Five armed guards were standing and keeping watch at the three ton steel yellow painted gate that served as the only main entrance to the Iron Mountain – nicknamed ‘The Underground’. The gate had an inscription that read, ‘IF GATE IS CLOSED, SOUND THE HORN TO EXIT’.
Security cameras were placed around the beams and white pillars; ‘IRON MOUNTAIN’ is boldly written above the entrance in blue color with the company’s pyramidal logo on the right side.
Iron Mountain is a corporation that renders services to approximately one hundred and fifty-six thousand organizations and individuals in over thirty-six countries by way of safeguarding valuable documents, data, priceless artifacts and a whole lot of other things unknown to outsiders.
With a security rating classified as one level below the White house and Pentagon by the U.S. government, it holds a lot of important things; from master recordings by Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra to information of top secret government agencies and even a rare1951 picture of Albert Einstein sticking out his tongue, taken in Princeton, New Jersey is one of the valuables in its possession.
Iron Mountain acquired the underground facility when it bought National Underground Storage Inc. in 1998; since the facility is located deep within a limestone mine, security is ensured as its over 2,700 employees enter the facility through an opening on the side of the rocky hill.
In addition, the facility has its own restaurant, water treatment plant and backup power to last for a week, huge biometrically locked safes; Vaults are cooled to forty-five degrees with thirty-five percent humidity. Hot air dissipated from the main data center known as ‘Room 48’ is cooled with geothermal properties and then redistributed throughout the facility through the ceiling ducts.
“Identify yourself Please,” one of the armed guards walked over to the van and tapped on the tinted windscreen on the driver’s side,
“Here,” the Messenger handed over the ID card to the guard, there were four more of them hanging around the entrance with advanced automatic rifles, he also took note of the sniper wedged and camouflaged between two boulders above on the left side of the entrance and scoffed at the thought of hiring a sniper just to guard an entrance.
The guard walked over to a computer mounted on a tripod beside the gate and inserted the ID, after some time he returned with the card,
“You a freshman huh?” the guard asked, his face could barely be seen because of the headgear they all donned, it was hard to ascertain whether the question was a suspicious or friendly one.
“Yeah, I guess I’m getting the hang of the whole thing,” he said casually with a wave of his fingers.
“I see, mind if I check the back of the van?” the guard asked.
“I just delivered some top priority stuff, no keys,” the Messenger said trying to be as casual as possible,
“Top priority?” he pressed,
“I don’t think this would do any good, you know we’ve got timers on these things and I just managed to slip myself a couple of minutes, you can check that in the system, maybe next time big guy,”
“Next time huh, move this piece of junk freshman,” the guard said after hesitating for a moment, he signaled the guards at the gate and the gate slid open.
The Messenger passed through two more similar checkpoints but all he had to do was to present the ID card to the guards and it would be processed; finally a man dressed in a yellow uniform that looked like those worn by road Marshalls directed the vehicle to a parking lot and he parked between two similar vans.
As usual, he had already done a full survey of the concealed security cameras and he already knew their positions from the blueprint he had gotten from Mr. Anderson Smith, the image of the vault makers horrified face flashed in his mind and he smirked.
He checked in and opened the door of the van. He made sure that the cameras caught him moving out of the parking lot to the restaurant before he rounded one of the three ambulance vehicles parked a few meters away, he walked over to one of the massive pillars and made his way in-between other heavy vehicles back to his van.
He got in through the back quickly as another heavy van pulled up beside his van; inside the spacious van is an air-conditioned computer laboratory spotting different high end computer systems, hi-tech devices and equipment’s.
“Here we go,” he muttered and put on leather gloves; he typed in some commands into his computer system and soon gained control of all the security cameras in the facility, it would take thirty minutes before the firewall of the Iron Mountain security serves gets an update from the central server and discover the new viral strings in the database program.
He located the target vault room which had four security cameras that rotated at regular intervals; the room is painted white and the safes looked like huge black lockers with biometrical and combination locks, inside one of those drawers was what he came for, the prototype of a scientific breakthrough of some sort discovered by a secret club of scientists spear-headed by Luigi Galvani which the government managed to lay hands on and immediately deemed it too dangerous to be carried out on, for close to ten years it had been government property till his client purchased it a very high price.
The Messenger logged into the database and called up the inventory,
“This is one hell of an inventory,” he muttered under his breath, he searched for Luigi; a few names like Martinez Luigi, Dozzy Luis and few other millionaire names.
He narrowed the search to government property and thousands of items popped up, after scanning through the long list for a while he came across a ‘Paper Catalogues’ category which included important pieces of paper and notepads like personal letters and jottings of some United States Presidents, scientists and other notable people, he nearly gave up on it before something caught his attention.
‘EXPERIMENTAL PROCEDURE; ITALIAN NOTES BY ALOISIO GALVANI, GIOVANNI ALDINI, WILLIAM NICHOLSON ET AL.’
He read the description – ‘A single roll of vellum stored in a silver case and inscribed with the name of the participants, Language: Italian’
He Googled the first name and soon confirmed that the full name of the Scientist was Luigi Aloisio Galvani, an Italian scientist who discovered animal electricity and pioneered bio-electromagnetic research.
“There you are,” he noted the vault drawer number and located it on the camera’s live feed of the particular vault room, the cameras could not provide a front view of the lockers; that was an advantage he hoped to use later.
He lifted the leather covering of his escape vehicle on a corner of the vehicle, a light and shiny black propulsion hover bike made of carbon fiber and fitted with laser weapons; he smiled and brushed off invisible dust from the leather seat.
The floor section of the van where the vehicle stood would open inside out at the push of a button on the small remote he had with him, another button was responsible for activating the hover-bike and the third would cause the van to explode – he had it all mapped out and programmed for one of the greatest heist to take place in the Iron Mountain.
He had little time; the biometric systems of all the vaults in the facility require electricity unlike the conventional combination lock and to avoid accidents, the biometric systems are automatically disabled when there is power outage and it takes the backup power generator approximately five minutes to be activated – which means that he has exactly five minutes to steal the priceless scientific formulae and escape the facility.
He heard a knock at the backdoor of the van and he stood still, the knock became louder and he tip-toed to the door; he was sure that the van is out of commission and servicing for the next one hour and they had assumed that he went on a lunch break. He looked through a peep hole and saw that it was two uniformed van drivers.
“I’m pretty sure I saw Pete get in here and close the door,” one of them said,
“Just cut it, he might have headed for the restaurant and if it’s one of those silly games he plays, he’ll sure know that we didn’t get it,”
“Damn that freshman dude, if he keeps playing around like this I’m gonna make sure he gets his sorry ass kicked,”
“Just chill bro, I got my eyes on him,” they kept on talking as they walked away.
He heaved a sigh of relief and went back to work; he peeled off the synthetic face mask and suited up in a black sky overall suit that covered him from head to toe; he zipped up the leather suit and grabbed his head-gear from a duffel bag. He switched on the head-gear and went to the system to activate it and link it to his little electronic friends – micro robots.
The twenty miniature robots ripped the leather purse they were contained in and rolled out like tiny metallic balls to his feet.
The Messenger grinned and put on the headgear; It contains special equipment’s like night-vision goggles, thermal imaging, a 3-D interface and ultra-electromagnetic receivers and transmitters attached to specific points on his head that would enable him to communicate with the micro robots, he just had to do the thinking and decide on the number of robots to do whatever he wants,
“Let’s see how you fly,” he said and the balls metamorphosed into bees and spread out their mechanical wings and he controlled them into a pyramidal formation.
“You guys are not as fast as I expected, though there’s a little more work to be done but that will do for today. Let the party begin because you’ve got just eight minutes before that little battery of yours drains out,” he unlatched and opened the floor of the van and lifted it up like a lid before he slid out onto the floor of the garage and the micro bots swarmed out through the same opening.
The Messenger soon located a sealed metal lid on the gravel floor of the garage that led to a manhole and he crawled under the cars before he got to it.
He pulled out a laser pen, turned it on and waited for some time for it to get fully activated before he used the powerful beam to carefully make a circled around the metal lid.
He heard the sound of a car engine overhead and he soon looked up to discover that the car he lay under had been turned on.
“Over to you guys,” he muttered and controlled the swarm of micro-robots and they quickly lifted the heavy lid and pushed it aside, he quickly slipped in and strapped himself to the wall of the manhole as the micro bots flew in and he slowly pushed the lid back in place and immediately attached a magnetic HMX bomb underneath it with a six minute timer; the tires of the car climbed the lid and in the process it helped to secure it back in place as soon as he had covered it.
So far so good, things were working out as he had planned.
Huge pillars of rock deep underground supported the upper structure of the facility and small bodies of water from a nearby lake occasionally flooded the space between the upper structure and the underground structure.
Employees move about the vast structure with the aid of golf carts bearing the company logo and accessed the underground facility through two elevators, mechanically operated emergency pods were also on standby and were used occasionally especially in the case of a power failure.
The Messenger landed heavily and water splashed all over, he wiped some of the water from his visor and pressed a button on the headgear, the map of his current location popped up on the visor and he zoomed in on the power house which was a few meters away;
“Let me see, two security guards; five micro bots would do,” he deployed five of the micro bots northwards to the power house where they would lodge themselves in different parts of the huge power generator and when the right time comes, he’ll activate their self-destruction mechanism which would cause minor explosions in the power generator.
He’ll have to take the ventilation ducts that led down to ‘Room 48’ and that was the closest he could get to the main vault; there were big pipes transporting water which ran through the huge ventilation duct – he had to share the space with them.
He strapped up himself and tightened the strap around one of the big pipes, the straps were fitted with small rollers and lots of them attached to his leather separated him from the pipe, the bullet proof vest would make him not to feel a thing.
“This is going to be one hell of a ride,” he muttered under his breath and loosened the strap a bit and began the 200 feet ride underground.