INTO THE VENTS

I took in a deep breath of air and then released a slow sigh, preparing myself mentally for what I had ahead of me. This very act and thought filled me with a minute chill in my joints, but that wasn't going to halt me from my objective at this stage of the plan I had managed to get myself to, regardless of the obstacles I had and was still going to face.

"Alright, it's time to head out" I pulled the dangling cords on the straps of the backpack which was already worn on my back at the time and this action caused the backpack straps to tighten a bit more, fitting a little bit better than before. Next I buckled the backpack around my waist to prevent it from falling off, also pulling the straps by the buckle to make it fit even tighter.

Now all set, I walked over, stretched once more and got into the vents, closing it back behind me but unfortunately I wasn't able to screw the nuts shut because there wasn't enough of an opening for my hand to fit through to do the screwing but I made sure to vent cover was snuggly stationed in place and the nuts well hidden so as they don't get discovered. I took them with me, then I started to move deeper into the vent, heading for the Black room quietly. Well, being as quiet as meandering inside a vent would allow me to.

 

On a normal occasion, it wouldn't be quite an easy feat to make my way through the vents I am now but fortunately, because of my size and also the fact that before I made the jump back I had already studied the original set of blueprints for the vents in the building, just out of curiosity, I was very confident of where I was heading to. The original set of blueprints which had not yet been altered for that sake, removing the Black Room from them entirely as they deemed that information not a vital thing to be had out there in the open for someone with the right resources and connections to gain access to. 

It was quite difficult getting the original blueprints from my time as they weren't online in any hackable archive, but regardless of that initial hitch, there's always one place where getting difficult items such as that was very possible. The central hub for all things and services, both Legal, illegal and things that seem unheard off, The Underground Market.

The Underground Market is such a disconcerting topic of mystery, so there isn't much I can say about it, except for the fact that it became even filled with more mystery and harder to gain access to a few years before I made to jump to this tim— Wait a minute, that's not right. Something's not right with my memory of the market cause their level of access and the difficulty around it always remains the same when I think about it now so why did I just feel like something change abruptly?

Anyway, there's only one of said original set of the GHA first ever headquarters blueprint available there in the Underground Market and it took me about a month and also close to a million Neuros to obtain, but after that was done I didn't mind or felt the loss when the package arrived. Quite the price to pay for something I didn't deem important at the time and was just looking for in order to quench my curiosity but now I'm thankful that I went the extra mile.

 

From the blueprints, the Black Room as I had initially suspected was on the sublevel floor and the only way to get there was through the elevator and without a high level ID card like Brian's, the chances of anyone else making it there was less than zero. Well, for a normal person and under normal conditions anyway. 

 

My only option, and the one the new plan was following right now was to remove the Identification confirmation process from the elevator entirely and to do that I needed to gain direct physical access to the server or any port terminals in connection with it.

The Typograph Layer Moduling crystals on the doors were one of the only two major security measures that restricted me from accessing the elevators aside from the cameras all around watching everything while the other restriction being the building being armed to the teeth with security personnels stationed almost everywhere.

However, with just the right tweaks, if you knew what you're doing, can manipulate them (the Typograph Layer Moduling Crystals) completely and luckily for me I was the one who fashioned them. Plus, there was a port on the fourth floor which was also the security floor and it could be used to make alterations to the layer's scanning ability.

 

Since the crystals are versatile, a change in their fundamental codes in that port can drastically change its functionality, instead of going to the main server which funny enough was also located in the sublevels floor, this time period.

 

The security floor was strategically placed at the middle of the entire building, so that if there was trouble on any of the other floors, which the chances of something like that even happening being very low to none once already in the building, the security officers would be of equal distance away from it, which also ensured faster average response time.

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*CRAWL*

From the vents I had to go vertically downwards to get to a lower floor, which as expected was hard to accomplish because of my new found weak body frame and hands which weren't used to these types of activities. In parks you hardly see girls playing on the monkey bars so there wasn't that playtime activity to give me an adequate amount of preparation for this. Also, the dust on the surface of the vent reduced my grip in some places but somehow I managed to make it there, the fourth floor. 

 

I crawled inside the vent until I got to the port and now positioned horizontally and directly above the port which was by the wall at the end of the passage in the fourth floor I took off the air vent lid. 

 

I wanted to jump down then make the changes to the port's control panel, which would have been the fastest way to make the changes, but proved difficult, and because of the distance I was closer to it from up in the vent than from the floor so the only choice was to make the changes from there up in the vent and the only way that that would be possible was to do it while upside down, using my legs to keep myself in place in the vents while my upper body would be dangling outside working.

"Fuck!" I exclaimed exhaustedly.

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I first took the time to observe the situation while taking note of the tools I needed for this particular objective and after quickly assessing what they were going to be, I ZIPPED open the backpack in a rush and took out the exact alternative equipments I had in my arsonal. 

Using the multipurpose screwdriver again and while dangling outside the vent, I opened up the port, removing the screws on the cover, one edge at a time while some screws weren't as friendly with the magnetic end of the screwdriver as the others which I had in my mouth so they dropped to the floor after I finish uncoupling them, but fortunately, they didn't make any noice of consequence,

After all the screws were taken out, my next target was the now freed cover of the port but with my grip not being properly placed on it as I changed hands mid pull out, because of being upside-down and all the blood rushing to my head made me dizzy, the cover fell as a result. It was heading straight for the ground and I could feel my heart sink with every inch I saw the cover descend in, but luckily for me, a black plastic cord connecting the cover to the body of the port totally prevented the fall.

I exhaled sharply in relief with gritted teeth and trembling breaths while I rushed pulled myself back into the vent to both ease my dizziness, to catch my breath and also to hide out in case someone from the floor would just appear. Seeing me out of nowhere wouldn't be a good sight, especially with the position I was in right now.

"I can't believe I was just saved by ordinary plastic... Damn!" I whispered with my heart pounding as I snuck a peek, looking at the spot the port cover would have landed on if it wasn't stopped mid fall. My anxiety caused my mouth to feel strangely dry at that moment.

In addition to my fate, I was also lucky that after the plastic cord prevented the cover from hitting the ground, it also absorbed most of the energy that during the recoil, the cover didn't pendulum too far backwards to hit the wall hard enough that the sound evolved from that contact would have gained the attention of the security personnel on the floor.

After that little scare, and I had rested as well as hidden inside the vent for long enough, which allowed the blood which had previously flowed to my head and arms to flow back down, which in turn meant for me that I had regained my balance as I was no longer dizzy, and my breath control as well while my legs and arms were no longer going numb from being suspended against gravity like that.

Soon enough I went back out again and this time it was to carry on with the disconnecting and rewiring of the scanning chip the crystals were working with. Alll with only the paperclips and calender binding cords I had in my possession, making it to function as a normal elevator.

 

Without the scanning chip, the crystals on the elevator would not be able to recorgnize and then differentiate between an authorized and an unauthorized ID card, even to the extent that any object in an ID card's shape and weight should be able to open the doors.

It wasn't rare for the scanning chips to get damaged in cases of the building being struck by something like lightening during a thunderstorm, even with lightening rods being stationed in the building, because of how sensitive they were during this time period. So, instead of making the elevator to not give access to anyone when a rare case like that somehow happens, which would cause problems when people are at work and need to go to different floors, the doors would just give access to anyone who has an ID card and is already in the building to start with.

Because of this time period I was in, there aren't really any threats being faced by the GHA, like an organized break in, that would make them to think that doing a Fail-Safe like that was the wrong approach to take. It's the contrary in my time period I jumped from though.

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After that was successfully carried out, I messed with the surveillance camera's databox in the port as well. I couldn't let anyone see me sneaking around as Amanda so I put all the received camera feeds on the longest camera loop I could manage which was a thirty minutes loop. 

As for how I did that, there were two databoxes in the port that connected the camera feed with what the monitor in the security room displays. The primary databox which was directly connected to the camera feed line while the secondary databox was connected to the primary.

How they work was that the footage that the cameras captured enters the primary databox through a physical cord for processing, quality control check and sometimes facial identification software manipulation which takes like micro seconds to do all of that simultaneously.

 

After all that processing is done, the feed gets sent bilaterally to both a storage board and also to the secondary databox which does some finishing touches and some other types of graphics manipulation operations on the feed and then wirelessly sends the feed to the monitors and that's what the security personnel in the monitor room sees while also controlling what type of manipulation is done to the feed by the secondary databox from there.

 

The storage board is like the name suggests, a storage area, however, was for in case they needed to see something that had already happened so they could reverse the feed but only to a limited time range. 

The storage board had what you call cells that could store up to thirty minutes of data each, because of how large a minute of captured feed is in terms of storage size and there were six of them. After every three hours, the cumulative feed data gets sent to the cloud where it's stored permanently while the original is cleared off from the cells, freeing them for new feeds to enter.

 

The reason why there were six thirty minutes cells instead of a one three hours cell was because of as ironic as it sounds security. If one of the cells gets damaged, then there would still be five left to pick up the pace of the damaged one plus there would still be the memory of the other five in case it was a serious issue, which meant that there would only be a maximum of a thirty minute gap in storage. But, if there was only a one three hours cell, then if damaged, all the recorded feed would have been lost plus they would have to change it immediately which also takes time, time during which they would be cloud blind

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At the moment of my intrusion, the forth cells was just getting filled up so what I did was to connect those cells of the storage board to the secondary databox and disconnect the primary from it. This made the feed that was being sent to the monitors to be the recorded ones from the storage board cells and no longer the live footage being caught on camera.

Since the live footage was still filling the remaining two cells, then once they fill up, all the cell data would get sent to the cloud and then deleted and the new feed that will enter the monitors would once again be live footage straight from cameras to the primary databox, to the cells then to the secondary databox and finally to the monitors. So at the moment of me finishing with what I was doing, I only had less than an hour to get what I jumped back in time for done.

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After connecting everything, all that was left was to do the switch of monitor feed source but I needed to be lightening fast about it because the longer the time I took, the longer the time of no feed entering the monitor would be and I was sure that someone was in the same floor with me watching those feed.

 

I needed to switch it at the right moment, just short enough that if seen it would be put up as a glitch in the system but also long enough that even if what was on the feed before the glitch and what is after the glitch were different, the human mind would scope it under the possibility of the change happening during the brief glitch period

Ten seconds seemed like the ideal time so I pulled out the last cord, counted in my mind from one upwards and on the last second I made the final connection and then the feed came back on but while I did it I didn't hear any form of complain from the monitor room which was just few meters away from me

 

"Huh, looks like I was wrong and no one was paying attention to the monitors anyway" I grinned with an expression of satisfaction pasted on my face.

I stretched my entire body from the top opening of the vent and almost fell down but then I braced myself, holding on to the corner of the vent opening which I was sticking out from and finally I got a hold of the port cover. 

With that in hand, I closed back the port and screwed it shut, making sure I wasn't being noisy, then I reached into the vent and grabbed my backpack next to my leg and threw it down first before I jumped down as well, landing beside it.

 

*STEP*

From the fourth floor I snuck passed the security room and walked over to the elevator.

 

"Let's see if it worked" I said

*RUFFLE*

I stuck my hand into the backpack and brought out Amanda's school class president ID card, rubbed the both sides gently on my uniform to make sure that it was absolutely clean and with a none-negotiable amount of fate in the success of my hacking I placed it on the door of the elevator.

After placing the ID on the door I scooted over to the panel and pressed the button, when I heard a little mechanical sound which prompted me to look at the top of the elevator and I saw that the door was actually coming to this floor. I had been successful with clearing the first obstacle and I couldn't be any happier for the accomplishment, although, I still had many more to make if I'm truly going to be successful here. One of said accomplishments being me getting Amanda's body back to her father's office so that her life isn't affected by any of this before I jump back.

*BEEP*

It took some seconds for the elevator to get here, but after it did the doors opened and the beeping sound it made filled me with a rush to get inside, hoping that it wasn't loud enough to be heard by the security officers who were behind closed doors of the security room.

 

I quickly pressed for the ground floor and waited for the door to close back up again, instantly letting go of the panic I was feeling when the elevator first opened up for me. I went on to thinking of how funny and also ironic I found it that the security floor had the weakest amount of security consciousness in the entire building and for a matter of fact, there weren't any cameras stationed there.

 

Finally the door close and I started my descent, whereas, in the fourth floor, someone dressed in the usual GHA security uniform stuck their head out through the half opened security room door with head not wasting a second to being rolled from where the port was then towards the elevator but seeing that there both wasn't anyone in the passage and the elevator door was also shut.

"Hmm, strange" they said with a shrug and then went back into the room while I was being taken down.

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SEVERAL MINUTES LATER

 

I had my heart racing with palms sweaty and knees getting weak as I stared into the display while it counted 70%, 80%, 90%...99%,...

If this doesn't work then not only will my plans fail but the security would get alerted and I might get caught. This could very well mean the end.

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