Scouting was, for all intents and purposes, a boring blind date.
A part of you was excited to finally meet and get to know that person you heard so much about. It motivated you to go all out; an appropriate dress, a carefully chosen location and the brilliant use of the resources at your disposal. Another part of you was a bit scared and wondered what will happen if something went wrong. Both parts argued until you sat across the table from your would-be-beloved and realized he was boring.
Then, the only thing that mattered was how fast you could get out of there.
But if you didn’t set up the perfect evening and meet the blind date, you might never find the elusive one making every effort worth it. So you did it because it was a necessary step to obtain what you wanted.
This was why dating was exactly like scouting.
The first question my date had to answer was “home or work?” The keycard usage information we retrieved from the mainframe showed that Edouardo liked to work late, at an hour when the bulk of human security had gone home. The nearby buildings – all offices too – emptied at the same hour. The business district essentially became a ghost town just before dinner.
Edouardo relied on the tech to ensure his protection which meant squat once Vexx controlled it. The relative vulnerability of the place sang to me, crooning my instincts into choosing it over the house and its buzzing neighborhood. But until I knew more about the custom security system, appearances could be deceiving.
I had picked the dress and location for my date with the house tonight. A combination of my outside observations and our insider information from the main security system usually sufficed to figure out what I was up against. Even when I was confronted by overzealous chiefs of security, if it was a house, I would crack it open without much effort. My assassination two nights ago illustrated that affirmation; the neighborhood had been the biggest threat, not the house.
Office buildings were a whole other challenge. A vantage point and a telescope didn’t allow an encompassing observation of a thirty stories tower. Even if it was made of plasma-proof glass. On the other hand, where houses had intimacy issues, buildings had none; the internal camera system could tell us all we needed to know. However, if I wanted to understand the secondary security system, I needed another source of intel.
Luckily, I had an all access card to enter Subcutaneous Wonders: my true identity and a friend.
I rocked on my heels in front of the tower as I waited for Naomi to join me. The fact she dared to be late flabbergasted me; for all she knew, we were here so I could pay her new boobs. I sighed.
Normal people went to hospitals or plastic surgeons to purchase their tech and get it installed. One of the perks of being a rich heiress laid in other people’s expectation. They expected you to sue them if they wronged you even trivially. They expected you to pay as soon as you received your goods or service and to never land in the overdue pile. They expected you to be the worst brat the world had ever known. When you put all those expectations together, you realized a rich heiress could do just about anything when she went shopping. Including, but not limited to, waltz into the head office of a tech company as if it was a mall and discuss the modality of her purchase with the president himself.
Without an appointment.
“You are a life saver,” Naomi bellowed, a quick warning shortly before she tackle-hugged me. My reflexes kept me from sprawling on the sidewalk which would have ruined my entrance. But I could have leveraged it to justify a particularly irritating mood.
Maybe next time.
“You’re welcome.” I replied when my breath returned.
Naomi hooked her arm in mine and we walked inside Subcut-W’s lobby. The scanner in the doorframe identified us as we brushed past it.
“Miss Lorelei Beyer, welcome to Subcutaneous Wonders.” An eerie voice intoned. “We are honored by your presence. Please follow the lights and have a seat. Someone is on his way to meet you.”
A small path of light shone on the floor to direct us toward a small lounge. Our cheeks barely had the time to hit the cushions when an overly beautiful man joined us. He was most likely a Pretty. No unmodified being looked that good in a suit –
“Hello Miss Beyer” – or sounded that smoldering. He extended a hand for me to shake and repeated the process with Naomi. “Our President will be thrilled to know you’re here. He’s currently in a meeting but we can dive into the reason of your visit and he’ll join us in a few minutes.”
“My friend Naomi’s breast enhancers are about to expire. I plan to pay her new set as an early birthday present.” By my side, Naomi fidgeted like a child on Christmas Eve; she never shopped for implants this way.
“Quite a friend you are, Miss.” Our guide commented with a grin so magnetic it might pull my chip out of my head. Naomi giggled. Artifices never charmed me.
“Thank you!” I nonetheless continued with a smile not nearly matching his. “If your company has a product that suits my friend’s need and meets my quality standards, we’ll put pen to paper.”
Two reasons justified Naomi’s presence on my scouting tour. First, if I used the shopping excuse to enter every tech company but never bought anything, I would draw attention. Second, Naomi was one distracting lady.
While the Pretties kept each other busy, my gaze roamed everywhere. On the cameras, it would look like I was canvassing the place, which I obviously was. However, since I announced from the get-go that I intended to review whatever pleased me to confirm my quality standards were met, no one would think twice about my attitude.
My primary objective was to spot as many elements of the secondary security system as I could. If I knew the measures in place, I could compare them to the blue prints of the building and the images from the various cameras, then figure out where the engineers decided to install each measure and their trigger.
As a secondary objective, I hoped to spot a signature that could lead me to said engineers; that would considerably speed up the process of tracking them down to get the details of the work they did, should the need arise.
If I was lucky, I had a small creeper in my pocket that latched onto computer systems. Should I see something that looked like the secondary security system’s network, I released the robot and enabled Vexx to perform some hacker magic.
My tremendous memory came in handy both to remember the security measures I saw and to isolate which of them weren’t listed on the mainframe. As we sipped tea in Edouardo’s office, I located an irregularity in the reflection of light atop his desk. I placed my creeper nearby what was likely a dissimulated control panel.
Naomi and I walked out of Subcut-W’s office with matching smiles, if not matching reasons to sport them. Naomi had an appointment for her new breasts and I completed a successful reconnaissance.
A boring day at the office.
Killing Time OST – 4a – Scouting
Scouting was, for all intents and purposes, a boring blind date.