Reyes had been waiting for this moment. Ever since she had accepted this mission, she was conscious that the Norseman was filled with surveillance devices, and the onboard AI was likely to report anything of interest to Markus. With the jammers active, Reyes realized that this was her chance to create an ally, or at least sow the seeds of doubt.
"Keep your head on a swivel, Locke." she hissed under her breath, pulling him close as she dodged into an open doorway. "Gallery is working this from several angles. Stick with me, and I'll make sure it turns out all right."
As they got closer to their destination, it was clear they would not remain unseen for much longer. The shortest path required them to move to a higher floor and cross through a well-patrolled hallway. They lingered for a second at an unlit doorway to assess their situation. Reyes spotted a guard at the top of the stairs. There were bound to be two, possibly three armed men in the hallway. Their biggest advantage would be the element of surprise.
“I’m going up,” she said. Daniel understood that her feminine wiles would allow her to get a lot closer to the guard than he ever could.
Reyes emerged from the shadows, and the bored, sleepy guard at the top straightened up. He was confused by the intruder. She was not supposed to be here, but what harm could she do? He feebly motioned her to stop. Without slowing her sashay climb, Reyes looked him in the eye and gave him a seductive smile. The guard flustered, clearly taken aback. For a single, confused second, he just stood there, eyes glued to the cleavage threatening to spill out of the close-fitting dress. Reyes used this moment of hesitation to climb the rest of the way. As she reached the man, she smiled coyly once more.
Suddenly her visage changed into something akin to a screaming harpy. A lattice of scales appeared where once perfectly smooth skin had been. Reyes pupils suddenly contracted into something like a serpent’s. The guard screamed in terror as the creature unleashed a single swift karate chop to his neck. He gasped and choked and then crumpled noiselessly into a heap on the floor.
Reyes smiled cruelly at the broken man on the floor. One of her more recently discovered pleasures was to utilize her augmentations to alter her appearance in the final seconds before the kill. She enjoyed the look mixture of betrayal and terror on the target’s face as she took their life.
Daniel peered out from the doorway, realized the coast was clear, and then charged up the stairs. He dragged the guard's limp form into a nearby room and locked the door. The man would regain consciousness in a few short minutes, and they could not afford for him to raise the alarm.
Reyes restored her Bollywood dancer form, took stock of the situation, then continued to sashay down the hallway, twirling the end of her sari casually. She reached a corner, then turned to see two large men standing guard. They saw her almost immediately. She smirked, then moved into a side room.
She mesmerized them as the sirens lured sailors to their doom. Warily intrigued, the guards looked at each other, then decided to give chase.
Reyes positioned herself behind the doorway, and as the first guard entered the room, she greeted him with an animated, fiery cat face and a powerful roundhouse kick. His companion crashed into his falling body and stumbled. She knocked the second man unconscious with a blow to the head. Breathing hard, she stepped over the fallen guards and out into the hallway.
Upon hearing the thump, Daniel turned the corner. Staring at the darkened room, he saw Reyes silhouetted in the doorway. "Clear?” he asked as she approached. "We've taken out the trash," she replied. They proceeded cautiously toward the two doors to the secure inner area.
They watched as the two 3t3s appeared out of a vent. They scurried along the wall, then reached what appeared to be an iris scanner. One of them approached the device, then extended an arm to encompass it. After a few seconds, the door made a crack-hiss and opened just slightly. The 3t3s quickly scurried inside before the door again snapped shut.
The drones emerged into a computer lab. Inside were gleaming rows of computers as far as the eye could see. They immediately executed a flying backflip and attached themselves to the ceiling of the computer lab.
Watching from the command deck, Markus leaned closer to study a readout. He frowned at what he saw. "Looks like you've got a few cameras in there, and of course various pressure sensors and some lasers," he said as he leaned closer to study a readout. "Wait..." He noticed something odd about the readout. “Something’s not right.”
Loki smirked. "Nothing can stop those 3t3s."
The computers of the mainframe room emitted a low, mechanical hum, a deceptively calming white noise, oblivious to the drones clinging to the ceiling like a pair of stealthy, undercover bats. The robots crawled across the high-ceilinged room toward the main console, a complicated interface alight with keys and buttons and a monitor that displayed the user's input.
Still hanging upside down, the 3t3s began work on the console. Gyroscopes kept the robots perfectly balanced, and they worked quickly and efficiently.
Loki broke the stillness of the Norseman’s command deck, where everyone was holding their collective breath.
"I've got the manifests." He quickly input the necessary commands, waiting, on edge, for the computer to respond to his request. He could be discovered at any point. “Downloading.” Relief swept over him for a few seconds, but it was only temporary.
The sound of a klaxon suddenly cut through the silence. In the courtyard below, Rupinder jerked his head upwards, realization dawning on him as he scanned the area for the closest member of his security staff.

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