IC 7 - Marrakech - Day 1

Gatac 2019-05-24 17:49:07
"A locking closet is the best answer I have right now," Operations suggests. "I'll go share the good news with them. In the meantime, think of something that'll actually hold them when we're not watching. "

As Operations wanders off, Alira motions for Blake and Mason to approach. Looking around to make sure that nobody else is watching them, she pulls out her phone.

"So, since Jessica dropped her name, I reached out to some friends," Alira explains quietly. "I have a source says he has a line on her...but he wants to meet face to face. Didn't respond yet. What do I tell him?"
Gatac 2019-05-24 17:52:37
"There's the rub, he's in 'straya," Alira says. "Can't bloody well ask him to fly out all the way here without...the right kinda motivation." She looks over to Operations. "And that's our checkbook over there."
punkey 2019-05-24 17:54:01
"Did he say why he wants one of you to fly halfway around the world for something that's too sensitive for an encrypted chat?" Mason asks.
Gatac 2019-05-24 17:58:39
"Because he's a paranoid, powertripping little bastard of an informant and getting us to jump his hoops is how he gets his jollies, I think," Alira says, disgust obvious in her voice. "But I haven't known him to lead me on. Intel's usually solid as, just the man I could do without." She takes a breath. "Screw him. I'll see if literally anyone else responds instead."
Gatac 2019-05-29 17:27:14
"I don't think it is," Alira comments, "but it's best to listen to our tummy, I reckon. No iffy deals. I'll find another source."
Gatac 2019-06-02 16:41:05
With the question of a source on "Jessica Spiner" resolved for the moment, the inevitable happens: a bit of downtime. It's quiet and relaxed enough that the music coming from the resort bar's speakers is actually noticeable again. There seems to be quite the discussion between Operations and Laith, wrap-up time TBD. On the other hand, Clayton and his team are still sitting at the table, watching the last few ice cubes in their otherwise empty plastic cups melt. They're not making any moves to escape, but they do seem to be tired of waiting on word about when they'll be shipped off to CONUS. Lamb in particular looks like a nervous wreck, fidgeting in place, while Clayton taps his fingers on the table - and looks up to meet Mason's gaze. Mason had been chewing over the idea of what to do with the Clayton and his merry band of trouble for a few minutes. His first idea was a bad one, so that got pushed to the side - but then all his other ideas were worse. That didn't make the first idea a good one though, so the search went on, but nothing better than that first bad idea.

Finally, he sighs and looks over to Operations. "Boss, I got a bad idea," Mason says.
Operations stops her chat with Laith and turns in her chair, leaning over the backrest. "Let's hear it," she says.
"I want to put them to work," Mason says.
"I assume you don't mean as live-in maids," Operations says. "I also assume you will offer to let them walk away as an incentive."
"If they're extra-good, maybe," Mason says. "A good word with the AUSA, if nothing else."
"One's worth a crap in my hand, the other's disobeying direct orders...even if they are extremely half-assed orders," Operations says. "What's extra-good in your book? What do you want to do with them?"
"We're short-handed since Hamburg," Mason says. "And we could use backup on the Fractal deal that they won't see coming."
Operations ponders that for a moment. "We could," she says. "Go ahead and feel them out, but stick to SOP. No promises. If they run off, you're on lost puppy duty."

Mason nods, stands up, and drags his chair over to the group.

"So, I figure you guys are thinking about what's next." He sits down, the back of the chair facing them.
"Yeah," Elroy says. "Frap, house lemonade, whatever Drav's having -"
"Sweet iced tea," Walker says.
"What's the word, Sir?" Clayton says. "Do we have time for another round before we get stuffed into diplomatic pouches?"
"That's the open question," Mason says. "Given that you all just got fired by your previous employer, and would probably like to avoid an extended stay in a Supermax, your future's looking a little bleak at the moment." He crosses his arms and rests them on the top of his chair. "How'd you like some help with that?"
"Go on," Clayton says. Walker's trying to play it cool but he's listening. Lamb is, of course, all ears. Elroy's got his head turned but you're pretty sure he's paying attention, too.
"I'm sure you've noticed we're down a couple from when we met in Amsterdam," Mason says. "We could use the extra backup. You guys aren't bad at what you do, you just need better direction. The deal is, you help us out, we do what we can to make your future look more like an ankle bracelet than The Shawshank Redemption. Plus, you're not stupid, you know that Khoury and his friends are up to some serious shit. Let me confirm that we are fighting some very bad people, and that this is a no-shit 'saving the world' mission. Plus, you guys made out all right, pride aside. No harm, no foul, just don't grab a flashbang next time."

Mason clears his throat and leans back.

"The catch is, we don't give you shit until we're out of the country," he says. "You fuck us, the CIA knows your names and makes you public enemy number one for every security apparatus in the world, and you're stranded in North Africa with no IDs, no money, and no way out. Plus, terrorists start World War 3 and you have that on your shoulders until the day you die, which probably won't be long after you fuck us." He taps his fingers on his chair. "That's the deal."
"Guys?" Clayton asks.
"Sounds good," Walker says.
"...yeah, sure," Elroy adds.
Lamb says nothing.
"Dana, we got a crossroads type deal here," Clayton says. "Would appreciate your input."
"...I want a pardon," Lamb says. "We do this and we come through for you, I want a full pardon."
"You can ask," Mason says. "But unless you got a prosecutor in your pocket, there's no one here to make a deal with. This isn't the kind of situation where you get a handshake and a written agreement that everything's going to be okay. This is the kind of situation where you take the shit you're in, make a sandwich out of it, and take a bite."
"Fuck," Lamb mutters.
"Grow a fucking pair already," Elroy says.
"Hey!" Clayton interrupts. "I'm not having this kind of shit in my team. This is serious. Right now is the exact fucking time to talk about this. Hooah?"
"...hooah," Elroy confirms. "Just saying, man, it's obvious we gotta do this."
"It's not," Walker cuts in. "We've taken plenty of risks. There's nothing wrong with wanting a sure thing. The problem is that there's no sure thing on the table." He looks at Lamb. "When was the last time you think we made the right choice?"
Lamb looks down and swallows hard. "...I don't know," he admits. "I just...I want to..."
"Get the best possible shit sandwich? Yeah, that's the most natural thing in the world," Clayton says. "Still, I'm gonna need a yes or no from you."
"Yes," Lamb says quietly.
Clayton looks back to Mason. "Looks like you've just hired us, Sir."
"Good deal," Mason says. He turns around and gives Operations a nod. "Then let's get the fuck out of here. We've got an asshole to snatch and grab."
Gatac 2019-06-23 09:21:52
Laith pulls you together for a quick intel update.

---

Marrakech Air Show

Biennial air show featuring mostly North African and Western European participants, but with a long-standing ties to the US as well. While the show runs for the better part of a week, the actual demonstration flights take place on a single public day and are projected to draw a crowd of several thousand spectators. Aerobatics demonstrations aside, this is also a decently big trade show for professional visitors looking to conclude technology deals. Prince Khoury has his hands in both sides of the event, being both an avid spectator of the flying demonstrations and an important envoy to military representatives and arms dealers. The trade show part does not make allowances for journalist visitors, requiring registration as either an expositor or contractor representative for a company. Most business deals are initiated at pre-booked meetings and then concluded off-site. Long story short, while we might be able to register last-minute as professional visitors, there's no legit way into any of Khoury's meetings for us.

What the CIA wants us to do is instead enter the air show's demonstration half, disguised as Marine ground crew. Khoury likes to dress in his flight suit and get pictures with the crews of foreign fighter jets, so this is seen as a prime opportunity to get close to him and bug him while he's distracted and his bodyguards are away from him. However, it'll still be in broad daylight inside a military security area, making any overt action here difficult.

La Maison Arabe

A venerable restaurant and (more recently) five-star hotel in the heart of Marrakech's market district. Boasts some of the finest dining in the city and is no slouch at the other amenities, either. Khoury's a repeat customer here, taking the royal suite for himself and at least three more suites for his bodyguard and assistants. The hotel's small size and upscale clientèle complicate infiltration, though there are no unusual security measures taken by the hotel itself. Although the compound was extensively rebuilt to open the hotel, only the builders know what lies underneath. Considering the age of the structures involved and the hotel's placement in the middle of a souk, we can assume that there are more ways into and out of the building than the front door.
punkey 2019-06-23 10:10:38
Mason looks over the background docs on Khoury's next 24 hours. "Looks to me like the play is bug him at the airport and follow him back to the hotel. We all spread out at the airshow, blend in, and then either Operations, Blake, or myself drop the bug."
skullandscythe 2019-06-25 03:13:25
Blake grunts. Marine crew is something we can work with. "That's all Spook Central wants? Bug Khoury?"

Gatac 2019-06-26 05:35:43
"I doubt it's all they want," Laith comments, looking to Operations, "but those are the orders." He leaves that hanging.
"You got a theory?" Operations asks.
"Yeah," Laith says. "What if the retrieval team that's too busy for getting Clayton's men is already here to do whatever the CIA wants done to Khoury and this is just busy work to keep us on a shorter leash while they do it?"
Gatac 2019-06-26 16:03:01
"Whatever the real game is," Operations says, "we're playing along still. We'll show up, blend in and do the job, assuming we'll get the opportunity to do it by the book. You boys feel free to cover contingencies, though. We do have four new pieces on the board and I want to see them put to use. Idle hands are the devil's playthings after all."