The hustle and bustle of the show floor underneath is a rather more indistinct, if still very audible sonic floor underneath Mason and deSilva as they make their way to the second floor. Between empty office areas - cleared and locked today for the show - and the various open spaces where gantries cross under the rafters of the exhibition halls, there's an eerie loneliness to the place despite the many people below.
"Hold for a moment," deSilva comments as you pass a trashcan by an empty office. She lifts off the top and retrieves a package from inside, revealing a handgun and a screw-on suppressor. "That should solve the reach problem, but we'll still have to get close - and keep them from dropping onto the floor underneath. Ideas?"
Mason peeks out - the guy is clipped in on the access rails running between the upper floors of the hangar. "How's your Arabic?"
"Conversational," deSilva replies in Arabic. Good enough to carry on a conversation, maybe, but Mason can still make out a faint trill in the vowels - deSilva's obviously not a native speaker.
"Good enough," Mason says. "How do you feel about a change of wardrobe?"
"Depends on the wardrobe," deSilva says. "And who's watching me change."
"How about a job in the exciting world of janitorial services?" Mason replies.
"Making my abuela proud," deSilva says.
Downstairs shopping trip! Mason and deSilva descend again, this time heading for the backstage. deSilva seems to know the way, dodging security and real workers, until you're faced with the locked door to the custodian changing area.
"You're on lookout duty," deSilva tells Mason, sliding a tension wrench and a rake from the case of the Fractalphone - didn't know it had tools built in - then taking a quick snapshot of the lock. Mason watches the phone's screen flash through hundreds of different makes of model, apparently trying to ID the precise model so it can give her instructions on how to defeat it.
While deSilva stares nervously at her phone, waiting for it to deduce the type of lock, any security pins or measures, and the best tools for the job at hand, Mason looks at the door and sees an easier way. Hanging on a rack nearby are some black security jackets on wire coat hangers - Mason grabs one, untwists the end, and quickly bends it into a long L shape. "Excuse me," he says, and after looking under the door the best he can, slides the bent wire underneath and twists it upright to slap against the handle.
It takes a second try, but the wire hooks the interior handle. Mason gives it a tug and after a moment, the tension on the wire overcomes the handle's resistance. It rotates down and the door springs open. You hurry inside and close the door before anyone can see you.
"I did not expect this level of...finesse," deSilva says, then looks at the array of lockers to each side of them. At the far end of the room, there's a clothes rack with a row of neat and clean jumpsuits. "You first," she says.
"You know the thing about the legends of Jacob Mason, man of many explosions?" Mason asks as he grabs the first jumpsuit that looks like it fits him. "No one ever talks about the time I just walked in through an open door."
"I can see that," deSilva says. She puts the gun aside. "Let's hurry."
All changed and with deSilva's handgun stashed in a convenient toolbox, you roll out again, make your way past the exhibitions again - so sorry, AC failure over there, coming through - and up to the second level. Mason tries to gauge whether anyone's caught on to them yet, but so far security's eyes seem more on the other attendees. Back at the second floor equipment locker, deSilva helps herself to one of the safety harnesses, then hands it to Mason and grabs another one for herself.
"So now we look like cleaners," deSilva says, "and we can speak Arabic to each other. How does this help us?"
Mason steps into his own harness and slaps his hook onto the gantry above. "Because some bigwig is complaining about his cell phone dropping out, we have go all the way out here," he complains loudly as he steps out onto the railing.
Out of the corner of his eyes, Mason can see the shadow stir just a bit at the loud noise. Moments later, the signal tracker on deSilva's phone goes dark.
"Maybe it's something about having three thousand phones in the same hall all trying to livestream the Arsenal game?" deSilva replies loudly, catching on. She clips into the gantry behind Mason. "Let's just get to the other side."
"Come on, let's get this over with," Mason says, and moves at what would be a brisk pace for a safety-cautious janitor, but just short of a run.
As Mason and deSilva step briskly, the gantry underneath vibrates and the safety karabiner squeaks as it slides over the metal rail above. The man in the rafters, however, neither moves nor makes a sound, obviously hoping to be overlooked.
Now that they're both closer, Mason is pretty sure there's no way this guy and his equipment aren't strapped in tight to whatever perch they're on. Which means getting him off should be a snap. "Hey, you got that tool handy? The driver?"
"Always," deSilva comments. Nonchalantly, she grabs the pistol from the toolbox and, after a moment's hesitation, hands it to Mason.
"Thanks," Mason says, then pivots on his heel, snaps the pistol up with one hand and takes the shot.
(1d6+2 Mason Shooting = (5)+2 = 7)
Pwhip! The suppressed shot still seems too loud - don't they ever - but Mason's pretty sure it bounced right off the wall of sound underneath. The operative twitches his last, little flecks of blood spatter painting the window he was perched by. After a moment, the device glides from his hands, but continues to dangle next to him. By Mason's estimation, it is indeed secured to the roof - some sort of Bad Black sniper rifle, with a bulky signal transmitter on a side rail, wired to something clipped to the operative's harness.
"My gun, please," deSilva says. "You'll need your hands free to go up there and get the device, I believe."
Mason hands the pistol back and carefully climbs up towards the man's perch.
(1d6+2 Mason Athletics = (5)+2 = 7)
Mason pulls himself onto the upper gantry, then works the steel cable that suspends it from the roof. You don't get far through jump school with vertigo, after all, and Mason's in good shape, even getting some of that Ethan Hunt in when he transitions to the parallel rail with a little swing & jump. Clambering towards the operative, Mason can see that the man really is dead, bits of drool and blood soaking through the balaclava that hides his face. His eyes are open, but rolled back. The device dangles in his reach, just slightly out of balance from hanging perfectly level. The rifle's loaded, too. One has to wonder what kind of orders this guy had, if the intention was to engage targets out at the US hangar. The .30 cal rifle would indicate it was to shoot someone, rather than something.
Mason reels the rifle in and checks out the device strapped to it.
Mason's look confirms the make and model of rifle - a Remington 700 in .300 WinMag, fitted into a TAC21 chassis - and gets eyes on the device. It looks stunningly ordinary, almost, the size of a large taclight or small multi-mode laser designator. There are precisely zero controls on it, however; Mason wouldn't be sure this thing even has a way to recharge its battery. No, this is disposable tech to the highest degree. Best get this to Blake or Laith, fast, before it dies. The brick-like item it's wired to is equally light on user-controllable parts. Mason does, however, collect a new clue: the operative was wearing an earbud radio, and it's still receiving.
Mason slides the earbud into his ear - while being sure to flip the mute switch. He detaches the device from the rifle and carefully leans over to hand it off to deSilva. "Get this to Laith." As Mason climbs down to the gantry and passes the parts off to deSilva, the radio earbud crackles to life.
"Inquiry," a voice says, obviously a recording from someone who does number stations VO for a living. "Status. Khoury."
Mason hands it off and climbs up as best he can back to the perch, sighting down the rifle at the biggest collection of black SUVs he can see. After another adventurous climb, Mason gets hands on handware and sights in. The variable zoom on the optic is a little off-putting, but he dials in Khoury's convoy easily enough. Looks like His Excellency is currently hobknobbing with the French aerobatics team, getting some pictures taken in front of a Rafale. Mason looks at the dead body he's cuddling with - his gear looks like a tumble through a high-end PMC catalogue. Like, this is a guy for whom Academi only rates as Fucking Basic. Much more expensive than the gear the Chinese handed to Clayton's team. All Western, too. Under the balaclava, the dude looks vaguely Slavic. Mason doesn't immediately recognize the face. He checks the guy's pockets, and as he does, the synthetic voice on the radio repeats its message. The dude's pockets are not as sanitized as they probably should be. He doesn't get any ID, but he does have a hotel keycard for one of the resorts just out of town. Just for fun, he also has what Mason recognizes as a cyanide capsule.
"French contingent," Mason says, trying to run his voice through his collar as much as possible.
"Voice. Print. Mismatch," the voice on the other end says. "Confirm. Delta."
(Mason spends Notice.)
The operatives wallet yields no convenient note with the right countersign, but Mason's eyes flick across the blood-spattered window, making out a vague shape of "F" where some greasy residue on the glass has made the glass a bit stickier than elsewhere. Could it be that the operative got bored and traced a letter on the glass? Well, hard to think of someone else who would have been close enough to touch it recently enough to matter. That might explain why Mason doesn't know this guy, too: good bet you'd find someone who shoots straight and follows orders at a bargain, but this guy wasn't the type to have a long dwell time in The Game, and perhaps never intended to be.
"Foxtrot," Mason answers automatically.
"Confirmed," the voice says. "Directive. Maintain. Observation."
"Understood," Mason replies, and nods to deSilva as he clicks the mic back on mute. "We're clear. You know where Laith is?"
"I'll find him," deSilva confirms. "Your next move?"
"I'll slot in here until we know that that device does," Mason says. "No need to tip them off. Also, hostile control? It's a computer. Clipped speech, voiceprint ID. Does that ring a bell?"
What little natural color deSilva's face is still capable of showing drains from it. "No," she lies through her teeth.
"Really?" Mason says, tilting his head at deSilva. "We killed a guy together, doesn't that mean anything to you?"
"This is not the time for that discussion," she says. "I...I need to get this to your man. I don't know what's going on here but I don't think it's over."
"Fine," Mason says, "but right now, is there anything we need to know? Threat profile, new targets? I've got people to look after, and I'm not getting them killed over Secret Squirrel bullshit."
deSilva hesitates. It seems she can't wait to storm out and get away from this conversation, and technically delivering the gear to Laith is a rush job, but - "I think we need to consider the possibility that Khoury is a target." She thinks. "The biggest risk for collateral damage would be him going down with his plane during flight ops later. Everything else...well, if RoI wants him dead I want him alive by default, but this" - she waves up at the rig and weapon - "is pretty surgical. There must be easier, messier ways of getting to Khoury." She pauses again. "I don't know all of what that implies, but I know I don't like it. We're not seeing anything close to the whole picture here."
"Cool, super-fun," Mason says. "Go. We need to know what that is."
"On it," deSilva says. She goes, but then hesitates some more. "Sorry. I...maybe when we're done here." She hurries away after that.
"Okay, folks," Mason says, "new threat profile. Listen up."