Once I get back to the hotel, I take a shower to freshen up. During my shower, I start to think how I am going to get access to the server. I need to know where the server is kept and what the access is like to get inside and retrieve the data. I want help as I have no experience of breaking into a building. I remember Miles telling me in his office that he is pairing me up with someone and they would be here in Saint Tropez. I hope this person has the skills to break into a server room. I do not remember how I will meet him and where and what time. I decide to give Miles a call to ask him and explain that I need to break into a building to gather further information.
I dial my mobile to get hold him.
I feel awkward calling him, not knowing if he is with his fiancée and some weirdo is calling him. After a few rings, he picks up, ‘Hel-lo?’
I am silent at first not knowing how to explain my situation, ‘Ugh, hi, it’s Jane. I am still in Saint Tropez.’
Miles goes quiet and cannot work out if the phone signal has dropped off, ‘What are you doing calling me?’
I sense he is with his fiancée, ‘Well since I last saw you, I was chased in a car, shot at and just about dropped Ivor off at the airport. Now I need to break into a building. Was wondering when this guy is coming to see me. Also can he break into a building.’
Miles is out for dinner with his fiancée and has had to walk out of the restaurant to the bar to pick up the call, ‘I am with my fiancée. We are having dinner. And you call to tell me that you have been in a car chase.’
I think about what he has just said, ‘Well, the point I wanted to make was the latter. I need this man here now.’
Miles closes his eyes in disbelief, ‘He should be there already. If he is not, then obviously he is running late. He is black, tall. You can’t miss him, being so short yourself.’
I feel insulted, ‘Was that a dig at me? Are you being serious? I tired and I think I still have glass in my hair.’
Miles wants to end the call and notices his fiancée starring at him and so he motions being on the phone, ’I
got to go. Trust me he will be there.’
I am stunned, ‘But—’
Miles is sharp, ‘Bye! I am hanging up the phone.’
I am furious that he hung up and I want to call him. This was not a friendly call to me. I am worried about how I am going to get this data all by myself. I cannot ignore it as it is valuable to the agency investigation on this Vladimir. As I am working myself up, suddenly there is a knock on the door. It makes me jump. I quickly walk over to the peep hole of the door. I cannot believe it. It is my partner and not only my partner, Charles. I quickly open the door to let him in.
I quickly ask him, ‘How was the flight?’
Charles is chilled out, ‘It was okay. I have come with some extra kit as well as my luggage.’
I do not really take in what he said and just jump straight in with work, ‘Cool. A guy called Ivor told me that Vladimir’s profile is on a server in Nice. It should show us where his illegal companies are trading. So one by one, shut them down.’
Charles looks at me stunned, ‘Us?’
I try to give him a quick version, ‘My contact was Ivor. He gave me an address where a server holding data on Vladimir is. I have been waiting for my partner to arrive so we can go there. I just didn’t think it was you.’
Charles has a blank face, ’Well I didn’t have time to
tell you, as I was in hurry.’
I am relieved it is him. Someone I have familiarity with, ‘No. I am not annoyed. It’s just I had no idea what he, you would be like. If it could be one of the guys who tried to kill me this morning.’
Charles looks at me worried now, ‘Were you hurt?’
My mind goes blank thinking about his question, ‘Uh, no. Just the car. You should see the car.’
I cannot stop finding him attractive. He looks different to when he trained me, and at the lift on Friday. I cannot believe it is Sunday now and we are both here. God I would love to kiss him. I am just staring at his physique and his dark brown eyes.
Charles looks at me concerned, ‘You okay? You seem to be somewhere else.’
I realise I am staring at him, ‘Oh. No. Just relieved that you are here.’
Charles moves on with the conversation, ‘Do you have a plan how we get inside the building?’
I go to sit on the bed as Charles is carrying his things into the room, ‘I was hoping you would be able to guide me. One thing for sure, we need a car.’
Charles drove here. ‘We go in my car. What clothes are you going to wear tonight?’
He puts me on the spot, ‘I only got shorts and a dress. Hanging out at an office was not on my itinerary.’
Charles smiles, ‘Just as well I thought ahead. I assumed that you would be disorganised. I brought you some clothes.’
I am relieved, ‘Great. Will they fit? You do not know my size.’
Charles smirks, ‘I went in the children’s section. Found you a school uniform in black.’
I am not amused with his sarcasm, ‘Ha ha, very funny. I haven’t heard that one before.’
Charles laughs at me, ’Are we going to come back here
or stay where we are going?’
I have not thought that one through, ‘Which do you think is easier?’
Charles thinks about it, ‘It depends where our next stop is afterwards.’
All I can think is back to England as my intention was that, after meeting Ivor, ‘I guess we are going back to England. Unless you have other evidence to collect.’ Charles agrees, ’So, we can get a plane from there.
Where are we going?’
I tell him from memory, ‘Nice.’
Charles thinks and then says, ‘I know a nice hotel in Monte Carlo. We will stay there.’
I finish off by saying, ‘Well we better pack and check out.’
Charles is annoyed as he has carried all his luggage to the hotel room for nothing. Charles takes his things back to the car, then comes back to carry my luggage to the car. We go to Monte Carlo first to drop our luggage off at the hotel he knew. The hotel was even nicer. It overlooked the harbour, being a couple of miles away from the sea. It is a nice distraction from what we have to do tonight. It is a little after seven in the evening.
I am sat in one of the chairs in the room waiting for Charles to come up with an idea.
He thinking to himself, ‘Do you have the address?’
I think, ‘Yes, in my pocket. He scribbled the address down.’
He then asks, ‘Do you know what floor it is on?’
I remember, ‘He couldn’t tell me. I am guessing… infrared. There servers should show a heat. Or we use binoculars to see through the windows for them.’
He ponders, ‘I will ask Barney for the blueprint.’
Charles contacts Barney to see if he can hack into the Nice town planner department at their equivalent town hall, for the schematic of the building and email it over. Luckily Barney is at home. Barney logs on to his computer and is able to hack into the town planner office server. Once Charles has the email, he shows me the laptop screen and discusses the plan.
Charles opens up the blueprint of the building, ‘We can use this to see which is the easiest way to get in. You are right, we can use infrared to find the glow.’
I feel smug, ‘Based on these blueprints, it will probably be easier to go in via the fire stairs. I am sure there will be no cameras there.’
Charles looks impressed with me, ‘Absolutely. You are not just pretty.’
Charles tells me step-by-step what we are going to do when we get there. There is so much to take in. Doing my accountancy exams was easier than this. The only thing I am picking up from the plan is guns, the amount of servers and exit strategy. I have no idea how we are getting in and what time we are going to leave.
Charles smiles at me, ‘Are you okay? Is your tiny little brain taking all this in?’
He upsets me when he says that, ‘I have a degree.’
Charles smirks, ‘I thought you would be an air hostess.’
I give him a sarcastic smile, ‘I haven’t heard that one before.’
I go quiet and walk off outside onto the balcony. I did not think that Charles would be so demeaning. I had this idea in my head of Charles being kind and warming. Instead I find him obnoxious and full of himself. I rest my elbow on the stone railing of the balcony. Charles joins me on the balcony a few moments later. Charles has a look of regret as he takes a seat that is on the balcony.
I look out into the distance and say, ‘I was not hired by Miles for my appearance. He saw my skills. I did not choose to look like this. Trust me, school was no picnic.’
Charles just sits and listens to me as I rant. Each time I glance over at him in the chair, I see his dark brown eyes look right into my eyes. After I have finished ranting he says, ‘Sorry. That must have be hurtful. I guess you were bullied.’
I accept his apology, ‘I will tell you another time.’
Charles stands up and thinks about walking over to me but stops and walks back into the room. I stay outside a bit longer. When I do go back into the room, Charles had already arranged for food to come to our room We sit at the table eating a cooked meal. We do not talk and just stare at each other.
After we are finished eating, we get ready to leave the hotel for Nice. We are in the car en route to Nice. The journey is about forty minutes. Charles was not wasting time speeding over eighty miles an hour. Being introvert, I find it hard talking about nothing. Charles is quiet for the first part of the journey, watching the in-car sat nav.
Charles breaks the silence, ‘So are you nervous?’
I am caught off guard, ‘Hmm, yeah.’
Charles looks over at me with expectancy, ’You don’t say much. We have a long drive and I don’t like silence.
Why did you join?’
I am taken aback, ‘Sorry. I am naturally quiet.’
Charles repeats the question, ‘So, why did you join the service?’
I hesitate then say, ‘I was asked to look into something.’
He gives me a quizzical look with my answer and then asks, ‘What is your background?’
I become standoffish, ‘How do you mean?’
He sighs, ‘Job.’
I am relieved, ‘Oh, I am an accountant.’
He roles his eyes, ‘Another bean counter.’
I smile, ‘So what is your background?’
Charles comes across reserved, ’I used to work for
He has me interested now, ‘So what did you do there?’
Charles is reluctant to say, ‘Things that a girl like you should never see.’
I am too timid to try to push for an example, ‘It must have been bad then.’
Charles smiles, ‘This is a walk in the park compared to what I used to do.’
I make an assumption to lighten the mood, ‘I bet your girlfriend or wife is glad that you are not doing that any more.’
Charles does not respond to my last comment. I could not read his face, whether he had a girlfriend or was married. He did not show any sign. The conversation has stopped. I pull my legs up on the car seat and rest my chin on my knees. After a while, Charles asks me to get a bag from the back seat.
While focusing on the road in front, he leans his body towards me, ‘It will be behind you. Probably fallen on the floor.’
I reach first, then twist my body using his leg to support my balance, ‘Sorry. Didn’t know I was doing that.’
Charles smiles at me, ‘I am not complaining.’
I look at him and smile while bringing the bag to the front, ‘What is this?’
He is still concentrating on the road in front, ‘I need to check what I have packed. I only had an idea what I may need.’
I open the bag. Charles wants me to take out each item. The bag feels bulky for a man’s bag. I pull out each object.
Charles glances over at the different objects while keeping his eye on the road, ‘That is a glass laser hand-held gun. For the window. That small cardboard box is plasticine.’
I look at him confused, thinking of children’s plasticine, ‘Why do you have children’s plasticine?’
Charles looks at me with a puzzled look, ‘Are you seriously an accountant?’
I do not see the question funny, ‘It is plasticine. How does a child’s plasticine help?’
Charles looks at me as if I am stupid and dumb, ‘It is not a children’s toy. It is explosives.’
This is why I am an introvert. I feel so stupid, that I cannot look at him. I quickly change the subject, ‘What are these glow-in-the-dark sticks? They are a bit too long for glow-in-the-dark, aren’t they?’
Charles laughs, ‘You are unique, Jane. I give you that. They are charges that stick to the wall. You connect them to a charger to set them off. They can cut through a ten-foot thick wall.’
I finally pull out a black tube with a rope poking out from the centre with a rock climbing safety harness, ‘What does this do?’
He remembers what she said earlier and repeats, ‘I will tell you another time.’
I give him a sigh look, ‘Very funny… you going to tell me?’
He smiles, ‘You will find out.’
After the drive to Nice, we head to the building where the server is located. The streets seem quiet for ten o’clock. However it is Sunday and Nice culture does not seem like London. We park up opposite the building.
He asks me, ‘Do you know the floor the server is on?’
I have a blank expression, ‘No I don’t.’
He frowns at me, ‘For a moment, you had a typical blonde look.’
I sarcastically dramatize, ‘Ha ha ha. That was s-o-o funny.’
Charles gets out a small pair of binoculars. He uses it to look up at the building. I try to see where he is pointing the binoculars. After a few moments, he passes them to me. He motions me to look on the floor, four windows down from the roof.
I look through the lens and notice they are infrared. I see that there are two people wandering around on the same floor. The servers are glowing red, just as the two people.
We change into our dark clothes and dark trainers. I change first, in the back of the car, asking him not to turn round. Charles brought me a black polo jumper and black combat trousers.
Once we are both changed, we head round to the back of the building to the fire escape. Charles carries his black man bag with the tools of the trade inside.
Charles stops me in my tracks and points at a camera to the right of the double doors. Charles gets out a digital camera and takes a picture from the direction of the camera. He then attaches the digital camera to the door camera. The screen facing the camera lens.
Charles gets a tiny amount of the plastic. He squeezes the putty inside the keyhole of the door knob. I watch him apply a wire stiff-looking thin rope to the putty. He then strikes a match and lights it. Once the sparks reach the keyhole, a small puff of smoke followed by a hiss forces the double doors open. Once we go through the doors, Charles closes it and ties the doors shut.
We now walk up the stairs to the server floor. Charles takes the lead as we take a gentle jog up the stairs. I do not have any worries of being spotted in the fire exit. They do not have any cameras in the stairway.
It takes us fifteen minutes to get the floor where the servers are. We open ajar the door to look for any of the two guards. Charles has a mirror in his pocket that looks like what a dentist uses to check a patient’s mouth. He slides it through the gap of the ajar door and door frame.
He checks both sides of the corridor. He lets me know what he is doing, including checking for cameras. He saw one and it looked like it was angled to a door. We both conclude that the server room is behind that door, where the camera is pointed.
Charles decides to use the mirror to deflect the camera lens. Once we get inside, we see that the servers take up the whole floor space.
I am overwhelmed with the number of servers, ‘There must be what, about thirty servers. How will find the data?’
Charles is not fazed by it, ‘I am going to plan our exit. I suggest you choose a server at random and try to see a pattern.’
Charles surveys the room and goes off in the distance. All I can see are rows and rows of servers, three feet apart. I choose a random server and check for a way of reading the data. I cannot find any keyboard or USB connection. Out of the corner of my eye, I see a desktop. I think Charles knew this and I smile to myself.
I can see a USB connection. Now it’s trying to work out, assuming, what the password is on the computer. I remember that on my mobile, I have an app that can find a password on any device. I have to plug it in to the desktop for it to work.
Once I switch on the computer and the login appears, I plug in my mobile. Charles pounces on me and makes me jump. Charles sniggers at me and waits for me to get the information.
When the app finds the password and lets us in, I look in the drive to look for any obvious folders. There is no folder that is jumping out at me. The names of the folders are ‘Programme File’, ‘Users’, ‘Intel’ and ‘Perlog’.
He assumes I know what I am doing and hastily says, ‘So you worked out where to find the information. Normally you do not have a computer here. You would read the server by using two wire connections and a computer to read the data. Your friend Ivor must have been here to know this.’
He annoys me and I reply in a huff, ‘He is not my friend. He knew about the server through his work.’
He keeps darting his eyes around for guards, ‘So it was luck that there was a way to get into the server.’
I sigh at him as I concentrate, ‘We are in now. So… let’s just get what we need, then get out of here.’
Charles puts on a funny accent, ‘Tetchy tetchy.’
I ignore his last comment. I struggle to look for an obvious name, but I cannot find it. Charles is standing over me which makes me feel uncomfortable. It also makes it hard for me to concentrate.
It has already been more than five minutes. I am feeling that Charles is judging my ability.
He impatiently says, ‘What are you looking for?’
While concentrating, I slowly say, ‘A folder with a obvious name.’
He leans over my shoulder, ‘Well, go in the search. Type Vladimir’s name.’
I look up and sigh as I feel Charles is telling me how to do my job. I type his name and nothing comes up.
Charles thinks about what it could be and says, ‘T-r-y… society.’
I type the word society and a folder comes up. I close my eyes with embarrassment. I click on the folder and a document is inside the folder. I click open the document. A password comes up to open it. I use my mobile app again. Charles looks impressed with my initiative. The app finds the password again.
The document opens. As it opens, it triggers a warning. It is a silent warning flashing the word ‘unauthorised’ in French. We both look at each other and quickly download the file on the USB. It takes a few seconds to complete.
We hear the door open from a distance and quickly hide behind the servers before we are spotted. Charles gets his gun out from behind his trousers under his jacket. We look out for whoever has come in. I do not know how many they are. I am stressing about getting out of the room and running down the stairs where we came in. But Charles motions me to go in a different direction. We hear a voice.
Guard one, ‘Nope. They must still be in here.’
Guard two, ‘They were trying to hack into the server. Lock the door.’
We can see the two guards from where we are hiding. They have body-builder physique in an off-colour brown uniform.
I whisper to him, ‘That hinders our exit. Do you have an explosive for that?’
He looks around while whispering, ‘I wasn’t thinking that way. Come on.’
Charles leads the way to the back of the room towards the windows.
I look at him with expectation, ‘Aren’t you going to take them on? I am a little short and scrawny.’
He looks back at me and gazes into my eyes, ‘Better to be evasive rather than aggressive.’
I tease him, ‘Chicken.’
He observes what I look like, ‘Are you afraid to ruin your looks.’
I look away and brush off his comment, ‘I haven’t got any looks to ruin.’
He jests me, ‘True.’
Charles’ man bag snags one of the servers and makes a loud scraping noise. We hear the two guards footsteps heading in our direction. The sound of the footsteps between each step are closer. They must be running. We start to run as well, as quick as we can towards the window at the back.
As we get nearer, one of the guards has beat us there. We go to run in the opposite direction but the other guard is blocking our path. We look at each other and then Charles grabs my hand and pulls me with him towards the guard at the window. The guards pull their guns out and go to shoot. Charles pushes me to the ground and pushes a button on a box in his hand. There is a massive load bang and I hear two separate explosions in front of us and behind. There is a jet of debris that hits us from both directions. The two guards are taken out by the two jets of debris blown inside the building. It looks like Charles rigged the ‘glow sticks’ to both ends of the floor. Charles lifts me up and drags me towards the window again. He gets the tube out of his man bag that has the rope coming out of the centre.
He pushes the button that I did not originally see, on the opposite side of the rope. The tube extends out either side and digs in, either side of the hole, in the concrete wall next to the window. Charles is about to hook the rope to his trouser that has a carabiner. One of the guards that survived the full blast of the explosion grabs Charles and goes to hit him. I stand in the path of the guard’s elbow as he pulls back to hit Charles. The elbow catches me in the face and I am knocked away from the wall and hit one of the servers with my head on the corner. I am slightly concussed with a sharp pain.
Charles gives the guard a right hook and knocks the man off his feet onto his back. Charles sees that I am on the floor and bends down to me to see if I am okay. I nod at him to indicate that I am fine, just concussed. We both then run back to the rope to hook himself to the carabiner. The guard grabs for his gun again, he sees it on the floor, firing three shots as Charles already attaches himself to the rope and grabs me. We jump together to meet the street level below. The bullets whizz past us as we free-fall to the ground. I feel that my shoulder has a twitch and put it down to jumping off awkwardly.
My stomach rises into my throat as we free-fall. I start to panic about hitting the ground at full speed. As we descend closer to the street below, about twenty feet left before we hit the ground, the rope slows us down and grinds to a halt a few inches from the ground. Charles lets me go and I stumble as I step on the pavement. We land in front of the building by the revolving door entrance of the building with a door entrance to the left of the revolving door. The experience was scary for me, not having myself tied to the rope and relying on Charles not to let go of me. Charles unhooks himself from the carabiner as I wait for him. We leave the bit of kit there rather than try to salvage it.