It was a good thing that it was raining so heavily because, if it had been otherwise, Geordi would have decided to wait even longer to get to Indianapolis. If she and Scotty were going to break into any building in a heavily surveilled city, then she was going to do it on a day when they were least likely to get caught. There were no security drones flying around the city to catch people doing suspicious things past the curfew, and it would be more difficult for regular security cameras to see their faces.
Geordi and her friend Scotty had planned to meet with each other in front of a store near an electronics recycling plant in the middle of Indianapolis. It was farther from their usual places to raid, but Hoosier Robotics, or HRB, owned one of the biggest electronics recycling plants in the US. They needed to find parts to build a robot, and HRB was the most likely place to have the parts for security units, which Geordi had spent the last two months looking for.
Recycling plants were not as well guarded as electronics stores, making them easier to get into, and there were always perfectly good parts lying in bins that could be used to build a machine. HRB made it cheaper to trade in a broken robot for a brand new one than to have it repaired, so whenever just one thing went wrong with a robot, people would just ditch the entire unit, even if the problem was simple. As someone who had been taught how to build her own machines at a young age, she did not understand why someone would do that, but that just meant homeless young engineers such as Geordi could find free parts more easily.
Geordi heard her phone beep, and she knew she was at the destination. She was near a highway that crossed paths with an elevated bypass, and even in the middle of the night, the roads were busy with cars and big rigs. As she looked around, she spotted a warehouse building on the other side of the flat highway. There were three semi-trailers sitting in the parking lot, and there was a dark figure crouched behind them, hiding from the cameras keeping watch over the building. It was the place where she had agreed to meet with Scott.
Geordi ducked behind a column that held up the elevated bypass. There were no cameras close enough to see her through the heavy rain, so she did not have to worry about being seen. She shrugged off her backpack, and she pulled out her industrial face mask—the kind that construction workers wore to protect their lungs—and a black baseball cap. After twisting up her afro into a messy bun, she put on the hat and mask. She pulled up the hood of her sweatshirt over her hat for extra obscurity.
With her backpack on her shoulders, Geordi ran out from under the bypass, and she stood at the edge of the highway, waiting for a long gap in traffic before she crossed the busy asphalt deathtrap. She kept her head low as she approached the figure that crouched behind the semi-trailer. He was looking down at a transparent tablet in his hands, and although he was covering his face with a hat and a surgical mask, the way he did not even bother to look up from his device confirmed his identity.
"Hey, Scotty," Geordi said. "Sorry, I'm late. I had to make sure Amy was okay before I left, and I rode most of the way here on a bike because I couldn't get anyone to give me a ride."
Amy, short for Amethyst, was Geordi's older sister. It had been her idea to give Geordi her nickname. The name on her birth certificate was "Aeryn Amah," but when she had gotten the knack for building computers and robots, Amy had given her that name from some ancient science fiction show. "Scotty" was just a version of his real name, but Amy had been rather excited to call him that because of an even older scifi show.
Although she found it strange that her sister loved shows older than their grandparents, she had grown fond of the nickname—too fond of it to be called anything else.
Scotty waved a dismissive hand, and he went back to his tablet.
"I'm just trying to hack into the cameras without leaving any traces," he said. "It's going to take some time."
Geordi had been studying programming in addition to the hardware building so she would not have to rely on others for completed machines, but she was uncertain if she was going to ask her friends to teach her about hacking. Breaking into buildings made her anxious, but the trouble she could get into for hacking was even more terrifying. Everything was hackable these days, and the government punished it more heavily than most crimes.
"Okay, I'm in," Scotty said, finally looking at her. "You ready to sneak into this place?"
"How much time can you buy us?" Geordi asked.
"I can get the system to think the cameras need to shut off for maintenance for only thirty minutes."
"Yeah, sorry, but it's going to get us into the least amount of trouble if we do it this way."
"All right. All right, but that's not enough time to look through a pile of junk that all pretty much looks the same in the dark."
"You mostly need frames, anyway, right? It shouldn't take you that damn long to find something, especially with my help."
"No, it's fine. I'm still feeling optimistic about this whole mission," Geordi added sarcastically.
"Oh, I forgot to mention the security androids walking around this place," Scotty said.
"Yeah, there aren't many, but apparently HRB is testing out some prototype war machine right here at the recycling plant. I heard one of them walking around while I was waiting for you. They're noisy, so we should be able to avoid them as long as we keep an ear out for them."
"War machine? This sounded much easier just a few seconds ago."
"I know. I know. But we'll be fine."
Scotty touched the screen of his tablet, and then he gave her a thumbs up. They readjusted their hats so it was low on their faces, and then they ran around the semi-trailers and dashed toward the building.