23:53 - 2 floors below ground - The Tower
Brendan, or Ben as he had been going by since the Bills passing, wiped a bead of sweat from his forehead. He had only minutes to get above ground, and get out of what was left of The Tower. They had only just gotten the power back on, and Ben thought it unbelievable they would have to go back to work so soon. But his employer had no such grievances. He glance at his watch. Seven minutes. He had to work faster. His employer would be very unhappy with him if he was late.
He typed as fast as he could without making mistakes. He knew the plan, the only thing that could get in his way now were his nerves. He had worked as a spy for the past 2 years, watching for Protagonist activity and siphoning information out to whoever he was told needed it.
But just minutes before he was to leave, he got an alert. The system had tagged an email. He opened it, and found it contained only a single sentence that seemed like nonsense to him. "Creators retreated after zealots in America nearly turned xenophobes". He scratched his head. Obviously it meant something, but he didn't have the time to figure it out.
He cleaned the trail left by the sender, though there wasn't much to clean to begin with. That's when he noticed the title. "The Polaroid Truth". He knew that from somewhere. But where? It might have even been before the Bills. Protagonist.. Polaroids.. maybe it was about a picture? Maybe Antagonist Zero? No, not possible. Then it clicked.
He knew where he remembered that from. That was the title of a story on the original Protagonize.com! He looked at his watch once more. 3 minutes. Hurriedly, he typed an email and sent it to the same recipient as the other. He had been unable to contact any Protagonizers, whenever he found one he always cleared the trail to hide them. But now he had a real concrete way to contact at least one.
Admittedly, it wasn't his greatest work. But he had less than 2 minutes now. He titled it "a Phriend in high places". Then he made up something that sounded completely normal, in case the email got flagged. Just talking about how he'd be late for dinner and not to wait up for him. Then last, he put his cell phone number as well as his hacker name. Chaos.
The last thing he did was launch a virus through the security system, making the cameras play a loop he had recorded. It would only last 5 minutes, a feature he added so that hopefully it wouldn't be spotted. There were only three human guards on duty right now, and they were all watching the monitors.
He slipped on his black cloak, making sure to pull the hood tightly across his features to hide his face. Then he ran. The elevator was, of course, completely unusable as of yet so he climbed the stairs. Taking two at a time, he was soon at the ground floor. The security booth was right by the front entrance, however the guards wouldn't even notice him walking by if he stuck to the shadows. As long as his camera feed remained unnoticed, that is.
Using a stolen key card, he opened the front door, and as soon as he stepped into the black of night was rendered near invisible. But he still only had minutes until the cameras were back online and he could be spotted. He pulled out a photo from his pockets. A rare item, since most still cameras had been burned. Photography was, after all, an art form.
He tried the door of a gray car that looked like the one in the photo. Unlocked. He slipped in and found the keys. They turned, and the engine was nearly silent. He couldn't help a grin spread across his face. It even still had that new car smell. He drove slowly out of the parking lot, trying not to draw attention to himself. Then he was home free.
He pulled over after exactly 5 miles as he was instructed. He looked in the glove compartment and found another rare thing these days: a stack of paper. The first few pages were disguised as a computer manual, one of the few paper forms you might not be taken in for. But starting at page 16, the paper was addressed to him.