IC 6 - Hamburg - Day 3

skullandscythe 2019-02-10 22:50:11
"We-" Blake takes a gulp of surprisingly fresh air. "There were two people - a man and a woman, or maybe two men? I don't know if there is anyone else, but you have to be careful! They have guns - held us prisoner -" Blake manages to choke back a sob. "oh God - they threatened to kill us if we stepped out of line!"
Gatac 2019-02-11 16:49:07
"It's going to be okay," the firefighter reassures Blake and lets her look sweep over the rest of the sorry-looking team. "It's all going to be okay. Just make your way outside. The medics will check you out."

As she waves you past, she keys the transmit button on her radio. "Central, we have a report of armed suspects in the K Group vault."
"Copy," a voice replies from the radio's speaker. Even as he speaks, police officers in coyote tan protective gear push in, their MP5s slung to the side. "MEK standing by."
"We'll take point, you follow and advise on possible fire risks," the police team leader(?) tells her.
"If there are still people down there -" the firefighter begins.
"- we'll find them," the cop cuts her off. He gives the team a probing look from underneath his balaclava but he's got a different problem set to work now, so he takes the lead in guiding a mixed team of cops and firefighters down the stairs.

And then...then you're outside. No sign of Section 9. "Over here!" one of the medics waves to you. "Come on, sit down, catch your breaths."
punkey 2019-02-11 21:18:06
Mason nods to the firefighter, takes Alira's hand and walks towards the medics with the rest of the group. "Meet up at the observation post in 10," he hisses, then breaks off with Alira as they hit the curb towards the van and Laith, around the corner.
"Hey!" the medic calls after them. "Hey! Take it easy!" Seeing that neither Mason nor Alira are collapsing on the sidewalk from the smoke inhalation or exertion, however, he sticks to waving them off and shaking his head. He's got three other patients to look at and besides, getting IDs would be the job of the cops, if there were any standing around.
"You all right?" Mason whispers.
"Fine," Alira tells him.

As they hurry down the sidewalk, Laith's van pulls up in front of them and Alira pulls the side door open. Lucy gives a satisfied little whine from the passenger seat as you climb into the back. "About time!" Laith comments. "Everything go okay in there?"
"Fractal was there," Mason says, digging into their equipment for a brace of firearms. "Where's your signal blocker box?"
"Blue bag," Laith says. "Relationship status: complicated?"
Mason finds a stash of pistols and a C8 carbine in the equipment stash. "Playing both sides with international terrorists is a first-date no-no," he replies, stripping the upper off the carbine so the whole shebang plus ammo and mags fits in a backpack.
"It's broad daylight, Masie," Alira says.
"That's what the backpack is for, Lira," Mason says with a smirk. He gives Alira a kiss on the cheek. "You got your little PDW?"
Alira grabs the gun from another box and does a quick chamber check. "We're good. Now go on. You're holding up the courier service."
"Where *are* we going?" Laith asks.
"The hangar," Alira says.
"Yes'm," Laith replies. "You gonna be good on exfil," he asks Mason, "or do you need another pickup later?"
"Hopefully not," Mason says. "Drives and bags in the quiet bin, go straight to the CIA hangar and wait for us. Tell me this thing has an IR flasher for the stop lights."
"It doesn't, but the signals here wouldn't react to it anyway," Laith says. "We'll be going the speed limit."
"Then eyes up," Mason says. "We embarrassed them, hopefully they took the bait but I'm not a guy to bet everything on hope." He slings the pack full of guns on his shoulder and takes Alira's hand. "Love you. Be safe."
"Come here," Alira says, pulling Mason in for a kiss. "There. That's a goodbye. Now get your arse moving, Masie."
"Yes, Ma'am," Mason says with a smirk, the slides the door shut before turning away from the front of K Group, walking down the block to their hidden entrance to the observation post.
skullandscythe 2019-02-15 18:20:05
"Thank you, but right now I would really just like to talk to my wife," Blake stutters. "Do you have a phone I could borrow?"

Whether the medic complies or not, Blake seems a bundle of nervous energy, pacing around the front of the building, possibly carrying on a one-sided gut-punch of a conversation; in truth, while he's somewhat tense, Blake is playing up the shell-shock to have a seemly excuse to do some surveillance. If Section 9 - or someone else - is around and something is afoot, now's the time to know.
Gatac 2019-02-15 18:41:24
"Of course," the medic says. He hands over a slightly-beaten old "feature phone" from a pouch dangling from the open back door of the ambulance. You don't know what's scarier - that it's a fomite that could have been touched by all kinds of bodily fluids, or what the medics use to clean it between calls. Either way, you may want to wash your hands afterwards.

(Blake spends Tradecraft!)

The track on them is subtle, Blake has to give them that. Across the normal din of a city street - never mind in the middle of a police raid - the soft whirr of the quadcopter drone's rotors is inaudible. And hovering as it does with the roofs for cover, it's all but invisible, too. Chances are, if you play a game long enough, you start to get used to the rules. Rule was, ten years ago, your worry was Predators. Flown by the good guys over the places where rubble needed bouncing. Not much threat of that in orbit here, not in civilian airspace. But these days, you can pick up cheapo foldable drones the size of a cellphone from any electronics superstore, and a decently powerful quad with a stabilized GoPro for primary sensor runs you as much as a good mountain bike. Blake thinks back to the horror stories from the foreigners who streamed into Syria. Daesh used those as spotters for mortars and Katyusha rocket salvos. Drones were shoot on sight but the better idea was to just yell and run because if you did see one, you were about to be touched by a fire mission.

But this one is just watching you, right now. The only reason Blake sees it because the drone operator never learned the old first rule of cities: everything is a mirror. Especially downtown, where glass facades are everywhere. If Blake had to guess, it's Section 9 - too COTS for Fractal and besides, they have bigger problems right now - but this seems about their speed: make the perimeter easy to slip, then follow you to your safehouse. Obviously they're looking for back-to-back busts of troublemakers on their turf, even after you so thoughtfully gave them the Bulgarian leftovers.
punkey 2019-02-16 21:17:14
Backpack slapping against his shoulder, Mason makes a quick round around the block in the shady back alley, heading for the construction site and the secret perch within. As he goes in, however, one thing becomes obvious: Blake's security measures are gone. Not disabled, not ripped out, it looks like those little hidden sensors have never been there at all. Somebody already sanitized the way in, without setting off the alarms.
Mason slides the backpack behind a half-mounted sheet of drywall, and steps up closer to the perch. "Thunder," he says.
"Afraid I must disappoint," comes a familiar voice from inside - the Fractal recruiter. "Why don't you come in, Major?"
"Love that TV show," Mason says, stepping inside.

The perch looks...like a half-finished construction site. All the work Blake had done to transform it into a disguised surveillance site has been reverted, leaving only the bare structure behind. In the middle stands the recruiter, the only difference from his appearance in Amsterdam being another expensive suit. "We'll be glad to mail you your gear, of course," the recruiter says. "What's your return address?"
"Benefits of working for the US government - just mail it to Langley," Mason replies, hand in his pocket. "Don't tell me you're just here because you're upset about the drives."
"I think we're within our rights to be upset," the recruiter says. "But being that I'm here anyway and that I like to think of myself as having a bit more of a rapport with you, Major, I figured I might try a new strategy." He turns to look at Mason. "How about I tell you what you're going to find on those drives? Straight up, no strings."
"I'd call it a good start," Mason says.

"I figured you might welcome that," the recruiter says. "We've recently become aware that parts of our operational security are not as watertight as we would like them to be. Your fiancé uncovered some information about us that I'm sure she's shared with you by now. Leadership was not amused but some amount of friction loss had to be expected after we came out of hiding. A secret is only safe as long as nobody knows to look for it, isn't it." He pauses. "The far bigger problem is Edil Varajev. Quite aside from the files he was going to provide to Brahmvir Singh, he also came into possession of an unknown contingent of our sensitive files. He used K Group's vault to back them up. Now, that in itself posed the problem that we have no idea how many copies he ultimately stashed in various locations. If we had the files, we could at least try to trace their path and plug our internal leak. Leadership is also not enthused that you now have a copy of those files, too. No doubt you will seek to gain some sort of advantage through them. We haven't given you much reason not to investigate us, after all."
"That's a really sticky situation," Mason says. "Sounds like a rough time to be you guys. Don't know what you think I'm going to do about it, but, you know, that sucks."
"Quite," the recruiter says. "Now. Suppose I make a call to my people that you have, as is reasonable enough, zero intention of handing the data back to us. The response is going to be an immediate sterilization pass on our field ops, erring on the side of caution. I am confident we can render the data largely useless to your investigation before you can decrypt the drive and act on the intel. You'll have done all the breaking and entering for nothing and we'll be out a considerable amount of resources. I'd call that a lose-lose scenario." He looks at Mason. "I imagine you will remain unwilling to turn over the drives themselves because for all you know, I'm lying through my teeth about what's on them. But assuming there is a deal to be made for a copy of the data...we could minimize our loss of assets to the ones that are actually compromised and you would still get at least an afterimage of our operations. So my question is, what do you think it would take to get that kind of deal?"
"I think that we can talk after we scrub the information from a terrorist organization that collects launch codes like baseball cards," Mason says. "And you come clean about what Fractal's interest in all this is. Because it's not just a mole hunt."

"Hmm," the recruiter says. "Tell you what. You and yours get a look at the data. Verify it as you like. If you use it to make a move against one of our assets, we will initiate the shutdown. Might get messy, so I suggest we avoid that. Look, but don't touch. When you're satisfied that I've been truthful with my description of the data, you contact me - you do still have my number, after all. We will hash out the conditions under which you turn a copy of the data over to us. I'll make clear to leadership that a bit more transparency about our agenda should be part of our offer. I should say right now that I can't make any promises, however. The decision is above my paygrade. I hope you understand."
"I'm pretty sure you know I'm in a similar situation," Mason replies. "If what you have in there is a counter-intel threat..."
"Well, I'm pretty sure that when they came up with the term 'information warfare', they didn't mean to import the concept of mutually assured destruction into it," the recruiter muses. "Anyway, I should get going. I assume you'll want to make sure the site here is as clean as it looks."

"I'll make some calls," Mason says - and extends his hand to shake. "Talk to you soon."
"I look forward to it," the recruiter says, giving Mason's hand a shake. The recruiter's hand feels impossibly smooth against Mason's fingers. Still made of flesh, but without any wrinkles or lines - and not like they were sanded or burned off, but like he was born without any ridges or wrinkles on his hand. Mason's not sure it'd even leave anything that might pass for a fingerprint. "Be seeing you." He makes for the door.
"Be by the phone, I'll be calling soon," Mason replies, watching him go. When he hears the stairwell door slam closed, he retrieves the bag of guns and starts sweeping the room while he waits for everyone else to show up.
Gatac 2019-02-18 19:03:48
(Blake spends Urban Survival!)

Blake plays it all - the phone call to a concerned wife, we're alright, give Junior a kiss from me - while he plans out his moves. Neither cops nor firefighters emerge from the vault while the medic checks you out, finding - predictably enough - no significant health issues. From there, it gets a bit awkward. You're not really supposed to leave the crime scene but somehow Operations sweet-talks the medic, look we're just gonna go grab a coffee around the corner, here's my card, tell the cops to call us and we'll be right back. Reasonably, right? By the time the medic has second thoughts about it, you've disappeared into the side streets, giving Blake the new challenge of tracking the drone trailing them without giving away that he knows it's there. So, into an actual café it is, then - Blake picks one out after he spots the fortuitous gaggle of mid-50s suburban bikers park their rides in front of it. Plus, it's mostly free-standing with a nice Biergarten around it, so the drone won't get too close. In you go, head for the bar after them, hey those are some sweet hogs, I'm restoring a KR myself but those BMWs are nice, too. Oh, no way, you're heading out to the bike meet at the Stadtpark, too? Mind if we ride with you and take a couple pictures there with you? Beers are on us!

Twenty minutes later, a convoy of bikers - some curiously underdressed, others sporting leather jackets not quite their size and riding tailgunner with others - sets off to haul ass North. Even if the drone was close enough to ID you in the gaggle, it couldn't possibly keep up with you - and as Blake notes with some satisfaction, there's no vehicle-based tail, either.

Looks like you just made some friends in low places.


Mason's just about done giving the perch its last one-over when he gets a message from Alira.

Got this from a blocked number. Signed 'You Know Who'. What'd you do, Masie?

And attached is a PDF file with a scan from some sort of paper document. Kind of a PITA to read on the small display of the burner, but Mason's got good eyes, doesn't he?


WILDCHILD Rehabilitation Program

Problem Set

A severely constrained candidate pool for effective field operatives necessitates careful and judicious deployment. However, by their nature, kinetic engagements are unpredictable. The risks faced in the field cannot be adequately controlled for in advance. Raising survival rates for operatives has been achieved through investment in improved body armor and collaboration with armed forces in efficient and quick field medical procedures. However, no significant increase in deployable status has resulted as survivors still sustain various impairments both physical and psychological in nature. Traumatic brain injury in particular is difficult to treat comprehensively but strongly correlated with program washout.

Program Goal

Stabilize and rehabilitate operatives presenting with physical and psychological maladies linked to light-to-medium severity TBI.

Key Technologies

Autonomously regulated electrostimulation, targeted hypnotherapy, PALE RAINBOW

Project Stages

Block I WILDCHILD study group included twelve volunteers. After implantation of electrode net, individual tuning and complementary conventional therapies, 9 subjects showed strong improvements in a variety of cognitive tasks, particularly memorization, concentration and logical reasoning. 3 subjects showed lesser but still significant improvements.

Block II WILDCHILD study group included 8 volunteers from Block I's "high outcome" group. Additional measures taken included upgrades to control hardware, regular dosing with nootropic medication and introduction of adverse environmental factors to testing to encourage adaptive response. 2 subjects reacted negatively to the enhanced regimen. 4 subjects saw no further improvements to cognitive function but were retained at Block II level for long-term study.

Block III WILDCHILD proceeded with single volunteer from Block II's "high outcome" group. Subject was implanted with a PALE RAINBOW array and additional electrodes. Further, subject was exposed to a six-step regimen of hypnotherapy to study memetic injection theory.


Block I "low outcome" subjects report stable levels of cognitive function. Though unsuitable for field operations, they have been retained as advisors and analysts. One "high outcome" subject was found noncompliant with rehabilitation protocol and was eliminated from the program.

Block II "low outcome" subjects were retrialed for stabilization at Block I levels. Adverse reactions resulted in both cases, leading to deactivation of WILDCHILD hardware. Cognitive function declined to pre-program levels. "Medium outcome" subjects are being retained. Of the two "high outcome" subjects, Subject Bravo experienced phases of greatly enhanced cognitive abilities (several standard deviations above baseline; see Appendix D) but developed severe instabilities of self-regulation. Condition appears otherwise stable even after withdrawing further WILDCHILD treatment. Subject Bravo remains in medical custody while treatment alternatives are explored.

Block III cannot be evaluated at this time due to the low number of subjects exposed to the regimen. The single subject - Kilo - attained cognitive abilities comparable to Bravo and remained stable under effects of WILDCHILD. Memetic injection appears successful as Kilo can accurately recount information that was not made available to the subject consciously. Codephrase responses are as programmed. Subject Kilo is cleared for restricted field duty in a trial capacity. Further observation of long-term effects continues.


Mason's just about done scanning the documents when there's more footsteps coming up the stairs. After a sign-countersign exchange that actually works out, in walk Blake, Operations and Tim.

"Great job with the cleanup, Mason," Operations remarks. "Like we were never here. Now we just gotta do the apartment and then we're home free." She pauses as she eyes the phone. "What were you looking at?" she asks.
punkey 2019-02-18 20:30:25
Between the recruiter's hand, the freakishly perfect match for Loewe that Fractal just happened to have lying around, and now the CIA did something else to Operations' head...Mason's got a very strong sense that something deeply fucking weird is going on. Hell, come to think of it, they've never seen deSilva's face, either. And now all of this... Mason doesn't like being in the dark or outgunned, and right now he's feeling like both are true. His gut tells him to close that gap and do it as fast as possible.

But now isn't the time. Getting out of Hamburg without getting arrested remains priority 1 - and besides, whatever Operations knows about what's been done to her, he doubts "by the way, we mentally programmed you with hypnosis and wires in your brain" was part of the post-operative care briefing. She deserves to know, but not here, not now.
"We'll talk about it on the plane," Mason says, sticking the phone in his pocket. "As for this, Fractal came through and cleaned it - I think they're mad that we beat them to the punch." He shrugged. "I told their contact guy to mail it to Langley - but the main thing is that they want a crack at what's in those drives. Apparently, RoI got their hands on insider info from Fractal, and they want to see what it is for their counter-intel ops. Their proposal is they get a look at the data after we go over the drives, and we get a look at what they know about Renewal of Islam. Only condition is we don't make any moves against what we see about Fractal on the drives. I told him I can't make promises based on what I can't see and that it's not my show." He nods to Operations. "It's yours. What do you think?"
"I think that's a call above my paygrade," Operations says. "Doesn't mean I won't make it. But let's go through that data first." She looks around. "If that's all, let's do the apartment and then get the hell out of Europe."
Gatac 2019-02-19 18:55:09
Said and done - you make tracks and many hands make light work at the safe-apartment. Your illegal subletting ends a only two days after it began with every surface spoiled for forensics and the customary "Yo, we cool, right?" crate of Holsten Pils left for whoever might next enter. After that, it's on to the airport for what could - should - be a straightforward exit.

(Blake's Sense Trouble = (5)+9 = 14)

Blake spots it first, being that he's driving and has the side mirrors to work with. That drone is back on their tail. Patently impossible. This is starting to turn into more of an Exeunt, pursued by a bear type situation. Blake puts his hand on the gear lever but finds Operations' hand on top of it before he can downshift and put the pedal to the metal.

"Drive casual," she says. "We'll sort it at the hangar."


(Mason Sense Trouble = (4)+8 = 12
Tim's Sense Trouble = (4)+5 = 9)

Indeed, as you keep going, the futility of trying to outrun the drone becomes more and more obvious. Mason makes at least two undercover pursuit cars hanging back on the Autobahn behind you, while Tim sees right through the airport security uniforms outside the hangar - those aren't rent-a-cops, they're cops, period. Inside the hangar, you find the following situation:

  • A folding table and chairs, where Laith and Alira are already seated.
  • Mandy Wiesner and Jadwiga Kozlowski, both very conspicuously wearing their Europol IDs on lanyards. Standing with them is Luc - and he's wearing a Europol ID, too. Well, shit.
  • CIA Deputy Director Marsh and Hoi Yan Ng, his analyst shadow.

As you leave the ride behind, Operations takes in the scene.

"You better have a damn good explanation for the shit you just pulled," Wiesner growls.
"Director Marsh," Operations says, ignoring Wiesner. "I assume you being here means Agent Wiesner was advised of our whereabouts?"
"Yep," Marsh says. "Sign of good faith. We're all on the same team here, after all."
"Your team has been rampaging through our jurisdiction!" Wiesner barks at him. "I should arrest them all right now."
Marsh does not need to raise his voice, only his eyebrow. "Pursuant to SOFA US-Germany -"
"That is bullshit and you know it!" Wiesner protests.
"Now, Agent Wiesner, hold your horses," Marsh tells her. "I don't know about you, but I'm dying to hear what our operatives have to say about their efforts. I hear they helped you stop some terrorists."
"Did we ever," Operations weighs in, then turns to you. "That's what I call a showdown, boys. Let's put some cards on the table and see what's what."
punkey 2019-02-19 19:12:41
"How's the Imam doing?" Mason asks. "With two attempted terror attacks under his belt in less than a week, he seemed the type to start singing like a little bird once you showed up on his doorstep with all that evidence from the warehouse."
Gatac 2019-02-19 19:15:46
"...he's being interviewed," Wiesner says.
"Since yesterday?" Operations pokes.
"There's a lot to discuss," Wiesner says.
"And I assume he's willing to give testimony as long as you keep him secure from the Prince's men?" Operations says.
"...I can't comment on that," Wiesner says. Behind her, Luc gives you a subtle nod.
punkey 2019-02-20 20:12:24
Mason snaps his fingers a couple times. "Babe, what was the name of that kid we stopped at that concert last night?"
"I don't know," Alira says. "We never did get any follow-up from the police after we handed him off."
"Sven Zimmerman," Jadwiga pipes up. "His father used to a be a police officer. He bought the pistol for target shooting. No priors on little Sven. My guess? He had a private score to settle."
"Ah, so you know about it," Mason says. "That was us too, you're welcome. That puts us at three shootings stopped, but who's counting at this point."
Gatac 2019-02-20 20:25:30
Wiesner looks just about ready to explode at this point. "Nobody's counting!" she snarls. "I don't care if you saved Christmas, you did it while breaking about a dozen different laws and against my specific instructions. I gave you people every chance to cooperate with us."
"On your terms," Operations cuts in.
"Of course on my terms!" Wiesner says. "This is my town!"
"Now look here," Marsh weighs in. "I appreciate that this was all a little messy and that things could have gone smoother. I am sorry it went down this way, and rest assured that we're not going to trouble you again. But as far as SOFA is concerned, these are matters between my agency and its operatives. If you want to take it up with State, then that's well within your rights. But I tend to look at the bright side of things. We did achieve quite a lot here, together. That's how I'd like to part here. Besides...wo gehobelt wird, da fallen Späne."
"Oh, I think we will take it up with your State Department," Wiesner fires back.

She stomps off, Jadwiga in tow, stopping in front of Operations. As stares fly, Operations breaks eye contact and reaches a hand for her temples, but to Wiesner's credit, she leaves it at that and vacates the hangar without anything further.

"Why don't you have a seat," Marsh says, eyes on Operations. "It's been a long couple days."
"...yes," Operations says.
"Goes for the rest of you, too," Marsh says. "We'll be having a chat on the plane after we're cleared to depart, but for now...let's leave it at 'good job'. Anybody else for coffee?"

(Tim uses Shrink to provoke Marsh to get a trigger phrase used.
Tim's Shrink = (1)+4 = 5)

"So that's an 'ixnay' on the Bulgarian you cut into pieces?" Tim throws into the discussion.
"...what?" Marsh says.
"Maybe we should save that for the plane," Tim says. "I realize that now."
"Operations," Marsh says, "that was not in the engagement parameters."
"I had to do it," Operations counters weakly. "I had to...I couldn't leave...evidence..."
Marsh glares at Operations. "Sundown on the hill," he says.

At this, Operations' head sinks and she becomes both quiet and still.

"The hell you boys been up to?" Marsh demands.
punkey 2019-02-21 01:35:25
Mason clenches a fist and imagines putting it through Marsh's face - but both his gut and Alira's warning glare tells him now's not the right time. "I think you got the rough outline," Mason says through clenched teeth. "Bulgarian mercs interfered, we chased them off. Aside from that, and the break-in at K Group, that's the whole story." He gives the rest of the team "not now I'll explain later" looks between Marsh looking his way. "If you could wake her up, she'd tell you the same thing."
skullandscythe 2019-02-21 02:10:43
Blake's poker face falters a moment, and it doesn't look like he needs much of an explanation. His eyes widen and his face blanches.

Then the poker face settles back in, and it's amazing how placid his smile is as he asks "If you'd like specifics, we'd be happy to share."
Gatac 2019-02-21 06:13:12
"By all means, let's share," Marsh says. He nods to Luc. "Mr. LaGarde, if you'd like to start..."
"Yes," Luc says. "Ve facts of ve case are simple. I am a man of many hats. You know I have worked with ve Chinese, then I worked with you, now I must wear ve hat of Europol. I know a few people."
"It's like some fucked up hostage trade," Laith comments. "They get you to debrief about Amsterdam and Hamburg, we get to go."
"In a sense," Luc says. He puffs on the cigarette that seems to have magically appeared in his hands. "Between us girls, I have used ve last few days to observe Section 9. Vere are...irregularities, as I'm sure you have observed."

He nods to Blake, apparently in the know about the tracker that was hastily wired into the car Blake jacked from Xavier.

"Somebody has to investigate - and watch your backs," Luc continues. He drags on the cigarette again. "You will have my call when I know more."
"Thank you for your help," Marsh says.
"And vank you for ve expense account," Luc says. "Au revoir." He starts to walk out, then stops next to Tim. "Oh, and Timothée - bonne chance, mon pauvre ami."

As Luc makes his exit, Tim's look slides over to Marsh.

"Let's continue this conversation on the plane," Marsh says.
"Finally," Laith says, then rises up, grabs his cane and starts for the Wolfhound.
"Ahem, Agent Sy..." Marsh says, getting Laith to stop and look around. "Not that plane. Hoi Yan, can you get the van?"


You are piled unceremoniously into a Ford Transit and ride in silence over the airfield, past the various private hangars and then on to taxiing corridor Lima that takes you way out to the end of Runway 5/23. As you come up toward it, you can already see the C-17 heavy transport aircraft sitting on the corridor, and as you approach closer, you spot a group of operators holding an armed perimeter around it. It's an uncomfortable compromise between "Only airport big enough to accomodate you around here" and "We don't want you near anything civilian", but there it is.

"Wolfhound's being sanitized as we speak," Marsh finally comments. "We'll do our briefing on the Nomad."
"...you brought the field hospital?" Laith comments.
"Damn right I did," Marsh says. "Something's wrong with my team leader in the field. I'm not going to wait until she falls apart. She needs an exam post-haste. And when we've got that sorted," he looks at Tim in particular, "we're going to talk about where you're going."
Gatac 2019-02-21 20:01:54
Out of the van, up the airplane's rear ramp - and through a heavy black curtain that blocks out the sight into the cargo bay. However, there's not much room for cargo in here. Aside from a suspiciously empty "garage" area with tie-downs to fit a single car, every other cubic inch has been put to use for equipment stowage and partitions, with the shielded SKIF visible at the very front through the narrow middle passage that connects everything. You turn in weapons and electronics to a man with steely blue eyes and an operator beard, then brush past weapons storage and the galley to end up in the infirmary. Lurking inside is a young woman in a lab coat, which reads "Dr. Lamm".

"Oh my," Lamm says, taking Operations by the hand and beckoning her to sit down on a fold-out stretcher. Throughout the whole drive, Operations has been quiet, but this cinches it: with the codephrase active, she seems to be capable of nothing more than being led and ordered around. "Oh!" she says as she sees Laith hobble over. "There's a - the chair over there folds out."
"Thanks, I remember," Laith says bluntly.
"Give her a quick once-over," Marsh says. "If everything checks out, take her to the SCIF."
"Uh-huh," Lamm says, giving Marsh the quickest of nods, but her attention is already on Operations. "Oh dear," she adds after the barest glance. "She needs a new regulator."
"Yes, please take care of that," Marsh says. "Everybody else, let's give Dr. Lamm some space to work."
"I'll have to take her up on her offer," Laith says, folding out a jumpseat and plopping himself down. He stares straight up at Marsh. "My leg's really bothering me."
"...suit yourself, Agent Sy," Marsh comments, but lets it go and wordlessly leads you back up the hallway.

You pass a combined shower/toilet/decon cabin, brig, a corner table for maybe four people to sit at a time, ladder up to the upper deck and its sleeping quarters, more tool storage, then finally the single largest segment, the actual SCIF. You wouldn't call it luxurious - it's barely bigger than the one in the back of the Wolfhound - but it'll have to do. In fact, you get the distinct impression that the Nomad is as much "it'll have to do" as could possibly be crammed into the airplane. Marsh waits for you to pile in.

"Ain't this a fine mess," Marsh says. "Hoi Yan, can you get on the drives?"
"Yes, Director," Hoi Yan pipes up and heads off to a terminal at the side of the SCIF. She detaches a section of the wall and folds it out into a chair, which clicks into hardpoints on the floor. Then she swings the terminal out sideways and unfolds a keyboard and touchpad from beneath.
"Well," Marsh says to you, "let's get right to it. You acted in direct violation of orders from all the way up. That's not a good look. You got us results, though. You pissed in a lot of cheerios along the way, but you got us results." He sighs. "I didn't fly all the way out here to shout at anyone. You have final action authority and worrying about politics is my paygrade. The last thing I need is apparatchiki who tuck their tails and run at the first sign of a hard call. But it's way past time we had a little chat about where your mission is headed. You didn't want to bring up Fractal with the badge lady, fair enough, but I can't cover your asses if I don't know what's happening out here. So, anybody wanna give me the uncut version? Where are we at?"
Admiral Duck Sauce 2019-02-21 20:07:31
"Sure," Tim nods. Luc's goodbye catches - Poor friend? - but whatever Marsh has, Tim's betting it's not a 'corpse-dumped-after-takeoff' offense. Anything less than that and he'd be fine.
punkey 2019-02-21 20:10:36
"They wanted the drives too, we beat them to the punch," Mason says. "Not much else to say."
Gatac 2019-02-21 20:18:16
"...different question, then," Marsh says. "Somebody tampered with the regulator." His look sweeps past Tim towards Blake. "I reckon you got a peek behind the curtain, so to speak. Your team lead isn't just a run-of-the-mill agent with a funny name. She's one-of-a-kind, the scariest goddamn thing on two legs that I know of. But she's also a goddamn mess held together by several million dollars worth of duct tape and shoestring." He turns to Mason. "You have concerns. Understandable. I have answers and I'm willing to part with a couple. But first I have to know what happened to her. We can't help her if we don't know what went wrong."