Main Mission


kay_icon.gif monica_icon.gif

Scene Title Main Mission
Synopsis Monica's arm is put through its paces. And also, Monica is put through hers
Date January 28, 2016

Antananarivo, Madagascar

Company Profile: 360INS is a relatively new technology and data software developer in the cybernetics industry. Their HQ is currently situated in rising developmental region of Madagascar, where the Mitchell administration tried and failed to take control. 360INS is one of many players on the international stage trying to strike it big.
They represent direct competition to Yamagato. Some rumors (and some actual vetted info) state that 360INS has played a part in arms and (alleged) drugs deals both on Madagascar and the African continent, the exchange focused on gaining raw resources and funding for their high-tech projects at the expense of others. Not just corporate espionage at play here but also taking down some people who came to play, but play dirty.

Target Profile: Rhonda Westerkamp is the primary executive assistant to Andre Warwick (CEO) of a company called ThreeSixty Integrated Solutions (dba 360INS). She currently heads operations in Southeastern Africa. Originally from South Africa, she worked her way up the corporate ladder, eliminating rivals and positioning herself smartly. She has a reputation in the company for being the gatekeeper when it comes to dealing with Mr. Warwick. The Cerberus to his Hades, with just as many ways to bite your head off.

Objectives: Find and recover prototype hardware and tech data that 360INS is going to auction to the highest bidder. Eliminate Rhonda Westerkamp.


A thin metallic grey tablet within a black A4 folder was left on her kitchen countertop, inside containing plane tickets and info on the gadget. Yesterday’s flight wasn’t too rough, but neither was it smooth. Nearly twenty hours long even in a private plane, it left Monica with plenty of time to kill, or rather, plenty of time to study.

The hotel room overlooks a portion of the city with a view of the royal palace up at the crest of three ridges. In any direction, a picturesque sight of trano gasy styled houses, red and brown rooftops covering bright tan and colorful buildings, intermixed with more functional and practical architecture of the commercial type. The venture today will take her through the pop-up stalls and markets massed with people, vendors and customers alike, but aim her into the more industrial-commercialized part of the city where recent international companies both from the U.S. and other countries have been vying for land and building space. 360INS has a building on lease, a private-hired security, and employees somewhere in the hundred range at this location.

Monica hasn't taken the time to enjoy the view. Oh, she's studied it from a tactical perspective, but the fact that it's beautiful has not really been noted. Scattered rooftops have been noted. Possible perches have been noted. The company's building has been scouted in the cover of night.

She hasn't slept yet.

In her room, she's been spending the morning testing out her arm's functionality, even though she has already done so long before coming on this assignment. The engineers have tested it. Everyone has tested it. She's standing in the hotel room, apparently practicing her tai chi. One must be calm and limber on days like these. Of course, she's been in an apparent haze since her arm was installed, so outward calm doesn't seem to be an issue. But whatever the operative is feeling inwardly, she hasn't been sharing. She's barely spoken at all, really.

Her gear is all nearby, ready to go once she gets word that it's time.

There’s a chirping noise coming from the gear. A sign that there’s an incoming communique.

Back in New York, Kay Damaris sits in her office, which is all windows on two sides, privacy glass leading to the hallway, and abstract art on the remaining wall. Paint splattered blood red on a white canvas. She has a sense of humor about things.

There’s an earpiece in her ear and a microphone leading from it to sit at one corner of her mouth. She has bank of monitors suspending from the ceiling in front of her desk, displaying all the pertinent information about their target, the location, and current conditions.

“Good morning, Miss Barnes,” Kay greets in her sweet southern drawl when the operative finally opens their connection. “Just about showtime over there. How are you doing?”

As Monica observed the previous evening, 360INS is situated in a smaller commercial building within a mixed industrial-commercial zone close to the bottom of a ridge, a short distance away from the residential-commercial sprawl of ready rooftops that could afford an aerial approach, but giving her a good number of options to have scouted from above.

Though the white-and-teal accented building is only two-and-a-half stories tall, its wide west and east wings open up across the faint earthy-red concrete campus in a gently angled arc and extend back from a central lobby. The main floor lobby is enclosed in tall, see-through windows to provide a clean and open feel that allows visitors to see directly into the open floor and its large central security desk manned by two guards and a receptionist during business hours, two different guards at night. The upper level's exterior bears reflective glass, shielding the view into the offices from the outside.

Theoretically, infiltration points are everywhere - front through the main lobby, the west and east wing sidedoors, the back warehouse loading dock. But at any given time, there are armed guards patrolling the grounds to deter potential criminals (and said corporate spies) from unwanted physical entry. The guards don't carry anything heavier than a standard law enforcement style pistol and the usual gear - handcuffs, flashlight, radio; whatever secrets kept within are not expected to require assault rifles to guard, just locally-hired eyes and ears and bodies.

Kay's building floorplans displayed on her bank of monitors back in New York place Rhonda Westerkamp's office somewhere in the central portion of the west wing where, though she's unable to overlook the lobby from the inside, does afford a view of the parking lot and surrounding building front outside. It's unlikely that Ms. Westerkamp will be in. She's a busy woman with client and manager meetings to attend. Mobility is her forte. But even as such, every bird must come back to roost.

As the pair of Yamagato employees survey their rival from different parts of the globe, an e-mail pops into Kay's infiltrated inbox of one the 360INS employees that shows a particular point of interest:

Fwd: RE: Your wesk is messy.

Clean up your desk before you leave tonight.

A breakthrough. What seems like an unintentional typo with the “d” key so close to “w” provides a clue. Ms. Westerkamp's (aka "Wesk") presence is expected tonight, and the employees know it. Likely concurrent with a delivery of parts and goods that is scheduled for the late afternoon near the close of business, which means the night-shift warehouse workers are going to be there unloading. Whatever it is though, with Westerkamp there, it must be something she wants to oversee personally.

At the chirp, Monica comes out of her practice and comes over to pull her comms out of her gear. The earpiece is slid into place, and just in time to hear Kay's greeting.

"Damaris," she says, in acknowledgement. "Ready when you are," she notes and she starts. "I'm going through the front. I've got a uniform from their courier service. When the front is busy, I'll slip through." Rather than something flashier. While she talks, she slips into the uniform, over something a little slimmer and easier to move in. She isn't taking a gun with her, mostly because she wants to stand up to a frisking in case the guards are good at their jobs. "Do we have eyes on the inside?"

Her tone is bland, words delivered very much like a report. It's a real shift from the information in her profile.

“Glad to hear it.” Kay’s fingers tap-tap-tap over the keys in front of her, switching from display to display to examine the little details one more time. “I’m working on the camera feed, but for now I’ve got word that our target’s expected to be in tonight. Employees are antsy.” Monica can hear the grin in her voice. “Means they might be a little jumpy, though. You’ll want to keep an eye on that.”

While she’s waiting to see if she can get a hack on the security feed at 360INS, Kay is making notes in her own file about Monica’s state of mind. Her superiors want to know, after all. Everyone’s concerned about making sure the asset is in good health. Physically and mentally.

By the time Kay has breached the security feed firewalls and covered her tracks enough that they have eyes, the clock has ticked down towards the end of the business day. No further email sending or receiving indicates worry or high level concerns of the staff. They must have procedures in place for this sort of thing; Ms. Westerkamp's design, perhaps. Once she's in though, disguised by security protocol program system checks, she's able to access the cameras in the building. There's 24 channels giving her viewpoints of the whole building where they've been set up. 8 cameras per wing with 4 per floor. 4 for the lobby. 3 for the warehouse. 1 for the server room. After a minute, she taps in to the only two locations that have audio: Rear Warehouse (RW1) which looks out over the receiving dock and Main Lobby Camera 1 and 2 (L01, L02) pointing over the main desk for whatever guests approach, and the entrance.

"I'll be careful," Monica says to Kay on the matter of jumpy employees. "The idea is to not draw their attention at all. When I'm in, I'll see about getting a security uniform." Easier access. Easier blending. She does not explain how she plans on doing this. Kay will see it anyway. Through the cameras.

And while New York works on getting access to those cameras, Monica leaves her hotel room with little more than her phone, earbuds, and a portable charger with cable. Just a normal person on a normal day at work. She walks to the courier service hub, since it's a nice morning out. The uniform helps her to look inconspicuous to the security cameras, even with her coming at the building from an odd angle that leads through tight alleys and sharp corners. And to the back end of the property. To a hole in security. Probably because the area is slim and anyone hopping the fence would be forced to walk around the building and step directly into the cameras' range. But Monica is not anyone. She scales the fence in a few smooth motions. The arm whirrs as it pulls her up to perch at the top, feet between spike-topped fence sections. Instead of dropping down, she springs up, cybernetic arm grasping the edge of the roof before her other hand moves to join it. She breathes. And flips herself up onto the roof.

Her communications to Kay are short now that she's working. And limited to reports on the arm's performance. The hydraulics, especially.

Keeping to the roof edges, Monica rounds the building until she reaches the side with offices. And a drainpipe. She's careful as she climbs down it, since her weight on the wrong spot would result in a loud accident. But she isn't going far, just to the top floor windows. She eases across the ledges, peeking until she finds an empty room. And then, letting the new arm hold onto the ledge, she uses her regular arm to jimmy the lock with her hotel keycard.

And then she rolls inside.

And walks into the hall.

And strides along as if she belongs there.

From there, she slides in and out of rooms, peeking at scheduling and routes. And teams. And when she finds one for the 360INS building, she makes sure to get to the truck instead of the scheduled partner. He'll wake up in the breakroom relatively unharmed, but disoriented. And too late to catch them.

For Monica, it's a matter of waiting for the courier service to show. A nondescript covered truck that's typical for deliveries in the region eventually comes rumbling up the hill on its steady approach to the building, its path coming to a stop in the driveway in front of the main lobby. It's not long 'til the hour will click over to 5:00 PM, and office employees will start to file and filter out for the day. The first indicator of some drama is that one of the guards at the main desk tries to wave the courier back around, but the driver doesn’t see. He’s too busy checking some manifest pad to note the gesture from the cab, which leads the guard at the main desk to curse something under his breath and push up to his feet.

From the passenger seat of the truck, Monica slumps like she's tired from a full day's work and can feel the ticks of the clock until they get to call it a day. She sees the guard's signal, but she doesn't mention it to her 'partner'. The closer they can get to the building, the better. She notes him coming to his feet, though, and turns to her partner. Her finger taps the clock, a silent reminder that they only have a matter of minutes to make this drop. And they have to make it before closing. The manifest says so. They paid for same day service! It would be an outrage if they waited until the morning.

Back in New York, Kay glances from her terminal to the readouts she’s getting from Monica’s arm. She doesn’t understand much of it, but she’s been drilled on what to watch for. When she needs to be concerned. When she should be impressed. Right now, she is definitely impressed. “Should’a made popcorn,” she murmurs, not into a hot mic. Monica needs to take this mission seriously, needs to feel like she’s being taken seriously. And Kay is, despite her quips, doing just that.

“I’ve got eyes on the inside.” This is said into the microphone, a hushed voice so as not to be too loud a buzz in the woman’s ear. The last thing she needs is to get made. But she doesn’t have eyes on Monica’s current situation in the truck. “One agitated guard heading toward the front. Everything good to go? Clear your throat for me if it is. Sigh if it isn’t.” And if it isn’t, well… That’s a problem, but it’s one she can work with. Kay isn’t expecting there to be any problems. Not this early, anyway.

A quick delve in the inbox of gives a time when Westerkamp is due to arrive: 5:30. But habits have shown the woman likes to arrive early, so the staff is already preparing for the executive's arrival. The guard who has pushed up to his feet says to the other and the receptionist in a grumbled Malagasy, "«This stupid guy! How many times do we have to tell him to just drive around the back? Be right back, I have to go kick a donkey in the ass.»"

Monica's attention getting effort pays off as the driver looks over at her indication of the clock, and he rolls his eyes with that 'I know, I know' grumble. "«Every time I come out here, I have to work overtime. The boss-bitch comes and everybody has to wait. So why bother?»" complains the man to Monica, his French carrying the accent of the area. Sounds like the guy is really tired too - tired of his job. The driver tilts his head towards the lobby, saying to Monica, "«Look, the asshole is going to come out and tell me to stop blocking the way and go to the back.»

The guard comes outside waving his hand again in a bigger 'move it!' gesture, with a call out in French, "«Hey! What are you doing? Don't block the driveway, drive around to Receiving in the back!» When the guard comes around Monica's side of the cab, the man is basically talking through Monica's side like she's not even there as he berates the driver. The two exchange words, flying between French and Malagasy.

"«How many fucking times do we have to tell you to follow the fucking instructions? Drive to the fucking back!»"
"«You're yelling at me now, and when your boss comes she's going to fucking yell at me why I didn't fucking wait for her to fucking watch the offload.»"
"«You don't have to wait for her in the front, idiot, move your ass to the back or I will move it for you.»"
"«Fine! Fuck! Fine, fucking… get out of the way before I run you the fuck over with this truck.»"

The colorful language is accompanied by a lot of birds being flipped, so to speak. But eventually the driver starts up the truck again and gets them headed towards the back. Monica and Kay see through eyes and camera respectively, the approach of a silver SUV with darkened windows indicative of the arriving Ms. Westerkamp. But Monica's headed away from the SUV, puttering to the rear of the building in the delivery truck. The SUV stops in front where the delivery truck was moments before, and a couple of suited bodyguards step out of the vehicle before Ms. Westerkamp steps down.

Five o'clock is here, and office employees start filing out on the dot. Several of them pass by Ms. Westerkamp on her way in through the front lobby, offering their salutations to the boss lady before slipping out.

"«You should think about trading routes,»" Monica says, her French less local, but comfortable. "«I've never seen her. Is she that bad?»" When her partner mentions the guard, Monica turns to watch as he approaches. And while they yell over her, she puts her elbow in the open window and her chin in her hand. Normally, this would be pretty funny and somewhere in Monica's mind she knows it is. But she can't manifest that knowledge into an outward expression. Instead, she drums her fingers against her cheek while they argue.

It's on the tail end of that argument that she clears her throat for Kay, after hearing the woman through her earpiece. Everything's fine, just the normal bureaucracy of the office environment.

"«Just stop here,»" she says, with a gesture out the window, "«We're out of her way and I can run in and deliver these and be back out before we tick over into overtime. And maybe see if I can meet her.»" She grins over at the driver, like she might be purposefully making trouble. Like maybe they should spend their time having some fun with this company that likes to waste theirs.

“Look at you. You’re a pro at this already.” Kay’s grin can be heard through her words. Her French is not great, not at that speed, so she relies on Monica to indicate if something is amiss. Since the woman is clearing her throat and not heaving a sigh, she has to trust her operative that everything is going according to plan.

“Ahead of schedule, right on time.” Now is where Monica’s handler begins to get anxious. Her fingers drum against her desktop and she pulls up an app on her phone that gradually fades colors in and out in a slow rhythm that reminds her to be conscious of her breathing. It’s the little things that help her keep calm on her end so she can help keep Monica calm in return.

The driver takes his eyes briefly off the road to quirk an eyebrow up at Monica, though it's unclear whether or not it's her French that catches his attention or the suggestion that he trade routes. It's a solid 50-50 chance for a hot second. Then he turns back to the route so that he doesn't hit a lamp post or other pylon. That would be unfortunate. "«She - Rhonda Westerkamp is her name - is not bad, merely stern and exacting,»" the driver utters, trying to sound like he's defending the customer despite his earlier cursing of Westerkamp. Perhaps it was the heat of the moment with the guard, and now his guilt for badmouthing the woman is the lingering aftertaste.

They're almost to the back side of the building, rounding the west wing, when Monica offers the suggestion of him stopping. The driver glances back over, slowing to a stop, halted in serious consideration. But he looks, sounds, dubious. "«You're not serious? You're serious.»" He glances at the digital clock display in the truck, mental gears turning, then nods and hands over the manifest. "«Take the box in the back, then. I'll still drive around so the guys can offload the pallet. She only needs to sign the top form,»" the driver advises. "«But I don't really think it's a good idea. She thinks she's a level above the rest of us, you know, maybe she'll just have one of the guards sign it.»" The driver shrugs helplessly. "«As long as someone signs the receiving form… I don't care.»"

As the pair in the truck discuss, Rhonda Westerkamp enters the building and heads towards the rear of the building. "I need someone to get the tablet on my desk from upstairs," she says to the staff around as if one of them is going to do this without her having to ask twice. "Bring it to the back." As an afterthought the woman adds, with a grimace of her face as if she'd smelled something rank or thought of something tedious.

"Also feed the bird while they’re at it."

The words from Kay have Monica reaching up to adjust her hat, because she can't say thanks and isn't entirely comfortable with compliments. So she swings her attention over to the driver, accepting his calmer thoughts on the boss with a nod. No hard feelings for badmouthing in a tense moment, apparently.

"«Don't worry. The forms will be in order,»" Monica says with a smile for the driver. It's a lie. His day is probably not going to go well after this, but if she feels bad about it— She doesn't. Feel bad about it. She slips out of the truck, circling to the back to grab the box and the clipboard with the forms. Once she gets everything in order and slams the door back into place, she taps the side of the truck with her fist to let him know she's clear. And then she heads for the front entrance.

She doesn't approach the target, but she slips into the lobby to head for the receptionist's desk. Listening to Westerkamp, but trying not to bring attention to herself. Follow. Observe. Follow Through.

The annoyance at the bird has her looking over that way, though. Like she needs to recalibrate her judgment of the woman.

“She’s headed for the back,” Kay murmurs softly, filling Monica in on the conversation she missed while she was negotiating her way out of the truck. “Asked someone to grab her tablet from her office.” Which could present an opportunity, if a lone employee is headed up.

Westerkamp’s movements are tracked in the monitors by Kaydence’s exacting brown eyes. “I’ve got eyes on her the whole way. I’ll lose audio once she’s out of the lobby, but I’ll have ears on ‘er again once she reaches the loading dock.” Presuming, of course, that’s the back. Presuming she’s going to watch the pallet unload personally. “Tablet might have some interesting information. Should be worth a look.”

The box is standard sized and just small enough to fit under arm, though it's marked with warnings of electronics contained within. Don't shake, contents fragile. Monica's signal to the driver is answered with a wave of his hand out the driver's side cab, the man none the wiser that his day really is on the downhill track. The truck putters its way out of sight, tracked by the building cameras to the rear receiving warehouse. As Kay watches, a couple of workers can be seen and heard directing the driver to back in to the raised dock area. The process will take time, given nobody wants to rush.

Monica's trajectory gets her within listening range of Westerkamp's tasks to her staff. The couple of suited bodyguards who accompany the woman glance at each other at first, but then one of them motions to the guard at the desk, the one who had berated the driver. Do this thing, the motion supposedly means. Then without waiting for the task to be done, the Westerkamp trio continue towards the back.

The desk guard doesn't look too happy about the order, as if that's not his job description to do such tasks as retrieve items and feed a pet bird. It isn't, in fact. So he instead waits for the boss and her entourage to exit behind the lobby into the lower offices before he radios someone else. Someone on a different part of the totem pole. Rather, a different part of the building. "«West 4, come in, West 4.»"

A woman's voice responds, clipped and professional. "«West 4. Go ahead.»"

"«Kamp requires office tablet on top of desk. She's going to Receiving, over.»"
"«Tablet on desk, copy that.»"
"«Also, Feathers needs to be fed, over.»"
"«Main 1, say again?»"
"«Feathers. The bird. Needs food, copy.»"

The silence is awkward, but eventually West 4 replies, "«Tablet on desk. Feed Feathers, roger and out.»" The reply satisfies the desk guard, who turns to the two coworkers at the main desk. "«Let's get out of here,»" he grumbles in Malagasy, and the two nod in agreement. It's time to go home. It's a changing of the guard.

The cameras for the West Wing show a woman in standard guard uniform walking down the hall from the end of the wing in the direction of the lobby, but more likely headed towards a stairwell located in mid-wing. With Westerkamp's office on the upper level, she'll have to ascend to get to the tablet and the bird.

Monica flips through the paperwork on her clipboard, looking busy while she listens to the room and watches people coming and going. She picks up her box and takes her paperwork with her as the target heads for the back. She's slow crossing the lobby, looking at the name on the box, generally looking like she's new at this. But once the changing of the guard happens, she takes her moment and slips into the stairwell to head up.

"Acknowledged," she says to Kay, her voice low, since stairwells can sometimes get echoy, "Heading for the tablet. There's an employee heading there, too. See if you can get me behind her."

The package is abandoned on the stairs, but she keeps the clipboard with her as she picks up her pace as she goes upward. Covering ground, trying to catch up with the guard and not lose too much time in the hunt for Westerkamp.

“Good instincts, Rookie.” They keyboard can be heard softly in the background as Kay starts adjusting the layout of the camera feeds, making sure she’s keeping eyes on Westerkamp while tracking Monica’s progress as well. Didn’t even have to tell her to tail the security woman.

Red fades to pink. Pink fades to sky blue. Blue fades into green. Kay’s breathing matches the slow pulse. “Pick up your pace a little and you’ll be on her in no time.” She glances at the display for Monica’s prosthetic a moment, assuring herself everything is still in order. So far, so good.

Westerkamp's trio don't delay, especially as the woman walks with a purposeful, confident stride to the rear of the building. Whatever audio is spoken in the passage goes unheard, unrecorded by the cameras of the lower offices. There's a brief blind spot between the lower office and rear warehouse where the woman and her two bodyguards aren't seen, but then when Westerkamp reappears, she's minus one guard. Yet, neither of the remaining pair appear concerned as they proceed to the load dock where the warehouse workers and driver are working the pallet out of the truck with a forklift.

Moments later, the second guard reappears into view in the lower office cameras, his path returning the way they had just come and directed back towards the lobby.

The cameras also observe Monica's route into the west wing, where the lower level is a set of cubicles with computers and office equipment in any usual enclosed layout typical of most offices. It's no Google. The package gets abandoned on the landing, halfway up the steps. Kay can see the wing guard entering Westerkamp's as Monica reaches the top of the stairs in time to see the guard touching a keycard to a lockpad, which chirps and the small LED turns green before mechanically clicking open.

The sound is echoed nearly perfectly a second time from the office interior, followed by a "Bonjour!" and a series of avian squawks and metallic cage rattles.

And the guard pulls up a small smile, replying to the bird inside as she turns on the light inside Westerkamp’s office. "Bonjour, Feathers, «Are you hungry? Ready to eat?»"

“«Ready to eat!»” comes the bird’s reply.

Her back is to Monica, fully unaware of the lurking woman behind her.

Monica will have to thank Kay for the compliment later. For now, she's focused. She picks up her pace just as Kay says to, proving that she knows how to follow direction however much of a lone wolf she is known to be. Perhaps that can be its own kind of reassurance to Kay as well.

She moves carefully, but swiftly as she spots the guard opening the office door. Slipping in behind her, Monica doesn't waste any time. She comes up from behind and wraps her cybernetic arm around the woman's throat while the other uses the clipboard to trap her arms in place. No flailing.

"Shh shhh," she whispers into the guard's ear as she applies steady pressure. Enough to make her black out, not to kill her. It's a delicate balance. Her whisper almost sounds like she means to comfort the woman, but it ends up more unsettling than anything.

For a while there, Kay was worried that Monica might be too soft for this work. That when it came time for the difficult stuff, that she would shy away from it. After all, there’s a huge difference between fighting an enemy during wartime and corporate espionage. So, color Damaris impressed that her operative doesn’t hesitate when push comes to shove.

“Westerkamp’s down a guard,” Kay tells Monica only after she’s finished taking down her target. “Peeled off in a blind spot. No eyes or ears, so I’m not sure what they’re up to, but he’s headed back toward the lobby. I know I don’t need to tell you to keep your eyes and ears open.”

There's no camera directly linked to the network in Westerkamp's office, but Kay can spot a part of the guard and Monica's sleeve-covered cybernetic arm wrapping around her. There's hardly any sound but a strangled gurgle amidst the click-whirr of the arm's movements and shuffling of clothing. Monica gets a hard kick in the shin just from the jerk of the guard's attempt to break loose, but the woman is no match in strength for the robotic arm. Seconds pass. Then the guard goes limp, sagging unceremoniously backwards like an unconscious trust fall.

Down in the lobby, the second bodyguard heads to the front desk to speak with the new security, a couple of larger bodied men in uniform, expected to remain vigilant for their shift against more unsavory characters. The suited bodyguard rattles off in Malagasy some other news as the three share some conversation. Then in French, a mild complaint as one of the guards remarks his surprise to see the guard there instead of the back with Miss Westerkamp, their topics returning to business.

"«Yes well, Miss Westerkamp needs her office tablet now for something, and that lazy guard's probably playing with the bird,»" he says, huffing out a sigh. "«Anyway, I'll be back, just going to check upstairs.»" Neither of the front desk guards get up or offer to check for the bodyguard, assuming that the bodyguard will get it done on Miss Westerkamp's orders.

Monica's got a few minutes during the conversation down in front. In the light of the office, the broad but not imposing desk is bare of papers, made of clean glass and metal lines, but shielded in front with a shiny black veneer. There's a desktop monitor and computer setup though it's powered off, an empty trash basket to a side, the previously mentioned tablet sitting centered at the seat… and Feathers the smokey colored African Grey staring with an occasional fluff of his feathers as he peers at Monica through the bars of an undecorated metal cage. A stranger, from the outside. Ooh. The bird is quiet, head cocked and bobbing side to side. Waiting, perhaps, for the food to appear.

The kick gets a wince, because that's not a good feeling however many times it's happened to her in the past. But Monica doesn't let go, not until the woman goes slack in her arms. She drags her unceremoniously behind the desk to keep her out of immediate view of the door. The warning from Kay has her flicking her eyes toward the door even as her hands reach for the tablet.

"Thanks for the heads up," she says, and she actually sounds like she means it. Her ability does a lot for her, but she can certainly still be taken by surprise. She'd rather not.

Crouching down, she takes the guard's keycard and starts to pull the uniform off her, to exchange. Courier for security. Might not be an even trade, but it'll have to do. The guard won't be out for too long— not unless Monica did more damage than she meant to— so she grabs the desktop's cord to weave around her wrists and then to the legs of the desk. Can't have her coming after. Standing, she takes her treasures and turns from the desk. To see the bird. Watching him ruffle his own feathers, she steps over to the cage.

And because she's feeling ornery, she reaches over to open the cage. A free bird is a good distraction, but more than that— the poor thing deserves better than this place.

Especially considering she's about to kill his owner.

Kay goes very still as she listens to the chatter in the lobby. It’s not quite as rapidfire as the heated discussion between the guard and the truck driver earlier, so she’s able to pick out more words, better context. “My French ain’t great,” she qualifies before giving Monica the lowdown, “but I believe Butch Deadlift is on his way up to you now to get that tablet.” Thank goodness for loan words.

“I don’t have eyes on you. You find what you need?” She’s tempted to ask if there’s more. A flash drive or something. But getting greedy isn’t what this operation is about. They have other people who handle the information acquisition. This is strictly janitorial work. Monica can hear the quiet tap of Kay’s nails on her desktop, betraying her handler’s restless energy.

At least the guard isn't a large adult man, which would have made it more difficult to stash. Luckily the unconscious woman is around the same size and body shape as Monica, which makes the exchange of uniforms not too awkward. The tablet taken and guard secured to the desk with cabling, this leaves Monica free to regard the bird as much as Feathers regards her.

The parrot quirks its head, uttering a few grawks and another "«Ready to eat»" saying, but follows it with a softer mimic of the same click-whirring sound that Monica's arm makes. She's likely missed the noise of it in her subduing of the guard. The bird's learned the noise in a few minutes of listening, and is testing it out on her. When Monica reaches over to open the cage door, the bird's feathers puff with anxious excitement. But it isn't until she steps back from the doorway and nearly half a minute passes before Feathers climbs over to the open entry with beak and claw clambering. The bird sits there, still watching Monica, like it's waiting for a command.

Kay's monitoring of Butch Deadlift's progress shows the man on the landing and about to ascend the last part of the stairs, but he's stopped to bend down and pick up the package that's been left on the stairs. He looks at the label on the package, then to the top of the stairs. One can almost envision the question mark that pops up over the man's head as he puzzles out why the box has been left here.

The name Kay uses gets a blink from Monica. "Butch Deadlift?" she asks with a chuckle. It's the first break in her otherwise stony countenance today. Or at all, lately. "I got it. Heading down to the target now," she says, falling back into her more professional tone. And demeanor. "I'll handle the guard." Hopefully by slipping right past him. But she's flexible.

She looks back toward the bird as it makes its way out of the cage. "I don't know where your food is. But, you know… fly free," she says to it, like she thinks it might understand her. She watches it a moment before she turns to head for the door. But she leaves the door open, too, so the bird can actually get out. She ends up leaving the stairwell door propped open, too.

Feathers fluff and the bird cocks its head to listen to Monica talk, which makes it look like its side-eyeing her. But when she speaks the word “fly”, the bird opens its wings and flaps up into the air, circling the spacious office overhead. And once she’s opened the door, Feathers flits out of it and disappears down the large hallway with a loud squawking.

The microphone is muted with a keystroke before Kay allows herself to let out a colorful streak of profanity. Then she hits the key to resume transmitting with significantly more force than is necessary. “The package. You’ve been made.” The tempo of her tapping increases unconsciously.

Monica starts down, but quietly, hugging the outer wall to keep out of sight. At least until she reaches the section the guard's in. But once she sees him and sees him looking up toward her, she rushes him to slam her robotic elbow into his temple. To knock him out in one blow.

She hears Kay's nails, her words. They seem to be driving her to be more decisive.

With the stairwell door propped open, the bird squawking echoes down into the landing and catches the bodyguard’s attention. He frowns and turns to head to the top of the stairs, but only just in time to spot Monica. At first, the man doesn’t appear any more than suspicious of her… until she’s rushing him and slams her elbow into his temple. He falls back and to the side, toppling onto the landing and dropping the package with a rough, loud thud. Contrasting that sound, the wince-inducing almost glass-shattering noise of something cracking inside the dropped box. Oops.

From the camera’s vantage point, Kay watches the guard drop to the ground and lets out an appreciative huff of laughter. “Nice job, Barnes. You should be clear from here. Walk like you know exactly where you’re going and like you’re supposed to be there and you’ll be fine.” Most people don’t like to question authority. Especially corporate peons.

The drop of the bodyguard, though, has alerted the front desk with the hard thud reverberating in the otherwise quiet office. Both guards stand up and look towards the west wing, and one of them checks the camera in the stairwell. A chatter of Malagasy exchanges between them, one of them pointing to the screen in confused excitement and the other guard taps on the radio. “«West 4, come in?»” The radio on Monica’s guard belt crackles with the query. “«We heard a noise. Report?»

"Roger that," Monica says to Kay. Even the glass shattering noise doesn't seem to worry her. Not after the initial wince. "We can erase the security tapes, right?" Kay can see her pick up her radio and twirl it in her hand before she replies. "«Delivery girl dropped something. It's handled.»" By the man who came up the stairs, obviously. Because this guard has a tablet to deliver, see? She takes Kay's advice and strides her way down the stairs and back out onto the first floor, tablet in hand as she turns to head toward the target. Her strides are purposeful because she's running behind and their boss does not like to be kept waiting.

At the rear of the building, cameras watch as the pallet gets unloaded onto the warehouse floor. From the audio, Kay can hear Westerkamp barking out commentary to the warehouse manager, the man taking it all in stride and relaying the orders along to the forklift driver. Finally, once the pallet is offloaded to the correct spot on the floor, Westerkamp heads over to inspect the pallet herself. “«Where is that damn tablet?»” the woman demands aloud to her second bodyguard, “«Where is Christiano?»” The other man’s response is too low for the camera to pick up, but it doesn’t please Westerkamp. She swears up and down in a native tongue, before indicating to one of the warehouse guards to radio.

Monica’s radio crackles back to life as she’s descending the stairs.

«Main 1, come in. This is Whiskey 2, over.»
«Main 1, here. Go ahead Whiskey 2.»
«Kamp wants to know where her tablet is, over…»
«Whiskey 2, stand by.»

As Monica re-appears at the lobby in the guard’s uniform, she sees the two main lobby guards - the one still standing and the one seated responding on the radio. The standing guard starts speaking in something Malagasy at her, but stops as he looks up and over her head behind her. A fluttering of feathers follows with a loud squawk as the bird flies out of the stairwell and into the lobby.

Both guards are standing then, but they’re looking up at the bird. Both of them are surprised-horrified to see the animal loose in the building, because it only means someone is going to be very upset. That someone being their boss’ boss, Mr. Andre Warwick.

But the radio guard has the sense enough to see Monica moving to the back offices, and remembers to radio the back with a modicum of calm in his report.

«Whiskey 2, West 4 going to the warehouse now, out.»

And then the guard sets the radio down and goes after his partner in their attempt to catch Feathers the African Grey.

Monica can hear her handler chuckling softly over the connection. “Nicely done, Barnes.” Kay shakes her head and presses the earpiece with the warehouse feed tighter against her ear, listening to the conversation. “Westerkamp is asking about her other guard,” the one Monica just dropped like a bad habit, “but hopefully your arrival with her tablet will make her forget to care about it too much. Be prepared with an excuse for him.”

Kaydence makes a quick visual sweep of the warehouse to give Monica an idea of what she’s walking into. “You’ve got the driver, a guy on forklift, and a warehouse manager for possible collateral damage,” which she isn’t particularly concerned about, to be honest. “Once they’re dismissed, you’ve just got Westerkamp and Slab Bulkhead to contend with.”

This is going to be a recurring theme.

"I'll cover it," Monica says, of the guard's disappearance. Or maybe she won't give Westerkamp a chance to ask. She's keeping her options open. "Keep an eye on the lobby. The bird should keep them busy, but if they start to actually pay attention it could be a problem." There's a brief pause as she uses the guard's keycard to access the door to the back. "What's the call on collateral damage?"


That's probably a good thing to know before she goes in.

Inside the door, she slips into a bit of cover, tucking herself away to watch the room. She'd like the regular employees to get clear before she makes her move, but she can only linger for so long before all the distractions behind her start to unravel. Her eyes scan the area, noting people and environment. To keep her options open.

Within the large warehouse there's plenty of places and objects to use as cover among the large metal shelving and pallets of material. There are dollies and flat platform carts for hand-transporting boxes and materials. It's at the back of the warehouse, where Kay monitors via camera, that among with the named collateral stands a warehouse guard (Whiskey 2) in addition to Westerkamp's second bodyguard.

The potential body count could go up to six: Westerkamp, her bodyguard, the warehouse guard, the warehouse manager, the forklift driver, and the courier driver. If Monica were to take them all out. If.

There are several pathways to the target, her options ranging from taking down the target via full attack with a handy (ha) weapon such as the blue metal lockers and cabinets and tables with power and workmans tools that Monica passes by in her approach, to creating a distraction within the warehouse to draw off the guards, to a careful plotting of The Most Unfortunate Warehouse Accident. Depending how well Kay and Monica want to handle the situation, to utilize Monica's abilities, and of course, testing the arm. She still has the tablet in hand, making it a crucial piece of fragile equipment she'll need to set down and retrieve or somehow protect if she takes it with her. And if all else fails, well… She's also got a gun with enough bullets to take them all.

"«Well, what are you waiting for?» Westerkamp, standing nearby to watch the forklift driver move the freshly unloaded pallet further in across the concrete floor. She gestures for the courier driver to leave.
"«My partner is still inside, Miss Westerkamp,»" the courier driver answers a little tiredly, "«She's supposed to have the receiving form signed.»"
"«And? Where is she?»"
"«She… she went in through the front lobby, miss. Maybe she is lost. She is a new hire…»"

Uh oh. Westerkamp lets out a definitely unladylike set of colorful swears, turns to the warehouse guard and practically howls, "«Find her and make sure those pair of testicles up front understand that nobody is supposed to be in the main building after hours without a fucking pass!»" A pause for breath. A moment of deadly calm. "«Mark? Call Christiano.»"

Whiskey 2, the poor soul, peels off from the warehouse watch duty to head back towards the main lobby at a fast clip. The radio on Monica's belt crackles as Whiskey 2 calls the front lobby.

«Main 1, Main 2, come in.»
But there's no answer as he walks quickly. The noise level of the warehouse keeps her safe though, as nobody appears to have heard the second radio. The reason for the non-answer from the front lobby comes from the fact that both lobby guards are, currently, trying to catch a parrot. The crackle of the radio stymies their attempts to lure Feathers close. The bird flies up to the hanging piece modern art that doubles as the hideaway for a lobby camera, which winds up covering one of the two screens of Kay's visuals with a tail full of feathers.

Back in New York, Kay is staring at the monitors in front of her with an intensity like she can will something to happen. Of course, she’s not so gifted as that, and her reach is limited to what systems she can break into. It’s not as fast as they make it look in the movies.

“They’re about to figure out Butch is unresponsive. Think fast.”

But one guard is out of the equation, meaning there’s only one, maybe two real threats left on the board, depending upon how capable Westerkamp herself is. Given the size of those guards she flanks herself with, and how easily Monica took out the first one, Kay is guessing the target will be a non-issue for her operative.

Her voice is hushed as she updates Monica on her situation. “I’ve lost one of my visuals on the lobby. The damn bird is blocking the camera. It’s keeping them busy, though. And I’m working on getting the driver called off for you.” While collateral damages may be acceptable, it will still be helpful to everyone involved to minimize the involvement of outsiders. Her fingers fly over the keyboard as she sends a message to one of her subordinates - a woman whose French is far better than hers - to call the dispatch number for the courier service to contact the driver to say his partner is out front, locked out of the building.

"They called the bird Feathers," Monica murmurs to Kay. She disapproves. She slides the tablet under her belt so the screen sits against her back. Where she can feel it and remain aware of where not to take a hit. Then she reaches down to turn off her radio. A moment is taken while Whiskey 2 heads for the lobby for her to pull out her headphones, wrapping the earbud end around her right hand. She does not appear to be thinking fast, but she is. She waits until the guard has moved out of the warehouse and slips out of hiding and between two rows of pallets.

She's making her way around, picking a careful path to bring her around behind Westerkamp. She looks up to a camera to nod to Kay's note about the courier. It would be nice if he didn't have to see any of this.

Of course, if Monica has her way, no one will see this.

She keeps pallets between herself and the warehouse workers as much as possible and finds a spot that lets her pounce on Wesk. And she waits for one guard to check on the other. The bodyguard has to go or she might have to use her gun. Which she would prefer not to.

In short order, the trickle down of controlled chaos activates in several sectors that Kay is monitoring over her bank of screens and audio input. But this is what Yamagato hired her for, management of personnel and efficiency in action.

The assistant calls in utilizing a jump off local number, and through the cameras Kay can see the courier driver getting back into his truck to drive around towards the front of the building. Moving through the lower central office, Whiskey 2 opens the door going to the lobby, to the cries of the lobby guards for him not to do so and he stands there mid-threshold wondering why. That is, until Feathers dives down from the lobby's art piece (and unblocks the 2nd lobby camera in the process). The bird zips through the opened door over Whiskey 2's ducking head and the two lobby guards groan.

Christiano's phone rings in the west wing stairwell, but he doesn't pick up given that he's still unconscious. Mark, the second bodyguard to Westerkamp, reports this to his boss with a hesitant, suspicious tone. "«He's not picking up, Rhonda.»"

Westerkamp turns from watching the pallet being broken down, a scowl darkening her already stern features. "«Why not?»" she demands.

Mark can only shrug helplessly, but he offers, "«I can go check.»"

"«Do that.»"

The dismissal is curt, but it gets Mark moving after Whiskey 2 back through towards the central office. He's got his phone back up to his ear, dialing Christiano again most likely. He passes by Monica's position between the pallets, unaware of her presence hidden between.

For all that her careful procedures have been set up that are now completely dashed to pieces, Rhonda Westerkamp is somehow keeping it together. Aside from that brief outburst earlier, that is. In short order, she has the warehouse manager and forklift driver dismissed for the night as well once they've closed and locked the warehouse dock doors. She sends them home as their duties are done for the night. No thank yous for their work, no good byes. Just leave. And they do, quickly and out of the warehouse's side door near the employee lockers, so that they don't face any further fury.

Monica's patience pays off in waiting, a little bit of luck with the loose bird having also provided the distraction she needed. Her slow stalk has her positioned behind Westerkamp just a few pallets down as the woman stands beside the offloaded pallet with an impatient air. The target has her phone out to look at the screen as she scrolls.

Mark the bodyguard opens the door to the central office, again to the strangled cries of three guards not wanting him to do so. Feathers the bird flies right in the bodyguard's face with a loud crackling squawk and the man lets out a startled yelped swearing. The bird zooms onward, freely winging into the warehouse. "«What the fuck was that?»" demands the bodyguard to the other three guards.

“That shows a severe lack of creativity,” Kay agrees with the assessment of the bird’s name, tone dry. “Driver’s on his way out,” she adds for Monica’s benefit, unsure of her sightlines. “Slab and Whiskey Tango Foxtrot are busy with the—” There’s a snort of laughter in Monica’s ear, but it’s short-lived.

There’s no amusement in Damaris’ voice when she continues. “Feathers has gotten out of the lobby and is winging his way to the warehouse, which means the Keystone Cops are likely to bumble behind.” She turns up the volume on the lobby feed so it will come through over the top of the inevitable sounds of scuffle in the warehouse.

“Take her out, Barnes.”

One thing Monica is, and has ever been, is patient. She waits in hiding, letting events play out, waiting for Kay to give her her cue. Even with her handler's amusement in her ear, there's none on Monica's face, not right now. Not that there's been much of it at all lately. Her eyes track the target— and that is how she is regarding her, a target, not a complex human with a life waiting for her— until Kay gives her the word. Then she steps out behind Westerkamp. Her hands move quickly, pressing the cord against her throat and yanking her backward into her hiding place.

It isn't quick, strangling someone, not like in the movies. Monica's expression goes distant as she hangs on, pressure in the right places and her new arm taking most of the work. She looks past Westerkamp, past the pallets, off into the distance.

Once, Monica used to fight her instincts, her ability. Anyone who knew her before knew her to be twitchy and nervous, tapping pencils and drumming fingers. She isn't like that here. Her ability knows what to do, itches to do it, and it's easy for Monica to give up fighting it. The implant in her head works with her mind, with her ability, and it isn't much longer before Westerkamp falls to the ground in a heap, a red mark across her throat and her neck broken.

Monica isn't even sure she noticed doing that part.

"Target down," she notes to Kay. "Going for the prototype."

The target is left there and Monica steps out of the rows of pallets, coming for the new one to track down what she's looking for.

Mark steps through the threshold, ignoring the fact that he just got a face full of bird and ignorant of the fact that Feathers left a gift on his back shoulder that is slowly dripping down the jacket of his suit. The chatter from the guards goes unheard, given there's no lower central office audio available for Kay to eavesdrop on. But she can see the trio of regular guards speaking to Mark, and whatever is being gestured about and spoken of is not making the suited bodyguard any more satisfied. His response is a sharp gesture towards the warehouse, causing the three guards to start towards the back on the double.

The bodyguard continues towards the lobby, phone back up to his ear as he enters. His stride carries the speed of a man in acute, rising distress. "«Christiano, pick up your fucking phone goddamn it. Do you have the tablet? Westerkamp is going to have our heads. You know how the bitch gets.»" He leaves that frustrated voicemail and slips his phone into his pocket. And after a look around the empty lobby, an eye going to the courier driver's truck as it starts to pull around the side of the building and come to the front, the bodyguard heads towards the west wing stairs. It won't be long before he finds Christiano on the landing there, out cold.

Rhonda Westerkamp gets a short gasp of breath out of reflexive surprise as the slip of headphone wires flicks across her field of vision and then draws tight around her neck. The phone in her hand drops with a noisy clatter to the ground, the glass screen shattering on impact. Her arms come up, fingers digging frantically in an effort to relieve the pressure of the wire cutting deeply into skin. The woman fights for her life because she must, thrashing wildly and kicking out for one the nearby pallets in futile attempt for leverage. She loses her footing though, dragged back by Monica's hold. And eventually, almost painfully slowly, Rhonda's eyes glass over, vision fuzzing and greying around the edges.

Monica might not remember the sound. Kay hears the dull crunch of Westerkamp's neck snapping, and the rustle of cloth once Monica lays the victim - the target - down on the cold concrete floor.

The prototype sits in a large box on the pallet, easily opened with a crude rip of the top. Inside, packed with styrofoam and puffed air, a long rectangular case about the size that would be used for a tenor sax, sits within. The difference is the item is locked with a digital code, and weighs more than said instrument would. The code most likely is on the tablet she's got strapped behind her. There's no time to hack now though, as the guards from the central office are pushing through the door to the rear warehouse.

There's a soft rustling from above Monica, a low click-whirring sound similar to her robotic arm's noise. Feathers peers down from above her, taking in the scene with a curious regard for her and the cooling body of Westerkamp laid nearby.

Kay’s lip curls at the crunching sound, but she makes no comment. It’s effective, to say the least. “Okay, now get your prize and get out of there. Keystones’re on their way in, Slab’s about to find Butch, and everyone’s about to smell something fishy.” Apart from having to find new jobs, Kay’s not so certain either of the bodyguards are going to lament the loss of their employer.

“Driver’s out front now.” So she should probably avoid him. Kay’s fingers are tapping on the desktop again. “Get back to the hotel and get that case open.” After a moment she adds, “Good work so far.”

"I'll be gone before they realize what happened." It's a flatly stated promise. Monica lifts the case out of the box, using her cybernetics to handle the weight, and straightens her uniform. "Exfil in progress," she notes as she turns toward the back exits.

If she appreciates the compliment, it's hard to tell.

The mimic of her arm gets her attention, though, and she looks up at the noise. At the bird. Her free arm goes out, creating a perch for the bird. And then she whistles. "Come on, if you're coming." She gives him a moment, but whether he comes or not, she's on her way out of the building, aiming for back alleys to carry her away from the site unseen. Until she can remerge near the hotel and get back to her room. That's the plan, anyway.

Once Monica has lifted the case out of the box, her way is clear. The three guards enter the warehouse cautiously, not because they sense an intruder but because the parrot they're trying to catch now is in the same room as their very annoyed boss. And none of them have the tablet she asked for either. Their approach towards Monica's position is slow, measured, and clumped together down a different row of shelves and pallets. They're not looking forward either, but up amidst the tall stacks, trying to find the proverbial needle in the haystack.

It's not clear whether the bird understands the words, but the lift of Monica's free arm is a familiar signal. Feathers flits down and lands expertly on the woman's forearm before climbing up to her shoulder, small claws and beak pricking lightly on the way up. The bird's along for the ride, it would seem. And even seems a little amused by this activity.

The guards hear Monica's whistle, though, and are immediately alerted to her position. But they must think it's the bird, because then they split up and two double back to get around. It's too late when they arrive at the pallet. At Westerkamp, lying dead on the floor, at the boxes on the pallet opened and prototype contents gone.

The last things both Monica and Kay hear over the warehouse are some startled shouts of shock and alarm from the guard who discovers the woman's body, the other guards running, and Mark's frenzied burst through the central office doors back to the warehouse, gun pulled and readied, with a call out for Westerkamp.

Monica slips out from the side door of the warehouse where the previous employees had exited, mission accomplished.

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