After escaping and infiltrating the server, Crypto had no other plan, it was time to wait.
His friend was fronting the bill to keep him hidden in a hostel. It was a cramped place, with students coming in and out, looking for parties and cheap alcohol in the streets of Lisbon. And there was plenty of both.
He wouldn’t leave, except every other day in the late evening to catch some air and try to think what to do next. Everyday he made an effort to get his memories back, but the more he tried, the deeper they would sink. From his friend, all he got was pressure to go to the authorities, to forget about the Alchemist, to move on with his life. And every time he would stand his ground with the same argument: ‘Michael, I lost my memory but I didn’t lose my gut feeling, and it tells me I am not a person who gives up.’
— Well, in that case go ahead, but I have to stop sponsoring this insanity. I would if I could but…
— No, No. You’re right. You have done more than your share. And I will pay you back.
That conversation stuck with him for hours and kept him awake that night. It was one thing to go against two secret organizations on his own, a whole different show when others had to suffer or deal with his shit. The only problem, he was broke.
A plan starts brewing in his head. He had made friends with one of the kids who was carrying around an android tablet. He borrows it with a sob story and a promise of a rum and coke. In a short while he is browsing the deep web after installing a rogue version of the TOR Browser. His memory is still lacking any relevant sources and the authorities have taken down Silk Road, so it takes a bit longer to find a trusthworthy market place. He contacts three sellers and provides them with telegram links to continue the discussion. Pretty soon, the first piece of the puzzle is in place.
His second move is to scout the directory of office space and big companies in Lisbon. Preferably one with near luxury or high end restaurants. The only one in walking distance is in Amoreiras. Three massive towers over the city. The thing about big places like this, is that they don’t just bring together big business, they make employees predictable. For days he scouts the place, paying attention to everyone wearing a suite or expensive gadgets. Soon he has two marks.
Finding details about a person is actually quite simple. In the food court near the office floors, he can just sit close by and listen to find out where they work. But his main mark was not the kind of guy to eat in a food court.
This guy likes to eat at the “Block House” or “La Brasserie de L'Entrecôte”, two of the most expensive steak houses around. If by some miracle he isn’t in the mood for steak, he goes to “Barbatana” for the best fish and sea food. This expensive life style is not the only thing that makes him the perfect target.
He dresses in high end suits and talks to everyone like the world made him king by birth. That bourgeoise demeanor is even more promeninent while having his meals. At one point, one of the waiters tipped his glass of wine on the table and was forced to hear a 10 minute exposé on how expensive the wine was and that he was lucky for not having gotten any of it in his expensive suit.
"It’s not like a guy like me, dressed in dirty clothes, can just get into a fancy restaurant and ask to sit next to the greasy bourgeoise fat bastard. It's going to be a bit harder to gather intell".
The next day he takes a chance, walks in with his backpack and makes his way straight to the counter of the place putting it down by his feet. With some chit chat with the head waiter, saying he wants to make a reservation for his boss and asking about the menu, he has a good reason to stand there for a while. In the meantime, his mark is fumbling with his phone.
Little does he know that his phone is now connecting to the Internet via Crypto’s laptop, turned on inside the backpack and serving the same wifi as the restaurant, but with a much stronger signal.
The information he gathers isn’t much, he was mostly browsing facebook and getting company emails. The important bit is there: his name, his email and the company he works for. Time for the next step. With some cheap electronics and an old router he is able to devise a wifi signal booster to work from a safe location. After a few days working around this, it takes an hour to get access to their wifi network and cram the printer beyond the knowledge of the IT department. In that afternoon he walkes in, announcing he is there to fix the printer. Reception doesn't even bother to check.
This is a network printer, with it’s own wired connection. Crypto uses the space in the printer to hide a small Raspberry Pi computer. It gets “fixed” in no time, and is now the entry point to the entire network. In 20 minutes, that printer became a full infiltration system complete with a hidden wifi signal.
The mark doesn’t suspect a thing. He keeps with his day to day, getting to the office late and having is long lunches. Most of the time at the computer is spent on social networks and some shady websites. One of which was a dating site. “Even the bourgeoise fat bastards have needs, I guess.” Crypto fakes an email, with the new information he has from the mark, his user name and the subscription to the dating site. There was a problem billing your credit card. With a click, he finds a page to confirm his credit card number, with the last 3 digits already filled in with the information Crypto got from his browser. He doesn’t bother to question, fills in the form and submits. Everything goes back to normal.
Crypto now has his credit card details, and his accomplices have already set up a method to execute the buy. A network of mysterious companies has established a store in Portugal where the mark will now be conducting regular shopping until the card issuer suspects foul play. Thanks to the information collected from the browser history, that will take some time, because they mimic his buying behavior from a few months ago. Other data that was gathered will be used to set up fake identities which by themselves can be quite useful for people in the deep web.
The company also happens to be one of the world's top consultancies dealing with everything from Taxes, to Marketing Strategy. The harmless printer is now eavesdropping on everything going through the network. Some of this information is also valuable in the Deep Web.
The money transfer happens in a bitcoin transaction, part of which he sends to Michael to refund him and give him a bit extra. Crypto as solved his cash flow problem, for now.
His other problems persist, there is no word from the Alchemist and he doesn’t know what else to do, but wait ...