TURN 3: The Quarry

Soon, the team finished work on the security system, installing the cameras and gun mounts and tying them into their off-line computer network.

With the plan formulated, Diana got ready for her part. She really hated playing the "bait", in these things, but at the same time, she was "built" for it as well.

She spent two hours off to herself, getting herself into the right frame of mind. Then, she spent another hour getting ready. When she was finally ready, she went to her closet, and got the "slut / bait" dress. It was a short, spaghetti strap thing that barely covered her to mid thigh. Then, she began to do her make up and everything else.

One thing she did thank the Reich for, was the ability they had given her to focus on the job at hand. That was part of the "genetic cocktail" she had been bred from. she guessed. It took her two hours to get everything just right, even going to the extent of starting over a couple of times. When he was done, she slipped on the pair of black "come f*** me pumps" (two-inch heel), and went out to get ready to go.

It was all the guys could do not to whistle. Or if they did, they kept it low. Even still, if Diana heard them, or chose to hear them, she paid no attention.

When she emerged from her room, she truley looked the part of the "slut" or "bait." The guys whistled, or tried not to, but could not help but stare.

The trip to the club was made while in contact with the others. She found a place to part, with a lot of luck, a few stores down from the club. She had read the reports about weapon restrictions, and checked her purse once more. She placed her pistol, and one extra clip into the false bottom. The purse had been made for just this thing in mind. The special compartment could be scanned, and would not show up.

//Heads up boys, let's get this thing rolling. Sitting out here is just going to gain unwanted attention. That's not exactly something I'm wanting to do.// She said over the comset.

Chalk raised an eyebrow to Diana's presence but managed to carry himself professionally. Internally, he worried about Kellinger's reaction as the man already seemed nervous around females.

It had been reported to Chalk that the fighter had great leadership potential, but he wondered how that could be so with such an adverse reaction to the opposite sex. Perhaps with time he might adjust to their presence and not be so nervous.

"All stations, report your readiness." Chalk broadcast after Diana's green light.

Chalk's plan was to capture Stuttman and take him back to his own apartment for the interrogation as the hacker started going over any files there. Then they could kill the exec there and make the job look like a common robbery.

If that turned out to be a dead-end, Chalk planned to organize the whole group for a run on the corporate office before they had a chance to wipe Stuttman's data.

As Diana walked past, Ed tripped over his own feet and fell to the floor.
Clumsily getting to his feet, he did everything he could to avoid direct eye contact with her. If there was even a hint at her being in the same room, his stutter becomes more pronounced. If he came within a few feet of her, he blushed uncontrollably. Although no one had really seen it, it was certain his whole body follows his face's reaction.

"R-r-r-r-r-r-r-ready....." comes Ed's whispered voice over the comset

Frederick reported his last-minute findings. "I didn't find any indication of bodyguards. There were no weapon permits on record, no hospital stays long enough for upgrades. Nothing indicating any bodyguards. Frankly, with the information available, I doubt he has the information we need."

"Still, he's our only lead at the moment. If he can't tell us what we need, then perhaps he'll lead to someone who will," Chalk replied.

"At the very least his access codes will make it easier to get into TriTech once it comes to that."

Frederick continued, "Of course, it's a long shot, but it's also possible he's more than he seems, perhaps quite a bit more. If he has enhancement, then they're well hidden."

A wicked grin crossed Chalk's thin lips at Frederick's comment. His eyebrows narrowed dangerously and a hand strayed, unconsciously, to the hilt of his blade.

"I'm not worried."

<A monitor, sitting alone in a large, dark computer room, suddenly flickered to life as it detected new data being sent by the AI in the Central Server Mainframe.>

/Estimated time remaining to capability upgrade: 3650 days./

<Clearing the screen, the AI switched to the function it was designed for and began to listen to a wireless transmission and recorded a conversation so that the details will be preserved for its superiors.>

/Unit AD RCF4738, report in,/ a male voice with a distinctive metallic echo intoned.

/In position. My team is ready,/ a female voice stated softly.

/Go. Unit NA D3824, report./

/Ja. I am making contact now. May I use lethal force against the target?/ It was a female voice with a hard edge to it.

/Use your discretion. On my mark, you'll have twenty minutes before I arrive, NA D3824. You do not want to be there at that time./

/Yes sir./

/Mark. You have your orders./

<The AI ran a cross-reference against the mission file for NA D3824, looking for the latest orders entry.>

/Reference found: Make contact with the target and extract the information. Target is to be neutralized if there is danger of data loss or interception./ The machine paused for a moment, as if considering something.

<The computer flicked to a live video feed of a blond-haired, blue-eyed man's head which was apparently helmeted, visored, although the visor was currently lifted. Around his head and shoulders, which was all that would fit in the camera's view, there appeared an array of holographic and translucent status displays and weapon systems diagnostics read-outs which seemed to orient themselves and reconfigure at the man's mental command.>

"Whiiirrr, clunk. Whiiirrr, clunk." The sound was enough to reverberate through the enclosed cockpit audibly.

"Weapons free," stated the man. The machinery around his head was not designed for comfort -- that was what the helmet was for -- but it did make speaking sound rather like he was talking into a steel can. A status display confirmed his order.

"Prime jump jets." A new screen flickered an affirmative as the whine of turbines echoed dimly through the cockpit.

<The AI began running simulations, things sweeping by the monitor in such rapid succession, they appeared only as a blur. Eventually, it produced the statistics it wanted.>

/Likelyhood of mission success based on current data: 95%. Likelyhood of mission success in the case of information leakage: 20%/

/Running security check:/

/Fourteen illegal entry attempts within the past 24 hours. 12 attempts denied, 8 traced and neutralized. 2 attempts appear to have been noted by the Sentry Server, but no log record exists for Mission Central Server. Entry terminal location: Brandenburg Arcology TermZ346. Entry terminal location #2: Brandenburg Arcology TermZ346./

/WARNING: POTENTIAL SECURITY HAZARD. Emailing Sentry Serv--- Aborted./ The AI moved quickly, issuing commands to halt the security breach notification. /Delete log file. Deleted. Purge volume. Purged./

<The AI cleared the monitor screen.>

/Chance of mission success, recalc: 20%/

/New estimated time remaining to capability upgrade: 60 days./

The bouncers were pretty thorough when they checked Diana for weapons before allowing her admission to the club. In fact, they were damn good. They felt her sidearm's presence through the bottom of her purse and politely asked her to leave it with them for safe keeping.

Diana turned in her weapon, they placed it in a small, foam-lined steel case and handed her a key. With a shrug, Diana accepted the key that was offered, and went on with the mission at hand.

Looking around, Diana saw she got in easier than some people as she saw one fellow with a cybernetic arm end up having to get that arm x-rayed before they allowed him to continue. Diana shook her head, almost with a chuckle. She was glad her enhancements were genetic and not mechanical.

The dance club was awash with sound and light, momentarily confusing her until she adjusted to the din. Small, round tables were scattered everywhere but the bar and the three dance floors. It looked like a majority of people were either clustered in small social groups or on the dance floor instead of seated. Almost immediately a young man with red-frosted blonde hair approached her and asked her to dance.

Looking around, Diana noticed a man matching Stuttman's description dancing with a woman on the far edge of the nearest dance floor. Well, she supposed Stuttman might think it was dancing. In actuality, it was simply the staggering, off-beat gyrations of someone half drunk. He was being partially supported by a short-haired blonde woman who seemed much more coordinated than he. From the back, Diana could see the woman had the lithe, wiry look of someone who was used to a lot of aerobic exercise. There was too much noise to pick out their voices, but Diana could see Stuttman was saying something to the woman.

The boy who'd asked her to dance was still talking. "... what do you say, beautiful? I bet those long legs of yours could burn up this dance floor!" He grinned at Diana. He pushed one of his two glasses of beer into her hand. Apparently he'd been waiting for just the right person to ask. Or he was just asking the first female he saw walking through the door...

Meanwhile, Slave and Chalk watched and waiting inside the door. Far away, at the apartment, Gisele and Frederick heard, //Unit Slave/04143 standing by.//

Diana turned back to the kid, and smiled.

"Okay." she said.

She angled the two of them, very non-chalantly, over towards Stuttman and the woman, and tred to listen in to what they are saying.

Although Chalk had chosen to let Diana bring their quarry to him and therefore remained outside, she kept the door and windows in mind because should there be trouble, that's where Chalk would be likely to enter.

Diana had no problem guiding the kid to dance near Stuttman. Doing so allowed her a much better look at the woman, and neither Stuttman or his partnered seemed to notice Diana's observations. She appeared to be in her mid twenties, and was quite attractive in her own way. Her hair was short, almost military in style, and she held herself in a firm grace that seemed almost too precise. Almost as if she was moving on automatic, her body dancing but her mind somewhere else completely.

Stuttman himself was not a good dancer and it showed. Being half drunk, he wasn't very coordinated and often should have crushed his partner's foot, but she seemed to avoid the irritating result deftly and without comment.

Diana twirled and continued to dance with the now-overjoyed young man with red-stained blonde hair. She thought he heard him call himself Josef, or some such. He didn't seem very important at the moment, so as she danced, Diana moved into a position to hear what Stuttman and his blonde partner were talking about. Thanks to her enhanced hearing, she didn't need to be half as close as a normal human to listen in.

"I think that you and I should have some private fun time, da?" Her Russian accent was unmistakable to Diana's multilingual ears.

Stuttman laughed and replied, "Ja, sure uh, Nadya. Your place or mine?"

"I vas thinking something closer," she replied. She pulled his tie suddenly, and he stumbled against her. She whispered something in his ear.

"The alley--", an irritated look crossed Nadya's face and she grabbed his face and gave him a deep, forceful kiss. He seemed to go wobbly and ceased any further complaint.

It was then she caught Nadya's eyes as she stared past Stuttman during the kiss. Diana saw nothing resembling pleasure there, but rather an instinctive revulsion appeared behind the other woman's eyes. It was very clear she did not like this man.

Then it occurred to Diana. The way Nadya moved, the way she was acting, seemed familiar. Like Diana, but different.

As Nadya began to lead Stuttman toward the door, Diana's instincts began to scream: DANGER!

Diana had only been in the club for a few minutes, but something felt wrong. Very wrong. For instance, the foot traffic seemed to be drying up. People are walking away, but no one is coming back. From his position outside the club, Chalk's sense was that something was going down.

But it wasn't happening inside the club.

Diana cursed under her breath. This was not good. There was something about that woman that was familiar, but she just couldn't put her finger on it. Then, her voice started screaming. She had stayed alive because of the voice, and it was her experience that ignoring it always let to bad things happening.

So, when it began screaming, she listened.

She guided the kid towards Stuttman and the woman. "Excuse me, but I believe I see my husband." She said politely to the kid, with a sweet, disarming smile. She kissed him hard on the lips, and then disappeared into the crowed.

She went into her purse, and came out with the com-set. "Chalk, we have a problem. There are others moving on Stuttman, and I think I recognize one of them. Get the others back here asap. The shit is going to hit the fan, and splatter far and wide." She said. She then put the com-set away, having only taken a bare minute to relay the message. She took a deep breath, and let it out slowly. This was going to be tricky, especially if this woman was what she thought she was.

She moved quickly through the crowd, and followed Stuttman and the woman to close to the back door. There she made her move. She again took a long, deep breath, let it out slowly, and made her move.

She boldly, portraying an angry stride, moved up to where the woman and Stuttman were. "Well, there you are!" She said in an angry voice. "Heinrich Stuttman! You sorry son of a bitch! Are you stepping out on me again with another floozie? Have you no shame? Doesn't the vows we took mean a damned thing to you anymore?" She said angrily.

"And don't even pretend to not know who I am. That lame excuse might have worked last time, but not now, you no good, cheating son of a bitch! Now, get your hand off that floozie, and let's go home. Are you drunk again? Yet again? Can you not stay sober at all?" she said half disgusted.

She was on a roll, and was into the role. She just hoped that Stuttman was off his rocker enough not to completely blow the whole thing.

Ed, monitoring the com channel, got ready for anything. Since he was not in visual visual range, he anxiously waited while monitoring the channel.