IC 3 - Amsterdam - Day 3

Gatac 2017-10-31 04:59:39
deSilva(?) sighs, then pulls out a phone like the one Tim took from her bike and taps a few buttons on it. After a moment, the Fractal phone in Tim's jacket buzzes.

"Those are the logs," she says. "Now, where's the laptop?"
"Off the table," Operations replies.
"Then I guess I'm done handing out freebies," deSilva(?) responds.
"You've tried to play the hardass card before and yet here we are, with you briefing us," Operations says. "What's your angle?"
"My angle is that we're all in the same situation, colibri," deSilva(?) says. "So why not work together?"
"The obvious," Operations says. "I don't trust you."
"You don't control me," deSilva(?) says.
"Same difference," Operations says.
"Well, it's been nice to meet you in person," deSilva(?) says, putting on a fake smile and speaking a little louder as she pulls out her phone again. "I have my next interview in a few minutes. Please excuse me."

After she walks away typing, Operations pinches the bridge of her nose, while the stranger next to her shrugs.

"Smooth," he says.
"Boys," Operations says, "this is Greg, from the...home office."
"How are you now?" Greg says, shaking hands with you.

Tim's Fractal phone buzzes again, with a message from deSilva.

Possible ID on RoE. Quid pro quo: who is in command of local MSS efforts?

Then, Tim's other phone buzzes. No, not the warphone, either.


Posted to Sydney Barstow's tumblr page:

yo #djentledudes check it

(A picture of Sydney and Sandra Nasić on top of a snowy peak, bundled in thick winter clothes with steaming cups of chamomille tea)

this is what happens when you find a stranger in the alps! the #djentledudes abide!

Sandra you are amazing and we are not worthy but were gonna farking try

oh yeah did we mention we are at #BOARDFEST

that came up didnt it

hm how do i put this



missy drummed so hard she sprained her ankle hitting the pedal! #animalstyle

and i scream at you in text because I blew out my voice at the concert, guess im not hardcore enough for the thin air up here :/

but all was good next morning hanging with @GuanoApes

they demolished us on stage and then showed us up on the tracks too :O #boardgame #onfleek #icame

see you dudes in munich #liederhosen

and if we dont get our broke shit fixed missy can sing (so she claims) and i will drum!!! #unstoppable

keep screaming!!!

syd the sorceress


Pistol, radio, two cellphones. Mason's shuffled through security, and after an additional patdown, is allowed to reclaim his gear. As he waits for the remaining security detail to get through the line - something about Pete's belt buckle? - Constable Hesselink makes a cautious approach.

"I can't believe you got me inside," she whispers. "What now? Where do we start?"
punkey 2017-11-01 01:52:53

Mason starts off by blowing her off with a gentle redirection. "Miss, I'm going to have to ask you to step back." He waits for her to step away, and only once the US delegation has cleared security does he pull out the right burner phone to text Hesselink.

Zero contact means zero contact. Five potential threats. Goal is create incident between two unknown countries. Eyes open, send me what you see, and protect royal family at all costs. Do not engage.
Admiral Duck Sauce 2017-11-01 15:21:28
Tim expertly juggles his mobile devices, putting the logs onto the sandbox where people more technically inclined than him can verify they're not malicious before extracting anything further. Responding to Syd's proclamation will have to wait until he's somewhere a little less well-known, not that his location services are ever on. Finally, Tim texts deSilva? back with the MSS contact, adding, done. now RoI plzkthx
Gatac 2017-11-02 11:59:04
To her credit, Hesselink gets the hint and passes Mason without further attempts at contact. Mason falls in with the rest of the security team, and then the US delegation moves into the palace proper to the "private" ballroom.

As they're going up a stairwell, Mason's burner buzzes with a message from Hesselink.

Royals are getting ready for ceremony. Exiting backstage in five. Nothing suspicious so far.

The private ballroom is a bit smaller than the public hall, but continues the astronomical theme, including a large statue of Atlas holding up a globe over the main stage. The tables inside are already half full, with roving swarms of dignitaries making the rounds.

"Pete, on me," Mace says. "Caroline, waitstaff. Spyboy, check the exits."
"Good luck," Lewis adds, then puts on his business smile and goes to shake some hands.


Pair of roaming KMar operatives, deSilva(?) texts on the Fractal phone. Walked through security door by tailing a guard. Were headed to second floor eastern section.

Well, KMar could indeed be going just about anywhere inside the building, and that disguise comes with a built-in excuse to wear body armor and assault rifles. Still, seems kind of a far-fetched. Plus, if they're moving backstage, it's going to be a bit hard to follow them - physically, at least.

As Tim ponders the matter, Luc - excuse me, André Berie, the political correspondent - joins the group.

"Fashionably late," Operations admonishes him.
"I checked ve toilets," Luc says.
"All of them?" Operations says.
"Vey are a good place to hide," Luc says. "We split up and check ve crowd now?"
Admiral Duck Sauce 2017-11-03 12:20:46
Tim shuffles phones yet again, this time caressing the warphone's unfamiliar touchscreen to open its arsenal of intrusion apps. "Let's see if these codes are worth the price we paid," he quips, loading up the Piggyback Royal Palace Cameras app.
Gatac 2017-11-03 13:00:51
The warphone boots up to an ominously black screen with lots and lots of white text.

DEAD_OS 0.8F - NO RELEASE - Props to SF_Crew and Badboi

This is the good shit
Go forth and hack all the things
There is no try

INFO: "auto_hack" parameter is TRUE.
INFO: console access locked. relaxen and watchen das blinkenlichten.
INFO: scanning for secure network...
INFO: traffic capture...35% - 75% - 100%
SUCCESS: traffic capture complete.
INFO: initiate attack suite...7 attack algorithm(s) available.
INFO: run "BLK_5e" (1/7)...13% - 46% - 87% - 100%
WARNING: "BLK_5e" failed to determine salt. Skipping to next attack.
INFO: run "VCT_00" (2/7)...34% - 69% - 100%
WARNING: "VCT_00" failed to determine salt. Skipping to next attack.
INFO: run "TJE_44" (3/7)...12% - 16% - 24 % - 37% - 49% - 56 % - 64% - 71 % - 79% - 85% - 92 % - 98% - 100%
SUCCESS: "TJE_44" detected salt. proceeding to attack phase.
INFO: compiling rainbow table...
INFO: hash attack...54% - 100%
SUCCESS: hash collision found.
INFO: authenticating...
SUCCESS: authenticated.
INFO: mapping system...be patient :)
SUCCESS: detected [143] camera(s) [26] lock(s) [5] alarm circuit(s)
INFO: "wirecut" parameter is TRUE.
INFO: seizing external connection...
WARNING: external connection could not be seized. proceed with caution.
INFO: "fox" parameter is TRUE.
INFO: collating network map with device outputs...
SUCCESS: one-touch proximity activation has been configured.
SUCCESS: system infiltration complete. happy hacking!

The screen then turns into a couple of tiles with various hacking tools - Tim taps the "AR" tile, then surreptitiously aims the phone's camera at a security camera across the hall. As he does so, a reticule around the camera appears on the phone screen, and another tap takes Tim to a live feed from the camera. On both views, the phone's software has superimposed the locations of other cameras on the same network, allowing a quick jump between devices. Using the interface, Tim works his way to the second floor east, where he finally catches up to the pair of KMar operatives that deSilva(?) spotted. Well, catches them and then almost immediately loses them again, as one of them fiddles with an old door leading to a storage room. The resolution on the camera isn't good enough to spot whether that was an original key or a copy, though. The two go inside and close the door behind them. There's no other way out of that room, but there's no camera looking inside, either.
skullandscythe 2017-11-03 13:15:37
"Pleased to meet you, Greg," Blake greets with a shake. "If I may, ah, what is it that you do for Milady?"

Greg nods, and only pauses for a second. "Well, my job requires me to be many things, but primarily, Milady makes waves, as I'm sure you've noticed. My job is to keep those waves...manageable."

A leash, Blake interprets as he gives Greg a little grin. "Not a small job." Grin disappears. "Especially in volatile situations."

Greg's humor also evaporates as he puts on his game face too. "I can assist you, but-"

"-Only within the limits of your job," Blake finishes. "That'll do."

Blake's reaction to DeSilva's(?) aid(?) is limited to raising one eyebrow. "Yes, and an ideal cover. There's also their escape route to run down. I think I can narrow down where they've tucked their 'key' away..."

(Architecture point spend!)
Thanks to previous study of the floorplans for the palace - sensible mission prep, really - Blake quickly mentally pinpoints three likely spots for demolition charges.
"There's the chimney running the entire height of the palace in the center. It's no longer in use and grated to prevent anyone climbing between levels, and it's sealed over. A bomb blast inside would probably blow out the structure of it and collapse it, bringing part of the upper floors down. The arch of the roof is another possibility - all that marble coming down would crush anything in between it and the ground, especially if the upper floors are already weak. Lastly, the wine cellar - while not structurally critical, it's where I'd bet the location of the escape passage is."
Admiral Duck Sauce 2017-11-03 13:15:59
Tim tips his imaginary hat to the Badboi before puzzling out where the storage room is inside the palace. "I got a better plan than 'check the crowd', but it's backstage. Two KMar guys in a storage room with no camera vis. I'm gonna go find out what they're up to."

With the warphone's camera access, Tim figures he can skulk somewhere with ventilation access to the secure portion of the palace. Then he'll have to play hide and seek. Tim's good at hide and seek, especially when he knows where the seekers are looking.
skullandscythe 2017-11-03 13:25:32
Blake frowns. "Be careful. That might be where they're hiding the 'key.' Or worse, 'keys' plural."

Blake turns to Luc. "I'm thinking we really need to get backstage passes, regardless. What do you say to grabbing some KMar gear?"
Gatac 2017-11-03 13:56:44
"If we can find it," Luc says. "Do you vink we can look ve part, however?"
skullandscythe 2017-11-06 22:36:17
"Well...not close up, no," Blake concedes. "But we should pass muster with the cameras. For the guards...well, we may have to do some quick talking. Or just avoid them in the first place.

"But, hey, if you've got a better idea, by all means."
Gatac 2017-11-20 14:39:41
(Mason spends a point of Notice as he walks the private ballroom.)

After a walk through the room, Mason's got faces, gear and probable nationalities on about two dozen bodyguards in the room - nothing that pings his bullshit alarm, though there is quite the visual spectrum from overpaid bouncers to valets who happen to know Krav Maga. Taking after the radio chatter, Mason takes the opportunity to check out the KMar operatives in the room, all of whom look like they're legit. HOWEVER, Mason does notice a guy in a suit in a corner who seems to be blind-texting on a flip-phone. One, not a part of any dignitary's entourage. Two, cut of the suit does match the people who Mason's pegged as palace security from the checkpoint earlier. Three, flip-phone, really? Mason's look keeps sweeping - don't want to be caught staring - and it seems the suit doesn't notice the scan. Mason can see him close the phone and then walk away to a backstage door, covertly dumping the phone into a trash bin on the way.

Mason waits an appropriate 15-20 seconds, then cruises on by and plucks the phone off the top of the discarded hors d'oeuvre plates. Nonchalantly, he cruises into a hallway and ducks into a quiet corner. Unfortunate food touches aside, the phone appears almost pristine, insofar as cheap flipphones have ever been pristine. However, on closer inspection, it's missing the back cover and battery as well as its SIM card. Covert Ops 101, but impressive sleight of hand that the Suit was able to do this without obviously manhandling the phone.

(Mason's test vs Preparedness to have Laith waiting in a van outside.)

The call to the van goes through after a few seconds, with Laith's unmistakable chipper tone at the other end. "Dominic's Pizza, we bake 24/7. Can I take your order?"
"Yeah, I want an extra large pepperoni with a side order of a SMS dump from this cell phone," Mason says, sending an image of the manufacturer ID sticker inside the burner phone.
"Gotcha," Laith says. "I'll have it for you in a few minutes. Enjoy the party."

After Laith signs off for the moment, Mason finds himself with company - one of the dignitary escorts approaches with a smile.

"Excuse me," he says, with that I'm-so-embarrassed-to-have-any-accent-whatsoever Nordic English sound - Mason's got him pegged for part of the Swedish delegation. "Do you know where the toilets are?"
"Sure," Mason says, gesturing with his thumb behind him. "Just down the hallway."
"Oh", the Swede says. "Have you been here before?"
"No, there's just a sign," Mason replies with a smirk.
"Hmm," the Swede says. "Did you see anything else I should know?"
The Swede's smile lessens a bit. "I saw you at the trash can."
"Squirrelly French-looking guy dropped this," Mason says. "Pulled the SIM, though, so if you want a paperweight..."
The remains of the Swede's smile disappear. "I think we should continue this conversation with security."
"Whose, yours or ours?"
"Our hosts, naturally," the Swede says. "I think everyone would appreciate it if we both calmly walk to the security team and inform them of what's going on. I'm sure we can clear things up then."
"Why don't we just call them to the ballroom floor so neither of us leaves our posts?" Mason asks, keeping his polite smile as he reaches for the door back to the ballroom.
"That is acceptable," the Swede says. "Please go ahead, and would you do me a favor and keep your hands where I can see them."
"Thought you Swedes were supposed to be nice," Mason says as he heads back on the ballroom floor. "Mind paging palace security? Got a bogey to share."
"Oh, I am being very nice," the Swede says.

Back in the ballroom, the Swede flags down one of the wandering palace security suits while Caroline - appropriately suspicious of his new company - falls in a few paces behind Mason, keeping a two-pace distance as the others congregate in a quieter corner.

"Yes, what is the problem?" security guy asks.
"This phone was discarded in a trash bin," the Swede explains. "My...colleague from the American team found it. If you could please inform your director of the situation?"
The palace guard looks both Mason and the Swede over, then gets on his earpiece in Dutch. "Number 017 from Saturn area. We have a suspicious device discovered by guests. Please send a team." He turns back to you. "We will take care of it," he says. "Can you give me any other information on how you found this?"
"Black hair, nice suit," Mason said. "Looked French. Went down that hallway." Mason nods towards the hallway the mystery guest went down.
"That hallway is not open," the security guard says. "Are you quite sure this is where he went?"
"Considering I saw him go in there, you might want to check your locks," Mason replies.
"Yes, thank you for your observation," the security guard says, then gets back on the earpiece. "Number 017, I need a camera check on Saturn-Eduard." A moment passes, and the guard's expression darkens. "Understood." He turns back to Mason and the Swede. "We will take all further precautions and determine necessary measures. For now, please return to your posts and be ready to follow all instructions from our security team." He holds out his hand to Mason. "The device, please," he says.
"Knock yourselves out," Mason says, handing it over.

The guard nods as the takes the phone, then wanders to one of the doors, where two more guards arrive just in the nick of time. He hands over the phone to them - dropped straight into a shiny foil bag - and gives them a terse briefing, then the two disappear the way they came, presumably headed backstage to examine the phone.
"I'll inform Mace," Caroline says, then walks off, leaving Mason alone with the Swede.
"Good catch," the Swede says, but makes no attempt to leave Mason alone.
Mason ignores him and pulls out his burner for Hesselink. Alert - thinning black hair, French appearance, unshaven, nice black suit
"Shouldn't you be briefing your colleagues right now?" the Swede asks, having grown - if anything - more suspicious of Mason.
"Just did," Mason replies. "Shouldn't you be?"
The Swede snorts. "I'm watching you," he says, but seeing how Mason isn't betraying anything, he finally turns away and wanders off, though not without throwing a glare over his shoulder.
I will look, Hesselink finally replies, just as Laith gets back on the comms.
"Okay, I got something," Laith says. "The phone was connected since I got here, but there were no calls coming or going in that time. I only captured one message, five minutes ago. It goes 640621. Does that mean anything you?"
"Sounds like a pass code," Mason replies. He looks over to that door the mystery man went through - there's a keypad next to it. "Shit. Laith, door, northeast corner of the ballroom. What does it lead to?"
"Secure backstage, nothing critical in the immediate area," Laith says. "Storage for stage equipment, storage for chairs and tables, art storage...I mean, you could in theory get just about anywhere in the palace, but there's a second layer of security around the royal quarters."
"Royals are in the fucking backstage," Mason hisses.
"With their bodyguards," Laith says.
"This is Ops," Operations cuts in on the channel. "What's the play, Mason?"
"Guide me to Hesselink's phone, now," Mason says, hustling across the floor towards the secured door, punching in the code. "Turn on the mic and camera, tell me what you can see."

Caroline was just explaining what happened to a stone-faced Mace when she clocks Mason, Oscar Miking across the ballroom with intent in his eyes. She falls in behind him, trailed by the similarly engaged Swede. As Mason reaches the secure door, Caroline hisses through gritted teeth "What the hell do you -", but by the time the Swede is almost close enough to look grimly smug at having ferreted out a threat, Mason has finished punching in the code - and the door opens.

"What the fuck?" Caroline says.
"Stop right there," the Swede says, his right hand obviously reaching - not a quick draw, but a clear enough sign of "I'm going to draw on you in about five seconds if I don't like what happens next".
"Mystery guest is backstage with the royals," Mason says. "I'd save your bullets for him, honestly." With that, he pushes the door open. "Guide me. What do you see?"
"Stop, or I will -" the Swede begins, but Caroline's made up her mind much faster; she turns to block his way and has her hand on her own gun. "Oh, just try me, Pippi Longstockings," she growls.

"Straight, then right," Laith says as the security door falls closed behind Mason. In all the hurry, there's still a chance to glance upwards at a security camera - and it doesn't have the same red blinking light as the others around the palace. Probably the slight problem the security guard was informed about on the radio. "Careful, you're coming up on -" Laith warns. Mason ducks behind a corner and peeks ahead. The hallway beyond is brightly lit, unlike the rather dim "backstage" corridors with the storage rooms, and the trim's better, too. These are obviously the royal quarters. Two men in palace guard suits, but with thick ballistic vests and one-point slings rocking H&K MP7 PDWs stand guard on either side of the (armored) door. "Hesselink's moving again," Laith says. "Third floor now - how the hell did she get up there? You know how to pick 'em, Mason. Any sign of our mystery man?"
"Not unless he turned to vapor," Mason replies. "You got her mic and camera yet?"
"Trying, but there's a ton of network traffic," Laith says. "She's stopped moving, at least. Okay, new plan, back up to the last intersection, get the second door on the left. Art storage is a gallery with a stairway all the way to the third. Door should be locked, but I'm sure you can manage."
"While you do that, we need everything and I mean everything you can remember about the man," Operations cuts in again. "Your description's the only chance we have of IDing him."
"Thinning black hair, French face, unshaved speckled facial hair," Mason says. He stops before the door, thinks for a moment, then just delivers a boot to the flimsy interior door right at the lock.

(Mason uses Athletics to kick the door open.)

The door splinters first, but finally yields to the second kick. As Mason enters, the room is lit only by the emergency exit lights, casting vague shapes and shadows around. But Mason's hand stops just shy of the light switch - that quiet beat is not just blood rushing through his head. It's another breath. There's somebody else in the room with him...


Blessedly unaware of Mason's encounter with what may very well be one of ROI's quote-unquote "five" operatives inside the palace, Tim hurries to find his own way into the magical land of "backstage" in pursuit of two probable targets. He's pointedly not thinking about the fact that even if he does catch up with them it'd put him in a room with two heavily-armed terrorists while the most dangerous thing he's packing is his haircut. But hey, that's a Future Tim problem, and who said anything about a fair fight anyway.

Tim feigns a stumble into one of the bathrooms, easily slipping into a particularly moany and sweaty performance of "Oh, I shouldn't have had that curry!". It clears the bathroom right quick, but Tim's trajectory to one of the stalls has more to it than simply play-acting a rush for the porcelain: there's an air vent cover in the ceiling just above. Tim climbs the toilet, then starts wedging open the cover. Locked, of course, and this would be a breeze if he had his tools, but as is...

(Tim's Infiltration to get into the vents undetected fails by 1, so complication ahoy!)

...as is, a bit of necessary roughness gets the cover to spring open. Tim heaves himself up into the vent and immediately starts sweating for real - suits aren't really made for squeezing through tight spaces like that. Using his complete command of contortionism, Tim tries to pull the vent cover closed behind him, but then it swings open again - looks like his quick and dirty opener busted the locking latch. Tim grunts in frustration but there's nothing to it but shimmying forward and hoping that it doesn't get discovered too quickly.

Fortunately, after a few meters of this, the newer metal vent opens up into a void behind the brickwork, pulling double duty as a cable chute. Is that up to code? Well, the king of the Netherlands can probably get a variance approved. Using the warphone's tracking access to the security cams, Tim half crouch-walks, half climbs through the voids, mantling up a vertical shaft to the second floor ceiling, then crawls on a bit further. Sweaty, dirty and a bit bruised, he finally arrives at the little side gallery room where the cameras lost the pair of KMar operatives.

...who, as Tim can see through the vent grate beneath, are huddled over a trolley table. Peeking out from underneath the painfully white starched tablecloth is a whole mess of precisely-shaped brown lumps attached to what looks like a 3D-printed custom metal "skeleton", which is in turn wrapped with wires.


"No, vis is good enough," Luc replies. "I vink I saw a forward post on ve way in."

With Operations's assurance that she'll keep an eye on the crowd with Greg, Luc and Blake retrace their way inside back to the entrance, finding the little side cloakroom that has been taken over by KMar as staging area. Luc maneuvers them into a little side corridor, then assesses the situation vis a vis getting gear from a room full of KMar.

"Tricky," Luc opines.

(Blake spends Chemistry to improvise a stink bomb.)

Blake doesn't opine; he's got a plastic bag with a half dozen choices off the tapas buffet, napkins, rubber bands and a few complimentary matchbooks.

"You checked the bathrooms?" Blake asks.
"Yes," Luc says.
"Okay," Blake says. "Go search the drains. I need hair."

Luc's burgeoning protests are silenced when he sees Blake quickly assemble something with the matches - clearly, the American has a plan, and Luc's done worse than fish hair from drains. A few minutes later, he returns to find Blake almost done with his little bundle of joy. Wordlessly, Luc hands over the hair and Blake bunches it into the middle of his contraption. Using one final match to light it, Blake cradles the bundle in his hands, marches toward the cloakroom's vent exit and quickly deposits the package, retreating out of sight afterwards.

The bundle doesn't burn. It does however smolder pretty good, and within a minute, the door to the cloakroom opens and the first KMar guy walks out trying to rub the burn out of his eyes. Not far behind him are his colleagues, some of whom look very green around the gills. Following them is a cloud of thin smoke - Blake's little package doesn't quite trip the "OMG there's a fire in the building!" threshold but it does smell like a dying industrial fan had a dinner date with a shredded Norwegian rat - at least that's how it smells when Luc and Blake enter the cloakroom by slipping behind the backs of the coughing and tear-blinded former inhabitants. Why, hello there, KMar uniforms, tactical vests and automatic carbines - don't mind if we do! Steeling themselves for stealing, Blake and Luc quickly do the Agent 47 thing and throw on hasty disguises taken from the back of the stacks to make the missing gear less obvious, then vamoose before the real KMar return.

As they hurry to reach the doors to the stairwell the faux KMar agents used, their comms come back to life with Operations on the line.

"Blake, Lagarde, you have to step on it," Operations says. "Mason's already backstage and Barstow has eyes on some real bad news." To prove the point, she forwards a quick snap of the faux KMar operatives laboring over the device to Blake's burner.

That's a lotta Semtex.
skullandscythe 2017-11-20 15:20:15
"Well, fuck," Blake opines as he pushes the door open. He doesn't run, but his stride is more of a power-walk. "Luc, you won't happen to have any stun grenades handy, would you? We're going to want them."
MikeS 2017-11-20 18:13:47
"You mean vese?" Luc asks as he hands over an M-84, holding up a second for Blake to see.

"Looked useful. I took two. Vere are earplugs in the vest pockets, too."
Gatac 2017-11-25 14:32:33
Those are, indeed, the ones Blake means. Terse smiles. Never have a fair fight when you can have an unfair one.

With a little help from Tim's phone disrupting the locks on the way, Blake and Luc make their way upstairs to the second floor, retracing the steps of the two faux KMar operators who are currently hunched over the trolley table bomb...thing. On one hand, they've now got automatic carbines, so push comes to shove they could just hose down the room with bullets - but then they'd get security running their way, and fake or not, bodies in KMar uniforms is not gonna play well. Plus, you know, the big boom in the middle of the room might have a severe lead allergy. Safer to do this up close and personal.

Blake stacks up on one side of the door while Luc readies a flashbang. Silent countdown by hand signs...three, two, one...Blake rips the door open and Luc tosses the diversionary device inside. Slam door closed, listen for the WHUMP, then the duo busts in. Both FauxMar operators are still on their feet, a little rattled, but Blake and Luc push forward through the white smoke and dust of the combustion byproducts to keep the initiative and take this up close and personal.

Luc's got his rifle unslung - take the "fire" out of "firearm", you've still got an arm, and a pretty big metal-and-polymer club at that - and bullrushes in on the closest enemy. If you've only seen Luc from his civilized side, the sheer ferocity of his charge might throw you (if the charge itself doesn't already); he slams into the FauxMar operator like a 300-pound linebacker, his shoulder punching the air out of the man's lungs, while his rifle goes low and hooks an ankle in the crook of its buttstock. One spinning yank later, the FauxMar guy hits the ground and bounces the back of his head off the marble; as if that deal needed further sealing, Luc snaps the rifle in his hands up, then rams the butt into the downed man's face. WHAM! Whatever this dude's plans were for the rest of the day, they just got cancelled with prejudice, as he'll be lucky to be conscious for his arrest.

Just a step behind Luc, Blake breaks from the door’s cover and dashes at the closest FakeMar operative. The FalseFlag man is still alert, but the ringing in his ears might be slowing him down – he can’t get his firearm up in time to draw a bead on Blake before the ex-SEAL is on top of him. Forearm meets stock, knocking the gun away. FauxMan sees the strike to the groin coming, however, and twists so that he takes the blow to his leg instead. Blake’s already bringing his leg up for a vicious knee to the gut, and ends up hitting the man as he twists, connecting with the well-padded side and not the celiac plexus like he was hoping.

When the fake KMar operative punches Blake in the face, well…that was a mistake. Blake’s arms blur – one grabs the offending fist at the wrist and pulls it away, forcing the man to come closer or risk hyperextension. The other comes up, elbow jutting out, as Blake takes one step into the man’s space even as the man himself stumbles towards Blake.

Elbow, meet Skull. Skull, meet Elbow.

The man half collapses, barely able to stay standing after his new concussion. He probably would’ve passed out in a couple seconds anyway, but Blake errs on the side of caution and brings his fist around, hitting the base of the back of the skull and sending the man to dreamland before he even hits the floor.

And just like that, the room is clear; Luc gets the door and then snaps up his rifle to make sure, while Blake gets eyes on the device in the middle of the room.

"Tell me something good, boys," Operations sounds in their ears.


Mason's "not alone in the room" moment deepens as the breathing is augmented by movement. Whoever's in the room with Mason is slowly making their way to the next floor on the spiral stairs, but it's too dark to make them out clearly from where Mason is standing. Not to fret, however, as Mason retrieves a little something extra from one of his suit pockets - an unassuming little flat flashlight. However, this is one of those overdriven LED flashlights your mom always warned you about - it might only have enough juice for five minutes, but oooh-whee they're gonna be five fun minutes. Mason kicks it on, immediately casting harsh shadows over half the gallery, then shines the light at the crouching figure - revealing Constable Hesselink.

"Ah, stop!" she says in Dutch, trying to shield her face with a raised arm. "I'm a cop!"
"Doing a good job sticking with the King's family, Constable," Mason says, moving towards her. "Where's the royal family?"
"Ah," she says, still adjusting to the flash of light. "They've got a half dozen guards. And you told me to follow a guy, remember?" Without waiting for Mason to ask how that is going, Hesselink indicates the way up. "He had a gift bag. I managed to drop my phone in it."
"Not quite what I said, but I'll take it," Mason replies, then taps his earpiece. "Hesselink dropped her phone in the bogey's bag. Do you have the audio yet?"
"Work in progress," Laith says. "Lots of journalists getting their marching orders. Still tracking the position on the third floor, though."
"Third floor," Mason says. "Let's go."
"Yeah," Hesselink says.

Mason leads the way with her falling in behind him. The third floor, then. The first thing Mason notices up there is that it's a bit brighter than the dim backstage hallways below. The corridor itself is quite empty, but as Hesselink explains her path - looping back to a staircase that leads to the backstage "ready room" for security, among other things - Mason notices a door that isn't quite closed, with what looks like a faint hint of actual daylight shining through.

"I got audio for you," Laith finally chimes in.
Mason points at the door, stacking up on the hinge side of the door and motioning for Hesselink to move into position to kick it open from the handle side as Laith speaks up. What's heard via the comms from the phone are footsteps - fast, but not running, and echoing off stone walls.
"Behind that door is the attic, so to speak," Laith says. "Directly underneath the ceiling dome. Used to be a little concert hall, actually." Laith pauses. "Maybe we should vector some backup your way?"
"Wait one," Mason says, then holds up three fingers and starts the countdown.
Hesselink nods to him, then kicks off her fancy shoes and draws her pistol.



Hesselink kicks the door open, and Mason rushes in, eyes trying to scan the vastness of the vaulted space on the search for two things: cover, and hostiles. His training tells him to keep pushing forward to the pair of stone columns flanking the stage, but then he hears it - well, it's too faint to hear it per se, but through the phone via the comms, he can hear the bolt of an automatic snapping closed. Mason doesn't think, just dives and slides with his forward momentum as a burst of suppressed gunfire rips through the air just over him, kicking splinters of marble and sandstone from the wall behind him. His slide takes him behind the closer column, and as he quickly draws his legs behind cover with him, he spares a glance for Hesselink, who - lagging behind Mason - was fortunate enough to duck behind an old sofa. But that's not gonna hold off a lot of bullets, is it? Mason dares to glance past the column to get the lay of the land - if he doesn't miss his guess, the shooter is at the other end of the concert hall, probably in the elevated private box overlooking the hall's floor.

As Mason ponders the situation, Hesselink's phone picks up a bit of rustling, then a voice. "Well, isn't that interesting," the man on the other side says. "I could shoot her...but that would give me away. We may be at an impasse."

Mason scans the hall. Hesselink's in a bad place - right in the middle between the safety of the door they came through and the safety of the other column, and about equally far away from either piece of usable cover. Cover, indeed, is at quite the premium here: plenty of folded wooden chairs and other furniture cloaked under fabric, but nothing that screams "I'm reasonably bulletproof and big enough to hide behind". Small favors, though: it's dark. In fact, there's no artificial lighting in the room at all - it's not even rigged for it, it seems, as the walls bear evidence of removed fixtures. Seems they haven't gotten around to the "rebuilding" part of renovating this space. The middle of the hall is cast in sharp daylight from the glass of a cupola overhead, though, which keeps the rest of the hall a bit shady but manageable.

Mason edges into a standing position, making sure that Hesselink sees him palm his flashlight. "Good setup you got here!" he calls out. "Why don't you and I meet up and have a chat, let the Constable go?"
"Seems to me we're already chatting just fine," the shooter says via the phone. "But thank you for noticing! I had a feeling you'd be fun when I noticed your eyes on my back. You've got a lot of hustle left in you for a man your age." He chuckles for a moment. "You know? I'm feeling generous. Why don't I let you both go? If you hurry and don't sidetrack yourselves with heroics, you might just make it to the exit before we bring the house down."

Mason's eyes shoot about for something to rig the flashlight to - there's a hatrack that's about a foot beyond "just out of reach", but that's too risky, and so Mason eliminates that idea.

As Mason considers his options, Laith chimes in on the comms. "Say the word and I'll spike him."
Mason holds up three fingers again. When Hesselink nods, it hits two, then one. "Hit him."
A loud shriek echoes from the rear of the hall - yep, he's in the elevated box. Hesselink starts motoring for the only other column in the hall.
Mason hits the elevated box with the tightest beam the flashlight makes as he moves in the opposite direction of Hesselink - he doesn't pause at the stacks of chairs, instead opting to keep moving for the box. "Cover me!" Mason shouts, tossing the flashlight as he crosses into the other half of the hall and firing a couple shots at the box.
Hesselink throws in a few more shots from her pistol; the answer to all this is blindfired shots from the box at her column. Suppressed, subsonic, too weedy for a .300 Blackout or the like - 9 millimeter? But not an MP5, he could tell the roller-delay action - straight blowback? Maybe a UMP. As Mason's mind puts together the threat profile, he hears Hesselink shout "Kloot!" between the gunfire.

Fun Dutch Fact. "Kloot!" means "Fuck!". Isn't learning about other cultures fun?

Mason keeps running. There's nothing he can do for Hesselink that'd matter as much as taking the threat out. He finally hits the rear of the hall and rushes up the left set of stairs as the shooter and Hesselink exchange further potshots at each other, neither seeming to claim the upper hand. The little hallway behind the box seats is almost too dark to see through; Mason only notices the glint of a metal chain lock on a door to the left (presumably leading elsewhere in the palace) and the bit of daylight through the open door to the right leading into the royal family's private box. "Security's on the move on our floor, Mason," Operations says via the comms. "No announcements yet, but they know something's up."

Mason's too busy to reply; he slows to a very quick careful creep down the hallway and pauses at the door to the box. Just gotta wait for the Frenchman to fire again and be distracted. As the clack-clack-clack of another burst sounds, Mason slides up to the open doorway and leans out just enough to take the shot. When he does so, he spots the shooter - it's the Frenchman, slinging a suppressed Brügger & Thomet APC9. Just as Mason aims the shot, the Frenchman slides back down behind the box's marble for cover - and spots Mason. However, Mason's still first to the trigger...

Mason's shot is true; turns out that even when wearing a ballistic vest, like the Frenchman clearly is now, the shoulder straps tend to be less bulletproof than the strike plates. There goes the Frenchman's golf game. He immediately brings up the gun with his other arm and sprays bullets at the doorway just as Mason ducks back behind cover.

"Backup is on the way!" Mason shouts in French. "Smart play is drop the gun before I ruin your dancing too!"
"You want to play?" the Frenchman replies in English. "Don't you know this whole place is gonna come down? Why aren't you running away already?"
"Fuck you!" Hesselink shouts from her position down in the hall.
"Do you want to die here today?" Mason asks, continuing in French. "If not, we're your only way out of here."
"Is that so?" the Frenchman replies. "You sure about that?"

He fires a few more bullets through the doorway.

"We have backup on the way," Mason replies. "And you didn't have much room for spare ammo in that suit."
"Do you think I just pulled this out of my pocket?" the Frenchman counters.
As the banter continues, Laith gets on the comms again. "Security's coming," he says. "Just stall him a bit longer."

Mason's getting a bad feeling about this. The shooter's boxed in, security is coming, there's no way out of the box other than the doorway or jumping the balustrade down to the main hall, where Hesselink's waiting for her shot...but the Frenchman's not backing down. What's wrong with this picture? As Mason ponders that, the Frenchman sends another burst of bullets through the door. He's got to be almost dry on his current mag. Mason grabs a bit of fallen decor and wings it around the corner at the Frenchman, then waits for the bullets to stop abruptly before charging in. That they do in short order, so Mason storms in and sinks a shot into the Frenchman's neck, which is met only with the empty click of an empty chamber on the Frenchman's side. He drops the SMG into its sling and holds his neck wound with his free hand, the color draining from his face as he stumbles back and finally tumbles over the balustrade, hitting the hall's floor below with a wet thud.

Mason's just about to catch his breath when a blast wave from behind sucks it right from his mouth and pushes him against the marble of the box's walls. Looks like the Frenchman's exit strategy has come into play about ten seconds too late - via a breaching charge opening the locked door to the rest of the palace. Through the disorientation of the blast, Mason can faintly hear the shouts of security shouting from below, having come in the same way Hesselink and he did.

Mason stumbles towards the open end of the box, leaning over the same balustrade. "IS HE DEAD?" Mason shouts far too loudly in Dutch. The comes in the form of more shouting. Mason's vision swims a little as he watches guys in nice-but-not-NOICE suits with hastily-donned ballistic vests and pistols run the length of the concert hall, converging on his position. Mason puts his hands up, watching to make sure Hesselink does the same before getting to his knees. "All right, all right, calm down," Mason says in Dutch. "I'm with the US protection detail and she is with the Royal detail."

It's the usual routine - gun confiscated, hands ziptied behind the back, then a cursory assessment for injuries. Fortunately for Mason, the worst he's taken is a little nosebleed from the blastwave, but as they raise him to his feet, he does note two things: one, Hesselink's sitting against the column she was taking cover behind while the security guys are crouched over her leg, which does seem to sport a bleeding wound - the shooter got lucky, it seems - and two, in a quiet corner of the box lies the shooter's bag, containing not only a few more mags but also what looks like a bit of climbing gear and more prepared explosives. Looks like he was gonna scale the dome from the inside and install those demo charges Blake worries could have brought the roof down.

"How is Constable Hesselink?" Mason asks.
"She is going to be okay," one of the security guys says. "Now, come on, cowboy."
"And our friend?" Mason asks.
One of the security guys leans over the balustrade. "He is...not so okay."
"Couldn't happen to a nicer guy," Mason says as he's lead out of the room.
MikeS 2017-11-26 01:12:36
"Two guests who couldn't 'andle ve punch," Luc says into the comms. "Blake is examining ve gifts vey brought."

While Blake busies himself with the device, Luc kicks the guns out of reach, does quick pat-downs to remove additional weapons and ammo, and then wraps them up with zip ties he finds in the KMar vests.

Stepping back and admiring his handywork, he says to Blake: "Per'aps we should add a card to ve package, just to make sure KMar doesn't vink vese are veirs. 'Ow is your end coming along?"

skullandscythe 2017-11-26 09:20:03
Ignoring Ops for now, Blake wipes his sweaty hands on his pant legs. Mama would tan his hide for that, especially because the pants aren't his, but fuck it. This bomb is going to be tricky.

PCB mini-computer, radio control module - FUCK, those wires do NOT connect with the blasting caps, they look like sensors. No, the wires themselves are sensors! That's overkill! And...familiar. Hmm. Wait...if you tilt your head a bit...holy shit.

This is the core of an XM-430 Future Joint Attack Munition - well, the prototype systems board presented as proof of concept last year at the Groom Lake technology review event. Sure, it's been rewired to a new explosives payload, but the board layout is the same, as is the chipset, as Blake squints to read the serial number. The extra wires are sensors, indeed - but they're not for mercury switches or the like, but accelerometers, intended to measures forces on the device after weapons release from a strike aircraft so it can optimize its dispersal pattern. Down here on the ground, though, they're all but useless - as is the device itself, were it not for the radio chip wired in and obviously soldered onto the board to bypass the system's control mechanism with a simple "go boom now yes" impulse. Blake removes the wiring, and in an immediate pucker factor moment, the device powers on - but only to blink an error sequence, telling Blake that the arming mechanism has been disabled due to lack of authentication signal from the weapons system bus.

He takes a couple deep breaths, staring, waiting for the other shoe to drop. When it doesn't, at least for a few more seconds, Blake suddenly realizes Luc was just talking to him, and was probably waiting on a reply.

"What?" is his intelligent response. "Oh, uh, it's disarmed now. Yes, it definitely is," he says much more confidently as Luc responds skeptically at first. "Just a lot more complex than I was expecting. Cutting edge tech.

"For our 'friends' here, you can take their pics and send them to a cloud storage site Laith and I set up. It'll run facial recognition, and if these guys are mercs, we'll get more than a few hits on them. We can leave some of that dirt behind. Unless Barstow has a better idea.

"Actually, Barstow, can you get us eyes, see if security is headed this way?"
Admiral Duck Sauce 2017-11-27 15:59:01
"One sec," Tim responds from the ventilation shaft overhead. Speaking of ventilation, Tim tries to calm his heart and breathe slowly as his shaking fingers dance on the warphone. Bomb Disarming Time was not Tim's favorite time.

(are they headed this way?)
Gatac 2017-11-28 10:36:45
Tim's browse of the security cameras confirms that security is indeed on the move, albeit not towards them. They must have a bigger problem - oh, there's a feed from the old concert hall. Tim gets to see Mason sink a few rounds into a man in a suit with a submachine gun, who subsequently takes a tumble. Moments later, security forces converge on him.

That's one way to have a distraction, isn't it?