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Author Topic: Space Cowboys for Hire (A PvE AR-like) [Turn 5: Operations Phase]  (Read 16435 times)

ConscriptFive

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Re: Space Cowboys for Hire (A PvE AR-like) [Turn 5: Operations Phase]
« Reply #345 on: August 28, 2020, 03:32:25 pm »

Event Resolution

You take a deep breath and read Mr. Thiel's poem one last time.

Quote
Spring birds singing,
mantling about the branches.
A familiar tune,
For whose song is this?

The Ochre Owls?
The Tapered Robins?
The Semini and Alchies?
The Blue-winged Finch?
The Nightingales?
The Orchard Kite?
The Red-breasted Nuthatch?

Birds which the Once Man has warned.
Chaotic birds are the old-timers.
The cover-tailed and storm-colored,
Woodpeckers in autumn,
Ashen Woodpeckers in spring.

Is it the wails of the forest doves,
the long-lived daughters of trees?

From the ripe heads of this species,
The moth hosts to the monsters of the forest.

Heirloom bird charms cannot be bought.

But what does it mean?  Something about allegiances, perhaps?

You craft your response:

Quote
The song of the forest is not that of one bird, but a symphony of many.
The clever crow caws to the rooster awaiting dawn, but the moth's song is heard only by those close to it.
Vultures circle above, the eagle dives to reap the bounty of the river but goes too deep and dampens it wings.

But you knew all this already.

Priceless things may not be bought, yet they can be coaxed or sought.
Songbirds sing for seed, and a man can fly south for winter just as well.
The sun warms both the body and soul.

With a sense of satisfaction, you send it off to "GandalfTheGrey@confinity.com."  As you turn to attend to other business matters, your console chirps an inbox reply.  Sure enough, it's from "Gandalf the Grey:"

";)"

Thinking it must be some kind of auto-reply, you sit on this without telling Sam or Neil.  The next morning, you check your e-mail before going in for the morning meeting.  Nothing else from Mr. Thiel.  "Surely, that can't be it?"

As Sam and Neil wrap up the meeting, you break them the news.

Neil looks to Sam anxiously, "You know these old weirdos better than I do.  What the frak was that?"

Sam takes off his glasses and rubs his temple, "Well Neil, I believe it's an emoticon.  It's a 20th century predecessor to the emoji..."

Neil loses it, "Gorram it, Sam.  I know what an emoticon is!  But what the frak does it mean?"

Sam apologizes, "Too early in the morning for jokes I see.  Frankly, your guess is as good as mine.  I mean it's playful...  Maybe flirtatious?"

Neil scoffs, "It's well known the guy plays for the other team."

Sam concedes, "True.  So scratch flirtatious.  Still, it doesn't seem hostile."

Neil looks to you, "Key word being 'seem,' Ma'am.  Remember, these One Percenters aren't like us-"

Sam interrupts, "-so then what do you propose?  You want us all to commit seppuku because of an emoticon?"

Neil fumes at Sam, "Are you trying to wind me up today?  What I'm saying is, nothing changes.  Us three are still safe here on the Mothership, but I still can't guarantee our guys safety on Rivendell-"

*DING* *DONG*

Sam cues the intercom and watches the front door feed.  He smirks knowingly as he gets hears the introduction, "Greetings, I am a returning client of Samuel Goldman, Esquire.  I seek a formal legal consultation."

Sam looks over to you and Neil expectantly.  Neil mutters, "Saved by the bell."

Taking a hint, you two excuse yourselves from the room to give Sam and his client their privacy.

A pale androgynous blonde in white silken robes meets Sam in your conference room.  Their hair is drawn back into a new age pony tail and their ears have been surgically modified into long elven tips.

Sam recognize them immediately and rises from his seat to greet them, "Ah, my old friend.  I haven't seen you since your transition.  You look great."

The elf smiles and bows, "Thank you for the compliment Samuel, I completed my transition last year."

"So for my records, I should call you..."

"Yes, I no longer use my dead name.  I am now Iston of Rivendell."

"Ah, Iston.  A good elven name."

"Samuel, I did not know you were Quendi."

"Oh, I only know some Quenya.  You know, we here at Ocean LLC are allies to all the transhuman community.  Most of us are immortality modded ourselves.  Of course I'm sure you already knew that.  'Palantir reveals all,' correct?"

"So they say."

"So for legal purposes, is that Mr. Iston of Rivendell, or?"

"Just Iston of Rivendell.  I have fully transcended beyond mere Old World identifiers."

With pleasantries aside, the two get seated.  Iston produces an antique looking coin and places it on the table.  Sam takes it and acknowledges Iston with a satisfied nod.

"This is an attorney-client privileged conversation now?"

"Indeed."

Iston places a small stone on the table, and after squeezing it a certain way, it produces a barely audible white noise,  "I'm sure you don't mind the extra precaution?"

"Understandable.  Now is this personal or corporate business?"

"A little bit of both you might say..."

***

After a long while, Sam invites you and Neil back into the conference room.  The client is gone and he greets you with a clap on the back, "Ma'am, I don't think we need to worry about Mr. Thiel."

Neil lets out a sigh of relief, "Palantir I take it?"

Sam shrugs apologetically, "Maybe."

Neil mutters something about "two-faced motherfraking lawyers."

"We all know Danny set me up as an intermediary for everyone's protection, especially for particularly sensitive matters."

"So, what can you tell us then?"

"Mr. Thiel is aware of the situation with Paramour, but as 'the Defender of Liberty, is not compelled to pursue the matter."

"So are we safe?"

"So it seems Neil.  We're in Mr. Thiel's good graces... for now."

"Shame it took so long to get there.  We're already in the back half of our tour in this Planetary System.  Not too long before we shake the Etch-a-Sketch and we have to fear a new God."

"Too true, Neil.  But he may pass on a solid reference for the next jump.  Could help get us off CoFor's proverbially shit list right out the gate.  For that reason, I recommend us seeking work in Rivendell next month, especially on behalf of Palantir."

Neil thinks for a moment and agrees.  He looks to you, "That was some Danny Ocean-level VIP snake-charming, Ma'am."


Quote from: Plan Vote
Neilís Plan: (1) Ops Chief
Stirkís Plan: (2) SC777, King Zultan

ConscriptFive

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Re: Space Cowboys for Hire (A PvE AR-like) [Turn 5: Operations Phase]
« Reply #346 on: September 10, 2020, 01:16:32 am »

Mission Report Part (1/?)

G's BBQ BG's (Part One)

Quote from: Plan
Two operators will serve as Grace O'Malley's bodyguards at the Founder's Fifth Festival in Rattlesnake Ridge, Harad.  Grace O'Malley is technically a fugitive from Flossmore PCF, and apparently a figure well-connected with the active insurgency on Anghabar.  Evelyn Salt will be deployed as the lead due to her rapport with the client.  Vic "Pipehitter" Vega will be her backup.

As shipside prep, the two should do a quick area study online, to familiarizing themselves with Rattlesnake Ridge and its current events.  They should also look for any public information regarding the festival, confirming its location, schedule, and general nature as much as possible.

They will go boots on ground ahead of time, walking the area in civvies to get a baseline threat assessment.  Take the opportunity to mingle when possible, finding what the word on the street is, especially what people's holiday plans are.  Rattlesnake Ridge is an established city with a lot of recent immigration; a new stranger finding their way around town shouldn't be unusual.  Renting a secure safehouse near the festival site could also make casual collection and a getaway route easy.  A Gator ATV is provided for transportation.

Priority Intelligence Requirements (PIR)'s are as follows:

(PIR 1) What threats (law enforcement or otherwise) are actively looking for Grace in Rattlesnake Ridge?
(PIR 2) What's the general schedule for the Festival and who's attending?
(PIR 3) What's the best route/means to flee the Festival (with or without the VIP)?

The day before the festival, Salt should call up the client to confirm plans and general intelligence.  Salt should not reveal her present whereabouts, and note any discrepancies in intelligence.  From this point onward, Lead Bodyguard has full discretion to abort mission if she detects a setup.

As any threat likely will come from local law enforcement, ensure that a method of bypassing blockades to reach the space port is available. One operator should remain in the vehicle idling at all times during the party, having backed into the parking spot to insure a swift getaway. The actual bodyguard is to analyze any threats and respond to any by rushing to the client to the escape vehicle and following the pre-planned route (either to the space port or appropriate safehouse that we can lie-low in until any police blockades are removed). Unless we discover that local law enforcement is anemic or on the take, this includes minor threats that may attract police attention such as a brawl. We should avoid engaging law enforcement when possible, as we don't particularly care about any of the terrorist's well-being barring our client we should avoid making ourselves their main target by spitting lead at them. If necessary you may use them as decoys, given your apparent position of authority both trained and untrained men are likely to follow orders you shout without thinking during a high-stress situation such as a police raid. Ideally this will appear to be in the best interest of those we give orders to both to our client and the target of the order to maximize the chance it will be followed without the target or anyone in authority questioning them. For example "You/Everyone follow me! I have an escape route planned!" is likely to be an attractive offer to someone without their own route planned (or someone unconfident in their own route). You can then have them split off later without attracting attention "We have to split up to throw them off! You take a right down this street, then a left at the MacDonald's. You take a left down this intersection, then a right at the Wendy's. I'll go straight and see if I can throw them off in the burbs." works fine even if there isn't a viable escape plan (or even a MacDonalds assuming someone isn't intimately familiar with the town) in the provided directions, given the actual goal is to have pursuers follow the decoys instead of us. Likewise "You barricade that door to buy us some time!" sounds reasonable to the person given the order, while "You try to slow them down!" is much more self-sacrifice than someone is likely willing to do on the words of a stranger.

Uniform and arms posture should be relaxed, yet authoritative.  Helmets and balaclavas are not recommended; Sunglasses are.  Two AS Val carbines are available if needed.



Lead Bodyguard: Evelyn Salt
Secondary Bodyguard/Driver: Vic "Pipehitter" Vega

Hardware:
Gator ATV (1)
AS Val Carbine (2)

"Keep your cool, Cowboy.  We got the time."

When someone speaks of a frontier world, cities aren't the first thing that comes to mind.  But as ramshackle as it is, Rattlesnake Ridge is well into the "awkward teenager" phase of becoming a fully-grown city.  Newer midrise towers are scattered amongst warrens of old pre-fab shelters.  Next to a sleek mini-mall featuring a smartphone shop and a gamer netcafe, an old woman tends a small duck farm.  Utilities are spotty and de-centralized, with competing entreprenuers hawking their own cottage industry electric and sanitation companies.  Most businesses and better-off residents still run their own generators anyways.  The only concession to urban planning seems to be the occasional paved road.  Even then, random stretches of those roads go back to gravel as soon they reach landowners that decided not to finance the road project.

Speaking of roads, traffic in Rattlesnake Ridge is accordingly anarchic.  The city has reached the point where there definitely should be traffic laws, but it seems like no one wants to give up their God-given right to drive like a complete asshole.  More importantly, no one is willing to pay the salary of a traffic cop.  While you technically have two teams operating in the city simultaneously, geography and gridlock is such that there's no way they can support each other.  Keeping OPSEC in mind, Salt and Vega tried their best not to acknowledge Anna and Erik on their way out of the spaceport.

Vega fumes behind the wheel of the Gator ATV, acutely aware of the vehicle's lack of a horn, "MOVE. THE. FRAK. FORWARD.  Why can't these frakers just drive, already?!?"

Salt tries a joke, "Hey, just pretend you're back on a cattle drive again.  Think they should get a moooo-ve on?"

Vega looks at her incredulously, "Was that supposed to be a cow impression?"

"Was it good?  I've never met one."

Vega lightens up and plays along, "Oh really?  Then how do you know what they sound like?"

"Parents are really big on teaching kids animal sounds for some reason.  You know, 'the cow goes moo, the sheep goes baa, the pig goes oink,' etc."

"Wow, look at Miss Fancy-Pants-My-Parents-Loved-Me.  Why am I not surprised?"

Salt gives an awkward scoff and goes to check her smartphone.  Vic meant it as playful banter but can immediately tell he hit a nerve somewhere.  Better to shut up and focus on his driving for now.

The festival is planned at a riverside field just outside town, so your team find their way to a motel on the outskirts.  As they pull up, Vic points out the "no vacancy" sign out front.

"...which is why we have reservations, Cowboy.  There's this thing called the Internet..."

"Oh really?  I thought that was just for porn?"

They share a laugh together before heading in for check-in.

To say the room doesn't match the picture online is an understatement.  Half the lighting fixtures don't work, and the carpet is worn and grimy.  The water in the bathroom is cloudy with a musty metallic smell.  The sole queen bed has mysterious stains on the mattress, and the sofa is far too small and uncomfortable to sleep on.

Salt takes this up with the front desk, but the motel manager shrugs.  They're booked full, but he'd be willing to refund them half their money if they cancel now.  Salt spends the next hour furiously calling nearby accommodations, but they too are fully booked.  With the influx of refugees from Anghabar, warm beds are a hot commodity in Rattlesnake Ridge, (no matter how shitty they are).  Dejected, your two operators settle in to their motel room.

The next day, your team starts out with recon at the festival site.  When they get there, it's pretty obvious why the site was chosen.  The festival site is both upstream and far enough from the city to be relatively devoid of pollution.  Aside from some litter and the homeless sleeping in the bushes, it's a fairly idyllic open terrain that would probably qualify as a public park back in the Old World.  ...maybe not a particularly well maintained public park, but you get what you pay for.  The morning your team visits, the riverside is popular with a group of small children flying kites.  The cackle gleefully as their tattered homemade paper diamonds soar up into the sky.  From a security standpoint, neither of your operators pick up on anything too alarming.

Having seen the riverside, your team decide to head back to the city to gather more general intelligence and "atmospherics."  While not necessarily a "bad" part of town, this region on the outskirts of Rattlesnake Ridge is unmistakably on the low-income side of society.  While that probably could be said about Harad as a whole, your operators find themselves more in a shantytown than a suburb.  Refugee families who can't afford a roof over the their heads have pitched tents on any open patch of dirt they can find.  Near each tent, overworked mothers and daughters constantly boil water over crude firepits.  As a side effect, this pervasive smell of burning presumably masks God-knows-what-other reeking stenches of unwashed humanity.  Most of the men are absent during the day, presumably off trying to hustle a paycheck somewhere downtown.  Mangy cats try their best to keep the rodents in check.

Salt had done her research online, but this quickly growing refugee neighborhood isn't very well publicized or documented.  Even Google Maps still listed most of the area as undeveloped lots.  Short of going door-to-door (tentflap-to-tentflap?) asking questions, your team can't devise a means to canvass the largely residential area for baseline intelligence.

After a long day of work, Salt looks to Vega, "Well, we skipped lunch and I'm starving.  You wanna hit downtown for some dinner?"

"You read my mind.  I don't think I'm brave enough to try the room service at that shithole motel either."

Salt holds back a laugh, "You think a place like that even has room service?  Maybe a Hot Pocket and a warm bottle of Coke?"

"Girl, was that supposed to sound terrible?"

Salt rolls her eyes.

Not wanting to stray too far, they decide on the first decent looking casual eatery they see, "Humberto's." Vega isn't enthused by the menu, but Salt encourages him to order a plate of enchiladas.  As they wait for their food to come out, they can't help but overhear the table next to them.

"I lost another bid today.  These frakin' gingers, man."

"Got lowballed that bad, Juan?"

"Now I'm not racist, but these motherfrakers are bad for this city.  They come here, don't know the language, and then knock up their women with four gorram kids."

"Dude, you don't speak Spanish either..."

"You're missing the point.  Why do you think they set up their own ghettos?  They don't want to assimilate. Some day their ethnic enclave is going to rise up and bite us in the ass.  What do you think happened to AMR?  Besides, they're all criminals anyways."

"Why did your dad leave Lossarnach again?"

"Frak off man!  I've had a shit day, okay?  I'm not against immigrants, but we don't need immigrants from incompatible places.  Have you seen how they live?  Like animals.  And the smell?  Cabbage.  Yeah, I know the New Worlds is all about rebuilding human civilization, but you expect us to restore our civilization with white trash babies?"

"But at least their chicks are total smokeshows."

"Yeah, I'd help assimilate that into the gene pool."

The table erupts into laughter and moves onto to other topics of discussion.

The night is still young and your two operators wrap up their meal.  Salt pulls up a list of nightspots on her smartphone, but Vega's stomach rumbles as they reach their parked Gator ATV.

"Geez, Cowboy.  You okay?"

Vega groans, "I think I'm done for the night.  You take the wheel."

Salt takes the hint and rushes the Gator back to their motel room.  Vega almost makes it to the bathroom in time.

After leaving a large cash tip for housekeeping, the next few days end less tragically.  Taking various driving and foot tours, your operators gradually establish the in and outs of their area of operation.  Like most low-income areas, things get sketchy at night, but otherwise it's pretty safe during the daytime.  Sure, a few men open carry sidearms here and there, but at least your operators don't stand out too much in that regard.  Also, despite being on the lookout, your operators note a distinct absence of uniformed law enforcement personnel.  Presumably the locals have a means of policing their own community.  For a moment, Salt debates calling Marshal York to cover all the bases for PIR 1.  But she soon realizes how quickly that could backfire, and decides to avoid unduly provoking law enforcement curiosity.

After hours, your operators enjoy the cosmopolitan city dining and night life.  They'd been with Ocean's Ten on the Mothership for almost half a year now, and the honeymoon phase with shipside life was over.  Yes, the mothership is luxurious, but most of the services are priced out of your operators' day-to-day budget.  Playgrounds for the rich aren't so much fun when you aren't rich.  Working class establishments do exist shipshide, but they're underdeveloped if not outright discouraged.  With finite berthing/real estate shipside, commercial rent can be astronomical.  A working-class entrepreneur running a storefront out of his modest living room is not uncommon.

Salt thinks to herself, "Yeah, the planetside smog and squalor suck, but it's nice to get outside and intereact with 'normal' people."

The ultimate country club, to say the ship had a diversity problem was an understatement.  The Bay Area never died, they just moved to the Mothership Leviatian.  Even worse, because no one of political or cultural relevance ever died, shipside culture was both regressive and stagnant.  Only a complete dolt doesn't follow current events, and accordingly, everyone always had the right things to say over cocktails at the Twenty Forward Lounge.  But it all was regurgitations of Old World talking points, reapplied to partisan or superficial "news" reports.

Finishing off her mammoth bulgogi, Salt explores one of the trendier neighborhoods of Rattlesnake Ridge solo.  Vega's injured shoulder was acting up again, and he decided to get some early bedrest.  Comfortable on her own, a hip looking bar, "Oak," calls out to her.  The music is eclectic and catchy, and everyone is young and well groomed.  Despite the magnum revolver on her hip, no one stops her at the door.  Guessing from the various upturned pierced-noses giving her side-eye, she guesses it's not because they approve of ostentatiously packing heat, but that they're collectively too cool to make a scene about it.  Wishing she had more discreet protection, she sidles up to the bar.

"Well hey there, Sweetcheeks..."

Salt recognizes the voice immediately and sharply pivots to stare down Jack Bauer, "You think I won't throwdown with some frakin' fascist ex-frat boy in a place like this?!!  Your sorry ass is gorram lucky I'm on the job."

Jack Bauer takes a step back and tries to laugh it off, "Whoa, whoa, whoa.  Take a chill pill AOC.  I come in peace."

Salt scoffs and doesn't let up, "Oh, so you just happened to be in this bar?  They run out of Jager bombs down at the roadhouse?  I don't buy it.  You wanna take this shit outside?"

"Hey, hey... I saw you outside the kimchee place and figured I'd catch up with a familar face."  He looks around furtively and leans in to speak in a lower voice, "I'm no longer with my previous employer."

"Well no shit, huh?"  Salt drops her guard and gestures to a place next to her at the bar.

The two get to talking and Bauer reveals that Nick was furious Greywater took the heat for the Flossmore job.  The Greywater truck was immistakable, and enough CERT troopers lived to talk about it.  AMR and several other clients have now gone cold on them.  Nick was ready to fire both Jack Bauer and Jack Ryan for this egregious self-serving OPSEC breach, but Bauer insisted the responsibility was all his and got Jack Ryan spared.

"I knew I shouldn't have taken that Porsche.  Damn thing had a beacon on it and sealed the case on us."

Salt laughs and shakes her head, "That shady motherfraker...  Anyhow, what are you up to now?"

Bauer pauses in deliberation for a moment before deciding to share, "Well, I may be out now, but I have decades of experience in the field.  Why shouldn't a guy like me hang up his own shingle?  You know, be my own boss for once?  Cost of living down here on Harad is dirt cheap.  All I need is pull in one or two cakewalk jobs a month and build up the retirement nest egg."

"Run and gun stuff?"

Bauer shakes his head, "Ha, probably not a good idea.  All aboveboard work.  'Bauer Investigations and Security.'  It'll be nice to get back to smaller jobs too.  Maybe take up some pro bono charity cases on a sliding scale?  You know, I'm hiring if you're interested...  Not the best benefits right now, but I'm sure I'll get that whole immortal extralegal spacetraveler package worked out soon."

Salt laughs at his joke, "How could I turn that down?  I'll send you a copy of my resume."  She winds down the laughter to get serious, "Jokes aside though, I do wish you the best."  She finishes off her drink, "And I am sorry that I went full bitch mode on you there.  Tell you what, how about we do a toast?"

"To what?"

"New beginnings, of course."

"Well it would be bad luck to refuse a drink from a lady."

Salt shakes her head, "Don't make me reconsider my apology now..."

"Old World habits.  Hey, what are you drinking anyways?"

"A gin and tonic."

"You know they grow agave out here?  You're missing out on some great artisanal small batch tequila."

Her curiosity is piqued, "Bring it."

An hour and a few rounds of tequila shots later, the two have gotten much more comfortable with each other.  Despite her previous misgivings, Bauer is great company and also a lot more mature than she expected.  She never realized he was as old as Chief Neil MacCauley, and Bauer alluded they were both in Singapore in their US Army days.  The exchange ends up being a pleasant surprise to her.  "I mean sure, he kills people for a living, but I think that's pretty hypocritical to hold against him now," she muses.

When she gets up to use the restroom, the inebriation hits and she stumbles slightly.  Bauer tries to catch her, "Whoa, looks like somebody got white girl wasted."

Salt pretends like the room isn't wobbling, "Hands off mister.  You're talking to a fellow trained killer here."

He gamely keeps the banter going, "Whatever you say, Sweetcheeks.  Try not to fall and kill yourself on the way to the john."

Salt staggers her way to the restroom and relieves herself.  The stop and go motion didn't help her inebriated vertigo, and steadying herself on the restroom sink, she knows she just fraked up hard.  She takes a few deep breaths to try and compose herself before returning back to Bauer.

"So, hey...  I'm not feeling well I need to get out of here.  You mind taking me home?"

"Oh really?"

"Geez, not like that kind of 'take me home.'  I mean-"

"Hey, don't worry.  Professional courtesy.  Besides, Neil would bury me headless in the desert if I raped you."

Salt's mouth is slightly agape as she stares him down wordlessly.

"Chicks never laugh at date rape jokes for some reason.  Come on, let's get you home safe."

Bauer walks your drunken operator out of the bar and she slumps into the front passenger seat of his Toyota Corolla.  Bauer's not exactly sober either, but he's got a job to do.  Careening through the lawless darkened streets of the city, he rushes his Corolla back to her motel room.  Salt almost makes it to the bathroom in time.

The next morning, Vega can't help but see and smell the vomit, "Damn Girl, didn't know you could party like that."

Salt is still worse for wear, "Yeah... I try not to.  Can we agree to leave this part out of the mission report?"

Vega reassures her, "Your secret is safe with me."

Salt claims the bathroom to clean herself up.  She's pretty sure she stayed lucid the whole time, but it's hard to be completely sure.  To her relief, she's still fully clothed, so it's a safe bet nothing too got too far out of hand.  Stripping off her jeans though, a little cardboard rectangle pokes out of her pocket: a simple business card for 'Bauer Investigations and Security.'  Turning over the card, she sees "Hey Sweetcheeks.  Call me!" eagerly handwritten on the back.  She takes a long stare into the cracked bathroom mirror and then hangs her head.

***

ConscriptFive

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Re: Space Cowboys for Hire (A PvE AR-like) [Turn 5: Operations Phase]
« Reply #347 on: September 19, 2020, 09:08:18 am »

Mission Report Part (2/?)

G's BBQ BG's (Part Two)

The sound of folk music rings over jovial chatter at the riverside Founder's Fifth Festival outside Rattlesnake Ridge.  (Nothing unusual was noted when calling Grace O'Malley the night prior, so your two operators went ahead as planned.)  Well over a hundred people are gathered in celebration.  Small tents provide shade from the midday sun.  Food vendors serve grilled meat and pour cold beverages.  A throng of young children are enraptured by the antics of a juggler.  Most congregate around a makeshift stage featuring live music: enjoying lunch, leisure, and each others' company.

Vic Vega drops off Salt and goes to find parking for the Gator ATV, "Heh, looks like a good time.  Try not to party too hard, Girl."

Salt smirks, "I promise I'll be good."

After the ATV drives off, Grace finds Salt and give a very deliberate head-to-toe lookover.  "Wow, Lady Merc.  You sure came prepared."

Salt is in full kit, sans the helmet.  An AS Val carbine is slung across the rack of her USMC plate carrier on a three-point sling.  A Colt Python revolver rides her hip and "The Division" insignia beret sits atop her head.  Salt bites her lip and cracks a joke, "What, you don't like the beret?"

Grace laughs, "It's a nice touch."  She gestures at the crowd at the festival, "But seriously, we can't have the full jackbooted thug getup here.  This is a family friendly event."

Salt counters, "You sure?  You're paying good money here.  I wouldn't want you to feel short-changed."

Grace shakes her head, "We've got kids here, and some of them have been terrorized by exactly that kind of hardware back on Anghabar.  You're going to make a scene dressed like that.  The carbine and MOLLE gotta go."

Salt hadn't considered stripping off the USMC plate carrier and is wearing only a sports bra underneath.  "The customer is always right, but I don't have a shirt underneath this."

Grace chuckles, "Well, this isn't Sturgis either.  I said family friendly event.  Let's head over to the t-shirt vendor."

As tempted as Salt is to pick "I got exiled to Harad and all I got was the lousy t-shirt," they decide a kelly green fitted tee is more professional.

Dropping off her gear at the ATV, Grace grabs her hand tightly and freezes, "They found me!"

Salt tenses up and tries to keep cool.  Disarmed and carrying her gear loose in her arms, she's at a terrible disadvantage.  "Nothing is going to happen while I'm still standing.  Where?"

"Big guy in the black ATV.  He was a perv back at the whore castle!"

"Oh... yeah... he's with me."

The wheels in Grace's head are turning and she says nothing for a good while, "Well shit... that makes more sense, doesn't it?"

"He's a good dude.  He's the one who busted you off the bus, too.  I guess you didn't recognize him without the mask?"

"Isn't that kinda the point of a mask?"

"Touche.  Let's get back on track."

Salt stows her gear on the ATV, leaving Grace and Vic a brief moment alone.  Vic is awkward and nearly blushes, "Grace O'Malley...  I don't know if you remember me?"

"Oh, I remember you alright."

"Yeah so, you see I was working then-"

"-Yeah, I was Princess Anna...  In the hot tub."

"-I mean it wasn't my idea...  Orders...  I don't even like that cartoony stuff-"

"-You know you were the only John who didn't touch the girls?  We all figured it was some kind of fetish thing you had.  Why would anybody pay so much money and just browse?"

"I mean, you looked good... I'm not saying that just because you were naked-"

"-I do owe you one I guess.  You know that wasn't the only scenario right?  Those monsters were developing other crazy shit too.  They wanted me to play Officer Judy Hopps."

"I mean that doesn't sound too bad."

"For frak sake's, don't tell me you're a furry."

"Huh?  What's a fur-"

Disaster is averted by Salt' hurried interruption, "-Hey, water under the bridge, right?  Where to next?  Daylight's burning!"

As Grace makes her way across the festival grounds, she seemingly can't go thirty seconds without someone coming up to greet her.  It seems she's very well regarded, if not something of a celebrity among the festival attendees.  The constant spontaneous interaction is nerve-wracking on Salt, who has to keep an eye out that every hug and handshake isn't a brazen assassination attempt.  "Geez, Lady Merc.  We're among friends here.  Plus it turns out you're not the only hired gun today.  The organizers hired their own guy too."

Grace points out a man with a Glock in a shoulder holster and waves him over, "Mr. Bauer here has just setup shop here in Rattlesnake Ridge.  I hear he was one of your kind?"

Salt and Bauer shake hands nonchalantly.  She gives a wink, "Glad to meet you Mr. Bauer.  I didn't know you were working down here?"

Bauer takes the hint and plays along, "Oh, I'm freelance now.  Now I'm finally able to stand should-to-shoulder with good folks like present company.  I'm sorry, but I didn't get your name?"

"Salt. Evelyn Salt."

Bauer rolls his eyes playfully at the obvious James Bond reference before wishing them well and getting back to work.

After a good hour of circulating the festival and countless casual conversations, Grace is ready to get some lunch.  Walking past a man posted at the entrance of an open tent, a handful of men get up from their seats around a small table to greet her.  They embrace her with enthusiastic hyper-macho back slaps.

Grace is embarrassed at the aggressive PDA but plays it off, "Come on guys, it wasn't that long."

"It's just great to have you back Ma'am.  Was it as bad as we've heard?"

"Naa, just a lot hot baths and massages.  Who knew AMR was so generous?"

Once the laughter subsides, she gestures to your operator, "Lady Merc, this is everyone.  Everyone, this is Lady Merc."  They eye her warily and feign accepting nods.

Grace sighs, "She's one of those high-end space mercs with the airtight vows of secrecy and whatnot.  Saved my lily white ass back at Flossmore."  She pulls Salt's "Have a Need?  We will help." business card from her pocket and passes it around the room.

The room brightens and everyone exchanges an approving murmur.

Grace sits down on a bench.  Looking at Salt expectantly, she pats the seat next to her.  Salt would rather stand guard, but Grace insists, "Damn Lady Merc, aren't you the hard worker?  Relax, we got guys outside."

Taking a seat next to her VIP, men bring in food and drink for the table.  The aroma of freshly grilled meat fills the tent as everyone, including Salt, is served an equal portion.  Before Salt can chow down, her plate is pulled from her by Grace swapped with hers.  Grace comments aloud to the table, "Here you go Royal Food Taster."

Salt grits her teeth and laughs.  She wants to take this job seriously, but everything seems like a joke to Grace O'Malley.  Surely someone wouldn't hire a high-end bodyguard as some kind of drawn-out prank?

Over lunch, the group begins talking politics.  Grace has been out of the loop since the strike at the Red River Refinery, and everyone is eager to get her caught-up.  Per orders, your operators aren't supposed to be collecting intelligence here, but she can't fully ignore the conversation.  Most of the insider chatter is full of in-the-weeds minutiae, and hard to follow.  "Remember that asshole foreman?  He finally got his."  "So-and-so blew that one coal tipper on the third try."  "So-and-so got bagged, but his brother is still hiding out in such-and-such hills."  "So-and-so is should be on Harad by now, but I just spoke with his wife outside and she hasn't seen him yet."

Still, your operator manages to define three main points.  First, the unionized mineworkers don't see how the situation can get any better without a full political revolution, and have begun rebranding as the Independent Republic of Anghabar.  Second, the former Red Cross doctor, "Norman Bethune," has become a prominent and highly regarded leadership figure for the IRA.  Third, and most surprising, nobody knows what the deal is with the so-called "Black Masks."

At the nearby stage, a folk band introduces themselves and start their set with a Pete Seeger classic:

Come all of you good workers
Good news to you I'll tell
Of how the good ol' union
Has come in here to dwell


"I mean, have you ever met a Black Mask?  I had never seen one until that demonstration at the Red River Refinery."

"It's standard PPE down in the shafts, but no one wears it.  The filters clog fast and next thing you know you can't breath."

"Seriously, I've spoken to every gorram organizer who was there, and nobody knew who those murderous fraks were."

Which side are you on?
Which side are you on?


"I hate scabs as much as the next guy, but murder crosses a line."

"Agreed.  That wasn't organized labor's finest moment."

"I know it sounds paranoid, but how do we know it wasn't an inside job?"

"Oh come on-"

"-Like a false flag, agent provocateur thing.  Have you seen how the media covers us?"

"Were you expecting AMR's media to take our side?"

"No, but they only needed one concrete incident to frak us.  Now we can't pretend our hands aren't dirty.  Even if they weren't our hands to begin with."

Grace interrupts, "You're losing me with the metaphors, pal."

My daddy was a miner
And I'm a miner's son
And I'll stick with the union
'Til every battle's won


The conspiracy theorist looks around the table cautiously, and takes a nice long stare at your operator, "The Black Masks are agitators placed by AMR security forces to discredit us."

The entire table falls silent.

Which side are you on?
Which side are you on?


Grace breaks the silence and gestures aggressively with her dining fork, "Quite the claim.  But do you have any proof?"

"Everyone here knows AMR runs spies everywhere.  How do you think you got rolled up Ma'am?"

Graces laughs derisively, "Maybe it just wasn't my day?"  The table laughs at her joke.  She continues, "What I'm hearing is that you've got no proof, pal."

"They're called secret agents for a reason, Ma'am."

They say in Anghabar
The neutrals don't get far
You'll either be a union man
Or a thug for AMR


Grace smiles at points at the stage and tries to change the topic of discussion, "Hey, was that a new verse?"

"Ma'am, we need to talk about this."

Grace pounds her fist the table, knocking over drinks with the reverberating impact, "NO!"

The cadre startles at the harsh shift in tone.

With a deep breath, Grace tries to regain her composure, "You know what AMR hates most?  Solidarity.  AMR wants us to turn on each other.  We're not about to cannibalize ourselves over some conspiracy theory, and that's that."

Which side are you on?
Which side are you on?


The chastised conspiracy theorist holds his tongue and the conversation moves on to less pertinent topics.

The guard outside the tent calls out, "Boss, you better see this."

A grizzled man rises from the table and steps out the tent.  Immediately, he yells out to the table, "Gird you loins boys, we got a fight comin'."

Oh workers can you stand it?
Oh tell me how you can
Will you be a lousy scab
Or will you be a man?


Salt rushes out of the tent with the others and the door guard points towards the road back to the city.  It's blocked by an angry mob on the move.  Jack Bauer sprints up to the to VIP tent, "People, shit's about to hit the fan.  We need to didi mau."

"Cowboy, you seeing this?  Get ready for exfil.  I've got the package-"

Grace slaps her authoritatively on the shoulder, "-we're standing our ground today."

Her men are bolstered by her courage, but Bauer clearly disapproves, "What about the kids?"

"You lead the civilians out on the quick."

The band is still wrapped up in their music and keeps playing:

Which side are you on?
Which side are you on?


Salt objects, "Grace, we have no idea what they're packing."

Grace ignores your operator's plea and runs up to the stage.  She grabs the mic from the band, "Attention everyone.  The 'good people' of Rattlesnake Ridge are coming for us.  But if we don't stand up for ourselves today, they'll never stop coming for us.  If we stand should-to-shoulder, we can stop them.  Able hands, rally on me.  Anybody else, follow Jack Bauer out: we got your back."

Salt is stunned, "Grace-"

"This may not be your fight Lady Merc, but I gotta stand with my people.  Mr. Bauer is over there if you're going to run."

With a stamp of a foot Salt calls Vic, "Cowboy, you heard the announcement.  Take the Gator and load up as many kids as you can.  I'll see you at the spaceport."

***

ConscriptFive

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Re: Space Cowboys for Hire (A PvE AR-like) [Turn 5: Operations Phase]
« Reply #348 on: October 01, 2020, 02:01:09 pm »

Mission Report Part (3/?)

G's BBQ BG's (Part Three)

With a mob on the march, the festival erupts into anarchy.  Families (and those that just wanted to grill) take off running with Vic Vega and Jack Bauer.  A brigade of hardliners scavenge the festival grounds for improvised weapons.  Tent poles and stools are cannibalized into cudgels.  Skirmishers snatch up loose rocks and bottles.  Most of these men and women carry pocket knives, but firearms are rare.  A few pistols are brandished, but no one brought long arms onto the festival grounds.

The main body of hardliners rally around Grace at the stage while the skirmishers exchange stone throws with the approaching horde.  Grace climbs on top of a table and shouts to the assembled fighters, "People of Anghabar!  We've been driven from one planet, and now they want to drive us from another!  Today we make our stand!"

Salt tries to guard Grace, but Grace won't let her stand on the table next to her, "Go form up on Fitzpatrick, Lady Merc."

Grace gestures to a grizzled man with a mallet who's busy forming up a phalanx of fighters.  Fitzpatrick quickly addresses her, "You got a heater? Get on the rear echelon with me.  Hold fire until my command."

The nativist mob enters the festival grounds.  The skirmishing stonethrowers and Vic's escort was enough to get everybody out who wanted to get out.  As the stonethrowers are pushed back to the main body at the stage, Salt wishes she had thought to grab her carbine and body armor from the Gator before Vic took off with it.

Atop the table, Grace plays up the inspirational role of Joan of Arc.  She had pored over the Amnesty report from Flossmore, and was mortified at how much they published.  She was even more mortified at what they didn't publish.  The PUC wing at Flossmore was overcrowded and winter was coming fast.  Unlike general population, Flossmore was apparently under no legal or ethical requirement to maintain the health of the PUCs.  Hygiene was non-existant, and lice were becoming rampant.  Typhus and other epidemics would soon follow.  Modern medicine could help, but Flossmore PCF didn't have that in the budget for them.  Every night, the PUCs sang a lullaby of hacking coughs accompanied by the howling of winter winds rattling the sheet metal walls.  It was a calamity in the making, and the PUCs were lucky they all got released before illness took them all.  No one expected liberation was so soon on the horizon.

So when Assistant Warden Oglivy came asking, Grace "volunteered" for "work" at the "resort."  She wasn't the only one who prostituted herself, but the Amnesty report sure made it look like her and Lise Schubert were the only "features" of the resort.  While all the other PUCs were soaked in fevered night sweats, Grace was bathed daily for their satisfaction of their johns.  Her hair and makeup were done impeccably, and her body hair shaved.  Obligated to "perform" with "the utmost of enthusiasm," she was fed accordingly.  She'd hoped to have been able to smuggle food and other supplies from the resort back to the other PUCs, but that didn't work out.  A consummate survivor, Grace had taken care of herself at Flossmore, and thanks to the Amnesty report, now everyone knew it.

Amnesty had publicly humiliated her, and Grace didn't like being pitied by the general public.  She also didn't like being seen as a scab by her own people.  Other PUCs had it far worse than her, but had managed to survive Flossmore with their dignity intact.  They wouldn't dare shame her to her face, but even her fellow survivors look at her differently now.  How could she, of all people, preach "solidarity" in the face of tyranny?

By hell or high water, today was going to be the day Grace would be regain her credibility.  She had hoped today would see her bonding with her fellow countrymen, except she didn't expect it to be open combat.  She didn't even want to hire some fancy-ass space merc as a bodyguard, but the Cadre insisted she do so.  "What kind of populist has a foreign bodyguard?"  No longer a pampered plaything of the One Percent, she must reclaim her role amongst the IRA as a fellow mineworker.  Margaret "Maggie" O'Brien had been outed as Grace O'Malley, and there was no going back to the shadows.  With the intensity of a firebrand preacher, she spurs her fighters to hold the line, "It is better to die on your feet, than live on your knees!"

The motley troop formation at her feet stirs restlessly as the horde prowls across the festival grounds.  The stonethrowers held them as long as they could, and the mob comes to a standoff as they see the assembled brigade.  Most are seemingly ordinary men and women, brandishing torches, baseball bats, pipes, and broomsticks.  They furiously spout expletives in Spanish and English.  Amongst the fog of war, Salt has a hard time understanding the nuances of their messaging, especially once they start pelting her with bricks.  At this moment, Salt is glad she traded in her aviators for ballistic rated Oakley shades: she'll never forgot what happened to MacGuyver at Red River.

Fitzpatrick bellows out, "Open ranks!  Open ranks!"

Your ragged formation spreads out in an attempt to allow room for individuals to dodge crude projectiles.  It works well for the rear rank to step backwards, but front rank is reluctant to step forward, and the middle ranks stays mostly constricted.  Without the Irishmen fighting back, the mob pelts them with impunity.

Grace calls out from the stage on the band's microphone, "What kind of cowards won't even fight toe-to-toe?!?"

Minutes of skirmishing wears on your operator's nerves, and she waves her revolver in the air menacingly.  She quickly gets admonished by Fitzpatrick, "Hold you fire, Lady Merc!  We ain't there yet."

As they speak, a teenage Latina lights and flings a Molotov.  It's a sloppy throw, and she underestimated her strength as the bottle shatters and spreads flames short of the Irishmen.  The fiery display is enough to rattle someone into firing a shot.

Fitzpatrick whirls around, "Who's the shoot-er?!?"

More than one gunman hears "shoot her!" and the fleeing Latina is shot multiple times in the back.

With blood formally spilled, a cacophony of gunfight erupts from the mob in retaliation.  Unlike the Irishmen, they'd planned for this fight and had brought a variety of arms.  Irish bodies hit the ground as the lead flies.

Fitzpatrick calls out, "Fire at will!  Fire at will!"

Your operator opens up with with Colt Python revolver, but a six round cylinder with two speedloaders is less than ideal in open warfare.  She picks her targets carefully, making each .357 round count.  Still her side is collectively over-matched, and her six shooter isn't the game-changer they need.

One by one, casuals and fair-weather-patriots rout from lethal combat.  (Combat is a whole lot of fun until you see men stronger than you get killed.)  While initially fighters on both sides were pinned by each other's gunfire, a lack of fire discipline and general logistics means the firefight doesn't last long beyond the initial "mad minute."

The stray cracks of occasional gunfire are suddenly drowned out by the rumble of motorcycle engines.  Bikers wearing black leather cuts roar through the line on their ethanol-burning bikes.  If there was any doubt left, their rocker patches identify them as "Los Tornadoes Moto Club."  Opening up the throttle, they close faster than the Irishmen can react, and quickly overwhelm the shattered formation.  Like cavalry of yore, greybeards in sidecars land murderous blows with tire irons in hand.  Younger prospects on crotch rockets ride solo, popping wheelies and trying to impress.

Higher command had given Salt license to abort this mission, and finally she's had enough.  Their street fight was turning into a massacre, and she was on the wrong side of that equation.  From the tunnel vision of the firefight, she'd lost track of both Fitzpatrick and Grace too.  With everything going to hell in a handbasket, she hoped her Latina complexion would help her slip away and "go native."

With adrenaline tremors wracking her fine motor skills, she fumbles the last speedloader.  As she looks down in the grass to retrieve it, a lasso cinches around her waist.  With a violent jerk, your operator hits the ground, dragged in tow by a crotch rocket.  The young biker yelps a celebratory grito at landing his throw.

Salt struggles against the high speed entanglement, her skin and clothes being torn to tatters against the rough terrain.  She lost her grip on her firearm during the initial takedown, and has few other options as she's hurried away from friendly support.

The other bikers begin to acknowledge the young biker's coup, and it goes straight to his head.  Popping a wheelie with a struggling lasso'd captive goes as you would expect, and he wrecks spectacularly.  The bike goes flying end over end, nearly taking out a half dozen other folk before splashing into the nearby river.  Your bound operator tumbles along until she collides against a large rock before the river.  She doesn't remember anything after that.

Spoiler: Mission Summary (click to show/hide)
« Last Edit: October 01, 2020, 02:45:40 pm by ConscriptFive »
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ConscriptFive

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Re: Space Cowboys for Hire (A PvE AR-like) [Turn 5: Operations Phase]
« Reply #349 on: October 16, 2020, 12:14:33 am »

Mission Report Part (4/?)

Potter Properties' Inspection Report ISR (Part One)

Quote from: Plan

A three two man ISR team will reconnoiter, surveil, and attempt to infiltrate "Martinez & Sons Inc.," a small business in downtown Rattlesnake Ridge, Harad.  The team will lay the groundwork for corporate espionage regarding a certain Inspection Report of interest to Potter Properties in the next month.  As this is an ISR mission, Anna will be the Team Leader.

Priority Intelligence Requirements (PIR)'s are as follows:

(PIR 1) Where/how is the Inspection Report secured after hours?
(PIR 2) When is the Inspection Report going to be delivered to the Buyer?
(PIR 3) Who handles the Inspection Report?

For shipside prep, Anna the HUMINT'er will research the business, with the objective of infiltrating the business in disguise.  Erik will research the building, with the objective of finding covert entry.  Nikita will research the neighborhood in general, with the objective of finding observation points and a secure safehouse.  All team members should refamiliarize themselves with the button spy cams.

Planetside, Anna will obtain employment of some sort at the business.  As an insider, Anna will casually gather HUMINT per PIR's.  The insider will also case the office from the interior, to prep for covert intrusion if necessary.  The insider should wear a concealed button spy cam to report her intelligence post-mission with other personnel.

Since we aren't in the frontier anymore and don't have as much as a fake photo ID, part of the shipboard mission should be discovering the job requirements. Given that you typically need a license to do any actual inspecting, generally someone without photo ID doesn't randomly come to a business and ask to be a janitor, and that someone randomly showing up without ID and vanishing into the night after a month is sketchy enough to set off alarm bells, Anna will attempt to gain employment at a secondary location with less strict requirements while still having full access to the targets. She will research possible targets by examining the worker's public profiles on their public website, then examining thier social media chatter for popular pizza joints, bars, or other such locations where she could hold brief conversations with them that could provide information while looking like she is "fishing for tips" to her coworkers. If none can be found, popular local dating sites are another option to gain access to the workers once you know their name and face. People would kill for a cute young girl who brings them a homemade lunch at work, giving us access to the building and a plausible way to dump the job without drawing suspicion.

Erik will use his new training to case the office building, to establish a mean of intrusion after-hours.  Erik will also look for physical security measures, such as cameras and alarms.  On such a small building, Erik will likely finish his work relatively early, and should refocus his efforts on insider footage.  From insider bodycam footage, he can direct Anna where to emplace spy cams for collection against a specific workstation, file cabinet, or safe.

Operators will keep in mind that the contract stipulates no payout if the operation is proven compromised.  Low profile civilian attire is mandatory, and hardware should not be carried in the open.  If no suitable observation post can be accessed, a SUV is provided as a stakeout vehicle.  FLIR binos are provided for after-dark observation.

Play it safe. Drive by casually in the day, enough to get cam footage from different angles without looking particularly suspicious. Our cameras should prevent us from needing to do any particularly obvious stalking, parking the car with a button camera attached somewhere inconspicuous and pointed towards their building/parking lot and having our operators spend the day visibly away from the truck should be plenty to gather their habits without tipping anyone off. Not even the most paranoid think an empty parked car is spying on them. Even the most gullible can realize that someone looking at their business with a pair of binoculars at night is someone you should call the cops on. Placing it on our car should allow us to control the angle and remove the camera safely out of sight from any security cameras, giving us a zero-risk all day stakeout of the facility so long as there are any viable parking places in range. Erik can join Anna in researching if he can find a decent place to do so in a reasonable range of their car, where they would have enough privacy to not have people looking over their shoulders during this time. He can come up with his own justification for prolonged parking in the off chance someone notices his car was there all day, depending on the facility he's parked in front of. "I went to jog the calories off, this place didn't seem to busy I hope I wasn't in the way" is perfectly fine given that the only reason someone would ask is why this jerk took up a parking space.



Team Leader/Insider: Anna the HUMINT Collector
Physical Security Casing: Erik the Blackbagger

Hardware:
Land Rover SUV (1)
FLIR Binos (1)


Trying not to associate with Salt's team, Anna the HUMINT Collector and Erik the Blackbagger keep their distance and leave the spaceport well afterwards.  Taking the wheel of the Land Rover SUV, Team Leader Anna braves the urban traffic of downtown Rattlesnake Ridge.  The traffic is worse than she anticipated, but nothing she can't handle.  After nearly an hour in traffic, the SUV pulls up to the small downtown studio apartment they rented online.

The rent was relatively absurd, but the location was within walking distance to Martinez & Sons Inc.  Even better, the landlord wasn't interested in a face-to-face and left them the combination for a keybox.  With Flossmore's "Oasis Motel" still fresh on her mind, her expectations for the room itself are pretty low.  To her surprise, the apartment is surprisingly clean, with working utilities and well kept furniture and appliances. 

With gleaming self-satisfaction, she twirls and presents the apartment to Erik like a game-show model, "Can I deliver or what?"

"I must say, not too shabby.  I'm mostly just happy to sleep indoors for once."

"Hey, there were technically doors on that mineshaft.  Dibs on the bed, by the way.  That couch looks comfy enough for you, and I'm going to need the beauty rest to pull this off."

Erik isn't too surprised to get the short end of the stick, but makes his case anyways, "Hey, I am a hands-off kinda guy if you want to consider sharing."

Anna shakes her head, "It's nothing personal, but I gotta bring my A-game here."

***

Driving by Martinez & Sons during the daytime, your operators confirm the lay of the land.  The target structure is a two story brick building on a mixed-use city block of similar buildings.  Like the rest of the block, the ground floor is a storefront while the owner/operator lives upstairs.  There are only a handful of recognizable interplanetary franchises in the neighborhood, and Martinez & Sons appears to be one of many local family businesses.

After the drive-by, your operators share notes, "You just got the fresh training on this.  What's your initial take?"

Erik scratches his head, "Well, the mixed-use property is a major issue for covert intrusion."

"What do you mean?"

"The building itself could be occupied 24/7.  Even after business-hours, there's somebody living upstairs, and they probably have a vested interest in their workplace not getting burglarized."

"Shit."

"Yeah.  Plus who knows how much a family business could keep everything separate in that kind of building?  If Old Man Martinez keeps business files in a safe in his bedroom, that's a whole 'nother can of worms."

Anna sighs.

***

Anna's lycra leotard clings to her curvy torso as she admires herself in the mirror.  Her muscles had bulked up her new line of work, and she was satisfied her old uniform still looked great on her.  The white and lime green tennis outfit wasn't the most provocative outfit she's worn these past months, but it was flirtatious while still being acceptable daytime wear in polite society.  While the top was form-fitting gym-wear, the skirt and tennis shoes kept the outfit from being too sexual.  Her naturally naturally flame red hair was now dyed a dark brown, both to blend in with the natives and dial down her sexuality even more.  A pony tail and a visor cemented the look in the inoffensively cute side of the spectrum.

From her shipside research, the Martinez family came across as decent people, almost boringly so.  The head of the family, Humberto Martinez, appeared to be in his sixties.  According to their website, he was a civil engineer for AMR back in the day, but decided to move to Harad to open his own firm about two year ago.  To no one's surprise, your team's surveillance confirmed that he's homebody and very much a family man.  He runs the business with with two adult sons, Oscar and Miguel.  Oscar was married and had since moved out, but Miguel was single and still lived in the family residence above the business.  Anna had cruised some dating sites for either son, but Oscar seems to be happily married and Miguel apparently not on the market.  Anna had cold called worse, but she was confident she could snag Miguel one way or another.  Presumably he's not too different from his father and older brother, and is looking for a nice girl to settle down with.  She just needed to throw herself at them while still looking like marriage material.

Erik whistles, "Damn, should've known you were a cheerleader in your past life."

Anna winks, "You think I was deadly with that machinegun back at Flossmore?  You should see me with a t-shirt cannon."

Erik nods admiringly, "You sure slayed out there.  Nothing personal, but I didn't think you had that in you."

Anna decides to play off the microaggression and move on.  She unzips a color-coordinated backpack cooler "Speaking of, ever try Green Owl?  Like they say, 'Green Owl elevates your being!'"

Erik looks over the canned beverages, "Back in my younger days sure.  They only had one flavor then.  They got alittle crazy once they got popular."

Anna giggles and closes up the cooler, "Oh, I know it.  I'm betting they don't have them out here in the sticks either."

"Ah, smart."

"You can say that again."

***

Anna unshoulders the backpack cooler with a graceful shimmy followed by a non-chalant back arching stretch.  (She already had the three men's attention, but a little move like that never hurt.)  Grandma Martinez had been skeptical at the front desk, but not enough to deny her family free samples.  She also agreed to hold down the shop while the door-to-door Green Owl Girl did her product demo.

"First off, I'd like to thank you all for letting me into your place of work!  I'm super excited to introduce y'all to some of Green Owl's latest performance enhancing beverages-"

Oscar interrupts with a joke, "Hey, what kind of performance we talking about?  My wife had no complaints last night."

Humberto shakes his head and Miguel sighs.

"That's such a great question!  I'm so glad you asked!  People think of Green Owl is just about our classic THC infusion, but there's so much more to the Universe of Green Owl these days!  Our full line of products provide a 24/7 range of solutions for modern high performance professionals such as yourselves!"

Humberto raises an eyebrow, "24/7?  As in stuff you drink at work?"

Anna unzips the cooler and showcases the various canned beverages, "You are correct, sir!  The office coffee pot is sooo 20th century."

Oscar backs her, "Damn straight.  Don't talk to me in the morning before I get my Cherry Coca."

Anna follows her ally's lead, "See, he gets it!"  She tosses him a drink can and Oscar deftly catches it in one hand.

"Nice hands!  An athlete, I take it?"

Oscar glows in the compliment, "Not as much as I used to.  Wife and kids keep me busy these days."

Anna lays it on thick, "Oh, you sound like such a good father and husband... But if you really want that get-up-and-go in the morning, you can't beat the herbal metabolic boost of Arctic Ephedra Rush!  It'll really get your blood flowing!"

Miguel quips, "Arctic Ephedra?  How does that even make sense?"

Oscar cracks the can open, "I mean, it's blue."

He takes a sip, "And it tastes... like blue."

Anna interjects, "It's blue raspberry!  I think it's something that grows on the glitterworlds?"  She hands a can to Miguel.

Miguel reads the can, "Cranberry Kratom Cooler?"

"That's right!  That's a personal favorite of mine!  Also fully certified organic!"

Miguel takes a drink, "Not bad."

"Exactly!  A nice everyday upper with great flavor!  But what about when it's really time to put the nose to the grindstone?  Applebanana Addy is super popular these days among white collar professional such as yourselves!"

Humberto laughs, "Addy is still a thing?  That takes me back to my school days."

"It's a dog-eat-dog 'verse out there, sir.  If you don't take performance enhancers, you're only cheating yourself."

"Good thing I'm halfway to retirement then."  He hands off the can to Oscar, "You and your brother are going to need this though.  With what I've seen so far, Mr. Potter is going to be furious, and we need really mind our p's and q's on this one."

Oscar reassures his father, "It's a big job, but we won't let you down Papa.  If anything, we should be able to afford a nice vacation this year.  Those 'Tiger Tours' on Lossarnach could be a great little getaway."

Anna picks up her cue, "...Doctors agree that quality relaxation can often be the best performance enhancer!  Green Owl also has what I like to call "vacation in a can."  At the end of a hard work day, trust N-Bomb-a Mama or PC Pina Colada to really sweep you off your feet!  I'll leave you a sample of each for later!"

Oscar laughs, "Damn, you weren't lying about 24/7."

Anna bats her eyes, "Oh, a hard-working single gal like me knows that integrity is everything.  I'm so happy I can help out others elevate their performance to meet their dreams."

Humberto goes there, "Well I'm sure you're in more than one guy's dreams."

Anna giggles coquettishly and pulls a calling card from her bra, "Well I hope you like the samples I brought.  The stores out here don't seem to carry this kind of variety, but you can always order direct from me.  That's my personal number and I'm always happy to make deliveries."

Oscar takes the card and hands it off to his little brother with a wink and a nudge.

***

Erik fast forwards through Anna's button cam footage.  He'd already cased the outside on foot, but the interior was still an unknown.  Erik hadn't exactly excelled at his training, but to him, physical security on the groundfloor seemed pretty run-of-the-mill:  no apparent security systems or extraordinary aftermarket locks.  Probably too much daytime traffic to black bag the place in broad daylight, but night could work if they kept light and noise discipline.  Sure would be nice if there wouldn't be a family sleeping upstairs, but hopefully the report would be found downstairs.

Anna steps out of the bathroom, fresh out of the shower and wrapped in a towel.  Combing her hair out and peering over his shoulder, she asks, "So, what do you think so far?"

Erik still doesn't know Anna that well, and tries to shrugs off the oddness of the situation as he focuses on the video, "Well, no deal breakers yet.  Any idea where the report is?"

"Not yet.  As you can see, it's a typical small office space with a handful of workstations and file cabinets.  I didn't see any safes at least."

"Could still have something upstairs though.  Did you get up there at all?"

"...not yet."

"Was there a basement?"

"...uh..."

Erik shrugs, "Would be nice to know.  You know, files stored in the basement, next to the weapon cache, sex dungeon, and smuggler safehouse?"

Anna groans, "Trust me, these guys aren't that kind of type."

"Yeah, but you don't know that.  Do you?  Aren't you supposed to be our Intelligence Specialist?"

Anna recoils at the low blow, "And aren't you supposed to be our B&E Specialist, who can't even pick a fraking lock?"

"Gorram, don't get your panties in a ball.  I'm just saying, we still got a lot of unknowns here."

Anna accepts the deescalation, "And I'm saying, this is still a work in progress.  I got two hooks set in these guys.  Either they call me for more Grey Owl, or they call me to set me up with Miguel.  Probably both, honestly."

"That sounds like a plan.  Find out if there's a basement and try to get a look upstairs.  That's the only way we're going to get PIR 1-"

*RING* *RING*

Anna picks her mobile phone off the end table and answers it with her Grey Owl Girl voice, "Hello? ... Oh heeeey Miguel!  I'm so glad you called!"

She winks to Erik and gives him a thumbs up.

"Totes I can come by the office tomorrow! ... Yeah, I guess I'll see you then!  Byyyyeeee!"

She hangs up the phone and looks to Erik, "Hook, line, and sinker beyotch."

***

ConscriptFive

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Re: Space Cowboys for Hire (A PvE AR-like) [Turn 5: Operations Phase]
« Reply #350 on: October 24, 2020, 10:07:28 am »

Mission Report Part (5/?)

Potter Properties' Inspection Report ISR (Part Two)

Anna places a paper wrapped sandwich on Miguel's desk, "So, yeah!  I figured you could really use a nice lunch.  You know what they say about the fastest way to a man's heart right?"

Miguel winces, "Oh wow, you shouldn't have...  Does that have gluten in it?"

"Uh, it's organic?"

"I'm sorry, I'm intolerant of wheat."

"You seem like such a nice guy though.  How could you be prejudiced against a crop?"

Miguel sighs, "It's like an allergy.  I mean, good thing I prefer corn tortillas, huh?  Mama usually cooks lunch for me.  I'm sure your sandwich is really delicious though."

Anna gives an exaggerated pout, "Oh.  Maybe I should take it upstairs then?  Maybe one of the kids would want it?"

Miguel pauses in thought, "Hmm, that's a good idea.  Why don't you run upstairs real quick and let me wrap up some work here."

With license to wander, it doesn't take long for Anna to case the ground floor.  At the base of the stairs, she passes a large fireproof safe.  Upstairs she meets a seven-year-old boy.  He's utterly rapt in playing with his blocks and takes the sandwich from her wordlessly.

Miguel meets her at the base of the stairs and they congregate in the break room, "The Green Owl has really been a hit.  I'd love to order some more for the office."

Anna gently strokes his arm, "Aww, well you didn't need to speak to me in person for that...  Are you sure you didn't want something else?"

Miguel blushes and stammers slightly, "Uhh... well... I did want to see you again..."

"Aww, you're so sweet!  Maybe we could go out somewhere later today when you get off work?"

"Yeah sure.  Uhh... din-dinner?"

"That sounds like fun!"

***

Having borrowed the family Honda, Miguel takes Anna out for a night out on the town.  However, the fast casual joint Miguel picked out is literally nothing to write home about.  It's more of a lunch place, and Anna finds her Cobb salad deeply disappointing.  (At least the avocados were fresh.)

His conversation skills in general are terrible, and she's not sure if he's intimidated by her or doesn't get out much.  "Probably both," she reckons.  Miguel's jokes are poorly executed, as he seemingly loses confidence in them before he even hits the punchline.  Still, she laughs anyways.  All in all, she plays her part well.

Luckily for your operator, he doesn't seem to do much beside work, so that's just about all he talks about.  As she suspected, Miguel and Oscar are currently working on the Potter Properties' report right now.  He's encouraged as she shows interest in his work.

"I mean, it's a big apartment block up on the North Side.  All new and the utilities are already hooked up.  It's our job to make sure everything is safe, and the seller isn't trying to pull a fast one."

"Oh, really?  Like what?"

"I mean, it's a new construction, so in theory, everything should be perfect.  But builders often cut corners.  Sometimes a developer even builds on land that shouldn't be built, like a floodplain for example."

"Wow, you must be really smart to do that kind of work...  Hey, I'm not getting along with my roomate now, and looking to move out.  The market is totally nuts though.  Is this place nice?"

"Yeah.  I was just there last night.  I got a set of keys so I can check everything out as needed."

Anna's interest is more than genuine now, "You don't say?  Why don't you give me a little private tour?  It could be fun!"

"Uh... I mean... it's mostly empty.  I don't know what we would even do over there."

Anna sidles up to him places a hand on his thigh under the table, "I'm sure we'll find something to do all alone out there."

***

On the drive out to the North Side, normal radio programming is interrupted with reports of civil unrest out on the West Side.  Outwardly, Anna keeps up clueless act in front of her mark, but isn't suprised Vic screwed up a cakewalk that badly.

Her phone chirps with a text from Erik.  Trying to keep up OPSEC, it's a mimialist message consisting of a newslink to breaking reporting on the Founder's Fifth riots and a question mark.  Anna shakes her head and text back a 'thumbs up' emoji.  It's a completely different part of town, and even if it did make a difference, she wasn't going to let Vic compromise both missions so readily.

With Miguel looking at her, Anna gestures to her phone, "Gorram roommate again.  This is why I need to move out."

***

Anna fistpumps as she walks into her apartment, "Honey, I'm home."

Erik looks up from his smartphone, "Somebody's got a smile on their face."

"Ha, you should see the other guy.  Let's just say both our needs were met.  ...or should I say... requirements."

Erik raises an eyebrow, "Oh, really?"

Anna recounts her date minus the lurid details.  Once inside the apartment complex, Anna had pretty of context to "pump" Miguel for information on it.  Humberto is mostly retired, leaving Oscar as the lead inspector and Miguel as the assistant inspector.  It's the largest project Martinez & Sons ever had, and it takes the full effort of both of them.  Humberto does still handle the clients, and has set a deadline of the third Friday of next month to publish and ship the report to the buyer.  The buyer is local to Rattlesnake Ridge and prefers a hardcopy delivered via a bonded courier.

"Did the safe come up at all?"

Anna shakes her head, "I didn't want to get that obvious."

Erik puts on a feminine falsetto voice, "Oh yeah baby, you know what else is hard and steely?"

Anna laughs, "Oh... I feel so safe in your arms right now...  If only I was a sensitive document you could tuck away..."

Erik guffaws, "Shit, you *are* dangerous."

"I'll take that as a compliment...  So, what did you see on the footage from earlier?"

"The ground floor layout is mapped out.  No stairs to a basement and what you saw of the upstairs was pretty residential.  There were some desk drawers, but unless they're really sloppy, that safe was the only secure overnight storage."

"That's what I was thinking.  Chief teach you anything about that kind of safe?"

"Yeah, and the short version is that it's a common dial lock safe."

"So common you can open it?"

"Non-destructive safecracking is outside my lane."

"Well, frak."

"I mean, it's three cams, three digits: 0 to 99.  I'm not one to geek out over math, but that's going to be a shitload of combinations.  We should conceal a button cam there on your next visit."

Anna taps her foot, "Well.. three digits huh?"

"That's what it looks like."

"0 to 99?"

"Yes."

Anna's thumbs fly across her smartphone as she searches for something, "Well guess who added me on social media?"

Erik rolls his eyes, "You gonna message Miguel for the safe combo?"

Anna smiles, "We probably don't need to.  Humberto is a family man, and as far as I can tell, little Miguel is the favorite."

Erik scoffs at what she's suggesting, "People can't possibly be that dumb."

"Never underestimate stupidity my friend..."  Her blue eyes search the screen of her phone like a predator, "Bam!  There's all the happy birthday posts."

***

It's after midnight, and despite the unrest earlier in the week, the city of Rattlesnake Ridge is sound asleep.  Clad in black turtlenecks, Anna ally-oops Erik with a grunt as he prys open a side window with his multitool.  With Erik through the window soon enough, she backs off to keep lookout and standby for 'Plan B.'  Multiple vehicular stakeouts had confirmed that Miguel and the rest of the family get to bed early, but you never know.

Once inside the pitch dark building, Erik orients himself to his sketch.  He wishes he had some NVGs, but instead waits a few interminable minutes for his eyes to adjust to the low light.  (Favoring agility, Erik decided not to use the large FLIR binoculars indoors.)  During this time, he sits in a low crouch, pondering his own Plan B.  Sure, it was nice to have a lookout outside, but if Mama Juanita jumped him with a butcher's knife, he'd be missing several pints of blood before Anna could reach him.  As he sits idle, his dominant hand rests on the Magnum revolver.  It wasn't the best Plan B for a black bag job, but it was the only fighting hardware higher issued him.

With the outlines of the office furniture as clear as it's going to get, Erik creeps methodically along the floor.  Despite his first attempt ending up in a broom closet, ("Yeah, that's not going in the report...") he finds the safe at the base of the stairs without too much trouble.  A night light at the top of the stairs provides just enough illumination to make out the numbers on the dial.

Not expecting Anna's guess to work, Erik pulls the crank hard and the safe creaks open.  Hearing stirring from above, he locks the safe shut and scrambles out the window.

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