Spy Run

March 16, 2019:

Sage infiltrates the D.E.O. headquarters in New York to find out what they know about the killer cyborgs and the rogue Sentinels (emits by Nate)

DEO building in New Jersey

A modern goverment building of glass and steel

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

Obtaining the D.E.O.'s secrets is not an easy matter. They are an organization created to 'deal' with super-humans, employing super-humans, and with money to burn in the best security. Built upon the bones of Stormwatch, the D.E.O. actually has decades of experience at fighting super-villains, super-terrorist organizations and everything else, from mystic ninja cults to alien Skrulls. Some of the D.E.O. agents are very dangerous people.

It is also choke-full of ambitious, narrow-minded and outright corrupt bureaucrats and politicians, of course, but those in charge of security are hardly incompetent.

Not perfect either, but it is not like sneaking in the usual corporate HQ network. On the other hand it is nowhere as bad as trying to hack into the Latverian embassy.

Most of the D.E.O. agents in New York know very little about the Sentinels. It is not their department. Sentinels are stored in massive military bases built around the factories. Sometimes a trio of them is paraded around as a show of force or at a powerful politician's whim, but they are not a common sight.

One of the things Sage quickly discovers is the investigation about the cyborgs has been assigned to mutant crimes, the same people that are liaison with the Sentinel agents. All very hush, hush now. But then again, half the business of the D.E.O. is excessively secretive. Transparency is a dirty word for them.

The D.E.O. H.Q. in New York is one of the largest of the country. A new-looking building of steel and glass in New Jersey, twelve stories high, housing about a thousand agents and support personnel, administration and so on. Actually just about a hundred field agents, proper. Most of them military.

As they are constantly fighting super-villains and terrorists, they have every defense money can buy. Mutant detectors and telepathic shields included. Their own network, using their own physical layer (at least on the metropolitan area) and cloud servers responding only to certain machines. Most of them are inside the building. Since stealing a laptop from a regional sub-director is too dangerous, inside this place this is where Sage needs to go.

Finding some basic information is easy. Most low-ranking people have light to no anti-telepathic training (contrarily to the agents and higher ups) and they have no shields in their private homes. But they offer little besides the layout of some floors, some names, and basic passwords.


Sage stood still as a statue, her attention focused on the entry point she had selected for the building. It was one of the higher points of the building, a terrace that was there, nominally, to make the place look more 'people-friendly' but was really, primarily just camouflage, as no one ever really spent time taking in the air, as it were. They were all too busy or too oblivious. It was march, and still almost bitterly cold in the long watches of the night, but Sage did not notice the cold. In point of fact, she was cold, as she waited, her internal functions regulated so that her body temperature had dropped nearly twenty degrees, to about the same temperature as the ambient air within the building. Not the easiest trick, of course, and she hopes it would work to her advantage. Lowered core body temperature, no heartbeat, only the slightest trace of breath. Enough that she could, if she was lucky, make it past the analog security systems. She stood that way for well on fifteen minutes, before she began to move, following the trajectory she had extrapolated from the data she had scanned of their camera array, seeking to make her way toward the edge of the building where she could begin her climb.


Since the D.E.O. is mostly a government agency, most people work eight to five. At night only a few dozen remain in the building. Most are security, but some are night shift technicians and agents, and a few are important people married to their jobs that keep irregular work schedules.

That still leaves whole floors empty for hours, of course.

The low temperature trick will deceive the heat sensors of the security cameras, but the motion sensors need to be avoided on the fly. Fortunately there is some leeway with those. Pigeons are still an annoyance in New York.

The climb under the conditions is a slow and painful adventure, but Sage has certainly done harder things.


Sage was in no hurry, as she managed to navigate the minefield of sensors, needing to trust to memory, as it was too dangerous for her to attempt a real-time interface with the security systems in the building. As she made her way to the place where she would be making the ascent, she began the process of bringing up the firewall in her mind that would block her own ability to use her telepathy, but also prevent any systems which might be scanning for just those sorts of abilities from tracking her. It was not a pleasant prospect, to be going in there as blind as any human, but Sage would manage. She always managed. She began the ascent, free climbing, fingers finding the gaps between the segments of the wall, using the stiffness of her fingers and the grips she had applied to he palms of her gloves to her advantage.


The chosen floor is one of those that are usually empty. And it isn't. A couple guards making the rounds cost Sage ten minutes from her busy schedule, but she can't slip inside with those guys in the floor.

They are ten minutes late, too. Or they have changed the schedule again. They do so every few days, irregularly. Good practice, but not so good when the guards are paid little and get bored too easily.


Sage was, if nothing else, a woman who was endlessly patient. And able to multi-task, and so, in the same way that one might amuse themselves to pass the time, she allowed one track of her mind to review the infiltration plan, another to mark the movement of the guards she could see and hear and another to up the ante on the poker game she was playing with herself. A bit like playing chess mentally, but a bit less predictable. Unless you were a card counter, which she was. Once she heard the guards move far enough away, she began the work of carefully unlatching the vent of the intake for the fire suppressant system, which she would use to travel through to get to the junction box where she would be able to plug into the system, if all went well, and download the information she needed.


Once Sage gets into the systems, the right side of the firewalls, it becomes a question of her software against the government precautions and software. It is not a fair fight.

It is still somewhat tedious. Of course some serves can only be acceded at certain times of the days, but there are ways around it, like changing the clocks. Or getting admin privileges. Would be easier using her powers, but it might cause the mutant detectors to fire.

And there is so much data to mine here. But on a schedule, she can only grab and copy the archives relating the investigation on the cyborgs. Or maybe some on the current Sentinel operations, looks like there has been quite a bit of updates and movement lately. All top secret.


Sage had it would appear, if anyone bothered to look inside the vent, which, as still as she was, they hopefully would not, decided to take a nap. She's settled onto her back, still as a stone, eyes tracking across the HUD that she had brought up inside of her glasses, after attaching them to the leads she had hooked into the system. But it wasn't exhaustion nor was it a respite that caused her to lie as she was. It simply made it easier for her to be as silent as she could as she worked. With no access to her telepathy, and with all of her normal cyberpath abilities kept at the lowest possible threshhold, she was needing to move at what, for her, was a snail's pace, plucking what information she could, masking the traces of her infiltration and running an overlay program to keep the systems reading as nominal as she accessed the computer banks and the information they contained. So much…so many things that flashed across her screen, as she pulled the thing she needed as stored the headers for the rest. Perhaps she'd manage to get in there again, when she was far enough away that she would have the time to disconnect without having to worry about exfiltrating her physical body. But that was an operation to consider for another day.


So much.

Forensic reports identifying the cyborgs. Looks like they were hurried jobs, short-lived models that looked like prototypes to the cyber-forensics experts examining them. Interestingly enough the ones that looked to have been online the longest had been Sentinel Services agents.

They got enough software from a couple cyborgs to know for sure they worked on a variant of the Master Mold Sentinel program. This was classified Top Secret right away. Definitely it was not a D.E.O. operation. Looks like a large number of higher ups were/are furious. They are looking on Trask Industries, but finding little.

They also have remains of three impossible Sentinels. They look like -their- Sentinels. They use pieces built by Trask Industries about two years ago. But they are NOT registered Sentinels. They are impossibilities (55 million dollar machines do not spontaneously materialize) and they are tossing all kinds of wacko theories, including the possibility they come from a parallel dimension.

The appearance of a Mark III in front of Stark's Tower last week has them alarmed too. They believe this self-proclaimed 'Number Two' is one of the four Sentinels that went rogue last Summer.

But why 'Number Two'? Is it the second of the four? Or is it a reference to the British television series The Prisoner? There is a quite a bit of speculation on every world the machine pronounced.


Sage continued to lie there, occasionally focusing on the countdown that was blinking in the upper right hand corner of her HUD, focusing on the intake of information as she found it. She would have all the time she needed, she hopes, to digest and dissect the information that was being fed into her systems once she had left. For now, she simply focused on pulling all of the information she could on the sentinels, flagging high value items, adjusting her download when her parameters identified a new file or archive of information she might need. She also pulled what personnel records she could access, people either actively working on the investigations or associated with them. She might need to pay them a visit as well, or at least their systems.


There are many names. Many angry memos. Some people are going to get fired eventually. Sentinel Services, a Trask Industries operation, is being watched extra-hard. There are a few mentions to 'Kadesh', the secret D.E.O. base that lost the four Mark III Sentinels and whose coordinates are never mentioned. But looks like it sits on a large Sentinel production factory. A name, Steven Lang, is mentioned a few times. Possibly he is the D.E.O. agent in charge of Kadesh.

Corruption and prevarication. Memos and plans for using the Sentinel problem to impose restrictions on the mutants and other super-humans. Apparently it is a long term goal for the D.E.O., but this was long suspect, hardly news. The government wants to control the super-human population and any tactic is valid.

And then Sage is out of time.


Sage, rather than lingering as someone more human if not more curious, for few were more curious than Sage, did not waste time as the countdown ran out, and she shut down her systems, unplugging herself to begin the exfil, moving in that same slow, steady way to begin the journey back the way she came, marking the sounds she could hear through the vents of the guards and other bodies moving through the floor as she made her way back.

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