Praxical Infiltration


asi_icon.gif monica_icon.gif

Scene Title Praxical Infiltration
Synopsis Monica breaks into Praxis's headquarters in Japan in search of as many answers as she can get her hand on. Asi joins her in solidarity.
Date July 2, 2019

Tokyo Restricted Zone

July 2, 2019

It's a little past 11 PM when the Praxis building comes into view on the road, and Asi glances up out of the corner of her eye, head craning forward to get an idea of the activity in the building. The windows visible from the street are all darkened, which is good, given they're not looking for company tonight. In fact, she drives the car past the 5-story building entirely and pulls it into a side alley shrouded in criss-crossing shadows.

"The access tunnel is just across the street. If everything goes well, this should be a boring trip," Asi says after she thumbs the vehicle off, turning to look at Monica in the passenger seat. Reaching into the back, she grabs a tight loop of cable, swinging it up her shoulder while maneuvering a thick laptop out of the back seat. "They might have anti-technopathic measures, but I'll know after I tap in. And even if they do…" Well, it depended. Certain measures merely stung her where they might incapacitate others.

The plan was to latch onto the hard line out of the building and use it to access the Praxis network. It wasn't glorious, maybe not even satisfying, but they'd get the job done and get as much information exfiltrated as possible. Asi hooks her hand around the door handle, popping the door but not opening it just yet. "You ready?"

Monica doesn't look at the building as they drive by. She'll get her eyes on it later. It's hard to say if she just feels confident or if it's a superstitious notion keeping her from looking before it's time to go. "Yeah, don't get knocked out. We have to assume they're as capable as we are." We is a habit, since she's not actually with Yamagato and their anti-telepathic measures. But still, the advice stands.

She struggles into a glove, using teeth to help settle it into place over her hand. Her hair's already pulled back— that was with Eve's help— but it's easy to imagine that she was reluctant about asking. As she is now.

"I'm ready," she says with a nod. Asi's search history proves that Monica has been taking in a plethora of one-armed martial arts and gymnastics. Parkour. She's ready, in as many ways as she can be. She pops open her door, pulls up the hood on her zip up and slips out of the car. While Asi digs into their digital files, she'll be digging into paper files and pictures. Whatever she can find.

Sneaking in through the utility tunnels that pass under the building isn't glamorous by any means, but it is efficient. They have to hunch to fit, maneuverability slim. When they are able to see the half-height exit door Asi states is the right building, she asks to hold before continuing on, then sets to work shooting free a panel on one side of the wall. Behind, a whole web of wiring, thick cables running on into the dark in either direction. She reaches out, laying a hand on the wire bundle. "This'll take a minute," she warns, already diving in.

Whatever she finds, selves climbing up the wires into the Praxis building like digital spiders on a string, it's enough to make her tilt her head, close her eyes for focus. At some point, they drift half open again like a sleepwalker's might, a faintly neon glow to the already unusual blue of them. She lets out a satisfied hmph when she breaks past the firewall.

Loop the security feed. Disable alerting on door access. And…

With a click, the maintenance door near them unlocks. Asi releases the bundle with a nod, letting out a slow exhale. "Let's head in," she murmurs, for some reason low like they might be overheard in this cramped utility tunnel. She follows after Monica after sliding the slipped panel back into place, trying to resist the urge to do more than roll her shoulders in a stretch when they step out into the sublevel of the building. There would be time to relax later.

"There's likely to be a private security guard at his station. First floor, I'd guess. The terminal wasn't named in a way that made it obvious where it was physically, but the last login time for it was only 15 minutes ago." Asi glances around and then back to Monica. "We can either head there and deal with him, or go on up now." She lifts her head to indicate she'll follow Monica's lead, and adjusts her grip on the laptop she's brought with her.

"The more it seems like we weren't even here, the better. We'll only deal with anyone if we absolutely need to." Monica doesn't resist the urge— she stretches her arms and legs, too. But she likes to keep limber. "If we can get through this without leaving a trace, that's the goal." Unconscious security guards are a dead giveaway.

"That also means no elevators," she says with a wry glance in Asi's direction, "I hope that thing isn't heavy." With a nod toward the laptop and her muscles unkinked, she turns to head for the stairs up. In her experience, up is where the important offices are.

Up they go, all six flights of stairs to the fifth floor. Asi's steps are as light as she can make them, constantly listening for the sounds of doors opening elsewhere, or footfalls in the halls beyond. By the time they reach that last landing, she's rolling her shoulders again, feeling the hike it took to get up here. "Okay," she breathes out, letting her hand hover over the ID card panel before rapping the backs of her knuckles against it. The flat panel cycles, light indicating inside the same thing the sound the door click does — success.

"The door believes we're the security guard," Asi states absently as she looks up and down the hall by the elevator bank. "That's as good as I can do until I get back in the system." There was going to be plenty to do here shortly, but wiping clean any evidence of them in the system was just as important to her.

Like Monica said, do this without a trace.

On either side of the building are cubes and desks, with the promise of executive offices around the corner. The lights on the floor are almost entirely extinguished, save for a strategic smatter of panels that provide just enough light to get around by. "Their 'public relations' team sits shoulder to shoulder with the leadership here," Asi notes, looking back over her shoulder for a particularly promising station to hook into. It leads her to hang a left around the side of elevator block, scanning the floor.

In the corner of her eye, she's aware of photographs hanging on the wall. Individual team members, photographs from functions, things she doesn't have a particular interest in—


Asi pauses and takes a step back, free hand sliding her phone from her pocket to brighten up what looks like a team photo. "Monica," she stage-whispers, pulling the light source back to better view the whole picture for when she draws closer.

There's fifteen people in the photo, nationality visibly varying. The focus of many in the photo is set in the direction of a stocky, older, tall Chinese man with one arm hoisted away from his side in a strongman's flex. He grins knowingly, looking at his arm — visibly cybernetic. Two others in the frame, an Indian woman and a black man, also sport prostheses. The moment appears to be a candid shot with no regard given to whether or not its subjects are facing the camera, though some do.

But just off to the right of the figure in the center is a familiar woman, face drawn as she tries to avoid grinning at the antics of the leader of the group. And she looks just like Kimberly— like Chess, were her hair darker.

"Lanhua Chen," Asi whispers, her voice hard but troubled. She adjusts the laptop so it's under her other arm for the moment, freeing up a hand to point with, albeit carefully. "She's listed as the executive assistant for …" A nail taps on the posing man. "Hou Xiaodan, director of operations for PHI-Japan." It's not information she sounds happy to know about, or to have withheld until just now.

She only just learned, herself.

"We need to talk about her later, but her desk might be a good place to dig, if you find it." With a glance back at Monica, Asi lowers the phone, letting the screen light wink off. She turns back to the desks, returning her skimming. She's scoping out a desk that's more or less hidden away from the door's sight, and she feels her feet gravitate her toward the window. "I'm going to hook in— if you need me, tap me or I might not hear it." Her brow furrows for a moment. "Good to go?"

Monica steps over to the photo, attention obviously taken by the cybernetics on display. Her expression remains neutral, but the length of time she spends looking is telling enough. But when Asi redirects her, she glances over at Lanhua. It isn't too much of a surprise, finding another clone being kept close, but she frowns all the same. "We need to find out what we can about her. We'll have to see if she can be saved." And saved is the word. She doesn't imagine Lanhua was given much in the way of choice in her affiliation.

"We'll talk about her after. When we can loop our girl in." Perhaps it's superstitious, but she seems reluctant to say Chess' name aloud. Not here.

She nods to the direction on how to get Asi's attention, gives her a salute, and heads toward the largest office on this floor. She seems to want to start at the top and work her way down.

Asi returns the nod, letting out a low exhale as she makes her way to the point she means to set up shop at. She uncoils the wire, plugging it into her own machine first. There's work to be done to disable any exfiltration-prevention devices first, though, so she lays her hand down on the wired keyboard connected to the terminal proper…

The largest office bears a wall of windows, blinds drawn but not shuttered. It allows Monica to look in and see an executive office — including a desk with a body of drawers on one side, papers scattered on the desk but illegible in the distance and dimmed light. A small table with ergonomic chairs bears nothing on it save for a conferencing puck, and otherwise there is a curated fern in the space, decoration accompanied by simplistic wall-hanging sketches of angular human figures accompanied by blue and orange enhancements — depictions of an altered, idealistic world.

A currently inaccessible world.

The door to the office is locked.

It's smart, in a world and in an industry with technopaths in it, to have some old school security layers. Monica can appreciate that. Especially since she happens to be good at picking locks. She pulls a couple pins out of her hair, bending and twisting them until they fit a completely new purpose. Kneeling in front of the door, she takes the time to pick the lock with care, so as not to leave scratches or other marks that might give away that someone was here doing something they shouldn't.

When the door opens, she pockets the former pins and stands to her feet. When she heads inside, she heads for the desk first, to rummage through drawers and to hunt for secret compartments.

The above-board documents are all either in Japanese or Chinese, and likely of no great import. In the drawers, on the other hand, are documents occasionally in English. One is locked, and once cracked, reveals but a single, overstuffed manilla folder. What's inside isn't immediately clear thanks to a transition in language again, but pictures are universal:

And a photo of Lanhua is paper-clipped to its front.

The floor is silent, no indication that the security guard might be making rounds. For now, all remains clear.

Monica sets the manilla folder on top of the desk, flipping through page by page and taking pictures of the pages and photographs. Translation can happen later— for now, she's after copies of information. Once she's through, she slides the folder back where she found it and puts the desk back in order. Things that look important get the same treatment, even though it takes time. She has an ear out, in case someone decides to come poking around. Or if Asi ends up needing her.

She shifts from the desk to the decor. Starting with the art, she pulls them down and checks behind them on the walls and in the frames for anything hidden. Even the plants aren't spared. She checks in the pots and under the dirt. As carefully as she can manage.

The largest sketch has a key taped to the back of it, small enough to belong to the locked drawer that had already been popped open. The fern in the room doesn't appear to have anything out of place, the pot and the dirt not bearing anything of interest, aside from being packed densely and being severely underwatered … until settling it back down, Monica's fingers run underneath the stalks of the fern near the base, something decidedly non-flora attached. A tiny black bulb, easy to unseat.

The sound of the stairwell door sliding shut can suddenly be heard in the silence, but looking up reveals no new forms lurking around on the floor, no sign of flashlight sweeping the cubes.

Monica double checks the key in the desk lock before she places it back where she found it and puts the art back into place. The plants are treated the same— taken out, carefully looked over, placed back. She nearly feels disappointment before her fingers find that bulb. She plucks it from the stalk and replaces the plant. She would take a closer look at her find, but the sound of a door shutting is enough to pull her attention.

She pockets the bulb instead and backs up to stand against the wall next to the office windows. She stands where she can see through the blinds but is hopefully less easily spotted from the outside. Watching, she waits to see if someone came in through that door or if she and Asi just got closed in.

Nothing but silence rises to greet Monica, nothing visible through the blinds. There's no sound that comes even from the cubicle Asi is holed up in, no keystrokes that call out in the empty space given she's directly interfaced.

But there had been a sound, undoubtedly. And there definitely, Monica knows, is someone…


Looking out the window, she can see the outline of one of the overhead lights bend, and once she notices that small detail, she can spot the outline of something or someone moving across the floor. Their masking is imperfect, the items behind them fuzzier in perception than the landscape around them. Their footsteps are silent on the commercial carpeting, shadow cast around them as they pass underneath one of the only lit panels of light.

They're roaming. Searching.

Monica barely even breathes as she watches— or rather as she tries to watch— the robots make their way through the hall. She knows that their field of vision could be anything, but she also knows she can't stand still and wait for them to find her.

When she's fairly confident they're past her, she moves to slide a desk chair under the door handle, just to give herself a few extra moments to work with if they come into the rooms. Since she knows there's a likelihood she won't get out without leaving a trace, she grabs a few things from the office that look like they're worth some money. A cover for what she was really here to take. Climbing onto the desk, she quietly moves a ceiling panel to make room for herself. But before she goes, she spots something on the desk: Newton's cradle with little ninjas painted on the pendulums. And every vacation needs souvenirs, so that slides into her bag as well.

Then she half climbs, half leaps into the ceiling crawl space. And hopefully to reach Asi before they do.

The sound of a shift directly above the shadow brings those soft footsteps to a pause. There's a second where they pause to consider, and then backpedal a step to listen to the sounds of movement above them. They make no attempts to soften their footfalls and actions now.


The camouflage around the figure awkwardly fails as they make the rapid movement of drawing their weapon, only snapping back into place once they go still again. They wait.

They also sound distinctly human, no whirring of servos or metal on metal coming from below.

The sound of voices surprises Monica. Surprises, but also comforts her in an odd way. She feels much better about her chances if it comes to a fight. But she's still hoping to avoid that. She replaces the panel back into place, but stays otherwise still until the sounds die down again.

Then she starts to move, slowly, hoping to find her way to an adjacent room. She heads back to where the security came from, rather than where they're going toward. Away from the office she was ransacking.

It's a long, tense moment of waiting for the camouflaged person's patience to expire and for them to lower their weapon from the ceiling and head for the office Monica had just abandoned, the noise of the fuss with the door masking any small noises she might make that would otherwise be amplified in the silence of the empty office space.

The semi-adjacent room Monica makes her way into has a bookshelf in it that lets her drop down as quietly as she can make it, the room otherwise just as sparsely decorated as the other office. A translucent nameplate reveals the office's usual occupant when the light hits it just right — kanji above with alphabetic characters below: Lanhua Chen.

A peek across the office floor reveals no telltale screen glow indicating Asi is or isn't where she stated she'd be. From her vantage, Monica can see the flickering form of the Praxite come visible in stutters when they throw their weight against the door. A full image never presents itself before the fuzzy picture of the door they struggle with is repainted, though they look to be of middling height — no great hulking figure to go to fisticuffs with tonight, if it came to that.

The door to the office she finds herself in is already partially ajar— already checked in on and moved on from.

Monica slips down to the floor, finding a corner to lean into while she gets her bearings. With the figure occupied, she pulls her phone out and sends a warning text to Asi. And hopes she's paying attention.

Heads up. We might need to run.

Whether the technopath is in a position to notice or not, that's where she's headed. She waits to move through the hall until the security manages to get into the office. Once they do, though, she moves quickly back toward where Asi is meant to be.

The door is shouldered open, chair clattering as it’s sent flying aside. A quiet swear, this time in Spanish, comes from the camouflaged figure while they sweep the room. The door was barred. It had to be barred for a reason, right?

How much time do we have?

The response is near instant once the message goes through, no signs of movement from where Asi is. And at first, it doesn’t seem like she’s where she said she’d be at all — the only eye-level visible indication of her being the cable plugged into the computer on the desk. It snakes down below, where Asi sits cross-legged in the shadow, her own hardened laptop half-closed to shield the dim backlight of the screen. Her hand rests on the device in silence, eyes half-lidded.

A touch to her shoulder brings them to flutter open, a flash of neon blue glow visible in her irises in the instant they open. Her pupils dilate rapidly to try and accommodate for the dark, but she doesn’t move from her spot just yet. So soon? Her brow furrows, fingers twitching as they rest on the laptop. Her teeth bare in a silent curse.

Crouching next to Asi, Monica gives her a small, apologetic smile at the look. But also: a nod. Because they have got to go. She twirls her finger in the air— wrap it up— then moves back to her feet. She flips her hood up to obscure some of her face and grabs a chair to hold like a weapon as she takes up a spot near the door.

She watches the hall for those odd tells in case they come back this way.

The chair is for if they get too close.

Asi's look is disgruntled, but she looks down blindly at the top of her laptop for a moment, resituating herself. Her eyes glow that neon again in the dark, jaw tense as she works to quickly wrap up what she's doing. She blinks, gaze tracking up as she hears the sound of the executive office door clatter shut, and her pace hurries. She'd been deep in her work before, but endeavors to keep an ear open now.

Without a word, she snaps her laptop the rest of the way closed with a quiet click, crouching out from under the desk to swipe her cabling back up and disconnect from the station. She keeps her head low, aware at least that someone's out there, even if she's not seen them yet. Little does she know.

There's a tense stillness to the air in the silence that follows the door shutting. Any footsteps that fall are silent.

Finally, a good way across the floor, the distortion in the air is visible crossing between two aisles visible from Monica's position. It turns the corner … and pauses.

A shot rings out across the floor, pinging off the ground just by Monica's feet. No bullet ricochets — instead, a thick dart sinks awkwardly into the floor, the glass vial on the back of it shattering and spilling out a gray substance onto the floor while the rest of the dart tumbles on the ground.

The camouflage around the shooter pulses with the discharge, the modified handgun visible in a wave, then the black arms of the suit they wear, finally warping back to reveal their face in the dim light. Brown, hard eyes are narrowed at Monica, set into a caramel face framed by wisps of dark hair. Her features are only briefly visible before they stutter back into obscurity, though the black of the woman's booted feet can plainly be seen moving as she starts to close the distance.

And almost assuredly lines up a second, better-aimed shot.

Monica dances back from the shot, glancing to the dart before she looks back at the shooter. Grey is not a reassuring color. Something in a nice purple would be more comfortable. A red would even be acceptable. Grey, though. That's just no fun at all. She's going to assume Asi heard the shot, so rather than shouting a warning that would give away that Monica is not alone, she pulls the chair up in front of her like an oddly shaped shield and charges out toward her opponent. She moves fast in a jagged line to be more difficult to get a good aim at. Crocodile rules: run in a zigzag.

Her aim is to get close enough to whack the shooter with the chair. The cloaking makes her wary of aiming at smaller targets, so she makes for center mass.

Sidestepping with the intent of dodging Monica's blow and getting a clear shot off, the woman accomplishes neither thing. In turning away, the chair grazes her back and tears away a battery pack that had been attached to her hip. In an instant, she blurs back into visible form, the prototype device that had been cloaking her swinging uselessly off of her belt.

Asi breathes a swear as she circles around the cubicle, trying to get a better vantage point to enter the fray. The cabling she brought with her is held loosely in her main hand, thoughts of using it as an improvised weapon not hard to imagine.

With a grunt, the Praxite circles back around and makes to kick Monica in her side. The team photographs behind her continue to smile obliviously, the woman's face one of their number. It's with a grimace that she swings both arms back around, practically seeking to stab Monica with the gun as much as shoot it, intent on delivering whatever is in the darts.

Almost invisibly on the floor behind them, the gray substance beads apart into separate rivulets that start to move across the carpet in the direction of the scuffle.

Monica takes the kick to her side with a grunt of her own, nearly losing her footing. Instead of falling, though, she slams the chair legs against the floor and redirects her momentum into a handstand on the seat. Her feet hit the wall, knocking those pictures off kilter as she pushes off and back toward her assailant. Her first leg aims for her gunarm, to kick it downward and her second leg aims for the chest, looking to knock her back. Monica's feet hit the floor, one then the other, and in the same moment she picks the chair back up and follows through with it, shoving it after her and trapping her on the floor under the chair legs.

And then she sits.

"This is your one chance to back off," she offers, because she is a ninja with a heart of gold.

The woman hisses as Monica's heel connects with her wrist, thumb and grip slacking on her weapon. It topples away before her grip relatches and her back hits the floor. The office chair doesn't exactly give her much breathing room and she struggles fiercely to scrabble her way free, swearing all the while. "Hijo de la gran mierda," she finally hisses, palm connecting with the underside of the chair as she makes a futile last effort to try and unseat the ninja pinning her down.

She fumes for a moment in silence, glaring up at Monica, or what she can see of her from her current angle. There's a long pause while she weighs her options out, punctuated by lifting her head off the ground to point out, "Wacha, you broke in here."

It's a comment that draws a faint laugh from Asi, who the pinned Praxite rapidly becomes aware of, twisting to look as Asi stands in sight, laptop braced against her side. The woman's jaw tightens, and she looks back up to Monica.

"Now, I don't know Spanish, but I'm pretty sure that's supposed to be hija," Monica says as she glances back at Asi. She nods toward the floor. "Watch your feet. There's some freaky dart over there." The grey substance, she didn't keep track of, but she doesn't need the needle in anyone's foot. She turns back to the woman at her next point. It is a good point.

"And you are being a very bad host," she says, her tone meant to twist the knife, as it were. "We'll be on our way, it's just a matter of whether you're going to be conscious or not when we do. My friend here is going to find some cords or tape or something to tie you up and we'll probably leave you in a closet. That's, like, my favorite thing."

"You're fucking with me," the woman decides, though the strength of her conviction is up for debate. She lets out a scoff anyway, hips twisting so the camouflage device that had been pinned under her is less so.

Asi pauses at the dart in the floor, crouching to pick it up and examine it. The needle looks a little too wide for her tastes, so she opts to discard it as quickly as possible. A touch to the floor doesn't reveal a stain or wet spot from where the contents of the dart should have spilled out, though. It's not something Asi spends a good deal of time lingering on, she ducks into a cube to relieve it of its ethernet cabling.

"Listen, whatever they're paying you, we'll pay you double," the Praxite woman insists. For Asi's sake alone she repeats loudly, "Ni-bai." which only makes the technopath roll her eyes. Wires tugged free, she swipes her laptop off the desk on her way back.

"I mean, sure. A little bit. Who could resist, you're an invisible security guard who's getting her ass kicked by someone with one arm." Monica shrugs at that. Guilty. She can't help but chuckle when the bargaining starts, her head shaking. "You don't even know who they is. Or how deep their pockets go. Also, I have a sneaking suspicion you're not in a position to make that offer, so…" She gestures Asi over, while her foot shifts to rest over the woman's throat. "She's stalling for time. Which makes me think we should be gone five minutes ago."

That's when she looks through the hall, looking for anything out of place— although mostly for any other cloaked figures making their way onto the scene, but she's not convinced that's all they have to worry about.

The grey beads that crawled silently across the floor curl around the base of Monica's shoe, the one not currently pressed down into the Praxite's throat. And from there, the tiny streams streak up the side of her pant leg, unfelt.

"English isn't my first language, but I'm pretty sure it's are," the woman chances saying, small bite for small bite.

"That we had something to gag her with," Asi murmurs ruefully while she crouches at the woman's feet first. When she reaches down to grab an ankle, she hisses as her hand is kicked at instead, shaking her wrist out. "Maji ka?" she growls. Seriously?

The woman on the floor is duly unrepentant. She grits her teeth before reluctantly letting her feet be bound together, eyes narrowing at Monica. "Pretty bold assumption, you know." The suspicions, and all.

"You want to get into the intricacies of using a plural pronoun to refer to a single entity? You're definitely stalling for time," Monica says as she looks back to the woman.

That's when she notices the grey stuff on her shoe and pants. Her head tilts at it. She looks back to where the dart landed. Then back to the figure on the floor. "I could be wrong, of course. Most people in charge don't investigate security disturbances, but you could be a hands on leader." As she speaks, she tries to scrape the grey off her shoe and onto the chair leg. "Who am I to tell you how to conduct business," she adds, maybe a touch sarcastically.

She looks back at Asi, though, checking her for the grey stuff, too. "Make sure you're clean," she notes with a gesture to her own situation.

Asi looks up midtie of the cabling at the mention of checking herself, wondering what's going on exactly. A thin rivulet of tiny beads goes scraping off the side of Monica's leg as she scrapes herself down, and the technopath's gaze tracks down at it, stopping short of jerking the tie closed. Her gaze rests for a long moment on the dropped bits that start to coagulate on the floor, eyes widening.

It's at that moment the woman pinned on the ground rocks her hips back with all of her weight and then kicks Asi in her chest with both feet. With renewed vigor, she throws her weight to the side to try and unseat Monica. After all, she might be sufficiently distracted by:

"They're machines!" Asi sounds horrified she didn't realize it sooner, but they were so small. Instead of relying on her senses alone, she's jerking her gaze up and down her own arms to check for any sign of the grey 'liquid' on herself, only rolling to sit back up when she finds none. Which just leaves Monica. "Don't let them get into you," she warns.

It feels like one of those moments where you'd not noticed a bug on you until someone points it out. A thin, thin rivulet on Monica's neck and cheek brushes her skin in a way that's finally noticed as it splinters — one heading for her nose, and the other aiming to crawl into her ear. The woman on the ground says nothing about the matter, looking to capitalize on the situation and regain her footing.

The move from under her is enough to push Monica back up to her feet. She doesn't turn to deal with the woman on the floor right away, because she's pulling sticky grey machines off her face. They end up in her palm as she tries to assess how many more she might have to deal with.


The woman isn't given much longer to make her move. Monica moves to kneel down, putting a knee on the woman's sternum before she shoves her handful of tiny machines into the woman's mouth. If they're not supposed to go inside her, they sound like a decent enough weapon to Monica.

Asi’s leaning forward to snatch the woman by the feet and resecure the cord, Monica’s quickly getting the situation back under knee hand, so of course that’s the moment the sound of the stairwell doorway quietly opening is lost in the struggle. The Praxite swings with all her strength to wail on the side of Monica’s face with her fist, down but not out. The other arm is pushing up into her chest, struggling against the attempts to force-feed her the machines with minds of their own.

Abril-san?” The male voice calling across the floor is accompanied by the sweep of a flashlight, voice tense and cautious. He wasn’t expecting her to be gone this long, and not immediately seeing her is causing some concern.

Abril, still on the floor, blinks in surprise at hearing the sound of the security guard. The urge to call out where she’s at is counter-intuitive, and with a mouthful of tiny bots, she starts to cough. “Hi—jou!” is as much as she chokes out, determinedly, still trying to keep her airway free of the little machines.

“There goes the clean getaway,” Asi mutters, looking quickly up and down the aisle. She hasn’t heard the other guard take off yet, but it’s only a matter of time before he called for backup at this rate. “She raised the alarm.” Catching sight of something definitely not the new guard on the floor, she pushes herself back to her feet and takes off at a low run across the floor, trying to avoid being seen over the cubicle walls for as long as possible. “Let’s wrap this up!”

Monica leans out of the way of the swing from Abril, a move that eases the pressure on the woman's chest. But she isn't given too much more time or room to maneuver, because Monica aims a haymaker at Abril's temple. She wasn't going to knock her out, but with a second guard appearing, they need to move fast.

"It hasn't been clean since she showed up," Monica informs Asi, her hand gesturing toward the woman.

While Asi hides, Monica does the opposite. She resettles her hoodie and charges towards the guard with a mind to shoulderbarge him into a wall before she knocks him out, too. It isn't a big window for escape, but it's what she can do at the moment. "Let's move," she says, moving back toward the door.

Asi has no counterpoint to the correction. She just continues on her path. Abril takes the punch to the face and if she's not entirely knocked out, she's at the very least dazed and out of her senses. Her head rolls on the ground, and with her loss in consciousness, or at least sense, the tiny machines cease in their run, becoming much easier to pry away.

A detail which almost is lost on Asi as she reaches the wall, turns back, hand hovering over the fire alarm. When she senses more than sees that the grey stream of nanites have quit their squirming, she swaps tactics and grabs the fire extinguisher with her free hand, moving to join Monica at the stairwell door. She backs into it, holding it open with her body while she watches the security guard go down. "Efficient," is the only thing she comments before turning to barrel down the stairs.

"We can go out the same way we came in, or try the front door. I'd be worried about outdoor cameras, didn't disable those. But — time and all." Asi comments as she circles the landing to head down.

"When you can't go quiet," Monica says as she pulls the little machines off her clothes, "go loud." She follows Asi into the stairwell, but as her friend starts to head down, she takes her by the arm and redirects her up instead. "Fast but quiet, stay near the wall and they won't see us when they get back up. They'll assume we went for the easier exits," she says as she starts to take the stairs toward the roof. "Did you notice if they had cameras on the roof? If so, we'll disable them the old fashioned way." Her voice drops as they head up, not wanting to give away their method of escape. "The buildings around here are tightly packed. We'll jump a couple and then circle back to the car. They still be combing their other floors and we'll be gone."

Asi stops, one foot down the stair. She looks back, brows arched with a slightly incredulous expression.

It sounds like something out of a superhero movie. Or a spy movie.

They're living the latter, so they might as well. She gives no sign she's on board save for backtracking and rushing up the stairs after Monica. "Didn't see any," Asi affirms, following her parkour buddy out onto the roof.

The air is chillier than it was coming, and she shudders for a moment inside her jacket at it. Then, to action. She turns one way, and then the other, feeling out for electronics on the rooftop. "Clear," she determines, nothing out of the ordinary.

The buildings are close to each other as in they're only the length apart of a narrow alley … But that was a long way to fall, if there was a slip-up in the jump. Asi regards the gap from the building's ledge before taking a few steps back, settling the extinguisher down and rubbing down where she'd grabbed the handle with a handful of her shirt before kicking it so it rolls (and stays, with a second kick) under the rooftop AC unit. She turns back to Monica, brow lifted.

While Asi checks for electronics, Monica checks for warm bodies on the roof, but when she's certain they're clear on that front, too, she picks a spot and gestures Asi over. "Hang onto me. We're gonna run and jump together. I won't let you fall. Landing might get you a few bruises, just as a warning. When I say jump, you jump."

As far as instructions go, they're minimal, but she's planning on handling the particulars herself. She puts her arm around Asi's waist, gives her a nod and starts to run toward the edge of the roof. She gives the signal to jump and her arm tightens around Asi, taking most of her weight and trusting that she'll hold on until they land across on the opposite roof. The same process takes them through a second jump and a third before Monica seems satisfied that they're far enough away to leave without Praxis eyes on them.

As far as infiltrations go, theirs could have gone more smoothly. The exfiltration portion of it, though, more than makes up for it. Clean, efficient, even enjoyable judging by the rush of laughter that comes from Asi as they reach the last jumpable building. Between the two of them, there's little that stands in their way, both of them skilled in manipulating the hardware and software of life.

"You ever think about going into the PI business?" Asi jokes when they get back to the safety of the car and are on the road back south. "Like that one superhero, in the comics," she adds. She can't be serious, but neither does it sound like she's joking.

Asi leans back in her seat, forearm on the armrest. When the autopilot kicks on after they hit the highway, she turns back to look Monica's bag and her laptop like they both hold treasures stolen in a great heist.

After all, they are.

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