Author: Cressida Isolde PM
A bicycle courier gets mugged for a package she's carrying in the elevators of House Tower, one of the tallest buildings in modern-day Las Vegas. AU.Rated: Fiction T - English - Crime/Adventure - Courier - Chapters: 4 - Words: 3,679 - Reviews: 11 - Favs: 8 - Follows: 14 - Updated: 11-01-12 - Published: 04-22-12 - id: 8048007
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
She must have gone back to sleep, because she was woken again by the same goddamn pop song. She squinted at the screen, but didn't recognise the number.
"Good morning." The voice was cheerful, a deep baritone. "I'm with Robert House's security, my name's Victor. I wanted to talk to you about the recent, uh, incident at the Tower."
"Oh," she said, rubbing her eyes. "Okay. What do you want to know?"
"Would you be okay to come here? I can send round a driver to pick you up."
"Whoa. Like, in a limo?"
Victor laughed. "I can set that up for you if you'd like."
"Sweet!" she said. "Okay. Send them round."
"Thanks. See you soon."
Victor had the goddamn squarest jaw she'd ever seen. And a cleft in his chin, like the guy who played Spartacus in the old movie.
"Why don't you have a seat, sweetheart?" He had a trace of a Southern accent that she hadn't picked up over the phone. While someone calling her 'sweetheart' would usually get them - well, in all honesty probably a disapproving raised eyebrow at worst - in this case she found herself smiling. Flattered, even.
She sat down on the other side of his huge wooden dresser. There was a cactus in a small pot next to his telephone.
"I do hope you enjoyed your ride over," he said. "I won't keep you long."
He opened a desk drawer and took out a photo, carefully stored in a tiny plastic bag.
"We suspect this man was the one who attacked you."
She took it from him, but didn't need long to study it. It was him. Different suit, but still that damn smirk on his face, like he knew something she didn't. She handed it back.
"Yeah," she said. "That's him."
"Thanks, honey." Victor took the photo from her and locked it back in his desk drawer.
"Who is he?"
"You might call him a disgruntled ex-employee," he said, leaning back in his chair. "It's not quite accurate, but it'll do."
"So do the police know where he is?"
"Ah." He grinned. Two rows of huge white teeth. "Not yet. We're hoping to handle this, uh, in-house, as it were."
She wasn't sure if she should laugh at the pun. Or if it even was a pun. "Ha ha," she said.
Victor winked. "Now, right here's the second reason I invited you here." He leaned forward again, his elbows on the table. "It has occurred to Mr. House that couriers are, more or less, invisible to most people."
She rolled her eyes. "I know I've been almost run off my bike more times than I can remember."
"That's not quite what I'm getting at," he said. "Now, this gentleman, B- uh, maybe it's best to not give you his name. This gentleman is currently in the employ of one of our major competitors. The package, which he took from you, contains... something we would like to recover."
The Courier stared. "Wait," she said. "Why are you telling me this?"
Victor smiled again. "Now, I think you are in a unique position to be able to assist us."
"Uh, no?" she said. "What?"
"If you agree to help us, we will be able to compensate you to the tune of - well, ballpark... let's say five thousand dollars?"
She swallowed. "Are you actually serious?" she asked.
Victor smiled. "I'm afraid so, little lady. There might be a bonus in it for you if everything goes well."
"Well," she said, finally. "Tell me about it."
"The package that our friend took from you contained a data storage device. Just a flash drive. We don't think he'll be able to use it, as it should only work in certain circumstances, but if he figures out how to open it up... well, Mr. House has a number of defense contracts that may be somewhat compromised by this device."
The Courier stared. She could hardly take it all in. This was like a movie. She was in a movie. It was entirely possible that she hadn't even woken up this morning yet, and this whole damn thing was a dream.
"We've worked out a basic plan," he continued. "Monday next week, we've arranged for our friend to be out of the office for at least an hour. You go to reception, say you need a signature on a package. We'll give you the details later. We have a contact on the same floor, who you will not meet, but will make sure the door to our friend's office is unlocked. The device itself looks like this."
He opened another drawer and slid a photo towards her.
"Just a flash drive" he said. "Like many others. Metal cover. You'll note the poker chip on the front, that's engraved. He may have made a decoy version, but we estimate that he won't have the same materials. The real drive will be heavy. Very heavy. If it's light, just leave it." He paused. "You getting this?"
"Uh," said the Courier. "Not really. James Bond shit is kind of out of my area."
"That's fine. We'll give you a file to read. Anyway, sweetheart, you'll have an hour; we'll call you if our friend is likely to be back before schedule. If someone else comes in, you'll say you were leaving a card to call. If people get really suspicious, our contact will create a diversion, and by that I mean they'll likely pull the fire alarm." He smiled. "No sleeping gas or explosions."
"You mean this one's not directed by Michael Bay?"
His smile was slightly strained. "We're hoping to avoid anything flashy. We'll be able to give you copies of the master key to the office drawers, as well. Our friend's unlikely to have changed those. If you can't locate the drive, that's fine. Just leave. We think it'll be there though, it'd be risky to carry that around with him."
He pushed a dossier across the table towards her. "Now, are you in?"
"Do I need to bring a gun?" she asked, still staring in amazement.
"No!" he exclaimed. "Hell no. If you're found with a gun there'll be a lot more questions. Keep it simple."
"Well okay," she said. "I'll do it."