THE HEIST OF IRON MOUNTAIN (Amara Quest Series)

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CHAPTER 13

“What the hell?” the Messenger was on all fours and cursed as he came face to face with huge rotating fan blades blocking his way in the ventilation duct, unfortunately the speed was not stable; rotating slowly at some time and then speeding up a bit.

He studied the pattern and his thermal imaging spotted motion sensors and triggers around the blades, any disturbances would immediately trigger alarms,

“This might hurt a little,” he cursed under his breath and bid his time before throwing himself forward on his belly and slid through the small gap between two metal blades. He narrowly missed the blades by inches as it picked up speed.

The micro bots were already in the facility and they were equipped with high definition cameras that provided him with the live video feeds, they equally directed him on which way to follow and by calculation he was currently above the famed data center known as ‘Room 48’, he could slightly feel the heat emanating through the vents through his vest; one more minute of crawling would bring him to the expansive hallway where the vault door was located.

Something shiny glinted up ahead and caught his eye; he switched his visor to thermal vision.

“I’ll be damned if that’s not an old air-conditioner? Iron Mountain couldn’t be any more careless, I’ve just got to assume it’s some sort of old relic purposely left behind. We’re taking this way babies,” the micro bots flew into the ventilation ducts and he began working on the air-condition vent.

He took out a spanner and began to loosen the nuts that held the small metal door in place; he quickly took it out and placed it quietly on the floor. He had to figure out a way of pulling out the air-conditioner without disconnecting it from the power source because the humidity and temperature of the main vault was monitored 24/7.

Hot air blew at him from the back of the AC, he placed his gloved hands on the two sides and pulled, the AC budged and he applied more forced. Within a minute, he had the Air conditioner on the floor of the duct, its wires stretching deep within the hole in the stone wall. The tiny holes created by the wires through the thick wall was big enough for the micro bots to get into the vault.

“Your turn,” he controlled the micro bots through his headset and they flew through the hole one after the other and got into the vault.

He switched the interface on the multifunction visor to the micro bots camera and the vault room came into view. The whole place was painted in spotless white color; tall cabinets that seemed to be over a thousand were arranged perfectly in rows and filled up the vast space. Indicator lights located in front of each drawer on the cabinets were blinking continuously.

Those drawers held lots of invaluable items, most of them safeguarded priceless jewelries and artworks but The Messenger was least interested in them, he was on an errand and he had to carry it out.

After a quick search around the vault, he soon found the drawer he was looking for; ‘#GF345U’ was printed in front of the drawer. He navigated one of the micro bots around it and got a good look at the lock; as he had expected, it had a fingerprint scanner, an iris scanner and a complex four tiered combination lock. The micro bots could take care of the combination lock with their Artificial Intelligence (AI) capabilities, a tutorial on how to pick the particular lock had been pre-programmed into their software.

“It’s time for the real deal, three minutes is all we’ve got,” he switched over to the micro bots that had successfully infiltrated the power house and were lodged in different parts of the power generator engine.

“Too bad, I won’t miss you guys,” he triggered the self-destruction mechanism and their cameras went blank.

“I just hope it works,” within a minute the lights on the whole facility turned off for a couple of seconds before the red emergency lights came on and the alarms started blaring loudly.

The coordinated serenity of ‘The Underground’ as the employees prefer to call it, suddenly changed as security personnel’s, employees and engineers ran helter-skelter trying to figure out what was going on.

For starters, everyone in ‘The Underground’ would remain there for as long as the power outage lasts, the only way out is the mechanical escape pods which could not possibly extract the over two thousand personnel’s underground including the management officials and some of their clients who might have decided to drop by and inspect their treasures.

From his uncomfortable position, the Messenger could hear a male voice on the public address system assuring them that nothing serious was happening and it was only a technical issue; he grinned and went back to work.

With the biometric system temporary disabled, the micro bots went to work on the combination lock and the door of the drawer popped open,

“Cool,” he muttered and directed the micro bots to get a better view of his prize; then something unexpected happened, the alarms in the vault had been triggered and the cameras were showing security agents running towards the vault door with heavy weapons,

“Change of plans,” he said and pulled out the powerful laser pen, the charge left in it was not much but it might do the job. He laid sideways on his belly and stuck his hand inside the compartment that previously housed the air-conditioner carefully avoiding the cables, he felt the cold stone wall and wedged the laser pen between his hand and the wall,

“One, two, go,” he applied a lot of energy on handle of the device as the powerful beam cut through the thick stone wall, when he was sure that he had made something of a circular shape, he pulled out the hot laser pen and dropped it on the floor of the duct.

He checked the video cameras on his visor; three Iron Mountain officials in suits were working on the 22 ton vault door with security agents armed to the teeth surrounding them, the cameras cut off suddenly – the firewall of the facility servers must have discovered his little tricks and his instincts kicked into over-drive.

The micro bots may be able to lift the silver encased scroll but they won’t be able to push the section of the wall he cut out back inside, he had to risk pushing it out and that would mean a lot of things – they would know how he came in and track him down if he was not fast enough.

“Then, I must be faster,” he clenched his fist while inserting it down the hole and punched the section he had cut out, he heard some noise as particles of rock fell deep down. He kept on hitting it repeatedly and soon the rock fell into the vault and the pressure sensors picked up the disturbance immediately.

With his thermal imager he could virtually see through the thick wall and he could make out some figures moving at the further left side of the vault room,

“Over there boys,” the micro bots swarmed into the drawer and effortlessly lifted the long silver cylinder off the drawer and flew towards the hole; a security agent came into view,

“What the hell was that, I’ve got something here!” he edged closer and stuck his head in the hole where the scroll disappeared into, he landed heavily on the marble floor as a stone hit his forehead smashing his goggles. Other security agents rushed to where he was and they were met with tiny explosions as the micro bots exploded in mid-air,

“Suspect is within the facility, initiate a lockdown immediately. I repeat, Initiate a lockdown immediately. All Team H and J agents proceed to all the six duct entrances and exits,” the head of security spoke into his walkie-talkie, two agents carried the downed agent and two other injured agents out of the vault

The Messenger was crawling as fast as he could, there was a whole minute and thirty seconds left before the lid of the ventilation duct explodes and the hover bike would come to his rescue but he obviously didn’t have that much time before the agents swarm in, so he had to get a view of it so that he could shoot at the bomb and detonate it prematurely.

He bypassed the huge fan blades and he could see a thin streak of light a few meters ahead; the silver tube that contained the vellum was strapped to his utility belt and it kept on hitting on his belly as he moved.

He could now stand up straight in-between the pipes that he had slid down from earlier on and he pulled out his gun from its holster and aimed at the nearly invisible lid, the first shot hit one of the pipes and water began trickling out from it, he shot twice again and the military grade explosive detonated and it reverberated throughout the whole structure.

He quickly recovered from the after-shock; the headgear hadminimized the effects; he reached for the remote control and pressed the first button and after some seconds, he pressed the second and then the last and he waited patiently. Smoke clouded his view and more pipes seemed to have been affected as the trickling of water increased and was now coming from different directions; he just closed his eyes and waited.

The agents seemed to have found their way into the duct as he heard the scraping of their guns against the metal behind him, he opened his eyes and saw laser pointers scattered around him but it seemed they had not seen him yet because the pointers kept moving about randomly, the noise was getting closer and he was about to attempt climbing up when he heard the soft hum of the hover bike and he looked up.

“There you are baby,” the sleek bike was hovering straight up in midair and he virtually hugged it and had to raise his hands above his head to grab the handles, the exhaust-like repulsors positioned in between the tail lights propelled the bike upward for the 200 feet journey at top speed and bullets flew past him as the security agents kept on firing shots at him.

The hole made by the blast was large enough to let him and the bike to pass through; the futuristic vehicle uses gyroscopic mechanism to detect the body movements of the rider and responds by turning to the direction.

The Messenger pulled up when the bike got close to the roof of the parking lot, the space previously occupied by his van was now burning with his van in the middle of the flames, three surrounding cars equally caught fire and the three fire service vehicles in the facility surrounded the area, with the firemen battling the flames.

Shots were fired at him and it ricocheted off the ceiling, he looked down and saw about ten heavily armed guards pointing their laser guided guns at him

“You are advised to surrender on the count of three or you are toast,” he heard a male voice on the loud Public Address system,

“You guys would have been the toast, you just got lucky that I happened to change my mind about blowing up this parking lot,” he muttered to himself.

“One!” the voice came again; he checked the light but powerful weapon system on the bike – three rocket propelled missiles which should have been four in number, one of them must have slipped out in the mayhem. He planned to blow down the three metal gates that served as the checkpoints but one missile would undoubtedly not be enough to take down the 3 ton steel that served as the main gate for the entrance,

“Two!” the rest of the weapon system were operational, the laser-powered gun not excluded.

He clenched his teeth and before the speakers sounded “Three!” he had leant in as close as possible to the front protective glass of the hover bike and the bike plummeted downward and he quickly pulled up and made for the first checkpoint as they kept on firing shots at him.

“Suit yourselves, I’m outta here,” he fired one of the rocket propelled missiles and the metal gate blasted open, two of the guards at the gate aimed at him with their guns but he shot them down first with his gun while holding onto the bike with the other.

The second gate was not far off and he blasted it open as he did the first, alarms were blaring everywhere and the facility were calling in reinforcements, he needed to be quick – the last thing he wanted was being captured on camera. From a short distance he fired shots at the central lock of the main gate before sending out the last missile, the heavy gate creaked before it slowly went down sending dust around the whole place.

He shot at some more guards and as soon as he got outside, he aimed and shot down the sniper who was already poised behind the camouflaged sniper rifle waiting for him to emerge. He veered the vehicle backwards and faced the facility, dust beclouded the whole entrance; he gave the silver tube a reassuring tap and tapped a button on his headset,

“Log mission 532LT status: Mission accomplished,” he grinned from ear to ear and sped away from the disturbance underneath him.

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