Authors: Morgan Bell
“What is the code showing you? Can you see the hack?” Blaise asked.
Fenwick was running his finger along a thousand lines of icons. “The code is standard municipal. The hack must have been back at the station level or a trap door in the code,” Fenwick said.
“Ok, here is what I want you to do. Can you hack the municipal code?”
“Sure thing, you want me to do it at the intersection?”
“No, go up to Pontiac and south to Troy. I want you to blow out a two mile wide corridor. Take out all street level monitors,” Blaise commanded.
“Give me just a second. How long do you need them down for?”
“How long can you give me?” Blaise asked.
“If I do it all at once, about an hour. If I do a series of shut downs and a massive crash, four hours before municipal can even get started on getting it back on line,” Fenwick said.
“Give me the four hour option,” Blaise replied.
No one spoke while Fenwick set up the systems crashes that would remove street level surveillance Pontiac to Troy Michigan. “Done.”
“Now, I need you to give us an outage immediately in downtown Detroit.”
“It could start a riot if people notice the surveillance is off in Detroit,” Fenwick said.
“I’m willing to risk it.”
“Yes, captain,” Fenwick responded, and proceeded to shut down street level surveillance in downtown Detroit.
“Ok, now here is the big one. Blow the power grid for Bloomfield Hills.”
“What?” Lieutenant Marshall asked.
“Just do it,” Blaise told him.
“It will take me a few minutes.”
“You can’t do that!” Lieutenant Marshall protested.
“We have a kill switch option hanging over us here. We can do whatever it takes,” Blaise insisted.
“It is going down in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.”
The lights in the house went out.
“Good job,” Blaise said.
Then there was a flicker and the power was back up. “What the-” Fenwick began.
“What happened? Municipal recovery?” Blaise asked.
“No, I wrote around that. There is…someone brought it back up.” Fenwick said.
“Perfect. Try and get a trace on them.”
“They are at the forensic psychiatric hospital,” Fenwick announced.
“Good,” Blaise said. “Here is what we have. Whoever is running the KVBs is in that hospital right now. They are setting us up for an ambush. We are going to blow out street level monitors between here and there. Fenwick is going to stay here and give us tech cover. Marshall, you are staying here to provide support. That means you keep Fenwick alive and on the network.”
“But -” Lieutenant Marshall started.
“Agent Ganos, Agent Drake, Sergeant Rosen and Baxter,” Blaise continued, “we are going to visit that hospital. We are expected. We will be taking the Mustang and the Sunshine Special. Fenwick will provide some blind spots for us, but whatever happens we are no tech and we are going into a multi-story facility. So we will sweep floors, regroup and work our way through the building. Be wary of all automations. Stairwells, not elevators. Disable locks and tech as you go.”
“Fenwick, what have you got for us?”
“Nothing good, captain. The hospital is six stories, built on the healthcare campus designs. Unobstructed views of all ground approach. Secured by federal debt resolution ceiling orders. No ‘oth’ staff on site. Surveillance is municipal on the approach. I can blow that out long enough for you to get into place. I can scramble the entrance operation systems, but with them onsite they will know the moment that I do that.”
“That will be long enough. Just remember, Fenwick, be creative. Use any and all tech, especially old tech, against them,” Blaise said.
“Then what?” Lieutenant Marshall asked.
“If we survive, we will all be taking a drive from Pontiac to Troy.”
Agent Ganos threw Lieutenant Marshall the keys to the Kennedy limos.
FEDERAL FORENSIC PSYCHIATIC FACILITY
he red ’65 Mustang pulled up to the intersection where the forensic psychiatric hospital stood.
“Everyone ready?” Blaise asked Agent Ganos and Dr. Jamie Baxter.
“Ready,” Agent Ganos said.
Jamie was silent.
“You alright there, Dr. Baxter?”
“No, not really,” Jamie said, looking at the building that looked identical to the hospital he’d been working at before the outbreak.
“What’s the problem?” Blaise asked as he approached the building.
“Not a problem, captain. I’m ready to do what I need to do. I just don’t have experience with this. Clearing KVs, I can do all day long. But this…this is different.”
“What do you normally think about when you clear KVs?” Blaise asked.
“My ex-wife or my sister.”
“No, them sending me hate messages,” Jamie explained, getting out his gun.
“Well, I’ll let you in on a little secret. None of us have done this before. So just go with what’s worked for you in the past, adapt it, and don’t get killed,” Blaise replied.
The car came to a stop and they got out. Blaise signaled for Rosen and Drake to park at the other end of the lot. He made another hand gesture and the two teams began their approach.
“They are onsite.” Fenwick announced.
“Great,” Lieutenant Marshall said.
“What?” Fenwick saw a torrent of data surge across his panel.
“What’s happening?” Lieutenant Marshall asked.
“There’s a data surge. The whole place is lighting up.”
“Well, do something!” Lieutenant Marshall shouted.
“I am! Just give me a second!”
“They don’t have a second!”
Fenwick sent a series of commands through the municipal systems and shut down grid supply to the surrounding area, then moved into a federal data stream and sent a message down the line to shut off the power at the hospital. There was a flickering and a code came back confirming the order. The power went out and then the power was up again. “The facility has a backup generator system on a secured circuit,” Fenwick complained.
“What can you do?” Lieutenant Marshall asked.
“I’m going to try and do a workaround.”
Jamie, Agent Ganos and Captain Jericho Blaise were just inside the reception lobby when the facility powered up. The notification systems began to play their visitor notices. “You have entered a federal psychiatric facility. For your safety, security personal will escort you to our residence visitor center. Please provide our reception staff with your visitation notice.”
The message repeated as they walked across the lobby to the secured entrance at the far end. A panel illuminated with a list of items that could not be brought into the facility and an announcement repeated the list.
“This is a federal psychiatric facility. No fire arms, explosives, bladed devices, nail clippers, tooth brushes, hairbrushes, containers of liquids, food items, printed materials, medications, personal communication devices, commerce credits, digital media, religious publications, or unapproved communication data can be brought into a federal psychiatric facility. By entering this facility you are authorizing security personnel to perform body scans, cavity searches and seizures of any contraband items. Violations of these guidelines or refusal to submit to security personnel inspection is a federal offense punishable by not less than five years of incarceration in a federal facility.”
The message repeated in Spanish.
“God, this is so like going to work,” Jamie said.
“Well, let’s hope Fenwick can get the systems down so we can get in,” Blaise said.
The lights flickered, the systems went down. Blaise heard the sound of a lock system disengage.
“Go through, NOW!” he barked.
The three of them rushed through the door and when they got to the other side, the facility powered up again. “Back-up generators,” Jamie said.
An alarm sounded. “Security Alert! Security Alert!”
“Our guns,” Blaise said.
“Shit!” Agent Ganos exclaimed.
“But there is no security team here,” Jamie observed, walking forward.
There was a cracking sound and Jamie was thrown backwards.
“Federal facilities have the dischargers,” Blaise explained to the now supine doctor.
“Ouf,” Jamie managed, thankful that the shock hadn’t stopped his heart.
“Is there a tank room where they store the gases?” Agent Ganos asked, crouching behind a support column.
Jamie shook his head. “They did away with the tank systems when the med techs union demanded hazard pay for transferring them between floors. The gases are piped up through to operating rooms.”
“We could try blowing the fire suppression system,” Agent Ganos suggested.
“Not a good idea,” Blaise said, crouching behind another column, the alarm still sounding. “It isn’t water, but it is still conductive.”
“What then?” Agent Ganos asked.
“Low tech,” Blaise said, and removed something from his pack.
“What is that?” Agent Ganos asked.
“Something that has been around so long it won’t be on the system,” Blaise replied, setting down his gun.
He walked forward raised his arm up, sighted, pulled back and released. There was a shattering sound as the ceramic casing of the discharge unit cracked. Jericho Blaise sighted on the now flashing and sparking electrical head that was exposed and drew back, released again. There was a shower of sparks and now the electrical head was a series of broken connections.
“What was that?”
“An old fashioned wrist rocket and a couple of pebbles,” Blaise smiled.
“Wrist rocket?” Jamie asked, getting up.
“Sling shot,” Agent Ganos explained.
“That is low tech,” Jamie said, retrieving his gun.
“In a pinch a cut jock strap and a stone works too,” Blaise informed him, retrieving his gun from behind the column.
The team proceeded down the corridor to the main building.
Rosen and Drake had entered the kitchens before the power went on. The kitchens, which were a series of stainless steel benches, a walk in secured storage unit, a heater unit and dispensing stations where food bags would be hung and pressure plates would dispense the food through plastic udders, were all clean, empty and secured.
“No knives or pots,” Rosen observed.
“Nope,” Agent Drake said. “Haven’t been any utensils in fed psych facilities, lock ups or airport kitchens since a senator snuck a steak knife onto a plane from an airport terminal restaurant at Tampa International in 2016 to show the risk.”
“Really?” Rosen asked.
“Yep. He’s still in a federal lock up for that stunt,” Agent Drake added, advancing to where the kitchen opened out into a service corridor.
The power flickered off and then on again. Then they heard the alarm.
“Visitor center clear!” Agent Ganos announced, coming out of the blue-gray room adjacent to the corridor.
“Holding room clear!” Jamie said, rolling out of a room where patients were kept to wait for their visitors.
“Guard station is clear,” Blaise added, and motioned for the two of them to join him in the guard room.
Jamie came in first and Blaise directed him to go to the monitor panels. Jamie saw the text scrolling up on the monitors. Over and over again it read “There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.”
“Anything?” Blaise asked.
“I don’t think it’s a technosis, if that’s what you mean,” Jamie said. “It just says ‘There’s no place like home,’ over and over again.”
“Anything else?” Blaise asked.
Jamie looked at the other monitor panels and saw that surveillance monitors had been tracking them, and he saw other monitors that were tracking Rosen and Drake. The rolling message on the panel stopped and was replaced by a single line.
“They are tracking us and they’ve sent us a new message,” Jamie explained, coming out of the guard station.
“What’s that?” Agent Ganos asked.
“Welcome to the house, Team Lemming.”
As they progressed up the corridor they heard a series of pops behind them, followed by a crackle, and then the guard station burst into flames.
Rosen and Drake continued up through the service corridors into the patients’ care bays. Each bay had six semi-private beds, the mattresses of which were missing. All that was left was the bed frames and the restraints. Drake and Rosen cleared seven bays by the time they reached the center of the building.
“Freaky,” Rosen said, as they started to clear the eighth bay.
“How?” Drake asked.
“All of these cuffs and crap, it looks like an S&M convention hall,” Rosen answered, smiling.
“Um…” Rosen began.
“What is it?” Drake asked.
“Remember that convention I was talking about?”
“The one your mama goes to?” Drake smiled.
“No, Drake. This is some serious shit here,” Rosen said, advancing with his gun fixed on a point at the end of the bay.
Agent Drake backed in toward the unit where Rosen was focusing his attention. He turned and faced the bed; beneath a sheet was the figure of a woman, her hands and wrists manacled to the bed. Drake motioned for silence and moved forward. He reached for the edge of the sheet and pulled it back. The figure was nude, eyes covered, stretched out on the steel bed frame. Drake noticed her chest wasn’t rising or falling. Drake held his breath.
“It’s a doll,” Rosen said.
“What?” Drake asked, finally breathing.
“It’s one of those ‘really dolls’ the Chinese used to churn out. With the tech, the sound, really skin, complains after sex.”
“How do you know so much about them?” Drake asked.
“Fuck you. Everyone knows about them and the sili-clap that the buyers contracted,” Rosen snapped.
“What is it doing here?”
Rosen pulled the mask off the doll and saw its eyes. They stared at him and then they blinked. “Oh, please, please,” the doll started to talk.
“One of the stupid fantasy routines,” Rosen said.
The doll started rocking from side to side.
“Is it supposed to do that?” Drake asked.
“Probably some bondage routine program.”
The doll stopped, arched its back, twisted the head under itself and stared at the two of them.
“Shit, it’s flexible,” Drake remarked.
“One, two,” the doll said.
“What?” Drake asked.
“Run!” Rosen yelled, running out of the unit.
“Peek a boo!” the doll said.
Drake was just outside of the unit when the doll erupted in flames, followed by an explosion.
“Get to the central stairwell,” Rosen said. “It touched off the oxygen line.”
Bays eight and nine were quickly engulfed in flames and smoke was filling the service corridor.
“Damn it!” Fenwick swore as he tried to make entry into the hospital’s security code. “I keep getting locked out.”
“What can you do?”
“There’s a trapdoor in the federal code. But I’m sure that they are there already,” Fenwick said.
“Do whatever you can,” Lieutenant Marshall advised.
“I am.” Fenwick was sending streams of code as quickly as he could. “Ok, I’ve got the oxygen lines shut down.”
Smoke and soot were filling the hall behind Rosen and Drake as the flames receded behind them.
“Uneventful walk through,” Blaise said, smiling at Rosen.
“Cake walk,” Rosen agreed. “I noticed you rung the bell on your way in.”
“Just being neighborly. How about we take a stroll topside and find out who’s home.”
“Sounds good to me, captain.”
“I’ll take point,” Blaise said, and pushed open the stairwell door.
The stairwells were illuminated by spiraling light bars. Jamie looked up the central well and saw that there were landings at each of the floors with a terminal landing that he presumed let out onto the roof.
Blaise ascended quickly to the first floor landing and laid on his stomach. He pulled something small and flat from his pack and slid it beneath the door. Blaise gave a signal for them to retreat down the stairs.
“Here,” he said, passing each of them foam balls.
“What are these for?” Jamie asked.
“Squeeze them tight and stuff them in your ears. Leave a bit out so you can pull them out later,” Blaise told him.
Jamie and the rest of the team plugged their ears. Blaise signaled for them to stay where they were, halfway up the stairs to the second floor. Blaise went back to his position at the door, this time in a crouching position, his wrist rocket in place.
Jamie saw the door open. Then there was silence. He saw Blaise disappear through the door and then he heard the sound. The air in the stairwell vibrated with the sound and Jamie felt his teeth aching down to the roots and his joints swelling with pain.
“Ok, I’m in,” Fenwick announced.
“Great, what’s going on?”
The monitor displaying the outside surveillance systems scanned the outside of the building. There was a shaking of the display, and the windows of the second floor burst outwards and two of the surveillance cameras went dark.
“Something blew out the second floor.”
“An explosion?” Lieutenant Marshall asked.
“More like a shockwave. I’m moving up the floors. Shit!”
“Third, fourth and fifth are loaded with explosives. They’re our tech antipersonnel gear,” Fenwick said, now frantically sending streams of data down the line.
Then there was silence. Blaise came back out to the second floor landing. He motioned for them to follow him and went on up to the third floor. Blaise took out his earplugs and signaled for them to do the same.
“Why aren’t we clearing that floor?” Jamie asked.
“The little gift they left for us means there is no point. They rigged the second floor with shockwave units. I tripped them off and they blew the second floor out. There is nothing there to clear,” Blaise stated.
Fenwick slid in a few more codes. “I hope the captain understands.”