2007-11-08: Catch The Mole

Starring:

Nova_icon.gif Benjamin_icon.gif

Guest-Starring:

Meryl_icon.gif

Summary: Who's been sending information to the Bad Guys?

Date It Happened: 8 NOVEMBER 2007

Catch the Mole


Australia

It's a hot day in the city as it approaches summer. Earlier in the day, one of the Company contacts called in a lead in an old building in the Cairns industrial district, but whatever was going on there turned out to be a legitamate operation. Well, 'legitimate' in the sense that it had nothing at all to do with Dorsey. Whether or not it was legal was a whole different story. It wasn't worth pursuing, though… Let the locals deal with them. That's what Meryl decided, anyway, who was in an unusually foul mood as she left Benjamin and Nova to head back to the hotel earlier. The mood might have been unusual, but not totally surprising. They've been at this for weeks now, and they have practically nothing to go on anymore.

It's several hours later now, and Meryl's radioed Benjamin and Nova to start heading back so they can have a meeting and determine where to go from there.

At this point in the day, the hotel's lobby isn't really all that busy. There are a few patrons here and there, though it's mostly just hotel staff. Some guy behind the counter is half asleep, and there's a lady walking her dog toward the revolving door leading outside. As well, there's also a guy wearing a track suit, holding a camera, which seems to be malfunctioning. Over by a decorative setup of potted plants, there's a boy playing with a Nintendo DS. Seems peaceful enough.

—-

Benjamin isn't exactly glued to Nova's side, but he's sticking pretty close to her. Since she's now in an addled state much like Meryl, he tries to get away with doing things like opening the door for her. While frustrated with the mission and taking the lack of progress kind of hard, he's trying to be himself. Which works nicely with the cover if he's just your everyday, average guy. It's almost a relief to be reaching the hotel again. To regroup, gather thoughts. Lick the wounds. As he enters the lobby, he glances around briefly, letting his eyes adjust to the indoor lighting.

—-

It's easy to not look like a super agent spy when you're in no state to be as such. Nova takes off the large sunglasses she'd been wearing, more or less following Benjamin into the hotel that isn't familiar… but she's getting used to this. The lack of remembering. She takes a breath, accepts it, and tries to see the logical next step. Rinse, wash, repeat. Right now, she knows Benjamin, so there is, at least, that. Dressed in sneakers, jeans and a form-fitting T-shirt, she looks like any normal citizen - just one who is incredibly lost.

—-

As Ben and Nova enter, a few things happen at once. Minor things, really. The boy playing the game lets out a WHOOP of victory, pumping his hand in the air, which is clasped around the pen. Obviously, something's just happened in his game that might be considered good. Perhaps he's beaten a level. The loud sound causes the guy behind the counter to awaken; his eyes land on the two people who've just entered, and he blinks, going to type something into the computer terminal near him. Caught sleeping on the job? Not a good situation to be in!

The lady walking the dog goes outside, seems to change her mind, and walks back in, heading back toward the elevator, where she stops and rifles through her purse, looking for something.

The guy with the camera looks up momentarily at the boy, then goes back to fiddling with the lens, mumbling to himself as he seems to be in a greater state of agitation than he was before. He has a sense of urgency.

Holding the camera up toward Benjamin, he snaps a picture, looks at the screen, and goes back to playing with the controls. Damn technology.

—-

Benjamin glances behind him, making sure Nova hasn't gotten distracted and is chasing invisible moon beams and green sprites.. or something. Naturally the kid making a loud noise earns a glance from Ben and is quickly dismissed. There's no reason to suspect the child of anything, even if there is a mole on the loose in the hotel. (Or is there?) The woman with the dog, well, he's seen her around a bit. As for the guy with the camera, it gives Ben cause to frown a little. He could be diddling around with settings as they can be a pain to get right, but still..

—-

If Nova could remember to be on the look out, maybe she might be. She turns once, mostly to take in the setting, trying to seal in the information and not really achieving that as well as she could, her gaze lingering on the little boy for a moment because maybe she sees something… and Benji is paces ahead of her! With a few quick strides, she catches up. "You know where we're meant to be going, right?" she has to ask.

—-

Hotel Guy behind the counter is now typing furiously on his computer. He must have forgotten to do something important while he was sleeping, or, again, he's just trying to look busy in the 'I wasn't really asleep' way that people do when they've been caught napping on the job.

The lady with the dog pushes the button on the elevator, while the dog barks several times at the kid with the DS. Gamer looks up to give the dog a dirty look, which seems to be a little gruff for a kid his age. Even so, he goes back to playing with the game, sliding the pen along the screen with expert precision. Kids are good at these things.

Despite the fact that all the activity going on would make a really good photo op, and also despite the fact that the man with the camera seems to have fixed it, he still turns his camera toward Nova and Benjamin and takes another picture.

—-

"Actually, I forgot. Do you remember?" Benjamin asks before smiling a little at Nova, "I remember.. but just a moment.. come with me alright?" He reaches out a hand to guide Nova by the elbow too as he turns for the guy with the camera and says across the lobby, in a sudden fit of inspiration, "Hey, you? Excuse me, can I ask you a few questions? That's a fine looking camera you have and our dinky little one that we brought isn't working so hot.. so I'm thinking about replacing it. Real darn shame too for it to go out while here, kind of a once in a lifetime experience. Visiting Australia and gosh darnit, the camera is trying to quit working!"

—-

Finally, the guy looks up from his camera, though he doesn't smile. He still seems vaguely distracted, despite the fact that the camera is working now. To his credit, though, he doesn't run off. "Look, Oi don' 'av toim t'talk nao," he says, voice heavily accented, and he turns his back toward Nova and Benjamin, snapping a picture of something random.

As the lady with the dog waits for the elevator, she drops the leash in her hand so she can better search through her purse. It seems that the dog is fairly obedient, and stays put, still growling at the boy, though still remaining faithfully at the woman's heel. The DS Boy flips the power off on his game, and then flips it back on. Looks like something he didn't like happened just then.

The man behind the counter looks upward at Benjamin, Nova, and the guy in the tracksuit with the expensive camera, picks up the phone, and also turns his back toward the lobby as he dials.

The man with the camera seems to be looking through his pictures, then he starts walking away, toward the door.

—-

Well… isn't that interesting. A true photographer, even an amateur, will stop and brag about the camera. Not, ohnoes, no time to talk now. Benjamin frowns a little and turns to give Nova a questioning look. As he does this, something grabs his attention from the corner of his eye. Now he's torn. Chase after the guy with the camera or… gaze narrowing, he mutters to Nova, "The guy with the camera is suspicious and getting away, but the lady with the dog? She's a regular here, and the dog has what looks like a Bluetooth headset on its collar."

—-

Nova's gaze snaps back to Benji, then towards the lady and the dog. She shakes her head a moment, trying to focus. "No. No chasing. Waste of time." Why is it a waste of time? She looks again towards where the photographer is moving away, tilting her head towards him. "The patch on the camera bag, it's for a newspaper around here. Could just be a journo. What's on the dog, sorry?" she has to ask.

—-

Indeed, the man with the camera is a journalist, and he has a deadline to meet in about five minutes. Once outside, he flips over his cellphone and calls his boss. The story will run in tomorrow's paper - it turns out he wasn't taking pictures specifically of Benjamin and Nova, but he just wanted people in the shot - hotel Hot Spots for Summer Tourists. He's innocent.

Clipped to the dog's collar is a blue tooth headset. As if the dog would need one of those! DOES IT? The lady continues looking through her purse. The elevator stops, the door opens, and she ignores it. Apparently, staying in the lobby is pretty damn important.

The guy behind the desk looks over his shoulder again, says something into the phone, then goes back to typing on the computer.

The kid seems bored, continuing to draw on the touch-screen of the DS with the pen.

—-

That's all he needed to hear then. Benjamin grabs Nova's arm and takes off towards the elevator, quickening his pace so they don't miss the doors. "Something that isn't usually on a dog's collar. Keep up!," he says quietly to Nova. Seeing the doors opening, and the woman not getting on, well, huh. He slows his steps back to a more normal pace. Instead of hopping on board the elevator, seeing as the doors are open and all, he looks down at the dog. "Aw, aren't you cute. You look like my old dog, Baxter." Not that he has a dog, but Lady doesn't need to know this. Showing some caution as a stranger would towards a dog, he slowly reaches a hand down as if to pet, and also giving the dog time to sniff, or maybe just seeing how the woman reacts.

—-

Unlike the cameraman, the woman seems completely amicable to the conversation. "Oh, you like dogs?" the lady inquires, continuing to half-heartedly paw through her purse as she speaks. "He's a pure-bred West-Highland White Terrier. His father was a champion, absolutely stunning. This is Hubert the Second - I just couldn't call him 'Junior,' because it just seemed a little… I don't know. Tacky. Where is that thing— " She trails off, continuing to look through the purse. "I swear, if my head wasn't attached, I'd have left it at home."

The dog seems to be a lot more pleased to see Benji, and curiously sniffs at his hand before licking it and demanding the attention that all dogs should receive.

—-

Benjamin scratches the dog behind his ears, "Sure, who doesn't like dogs? And I agree, Junior doesn't sound worthy of a pure-bred." Then. Well sugar honey iced tea. Hearing the woman, he mentally smacks himself upside the head. ".. is this what you're looking for?," he asks as he gets the little headset unattached from the collar. "Tiny little thing, looks like it could have just fallen right out of your purse there." Distractedly, he hands the device over to the woman as he stands upright again and glances around the lobby. Two fails in a row. The paranoia of being watched is getting to him.

—-

There's a slight clenching in her jaw, as if any more comments of 'keep up' might find Benjamin decked and lying on the floor, needing more wire face brace thingies. But luckily for him, the comment is forgotten in a moment, watching the interaction between Benjamin and the woman and her dog. A smirk actually twists Nova's mouth when the alarm proves to be false, and she grips Benjamin's arm. "Let's stop bothering the nice lady and her puppy," she says, tugging.

—-

"Oh, I remember now," she says, gratefully accepting the Bluetooth from Benjamin. "I put it on his collar so he could talk to my husband. Oh, he's still back home in Calgary. Couldn't make it, the poor dear. He's closing a deal this week, and you know how that goes. I thought I'd put it back in my purse. Silly me." Taking the headset, she attaches it to her ear where it's supposed to go. "It was fascinating to meet you. I'm sure I'll see you around," she says, as she heads back for the door.

The conversation of the guy behind the counter will reach Benjamin and Nova's ears from this point. Into the phone, he states, "I'm telling you, I'm sure. It was one of the reporters from the paper. Here, in our hotel! No, I don't know why, but he was taking pictures. Yes. Okay, I'll contact them. I'm sure he would have asked someone — "

And the conversation goes on.

The child has since become quiet, though he looks up now and then. A few of his belongings are in a bag next to him, including a few books… Like 'War and Peace,' C++ for Dummies, and what looks to be a book on applied chemistry. Seriously, the kid looks like he could be about nine, if that. He continues writing on the screen, though.

…Hey, don't those DS things have wireless capabilities?

—-

"Sure," Benjamin says distractedly to Nova as she tugs at his arm. Going back up to their floor and regrouping sounds like Heaven now, before he makes a fool of himself further. He offers up a faint smile for the woman as he's pulled away. Muttering more to himself than to Nova, he says, "Dunno what Meryl was thinking, pulling me for this job. I'm a failure at this secret agent.. thing." Now that he's mentally kicking himself, he doesn't pay much attention to what the guy behind the counter is saying and darn near misses those advanced book titles. Maybe the kid's just a genius.

—-

As soon as Nova tugs at Benjamin's arm, the leading abruptly ends, although her hand clasps tighter around his arm. Almost needy and definitely dependent, the woman clearing her throat and looking about the space, trying to take it in again when she doesn't quite recall it. Some things are familiar - the potted plant across the way, for instance, catches her attention as something she's seen before, perhaps because it's near a fire exit and she's used to scouting out these things. The security camera, too, is a hint of familiarity, and then finally, her eyes settle on the book— specifically War and Peace— in the kid's vicinity. She'd noticed that too. She'd just promptly forgotten it, but now she double-takes, hand loosening from Benjamin's arm, and promptly forgetting his presence too, no longer following.

—-

For awhile, the kid doesn't seem to notice that Nova's looking at him, and continues writing on the screen. It's not long, though, before he glances upward. With the man behind the counter completely wrapped up in his phone call, and the lady with the dog and the camera man gone, there are only three of them left in the lobby now. Have his actions become suspicious?

Genius kid or not, he's still a kid, and his 'undercover' work only goes so far. His body language reads as suspicious, even for someone who's as mind-addled as Nova, or … inept … as Benjamin. Fidgeting, the boy closes the cover of the DS and starts heading quickly for the door. It's getting dark outside now, and he probably shouldn't be going out without a parent, but he is!

—-

Benjamin isn't kicking himself so hard that he doesn't notice Nova's grip going lax and she's no longer following. "Hey.. you okay?" he stops and asks the woman. It's a bit like trying to keep track of a toddler, or so Ben imagines, as he makes sure Nova's not distracted by a tap dancing pony. In her head. But the kid there, alone with the DS, the fancy books, now leaving, it does raise his suspicions again. Where's the kid going without an adult if they aren't waiting inside the lobby for one? He glances aside at Nova as if asking if they should follow the kid outside or not.

—-

Nova's blue-eyed gaze readily tracks his progression out of the hotel, but she startles just a little bit when Benjamin approaches her. "Yeah. I'm fine," she says, trying to hold onto her thoughts despite being derailed. "I'm just— I think I'm paranoid." She dismisses it. For about two seconds. But then, she's making for the doors, following the child out into the dusky evening.

—-

The kid swears under his breath as he's chased out of the hotel. So much for making a clean getaway, and surprising to him is the fact that Nova's the one who makes the decision to follow. After all, he's been watching them for long enough, he knows what happened to her, and how she's been acting. Why haven't they seen him, though, if he's been around them for all this time? Well, the answer to that becomes obvious a moment later, when he looks over his shoulder and decides that, despite the risk, it's time to use his ability in public. It's night, there aren't a lot of people around…

And in front of Benjamin and Nova's eyes, he simply vanishes. His footsteps, however, can still be heard as he takes to running, pounding the pavement as he attempts to escape.

—-

"That makes two of us.. not that me being paranoid is anything new for me," Benjamin says, muttering the last. Seeing as he's the one who spent the last year or so under the care of a psychiatrist only to realize, yes, they are after you. (In a manner of speaking.) So when Nova follows the child, he doesn't stop her, and he's not about to let her go on her own, so he accompanies her out. Then.. he stops feeling guilty about the paranoia, about being suspicious of a kid. "He can.. son of a biscuit.." First instinct is to chase down the kid, but it's one that needs to take a backseat to a new one, to what he can do. He doesn't run, but he does follow the sound of the footsteps as he focuses. He doesn't need to see the boy in order to use his ability.. just.. hope he's still in range.

—-

Benji doesn't run, but Nova does - she'd probably be more subtle if in her right mind, but she doesn't even think about the fact that perhaps her temporary partner has an ability that could be useful. She starts after the child, not particularly caring of people glance her way, but stops dead when she can no longer hear his footsteps, which was the only indication of his escape. Her hand goes to her hip, where a radio might have been back when she was a policewoman, and curses when it's not. Does she know why she's chasing the kid? Not really. But it's an ingrained instinct through being a Company agent - you chase the trouble-making superheroes when they show themselves to be such.

—-

The kid is absolutely sure he's gotten away, but doesn't consider the fact that Benjamin has the power to put people to sleep. He's juuuust about to the point where he'd be smiling and mentally patting himself on the back for his excellent work and stellar stealth, when he starts feeling particularly drowsy. This is not good news - and that's his last thought before he hits the pavement.

Thankfully, the way he lands doesn't cause any significant damage. A scraped elbow and a bit of a scuffed chin, but he is young, so he didn't have very long to fall. The books in his bag go scattering and become visible again as his concentration lapses into early-stage sleep.

It's a moment later that Meryl catches up with Nova. She'd just taken the elevator down to the lounge when she saw two of her fellow agents running out the door after a kid. "What the hell's goin' on?" she asks the other woman. Possibly, Nova is the wrong person to ask, but Meryl doesn't seem to consider that.

—-

Benjamin picks up the pace some behind Nova. "He's not going anywhere," is said as the narcokinetic continues on in the direction the kid was heading. The words are meant for Nova, obviously, if she's listening. "I never would have suspected the kid," he says to himself. Which was probably why the kid was used. This is a valuable lesson learned for the rookie. Everyone's suspect. Seeing as he's not the one chasing after the kid, Meryl probably dashes past him. "Oi.. you two," he utters before breaking into a jog to catch up.

—-

Nova's jog slows to a halt, and she peers down at the child. Meryl goes ignored for now as Nova crouches down beside the child, before looking up at the other woman and the approaching Benji with a focused gaze. Unfortunately, the next thing she says is, "We should get him back to Primatech, invisible subjects are generally automatically taken in." It doesn't occur to her, either, that this isn't something to discuss on the street.

—-

Meryl saw the kid appear where there was no kid before. Fortunately for Nova, she's just a little more 'with it' than the other woman, and helpfully clamps a hand over Nova's mouth. "Not here," she says, glancing about the parking lot outside the hotel, where people are wondering what happened. Figuring Benji's a better choice for explanation, she lets go of Nova, heading over to the kid, where she can take his pulse. He seems to be all right. In fact, he opens his eyes.

Not usually something that happens when Ben puts someone out, but there it is. His expression appears vacant, but he smiles, and that's when he unwraps his hand from a knife he's got stuck right in his belly. There's a red stain spreading from that point outward. "You were in the right place," he says.

Meryl's eyes widen as she tries to figure out what to do about the kid… He's just a young boy! "What would make you want to hurt yourself?" she asks gently, mostly to herself, but she calls out - "Call an ambulance. Someone get an ambulance!"


The hospital room where the boy lays is dark. The blinds are drawn, the monitors are assuring those nearby that he's currently stable. His eyes are open as he looks into the blackness. He didn't have a choice, really. He'd rather die than allow the guy to — well, whatever it is that Mister Dorsey did to all his friends, it wasn't particularly pleasant.

He remembers the ultimatum: Finish the job, or you'll end up like them.

The reason he was targetted was simple, really. There aren't a whole slew of genius children on the planet, though there are a good number. The boy was one of them - he learned things like a house on fire, his mind was a steel trap - a library of knowledge. He'd rigged the wireless system on his Nintendo DS to broadcast across large distances, and that's how he met Jerry Dorsey.

And really, the kid could handle this 'spy' thing. It was kind of fun, and he was needed. It was easy to get Dorsey the access he needed to get into the hotel and attack the Armstrong girl. Child's play, really, which was appropriate, considering his age. And Jerry picked him because he was also unassuming. Who would suspect a child? Then there was his ability. It was like three strikes, and the boy was doomed. Sending Pictochat messages to a special receiver where Dorsey could read the status of their targets became the boy's whole life. He helped severely incapacitate Nova. He was going to help do the same to the others, and then he would be let go. Certainly, after that, he would stop using his special souped-up DS.

Given how smart he was, he knew he wasn't safe here, so when he saw the shadow stretch across the room, he wasn't surprised. Dorsey shut the door behind him, and the boy closed his eyes.

It was all over with very quickly.

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