IC 2 - Amsterdam - Day 2

Gatac 2017-06-18 12:41:54
(Flirting powers, activate!)

"Oh, dat is leuk!" she says. "Ik heb geen kinderen, maar mijn broer doet. Ik hou van ze - ze zijn de leukste." She sighs and nods to the clock. "Ik heb het weekend doorgewerkt. Kun je het geloven? Ik zit hier vast omdat Marco weer ziek is. Ik wed dat hij gisteren met zijn vrienden was gerookt. Maar ik ben single, dus trek ik altijd het korte stro." (Oh, that is nice. I don't have kids, but my brother does. I love them. They're the cutest. I've been working through the weekend. Can you believe it? I'm stuck here because Marco called in sick again. I bet he was out smoking with his friends yesterday. But I'm single, so I always draw the short straw.)
punkey 2017-06-18 12:51:04
Mason winces a bit, but then leans into it for the cover. "Dat is zo oneerlijk. Vertel je wat, waarom bel je Marco nog niet, zie of hij op weg bent?" (That is so unfair. Tell you what, why don't you call Marco again, see if he's on his way in?)
Gatac 2017-06-18 13:04:11
The lady nods to that.

"Ja! Ja, ik zou die luie bastard moeten noemen." She rolls her eyes. "Het maakt mij niet uit hoe 'stoned' hij is, ik heb vaak genoeg voor hem gedekt, hij kan zijn eigen puin opruimen." She flutters her eyes at Mason. "Hey, dus...ik ga snel uit het werk komen. Heb je veel leveringen om vandaag te maken?" (Yeah! Yeah, I should call that lazy bastard. I don't care how 'stoned' he is, I've covered for him often enough, he can clean up his own mess. Hey, so...I might be getting off work soon. Do you have many deliveries to make today?)
punkey 2017-06-18 13:11:18
Mason smirks back. "Nog een paar, zeg eens koffie in een paar uur?" (Just a couple more, say, coffee in a couple hours?)
Gatac 2017-06-18 13:13:29
The woman smiles at that, then scribbles a bit more on the board - her phone number, it seems.

"Bel me als je klaar bent. Ik ben overigens Beatrix." (Call me when you're finished. I'm Beatrix, by the way.)
punkey 2017-06-18 13:21:58
"Jakob Hautman," Mason replies, referencing his one good Dutch ID. "Zie je later Beatrix." See you later, Beatrix.) With one more wink and a smirk, he turns out the door, a bit conscious of how revealing bike clothes can be.
Gatac 2017-06-18 13:56:46
As Mason leaves the lobby and ventures outside to his bike, he can definitely feel Beatrix's eyes on his...finer qualities. Too bad about the whole "tricking her into helping them with their scheme" thing; she seems nice.

What's not so nice is Mason looking up a certain Marco Kopke in his intel on the tower staff and placing a call to his cellphone, which goes to voicemail in the first two attempts and almost does again in the third, until someone does finally pick up the phone.

"Uh, ja?" a male voice answers, with TV blaring in the background. After a moment, he coughs three times and speaks as if he's holding his nose. "Oh het spijt me. Ik ben ziek. Erg ziek." Pause. "Wie ben je?" (Uh, yes? Oh, I'm sorry. I'm sick. Very sick. Who are you?)
punkey 2017-06-18 14:18:51
"De man die je kont zal afvuren als je in 15 minuten niet in Leeuwentoren bent," Mason barks. "Dacht je dat ik je niet zou weten over je kleine ziekte, Marco? Als je niet binnen 15 minuten bij je bent en je 15 minuten aanbiedt, zal ik je afvuren en ervoor zorgen dat iedereen die je ontmoet weet wat je liever doet in plaats van op het werk te zijn." Mason hangs up the call and lets the stoner panic do its magic. (The man who will be firing your ass if you are not at Leeuwentoren in 15 minutes. Did you think I wouldn't find out about your little "sickness", Marco? If you are not at your post and presentable in 15 minutes, I will fire you and make sure everyone you meet knows what you prefer to be doing instead of being at work.)
skullandscythe 2017-06-19 23:19:57
After hopping the fence again, Blake updates Tim and Mason, then heads to Thomaskerk early. He goes slowly, with an eye for tails. He remembers the Chinese(Think they're Chinese, not like you stopped to ask) snoops from just this morning still.
Gatac 2017-06-24 06:08:17
While Mason makes a discreet retreat to change out of his courier outfit and Tim gets his own disguise on, Blake's only a short stroll away from the church. Foot traffic is moderate, mostly people from the nearby train station Zuid enjoying the sunshine and checking out the shops in the Amsterdam World Trade Center. By contrast, Thomaskerk is the kind of drab "modern church" building you'd only recognize as a place of worship by the peculiar arrangement of its roof and a small sign outside. Exactly the kind of place where you wouldn't notice a dark blue van parked in one of the spaces across the street.

The van inside is cramped with electronics and Laith's stowed wheelchair in the back; Lucy is chilling on the passenger seat up front and cranes her head over the center console to look at Blake with a kind of nonchalant "Hey, dude" expression, while Laith is in the driver's seat with a laptop on his, well, lap and a headset hooked over his right ear. Blake can't help but notice the discreet tray for a pistol underneath the dashboard, nor the pistol therein.

"Close the door," Laith says as he hooks the Stingray to the laptop and works some magic. "Well, that's 80%."

Blake doesn't have to ask what Laith is talking about, because Laith helpfully goes on to explain it.

"One thing they did right was not put their security system on the house comms network, they've got an internal service network for that," Laith says, rotating the screen so Blake can get a glimpse of a live network scan. "The emergency services line is patched through their POTS, though, I can see the interface - just plain voice line. So we can intercept hardline calls going out, and the Stingray takes care of cell phones, but we can't intercept internal alerts to the front desk - or control the door locks. Check this out, though."

He pulls up a set of what Blake considers increasingly inaccurately named "blueprints", a wireframe model of the tower's base architecture with a wiring overlay. "Fourth floor," Laith says, pointing at a room where an awful lot of wire trunks seem to converge. "Internal server room. If we could get in there, we could control cameras and door locks - including the emergency exits. Fire alarms and elevator controls don't seem to be networked at all, though, they've got their own dedicated systems. Anyway, fat lot of good it does us if we can't get into the server room, right?"

Right. But Laith isn't done pointing.

"Check this out," he says. "Aircon for the servers. The duct isn't nearly big enough for a human, but we don't need to get a human in there, do we."

We don't?

"The black backpack in rack #3," Laith says. Blake retrieves said item, and opens it to find a small Pelican case inside. "You may have heard of those kids playing with homebrew drones based on the Jumper design. Well, CIA has the biggest kids around. That's a ruggedized milspec minidrone. Wired, which might seem like a step back from the commercial stuff, but it means zero EM profile and the battery pack stays with the operator, making for a lighter and nimbler drone. It's got everything on board to climb up the side of a server cabinet, defeat whatever crappy little lock they have at the front, and plug itself into a network or USB port. I can compromise the system from there, and then, bingo, we can get you and Mason into the building without ever showing up at the reception desk."

Sounds great, but -

"The bad news is, well, fourth floor aircon duct," Laith adds. "It doesn't go inside the building, it heads straight out from the server room. So you're gonna need to climb four stories, wedge yourself close to the vent, cut a hole in the metal big enough to fit the drone through, then guide the drone in - and preferably back out. It's got a fry charge that'll melt it to slag if we have to abandon it, but I'd prefer to get to use it more than once."

Laith grins that 'Of course I sit in the van while you climb the building, can't you see I'm missing a leg' grin.

"So," he asks, "think you can handle that?"
skullandscythe 2017-06-26 01:06:48
"Only one way to find out," Blake groans as he closes the door behind him.
Blake adjusts the backpack and takes a quick loop around the building, stopping to take 'pictures' with a cell phone - really just looking for a way up to the duct.
Gatac 2017-06-26 01:32:17
(Urban Survival!)

Blake's keen eyes spot a fenced pen for those fancy European dumpsters with a solar panel on top. Get on top of one of those, then spring at the exterior wall of the tower, wall jump onto the dangling fire escape ladder, which gets him to a door that only opens from the inside and is surrounded by a "tunnel" of fencing, though - but climb that fencing, get a running start and a good launch, that ought to do it to reach a third-story balcony. Between that and the next balcony, the sides come out for about a foot or so - mantle up between those, and then - okay, there's a pretty sturdy flagpole just over the aircon duct he needs to get to, so jump off the fourth-story balcony, catch the pole, then gently lower down onto the duct to test if it holds his weight - and if it doesn't, well, do the op while dangling from the flagpole, somehow.

Piece of cake, right?

(This climb is a test vs. Athletics at a difficulty of 8.)
skullandscythe 2017-06-26 15:31:32
Blake just stops to grab a few tools from his kit, then he strides with purpose toward the fence ring. He doesn’t put on the speed until the last ten feet, running parallel to the fence, then he jumps. Twisting, reaching up on his left side, he grabs the top of the fence (about ten feet off the ground, not bad considering he hasn’t played basketball in 20 years or so) and pulls up, swinging his feet up with the momentum. This nets Blake enough air to vault over with space to spare for the drone on his back. He sticks a perfect crouch landing on the other side.


No time to stop now. Blake pushes off and up, takes one step, kicks off the side of the concrete pen; his hand hits the top of the ledge and he pushes, bringing up his left leg, his right leg now too. Stand up on the narrow divide. The light gleams off the solar panel in front of him, a drop of dew on a daffodil. Leap now, toward the left, out of the way of the damn thing. One foot hits the wall, a push, the other foot connects and kicks him up. His hands hit the bottom rung of the fire escape, but climbing this thing won’t go anywhere. Deep breath, now. That was the easy part.

Both legs curl up, feet hit the wall. Blake vaults up , hands grasp the mesh ‘tunnel’ around the ladder: still not enough for Blake though. Another kick, a soft-ish crash as the hit ladder rattles against its cage. Blake gets some more height. Now he can pull himself up more, bring his feet up on the cage. Now he can push up with his feet, fingers clawing around the wires for a grip. In seconds, Blake’s crawling his way up the cage like a damn monkey.

Now we’re at the tricky part. The cage folds out around a third story exit, and the gaps here are big enough to slip a limb through if he’s not careful. Blake crawls around, quadrupedal still, until he finds good footing to stand on. If he wants to get to that third story balcony eight feet to his left, he needs to take a running leap. He should get enough air to grab one of the bars, or the bottom ledge. Just try not to think about slipping through. Blake swings his arms, hunched over for a lower center, and takes a deep breath, then lets it out in a rush.

One step, two, three steps to the edge of the cage, feet crashing onto the crosses of the latticework. Blake lifts off, hanging in time. Legs slowly swinging forward, arms punching out, wind whispering sweet nothings. The bars shoot towards Blake, rising to greet him.
His fingers grasp, palms smack against the ledge. Blake’s grip is strong enough to arrest his movement and stop him from gliding into a future as a pavement stain. His legs swing forward, then back; his hands leave the ledge and he’s flying again in that split second before his hands clasp around the railing bars. His knee scrapes and slides away into space, but his right foot is locked against the ledge, ready to push him up to safety. Another leg-burning kick later, and Blake is perched on the ledge, gripping the top of the rail and not the bottom. Sweat crawls down his forehead and he gasps for air.

Now he just has to do it again, to mantle up to the fourth story.

Crouched on top of the balcony ledge, he can reach up to the fourth story and pull himself up. It’s not as clean as his fence hopping or his tic tac, but he’s not in freefall now either. His arms scream as he pulls up with his hands and props up on his elbows. His legs creak as he kicks up again, crawling his desperate way up to lean on the balcony rail like boxing ring ropes.

The grand finale is here. Blake takes the backpack off, turns it around. Now it’s perched on his belly, ready to thump against his stomach and not his spine.

Vault up onto the rail, push off. Arms wheel in the air. The flag flaps idly in the breeze. He can make out some of the stitching-


Hands meet pole, body mass and momentum continue downward. The flagpole bounces up, down, up, down, then wavers to a stable position. Blake clings to it for dear life.

After his heart settles down, Blake pulls up his legs and shimmies down towards the duct. He hopes to open it up with the tools he’s brought, but if he can’t do it that way, he’ll just kick the thing open.
skullandscythe 2017-06-26 16:05:10
Blake tries it the quiet way, but dangling precariously four stories off the ground in the blowing wind is not the best place for meticulous work. Blake drops the one Philips head that would fit, and nearly loses a couple more putting the kit away. Kicking it is, then. Blake let's his legs hang in the air for a moment, then pulls back to do more kicking.


Blake lets out a short yell, but hangs on tight. The good news is, he kicked in the vent! Bad news, he's pretty sure he's twisted his ankle doing so. It's what happens when you try to kick in a secured metal object while hanging for your dear life four stories up with nothing to balance on.

Blake gingerly tries to wrap his legs around the flagpole again, securing himself with his good leg. He looks inside the backpack again and groans a little. He still has to drive the damn drone inside. And get down...somehow.

Maybe it's time to phone a friend.
Admiral Duck Sauce 2017-06-27 13:30:22
Tim listens, halfway dressed in workman's coveralls as Blake lays out his situation.

"It's wired, right? Lash yourself to your perch, man, then drive it in once you're steady."
Gatac 2017-07-01 15:33:35
All said, there might be better ideas to help Blake's situation, but when you're hanging from a flagpole four stories up with a twisted ankle, you don't get to be picky. Trying very hard to stay steady, Blake frees a few loops of the control cable from the pelican case and, with some effort, manages to lasso it around the pole. Then he draws it tighter around himself, and...

1 AWG wire wins again. The improvised harness holds, and Blake relaxes his tensed muscles just a bit. That's atleast one drink he owes to the honor of MIL-HDBK-508. (Just in case you were wondering why the Pentagon pays 10 large for hammers.)

With the whole "not falling to his death" thing taken care of, Blake gently lowers the drone into the hole he made in the duct, then slings the external battery pack over his belly and props up the control unit next to it. Two quick plugs later, a little screen on the control unit comes to light, telling Blake to plug in the actual controller. Another reach into the case produces a wired Xbox 360 controller.

Hey, nothing wrong with a standardized commercial-off-the-shelf solution, right? Speaking off, in what is either an amazing coincidence or equally amazingly inappropriate, Blake only has to glance at the little diagram sticker to realize that this little drone thingie operates on what are essentially Burnout controls.

(Blake's Driving + 1 point of Trust from Tim = (6)+4+1 = 11)

Eight years on, Blake can still feel those nights at Annapolis in his fingers, those rare times when studying was done, chores were done, and it was just time to let loose and destroy some (virtual) metal with a couple of friends. He grins.

"Take me down to the Paradise City," he mumbles to himself, "where the grass is green and the girls are pretty. Oh, won't you please take me home..."

The drone does not do a burnout, but he quickly spins it the right way in the duct, backs up, shifts side to side to get a feel for the controls. The drone helpfully switches to low-light mode as he steers it deeper into the ducting.

"Just a urchin livin' under the street, a hard case that's tough to beat," Blake continues to sing quietly, zipping the drone around another corner when he spots a hole in the ducting just ahead - maybe a drop to a ventilator? Fuck it. Blake guns the drone, then puts its "Jumper" lineage to the test. With split-second timing, he mashes the right button, and the drone's linear actuator piston fires downwards, propelling it into an arc that sails smoothly right over the gap.

"I'm your charity case, so buy me something to eat" - deploy actuator with fiber cam to look through the vent grating to the server room, oh hai Torx screwheads - "I'll pay you at another tiiiiiiiime" - the drone comes with a full set of bits for its electric micro-driver on the actuator arm because of course it does, and Blake gets to work unscrewing the grate and depositing the screws on the electromagnet holder on the back of the drone. "Take it to the end of the line!" Blake croons, removing 4/4 screws, then uses the actuator to gently tip the grating forwards so it pivots down around its bottom hinge.

Before him lies the security server room. "Rags to riches or so they say" - drop 'anchor' with another electromagnet, then the drone winches down the wall from there into the server room proper, switching to normal video mode briefly before Blake overrides to EMF and makes a beeline for the brightest server closet. "You gotta keep pushing for the fortune and fame!" - Blake pushes the special button the deploy the climbing claw and begins the ascent, using the actuator arm to drag the drone upwards rack by rack. "You know it's all a gamble when it's just a game" - up top, Blake finds the lock securing the glass partition in front of the actual server blades - "you treat it like a capital criiiiiiiiiiime" - switch actuator to lockpick gun mode - "everybody's doing the time!"

Whirr! Whirr! Click.

"Take me down to the Paradise City," Blake sings as the partition swings open and the actuator grabs for the drone's spooled USB cable. "Where the grass is green and the girls are pretty" - plugged in - "oh won't you please take me hoooooooooooooooooome!"

This is not exactly the part of the song where Axl Rose takes it home, so to speak. But it is the part of this operation where Blake's journey to a fourth-story flagpost and beyond has paid off, as the incoming call from Laith soon confirms. So, time to stop singing, for the moment.

"Damn, you're fast," Laith says. "No points for the sysadmin, though. I mean, ADMIN/qwertyuiop, that's weaksauce. Plus they thought sudo ifconfig eth0 down was airgapping. And what do you know, it does link to the trunk line. Was worried we were gonna need to use the drone's cellular, but I'm patched into the fat pipe now. I tell you, man, all the gold trim in the world won't save this building if they're cutting corners in InfoSec. Anyway, I'm looking around now. First things first: I've got good news, and I've got awesome news."

He doesn't wait for Blake to comment.

"Good news, we have complete control of the security cameras and door locks," Laith says. "And - there. Set up a command route to the loading dock personnel door. That's your ticket inside, nice and quiet and with a direct shot to a service elevator that runs the whole height of the tower. I just need your go when you and Mason are stacked up there, then I'll loop the cameras and pop the door for you. Easy peasy." He smirks audibly. "Awesome news: guess what I found in the /USR folder? Looks like somebody on the security staff's been paid to assemble a little supercut of Varajev and his crew coming and going. I'll have Langley run facial recog, if it goes well we'll have dossiers on everyone inside the apartment within thirty minutes - or your pizza's free."

No laughs.

"You can reel it back in now, by the way," Laith says. "System's as pwned as it's gonna get."
Gatac 2017-07-02 05:41:01
And then...

Ms. Akkermans has many positive qualities; among the foremost of them is her punctuality. Mason barely has time to duck into the back seat of the car where Tim just finished getting his workman's disguise on when he spots her late-model BMW in the side mirror - quick enough for him and Tim to duck down and remain unseen. The BMW drives to the parking lot, and out struts Ms. Akkermans, looking every bit at ease in these surroundings.

A call comes in from Laith; Tim puts it on speaker. "Heads up, Blake got me into the security system," Laith says. "I'm patching you into the audio from the lobby camera."

"Hallo," Beatrix says, something coolly. "Hoe kan ik u helpen?" (Hello. How can I help you?)
"Je hebt een pakket voor mij," Ms. Akkermans replies equally chilly. "2730." (You have a package for me. 2730.)
"Oh," Beatrix says. "Ik heb dat hier." Pause. "Woon je hier nu?" (Oh. Do you live here now?)
You can hear the grin in Ms. Akkermans's voice. "Ik heb een...speciale afspraak." (I have a...special arrangement.)
"Ah, ja. Alstublieft!" Beatrix says, over the rustle of the small package. (Ah, yes. Here you go.)
"Dank je," Ms. Akkermans replies. "Tot ziens." (Thank you. Good day.)
"Ja," Beatrix replies, "tot ziens." (Yes. Good day.)

Mason has little doubt that Beatrix is now imagining how this would have gone if Mason the bike courier had "delivered the package" directly to Ms. Akkermans. It does sound like the setup for a semi-classy porno, doesn't it?

In any event, the audio carries the sound of Ms. Akkerman's footsteps receding towards the elevator banks - the sharp clack of high heels on marble flooring. Beatrix doesn't have time to grumble too much, though, because just then a new bike approaches, seating a mid-20s dude in a too-big gray suit going way too fast even by Amsterdam standards. He comes to a screeching halt by the bike shed, wheels his bike inside, nervously fumbles around with the lock for about twice as long as it would have taken to do it with hurrying, then rushes inside, slicking his tussled hair back as he puts his own access card first into the reader outside, then into some time-clock-looking thing mounted in an unobtrusive corner behind the desk.

"Ach, hallo, Marco," Beatrix says. "Voel je je beter?" (Oh, hello, Marco. Do you feel better?)
"Ja, ja," Marco (?) gasps. "Het gaat goed! Alles gaat goed! Hoe zie ik eruit?" (Yes, yes! I feel good! Everything is good! How do I look?)
"Buiten adem," Beatrix says, then gets up from her seat at the desk. "Nou, ik laat je erin." (Winded. Well, I'll leave you to it.)
"Is hij hier?" Marco asks. He steps closer, then apparently breathes in (?) Beatrix's face. "Stin ik?" (Is he here? Do I stink?)
"Eee!" Beatrix says, flinching away from him. "Fijne daag en veel succes, Marco." (Ew! Good day and good luck, Marco.)

The audio levels are too low to pick up her muttered "Jij idioot", but you do hear her clocking out, then stomping out with all due haste.

While the audio continues with Marco slowly going from panicking to whatever people do when they're more than panicking, Mason watches Beatrix step out the front door, loosening her tie and her hair, shaking it like a shampoo commercial.

Mason looks on from inside the car, but as Lt. Col. Hendricks once told him, let's try to keep the conquest to mission ratio at 1:1, hooah?

Speaking of, it's time for Mason's phone to ring - Ms. Akkermans, of course.

"Ik ben binnen, 007," she says. "Ik hoop dat er ook een sleutel in dit pakket zit. Ik heb mijn legerlaarzen niet meegenomen om de deur in te schoppen." (I'm inside, 007. I hope there's a key inside the package, too. I didn't bring my army boots to kick the door in.)
punkey 2017-07-02 14:16:46
"Heeft 007 een sleutel nodig?" Mason asks, and the door clicks open. (Does 007 need a key?)
Gatac 2017-07-02 14:34:05
"Je hebt altijd alle antwoorden, nietwaar, 007?" Ms. Akkermans replies. (You always have all the answers, don't you, 007?)

More steps on the floor, door closed behind her, steps become a bit irregular as she winds around tools and materials for the apartment's renovation. Another door (the bathroom), then the unmistakable sound of raising a toilet lid followed by ripping open the package.

"Wie durft wint," she mumbled into the phone. "Dit is het derde vreemdste wat ik betaald heb om te doen." (Who dares, wins. This is the third weirdest thing I've been paid to do.)

A little splash as the "special package" hits the water, then flushing, which partially dampens the fooming sound of detonation.

"Ahh!" Ms. Akkermans yelps. More, quick footsteps. "Is dat wat kleine jongens met schooltoiletjes doen?" (Ahh! Is that what little boys do with school toilets?)

"Ik ben op weg naar buiten," she adds after pulling the apartment door closed behind her. "Veel geluk met je missie, 007." (I'm on the way out. Good luck with your mission, 007.)
punkey 2017-07-02 14:37:29
"Recht naar de luchthaven, geen stoppen," Mason says. "Veel succes, mevrouw Akkermans." (Straight to the airport, no stopping. Good luck, Ms. Akkermans.)