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August 19, 2016. Freedom City. The Waterfront. The Abandoned Warehouse. Yes, That One. 11:00 PM.

 

It had taken a great deal of research and effort to get to this point. Over a month of work, which was quite a bit for the supergenius heroine known as Terrifica. Still, now she knew exactly what needed to be done. She had posted a need for superheroic assistance on Capeslist, and two had bitten, filling the Thief and Grifter archetypes (phrased in a way that would decidedly not set off red flags across law enforcement and superheroic systems, of course). That wasn’t all they could do, naturally, but it was what she was looking for. Time had run out and she could wait no longer for responses to the Hitter and Hacker requests. However, she had sent a message to Miracle Girl, who would suffice for the former and Terrifica herself would quite suffice for the latter. Now it was a simply matter of time until everyone arrived.

 

Terrifica had arranged a table and five chairs for the occasion, just in case a Hacker decided to show up at the last minute. The last batch of criminals to use this place were currently in jail. And of course, Terrifica herself waited in the shadows. She was no fool. She would only reveal herself when everyone had arrived. Any second now, someone should be arriving.

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Cass had gotten the message early. A friend had sent it to him, as it was generally known Bonfire was interested in all things related to hero-work. A request, somebody looking to hire heroes. Just that part was enough for Bonfire to sign up. The wording had been strange. It suggested something bigger. But, they were looking for somebody that knew their way with words, and questions could always be asked later. The potential of payment and the thrill of a mission were enough. Should it turn out he’d work for some kind of criminal, he could always turn sides. Nothing he hadn’t done before.

 

Bonfire made his way towards the arranged meeting spot. It wasn’t too far away from his home, so he had been able to simply fly there. An abandoned warehouse. It was ominous, it felt like a trap, but it also was a reasonable meeting spot. And really, Cass wouldn’t mind a good fight either.

 

He turned the last corner, casually walking, both his hands behind his neck. He wore an average looking, plain t-shirt and cargo pants combo and probably would’ve fit in into most FC crowds if not for the cloud of smoke replacing his head. He walked forward, his body in a relaxed stance. He could’ve flown in, or gone in invisible, but this was not the time for either. A nice, casual walk was the right approach to this situation.

 

He walked through the door, and moved towards the chairs in a single motion. As he sat down on one of the chairs, he leaned back, stretched his right arm for a bit, and began to talk, just saying things into the room.

 

“You should get better lighting. It’s a bit dark in here.”

 

 

Edited by olopi

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No mask for this one. If he got recognised as the gambler Sebastian Black, it would be for the best. 

 

Instead, fedora on head, unremarkable black suit. Cigarette hanging from mouth, with thick smoke. He said they helped him concentrate, but truth was they just stopped the withdrawal symptoms. 

 

In his pockets, a packet of cards. Plus, deeper, the more clandestine tools of his trade. 

 

The Handyman had a fractured psyche at the best of time. This time was not the best. A call for crooks, well, Sebastian Black had been a good crook. But now, his mind had been bent towards being an AEGIS agent. A fanatic, some would say - and they would be right. And yet he was still a fanatic that could not stop stealing. He was a headache for AEGIS, but a useful headache. 

 

There was no getting away from it. He was both the best man for the job and the worst, too. 

 

He stood back a moment, studying the building through his black plastic binoculars. Spotted the kid go in. 

 

"Hmmm"...he rolled the buzzing word in his mouth. Without undue haste, he put away the binoculars, and brought up his hand. As far as the scientists at AEGIS could make out, there was no need for him to use his hand. But, that was them. He needed his hand to focus. 

 

With a snap of his fingers, he was inside, striding in from the shadows. There had been a "pop" sound and a faint smell of ozone. 

 

"Sebastian Black. Courtesy of AEGIS" he said, slowly and lowly. "I got your message" he said, sitting down slowly, still smoking his cigarette. 

 

He took out his cards and started shuffling them idly. 

 

"I can steal for you. But I am a lawman now" he said, politely. 

 

I can steal for you? Truth is, I can't stop stealing...even now, he studied Terrifica and Bonfire, and their pockets. 

 

 

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In general, when Terrifica asked her to do something, Casey was always game, but this time she hesitated a bit, because the whole thing sounded just a bit...illegal. As in, committing an actual crime, which she was pretty sure good guys weren't supposed to do. But she had faith in her mentor, and then she thought about how much she loved the National Treasure movies, and how those were about good guys stealing stuff before the bad guys did, so this was probably one of those deals. And then she began to fantasize about how good she'd be in a bank robbery, and the little bad girl inside every good girl squeeled with glee.

 

The look: She wasn't actually sure if this was undercover or not, but she figured her normal uniform was a no-go attention-wise, so she bought a lot of tough, durable clothing, all in black and all paid for in cash. Boots, loose cut jeans, zip up jacket and driving gloves. And the biggest pair of sunglasses she could find.

 

Her hair was twisted into a tight French braid that hung between her shoulders. She wore more makeup than she usually did, but not in a slutty way; she was going for mature and sophisticated, which to her meant dark burgandy lipstick and a smoky look around the eyes. Case knew it wouldn't actually make her look much older, but she just didn't want to look much like her.

 

The 'tude: She decided it would probably be the best for everyone if she didn't talk too much, as it would only highlight her inexperience; she would keep her comments and questions brief and to the point, maybe even act a little bored, as if to say 'This isn't my first rodeo', one of Dad's favorite phrases. Chewing gum would help her keep her mouth shut and maybe burn up a little nervous energy.

 

The voice: Maybe she was getting paranoid (Terrifica would be proud), but at the last minute she decided to change her voice; it would make her sound less like a kid and help cloud the issue of her identity if things went south. Casey tried a few on for size, finally picking something between the smokiness of Scarlett Johanssen and 'take no prisoners' directness of Charlize Theron. 

 

Casey flew a few quick passes over the building, noting three heat signitures with her IR; one was fairly normal, one was way off to one side (probably Terrifica, being sneaky and/or paranoid), but the last one was weird as heck. Was someone actually on fire down there?

 

The blonde would-be thief landed a few blocks away and casually strolled to the warehouse, hands in her jacket pockets; once she got there, she made a beeline for one of the chairs and took a seat, her long legs crossed before her, and didn't say a word as she methodically chewed her gum.

 

Nailed it.

Edited by Heritage

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Well, that was the two responders. And Miracle Girl was doing…something ridiculous. Terrifica stepped out of the shadows in full gear, hands clasped confidently behind her back. From the blue longcoat to the florescent orange T on her forehead. “I don’t own the warehouse, Bonfire. I’m just…borrowing it, for the evening.” She did follow Twitter. And Tumblr. And all the rest. Part and parcel of being an obsessive investigator.  Of course she knew Freedom’s HOTTEST Newcomer when she saw him. “I’m pleased to hear it, Mr. Black. There is some stealing that needs to be done. Rest assured, it is for the greater good. However, I’m afraid there was a minor miscommunication. The job cannot be performed by Sebastian Black. Of course, I’m certain you know who would be just perfect and, as luck would have it, also know how to get that person here in a very short amount of time.” It only took but so much digging to prove that Sebastian Black and The Handyman were the same man. AEGIS’s firewalls were good, but every agency had agents with poor data security skills. And there were a few…interesting other tidbits in his file, to boot. She turned her head to Miracle Girl. Then she smirked, amused. “Nice outfit. Excellent attitude. I see you’re ready to be led like a lamb into a life of crime. However, I do have one question. Have you picked a cover name? I can’t exactly call you by the usual, and I have absolutely no idea who you are under the mask.” This wasn’t exactly a lie. She had it narrowed down to three, one of whom was yes, Casey Blankenship. And that was as far as she planned on taking it until Miracle Girl trusted her enough to tell, or the information was needed to save lives.

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If Black was shocked by the nuances of Terrifica, his poker face didn't show it. 

 

Slowly, deliberately, he gave his cards one more shuffle and put them down deliberately. 

 

His identity was generally only known to AEGIS. It was neither a flimsy cover, nor a robust one. Enough digging, enough effort, you could find out that Sebastian Black was the Handyman. It was a good enough cloak to prevent him being recognised for the most part. 

 

No point in calling Terrifica's bluff. She was smart beyond anything he had met, or even read about. And, he judged, little point in pretending to the others present. His identity was to stop his past catching up with him. And as far as he could tell, the rich, bloated, and criminal fools he had cheated and stolen from were not present here today. 

 

He flicked out the King of Spades from the deck, and threw it to the centre of the table. It slid perfectly in place infront of Terrifica, who picked it up curiously. 

 

Without a word, Sebastian Black snapped his fingers into a gun shape. There was a faint but quite audible POP! and a slight smell of ozone. 

 

And the card was back in the Handymans hand. 

 

"Seems you know some secrets" he commented, slow, dry and deep. 

 

"The Handyman is here as well" he concluded. 

Edited by Supercape

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So it would indeed be an undercover gig, at least to some extent; a few pseudonyms had floated around Casey's head during her preparations, and while she didn't really love any of them, one kept bobbing back to the surface. She guessed her mentor thought she was being a little silly with all the dress-up, which hurt a bit; maybe if she showed off a few new tricks?

 

She turned towards the Handyman, lowered her sunglasses, and a burst of white-hot light shot out of her eyes, instantly vaporizing the King of Spades in his fingers without so much as scortching them. It was her first time demonstrating her heatvision in public, and she felt a little thrill in her belly. Then she raised her shades back up and smiled at Terrifica as she spoke with a stranger's voice.

 

"Call me Hardcase."

 

She kind of hoped at least some of that was surprising!

Edited by Heritage

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Bonfire mustered the two other people that had arrived, probably people hired online just like him. The man had just appeared, probably waited for somebody else to arrive, perhaps even teleported. All these people and their fancy entries. Another agent of AEGIS? Why, oh why did their paths always cross? Was this all some plan by AEGIS to finally frame Bonfire? Certainly they’d not do that, or if they did they’d not do it this obviously?

 

As Black then shuffled his cards, Bonfire’s eyes followed, first looking at the man in what was a fairly uninteresting outfit, and then at the cards.

 

The woman that appeared then seemed to have a more relaxed approach to all of this, just casually walking in. There also was the chance it was something along the lines of what Cass himself had done, but he didn’t care enough to bring it up just yet.

 

And then, the master’s appearance. The person that had organized it all. Bonfire followed, occasionally nodding with his head and shoulders to signal that yes, he was listening too. Somehow, Bonfire was the only one in his usual identity? That would certainly make it all more interesting. When the woman … Hardcase apparently, then melted the gracefully … summoned? Card Bonfire flinched backwards a bit, the amount of smoke making up his head increasing just slightly.

 

“Okay, I guess we’re all showing off our powers, but I’m not gonna burn the place down. “

 

Then, he turned back over to Terrifica, mustering her certainly unique outfit a bit, before continuing to talk.

 

“So, what’s the plan? What do we … aquire?”

Edited by olopi

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A rasping voice from above, in the rafters.

 

"Extremely valuable, extremely dangerous, and extremely annoying. Pick two."

 

Any eyes looking up would have seen a black silhouette, perched high - smoke slowly curling from spots on his coat, shot-through with silver thread. Strange runes, odd designs - they mesmerized if you stared at them too long. The same designs were carved into a matte-grey mask covering the top half of a tanned face, the mask in a vaguely avian shape, glowing a very low red as they fixed on each person present at the table. The acrid scent of brimstone began to waft through the room.

 

Those present could likely guarantee - he hadn't been in there when they arrived. And the door was still shut.

 

...and when did the Doritos bags appear on the table?

 

"I brought snacks."

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Terrifica sighed lightly. “I said eleven, Crow. Not eleven oh five.” She said it, knowing he had probably been here as long as she had. She knew a kindred spirit when she saw one. One never knew when the opposition might bring out magic. So, to be prepared (because that’s what she did) she had placed a phone call to a man in the yellow pages. Reasonable rates, indeed. The amused smirk did not slide from her face. “Nice to meet you at last, Handyman. You’re quite right. I know many secrets, and yours are not the least of them.” She thought it was always better to make people think she was the closest thing in the world to omniscient. “Glad to have you aboard.” A glance at…Hardcase. “You as well…Hardcase.” She gave the name just a little twist to let Miracle Girl know it was a silly name. “Although it is good to see you’ve developed better ranged capability. It isn’t always feasible to hit your enemies with your fists.” There wasn’t anything but sincere admiration there. “Well, then. Bonfire. To answer your question, I’ll have to take it back to the beginning.”

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The woman was crying. She’d been ripped off, quite thoroughly. One could say, expertly. Even masterfully. Zack Stewart, boss of a certain team, sat back in his chair. “I see. And you want us to make it right again.” The woman nodded, still sobbing. “Well, I think we can handle that much.” Zack was of French stock, and always impeccably dressed. “Honoka, make sure she gets home safe. Take Xianghua with you. Roger, Molly…we’ve got a job to plan.” The conversation was in a certain bar, in which even a professor of physics at MIT could pass unnoticed. Roger Burton, a small dark man most people wouldn’t look at twice, and the rather flamboyant Molly Farrell, followed Zach upstairs. Honoka Takei (a small, slight girl of Japanese descent) and Xianghua Wang (ethnically Chinese, but with suspiciously pointy ears) began escorting the woman out the door. The five had no idea what they were getting into. The woman hadn’t been wronged by anyone. In fact, she was a plant. The team were criminals who, after one big payday, had decided to go full Robin Hood. They’d made a full crop of enemies in the last five years, and this last one had laid the most clever of traps. Maybe they’d make it out of it on their own, and maybe they wouldn’t. However, Terrifica wasn’t about to let a billionaire who’d made most of his money screwing people over get his way, regardless.

Edited by EternalPhoenix

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“And so, we’re going to rob Daystrom Industries of their new prototype.” Terrifica said, wrapping up the tale. “Only, since we know it’s a fake and the entire thing is a trap we can get away with it and all the information we need to ruin them at the same time.” She paused and held up a hand. “I know, the big question is, why don’t we just tell Zach and his team? There are three reasons for that. One, they’re criminal and we’re law enforcement. To have even a casual chat we would have to catch them first, as you can safely bet they’d run if suddenly confronted with professional superheroes. Two, they do good in the world, even if it is illegal. And personally I’d like them to keep doing it. And three…” She grinned. “This will be a lot of fun. Any further questions, or can I break down my plan?”

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Perhaps it was a bit politic of Crow not to mention the primary reason he'd come was to make sure this really wasn't a band of criminals out to rob a legitimate enterprise. After all - when you got paid healthy sums by Daystrom Inc. several years ago to establish a magical security grid on top of their active security, then it would rankle like hell to find out that the company was in fact run by evil bad men who'd broken the law.

 

In this millionaire's case - repeatedly.

 

Oh, Vickie would never let him live it down.

 

As it stood, while she was going through the details, Crow slid down from the ceiling; setting up some small stones, engraved with odd designs, in the background. When she finished, he put the finishing touches on the odd arrangement; took out a slate tablet covered in runes (oddly reminiscent of an iPad, strangely enough) - stepped aside, and nodded.

 

"Good to go."

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Bonfire looked at Terrifica, and the cloud of smoke warped into the form of a grinning smiley, with eyes and all. He stretched his arms forward, his shoulders making a few cracking sounds.

 

“Big corporation, doing shady things? I’m in. Even if I run the risk of AEGIS knocking at my door with a flying tank again.  And I doubt they’d be as nice about it this time. “

 

Oh, strange fate. This wasn’t the first mission of this kind Cass had been involved in, and it felt like it would not be the last either. A good thing, he could always use more experience, and it would only become easier. Ow it was time to listen, see what the plan was, and what exactly Bonfire’s part of the plan would be. He could fit many roles, but from the online entry that had let him here, it felt like this might actually be something for Cass Bauer, and not Bonfire. Which would be quite interesting too, he had done his best to not get involved in anything as Cass up until now.

 

“I’m good, no questions here. “

Edited by olopi

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Natalya Browning had been more than a little curious when her network of information had kicked up this particular job. It wasn't as if she didn't have enough on her plate but there were certain expectations the infamous Bombshell had to fill, and on a personal note, Talya couldn't resist seeing heroes play criminals. After all, she'd walked both sides of that particular line. Her heels clicked on the floor as she entered the warehouse during Terriffica's short speech and she took in the assembled crew of super heroes. 

 

She wasn't dressed in the superhero costume she wore with the Interceptors, nor was she in her old black catsuit. The femme fatale looked almost out of place amidst the others in her narrow black skirt and jacket, and high, high heels. 

 

"I'm all ears," she said simply, her clipped British tones faintly bemused. 

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The Handyman’s departure at this stage was unfortunate, but they had a fill in who had just arrived. “Thank you, Crow.” Terrifica tapped a few buttons, familiarizing herself with the slate tablet’s functionality. Then she started tapping her own wrist computer.  A section of the table opened up and a small monitor appeared. “As you can see, Daystrom Industries is based out of an office park in Hanover. Mr. Daystrom is a bit of a skinflint. The security company there isn’t the best in the neighborhood, let alone Freedom. The security system is a Doohan, however. Not their latest model, but still enough to require some time to get through. It has all the usual bells and whistles. High resolution cameras, infrared beams, motion detectors, and no connection to the outside. Challenging to penetrate, but not impossible. Bonfire, I’d have you play an aspiring engineer with a job interview. I’ve taken the liberty of setting it up for noon tomorrow. Your job is to plug this USB-“ She pulled one out of her longcoat’s pocket. “-into a computer in the company network. That will allow me to gain access to their computer system and block mundane security. Once I’ve managed that, our thief will have free reign to drop in from the roof, through the ventilation ducts, and into the secured lab containing the fake prototype.” The screen was showing the plans of the building, obtained for free at City Hall. God bless the Freedom of Information Act. “With that in hand, our thief can simply walk out the front door.”

 

Terrifica glanced around at the assembled group. “Simple, yes? Well…if we did exactly that Bonfire and our thief would be frozen in magical stasis. Making both extraction and achieving our secondary goal impossible due to all the alarms blaring and police showing up. You see, the supposedly mediocre security is a trap to lure in the unwary. Daystrom has a magical security system on top of the mundane. That is what Crow is here to counteract. So, the very first thing we need to do is get him into the basement to shut it down. They use a local janitorial service with, shall we say, dubious hiring practices. Hardcase and Crow will borrow a van and a pair of uniforms from their office is Lincoln and infiltrate in the early morning hours. Crow will shut down the magical security. Bonfire will help me disable the mundane, our thief will drop in from the roof, and Hardcase will find Daystrom’s office and drop this-“ From her pocket came a smartphone “in on top of his hard drive. It will download everything on it in five or so minutes. Then you all extract, and we’re done. Ah, and the time pressure has to do with Zack’s team. They’re putting their plan into motion the day after tomorrow. So, we only have one day to do this and do it right.” She turned to Crow. “You mentioned a few extra wrinkles when we spoke earlier?”

Edited by EternalPhoenix

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An interesting plan for sure. A lot more plan than the last time Bonfire had been involved in this. Obviously, also way more opportunities to screw up, but that would something to deal with at a later point in time.

Engineer looking for a job, huh? Certainly an interesting position. Cass would have to read up on some lingo for that interview then, make it seem like he had an idea what he was doing. And also figure out just how to get the USB stick in. He could probably stealth should it come down to it, but that would be somewhat suspicious, right? Or would doing it during an interview be more suspicious? Probably depended on just what kind of bug this was.

 

Bonfire waited for Terrifica to finish, then responded, looking quite interested in what Terrifica had been saying nevertheless.

 

 “Okay, I like that plan. But, I’ve got a few questions. For one, how should I deal with the USB? Sneak in and do it hidden, or try to do it during the actual interview? I’m not sure which would end up being more suspicious in the end. “

 

He stopped for a second, before suddenly realizing something and darting forward again, almost slamming his torso into the table on accident.

 

“Oh, and before I forget it. We should probably address the elephant in the room; What happens if we screw up? What’s the priorities? How much damage is still okay? And so on. It’s probably something to determine beforehand, just to be on the safe side. “

Edited by olopi

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"...yeah." He'd clamped his jaw shut tight when Bombshell walked in - she could feel red eyes tracking her across the floor. Talk about veteran support - the urge to ask for her autograph went through his head just as quickly as supposing precisely how much she'd laugh if he did. A deep breath, and his cool baritone filled the air. Practiced, cold, and professional. Didn't quite hit walking-across-your-grave level, of course, that was reserved for real bad guys.

 

He tapped the slate in his hand, in turn, and the runes lit up - webs of light coming up in a whorl, coalescing into a 3D wire-frame of the building, with strange arcane sigils marked all over the place. Mostly the upper floors, thankfully.

 

"...four points. First, paralysis is a bit of a misnomer. It's more a rabbit snare. If you're lacking an ID stone, you'll find your feet stuck to the ceiling. Cheapest iteration of the trap - good news is it has a major flaw. Crack the ceiling tile, kill the power to that room or hallway. Assuming the central nexus linked to the ley-line passing through the basement isn't killed, then it's just a matter of doing a little property damage. Would rather avoid it, but there's your contingency."

 

Tap-tap. "Second, there's a failsafe in place in the event that network goes down - a magical faraday cage. Rune plates will light up on the corners of the top three floors - housing the main computer nexus, CEO's office, and R&D vault. Anything powered by aetheric energies, supernatural, whatever - banished, deactivated, or simply doesn't come up. It's like a static field that disrupt-and you don't care. Moving on." Cough. Tappity-tap. "Only way to circumvent it would be to pry out the plates from the insulation, so don't bother. Talismans won't work, but neither will their recognition system - it'll be back to basics at that point. Stick to mundane technology up there."

 

Tappity-tap. Two rooms got lit up, and two wire-frame heads that slowly got covered by skin and...wait - he whacked the slate on the side, THEN they got covered by skin. First was a bald, scarred man, who looked like he had no neck - just muscle.  "Third. Chief of security - one Victor Baldwin, alias Viktor Laszlo, alias 'The Piemaker of Kiev'. Ex-Spetsnaz, former Russian mafiya, wanted in three European countries for assault, murder, corporate espionage, corporate sabotage, and tax evasion. Don't be fooled by his charming looks - he's got about fourteen unsolved cases to his name working for Daystrom, mostly corporate rivals and lawsuit plaintiffs. Also three successful mid-card title bouts in the Circus Maximus. He's mean, he's easily ticked off, and he knows how to fight dirty. Prefers fists to firearms, but he'll use the latter if given a chance."


Tappity-tap-tap. A distinguished older gentleman, with steel-grey hair, and a silver beard. Very respectable-looking, even striking, if you went for older guys. Only problem is that sneer almost permanently grafted onto his face. Very nasty. "Richard Daystrom. CEO of Daystrom Industries, patron of the Circus Maximus, frequent world traveler, and all around horrible human being. Successfully made his way to the top of his class in Harvard using a combination of bribery, blackmail, and - you don't care." Cough. "Suffice it to say he's got a rap sheet as long as Pseudo's arm. Unfortunately, a corps of lawyers willing to sue anything in sight has left him fairly untouched. At least until now."

 

Tap. The wire-frame rotated, leaving it up for anyone who wanted to examine it. "Daystrom should be absent for a weekly golf game during our projected time, but any emergency will bring him running. Baldwin will be on station, however - we can either take him out or attempt to avoid him." He left Terrifica to answer Bonfire's questions.

Edited by Quinn

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Though she was doing her best to present a blank façade, including a simple shake of the head when Terrifica asked if there were any questions, inside Casey's head things were far from serene. There was no doubt about it, they were commiting a crime, no matter how noble their intentions might be, and this flew in the face of everything she stood for, which did not sit easily with her. The words of the Girl Scout Law rang in her head.

 

'I will do my best to be honest and fair, friendly and helpful, considerate and caring, courageous and strong, and responsible for what I say and do.

 

and to respect myself and others, respect authority, use resources wisely, make the world a better place, and be a sister to every Girl Scout.'

 

How many of those words was she defying just by showing up for this meeting? What would her dad say?

 

But then she remembered that he was first and foremost an airman, and in time of war, members of the armed forces sometimes had to do things they wouldn't normally do in the service of their country. Not that this was the same, but...oh Lord, was this how it began? The slide down to vigilantism, one little compromise at a time?

 

No. The situation was morally complicated, true, but she had faith in Terrifica, just as she had in her. She would do her job and keep her eyes open, and would not let down her team.

Edited by Heritage

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"Generally, you'll want to see whether its slight of hand or a bit of subterfuge that you'll need. One can only plan so far when it comes to theft, after that its skill and improvisation," came the ex-thief's laconic response to Bonfire's question. "But I imagine we'll end up having to cross Baldwin. Never underestimate the resolve of the Russians when it comes to conflict."

 

Amusement flickered through her tone as Talya took in the plans with an easy calm. This didn't even fall in a particularly grey area for the former spy; which was partially why she'd come in the first place. Her partners might not be pleased with this particular side-job but they'd understand her reasoning. It might make Erik a tetch cranky though. Her blonde curl fell over one eye as she examined the leylines and runes that Crow was elaborating on before she finally turned to Terrifica as if curious to hear her answers about where the acceptable lines were. 

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“What do we do if things go wrong?” Terrifica smirked. “We’re heroes, aren’t we? Suit up and respond to the incident, of course.” She clasped her hands behind her back. ”We’ll stay in touch via commlink. If the situation can be salvaged, than we’ll try to do so.  If not, then we respond to our own breach. Defend yourselves, but avoid fighting if you can. Success or failure means we’ve saved Zack’s team, which is the primary goal. The secondary one, bringing Daystrom’s crimes to light, can always wait for another day.” She listened to Crow, and then frowned. “The Piemaker?” She rubbed the bridge of her nose with her thumb and forefinger. “Of course it’s the Piemaker. Who else would it be?” She swore rather viciously in Cantonese, but before anyone could ask, she spoke again. “We fought, once. I can…vouch…for his combat ability. And physical strength.” She sighed. That had not been an enjoyable, fun filled evening. “Let’s at least try to avoid him. Maybe, luck will be with us and he’ll stay ignorant of our actions the entire time.” And pigs would grow wings and fly all on their own. “At any rate, are there any more questions? Time is slipping away and a good night’s rest is essential.”

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Something occurred to Crow, though, and he brought up an image in the mid-upper building; a small side office.

 

"That said - we do have an exfiltration route in case of emergency. This office is equipped with a portal rune to the outside back courtyard, in the event of catastrophe on the lower floors. It's outside the faraday cage, so in the event things go horribly wrong, you can exit through here. Look for J. Smith's nameplate, remove the painting of dogs playing poker behind the desk, and press the second wall tile left of the window. The portal will open in a few seconds - but it'll also light up all the emergency alarms in-building. Fire and police."

 

And how long had it taken him to talk Daystrom into including THAT? Evacuation plans were standard as part of his security system, even if they were an additional bell-and-whistle, and the skinflint was too tight-fisted to pay for even that. Hindsight, should have been a bit of a giveaway, come to think of it.

 

He leaned back against the wall, nodding. "...no questions." Most had been answered already, whether Terrifica knew it or not!

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"I can handle the Piemaker," said Casey with a confidence that surprised even herself, yet somehow she knew it to be true. All the working out and training in the simulators with Sakurako at school was finally paying off, and she was eager for the challenge.

 

"Other than Baldwin and Daystrom, what other security personnel can we expect on site, and how are they equiped?"

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August 20, 2016. Freedom City. Hanover. The Starbase Coffee A Block From Daystrom Industries. 7:00 AM.

 

Terrifica sipped an herbal tea. One with ginseng and B vitamins. She was not dressed in her costume today. Well, she was, but the gloves were in the longcoat’s pockets and the cowl was down under the collar. She was, of course, still disguised. She was wearing a wig, made of red curls and her contacts had turned her eyes blue. A little makeup, and even her epithelial folds (the very distinctive fold of skin that narrowed Eastern Asian eyes) were much reduced. In short, she didn’t look very much like Samantha Carson, especially if the person looking had never met the woman.

 

The plan was in motion. Miracle Girl and Crow were borrowing the van. The employee turnover at Phillips Cleaning & Landscaping was quite high, and Terrifica had no doubt the two could pass for new hires. Bonfire and Bombshell should be arriving shortly. Terrifica had a freshly purchased laptop on the table, but it was a distraction. The suit’s wifi would be doing all the real work. The laptop simply expanding its range a little. The idea behind Bonfire and Bombshell arriving early was for a coaching session before his interview. Terrifica could provide necessary technical details to forestall any suspicions on that end, and Bombshell could perhaps provide a short lesson on stealth and sleight of hand. She made sure her commlink was appropriately placed in her ear, and pretended to place a phone call. “Crow? Hardcase? As I said last night, there shouldn’t be anyone who is a threat but Baldwin. Rent-a-cops, with tasers and pepper spray. I thought he was in prison in Haiti, but apparently my information was outdated. He could have brought an associate or two.”

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Bombshell joined Terrifica at the table, sliding in with a casual slouch that was nothing like the polished British woman. With her legs casually crossed at the ankles and wearing a hoodie and jeans, Bombshell could have been any young college kid enjoying a coffee with a friend. There was nothing overt that had changed about the blonde spy, save her clothing and makeup pallet choices but somehow the blonde looked nothing at all like the famous ex-spy. She clocked in at easily a decade younger, and from her ponytail to her sneakers, she blended easily into the fabric of the coffee shop. Which, really, was the point. 

 

"I like the hair," Bombshell commented, her normally crisp diction smoothed out into the flatter cadence of an American. 

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