"Agent," Dana said to Jordan, "Find the source of the tap. We're going to need privacy before too long and I don't want to be out there to be any confusion when I get back." Jordan tapped twice on the security door in confirmation. She was pressed against the brick with a man in a monster mask in her sight. The zombie mask was off-putting but his voice was clear.
"Jones?" She nodded, curt. He didn't know how to use a gun properly. She didn't know guns, but this was one of the automatic ones. His grip was off. It looked like a gamer stance. Skeleton gloves, but a hint of white skin at the wrist, Dana analyzed his being. Between twenty and thirty, five foot seven or so, and on his wrist was a gamer's mark. Oh this was too easy. Was the gun even loaded?
"That's me. I have a recording device, low-grade. Short notice, you see." She reached slowly into her pocket and when he twitched she saw the safety was on; she pulled the device out of her jeans pocket and held it out for him to see. This exhausted her knowledge of rifles.
"Ridge said that would be okay."
"Good. Needless to say, I'm pretty sure he'd want me without a bullet in the brain, so why don't you move your hands a little." Zombie twitched again and lowered his gun. "I'm not much of a threat, in the open."
"Fair enough. To the van."
"My caretaker is very nervous. Care to bring him along? I have issues with being trusted and his eyewitness will prove useful. Otherwise there's no believing me."
"Guy in the window?" She nodded. This was going better than she hoped. Nice and smooth. Don't startle the guy. Dana spent so much time on detail on this one guy that she almost didn't notice the two other guys in masks behind Zombie.
Classic. Dana sighed and took inventory on all the people in front of her. She was not entirely sure they were Phreaks but they did seem allied. Phreaks didn't coexist too often unless they were a splinter group. These guys were foragers. They were brought together, which means Ridge could pick and choose his team. And they didn't know her full name. That brought so many new ideas to fruition. If Ridge didn't know her name, then there was little else she could hope. That meant the information Colin had given up was strictly based on his soberness.
"We were told to pick you up. Only you."
"No one will believe I left here unwillingly. I need proof. Agent's proof."
"You'd put him in harm's way just to show proof?"
"In a heartbeat. Package deal. He's like that."
"'He's like that,'" Zombie said, eyes glancing to the Agent. "We have to bag you both. Ridge will allow it."
"Let's do this then." She left no room for further compromise; she intended that. Zombie didn't know what to say. Which meant Frankenstein and Wolfman didn't have the pull. Didn't have the courage to make decisions, if Ridge was as frightening as he seemed. Dana wasn't convinced he was all that powerful. She guessed Jordan would see what she couldn't.
She didn't want to assume identities this early in the meeting but she might not have a choice in the matter. It was only a matter of time before they gave something up. Alias, mannerisms, grammar, talk of groups, anything could lead her to the heart of the betrayal. Honestly, she would have some serious demands to cite should she make it back from this, having been almost kidnapped the month before from Alan Svela and that brute Jacob. There were only so many people who could get that information and she'd had it with informants putting her in harm's way. Before she knew it she'd been compromised twice this year and that was unacceptable.
After the Chicago Incident, she took as much care with her hiding, even going so far as to not work on a computer. Even after going off the grid like she did, she left a footprint in the eyes of Colin. Twice Colin's compromised her, and she was going to make him regret it, even if it meant spam-bombing the asshole with beastiality porn for the next three weeks.
She didn't deny her fingers were itching to touch a computer, and Ridge might be asking for exactly that. Besides, there was a very good chance she knew one of the men in front of her. Dana wasn't comforted by this but she had to remember that her last assumption led to the conclusion of the same. She kept running into her busy past and that made for a lot of FBI news. "Can I make a request?"
"The conversation was cut short, so Ridge told us to make some compromises."
"I have a recorder in my pocket, but my reputation is questionable. Can I request my caretaker come along for credibility? He doesn't get in my way but he is more reputable." The three monsters in front of her paused. She wasn't sure what that meant, if they had that kind of pull. She knew one of them. Ridge could easily provoke a number of her competitors. Zombie nodded in the meantime.
"Guy in the window?" Dana nodded. "You'll both be bagged." She swallowed hard. Pulling Jordan in was her responsibility. Where he goes, so does she. She expected it the other way around at this point. Who knows what she'd be doing if he wasn't there with his rules and guidelines and recklessness.
"I expected as much."
"Tell him to put the gun away and come out slowly or mistakes will make the night shorter." Dana motioned with her fingers for Jordan to come out and he slowly complied.
"Jordan, you're in the cool kids club. Join us."
"What're you doing?"
"Ensuring safety. You're coming too. Might want to put the gun up, he's got the safety on." Zombie blanched, and it seemed blushed as well, bless his heart. Dana almost laughed but the gun was a real presence still from the other two. Jordan stepped parallel to Dana, disconnecting his phone. They would be tracked one way or another.
Frankenstein's shadow fell at Jordan's feet, his hands out for the phone and revolver. Jordan hesitantly gave both over, and Frankenstein immediately started messing with it. A phone phreak. Dana's eyes went wide as she processed the information. She didn't do phone work but she knew a few who were top of the line at it. Ridge must've gotten one of them.
Like one with the handle of Frankenstein. Adrian Combs. Dana bit her cheek as Frankenstein handed the phone back to Jordan, who looked at his phone like maybe she would've smashed it instead.
Which she would've just to see the look on his face.
"Bags," she said. Zombie had taken her words to heart, and the safety was suddenly off. Her and her big mouth. The black cloth came out of his pocket and he handed it out to her.
"I'll put it on when I get into the van. Don't want to trip now, do we?" She claimed dominance, squared her shoulders as Jordan took an offered bag. "It's a shitty van. No GPS. I have the make and model already. No need to bag me right away."
"Ridge was right. You're something else." Dana smiled a little at that. A terrorist held her in high regard. What else were terrorists supposed to do with their time? She looked behind her at her home. She'd have to move soon otherwise she'll continue to be bothered by her criminal past. But maybe that was their plan, to eventually build her reputation up and have her be bait for the scum she knew hacking. No one was at the window.
"Agent," she said, "are they going to find the camera?"
"They'll try." Good answer. It meant the FBI was going to find it and secure the assumptions that these guys were unique. They weren't. They were insignificant. Tonight was testament to that already, and Jordan hadn't even met the enemy. If she could get this guy in front of Ridge she would feel amazing. Getting Jordan Brenner in front of the enemy was a power move on its own. Power moves were going to get them thru the night.
The moon was crescent, so the only light came from the street lighting. The van was dangerous. To get there would be given permission to be scared.
Every moment went so slow. "Jones?" Jordan. She nodded.
"Good. I'll have my demands ready."
"Do you think now's the time to think about that?" Dana stepped towards the van, not a hesitant step to her glide. She was getting ready to meet a devil. At least this enemy was focusing on her talent, only knew her alias, and wasn't trying to fuck her.
"What's life without a little decorum?" She sauntered towards the van and put the bag on like a hat. "Let's go meet Ridge." Dana passed Frankenstein and Zombie, then walked with Wolfman, who opened the van door for her. In the van there was no light. It really was the bottom of the barrel. Dana was recalling the tetanus shot she'd gotten at the beginning of the Summer and thanked her lucky stars that Uncle Sam was footing the bill for her health upkeep. Go figure they'd be good for at least one thing. The whole FBI against the Underground, it was going to be a constant battle.
Thankfully she had one foot on each base. No one really knew which side she was on, and that was the beauty of it. Eventually, though, she knew she would have to choose a side. It was hard to choose a side when she couldn't trust anyone. Dana was so tired of proving herself to people who saw her at face value. Just for once, could someone tell her they were happy she was existing. She lost her father, she lost her mother, she shut down Chicago for a bit, she had a non-functioning relationship with a bad influence and got out from under his claw, she caught some bad guys.
Give me a break, she thought to herself. Dana pulled herself into the van's middle seat, Wolfman pulled in behind her, Jordan next to her, and Frankenstein behind her. There was a driver, and Zombie took the passenger seat. She gave Jordan a look of interest and reached for the mask on her head. "Well, agent?"
"I don't even know why I'm humoring you." Dana smiled and nudged him with her elbow.
"C'mon it'll be fun." She pulled the mask down.
"How are you enjoying this?" He scowled and pulled his mask down, not expecting an answer.
"This is Jones?" Wolfman sounded baffled. Frankenstein said nothing.
"Don't be fooled." The van ventured forward.