2011 06 22: Flashing

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Mission report found.

Mission Name: Flashing
Date of Mission: June 22, 2011
Locale: Cafeteria — Division HQ

Alex quizzes Mickey on some homework, with a little help from Argyle.


Alex Argyle Birkhoff Mickey

Another card is flipped and Mickey answers, "It's a thumb drive, uses the," he pauses, "Wait, don't tell me. Um.. USB interface, which stands for universal serial bus. It can store multiple gigabytes of data and is commonly used to courier information. They are a high quality find in any search and should be on the top of any agent's list. The main caution is that I be wary of decoys and honey.. pots? Traps? That contain a virus or Trojan, so I should use a dumb terminal," he recites based on the picture of a USB stick that Alex is holding up.

Mickey and Alex are seated at a table, it's bordering on 'after hours.'

"Good," Alex says with an encouraging smile. "Just don't forget about encryption. Do you remember what we learned about breaking the password?" she prompts, not really looking at the back of the card as she waits for Mickey's response. Instead, her attention shifts to give a quick glance around the cafeteria before returning to her fellow recruit as she awaits his answer. She sets the flashcard down flat on the table, image side up.

Fun with Flashcards. Aw. Look at the recruits. Argyle enters and grabs a tray. He watches the two out of the corner of his eye as he fills his tray up with whatever is still left and edible at this hour. He ends up with a weird assortment of food including a fruit cup, a questionable pudding, a V8 juice, a thing of coleslaw and an egg salad sandwich. He sets his tray down on the table next to the one the pair of them are at. "Also, be careful of magnets. A recruit on his test mission once fried the thumb drive he worked so hard to steal with a magnet. Ours are shielded. That one was one of the cheapo ones companies give away."

Mickey rattles his fingers on the table a few times and glances at the picture, trying to remember passwords. "A password can be broken multiple ways; software exploits, brute force attacks, or dictionary attacks. Encryption is the process by which data is, complicated?" he asks, and before she can answer or correct him, "Using an um.. algorithm, like a mathematical equation, that you feed the data in one end, and it comes out the other as something more or less complex. A password causes the data to be fed back through the encryption algorithm and to be displayed in a usable format." He is so intently focusing on remembering that he doesn't even notice Argyle until he speaks at which point Mickey looks up and says, "Oh God, more stuff to remember. No magnets, no magnets, no magnets," he repeats a few times, staring at the picture in front of Alex. "Thanks," he pauses to look at Argyle for a moment before he continues, "Sir." Guessing at rank and status, and settling for something roundabout.

Alex does open her mouth to say something, but since Mickey keeps going, she holds her tongue and lets him finish. Not concentrating as intently as he is, she notices Argyle's approach and offers a nod of greeting. "Good," she offers again to Mickey, nodding approvingly. "You're really starting to get this." Argyle's tale about the poor recruit is met with a wince. "Yeah, computers and magnets don't mix well, that's a good one to remember." She picks up the flashcard and tucks it behind the pack, setting down the next one in its place. Giving Mickey a few moments to look at it, she glances again to the weapons expert. "Late dinner?" she guesses.

"Don't let Birkhoff see you using paper flash cards instead of his fancy flash card program. Or do, if you want to see him make a face like he's constipated." The thought seems to please Argyle. Poor Birkhoff. Division's whipping boy. He pops open the plastic top on the wedge sandwich and gives it an experimental sniff. It seems to be palatable enough, because he takes a bite. After he's swallowed, he says to Alex, "Mmmhmm. I haven't had regular breakfast, lunches and dinners since I was a recruit. I graduated, but I was still here all the time. To feel less like a recruit, I started taking irregular meals. Guess it stuck." He nods towards Mickey. "You can call me sir if you want, but I'm not going to make you drop and give me fifty if you don't. Marcus Argyle."

"Portable hard drive, similar to a thumb drive, just larger. Higher storage capacity, up to and over a terabyte. Can include denser encryption, but is harder to conceal. Requires power from the CPU, and usually gets this through USB, Firewire or.. something? Or is that it?" Mickey questions and stares at the card, trying to recognize the interfaces on the cards. "Other than that," he goes on, "I think they're going to read pretty similar to a hard drive. High priority target, often containing valuable intel, etc." At Marcus' introduction, he looks over and smiles and it has to occur to Marcus that fifty push-ups looks about as daunting to a kid with Mickey's build as being told to breathe regularly. He probably does push-ups for fun. "Nice to meet you Marcus, I'm Mickey," he replies and offers a hand the size of a small dinner plate.

Alex also seems a little tempted at the idea of getting Birkhoff to make that face, but she has been toning down the attitude lately so she just smiles at it and refrains from commenting outright. "Hard to use the program in our dorm when they won't let us have anything with a hard drive," she points out instead, shrugging a shoulder. Looking back to Mickey, she nods at each of his comments. "Thunderbolt is going to revolutionize the industry, according to this thing I just read, but Firewire and USB are the main ones," she confirms. Swapping the card out for the next one, she turns to Argyle again and nods. "Makes sense, I guess. Do as much on your own terms as you can."

"Most people call me Argyle," he replies as he shakes Mickey's hand. "When I was a recruit, there was already another Marcus, and a Mark. It saved confusion, and I guess that stuck too. You don't want to be confused about who's talking to you in the middle of a firefight." He's the guy that oversees weapons training for the recruits and works in the high-security weapons research lab off the training lab. He's not a small guy either. He glances to Alex. "You been practicing with your pistol? I don't want to see your shoulder dropping at our next session. Or I'm breaking out the tape."

The card simply reads; GREP. "The um.. grep command is used to search files for a string. So like, grep Alex's hairstyling guide' would pull up something on Amanda's computer, I'm sure," Mickey jokes lightly and seems to be thinking back to what else might be on the card. "It stands for, global regular ex," he pauses and tries to remember, "Expression? Print. The print being not for a printer," he clarifies as if this is something he has been told, /repeatedly/. "It's the command that tells the 'nix box' to send it to the outthrough," he answers, "Throughput," he thinks, "Output." A quick nod is given towards Argyle then, and Mickey nods his head, "Argyle. Not to offend, sir," he tacks that sir on there just so that its clear that he isn't saying this to piss Marcus off, "But I'd just be glad they didn't call you sweater man."

Alex makes a face at the mention of Amanda — or maybe it's at the reminder of being tortured in front of the mirror during hairstyling sessions. "I don't think she needs a computer program for that," she girl says dryly, as she idly taps the cards on the table, straightening out the ones in her hands. "Output, right. And what if it has a 'dash-v' after it? Do you remember what that does?" She reaches out, tapping the card just after the word, like she's indicating where the character would be. "I've been practicing," she assures Argyle, turning to him with an innocent look. "You don't need to get the tape."

"My nickname's Socks." And from the looks of things, Argyle doesn't seem to mind it. But then again, he's not really the kind of guy who you'd give an unwanted nickname to. For a guy who works with heavy machinery, he's got a reputation for an even temper. Which is why he teaches the newbies. All the quizzing makes him gloss over. "You want to know a secret?" He leans in conspiratorily, "…most of this stuff will never come up. They keep the hardcore tech stuff with the techs. But it is good to know it so you don't look like an idiot in mission briefings." Sounds like the voice of experience.

Mickey takes a deep breath and leaning forward, brings his fingers up to his temples and seems to be trying to envision the character springing into being behind the word. The dash, okay, he has that, now the V. What does the V do. Veto, vox, vorpal, vex, vote; nothing seems to click with what the letter might mean and he shakes his head, "I don't remember. I know that it modifies the um.. command?" he goes on and looks over at Socks. Oh yeah, that just made Mickey's day. "Awesome," he tells Argyle with a smile and goes back to looking at the word, "What does it do?"

"Yeah, I don't think that argument gets you very far with Birkhoff either," Alex notes. "He seems to think everyone should know this stuff as well as he does." Looking back to Mickey, she removes her finger from the card, letting him have a moment to think. "It turns the command around. Every line without that string. You can use the same regular expressions," she explains, sliding the card off the table to put it back in the stack. "It's good to know we can go ahead and forget a lot of it afterwards though," she muses, as she sets out the next card.

"All the agents have a God Complex of one degree or another. Birkhoff just wears his out in the open." As they've been talking, Argyle's been ploughing through his mismatched dinner pretty well. He stands and starts to speak, "Well, I had…augh…" He drops back down to the bench and cradles his forehead with his hands. There's a vein suddenly throbbing in his forehead and he's gone pale.

"Right, it turns it around," Mickey replies and seeing the next word, spills technical details and nods over towards Argyle. "I wonder if they hand those out when you graduate?" he asks and looks over towards Alex as if to indicate they've won some sort of prize with a brand new God complex. "Hey, you alright man? You need anything?" he asks and stands up immediately, looking towards the weapons instructor. It isn't beyond possibility the guy has been poisoned or something, one might suppose.

Alex nods as Mickey works through the next card, having little to correct him on there. "Must be. I know none of us recruits have anything like that," she says a touch wryly, making it hard to tell whether or not she's sincere. Before she can elaborate, she's distracted by Argyle's sudden … something. "Yeah, are you okay?" she asks, as she pivots on the bench, not quite leaping to her feet, but ready to stand quickly if she needs to. She glances around at the rest of the room as though there might be some clue there.

Argyle stays seized up and bent over for a good minute or two. He calms his breathing and coughs, then slumps back into his seat for a moment. "I'll be fine. I'll…I'm just gonna go to medical. Keep flashing. Keep flashing." And he flashes a smile in hopes of allaying concern. "It's nothing to be concerned about." After a second to compose himself, he gets back to his feet.

When Argyle begins to get up, Mickey takes him at face value and resumes his seat. "See you later Socks," he calls after the man and then looks towards Alex and flashes her a broad smile. "They must be testing some sort of weird no mind control device on him," he jokes as he looks at the next device and begins to describe the usage of another piece of techno jargon. Even as he describes, his mind goes elsewhere and he finds himself looking up at her. He then asks, "Who did you have in mind when you said that?" and narrows his eyes a little. Surely she doesn't think /he/ has a god complex.

"If you're sure…" Alex replies, still looking a bit concerned, despite the assurances. She watches the instructor for a long moment, slower to turn her attention back to the cards than Mickey is. When she realizes her fellow recruit is starting to recite off the next answer, however, she swings her legs back under the table, turning to face Mickey, with one last look back to Argyle. To Mickey's question, she gives a faint smile and shakes her head. "No one in particular."

To his credit, Argyle moves out under his own power and without too much stumbling. He does leave his food carnage behind, and the two recruits don't get another goodbye. Then he disappears from view.

Alex and Mickey are in the middle of doing flashcards on various pieces of technology, it's later in the evening, well after many recruits have crashed for the day. The big teenager is returning focus from Argyles departure, and begins anew, he reads the word, rather than recognizing the picture, "Bluetooth," he searches for the definition, "Bluetooth is a standard of communication over short wave um.. radio? That is accessible in a limited radius. They create a network called a," he spends a long moment searching again and comes out with, "PAN? Personal Access Network?" he then thinks about that and seems to wonder if he got that right. Seeing as Argyle has left a cornucopia of food behind, he reaches over and picks up the departed instructor's tray to begin scrounging.

"PAN. Right," Alex confirms with a nod, as she idly plays with the corner of the paper cards — paper cards on technology, that's right. "Do you remember what type of spectrum it uses?" she prompts helpfully, looking down at the image of the device without really needing to. After a moment, she spares another glance towards the doorway, but since Argyle is gone, her curiosity must remain unsatisfied for now. Looking back to Mickey, she can't help but grin a bit when she catches him scrounging.

Birkhoff practically bounds into the cafeteria like a giddy teenager who just got off the phone with their best friend Becky who had oh my god the best gossip of the day. "I'm gonna get you, bitch…" He mutters to no one in particular before he realizes that he's not alone. He looks like he's been caught doing something red-handed for the briefest of moments before he edges toward the food laying on the table and eyes Alex and Mickey. "Does that belong to either of you? I'm starved." He stares down at the flashcards for a minute, his expression teetering on indecisiveness and approval. In the end, he goes with indeciveness and watches the two a little more careful. There's still a dangerous glint in his eyes that says he's been up to something.

"Yeah, it's mine," Mickey replies and seems to think about it. But, there is a look of someone who recognizes a fellow gourmand and so he does offer, "But you can share, assuming my plebeian germs don't offend." Even as he answers, he finds his eyes inevitably drawn back towards Alex and he asks, "Didn't I say short-wave radio? Isn't that right?" and he seems to be trying to remember what else he might need to say. "I don't know what other spectrum you'd be referring to, is it long-wave? Gamma wave?" he starts throwing random answers out there as confusion starts to rattle around between lobes.

Alex regards the giddy Birkhoff with something between suspicion and curiosity. Her eyebrows lift ever so slightly, and when she looks back to the flashcard, her whole attention isn't quite so fully on it. "Radio frequency using a frequency-hopping spread spectrum," she replies as she sits back on the bench, giving a little stretch. She doesn't bother with further follow-up questions on the technology, but glances again to Birkhoff, this time to see if he's going to add anything before she swaps out the cards.

If they are wrong in any way, Birkhoff doesn't correct them. It would seem he's out of his instructor-nazi bent tonight and more focused on something else. "Everyone here is a pleb," he responds to Mickey before reaching out for some of the food and munching at it quietly. He doesn't say anything for a long few moments before suddenly he remembers something and reaches into his pocket, pulling out a cell phone, setting it on the table in front of Mickey. "That's for you. Since you're about to go out and all, you'll need it. It's not activated yet but it will be when you and Crewe do your stuff. You'll get to keep it if you do well." Birkhoff says to him, while glancing over at Alex. "I got the apartment ready for you, by the way. I think you'll be pleased."

"Frequency-hopping spread spectrum," Mickey repeats back and can be heard to mantra that away into his memory, saying it a few times quietly before he nods towards Alex and draws his tray away from the King Nerd slightly. "You looking for someone, Birkhoff?" he asks, turning his head slightly while Alex switches to another card. Looking at the phone in his hands, he nods a few times and makes a mental note to practice a bit with it later. Get a feel for the menus. Something he has been doing anyhow with some of the practice equipment they work with in the lab. "Does it do anything shiny?" he asks, looking at the man. Back to Alex, he smirks at the comment about the bachelor pad and goes on, this piece of hardware isn't actually computer related, just technical, "A parabolic microphone," he intones and begins to list out some of the operational behaviors and uses, as listed on the back.

"Right," Alex confirms with a nod as Mickey repeats the term. While he chants it a few more times, she spares another look for Birkhoff, keeping her expression casual, especially when Mickey asks the question and saves her from having to nose about. Since the head tech seems to have no comment on their studying, she just moves to the next card, putting the Bluetooth one at the back of the ones in her hand, and setting its replacement on the table with slow, deliberate movements. Mickey's cell phone gets a glance before the girl looks back to Birkhoff again. "As long as it's got windows, it'll be a nice change. When can I go see it?"

"Tomorrow." Birkhoff answers Alex. He reaches into his pocket and takes out a set of keys, sliding them to her. "You're probably going to have to have a plain clothes guard with you, but after that, it should be smooth sailing." He shakes his head when Mickey asks if he's looking for someone, looking over the two recruits as they study. "It doesn't do anything except for let you receive calls from headquarters and make them if necessary. My advice to you is to answer the phone immediately every time it rings. The men upstairs don't like to be kept waiting when they're calling."

"I think yours is a bit cooler than mine, I'm looking forward to getting the rest of our equipment, but thanks for this Birkhoff, I'll use it to practice not looking like a complete techno-scrub," Mickey comments idly and slips it into his hoody's pocket. Looking back to Alex then, he leans forward and stares at the word; CHMOD, "It's um.. used to change, moddddd," he draws it out trying to think of the word that begins with mod, "Mode-ray-TOR! Permissions?" Even after he asks, he reaches up and rubs at the bridge of his nose a few times and seems to be trying to push a head-ache out of his skull.

"Cool," Alex says with a relaxed sort of expression, downplaying the thrill of getting apartment keys and a little bit more freedom, if only for a short while. Leaning across the table, she sets her hand over the keys and slides them back to her. After holding them up to give them a quick look, she tucks them away in the pocket of her cargo pants. "Yeah, I know. Can't go anywhere unsupervised," she replies in a flat tone, fighting the urge to roll her eyes. As Mickey goes on answering the next card, she glances down at it and then nods to him. "What's 777 do?"

Birkhoff shrugs his shoulders at Alex. "They're not my rules." He puts his hands back in his pockets and slumps to one side as he continues to watch the two practice their flashcards, almost watching like one would a particularly riveting game of chess or tennis. "Techno-scrub?" Birkhoff asks, brows raising. "That's a new one on me. If you've ever used a cell phone before, it's, uh, not that tricky. I'm sure you'll do fine." Birkhoff's very special student gets a once over before he shakes his head and returns to watching them call out tech terms to each other.

"777?" Mickey replies back and looks like a deer in the head-lights. "It," he begins, knowing that his sentence will begin with some sort of identifying pronoun. A pause then, as he considers the options, "Changes the permissions on the file so that," he pauses again, "Only the operator can access the file?" he is completely guessing there at the end and it shows. "I've used a cell phone before, I just really only used it to dial my contacts. But you know, I should learn to use the other stuff, like the uh.. calendar and," he pauses, "Camera?"

"I know," Alex replies to Birkhoff. "Just annoying. But I get why." She lets out a slow breath as she looks down at the card again, waiting for Mickey to answer her extra-credit question. "7 is 'read, write, execute', and you've got three of them," she points out, trying to lead him to the answer instead of just spitting it out. She listens as the two discuss the matter of Mickey's new cell phone, but she doesn't really have much to add there.

"Really, Mickey. Trial and error with that thing. Unless you drop it into water or throw it against the wall, it's not going to break. And I'll let you in on a secret: it's replaceable. I trust you." Birkhoff makes a face that suggests he's going to eat his words, reaching up to tussle his messy locks. "You shouldn't need the camera, honestly." After all, Mickey is going in as muscle, right? There's no way that he's going to need to document anything… "If you want to live badly enough, Alex, you learn to live with the rules and restrictions. You know how on contest forms there's that caveat, 'rules and restrictions may apply'? Yeah, they do."

"So, three sevens would be for the three permission groups," Mickey recalls at Alex's prompting and goes on, "777 would indicate the permission for owners, groups and others to read, write and execute on the file." That said, he breathes a palpable sigh of relief once he knows he has it right and nods a quick nod towards Birkhoff. Trust. That's a strange word to hear inside Division, surely he means, 'I trust that you know that you'll be killed if you behave like a dumbass, Mickey,' but it's nice to hear. A look then towards Alex and he indicates the next card with a smile.

"I know," Alex replies, trying to remain pleasant like Amanda has no doubt been instructing her, but a bit of tension starting to show in her smile. "Rules and restrictions are fine. I get it, I do. I just want to get this done so I can, I don't know, get a gold star or whatever. If the guard is part of that, then okay." It takes her a moment to realize Mickey is prompting her for the next card, and she goes ahead and swaps them out, adding, "Right. Open permissions for everyone." There's a pause and then — considering the other conversation — she can't quite help but snark, "Ironic."

The next card reads: "IM," and Mickey actually /thinks/ about the answer. Why? Because he has never used an instant messenger in his life. "Instant messages. Messages conveyed across a variety of ports," he pauses to make sure that part is correct, "Depending on the protocol and the program, but which sends brief bits of communication. It started as text, but now includes pictures and other stuff, like video, right? Is that still an IM?" he queries and looks between Alex and Birkhoff. A moment later, he resumes, "There are forms of secure messaging through a secure shell protocol, and even means to communicate between routes," he pauses, "Routers. Which might be called instant messages, but are instead created using shaped packets."

Birkhoff looks at Alex with some amusement, shaking his head at her. She'll never learn to keep her mouth shut, obviously. Not that he seems too concerned with it at the moment. He turns to look at them both before reaching up to rub at his eyes a little bit, even though he doesn't look sleepy in the least. "You guys keep studying. Good job so far." A compliment and everything. He must really be in good spirits tonight. "See you later." Birkhoff heads for the door unceremoniously.

"Instant message, right," Alex confirms, quicker to swap the cards this time — for some reason, she doesn't feel like lingering on this particular one, but them IMs are pretty basic stuff, right? She tries to pointedly ignore Birkhoff's amused look too, but she is only too aware of it, really. When he compliments their work instead of finding something to complain about it, she does finally give him an odd look, watching him depart. The flash cards are again momentarily forgotten as she mulls over that particular weirdness.

"Peace," Mickey throws towards the departing Birkhoff, raising two fingers in the air before he looks back towards his more attractive instructor. Leaning his head forward again, he stares at the next card, but when she lingers a bit, he notices it and points out, "I think he likes that I don't try to pretend that I know more than I do, and that I try without being a shit about it. Oh, and I acknowledge his expertise. People like it when you acknowledge that they're good at something." As if that explains why Birkhoff always seems to try to support his attempts to learn. It does for him anyway. "Do you want to do some of yours now?" he asks.

"Hmm? Oh, yeah. Right," Alex replies, looking back to Mickey and perhaps not seeming entirely convinced that things are so easy to explain away. "Maybe. I guess it's good if he likes you." She gives a small smile with that and then stretches again. "Actually, it's getting pretty late. Raincheck?" she asks as she starts gathering up the cards to offer them back to Mickey. "You're getting really good with these. You won't need my help much longer," she adds as she holds out the cards to him.

Rising to his feet with her, Mickey picks up Argyle's remainder tray and walks with her, diverting only for a moment to dispose of the food left there. He then takes the cards from Alex and asks, "You heading back to the dorms then?"

Alex considers the question for just the briefest of moments before nodding. "Yeah, I think we'd better. Before curfew. Wouldn't want to get in trouble," she points out as she moves away from the table and begins heading at a casual pace for the hall. "Besides, it'll give you a chance to play with your new toy," she adds in a lighter tone.


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