A Simple Job

April 19, 2017:

A job advertisement goes up on the usenet black boards; get in, steal a chip, get out. It's a simple job - right?

A small restaurant in Chinatown

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

"Lucky" Jun Yin was a gambler, one raised to avoid the lures of the casino tables, his father the operator of a successful casino in Macau, the gambling capital of China. But one lure he never managed to avoid was the draw of the game itself, even if not played for money. He was addicted to the game, not the payout, and that's why he went into computers in the first place. It was only natural he'd graduate to more dangerous games with the skills he'd picked up at MIT and working for the United States defense complex for Sebastian Shaw, and the Hellfire Club gave him the perfect outlet. Now, he needed something, and it was something he could not purloin with his own skills. And he was loath to involve the New York chapter of the Hellfire Club, as Emma Frost had made it clear how she viewed his manner of sabotage and operation. Americans could be so crude, but he enjoyed how they lied. It gave him the perfect opportunity to find a system he could exploit, merely with their mistrust.

An open advertisement had been posted on a black board on usenet, locked to the local thieves of New York City, with a rotating password system deployed at underground clubs and gatherings, limited to those interested in professional theft and high level crime. Nothing for professional assassins - that was all performed via contacts from a fixer - but rather a pool for talent that required a deft set of fingers. His board post was an allusion to a street story in New York that dated back fifteen years, involving the murder of an American teenager murdered by the Yakuza, because he refused to let his girlfriend get taken as a comfort woman. The post simultaneously lured in enemies of the Japanese Mafia, who mainly operated amongst themselves on the East Coast, within the Japanese tourist and migrant community, and kept out the Yakuza, because of the Japanese concept of social shame. A link was provided, that led to a temporary image board post on a fake pornography thumb website that indicated a job opening, and gave the number for a Chinese restaurant in Chinatown. Along with the instruction to ask for 'Mack'. If one passed Mack's test - identifying one's self as a thief, but not attempting to incriminate Mack for conspiracy - one was led to the restaurant, a little take-out joint deep in Chinatown that serviced the immigrant community, and led into a backroom office, where Lucky Yin sat.

*

@emit
There's no honor among thieves perhaps, but in common for most is desire - a gnawing urge for something not so easily attained through legal means. It can lead to strange places, stranger friends, and in this case a long, carefully staged sequence of meetings and hunts to put two orange cat-slitted eyes sweeping across Lucky Yin and the rest of his office.

Better known for being a faint blur in a few security cameras in Gotham, and local persona non grata of their branch of Japanese organized crime, a black-dressed, black-skinned ninja is guided through his door on quiet sandals. Her clothes and skin are a night black that seems to grasp at the room's lighting, refusing to shine in its presence, and what little of the woman thief's face isn't covered by her cloth mask falls beneath the shadow of her hood.

No weapons to check, no weapons to see, but underneath her her gi… who knows?

*

Lucky has a small kettle of tea on a circular platter before him, enjoying a standard Chinese tea cup of the liquid quietly with his right hand, gloves obscuring his fingers. He sips quietly as Nerina enters, watching her from behind his sunglasses, a standard competitive tool he picked up young. An empty tea cup is on the other side of the kettle from him, should Nerina deign to sample the tea. He does not offer, however.

"Sit," he says to her, politely, sitting behind a desk used for the manager to run his numbers. In the background, she can hear people in the kitchen calling out to each other in Mandarin, discussing orders and preparation, no conversation spared between them. This is a professional operation, the mirth here is all in the service to the customer.

He takes a long but slow draw from the cup, watching her from behind his sunglasses, before he sets the cup down. "You may call me Lucky." His reputation proceeds him among the Flying Dragons, the mainland Chinese Triads, as a computer information theft expert and digital architect for various sorts among New York City. The rumors were stronger nearly a decade ago, when he was a university student, but now they've returned. "Somebody has something I want, and I would like it. I presume you are interested in something I have, and you would like it. I am not a man of dollar signs, as I feel standard mathematical trade between numerical values favors myself too strongly. So, I prefer to barter. If you are inclined this way, then remain."

*

The ninja glances back through the doorway as her first instinct is to step to its side after entering, then her gaze falls back on Lucky, cool and collected. She's unremarkable from what can be judged by her outfit; the waist says female, the rest says 'average' - just how it's supposed to.

She takes the offered seat and sets her hands in her lap, making no motion to leave after the man's explanation.

"What do you have in magic?" She asks in a soft voice not so well-tuned to English. Oddly enough, she sounds Slavic.

*

Lucky's face remains mute, as he watches her, aware of the softness of the voice and the Slavic dialect. "Do you have an unfriendly ghost?" He lifts the tea kettle again, pouring a new cup of tea for himself, before setting the kettle down. "I can procure a Daoist priest for you to seal the ghost in a vase, if you are worried about it bringing bad luck to your family. The ceremony is quite simple, there are stipulations of course. And one day, it may bring good luck twice." He sips his cup. "If you are looking for a curio, we can provide charms as well. The Chinese never deal in black magic by practice, our society has been past these experiments for thousands of years. Power is best earned the honest way. In one's protection, however, one can justify cheating."

*

"I could be interested in charm. An actual charm," the ninja replies evenly. "Not all magic is fake."

*

Yin allows a soft smile. "I never said it was." He sets the cup down and turns in the long suffering leather chair the manager uses, and bends under the desk, pulling out a number of books, all written in Mandarin. He selects one, an old volume of bound white paper within a leather folder, sealed together by brass staples. It is not an actual book, merely notes, written in calligraphy with a black sharp point pen of relatively ancient distinction. He places it atop the other books, and opens it. "What manner of ward would you prefer? To bring you luck, one must have bad luck to begin with. The older the misfortune in the passage of time, the greater and more difficult the luck you would have. But luck comes at a price. I suggest something else." He leafs through the pages. "Do you wish wealth? Children? Peace?" He pauses, his eyes looking up at yours as he looks at a page. "Perhaps you wish for atonement?"

*

The ninja's eyes narrow faintly as she listens and watches intently at first, but as Yin continues there's a softening and dulling again. Her gaze lifts boredly to his face before he's done turning pages.

"Do you have any physical charms?" She asks, lifting a hand and closing it to mime an object. "A rock that glows. Cold fire. Or is this to you 'black magic'?"

*

"You wish to toy with the elements. Very well. This is a technique, you must create this charm as an extension of yourself. Beware, should you lose your charm to another, a sorceror can use this in many ways." He finds a dogtag, and turns to the rear. "There are five elements in Chinese culture. Fire, water, earth, air, and metal. Which do you seek to manipulate?"

*

An eyebrow quirks and the ninja pauses to deliberate.

*

Lucky spreads a hand. "A manipulation of fire could involve heat or light. A manipulation of earth could involve cold or scent. A manipulation of water could involve frost or wetness. A manipulation of air could involve wind or mist. A manipulation of metal could involve binding or form. These are the basic tools. From there, one could build. The charm itself is unique, it merely requires your personal investment." Lucky makes something quite clear: "We will merely assist you in making your charm. This is a technique we will show you. Consider it a bit of magic you can pass along as well."

*

The ninja nods slowly. "And sorcerer with my charm can do… what?"

*

"It would be an extension of your willpower. So, whatever tool the charm represents, could be turned back against your mind, soul, and will." Lucky turns the kettle to face the ninja. "I find tea helps one contemplate."

*

Now offered, she takes the kettle carefully in both hands and pours her cup. "Thank you," she offers, perhaps a bit emptily. It's at least an attempt at manners.

Lifting the small portion, the ninja sniffs first, then sips. "How would a charm make my mind wet?" She asks in some confusion.

*

Lucky props his elbows up on the desk, interlocking his fingers before his chin, beneath his mouth. "Perhaps you wish to make locks or joints slick to manipulate them. The sorceror would make truth pass through your lips whenever they please."

*

"I see… and fire, and earth, and metal?" The ninja asks further.

*

"The essence of what you wish to manipulate with your charm is what is important. This is not a ratified, limited codex of work, as one would imagine. And the sorceror would have options, depending on their skill, and their own creativity. Magic is a dangerous thing to toy with." Lucky lifts his thumbs behind his hands, straightening them. "If you had a charm amulet that you wore over a certain spot to protect your heart from being pierced, by bending weapons aside, the sorceror could control the object of your anxiety. The more you ask for with a charm, the more you stand to lose from a rival."

*

The orange cat-eyes narrow faintly in suspicion. "What if I asked to conjure water or make light?"

*

Yin unlocks his left hand, allowing the right to go loose, gesturing with his left set of fingers. "Perhaps thirst that did not exist, or shadows where there were none."

*

The ninja nods again and sips more tea. "Heat would be useful," she considers. "It's hard to pick locks when I can't feel my fingers." Her own left hand comes up and slender digits.

*

"Wonderful." Lucky moves his elbows off his desk and closes the book. "Upon reception of my item, you will receive the proper bauble to warm your hands. I will see what the curio man says about it. But it is doable. Now, the object." Lucky pulls a yellow envelope out a drawer, and withdraws a blueprint of an office complex located in Albany, New York. "This is a Yakuza-held telecommunications company. I need a piece of technology recovered from it." He places a picture of a computer chip atop the blueprint, with various packaging, names, aliases, Japanese symbols with English translations, and pictures of the computer chip from various angles. "This is a computer chip used for high speed router encryption operations. It is very valuable to me, as well as the Japanese ultranationalists, who want it for the Japanese defense force. This should indicate the danger of the mission to you."

*

"Lots of guns," the ninja murmurs disdainfully as she leans forward to inspect the pictures. "That is a very small thing to find in a very big building…"

*

"Not if you understand corporate facility engineering and the psychology behind it." Yin reaches out and places his right finger on a particular portion of the blueprint, the top floor rear, near the scrap waste facility. "Right here. Highest point, therefore hardest for a burglar to access, and beside the waste product collection point for faulty units, and the accompanying freight elevator for the parcels of waste. It's an R&D firm, so they aren't manufacturing yet. The rest of the facility is for the development and testing of the part, not the actual assembly of the trial unit."

*

"That seems like a lot of trouble to warm my hands. Maybe your charm can warm the rest of me?" the ninja wonders, her attention otherwise on the blueprint before her, putting it to memory and searching for weak points.

*

"Agreeable." The risk of the charm's expanse is to Nerina, since it is her extension of self, not anyone else's. He leans back in his chair, pleased. "You may take those two documents. They have no fingerprints on them."

*

The ninja reaches out for both, and folds and tucks them into her jacket for later use. She's not wearing gloves of her own so they might have fingerprints now… perhaps not an inspiring omission from a thief's attire.

"I will return when I have the chip, then," she concludes and reaches again for her tea. It's hard not to like.

*

"Call the number you called for this meet first," Lucky instructs. "I do not like doing things in pairs, unless I hold the cards." He smiles.

*

The ninja reaches out for both, and folds and tucks them into her jacket for later use. She's not wearing gloves of her own so they might have fingerprints now… perhaps not an inspiring omission from a thief's attire.

"I will return when I have the chip, then," she concludes and reaches again for her tea. It's hard not to like.

*

"Of course," the ninja nods as she sets down her empty cup with a small but contented sigh. "Thank you for the tea," she says as she stands to leave.

*

"Being a host requires merely a single bond," Lucky advises, watching her from behind his sunglasses. It is easy to see that she is in a position of social disadvantage, however, with but one exit and his eyes on her. There is no lechery in him, merely a silence, as he observes.

*

The ninja's eyes sweep off of Yin and out the doorway as she turns and leaves, offering him a view of nothing but canvas. Her thick belt is tied to cross in the back, and as quietly as she came, the thief exits.

*

Jun Yin turns to his books, picking them up and sliding them away. As Nerina is on her way out the front, she can hear Lucky calling out in Chinese, and a call back, before the head cook and the others laugh. A few moments later, cooked duck is before Lucky, along with a side of steamed rice. He reaches beneath the desk, withdrawing a single bottle of Coca-Cola, with Spanish on it as opposed to English. Mexican Coca-Cola, produced with cane sugar, and in a glass bottle. Using a fork and knife, he begins to eat the duck quietly, his years in America having broken the habit of using traditional Chinese implements.

Lucky presses a button a nearby phone, and the website with the number deletes itself, replaced by a password locked website with a simple recovery password: Who sent you to this website? The only answer allowed is 'Lucky', upon which one can log in and receive the new number.

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