2010-09-14: Course Correction




September 14, 2010


Budapest — Hungary


“The road to truth is long, and lined the entire way with annoying bastards.” — Alexander Jablokov

Danika has been busy. Live bait operations take extra work. To that end, she's gotten into the little bag of micro-video cameras (cunningly disguised as fire sprinklers) and deployed them. Three in her suite in the hotel, several more in the hall. All wireless feed to a special transceiver that plugs into her iphone. Western consumer technology. The thought comes without bidding from somewhere down near where the Wolf lives inside her. The tiny disdain tainted with envy that she still gets when she's alone, and it's quiet. Dangerous, says the wolf. That smacks of having your own personality.

Today she is Carol Lundgren, middle aged CIA agent, who in turn is undercover as Liesl Hahn. Carol is not the wolf. Carol makes mistakes. Carol needs to be caught. Still, she's careful. She's watching the faces of each employee of the hotel as they come and go, through the various shift changes. Remembering the faces.

Carol Lundgren is about to make the biggest mistake of all, having met Friday Cross. Not many people vacation in Hungary but there are a few sights here that beg the attention of a world traveller with nothing to do but wait for her next assignment. It was here or Greece, and as lovely as a mediterranean beach sounds, it's not the mood the blonde is in.

She's dressed in a short skirt, as per usual, with a fitted t-shirt over top. Her boots are calf covering doc martins, underlayered by a pair of thigh high white socks. The entire outfit is put together to make her look like some sort of naughty schoolgirl. For Friday, there's nothing better than raising the neckhair of religious zealots… in Hungary there's quite a few.

Passing by, she stops suddenly and does a double take. Turning to face Danika, she raises one eyebrow and just stares. "What the hell are you doing here? This is a five star hotel in Budapest… Victory Ames was last spotted in Gonc… are you some sort of amateur?"
Carol Lundgren stares at Friday a moment for blowing her cover like this. Only for a moment, before walking past.

She assumes Friday will follow her, and she casually reaches down to her purse to unzip it and slip her hand inside as she heads for the elevator. Yesss, cover slightly blown, a little light shined in on it. That Friday might genuinely be that incompetent isn't a big problem for her, really. It's not like Danika Stahl trusts anyone anyway. Back to Carol, though. She's pissed. She surreptitiously holds the elevator so Friday can join her.

Sometimes, it's not the employees that need to be watched. Sometimes the guests are more dastardly.

A thin framed woman with a black bob stands at a pay phone in the lobby. The bangs and squareness of her haircut creates more edges and angles for her already angular face — it's all very European and allows her to blend easier in a crowd, especially behind a pair of large, oversized sunglasses. Her brown trench coat is relatively nondescript and cinched at the waist under which black pants line her figure. She leans against the booth and appears to be highly engaged in her conversation.

A finger curls around the cord of the pay phone before hanging it up and allowing her heeled feet to clap against the tiled floor. A glance is given to the elevator before the woman ducks to the staircase.

She's not the only one unzipping a bag, Friday swings her messenger bag to the front of her body and pulls out a manila envelope. "Well, whatever, while you were busy living the high life on taxpayer dime, your mark made another strike."

The young blonde moves toward the elevator but doesn't get in. She simply passes the envelope to Carol and stares at her expectantly. "She was spotted in Paris. A few days later an American girl was reported missing from Paris… you do the math."

Danika hisses. "Get in." She takes the envelope with her off hand. She also takes a quick glance around the lobby and mentally notes any new faces, especially any that are working too hard to blend in. Every person has their own style. Every person interprets fashion their own way. Sometimes an agent, having dressed to a style not their own, will appear too bland. Sometimes not. Victory hasn't made that mistake, apparently, because she doesn't catch Danika's eye. Yet.

Rolling her eyes, Friday steps into the elevator and lets off a long puff of a sigh. She doesn't look at Danika again, simply faces the front of the elevator before uttering "Fourth floor…"

Danika lets the door close before pulling her gun and poking Friday in the back of the head with the muzzle. "What the fuck are you trying to do? Get me killed?" Venom in that. Real anger, at least for Carol Lundgren. "I was ordered to stay here and try to make contact with Ames here. Have you ever worked undercover before? Do you have any training at all?

Old hands at the business take many forms, for Friday a gun to the head is really less exciting than getting a car battery hooked to her nipples. "Oh god, please don't shoot…" The plea is made in the most bored tone she can muster as she glances at the fingernails of one hand, examining them for flaws in her manicure. "…I'll do anything you want… oh god… oh god…"

Then she turns her head, allowing the muzzle to point right at her eye. "Gonc… Hungary… I was at the meeting. Nothing was said about a five star in Budapest. You don't even know if she comes here, she's never actually been spotted here." A pleasant, yet quite fake smile is placed on the young woman's face as she regards the older blonde. "And if she was, I would know. That's my job, to know these things."

Danika lowers the pistol and resets the safety, then re-holsters the pistol "I thought I had a lead in the airport." she sighs. "Where is she now?" Carol leans back against the back of the car. "God, I'm rusty. You take ten years off, and you think you can just walk back into it, but everything's changed and you're vibrating between too paranoid and not paranoid enough." Talkative, our Carol. In truth, Dani expects to be overheard at any given time. After all. Fourth floor isn't far away, and the doors could open any moment. "She's not likely still in Paris. She moves too fast."

"Maybe you did, maybe you didn't.. Whatever, it's not my problem." As much as Friday likes to try to be a neutral party in all of her dealings, seeing someone floundering around doesn't sit very well with her. "No, she's not in Paris… that was days ago. Maybe if you were watching the airport instead of getting a massage or whatever it is you're doing here you'd know. Heck, my people have been tracking her all over the place.. " The young woman's voice cuts off there and she resumes waiting for the elevator doors to open to the fourth floor.

Sunglasses are removed as the black haired woman leans against the wall opposite the elevator on the fourth floor — every floor it's the same thing (watching and waiting for the caravan's arrival). Her mission is ingrained in her brain, implanted almost like a virus; it's an idea, simple in concept, but complex in its root. Dark eyes watch the doors. Silently, she wills it open.

Her hands push against the wall, effectively positing her for any kind of assault she can manage.

Danika moves to the side wall of the elevator by habit as the doors open, so she can see out. It also gets her out of Friday's way. Like Friday, she really doesn't like elevators much. They're awfully inconvenient to get out of in a hurry.

*ding* The doors open on the fourth floor. "I was not getting a massage." she says as the door opens. "I was…"

Familiar face.

Familiar to one, but not to the other. There's no recognition in Victory's eyes as the door opens, even as Friday steps out and the dark haired woman clocks her with the little pistol she's grown to love (it's so cute! when it comes to guns does size really matter anyways?!), effectively knocking the blonde courier out as she crumples to the floor. But then Friday was never the object.

No words. No charm. No dice. Danika gets none of these things, not even a vague hint of recognition. For Victory this is another job, and what Gyorgy wants, he gets.

A single booted (high heeled, mind) foot sweeps the floor in an attempt to knock her prey off her feet in one fowl swoop. Not that she depends on the success of this move. With the motion, the wig strays, apparently this one hasn't been as well placed as others as it floats to the ground like an odd flag of defeat being waved in the hall. Yet it's black. There's no defeat here. One thing about the name Victory, it implies winning…

Danika has, in the scheme of things, plenty of warning. After all, Victory had to knock Friday out first. It's plenty of time for the face to register with her. The actions make it obvious, as does the exposed hair. The problem is the damn enclosed space. Danika drops to one knee as the sweep comes in, and blocks the kick with a fist to the floor. She lunges from that position, trying to move up Victory's leg and hit her center of gravity. It's all the Wolf now. A lifetime of experience in this kind of thing. Practically a textbook situation. If she had the time, which she does not, she might even be happy that Victory is only four years her junior. If it comes down to stamina, at least they should be evenly matched.

Adrenaline is a wonder drug. And considering the number of spies she's offed recently, Victory is far from out of practice. Even as she falls to the floor her palms press against it, along with the balls of her feet, pressing her upwards in a forward handspring reading to a standing position. It's a quick recovery.

With a twist of her body, again, her booted foot Ames (pun intended) to push her target to the ground — specifically zeroing in on Dani's hips. Her own hands remain high, even as she twists about, and her brunette hair cascades downwards haphazardly thanks to her now absent wig — pinned in a disarray of static along the crown of her head.

Danika shifts into this second kick, letting it smash into her hip (no bikinis for her for a while, probably) as she leans into Victory's leg and snaps her hand downward to try and catch Victory's leg. Still no time to say anything. Let the Wolf do its job. There will be time to talk later. Danika keeps her free arm up to guard. Because martial artists who are kickers have the nasty habit of remembering their arms once their leg is caught.

While some people in fights think it through, others just react, counting on muscle memory to pull them through, especially when they can't remember where they learned such things.

The leg is caught.

Fortunately Victory has two of them. Using Danika's arm and body weight as leverage, she swings her second leg, full force to Danika's head. The gun is still held tightly in her shooting hand, but something compels her not to use it. Not yet. It's an odd incling, but it's there, ever present even after all of those that she's killed without second thought, something beckons her not pull the trigger.

Both of them fall to the floor. The difference is that while Victory slams down on her side and back and might be bruised for her trouble, the grab to the arm and the mid-air kick manage to catch the older spy by surprise, and connect with Danika's temple. Where Victory goes down and can break her fall, and be ready to fight, Danika's head is spinning, and her break-fall is uncoordinated, and she sprawls out to the side, letting go of Victory's leg. Fatal error, says the Wolf. Victory has great, long seconds to do whatever she wants until Dani can get her brains collected enough to respond.

While Danika is vulnerable and Victory springs upwards, the gun is poised as if she's going to shoot, yet something pulls at her conscience. She flinches. Visibly flinches. There's a moment's hesitation before she fires — aiming for the other woman's shoulder, nothing to incur permanent damage. Her face scrunches together before she takes a single step forward and allows her pistol to come down on Danika's head to knock her out. After which? She flees — back towards the stairs from whence she came.

The shot of the gun is what finally wakes Friday from her stupor. Slowly, dragging herself to her knees, she crawls over to Danika and checks her pulse. There's a little bit of a pause as the blonde considers the older woman and a narrowing of her eyes. "Sorry lady, this is going to give you a headache when you finally wake up…"

Pulling a small vial from her pocket, the courier tips the agent's head and drains the little bottle into her mouth. The already unconscious woman's throat is massaged once to force the liquid down and then she's dropped back on the floor. In the span of five minutes, Danika is left alone, bleeding and unconscious in the hotel hallway. Friday and Victory are nowhere to be found. When the police find the agent, she's in possession of some very sensitive information regarding the Hungarian government… and some British identification.