ACCESSING ARCHIVED FEEDS...
DATE: SEPTEMBER 15th 2008
LOCATION: Saint-Priest, LYON, FRANCE
HALL DE LA PLAZA 5 - 09:05:44
From Bern, the drive had taken days. They had gone through the night to drive across the border from Switzerland. Ditching the car on a highway from the Swiss National Library, they took a bus then used what money Georgia could wire to rent another car, which they then ditched.
Kaitlyn had never met anyone like Georgia Newport. Daring, confident and fearless, she had saved her from the assassins sent to kill her. In the days afterwards, Georgia had been more honest to the girl now than at any other time in her life.
Initially she was hired from the dark-net by a former Russian Agent, Nazarov Tarasovich, who brought her into a group of mercenaries. With a sole purpose of destroying and dismantling PMCs and technology companies. Soon it occurred to them what they were doing, being used as weapons by their contact, an informant called Parnassus.
Betraying them, Parnassus was working for one of the companies that were fighting against. Decima Technologies soon rooted Georgia from her hideaway, arresting her and placing her at Rikers Island. Knowing she left vital code exposed, her mistake got most of Tarasovich's mercenary team killed.
After meeting a woman and telling her about Decima and their shell-company called Turndale Tech, Georgia caused a prison riot and almost escaped. A week later and she had used a satellite phone and what remained of Tarasovich's team to escape the island.
Hiding out in Bern, she worked with Ersnt Bortnikov and Nazarov's hidden partner, an FSB Section Chief called Chekhov. But when she became compromised, Bortnikov's assassins attempted to kill her, kidnapping her from her apartment. Chekhov had fled the country to New York with a German prisoner, but would soon be discovered by the CIA.
Only then did Georgia realise that she was on the wrong side. She went back to rescue Kaitlyn from Laszlo and they escaped across the country to France. From one of Georgia's aliases, they rented a hotel room and had been staying there ever since.
In the Lobby, Kaitlyn was sitting in a high-backed chair, waiting for Georgia to return from her mission. Her mission to the restaurant portion of the hotel - to find them a table for breakfast. They only had a couple of hours before they ceased breakfast service. Kait, a redhead, had dyed her hair a dark brunette as per Georgia's instructions.
Newport herself had changed her hair to a shorter, natural black. Shaving half her head into a side-fade, Georgia had masked her tattoos with a long, checkered sweater. Kaitlyn was wearing a sea-green bomber jacket over a pair of denim dungarees.
The lobby was busy with businessmen, ambling around as a conference was taking place in the nearest City, in central Lyon. Behind the front desk, an exotic-looking woman was giving directions in French to an Irish man, speaking with a strong accent. There seemed to be a communication breakdown.
HALL DE LA PLAZA 6 - 09:06:39
Kait was sitting in an armchair, her legs hanging over the side when Georgia walked up to her. Wearing ankle-length combat boots, Georgia ran a hand through her dark hair and stood with a hand on her hip, close to the chair. "Hey, I got us a table...might have to make it quick, it's a bloodbath in there." She smiled down at her.
"Now, how dangerous can breakfast be?" Kaitlyn replied, hopping off the chair and following Georgia passed the rope that separated the lobby to the restaurant section of the hotel. Sitting between a middle-aged couple and a pair of suited men, Kait dove into her chair and plucked a piece of bread from a basket in the middle of the table.
Opening a packet of butter, she started to wield a dull knife on the bread as Georgia was looking over the menu. "This isn't one of those buffet places, then? You know with all the tiny juice cups and beans in a pot." Kaitlyn observed, glancing down at the menu. Her blue eyes blinking, Georgia shook her head.
"Afraid not. But at least you don't have to beat the old women to the hash-browns and bacon strips." Georgia checked the menu, just as a thin-necked waiter came over to them. He opened a notepad and took out a pen, speaking French first, Georgia explained quite fluently that Kaitlyn was American. He soon switched to English for the benefit of her.
"So, can I get your name today? We have reservations, you see." The waiter began. Georgia causally folded her arms on the table after putting the menu down. She was more than accommodating "Of course, we did book this morning. I'm Ava, you'll find the reservation under Lovelace."
The waiter pouted but flicked a page of his notepad. "Very well. What shall it be this morning?" He asked. Kaitlyn had finally picked up the menu, even as she ate a slice of buttered baguette with one hand. "Let's start off with some toast, please, with bacon, sausage, and a scrambled egg." Georgia then eyed Kait, as she cleared her throat.
She was pretty, with clean makeup and dark red lips. "Do you do pancakes? I'd kill for some pancakes right now." Kaitlyn asked in return. The waiter stuttered for a second, but shaking his head, his tone was higher "Umm, no. We do have waffles, though, Belgian." He chattered. Satisfied enough, Kait gave him a thumbs-up. Helping herself to another piece of bread, Kaitlyn munched on it as Georgia ordered drinks.
One tall glass of orange juice and a pair of hot coffees. "You didn't order juice for yourself." Kait noted between bites of her bread.
"No, it goes straight through me." Georgia said. Taking a look at the people around her, the businessmen were reading a copy of the local French paper each. The couple to their other side were sharing breakfast. In the corner of the restaurant, a bald middle-aged man and his wife were chatting in what sounded like Spanish.
"You know, this reminds me of the work I did before I went to Switzerland." Kaitlyn brought up as she chewed through her piece of bread. Slightly confused, maybe tired, Georgia hummed in a questioning manner. "A lot of hotel breakfasts?" Georgia uttered.
Kait smirked a little "No...moving around a lot. I was a nurse, and after nine-eleven, filled with a sense of duty I went overseas. Sudan. I spent three months as a combat medic. I was exposed to such senseless violence and things that can't be unseen. From what you've told me, you've experienced the same."
Taken aback, Georgia's first response was to question the young woman opposite. "How do you go from nursing in Sudan to working at a library in Switzerland?" She questioned back to her.
She has been constantly surprised by Kaitlyn's willingness, but now it made sense. The fact that she didn't seem that opposed to gunfire when they avoided Laszlo and his assassins, her calmness under pressure, when sometimes Georgia would crack.
"I met a lot of good people working in a humanitarian effort. But it also brings out the worst, when you're dealing with the desperate. So many nights spent patching up wounded babies, terminally-ill children and starved mothers. Some of the women who had been deployed with me felt angry, some felt sad. I felt nothing. Disappointment, mostly," Kaitlyn took another bite, the last of her bread.
"We went from camp to camp, and each time I saw the devastation of conflict. It chilled me - as my troop carried on, I couldn't go back. I spent weeks in Uganda, seeing the carnage of the local dictator...a man called Obadiah Obanno." She mentioned. A name that sent a ripple of fear down Georgia's spine. Her former employer, Tarasovich's employer. Hired to disrupt local relief efforts.
It was the last job they did before Tarasovich got the call from the contact known as Parnassus. She did her best to mask the fear in her face "You left your job, then." Georgia surmised.
"It wasn't a job, it was a hopeless game of cat and mouse. Obanno tore up his territories. Even in Sudan, a friend of mine swore revenge on him and all who'd help him. But I couldn't do it anymore, so I took a flight to Bosnia. From there, I made it to Bern and picked up a lousy clerk's job." Kaitlyn told her with a half-smile.
Now at the side of the table, the waiter carried two full trays with plates stacked on top of them. One had a stack of four slices of toast, and on separate plates were rashes of bacon and thick cooked sausages. The waiter placed them down on the table and allowed Georgia to pick from what she wanted. Now placing the glass of water and juice down, the waiter stepped away with a bow.
Kaitlyn rolled her jaw before going for the glass of juice. She took it from the plate and gave it an initial sip. "Looks like we've both kept secrets. You were a relief worker and I was an internationally wanted cyber-criminal." Georgia lowered her voice.
"So that means you aren't any more? After the people that you worked for tried to kill you." Kaitlyn reminded her. Another sip of her juice later and she had a slice of buttered toast in her dainty hand, taking a bite of it. "I never worked for Chekhov, but after Nazarov died he was the only one that knew about me, he needed me to leak information on some tech he was retrieving." Georgia said.
She picked at the strips of bacon as Kaitlyn leaned in, maybe she sensed her somber tone "C'mon, we don't know what he was planning. You said that Chekhov was on his way to New York, anyway. We're far away from him now." Kait tried to reassure her. Though Georgia wasn't worried about Chekhov, it was his subordinates, ruthless men like Laszlo and Ernst Bortnikov that made her shiver. She can't believe that she used to idolise that freak of a human.
"It's where we're going that bothers me. If we even get there." She scorned. Taking a knife and fork, she cut into a strip of bacon and plucked a piece to eat. As she did, Kaitlyn glanced outside, looking over her shoulder at a nearby car. "You said it'd be the safest place, that they'd never be able to find us because they'd never come looking." Kaitlyn repeated.
A place so obvious that they obviously wouldn't be hiding there. Georgia's old hometown in England. Embarking on a travelling trip across Europe, they were heading for her home-country in search of salvation. "We might have to make a few stops, I've got plans. A friend of mine can get us across France." Georgia said to her vaguely.
Her contact would be able to get them across the channel to England. Hopefully what her contact wanted in exchange would be enough to barter them safe passage. "A few stops? You never mentioned what this friend of yours wants in return." Kaitlyn replied. Georgia didn't want to tell her either, despite the feeling that she should. Secrets had been the bane of their relationship.
"A device, well, part of a device. Something that I had given to my previous employer. My contact wants it back." Georgia revealed. She didn't want to tell Kait too much unless she insisted on tagging along. Though the last time they got into a firefight together, she was capable. It was about protecting her, that's why she wanted to get away.
"Why don't I come along? I'm peckish for a little action." Kaitlyn expressed, picking a piece of bacon off Georgia's plate with her fork. She took it over to her plate and then ate it between her fingers. They locked eyes for a minute as Georgia's lips pursed. "I'll have to teach you a few things." She said, taking out her own knife and fork from the table.
Anxious to learn, Kait hadn't had much experience, other than her slight numbness towards violence and gunshots. She didn't know how to use a gun, being against them during her service in relief efforts. She wouldn't use the weapons that the worst of humanity had used to inflict pain on the innocent.
Georgia cut a slice of her sausage and ate it, chewing quickly. "I never used a gun, you know. I swore to myself that the day I do, my cause had truly lost all hope." Kaitlyn folded her arms and sat back, leaning on her chair. Sipping from her glass of water, Georgia remembered the firefight in the Swiss National Library. It made the news a few days later, attributed to a gang of thugs.
There had been statements by the local news and the Swiss Minister of Culture, on the protection of the building and on increasing security in Towns and cities. But there had been no sign of the Shadow Army operating in Switzerland. The meeting in Bern had changed things, Georgia had leaked the names involved in the deal. The stealing of the propagation module had hit the DarkWeb hours after the deal was made.
Chekhov operated under an FSB alias that day, and the module was since used by his men to distribute spyware across the Atlantic to their various contacts. From there, Chekhov ensured that it was to be used against American Technology firms. Though Georgia hadn't heard anymore of her employers after the shootout in the library, she was sure that Laszlo would have survived.
Even during her brief searches across the Web, the Kremlin's database was clean of any mention of her employers in the Shadow Army. But she was monitoring the stock market, and there was evidence of the stock in Tech companies going down over a long period - as if Tarasovich's life's work was being fulfilled posthumously.
"It isn't that hard, trust me." Georgia said back to her. She adjusted her sweater over her neckline, and her baggy sleeves. "There's a trigger, a safety and you just shoot it, right?" Kait snarked, half-convincingly. The American girl went back to her bacon and toast when Georgia glanced back at her.
The two businessmen beside them stood up, folding their newspapers and walking away from their table. Georgia looks down, not wanting to make any obvious eye-contact. "Okay, maybe it's a little more complicated than that. Don't worry, I can get you up to speed." Georgia shared to her.
Slicing a piece of bacon for herself, she polished her plate by picking every last scrap. "The trick is to not waste anything, I can normally make breakfast last all day," Kaitlyn mentioned as she chomped on a slice of toast. "Do they do pancakes here? I used to cook them for my parents, I'd like to cook them for you." Kait smiled.
Georgia smiled warmly back at her for a second. "Maybe one day when we're outta this, you can cook me as many pancakes as you like." She laughed. Finishing her glass of water, she ate the rest of her cooked sausages and took another slice of bacon. Sharing the toast with Kaitlyn, they admired a couple - a man and a pregnant woman, in the corner of the room.
A Taxi and a few cars pulled up outside the hotel. The doors to the lobby opened and a group of middle-aged men entered, looking like a group of teachers, in glasses and tweed suits. They were bantering as Georgia stood up, seeing Kait in the middle of her last slice of crispy bacon. "Let's get back to the room." Georgia opened a wallet in her back pocket and placed some money down under her plate, enough to cover the breakfast and tip.
She didn't understand the tipping, but Kaitlyn had told her it was necessary. She slipped some Euro notes under the plate and left with Kait across the lobby from the table. Trying to just look like a pair of innocent girls, maybe students, they linked arms instinctively and Kaitlyn leaned into Georgia's side.
HALL DE LA PLAZA 4 - 09:38:59
"When this is over, and we're safe, I'm definitely cooking you pancakes." Kaitlyn promised as they reached the elevator. The lobby was a semi-circular plaza with a staircase off to the side, beside the front desk. The revolving doors led to a comfortable red carpet and furniture. Crossing the lobby to the elevators, the lifts were in a corridor that continued on from the front desk.
With Kaitlyn on her arm, Georgia leant over and pressed a button at the top of the elevator's bronze console to bring it down to the Ground Floor. A light appeared above the elevator doors. Moving from floor to floor, the silver doors of the boxy lift opened. It was empty as Georgia and Kaitlyn stepped inside.
Georgia leant slightly out the doors before they closed, checking no one else wanted to join them. Once the doors had closed and they were alone, Kait's hand slipped into Georgia's own. "You could have done that in the restaurant." Georgia said to her, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with her companion.
"Oh, have a heart, babe. I saw the looks those guys gave us when we left." Kaitlyn mentioned, squeezing the hand she held. Suddenly, Georgia fixed a little strand of hair and then looked back at Kait. "What guys? In the lobby?" She asked with a hint of concern.
Kaitlyn shook her head "No, the guys outside, you know - they pulled up outside the hotel?" Then, as if hearing her own words, Kaitlyn's expression changed to one of likewise worry.
DEUXIÈME ÉTAGE CAM 5 - 09:40:09
With a bing and a bong sound, the elevator reached the second floor. Room Fifteen. They carefully exited the lift, luckily it was on the far side of the hallway, so they only had to check in one direction. Doing their best to move casually across the open staircase, Georgia heard footsteps from the lobby.
They quickened their pace past Room Eleven. Georgia hurrying along as she thought she heard someone moving up the steps to the second floor. The door to their hotel room was the only escape, once they got there, she swung the door open.
Inside, Georgia hurried Kaitlyn in "Get in the bathroom and get your things-" She said just as Kaitlyn's own voice cut her off "Why, Georgia, why?" She asked, shoved by Georgia in that second as she turned around.
"Because we're being followed," Georgia arm snapped around as the door shut, her hand brandishing a Beretta 92 Compact. In front of the barrel of her gun was a taller, leaner man in a dark green shirt and black jacket. The slender Laszlo stood just in front of the doorway as he shut the door behind him with one hand.
"Aren't we, Mr. Laszlo?" Georgia said, her gun clicking as she switched the safety off, pointing it up and in Laszlo's face. His sharp black hair was laced with grey, and he had an ice-like eye, blue and striking. He was quite handsome, but now he wore an eyepatch. With his hands raised, he took a breath while he looked around the room.
Their hotel room had the curtains closed, with an unmade double bed and two suitcases either side. Backpacks and bags were littered around the room, some books in a pile on a small table near the boxy television, mounted on a stand on the wall. A door to the bathroom was open, with the light on. Kaitlyn's hand was over her mouth as she stood back.
"Now, Ms. Newport, let's not repeat the last time this happened. Unless you've forgotten, it didn't end too well for you." Laszlo raised his hands. At least he was unarmed. Seeing over her shoulder, he instinctively recognised Kait. "I remember you holding me at gunpoint and kidnapping me. How the tables turn." Georgia's eyes narrowed slightly.
But Laszlo was focused on Kait. "This is the girl from Bern. The girl you gave up your cover for, is she that special to you? Or do you always carry around those that compromise you?" He taunted until he felt the tip of the Beretta touch the bridge of his nose. Kaitlyn was brave enough to step forward "She's not compromised. She's stronger than you know." Kait assured him.
"Are you alone?" Georgia asked, demanding his answer by pressing the gun to his forehead. She'd know if he lied, so her face remained calm. Laszlo nodded "Two men, in the car I came in. If I'm gone any longer and you aren't dead, they'll come looking." He countered, as if giving her a reason not to shoot him. But an idea quickly formed in her head. Her hand went forward, and rummaged in his jacket pocket as Laszlo kept his hand raised. The one-eyed man raised an eyebrow.
Georgia pulled out a phone and shoved it to Laszlo's hand while she kept her pistol raised, just to make sure he didn't try anything. The eyepatch-wearing man got the hint as he took hold of the phone and raised his other hand up, showing no weapons.
Laszlo made an effort not to change the tone of his voice, he waited as the phone rang, winking teasingly once he got connected to his men outside "Yeah, it's me. I've got the target, I'll need your help with retrieval. Full, please. Yeah, Code One." He flipped the phone away, and Georgia's hand tightened around the pistol.
"Code One?" Her eyebrows went up. It could have been a phrase to use should he be captured. But, obviously, that wasn't what Laszlo replied with. "A simple pair of words, meant to describe a situation should both of you be killed. We want it to look good now, don't we?" Laszlo sneered at Kaitlyn. She didn't trust him at all, snatching the phone back from his open palm and thin fingers.
Gesturing with her pistol, she moved Laszlo into the bathroom. "I assume they know what room we're staying in, so escaping would be pointless." Georgia thought aloud.
As he was ushered onto the closed toilet, he sat down and wrinkled his nose at her. "They do. They have silenced weapons, and garrotte-wire. They've been ordered to trigger the sprinklers in the kitchens, and the set off the.." Suddenly before he spoke again an ear-splitting beep was followed by a raging alarm.
"They're on the first floor now." Laszlo said, undeterred. "And why are you telling us this?" Kaitlyn asked, standing in the bathroom doorway with a curious, yet pensive expression. Nearly caught out, Laszlo tipped his head, acknowledging her words. "Because after all you've been through, you deserve a fighting chance. Even I can see you're broken, Georgia. How long have you been running for?" Laszlo pried.
She refused to answer him as she heard the residents of the hotel fleeing from the wail of the fire-alarm. They cursed and grunted in French and German, storming down to the stairs. Cocking her Beretta, she indicated for Laszlo to stand. "Up, if we're getting shot today then so are you. You're gonna be our bait." Georgia smirked.
DEUXIÈME ÉTAGE CAM 4 - 09:51:34
Ascending the staircase, two men appeared from the lift. Wearing hidden combat vests and boots, the man who took the lead had a long chin with a mess of stubble and hair around his face. His eyes were a subtle brown, and he walked with the gait of a man who obviously carried a firearm, his hand stuffed into his pocket.
Followed by another assassin, they approached the door to Room Fifteen. Drawing their weapons, suppressed Heckler & Koch P30s. With a hand on the doorknob, the first assassin raised his gun and pushed the door open with his foot. Getting it askew, they entered and saw Laszlo, their one-eyed employer in the middle of the bedroom.
"The bodies are in the bathroom...you know what to do." Laszlo said, hands by his sides. The lead assassin tilted his head "Laszlo, are you-" He inquired until Laszlo clicked his fingers, pointing to the door. Not wanting to anger their boss, or to go against his orders, the lead assassin opened the door.
Taking charge, the first assassin went inside and found the room empty. With a perplexed look on his face, he turned to the sound of a crack, and a body hitting the ground. Then, the noise of safeties clicking off. Laszlo stood in the open doorway with a woman - who was swiftly recognised as Georgia Newport. The body of the second assassin prone on the ground.
Newport held a Beretta, and Laszlo had swiped the silenced pistol from the man on the floor, after knocking him out with a heavy book to the back of the head. They both unloaded into the man in the bathroom, shooting at the first assassin at least five times each until he was on the ground in a pool of red.
"Why did you do that?" Georgia said with a whispery voice.
"Like I said, you deserved a fighting chance. These two were hardly professionals. The least I could do was make sure you get out of here, I'll call Bortnikov, tell him you killed these two. Now go." Laszlo pulled the door open, as Kaitlyn was tugging bags and suitcases along with her, she had packed everything they needed before the assassins arrived.
Kaitlyn was wearing a long black coat, with a furry-ruffle around the hood, she passed Georgia a jacket, practically throwing it into her free hand. They went to the doorway, before Georgia turned back around "You're letting us go. You tracked and kidnapped me, and threatened to kill Kait." Georgia confronted him. His visible eye showed little remorse, but he made no move to seize them.
"I did, and maybe I was wrong. But I see the bond between you now, and I have no intention of breaking it. Sometimes to best heal our wounds, we must make peace with the monsters that created them. I am sorry, Georgia." Laszlo tilted his head, the door remaining wide open.
Georgia kept her gun in her hand as she followed Kaitlyn out the hotel room door, dragging their suitcases along with them. Nearly hyperventilating, Kait struggled to pull her own bag as she felt restricted in her heavy coat. Running from the room, they heard muffled, suppressed gunshots from the hotel room.
They didn't look back. They had to run, dragging the suitcases and making it to the stairs as the fire alarm still blared. Georgia dropped their hotel room's keys in the front desk before they dashed out the doors, searching frantically for a Taxi.
PÉRIM CAM 6 - 10:21:26
Outside the hotel, there was a gathering of women, housewives here for a wedding who had been rudely interrupted by the alarm. The businessmen were chortling while Georgia and Kaitlyn made their way past, with their heads down.
Georgia had expected Laszlo to double-cross them any second now. She was expecting twenty men carrying automatic rifles or laser-sights to hone in on them. But as they hurried across the parking lot outside the hotel, none of that happened. Kaitlyn could hear the hotel Manager arguing with staff in French, over how the alarm began.
Emergency services had already been called. Neither of them were sure if they'd find Laszlo among his assassins, or if he would have escaped somehow. Going from the parking lot to the taxi station, Georgia pulled out a small wad of notes, and leant at the window of the nearest cab.
ACCESSING CURRENT FEEDS...
DATE: AUGUST 23rd 2014
LOCATION: Howells, NEW YORK STATE, USA
RD SEC CAM 18 - 22:55:43
Reclining in the backseat of his car, Schmidt leant to the side of the window as his Bentley Continental drove down the winding roads of New York State, heading back to the City. Through dark forests on either side, they were escorted by a lone SUV.
"No, Martine, I imagine that your trip will be far more productive. Unless sitting behind a screen at the Steiner sounds engaging enough for you?" Schmidt chuckled as he held his phone to his ear.
"I'd rather be in the field any day. Hungary is...new, for me. My flight leaves at midnight. Best of luck in persuading this Governor of yours." Martine snarked from the other end of the line. The blue-suited Schmidt simply smiled "I have my ways. I always do. Goodbye, Martine." He flipped his phone's handset down and gave it back to the man in his passenger seat.
Higgins was a broad-chested, bearded man with a round head and slanted eyebrows. He spoke in a slurred, Cockney-British accent "You wanted to phone Brittany again, Sir?" Higgins spoke back from his seat.
Shaking his head, the Representative dismissed the idea. "She'll be fine, Lambert and I have done our best to train her. No doubt she'll be the chameleon we all expected her to be." He ran a hand through his slicked blonde hair. Tapping his finger on the empty seat next to him, his train of thought was broken by Higgins.
"You've had several messages, Sir, from Mr. Crassus. He's concerned about your dealings with the Governor of Michigan." Higgins reported.
The car was driving down a long stretch of empty roads with lights in the distance, with hues of smoky orange and yellow. Trees swayed as the wind battered against them, and the moon was high in the black night. The cars continued along with nothing but the wisp of the wind until a loud engine cut through the ambiance.
Schmidt let out a scoff of shock "What was that?" He peered forward as the driver noticed a headlight in front of them.
RD SEC CAM 23 - 23:01:56
A motorcycle cut through the fog of the night as the Yamaha YZF-R6 came pulling through the late-night mist as the engines blared. The single headlight cast onto the front of Schmidt's car. Speeding down the road, the motorcycle swerved and stopped, about sixty or seventy feet away.
The woman on the motorbike was clad in black leathers, wearing boots that reached a midpoint between her ankles and knees, she put a foot out as the bike came to a stop. Her helmet giving nothing away other than the hazel brown locks falling from her head. The bike was still warm, throbbing with every exhale of heat from the exhaust pipe.
Higgins tapped the driver on the arm "Stop, stop the car. Tell the boys in the back to get out." Higgins issued. Behind them, the SUV slowed to a halt. Unsure of what was going on, Schmidt sat behind Higgins' chair and remained, slightly fearful.
The SUV stopped and all the doors opened. Getting out of the car were four uniformed security workers, all from the personal security wing of the Zenith-Media Corporation. The men from Parkhurst Security advanced slowly, as the woman on the motorbike made no move at all.
She simply blocked their way, resting almost. She had a stillness, a cold remorselessness that seemed apparent from just looking her up and down. Now his security had been deployed, the leading asset made a hand signal for his men to surround her in a semi-circular formation. Higgins and Schmidt made sure to watch on.
"Miss, please step off the motorcycle and come forward." The leading asset addressed. Back in the car, Higgins was thumbing his phone with a frustrated glance, Schmidt looked over cautiously. "Our surveillance has gone down." Higgins turned to him.
"Miss, I'm not gonna ask again. Please step off the motorcycle and come quietly." The leading asset reached into his jacket as the woman finally raised her leg and stepped off the pulsing frame of the motorbike. She kicked the strut down and tilted her head to the side. The rumbling of the motorcycle turned into a low humming noise while the woman took no steps closer.
Schmidt swallowed, his accent sounding faint "I've got a bad feeling about this, Nicholas." He eyed Higgins. One of the security workers took out a taser gun, and held out a flat hand "Last chance. Come with us or we do this the difficult way. It's your choice, what do you say?" The worker raised an eyebrow.
Her gloved hands going to her back, the Machine's Analog Interface withdrew two twin MP5 Submachine guns, with collapsed stocks and extended magazines.
"Yahtzee." Root said. Then she opened fire and spread her arms apart, spraying bullets that downed all four of the men around her before they could even reach for their weapons. Puffs of smoke went off as the bullets hit the front of Schmidt's car and punctured the glass. The security workers flailed and stumbled in the gunfire, falling back and down in puddles of red.
Higgins ducked under the dashboard as the glass windscreen burst open. The driver of Schmidt's car was hit in the shoulder and chest, causing him to slump forward with a groan. Not being able to hear himself think over the bullets flying, Schmidt cowered in the space between his seat and the back of the passengers chair.
The rounds ceased for the moment as the four security officers laid dead in the middle of the road. Root stalked towards the car, hearing Higgins struggle with the door handle as he fell, drawing his SIG-Sauer, he cocked it in time to make Root pause, staring through the visor of her helmet.
RD SEC CAM 16 - 23:10:04 - [SIGNAL LOST]
-FIREARMS IN USE
"Who are you?" Higgins held his gun with a shaky hand as the woman made no effort to attack him. Schmidt remained in the backseat, reaching for the phone left on the dashboard that was splattered with blood and broken glass.
Root examined him for minute, his jacket spotted with glass, and cuts across his cheeks and hands. Through her cochlear implant, the Machine piped a series of high and low pitch noises, that Root understood. Higgins didn't wait for any answer as he fired his pistol.
Two shots, which Root dodged expertly, moving her torso to the left, then altering her stance before she raised her arm and fired a spurt of automatic fire into Higgins' chest.
The shock of the attack stunned Schmidt to cower in his seat. Root's feet crushed the glass shards underfoot, her boots clicking on the road. Schmidt crawled across the seat, fumbling under the drivers chair, and unhooking a Mauser HSC pistol. Drawing the slide of the gun with two hands, he pushed his shoulder against the door to the car.
He knew the woman was still out there, stalking the scene. When he pushed the door open, he wasn't confronted by her leather-clad form, instead he saw nothing. Shakily grasping his pistol, he waved it around, blood trickling from his knee. Schmidt took careful steps, his breath quickening. Everyone in the SUV had been killed, at least four men and the driver. The body of Higgins was face-up, holes across his chest and shoulder.
Buzz. The phone on the dashboard buzzed. When Schmidt's eyes turned he became distracted and a bullet grazed his shoulder. Exclaiming a gasp, he dropped to one knee, clutching his side. The phone was still ringing when Root walked out, from behind his car and shot him in the shoulder with a handgun.
Her automatic weapons dropped behind her, Root wielded a M&P Compact 22. with deadly efficiency as she fired again, the third shot knocking Mr. Schmidt down at the knee. "Aaah! You...you're one of them. You're connected to the Machine." He realised as the phone still rung, vibrating on the dashboard.
"That's right. She watches us, she listens to us, and I'm hers. She has decreed your life to be unimportant." Root lowered her gun to aim between Schmidt's eyes before he squealed "Wait! I can offer you something. The phone in my car, it's a direct link to Decima. Samaritan's trying to shut it down. Greer's gone mad, he's making an army for the system," He partly begged for his life by offering her information.
"Samaritan's been buying up stock markets in AI, Tech firms and robotics companies. Rylatech, Fujima, Vahlra, they're all about to go down." Schmidt took a breath as he glimpsed Root's eyes behind her visor.
She remained cold, her voice smooth and calm "What do you know about Zenith-Media? Their expansion?" Root asked.
Blood falling from a cut atop his forehead, most likely punctured by a shard of glass, Schmidt stuttered. "Rasmussen's hired a man called Wilkins, Jared Wilkins. He's expected to receive a grant from the Governor of Michigan. I was actually on my way to meet her...Wilkins runs a software distribution company in downtown Manhattan," Schmidt held his hands up as he used his feet to push himself back.
"He's just met with a German Minister, they're going to hit Greer." Schmidt revealed. Root's head tilted, she was curious now. Her voice taking on a stern undertone, she pressured the Representative on his words. She questioned him simply "Why?"
Touching the blood on his forehead, Schmidt's eyes widened "Greer has Samaritan's favour. Lars can control every television screen, radio broadcast and newspaper in the country but he'll never be as deep in Samaritan's counsel. He's convinced there's a leak, someone knew about the seven billion he took from Goa Bank. Rasmussen thinks Greer d-did it to s-spite him." He stammered.
"They arrested someone. Greer would never endanger Samaritan on purpose." Root replied. Nodding, Schmidt wiped his lip. He didn't know if Root intended to kill him, so he might as well let everything go. He had no allegiance now.
"Greer's created all this. The man who was arrested was framed at Rylatech, one of Rasmussen's most recent acquisitions. Infighting will destroy them both, Zenith-Media's been funding something, preparing for something for a long time. Greer, or whoever it is, is trying to sabotage those plans." Schmidt looked up.
From her eyes and voice he recognised her as one of the followers of the Machine. The Analog Interface. "How close are your agents to him? You can be honest, they might as well be your last words." She hissed slightly.
She was asking about the rest of Team Machine. Slowly, Schmidt's blood-spotted hand neared his gun on the ground "As far as the assets are concerned, your precious Harold Finch is dead. But Greer's team are obsessed with finding him, they're close to this...Shaw woman, who's in the wind. Your associates, too." Schmidt kelt his ice-blue eyes fixed on her as his hand touched the handle of the Mauser.
"Do they have a location? Talk!" Root held the pistol to him, as Schmidt blinked. Pushing himself up, he could see the ruthless, almost sociopathic expression behind the helmet's visor. "If it finds them, they'll be nowhere your friends can run. You're like rats, scrambling in a burning barrel." The Representative's face twitched.
On the horizon, headlights and sirens were heard. "Tell me what you know about Shaw, now." Root demanded, standing over him. His hand grasping his own pistol, Schmidt shook his head "You can't scare me anymore. Because I know any fate that's given to me now will be infinitely more merciful than what will befall you,"
At Root's somewhat addled expression mixed with defiance, Schmidt looked over, past her to the lights of vehicles in the distance. "Go. Go, and tell your Machine to start running-" He pulled the gun, and pressed it to the bottom of his chin.
Root watched at the flash of the muzzle and the gunshot. She didn't flinch as Schmidt's head rocked back and his body dropped, limp on the ground. The gun rattled to the floor. A splatter of blood stained the road when his corpse slumped to the side.
RD SEC CAM 20 - 23:18:49 - [SIGNAL LOST]
Turning around, Root inspected the broken windscreen of Schmidt's car, brushing some if the broken glass pit if the way with her gloved hand. She sheathed the pistol and picked up the phone from the dashboard. Another communication came through her cochlear implant "I believe you. Finch's important. But Shaw is important to me." Root reasoned to the Machine.
She opened the back of the handset and pulled the SIM Card out, removing the tracking chip. Then she put the phone into her jacket pocket, and walked back to her motorbike. The sirens got closer as Root started the bike, the engines blaring, she stepped onto the bike and kicked up the front wheel to a wheelie.
Riding the opposite way, the dust and grit was knocked into the air again as Root sped away, the red taillight of the bike fading away while the roar if the motorcycle became more and more distant. Schmidt's glossy eyes only as wide as the gaping, bloody hole from his chin to the back of his head.
ACCESSING ARCHIVED FEEDS...
DATE: OCTOBER 1st 2008
LOCATION: Boston, MASSACHUSETTS, USA
PRECISE LOCATION: BOSTON LOGAN INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
PORTING TO US GOVERNMENT OPERATIONS
INDEXED OPERATION DATA:
- TASK 450
ROOF CAM 10 - 08:05:44
A lone, thin figure walked across a rooftop of a hangar at Boston's International airport. Dressed in all black, a hooded coat and beanie, short ankle boots and black leather gloves. The light copper-skinned woman had an earpiece and small microphone near her lips, pointed downwards before she readjusted it.
Reaching the edge of the rooftop balcony, she took a knee and hauled a hefty bag over from her shoulder to the ground. Unzipping the bag, the woman began to assemble a sniper rifle. A Blaser R93, she unhooked the stock and removed the barrel attachments.
It was like a jigsaw to her, a beautiful, death-dealing jigsaw. She took the scope and looked through it, without removing the cap. Slotting it into place, Sameen pulled out the short barrel, before the longer extension, and the silencer. She took out the bipod, setting it down and locking the edge of the rifle's rail into the slot.
Carefully, she flipped up the cap on the scope as she fit the stock to the back of the rifle. She twisted the suppressor to the end of the barrel, lifting the weapon to the edge of the wall, then took out the magazine. Leaning the bipod onto the balcony wall, Shaw went down to one knee.
She blinked before putting her eye to the open scope, scanning the area. A few cars had been driving around the roads to the hangars, as the low rumble of a Boeing 720 in low altitude could be heard approaching one of the runways.
Her earpiece was static, before a low-pitched noise piped through "He's got a plane coming from Hangar twelve, look out for a Cessna." Michael Cole said through the earpiece. Shaw's partner and technician, codenamed Indigo Six.
Shaw was Indigo Five, one of the best that the ISA had. Research had done it again, another relevant number was ported to them and Control had sent them to Massachusetts to complete the kill-order. Cole was set up about a mile away from the airport grounds, in a truck specially designed as a mobile communication hub. With her sniper rifle set up, Sameen relaxed her shoulder.
Their target was a former Special Forces Lieutenant, Ukrainian, he had dropped off the grid a couple of years ago. Vanishing, Research picked him out as one of the high-ranking members of a Russian terrorist organisation, an organisation who the ISA were currently tracking.
Sameen was a key part of the operation, isolating the leaders of the group. Control had been working to find the leader after Crimson Squad made a breakthrough, and located the body of the suspected leader, an FSB Operator and known mercenary called Tarasovich.
The Ukrainian insurgent was believed to be working for a leader higher than Tarasovich, his suspected partner. "Who exactly am I looking for?" Shaw asked, adjusting the sights on her scope.
"Sending you an image now. The only name we have is Artem Laszlo, that seems to be his main alias but he's operated under many," Cole paused as he sent Shaw a picture of their target. Her phone beeped, Shaw took her eyes away from the scope.
Icy blue eyes, a thin stubbled chin and black hair, Laszlo had a receding line of slick hair across the edge of his forehead. Shaw huffed a chuckle. Conventionally handsome, perhaps, mid-thirties, with a slimmer build than most of the ex-military types she had encountered.
But she didn't see him across the airport grounds. Maybe the line of cars gathering could be a clue as the shadow of a helicopter passed her by. "This guy's the real deal. Records of attacks in Germany, London, Brazil. Every backwater tragedy you've ever ignored." Cole informed her.
"Quite the résumé, Cole. Any update on his location? I've been staring at the same runway for an hour now. You sure that Worldmapper was right about this?" Shaw replied.
Cole took a second to respond while typing "Mhmm, a flight from Massachusetts to Paris, layover in Manchester, England." Michael let her know. Adjusting the sights to the scope again, Sameen honed in on a new car that was driving towards the closest hanger "Then let's make sure Laszlo isn't sipping on tea and crumpets in the next seven hours," She snarked.
The car she was following with her scope was a sporty, striped-black and red 1990 Pontiac Firebird. "At least it's not a station wagon. Though for an international terrorist our boy cleans up pretty well." Shaw said as she watched Artem Laszlo step out of his car dressed in a tight, dark turtleneck and suit-jacket.
He had another man with him, a balding gentleman who wore sunglasses and a button-up. They approached a hangar, standing by as the mechanical doors opened slowly. "Focus, Shaw. Trust me, you don't wanna lose your cool with these guys." Michael remarked through her earpiece. She watched Laszlo turn around, perhaps glancing at the other hangars. His bodyguard stayed close, a watchful eye over his employer. The Cessna 310 slowly rolled from the hangar, both rotors powering up.
Shaw adjusted her shoulder at the stock of the sniper rifle. "I'm in position. But it'd be a shame to waste this high-grade ammo on headshots." Shaw groused. Chuckling a little, Michael was busy with the screens in his van, showing the CCTV footage from the roof that Sameen was shooting from and the hangar floor where their target remained.
"Pick your window. From my guess we've got about five minutes before Laszlo gets out of here." Cole reminded her. The plane was taxiing along from outside the hangar to the edge of the runway. By now, Laszlo and his bodyguard were about to get onboard.
His bodyguard opened the trunk of the car and pulled out a pair of suitcases. Sameen hovered the sights of targeting scope over Laszlo's head, aiming close as she saw the pilot of the plane. The bodyguard set the cases down and opened the backdoor of the Cessna. "No one's gonna cry over another dead terrorist, right?" Shaw perked up.
"No, why?" Cole responded as Shaw pulled the trigger. There was barely any kickback as the rifle jerked, a silenced shot whizzing through the air and impacting the back of the bodyguard's neck. He raised his arm as he fell, and Laszlo turned around, a Colt snub-nosed revolver in his hand.
The next shot hit Laszlo, through his eyeball. Shaw made a click with her mouth as she saw the high-pressure round loose and shoot into his right eye. A splash of blood and his body dropped. Shaw adjusted her sights as she lined up the pilot, and indulged in the two shots she put into his body from afar.
"Because I just got rid of three in about five seconds." Shaw touched her earpiece, collapsing the bipod, but leaning further against the wall to conduct a final check. Three bodies, one plane that'll never take off and a mint condition classic car that'll never be driven by its owner again.
ROOF CAM 9 - 08:26:55
She opened the bag again, dismantling the rifle piece by piece. Taking the scope down, she folded the stock as her partner gave a report. "Artem Laszlo, his bodyguard and pilot confirmed killed. Sending the information to Control, putting you through to Agent Wilson now." Cole flicked a switch from his van.
Taking the barrel from the extended attachment at the end of the rifle, Shaw removed the suppressor nozzle, placing each piece back into it's place. She slotted the attachments and parts of the rifle into the bag as she heard her earpiece change frequency, a static noise in her ear for a moment.
"Hello, Shaw." Agent Wilson said, cordially. Their Handler didn't often make calls or show his face. So, when he did, it was often important. "Since when do you make social calls, Wilson?" Shaw retorted to his feigned pleasantries.
He scoffed "I was in town for a meeting. Thought I'd make a call, and congratulate my best operator. So tell me this, don't we pay you to kill one terrorist, and not three?" Wilson's voice was laced with a petty, smug attitude. Rolling her eyes and being thankful he couldn't see her face, Shaw continued to pack up the rifle on the rooftop.
"My call. Laszlo had guards, they would've compromised us. Seemed like the best way to cover our tracks." Shaw grumbled.
Her phone pinged, in the bottom of the bag. She reached past the pieces of the sniper rifle to grab her flip-phone. "Thank you. Unofficially. Your new number," Wilson replied as she opened the phone, setting it down before zipping up the bag. The phone had a location, coordinates for somewhere around New York State.
"Oh, and Shaw? I lost a full team over those guys. It was a bit of a mess, and these fanatics don't seem to stay dead." Agent Wilson mentioned.
Sameen picked up the bag and slugged it over her shoulder. "Then aren't you lucky you've got someone like me on your side, Paul. Else these messes might not get solved." Shaw said as she put a gloved finger to her earpiece, cutting off the connection.
ROOF CAM 9 - 08:34:52
Walking to the end of the roof, Shaw looked at the phone in her hand.
Around her head, the box reticle locked onto her and flickered from white to blue. To white, to blue again.
ASSET CATALYST. INDIGO. 5A
ACCESSING CURRENT FEEDS...
DATE: AUGUST 24th 2014
LOCATION: Midtown East, Manhattan, NEW YORK CITY, USA
PRECISE LOCATION:1000 3rd AVE 59th ST, LEXINGTON AVE
EAST SEC 03 - 08:44:26
On a busy department store floor, a lone woman stood at the side of a perfume counter. She was wearing a neat black dress and thin high heels. A stainless steel name-tag was pinned to her top as her hair was kept back in a ponytail.
Absently inoffensive music was playing as the woman held a small bottle of perfume out to customers. The woman had a dissatisfied, disaffected look on her face like she'd be literally anywhere except in her current circumstance. The department store was full of counters, selling everything from handbags to suits and decor.
She rolled her eyes at the sight of her orange-haired, tightly strung boss. He walked with all the pomp of an actor striding about his stage. The dark haired woman turned with the perfume bottle in her hands, watching a few makeup-caked trophy wives near the counters.
Looking back up at the ball-like security camera as it swivelled towards her, Sameen Grey murmured a line under her breath.
EAST SEC 03 - 08:45:03
NEW DATA ACQUIRED