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Title: A Life Less Ordinary (3/?)
Series: Detective Conan
Rating: G
Pairing: Shuuichi/Rei

Summary: Okiya Subaru disappears after Vermouth orders his execution, presumed dead.

So what does a black cat have to do with it?


Rei spends 5 minutes on grooming, then changes into his best suit and tie – a typical recruit suit in black, with a silver and sky blue patterned tie. It’s a little overboard, but he’s supposed to be an influential entertainment industry businessman; he has to look the part. Glancing in the mirror, he slips on a pair of steel-framed glasses for good measure. Rye, sitting on the floor beside him as he finishes off a perfect Double Windsor, makes a little snort that Rei takes for a sneeze.

Opening a new can of food, Rei spoons some out for the cat before putting the can away in the fridge. Rye tucks in with enthusiasm, and Rei spends a few seconds that he can’t really spare watching him lick up the food. Despite his tension, there’s something very gratifying about knowing he’s providing for something – especially something that so visibly appreciates it. It’s not a feeling he’s ever had before.

For all his bluster about not wanting Rei for an enemy, Akai never appreciated anything he did. And while Hiromitsu had always been Rei’s best friend, as soon as he took on the persona of Scotch he grew distant and frosty. NOCs live for themselves and their secrets, not their friends.

Rye finishes his meal and just like that, the moment of introspection is over. Rei packs up his laptop and phone in one bag; he tosses his lock picks, a crow bar, a digital camera and high-powered lens, and a small roll of tools into a separate black duffle. He also dips into a hard-sided card case with recipe cards serving as dividers separating his various business cards. He flips through them before finding the ones he wants and pulls them out. Then he slips on his overcoat and laces up his dress shoes. Ready.

Rye sits in the middle of the floor, his front paws tucked in against his chest and his tail lying close by his side. He appears thoughtful and insouciant. Rei gives him a wave; “Have a good day.”

The cat doesn’t respond.

***

It takes the better part of 40 minutes to drive out to Yokohama; by now rush hour is finished but the roads are congested with usual traffic. Rei slips the RX-7 smoothly between lanes on the freeway, threading the needle between other vehicles. He makes it with time to spare, parking outside the office building. It’s a free-standing, two storey building facing onto the street on one side and a back alley behind.

Rei takes a few minutes at the office site for photos, quickly assembling the lens and camera and walking around the building to capture all entrances and exits as well as roof access and any nearby security cameras. It’s nowhere near everything he needs, but it’s a start.

He returns to the car, drops off his coat, and swings his camera over his shoulder. Then he heads to the front door.

There’s a receptionist at a small desk; on the other side of the foyer is a white leather couch. Seated on it is a young woman in a neat suit and heels, her hair and make-up perfect. She rises as Rei enters. “Amuro-san?”

“You must be Fujiya-san,” he says, bowing. He produces his suitably ambiguous business card (Amuro Tooru, Production Manager) and passes it to her with both hands. “Thank you for seeing me today.”

Even as he’s speaking to her he’s capturing the environment – glass front door, no obvious control or power panels in the foyer, no security camera. If he has to break in by force it should be possible, but only if he’s assured of getting the information he needs out quickly. He rises out of his bow and pushes his glasses up on the bridge of his nose.

Fujiya tucks his card away in a pocket of her leather phone case. “Thank you for considering us. I have prepared a short presentation, then I can show you our office.”

“Great.” He follows her through the foyer, her heels clicking on the tile floor, and through a swipe-card entry door into a long corridor. Immediately on her left is a set of stairs, and she motions to them. “Our desks and meeting rooms are upstairs. The hardware and servers are kept downstairs. With the powerful fans we require to keep the temperature cool, we have to sound-proof that space.”

“You don’t store your data centre in a separate building?”

She shakes her head. “We’re a relatively small operation, and our President likes to keep our holdings close. We do have some assets dispersed at our other sites, but the main data centre is here.”

“I see. That will make for excellent footage,” he says, smiling and hoisting his camera. “At your discretion, of course,” he adds, heading up the stairs.

“Thank you, Amuro-san.”

She shows him to a small conference room packed tight with the usual meeting room paraphernalia: two wall-mounted TVs, a ceiling-mounted projector, a conference phone, a stained white board, and a jumble of rolling chairs. There’s a window looking out into the main office, he rounds the table and takes a seat facing it. “Can I get you some coffee?” she asks.

“That would be wonderful.” He watches her leave, then turns his attention to the window.

The space beyond the glass is clearly the cube farm. It’s a large room lined with windows on one side and a series of offices on the other. There’s a dropped ceiling, grey-flecked panels masking the nest of pipes and wires above, with embedded fluorescent lights that shine down on the tiled floor below. The cubicles are small, their walls soft grey panels unmarked by nameplates or other materials; the office walls beyond are also a cool grey colour uninterrupted by posters or pictures – it’s a bare aesthetic.

Rei snaps a couple of pictures through the glass before Fujiya returns, replacing his camera in its case as he hears the tapping of her heels coming around the corner. He’s sitting back, relaxed and attentive, when she comes through the doorway holding a cup of coffee for him. She also has a slender laptop under her arm. While he sips at the coffee (only barely better than instant) she hooks the laptop up to the overhead projector.

“I’m afraid I didn’t have time to prepare anything special for you, but I would be happy to give you the press briefing we prepared when ESK 350 was launched,” she says, naming the new satellite.

“Thank you.” He sets up his own laptop, like an earnest student prepared to take notes.

She flips off the lights and he turns to watch as she launches a powerpoint presentation and starts walking through slides. They’re typical media fare, light on content and heavy on graphics, but she adds more details from memory to fill out the story. Her voice is soft but matter-of-fact; she’s clearly very familiar with this material.

She goes over the company’s history, size in terms of holdings, net worth and human resources. Then some history on the development of the tech – both soft and hard – behind the new satellite. It’s running a new operating system developed internally from a Linux kernel. Rei takes a few notes for the look of the thing, knowing he’ll never use them – he’s been trained to memorize the information he needs.

“I assume your computers run on the same?” he asks, typing a sentence one-handed.

“Those that coordinate directly with the satellites, yes. The rest of the office uses Red Hat Linux.” She switches the slide, and moves fluently into describing the satellite – first its launch, and then the details of its functions. Rei takes more notes, only paying half a mind to her lecture.

If the satellite’s computers are running an internally-developed OS, he’ll need a copy for their hackers to write a back-door. For that, he’ll need direct access to the terminals. Something he’s unlikely to get during working hours.

Fujiya finishes up her lecture with a slide on future development plans for the company, and ends the presentation.

“Very informative,” he says, looking up. “Your work is truly exciting.”

“I recognize that we don’t have the size or the name recognition of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency or some of our private competitors, but we have had important successes.”

He nods and shuts his laptop’s screen. “Perhaps we could take a tour, so I might better understand your successes?”

She smiles and rises while he packs away his laptop. “Of course. Please come with me.”

***

Fujiya takes him through the second floor first, introducing him to several engineers and programmers, some of whom show him real-time usage of the satellite’s systems and performance readings. He takes several pictures, which on the surface show the office’s staff at work, but in fact also capture the building’s layout and distances from exits.

He’s even shown the small break room, equipped with coffee machine and a water heater for tea, which also features a sliding door leading out onto a balcony. Making up a lie about excellent lighting, Rei takes a picture of Fujiya beside the door, allowing him to both study and capture the lock type. Easy to pick.

They move downstairs next. Here the doors are locked by key card, Fujiya scanning hers at each door to let them in. There are only two employees working in a small office down here, monitoring the data centre and servers. Their computers are hefty desktops with multiple solid state drives, doubtless equipped with wicked RAM. The room is windowless and hot despite the overhead air conditioner blowing in stale air.

“You link directly with the satellite from here?” he asks nonchalantly, indicating the multiple screens showing technical read-outs.

“Yes.” The computer engineer, a young man named Miyano, opens up a window for him and actually shows him the log-in protocol, Rei watching closely. He gets the username, although not the password.

“How interesting.”

The engineer shows him how they can control both the satellite’s orbit and trajectory, and also its data feeds and telecommunications functions.

This is exactly where they need to plant a back door.

Fujiya nixes him taking any pictures inside the office, although he does get some of the hallway and the server room. “We would have to discuss showing this kind of information in the documentary,” she says, as they head back upstairs and to the front lobby.

“Of course. I think I have everything I need for now, but I will be in touch to speak with President Ookiyama. Thank you again for your flexibility in meeting with me.”

“I look forward to hearing from you, Amuro-san.” She bows him out of the office.

Outside in the brisk air Rei takes a few more pictures from angles not easily visible inside – the front door and the break-room balcony. The balcony has a sturdy-looking railing; with a grappling hook and rope it would be simple to ascend.

Rei looks at his watch; it’s just past 12:30. He has a lot to do.

***

On the road back to Beika he tosses his glasses onto the passenger seat and loosens his tie. Then he calls Kazami with the intel he’s gathered so far and gives him his instructions. There’s not much the hackers to do until he gets them a copy of ESK’s self-developed OS for the computers running the satellite. He’ll have to break in tonight to get it, and tomorrow to inject the back door virus. Two back-to-back visits are very risky, but he has no other choice.

He also stops off at a computer repair store and purchases a shell of a computer from them. To get a copy of ESK’s OS for the hackers to create the back-door virus he’ll have to get access to Miyano’s password. Rei’s only chance is assuming that the engineer uses the same password for the whole of the company’s computer network; if that’s true he can hack into one of the upstairs computers to get it. For that to work, he’ll have to have a computer running Red Hat Linux.

By the time he gets back to his apartment he’s starving – he ate no breakfast, the combination of his headache and his exhaustion preventing him from eating. He runs up the stairs to his apartment, laptop bag and camera over his shoulder and new computer under his arm, and lets himself in the front door.

As if he’d been waiting there the whole time for him, Rye is sitting on the edge of the entryway. His midnight black fur shines in the sun streaming in through the door, his whiskers twitching.

“Hi,” says Rei, toeing off his shoes and lining them up beside the step up into the apartment. The cat stands, gives him a bored look, and turns to walk back inside as though he hadn’t just been waiting for Rei. His long fur is thick and bushy at his hindquarters but short on his lower legs, it gives him the appearance of wearing a construction worker’s tobi pants. It’s a look at odds with his haughty affect, and Rei smiles.

He comes in and puts the computer down on the table. He downloads Red Hat Linux onto his existing laptop and then transfers it over and begins the set-up process. While the OS is installing he makes himself some agedashi tofu and re-heats a few gyoza he had stored in the refrigerator. An eclectic meal, but he’s too hungry to care.

Rei watches the installation complete while he eats, taking care not to drip sauce onto the computer. Rye jumps up to join in the production, sniffing delicately at the screen – and then at the agedashi tofu. Rei shoos him off with his chopsticks.

***

It takes Rei a few hours to familiarize himself with this version of Linux; with that done he starts his foray into cracking ESK Nippon’s system. They have a remote log-in available to employees; it’s the perfect place to start.

Scotch would have been much faster at this – Rei specialises at intelligence, not hacking. But he’s proficient enough, certainly more so than Akai ever was. Just another way in which he tops the FBI dog, another point for him. Not that he’s counting.

With Miyano’s log-in name, he’s eventually able to dupe the system and produce logs that enable him to sign in as the engineer. From here he can change Miyano’s password – but not until after he’s left at the end of the day, lest the engineer notice it.

That done, Rei turns his attention to studying his photographs of the building. It takes digital enhancement and dedicated internet searches, but he’s able to get the make and model of the key card locks protecting ESK Nippon’s most valuable assets. Then all it takes is a call to a black market broker to secure a device capable of disrupting it.

“Not bad,” he says to Rye, reaching over to stroke the cat’s thick fur. Rye allows it for a minute, then gets up and retreats to the other side of the table where he begins licking himself as if to rid himself of any trace of Rei’s touch. “That’s a fine way to treat the man who’s feeding you.”

Rye gives him a supremely unimpressed look.

Rei looks up at the clock; it’s almost four. Another four hours before he can safely assume everyone’s left for the night at ESK Nippon and return to collect the OS.

The problem is, even if he does secure the OS tonight and provides it to PSB’s team of hackers, he won’t be able to install the back-door virus in the secure computer terminal until tomorrow night. And his deadline is tomorrow evening.

He messages Cognac: Will have information by 10pm tomorrow.

Cognac replies almost immediately: That’s when I’ll be there.

If he doesn’t have it, Rei knows Kazami will be fishing his body out of Tokyo Bay. He looks over to Rye; the cat’s still watching him, unmoving as an ancient idol, face expressionless. “Cross your fingers,” he tells the cat. “We’re going to be cutting it close.”

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