ICABOD quickly stated, “Dr. Quip, our data center is under direct assault. All our data circuits to the world wide web are saturated with data bombardment from unknown sources. I am unable to hunt on the Internet for our adversaries; thus, I am unable to identify them or halt their onslaught. Our defenses will hold, but there will be no outbound reconnaissance to determine our defensive posture or potential alternatives.”
Quip, dressed in the standard jeans and his ‘It Works on My Machine’ t-shirt, with his long greying hair tied back in a ponytail, was only half listening as he watched the building’s external video feeds streaming the physical onslaught of armored troops approaching the R-Group’s Zürich operations center. His chiseled features showed increased concern in his furrowed brow.
Setting his jaw in decision mode, Quip hollered, “Incoming! We have an all-out data center attack! Class, you are instructed to use the alpha exit plan A for a safe retreat! Get to the tunnel and type in the security code SOB! Follow the instructions as we have rehearsed. Don’t look back!”
Looking quite alarmed, Granger, a replica of his father at fifteen, tall and lanky with thick blond hair, protested, “Dad, aren’t you coming too? I’m not leaving without you! I don’t care if the escape tunnel will Save Our Bacon, it won’t matter if you stay to fall on your sword, dammit!”
Quip gave his best paternal smile to his son. “You’re just like your mother! Remind me to discipline you for swearing in front of your father. You and JW get the other children together and go! Go now. There must be someone here for them to blame and take into custody so they won’t look for you kids! Move along smartly and stick with our game plan! That’s an order, soldier!”
Granger ground his teeth as he motioned for JW, Satya, and Auri to follow him to the hidden escape hatch leading into the tunnel. The disciplined youngsters, children of the R-Group leadership, were not happy but they did know how to follow the orders of their parents and trusted advisors.
Quip returned his gaze to the monitors, knowing he would be alerted when they were outside the facility.
ICABOD asked, “Shall I open the main doors for the troops, Dr. Quip?”
Quip reached over for his morning cookie to augment his fresh cup of coffee and calmly stated, “No. I want to see how the magnetically insulated blast doors hold up against their two-man battering ram performance. Besides, we need more time for the extraction.”
Quip methodically munched down several cookies while he watched as not one, but three battering ram teams hammered the magnetically sealed doors to exhaustion. Having finished his coffee and one final cookie, he stated, “That was as good as I expected. However, they are really pissed and should be rolling up…ah, there it is! Yeah, a 20mm field gun for stubborn defenses. It’s times like these I wish the team had let me have my own wheeled armor. We’re going with what we’ve got. Okay, ICABOD, let me fill up my coffee cup and go see what they want.”
Quip made his way to the doors. He pressed the comm button for the speaker linked to the outside and asked, “I’m not shipping anything out today, nor am I expecting any package deliveries, so is this our catered lunch service? Sorry to make you wait so long to deliver, but I didn’t hear you knocking.”
The leader, Tracy Mountbatten, was 1.8 meters tall with close cropped hair, a commanding presence with menace in her eyes, and looked more like a man than most men who reported to her. Nothing phased the starched fatigues and shiny boots she always wore. Still stomping, furious that the doors had worn down three assault teams trying to get in, she barked, “I am commander of the Special Artificial Intelligence Task Force hunting team! Based on our warrant, you are directed to open up your facilities for search and inspection. I am authorized to use all means of force to gain entrance, if you resist.”
Quip, unable to resist his namesake, retorted, “You mean you’ve been banging on my door trying to break in, but you have legitimate business to conduct based on the authority of a search warrant?
“Sounds to me like you’ve got it bass-ackwards, Commander, madam. First, you present me with the warrant, THEN you lose your temper when I tell you to go pound sand. Without my lawyer, I don’t open my doors to just anyone that shows up!”
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