Winter Outcast - Chapter Five
They turned around the corner and spotted someone at the door. Upon seeing the person, they backed up behind the corner. Thankfully, the man had his back turned towards them. Catherine peeked her head from behind the corner to see what he was doing. He punched a number into the pad: 6, 1, 11, 5. The door opened and he swept in.
He was in the room for a few minutes. The sound of footsteps came from behind them, around another corner. The halls were like an H, the room they wanted to enter was on the top left of the H, Catherine and Lot were sitting on the bridge in the middle of it that connected the two paths, and the footsteps were coming from the top left of the H. Whoever was coming couldn't see them, but they would in a matter of seconds. Catherine and Lot anxiously stared at the door, hoping that it would soon open. They immediately formed a plan without speaking: the man would come out without noticing them, and they would sneak in. Catherine started to bounce on one foot and her legs ached to run.
Finally, the individual in the room walked out. He paced forward down the corridor, without even glancing left and noticing Catherine and Lot. Lot turned around, to make sure the other person wasn't too close, while he was passing. Catherine could see more of his details, his face was slightly wrinkled around his mouth as if from frowning and his hair was mostly gray. Catherine's mouth hung open when she saw the person's face. It was Sternius. She was so shocked, that if Lot wasn't there to pull her to the door, she wouldn't have recovered in time to not be seen.
"Do you remember the code?" Lot asked.
"Oh, yeah." Catherine snapped out of it and tapped the numbers: 6, 1, 11, 5. The door opened, they stepped in and pressed the closed button, and the door slid closed. "That was the person who owns this office." She was so excited that wasn't able to even say his name.
"This is his office, who did you think he was?"
"I know, it's just that he was right there, he's an Official, a hero, and an important person in history," Catherine went on.
"Congratulations, you saw a historic relic. Now we got to find those profiles. This is his computer," he gestured to a large screen and keyboard at the right of the dark room. "He was on here recently. Right, he's not allowed to keep important files on his collector, so they won't be stolen, because of that he has to delete data on it after he doesn't need it, and has to reload it on when he needs it again."
"The collector looked a little like my data collector."
"It basically is, but it has more functions. Now, we have to figure out how to get on his computer and access the right files." Lot stood in front of it and tapped his finger on his jaw in thought.
"Wow! He has paper, I didn't know that they still made it. Maybe he keeps his password on a piece of paper around here." Catherine started looking through the papers on a desk.
"I guess they think the Officials are important enough to have paper. You don't need to look for the password there. There is no way an Official like him would do something like that," Lot doubted, "that's worse than a weak password, anyone could-"
"Found it!" Catherine held up the paper.
"Oh, no wonder he hasn't been promoted."
"And there's a thumb drive, maybe that has some extra information," Catherine grabbed the thumb drive and handed the paper to Lot.
He typed in the password and found extra information about the suspects. "Okay, we got to find who would have been able to edit the video."
Suddenly the door slid open and Sternius was back. Catherine thought Sternius was choking or low on air when he saw the thumb drive in her hands. He quickly got over his shock and two seconds after seeing them, he yelled, "Security bots!"
Two oval-shaped robots that they didn't notice before, came out of the wall, leaving a perfect hole for them to return to. They floated forward and their arms and legs folded out of the main part of their body. They grabbed Catherine and Lot before they could escape. Catherine reached in her pocket to try to grab her knife, but she accidentally reached in the right one instead of the left. Lot was the most surprised since he had been focusing on the computer and hadn't completely comprehended what was happening.
The security bots held them still. The more they struggled, the more the bots tightened their steel grip.
"Matthew?" Lot said in surprise when he saw Sternius's face.
Catherine looked back and forth between them. "What? You know each other? You're Sein Darnell?" She didn't know what discovery she was more shocked about.
"We were friends at The School. He was my roommate," Lot, or Sein Darnell, answered. Catherine wasn't sure what she should call him now.
"I thought you already got the files you needed?" Catherine questioned Sternius.
"I forgot one," he explained through gritted teeth. Sternius slammed his fist on the close button and the closed the door, leaving them trapped in his office.
Matthew Sternius took a deep breath. He started to lose his cool and pace back and forth, running his hand in his hair, with a wild expression in his eyes. "You know it doesn't matter that you're here, it doesn't matter at all. I won't let anyone hear you say it, and even if they did, nobody would believe you. No one would believe you saying that I was the one who framed Sein and Catherine. It doesn't matter," Sternius picked up the thumb drive that Catherine had dropped, "that you saw my thumb drive of the Code information I stole." He plugged it into the computer and all that valuable information scrolled before their eyes.
"We never said that," Catherine thought about it a little more. The cogs turned in her head. "YOU framed him... and me? You're the one who framed me! All this time? Sein Darnell, the cursed name, wasn't the criminal, it was you?"
"Oh," he froze, "You didn't know that yet?"
"Why? A respected government Official man like you... stole information and framed a young girl, and your friend?" Catherine looked back at the scrolling information. Without meaning to, she read what was there and she gasped.
"Why did you steal the Code's information twice?" Sein barked as he still struggled against the security bot's hold. The robot holding onto him was actually good because he looked like he wanted to strangle Sternius, and Catherine wouldn't have been able to hold him back.
"Because the first time I didn't actually look at or keep the information. I framed and caught you to look good and to get a promotion, it's why I'm where I am today. And if he stayed in the School, he would have become better than me. I managed to hack the cameras to replay the same video, their security was weaker then, using Sein's computer I might add. I started to spread a rumor that Sein broke in and stole it. I told it to one of the younger guards when he was guarding the door to the code. When he left to check it out, I hacked my way in, and used Lot's data collector to take the data. After that it was easy. I put it back and told one of the teachers that I saw the data on his data collector. When they saw it, along with Sein's computer in the camera's system, they believed me and rewarded me. They tried to arrest Sein, he ran off and escaped, but I still got my reward," Sternius gloated.
"Okay, we get it, according to you, you're awesome," Catherine rolled her eyes and was unable to believe she used to admire this person. "Where do I come in? What do you have against me?"
"I was getting to that. I didn't look at the information when I had it is because I wasn't supposed to and I figured I would be a Grand Official by now and eventually see the data. When I realized that I wasn't a Grand Official yet, I became curious and believed maybe the information could help me become one. After the Sein Darnell event, the system keeps record of when the data is accessed, so I needed them to believe someone else broke in. I randomly selected you, Catherine. On lunch break, I told the few people still in the video room that they could take a break and I would watch the videos. I edited a video, and I went to the vault for the Code. I had earlier bribed the guard, I told her that I believed someone stole the data and that I had the intent of checking to see if it was true, and she let me through. While I was doing that, the video I edited, of Catherine taking it, was playing on the screen for the Code's security camera."
"Lots of hacking and lies. Sounds like your fatal flaw is pride," Catherine commented with a snarl.
"I trusted you! You were my friend!" Sein still attempted to lung forward.
"Sorry, but I'm not sorry. You were sure to become an important person, better than me. I decided not to have that competition." Sternius waved to the security bots to follow him as he opened the door. "Now I need to think about what to do with you. For now I'm going to lock you up until I can figure it out."
I drew the cover for this story.
Thank you for all the upvotes on Chapter Four.