Oceans 4

October 19, 2018:

Courtier, Agent Green, Rocket Raccoon and Groot rob the Met.

The Met

It's the American and Medieval Wing of the Met.

Characters

NPCs: Met Guards

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

It is right after closing hours at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The last of the guests are politely being shown to the exits and bid a good night. Not that there were many guests to be shown out; with the sun disappearing behind the horizon, most have gotten themselves indoors. The night belongs to demons, and only those who have not yet seen or interacted with the hellspawn still venture out at night.

Well, those and the vigilantes and law enforcement who know it's their job to be on the streets.

Parked at the curb across from the museum, a nondescript van sits silent. From within, Rami Ghai is set up before a high-end terminal of computers and monitors. She has an earbud in her ear which is linked to Rocket, Groot, and Simon. There's a bright pink sticky note on her monitor that simply reads: WAIT 10 MINUTES. NW DOOR WILL OPEN.

A duplicate of the same sticky note has been given to Groot and Rocket ahead of the mission. Beneath Simon's blocky handwriting is Rami's more delicate script: This is not a joke.

The northwest entrance to the museum is a service entrance that leads into the American Wing Cafe. It faces Central Park, which gives lots of cover for the approaching raccoon and baby ent. The cafe is quiet with just a kid finishing up behind the counter, closing down the registers and packing locking up.

Rami's voice comes quietly in through the comms as she tracks the movement on the button cam she politely pinned on Rocket during their mission prep. "Now we wait." She glances at the sticky note and the timer, having forgotten why the two are important, but trusting in the notes all the same.

*

10 minutes after closing, the northwest door to the Met swings open. It's really not important to anyone involved for a moment, and then there's a little exhalation, and a tall man wearing a Philadelphia Eagles jacket, jeans, and a fedora becomes more important to those involved. Oh yes, and he's also wearing a green mask like those dorky bodysuits, completely obscuring his features. It's not quite Eagles Green, but it's close. "Welcome to the Met, folks. After-hours tours start here. I'll be your tour-guide-distractor."

*

This is the first time someone's given Rocket written instructions indicating when and where to enter through. He might have thought it a joke, and to be fair still has his doubts even with the additional scrawl beneath it stating that it isn't. But hey, this isn't entirely his show so he supposes he'll go with it.

He and Groot await by the appointed entrance, and perhaps not without a bit of wrangling in the smaller of the two for his tendency to get distracted. But Rocket was not going to hunt down a baby Groot in Central Park.

"Woohoo."

His dry remark is in response to Rami but he sits and double-checks his gear, eyes drifting towards the door. And then it finally opens. "Showtime," he says, nudging Groot to hurry along as he starts towards the…

What he hell is that.

Rocket slows as he reaches the door, eyeing the very green figure standing there. Squint.

"Yeah. There are so many questions I want to ask right now but okay, sure. Let's get on with it."

*

For his part, Groot may have tried eating the second sticky note after the first glance. Sure, it'll taste like paper, but paper can taste good! But the tiny tree behaves (more or less - there may have been a little struggle beforehand), undoubtedly bored because there isn't anything to watch or do at the moment…

…Until Simon does what he does in whatever that getup is.

It's here Groot perks, tilting his head and mimicking the squint Rocket wears. "…I am Groot?"

Also, how they have Groot connected to their network will remain a mystery. It's not that important a detail when there's stuff to do.

*

"You look positively ridiculous," Rami says over the comms as the camera on Rocket's coveralls take in the sight of Simon. "Who cleared your wardrobe, Agent Green?"

Parambir is already finishing her successful hack into the Met cameras, pulling up the security feeds that the guards will be privy to. She glances over each feed carefully, and then nods to herself. "After hours rotation has started. We need to clear the three currently in the main antechamber of the Medieval wing. Rocket, Groot… you'll need to follow the prescribed pathway to avoid detection. Remember, stick to the ceiling." Because most cameras are focused on things walking around on the ground and not what's going on, on the ceiling.

*

Simon shrugs a little helplessly at all the hullaboo about his clothing, "The guards are going to be paying attention to me. When they can. I thought it would be good if they didn't connect me to my day job." He's seen Rocket before, but… is that a shrub? A talking shrub? It's hard to read expressions under the mask, but his body language screams 'surprised' and 'confused.' "Uh… good… to… meet… you… Groot?" He shakes his head, trying to shake it off, and gestures back behind him, "I put the looper in the camera behind me, so we're safe here. I'll be drawing them up to the second floor. Our illustrious handler has a note to that effect."

*

"Got it," Rocket says, dropping his hand from his ear as he looks between Gumby and the twig. He arches a brow at Simon. "Yeah, okay. Listen, I won't comment on your poor choice of fashion sense for now." Because he kind of already has. Turning towards Groot, he gestures to the little guy.

"Up we go. You hang on to me and keep an eye out while we're in there, okay?" He'd gone over it before with the kid, but with Groot it was always better to repeat details. At least this isn't too complicated. Not that Rocket will hold his breath on things not going wrong somehow or another.

From a side pouch he has attached to his belt he pulls out a pair of handle-like grips attached to small circular bases, switching them on experimentally before turning them off again. He also checks the aero-rig already secured over his chest. Not that he doesn't trust whatever techno-goodies S.H.I.E.L.D. has, but he feels better with some sort of failsafe.

*

Having that kind of reaction from Simon still touches on amusing for Groot. "I am Groot," he whispers, still beaming up at the strangely-dressed agent. He's with Rocket on this one - the less they think about his fashion choices, the more they can focus on the mission.

When Rami says stick to the ceiling, Groot looks up. After he furrows his brow, he blinks, shifting his gaze back toward Rocket. The smile returns. "I am Groot!" he chirps as quietly as he can, hopping up onto the raccoonoid Guardian as the instructions are repeated for his sake. It's very easy for him to zone in on one thing, after all, and if this is going to go smoothly, he's going to have to pay close attention.

That is, until he doesn't.

That's a worry for later, however. So far, so good: the baby ent is attached and ready to go, making an extra vine-y rig to be doubly secure and not falling off of his friend.

*

Rami's eyes tick toward the other sticky note on her command console. This one reads: I'M ON THE SECOND FLOOR. Just beneath it, another reads: WE'RE OUT OF MILK. She just shakes her head ruefully at both, resting her cheek in her palm with her elbow on the metal desk that supports the various computer consoles at her disposal.

Then her eyes cut back to the feed, and she smiles ruefully toward the screen that captures Simon and Groot. "Be good, Groot," she says kindly to the little tree. "I have a special treat for you when we're all done." Because bribing small children for good behavior is something she learned from her mother and grandmother around their grandchildren. Trickets and treats are great ways to keep gets on target.

Once inside, and the door shut, the three stand in the empty cafe. The kid who had been at the counter is gone, and there's a simple series of glass doors that lead out to the main American Wing exhibit. According to Rami's map — which has been given to Rocket digitally to track on his extraterrestrial devices — indicates that they need to head to the right out of the cafe and into the exhibit of the museum dedicated to the glory of the USA. It is a three-story atrium with mezzanines along the outside — which gives Rocket a pathway to follow that isn't glass. There's wings off the atrium that lead into other sub-exhibits, but following the mezzanine ceiling will take the raccoon and baby ent toward the entrance to the Medieval Art exhibit, which has two knights on armored horseback guarding the entrance.

*

Simon brushes his hand down the green, white, and silver of his jacket, "Oh, I know it's miserable. The Eagles suck. But a Giants fan is gonna hate it almost as much as I do." He's playing the stereotypes, of course, but there's a reason for stereotypes. The interplay between mini-ent and upright near-raccoon causes him to tilt his head to one side in curiosity, "I got it the first time, Groot." He sounds more puzzled than anything else, but he shakes it off, "Alright. You won't remember most of the time, but I'm going to be wandering around the second floor and the southern wing keeping the guards busy. The more updates you can give Control, the better I can help you." He gives a little two-fingered salute, and then turns to head into the cafe. "Enjoy the Met." As Simon heads for the stairs, it's not that he fades out of sight or anything like that, he just isn't anyone's problem. He's there, but they don't need to notice him. Unfortunately, they also don't need to remember that he's there or what he's going to do. There are definitely downsides to Simon's ability.

*

For now Groot's reply suffices, and after briefly gasping for breath and getting the little one to loosen his branches up some, Rocket steps into the cafe after their tall green friend who isn't the Hulk (wait is that guy a friend?). He pulls up the museum layout for a quick refresher before sliding the device into its pocket once again.

"Wait, what?" he says, glancing oddly after Simon. There's no explanation offered but then it's hard to expect one when you don't recall that there was someone you were just following as they continue further on in and into the museum itself. They've got a job to do.

Sadly this is probably the only time they'll ever get inside of the museum to have a look unless they can ever con Captain America into escorting them- but then again art musums were really never Rocket's deal. Not to say he's never been in a museum before! …it's probably just been along the same line of reasons as they are doing now.

'Borrowing' stuff. Usually permanently.

"Eesh, lookit this place. What is it with Terrans and statues?" Rocket mutters as he hurries along towards the wall, activating the pads with a flick of two switches, one in each hand. Climbing's no difficult feat for him so long as there are handholds, and these babies at least solve that problem as he follows the lines of the mezannine towards the entryway of the route they'd already pre-laid out.

*

"I am Groot," Groot replies to Rami, sounding like a child eager to please with the promise of treats on the line. Good? He can be good. With that, he settles for being readjusted like a backpack strap, loosening as necessary and staying quiet until further notice.

So the tour begins. The tree oogles the museum's interior, his mouth forming an 'o' shape as they trek. "I am Groot," he whispers in Rocket's ear, unsure of the statues and their meanings. "I am Groot?" Maybe it's for worship, like on some cults on other planets do? Who knows?

*

"He does that," Rami says to Simon through the comms, and then she is looking over her monitors again. Then she tilts her head slightly just as Agent Green his two-fingered salute, and then… she loses focus of him. It isn't that he just slips off her radar, it's that she doesn't even care where he is anymore. Someone else will look out for him, someone else will make sure he's safe. This gives Groot and Rocket the entirety of her focus, and she smiles at the interrogatory I Am Groot's from the walking tree. Then she taps at her computer, and starts to draw up the next series of commands.

"When you two get to the entrance to the Medieval Wing, you will need to hop down, but only when I give you the clear. There are sensors at the entrance to the Wing, and I will need to also loop the camera before you enter the Wing." She frowns to herself. "Wait… something's not right. There's guards coming your way… why are there guards coming your way…" Because she's forgotten why Simon is in the museum.

*

Once he's up in the European Paintings room, Simon speeds his steady walk as best as he can, his lips tightening at the effort of his concentration. Crossing the room, he steps into a corridor of photographs, and then he releases his concentration. His team can then remember what he's doing — not soon enough to save Rami the concern, unfortunately. He's also not just visible to the guards on their monitors, but noticeable too, as he walks slowly down the hall, his hat hiding his masked features from the nearest cameras, but one finger up and tapping at his lips. He… definitely shouldn't be there, at least not according to the guards.

*

Rocket nods absently at Groot. "Could be. Personally I think they're secretly actual bodies cleverly disguised as art pieces by some morbid murders."

Set, swing, place, pull, and repeat. At times he clings to one handhold, feet bracing against it before he stretches out to place the second, other times he's feeling ambitious enough to keep setting as he goes, moving across the ceiling like crossing a jungle gym. He braces himself between the two just above the knight-guarded entrance to the next wing, a foot hooked through one of the handles, his tail curled up close to the ceiling he nearly hugs.

"Wait, what?" he blinks, scowling. "Guards should— …be taken care of by the Jolly Green Giant, right?" All the same, he waits, preparing to deactivate at Rami's signal.

*

The plausible theory has the shrub stifling a gasp that teeters on turning into a giggle, quickly stuffing his face into Rocket's back so that he doesn't make too much noise. He's too busy thinking about this now that he's sort of forgets what happened only minutes earlier, clinging on for dear life as they get across to the Medieval Wing.

Once there, Groot helps reinforce the hanging by letting smaller twiggy sections crawl onto portions of the ceiling nearest to them. But he also blinks, now curious as to what is going on on the other side of things now that Agent Green is in play.

*

Parambir's memory comes flooding back abruptly, and she blinks in surprise. "Green." She blinks again. "Right." In fact, she glances at her monitors and suddenly spots Simon as if he had always been there, and she knew where to find him. It was a startling moment for Rami, because as a handler, abruptly forgetting one of those in your care is disconcerting. Then she breathes out a sharp exhale, monitoring Green now.

The guards who spot Simon are immediately radioing in, and starting after him. One calls: "Sir? The museum is closed!" Several guards are now moving out of their post, trying to follow the confused chatter on their radios. Inside the control center, eyes are flickering from monitor to monitor upstairs.

Parambir has to hope that Simon is being distracting enough now, as she abruptly sends through her commands: the feed loops, the sensors go down, and Rami's voice softly remarks in their comms: "Alright, Rocket. Remember… the ceilings are too high. You're on the floor now. Move fast. The spearhead is in the third alcove. If Green is doing his job, no one is going to be paying attention to this room." If… if… if…

*

Simon turns away from where the guards are coming, hiding his green-masked face from them and flashing the Eagles crest on his back. "Yes ma'am." There's a cheeky grin behind the words, "Right. Check the next note." It reads, "THE GUARDS WILL BE BUSY UPSTAIRS." He doesn't respond to the guards as he walks into the next major room, paintings and sculpture. Drawing in a deep breath, he closes his eyes for a moment and fades away into non-importance. He is, however, headed for a small, sturdy piece of statuary that is without any glass case. He was warned to avoid cases.

*

The moment they get the signal Rocket drops down neatly, tucking the wall-grips back into his belt pouch as he slips into the next wing. "Pfah, too high," he mutters, eyes tracking the walls that go up and up. He could keep to the ceilings to prove a point, but that'd be counter-productive when what they need is on ground level.

"Keep yer eyes peeled, Groot," he whispers over his shoulder before ducking low and into a sprint, on occasion making use of all four limbs to quickly move to the best points of cover he can spot, recalling the rough path he'd considered from the map he'd studied.

"If that was one and two, then this should be the third one up this way…" he says quietly as he slips around a corner.

*

The moment Rocket indicates that they're moving, Groot folds the thinning ends of back into himself, barely catching the last bits of information Rami at Control is giving them. He feels the drop, but it doesn't jostle him like crazy; it takes a little time to shake some dizziness off, but he's back to surveilance in no time, craning his neck in an impossible position once the raccoonoid continues on all fours.

"I am Groot," he says quietly, checking the area and confirming they're still in the clear. The rooms they pass retreat from his perspective, disappearing completely the moment they take a different turn.

*

When Groot and Rocket come around the corner, they enter a small alcove that is dedicated to relics from the First Crusade. The centerpiece is a tall, rectangular pedestal with a case of glass on its smooth, white top. Inside the box is a foot-long spearhead made of tarnished black metal. There's a small plaque just beneath the glass case that reads:

SPEAR OF ANTIOCH (circa 12 B.C.E.): This spearhead was recovered during the First Crusade (1095-1099) and held in reverence in a small church outside of Budapest. Like many recovered spearheads during the Crusades, it was believed to be the Spear of Destiny — one of a dozen.

When Rami catches sight of the spear, she's sent into a wave of memories as one Bearer's life comes rushing to her forefront: early 1500s, and Harbin Ghai delivers the spear to the small church with murmurs of thanks to the priests. Then he makes his journey back home, having believed that the spear had saved them all from the demons that almost destroyed Nakodar.

"That's it," she tells Rocket through the comms. Then she taps the computers. "Cameras looped in that room."

For Simon's sake, the guards look after him just a moment and then all make the same assumption: someone is going to take care of that, no need for them to do it. Shouldn't they get back to their post?

*

When Simon lifts up the small, sturdy statue of a satyr dancing around and playing his pan-pipes, nobody cares. Nobody cares that he takes five steps and carefully balances the satyr on the same plinth as a half-nude nymph. When he steps away, however, nobody cares about him, but the statue is very definitely in the wrong place, and there's probably a quiet alarm code in the guard station, and it definitely looks like the satyr is doing something with the nymph that isn't blowing on his pipes.

*

"Huh~~" Rocket looks the display over. Personally he prefers weapons that are firearms, but there's something about the foot-long spearhead that makes it impressive. He's thankful that they're not having to tote a full-length spear at that.

"Okay Groot, yer up. I figure the less we have to touch things the better. We're gonna hover over the case, I'm gonna cut us a nice hole in the top of the glass, and you're gonna grab the spear. Got it?"

As soon as Groot claims to have understood the instructions Rocket nods and activates his aero-rig, maneuvering themselves just above the case. He pulls out a thin bar-looking device from a pocket with a disc attached to a knob in the center. "Here we go…" he says under his breath, moving in closer to set the disc against top center of the glass display case. He holds the knob and gives it a twist, then hits a button mounted in its center which sets the bar portion spinning, a brief red glow appearing at the edges of the circle it traces before it stops and Rocket pulls the glass disc up. Cookie jar's open!

*

"Grooot~"

Old as it is, the spearhead looks neat. Groot can appreciate how pointed it used to be.

He listens intently to Rocket after Rami grants them the time to plot, nodding once he gets the full spiel on how to go about extracting the spear from the case. Keeping his legs wrapped around the not-raccoon, he frees one arm to salute. "I am Groot."

Up they go, above the spearhead and Rocket plays with one of his toys to cut and pop it clean open. Loosing his other arm, Groot dangles, allowing his limbs to extend down to get his little hands wrapped around it. For a plant child, he's being as careful as he can be, holding his breath when it wiggles a bit at one point before trying to straighten the angle out. Again he lifts it, bark-covered cheeks puffing out as his arms retract fully, the spearhead getting very close to the two once it clears the case.

"I am Groot," he exhales, sounding like a flat, low-hissing tire.

*

"Good job, Groot." Then Rami pauses and a warm smile filters across her lips. "You, too, Rocket." She's amused with herself a bit as she monitors just the two, Simon having not reappeared on her radar. She glances slightly toward the monitors when the guards head for the wonky statues, and she even furrows her brow slightly as she thinks to herself: That's not right.

Then she looks back at Rocket and Groot, and she nods her unseen encouragement. "Alright, boys. Now… second verse, but now in reverse." She grins slightly to herself. "And mind yourself, we have guards on the mov — "

Rami's voice abruptly cuts out, and for a moment it may even be assumed that the comms went dead. Then she intakes a slow breath and whispers, as if she might be heard, "That was close. Something has all the guards moving out of sequence, and one just went zipping past the wing's entrance. He didn't notice the sensors were down." Her voice becomes serious. "You'll need to move fast."

*

Simon is listening to the comms, even as he moves southeast toward the next exhibit. Arab lands and the Middle East. That should be effective. As he passes a statue of a Buddha by the staircase, Simon gives a little salute to the golden man. And then he reaches into his jacket and pulls out a 'Fly Eagles Fly' sign that he tucks into the arms of another statue. And then he releases his concentration, reappearing in everyone's concern with a hidden grin. "Sounds like you boys are having fun. I'll keep them busy up here as long as I can." And this time he stays in place, and concentrates not on becoming Someone Else's Problem and on making a lewd, hip-rocking gesture in front of a painting of a beautifully-covered woman. Just doin' Eagle-fan things.

*

"Almost there…" Rocket says, waiting anxiously for Groot to haul the spearhead close enough for him to grab. The tree tyke is pretty strong but he's sure they'll both feel better with the thing tucked safely away and their making a break for it. It's pretty awkward a thing to hold even for Rocket once he manages to get it and slip it under an arm.

"Fun? Oh yeah, regular walk through the park," he says once he registers who's speaking in one of those 'Oh right, Simon' kinda moments.

His feet touch the floor, and he takes a moment to set the glass disc down because he's not carrying that around! -before he starts to head back for the door leading out of the medieval wing. "Hang on, Groot," he says, frowning at the sudden silence from Rami as he slips behind another display. He breathes a soft sigh when the woman speaks up again, nodding to himself. "Gotcha. How's the cameras in the next room? We still gotta take the high road or can I make a run for it?"

*

Thanks to Rocket, the spearhead is totally secure now. Groot sighs, leaning back just as Simon Green comes back to mind. "I am Groot," he says wearily and with a bit of cheer.

Being told to hang on isn't given a second thought. Lacing his arms back around the raccoonoid's shoulders, the shrub makes sure to brace himself for the move. "I am Groot." To him, running sounds great. That's just his opinion, though.

*

The Eagles-fan things would be far more amusing to Rami if she was still trying to convince Simon that football involves a black and white ball that's kicked down a very large green pitch and not some hideous brown egg-shaped ball that is carried more than it ever interacts with a player's foot. It's a long and arduous job being involved with an American.

She turns her focus to the monitors once Simon comes back into her mindfulness. She frowns slightly at him, but then releases a low sound of displeasure. "You're making a mess." Then she glances back to the feed with Rocket's button cam. She still has the feeds from the museum security looped. The news of running has her checking each little detail quickly and precisely. "Alright, run for it. Make it for the same door we came in through." Her tone changes slightly to indicate she's talking to Green. "Simon, time to leave. The item is secured."

*

"Yes ma'am, I am," Simon responds cheerfully at the accusation that he's making a mess. Leaving the sign where it is, he starts to walk toward the Green and Roman room, "Like a true Eagles fan." Listening for the sound of running footsteps from the guards, he measures his advance in his head, then notes, "Second to last note, Rami. The seven minutes one. See you on the outside, gents." There's a pause, and he cuts it close to the wire with the arriving guards, "Assuming you're a gent, Groot." Because he has no idea how to sex a tree. Luckily, he's saved from having to face the consequences of his statement (at least for now) by the need to concentrate and become Someone Else's Problem. He waits for the guards to rush into the room and start exclaiming over the sign and looking for the lewd Eagles fan, and then he slips back the way he came, heading for the exit.

*

"Agreed," Rocket mutters to Groot, but at Rami's word he grins sharply and takes off through the doorway and dashing across the atrium.

"You know," he says conversationally to the others on the comms, "-I can't help but feel like I'm still doin' something wrong in that we haven't hadda shoot anyone or blow something up. Or been shot at. But I guess that's for the best."

And the whole point of Simon running distractions for them while they made their way in and now out. Okay, Rocket has to admit, things had gone pretty smoothly, even if half the time he's not sure just how but hey, any problem that's not his is one less round of ammo spent.

"Don't get into any trouble without me, Green," he says with a smirk as he continues to slip between shadows and creepy statues. And then through the cafe, soon enough.

*

"I am Groot," Groot replies with a huff at Green's assumption despite the fact the agent can't actually understand what he's saying. Yes, he's a gent - and he can prove it, too!

Thankfully they never get to that point. With Rocket off and running and Simon doing the distraction thing, Groot doesn't have to worry about anything more than hanging on and making sure things are still clear on the path in reverse. So long as the spearhead isn't slipping or lost on the way, they're good. Things are good. Even without explosions.

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