploits behind my reputation. Very astute. Also very embarrassing if you are the number one world-wide organization charged with knowing all there is to know about every metaX in existence. Her sudden materialization as the lead story in all the media last week will have left all the PRIMUS brass, including J. Cranton Lawless, smarting. They will be particularly interested in her, and if they find her here they will certainly pull out all the stops to catch her. They won’t catch her while she is working with me.
There was an operational concern at one time. We observed her in action against a street gang which she engaged disguised as me. We meant to observe her in battle and be prepared to extract her from the battle if things went badly for her, and we meant to find out just who and what she was afterward. She didn’t need rescuing, and when it was time to confront her and interview her, we found ourselves unable to take any actions. I understood what was happening only too late to initiate a defense: she has a visual range draining effect on ego, slowly reducing observers to a dazed or stunned state given sufficient time. It seems to be constant, it is as much a part of her as her arms or legs. Now that we know, Blackwing and I have trained our minds to defend against the specific danger enabling us to work normally with her, we’ll see if she is as prepared to work with us.
Our plan for access is to start from one of the opposing roofs adjacent to the park. The building across the south-fronting street is 20 floors, the tallest of the adjacent structures. Any attempt to clear the front of this building will be detected by short range motion sensors built into the ledge of the building which send their data back to the security observation deck opposite us in the PRIMUS building itself. Instead of a direct approach, Blackwing will go over the side of the building nearest the park avoiding the sensors and fly above the east observation deck built into the garage and approach the side of the central tower which faces the park. If he attempted to fly in from the park, he’d be seen. By starting from this building, he will never enter the field of vision of the park-side observers. By staying under the radars on the central tower roof, he will be able to get to the building undetected. Once there, he will ascend to the maintenance deck 4 floors below the roof where he will enter the ventilation system and then proceed to our target. I will guide him using the video feed he will be sending me from the headset he will be wearing. Robyn will stay with me to observe and learn.
BLAZES!!! Robyn has just vaulted over the side of the building straight at the PRIMUS tower!
She is wearing the video feed headset meant for Blackwing, as if she means to perform the mission herself. Instead of staying with me, she has just gone directly through the middle of the short range sensor field mounted on the edge of this roof and leapt into full view of the security observation deck less than 100 yards away. If we get out of this, I’ll beat her senseless!
Blackwing and I watch as, somehow, she clears the six lane street below us without losing any altitude. I closely observe the security deck of the PRIMUS building across the way. There are no signs of alarm, indeed no one seems to even see her. The roving patrols on the parking garage roof 14 floors below haven’t even flinched. No one seems to have detected a thing. She begins to fall now as she clears the garage, she doesn’t have the distance to make the side of the tower. She will land on the roof of the parking garage between us and the PRIMUS building. If she survives the fall, seismic detectors will sense the impact, security will close in on her from all sides. I get ready to go over the side and distract PRIMUS security forces so Blackwing can evacuate her. Then, I will kill her myself.
As we prepare to rescue her, she makes a long, tough batarang throw all the way up to the edge of the roof and her fall changes to a swing via the attached batline which carries her to the side of the building near the 12th floor. She is high enough that the security patrols, seismic sensors, and video cameras watching the garage roof cannot pick her up. Holding her line with her feet braced on the side of the building, she communicates back to me via the headset, asking, “Where to now?”
Somehow she has accessed the central tower without being noticed. She is capable of pursuing us all over the worst parts of the city, and she is not injured. If she will take direction from here on out, this could work. I direct her to climb to the maintenance deck near the top of the building. She does, then asks, “what now?” I direct her to open the ventilation exhaust closure and go in as far as the vertical shaft, which she does. When I tell her to descend to the 30th floor she asks, “Why?” I tell her our target is there. She asks, “Which office?” I tell her to go, that I’ll give her that info when she gets inside.
She then comes back out of the maintenance deck ventillation and descends the outside of the building to the 30th floor. I tell her she can’t break the airtight integrity on the building’s skin because every room has a barometric sensor. Suspended on her line, she steps to the middle of one of the windows and asks, “Is this the right office?”
I’m gonna kill’er! “No,” I answer, “go back inside!”
She moves to another window and asks, “This one?”
Again I tell her, “No!”
She continues to move from window to window, ignoring my instructions to go back inside until she reaches the correct window. Blackwing answers for me this time, “Yes, that’s the office. Now go back inside.”
She went inside. She just stepped through the sealed, fixed window and into the office as if she’d entered through a door. I have never seen anyone defeat a solid surface before except Kitty Pryde. She did it without setting off any of the sophisticated alarms, and without noise. She didn’t use a metaX power or sensors in the skin of the building would have detected her power activation. She entered the building using only learned, trained skills. Accessing the room didn’t even set off the barometric sensors. If she lives through this, I’ll kill her!
I direct her to the computer on J. Cranton Lawless’ desk. She strolls over to it, sits down and logs in. I didn’t tell her the username or password. She is 15 and seems to be familiar with material wealth. She is familiar with J. Cranton’s personal information. I should have figured it out before. I can keep her secret if she can.
I direct her to search for encrypted or hidden files, coaching her through the process as she goes. I have to coach her on each technique exactly once. Quick learner. She finds the files I want and just happens to have a couple of usb drives on her. I now suspect Blackwing is missing the ones he was carrying. I can’t be too upset with him, I have lost control of a video transmitting headset and a teenage girl in the last 10 minutes. At least she is making good use of the utility belt Alfred lost control of.
After copying 65 gigabytes of information from J. Cranton Lawless’ private workstation, she asks, “Is that it?”
That was it. Just jump right through the sensor field that should have brought every PRIMUS asset in the city – including a couple sentinel robots – down on us, swing in plain view of a dozen armed sentries who would probably rather kill us than draw their next breath, breach the solid, airtight, bulletproof side of the building into the office of the Chief of Meta Operations, hack his computer in less than 3 seconds and steal a huge volume of highly sensitive information – all without using any superpowers, then just leave as if she was walking out of a department store.
She’s killin’ me.