No Tomorrow

03A: Asset Recovery: Part 1

To be continued… 

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02: Missing in Action

Mission 2

Date: 12-18-2011
Detroit, MI – USA
CODE: YELLOW

DOSSIER: AGENT HEARKEN [CLEARANCE REQUIRED]

   It was supposed to be a simple “milk run”: a field agent, code-named Hearken, had not reported in at his designated time. Origin’s directive: show up at the agent’s apartment as his friends, deliver the coded message “The boss is looking for you”, and find out why he has not kept in touch. Wrap up the mission, and come home.

   A brief morning drive brought the team to Woodland Arms Apartments, one of the many low-rent dives in the city. The silent and resilient Mother’s Pawn stepped out with Candyman and Zero while Enigma and Skynet maintained a lookout. Sensing something was amiss, Candyman knocked on the neighboring unit’s door for questioning before making contact with Hearken.

   A middle-aged woman answered, suspicious of the early morning visitors. He easily calmed her nerves and asked her son Anthony and herself about their “friend”.

   Three days ago, the mother, Marilyn, was asleep through the ordeal. However, Anthony was up playing with her mobile phone past midnight when he heard and saw what had happened: four masked white men kicked in his neighbor’s door and charged inside. A brief struggle ensued before he peeked through the blinds and saw a couple of the men carry Mr. Pickett’s body outside and around the corner. He could not tell if the man was unconscious or dead…

   Little Anthony heard the men ransack the apartment before leaving with a computer tower and nothing else. He told his mother of the ordeal the next morning, but they did not contact law enforcement, fearful of possible retaliation from local criminals. Both Candyman and Zero assured them that they would be safe, thanked them for their time, and turned their attention to the apartment.

   A missing agent is never good news. At best, Hearken would turn up dead – at worst, a turncoat on the side of the unknown enemy.

   With gun at the ready, Mother’s Pawn edged the door open. The entire apartment looked like a wreck; furniture was smashed, couch cushions were slashed open, carpeting had been torn up, and vent covers ripped out, and the television was smashed open. Wordlessly, they searched the empty apartment for clues of the events that had transpired.

   Their first clue was a large pile of cash sitting undisturbed on the dining table. A brief and very quiet search revealed an audio bug hidden among the dollar bills, set to call a local number upon detecting loud noise nearby. Fortunately, they had not triggered the bug to activate, and continued their search through the apartment.

   Their second clue was a flyer for a seedy bar called “The Slim House”. Writing on the back read: “2ND STALL”.

   Their third clue was a cap to a USB drive. “DYNABAND”, Hearken’s cover job, was printed across the smooth black plastic but the USB drive itself was nowhere to be found.

   Lastly, Zero found a narrow crawlspace leading behind the apartment’s old boiler. With great effort, he squeezed through the tiny passage and searched the cramped gap behind the device. He found a loose baseboard, pried it away, and searched the dark opening of the wall.

   The hidden cavity was trapped. A loud click gave him enough warning to avoid being struck by a series of tiny, poisoned needles, designed to knock out their victim with only a prick of the finger. He felt his way past the needles and retrieved a small, sealed bag containing a twisted piece of plastic. With nothing left to find, they submitted the suspiciously-hidden clue back to their base before making their way to Dynaband.

   Dynaband was a small-op communications company that employed only a few hundred to maintain their phone, internet, and cable services to the local area. Candyman, Enigma, and Mother’s Pawn made their way inside. Security was a joke; the guard on duty, a shaggy, red-haired twenty-something dutifully ignored the doors and cameras while playing on his phone and listening to his mp3 player. His partner was nowhere to be found.

   On their search for his office, they were stopped by an employee for a brief chat. Candyman smoothly bluffed her and told her they were here to pick up “Douglass Pickett’s” belongings as he had not shown up for his shift in days, but they could not find his office. She pointed them to Technical Services after their conversation.

   Only minor diplomacy was required for Candyman to calm down the I.T. staff, nervous of their intrusion. The supervisor on duty told them more of the same: Pickett had not clocked in for three days, and invited them to “box his junk because he’s as good as fired”. After a brief and undisturbed search of Hearken’s gadget-filled office, they discovered a note left by a janitor: it was an innocuous note about him never picking up a requested cleaner from the maintenance room, which was their new destination.

   The maintenance room was packed with tools, crates, boxes, and materials. A lengthy search revealed their quarry: the USB drive was sealed in a small plastic bag inside one of the drains in the floor. The drain pipe was thin enough to cause significant trouble for the agents who attempted to reach it by hand. Only after a few minutes of struggle did they find a nearby litter picker to freely capture their prize.

   The USB drive revealed only a few encrypted photos taken by Hearken only recently: an infamous terrorist known as Jack Whicker, thought to have died ten years ago, was seen alive and conversing with multiple persons of interest. In the first image, Whicker was caught having a meeting with the unsavory Detroit Crips gang; the second image showed him conversing peacefully with the vicious MS-13; and in the last and most disturbing image, Whicker was seated with an FBI agent in what appeared to be a conversation over dinner. With Hearken’s data unveiled, the agents began to understand the gravity of the situation: a powerful terrorist was somewhere in Detroit, and he seemed to have access to some very powerful people.

   With data in tow, the agents pulled out of Dynaband, and made one more stop: the Slim House. The seedy establishment was located easily within the territory of the Crips. The agents all arrived in the hour of the early evening, and paid a “cover charge” for the privilege of entering the bar. Once inside, they ignored the multitude of hostile stares from all around and sat down at the bar. The plan: look as unsuspicious as possible (as much as a well-dressed group of Caucasians and one Asian can appear in a bar full of grungy gang members), buy a few drinks, and then investigate the writing on the back of the flyer.

   After a few drinks, Enigma investigated the men’s restroom and opened up the water tank of the toilet in the second stall: inside the frigid water lay a Slim Battery sealed within a plastic bag. He took the package, dried it off, and stashed it beneath his coat before the agents prepared to make their exit.

   Before they left, they caught one suspicious detail: seeing that the group of men were on their way out, one of the crips – a rough-looking woman – tossed her cigarette butt to the floor and hurried out. This at least warranted investigation; Candyman followed, and Enigma trailed along at a distance. Candyman tried to unsuccessfully sweet-talk the tough girl, but Enigma followed her trail to an abandoned, collapsed house. There, she met in the basement with a newcomer – a sureño, oddly enough – and they held a secret meeting in a language that none of them understood.

   The agents submitted their findings to the Ford Factory for examination, and were returned with a few interesting discoveries:

   1) The “Crip” that had met peacefully with the “Sureño” were both ex-military, medically discharged with honorable records, no criminal history, an indicate some sort of involvement with vigilantism.
   2) Lead Science Officer, Lighthouse, performed a full examination on the featureless Slim Battery. Little is known about it, except that it was designed for low-threshold power, a long life, and compact fitting.
   3) Further, Lighthouse examined the Damaged Biochip retrieved from Hearken’s apartment. Its original purpose cannot be fully discerned, but the device contained a minute receiver and trace amounts of dried spinal fluid. Beyond that, little useful information was revealed.

With their initial agent check-up concluded, the agents have learned that bigger fish have come to the city of Detroit. The game has become significantly more dangerous, especially with a fellow agent allegedly having been abducted. Only the future holds their fate…

 

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01: Welcome to Detroit

C O N F I D E N T I A L
CLASSIFICATION ██████████

SERVICE OF MR. BLAND

   AUTHENTICATION: ████████████████████
   REPORT NO.: ███████
   REFERENCE: R-5674-68086

   FROM: ███████████
   TO: ORIGIN
   SUBJECT: Agent Integration Analysis


   1. I had confirmed the preparation of our watcher team while listening to your briefing with the new assets. Team consisted of agents █████, ████████, ████, ██████, and myself. I have briefed them all on your limited release of the dossiers of Candyman, Enigma, Mother’s Pawn, Skynet, and Zero, as well as our mission parameters.

   2. I directed █████ to passively observe while the agents were en route toward 8 Mile Road. He noted Zero’s penchant for speeding, but he successfully avoided law enforcement contact. Zero parked the car near the designated abandoned bar and remained in the vehicle with Skynet. Enigma departed and walked approximately 50 meters away to run un-aided surveillance. Candyman and Mother’s Pawn departed and met with contact Randy Dwayne (unnamed to the agents). Candyman observed protocol.
   █████ noticed that six casuals across the street had observed the agents arriving. The casuals conspired with each other; █████ panned his parabolic microphone toward them. Transcript of conversation:

Casual 1: “You see them white boys?”
Casual 2: “Shit.”
Casual 3: “You was lookin’ for dubs, right? They only gots two bitches in they ride. Let’s roll that shit.”
Casual 2: “That bitch is lookin’ at you. Aw hell no, do you see that shit?”

   Agent Zero was observed making blatant, threatening gestures at the casuals. The casuals responded with hostility and began to cross the street. Zero departed the vehicle and attempted to escalate the situation. Candyman quickly arrived and attempted to mediate, but failed. Contact Randy Dwayne observed the situation and eluded. Agent Mother’s Pawn retrieved a shotgun from the vehicle and approached the scene.
   Casuals saw agent Mother’s Pawn approaching with his weapon, and ceased aggressive behavior. Assets ordered the casuals to leave.
   █████ saw three young children watching the scene from a nearby 3rd storey apartment window. One child had captured the scene on his cell phone camera. █████ notified me; I confirmed the children had recorded the entire scene and were attempting to upload the file to Youtube. Agent Skynet detected this attempt, and ran interference; the file was deleted. Assets departed.

   3. I directed ████ to passively observe while the assets were en route to the International Riverfront. Assets arrived quietly and located █████████. Protocols observed; casuals in the dark. Assets convened for lunch at Harley Bar & Grill for lunch. █████████ departed. ████ confirmed that the agents spoke with casuals in the establishment regarding OSINT. No suspicions rose, and assets departed.

   4. I directed ████████ and ██████ to passively observe while the assets were en route to the Eastern Market. Assets arrived amid the market’s busiest time, located Kurt Stines with little effort, and successfully observed protocols.
   ████████ advised me that FBI Agent Serena Lackner was running surveillance on a local target, and had recognized Candyman. Lackner broke off from her assigned surveillance to watch Candyman, and discreetly spoke into a microphone hidden within her sleeve. ████████ requested to eliminate Lackner; I denied the request, and directed ██████ to intercept any communications from her.
   Candyman approached Lackner and greeted her openly. She responded coldly, and left. ██████ intercepted her report and altered it remove all traces of the assets. ██████ confirmed that the FBI is in the dark about the assets, and ordered Lackner to maintain the course of her assignment. Assets departed.

   5. Conclusion. Assets performed their duties well; they did not engage in combat or deliberately compromising activities. Candyman operated admirably under pressure, Enigma willingly performed surveillance, and Skynet assisted with covering their tracks. I advise you to remind Zero to reign in his temper and prevent the unnecessary escalation of hostilities. Mother’s Pawn successfully used intimidation against problematic casuals, but their scene at 8 Mile Road was too open, and risked exposure. He has also been seen taking small drinks from his flask; I presume it contains alcohol. It did not become a problem during the mission, but you should approach him about this in the future. I also recommend the team work together, and not split up into personal pursuits.
   This team is ready for field work. They work well together, and do not let personal issues interfere with the mission. I will recall my team from surveillance, and await further orders.

████████████
Senior Case Officer
Section 04
Service of Mr. Bland


C O N F I D E N T I A L

   It was an easy, mundane task: deliver three different sealed envelopes and their contents to three contacts located within the city of Detroit without attracting undue attention. Five different men from five different walks of life, each crossed by treacherous fate, were gathered together by the mysterious, independent agency serving the eccentric Mr. Bland for purposes known only to the highest echelon of the organization. In exchange for their service, he will help them find a way to clear their names of their disavowed and / or hunted statuses.

   The alternative: be left to chance at the hands of the world’s greatest hunters, wanted by the most powerful agencies with few places to run and nowhere to hide.

   Underneath an abandoned Ford safe house in Detroit, the five agents – Candyman, Enigma, Mother’s Pawn, Skynet, and Zero – met and were directed by their cigar-smoking handler, Origin, to familiarize themselves with the city for the delivery job and future missions. Though this was a simple familiarization, the agents were to conduct themselves as if they were operating a code yellow mission.

   After the briefing, the agents picked up a few tools and a veritable arsenal from requisitions before setting out on their mission. Their first stop was 8 Mile Road, the notorious dividing line between the sprawl’s hard-living dwellers and the more affluent citizens of the suburbs. Their contact: an unnamed man in a hooded jacket waiting at an abandoned bar.

   The agents were met with hard stares from rough passerby when they parked their van at the deserted building and stepped out for the meeting. The smooth-talking Candyman, backed up by his stalwart companion Mother’s Pawn, handled their protocol with the contact smoothly. Back at the van, however, things were not going so smoothly.

   Agent Enigma’s sharp surveillance detected a group of thugs nearby eyeing the van for a robbery. Once he alerted the team, Zero decided to try his own brand of scaring off the thugs: a furious, chest-pounding threat and a lot of blustering. Unfortunately, the thugs reciprocated in kind and rose to his challenge.

   Candyman rushed over to prevent the debacle from escalating into an outright brawl while Mother’s Pawn calmly strode back to the van, retrieved his shotgun, and marched fearlessly to Candyman’s side. The universal language of threat by shotgun rang clearly through to the thugs, who dispersed quickly.

   The trouble was not over. Above, a group of children had captured the spectacle on their cell phone. Skynet’s quick handywork revealed they had recorded everything on video, and were attempting to upload the file to Youtube. With a bit more effort, he successfully corrupted the file before it completed its upload and erased the video from their phone with an aptly-placed Android virus. With the children disappointed and their work done, they departed for the International Riverfront to meet their next contact.

   Their target was a blind, old man with his service animal resting outside of an old barber shop. The contact was found with minimal effort, protocol was followed, and Candyman discreetly slipped the envelope into the fellow’s pocket before departing with the team for lunch.

   The last contact was the flamboyant owner of a produce stall in Detroit’s massive East Market. After considerable effort in navigating the boisterous crowd of shoppers, they found their contact and Candyman started protocol. However, they weren’t the only agents on a mission; a nearby woman in a track outfit noticed the undisguised agents and their exchange, and discreetly (or so she thought) monitored to them while occasionally brushing back a lock of her hair.

   Enigma alerted the team of her suspicious behavior, and Candyman investigated. After attempting an affable conversation with the cold woman, he discovered a miniature microphone hidden snugly inside of her sleeve. Each time she raised her hand to brush her hair back, she had actually been speaking discreetly into the device! The agents sent word back to Origin and the woman made her hasty retreat.

   With the mission done, they returned to base for their debriefing. Origin informed them that the agents were monitored during their task to assess their performance in the field. Aside from the fiasco at 8 Mile, the agents performed well. He advised that the woman they found at East Market was an undercover FBI agent searching for another target. Upon recognizing them, however, she began tracking them. Once the agents reported her, Origin had his own teams take steps to erase her reports, and have her “reassigned” to obscure duties.

   With their tracks sufficiently covered, the agents have gotten a taste of Detroit and are prepared for their future assignments…

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