Coded, I Think


daphne_icon.gif laura_icon.gif

Scene Title Coded, I Think
Synopsis It's a meeting of two platinum-blond thieves, only both are pretending not to be, when Daphne, aka Tiffany, seeks a security consultation from Laura.
Date January 29, 2009

Morgan Security and Locksmithing

Like many such places in the very large city, Laura's 'shop' is a small little couple of rooms, tucked away on the ground floor of a building that hosts many such office-type units. From the outside, it's extremely unremarkable, little more than a door with a frosted-glass window and a simple sign: Morgan Security and Locksmithing. There are no posted hours, no slogans, no advertisements; the kind of place tourists walk right by and never realize it was there. But then, Laura isn't interested in attracting touristy business.

Her advertising is largely word of mouth, or accessible by those who know where best to ask, in the way of a truly top-notch professional. The interior of the front room matches that reputation, its color scheme neutral but in a pleasing rather than institutional palette; the carpet neither thick nor spare, and scrupulously clean; the desk and chairs simple but comfortable; enough art on the walls for a waiting guest to study, but nothing garishly distracting.

Laura had expert help in developing the image and impressions she wanted to convey; by this point, years later, it might as well be a second skin.

It being normal business hours, the woman is seated behind her desk, her attention focused on the computer at hand. She wears a black suit with very thin, soft blue pinstripes and a sky-blue blouse; a touch of makeup, but no jewelry, not even earrings.

Knowing that walking in with a blueprint of a building and asking for security consultation isn't going to go very well if she dresses in her usual mix of sports wear and punk accents, the petite platinum blonde customer who walks through the door is dressed to impress. She wears a herringbone wool trench coat over black slacks, black boots that bring her height up a couple of inches, and a red scarf. Her hair — well, it's harder to make her scattered dreadlocks look professional, so they are tucked under a black beret. In her hand is a large black portfolio, the kind architects and artists use.

"Hello, Ms. Morgan?" the blonde asks, stepping forward to offer a hand, after peeling away a sleek black glove. "I'm Tiffany Dennis. We spoke on the phone?" It's a fake name, of course.

The clothing makes of them a pair indeed — particularly when Laura stands up to shake the offered hand, her lack of heels putting them on a level in terms of height. In terms of anything else… well. The sometime thief can spot a false name when someone else uses it. Particularly when she has time to look it up before the meeting.

She doesn't say anything, however. Not at this stage of the game. "Ms. Dennis; it's a pleasure to meet you. Care to sit?" Laura prompts, waving the other woman towards the chair across her desk. She herself sits down, folding her hands on the edge of a bare stretch of desktop.

"Thank you," says "Tiffany," taking a seat carefully. She does slip off her coat, revealing a gray sweater inside — cashmere and simple, no ruffles or sequins, mind you. It's how Daphne would dress if she were a corporate type. She knows enough not to wear something so out of your comfort zone you sit scratching at a bit of lace which would mess up the whole persona.

"As I mentioned, I'm the administrative assistant of a CEO of a new bio-tech firm. We're currently scouting locations, but have a rough blue print of what we want the building to look like… some changes will likely be made, to accommodate the space we find, of course. Landscape, lot size, et cetera, but we're looking for something that will suit what we have in mind."

Daphne unclasps her portfolio, and pulls out several large sketches — one of the building's front, one showing details of the sides, another of the back. Next comes what work as a blue print, though with estimates rather than true dimensions. After all, this is all for a hypothetical, yet to be in existence, building. Right?

Of course, Daphne had these drawn up by one of her cohorts based on the real blue prints, which she most certainly has.

"Being bio-tech, of course, security is of the utmost concern," Daphne says, glancing down at the prints, then up at her fellow platinum blonde.

Pressing her fingers on the edge of one of the papers, Laura brings it around to where she can inspect the sketch more closely. Front of the building first; then sides, as she draws a mental image of the exterior. "You understand that the best I can give you at this stage is a very rough estimate?" the consultant remarks, glancing up briefly in "Tiffany's" direction without really breaking her study of the drawings. "If the plans for the building do change, it may render a good part of anything I say today moot."

"Of course," Daphne says. "We'll keep that in mind. If we do change anything, it might be because of the security issues and costs and such." The drawing of the building from the original is changed just enough so that it isn't recognizable as the building that exists in Boston — just in case Laura would recognize it. And she's purposely visiting Laura in Manhattan to help avoid such recognition, should the slight changes not obscure the building's true identity. Still — some details are the same: the front facade being made of glass bricks; the hundred or so windows around the back and sides, the number of rooms.

Boston doesn't have anything much Laura recognizes, including this particular building. She nods at Daphne's reply, continuing to study the exterior sketches. Then the woman turns her attention to the floorplans, slowly paging through the booklet, forward, in reverse, occasionally flipping back to consult one page in relation to another. She's quiet for a long moment, eyes slightly narrowed in concentration. "Your access system — will it be keyed, carded, coded…?"

"Coded, I think," Daphne says, adding the 'I think' to make it seem like it's not necessarily set in stone. "I know it's not simply cards, because my boss tends to lose them and thinks they're a pain in the ass, and keys are too simple to duplicate." She smiles with a shake of her head at her fictional boss, and as her dark eyes follow the flips of the pages as the expert does her research.

Laura nods absently, noting the response. She turns to the ground floor blueprint, tapping several points around the outside of the building. "You'll need cameras at these points to get a complete view of the exterior. Or— " A different set of positions. "— here if you choose only to watch entrances and nearby grounds. Doors are probably enough with a building like this; I presume you'll have a complete interior closed-circuit, and anyone who wants what you have won't be deterred by cameras." She lifts her gaze to meet Daphne's, smiles lopsidedly.

"I'd suggest infrared sensors inside, either on a timed switch or something security could flip on afterhours. Depends how cautious you are — timed will take care of itself, but might need some tweaking to account for employees honestly working afterhours. Sensors should be comprehensive in secure areas; tie them into an alarm system, maybe a secondary subnet of cameras that'll pick up who sets them off."

Taking out a pad of paper from the portfolio and a pen, Daphne writes quickly to keep up with Laura's words — though not so quickly that she seems extraordinary in any way. "That makes sense," she says, nodding slowly as if mulling it over. "Any particular spot that seems the most secure for more … classified… files and the more costly equipment?" She has her guesses, of course, and even if she were wrong, once inside it won't take her much time to explore all possibilities. But time wasted is still time wasted — even if it's mere seconds.


Laura turns back to the folio of blueprints, gaze flicking over and considering each one in turn. "Looks like the architect's got notes for reinforced flooring here, here, and there," she remarks, pointing to three different points on three different floors. "That would benefit the equipment. Only other thing I've seen it used for is compact shelving, and you aren't running a library." Files are a different concern, and she looks back at a couple of the plan diagrams again. "Looks like there's ample ventilation here for a server room. If you're talking paper files…" Raising one brow, Laura looks up at Daphne, making that statement into a questioning prompt.

"Paper files, in addition to computerized ones, I'm sure," Daphne says. Of course there are computer files, but she's no expert in fire walls and encryption. Speed doesn't help her there, except that she can type faster than the average bear, meaning she could try more entries in less time — which still wouldn't help if a wrong entry crashed the system. "But filing cabinets could go anywhere I suppose."

"Just about," Laura agrees. "They tend to stay with the person who makes them, especially in a research environment like this. Not even a supervisor is going to have all the details of the work." An unnecessary comment, it should seem, if "Tiffany" really had the occupation she claimed to have. "For that you'll just have to provide each lab with whatever security measures you can. Which probably isn't much; not without inconveniencing their everyday work."

'Tiffany' isn't that worried about looking a little inexperienced — after all, she's getting the answers she seeks, perhaps out of the goodness of Laura's heart or maybe because Laura has professional respect for someone else in her other line of work — who knows. It's all about appearances. "That makes sense. Especially in bio-tech. I'm no physicist. Just an administrative assistant, but I'd guess infrared and radio signals and that sort of thing would mess with some of their work. Or so the lab coats tell me," she adds with a wink.

Daphne takes another couple of notes, then puts her pen down. "Anything else you see that might cause any sort of special concern? And if you have numbers for vendors you trust, we'd greatly appreciate that. We have some people we've worked with in the past, but it's always good to shop around." She smiles brightly at that.

Glancing over each of the pages before returning the stack to Daphne, Laura shakes her head. "No, not special concern," she replies. "I presume you'll have a couple guards posted as well, and that should suffice to cover any gaps in the systems." The consultant stands up, anticipating her guest will be doing the same. "Aside from myself?" she quips. "Sure, I can send you a list. And, Ms. Dennis?" Laura smiles at the other woman. "Good luck with your building."

Taking her documents, Daphne places them in the portfolio once more, buckling the large black case and then standing to shake Laura's hand. "Thank you, Ms. Morgan. I appreciate all of your assistance." She pulls a manila envelope out of a side flap on the portfolio. She hands the sealed envelope to Ms. Morgan. "Your check. Have a good evening." With that, she steps across the room and out the door. By the time Laura opens the flap of the envelope to see there is no check, but simply cash in large bills, Daphne will be far away.

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