“I can lift a few tons.” Haley gave a small shrug.
Amy tilted her head to the side–which seemed more noticeable in a helmet somehow. I think it must have been the way the short spikes on the top made her head appear longer. “I’ve never seen you lift anything.”
Haley stepped up to the wall. “I’m good at sneaking around, and I don’t wear much armor, so they don’t put me at the front of a fight.”
Amy stepped closer to Haley. “I wouldn’t either, but I didn’t know you were that strong. Mind if I help anyway?”
Haley shook her head. “Nick, are you ready?”
“I think.” I walked over to Amy’s right. “Here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to cut at an angle on this side. Then I’m going to cut at less of an angle on Haley’s. That should allow me to cut through this without hitting anything on the far wall.”
Amy turned her helmet toward me, the corners of her mouth widening. “What about this side of the wall?”
“I’m hoping that there’s nothing on this side.”
Haley leaned forward. “I hope you’re not just hoping.”
“I’m pretty sure there’s nothing on this side.”
“He’s sounding more sure all the time.” Vaughn said. “The next time you ask, there won’t be any chance of a problem.”
I shot him a look, but didn’t say anything. Then I held up my right arm. “Don’t get too close. I’m going to make the laser as powerful as I can, but if I have to stay in a spot too long there’s a chance that the rock around it might explode a little. Actually that might happen even if I don’t have to stop, depending on if there’s pockets of other stuff trapped in the rock.”
Haley and Amy looked at each other, and then began to turn their heads toward me.
As they did, Sean said, “I bet I could hold it up, and then no one would have to stand next to it.”
“That sounds like a good idea.” I considered pointing out that it would have been nicer if he’d said that before, but didn’t.
Amy said, “I’m fine with it.”
Haley glanced at me. “You’re sure?”
Her tone said a lot more than her words. I only said, “It’ll work.”
They backed away, and the ball bearings floated out of Sean’s backpack, covering the area that Haley and Amy had been standing in front of.
When they were in place, I used my HUD’s outline of what the room probably looked like to angle the shot. Then I turned on the beam, cutting through the rock easily.
One spot did heat up and explode, spattering bits of heated rock into the hallway, but not hitting anyone–at least not in such a way that they got hurt.
One bit of rock landed on Amy’s armor, and glowed for a minute or two before it faded.
When I was done with one side, I started on the other. It didn’t take long, but I did have to be careful in a way I hadn’t for the first one. Due to having to angle a little bit inward, a moment of inattention had the potential to hit the router or one of the cables.
I was fairly sure I wouldn’t, but I wouldn’t know for sure if I had, until I walked into the room.
I cut the top next.
Having directed Sean to keep it in place until I said not to, I cut across the bottom of the section as Sean’s ball bearings stopped it from moving.
Finally though, I said, “Bring it to the floor–slowly, if possible.”
For a moment, it appeared to fall out of the hole I’d created, but Sean brought it to a complete stop before it hit the floor, ball bearings spreading across it.
He held one end of the “door” up as he got the last of the metal out from under it.
When he was done, I walked inside. It wasn’t much more than it appeared to be from my sonar sweep–a nearly empty room with a router and switches in a rack along with a couple servers (the primary and its backup), and a whole lot of cables leading from the server rack to the wall.
I thought about my options. From the equipment I saw here, it seemed likely that this was the students’ internet access and not the compound. Earthmover had likely turned off internet access through a program that ran on the servers–not the router. Additionally, it seemed most likely that Dr. Nation had configured the servers, but he probably hadn’t done much to the router.
I unplugged the servers from the router, and plugged the ethernet cable into my suit, knowing that if Dr. Nation had designed a trap that merely looked like a router, I was opening myself up to big problems.
The HUD showed a message that said, “NETWORK DETECTED.”
That was a good first step.
“Got it?” Vaughn asked.
I ignored him. Meanwhile, Samita said, “I don’t know precisely what he’s doing, but let’s leave him be.”
Haley added, “I think we should watch in case someone comes this way.”
That started a longer conversation, but I wasn’t listening. I was thinking things through. Even though I wasn’t a hacker, I had put a few tools for hacking into the Rocket suit’s computer when I’d created it. I’d made a point of creating a file listing the default passwords and user accounts for all major routers.
The only problem with that was that I’d have to bring the router back to factory defaults for the default account to work. That would erase the username and password for the school’s internet account as well–not a good plan.
I’d also downloaded a vast array of scripts that exploited security holes. Checking the router’s make and model, I searched through my list, finding a script that might get me control–provided recent patches didn’t close the vulnerability.
I ran the script.
Unlike the scripts you saw in movies, there weren’t any cool graphics–just a countdown, and then my HUD showed a command line next to a flickering pound sign.
I had control of the router.
Within moments, I’d turned internet access back on and made a call out. I hadn’t decided who to call before I made the call. Agent Lim would have been an obvious choice. He could redirect everything with a few words. Dr. Nation would have been an excellent second choice, but I needed help.
I called Lee, explaining the situation as quickly as I could.
His only response was, “Leaving.” Then he hung up.
I stared at the words in my HUD: connection lost.
I considered calling him back, but at the same time I realized that Haley was tapping on my armor’s shoulder.
“The Cabal kids are coming down the hall.”