2011 06 12: Busted

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Mission Name: Busted
Date of Mission: June 12, 2011
Locale: Off-grid studio apartment in a seedy part of Brooklyn.

After cracking the security program of an ill-reputed criminal syndicate, Jack is forced into a deal that may be too much for him to handle (Props to Amphetamine for playing the criminal NPCs).


Jack NPC

It's another one of those nights where he's back at his temporary dwelling, on the computer again, and for the past few weeks he's been thriving suspiciously well inside a drugged out neighborhood full of opiate junkies.

All of the residents living close by are either too high to do anything remotely threatening, or they're flat-out catatonic, so it's probably safe to say that Jack isn't in any particular danger. At least, not yet.

Holton is probably the only individual here who's a different sort of addict, but it's this kind of environment that fuels his type of behavior. His narcotic of choice is code, and it would've pleased him to no end to see his work at solving some of the hardest problems he ran into while breaking this encryption, progress. Awhile back, the teen had specifically rented this little studio from one of the locals sinking in debt, because it was the last place anyone would want to come looking for him.

Now the former highschooler has only one week left before his rental contract expires, and for him, his work is just not moving fast enough.

A stack of thick tomes from a used book-store pile high up against the floor, since there simply is no room to fit a bookcase in his loft. It's a strange mix of old and new from the likes of existentialists Franz Kafka and Friedrich Nietzsche, to postmodern novelists like Bret Easton Ellis. There's also a healthy dose of science fiction in the mix, and it's obvious that light reading is not the type of fare that Jack finds worthy of investment.

Right by the stack of books next to his narrow bed, the youth is kicking back in his office chair, both heels over the desk. NIN's "Capital G" is blaring noisily out of his computer speaker, and he's staring at the screen with an expression of apathy.

How long has it been since he's collected all that data? The question hangs over him as his gaze flickers back to the USB flash drive on the table, and instinctively he reaches for it. What started out as a simple game to him now felt like a moral obligation. Twiddling it around between his middle finger, index and thumb, the kid frowns. There's a lot of data on here that the NYPD might find useful. And he doesn't trust the FBI enough to sell this bit of information to them.

How about none of the above? The relative peace of the apartment is disturbed in the next moment by a resounding crash as the door comes flying inwards, splintering right off the hinges and gouging a hole in the frame where the lock once held fast. There is a moment of silence then until the man of the hour comes sauntering in, with all the cool and casual confidence of a man accompanied by several armed and muscular thugs, who filter wordlessly in behind him. Tattoos and matching colours mark them as some sort of gang, although they seem to be a step above your average group of street criminals. They managed to track Jack down, after all.

"So, you the little shit who's been pissin' around in my system?" the leader asks as he cracks his knuckles, each in turn, and then finally his neck, beady eyes never straying from Jack while he waits for an answer. "'Cause, if so, we gonna need to have a little chat, you and me and the boys here."

Oh, SHIT.

SHIT, SHIT, SHIT.

This is what he's thinking as the group of thugs who've just managed to decimate his door grab his attention, and it doesn't take Jack long to realize that he's in for it. The impulse to flee starts rushing through his veins like a massive tidal wave, but he doesn't. Instead, he swallows hard, rising from his seat at his desktop to gape at the criminals in front of him.

In all his years of prying, this has never happened to him before.

"Wait, just hold on a second!" The flash drive is still in his hand, and his left palm is sent flying towards the burly fellas as if to erect some imaginary wall between them.

It's a wonder he's not hyperventilating, but then again, that's really not Jack's style. Two seconds later, he manages to compose himself well enough to come up with an answer. And it's not particularly flattering.

"You calling me a little shit won't change the fact that your security system sucks, brah. If I were you, I'd switch the formula around. Also, your encryption could use a little work too." There, he admits it. These guys probably don't want his advice, but he's giving it to them anyway. "What do you want from me?"

The leader snaps his fingers with a slight jerk of his head towards Jack, and the nearest thug crosses the room in two broad steps in order to force the boy back into his chair by bending his arm painfully back behind him. It isn't broken… yet. But the implied threat is there, how easy it would be for this thug to apply a fraction of an ounce more pressure and snap the bone clean in two.

"So, now that we're clear who's the boss here…" the leader begins in a relaxed and easy tone of voice as he saunters further into the room, idly picking up one of Jack's books and then tossing it to the floor after giving it a disdainful look. "This is the part where usually you're gonna wanna beg for your life, brah. But then, maybe he doesn't like his life so much," the man muses, looking to another of his lackeys with a shrug that seems to say, 'Kids these days.' "Of course, then I gotta start wonderin' what it is you do care about…" he continues in a calm yet menacing way as he turns his attention back to Jack.

"Nnnngh!" That's all the response this crimeboss is going to get for now, what with his arms bent back behind him. He's not going to start crying, but it hurts like hell. Jack also may be ballsy, but he's not so stupid as to challenge a hardened criminal and his gang of lackeys to do anything that would endanger his life.

And more importantly, the people that he cares about.

The timing couldn't have been more perfect.

Right then, his landline starts to ring, and it goes straight to voicemail: "This is Jack, I'll get back to you soon."

BEEP.

"Jack? Honey? Are you there? It's Mom. Just wanted to check up on you, Sweetie! Haven't heard back from you since you moved out. I know I've been working really late at the station, but call me back so we can chat. I'll speak to you later!"

BEEP.

"Dammit!" Jack curses, as he's held back by the burly thug, and with the hold this guy has, he can't do much, unless he wants to break both of his arms. Apprehensively, the hacker turns his head slightly back to stare at the leader. If he wasn't as frightened earlier, he sure is now.

"Not keepin' in touch with mom? Not good to make her worry like that, y'know. She sounds like a nice lady too. Maybe me and a few of the boys, we could keep her company, make sure she don't get lonely now that you've moved out," the leader offers, clearly enjoying himself now that he can see he has Jack on the ropes. He picks up another book and idly flips through it before tossing it onto the floor as well.

"But maybe there's another option, where it don't gotta be like that. Would you like that kid? Another option? Me, I like options." He's a chatty sonuvabitch when he gets going, but now he pauses, eyeballing Jack again while he waits for a response, refusing to reveal this mysterious new option until he gets an answer.

"You stay the hell away from her," Jack's voice all but cracks in response, and it's obvious he'll be willing to do anything to keep these guys away from the only family he has. "I'll do whatever you ask, but just stay the hell away from her, okay?"

It's not the most pleasant thing, being forced to sit, but had he been standing up, his legs probably would have felt like jello anyway. Those books not being in perfect order? It's the last thing he's going to be worrying about.

The leader considers this voice-breaking sincerity for the space of a few moments, idly rubbing at the back of his neck. "Now, see, that's better. We got us a dialogue goin'," he commends with an approving nod. "As it happens, I maybe got a job for a punk like you. You help me out and, well, maybe I forget how you came sniffin' 'round some place you shouldn't be sniffin' around."

Another book and then another get added to the pile on the floor, which then gets tromped on as the leader approaches on Jack. "So, here's what we're gonna do. I'm gonna give you an address and one week to get together whatever shit it is you need to do this … stuff that you do," the man explains, waving a vague hand towards the computer. "You show up, you do the job, we all forget this ever happened. Otherwise, well. I'm gonna have to destroy you, startin' with her." He nods towards the answering machine. "We got a deal, kid?"

The young hacker clenches his jaw as he's addressed, and he nods in agreement to the deal. "If you give me all of your information now, I…I can start tonight." If there's one thing anyone can give Jack credit for, it's his unwavering sense of concentration. After all, he wasn't called Ritalin back then for nothing.

"Now, can I please move my arms? I'm going to need both my hands to do all of this work for you."

"Either way, you got a week," the leader acquiesces, nodding to his minion to release the boy. But even as Jack is given full use of his arms back, the leader approaches on him again. "But you fuck this up," he notes, pointing at Jack, his hand right in the teen's face, "And we're gonna break your fingers after we say hi to your mom. Then maybe we'll let you try again, yeah?"

"You try'n tell someone, the cops, your babysitter, whatever… You try'n get mommy outta town, some place safe where we can't find her… You try to dick me in any way… And I will end you." Letting that hang in the air, the man finally moves back out of Jack's personal space, telling one of his minions to get the information for the hacker.

Jack massages his wrists and elbows while Mr. Bossman gives him a verbal thrashing. Is he being attentive? How can he not, what with the finger pointing straight at him, just inches from his face. "I hear you, man. No jackin around, I swear." Once he's done rubbing his sore arms, he raises both hands in the air, in earnest.

And despite the fact that he really should be pissing in his pants by now, the whole idea of a challenge sends a small thrill down his spine. Isn't this what he lived for? After all? Out of curiosity, Jack watches one of the minions carefully as he goes to retrieve the information.

And the leader seems satisfied that Jack has taken the warning to heart, enough that he goes back to his more chatty, personable manner. "Good then. Glad we got some understandin' between us. Some of my boys, y'know, they're kinda thick. But you, I know you're bright enough to get it," he assures Jack, unconcerned about insulting 'his boys' right in front of them.

After a few moments, a few of the boys return with the information, which, in proper protocol, gets handed first to their leader, so that he can hand it over to Jack. The large manilla envelope contains some tech details like IP addresses and traceroutes that dead-end, as well as a few notes from Jack's predecessor, whoever he was. All in all, though, there isn't a whole lot to start with. Jack will have his work cut out for him.

Hanging out with Lawrence during all of his younger years couldn't have prepared him for what he's about to see. As he extracts the hardcopy from the large envelope, Jack squints, reading the details in silence and noting the trace routes that lead to absolutely nothing. His predecessor may as well be dead by now. That's his guess. "Alright." Looks like he won't be sleeping tonight. Or tomorrow, for that matter. "Whoever these guys are, they're not just some script kiddies straight outta Programming 101. From the looks of it, they might be using the same kind of technology used to safeguard all of the secrets in the Pentagon, if not better." Not that any of these guys give a shit, and Jack is well aware of that. "Ok, is this all that I have access to? Can you please tell me a little bit more about these dudes, or is all of that supposed to be confidential?"

Surely enough, the fact that the job is hard does not seem to elicit much but a slow, unconcerned blink from the leader. "If it was easy, the first punk woulda got it done," he points out with a shrug, cracking his knuckles again, but this time in an idle rather than deliberately menacing fashion.

"You can have access to all the information you find out, so long as you make sure'n pass it along to me. But all you need to know right now is these assholes are steppin' into the wrong territory and need to be taught a lesson. They're bad guys, but we're badder. Your job is to get us the information beyond that."

"Understood," Jack responds, flipping the envelope and tucking it safely between his arm and ribcage. "This, er, punk that used to work for you. I'm going to need his computer." Hopefully they didn't destroy that too. "I'm also going to need to know where he lived; he may or may not have stuff that I need, which isn't in his hard drive. That includes discs, flash drives, everything."

"I'm gonna have a couple of my boys parked right there," the leader explains, pointing out the window and presumably at some curb-side parking spot just across the road. "When you're ready to go, you just let 'em know and these nice boys, they'll give you a ride, make sure you get what all you need." He phrases it like a service, but doesn't bother to hide the threat that it really is. "You need anything, these boys'll be there day and night, you just ask. You figure something out, and you need to reach me? They'll help you with that too."

"Uh….thanks man, I really appreciate that." The veiled threat doesn't do much to make him feel better about any of this, but at this point he's beyond feeling scared. There's almost a sense of unrelenting focus coming from Jack, in regards to this task, as he nods. "I'll ask them to, er, escort me out whenever I need to leave." Starting now. "I'm gonna need to head over to the dude's pad," he grabs one of his black laptops, with a seventeen-inch screen, and quickly slips it into a hard leather case, along with some extra batteries and a charger.

"Oh, you don't gotta ask 'em for an escort. You just go 'bout your business gettin' this done, and know we're gonna be there to watch your back," the leader assures him magnanimously. In other words, Jack is not under house arrest, but he's going to be tailed, at the very least.

"Now, boys, you help our new friend here find the way to Jimmy's old pad. I'm sure you remember it," he says with a touch of dark humour. "And me, I'll be seein' you in a week, kid."


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