If you’re reading this through the feed, I noticed some instability last week. Sorry about that, posts are going up at the usual times.
Kyle descended through the hole in the parking garage floor somewhat awkwardly. Magical engineering, as a career path, hadn’t really prepared him for any great feats of athleticism. Still, he thought he could hang off a rope long enough to descend ten feet. That was almost proved to be a miscalculation when, halfway down, the rope lurched as the sharp sides of the concrete cut into its nylon body. Fortunately, the rope was expensive climbing gear manufactured by MMI. Kyle had purchased it at a sports store after arriving in Chicago because he’d been anticipating this climb and it seemed funny to use an MMI product because he was a bit giddy with the risk he was planning to take. It had a carbon-nanotube core. Kyle could have hung a tank off it if he wanted. Had he done that the rope would have cut through the parking garage, but it wouldn’t have broken. After a little slip he managed to recover and drop into the hidden facility.
Kyle was still running the blackness spell in the SB4 hallway. It was easy to summon more just below the entrance he’d cut through the parking garage floor. He did so, letting it wash down and out across the ceiling of the underground medical wing. He only allowed it to fill about a foot of space near the top of the hall and didn’t block out the lights. He wasn’t trying to blind everyone. Perhaps he’d do that later, but at the moment, he wanted to shut down cameras and he assumed they’d be in the ceiling.
For what he planned to do, he needed the light. He swung his backpack off his shoulder and withdrew a second recent purchase; a small hand-held video recorder. He switched it on and began to record, though there was nothing particularly illegal, and certainly nothing magically medical, about the hall.
There were, however, a lot of rooms off the hall. He had no particular idea where to start; the blueprints for the facility weren’t labeled and Kyle was a little turned around anyway. Any door off any hallway could hold Jessie, the evidence he needed to put Thomas out of business, or a dozen rabid ninjas. “So are you the lady or the tiger,” he mumbled opening the nearest. It was a janitorial closet. That was sort of anticlimactic, but it did make him wonder where you got cleaning staff for illicit underground facilities.
The remaining rooms in the hallway weren’t quite so prosaic. One was a big supply room filled with various medications and medical equipment, there were also things that would never have been used for medicine like a container of mercury (much beloved of magi from alchemical casting traditions) and another of scab beetle dung-balls (important to Egyptian casting). Kyle captured it all with a single slow swipe of his camcorder. The images wouldn’t be high quality, but he was just trying to convince the police to start an investigation.
The next room was an office. It was cramped, but had a computer on its desk. Kyle paused over it. There was probably something useful on the hard drive, but it was a full-sized desktop computer and he couldn’t run around the facility carrying it. After a second of consideration, he decided he’d have to keep moving and remember where the office was if he had more time later. The small room didn’t have any windows, of course, instead it had several big bookshelves. Kyle spent another minute scanning them. The contents looked to be mostly medical, but he saw a copy of “Hippocratic Corpus” on one shelf with a binder sitting right next to it.
He drew in a quick breath. “Hippocratic Corpus” was a grimoire that supposedly went all the way back to Hippocraties, and it was on medical magic. The book wasn’t illegal, but using its information would be. He crossed the room and pulled down the binder, continuing to record as he did so. It had hand written notes in it in a pidgin of English and Greek. He hoped the notes would be on adaptations of the spells contained in the Corpus. That would show a certain illegal intent. Finished with that, he gave the room one last once over then left it to continue his snooping.
There were several rooms that looked a lot like they were used for medical treatments of some sort. Kyle didn’t waste much time on them. However, he did film the fact that each room had a magical current outlet and an autocaster. It was probably the most suspicious thing he’d seen. That or the scarab beetle dung balls.
Kyle hadn’t thought to look at his watch when he’d begun his infiltration of the facility. It left him uncertain how long he’d been in the basement and how long the guards had been distracted by his spell. He thought maybe it had been five or ten minutes. Possibly less, his heart had been racing the entire time and the jittery fear of what he was doing was probably throwing off his sense of time. After a moment’s thought he decided he’d spent all the time he could gathering evidence. Kyle stuffed the video camera back in his backpack, and drew out the autocaster and slipped it into his pocket. He might need it for locks or something later. Then hurried back down the hall to roughly where he’d cut the hole through the ceiling. He cleared the blackness across a section of the ceiling then tossed his backpack up through the hole. Kyle considered leaving then. He thought he had enough evidence that the cops would act, but he wasn’t quite done. There was still a good chance Jessie was in some room he hadn’t checked. He needed to at least look in the other rooms, and he needed to hurry.
The underground complex was laid out along a simple floor plan. It was basically a rectangular block of rooms with a smaller rectangle of hallways set along an interior perimeter to provide access to those rooms. The longest side was composed of the northern and southern most hallways. The northernmost was the public SB4 reachable by the elevator. It connected to the eastern most hallway. Kyle had punched through the ceiling at the juncture of the western and southern hallways. That had been intentional as it was the corner furthest from where he expected the guards to be.
The hallway he’d just run down, then back up, was the short western one. After his bag was in a safe-ish position he turned back to look down the western hallway. Despite it being the longest hallway it had the fewest doors off of it. From the blueprints, Kyle knew each of those doors gave access to a cluster of four rooms. He had no idea what the rooms were for so it was with a certain amount of trepidation that he approached the door nearest him. When he opened the door, there was a heavy clunk from somewhere in its handle. Was that a lock giving? He looked inside the room and saw what looked like a darkened living room in the light spilling in from the corridor. Beyond that was, perhaps, a kitchen and a door to some other sort of room he couldn’t see enough of to identify.
It was a suite of some sort, then. Actually, that made sense, they probably kept patients in the rooms. Some patients would come for one treatment and then leave, others would come and go, but surely some required an intensive enough schedule they’d stay on site. “Jessie,” Kyle hissed as loud as he could. There was no response, “Jessie,” He called again. Again no response. He turned away from the door and it fell shut behind him. He turned to the next door just a bit further down on the other side of the hallway.