The city lights spread out around her, like a dancing necklace of illumination pulsing to the city's heartbeat, a crazy cacophony of flickering radiance which only sunlight will dim.
A final glance around and one more tug on the cable to check, then she's hooking the harness onto the carabiner, a smooth but quick lift of her feet and her body's sliding across the open space between the buildings.
Below her, the occupants of the occasional passing vehicles or the few pedestrians out at this time of night, heads down in the chill air, wending their way home or to early morning shifts are oblivious to the shadowy figure zipping across the gap ... even if any of them looked upwards, the dark clad figure would be no more than a fleeting, half-seen figment of imagination …
The dark granite coping stones appear below her feet and pulling on the break brings her to a stop. A press of her fingers and she's released the harness from the slider. She drops to a crouch on the parapet, one more dark shadow amongst the many.
The terrace is an oasis in the city, potted plants and shrubs, an artificial stone table with legs moulded to represent a forest scene; grasses and ferns with lizards and snails and a dozen other creatures frozen in time and movement. In the corner is a stone fountain, silent and still this autumn night, whilst the trellised pergola casts crisscross patterns of light and shadow across the tiled area that lead to the door. She can't make all the finer details out on this chilly night, but an afternoon of observation from the rooftop across the street has burnt them into her mind.
She moves along the top of the parapet, crouched low to avoid her silhouette being noticed against the moonlight. She reaches the central section of the parapet along Broom Street and unties the climbing rope from around her waist. Its thin, only 9.8mm in diameter, but more than enough to take her weight and that of her equipment.
Quickly making a noose, she slips it over the pier cap, tugs it tight and ties a padded weight to the other end before letting it run smoothly through her fingers until its paid out. She's cut it carefully to the right length so that the end now hanging down the front of the building does not go beyond the top floor. She doesn't want the weighted end tapping against a neighbour's window and giving her away.
Leaning out over the parapet, one hand holding onto the rope, she checks that it is in fact trailing down the granite column and not across a window before settling her backpack comfortably and allowing her body to drop over the edge. Her rubber soled shoes find purchase on the slightly weathered surface and soon she's abseiling down the short distance to the top floor ledge where she pauses for a moment, checking the scene around her.
The floor is in darkness, the six windows stretching out on either side of her, dark mirrors reflecting nothing but moonlight and the lights of an occasional passing vehicle. She glances down at the street below, a cab with its vacant light on cruises past, she can make out a garbage truck in the distance, a few vehicles in between.
She pauses once again, waiting and listening for any signs of danger. Nothing. She may have to leave in a hurry, though that has hardly ever happened, but just to be on the safe side, she prefers to be prepared. Quietly, careful not to hit anything against the granite walls, she removes her backpack, pulls out the ascenders and clips them on to the rope, one about two feet above the other. She clips the backpack onto the specially designed harness so that its now hanging against her thigh and in easy reach before making her way along the ledge till she's by the window.
She's pretty sure from her hacking of local security companies and knowledge of these types of buildings that the security is going to be basic, most occupants relying on the CCTV and Doorman downstairs to hold the invaders at bay, surprisingly naive over the possible access from above. Furthermore, most people don't set the alarms when they are at home, only when they go out or away.
She removes a small crow bar from the backpack, no longer than thirty centimetres, built to her own design and with all but the ends sheathed in rubber both for grip and to kill sound. Setting it carefully on the ledge next to her, she then proceeds to remove a second tool looking very much like the Slim Jims used by locksmiths and car thieves along with two small wooden wedges. Carefully nudging the crowbar between the sashes she applies sufficient pressure to prise them apart until she can slip the second tool in between them. Cautiously sliding it along, she soon finds the latch and with practised ease pushes it to the open position.
Removing the Slim Jim first and then easing off the pressure on the crowbar before pulling it out, she then applies it to the bottom of the window, cracking it open a fraction to check that it moves easily. Assured, she slips in the first of the wooden wedges before resetting the crow bar and raising the window another centimetre. The second wedge goes in near the left end and the first one is moved over to the right. The crow bar is quietly returned to the backpack and a small pencil torch pulled out of a Velcro-sealed breast pocket.
Again she checks the surrounding area to make sure no one is paying undue interest. Reassured, she pushes the torch through the gap at the bottom of the window and moves it around a bit without yet turning it on. She can feel that there are curtains or blinds drawn across the window on the inside, so she once again uses the Slim Jim to feel her way. After a few seconds she finds the slit where the curtains join in the centre and carefully uses the Slim to pull the material to one side, creating an inverted V gap about a foot wide. Only now does she turn on the pencil torch. The thin beam travels around the visible area of the room showing her a bedroom, door closed and bed empty. She turns the torch off. Three nights watching the pattern of lights going on and off on this top floor has led her to believe that this room is never or rarely used, which was why she's chosen it as her entry point.
Somewhat reassured, she slips her fingers into the crack and raises the bottom sash far enough to allow her very flexible body to slip inside. Standing still she holds the sash in place until her hearing confirms the continued silence in the immediate area. Only then does she pick up one of the wedges and raising the sash further she jams it in on one side of the frame. Carefully she lowers the sash and feels it move slightly downwards and to one side as the wedge does its job of holding it in place.
Releasing her breath, she carefully recovers the other wedge and slides it along with the slim into her backpack. She stands still for nearly two minutes, allowing her breathing to even out, her eyesight to adjust and her hearing to absorb the sounds of the home which is currently unawares of her entry.