Project Cypher, Chapter 3 Au Revoir

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#017 gently reaches over to touch the wall with the palm of her hand. The wall is still for a moment recognizing the command issued that goes against all installed protocol. The AI system falters for a moment, before complying with both commands. A small opening soundlessly emerges enough for one person to fit through. #017 rushes through the opening as #66 and #39 follow on her tail. The other prisoners seeing their chance to escape rush towards the door. But before they can take more than a few steps, the door shuts loudly in their desperate faces.

#39 gasps with an unknown emotion upon exiting the door and emerging into the tunnel. Without needing to be told he runs after the other two inmates.  “Wait, where are we going?” #39 panted, causing #66 and #017 ignore him and share a look. #017 pointedly eyes #66, who innocently shrugs the accusing glance of #017 off. #39 frowns at the familiar glance but that would be impossible unless they knew each other prior to entering this place. “So, just how do you two know each other?” #39 ventured to ask.

#017 impassively glances back as #66 furrows his forehead impatiently at the question. #66 is silent for a moment before answering in a huff, “No, we just met.”

“Wait, then how?” #39 wheezed.

#017 sighs and grumbles, “If I tell you, will you just shut up and run. The guards are going to notice something is amiss with the surveillance cameras in about twenty seconds. And we have to be in the clear by then.”

#39 doesn’t reply as #017 takes that as a confirmation of her question. “I managed to remotely take over an AI program controlling part from the AI visor that connects to the main AI system. And as for the second question, #66 and I met once via an AI simulation. And thus, a bargain was struck, payment and a new identity upon escaping, if I got him out. It’s a good deal,” #017 muttered, pausing to only glance up at a camera. “Unfortunately, the tech department and other AI programs will soon notice the corruption and resolve the malware.”

#017 suddenly sprints towards the upcoming corridor and disappears out of sight. #66 does the same, #39 gasps as he is suddenly pulled into a janitorial closet that is only accessible to janitors and not the guards. #39’s mouth is suddenly covered shut as #39 tries to breathe. The three of them hold their breaths when sudden footsteps are heard. Several guards rush past the unseen closet and move down the corridor checking the area.

#017 happily removes her hand that had been bitten and slobbered by #39. #39 loudly gasps for air as he glares unhappily at her. #017 snorts as #66 peeked out of the closet and whispers, “The coast is clear.”

“Yeah, I know,” #017 grumbled, before turning around and kicking the closet back wall. “Shut up, you’re going to get us killed,” #39 hissed as the closet wall cracks loudly under #017 kicks.

#66 sighs and says, “Shut up, kid. #017 knows what she is doing.”

#017 splinters a large enough hole in the drywall that was kept for easy access for maintenance to ventilation pipes. “Hurry, they will finish updating the system and locate us via our tracking chips,” #017 forebodingly said as she disappears into the darkness behind the wall.

#66 hurriedly follows #39, who fretfully glances backward before following through. With their hearts pounding the three of them find themselves in a narrow space filled with pipes. They hurriedly crawl through on their bellies struggling to be silent and swift as possible. The minutes turn into hours as they crawl through the tunnel. Their heart pounds as they flinch at every sound to find it’s only themselves. A loud clack from behind them at the end of the tunnel is heard. The guards had found the closet, the guards are coming.

#017 spots the vent opening just ahead and wiggles like a snake towards it. Without care, she shoves it open and crawls out into an empty packaging bay. #66 swiftly follows as #39 hesitates for a second, before leaping out after them. #017 expertly runs for the guard locker just two feet away. With ease, she enters the unlocked room and searches for the guard extra clothing closet. Because even guards had accidents and most especially in this place.

#017 wretches the closet open and grabs a uniform in her size. With zero embarrassment on her part, #017 starts changing her clothes as the two men join her. #66 immediately spots the open closet and expertly searches for a guard uniform in his size. #39 stands hesitantly at the door as he softly closes it shut behind him. Uneasy, #39 quietly asks, “So where are we going now?”

#017 sighs as #66 glances apologetically back and says, “Sorry, it’s just collateral damage.” Grumbling #017 accepts the response and reaches for a shiny plastic pen that had fallen underneath one of the benches in the locker room.

#39 frowns. “Excuse me? What,” #39’s words cut off mid-sentence as #017 firmly stabs a simple ink pen into his air passageway. #39 chokes trying to desperately breathe, his hands flutter around his neck trying, but most futilely covering the hole in his neck. A low high-pitched sound emerges between #39’s pale trembling hands as the air in his lungs escapes. Within seconds his lungs begin to collapse as the last gasp hovers silently in the air before #39 falls over limp to the ground.

Neither #017 or #066 pause to glance at the fallen corpse of the prisoner once known as #39. Despite being on the run neither #017 or #66 didn’t even try to move nor hide the corpse. The two of them understood that they were running out of time and at any moment in time, a guard could suddenly walk into the locker room.

#017 and #066 hastily rummage through the guard’s locker for a sharp implement of any sorts. Finally, #017 finds small nose hair trimming scissors. Not even bothering to wash them, she stabs the scissors into her arm. Not even a hiss of pain escapes from #017’s mouth as she widens the bleeding flesh wound. With a disturbing ferocity, she widens the hole in her arm until she can stick two of her fingers inside the pulsating flesh and remove the tracking chip.

Successful, #017 firmly holds onto the slippery capsule and pulls it out into the air. For a moment, #017 studies the blue capsule covered in blood. Without hesitation, she rushes over to the drinking fountain and tosses the chip down the water drain. The small capsule easily is washed down as #017 turns around. #66 finished with his own surgery tosses #017 a medical bandage. With ease, #017 catches the medical bandage roll with her bleeding hand.

With disbelieving eyes, #66 rather disturbed asks, “Doesn’t that hurt?” Pointing to the large gouge in her arm, while his own removal of the chip was nice and neat.

“No,” #017 chirped as she bandaged the gaping wound in her flesh that had yet to stop bleeding. #017 frowns wondering if the wound needed stitches. She shrugs a problem for another time.

Having finished, #017 puts on the guard helmet and exits the room.  #66 follows closing the door to the guard locker room. His eyes fall on the corpse of #39 one last time. “We really should have hidden the body,” #66 unhappily mutters.

“We don’t have time,” #017 grumbled back as she walks over to the guard weapon closet in the bay. She picks out two handguns and tests that they have bullets. Finished checking, she smoothly hands over a weapon over to #66.  #66 doesn’t check the gun to impatient to leave. Rather, he merely tucks the weapon into the gun holster at his waist.

#017 scans the transport area for the next vehicle to depart. Finding, the right vehicle, #017 motions for #66 to climb into the vehicle. With ease, #017 and #66 climb onto the transportation vehicle. Having swiped access cards from the guard locker room with ease, the two of them are able to enter the car. #017 expertly pulls down the sun visor to find the keys there and without a second to spare turns on the engine and begins to move.

#66 glances impatiently at the clock in the transport vehicle. “Hurry up, we only have a couple of minutes at best.” #017 lip twitch dangerously but does as asked. The vehicle speeds up on the path towards the still distant prison gates. #66 can only gulp and watch with a flinching heart every time the minute changes.

Finally, the transport vehicle pulls up at the gate, where the guards automatically point their weapons at the vehicle. #017 the driver pulls her helmet visor down, before rolling the window down. “Transport for Whiton,” she calmly said.

The guard checks his list and says, “Yes, that’s on the roster.” Some of the guards lower their weapons, while others move to check the vehicle. Some check underneath the truck, while others open the back of the transport vehicle to check the cargo inside the cargo hold. With the area checked and clear, the guard’s motion again to each other and close the back.

#66 nervously breathes as the guard at the gate says, “Alright, you’re clear to go.” Turning on his intercom, the guard gives the clear to go. “Open the gates for transport to Whiton. All clear.”

“Command Confirmed. Gates opening,” the other guard replied back.

The gates majestically, most slowly open as #017 resists the urge to push on the gas pedal and run. The vehicle surges forward and moves past the gate. The gates begin to close as the prisoner sirens begin to go off. Immediately the guards at the gate stand ready as they begin to check the perimeter

Inside the prison, a troop of guards surrounds the guard locker room. A guard glances at the tracking system and firmly speaks into his intercom, “The whereabouts of #39 are in there and as for the location of #017 and #66, they are still at large. Repeat, still at large.”

“Roger that. Command center signals a go. Please proceed with caution,” a neutral gender voice said over the intercom.

“Copy that,” the guard answered, before signaling with a nod for the guards to move in.

“Put your hands up,” A guard roared, while two others rammed the door down and with their guns blazing the guards pour into the locker room. One of the guards suddenly begins to weep in relief. One of his relatives had been a victim of the sick bastard known as #39. The other guards react a bit more professionally, but none of them miss or feel bad for this particular convict’s gruesome death. The unspoken and unanimous thought, “The f****** bastard had it coming to him.”

The guards finish checking the lockers as the lead guard enters and glances at the corpse. Cursing loudly, the team leader says, “Command Center, we’ve been duped. #39 was killed and his body was dumped in the locker room.”

“Understood, proceed to and check the docking bay area,” the command center operator firmly ordered.

“Understood,” the guard squad leader unhappily answered back. The other guards without being told begin to move in groups of two between the vehicles checking the area. Elsewhere other such similar scenes are proceeding. On the prison grounds, the hounds have been unleashed, the police dogs sniff the ground trying to find a trace.

To their surprise, the dogs immediately catch the scent and lead them to the gates. The dogs howl leads outside of the perimeter to their grand dismay. Immediately, the guards call for backup and for the state forces to be on the lookout for two highly dangerous missing prisoners. Further checks, confirm that a transport vehicle was gone along with the team set for delivery of the cargo. Immediately a statewide search is released for the missing vehicle.

A golden spectacled gentleman wearing a toupee plays golf in his office. The head guard of the prison apprehensively knows on the warden’s door. “Yes,” the spectacled elderly man asked as he readies to swing the golf club.

“Sir, we-, we’ve had a breach. Prisoners #66 and #017 are missing,” The muscular guard unhappily said through the door.

The warden slams the golf club so hard that the golf ball goes flying out the window. A loud crash is heard just as the warden screams, “What!” Swearing to high heaven the head guard enters as the Warden’s face turns red with fury. His bulldog face sweats as the toupee on the warden’s head happily slid off and flops onto the floor without him noticing. Breathing fire, the warden yells, “WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY THAT, Croix!”

“Sir, we don’t know how, but somehow #017 breached the system,” Croix firmly stated.

“Croix, I am running for governor this year, do know what this will do to me? It will ruin me!” The warden shrieked.

Pointing at Croix in a shrill voice, the warden says, “I want techs on the double here! I want to know just how this happened when the government has invested millions of dollars into this fail-proof system. And Croix if anything happens, it’s your head that will roll!”

“Yes, sir. Understood,” Croix flatly replied, before leaving the room.

The Warden still in a fury, begins to smash things in his office. Loud swearing from his office can be heard down the entire floor as the administrative department tactfully decides to take a break. Suddenly, silence is heard as a soft ringtone can be heard.

The warden trembling glances at the phone and fearfully answers the caller. “Yes?” the warden squeaked in reply.

A suave voice says, “Warden, I heard there is a problem.”

“No, sir. I can assure you it is all under control!” The warden frantically answered.

< Property of | outside of it, it is stolen.

“I would certainly hope so, Warden,” the smooth voice crisply said.

“Of course, sir!” The warden swiftly replied. The warden may have been a greedy man, but no one ever accused him of being stupid.

“And Warden-,” the smooth voice said as the Warden trembled like a frightened chihuahua. “-There is no next time,” the charming voice coldly stated, before a faint but most loud disconnect click is heard.

The warden gulps as his pale face once more filled with blood. Red in the face, he begins to scream in rage and tears up the rest of his office in fury. Thankfully the loud shouts and destruction of property are kept solely to that office floor.

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