Southbound, North Florissant Avenue
Elena gripped the door handle of the Mitsubishi Lancer hard enough to turn her knuckles white. "Please, Amber, I want to get there and back in one piece."
Amber Truswell laughed. "There was plenty of space." The Lancer's engine dropped into a throaty purr as Amber changed gears.
"If one is a gnat, perhaps. I, however, am not. Please slow down."
"Well, poo." Amber let up on the gas pedal. The Lancer's pace returned down to that of the rest of the traffic. "What are we looking for?"
"Anything special about it?"
"That's what we're going to find out."
"I see." Amber thought for a moment. "No, I don't see."
Elena sighed. "Think it through, Amber."
"Oh, I get it! We're trying to see if this alleged warehouse is really a warehouse or some high security area with guard dogs, electronic surveillance equipment, and more trip wires than Allie's lab." Amber grinned. "Makes sense. Are we making a run on it?"
"Only if we get paid-- whoa!" Elena pressed up against the door as the car made a sharp left. "Amber, what did I ask?"
"It was that or wait for the light again."
"Warn me next time."
Amber nodded. "Sure. Mind if I put on some music?"
Elena waved her hand. "Go ahead."
With one hand still on the steering wheel, Amber placed a home-made CD into the stereo. A peppy tune started up. Elena glanced down at the dash. Amber smiled as she tapped her fingers in time to the song. "Not bad, huh?"
"Depends. What is it?"
"Opening theme to KareKano. Sure, it's an older series, but few themes catch the show quite like this."
"What language is it?"
Elena rubbed the bridge of her nose. She forced a smile. "I should introduce you to other music."
"Hang on, Elena."
"Wha--" Elena's remark got cut off as the Lancer swung right on to North Broadway.
"You wanted to be warned when I turned like that."
"Yes, I did. Thank you."
Amber guided the Mitsubishi through the streets towards the river, crossing the railway tracks. Elena turned off the music two blocks away from the warehouse. The area around it was typical for an industrial park; warehouses whose only differences was the company logo painted on the sides. A lone diner stood out for its differences to the surroundings. "Should be the next one on the left," Amber said. "Drive casually?"
"Um, sure." Elena looked out the passenger window at the warehouse. Non-descript at a casual glance, the warehouse fit in with its neighbours. However, Elena took note of new sections of the fence surrounding it, and of a lack of tracks on the pavement leading to the main doors. "Drive around the block like we're lost, then head back to the office. I think we've got a job to plan for."
St. Louis, Missouri
Allison Beattie put her feet up on the only clear spot on a desk cluttered with computer parts, a bottle of water in her hand. On her computer's monitor, several windows tracked the network's status. Allison stretched, raising her hands over her head and pointing her toes. A knock rapped at the door. "Come in!"
Tyler opened the door and poked her head into the server room. "There you are. You're hogging the cold."
"Hey, Tyler! What's up?"
"Rose wants to see you in the main conference room."
Allison swung her feet to the floor. "Now?"
"In as many words, yes."
"You could say that. Elena and Amber are already there."
Allison stood up. "Gotcha. I'll grab a coffee first."
"Amber got to the pot before I could." Tyler held out a styrofoam cup that had a wisp of steam rising through its lid. "Cappuccino."
Allison smiled as she took the cup into her hands. "Ah, you're a life saver, Tyler."
"Remember that next time my computer crashes, okay?" Tyler closed the door.
Setting the cappuccino on the clear spot of her desk, Allison glanced around the room. She spotted her laptop connected directly to the switch. She walked over and disconnected it. The laptop beeped angrily at its unexpected removal from the network. Allison closed the computer, leaving it on, and left her sanctuary, stopping only to pick up her caffeinated treat. At the conference room, Elena and Rose were already seated. Amber paced the length of the window, pausing to look outside before turning and retracing her steps. Allison sat down near a network drop and plugged the laptop back in. "What's up?"
"Amber, sit, please," Elena said. The blonde-haired woman stopped mid-pace and took a seat. "Thank you."
Rose cleared her throat. "We have someone willing to pay for our services. Should be a quick job. Break in, find the plans, and leave. The client is willing to pay our asked-for rate, so we'll all get a nice bonus this month. Elena has already checked out the location, and it is cleverly disguised as a warehouse."
"Whoever is using it made the improvements look like they've been there for years," Elena added. "I didn't get any closer. No need to let the personnel onside know there's something about to happen."
"We'll be doing this by the numbers. However, I want Allie with me inside."
Allison raised an eyebrow. "Did we just run out of real numbers? Rose, I'm the computer expert."
"You've been on intrusions before," Elena pointed out.
"With both of you there to make sure my feet stepped where they were supposed to go."
"It's a hunch," Rose said. "I have a feeling that I'll need your skills more than Elena's inside."
Allison nodded. "Gotcha. I'll bring the toy box."
Amber raised her hand. "I'll be in the car, right?"
"Yes, Amber," Elena said. "In the car, with me, keeping an eye out for problems. No different than with Allison."
"Just making sure."
Rose stood up. "We'll meet here at eleven tonight, then go over to the site. Amber, make sure the van is kitted out to look like the hydro company. I'll handle the disguises. Make sure all of you get some sleep." Rose looked over at Allison. "You, too, Allie. Anything less than the network catching fire can wait, and if the network does light up, the fire department can handle it."
Allison nodded. "I'll postpone the scheduled updates for Friday morning."
"Good." Rose stood up. "Do anything you need to do now, laundry, groceries--"
"Picking up daughters," Elena added.
"Picking up daughters," Rose continued. "Thanks for the reminder. I'll be back in a couple of hours. Elena, if there's anything that needs my attention, call me on my cell phone. Otherwise, do what you need to do for our regular work and for our trip tonight."