IC 2 - Amsterdam - Day 2

Gatac 2017-04-26 14:06:09
(Tim uses Notice!)

Tim sees the Talisman parked about halfway from the elevator to the automatic rolling gate leading outside - hard to overlook a badging that ridiculous. Speaking of the gate, that'd certainly be a way in, but if Tim recalls correctly, these only open two ways - from the inside, when you drive up to them, or from the outside, if an employee swipes a card outside to re-park a car after it's been checked and cleaned. There's also the emergency exit next to the gate, but that only opens from the inside, period - and sets off the fire alarm, to boot.

So if de Silva didn't come through the elevator, she either:

a) Has an employee swipe card to open the gate
b) Slipped in when an employee opened it, but how?


c) Someone from the inside opened the fire exit for her while somehow not triggering the alarm

The last one in particular seems implausible given that there doesn't seem to be anyone else down here - Tim's pretty good at the old "spot someone lying down in a car" thing, though admittedly someone could still be hiding in a trunk or under a car or somewhere equally stupidly dangerous.

de Silva, for her part, doesn't seem intent on following Tim; she stays behind the column, seemingly only here to remind Tim that she's watching him.
punkey 2017-04-26 14:29:04
Mason nods and takes the phone - making a note to ask Ms. Wildcard why things suddenly got so cloak and dagger later - and beelines for the liquor shop, not the ladies clothing store. Liquor sold in train stations comes in boxes to keep the glass from breaking in your luggage, and Mason grabs a box of a particularly high-proof rum that's the right size, paying with cash on his way out.

(Mason uses Preparedness!)
Fingering the lighter in his pocket, Mason looks at a few windows along the way.
(Mason Sense Trouble: 1d6+1 = 6)
Mason picks up a tail in the reflection of the tobacco shop's windows - a group of three Chinese (?) businessmen in slightly too cheap suits with slightly too new briefcases who have been with him since they passed through the mall area of the station on the way in. They chat among each other and take the requisite snapshots with their phones, but one of them keeps his briefcase aimed squarely at Mason - and Mason can spot the glint of a circular opening in the side of it, big enough for a camera lens. Ms. Wildcard definitely didn't mention a tail, but he knows that all he can do is act like nothing is wrong.

Mason makes his way over to the bike shop, then mosies into the restroom. He walks in shoulder first, gripping the box by where the neck of the bottle is.
Gatac 2017-04-26 14:46:04
Mason proceeds as briefed, not letting his tail catch on that they've been spotted. They do hang back a bit more as the crowd thins out, and by the time Mason reaches the bike shop restroom, they're out of sight - probably dispersing to cover the major exits, or maybe even already drawing back and letting fresh faces continue the surveillance. They might not be as good as Mason, but they at least paid some attention in Spy School.

Inside the restroom, the gnarly dude from the platform is taking his sweet time washing his hands. As he spots Mason, he barely acknowledges him, but he does turn around and walk down the row of stalls, finally picking one that has an empty stall right next to it.
punkey 2017-04-26 14:52:51
Mason grimaces, but steps into the empty stall anyway. He closes the door behind him, pulls the bottle out of its box, and sets the box down on the floor while he slowly pours out some of the bottle to pretend to take a leak.
Gatac 2017-04-26 15:00:26
In the next stall over, Braun (?) makes a convincingly relieved sigh, though Mason's not quite sure how he is simulating the sound of tinkling. The phone Operations handed Mason vibrates, and Mason hears the faint sound of a vibe from Braun's stall, too. The display on the phone turns from a so-long-you-would-actually-have-to-count alphanumeric code to a simple green checkmark. Braun reaches under the partition and maneuvers the empty box underneath, then - apparently - stuffs something inside and slides it back under the partition. A quick glimpse inside reveals what certainly does look like the Stingray you ordered, wrapped in some newspaper pages for disguise & dunnage purposes so it won't rattle in the box. Braun gives a final, almost friendly sounding grunt, then gets up from his toilet and flushes.

So far, so nobody bursting into the restroom with an Uzi.
punkey 2017-04-26 15:08:26
Mason collects the box, and waits for Braun to exit. He adds a minute or so on top, just for security, and passes the time listening very intently for anyone else coming or going, bottle still in hand.
Gatac 2017-04-26 15:15:17
Braun washes his hands, whistling a little song Mason vaguely recalls from a fun evening with a couple of KSK officers in Beirut. He leaves soon after that.

Mason waits. And waits some more.

Patience is rewarded when someone new enters the restroom. Clack-clack, those aren't boots or sneakers, more like loafers. Whoever it is, they turn on the sink and proceed to wash their hands. Very thoroughly.
punkey 2017-04-26 15:26:23
Mason waits for a few seconds. Then a few more. Once we're on the third go-around for Mary Had A Little Lamb, Mason hangs his head. Fuck.

He stands up and walks out of the stall, still acting casual. It isn't one of his new Chinese friends at the sink, or Varayev, or one of Amitra's friends from Delhi - it's the Leges recruiter he last left zip-tied to a chair in Jakarta. Three years on, he's looking a bit older, but he cleans up nicely with subtle stubble on his face and a dark grey suit to go with his Oxfords.

Mason walks up to the sink next to him, opens the bottle back up, takes a swig and sets it down on the counter between them. "Nice suit."
Gatac 2017-04-26 15:33:44
"Nice bottle," the recruiter replies. "Two of them up in the arcade, another pair at the bus terminal and some local freelancers at the platforms. No guns that I could see. The three who followed you took a tram downtown. We don't know where they're going yet, but that's just a matter of time." He finishes washing his hands, then grabs for a paper towel from the dispenser and dabs his hands dry.

"The number hasn't changed," the recruiter says. "Good luck, Major."
punkey 2017-04-26 15:47:56
While the recruiter finishes up, Mason gets to work. He pulls the trash bag out of the bin and tosses the liquor bottle back in it's box and the box into the bag - and slides the Stingray into a box for a soap dispenser refill, which gets crammed into his coat.

Mason nods to the recruiter. "See you soon, I guess."
Gatac 2017-04-27 13:03:12
Forewarned is forearmed as Mason steps out of the restroom. To the left, two 60-something locals wheel their bikes into the repair shop for a checkup, while on the right, a college student with a red & white t-shirt from the KS Studenti Basketball club - UT represent! - is mulling his options with a coffee vending machine. Mason's eyes don't linger on either as he makes his way to the bicycle parking lot. Disadvantage: he doesn't really blend. Advantage: neither does anyone else. A quick check in the ostentatious side mirrors of a pimped-out "cruiser" bicycle finds nobody on his tail. As he thinks that, a cyclist in tight-fitting shirt and shorts rolls past him, gently braking as he steers the bike to a free spot in the bike stands.

There are a few explanations for the bluetooth headset in the biker's left ear. Most of them are innocuous.
punkey 2017-04-27 13:57:07
Mason takes a deep breath - paranoia is a double-edged sword - and walks to the rendezvous point with Operations, eyes open for the watchers the recruiter​ pointed out.

(Mason Sense Trouble: 1d6+2 = 6)

The biker's no threat - he picks up a phone conversation with his grandma, actually. D'awww. Mason keeps his stride, but when he's almost out, he feels the hairs at the back of his neck stand up - just enough to duck behind the ticket machine at the exit of the parking lot as two of what must be the "local talent" rush into the lot from the tunnel connecting to the railway station proper. One's a white dude with dreads and a headwrap that must think he has the best disguise ever, while the other is a mediterranean-looking woman in a heavy anorak and hiking boots who actually does the whole reaching-up-to-her-ear thing while radioing something to whoever's controlling them. For the moment, Mason's got total cover, but sticking around while they circle the area might not be the best idea.

(Mason Infiltration: 1d6 = 4 vs. 2)

Mason simply waits for Mr. and Ms. Smith to hustle past, then walks in the opposite direction and takes the long way around the platform back to the rendezvous, being sure to drop the trash bag from the restroom in a bin along the way.
"Two in the arcade, two in the bus terminal, and two others I spotted coming off the platforms," he says to Operations.
Gatac 2017-04-27 14:04:24
"Well, this was fun, but let's quit while we're ahead," Operations replies. She leads Mason behind a billboard to a steel door with one of those signs you don't have to be able to read to know that it's supposed to keep people away; Operations produces a keyring and, after a brief search, unlocks the door, getting the two of you into a service tunnel.

"I'll see about getting us the security footage for ID later," she says as you walk in silence down the long, greenish-ly lit tunnel, past fuse boxes, service closets and employee restrooms. "Did you get the package?"
punkey 2017-04-27 14:06:13
Mason tosses the soap dispenser box to Operations. "Care to share who that was? You and Braun knew we were under tight surveillance before we got there, so I'm willing to bet you know the threat."
Gatac 2017-04-27 14:21:36
"Friends from China," Operations says. "They can't get to Varajev, so they're doing the next best thing - tailing Agent Braun and trying to ID us. A bit of a 'I know you know I know' thing, but that's the kind of waves we make when we order rush deliveries. Anyway, they're not out to hurt anyone, they're really just fishing for any kind of leverage they can get so we'll have to come to the table. Did any of them get close to you?"
punkey 2017-04-27 14:27:52
"Three of them, one of them was taking pictures with some kind of covert briefcase camera," Mason replies. "They got on a train after I went into the bathroom for the drop."
Gatac 2017-04-27 14:36:29
Operations nods. "Heard of those," she says. "Camera, directional mic, WiFi and Bluetooth sniffers - all passive collection only, no IMEI catching or anything, but often it's enough. Anyway, not worth worrying about too much. They saw us, we saw them, nobody made a scene. That's as close as we get to a friendly handshake."

Operations briefly inspects the Stingray, then nods to Mason. "I'll give it a once-over and get it to the safehouse so we can prepare it. What's your next move?"
punkey 2017-04-27 14:42:26
"The mating habits of the spy," Mason says. "Next move is to get Tim and Ms. Akkermans in position to ruin the upholstery in Varayev's place."
skullandscythe 2017-04-27 15:41:52
Blake says "Dank je," and sits down. He looks out over the canal, but in his mind's eye he's going back over the cafe, trying to piece out where the camera was hidden, if it wasn't just any old security camera.
Gatac 2017-04-28 00:53:31
(Electronic Surveillance!)

There was a camera in the shop, Blake recalls, though the crowd was doing its best to distract him from it. The usual black mirrored dome tucked into a corner over the counter. But those things don't pick up sound or provide enough resolution to read a hand-scrawled name on the side of a coffee cup, and besides, there's no good reason "Randall" should have a live feed from it - even the owners usually don't, and if they do, it's a cranky Java abomination running on a Windows ME system in the back with just this one version of Internet Explorer 6 where it (mostly) works. Not exactly state of the art.

On the other end, spy cameras have gotten steadily more powerful and smaller. The two big limits are optical resolution due to the small size of the lenses involved and runtime due to battery size. Neither's an issue since Randall only needed a few hours of use and if it came with sound, he'd be able to hear the barista call out the name when they handed to cup to Blake - or hear Blake ordering, in any event. The crowd remains a problem, picking up useful sound might have been difficult if it wasn't a tightbeam mic aimed just right, maybe over the heads of everyone...hm. Might be worth checking some of the tall palm-tree-type plants and lighting fixtures they had in there. Though that does beg the question how Randall got them installed there in the first place.

There's also the other possibility that Randall's simply lying or telling the truth from a certain point of view (hah, optics pun!). After all, a human Eyeball Mk 1 Mod 0 is also a camera of sorts; wouldn't be too hard to bribe a barista to watch out for the Randall order and then quickly text him what's up.