Jade Imperium - The War At Home

punkey 2012-03-02 08:19:04
"Or I am shopping for something for Luis," Arketta says. "Sorry, Luis, but even I blend in better than you do. I could be just another tall brown-skinned soldier, but you are most definitely Luis Stanhill."

"Good, we don't have to lie to you about following you to this stupidly dangerous meeting," Ngawai says. "And it's a good thing I'm here, because I can -"
"Stay back at the hotel and monitor everyone's communications and help Luis coordinate surveillance," Davis says, interrupting his wife.
Ngawai gives Davis a death glare. "I have been on the sidelines ever since Napai, Garrett, and I'll be damned if you -"
"Insist that the eight-months-pregnant mother of our child stays out of the line of fire or any possible kidnapping attempt?" Davis says. He smiles at her, but his eyes show more worry than he's letting on.
Ngawai keeps up the glare for a few more seconds, then relents. "Fine, I'll stay back at the stupid hotel room. But I think Zaef's experience here last time proved that they're not much safer."
Gatac 2012-03-02 08:31:08
"Maybe you can make a reservation for a nice romantic dinner, Garrett," Hugh suggests.
punkey 2012-03-02 09:11:28
Ngawai gives Davis a look of mock surprise. "Yes, maybe you could, Garrett. As good as your various noodle dishes can be, it'd be nice to eat something made by a real cook in a real restaurant. Something that isn't noodles with sauce from a jar, or served through a plastic partition."
"As soon as the Diego Garcia PX starts stocking basmati, I will make you palao with naan bread, I promise," Davis says. "But until then, I will make a reservation for tonight - and don't ask where we're going, it will be a surprise."
Ngawai smiles and leans against Davis as she turns back to Barnes. "We shall see about that."
punkey 2012-03-09 11:29:25
Unlike the last visit to DC, the team avoids the trip to Davis' super-secure spy hotel (and the expense) and checks into Park Hyatt. After everyone showers and changes into their appropriate attire for their various missions - Davis dresses in his best CIA suit, Ngawai dresses for her husband's promised dinner in a revealing black-and-red Imperial dress that leaves one of the beam scars on her chest fully exposed as it shapes around her pregnant form, Swims-the-Black changes into something a bit more formal, namely Wherren-fitted Imperial slacks to go with his color-change vest and over-sized sandals, while Arketta merely changes her undergarments and gives her Army uniform a quick ironing.

A half-hour later, everyone departs to go their separate ways. Hunter and Swims-the-Black depart to meet with Hunter's Marine contacts en route to the Commandant's office, and Hugh goes to scout the ground in advance of his meeting with Major Dyer, unauthorized protection detail in tow.


A few hours later, Ngawai spins in the desk chair in Davis' hotel room. Before her, her holodisplay is set to its largest size, with video and audio feeds taking up every inch of projected real estate. Davis and Arketta both window-shop near the entrance to the spa, where Hugh is currently loitering. In the van that the four of them took to the mall, Luis currently sits, apparently staring at nothing at all, but in reality, using his vox to simultaneously manage the tap into the Pentagon Mall's video feeds and relay them to Ngawai's screen, as well as keep tabs on Hugh's, Arketta's and Davis' surroundings.

"Did I already mention that playing vox-jockey is one of my least favorite things in the galaxy?" Ngawai asks Davis over a private vox connection.
Davis continues perusing the TV selection in the Pentagon Best Buy store front. "Yes, dear."
"And that getting out from behind the drone monitors and putting my boots on the ground is one of the best things about quitting the Kansatai?" Ngawai continues.
"Once or twice," Davis replies. "I promise, Ngawai, I will make this up to you."
Ngawai sighs. "No need." She puts a hand on her stomach. "I know you're right, I'm just tired of sitting on my ass - and the fact that no matter what I do, my ass getting pretty big and soft doesn't help, either."
"Who says that wasn't what I meant?" Davis says with a grin. "I've been thinking about that idea you put up - maybe you and I should take a few simple Apprehender contracts. You know, once Naloni is a year old or so. You said you have friends that could dummy up the paperwork for us?"
Ngawai smiles. "That's sweet of you, Garrett." The smile quickly fades as a sour taste hits her mouth and a familiar nausea burrows into her stomach. "But I don't think that's necessary."
"You sure, azizam?"
"Yeah, I'm sure."


Hugh checks his watch - 1356. By spy terms, that's almost late. Davis might be a lot of things to Hugh, but "punctual" is pretty prominent on that list. A minute later, a medium-height man with blond hair in full Class A uniform walks towards Hugh, "Dyer" printed on his nametag and oak leaves on his shoulders. He walks up to Hugh, a nervous expression on his face. "Captain Verrill?" he asks
Gatac 2012-03-09 11:34:01
"The very same, Major," Hugh answers, offering his hand for a nigh-automatic shake. "Let's talk inside."
punkey 2012-03-09 12:27:22
Dyer shakes his hand about as nervously as he looks. He wordlessly follows Hugh into the spa, the two men not speaking a word as they strip down, rinse off, and towel up for their visit to one of the spa's steam rooms. Hugh already had the room all picked out, and while Davis was not able to place a camera for Luis to see through, what with the steam and all, he was at least able to stick a nearly invisible audio bug in between the cedar slats.

As Dyer takes a seat, Hugh notices him try to cover up a nice sized bruise on his left side. "So, Captain Verrill, err, I think we should talk about this confrontation between the GRHDI, your team, and the DoD."
Gatac 2012-03-09 13:29:49
"That's what we're here for, Major," Hugh replies. The steam room brings back many, many sweaty memories of Whirr. "I'm pushing for cooperation because I think that, one way or another, we all will have to work together to face the threat to Earth. And the sooner we're all on the same page, the easier it will be. There are a lot of surface level tensions, but that's for people above our paygrade to negotiate. I'm here for something that's trying to fly under the radar. What we've found is that there's a small group of people in positions of influence at the DoD that wants to discredit us to...see, I don't even know what they're after, but we're in their way. And they're manipulating the situation for their own goals. They've even been brazen enough to send assassins after us."

Hugh takes a breath.

"That goes beyond being inconvenient to anyone; these people are a threat to the integrity of our government, and they've proven willing to kill to get their way. And I think we can agree that they need to be exposed before they do more damage."
punkey 2012-03-09 19:13:58
Dyer nods his head. "I agree, they've gotten out of control, and I'd love to help you, but things have...changed." He shifts again to cover the bruise on his side. "I'm sorry, Captain, but I don't think I can help you anymore. I'm sorry for wasting your time," he quickly spits out before getting up and heading for the door.
Gatac 2012-03-09 19:28:48
"What'd they do, crack your ribs?" Hugh says without getting up. "Tell you the truth, Major, I was expecting a little more grit from a JSOC man. And you know as well as I do that just by agreeing to meet with me, you've gotten yourself onto their shitlist. I know it sucks, but my policy has always been that if you buy the ticket" - Hugh's fingers glide over the many, many splotches of discolored skin all over his torso - "you take the ride."
punkey 2012-03-09 20:06:40
Dyer finally looks down after trying to avoid staring at Hugh's kauka-marked torso. Almost half of his torso has been changed to be roughly the same color as mess hall wheat bread. Hugh's right flank has been peppered with smaller spots and jagged slashes, with the occasional inch-wide jagged spot, it's his left side that has taken most of the heat. There, big swatches of skin have been changed in color - one patch covers up his left collarbone and extends up past where his shirt collar would be, another down under his arm and around to his back, and a third intersects with the patch in his armpit, ranging from under his sternum to down past his spleen near his belly button - whatever went in there probably took a few internal organs with it for the ride. All of this intersects with the same array of one-inch splotches and flecks matching his other side. The thing that Hugh is just now becoming conscious of as Dyer fails to break his scared-and-horrified gaze at Hugh's marks is that none of these are actually scars - there's no lumps, smoothed out portions of skin or ridges, it just cleanly flows between Hugh's normally white torso and the brown skin of the kauka.

"As you can see," Hugh says, "I went for the platinum package."
The joke breaks Dyer's stare and he returns his nervous gaze to Hugh's face, this time with a little bit of anger behind it. "Normally I'd force feed them their fucking threats, Captain, but they threatened my family. I have a wife and a son, and they said that they'd go after them if I didn't get you to back off, so please, just...take whatever deal they want you to take."
Gatac 2012-03-09 20:12:38
"Do you know where they are, right now?" Hugh asks. "If they're stooping that low, then we need to get your family to a safe place ASAP."
punkey 2012-03-09 20:14:28
"I already got them out of town, they're with her sister in Montana," Dyer says. "But we need to get out from under them, and the only way we can do that is if we just give them what they want. I know who's coming after us - they have damn near half the Joint Chiefs on their side! I'm just a trigger-puller, I don't have that kind of power!"
Gatac 2012-03-09 20:27:48
"You won't get your wife and your son out from under them by giving in," Hugh says. "You want to end the threat to your family? Then let's end it. We can keep them safe for the time being. But until these bastards are gone, you'll always live and die by their whims. Refusing to stand against them now is just paying them danegeld."

Hugh's eyes light up. "These people don't intimidate me. I've got an entire universe against me, Major. I don't have the time to be scared of everyone who wants me out of the way."
punkey 2012-03-09 20:34:09
Dyer puts his head in his hands for a moment, then looks back up at Hugh. "Fine. If you've got a plan, let's take it to Cawsworth, maybe he has the firepower we need." He stands up. "What is your plan?"
Gatac 2012-03-10 08:05:37
"Well, in brief, we need to pool what we know," Hugh says. "For example, I know that General Hamilton and the DNI are connected via a shady think tank called 'New Horizon Group'. But that hasn't gotten me anywhere because I don't know very much about these two men. I figured a Beltway insider like you or Cawsworth might have something to contribute or at least a place where we can start looking. Once we've got something good on one of them, we air that out and get that guy into the limelight. Once we've got one of them under scrutiny, we can expose the connection - we've collected some kindling for that fire. And then I figured we'd let the Internet take over, there's plenty of people who will want to dig into corrupt high-level officials and tales of conspiracy. At that point, every move these scumbags make gets them more attention. Make no mistake, this will provoke them into action, but that's more ammo for us. So either they dig themselves in deeper, or they have to shut their group down for a while. Either way, it gives us more room to act."

Hugh takes a look around.

"Anything else? We should get moving on this."
punkey 2012-03-10 08:16:52
"No, that sounds good to me," Dyer says. "Cawsworth is at the Pentagon right now, I can take you there."

"*Whoa, hold on, we can't tail you through E Ring,*" Davis says over the shared vox connection. "*You go with him, you're on your own, and there's something off about this guy and his story that I don't like. I say call it off.*"
"*I agree,*" Ngawai adds. "*This meeting was a bad idea that needs to end now.*"
"*I don't know,*" Arketta says. "*What if you're wrong, and his family really is in trouble?*"
"*After we prove that what he's saying is true, then we see what we can do,*" Davis says. "*The best thing that we can do is to stick to our plan and talk to Congress.*"
Gatac 2012-03-10 08:26:28
"No, strolling right into the Pentagon together is too risky," Hugh says. "We'll set up a separate meeting for that. You've got my encrypted email address. What's important right now is that we work on your family's safety. Your immediate family is the first place they'll go looking, so I'm afraid her sister's home isn't a very safe place by itself - not against people with the level of access we're facing. It's best if they go completely off the grid. I can send a few of my team members to watch them and evacuate them if necessary."
punkey 2012-03-10 08:33:36
"No! We don't have time!" Dyer shouts. "They said that either I get you to wave off this Congressional hearing tomorrow, or they start going after my family! Please, Captain, if we're going to do anything it needs to be now!"
Gatac 2012-03-10 08:43:44
Hugh nods.

"What's waiting for me at the Pentagon, Major?" he asks. "Look. I believe you that your family is in danger, I want to help you, but selling me down the river will not help your wife and your son. I picked this location, one of my men went over the place and you're wearing a towel so I know you can't be wearing a wire. That means I'm pretty damn sure they can't hear us."

Hugh finally rises from the bench, meeting Dyer's look at the same height.

"Give me a location and I will have a GRHDI agent there as fast as humanly possible. Until we know your family is safe, I can do whatever's necessary to convince them you've turned me. How are they watching you? Do they have someone outside right now?"
punkey 2012-03-10 09:05:40
Dyer sighs and collapses back onto the bench. "I'll get you the address when we change back, it's in my phone. They told me to get you to E Ring, and they'd grab you en route to Cawsworth's office." He looks up at Hugh. "I'm sorry, Captain. I just have to make sure my family is safe."