IC 3 - Amsterdam - Day 3

Admiral Duck Sauce 2017-11-28 13:11:15
"Security's all over Mason - he popped a hostile in the old concert hall. I think that means" - here Tim cranks open the return panel and pours out into the room with Blake and Luc - "We've got time for me to join your little KMar group. It'll make it easier for me to move around back here. Help me roll these guys?"
skullandscythe 2017-11-28 14:28:49
"Happily," Blake replies, and proceeds to do just that.

To Ops, he says "Keep an eye out, I think we just defused someone's main event."
Gatac 2017-11-28 14:39:48
"Funny you should say that," Operations replies. "We've just been given the 'everybody stay calm' speech. They're locking the palace down. As for you, boys...by Fractal's count we're still missing two RoI operatives. Also, speaking of Fractal, we don't have eyes on deSilva. Be careful."

As Operations speaks, Tim already checks the cameras via warphone. No sign of deSilva there, either, but he's only got the live feeds to work with. It ought to be pretty impossible for her to move through any of the public areas without getting recorded, right?

Moments later, Blake receives another message on his comms - and judging from what Tim and Luc are doing, it's a private message for him, not an open channel. "Agent Blake," 'Greg' from the 'home office' says. "It would behoove you to remove the systems board from the device you disabled. That is classified materiel we should not leave behind for the Dutch to stumble over. It could...complicate the narrative."
skullandscythe 2017-11-29 13:41:38
Blake harrumphs, his eyes darting towards the rest of the team...and their non-reactions. Well, yes, I can see that. Question is, how can you see that, 'Greg?'

Blake decides, however, that a confrontation is better suited for later, when the team is no longer in danger of being baked like a goddamn potato. For now, he simply breaks the board into pieces small enough to be put in an ammo pouch. He tells the rest of the team that he wants to have it analyzed, because it's awfully high-tech and they should be able to get a lead from it.
skullandscythe 2017-12-11 11:06:07
Blake also looks for some burners on the mooks, and finds something he wasn't expecting - locked smartphones. Blake takes a little time to see if he can get something off of them. If he can't, he passes them off to one of his teammates - maybe they can find out more about the bombs, or the plan, or their locations.

(Trying Data Recovery/Electronic Surveillance here.)
Gatac 2017-12-14 13:55:34
INFO: found remote device 881.24E.7F5.004 "abjad"
INFO: initiate attack suite...3 attack algorithm(s) available
INFO: run "BluJack v5.9a" (1/3) 27%...58%...94%...100%
WARNING: connection failed. skipping to next attack.
INFO: run "NiceFastConnector Sigma" (2/3) 100%
WARNING: connection failed. skipping to next attack.
INFO: run "Ultrasonic Assistant Hack" (3/3) Siri...Google Assistant...Bixby...Cortana
INFO: Please confirm manually if device has switched to 911 dialer interface Y/N: N
FAILED: Could not auto-hack device "abjad". :(


Undeterred, Tim picks up the recalcitrant device and holds the screen up to the light - there's the telltale smudges of fingers on the display, maybe from tapping in a PIN?

2, 3, 5...but in what combination? And how long is the PIN anyway? Tim swallows hard. It's not like they're getting anywhere with the phone as is, but screw this up often enough and it's probably gonna lock down for good.

2-3-5. The obvious first try, but the phone buzzes in protest.

Think. What do the numbers have in common? 2+3 is 5. They're the first three prime numbers. Pythagoras' Theorem? Tim feels his hands get sweaty.

Oh, shit. Uranium-235? That's an ominous idea, but these guys are obviously playing for keeps. Tim studies the dialer for a moment - U is 8, why isn't that smudged, too? But before he's thought all the way through that, he taps it in.

8-2-3-5. Bzzt! The phone oh-so-helpfully tells him he's got one try remaining.

"Shit," Tim mutters to himself, then looks to Luc and Blake. Luc gamely gives him a smile, but he's a bit too busy making sure the goons don't wake up again. Blake, however, just...breathes?
"You and me," Blake says, motioning for Tim to follow along with Blake's breathing. "Just let it go for a moment," Blake adds.
"Don't know if I can crack this," Tim says.
"Yeah, well," Blake says, "I wasn't sure I could get that drone into the server room. But we got it done, right?"

Tim smiles. We. It feels like Blake's now returning the favor from the day before.

"You got this, Tim," Blake says.
"And if I get it wrong?" Tim asks.
"Then we find another way," Blake says, his voice dead level. "Two possibilities. Either the numbers are meaningful or they're random. If they're random, we weren't ever gonna get it except by blind luck. Fact. But if they're meaningful - there's a connection. And I know you can find it."

Tim looks back at the phone. The U-235 guess felt right, like they're gonna be tricky and use some letters, but -

Wait.

Wait a goddamn minute. Letters.

"Alif, Baa, Jeem, Daal," Tim says. "The abjad."
"I didn't know you vere into Arabic numerology," Luc comments wryly.
"So that's 2-2-5-3," Blake says. Tim hesitates for a moment, but with another nod from Blake, he proceeds to tap it in.

2-2-5-2...Bing!

The PIN pad softly fades away to expose the phone's launcher interface. Tim fights down the urge to punch the air.

Just then, Tim-of-many-phones gets a call on the Fractal line. To nobody's surprise, it's deSilva(?).

"I just made two stragglers moving through the basement," she says. "They're vectoring for the royal family's escape route - and the last blast site. I can take care of them, but I need you to open some doors and clear a path for me. You are in the security system, right?"

(Blake uses Data Recovery!)

As Tim deals with deSilva(?), he hands the phone over to Blake, who quickly taps his way through the phone's settings and apps. It'd be too easy to have proper hardware here for reading the raw data off the SIM and clone the phone's memory, but just knowing where to look helps - he gets on the comms and rattles off the IMEI to Laith for an intercept protocol, then quickly browses the phone for messages, pictures...anything. And bingo - there's a picture of a service door on the third floor, plus several SMS messages with four-digit door codes. Blake can already eliminate one as having been used to get them backstage from the press area to begin with, and dollars to donuts one of the others opens this door, and that leads to a place where the central chimney can be accessed. Now they've already taken care of one bomb, and there's the devil's easy logic in assuming that it was the device intended for the chimney, but at the end of the day the only way to be sure is to make sure and check it out in person.

"Vey are coming," Luc cautions to the sounds of a security team closing in from a hallway. Not particularly wanting to stick around for explaining the scene, you take your leave of the situation and proceed towards the next stairwell. Destination: third floor, maintenance door - let's hope there's no prize behind it...

---

It's a bit awkward that the security team leads Mason through the hole in the door made by the Frenchman's breaching charge, but it does seem the shorter way to the security office. Mason doesn't fail to notice that everyone's still on edge, though, with hands on newly reholstered guns and heads on a swivel for any further surprises. The team lead guides them down a hallway, around a bend and then to the palace's central stairwell, which has its own security locks via RFID keycards. Descending to the second floor puts the group square into security country, with another checkpoint just outside the stairwell. Guns are turned in, Mason is again searched (far more thoroughly this time) and finally led off down another hallway, this one almost industrial-looking with harsh fluorescent lighting. Second door to the right puts him into an "interview" room that could be straight out of NYPD Blue if not for the Dutch signage and the slightly more comfortable chair. The zipties are removed, and while Mason still rubs his wrists, an older man enters, clad in the tell-tale suit of the security forces.

"I am Kruijssen," he introduces himself in serviceable English. "I lead the security at the palace." He tries to project an air of ease, but still sits down quickly opposite Mason. "Do you want a coffee?"
"Bottle of water, if you got it," Mason says.

Kruijssen nods, then presses a button on the intercom/recording device set up in the middle of the table. "Mareike, a bottle of water for our guest, please," he says in Dutch, then turns back to Mason. "So," he continues in English. "You have something to say?"
"You're welcome," Mason replies.
Kruijssen takes a moment to parse Mason's meaning, then bears a pained smile. "So this was a...favor, to us?" he asks. "I tell you what I know. Two men penetrate my security under false pretenses. One is dead, with a few American bullets in him. The other orders a water and tells me to thank him. You see, I hope, why I am a bit...irritated."
"Yeah, I mean, I would be too if five terrorists infiltrated the palace and almost blew up half the building under my watch," Mason replies.
Kruijssen's eyebrows furrow. "Who are you?" he asks.
"Just another rude American tourist," Mason replies.
Kruijssen leans back. "Good, Mr. Tourist," he says. "Five terrorists, you say. I assume the man you shoot is one. That leaves four, yes?"
"Two pairs of men pretending to be KMar officers," Mason says.

At this moment, the door opens, and a woman in her mid-40s enters, wearing a security team suit. Her face tells Mason that it's a tough hustle no matter what country you serve, but she hands him the bottle with a kind of "Crazy day, huh?" smirk on her face.

"Thank you, Mareike," Kruijssen says. "Could you also please tell the Major that I want to see him right away?"
"Yes," she says, then walks out again.
"We will find them," Kruijssen explains to Mason. "If you have further vital information, I will be grateful. If this is all you can say to me, well, then we will let the people with the bigger paychecks sort out the rest, yes?"

Mason slightly twists the cap - just enough to see if it's still sealed - and gives the bottle an experimental squeeze. The cap barely moves, clearly still attached to the plastic crown underneath, and the bottle doesn't yield to the squeeze, either - it's still under pressure and hasn't been punctured.

Mason cracks the bottle and smiles. "Not like I have much of a choice."
Kruijssen nods. "I assume you want to know what happened to Constable Hesselink?" he says.
"Hospital, visit from the King, some kind of medal?" Mason says.
"I cannot foresee her future," the man says. "What I mean is that she is treated in our...little hospital, here. The other man's bullets hit her in the right leg. The doctor says that she is very likely to fully recover." He rises. "I assume she will want to hear that you are safe in our custody."

Mason doesn't say anything, just takes a drink from his water. Just as Kruijssen is about to leave the room, the door opens again, with an angry-looking younger man in KMar dress regalia stepping inside.

"Oh, Major," Kruijssen says, but the Major doesn't look at him.
"Give me the room," he says. "I need to speak to Agent Heimans."
"...what?" Kruijssen says.
"Just get out," the Major adds. The chief complies, though he does give the Major some stinkeye over being ordered around in his area of responsibility. After he's out, the Major slams a sheet of paper on the table - a server log, of Constable Hesselink's abortive attempt to search the government records for a "Stef Heimans". Obviously, just killing the search from her terminal didn't erase the digital footprints she had already left. "Care to explain yourself?" the Major barks.
"Not really," Mason replies.
"I don't know what you told Hesselink to get her so turned around," the Major says. "All I know is you're a foreign agent conducting criminal operations on Dutch soil while pretending to work for our government. And until I get a damn good explanation of who you are and what you're doing here, you're not leaving this damn room, is that clear?"
"Saving lives, mostly," Mason replies. "You get the results back on that warehouse explosion yet?"
The Major fumes for a moment. "And what exactly do you have to do with that?"
"Well, you didn't want that tank drone rampaging through Remembrance Day," Mason says.
"You blew it up," the Major says.
"No, I heard it was some incompetent guards that played around with something they really shouldn't have," Mason replies.
"I see," the Major says. "Well, you seem to hear about a lot of things. Like terrorists walking around in KMar uniforms. Four of them, right?"
"Yeah, heard something about that," Mason says.
"Can you ID them?" the Major asks.
"I assume they're tied up and unconscious by now," Mason replies.
"Two," the Major says, holding up two fingers in response. "Where are the others?"
Mason shrugs. "Wouldn't know. Just saying what I've heard."
"I see," the Major says. He straightens up, then speaks into a sleeve mic in Dutch. "All units, set condition black. Perimeter seal is in effect. Prepare the package for emergency extraction." He turns back to Mason. "Don't drink it too quickly," he says. "Might be a while before anyone here has time to bring you another bottle."
Mason smirks. "Good line. Practice it in the mirror before you came in?"

The Major doesn't dignify that with a response. Instead, he leaves the room, slamming the door closed behind him. Mason leans back in the chair and smirks, raising the bottle towards the camera. The camera, immobile as it is, cannot visibly acknowledge Mason's magnanimous gesture, so it just keeps up its vaguely electronic buzz.