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The Alpha Flight Job

reallyUntitled Sep 22nd, 2017 (edited) 209 Never
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  1. >Knock. Knock. Knock.
  2. >“Miss Sparkle!”
  3. “Yeah, shut up, I’m asleep.”, you groan to make the noise stop.
  4. >Knock. Knock. Knock.
  5. >“Miss Sparkle! Please.”
  6. >The man trying to get your attention has not heard you.
  7. >How dare he not hear you through your muffled voice and the door of your van.
  8. >The noise continues for a few minutes at different frequencies.
  9. >Whoever it was is damn lucky that, now that you are awake, you need to pee.
  10. >Which means you have to leave your van.
  11. >Lucky you.
  12. >A quick check if all the important bits are covered tells you that you had fallen asleep in the clothes you wore the day before.
  13. >Which means you don’t have to bother getting dressed today.
  14. >Success.
  15. >It’s the little things which give the life value.
  16. >You open the back door of your vehicle and step out barefoot on the street.
  17. >Ignoring the man who talks in on you, you close the door and head into the small family diner.
  18. >“Look ma’, ze dead are walking.”, the owner informs his mother of your presence, “Its-a a sign of se apocalypse!”
  19. “Mornin’ Enrico,” you greet him.
  20. >As little taste as you have for social interactions now he let’s you stay, so there was no reason to not be friendly towards him.”
  21. >“It’s three in the afternoon, Ms. Sparkle!”, he partially informs and rebukes you.
  22. “Okay then... coffee, please”, you order, while trotting past him towards the bathrooms, “Black like my soul.”
  23. >“We only serve edibles here, Ms. Sparkle.”, he says with a chuckle, “Health code!”
  24. “As black as possible then, like usual.”
  25. >“Certainly!”, he confirms with a happy nod.
  26. >Ugh...
  27. >How can people be this cheerful this early in the day?
  28. >He doesn’t know your exact past, but he reads the news, and even if he never seen your name he can surely but two and two together.
  29. >“There’s a man for you here, he’s not been ordering anything for two hours!”
  30. >That guy didn’t bother you until now when a bang of guilt hits you.
  31. >You don’t want to cause Enrico any troubles after he already lets you use his parking lot and bathroom.
  32. >You stop in your tracks but don’t look back to the man who tried to talk in on you ever since you exited the van.
  33. >Then your senses overwhelm you.
  34. >His husky voice, his pungent cologne, the reflection on the shiny tiles of the kitchen of a pinstripe business suit, the cold hand on your shoulder trying to get your attention.
  35. >Cold hands means more blood is most likely in his feet as a fight or flight response.
  36. >With the information you already have about him insisting on staying to meet you, and that it’s you whom he wants to meet, …
  37. >Ahhhh...
  38. >With your brain activating you notice everything else in the diner as well.
  39. >The warmth of the tiles adorned with small crumbs of dirt underneath.
  40. >No.
  41. >The smells of various food stuffs almost overshadowing the few things hiding out of plain sight, like the fresh chewing gum underneath table 7.
  42. >It’s still somewhat fresh but you wouldn’t be able to pull DNA off of it, barely the bloodtype of the person who put it there.
  43. >No, no, no.
  44. >You hear the people around you, talking amongst each other or on the phone.
  45. >The elderly Cuban woman, Enrico’s mother, cussing about your continued stay in their parking lot in a fast and thick Spanish accent.
  46. >The relationship troubles and ensuing love triangle of some characters in a TV-show.
  47. >The faint buzz of a vibrating telephone an older gentleman does not notice, even if it is placed in his front right pocket.
  48. >The tapping of keys on a laptop by some multicolored hipster-haired girl in the back.
  49. >No, it’s too much, don’t focus.
  50. >You can almost ID the store brand of her hair dye by smell, as it was recently dyed.
  51. >Can she not keep a consistent hair color? Is she hiding from someone by taking on another look?
  52. >No, don’t think.
  53. >Not your place.
  54. >Not your business.
  55. >You shrug the guy whose hand is still on your shoulder off and stumble into the woman’s bathroom where a new world of smells await you.
  56. >They were still present before, but now even more so, but you don’t mind.
  57. >Shit has a purity of itself.
  58. >It’s not pretentious.
  59. >Everyone’s shit stinks.
  60. >You fumble out an applier, load it up with your cocktail of neural inhibitors and shoot it right into your common carotid artery.
  61. >As usual your vision and hearing are the first things to go, quickly followed by almost all other senses as well.
  62. >The drug wasn’t perfect, but it at least let you keep a muffled version of your sense of touch.
  63. >As you can still feel the floor on the soles of your feet and the ceramics of a sink in your hand, you know to have remained upright.
  64. >At least you have that dignity left.
  65. >On average it takes you two minutes to regain sight, but the side effects are getting worse, it’s been a while since you’ve last been able to measure that time.
  66. >There’s so much things you’d like to do, yet so little...
  67. >You splash some water into your face and leave the bathroom as soon as you deem fit.
  68. >A man stands before the woman’s bathroom.
  69. >Huh, weird.
  70. >You make place for him, maybe he’s waiting for someone...
  71. >No, wait.
  72. >Work, brain.
  73. >Oh yeah.
  74. >He’s waiting for you.
  75. >“Twilight Sparkle?”
  76. “Yes?”
  77. >“Uhh...”
  78. >Now that he actually has your attention he forgot what he wanted to say, wasn’t he?
  79. >“Someone... tagged your vehicle.”
  80. >You lean to the side to look over his shoulder.
  81. >The letters “HYDRA WHORF”
  82. >Your brain starts to kick into gear and offers you trivia on Uto-Aztecan languages
  83. >Or maybe the perpetrator misspelled Worf.
  84. >You’ve never been a Trekkie, but -
  85. >No.
  86. >You’re stupid.
  87. >The information you have is unfinished.
  88. >The last line of the letter “E” is missing.
  89. “I see...”, you say slowly before facing him again, “I’ll drink my coffee and you tell me about what job you have for me in the meantime. And then I’ll tell you I’m not gonna take it, okay?”
  91. >“Do you know anything about space shuttle design?”
  92. >This may not be so bad, but you doubt Flam wants to hire you for that.
  93. “Give me a ruler, some compasses and a pencil and I can give it a shot.”
  94. >Once you stopped shaking, of course, but the coffee was working wonders already.
  95. >“Someone stole my designs for an express system for Homeworld Security.”
  96. “You don’t look the designer type.”
  97. >“My company's designs! They took everything!”
  98. “I don’t care.”
  99. >You know you said you’ll tell him off afterwards, but there is some satisfaction to see his expression on your live commentary to his story.
  100. >“I have a shareholders meeting coming up and nothing to show for. I- I’m done.”
  101. “Don’t care.”
  102. >“My company’s done. 4500 employees!”
  103. >This hits a spot.
  104. >Can’t hurt to at least hear him out, but you take your time to respond by finishing another cup of coffee.
  105. “So... you want me to find them?”
  106. >“Nono, I know who they are,” he tells you, “My chief engineer went missing and one week later Alpha Flight announces a similar project? I know exactly where they are.”
  107. >Alpha Flight...
  108. >“I want you to steal the designs back.”
  109. >U wot mate?
  110. “Contrary to my reputation I’m an honest citizen. And stealing them back sounds like a stupid risk, Why... why would I do that?”
  111. >“I’ve read all about you, Ms. Sparkle. The works you were involved with. Against Dr. Doom. That disaster control in Sokovia after Ultron. That virus threatening to destroy the Worlds banking system. I know that the world owes you a debt. And I know that when you needed-”
  112. “There’s some point where I’ll pour scalding coffee into your crotch,” you interrupt him, “and we’re getting there pretty quick.”
  113. >He bites his lip and scoots a little closer to you.
  114. >“Hydra and SHIELD may be gone, but you and I know, it was only in name. Now it’s Alpha Flight, only now they are stealing good American companies and workers their jobs to regain their own footing.”
  115. >You hesitate.
  116. >Yet he knows he already got you.
  117. >“Ms. Sparkle, how badly do you want to screw with the people who ruined your life?”
  118. “So what do you want me to do? I’m not a thief.”
  119. >“Nono, thieves, I got. What I need is one honest guy to keep them in check.”
  120. >You’re not liking this...
  121. >He takes a folder out of his suitcase and hands it to you.
  122. >“Here’s a list of people whom I’ve already got.”
  123. >This time you don’t hesitate.
  124. >You take the folder and open it up.
  125. >“Do you recognize any of these names? They’re supposed to be good. Are they good?”
  126. >Applejack, Rarity, …
  127. “Yeah, I investigated those one time or another-”, you flip the page, “Ponk? You got the Ponk?”
  128. >“Why? Is there anyone better?”
  129. >You look at a selfie of the superpowered mix of a cat burglar and a bucket of silly putty.
  130. “No, but she’s insane.”
  131. >“Which is why I need you.”
  132. “Two of them have confirmed super powers, and even if one’s only punching. I don’t have any powers.”
  133. >You add ‘anymore’ in your mind.
  134. “And it’s not gonna work, these people all have the same reputation. None of them’s a team player. They work alone, they always work alone and there’s no exception.”
  135. >“Oh, for half a million they will, and for you – for managing all of that it’s a full million.”
  136. “That, ahh...”
  137. >That’s a lot of money.
  138. >“Look, I’m desperate here. It’s a quarter billion dollar intellectual property. Your salary are only peanuts here.”
  139. >Had it been less you would have- no.
  140. >You don’t know.
  141. >This is all too...
  142. >It’s not really your style.
  143. >Then again, you worked with criminals and real bad guys before without knowing so.
  144. >The people in the folder are comparatively petty.
  145. >“And there’s a bonus!”
  146. >You look up to him again.
  147. >What would more money do to sway you?
  148. >“The communications officer with Alpha Flight in Homeworld Security is Spitfire. If you steal it she’ll stand there and will have nothing to show for in her own presentation. Don’t you want to screw with the people who ruined your life?”
  151. >Nighttime.
  152. >As your van was tagged you had to set up base in a hotel room with a view to Alpha Flight’s headquarters, and the second sky scraper on which the rag tag crew of thieves is stationed right now.
  153. >On one Laptop you have different video feeds of what each of your subordinates is seeing and a few black ones which are not yet hooked up to anything.
  154. >On a second Laptop you have all kinds of notes on the building and it’s employees which were either available to the public, or have been acquired by White in some other fashion.
  155. “I have clear visuals of you. White, have all comms been handed out? Over.”
  156. >“Oh, you mustn’t use those, darling. It’s tech which went out of style in the 80s, I have something nicer, check the white box by the antenna I installed for you.”
  157. >You look over to the box she mentions and wait a second before responding to her.
  158. “No surprises, White. And you need to indicate the end of your communications with the term ‘over’, do you understand me?”
  159. >“I’ve been doing this since secondary school, darling.”
  160. >The box contains another ear piece, and, choosing to trust Rarity, you take one out and insert it into your ear.
  161. “What is this? You ask. Can everyone read me? Over.”
  162. >“This ear piece is of my own design. It works off the vibrations in your jaw and the signal goes over a VPN with my own security codes. Be a dear and remove that ghastly comm you wanted to use, Twilight Sparkle, it can be traced too easily.”
  163. >You frown.
  164. “Wilco. Removing the old communication if everyone can copy. But first, White, don’t use real names. Do you copy? Over”
  165. >So far you’ve avoided meeting anyone of them face to face.
  166. >“Your identity is secure with us, uhh... ‘Purple’, I’d just like to know who I’m working with, you know?”
  167. “It is no surprise to you found out who I am, but act professionally and stick to the code names, and use communication jargon. Do you copy? Over.”
  168. >“I told you, this connection is secure. And I vote no on old timey radio talk. What do you think, Appl-?”
  169. >“No names!”, another voice interrupts, the fact she just interrupted her own name tells you it could only be Applejack. “But yeah, Purple, cut the fancy speech.”
  170. >This may not be worth it.
  171. “Roger,” you confirm anyway, “Code names but no communication jargon. But still, can everyone hear me? Red, do you copy?”
  172. >“Ah think yer not wantin’ to be our friend,” Applejack responds.
  173. “White, do you copy?”
  174. >Rarity giggles and takes on a mocking serious tone, “White reporting in, darling.”
  175. “Rose, I have not heard you yet. Do you copy?”
  176. >“Nah, but I can hear you.” another voice, the Ponk, tells you.
  177. >You have not even started and you’re already fed up with that team of misfits.
  178. “White, the building acts as a Faraday cage, will your comms work-”
  179. >“Way ahead of you, Purple. We can use the same method we planned with yours by connecting it to the cage’s construct itself and let the entire building function as an antenna. I’ll place a simple transmitter inside and we are connected with you.”
  180. “Alright, mission is a go.”
  181. >You’re going to regret this.
  182. “Ponk, on my command. It’s cloudy, there’s little light from the moon or down from the streets, On my count of five. Five, four, -”
  183. >“She’s gone.”
  184. “What?” you hiss out.
  185. >“Waaah!”
  186. >Screams.
  187. >The video feed on your screen went crazy, as if they were free falling.
  188. >You rush to the window and use some binoculars to look over to the Alpha Flight HQ.
  189. >As you’ve said, the visibility was bad, but you know what you are looking for.
  190. >You were only quick enough to notice a thin shape retreat onto the building.
  191. “Son of a-”
  192. >“Gnn...  Ah’m gonna feel that t’morrow...”, Applejack groans.
  193. “That’s why we do it on a count, for everyone to be ready!” you rebuke the Ponk.
  194. >“White here seems fond of carousels so I thought it would be fun for them.” She innocently says, “Like on the carnival.”
  195. >“Carousels? Whatever makes you think that? Gaah...
  196. >Rarity does things at her own pace and so does the Ponk.
  197. >You can imagine Rarity trying to get her bearings on the rooftop after having been flung over out of nowhere.
  198. “Status report, is everyone okay?”
  199. >“Started this adventure on an adrenaline high for everyone!”, Ponk announces proudly.
  200. >“Had worse.”
  201. >“I assume you don’t care about the state of my hair, do you?”
  202. >You grind your teeth.
  203. “Moving on. White, locate the best access point to the Faraday cage. Red, get the power tools for our construction ready and communicate with White for the setup of the antenna. And Rose, secure yourself on the roof and let yourself go down the side of the building. No work yet, we  don’t know what vibration detection equipment they use, so no cutting, if any, use the binary.”
  204. >They do as you order and give you appropriate insight into their own expertise as they navigate the building.
  205. >There were no hurdles outside the foreseen scenarios you’ve wrote down and prepared proper equipment for.
  206. >Or at least none you couldn’t easily improvise around.
  208. >“Why are they doing their rounds early?”, Ponk asks.
  209. >She’s the only one currently sitting idle in the elevators maintenance shaft, watching the security feed together with you.
  210. “Do you see the screen they are watching. They are watching the hockey game. They do their rounds early to see the conclusion of the game.”
  211. >“Uhhh...”, Ponk says curiously, “which kind of hockey?”
  212. >“We’re in Canada, Ponk,” Applejack says almost angrily, “Take a guess.”
  213. “Code names, Red, stick to the code names,” you have to rebuke them once again. “Now we thought we would be in and out before they do their rounds, now they are going to see physical evidence of your presence and will sound the alarm. White, hand Red the button to squelch and Red, don’t do it before I give the signal.”
  214. >“Sure thing, here you go.”
  215. >Rarity is by far the most agreeable of these three.
  216. >You are actually somewhat lucky that a situation has arisen where you need Applejack for something more than an odd job like carrying your hackers equipment.
  217. >While Rarity thrives from having a bodyguard, you know Ponk can take care of herself.
  218. “Rose, how fast can you get to Red and White. We’re going with a two layered distraction, wounded bird atop of you, BUT DON'T START. Not until I don’t give the signal, understood?”
  219. >“Okie-dokie-lokie.”
  220. >You check the guard roster again to see who was on their route.
  221. “Red, we have a powered guard, military training, 2 tours, Irak and Qatar, 600 kg bench press and dead lift, Can you handle that?”
  222. >“I’m about in the same league, but yeah, ah think ah can take him. Armed tho?”
  223. “Their standard issue gear, gun, baton, taser. Him with three others. White, what’s the progress on the server room door?”
  224. >“I just started, darling, and these things take time, but of course I can be lucky and get it faster. I’m brute forcing it by trying every possibility, but humans are not as random as they’d like to believe so my program tries for patterns first before doing the rest.”
  225. “Give me a time.”
  226. >“Until all combinations are tried 7 minutes 32, 31, 30... I’m putting the timer onto your screen right now.” True to her word not one but timers appear. “The second one is an estimate if it has a pattern.”
  227. “Good thinking, White,” you give her what was your equivalent of a praise. “Rose, your location?”
  228. >“Incoming.”
  229. “Get the drone and its EMP ready. Until they realize the drone is a distraction you’re not going to go in. I’m repeating myself here, but you do not go in as a distraction until my say so, okay?”
  230. >“Yeah, yeah, I understand.”
  231. >Soon after you see your drone being ready to deploy and you take control of it.
  232. >“Didn’t ya say something-something wounded bird?”
  233. “Wounded bird is a classic distraction, a bit cruel in it’s original form, maybe, but we’re using a drone”, you explain, “You take a bird with you on a mission and set it free somewhere in the building to distract the guards. It’s not that far fetched that a bird might come into a building, but whatever. Anyway, when using a drone they’ll realize at some point that it’s of no value, but we will have had a good enough distraction for at least a little while. Depending on how smart they are.”
  234. >“And the EMP?”
  235. “Just to fry the electronics inside and make it harder for it to be traced back. The supply run I did was a little bit improvised and I might have slipped up.”
  236. >“Miss Perfectionist slipping up?”, Applejack mocks, but you ignore the insult-part.
  237. “It’s a precaution of a precaution of a precaution. Rose will be tasked to steal the bird back if the opportunity presents itself.”
  238. >You set everything up for the time the guards actually figure out that there has been a breach in their security.
  239. “White, how many dead man packages are ready?”
  240. >“I’m having a myriad jobs here, darling. Just check your terminal, you should find it somewhere.”
  241. “Mhm...” you look around, having your mind in a few places yourself right now.
  242. >One eye on the guards approaching the first broken lock, Ponk’s progress throughout the building, Rarities last door breach...
  243. >“Nao, what’s ah dead man’s package?” Applejack looks for explanations again.
  244. “It comes from the rail industry where a conductor has to press a button every once in a while to prove to the system he ain’t dead and the train’s driving in good condition. We’ll cut off their communication to the outside world to which they’d sound unusually quiet would they simply go radio silent, so we’re faking dead man packages. Encrypted data packages which shouldn’t be easily faked, but here we are.”
  245. >It’s like she’s doing this for the first time.
  246. >Then again, she’s only a- no, that would be mean to say.
  247. >She’s very vital to what’s about to come, especially since one of the guards has super strength himself.
  248. “There we go, these are enough packages for- wait, almost 10 minutes?” you check again, “I’m impressed, White.”
  249. >“Why, thank you, I’m very good at what I do.”
  250. “Mhm.”
  251. >You’re not good at giving praise, and her thanking you for it makes it awkward.
  252. >Checking the cameras once again you see the guards going up the stairwells.
  253. “Okay, they’re entering your floor now, Red, get ready.”
  254. >“Just hit the button, right?”, she asks.
  255. “Yes, White needs to work and I’m running on the wrong frequency to overwhelm them, it needs to come from inside the building.”
  256. >“Understood.”
  257. >You watch her through her go-pro and get the joystick control for the drone ready.
  258. “Rose, release bird. Everyone, 10 seconds to squelch.”
  259. >Everybody confirms and you were able to tune into the guards frequency.
  260. >Not listen in, you’re just looking at their speech patterns, which, for now, seem very idle.
  261. >But not for much longer.
  262. >The first door the girls breached will soon be in sight.
  263. >You already take control of the drone and let it hover about a meter above the ground not far behind the door.
  264. “Any second now, Red. Aaaand- squelch.”
  265. >A painful sinewave goes through the guards ear pieces, making them cower down for a moment before they look around to the others to see if they had the same reaction.
  266. >Their confusion soon turns to a bit of panic when they do notice the door.
  267. “Breach noticed,” you relay to the others, “they are pulling their guns out, be careful.”
  268. >Horrormovie—like they are opening the door, and horrormovie-like their jumpscare didn’t wait for them.
  269. >You maneuver the drone up over the first guards head and let it fly just underneath the ceiling back down the hall they came from.
  270. >In the security feed you can see them shouting, but their expressions were more of anger than of fear or surprise.
  271. “Wounded bird is a go, and – they are chasing. White-”
  272. >“The timer’s on your screen, darling!” she immediately answers.
  273. “Well, I’m somewhat busy dodging people here!”, you retort, “Of all of us, I’m the one actually engaging with the enemy.”
  274. >“Yer not engaging the enemy,” Applejack chimes in. “yer flyin’ a drone!”
  275. “Yes, which is engaging the- tsk.” you closely dodge one superpowered leap for the drone. “White!”
  276. >“Shouting doesn’t make it go faster!” she says, “What do you expect? That I have some sort of ‘slow’ setting I was using up until now?”
  277. >“You could build in a slow setting.” Ponk wonders, “If you eat candy you want it to last as long as possible, don’t you?”
  278. “Gnnn...”
  279. >You grind your teeth again.
  280. >She’s right, of course.
  281. >You’ve been on field missions before, but you’ve never been on this side of the law... at least not as far as you know.
  282. >Your adrenaline is spiking even though you wanted to remain very calm.
  283. >For about half a minute you were able to distract the guards.
  284. “Okay, the let off of me, realizing the distraction. Only one guy’s still chasing after the drone. Red, you’re going to be using White as bait. Rose, get into a position well hidden down the hallway of her.”
  285. >“Wha- bait? you’re not going to be using a lady as bait?!”
  286. >“Ah’m startin’ to like yer plan B.”
  287. “Technically we’re on plan G.”
  288. >“Hold on, I’m nobody’s bait!”
  289. >“Uhh, how many plans are there?” the Ponk speaks up once more. “Is there like a plan M?”
  290. “Yes, White gets caught in plan M.”
  291. >“Ah’m likin’ plan M.”
  292. >“Ah! How rude!”
  293. “Girls, get into position!”, you shout into the comms, “White, work!”
  294. >You take another look on the timer Rarity had given you to see it was already overdue for her first estimation, if it doesn’t pick up soon-
  295. >“I’m in!”
  296. >Think of the devil.
  297. “Alright, move it!”
  298. >You see her dash inside and access the first server to download a layout of the immense room.
  299. >Applejack has meanwhile positioned herself well in an IT office across the hall while the Ponk is still crawling through the air ducts somewhere.
  301. >You’re on the verge of two different plans.
  302. >There are usually two types of crimes.
  303. >One where the people get away with it, and one where they leave witnesses.
  304. >You don’t want to kill anyone.
  305. >You don’t want to maim anyone either.
  306. “This is a ski-mask only operation from now on. No matter how uncomfortable or how much they inhibit your vision.”
  307. >You’re also painfully aware that you are the mastermind behind the operation with the least risk of getting caught.
  308. >But each of them would be easily able to cut a deal to get of easy if they give you up.
  309. >Each of them heard your name, but Rarity knows how you’re set up and would be able to track you down.
  310. >She’s also the one most likely to get caught.
  311. >Ponk and Applejack would more likely to go rogue and abandon the rest of you if its in their best interest.
  312. >You don’t know them personally, but everyone has their line.
  313. >And if you’re facing prison as a super powered individual who stole from a company with ties to Homeworld Security...
  314. >They all have a rep, but none of them wants to be f’d in the A that hard.
  315. >The seconds tick by painfully slow.
  316. >You can see Rarity going from server to server, looking at their designation in order to find the right ones, then unhooking it and getting the right hard drives off it.
  317. >Applejack and Ponk meanwhile fight the guards.
  318. “Hospitalization is fine, but no permanent damage here, we’re the good guys here.”
  319. >“Yeah, keep telling yerself that, sugarcube.”
  320. >You can see her in the security feed (which the guards in their station can not see) how she delivers a punch to one of them, sending him flying backwards and tripping over the ponk who spread herself across the hall like tripwire.
  321. “Just, go easy on them.”
  322. >“Ah’m already tickling them as softly as ah can!”
  323. >You can’t look at it so you divert your attention to the guards in the station again.
  324. >They are-
  325. >incomplete.
  326. >Where’s the missing guard?
  327. >Shit.
  328. >You scan the security cameras for any movement, flipping through them rapidly in hope to see-
  329. >There!
  330. >He’s leaving the building.
  331. “Guard’s escaping the building!
  332. >“He’s leaving the the faraday cage to send a phonecall or a beacon or something.” Rarity immediately worries and you have to agree.
  333. >You’re already at the window again to look down with binoculars to see for the guard.
  334. >“Okay, that’s it. Everyone for themselves.”
  335. >What?
  336. “No!”
  337. >“Well,  Iiii~ got an exit, you don’t!”
  338. >You jump back into the chair fast enough to see Ponk escaping into a vent again, squeezing through the duct impossible for the other two to escape through.
  339. >“And I got the merchandise!” Rarity announces to the others.
  340. >Please no.
  341. >You observe Applejack facing her.
  342. >Hitter versus Hacker.
  343. >You don’t need to be a genius to know how that will end.
  344. >Rarity was even stupid enough to have the hard drives lifted up for Applejack to easily identify.
  345. >Her initial thought of showing it off comes to an abrupt halt as she realizes her mistake.
  346. >“No! Nononono-”, she panics
  347. >Applejack, however, shakes her head, “I’m just getting out of here.”, and then runs down the hall towards the stairs.
  348. “No! Guys, stop! You all know what you can do. I know what all of you can do, and I’m the one with a plan. You’re getting out of this together. Now listen to me.”
  350. “The guards reset all the alarms and locked down almost the entire building, you can’t go up. You’ll be going down.”
  351. >“Going down? we’ll be in an even-”, Rarity starts to complain but you simply continue talking.
  352. “White, I trust you know your way around make up, get the red bag from the dufflebag I provided you guys with.”
  353. >“M-make up? Y-Yes, of course, but- what are you planning?”
  354. “Red, I need you to open up the elevator doors, it should press down with about a ton of pressure, but I don’t know how much the crowbar in the bag can handle, what can you do?”
  355. >“I’ll manage,” Applejack confirms.
  356. “Rose, would you please fetch my drone and then enter the elevator shaft? You too will have to do some heavy lifting.”
  357. >“And you’re sure we can all get out?”, she asks hesitantly.
  358. >You can see Ponk’s backside still in plain view poking out of the air vent in an – well – quite undignified manner.
  359. >You can’t give them the piece of mind you want to...
  360. “No, I can’t guarantee it, but I’m responsible for you and I’m not planning to let you down.”
  361. >Applejack looks back to Rarity for a moment before she faces the camera again and give you a thumbs up. “Good answer.”
  362. >With that she moves to the elevators and begins to pry the doors open.
  363. >Rarity’s already searching through the duffle-bag for your homemade special effects.
  364. “I’ll- ahh... I’ll be getting your getaway vehicle of plan H, so my attention won’t be on the cameras for a moment, okay?”
  365. >“Ah’m having second thoughts about this.” Applejack responds.
  366. >You don’t answer, but quickly strip the hotel room of the essentials and put it in a duffle-bag of your own before leaving the room and rushing down to the garage.
  367. “White, do you have the bag?”
  368. >“Y-Yes, but what am I to do with this? It’s ah... gastly.”
  369. “Stir up the phial I marked ‘Rose’ with some of the water. Speaking of- Rose, what’s your status?”
  370. >“Got your birdie, on my way into the elevator.” She responds. “So what’s uhhh... I forgot her name. What’s she brewing up for me?”
  371. “I hope you’re not impartial to facial contusions.”
  372. >“I kinda am. I like my face all facey, you know?”
  373. “So are most people. Red, how’s the door?”
  374. >“Still heavy, Jesus H. Christ.” you hear her huff into your ear, she really has to exert herself.
  375. >A ton might be her limit.
  376. “Are you managing to-?”
  377. >“Yeah, no worries.”
  378. “Good.”
  379. >You arrive at the bottom of the stairs and take open the laptop again to take a look at the security feed.
  380. >Guards.... all accounted for, good.
  381. >Only two of them are at the main entrance.
  382. >They look slightly nervous, but not very alert.
  383. >Good.
  384. >Good good.
  385. >You pick up your pace again as you run towards the “Plan H”-truck.
  386. >You’re almost out of tricks, and you don’t like that.
  387. >If the scam doesn’t work...
  388. >No, you’ll get everyone out, and they are already wanted criminals.
  389. >Worst case scenario is that their profile will be updated.
  390. “Rose, I assume you’re in the shaft by now, help Red with the door. White, get ready.”
  391. >“Get ready? Get ready for what?”
  392. >Tsk.
  393. “Here is what you guys are going to do.” you start to explain as you do a quick check on the equipment in the taxi cab.
  394. “Red, keep the door propped open for a moment. White, hand Rose the duffle-bag. Rose, take it and position yourself right-side up. You’ll take the bag and, form yourself a bit of a seat for White and go down with her.”
  395. >“Is that really-”
  396. >- necessary?
  397. >Yes, it really is. But she knows that, otherwise she wouldn’t have stopped talking.
  398. >“Will ya hurry, ah can’t hold that forever.”
  399. >“Ye-yes, of course.”
  400. “Red, I trust you can get down the shaft by yourself? I’m not sure if Rose can handle you.”
  401. >“No problem.”
  402. “Alright. Rose, keep your head shape normal and close to White and let her work on you on the way down. White, you’re going to take the special effects kit and stick on some burns on the right side of Rose’s face.”
  403. >“Oh, so- wait what are you planning?” she asks. “There is little light in here, ahh.... Purple.”
  404. >“I don’t think I like this.”
  405. “It doesn’t have to be perfect, it only has to hold for a few minutes and be convincing enough for a few seconds.”
  406. >“But what are you planning?”
  407. “I hope you are all wearing the clothes I picked out for you too?”, you ask before answering her.
  408. >You should have clarified that previously.
  409. >“Uhhhh.... not me.”
  410. >Ponk.
  411. >Of course.
  412. >Who else?
  413. “I gave you a single change of clothes in case anyone of you gets wounded- ah... don’t bother with everything, just... you’re going to have to put on the blouse.”
  414. >You drive out of the hotel parking lot, one eye on the laptop you’ve mounted on the dashboard.
  415. “On the ground floor the elevator door needs to be opened as fast as possible. Rose and White, both of you will need to help on that. Don’t rush it once you’re down, get ready to open and then do it.”
  416. >“Okay, but-”
  417. “You’ll get the guards attention, It’s important to step out of the elevator seemingly normal. All of you need to have taken off the ski-masks and act like you belong. They’ll approach you, but their attention will immediately be drawn to Rose’s disfigurement.”
  418. >“Shouldn’t we not draw attention?”
  419. “No. Red, you will get a little feigned outraged, okay? Like ‘why don’t you stare a little more’. Rose, you’ll walk with a limb and White you’ll support her on her left side. Effectively hiding behind her a little. You’ll tell them that the guards upstairs asked you to evacuate immediately, and even ask /them/ to get the doors for you.”
  420. >You have no confidence in that plan.
  421. >It relies on their social aptitude, an ability you don’t believe you have yourself and therefore can’t properly judge their capabilities.
  422. >And even if they are genuinely good, it’s still a risky endeavor.
  423. >No, relax.
  424. >People are stupid.
  425. >“So con games now too? Ah dun know...”
  426. “Trust me here, Red.”, you say, not trusting yourself, “Even if it won’t work perfectly you’re still halfway through the lobby. If it does come to making a run for it you’ll do so together on my command. I’m in a taxi just around the corner.”
  427. >“You sure this’ll work?”
  428. “People don’t want to create troubles, and evacuation is something that sounds sensible when there is an unknown situation going on. They’ll believe it, and you’ll be gone by the time they change their mind. You need to be a little assertive.”
  429. >“Easy for you to say, you’re not in here with us!”
  430. >She’s right, of course.
  431. >Especially considering you don’t believe in your own words.
  432. >But you need to say something.
  433. “Yes, but I’m not stupid. I know that you guys have no loyalty to me so why wouldn’t you immediately rat me out once you’d get hold of a deal to do so? I’m the one who’s going to be fucked the most if things go really south, okay?”
  434. >“Okay...”
  435. >“I see.”
  436. >“I already forgot your name.”
  438. >You position the taxi just on the road leading to Alpha Flights HQ as the girls reach the ground floor.
  439. >And you’re just about to give the signal for them to open up the elevator door, but-
  440. “Hold, incoming!”
  441. >“What!?”
  442. “I said hold.”
  443. >From the sky a figure drops down and lands in front of the building, ducking away it’s mechanical wings.
  444. >A falcon suit?
  445. >It’s too colorful to be the Falcon, and he’s not on Alpha Flights payroll.
  446. >One of the security guards approaches the newcomer who, now that you see in comparison, was a head shorter than the guard.
  447. >You can’t help but think of it to be a woman immediately even though you can’t properly see her figure or face in any of the cameras.
  448. “They got backup, first-responder. A tech-wear flier. Low threat level. Plan doesn’t change, go out, now.”
  449. >“If ya say so.”
  450. >Your eyes go to the security feed again and you see your team exit the elevator shaft.
  451. >The Ponk, you can see, had half her face defiled with a fake burn.
  452. >Rarity’s helping her walk on a fake limb and positioned away from both the camera and th one remaining guard at the station.
  453. >And Applejack’s holding onto the duffle-bag. She’s stoically walking in front of the other two.
  454. “The trick is to act like you belong. You are just following the other guard’s orders to evacuate, don’t engage with the him unless you have to.”
  455. >“We know,” Rarity presses through her teeth.
  456. >You can barely look.
  457. >This is not gonna end well.
  458. >You’re all going to get caught.
  459. >You force yourself to keep an eye on the laptop screen.
  460. >The guard turns around, he twitches back into a defensive position for a second, but when he sees them not heeding him any mind he relaxes a little.
  461. >He is staring though...
  462. “Confirmed stare. Diversion as planned.”
  463. > Applejack’s gaze goes towards the guard as she naturally scans the room a little.
  464. >It looks like she wanted to go on, but then gets stuck on him.
  465. >Brace for it.
  466. >“Wood ya stare a lil’ more?”
  467. >You don’t know what compelled her to fake an Irish accent, but it’s a good one.
  468. >“No, it’s okay, Samantha. I- I understand,” the Ponk sounds like she was about to cry.
  469. >“We work late to avoid these exact stares!” Rarity feigns outrage. “Would you at least be a gentlemen and get the door for us, if we already have to evacuate?!”
  470. >That doesn’t sound natural at all...
  471. “White, too much information.”
  472. >You take a deep breath though, blast some Bon Jovi and drive the taxi down the road to meet them.
  473. >Having to focus on the road a bit you only look at the screen with one eye.
  474. >The guard, you can’t hear what he says, moves to the door.
  475. >That shit worked!
  476. >The two outside look at what’s happening, but you don’t have the resolution to see their expressions.
  477. >Stay calm, you need your breath.
  478. >You keep your course on the building, as the three thieves exit.
  479. >The flier who was the first-responder nods into their direction, doubtlessly asking their business.
  480. >“Evacuation o’ somethin’. Dun ask me,” Applejack shrugs it off like a pro before turning to Rarity and the Ponk, gesturing them out further, “Come docta.”
  481. >Drive, just drive.
  482. >“Oi! Taxi!”, Applejack then finally raises a hand out to you and gestures you towards the building. “Whadya mean we can’t leave?”
  483. “Okay, stay calm. Rose, you need your pills, you either need to go home or go back inside to get your handbag.”, you tell them and quickly kick the laptop from the passengers seat.
  484. >“My pills! Samatha!? We- They are still in my handbag.”
  485. >“Yer handbag?”
  486. >You stop besides them, roll down the window and lower the volume of the song to an acceptable level.
  487. >The flying hero you are now easily able to identify as Rainbow Dash, she was on the SHIELD roster, you even worked with her once.
  488. >If she recognizes you it’ll be over.
  489. “Dios mio. Fancy meetin’ some real life heroes here. Good evening.” Decide on an accent, stupid. “Ze flyin’ lady won’t be needing my services I take it?”
  490. >The accent you eventually settle on was the same one Enrico uses.
  491. >“So sorry, lass. We still need to grab somethin’,” Applejack tells you, puts down the bag and walks towards the building once more. “I’ll get yer pills, doc, don’tcha worry.”
  492. >“No, wait. You can’t go back inside,” Rainbow stops her.
  493. >“Leave – don’t leave. Whatcha want from us, lass? Doc needs her pills.”
  494. >“I- I have some at home.”
  495. “White help Rose inside. You’re in the employee directory, if they have questions they can ask tomorrow.” you whisper under your breath before saying out loud. “What will it be? I am-a happy to help you out, but there are people who need to be places.”
  496. >Rarity picks up and takes a step towards the taxi, opening the door. “We’re in the employee directory,” she recites your line, “if you have questions you can ask us tomorrow. Come, doctor.”
  497. >She helps the Ponk into the taxi.
  498. >The hero looks displeased, but she doesn’t object.
  499. “Red, wait. White, get in.” you whisper instructions once more before talking louder, “If-a ze woman’s life is on ze line. I’m-a not happy to take yer money too, Mi scusi!”
  500. >You opened with spanish and are italian now? Get it together!
  501. >As Rarity walks around the taxi to get in behind you. “It’s alright, we’re all doing our job dutifully.”
  502. >You can’t see it but you assume she glares at Rainbow Dash.
  503. >Applejack meanwhile waits for proper allowance from her.
  504. >A second ticks by before Applejack asks: “What’ll it be, lass?”
  505. >“Tsk,” Rainbow Dash makes a displeased sound and nods her to the taxi as well.
  506. >“Thank you.” Applejack picks up the dufflebag, opens the passeger side door and squeezes with the bag inside. “I hope ya’ll resolve what’s goin’ on.” and closes the door.
  507. >Exit stage.
  508. >You change gears and start steering away from the sidewalk.
  509. >None of you talks for a while.
  510. >“Ohohoho, that worked!”
  511. >“Can’t believe we got out of there, I already saw myself in orange attire.”
  512. >“That was fun!”
  513. “Not over.” you shake your head. “White, you need to delete the traffic cam footage for the day. Red, give her the laptop you’re standing on. And then we need to transfer the files.”
  514. >“Ya know you can stop it with the code names now,” Applejack says as she’s looking for the laptop from underneath the duffle-bag. “Right, sugar cube?”
  515. >You give her a side glance before focusing back on the road.
  516. “The less interaction I have with you the better.”
  517. >“Yer a piece of work,” she shakes her head, “ya know that, right?”
  518. >You don’t respond and keep your focus on the road and the mirror behind you.
  519. >Rainbow Dash was still looking in your direction.
  520. >You switch on the turn signal order yourself into traffic to make a left turn, intentionally the much harder turn to make.
  521. >“Traffic cams are an easy thing, the city barely upgrades from windows server 2008,” she giggles and pretends this to be the easiest thing she’ll have to do today.
  522. “Afterwards you’ll have to upload the merchandise, of course.”
  523. >“I can do that simultaneously, darling. I just have to run some scripts, nothing I have to put any active effort into.”
  524. >“So what are you going to do with your shares?” Ponk asks. “I’ll buy so much candy!”
  525. >“Oh, there are a few nice shoes I’ve already seen to which I could make a delightful dress.”
  526. >“What is it with women and shoes?” Applejack shakes her head.
  527. >“Why, what are you going to do that’s so much better than shoes?” Rarity asks.
  528. >“Kinda personal, if you don’t mind.” She shrugs off.
  529. >“And Miss Sparkle?”
  530. “Not gonna tell criminals what I do with my money.”
  531. >This significantly lowers the mood in the room.
  532. >“You’re a criminal too, you know.”
  533. “I’m not.”
  534. >“Yer now.”
  535. >You clench your hand on the steering wheel.
  536. “I helped someone out, that’s what I did. I didn’t do it for the money.”
  537. >Your explanation was met with silence.
  538. >At least for a moment.
  539. >“I did it for candy.”
  540. >You sigh and continue to drive until Rarity tells you she’s done with the transfer.
  541. “Okay, I’ll do the cleanup, dispose of the car and clean the hotel room.”, you tell them as you basically throw them out of the car. “Let’s  never meet again.”
  542. >Before you’re able to drive off Rarity stops you as she leans down into the car. “Be honest, haven’t you had fun donning the black hat?”
  543. “I helped someone.”, you insist once more, before shooing her away, closing the door and taking off.
  544. >Your stomach is revolting, your veins are burning and your head is threatening to split right open.
  545. >Each and every surface acts like a mirror, channeling light directly into your retinas.
  546. >You blast some Death Grips now, anything to tune out at least the sound of the outside world.
  547. >This enables you to open a window and let the rest of Ponk’s sweet breath dissipate.
  548. >There is too much sensory input into your brain.
  549. >The withdrawl is getting worse.
  550. >You look on the clock.
  551. >7 hours 42 minutes and 16 seconds until you’re allowed to take the next shot to numb yourself.
  552. >More than six hours.
  553. >You don’t even manage to make it halfway before symptoms spike up.
  554. >You need some opiates...
  555. >Nononono.
  556. >What you need to do is clean up.
  557. >Clean.
  558. >Erase every last trace of this vehicle and that you ever set up in a hotel room like that.
  559. >Work.
  560. >Work work work.
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