IC 1 - Amsterdam - Day 1

Gatac 2016-12-04 13:51:37
"Ja," Ms. Akkermans says. "My mouth is sealed. Until tomorrow, 007."

Just when he thinks he's got a moment to himself, though, one of the burners buzzes.

Meet me where Hazel kissed Gus. Bring a hat. -T


Because the park bench from the pivotal kissing scene of 2014's hit teen drama romance (dramance?) movie The Fault in Our Stars is on fucking Google Maps as a tourist attraction, and it's a short walk from where the taxi dropped Tim off while also being a somewhat less short walk from the houseboat, but still far away enough that anyone tracking him by the Fractal phone won't immediately know where they're operating from. Countersurveillance is always a problem - hence the "hat", standing in for a proper change of clothes and a reminder to watch his back - but there's plenty of dark apartments nearby to break into for an undisturbed little talk.

Now Tim just has to hope that Mason secretly likes dramances.


Ducking into a quiet corner of the smoker's terrace of the restaurant, Luc and Blake make the call to Visser.

The phone rings. It keeps ringing. And it rings some more.

Then somebody picks up.

"Wat?" the voice says. "Wie is dit?" (What? Who is this?)

That...doesn't sound like Visser. Whatever Visser sounds like, but Luc and Blake are pretty sure that's not him.

"Praat luider, klootzak!" (Speak up, asshole!)
punkey 2016-12-04 17:29:41
Mason...well, he paid for the movie, but the Indonesian dubbing and company he was with made paying attention difficult. He remembers enough to get the rough area right, and grabs the discreet grey baseball cap from his things before heading out.

When he gets there, the bench in particular is pretty well crowded with 20-something couples, a group Mason very much does not blend in with, so he instead goes for an annoyed local look and drifts around the bench and looks in the storefronts.
Admiral Duck Sauce 2016-12-08 11:27:17
"Looking for anything in particular?" Tim asks Mason. "A new hat, perhaps?" With a deft movement, Tim pops the side door on a shop that hasn't yet opened and heads inside.

"Got a line on the woman who tried to ice me in Delhi. She turned up here claiming to work for something called 'Fractal', and I managed to get her to break protocol and not kill me. Pretty good name, and it's not their first. I tracked down enough intel to believe that 1) Fractal's real and 2) they are capable of interfering. They want Edil's hard drive too, but they're content to use us as the middle man."

Tim takes a second to catch his breath. "And I can't fuck them over on my own. I don't even know if we should be fucking them over, so... here we are."
punkey 2016-12-08 12:14:06
Mason thinks for a moment. "We don't really know what's on that drive - but it's important enough that it's got a hardware key and some bullshit wannabe Illuminati wants their hands on it." He looks out the window. "We should wait until we know what's on the drive - if it's not worth burning the bridge over, I say we hand it over, see what we can learn about this group."
Admiral Duck Sauce 2016-12-14 15:14:50
"Speaking of burning bridges, we read Operations in on this wrinkle? If we're playing ball, better to do it now than after."
punkey 2016-12-15 00:48:41
"Right now, we're just two guys talking," Mason says. "But we'll bring her in before we make a move on Edil's. That's when we'll give it the go-no go."
skullandscythe 2016-12-15 23:02:07
Blake's eyes narrow as the voice on other end cuts through. There's a pregnant pause, then he holds out his open hand - a sign for Luc to pass him the phone.

"Oy. Put your boss on the line," he says in English.
Gatac 2016-12-16 12:14:00
Blake hears a rustling on the other end of the line as the phone apparently takes a bit of a walk.

"Oh, hello?" a voice asks - older. More afraid. "Yes, you speak to Marius Visser, Mr. Carmichael. I was...expecting your call, about the...shipment."

That's Visser. And he's lying his ass off to make it look like this is a legit business call.
skullandscythe 2016-12-22 15:03:47
Blake nods. No telling who's listening in on the call, if Visser is feeling the pressure of the local LEOs.

"Good eve-ning Mr. Visser. Just want to confirm the da-livery, as promised," he drawls. "I trust you can take care of Customs on your end?"
Gatac 2016-12-27 12:50:26
"Yes! Yes," Visser says. "You can pick it up tonight! Come to our office building in the Rhoneweg 34 and we can talk about how to handle customs, and then I will take you to...your shipment. This is the deal, yes?"
MikeS 2016-12-27 13:32:41
Luc motions for Blake to push the 'mute' button.

"'e sounds a bit pressoered, does 'e not? Seems like 'e's suepposed to leur us into a trap. Shall we agree and ven watch ve place?"
skullandscythe 2016-12-31 15:44:07
"Just watch?" Blake looks toward Luc sidelong. "I won't deny he sounds suspicious. Whole damn deal does. But I'm okay with watching only if we take some action soon. Even if it's just calling the police on them."
MikeS 2017-01-01 13:47:07
"Well, of corse we do someving after watching, but we 'ave to start wiv watching, no?" Luc replies.

"We 'ave to pay attention not to get sidetracked too much. I was 'oping my friend would be a bit more useful, and 'e may still be right that this 'elps us, too, but it's starting to smell like the Marseille fish market."
Gatac 2017-01-01 14:12:40
"Very good, Mr. Carmichael," Visser says, still pretending to carry on the conversation. "We meet in the office at 10 tonight." After a moment, he nervously adds "Until then!"

The line goes dead with a click.
skullandscythe 2017-01-02 16:36:04
"Agreed." Blake says, handing the burner back to Luc."We need to read the rest in, anyway. They might be able to drop in and help, if they've wrapped things up on their end already."
Gatac 2017-01-03 11:03:37
A quick check of Tim's burner shows no "delivery" confirmation - perhaps Borge is still too busy being dressed down by the Dane for his lack of caring about obscure keycard readers. With Mason bidding him adieu, Tim spends a few crucial minutes cleaning up behind himself before making his way back to the houseboat - on a different and more circuitous route from Mason, of course, and with appropriate counter-surveillance measures. His uneasy encounter with a faceless woman from an oh-so-mysterious "concerned third party" would make anyone act more careful, and that goes double for Tim.

So Mason's first to the houseboat. With the conversation still in the back of his mind and a few minutes to spare, he grabs his shoulder bag and pulls out a small leather notebook wrapped in a plastic bag, then rifles through it for a business card - no name, just a motto and a letterpressed phone number.

"Fractal, huh?"

(Mason spends a point of Interrogation to reveal something potentially helpful - a point of contact with Silent Leges that he never followed up on before.)



As far as streets in Jakarta go, it's a pretty nice one that Mason is walking down. Three beers past sober, hardly enough to get buzzed - but something about the Op in East Timor is still rattling in his bones, and he's not sure a week of "leave" here will quite fix it. But being mostly sober has its advantages, too: like picking up that he's not walking on this street alone. The tail's not bad, all things considering; good use of concealment, dressed local enough, nothing overtly suspicious. But you don't get to do what Mason does for as long as Mason has done it without trusting your gut, and Mason's gut tells him this dude is following him. Keeping his buzzed whistling going, he turns down the alley before his safe house, on the other end of the should-be-condemned apartment building, and slows his step just enough to let his tail slowly start closing.

In a way, what his tail does is both good and bad tradecraft. It's good tradecraft insofar that he clearly notices something's up when Mason zigs instead of zagging. What's not so good is that he doesn't use this as a sign to abort; instead, he not just keeps following Mason, but even speeds up, making an obvious approach to Mason. Which, when Mason hears the accelerating steps, is when he steps it back up a gear, hustles through the building front doors, snags an old ash tray, and ducks into the stairwell. The tail is just a few seconds behind, but obviously now in a hurry to catch up to Mason - in too much of a hurry to listen to that voice in the back of his head that tells him "THIS IS AN AMBUSH". Well, those who don't listen to the voice in the back of their head get to enjoy their new headache, as Mason jumps the man and whumps him with the ashtray. Lights out!


The headache still rages when the man regains consciousness - now in some basement room, zip-tied to a chair. Very well zip-tied, as his exploratory attempt to free himself proves. He looks up to see Mason standing in a dark corner of the room. "That," he gasps, "that was pretty good, Major."
"You need to take some lessons from the kids by the train station," Mason says. "They can get behind you and razor your bag before you know it...." He flips through the thin wallet he pulled from the man's pocket. "Mr. No Name."
"Well, I wanted to see what you would do when you noticed me," he says. "Obviously, I got a little too caught up in the chase. I assure you, Major, my employer and I have no desire to harm you. Much the opposite, in fact."
"Ah, the job pitch," Mason says.
"Come on now, Major," the man says. "Three men wounded by the Timorese rebels are three too many, especially when you were only there because an oh-so-valuable US ally needed their own less-than-competent people extracted."
"Well, they're gonna have a bad time once they find out the opium they're smuggling tripped and fell in a few bottles of bleach," Mason says. "Bet whoever's paying them for that will be in a shooting sort of mood."
"And when they find you, what then? Who will protect you? Who will take the fight back to them and the people behind their financiers? Do you think your bosses give a damn about the roots of all the unrest they're managing?"
"And you and your friends do?"
"Indeed," the man says. "I'm not here to wax lyrical about ideology or ideals. I think we're both a little too grown-up for that. What I'm offering you is a chance to work with people like you - people who are more interested in actually protecting the world than in playing political games. We're independently-funded, no strings, no hidden agendas. We track down destabilizing elements and we eliminate them. Simple as that."
"Hmph," Mason grunts. "Card's in the wallet?"
"The one you must have found when you searched me," the man says. "One thing you ought to know - try to trace the number, you won't find anything. We'll just have to shut it down, and then that's it. But if you need some time to think this through, feel free to keep it, and call us when you're ready."
"Well, here's the thing," Mason says. "As pretty as the rainbows firing out of your ass are, the good guys don't need to send a spook to tail you and give you an anonymous dead drop number - they send someone with his name on his chest and an office you can call. One of the nice things about Uncle Sam is that they're up front with who you're going after and why - and know that if it all goes tits up or you do something bad, there's courts and Congressional hearings that will come down on you like the fist of God." He takes the knife from Mr. Blank's things and stabs it into the table his personal effects are sitting on. "I'm proud to have my name on the shit that I do. Seems to me that you guys aren't."
"It's not about pride for us," the man says. "We take out the trash. No questions, no courts, no congressional hearings." He smirks. "There's a difference between playing the role of the Good Guys, and actually doing what's right. I think you can appreciate the distinction, Major. And I think you know as well as I do that all those nice things about Uncle Sam you mentioned are only nice when they're not holding you back from getting the job done - like your little side deal here." He shrugs. "Your call."
"For now," Mason says, and eyes the card. "But the Timorese say that about themselves, too." He takes the card and walks for the door. "I figure you can show yourself out."
"Thank you for your time, Major," the man says. "Inter arma enim silent leges."


"Silent leges, Fractal," Mason says, looking at the card. "Because ominous Latin mottos and mysterious names also scream 'we're the good guys'." He taps the card against his fingers, slides it back into his book, and puts it back before grabbing a beer and waiting for Tim to get back. However, a couple minutes into that beer, Luc and Blake make their entrance, and Tim ends up last man aboard, if only by two minutes or so.

With Varayev's mistress seduced, a strange new ally(?) in "Fractal" and a line on something big going down tonight at Visser's office, it seems like it's time for a quick chat.
skullandscythe 2017-01-04 22:10:06
After finding out Tim's not back yet, Blake kills the time by sweeping for bugs, more out of need for something to do than any suspicions on his part. Just nice to know a place is clean before a debrief, too.

When Tim arrives, Blake starts with his news. "We met with Pierre, and got some very useful info, assuming it's all true. Marius Visser, man in charge of the Crips? Might have a job for us. He's pretty worried about the stuff he's pushing coming back to bite him. Wants his latest shipment to disappear in a way that's he's not accountable for. Don't know what it is, but it's apparently worth Varajev's attention - he's going to check up on it in the morning. In person.

"Pierre gave us a number to contact Visser at. We talked, but he was cagey, anxious. Wants to meet us at his office at 10, discuss things further." Blake shakes his head. "Feels like a trap. I mean, yeah, seems cornered, breaking under pressure, but he still seemed too anxious for that, you know?"

Blake takes a deep breath. "I'm still for going. We need more information, and Visser could get us some choice bits. Screwing over Varajev's a nice bonus. But we'll need an exit plan, at least, if things go south."
Admiral Duck Sauce 2017-01-10 12:13:11
"Seems kind of slapdash for a trap," Tim says. "But you met him, if it feels like a trap we shouldn't all go together. Mason and I can come in separate."
punkey 2017-01-12 10:37:13
"Might have a use for all that C4 after all," Mason says. "Making things go away is what we use that for in the Forces."