They followed Spooner on a winding path. Sid knew the way, but felt it was better to let Spooner do his thing. Nostalgia, glimmering memories of the time before, the long three years he’d spent running with them, the patient sitting on benches scanning chipped badges with one of Arch’s custom builds, Bullwinkle going on about some new breaker he’d got a hold of, and a thousand other images and conversations filled his head. The familiar turns, the missing bricks here and there, the same gaudy res/turaunt signs, the food he’d eaten probably a hundred times. They finally came to it, an abandoned building, marked for demolition, Spooner had acquired the rights too some time ago.
Stepping into the warren left him feeling like he was floating, detached as old memories slid in with the changed reality. It hadn’t been a year but it all felt different. A new face, her eyes bouncing over the two newcomers, and looking for a sign from Spooner. After a moment she went back to reading. Stepping brick steps he’d helped lay, he ran into his first familiar face. Bullwinkle towered over him, a big goofy grin on his face. Sid reached out for a hand shake but he was pulled off the ground in a hug.
‘Good to see you man. Glad you made it back alright.’
‘You know me.’
‘I do.’ setting him back down, hands firmly grasped his shoulders. ‘Cat’s not going to like this.’
Cavalier’s stretched, her lips pushed down ‘Oh? Who is Cat and whats not to like.’
‘He has a type.’ The big man replied proffering his now free hand to Cavalier. ‘Bullwinkle’ and there was a contest of grips, that seemed to err in Bullwinkle’s favor. ‘Don’t try that with Cat’ he said shaking his hand. His lips twisting in a wry smile.
‘Cavalier. Also noted. Good strong grip, you part of this outfits breach team?’
‘Diver, actually.’ Her look going from pleased to impressed.
‘Yes, yes.’ Sid shook his head vigorously ‘Lots of catching up to do, and I’ll gladly let you pick my brain’ his tone trailed off looking to Cavalier. ‘Tomorrow?’ to which she returned a solemn single nod.
‘Guessing you got us the deets?’
‘Something like that. I think you’ll want a look at the binary I left with Spooner. It’s fully spooky.’
‘Hon. To. Ni’ the big mans bottom lip sliding out. ‘Got to be serious to give Spooner a shake. Well, we uh, don’t still have your old room, we gave you the basement. Stuff should be down there. Didn’t mention room for two.
‘We’ll manage. Go give that a read and we’ll catch up in a bit.’
The two made their way downstairs, to what must have been an old recording studio. Thick walls, and heavy doors made up most of the rooms down here. There were boxes stacked all along the walls, not even giving room to walk normally, having to sidle along the walls. Eventually they Sid pulled open a door, to find a small twin bed setup, Gel mattress, musty smelling sheets and a single thin pillow. ‘Think I preferred Hyugin’s place.’
‘Used to have a pretty nice room upstairs.’ he responded, idly flicking through a combination lock on a huge chest, scanning his finger and eye, before finally saying. ‘A kiss goodnight.’ followed by the sound of some heavy locks sliding into place. He opened it gingerly, holding tightly to the lid as it opened fully.
‘That’s uh, some serious hardware.’
‘Yeah, custom built mostly. Printed, lathed or drilled it all, minus some really standard bits of course. Our tech guy, Arch, helped me with some of the more complicated bits.’
‘That a lips array?’
‘Yeah. Its a full on thunder gun. Blew up a vault door once, took a copter out with a bolt of the pure stuff. Course it can only do blasts like that a couple of times, course never had to shoot it a third time.’
‘Must have been really confused with the other gun if this is the kind of stuff you used to build yeah?’
‘Yeah. You could call it that’ Lifting the foam that cradled his weapon, there were a number of smaller boxes, with various labels written here and there. Satisfied he closed it back up, and laid down on the bed. ‘That stick should keep them busy for at least a half hour. So, Cavalier. If I can look backwards, with your trick, I have to be able to look forward right? Or the trick with the shoes wouldn’t work.’
‘Correct.’ She took a seat on the crate that Sid had just been rummaging in. ‘You can, if you try hard enough, though it may take more time. Since you’re not fully oriented.
‘Well, if we are going to do this, I’ll need whatever concrete data I can provide. Spooner won’t go chasing wild geese. Not his style.’
‘More your thing I take it?’ She teased.
‘I might have brought a certain chaotic element to the team yeah.’
‘Well I’ll try to lead you through it as best I can.’ She said, though her face looked uncertain. As before, she talked him down, and he found it easier, as if having the expectation made the visit more certain, more real. That sandy beach, the rosewood door, and that same glowing man with that strange smile
‘I need my future. I need tomorrow.’ The glow growing brighter, the old man seemed to shift, and age before his very eyes before an ancient man, looking half dead stared back. ‘I need the consortium building. Anything.’ The ancient librarian continued to appraise him for a time, before pointing in to the dark section of the stacks, placing a strange compass on the desk before going back to his work. ‘Thanks, I guess.’
Thinking the place made no sense to him, he took the compass and made his way. The pointer of the device seemed to swirl, in odd patterns, but he told himself it was made of sparkles and unicorn farts, so he let his intuition lead the way. The carpet became tattered, the shelves covered in vines, the stink of mildew and rotten paper grew more intense as it grew darker and darker. Further in, the floor began to creak and be broken, boards missing and an inky blackness beneath. Somewhere in the back of his mind he could swear he felt, a kind of non-existence, a void without dreams, and it felt deeply disconcerting. At last he reached an end, the floor completely disappearing, a smattering of dark shelves sat half filled.
The compass had straightened. To a case with only one book on each shelf. It’s spine bent, appearing to have many of its pages removed. Taking it over to the nearest lectern, he set about pouring over the pages. Toward the back, the pages were getting frayed, the spine having a look of several pages being removed. It was on those last few pages he found what he’d sought.
He could see the layout of the building clearly in his mind, remember the scientist Caesar who his other version had been speaking with, how he was to be killed the the morning of the day after tomorrow. He could feel the pain too, from some event he couldn’t see. However, a few important details stuck out in his mind, like he’d think to write them down. An address, username, a password, and a string of numbers, and a time, all coalesced into his brain with a sense of import.
Working his way out of the library he crept back to reality. Coming to, he found Spooner, Cat, and Bullwinkle waiting for him. They were silent but Bullwinkle wore a stupid grin, Spooner an almost angry disbelief, Cat a deep glower. Not speaking he wrote the information down handing it to Bullwinkle. ‘Proxies and socks for this one. Maybe even avoid doing it from here’
‘What is it you’re having him do?’ Spooker asked.
‘Knowing you wouldn’t take me at my word, I went to the source. That should be all the data needed to access the consortium’s security systems, fully escalated. Its their security chief’s creds. From there, I know some filepaths to get floor diagrams, you name it. The whole shebang.’
‘And I’m just supposing you pulled that kind of data out your ass?’
‘Have him try it. You’ll see. That codes only good for thirty seconds after that time on there though. Authenticator code’
‘How could you possibly-’ Spooner’s voice rising in volume.
‘I’ll gladly tell answer all your questions.’ He gave Spooner a tired look. ‘After. Its been a rough couple of days and the crazyness is about to pop.’
‘I’ll grab you when Bullwinkle has looked this over.