2011 06 22: To Catch A Predator

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Mission report found.

Mission Name: To Catch A Predator
Date of Mission: June 22, 2011
Locale: N/A

Nikita tries to make Birkhoff fall for an online decoy.

Birkhoff Nikita

Birkhoff has just gotten rid of his last trainees for the night and has settled himself down at a terminal with a pack of Red Bull. It's the only drink he ever really allows himself to partake of near the sensitive keyboards and is most likely what's at the top of his personal food pyramid. He glances both ways before hunkering down and starting up an IM program, checking his friends' list immediately. She's there. Clicking on a name, he types:

BRabbit187: You there?

She's there. Except it's not the she that Birkhoff is imagining. It's not a Computer Science major with a penchant for video games who is impressed by his boasts and not only tolerates his geeky ramblings, but actually /understands/ it. Or at least, she pretends to. No, instead of her, he's got a very unlikely person on the other end of the line: Nikita.

The answer doesn't come right away. She's busy cleaning a rifle and a few sensitive parts need to be secured before she picks up her headset and initializes the chat program.

ElleOElle: You're on early. Little slow. Doing some homework.

BRabbit187: That's cool. School is important, or at least that's what they say. Do anything fun today?

Yeah, Birkhoff is in it deep. Or at least he was. He's beginning to have his suspicions about the person he's talking to. He's believed in one of the cardinal rules of the Internet for a while now — everyone is a man. But now he's suspecting something else. The way his face lights up when she responds isn't as lovesick as it was once.

Nikita is being truthful in a way. If you consider cleaning and performing maintenance on a small arsenal to be homework. But there is an actual purpose to this endeavor. She's not just playing with her old teammate.

ElleOElle: Sorta. I guess. Well, not really. Unless you consider laundry exciting.

In the real world, Nikita snaps a giant cartridge into a dangerous-looking submachine gun.

ElleOElle: How about you? Been working on anything cool?

Birkhoff considers his answer carefully for about point five seconds before he responds.

BRabbit187: Not really. I had to teach a class today. These snot-nosed brats don't appreciate anything these days, you know? It's hard being me. ;)

Nikita can't help but grin a little to herself. Okay. It's time to drop a few more breadcrumbs.

ElleOElle: I bet when you were a student, you were unappreciative. Because you already knew more than them. I bet you hacked their training program just to prove it.

Which is probably true.

Clever girl. Birkhoff shakes his head and tsks. Even he was taught by Amanda. If it's a game this person wants, a game this person will get. He cracks open a Red Bull and takes a long drink from it before responding to 'Elle'.

BRabbit187: Puh-lease. That training program wasn't worth my skill. But you're right. I was unappreciative. I bet you used to be the same way, until you realized, just like I did… that maybe sometimes people can be helpful.

ElleOElle: We feel for the students when we're students. We feel for the teachers when we're teachers. Funny how it never seems to cross that middle line.

This is sounding less like the computer science student with a wry sense of humour, and more like someone he used to know.

ElleOElle: I think we should finally meet. You know, face to face.

BRabbit187: Think so? I don't know. You could be a dude. Let's send pics first. I'll show you mine if you show me yours…

Birkhoff attaches a photo to the file. It's of one of the new recruits. If this person isn't involved with Division somehow, he'll simply watch from afar and stand her up — if he decides to go. And if they are… well, obviously they'll know. "I'm smelling bullshit on this," Birkhoff says to the wide open room as he clicks the 'send' button, shaking his head before shotgunning more of his Red Bull.

ElleOElle: Oh come on. Google Image Search. I'm not even opening that. We can meet in a public place.

Nikita finishes snapping a rifle together and sets it down. Time for another crumb.

ElleOElle: I bet you're blond.

He has two choices now. He can call it in and admit he's got an online girlfriend and get a strike team down to a park possibly for a false alarm. Or he can actually show by himself. Only one of these options will make his mystery girl reveal herself.

BRabbit187: Google Image Search? Please. Give me more credit than that. He's my little cousin. And if you really want to meet so much, pick the time and place.

Birkhoff leans back in his chair and looks at the screen with a bit of annoyance. Decisions, decisions. Having an online girlfriend would probably be some of Birkhoff's least shameful activities since he joined Division.

There's a brief pause. Nikita's got a few locations in mind. It's just determining what he's most likely to go for, and what will keep her safest.

ElleOElle: A bookstore in Greenwich called "Pages." I won't insult you by Googling the address for you. 7 PM.

A small space with obscured views, but public. Multiple exits. A maze of stacks.

BRabbit187: Sounds perfect. I'll be there. But I gotta go now. Gotta finish grading papers. See you then. Can't wait.

Birkhoff logs off before the mystery stranger can get another word in edge wise. "Sometimes I'm a very bad boy," he says to no one in particular before shutting the terminal down and contemplating what he's do for a long few moments in the silent dark.

Nikita is fine with Birkhoff having the last digital word. It means he's more likely to take the bait. She logs off the account and tosses the earpiece down on the table. Ball's in his court. This could be interesting.

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