IC 3 - Amsterdam - Day 3

Admiral Duck Sauce 2018-02-13 13:37:18
"Shotgun", Tim calls. "Minivan's better for keeping an eye on our friend anyway." He starts sweeping the Mercedes (I'll spend a Notice point to find bugs?).
Gatac 2018-02-13 13:52:58
(Notice Spend!)

Now there's no way to be sure without tearing the whole car apart, but Tim figures a government car is a pretty safe bet on bugs they didn't put in there - and the Dutch have no reason to bug their own people, as the minivan is likely used for support staff, not for guests of any kind. But it is lojacked combined with an OnStar-type system for the convenience and safety of said staff. Fortunately, it's aftermarket - a minute under the dashboard, and Tim's got it disconnected from the ignition in a way that should still fire up.
punkey 2018-02-16 03:42:14
Mason opens the rear lift gate and pops open the compartment that the last row of seats folds into. "Buddy had one like this when he had his second kid - you can store all kinds of shit in them."
Gatac 2018-02-19 14:32:00
(Tim assists Mason's Conceal.)

God bless Mercedes - not only is the floor compartment for the seats big enough to stash van Roemburg - tight, but he's in no condition to complain - but Mason also locates the compartment under the trunk that holds a compact jack, tools and a tire repair kit. With all that junk cleared out, it fits your weapons and KMar suits, too.

(Tim uses Disguise. Blake and Luc piggyback on his result.)

Meanwhile, Tim's been busy breaking into the other cars. Not just to keep his skills sharp, but also to throw together some disguises. An overnight bag here, an "emergency" clean suit jacket stashed there, even a shopping bag - it only takes a minute or two for Tim's expert eye to outfit them with something that looks decent for the three of them. Mason, of course, is in no haste to discard his custom bullet-resistant suit.

Pile into the car. One last check for contraband, then it's out. The minivan's driver side door has the access card needed to get through the garage's exit gate. The chaos outside is nigh perfect: it feels like half of Amsterdam was downtown for the festivities, and now they're all trying to flee on this specific, narrow road. Government plates and the bulk of the minivan do afford a bit of privilege in the molasses-like traffic flow, but you would have been quicker by far to walk out - or swim out, for that matter. But then you wouldn't have van Roemburg with you. As the stop-and-go traffic winds towards the bridge and the police checkpoint set up in front of it, you see your last chance to abandon van and run for it come and go. No way out but through now.

(Mason spends a point of Law.)

A street cop with a ballistic vest and submachine gun waves you forward and motions for you to lower your window.

"Papers, please," he asks in Dutch.
Cool as a cucumber, Mason hands over a bundle of documents from the glove compartment. "Stef Heimans, staff advocaat," he says with a sigh. "And three heroes."
"Heroes?" the cop asks, more interested in looking over the rest of the team than checking papers.
"They used their guns against the terrorists at the palace," Mason explains. "Chief Kruijssen wanted them off the scene before the press could get to them. You know, use of force, investigators have to get their statements, that means I have to babysit them to make sure they don't talk to each other or anyone, really, you know, the last thing we need is more problems regarding this -"

Car horns honk behind you, indicating that you have now exceeded the grace period of blocking the checkpoint. Another cop - this one with more gold on his epaulets but no SMG in hand - approaches to check.

"Any problems?" he asks.
"No, uh," the checkpoint cop says. "Just government business."
"Well, can't keep the government waiting," his boss says. "Get them moving."
"Yes, Sir," the checkpoint cop says. He returns the papers to Mason, then steps back and waves for him to proceed.

#thatfeel when you roll a minivan past a half-dozen cops with a renegade KMar officer under your seats.

As predicted, smooth sailing from there on. You do see a few more armed cops on the streets, but the ones who are paying attention to the traffic at all are those trying to direct it. After fighting for fifteen minutes to go about half a klick, you cross a bridge with the last inner-city gracht and traffic calms to normal-esque European capital levels. A few more minutes after that, things are quiet enough to park in a side alley and relocate into the undisturbed confines of a seasonally-closed travel agency. Blinds are drawn, doors are watched and floorspace is cleared to lay down van Roemburg.

Honest to God, he doesn't look so good. His golden hour is close to running out, and while the bandages on his chest aren't actively leaking, they are seeped through with blood. With a mix of medical supplies from the bunker and the van's first aid kit, you might be able to get van Roemburg conscious enough to answer a question or two, but what he really needs is a hospital, semi-pronto.
Gatac 2018-02-21 09:46:11
(Mason uses Medic to bring van Roemburg back to a semblance of consciousness.)

As Mason and Luc go about rewrapping van Roemburg's injuries, his eyes flutter open and he starts coughing. Luc helps to stabilize his head while Tim pinches a sofa cushion to put under van Roemburg's head. "Hospital?" he asks, groggily.
"Not yet, mon ami," Luc says. "We have questions first."
van Roemburg groans, his eyes flicking from ceiling light to ceiling light. He's conscious, but not exactly firing on all cylinders.
"Who was your contact?" Mason asks.
van Roemburg breathes heavily. Clearly, figuring out that keeping his mouth shut won't help him tasks his brain for a bit, but then he answers. "Tuma," he says. "Asim...Tuma." He coughs. "He doesn't....doesn't know I know his name." Coughs again. "But I had to...had to make sure he was legit."
"What was the mission?" Mason askes.
van Roemburg coughs some more. "Fear," he says. "The explosions...were supposed to create chaos. Then we take the family...the royal family...to guarantee escape." He reaches for Mason's arm. "I never wanted...to kill everyone inside. But a few....a few were...acceptable."

(Tim spends a point of Reassurance to pump van Roemburg for information.)

"Well, one thing's for sure," Tim pipes up, "you did a hell of a job. I can see why they wanted you as their inside man, you got shit done. And you would have gotten away with it, too, if it weren't for us meddling kids."
"Heh," van Roemburg coughs. "You admire the work of a...terrorist?"
"See, that's the thing," Tim says. "I'm sure they'll call you one, but we all know you're a mercenary, not a believer. And speaking as someone who's smuggled a thing or two past the odd security checkpoint...I'm still working out how you pulled it off. Take the bombs for example. You didn't exactly got those in with the catering truck, did you?"
"Not during the big event," van Roemburg explains. "Two months ago, as part of the renovations in the upper levels. The powerlines up there are too old for heavy construction, so they got special authorization for generators and portable heaters. They smuggled in the parts and assembled the devices up there, where there are no cameras."

Two months ago. Blake's mind reels as he does the math. Before the Russians admitted that the Semtex went missing. Before there was any chatter on the wires. This thing's brewing for a while. No wonder RoI could follow up the Delhi incident so fast here - they've been planning and preparing this all along.

"But the gear was all over the palace," Tim objects.
"We...created a power failure," van Roemburg says. "I knew the contingency patrol routes. While they were fixing things, I positioned everything we would need." He coughs. "And the guns..."
"Tuma provided them," van Roemburg says.
"We should take vem to ve plane," Luc weighs in. "Perhaps ve serial numbers are useful?"
"I only had to acquire some uniforms ," van Roemburg continues. "I had all the time I needed to find out the access codes for the doors."
"You've been busy," Tim says.
"I have been," van Roemburg says, his eyes unfocusing a bit as he sucks in a few deep breaths. "I'm not one of the crazy ones. I knew that...I knew that I was throwing away everything. But they knew about...the people I killed..."

Wait, what?

"Pale Rainbow," van Roemburg says.
"And what's that?" Tim asks.
"You Americans," van Roemburg says, "are not the only ones with dirty secrets. I knew if it became public...nobody would believe my side. I was as good as dead. Might as well...might as well fuck the people who gave the orders, maybe even live a new life somewhere else. But, you see...if you want to hear more about Pale Rainbow...you can't kill me. Maybe we make another deal? You can get me out of prison here, I am sure."
"Tell us now," Luc says. "We could be leaving with you."
"No no no," van Roemburg says. "I mean real deal. Your president makes a phone call to the king. I get pardon and freedom and a house in Montana and protection. Then you can have this secret." He looks to Mason. "How do you say? Look out for Number One."
Mason doesn't respond to van Roemburg's pleas. "What is Renewal of Islam?"
van Roemburg smiles but doesn't answer. He seems to be on the brink of passing out again.
Mason grabs van Roemburg's hand - and pinches a nerve, hard. "Last chance, asshole. What is Renewal of Islam? You choose - going back as someone who kept their mouth shut, or going back with 'snitch' written on your forehead."
Van Roemburg yelps. "I don't know!" he says. "Never heard the name...never heard it before. Tuma was the man. Everything...he arranged everything. He said....he said friends are coming, don't talk to them, just....just get them inside. And I did. His plan. His people."
"Good choice," Mason says, and stands up. "Peanut gallery have anything on Tuma?"
"Was that my cue?" Laith asks on the comms. "Well, he's in the system. Don't have clearance for the file, I'll let Ops wrangle that for you. Oh, by the way, we have a radio intercept. The royal family is safe. Palace is still being evacuated." He pauses. "Okay, and apparently there's gonna be some must-watch TV tonight. The king has announced he'll be giving a live speech in response to the events."
"You have another burner handy?" Mason asks.
"If I had a nickel for every burner in this van," Laith muses. "What's the plan?"
"Pick your least favorite and text Hesselink to meet van Roemburg at the the closest checkpoint to her," Mason replies, and looks back to the Major. "We'll blindfold him and tell him to walk."
"You got it," Laith says. "Also, Mom says to get your butts to the airport." A pause. "Also, she says that if any of you call her Mom you will not live to regret it."
"Can do," Mason says.
Gatac 2018-02-22 13:47:02
True to Mason's word, van Roemburg gets brought back on his feet and encouraged to make his way to a meeting spot where Constable Hesselink and four of her best friends wait to take him in custody. Mason watches from the shadows. Her smile fades a bit as she looks around to search for him and finds nothing. The most exciting 24 hours of her life are over, and although there'll be plenty of debriefings and commendations and so on in the future, you can see the exact moment she realizes that she's not gonna see you again. It's better that way.

Finally on your way back to the airport, Blake asks Tim one more time for the Fractal phone, then dials. Did deSilva(?) even make it out?

"Yes?" she responds as she picks up.
"It's Mr. Navy," Blake says. "You didn't call with a vague-yet-menacing message for us. Me and the boys were worried."
deSilva(?) laughs and immediately winces. "I had...other issues to take care of," she says. "But thank you for your concern."

(Blake spends a point of Explosive Devices as investigative.)

"I hope that includes rethinking your intel sources," Blake says. "Whoever told you how to disarm the device" - don't say 'set you up the bomb' - "gave you the wrong steps to do so. Coincidence? My gut tells me no."
"...that is quite a leap," deSilva(?) says.
"Not hearing a denial," Blake counters.
"What's to deny?" deSilva(?) says. "You're speculating. If I knew beforehand about the bombs and how to disarm them, and if that information was incorrect..."
"Where would that information have come from?" Blake asks. "Hypothetically."
"Hypothetically," deSilva(?) says, "we might have been made aware of materiel going missing from a US test site. And if we had known about that, we may have calculated from RoI's previous actions and the non-appearance of said materiel on the black market that they planned to use it. In such a scenario, we would have considered the most likely modifications to the warhead for RoI's purposes and prepared a disposal strategy taking them into account."
"Which would have been wrong, on account of RoI using a more sophisticated countermeasure suite than your intelligence predicted," Blake says. "Hypothetically, of course."
"Of course," deSilva(?) says.
"Well, less hypothetically," Blake says, "how about a deal? RoI getting its hands on US weapon prototypes is scary - but we can be scary, too. Especially if you give us a name for whoever 'made you aware' of the theft of the warhead control systems. Let the US government do the counter-intelligence work. No need to risk your own assets."
"Tempting," deSilva(?) says. "But above my paygrade. I'll forward your offer to the...appropriate authority. If they accept, they will let you know."
"Is anything ever straightforward with you?" Blake asks.
"Why would it be?" deSilva(?) says. "Goodbye, Mr. Navy. Until next time."

skullandscythe 2018-02-22 15:49:47
Blake scoffs, and passes the burner back to Tim. What follows is a few minutes staring out the window, finger tapping his jaw, before straightening and jotting a few lines in his notebook.

Army always plans
for the last battle, never
the next

in all shapes and sizes
fingered the bedsheet
ghost for the crime
of unoriginality
after the Fact

Until next time: threatening
promise or promising

After putting the little notebook away, Blake shares what he knows: the (nearly botched) bomb defusal, the proposal, deSilva's(?) source, that Fractal has apparently been monitoring RoI and its interests for some time, and, Blake says this apologetically to Tim, that deSilva is probably going to be dogging them for the foreseeable future.
Gatac 2018-02-22 15:51:27
It's a mostly quiet drive back to the airport, and a palpable sense of relief as you pull into the hangar where the Wolfhound is already idling its engines. You find Operations helping Laith with the last few steps onto the plane, with Lucy right behind them. The various empty bags arrayed on a folding table before you tell a clear story: time to empty out your pockets and account for the detritus of the last three days.

As Mason sorts through the various burners used during the mission and prepares to have them put on ice for CIA monitoring after the fact, one of them rings. It's the one he used to stay in contact with Ms. Akkermans. Mason steps to the side and answers it.
"Hello, Jacob," Edil Varajev says on the other end. "That is you, isn't it?"
Mason sighs. "Edil, you caught me at a bad time, I'm just getting on the Metro."
"Really," Varajev says. "That's not your jet on the tarmac I hear in the background?"
"DC's shit tracks, one of these days they'll fix it," Mason replies. "What's up, old buddy?"
"You fucked my whore and used her to steal my things," Varajev says. "That's what's up. But I'm calling to say that you don't need to worry about that anymore, if you ever did. I would have called you earlier to let you know, but I had to find her first. And explain a few things to her."
Mason's expression darkens. "Who'd she call?"
"Her mother, to tell her not to worry," Varajev says. "I don't think she was cut out for the job you dragged her into."
Mason resists the urge to punch the nearest object. "You know what you're fucking around with this time?" he asks. "This isn't arms deals and fucking the Russians. These assholes want nukes in the air, and that won't end well for you either."
"Your concern for my safety is touching, Jacob," Varajev says. "Maybe we're not so different after all. Sentimentality and all that." He pauses. "I didn't kill her, Jacob. It would have accomplished nothing."
"Just making sure you know that I won't just break your ankle this time," Mason says. "And that you know the caliber of asshole you're working with. You think the Russians wouldn't pave Argun smooth on their way to Brussels once that tank was traced to them?"
Varajev laughs on the other end. "And if I see the error of my ways, surrender to you and tell you what I know, you will use it to save the world?" He snorts. "Get with the times, Jacob. You are fighting for an anachronism." Pause. "Your friends must be staring at you by now. I'm sorry, how rude of me to keep you. We'll catch up next time."


"Dumb fuck," Mason says, shaking his head as he disassembles the phone.
"Anything we should know about?" Operations asks, climbing back down the stairs to face Mason.
"Adil found Akkermans," Mason says. "Said he didn't kill her, I tried to fuck with his head a bit, he hung up."
"Fantastic," Operations says. "I'll have someone sent to her last known." She holds up the plastic box with the to-be-secured electronics. "Are you good to go?"
"Never better," Mason replies. His voice indicates he's anything but.
Operations looks at him for a moment. "Final action authority," she says. "Use it wisely, when you have the chance. But right now, get your ass onto my plane and strap in."
"Copy that, boss," Mason says, cracking the phone in half and dropping it in the box on his way to the plane.


Against all odds, taxiing and takeoff is smooth, betraying not a bit of the mess you left for the Dutch to sort through. After the initial climb, Operations gets off the headphones with the cockpit and turns to address you.

"Okay, boys," she says. "Refueling stop in Croughton, then we'll figure out our next moves. Our new friend Greg is handling the local cleanup." She pauses. "Take a breath. You did good. The Dutch government is more than willing to play this close to the vest and wait for the right answers - if we can come up with them, that is." She rises from her seat and makes her way towards the SCIF in the rear. "Let's see what our Hoi Yan dug up on Asim Tuma."


File picture of Asim Tuma

Asim Tuma is one of the more significant personalities to arise from the Syrian civil war, and indeed we have little information about his life prior to the events of the last few years. Tuma first came to our attention as an "account manager" for the Syrian opposition, coordinating money streams and arranging for currency transfers through neutral countries. We believe that Tuma has also played a significant part in several of the armed conflicts spawned by the Arab Spring. However, we cannot substantiate reports that he was also working with ISIL to help them manage their funding, but if he was, the cooperation was only brief, as ISIL officially declared him an "enemy of the faith" two years ago and put out a bounty on his head that has yet to be collected. Since then, Tuma has kept a low profile and stayed on the move, residing temporarily in Paris, Santiago de Chile and Cape Town. His current whereabouts are unknown.

Tuma is described by our sources as affable and intelligent but withdrawn, with a keen interest in international finance. Eyewitness accounts suggest that Tuma suffers from motor tics that may indicate a neuropsychiatric disorder. We can substantiate almost nothing about his private life; in particular, no romantic partners or relatives are known. As far as we can tell, Tuma has no social media presence and avoids modern communication technology, as he prefers to make contact through go-betweens he trusts. If Major van Roemburg's statements are accurate, then Asim Tuma assuming such a direct role in coordinating events in Amsterdam represents a serious shift in his activities. Unfortunately, due to the dearth of information on Tuma, we can only speculate about what might have brought it on.

EYES ONLY: The US state department has had indirect dealings with Asim Tuma, referred to in field reports as BLACKFIN. In these dealings, BLACKFIN portrayed himself as instrumental in arranging for ISIL funding by way of "shadow" banking networks beyond international oversight. A total of $300,000 was paid to BLACKFIN for information on ISIL leaders, which was shared with CIA and used to prepare several strike missions in ISIL territory. Contact was terminated when BLACKFIN offered to sell more in-depth intel on ISIL financing in exchange for $10,000,000, as BLACKFIN's credibility was considered low after the limited success of previous strikes based on his intel. Concern was raised that BLACKFIN may have been found out by his ISIL contacts and forced to act as a honeypot for our field assets. We were also made aware by a secondary source of BLACKFIN attempting to embezzle funds from ISIL, though said secondary source was itself of dubious credibility. The lack of current intel on BLACKFIN/Tuma means we cannot substantiate either possibility.