Friday, July 31, 2015

The Harp Incident-05

We got into the air before our subject and his Squid handler did, thanks to a quick maneuver by Matt to cock-up their flight plan filings. Only took half an hour to fix it, but that was enough to get on the Agency jet and ahead of them. I authorized the use of restricted airspace to get us there faster, and with Eric on the stick we had no incidents getting to Las Vegas well ahead of the opposition. Matt and Aaron ensured we had the gear needed at the hangar when we got there, and Jan took the flight time to dig deeper into the subject's past to figure out a new approach angle.

Once we landed and got into the Agency safehouse there, we got the tracking up and running. The subject and Squid Carrano landed just as we got online in the safehouse, and their communications revealed that the subject was about to meet a Dr. Goro in a penthouse suite at the Excaliber. While the hotels in Las Vegas are, for the most part, clean of any group tied to the Game that doesn't make them wholly untouched; they'll cater to any high roller, and I do mean "cater" and "any". Dr. Goro operates out of Malaysia, and he specializes in genetics and epigentics- he's renown as a researcher into the genetic elements of disease, looking for treatments and cure. He is also known in my world as being responsible for super-soldier research.

Either this kid's going to end up vivisected, or indoctrinated into being a super-Squid. Neither is acceptable to the Agency.

"Jan, you got an angle yet?" I said, hoping she'd deliver.

"Yeah." She showed a picture of a former teacher of his from university. "Turns out our subject had a questionable relationship with one of his professors, and she disappeared on sabbatical shortly before he made his trip to Baja."

"I found the woman. She's turned up in a Mexican prison, convicted of trafficking." Matt said.

"Drugs?" Eric said.

"Girls." Matt said, "The woman also had ties to NGOs and charities dealing in that stuff. Hell of a cover. Not a known Squid, or for any other enemy org."

Jan sighed. "Well, that explains a lot. This kid already had the recruitment angle worked on him. The best thing I can do is turn it."

I nodded. "Do it. It looks like neither Carrano nor Goro know about the woman yet."

While Jan moved to the other room and began changing, I brought up a presentation: "This is the play. Jan's going to make the first touch, getting us in the door. Eric, you're the wheelman that got her here. Aaron, you're the cartel asset that got her out. Matt's on coordination, as usual."

"And you, boss?" Aaron said.

"I'm her handler." I said, "We're committing to turning this recruitment angle against the Squids. Carrano's likely calling in muscle to back him up; any others on site are Goro's men, and he probably travels with just the acceptable entourage to keep up appearances."

Friday, July 24, 2015

The Harp Incident-04

We entered the Carrano residence under the guise of being Treasury agents. Treasury, of course, because that's where the Secret Service resides and we like to abuse their wide powers- any threat against the President of the United States goes to them, and they check it out. Handy shit for when we need a go-to cover that will work on Fridge Logic.

Jan and Aaron, doing their best Fed impression, handled face contact; I monitored from around the corner, doing the reading-a-thing-while-on-a-bench routine and Eric as the silent and implied threat of force. Matt, having real-time taps on hand, fed Jan and Aaron information as they needed it.

"I've identified the subject. He's in a side room with our Squid friend." Matt said into my ear, "It looks like Mr. Squid is keeping him calm, as he's buying into the ruse."

"Good." I said, "Jan, Aaron- keep the brother on tilt; Eric, mind the side room."

Jan and Aaron work well doing Good Cop/Bad Cop, and the fact that the businessman Carrano has dodgy financials as well as political arrangements make a Treasury visit viable as a cover. While Aaron and Jan kept the man and his staff on hand busy attempting to avoid arrest, Eric--under Matt's direction--scanned the place and did his best Suited Thug work.

"Squid's slipping subject out a window." Matt said.

"I'm on it. Finish the show, and let the fish go." I said, and I caught the subject and Squid Carrano coming out a side entrance. "Got them; fixing."

"Tagged." Matt said as they made their way to a parked car down the block, "So long as we have access to the grid, we have tracking."

Jan, Aaron, and Eric ended their show and left without incident. It wouldn't be until a few hours passed that they'd get any idea that they'd been had.

"Squid's calling his brother." Matt said, "Brother knows what's up with the subject. File appended."

"I'll tail them first." I said, and rolled after them as they drove away. Eric and I traded off several times as they made their way to one of the local airports to board a private jet. One check later: "They're for Las Vegas."

"Stall them. We need to buy time and get ahead." I said, "Then call the caretaker and get going. Everyone to the tarmac."

Friday, July 17, 2015

The Harp Incident-03

The team and I quickly got real-time intelligence on the businessman's residence, and then found out who was inside. Matt used the backdoors in the phones to access the microphones and stream their audio, monitoring movements and access their social media accounts. It turned out that our man was there, and his name was Brian Johnson- a University of Chicago student majoring in Meteorology. At that point, Matt chimed in with some needed information.

"There was a secret transmitter array in Baja."

"Was?" I said.

"Blown up last month, in a raid that the FBI had classified for national security reasons. Something destroyed the entire facility instantly, and the report says that only a single man--our subject--walked out. Doctors at the nearest clinic took him in, but he healed to perfect health within a day and he left."


Matt caught my hint. "He was in good health previously, but nothing like the peak-human condition he soon assumed. Open wounds, scar tissue- all healed away within hours."

"He was then seen pushing himself in exercise routines, collapsing, recovering within an hour and then going again. Same with his martial training."


"Cuba. Havana."

"With whom?"

"Our businessman's brother, a mercenary and former Foreign Legion soldier: Raphael Carrano."

Carrano. That name I knew. "He's Squid." I said, referring to one of our enemies, "It's likely that he's already doing what we want to do. Swap to Fed covers. We're busting them."

Friday, July 10, 2015

The Harp Incident-02

I took a nap on the private jet the Agency used to ferry me to Miami, and from there I met the team at the safehouse the Agency established there for operations involving Cuba years ago. Nothing fancy, of course, but it's good enough for our needs.

Waiting there were the four agents I called for: Mark Decker (my IT guy), Jan Falcon (a great honeypot), Erik Redman (wheelman), and Aaron Jackson (my fixer). They had already made themselves at home, and Jan wasted no time in greeting me as I entered the house; she took my bags, handed me a drink, and pointed me to our ad-hoc conference room. While she sorted the baggage, I went to said room and shook hands with the others. Jan then came in, and I had them take seats.

"Six hours ago, an unknown subject single-handedly broke every prisoners in Guantanamo Bay out. The subject is a white man, approximately 20 years of age, blond hair and blue eyes, as indicated in the footage that the Agency provided to you. Our job is to track him down and bring him in."

Just then, Control came on the line. "Good, you're all there. A profile of the subject is complete and now pushing to your clients."

Mark, having set up his control system, immediately took up his end of the matter. "I'm listening. Just keep going."

"Our subject has no prior record of criminal activity and political action has been harmless and useless to date. This incident, therefore, is his debut as an actor of substance. We have reason to believe that his recent month-long excursion to Baja California is the catalyst for this change; however, we want you to engage him and bring him in- and that is why you are in Miami."

Jan signaled. "Ah, I see what the play is; show me his last girlfriend."

I looked over to Matt, and he nodded. Jan got a look at the ex-girlfriend: girl-next-door appearance, rich girl attire, left the subject while he was in the hospital for an older--and much richer--friend with a lock on a corporate position. "Well, it's doable, but if we can't locate him in short order I'm left with outright recruitment as the angle."

"You're authorized." I said, "We can't subdue by force. Guile's required for him- the muscle is for other interested parties."

Aaron, looking on with Jan, piped up. "Mostly normal in his interests, apparently, and politics is under-grad fashionable; something recently put him into a place to go radical like this."

"The story online is contained to the fringe areas, but it's viral within them." Matt said, not looking away from his bank of monitor, "However, I do have his phone's GPS now. The phone is here in town; I presume he's with it. The location has him at the home of a local businessman with ties to Miami's man in the House of Representatives."

I rolled my eyes. Not eight hours in, and already complications. "Jan, Aaron, get ready. Eric, get dressed. Matt, you're holding this down here; I'll take the second set of wheels as backup. 20 minutes."

Friday, July 3, 2015

The Harp Incident-01

It began with an emergency recall from my holiday in Colorado, and no sooner did I get on the helicopter than I get a tablet shoved into my hands.

"The Agency apologizes for the interruption, but this is a Black Swan event at Code Black severity." Control said, "I've taken the liberty of clearing your schedule, as this matter is now your top priority."

That meant trouble, severe trouble. Now, "Black Swan" isn't Agency jargon; that's mainstream talk for "an unforseen event of significance". "Code Black", on the other hand, was jargon and it meant "Crisis Event of Clear and Immanent Danger"- the sort of thing that you'd see James Bond sent in to handle.

"The video provided to you occurred four hours ago, and it would have come sooner but it took that long to recover it and get it to us." Control said, and I watched a video out of Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. I watched a 10 minute long video montage from the camp's security cameras of a blond-haired, blue-eyed young man wearing blue jeans and a plain T-shirt attack the camp and bust out all of the prisoners held there. He got shot more times than I could count and didn't even blink, let alone react or suffer apparent injury. When guards closed to bring him into melee, he tossed them aside like rag dolls- and gently so. He broke secured doors with inhuman ease. He wore no armor, used no tools, and walked out as casually as he walked in.

"Part of the reason for the short duration is that, as part of his assault, he found and destroyed the security command center. That included the hardware that recorded the camera footage. We have a partial reconstruction, and more is in the work. However, review of the attacker showed that he has an online presence exhibiting hostility to U.S. foreign policy, and recently disappeared in Baja California for a month before returning from wherever he went- and has not said anything concrete about that month of missing time."

"Do we have a profile on this kid?" I said, curious to see if Control's done the homework.

"Compiling, and should be ready soon."

"What's the objective?"

"Bring this kid in." Control said, "The cleaners are already on site. You're going to Miami, as we expect the young man to depart from Cuba right away. Make your personnel selections within the next five minutes; they will meet you there."