Episode 5: Party Crashers
Once again we open to the crew around the table in the lounge aboard The Carl. Winston explains how he has sifted through the massive amount of data the crew liberated from the Cortex relay station. Using dates and information supplied by Celeste he has narrowed down communications traffic and file transfers to and from Townsend’s office and home.
Unfortunately it is all encrypted with protocols even more advanced than those Winston worked with in the Navy. The decryption algorithms are stored in physical key devices. Based on the destinations for Townshend’s communiques he’s narrowed down a list of facilities and people that must have the keys that the crew need to make sure Townshend can never hurt Celeste or Zenith again.
One of the few potential key holders that isn’t deep in a military facility is Lukas Thatcher. He operates a Security Consultation firm that provides personal guards and anti-intrusion technology for the Prime Minister’s home and interests that are outside of his official government activities.
Bobbi immediately latches on to the idea of catering Rhonda Thatchers upcoming birthday bonanza. Rhonda is a famous socialite and unlike her secretive and reserved husband she loves entertaining at their mansion.
Dr Yuan-Qi takes Joleen to meet his mother, rightly assuming his well connected family can get them much coveted invitations to Rhonda’s birthday party. The Dowager Yuan-Qi’s only concern is the family name. Provided the doctor is on his best behavior and doesn’t plan to stay on Londinium long she is happy to help. She will even contribute additional resources to his research. She knows this is an excellent motivator her son and often provides large financial returns for the Yuan-Qi family. Upon obtaining the invitations the two crew members begin a classic shopping montage while acquiring appropriate party clothing.
The rest of the crew will be disguised as caterers. They aquire two large vans, filling one with small but powerful speeder bikes for the inevitable get away.
We rejoin our episode during the party. The crew has successfully posed as a catering company, thanks to a fair amount of digital record manipulation.
In between their catering duties they use their sub-vocal communication devices to determine how they’ll handle the targets lack of cooperation. Lukas has not partaken of any of the catered foods, avoiding their attempts to slip him certain chemical compounds. Even worse, he is walking around with an assistant. Joleen is certain the assistant is also reader. Lukas appears to employ readers to safeguard his business and personal interactions, the assistant is examining the surface thoughts of everyone Lukas Thatcher talks to at the party.
M. Tildew has been playing the part of that one caterer who, after the initial setup, is on a permanent smoke break. He’s also watching the guests come and go, keeping an eye on the overall situation.
Joleen and the doctor approach Thatcher. Immediately Yuan-Qi inquires about his pet psychic. Thatcher is only mildly taken aback, quickly realizing that the doctor is in a similar situation. The two readers engage is a brief duel, of sorts. Joleen comes out on top forcing Earnest, the other reader, to blurt out that she is attempting to read his mind. This causes a mild local disruption in conversation amongst the other party goers.
Thatcher dismisses Earnest, telling him to take the rest of the night off and send his replacement down. He then escorts the doctor and Joleen in to an empty sitting room nearby. There he and Dr Yuan-Qi discuss the doctors proposal to trade security services for augmentation to the readers that Lukas’ employs. The doctor takes advantage of their privacy to activate the device hidden in his boutonnière, knocking all three of them out.
Grace, seated in one of the catering vans, witnesses security personnel rushing to the mansion and overhears one say that their bosses vital signs just took a sudden and unexpected dip.
Inside, the guests have become violently ill due to the contaminated food. Valentine has slipped in to the sitting room to swipe the decryption key, worn on a chain around the target’s neck. One nearby guard is nearly to the sitting room door when Bobbi sends a food cart in to him. Earlier, aboard the ship, she had modified the cart for just such a situation, adding breakaway joints to cause it to collapse and lock around someone in a collision. To make it even more difficult for the guard to escape she crafted the jello mold atop the cart to be incredibly slick, preventing any sort of leverage on the tangle of cart pieces.
Valentine is able to escape the sitting room, handing the key off to Graden, the two looking nearly identical thanks to creative makeup and accoutrements. The crew begins to make their way towards the van with the getaway bikes.
Above on the balcony, M spots Mr Murry of The Collectors approaching the building with some of his men. He draws his hidden pistol and fires a single shot in to the small side building that hides the trash receptacles. It goes up in an impressive fireball, thanks to the containers of flammable liquids that he had hidden there earlier. With the distraction in place he tosses a chaise lounge off the balcony and leaps down on to it. After bouncing from the couch to the ground he nearly sticks the landing and runs with a mild limp towards the vans.
With the explosion and the ensuing fire capturing everyone’s attention Grace leaves the driver’s seat of her van to place small magnetic devices on all of the nearby security vehicles. When the transports are started the devices will create localized electro magnetic pulses to disable them.
The kitchen is lit by emergency lights as Bobbi makes her escape. She dons a fire proof suit that they had been left in a pantry for this very moment. Once protected she dives in to the trash chute, slides in to the flaming side building and emerges near the getaway vehicles.
Our heroes then speed away in to the night, to lose any potential pursuit in the nearby city.
Back at what is left of the party the doctor, Joleen, and Thatcher are soaked from the fire suppression system and surrounded by paramedics and security personnel. Dr Yuan-Qi is expressing his skepticism about Thatcher’s competency based on these current events. He also mentions several heirlooms that were stolen from his person during this brazen robbery that he expects compensation for. Murray approaches Thatcher and says that he has a lead on a ship that was likely involved in the debacle.
On the ship Winston explains that they will only get one chance to use the key before the encryption adapts to the breach. They can unlock one of three groups of communiques and data fragments labeled, Miranda, Silverhold, or Waste Management. The crew opts to view the Waste Management collection hoping to find out where all of the bodies are buried, literally and figuratively.
An alert from Winston’s traffic monitoring hack informs them that The Collector’s ship is en route to the docks they are taking refuge in. They have very little time to make an escape. If the authorities and military are brought in on this there is no chance that they will make it off Londinium.