Jessie made her way into the lower level of the laboratory. She still had her camouflage spell running so the motion sensor glowing against the ceiling between the exterior door and the entrance to the security office ignored her. Again, it didn’t really matter if she ended up on film, but she felt better about avoiding having her image captured if possible. She wondered if that feeling was the result of the combat spell, or just the the way any normal person would feel about ending up on the 10 o’clock news.
The door to the security office was unlocked, and stood ajar. That was expected. Ivan spent most of his night in that office. He was only required to get up and inspect the halls once an hour. When Kyle had dramatically demolished the front doors Ivan would have left for the lobby. There was even a cooling cup of coffee by the bank of pc monitors that flipped through various camera views.
The main monitor was dedicated to the lobby camera. Jessie had no idea if that was standard, or if there was some system to detect magical throwdowns that had focused it there. Either way she had to stop to look for a few seconds; the action was gripping. Ivan, in bear form, charged Kyle, missed him, skidded on something that looked like ice, and stopped to have a good roar. Kyle managing to look more like a badass than Jessie would have guessed he could (she considered his dweebyness part of his charm) wove his fingers through complex glowing patterns and shot a fireball at the bear. From their pre-game planning, Jessie knew the fireball was nothing but slightly better than room temperature air luminescing, but it looked like the bear caught fire briefly. The news crews would love it.
Which was her cue, really, they weren’t making a feature length film after all- just a teaser. Jessie sat down at Ivan’s chair looking to cut the security feed, and hit a snag.
The Physical Science Laboratory had a well designed security system. It took both audio and video recordings, it covered basically the entire facility well, and the data was instantly transmitted to an off-site backup facility as well as being stored in a vault in the basement. As such, there was no way of smashing up the security system and destroying its recordings unless they wanted to both bust open a big steel vault and then travel to another state and burn down a data center. Exactly which state, and which data center was an open question. Apparently, there were several such facilities and even the security system administrators didn’t know where the software would decided to send its records. That was continuously optimized via computer algorithm.
All of that meant that if the system was going to quit recording they’d need to destroy every camera in the place, and those were hidden, or they’d need to shut it down correctly. That wasn’t so bad, not when the entire thing was an inside job. The plan had been Ivan would jump up, leave himself logged in, and run over to “deal with Kyle”. Only he hadn’t left himself logged in. Reflex, Jessie figured.
Jessie sighed a little. Well, that was mostly Ivan’s problem. They’d covered this eventuality while they were planning and Jessie had made Ivan cough up his password. If she logged herself in there might be questions about how she’d managed to get access to the system with his password while he was out being a bear. On the other hand, maybe no one would check that, and anyway Charles could probably smooth it all over.
She reached down into her pocket where she’d stored the little slip of paper with the password on it and hit a second snag.
Specifically, her pocket had snagged on something, and now she didn’t have a pocket. This, Jessie thought, is what I get for jumping around in trees.
She glanced over at the monitor. It hadn’t been long, but the men were really going at it. Kyle had somehow gotten behind the receptionist’s desk and now he was using it as a barrier as he focused another spell on Ivan. From the way Ivan’s fir was all laid down, Jessie assumed it was the wind spell. Ivan was putting on a really good show of fighting the spell. His feet scrabbled against the tile and his mouth was set in a snarl. She needed to hurry. The men wouldn’t be able to fake this fight for much longer.
Jessie swore under her breath. It wasn’t especially creative swearing, just a low chant of a single obscenity like she was trying to summon something. Arlight, Jessie thought, I’m not sunk yet. I asked for the password, got it, repeated it a couple of times, and wrote it down. I should remember it.
The problem was Ivan hadn’t been careless with his password. It wasn’t his dog’s name or something like that. He’d chosen a random word. She remembered that, but what had the word been? Something hard to spell. She’d had to double check how it went. Something with a C, and the C had been capitalized. Conscience. No, that wasn’t it. Conscientious!
She typed that in. The computer’s login screen worked for a bit. Worked too long. The logon only took an appreciable amount of time if the password was wrong. Crap. What happened if she couldn’t get this? Hopefully Kyle would have the sense to run before the cops, who were not in on this, got to the building. They’d probably be on their way already. She glanced at the monitor.
Kyle had moved out from behind the desk and was now backing his way across the lobby. He was still using the wind spell and Ivan was still making a good show of trying to get to him and eat his face. The building’s alarm would have tripped as soon as the door totally failed. The security company would call the building, and then the police. That would probably take a minute or two. After that, the average response time of the campus police was seven minutes. They’d been at this for what, 3 or 4?
They’d need to change their plans. Jessie stood up intending to go to Kyle and tell him the plan had changed. The some data retrieval thread that had been running unattended in the back of her brain went, “Ding!” The password hadn’t just been letters. Ivan had tossed some characters in. The s’s were $’s and there was a number after it- 37. She cleared the “failed login” message and drummed the new password in. The system accepted it. She shot another look at the monitor. Kyle had Ivan trapped in the lobby while he looked on from the first floor. That was a good stall tactic.
The security program was up. She told it to cut the cameras and sagged with relief for half a second. Then she spread her palm and concentrated on the spells in her DNA. A light appeared above her hand. Presumably the matching light winked off near Kyle. With the cameras off she couldn’t confirm.