Dark had fallen entirely by the time Rogan reached the compound. This far form any major cities, the sky above was a dense scattering of stars, shot through with the great arch of their home galaxy crossing the sky at a low tilt. Rogan glanced up at it only in passing, his mind focused elsewhere while he assessed the steeply climbing cliff face before him. One their first night out here, Lyntael had been awestruck, looking at the sky and the stars through the gaps in the trees. She'd seen pictures, so she said, but had never been away from a dense city far enough to really see it, with her own eyes. The degree of overawed conviction in her voice, as she'd insisted that there was a legitimate difference between the two experiences, had lingered in the back of his mind long enough that he'd taken a moment out of his preparation to appreciate the view with her, that first night.
He refocused himself. The compound itself was built into the rising ridge – not quite steep or tall enough to be called a mountain, but enough to make any kind of foot passage near impossible. Far above, he could see the slowly sweeping floodlights, scanning the outer portions of the area; in many ways making assaults like this at night was easier, if you were dealing with less certain intel. They didn't have exterior patrolling guards, but the flood lights were on – that lined up with his other scouting to suggest that their external surveillance relied on the lights, rather than having any more advanced measures in place. They weren't expecting physical intrusions, after all. With care, he pulled on the climbing frames that fastened around his feet and ankles, and then donned his crag gloves as well, preparing for a long climb.
“You've walked nearly all day, Rogan, and now you're rock climbing?” Lyntael's hushed whisper barely reached his ear, but it carried an equal weight of worry and scolding. “You haven't even stopped for a rest all day. You're going to wear yourself out!” Rogan kept his eyes on the climb ahead of him in the dark; the moon wasn't providing much light, slim as it was, but between it and the stars, he had enough to see by. He knew he could get to one edge of the compound, where the rocky shelf continued a few dozen feet past the edge of the sweeps, from here, and he'd picked out a workable path by eye before the light went.
“I will rest properly when the work is done, Lyntael. I am fine for now. I'm in no danger of exhaustion.” It was true enough. Some part of him was aware of his body's fatigue, but he knew his limits, and how far to push them. His body was tired, and hungry, but it wasn't going to affect his performance – if anything he was at the point where those sensations just made him sharper, which was exactly where he needed to be for this job.
The climb was slow and silent, but by the end of it Rogan arrived at the forgotten edge he'd noted, looking across at the nearest slate-grey wall, some sixty feet away. They hadn't bothered with perimeter fences, except in a couple of places on the far side – the natural defences of the place were more than ample. There were no outbuildings either – just a single slightly protruding edifice built into the top of the ridge itself. Natural stone continued up past the structure as well; they'd wanted to preserve the natural look of the ridge line as much as they could, and he could only imagine how much stone they would have needed to laboriously hollow out to build the structure. A lot could be done with cheap local labour forces though – and fortunately for him, no amount of bonus pay would actually keep every set of lips sealed forever.
Rogan crouched low, setting his extra equipment down in the dark and selecting just what he would need or couldn't afford to lose. With his back to the compound, her pulled out his PET and shielded it in the depths of his coat. A careful probe showed a surprising lack of high grade networks, at least in the exterior of the compound As near as he could tell, the external cameras were tied to the lights themselves, and they simply recorded and swept, feeding by direct hard lines to a single, blocky protrusion of a room, with a single door leading into it... not an entrance by any means, and more of a back door, really, by the look of things. That room was outside the shielding of the complex itself, and was a simple, low tech security camera system.
Inside the walls, however, his probe came back entirely blind – the whole compound was shielded just was well from his near range probes as it had been from any wide area scans earlier. Rogan slipped the device away for now and eyed up the compound again. It was large in the interior, according to Varda's information, but right now, when it was in down time, it only held a skeleton staffing of twenty or so maintenance crew – people to keep the place clean, monitor long term projects and make sure everything ticked over. None of them would have been working there for more than six months, and employee shifts happened at regular intervals to cycle their staff around and prevent all but a few individuals from having a full understanding of any one project. Lance and his personal team, and their personal security, moved from base to base, taking the body of their work with them, but he favoured these three facilities for his most close-kept experiments. Right now, the man's focus was supposedly centred at the compound in the valley on the far side of the ridge, another ten miles distant, but he had been at this one before then, and, so Varda hoped, left some things brewing. Time to move.
Evading the sweeping spotlights was easy enough, and a minute or two later, Rogan crouched low with his back to the wall by the security door. The lock was an electronic key card lock, but the door itself was wooden, with a draught stop attached to the bottom. The lock would be easy enough, but not being seen was the important part here. Rogan retrieved the PET and extended the delicate-looking probe, accessing its settings and sub routines. As he did, he pulled out a small case from his other pocket and flicked it open; inside were a pair of absolute cancellation ear plugs. Once they were in, he lifted the corner of the draught stop and placed the tip of the probe against the widest point of the door crack. It wasn't much space, but it would be enough. He pressed the button and waited, counting to ten in his head, and pressed it again. Next he stood, accessing a different tool from the probe and overrode the lock a few second later.
Inside the small room, Rogan found a single person; female, late thirties, underweight, nicotine stains on her fingertips, red head with several months of brown roots showing – his detail brain picked out and catalogued the information. She was dressed in a generic green-toned security uniform, with the CMPF logo on the shoulder patch, and was slumped forward across a camera console, sleeping soundly, just a few inches from pushing her coffee off the desk. She'd wake by morning with a mild headache and no recollection of drifting off. Rogan stepped around her and moved the coffee mug in from the edge a little, then quickly extracted his ear plugs and put them away. He checked her pulse and her name tag, took a scan copy of her security card, then glanced at the camera screens. They were all external feeds – the entire outer ring of the facility, including the two exposed landing pads for air lifts and other transports; one was empty, one had what looked like a standard model air shuttle on it. Nothing from inside, though he'd been more or less expecting that. A quick look at the controls told him that he wouldn't find any connection to the interior systems here either. There was only one door, leading into the compound proper, with no details on this side. It was enough to make his lips twitch in a small grimace. He hated moving forward blind.
“Lyntael. The door ahead of me only has another simple electronic lock, but I can't tell immediately if this one is connected to the inner compound or not. Once I move through, there is every possibility I'll be under observation from other cameras, or a similar system. I'm going to interface you to the first thing connected to the inner system I find, and I need you to sync up our locations and begin removing my presence from any systems that catch me during that time. Once that's done, we'll move forward.” He spoke in a low murmur, barely above a whisper, and Lyntael responded in his ear.
“Understood, sir.” She still sounded nervous, but there was resolution there as well. Rogan listened at the door, eyes closed until he felt sure there as no-one on the other side, then moved the PET to the door lock and let it run an emulation of the guard's access card. It clicked with a slight hiss and Rogan pulled the handle, stepping through into the unknown.