IC 5 - Hamburg - Day 2

Admiral Duck Sauce 2018-09-20 16:35:45
"Looks like," Tim agrees. "I don't like relying on the elevator - I'd rather tackle the staircase problem."
skullandscythe 2018-09-21 15:47:26
Blake nods. "Safety inspectors may need to inspect a variety of systems due to damage from the ongoing riots...including the emergency stairwell.

"We should also prep for the possibility of throwing down with security and especially the Prizak operative." Blake taps his pencil against the cover of his pocket notebook. "If we can get access to the secure server closet, we could erase the evidence of our passage, and even plant some implicating someone else."
Gatac 2018-09-29 14:15:14
Gallerie FreiGeist. Oh boy. Where do we begin?

The only thing that remains of its gilded age manufactory origins are the dull red brick walls, but by golly we're gonna save every fucking last one of those walls and don't you dare touch a single brick, don't you know this is an INDUSTRIEDENKMAL? So the walls are not painted, nothing is attached to them, people even seem afraid to touch them. Accordingly, the whole cabling for the event runs in thick strands suspended from the ceiling, snaking through doorways and branching off down the multitude of hallways. You've heard of cable drops, but this is just ridiculous. The lighting outside the "performance space" consists exclusively of LED spots aplenty, fully half of them shining upwards from the heavy plywood floors. Don't trip over the space heaters, either! The Gallerie does have a full wing of "found art" but only one room of "flat art" (i.e. paintings). Much of the building is "taped off" tonight by rented metal bollards with extending ribbons, airport security style. A wood shack out front sells Guinness, fritz-kola (of course) and bottled water to the waiting crowd, while two food trucks serve kebabs and fish sandwiches, respectively. The trees nearby are hung with lightbulbs and post-ironic miniature disco balls. The waiting crowd looks like mostly walkins off the street, though you do spot a few metalheads in the crowd, wearing ratty black t-shirts with slogans like "Don't Get Mad, Just Shred", plus one dude with a truly ancient "Stratovarius - Sonata Arctica 2000" tour shirt and a beard of roughly the same vintage.

Also relevant, here's tonights armbandology: green is underage admission (no alcohol for you, buster!), yellow is general admission, purple is crew, blue is VIP, black (of course) is the band. As hired-on security, you get your purple all-access armbands in place and head in, wheeling in a heavy case of "sound equipment" with you. Still in the background, you manage to spot Sydney Barstow, the Sorceress herself, negotiating with the Gallerie's manager(?) - a dude with a little beard and a ponytail to go with his no-tie suit - about getting the whole show moved outside to accommodate everyone who's shown up. Negotiations concluded, she hurries backstage for the soundcheck, grabbing a thermos of chamomile tea on the way.

While Tim glances at a sign with a just-legally-distinct silhouette of Scrooge McDuck showing the way to Hans "Dagobert" Baumgarten's exhibition room, Alira nudges Mason.

"I walk the crowd, you go backstage?" she asks. "Feel like you'll stick out less back there."


While the others are off having fun at a concert, Blake has fun by himself with his computer.

Wait, that came out wrong. He's preparing the heist of K Group. Not whatever you were thinking. (Okay, maybe a little bit, those paperclips won't make themselves OR WILL THEY)

Finalizing conjectural floorplans, preparing spoofed RFID chips, going over SIGINT WiFi captures again, that kinda stuff. It's just when he's deep in the zone that the Fractal phone left by Tim activates. It doesn't ring, it just goes straight on, with Valentina deSilva(?)'s voice on the other end.

"Hello, Leonard Blake," she says. "I was waiting for a chance to speak to you alone. Do you have a moment?"
Gatac 2018-10-17 18:13:04
Blake pauses in his work to look up at the ceiling, and take a deep breath through his nose. The ex-SEAL wishes he could be surprised by this, but the only surprise here was the speed which led DeSilva(?) to contact him. Which in itself is very telling.

He responds with only slight exasperation, "You may have one moment. If it does not catch my interest, I'm hanging up." Hopefully, this will discourage more dominance head-games. Blake is done with those right now.
"I assume you're surveilling K Group to go after an item of mutual interest in the vault," deSilva(?) says. "We can deliver the item to you."
"Not interested, thank you," Blake says blandly, and hangs up. He lets out another sigh through his nose and gets back to work.

The phone looks like it might threaten to activate again for a minute or so, but finally the screen turns off automatically. No further attempt is made to call in.


Well, Tim's not gonna let anyone else beat him to see his sister. While Mason and Alira do cool spy discussions, Tim rushes after his sis, deftly weaving through the backstage crowd. The door to her dressing room threatens to fall closed behind her, but he manages to get his foot in just before it does so. One lock he won't have to pick tonight, at least.

"Sydney Raincloud Barstow, what have you done to your clothes?" Tim calls out, taking a swig from a bottled water as he weaves through the barely-controlled chaos. Where did he get the water bottle? Only God knows, and he ain't telling.
Sydney's jaw literally drops as she lays eyes on Tim, there in the flesh at her concert in Hamburg AND HOW THE FRACK - "Timmy!" she shouts, grin spreading over her face as she runs over to hug him. "You're supposed to be saving the world!" She drags him into the dressing room, letting the door fall closed behind them.
Tim returns the hug and immediately knows it was a mistake that started when he picked up the brick outside K Group, and the realization renders him speechless for a long moment. He never threw that brick for WILDCARD, and Tim wonders which side of the police line Operations would be standing in, or Mason, or any of them.
"I see you're doing your part, right?" he responds, sidestepping and hoping Syd doesn't call him on it. "I was here for the protests and you were here and when does that ever happen? I am pumped for this show!"
"That's so great you're here!" Sydney says, continuing the hug. "How the hell have you been? I swear, with that that dodgy internet of yours, you must've been somewhere like, fourth world?"
"I have the worst luck with picking carriers, you know that," Tim says. "One of these days I'll find one that actually has service that matches their map on their site, but whatever, how are you doing with these protests and the cops and all that? Nobody's tried to arrest you yet?"
"Pah, me?" Sydney laughs. "I'm a star, baby. The label pays our fines." Noting Tim's genuine concern, she turns down the persona a notch or two. "Seriously, though, nothing to worry about. We're not cool enough for trouble like that. You know I mean what I say on insta but we're a brand, make baklavas not balaclavas, that whole thing. Besides, someone sprung for extra security tonight. Saw the suit-est suit that ever suit-ed with them. I'm pretty sure everything's gonna be alright." She smiles. "Besides, we've been booked for this gig for months, you said you're here for the protests. Pretty sure you should worry about yourself first."
"If I was worried about myself, I wouldn't be protesting. It's good to see you, Syd. I'll see you out there." Tim hugs his sister again.
"Yeah, let's keep it rock and roll," Sydney says. "You...grab yourself a beer or something, and come out when you hear the feedback. We'll talk after, a'ight?" She hugs him again and kisses him on the cheek. "Ciao!"

And just like that, Hurricane Sydney has left the dressing room. Tim finds a smile creeping over his face. Best stay out of her way now while she works.


Mason slowly picks his way backstairs, motherfuckers set to receive as he scans passing technicians, roadies and quote-unquote event managers for signs of danger. Nothing sticks out so far, so he just notes the various routes of ingress and egress as he passes them and checks the classic hiding spots for stashed weapons. Seems like you're the only ones smuggling guns in, though. Mason's search is interrupted by a loud clatter off to his side.

"Fuck!" a young woman groans, trying to keep on her good left foot while steadying herself against the wall. Her right ankle is tightly wrapped and off the ground, but her crutch is very much on the ground and out of her reach. Must be Missy, if Sydney's tumblr posts are anything to go by. She looks at Mason. "Uh, shit...helfen Sie können?" she tries in broken German.
Mason momentarily weighs to pretend to be German or American, but ultimately decides to keep things simple. "Ich werde das für dich aufheben," he says, bending at the knees to pick up her crutch. "Here you go," he says with a smile and a German accent as he hands it back to her.
"Oh, uh...thanks, dude!" Missy says, grabbing the crutch from him. "Sorry, my German sucks." She laughs a bit. "Hey, uh, can you come with me, actually? I need someone to help me set up my pedals and our roadies seem to be MIA."

Mason looks around to make sure someone's covering this area, or failing that, that there's no way in or out. Only one other way out of this hallway, with a burly-looking German dude with a SECURITY t-shirt standing at the ready there. Looks secure enough.

"Of course," Mason replies with the same kind smile, following her out onto the stage.

The stage is, frankly, a fucking mess. Roadies are setting shit up, other roadies are dismantling shit and carrying it outside, while a newly-arrived Sydney Barstow and a woman with a very secure hold on her electric cello - Carla? - are already deep in discussion.

"But do we have enough power outside?" Carla asks.
"The manager said it's fine, they just need to do another drop and not hang everything on the same cable," Sydney says. "And so what if we blow a breaker? That's fucking rock and roll."
"Syd, we're putting on a show," Carla says. "People paid good money to not see us fuck this up."
"They can have their damn money back if they want it," Sydney says. "Less business, more rawk, yeah? We're not gonna fuck it up."
"Looks a bit like you're fucking up," Missy says, limping towards them. "Hey, where's Mon?"
"Still puking," Sydney says. She looks past Missy at Mason. "And hey-o there," she says. "Nice suit. Label flew you in?"
"He's security, silly," Missy says. "This is..." She looks at Mason and laughs. "Ohmygawd, sorry, I didn't get your name."
"Matthäus Maurer, Miss Barstow," Mason replies. "Your brother brought us on."
Sydney looks stunned. "Oh, that bastard," Sydney says. "Fucks off with the Red Cross to God knows where, shows up all casual-like and still wants to big brother me." She sighs. "Well, by all means, stick around, earn your paycheck."
"I asked him to help me with the pedals," Missy says.
"Ohhh, that's a lot of pressure to put on Mr. Maurer," Sydney says. "You know what you're getting into, right? If they're a millimeter off, she'll rip off your head and shit down your neck."
"Syd!" Missy protests. "Come on. Play nice."
Sydney laughs. "Just kidding!" she adds. "Now come on, get your shit outside. We're supposed to be sound-checking already."

Mason keeps up the polite "yes ma'am that's very funny ma'am" play while taking the chance to be up on the stage to survey the whole crowd.

(Mason spends a point of Notice.)

As chaotic as the stage inside looked, the stage outside is like watching Noah and family hammering together the ark as the water comes to their ankles. They may sing no songs about roadies in Valhalla, but these guys are really putting in the work, assembling something band-worthy as fast as humanly possible. Sydney draws the cheers from the crowd as she walks out in front, Carla gladly keeping in her shadow even as Syd throws up the horns and swerves closed to the hastily erected barricades to high-five a few lucky fans. As Mason helps Missy along, he spots a familiar face in the crowd: one of Bogomil's remaining men, Mitko Tsvetanov according to Blake's intel - very much not the fighter of their group, so probably here for reconnaissance or support of something else. Mason sees Mitko turn away from the stage and slowly wind his way through the outside crowd towards the Gallerie. Mason's pretty sure Mitko hasn't made him.

"Ein Verdächtiger nähert sich der Gallerie," Mason says into his sleeve.(edited)
"Got him," one of the "real" security guys replies on the channel. Mason spots another dude with a SECURITY t-shirt and short-cropped blond hair step towards Mitko and stop him. There's a brief discussion before Mitko spreads his arms and gets his shit patted down the slow and thorough way.
"Yo, what's up?" Sydney asks from the side. "You're doing that Secret Service thing."
"Just a rowdy drunk," Mason replies. "He is being helped. So, you need assistance with setting up?" He puts the smile back on.
"Missy!" Sydney calls. "Explain your shit to the gentleman."

As Mason helps Missy get situated at her drum kit, another young woman with a buzzcut and one of those "strategic" loose tops designed to show off her bra staggers from backstage towards the stage.

"Yo, Mon!" Sydney calls to her. "You get all the Schnitzel out?"
"Fuck you," Monique replies. "I'm never doing Jaegerbombs with you again."
"I've heard that one before," Sydney says.
"Suspect searched," the security guy radios. "Nothing suspicious on him. You wanna let him in?"
"Ja, lass ihn rein," Mason replies.
As Mitko is let into the building, Mason finishes up nudging the pedals for the drums into the right position. "Thanks, dude!" Missy calls to him, then Mason follows the other roadies as they get off the stage.

Just then, the amps kick on as Monique delivers the first thrums from her bass.
"Okay, djentledudes, you know how this works, it's a sound check, alright?" Sydney says into the microphone. "We wanna make sure you hear us, so gimme a YEAH! when we're loud enough. Come on, Mon, show us what you got!"
Monique speeds up the bassline as someone dials the amps from 8 to 9.
"I could listen to that all night!" Syd says. "Okay, Carla, say cello to the crowd!"
Carla puts the bow to her electric cello and draws it over the strings for one big distorted note, then settles into a rhythm to accompany Monique.
"Ain't that fucking classy!" Sydney shouts. "Missy, come on, show us what you got on the drums!"
Missy does a quick roll over the cymbals.
"Hold on, hold on!" Sydney shouts, and on cue, everybody stops playing. "I'm not hearing it. Are you hearing it?"

The crowd shouts "No!"

"Well, fuck me!" Sydney says. "That all you got, Missy?"

Missy double-taps the bass drum, sending the crowd into a cheer. Sydney grins, then starts laying down the opening notes of "SpinKick!" on her guitar.

"YEAH!" the crowd shouts back.
"Fucking A!" Sydney shouts. "Djent to the End is what we came here to do, Hamburg! We are A Complete Sentence!"
"NO YOU'RE NOT!" the in-crowd shouts back.
"Well, what is?" Sydney shouts.
"WESLEY SNIPES IS!" everybody shouts.
"You're damn right!" Sydney shouts, raises her arm and then sends it thundering across the strings, starting the shred as the others pick up the tempo.


Just then, Alira gets on the internal team comms. "I got nothing in the crowd, Masie," she says. "How's it looking on your end?"
"Where's our Bulgarian friend?" Mason asks.
"Looks like he headed straight to a restroom inside," Alira says. "Couldn't get too close without getting made."
"Can you take the stage?" he asks.
"Yeah, I got it," Alira responds.
"Then I'll go introduce myself," Mason says.
Gatac 2018-11-07 19:03:31
It's about an hour into Blake's solitary vigil at the surveillance perch when there's a subtle vibration from the silent alarm - somebody's entered the building. Blake turns his head to check the hidden cams in the stairwell - it's Operations, and like someone trying to put his mind at ease, she pointedly doesn't dodge any of the cameras. Then again, Blake's developing good cause to be suspicious of people trying to put his mind at ease. In any event, Operations enters Surveillance HQ quietly, puts down a bag near the entrance and then glides through the hung plastic bags/light baffles to join Blake.

"Thought you might want some company," she says, which is blatant as far as excuses go. "How are things?"
Oh, goody. Well, let's get it over with. "Quiet," Blake replies, checking on something or another at the surveillance gear. "Only one new thing to report - deSilva, or whoever they are, called. They're confident we want something from the vault and offered to let us have it after. Turned them down."
"Didn't even ask what little favor they wanted in exchange?" Operations replies, then a smirk forms on her face. "Brash. Didn't figure you for the type."

She lets that hang for a total of half a second.

"Enough pleasantries," she says. "I need someone who can keep a secret. Are you that guy?"

(Blake uses BS Detect!)

Blake's had his loyalty tested in various ways. The whole class stand up, nobody leaves until whoever threw that chalk raises their hand. Whose cookies are those, recruit? Your dad has a shitty credit rating, please explain to the polygraph why this doesn't make you a recruitment target.

You know. The usual.

But this doesn't smell like a "Are you a good little boy scout?" elimination type question they run to trip up your career when there's 10 people and only 9 slots and they gotta wash out someone. No, this is...is Operations actually getting personal? Because the uncomfortable silence after the question certainly makes it seem like she's looking for someone to keep her secret, not some Agency-issue data point.
Blake's scrutiny gives way to a double take. "Uh, sure. What is it?" Blake tries to pass it off as equally awkward, but inside he's a little freaked out.
Operations turns her head to show the left side to Blake, then brushes back her hair. Besides the lacking cosmetic reconstruction of her mangled ear and the scar tissue around it, Blake gets a better look at -

"That's not a hearing aid," she says. "I mean, it is that, but not just that. It keeps me...me. Have you noticed that I've been acting off lately?"

She doesn't wait for an answer.

"Figured you might have, you don't have a useful baseline but you may have noticed that I've seemed more impulsive and...confused," she says. "So I'm thinking, there might be an antenna jostled loose in here. I need you to open it up and check it." She stares straight at Blake. "With me so far?"
"Got the basics," Blake says thoughtfully. The side of him that writes AARs is in full-analyst mode, trying to figure the mechanics, determine the hows and whats while the part of him that writes poetry can only ask why -
But Blake doesn't figure he can get any answers out of Ops . He'll have to figure it out as he goes.

"Okay, then we come to the tricky part," Operations says. "This regulates an electrostimulation implant in my brain. As long as it works...you've got me. You take it off...I can't reliably tell you what happens. I usually drug myself with sleeping pills before I take it off for the night, but sleep isn't an option right now. So we're gonna have to do it while I'm alert and...agitated." She nods back towards the bag she dropped off near the entrance. "For both our peace of mind, I think it's best if I'm not in a condition to try to hurt you or myself. I brought some restraints. Also, even if I don't get violent I might say things. Should be gibberish, but you never know. Hence asking if you can keep secrets."

She looks at Blake.

"So, are you going to help me with this or not?"
"Of course," Blake says, a little less thoughtfully now. He's more focused with the implied threat of violence, and the subtler implication of vulnerability on Ops' part. Not just mental or emotional, but physical. This must be freaking her out.
Blake's assent is quickly tested. Operations grabs the bag and retrieves a set of shackles and chains from it, laying it out on the floor. "Over there should be sturdy," she says, eyeing an uncovered structural beam of the site. "And not to pressure you, but I'd appreciate if we could get this over with quickly."
"Understandable." Blake works on getting everything set up, but carefully - just earlier today, he ambushed someone while they were patting a prisoner down, and the parallels between the scenarios leaves Blake edgy. That, and bondage is not Blake's kink.
Well, this isn't anyone's idea of sexy - Blake can see Operations tense up. Bad memories for sure. After she's secured, she turns her head and shakes back her hair. "It's magnetic," she says. "Might take a bit of doing, but it should pull free." Blake nods, and extracts the device quickly. Operations flinches when the device comes off - feedback from the cochlear implant switching or the electrostim going off pattern? Whatever it is, Blake walks the device over to a table with his tools. Behind him, Operations breathes through clenched teeth.

Blake walks around the bench so he is facing Ops, to better keep an eye on her, and sets to examining the device. He works carefully - slow is smooth and smooth is fast, after all. Operations has her eyes held shut and her hands balled into fists, putting tension on the shackles. Not in any kind of intentional escape & evasion technique, but it's concerning. As Blake pops the shell of the device, he can make out a whisper in her breathing.

(Blake uses Electronic Surveillance to diagnose the fault.)

"He's not here," she says. "He's not here. It's not real. It's past. He's not here."

Blake does not comment, and continues to work carefully. Though concerning, Blake doesn't know if attempting to calm her down will work in this state. Well, it's not the antenna. As Blake examines the small PCB inside to determine if he can lift it and inspect the backside without breaking any soldered spots, Operations does a single clanky pull on the chains.

"You're not here!" she says, louder now. "You're not here! Shut the hell up!"

Blake continues working carefully, but he keeps the opened device close to the bench in case he has to put it down and restrain Ops further. He does not speak. Operations holds her breath, then forcefully breathes out and in.

"The house at the end of the dirt road. A gun in the mailbox. The horses are long gone. Time for sunrise." She keeps repeating it to herself like a mantra.

Good news, though: Blake has found the problem. A bit of the plastic shell has splintered and pushed in between a pair of contacts. Should be able to get it out and put this back together now. With the problem identified, Blake sets about fixing it, removing the bit of shell with the forceps. Afterwards, he does a cursory examination to make sure he didn't miss any other problems before putting everything back together. He continues to keep Ops in his sight line. As the device's shell clicks back together, Operations suddenly loosens up and her breathing shallows out.

"Jessica," she whisper-sings. "Jessica...where are you?"

With the device whole again, there's nothing to focus on to keep Ops' whispers from being real fuckin' creepy. And his preference to avoid interacting with her in this state isn't feasible any more - he needs to secure the device to her head again, and she's not necessarily going to cooperate. Time to get tricky. Blake take the device and one of the tools from the bench and tries to move quietly and surreptitiously around Ops, to get out of her sight line. Blake's movement seems to not be noticed as Operations continues to babble.

"I killed you before I came into the room," she says. "Good boys get two above the ear. Bad boys are in for the whole ride. Could be as much as three days. So do you want to talk or not?"

Blake throws the tool off to the side of the room, taking care to put some oomph behind it. Ops will probably be bad enough without a weapon handy. Hopefully the noise will distract her momentarily so he can get a grip and put the device on her. Ordinarily, he'd trust the restraints - oh, who are you kidding? Blake rarely trusts those. Doubly so with a trained operative. The tool clangs to the ground. Momentary concern about someone outside hearing the noise in what's supposed to be an empty building makes way for relief when Operations snaps her head to look at the source of the sound. Blake uses the distraction to move in and just like Combatives training, he gets her in a headlock that keeps her from making a move.

"This won't help," she says, then he sticks the device on. As he does so, she flinches in his arms again, then seems to shake all over for a bit before the spasms die down again.

"Okay," she says. "I suppose you found and fixed the issue, Blake? If so, you can let me go now."
"Pop quiz," Blake replies. "Repeat after me, in English."
Blake then taps the floor with the toe of his boot four times, scrapes the floor with his boot three times, taps again, scrapes two more times, then taps twice more.
October 25, 2018
"Tap tap tap tap," Operations says, repeating the moves. "Paw, paw, paw, TAP! paw paw, double-tap." With a tired smirk, she adds "Ta-da."
Sense of humor is back. Wonderful. Outside of his head, Blake says "Eh, good enough," and sets about undoing the restraints.

Operations skips the usual "wrist rub" formalities and sets about packing up the restraints. Blake gets the notion that this bag is going to get doused in bleach for DNA removal and then dumped into the trash as soon as possible.

"I was never here and nothing happened," Operations says. Then she smiles, just a bit, just a tiny drop of the guard. "Thank you, Leonard."


Mason makes his way back into the Gallerie past the meandering crowd and the chill-out area where a couple dudes are lighting up the electric lettuce. Cold brick around him dampens the four-minute instrumental of "Ice-Skate Uphill", Carla's Magnum Opus. You can tell it's the start of the concert because there's no line at the men's room yet, though in fairness it's tucked away and there's more convenient portapotties outside. Mason casually sidles up to the askew door, catching a glimpse inside of the walls papered with old yellowing newspapers and exposed pipes. Probably a concerted attempt to maintain a Hantavirus habitat. In the background, the tinkle of a solitary stream hitting the water is heard. Maybe the Bulgarian dude just really needed to pee. Mason carefully opens the door and steps inside. Mitko's perfect brown hair drapes over the shoulders of his leather jacket. He stands at a urinal with his legs slightly spread, relieving himself. Mason's eyes scan the rest of the room - empty stalls, mirror over the sink (singular) but it won't give him away as long as Mitko has his back to the room.

Well, nothing to it. Mason clicks the lock closed, walks up behind Mitko, and slams his head into the wall in front of him. Positives for Mitko: he was just about finished, so he doesn't piss on his sneakers. Also, there's that newspaper article he got his cheek ground into: wow, check it, Blondie's coming to Hamburg (in 1978)! That said, Mason's particular attention is not an enjoyable experience.

"Fuck," Mitko says. "Fucking...fuck."
"We're gonna have a chat," Mason says. "Good answers, you get to be tied to a shitter for the night. Bad answers, I lean your body over one so the blood doesn't stain the floor." He taps his knife on the wall to emphasize the point. "Clear?"
"Fuck..." Mitko says. "Uh, clear!"
"What do you want with Baumgarten?" Mason asks.
"Pay him! Pay him!" Mitko insists. As Mason gives him marginally more room to breathe, he explains. "Fuck, we need...we need new IDs. Baumgarten was our only option. I just want to pay him, get our stuff and then we're out here, man. Whatever's going on here, it's not worth it! We're out, man. We're out."
"What is going on here?" Mason asks. "You assholes don't do shit like this for free. Who are you working for?"
"The Imam fronted the cash!" Mitko says. "Saudi cash, man, you already know that!" He thinks for a moment. "Okay, okay! I snapped up something from Bogomil. You ever hear about Renewal of Islam?" He pauses for effect. "They're pulling the strings! And this whole thing, it's like...it's a trial, for the prince. To see if he can hang with them, or something like that. That's all I fucking know, man, I swear to God!"
Mason thinks for a moment, then pulls out a burner phone. "Call your boss," he says, shoving it in Mitko's hand.
Mitko takes the phone into shaking hands, then keys in the number. He's sweating bullets from the knife close to his face and having his dick out in the breeze isn't helping.

After a few rings, the phone picks up.

"(something vaguely disapproving)," Bogomil says in Bulgarian.
"Bogomil," Mason says.
There's a quiet second on the line. "Mr. Spader," Bogomil says. "If you've gotten this number, you should know that we're on our way out. You outmaneuvered my team but I'm willing to let it go if you grant us the courtesy of an organized retreat." He pauses. "But you're not willing to let this go, are you."
"You know what, you've caught me in a good mood," Mason says. "So sure, you guys can bug on out of here. Just one request."
"That being?" Bogomil asks.
"Leave your base of operations standing," Mason says. "I'm sure you guys are stiffing the Imam enough to re-buy whatever basic gear you'll be leaving behind, and it's so hard to transport weapons across borders these days anyway. Just leave everything how it is - and we'll take care of the Imam for you."
"All this and a maid service," Bogomil says. "You're a versatile man, Mr. Spader. Well, enough fun. I accept your proposal. We'll leave everything for you. I'll text you the address as soon as we're clear."
"Sounds good. Make sure to put the payment confirmations and anything really incriminating right on top," Mason says.
"Should we label our fingerprints, too?" Bogomil asks.
"Oh, I don't give a fuck about you guys," Mason replies. "It's the Imam I'm after. Just enough to point to you guys is fine."
"Naturally," Bogomil says. "Well, I think that concludes our business."
"I'll wait for your text," Mason says, and hangs up. He releases Mitko's head and steps just back out of arm's reach.
"Fuck," Mitko mutters. He turns away from Mason, then looks over his shoulder. "Well thanks a fucking lot!" he says. "Can you at least get me some paper towels?"
"In the corner," Mason says, stepping back to the door and unlocking it. "Hurry up, Baumgarter's probably waiting. Get your papers and get the fuck out of Hamburg. We'll be watching."
"Yeah, yeah, fuck you, too," Mitko says, though he complies with Mason's orders.

Mason steps through the door and hustles back up the ramp into the club proper.

"Status update," he says on the team's channel. "We're letting the Bulgarians go. Let him get their papers and leave."
"Copy," Alira says. "But you better get out here. I found a crate in a bush by the fence. Looks like someone's running around armed in the crowd."


By the time Mason has made his way back outside and picked his way through the crowd to Alira's position, the final drum fills of "Always Bet On Black" thunder across the lot. Alira's explanation of her find is all but drowned out by the cheering and applause of the crowd, so she simply leads Mason into the shrubbery. Lying there is a wooden case with foam cutouts - a pistol, two magazines and a cleaning kit. The kit remains in place, while the gun and the mags have been removed.

"Earth around it has intact footprints!" Alira says as the noise around you dies down. "Hasn't been long since somebody was here. So we have to assume that's at least one person with a handgun."

(Mason uses Shooting investigatively!)

Mason studies the cutout in the foam intently. Lot of grip with a relatively small, angular slide...correlate that with the decoration of the box and the approximate age of the foam via its springiness, and Mason estimates he's looking at a presentation box for a Walther P5 pistol. Probably the 9mm version, to judge from the cleaning kit.

"P5's a weird gun to be carrying around," Mason says, scanning the crowd for anyone moving towards the stage. "What do we know about that ghost Blake saw earlier?"
"Other that he's creepy and maybe works for Fractal?" Alira says. "I've got no bloody clue." She surveys the crowd. "Why the box?" she asks herself. "This looks like...like something from some bloke's grampa's basement."
"Personal meaning, maybe," Mason says. "We can't cover this whole crowd, and we don't know who the target is. We've got to bring the security guys in on this." He swaps to the "security" channel. "Ich habe eine leere Waffenschatulle gefunden. Beachten Sie, dass wahrscheinlich eine Pistole in der Menge ist."
"Verstanden," one of the security guys replies.
"Bloody hell," Alira says. "We can't see shit from here." She looks back to Mason. "What's the move, Masie?"

Mason was expecting...more of a response than that from the security. He shifts his attention from looking at the crowd to looking at the security staff for the event. As Mason turns, he sees four of the security guys come out of the building, right hands on their belt pouches where they keep the pepper spray. They quickly split up and get into the crowd, where they soon blend into the sea of black t-shirts and leather jackets. Occasionally, you glimpse one having a quick chat with a patron, but two things are clear: a) they're not gonna be the ones who get blamed for panicking the crowd by being too overt about the threat and b) at this pace they'll have the suspect located roughly twenty minutes before the heat death of the universe. It doesn't feel like malice or conspiracy, though: "dude with gun" was just nowhere in the contingency planning for event security.

Normally, Mason would cringe at a response that overt, but right now he's more concerned with keeping people from getting shot than catching the guy with the gun. "Let's get up on the stage, I'll take the left, you take the right. Keep an eye out for threats. Maybe we scare this asshole off. Tim, keep an eye on Baumgarten and our Bulgarian friend, make sure the shooter isn't coming for them."
"If we're going up, why not all the way?" Alira says, looking up towards the roof of the Gallerie. "I can grab a rifle and go overwatch, maybe I can spot them moving through the crowd from there."
Mason nods. "Don't pull the trigger unless you've got a clear shot - and leave yourself two ways out, in case they're here for us."
"No worries," Alira says. Kiss would be inappropriate, so she just claps Mason on the shoulder and then makes her way through the crowd towards the building.
"All quiet on the Western Front," Tim checks in. After a second, he gets on the channel again. "Appreciate you looking out for my sister, Mason. If you could...keep it out of the spotlight? She doesn't know what I do for a living and God willing it'll stay that way."
"I will if our guest will," Mason says. "For right now, we're just hired security."

Mason steps through the crowd back to the waist-high fencing separating the crowd from the "backstage" area, and is let past by one of the guards. Once backstage, he runs past the stacks of road cases and over cables towards the metal steps leading up onto the stage. Sliding through the black curtains, Mason stands to one side and watches the crowd as best he can. Mason's arrival at the stage is barely noticed by the band - his dark suit blends well into the shadows. Stagelights aren't making it easy to see the crowd, but it's still better than inside thanks to the city lights from the surroundings. As Mason surveys the crowd, Sydney steps up to the microphone again.

"Oh yeah!" she shouts. "Okay, so djentledudes, there's something we gotta do." She pauses for a few cheers and shouts to pass. "Because we're in Germany, we have to play something German! Yeah, cultural value and shit! It's the law, you know?" She grins as the cheers get louder. "And what's more German than fucking RAMMSTEIN!"

From backstage, a canned synth track is piped in, which is already enough to get more howling from the crowd. On cue, Monique all but punches her bass and we're off to the races!

(Mason Sense Trouble = (4)+2 = 6)

"Mein heißer Schrei," Sydney intones, her growl growing into a scream as she starts into "FEUER FREI!" and lays down the riff. The crowd is about one third old-school metalheads too caught up in the moment to complain that this is too kommerziell, one third twentysomething dudes who rocked out to this at their highschool keggers and are throwing up horns and high-fiving each other, plus one third die-hard A Complete Sentence fans who are gonna cheer no matter what. Through the jumping and banging crowd, Mason spots the one dude who has his hoodie...hood up, weaving through the crowd - but not towards the stage. Mason traces his projected route to find a group of skinheads off to the side who clearly don't belong in the crowd but apparently picked segregating themselves over starting shit. They're banging to Rammstein because why wouldn't they.

"Got a possible bad guy, hoodie up, moving to stage right," Mason says over the team channel.
Two seconds later, Alira responds. "I have a solution," she says. "But I don't like using the crowd as backstop."
"Neither do I, just keep an eye out," Mason says. "Might just be an unrelated problem." He gets on the main channel. "Verdächtiger bewegt sich etwa zehn Meter vor der Bühne in Richtung Gallerie, mitten in der Menge."
Mason sees the security guys stop their sweep and circle around, coming up behind Mr. Hoodie. The stage lights swivel up into the sky as Sydney croons "Du bist nicht mein Glück...bist mein Unglück...", revealing the metal glint of the weapon in Mr. Hoodie's hands. Yep, he's definitely going for the skinheads. Security's about ten seconds behind him at this rate, while he's five seconds away from the outer edge of the crowd.
"Watch the stage, anyone acts funny, put a round in them," Mason tells Alira, and moves for the shooter.

(Mason Athletics = (6)+2 = 8)

Mason might not be in his 20s anymore, but he still knows how to move. Stepping off the far side of the stage, he hops the fence in front of the stage with ease and, shoulder first, half-slides half-shoves his way through the crowd, moving in between people when he can and pushing them to one side when he can't. No one gets bowled over and unless you're looking at him it's not obvious, but gun out means Mason isn't wasting any time.

(Mason spends 1 Human Terrain for a refresh on his HtH.
Mason HtH = (4)+2 = 6)

Mr. Hoodie seems to take a moment to steel himself before shooting - a moment Mason uses to his full advantage. Mason body-checks the guy and gets his hands around the pistol, his initial shove pushing Mr. Hoodie further away from his erstwhile targets. But he's still holding on to the gun - time to see who can gain the advantage.

(Mason HtH = (3)+1 = 4
Mr. Hoodie's HtH = (3) = 3
Mason's damage = (6)+3 = 9)

Hoodie looks at Mason with surprise and anger as Mason grabs the pistol - he can't be older than 23 or 24. He tries pulling the gun out of Mason's hand, but while he might know how to smuggle a gun into a venue, he definitely doesn't know how to fight. Mason rotates his wrist, instantly turning the kid's grip on the pistol into a painful arm lock. He reflexively drops the pistol, but before he can turn to run, Mason hammers his left fist into the kid's gut, dropping him to the ground desperately gasping for breath.

"Bitte schön," Mason says as the real security shows up, handing one of them the pistol and takes a step back as the kid coughs and pukes from the pain on the ground.
"...danke," the security dude says as you take the shitshow away from the crowd into a quiet corner. He's clearly uncomfortable with the gun, but then another security guy arrives and - slowly - removes the magazine and clears the chamber. He looks at Mason. "And now we call the police, yes?" he asks, knowing the right answer but willing to defer to the guy who just single-handedly stopped a shooting.
"Nice moves, Masie," Alira radios. "I'll keep an eye out for other trouble."
"Ja, jetzt rufen wir die Polizei," Mason replies. He pulls out a phone and snaps a picture of the kid. Photo for quick background, he says as he fires it off to Laith. Probably local idiot but just to be sure.

Just to underscore the moment, Sydney shouts from the stage: "FEUER FREI! BANG BANG!". Then, the song ends in roaring applause. Easy to imagine some might be for Mason's quick actions, if anyone had taken much notice of them.


It takes about an hour for the cops to finally show. So, two good deeds to wrap up the day: Mason and Alira see to it that Mr. Hoodie is handed off to the authorities without disturbing the rest of the concert. A few facts may have been fudged by Alira, such as how ready the guy was to ruin his entire fucking life, and the cops - tired-looking as they are from a day of running around putting out metaphorical and literal fires - don't ask too many more questions, they just take Mr. Hoodie and his gun away. Don't you love it when a story wraps up neatly? With the threat situation under control and the concert about to wrap and a text from Bogomil on Mason's burner, they take their leave.

(Mason uses Notice.)

It's a warehouse. Why did Mason know it would be a warehouse? Mason and Alira step carefully; getting any particular details from the strewn-about leftovers of a covert operation would require tampering with the crime scene they aim to leave for the cops, so a careful surface scan for traps will have to do. Mason finds the remains of a field-expedient alarm system hastily cut down from the doors and windows, but otherwise, no gas dispensers or claymores or beartraps under throw rugs: the Bulgarians were clearly far more worried about making good their escape than screwing over Wachtmeister Meier and colleagues. Satisfied that nobody's gonna get maimed investigating the site, Mason and Alira vacate the premises and RTB at best speed.

Time for everyone to hit the hay. Tonight, we rest...tomorrow, we heist!