They'd finally made it, they were finally here. It had been a crazy ride, not quite the cut and dry journey from A-B they'd been expecting but he was finally here, with a new friend and a plan to boot. He was looking forward to seeing Ash and Robyn, Gwen too. Minder, not so much, well, hell, even Minder. She was stern, but she had a heart of gold really, she was only so hard because she cared so much.
"It's not much to look at." Kai remarked with approval.
"Nope, and that's how we like it. Last thing we want is to draw attention to this place. The others should have locked themselves up good and tight in here. Too many people coming and going regularly from the same place looks odd, unless it's the standard 2 parents, 2 children. Two many adults in one place, especially a residential area spells creativity."
"Figures. Well, lets get inside quickly then, the longer we're out here the better the chance of us getting noticed."
Dark nodded and slid out of the vehicle where he hobbled to the back to get the laptops. Kai hopped out after him and grabbed his arm.
"What are you? Some kind of masochist? You've got a broken leg, let me take care of that." Kai said, scooping up an armful of laptops.
Dark sighed and nodded. This leg was seriously starting to piss him off. To make himself useful, he hobbled to the door and pulled out his nettop. He accessed a remote server, bounced the signal a few times for good measure and then connected to The Safe's server. He entered his username and password and was presented with an innocuous looking page that appeared to be a clients area for a web design firm. He highlighted a capital P on the page and shift clicked it and there was a clunk as the locks in the door disengaged. Paranoid, perhaps, but it meant no-one was going to accidentally unlock the door and it meant that he could open it remotely if he knew a friend was going to need to hideout in the area without having to be there. He could have just knocked, but he wanted to surprise them and besides, simply knocking wasn't nearly geeky enough.
There was yelling coming from inside. Something was wrong. It was Gwen. What could the others be arguing about? Had they really fallen out without him around? Kai raised an eyebrow at him and he just shrugged and descended into The Safe.
They were greeted by the firey young woman subjecting some total strangers to a verbal assault, one of the victims spoke up - an American by the sound of it - and was quickly silenced. Dark gulped, he'd never seen Gwen like this before.
"Are we... interrupting something?" Kai said, looking a little worried.
Minder, Robyn and Gwen spun to face him, the strangers looking immediately relieved to no longer be the centre of attention.
"Dark! You made it! What took you so long?" Robyn said.
"Whose your friend?" added Gwen.
"And can he be trusted? The last people we let in here, well..." Minder finished sternly, before turning her glare onto the Americans.
Dark gulped and hobbled into the room proper, taking a seat against the wall. "Well, it's a long story, so first of all let me introduce... wait a moment, Minder, these people can't be trusted? Who the hell are they?"
Gwen put her hands on her hips. "Those... those people are the idiots that have been driving all over the country making a mess of things. I don't know whether you noticed during your travels but these idiots plastered themselves all over the television stations during that speech."
Dark's jaw dropped.
"If we could just have a chance to defend ourselves...."
"Shut it. Just don't even speak. I need to think."
Dark frantically tried to analyse the situation. These people knew their faces, knew who they were. They knew where The Safe was. These people were known terrorists and TV hijackers, their faces would be all over the news, they'd be recognised in an instant, they couldn't leave this place, if they were seen they bring the whole of LitPol right down on this place. They had guts, but not it seemed, the brains to use them. They were a dangerous liability. They'd crapped on their own doorstep with that TV stunt, assuming they'd hacked the TV station from within The Safe. Those kind of things needed to be done outside, where there would be no chance of a trace leading back to their hideaway. The answer was clear, The Safe was no longer safe and worse, they had a group of people that knew too much about them. They needed to die, but that wasn't what the Protagonists were all about. If they took that final, crucial step, they'd become no better than the enemy, especially since they'd be killing their own allies, misguided as they were.
"Well Kai, get a good look at the Safe, this is the last time you'll see it. Everyone, we're shipping out,"
Everyone look shocked. The strangers looked confused.
"You, what's your name?"
"Well Spockeh, you're staying here and the rest of us are leaving. You seem to like causing trouble so I've got a mission for you if you want to take it."
Spockeh looked at Dark defiantly. "I'm listening."
"My friend here has a bunch of laptops, you and your gang seem to know a bit about computers, you should be able to handle this. I need you to keep moving, keep these laptops running and connected to the 'net however you can, 24/7. Can you do that?"
"Good, it's important, these laptops are important, we're trying to restart protagonize.com by keeping it running distributed and mobile. You think you're up to the task of protecting that idea?"
Spockeh nodded again, determination on his face, his team seemed enthused and relieved not to be in trouble any more.
"But why am I staying here if I need to keep moving?"
"Because you have one more thing to do. You've compromised this place, it's only a matter of time before LitPol arrive, it may be hours, it might be months but it's going to happen. You like blowing stuff up, so that's what you're going to do. Setup the computers here like the laptops, that'll draw the LitPol here even faster, maybe even some of the special branch or even an Antagonist looking to analyse the setup. When they get here, this place goes boom."
Robyn spoke up. "Dark! You can't! You're making us no better than them."
"Wrong Robyn, we've got a resource, we might as well use it and besides, it's defence not offence. It's a thin line but I think we're on the right side of it."
"What happens next? How do we meet up afterwards?"
"We don't Spockeh, that's the point. We've got to keep mobile, keep things moving. If we stick together with all the nodes in one place then that makes the site all the easier to take down again. Widely dispersed distribution is the key here and after what you've done here, frankly I don't trust you with our new location."
Spockeh looked hurt, but he understood. This was an important job that was bigger than just personal pride or hurt feelings.
Everyone took a moment to let everything set in.
"You'd better have these then." Kai said, offering the laptops to Spockeh and his team.
Turning to the others, Dark looked around. "Hey, where's Ash?"
"I don't know, she left with Afro."
"Someone we met on the way. I'd describe him to you but I've only ever seen him once." Robyn said, her voice slightly bitter.
"Huh..." Dark said, not fully understanding.
"Dark," Minder said, "Robyn's blind."
Dark noticed it then, the lack of focus, the slightly off target gaze. How could a perfectly healthy girl just go blind over the course of a few days? There was only one answer,
"Antagonists." Dark growled, clenching a fist.