The Thread: Part 7: Banderilla

July 07, 2015:

Detective Grayson and Mills take two steps forward and one step back as Fantomex decides to get some information on the Sentinels his own damn self.




NPCs: Trask Security Guards, Lieutenant Hastings, GCPD



Mood Music: Banderilla, Calexico

Fade In…



"What the hell are those?" Mills asks Dick Grayson as the latter pushes in to the small office with a shopping cart full of paperwork.

"Records." The young detective tries to scoot the shopping cart in closer to his desk but has an entire lack of space. The metal bangs against the wood of his old desk and he struggles to find a way to actually get to his seat.

"What kind of records, Aristotle?" Mill adds before taking a bite from his burger.

"Phone records. We just got the ballistics back from the gun Perrin used to off that gangbanger. And there was a match."

"Phone records," Mills adds, nodding as he sees where Grayson is going. "Son of a bitch."


The greenish-silver of the manufacturing plant was designed to blend into the arid-forest landscape of rural Colorado. Here along the backroads and up in the mountains, the elevation rises to 8,000 feet above sea level. They don't get many visitors up here at Trask Industries Manufacturing Facility #86, and those they do are treated to some of the strictest security money can buy.

Close to a lonely highway, this is the epicenter from which Trask sends out his final product of Sentinels. From here, they're sent to government offices at NORAD where they are inspected and put into use. Their parts are made in and shipped from all over the country and end up here for final assembly and testing.

Invisible to radar and plain sight, E.V.A. floats a few yards over the tree tops about half a mile from the manufacturing plant. The technorganic flying saucer has been there for 24 hours, watching, scanning, learning the schedules and the position of the factory sensors, cameras and guards.

<Remind me again why you are doing something this unwise> the feminine robotic voice sounds vaguely exasperated. "It is interesting. Robotics instead of bio-weapons. Maybe they will put Weapon Plus out of work," the usual faux-French accent is gone. Fantomex is having a chat with himself. Well, with E.V.A. Same difference.

"Besides, the Chinese are offering two million for those specs. The EU offer is even better, although with the Euro going down this fast…" muses Fantomex. <We are now selling weapons?> E.V.A. sounds scandalized <you don't need the money!> But Fantomex smiles. "Relax, once we have the data we can make some creative alterations, and make them believe someone else is selling. We can blame Hydra. They are desperate for cash to rebuild."

<We do not need the money> Insists E.V.A. "It is not for the money, my dear partner."

A reluctant, but still invisible flying saucer slides forward quietly, towards Trask Industries Manufacturing Facility #86.


Mills and Grayson's office is a mess with paperwork everywhere. Highlighters are strewn all over the desks and on the far wall, a catalog of phone numbers is put upon the tackboard with a listing of the names of POIs next to them.

"Wait a second," Grayson says, bleary eyed as he looks up. "Take a look at this." Mills makes his way over towards Grayson's desk, stepping and crinkling papers as he does so. "Missy Ballard. Who the hell is Missy Ballard?"

"It's Henry Ballard's wife."

"The Senator?"

"The same Senator that Perrin started off his career with." Grayson nods, as if he's just broken something.

"Fuckin' A, Dick. You think you can get a warrant for Ballard's phone records?"

"Worst they can say is no."


The flying saucer has timed its entrance perfectly, floating in to "Trask Airspace" without detection. From Fantomex' view port he will be able to tell that the facility has three levels that sort of climb the mountain, if you will. From the bottom level a small service road leads up to overhanging doors. There are no windows on any of the floors, but the service road winds up the mountain and leads to a small parking lot at the second and third levels. At the end of each parking lot is an unmarked, plain door. There are no other visible entrances.

The parking lots are pretty empty right now, given the time of night. Most of the office workers and maintenance crew have gone home, leaving only a skeleton crew and security force in their stead.

Fantomex can see the facility quite well, since E.V.A. is sharing with him her sensor input. No internet access at all. No wifi. Seems military level tight, which makes sense, but makes it harder. Well… easy is boring.

"Lets look for service accesses, and emergence exits. Hmm, maybe air conducts… joking." Fantomex is picking up some extra gear for this one. Electronic toolkit, a few usb units loaded with hacking software written by E.V.A. as well as high frequency coded communicator so the flying saucer herself can reach the intranet once he connects to a network computer.

"Find me an easy way in, partner. Bonus points if I can get in and out without knocking out any guard," comments Fantomex. <I am not giving you any extra points> grumbles E.V.A. scanning the mountain slope.


"So, they said no," says Sargeant Hastings as he comes back into his office from a meeting with a judge. "And to be honest, they're concerned that you two are grasping at straws."

Dick, seated at one of the chairs inside Hasting's office rubs at his brow. "Why the hell did they say no?" asks Mills, incredulously. "This is closest we've been and now they're slamming the door in our face?"

"I'm sorry," Hastings says, shaking his head. "If you want to put a tap on a sitting United States Senator, you're going to need more evidence than just a hunch and a couple of phone calls to his wife's phone number. The judge just isn't buyi—"

"Then go to another judge," Grayson responds.

"Dammit, Grayson, I'm not going out on a limb on this. Perrin is dead. Internal Affairs is looking into Hughes. This investigation has already turned into a catastrophe. And you two are about four steps from me putting it in Bullock and Montoya's mailbox. So tread carefully." Hastings sighs, "And get a real lead."


An analysis of the exits via E.V.A. is pretty sparse. There are the normal exits: the access doors on the bottom floor. Loud and easy to notice. Two front entrances; again, easy to notice. But on a second sweep another entrance is found. A small bit of break between the building in the land leads into a maintenance facility crawlspace. It looks tight, but if Fantomex can get in through that wall, he'll have pretty good access to get inside.

Just one other way. Fantomex is pretty sure E.V.A. is missing emergency exits, but that means they are well hidden. Or maybe Trask Industries is so paranoid they ignore safety regulations. Whatever it is, it might make a fast escape a problem.

Not that he can get caught. It never happens. Except that one time in Ankara in the Cyberdata lab. And that other in Kiev, and… alright, it happens -rarely-.

E.V.A. hovers over building, mere inches from the mountain side, and Fantomex jumps down on the roof, quiet as a mouse. Immediately E.V.A. begins moving away, very slowly as not disturb even the dust with her passing. She is still pretty hard to see, but without Fantomex inside, her cloaking is not perfect.


Back in their office now, Gotham City detectives Mills and Grayson are laying back in their chairs, frustrated, looking at the ceiling and inchest from giving up.

"Why does a Senator employ a guy who turns into an assassin. And why does that assassin have a gun that was once used by another guy who used to work for the same Senator?"

"Beats me," Dick says folding his hands over his stomach. "Ballard was the guy who came out hard against the heroes, right?"

"Well, he actually didn't say much, but he was the dude who ran the committee after the President got offed," Mills responds. "But he's pretty tight with that Traverstein chick. And it was him who put her on."

After a moment, Mills adds, "So either he wants some sort of vengeance against cap—"

"Don't call them capes," Dick says. "Most of them don't even wear capes."

"Fine. Whatever. Maybe this guy wants capes out of the way for business. Maybe this guy has his hands a little dirty."

"Without a warrant we're gonna have some difficulty putting a charge to the face," Grayson retorts.


As of now, the ship remains hidden, as does Fantomex. At least as far as he can tell. He'll need some sort of chisel to get inside the maintenance crawlspace, but it's simply down off the roof and in the crevice between the building and the mountain.

And as luck would have it, Fantomex finds that the entrance was once an actual vent. Cheap plaster covers it. The chisel he thought he might need is no longer necessary. Instead, all he needs is a strong fist.

Punching is noisy, but plaster is soft, so what Fantomex does is cutting the plaster with a small toolknife. It takes a few minutes but afterwards he can slide inside the maintenance corridor. Slowly, as not to trip motion sensors and similar before he can misdirect them. No lights either, he can see pretty well in the dark.

There's a soft red glow of safety lights that stay on. Fantomex will be forced to crawl along the tight path amid piping, wiring, and the like. Ahead, perhaps 30 yards, is an opening into a janitor's closet that will give him access to the top floor.

According to what E.V.A. can gather, the top floor is reserved for office and computer workers. Second level is R&D, while the bottom level is actually where they assemble and test.

Fantomex crawls on slowly, making sure there are no noises, and keeping his ears open. He drops into the closet and opens the door half an inch, spending a few minutes listening for wandering guards before stepping off.

Offices. This means administrative personnel, he imagines. Maybe there is someone at charge up here. Worth taking a look and searching for a director or 'supreme leader' office.

Fantomex opens the door to find no one walking by. Minimum security means that chances will be that he'll have mostly unfettered access aside from when guards come to his area. By chance, he notices cameras up in the corners of the hallways. Presumably, the entire facility is encased with them. To his left, down the hall, is a much larger office than the others.

Cameras a fine, he can misdirect them as long as he knows they are there. Which is what he gets doing right away. Then he goes left, to the large office, checking for a name tag or similar. Regardless, he search for sensors or alarms around the door before opening it, or attempting to pick it open.

Fantomex gives the door a final click with his lockpicking device and the door swings open. Looks clean from a security standpoint. As the door opens up in front of him, he sees an ornate set of office furniture including a large oak desk with a computer upon it.

Fantomex' senses start to let him know that the security officer has turned the corner down the hall.

The security officer, dressed in black, is about 20 feet away as he passes the corner, going through the motions as he does his job.

Fantomex steps into the office and closes the door quietly, waiting for a minute until he is sure the security officer has passed beyond the door before sneaking towards the computer. First thing he does is cutting it off the intranet, then he inserts the communication usb module, opening it to E.V.A.'s hacking.

The computer turns on and E.V.A. goes straight to mess up with the BIOS and startup sequence, systematically blocking up anything that is not the basic operating system. She doesn't even allow the graphic card drivers to load, much less any kind of security software. Now, a smart, humble and wise secret weapon facility director shouldn't keep anything in the computer and always use the internet servers. But most of these guys aren't perfect. They do things like copying sensitive documents into their personal machines to peruse and modify at leisure before uploading. They keep copies of emails for spellchecking. Ect.

How security conscious are you, Mr. No-Labels-at-the-Door bossman?

Fantomex gains root into this man's machine without alerting the authorities and starts digging. Much to his chagrin, however, there doesn't seem to be anything real on it. For every stereotype, there are always some who buck it. Perhaps this man is just smarter, or perhaps he's afraid of what Trask will do to him if he were to mess up. Either way, Fantomex is not going to get anything from this machine.

"Always a rare threat to find a real professional," mutters Fantomex. Only one thing left to do. He reconnects the computer to the net and leaves E.V.A. dealing with the network security daemons while he sneaks out of the office. If she can hack the servers, great. Meanwhile, he looks for the way down to the labs.

Fantomex has two options: There's a back stairwell as well as the normal stairwell that heads down to the R&D source. Both will likely have have security concerns, but he'll have to choose one or the other. So far, things look clear.

Fantomex certainly can't pick the elevator. So the back stairwell is it. Hoping it is less used and watched than the main one. He is still listening for that roaming guard and watching for cameras, of course.

As Fantomex opens the door, a silent alarm is tripped just by the door opening. Things get loud in a hurry as warning klaxon's begin to circle around, sirens begin to ring out, and lights begin to flash. He has some time to operate, but the security will be here in a moment, not to mention whatever automatic measures there will be.

Fantomex sighs, but closes the door and climbs down the stairs nevertheless. He is still pretty much undetectable on plain sight and sensors. But he really needs E.V.A. inside the network to make that alarm a 'false one' as soon as possible. At the door to the labs, if it has a similar alarm, he disables it.

Fantomex leans down and disarms the alarm with ease and is able to slip into the hallway. Two more choices. Up to R&D or down to the assembly warehouse. His earlier misstep takes one of his options away—because now everything he does is on the run. E.V.A. will notice a distress call that Trask has put out to SHIELD for back up. Time is limited, and he'll need to go quickly.

Meanwhile, E.V.A. still digs, trying to find more information.

They are calling SHIELD because a door opened, fantastic. The labs it is. In fact, the datacenter is his goal. They are doing research, they need a mainframe or more, as well as devices to store all the information.

The factory complex is pretty much in the middle of nowhere, so he figures he has some time to spare, but he is not able to be as careful as he has been before. If a guard crosses his path he is not going to hide and wait, he will have to punch him unconscious. Sloopy.

Fantomex strolls into the R&D hub, expertly timing his entrance with one four security guards leave it. He can hear them yelling, screaming, and the like. All things like, "Where is he?!" "Did you check under there?!" "This is not a drill!!!"

The mainframe is one of the highest security pieces of technology in the business world. It houses Trasks' secrets. To the Sentinel. To everything.

Gotcha. But this time he can't be so fancy, so he jams the usb directly into the closest active port, and lets the host of hacking programs starts while E.V.A. connects to the device. Hopefully she learned something about the network already. "Not much time left, partner. Scan for general purpose of intent and upload the docs sent back and for to the military and Trask Industries CEO. Then specs of the machines. Last, and if we have time, the programs that make the Sentinels thick. I'll run interference." Which means he is going to deliberately trip some alarms at the other side of the building and give the guards a merry chase. Maybe even let them 'glimpse' an intruder dressed up as a ninja. Because… lets blame the Hand. Fantomex has not screwed them up at all in at least six months.

Fantomex downloads the information quickly and then begins his escape just as quickly.

"Sir, there is extremely important information on the the recent download. I am pulling out all pertinent information regarding the Sentinel program," comes the voice through to Fantomex.

The security guards are at a loss, but SHIELD will arrive shortly. Indeed, one of their choppers is already making its way towards the mountain pass. One unlucky guard swears he saw a ninja dressed in red, but most of them are just confused as to why they can't seem to catch this perp. Some are wondering if he was even there in the first place.

Fantomex loves this part of his work, even though it came from his fuckup with the door alarm. Confusing people is hilarious, really. He even goes back to pick up the usb devices so nothing is left behind. By the time the SHIELD chopper is landing, he is sneaking out using the same way he got in. Unfortunately he can't repair the plaster, so there is a good chance they will find the way the 'ninja' used to get in. But it will take them a few hours. By then he will be back to Gotham, going over the stolen info with a bottle of champagne.

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