Chapter 12: Sensitive Data
"Are you all comfy in there?" Samuels asked looking at the various boxes in front of him on a cart. Tucker scoffed at him for his smart ass attitude. "Oh yea, having the time of my life. Can we just get this part over with?"
"Sure," Samuels responded looking up at the nearby checkpoint. "Stay quiet now, we are coming up on a checkpoint."
Let's hope these credentials we swiped manage to get us through, Samuels hoped that all of this would go according to plan. But from experience, he also knew that one must always be flexible in these situations. He approached the window in which a security attendant sat in. Samuels nodded his head to the personnel who looked at the boxes and asked. "What are you delivering?"
"Just a few extra parts for the data center."
"Do you have your security clearance ID?"
"Sure," Samuels took out the card and handed it to the personnel who ran it through a scanner. The personnel took a closer look at the cargo and looked back at the scanner. "Heard about the news with the investigation into the invaders?"
"Invaders?" Samuels inquired and the personnel nodded his head. "That's what the New Order is calling the people who came and caused such massive damage to Sector-D."
"Oh that's us!" Caboose shouted. The personnel looked at the boxes. Samuels nearly broke out into a sweat doing his best to keep up appearances. Shut up you moron. Suddenly the two heard some shuffling from the boxes. Tucker punched Caboose through the boxes and said. "Shut up idiot, they will hear us!"
Please stop, Samuels thought as sweat built up on his face. He so wanted to flip this cart right now. The personnel stood up for a closer inspection. "Are you really carrying goods?"
"Oh yes of course," Samuels answered quickly regaining his composure. "That was just my radio."
"Yes, it's broken so it tends to malfunction from time to time," he replied showing the radio and smacking it against his palm. Just as the personnel was about to exit his booth, they were both alerted by a loud beep. The security personnel looked towards the card scanner and saw that the card went through. He stared at the boxes and shook his head. Whatever, it's not like anyone here can steal our data so easily anyways even if they tried. It may be more fun if he did turn out to be a data thief. The personnel handed the card back to the man and motioned for him to move along. "Alright, you can go on ahead."
"Thanks," Samuels commented just as the door opened up. Good thing they are quite lax here in terms of security. If they had checked the boxes then everything would have been over. He turned a right corner and came upon a secluded area. After taking a look around, he knocked on the boxes. "Come on out, quietly."
"Surprise!" Caboose exclaimed sticking his head out only to receive a heavy hit on the helmet from Samuels. "What part about quietly don't you understand?"
"I thought we were going to surprise everyone here first," the blue soldier answered retrieving Freckles and getting in formation. Samuels face palmed himself thinking, dear god please let this go alright. "Okay, so the data center room we want is down the hall. Remember, to keep out of sight as we make our way there. I don't want any unnecessary encounters taking place."
They began to move out keeping in the door frames and checking to make sure the coast was clear. They moved up again and soon reached the door to the room that held their desired information. Samuels motioned for the others to wait and gently opened the door. He suddenly stepped inside with his gun pointed in several directions. He stuck out his hand and motioned for the others to follow. Delta pixilated besides Caboose and asked. "What information do you exactly seek?"
"My men will handle getting us into the servers, and I will handle extracting the information. You guys just need to keep watch."
"If I may, I can be of use as information handling is my domain after all."
"Yeah, I back Delta on this one," Tucker commented and pointed towards the servers. "Plus if this is anything like their security systems then you will have a hard time getting in won't you?"
"Tucker," Samuels began plugging in a remote device that gave access to their remote hackers back at main base. "We have lived here longer than you and know these systems inside out."
"Very well, as you wi-" Delta began only to be quickly interrupted. Samuels motioned for the fragment to step forth. "If you want to help, you can help us by planting a backdoor once we are inside to feed us live information."
"Understood," the fragment complied and as soon as they cracked the firewalls, the fragment was inside and already got to work. Samuels brought up the information they needed and sent it off to his colleagues. "Did you guys get it?"
"Yeah, we got it boss."
"Good, how long till Delta finishes Tucker?"
"Why ask me? I don't have a direct link to him. Ask Caboose."
Samuels stared at the blue soldier staring into a corner in the wall while occasionally speaking to his gun. "Yeah, I think I will pass on that."
"I have finished," Delta answered giving a visual display of the backdoor. The hackers confirmed that they were now getting live information from Equal's information network. This is a huge step forward, good. Maybe bringing them along wasn't so bad after all. Caboose then shot his rifle with some confetti coming out of it. "What? Aren't we celebrating now for a job well done?"
On second thought, I take back that previous thought. Samuels shook his head as he studied some of the information and his jaw dropped. "This is…"
"What is it?" Sarge asked looking at the shaken Samuels. He shoved Samuels over to look at the information and found himself shaking in his armor soon. "So, this doesn't look good."
"Oh it can't be that bad," Tucker said looking at the screen and immediately took back his words. "Okay, never mind, it's all fucked."
"What do we do now Samuels? We didn't think that the New Order would act so soon," asked one of the remote hackers. Samuels looked down in contemplation and saw the reports again. To wage war with the UNSC in three days, this is too sudden. According to this report, the number of ships required for their initial strike is ready and already mobilized down on the planet. Dammit, we are late.
However, the more concerning part came after the initial bit of the report. Samuels couldn't think of just how the New Order could preach about being humane but stoop to the levels they have to in finding their army. Every individual down on the planet that is currently in the slave workforce and healthy enough will be drafted into the military. For people up here it will be voluntary. This is nothing but a dictatorship. And the people from the planet will be the ones sent to the front lines while those loyal to the New Order and their cause will be placed on the second and third line of assault. Equal, you are a monster.
"Seriously dude," Tucker explained. "This is fucked up, what do we do?"
"The only thing we can do," Sarge answered. "We stop the man."
"But how would you even do that?" Samuels inquired. He knew that they would say something like this without having a plan in mind.
"We could always visit him."
Everyone looked at Caboose who looked around clueless. "What?"
"Caboose, once in a while you actually have some really good ideas," Tucker answered complementing the blue soldier. Caboose felt a little blushed. Sarge reloaded his shotgun and agreed. "I sure would like to pay him a surprise visit."
"Surprise? I love surprises! We can all shout surprise when we get to his door step."
"If it's followed by the gift of sweet vengeance on the broadside of my shotgun, count me in."
"Yeah, I sure would like to stick it to him with my sword," said Tucker receiving multiple silent looks. He suddenly realized what he just said. "Oh wait, no I take that back."
"Hah! No take backs blue," Sarge replied ready to leave the room. Samuels prepared to eject his device from the servers as the others packed up quickly. They looked around and saw that the coast was clear. Tucker tapped Samuels' shoulder and asked for him to hurry. Samuels under pressure suddenly pulled out the device and an alarm triggered. The whole Blood Gulch Crew looked towards Samuels who simply shrugged his shoulders. "No one's perfect."
"Get ready men!" Sarge shouted aiming his shotgun in front of him. Just as quickly as they managed to pack up, the guards of the facility were already in sight. Tucker could not help but feel a certain tremble in his spine. "Oh fuck…"
"Less talking," Sarge said as he reloaded his shotgun. "And more shooting boys!"
All of them opened fire and the dance of bullets began. Back and forth the bullets would fire and miss. They were all on even ground, but the Blood Gulch crew seemed to be tilting things in their favor with the help of their fragments and Freckles. Samuels was impressed at the amount of coordination the fragments provided. But soon they found even that advantage was lost as soon as the enemy personnel brought out the big laser guns.
"They have laser guns here? You have got to be shitting me!" Tucker shouted hiding behind cover. The others looked around at one another and spoke of any viable plans. Caboose held up his hand as Samuels face palmed. I am afraid to even ask.
"What if we asked them to stop firing at us?"
"Why don't you test that for us Caboose?" asked Samuels hoping for one less annoyance. Caboose stuck out his head with a loud voice and said. "Ah hey listen! I want to ask a favor of you guys, can you stop firing at us?"
"We are the enemy jackass! It's what we are supposed to do to one another!"
"Well now that's not very nice!" Caboose replied narrowly dodging a laser beam. The enemy laughed at his attempts saying. "Firing guns in the first place isn't nice, grow a brain!"
Caboose was suddenly sitting still hunched against the cover. Tucker looked at him worriedly. "Come on Caboose. Don't tell me those idiots actually hurt your feelings."
Caboose remained still. Tucker tilted his head again calling out his name but received no response. "Okay Caboose, cut the crap and answer me."
"My name is Michael J. Caboose," Everyone looked at the blue soldier whose voice became deep. Caboose looked up at the enemy and stood up amidst the fire. Crazy bastard, Samuels thought trying to stop him. "And I. Hate. Babies!"
Caboose suddenly rushed into the enemy head on and tackled them all down to the ground. Everyone else stood up surprised with Samuels shaking in his boots. "Holy crap, where did that come from?!"
"It is a little trick Church passed down to me," Delta clarified as he saw Caboose wrecking havoc. "Although I can't do it for long since it can be quite tricky forcibly tapping into this power of his and continue to draw from it."
"While this conversation is fun and all," Sarge interjected waving towards the exit. "We should get going shouldn't we?"
"Right, let's move people!" Samuels ordered running up to Caboose and giving him a gentle tap on the shoulder. "Good work, let's go."
Everyone turned to look behind them at the one conscious enemy personnel who fired off a pistol. Samuels was kneeling on the ground holding his right leg that had a large blood stain on it. Caboose quickly jumped on the enemy and pummeled them to dream land. Tucker bent down besides Samuels and studied the wound. "How bad is it Sig?"
"Not very good," the fragment replied taking a scan of the wound. "Someone will have to carry him."
The whole gang heard more alarms trigger behind them and several more doors open. From each door they could see several figures ready to exit and storm them. Samuels rested a hand on Tucker's shoulder and handed him the device they used for hacking. "Take this to the base and give it to the next man in command."
"You can give it to him yourself," said Sarge picking up Samuels by his other side. Samuels shook his head weighing the two down. "No, I'm not going anywhere. This wound is too bad and I can't let any of you be weighed down by me. All of you must survive!"
"Shit man, don't talk like that," Tucker insisted again picking up Samuels. But instead he was pushed away by Samuels who took out a grenade. Tucker and the others looked at Samuels warily who gave a reassuring smirk. "If I'm going out, then I may as well go out with a bang."
"What do we do guys?" Tucker asked under pressure. He felt his calm outlook slowly crumble as he looked back and forth from the approaching enemy and Samuels. Sarge lowered his head and slowly nodded his head. He rested a hand on Tucker's shoulder and motioned for them to go. "We are leaving him?"
"Tucker," Samuels called out with a hand up in the air. Tucker took it and Samuels brought him close. "Promise me that you will kill that bastard Equal."
"Don't talk like that dude, we can't let you di-"
"Promise me!" Samuels shouted as he saw that the enemy grew closer by the second. He was running out of time and patience. He undid the pin on the grenade and Tucker saw the determination in the man's eyes. To deny him his moment here, would it be too cruel of me, too unfair? He wondered as he finally nodded his head. "I promise."
"Good, then go," said Samuels as he looked at the enemy soldiers. Tucker slowly stood up and began to walk backwards. Samuels noticed the leisure pace Tucker backed away at and shouted. "Go!"
Samuels looked back one last time at the crew as they disappeared into a corner and smirked to himself in deep thought. Who would have thought that I would come joining you soon Locus, still it was a good life that I lived. He looked at the enemy soldiers only a few feet away and threw the grenade their way. Adios assholes, adios.
The Blood Gulch crew looked back towards the noise of the explosion and noticed the sprinklers unveil themselves from the ceiling. They all continued their way outside with some help from Theta who constructed a map display and highlighted the best routes to take. They managed to make it outside without raising much suspicion and all found a quiet spot to catch their breaths in. Caboose looked around all confused as to how they got there. According to Delta, it was a side effect of awakening his inner rage forcibly, temporary short-term memory loss.
"Dammit, this is just like the time how we had to leave Locus!" Tucker cried out punching a wall. Sarge looked back towards the data center that was quickly put on lockdown and was surrounded by soldiers. I hope that data room survived. Otherwise all this was for nothing. The older soldier stored his shotgun and stood up. He walked over to Tucker's side and looked up at the buildings above them. "Tucker, remember the promise you made to Samuels. We will bring him down. At first Equal didn't seem like such a bad fella but now he has taken too much for his own. Not to mention, he has done some pretty shady stuff."
Sarge butted shoulder armor with Tucker and called Caboose over. "Losing Samuels is quite a loss. But you know what this means, it means that we will just have to go over to this Equal guy's place and give him a piece of our mind sooner. I say we storm the place and let him know what it feels like to be powerless. If he wants to wage a war, then I say we wage one here ourselves to show him just how deluded he is."
Tucker raised his head and nodded it. "You know what Sarge, that doesn't sound so bad, an eye for an eye."
"Yeah, let's do it!" shouted Caboose raising Freckles up in the air and firing off some confetti again. Tucker looked back towards the building one last time before moving back to their main base and made it a personal conviction to get payback. Don't worry Samuels, we will keep that promise. Equal will pay and his whole organization will come down all around him. You have my word on that Samuels.