‘Great.’ Milo said to one of the collective members who specialised in accounting. ‘Get me data on what they grabbed from other organisations. We’ll drop that in their mail to heat things up.’
‘I’ll cross-reference and they can get it by noon.’
‘I see some accounts on officials.’
‘Forward that to Miller from Listener’s News. She’s a bitch but she will rip the shit out of them.’ Milo said and grinned. ‘Once in a while she’s useful. What else do we got?’
The guy looked through the lists. ‘Subsidies for their projects, probably by bribing. Tax evasions which will interest the agency.’
‘Nice. Drop anything interesting at any department that can damage them.’
‘Nothing financially on your boss though.’
‘He’s careful, no surprise there.’ Milo said and patted the guy’s shoulder. ‘Good work.’
‘We hit the jackpot.’ Ahmin said, coming into the room with Terri. ‘We decrypted the data from the laptop and we might be able to put together the program to extract the key.’
‘Is there still a way to get it into any backbone?’ Milo asked.
‘We have insiders at two of the main suppliers.’ Theresa said with a devious smile. ‘We can get it installed with the help of our insiders at the providers.’
‘I had a feeling you had your hands in a lot more of the infrastructure than you let on.’ Milo said.
‘If you knew what we and others are capable off you’d throw out all your electronics.’
‘I do. Which is why I use custom equipment for myself.’
‘If only the rest of the world would wake up.’ Terri said.
‘At least we’re not after controlling the population.’ Theresa said.
‘Eevi’s a dead end though.’ another member said looking at a printout. ‘She’s living offline.’
Theresa looked at the data. ‘No address, static info. She knows how to hide.’
‘She might go underground or get taken down with others, no need to concern ourselves especially with her right now.’ Milo said. ‘We need to prevent them from completing their goal and get the key for ourselves.’
‘Right.’ Theresa said. ‘Sit back and watch our show.’
During the day criminal fronts got unexpected envelopes and packages containing information on their losses, government agencies got incriminating information on their spending and news agencies got hold of their new shocking headlines.
Milo monitored his department alongside the monitoring the collective had.
‘Busy day.’ Terri said, looking at the headlines.
‘I think we’ve started the scandal of the century, although it probably just lasts until the next celebrity fuck-up is presented to the public.’ Milo said. ‘It’ll only be recognised much later when it doesn’t matter anymore.’
‘But it’ll keep everyone occupied for now until we get a hold on the key and them.’
The collective saw the paybacks occurring between the criminals and agencies breaking down doors that evening already.
‘Damn.’ said one of the guys seeing footage of a shooting. ‘This is awful.’
‘Yeah.’ said Milo. ‘But this is what happens outside the public view anyway. It’s horrible, but we got to bear the burden.’
‘We’re working on the decrypter. Several providers are installing our patch right now.’ Theresa said.
‘Now we wait until we get the key from all the data.’
Terri and Milo returned to the hotel at the end of the day while the collective went on with their tasks.
‘You think we’ve put a halt to their plan?’ Terri asked, walking into the room.
‘I think so. At least for now. And if they find a way to get out we should already have the means to expose the government so it’s useless.’
‘I hope s-.’ Terri said and stopped the moment she saw Eevi sitting on the couch.
‘If you think you’re the only ones to have informants you’re really mistaken. Money makes anything insecure.’ she said and aimed her gun at Terri.
Before Terri could get shot Milo pushed her to the ground, pulling out his own gun and fired a few shots at the couch before pulling Terri back into the hallway.
‘Fuck!’ she said, scrambling down the stairs. ‘Why didn’t I smell her!?’
‘There are so many bad scents here, I’d be surprised you would have.’ Milo said, running after her.
They burst through the door of the parking garage and saw their car on flat tires.
‘No wonder there were no others above.’ Milo said. ‘She must have kept them all outside to wait for us on to be on foot.’ He looked around. ‘And no way to tap into any of the back-doors on these cars with my mobile.’
‘Does it have to be a car?’ asked Terri.
Seconds later a utility truck sped out of the building, its tires squealing as it turned on the street. The henchmen blocking the street with their cars weren’t really prepared to take on that massive vehicle and moved their cars out of its path as fast as they could.
The truck went cleanly through them and they started their pursuit.
‘Where to?’ asked Terri, taking a hard left at the end of the street, avoiding heading to crowded streets.
‘Somewhere we can get to fast. No dead ends.’ Milo said. ‘The old canal harbour? Enough room and exits at both ends.’
‘All right!’ she said and swerved around a car in front of her.
‘Keep on their tail!’ Eevi said, walking to the car waiting for her. ‘Don’t try to get them off the road, that truck is too heavy to try that. Just follow them for now.’
‘Ahmin.’ he said answering his phone.
‘Milo here! Disband! Eevi’s found us and has informants inside!’
‘Yes! They’re in pursuit of the truck we stole right now! The project is compromised so get out of there! Get the laptop and have Theresa shut down that site!’
‘I’m on my way!’ Ahmin said and ran off to the control room.
‘They’re only following us.’ Terri said, going full throttle. ‘They’re not overtaking even though they’re much faster than this thing.’
‘They must be planning something to take us out. Let’s keep at it for now.’
The entrance to the harbour was easy to reach through the broad streets there.
‘They must be delaying security as well, none has showed up so far.’ Terri said.
‘With the clients for this thing I’m not surprised they can pull it off.’
‘There! It’s to our right.’ said Terri, spotting the entrance gates.
Just as she turned right a large dump truck came out from left and hit their truck hard on the side, almost tipping it over.
‘Motherfucking bastard!’ yelled Terri, frantically keeping the truck on its wheels.
‘If I wasn’t already going right that would have flipped the truck over!’ she said, aiming for one of the gates and crashing through the barrier.
The first truck appeared next to theirs while she steered it down the docks. It moved closer when their truck got hit against the other side by another dump truck. Terri tried to brake out of the pincer but was too late, the first truck smashed into their truck again.
‘Shit! Lost the camera!’ said Terri, looking at black screen of the truck’s remote control.
‘At least we got them far away enough to get out.’ Milo said, driving a rental he had arranged in the other direction. ‘We’ll ha-‘ he said when his mobile rang.
‘Terri here.’ she said, after taking it from him.
‘It’s Ahmin. The site has been abandoned but I’ve got all the data from Theresa with instructions on how to contact her.’
‘Ask if he can get to the Alfredo mall, the side entrance cameras are broken so we can meet at the lunchroom there.’ Milo said.
Terri asked and said he could make it as soon as he arranged transport.
‘We’ll switch at the next street.’ Milo told Terri. ‘I’ll arrange something for him at Minute Rental. I’ve got access there as well.’
She relayed the message and hung up just before Milo could park and have her drive.
It didn’t take long for Ahmin to show up at the small lunchroom located in a corner next to the entrance.
Milo got him a soda and Ahmin took out the laptop and two disks to hand it to Milo.
‘This is all we’ve got so far.’ Ahmin said.
‘I’ll take that, thank you very much.’
Milo looked up at his boss. ‘Director Meyer.’
‘No use running, miss Willis.’ he said to Terri, who was about to take off if Milo said so. ‘We’ve got our people at the exits.’
‘How did you find us?’ she asked.
‘Old-fashioned deduction and using the grey mass we all have, miss Willis. I knew you’d keep out of sight of surveillance, so I had the most interesting dead spots in the city staked out.’
He looked at the laptop on the table. ‘So, how did it feel to be on the run from authority again, Karl?’
Ahmin and Terri looked at Milo, who turned his cup of coffee in his hand.
‘You knew?’ Milo asked.
‘It took several years, but eventually someone who was around when you got your equipment recognised you.’
‘Why not arrest me back then?’
‘Because you were the right man to get this piece of software for me if they wouldn’t have sold it to me.’
‘What are you planning to do with it? It’s not money.’
‘No, just using it as leverage to make sure I keep in charge for a long time, including having a hand in the other departments.’
Milo nodded. ‘There just one thing though.’
Milo nodded at the court where Eevi walked up to them.
‘Director Meyer.’ she said with a sly smile.
‘Miss Mustonen. A pleasure to finally meet you.’
‘So, how did you get here?’ Terri asked.
‘Inside information.’ Eevi said.
‘I expect you didn’t come alone?’ Meyer asked.
‘I have my men covering your men, so I’ll be taking that. And you can still buy it, just for double the price this time.’ she said and reached out for the laptop and disks.
At that moment several alarms went off at the the mall and Milo kicked the legs from under the table.
‘Follow me!’ he said, grabbing the laptop and disks. ‘Kitchen!’
Terri and Ahmin ran after Milo past the surprised lunchroom owner into the kitchen.
‘Block it!’ said Milo to Ahmin, who turned over a cart and jammed a ladder between the shelves.
Milo opened two microwaves, dumped the disks and laptop in them and turned them on causing the sparks to fly. Eevi crashed into the kitchen door, trying to get through.
‘This way!’ Milo said and headed for a side door.
On the other side was a service entrance and they ran into the hallway to the exit door. Outside he led them to another car.
‘Get in!’ he said and got behind the wheel.
In a few moments they left the parking lot, swerving out of the way of other cars.
‘You expected this?’ Terri asked.
‘Prepared for it just in case.’
‘You triggered the alarms and knew about the that side door?’
‘Yeah. That lunchroom was added later to the mall and covered the old maintenance entrance. If they showed up that would be our exit.’
‘But now all the data is lost!’
‘Not quite.’ Ahmin said with a slight grin. ‘Theresa has a copy.’
‘I had her secure the data and the collective should be decrypting the communications soon, dumping the data at major sites to have them publish it.’ Milo said checking the side streets.
‘You mean they cracked the keys already?’
‘Barely in time though.’ Ahmin said. ‘If we can do the same in escaping, I’d be really grateful.’ he said, looking back at the cars going after them, some with sirens and emergency lights.
‘Seems Meyer made a deal with Eevi.’ Terri said, looking back.
‘Yeah.’ Milo said, turning hard onto a main road. ‘They’re going to go all out to hunt us down.’
‘Shit!’ Terri said and kicked the dashboard. ‘We’d have to die to get away from them now!’
‘And to think I had hoped to ask you if you’d like to come with me to my uncle’s cabin at Regalis Forest, if we could get away quietly.’
Terri looked surprised at him. ‘Me, with you?’
‘Yeah.’ he said, taking the emergency lane. ‘Ever since that kiss at the garage I’ve wanted to repeated that a lot more with you. Hold on now!’
He drove the car into one of the major connecting tunnels with squealing tires in front of a truck who had to brake hard to avoid collision. Half of the cars in pursuit crashed into the braking cars in front of them and the truck. The rest got delayed but took up the pursuit again.
The car navigation blinked a red warning about the end of the tunnel being blocked. ‘They’re trapping us!’ Terri said.
‘No they’re not. There’s a service tunnel which leads directly to a small harbour at the canal. There are small boats to go upriver undetected.’ Milo said and braked hard at one of the emergency sections.
Terri and Ahmin jumped out of the car and unlocked the service door.
‘Milo!’ she called out while he rounded the car.
‘Get in!’ he shouted and they hurried inside the hallway. He ran to her, looked at her saying ‘Sorry.’, then closed the door.
‘Milo!’ she shouted, pounding the door.
She heard the car taking off and sirens soon after.