2010-09-17: Jailbonds For Work




September 17, 2010




Rurik purchases Danika's freedom and runs her through a discreet test of personality while asking her to join The Consortium as an agent.

Ahh, jail. From San Francisco to Juarez to Siberia to this place - Budapest - Jail is, at its cold heart, much the same. Oh sure, some places are a little more careful with your care and feeding. Indeed, American prisons are pretty darn comfortable in the scheme of things. But at the end of the day, whether it's lousy cafeteria food or bread and water, whether it's hard cots or sleeping on the floor, whether your toilet flushes or is carried out by the guard in the morning, the real issue with jail isn't the accommodations, the causal brutality. It all comes down to two essential things that make jail universally suck. The company, and the fact that you can't leave.

Danika has been in jail before. It was a training rotation at one point, including a rather nasty two week hands-on seminar on torture. Budapest's jail? Isn't nice. But it's not a Stasi interrogation facility either. It's only taken a few brief scuffles to convince her fellow inmates that if Dani wants to be left alone, it's best to leave her alone. Now, mostly, it's a matter of boredom. Waiting for someone to notice that things have gone south in this operation, find her, and if they think it worthwhile, extract her.

Some people do notice little oddities, people who fall through the cracks of society and end up stuck in jail or being a general hermit. Who would notice a Stasi operative, however? No one; that's who. No one at all. The usual guard walks at a steady pace through the concrete hallways, his black shoes making a sound that reverberates off the hollow walls. However, instead of walking past Danika's cell like usual, the officer stops at the cell with two other guards.

"Your time is up. You've been bailed out. Come with me." The officer states tersely. It's not like he cares what happens to these prisoners. He removes the keyring from his belt, searching for the right key before slipping it into the metal lock with a 'click'. The metal door creaks as it's slid along its track to open up for Danika. Yeah. No one would ever notice.
Danika gets to her feet slowly, and stretches without much expression. Bailouts are great, sure. But they're seldom free. In the old days, being imprisoned by a foreign power would mean a thorough debriefing, and some retraining at best. Now? It could actually be worse if her current employer has decided to just cover its tracks. These things run through Danika's mind at the low level, at the depth called the Wolf. As she stretches, she puts on the personality of Carol Lundgren, middle aged CIA agent, and smiles. Carol, at least, is sure that she's been sprung by her agency.

The officer and his two guards escort 'Carol' through cleansing and reclamation of most of her possessions before imprisonment. It's possibly thirty minutes until all the formalities are complete and the woman is at the double doors to the prison. Even then, she's escorted out to the stairs and the officer returns back to the building to resume his duties. At the foot of the stairs, on the road, is a black Cadillac. Once Danika is on the stairs, the back seat door opens. It's hard to tell who's in the vehicle, as all of the windows are tinted black.

Black Caddy. Not really the CIA's style. They tend to want their Crown Victorias, no matter how poorly the things fit into the local scene. Carol contemplates it a moment. Perhaps an Embassy car. She walks down to the door. "Hi." she says, stepping back into her cover identity, Liesl Hahn. Just in case. "Hey, are you from the Embassy?" she asks, baring those bleached-white, perfect teeth Americans seem to think look natural in TV commercials.

Sitting in the seat opposite of the open door is an obviously Russian man in a pair of shades, why it's so obvious isn't really obvious. It's one of /those/ things. "That depends, are you Danika Stahl?" The man inquires with a light Russian accent. "I'm not really in the mood for games. I didn't fly all the way here from America just to fuck around with bailing random people out of prison." All business.

Danika blinks. If you know what to look for, you can see the identities shift. See Liesl shut down. See Carol shut down. See the change in body language that the use of her so-very-secret name conjures. The body language loosens. Settles back over the hips, but there's a deep seated hardness to the expression. "Who wants to know?" she asks. Casual gesture with one hand to scratch near her left boob. To hide the even more casual dip of her hand into her purse.

"Rurik Wulfenbach. I came here and bailed you out to make a proposal with you. You see, there's nothing more American than second chances." By the tone of his voice, you might think he'd be making a joke. He is. It's just subtle. Maybe something about providing satire material about America, not that it's hard. He even lowers his sunglasses to look at Danika, before slipping them back up by pressing on the bridge with his middle finger. "Won't you step into the vehicle and give me a chance, Miss Stahl?"

Danika slips her pistol out of her purse as she gets in the car, and the only thing that makes it obvious is that she closes the door with her left hand, despite coming in the right hand door of the car. She settles into the seat, letting the gun rest in her lap under the flap of her tunic top. "What is it you want." she asks. The faint purr of a German accent. She really has let her hair down.

Rurik chuckles softly, "You know, under that hard exterior, I just know there's something soft. You just have to strip it off." He chuckles a bit more as he removes his glasses. The car begins to move. Casually, he reaches forward to open the ice tray built into the arm rest for the front seat, where there would normally be an ashtray for rear passengers. In the ice tray is an unlabeled bottle of vodka. Literally. Its only label is 'Vodka'. The paper is worn, too. Also inside are two glasses for sampling. Mr. Wulfenbach takes both glasses in one hand and the vodka in the other and begins filling both glasses by a quarter while he says, "Would you be so kind as to put your firearm back, Miss Stahl? I do believe you owe me and if I had something against you, I wouldn't be bailing you out of prison." As he offers her a glass of the Vodka.

Danika says, "I'll decide whether I owe you more than ten grams of fast moving metal when I know what you want, Mr Wulfenbach. As for any stripping to find soft parts of me, that runs up the price tag. I can be had, if that's really what you want. But not cheaply. And it's not my chief talent. So I'll ask you one more time what you want, and if you don't give me a clear answer, I'll kill you and your driver. Do I make myself clear?"

"As you wish, Miss Stalh." Rurik is still holding out the glass of Vodka. "I work for the Consortium. A small group of ex-military and espionage agents with some of the most bleeding-edge technology globally available. We deal in information. I am formally inviting you to join us and have paid your bail." Rurik pauses to take a sip of his own glass of Vodka. "I've read your dossier, in addition to housing, you will be given your tailored hormone treatments provided you do good work."

Danika slips her pistol back into her purse with a gesture that barely reveals it's there. It looks almost completely natural like reaching for her seatbelt to put it on. "You've a remarkably complete dossier, Mr. Wulfenbach. So you are. What. A contracting agency, essentially? To governments or corporates?"

"Not so simply. While we do sell information, we really do use the information to stay an isolated autonomous agency. If the price is right, we'll sell information to anyone, but that's not important — and we both know everyone has a price." Rurik grins, "Our biggest source of information so far has been from the agency that superseded the KGB; the FIS. Consider that one a freebie." He continues on, however, "If you decide to join us, you've got standard operation protocol. I'm also sure you're familiar with that, too. There are a few changes, however, that we can debrief you on later. What do you say?"
Danika says, "I have a contract to resolve before I can commit to another organization. But I am interested. And thank you for bailing me out. Boredom is not my friend, I find." Danika still doesn't accept the vodka. Perhaps she's still wary. Or perhaps she doesn't drink when no mission calls for it. Or maybe she just doesn't care for vodka much. "Where can I contact you?""

Rurik finishes her current glass then and sets it back in the ice box to hold the second one. This whole time he hasn't eased up a bit, maybe he's always tense like this. But to most people, this isn't tense, he still looks quite casual. "That's the thing — you can't. I contact you. You know how it is, I'm sure. With your current international record, it will be hard enough bringing you our American office. Perhaps we can work out a deal involving this 'other' contract."

Danika smiles a little. "I am an American citizen these days. Getting to your American office is not a problem. As for my contract, I don't discuss one employer or their job with another. If I did, how would you trust me?" Danika, too, seems casual, relaxed, resting her hand on her still-unzipped purse in an utterly natural looking gesture. "So how do I reach your American office?"

Rurik settles a bit and reaches into his coat pocket. Not for a gun, but for a small pocket book. He hands it to Danika with two fingers. "I will just have to get another one of these, I suppose. The driver will be stopping us at the airport, I had planned on you coming with me. However it would seem not immediately, so you are back on your own from there." He pauses, "I have shown you great clemency, Miss Stahl. Do not prove it a wasted gesture." He states in a bit more serious tone.

Danika looks at Rurik. "Mr. Wulfenbach. If we are to work together, there must be respect between us, one professional to another. I have said I'm interested, and that I will be in touch when my current contract is complete, or if they choose to terminate the contract, and providing I survive, I shall be. You may then brief me on what role you wish me to play in your organization, from paramour to operator to trainer to management, whether you intend to train me, and so forth and so on, and I shall decide at that time whether to do business with you. But it is unwise to threaten me. And you would do well to bear that in mind." Dani takes the pocketbook. "The airport will be fine." she says.

Rurik laughs and sits back in his seat, "It will be very nice working with you, Danika." Rurik replies, "Like I thought, not just another drone. My operator is just jealous that I'll find someone with more personality than him. I was definitely right about you." He looks back to Danika, "You're perfectly right. Inside of that pocketbook is a circuit. Complete the sentence on the third page with conductive ink and I'll contact you. It has other functions of course, but I can't tell you all of them."

Danika flips through the book. "You've been among the Americans a long time, Mr. Wulfenbach. They do so love their gadgets." If the gadget is a tracker as well, she'll be seen to go to the airport, sit there for perhaps half an hour, whereon the tracker will stop reporting. Whether or not it's a tracker, when she comes out of the airport, the pocketbook is wrapped in slightly greasy wax-paper and foil emblazoned with giant Ms. McDonalds are everywhere, even here.