2010-02-05: FB: The Other Protocols

Starring:

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Date Set: August 1-5, 2009

Summary:

There's more than meets the eye behind the origins of Alpha Protocol.


Six Months Ago…

"The Other Protocols"

August 1, 2009

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Denham Springs, Lousiana

It's the middle of the day in Denham Springs, Lousiana. The hospital cafe carts out drinks to people, and a man stands behind the counter, looking over paper work while selling drinks. An older college student, perhaps, trying to finish up some work while doing his job at the hospital cafe. There's tables set up, it's not busy or full. Fountain drinks, mostly, with lids and straws. Coffees, teas, sodas, juices.

The man doesn't sound like he's from around here when he mutters under his breath, flipping pages. "This is never going to work."

Everyone needs to take a break to get a little something to eat and drink, even if they're visiting their ailing grandmothers. KeLyssa Gallagher started feeling a bit peckish, so she's left her grandmother for a few minutes to get herself a drink, and maybe even get her grandmother something as well. Approaching the cafe till, she smiles at the guy there. "Hey, kin I get a…an orange juice, ifin ya please?" She says somewhat brightly, though there's an undertone of tiredness in her voice.

"Yeah, sure," the man says as he leaves his paper work behind. To most it would look like scientific gibberish. To those with a background in science, though, it seems to combine chemical formulas with DNA sequencing… The one page that's visible seems to be just a fraction of what must really be there. Grabbing a small glass, he goes to a drink container marked orange juice, pulls back a lever and fills the glass up. No ice, but it's cool when he hands it over. It could be more chilled, though. Finally he looks at her when he passes it over, a small lid and straw available nearby as he rings up the price.

KeLyssa isn't an expert at anything to do with science by any means, but she's done some reading up on the subject, due to her special little ability. She glances at the papers as the guy goes to get her her drink. As he returns she says, "You studyin' bio or somethin'?" She asks, casually, indicating the papers. "I ain't no hotshot when it comes ta science, but that looks like somethin' ta do with bio or somethin' of the like." She says, smiling, accepting the glass. "So, how much do I owe ya?"

"More like chemistry, but biology plays a big role too, and genetics…" he admits, checking the register. "Just fifty cents. The orange juice is the cheapest thing besides water. You're basically just paying for the cup at that point." From the way he laughs, it seems almost awkward, sheepish. He comes off very much like a harmless science geek. "You don't look like you work here," he glances down at her clothes. "Got someone in the hospital?"

KeLyssa tilts her head, listening intently. "So…biochemistry?" She asks in interest as she pulls out her wallet (which is blue with floral designs) from back jean pocket and gives the man a one dollar bill. "Keep the change." She says, putting her wallet back and grinning. Shaking her head, she says, "Naw, m'grandmama's in here. I'm just here ta visit her." She says with a tiny smile. "Gotta be the dutiful granddaughter."

"Cool, thanks," he responds, dropping the dollar into the register and pulling out two quarters to shove into his pocket. "Biochemistry is closer. It's a project that I'm working on, mostly, crosses all lines of science. I do hope your grandmother does well. That's the tough part about hospitals. Most everyone is either sick, or knows someone that is."

"Well, sounds like a mighty interestin' project ya got there. Which school are ya goin' to, if ya don't mind my askin'? Ascension? Baton Rouge?" KeLyssa asks with interest, and assuming this is a college project. "Ya gotta point there. Only reason I ever come ta hospitals is b'cause I know someone who is a patient there." She says with a little smile. "I suppose the only other reason people'd come ta a hospital is ta work, eh?"

"Neither, actually. I'm taking a vacation here," he explains, looking down at his paper work. "I'm on a grant right now. But I'm expecting to lose the funding any day now, though." There's a shake on his head. "So that fifty cents will go into a piggy bank for a rainy day. My name's Graham, by the way."

KeLyssa raises an eyebrow. "Yer takin' a vacation…in Denham Springs? And yer workin'? I ain't never heard of no vacation where a person had ta work!" She grins, though it quickly turns to a frown. "Loosin' yer grant? That's just awful! I'm sorry ta hear that!" She sounds sincere. "Pleasure to meetcha, Graham." She says, smiling sweetly. "M'name's KeLyssa." She extends her hand to shake his.

"KeLyssa's a pretty unique name," Graham admits, before adding on an explaination, "I'm not getting the results they're expecting, mostly. It's making things difficult. When someone else pays for your research, they want results." The handshake that follows is pleasant, a little clammy on his side, but the main thing that seems to hit him, "Wow, your hands are cold. You sure you don't want a coffee instead?"

KeLyssa smiles a little shyly. "M'parents seemed ta like it…an' I ain't never met no one else with the name. Make me wonder how they ever thought it up." She tilts her head ever so slightly. "Ain't ya gettin' no results, if yer doin' research?" There's a pause and she shakes her head. "Sorry. Really shouldn't me askin' none. Ain't none of my business." She giggles softly. "My hands are in a constant state o' cold." She winks. Well, she has to keep herself cool somehow. That just means using her ability to cool herself down in the Louisiana heat. "Nah, coffee'd just me me wired somethin' awful." She says with a grin. "I didn't really notice how cold I was, ta be honest. But it's better than bein' super hot in this weather."

"That's got to be nice to have your own personal air conditioner," Graham says, seeming to maybe pick up on something there. "Before you go to check on your grandma, test the orange juice for me. I got some complaints earlier that it tasted funny. If it still tastes funny, I'll switch it out for something else, no charge."

KeLyssa furrows her brow. "Own personal air conditioner?" She says, sounding confused. Though whether she's actually confused or not is up to the observer. "Well, let me give it a li'l taste here, an' I'll be sure ta tell ya what it tastes like." She says, grinning and giving Graham a little wink. She takes a long sip.

The long sip cause something to happen immediately. The motion of drinking finished, she lowers the cup away, but then she stares straight ahead and finds herself incapable of action. Graham blinks wildly and looks down at his notes. "It… it worked?. Just— stay a minute please." She's not going anywhere. "Uh— " He looks around quickly. There's always people, but none shuffling up to find drinks right now. "Answer a question, then you can go… Do you have a special ability?"

The compulsion to answer is strong, but as soon as she does… the effects fall away. She doesn't remember the question, or her answer.

And her hand is empty. "Still tastes funny, sounds like. Here. I have a couple bottle containers under the counter. You can have one of those." When he raises back up, he's handing that forward. Free of charge.

KeLyssa blinks and looks down to her hand. Where'd the drink go? It was just there…wasn't it? She blinks again and looks up to Graham, shaking her head. "Oh…yeah…o' course. Thank ya. Yer much too kind." She says, smiling. "Are ya sure I can't pay ya nothin' fer this? Not even another fifty cents or nothin'?"

"Don't worry about it," Graham says, looking down at his notebook as if eager to get back to work on it. "Just go visit your grandma. I'm sure she'll be glad to see you." Before he'd been smiling and friendly, now he looks a little excited.

KeLyssa nods a little, accepting the juice. "Yeah…yeah. Gonna go see m'grandma." She says, putting on her brightest smiles. "Thank ya very much, Graham. Ya've been all too kind."

August 3, 2009

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Courtside Park - New York, New York

The sun beats down through the polluted sky, heating the street and the nearby buildings. The park doesn't even have many people in it. There's a few kids playing with a soccer ball, a couple of older people sitting on a bench with a bag of bird seed and a bunch of pigeons…

And a drink stand over near a large shade tree and some empty benches. Behind the stand a man sits in a chair, behind the upside down cups, behind the simple locked money box, and the ice container. The drinks of the day are advertised as lemonade, orange juice and water. Come on, come all. The prices seem to be lower than one might expect of a normal New York food stand.

The man is tall and lanky, rather scrawny, with a hat on his head, the rims hanging out over his forehead, but not covering much. The tree at least casts a long shadow for him.

The trial isn't going as well as one would have hoped. Apparently running over a child in the middle of New York had become a crime recently, or something of the like. Though Hallis still proclaims her innocence, the story only went as far as to question her mental stability. No one has ever heard of a boy just appearing out of thin air only to be hit by a speeding vehicle. Her state of mind isn't the only thing that has come into question in the court room. Her lack of sobriety, her lack of attention to the road, the speed at which she was travelling. Everything is going against her.

During the recess, she begged off the company of her Grandmother to spend some much needed alone time. Time that she is spending in the park, reflecting on the horrible thing she'd done. But it wasn't her fault, at least that's what she's been telling herself. From the bench she watches the children playing soccer, a game she'd always found a little disgusting to play just because of all the sweat and grime. Just watching makes her throat a little dry.

Getting up from the bench, she crosses the park to the little stand and takes a few dollar bills from her purse. "Just a water please, unless you have something strong— Nevermind, just the water." And she holds out the money.

The scrawny guy looks up at the voice, immediately sliding off his chair to begin scooping eyes while he can't help but glance at the girl. A the ice drops in all the way, and he begins filling it up with cool water, he can't help but ask outloud, "You claimed a boy just appeared out of nowhere in front of your car." The news coverage has been pretty detailed. Every bit of her picked apart driving career, available for all to see. Not just the jury.

"How did he just appear? Was there a flash of light, or a shimmer or anything?" Rather than looking as if he's asking the questions to annoy her, he actually seems to be genuinely interested.

Her brow furrowing together, Hallis looks around for the video camera. "Is this some — some kind of joke? Are you looking for a story to sell?" She can't help but be suspicious, he hasn't been the first person to ask and then ridicule her for what she's said. The young socialite narrows her eyes just a little to stop the tears from welling in her eyes. Not tears of guilt or regret, but of self pity. As though she's about to be victimized yet again by the horrible people of the press.

"No, there wasn't a flash of light." She allows rather glumly, dropping the bills onto his stand. Then she holds her hand out for the water. "It was like the air warped or something. You know when the sun is too hot and there's the little wavy lines on the road? It was like that. You might as well get the real story if you're going to make a few bucks off it." Not that he can be blamed for wanting it, if he does. Nothing sells papers like crazy murder.

"What— no, I wasn't asking for…" The man looks down, sheepishly filling up the glass until it's full, and reaching to hand it over. Now, it seems he's avoiding eye contact. "I was just curious. I've seen some weird things in my day too, and wondered if it was at all the same. That's all. I won't be selling it to a newpaper or tabloid." Though he does have a notebook sitting nearby, one that seems to include a bunch of numbers, check marks and… strange formulas of some kind. Not the notebook of the press. Maybe he's a college student. An older one, cause he certainly isn't young.

"The tabloids really give you a hard time, huh?"

Mathematics has never been a strong suit of the little blonde, her subjects were more along the lines of the arts and music. Until she followed her crowd into its depth of despair, then all the rest was forgotten in favor of parties. "Yeah," she says, taking the glass of water and taking a sip. Once the cold water sooths the parched sandpaper that is her throat, she quirks her lips just a little into a half smile. "They're having a little bit of a field day with it. I don't blame them, but it's really not fair. Why would I wreck my car? It's like they think I tried to hit him or something. I didn't." Her thin shoulders lift in a small shrug and she takes another drink, this time a little bit of a longer one.

"What kind of things have you seen?"

There's something very intent in his gaze for a moment, as if waiting. He even seems to hold his breath— but then she asks her question and he seems to settle down. "I— well I've just seen some weird things. Someone who could literally shatter glasses when they screamed. You've seen it in cartoons and movies— I saw it once in real life. Even got a nasty scratch on my arm thanks to it."

He reaches over and picks up a pen and begins to make some kind of note in his book, a tick added on to a line. A line that's actually quite long. "Consider the drink on the house. I mean it's like… fifty cents anyway. Barely worth digging around a purse for. With all the trouble that you're getting, a glass of water shouldn't cost a penny."

Quirking her eyebrows, her blue eyes travel to the tick on the notebook for a moment before a very scrutinizing glance his way. "No, it's okay. I have enough money for now. Besides, if things go the way they're looking back in there… Well I might need cigarettes instead to get out of laundry duty." Hallis' lips twitch again into a small smile before she nods over to the notebook.

"High C," she says simply, "The note that shatters glass is called high C. It's hard for a singing voice to hit it clearly. That's why it usually only happens in cartoons." Lifting the glass to her lips, she drains it and then crumples the cup between her fingers before tossing it into the trash. "What is that line for?"

"Well, I guess that lady could hit High C really well," he says with a smile, finishing his notation before he sets the pen down. "Just keeping track of my sales for the day." It comes off as somewhat evasive, but not entirely so. As if there's some truth to it, but something that's missing at the same time. "Hopefully they'll let you out of this. Though I guess then you'll probably get slammed with 'Heiress gets preferential treatment' headlines."

It seems some people can never win.

"Well I'll take those headlines over the ones that day '20 Years to Life for Heiress.' But thanks for the water, I won't forget it." Whether she will or she won't is really up in the air. Hallis has always been a little bit flighty, but then again, no one other than her grandmother has just listened to her story without judging her as insane or intoxicated. "It's hard to hit high C, clearly. If that woman can hit it without trying… I guess it's just as strange as a kid popping out of the middle of nowhere right into my car." Raising her hand in a farewell wave, she turns and begins walking back toward the court house. Along the way, she pauses to straighten her clothing and brush imaginary dirt from her sleeve. Who knows, maybe it will give her a little more favorable light in the face of the jury.

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Redwood Valley, California

On a bright, sunny day in California, you'd think most teens would be enjoying summer sports or otherwise taking advantage of the weather. Well, Robin and his friends are outside, and are in the park, but instead of summer sports, they're sitting at a picnic table in the shade of a large tree, with laptops open and playing World of Warcraft. Playing Arena matches, there's moments of intensity where they're working as a team, focusing their words on the action, and then there's the waits between matches where they're discussing the game in general.

While the teens enjoying the public wi-fi are not alone in the park. There are other people, students mostly, using the internet with their laptops. And there's a game of basketball going on as well. This one man, is quite skilled at what he does, running around the court like a precise character crafted together in a video game that never misses a shot. His accuracy is the talk of the people paying attention.

"How did you get so good?" one of his friends says as he tosses the ball back to the man, who isn't even tall. From his build, he'd probably be good at some positions in basketball, but not the generic shape most people see when they think of an amazing shooter.

"Only time I miss is when someone manages to interupt the shot," he says, dribbling, moving around— shoot! It goes in again.

"Why aren't you playing for any team, man— you could totally join the NBA."

Robin, after the next round of arena ends, says, "Hold on guys, I'll be right back. Swap me out for a guildie. And watch my computer." Secretly he hits the GPS on the computer and locks it just in case before closing it, and then he stands and starts for the public washrooms, which happens to be near the basketball court. As he passes, he spots the guy doing so well on the court, slowing his step to watch curiously.

Under the close eye of the techie, the moves seem almost like a program more than a natural human response. The man moves with such accuracy and precision that it seems unnatural. At least until he lets out a sudden yelp of pain in the middle of dribbling the ball and ends up dropping it. "What the fuck, man," he says, rubbing his arm and shoulder. "Something stung me. Did anyone see a bee?"

No bee is around, but a small metal object might attract someone who is keen to detail. It gets kicked by one of the other boy's moving to get the dropped ball, skittering off in Robin's general direction.

Robin frowns at that, looking to the object and towards his friends. When he's sure his friends aren't looking his way, he sends a quick text message (using his mind alone), 'I'll be a few. Robin.' Then he steps forward quickly to pick up the metal object, looking at it curiously.

The game gets going again as Robin retrieves the metal object. Small, it looks like some kind of dart, with a short needle. It has a vial attached to it, as if it once had been filled with a liquid. Upon closer inspection, a few drops are visible inside, a clear liquid.

"Fuck, what happened? That bee sapped your game!" one of the guys yells, drawing attention back to the game. The man who'd been moving so perfectly is now moving clumsily, stumbling, dropping the ball, missing a shot by a foot.

After that last one, the ball bouncing off to get chased down by someone else, he rubs at his arm. "I think I need to sit down for a bit." He wanders off, still rubbing on his arm.

Robin quickly steps over to the man as he starts to wander off, "Hey, I think you were drugged. I saw this roll away from you after you said you were stung by a bee. You might want to get to a hospital." Even as he says this, he's listening for nearby signals, either cellphone calls or any other kind of signal, just in case he hears anything related.

"Drugged? Well, fuck. Someone's probably trying to keep me from tryouts," the man says as he continues to wander away, not seeming to be wobbly, exactly, but close.

It's the search for radio signals that picks up something. At first it's scrambled, heavily secured, and it takes a few moments to make anything else out.

"— effects immediate. Showed diminished accuracy and reflexes within seconds," a deep male voice says.

"Good job. Move on to the target at Abhayagiri."

"Copy. Law out."

And it's that scrambling that catches Robin's attention more than anything else. Normal, everyday encryption he processes in the blink of an eye. To take even as long as he did to unscramble the signal means it's some major encryption, way beyond someone looking to stop a guy's tryout. Pocketting the dart, (careful not to poke himself with it), he looks around a few moments, trying to guess the signal's origin, frowning again as it ends too soon for him to get a sense of.

The signal seems to be coming from about a hundred meters away, to the south-west. In that direction there's a visible set of buildings, including a hotel. A couple windows are opened to let in cool air, a few curtains flutter. Shadows move, people shift about continuing their day's work and business, but it's hard to tell which one had been speaking on the radio. Especially now that it's turned off.

Robin thinks about this for a moment, but then turns to head on to the bathroom. He'll check out the dart in detail later, maybe try to figure out what the drug in it is. For now, there's nothing much he can do unless they start broadcasting again.

August 4, 2009

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A Park - New York, New York

One again it's bright and sunny in early August, with the temperatures getting close to their hottest around noon. There's still some cloud cover up above, but the majority of the cooling off people do around here happens under shade trees, or with smooth glasses of water or other beverages. In the park, there's a little of both. A drink cart has been set up, peddling drinks in cups to various people. The man behind the cart looks tall, lanky, nerdy really, with a silly hat atop his head.

A sign advertises cheap prices, under a dollar all, for drinks like lemonade, and cranberry juice, and even plain water. The cups are visible, and they're plastic and not child sized, but they're not 44 oz.ers either.

And even with the heat and the sun, Sydney wants to be outside to enjoy the summer, for soon enough it will be fall. Her blonde hair has been tied back into a tight ponytail to keep from sticking to her perspiring forehead. After a long-ish walk down several New York streets, she finds herself in the park. Thirsty. Very thirsty. And it's no wonder with temperatures such as these. With a broad grin she strolls to the drink cart. "I'm betting you're a popular guy today," she observes, still grinning as she reaches into the purse slung over her shoulder, extracting a dollar.

"So… is the lemonade good?" Yet before receiving the answer, she shrugs, "I'll have a lemonade." She hands the man the dollar bill.

"I haven't heard any complaints," the man says, pulling the change out so he can pass it over and take her dollar, stuffing it into a cash box before he gets to work. Ice in the cup first, then lemonade out of a cooler, it's handed over quickly enough. "There's straws and a lid if you want," he nods with his head toward the containers. The lids aren't wrapped up in protective paper like the straws are, but they don't look dirty. He seems to keep his booth mostly clean. With the exception of a small area where he's got a notebook.

Which appear to have some kind of formulas written on them. Perhaps he's a student, taking summer courses.

"Gee, thanks," Sydney chimes before arching an eyebrow and taking a straw and a lid from the containers. She carefully inspects the lid and then snaps it over the cup before opening the straw and peeling its paper. Carefully she puts the straw into the cup. She raises the straw to her lips, but before she sips at her drink, she cranes her neck to peek at the notebook. "What are you working on? I'm a postgraduate student, I find research of all kinds fascinating. Are you studying chemistry? I know summer semester at the U can be brutal."

"Biochemistry and genetics both," Graham admits, looking down at his paper work. All the notations are made by hand. Near the bottom there's a tally set up as well, like he's keeping track of something. Perhaps an experiment of some kind. One line of ticks is a lot longer than the other, which just has a handful of them.

"The semesters are all brutal, but I'm on a grant, so that helps."

"Touche. I always found summer harder to focus though, even if it's as difficult as the other. The notion of being in school during the summer just never sat quite right, but a grant really would be motivating. It's always good to have free money," Sydney observes with a smile before bringing the straw to her lips and sipping at the lemonade. A smile spreads over her lips.

A few moments after the lemonade is swallowed, there's something strange. For a moment, it's like everything changed. There's some small differences. The cup is empty, for one. Her throat is cool and soothed. But Sydney doesn't remember drinking the whole thing.

"Whoa there, you probably shouldn't drink so fast. You might get brain freeze," the guy says, still look friendly. The pages on his notebook seem to have changed slightly, flipped to another page now. His hand moves to flip it back, as if he'd looked down to check his research and looked up to see her drinking.

"W-what?" Sydney looks at the empty cup. "Did… I…?" Wrinkling her nose, she tilts her head at the gangly man and studies him for a few seconds. "I drank that?" Her throat feels cool and she feels cooled down, but she doesn't actually remember drinking it. She holds the plastic cup in her hand, inspecting it carefully. Sure enough a ring of her lip gloss has marked up the straw. "I… thanks? I guess… good luck with your homework…" Her eyebrows furrow slightly.

"I guess you got brain freeze after all," Graham says, smiling a big sheepishly at the attractive woman giving him good luck, before he motions to the trash can sitting nearby. There are more than a couple cups dumped in there, as if people chose to stick nearby as they finished, but probably not nearly as many as he sells. "I hope it all goes well. Good luck with your graduate studies too."

"Th-thanks," Sydney says, still a little perplexed as to how quickly she drank her lemonade. With a fleeting shrug, she tosses the cup into the garbage along with the others. "I'm sure it'll all be fine. Just keep at it, and you'll have success." She offers the man a final grin before strolling off towards her apartment.

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Redwood Valley, California — Abhayagiri Monastery

It's a sunny afternoon in Redwood Valley, California, and the Abhayagiri monastery is abuzz with activity. Or, what might be deemed as activity in a monastery. Having already completed the day's chores, the monks are enjoying their solitude, at least most of them enjoy it. Several are scattered throughout the forested area, concealed by the trees surrounding the monastic village.

Brayden was never particularly gifted at solitude or meditation. So instead of practicing yoga in silence, underneath one of the many pagodas throughout the monastery grounds, he is singing Neil Diamond, albeit not too loudly, "Sweeeet Caroline… BUM BUM BUM… good times never seemed so good!" He positions himself into downward facing dog. "I've been inclined … BUM BUM BUM…" Of course, this is when a small dark skinned man dressed in an orange robe, comes into Brayden's view, shaking his head and clucking his tongue.

The Neil Diamond song isn't the only thing disturbing the peace in the monastery. The dark skinned monk that shook his head has his attention suddenly drawn elsewhere, head jutting to the side in a kind of surprise, and a moment later, he falls down, as if hit by something.

A tiny dart sticks out of his neck, falling out and landing on the carefully manacured ground beside him. A good distance away, out of sight, a rifle lowers and a pair of binoculars is raised to take it's place, watching the scene carefully.

This usually doesn't happen!

This really doesn't happen. Barefoot, Brayden runs up to try to catch the monk, but getting out of downward facing dog doesn't exactly make for an easy getaway. Frowning, he plucks the dart from the man's neck and checks for a pulse, which he manages to find. With a bit of a sigh of relief, he shakes the monk semi-frantically before looking through the trees, attempting to see where this dart came from.

Clearing his throat, he glances around the treed forest and shakes his head, there's no one to be seen, but the dart came from somewhere. And so he calls, threatening the peace of the other monks in the order, "Hey! Who are you?! Where are you?!" The tone is demanding, and not very becoming of a monk.

Not very becoming of a monk indeed.

The real monk manages to move after a moment, eyes suddenly very different, glassed over even. Almost as if the man happens to be blind. Such has never been the case in all the time that Brayden had been in the monastery. This man had always had some kind of uncanny way of knowing when someone was doing something wrong, or when people tried to sneak up on him. But now— his eyes look so glassy, and not looking directly at anything.

"A man," the monk says, obviously trying to reorient himself. "In the— camoflauge. I can't— see." He says, blinking his eyes closed and then open again. He could see a moment ago.

The un-monkly yelling attracts attention. Many get out of their yoga stances and hurry over, some likely perpared to make disappointed face at Brayden, but instead look surprised at seeing their brother fallen.

Most of the time they'd be making disappointed faces, but this time, the monk-in-training (who really has never had the temperament to be a monk) is trying to help the man stand back to his feet. "Help! He's… I don't know. Someone shot him with this and there was… someone in camoflauge in the trees. I'm… help…" He hands the dart over to one of the other monks. "Arhat fell to his knees… he… he just buckled…" Brayden's explanation makes little sense, even to himself, but then, his attention has diverted again to the trees as he looks for someone in camoflauge… someone who will be nearly impossible to see.

The many monks hurry over, to help Brayden carry him, converging on all sides to pretty much take over for the other man. A hand quickly reaches out, grabbing onto Brayden's sleeve before he gets pulled away. The monks may not know of the man's short past, of all the things that he'd done before he came to live with them, but Arhat has seen many things, noticed things the others can not have.

"Do not do anything foolish." It is not the usual antics he means, but the other monks may not know that— neither may Brayden. "Be careful," he hisses, as his hand slips away and he's helped off towards the buildings. He's not telling anyone else to be careful. Is there perhaps a reason for this?

"I — wasn't planning on…" Brayden begins before shaking his head as the monks traipse off to one of the buildings. His eyes narrows as he peers from one tree to the next. Nothing foolish. Now what would count in that category? Clearly there's someone. Something lurking in the monastery's forest. He swallows, knowing full well an easier way to see what's gone on, but then, flight might be deemed foolish, and so, in aiming to stay semi-intelligent and semi-in-control, he uses his eyes and his eyes alone. For now.

"Who are you? What did you give Arhat? I know you're there." Somewhere. He attempts to listen for any noise, but the trees sway in a light breeze, concealing any rustling, laying blame to the wind and the wind alone.

There's a flicker of sunlight reflecting off of something that attracts eyes to a bush and trees… But these trees are far away, so far away that the bush is barely a speck, any man who would be hiding behind them would be extremely difficult to spot. How did the monk see enough to identify camoflauge from that far away?

Suddenly the bush rustles, and movement can be seen, but at the distance, no details can be made out.

And then Brayden's impulsiveness takes over. The glint is all it takes to spring a flying man into action, particularly one that can react so quickly (and under the relative cover of a monastic wilderness that has already been struck by excitement). He kicks off the ground in one fluid motion and takes off towards the camoflauge, convinced that he will knock whoever it is out of the tree and deal with them face-to-face.

With such quick flying, the distance is covered so fast that, the man in camo with a sniper rifle doesn't even have his feet fully on the ground before he's suddenly propelled forward and lets out a grunt. Dressed in army-grade clothes, the man has short cropped hair and well shaven face. Blue eyes widen in surprise as the binoculars roll away a few feet. The rifle isn't in any correct position to fire, and he's now far too close for it to really do it's job safely. It drops to the ground and instead the man begins to move as if to brawl.

Surprised as he was, an elbow to the face may give him a chance to recover.

The elbow to the face sure enough does its magic, causing Brayden to stumble back from his target, and creating a bloody nose. This might be the foolishness Arhat had spoke about, but it's too late to think or stop. Now it's time to brawl. Fortunately for Brayden, his coloured past over the last year and a half had him in a number of scraps. And so he recovers relatively quickly from the bleeding nose (even though it's still bleeding all over his orange coloured robe) as he raises both hands into balled fists. With the left he jabs at his target before attempting to deliver an uppercut with his left.

The street brawls definitely made up for what he's forgotten over the years, and the man that he's punching doesn't seem to have been a boxer. He goes down, falling onto his back with a heavy thud. There's blood coming out from his mouth, and he blinks, likely due to seeing sudden stars. He starts to roll, as if to get up, but the brawler has a distinct advantage. For the moment.

And as the sniper is down, Brayden takes his moment to jump on his target, and he certainly doesn't intend to let the other man back up. "What the hell are you doing?! Who are you?! We're freakin' peaceful here!" Ironic thing to say considering he's just attacked the assailant. He attempts to pin the other man's chest with his own knee.

As expected, there's some moves to struggle, shifting of arms as the man glares with bared teeth. But then something doesn't go as expected. A sharp prick of a needle in Brayden's arm. Even while pinned, the man managed to dig something out of a pocket, flick the protective cover off, and shove it into his arm. At this close proximity, it's not impossible to imagine how, but it still kinda hurts.

For a second. And then it really doesn't hurt, as the numbness spreads out toward the rest of his body, threatening to paralyze him.

"Wha..?" the prick stings, and then the emptiness spreads. Like all rogues, the former-smuggler-turned-monk fights the growing numbness as best he can, but the battle is futile. Within a matter of seconds his body falls limp, paralyzed as the numb feeling spreads from the point of origin through the rest of his body.

The senses start to fade as the man pushes him off, wiping his mouth with a hand and reaching to gather up his things. There's a sound coming from his belt, while Brayden retains some of his senses. "Law, report?"

"This is Law. I need an extraction," he says, his voice carrying some of the damage that he's feeling.

With that, darkness takes over, pulling him out of consciousness. The monks may suspect he ran off and got drunk and got into a fight, from the headache he'll have in a few hours.

Justin Law adds into the radio, once he's a decent distance away, "You can report back that Delta Protocol has been successful."

The voice on the other end sounds more pleased than the successful one does. "That's great, Law. We'll look forward to having you back with Alpha in a few days."

August 5, 2009

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A Park - New York, New York

Just like the day before, the park has people enjoying the warm weather and sunlight. There are joggers, children play, couples sitting on benches. Nothing seems at all out of place. Except the sudden appearance of a drink stand in the middle of the park. No one seems to be bothering him or his juice cart, though, so it probably has a permit. It'd just not been here the day before… Or the day before that.

The man is tall, lanky, kind of scrawny really, with a silly pale hat on top of his head to keep off the heat. The sign advertises cheap cheap drinks. Water, lemonade, orange juice, cranberry juice. None at all expensive. How could someone affoard to run a stand on those prices?

Beggars can't be choosers. This is New York City, where one can pay over two dollars for a bottle of water, and Lena is running low on cash. Things will get better once word begins to spread about the goods she's peddling. But right now? Right now she has exactly three dollars in her pocket, and no idea when that number's going to increase. So it's hot, she's thirsty, and there is a beverage stand. Win!

The teenager ambles across the lawn towards the vendor. She's really not dressed for the weather, which may or may not be contributing to the thirstiness. Old sneakers, torn jeans, a purple hoodie layered over a t-shirt…which wouldn't be so bad if she weren't also wearing a pair of soiled satin gloves. Kids these days, and their crazy fashion.

"Hey man." She situates herself in front of the booth and produces a ragged dollar bill. "Can I get a lemonade?"

Three dollars is more than enough to get a drink at this stand! It's not pop, or anything, but at least it's something. The man straightens at the approaching young lady, eyebrows raising high on his forehead before he reaches to begin scooping ice and pouring the lemonade into a cup. The cups, luckily, aren't small, either. The cheap prices must come from somewhere else. "You're dressed a little warm for this weather," he comments, as the plastic glass fills up toward the top.

Lena is hardly a trusting soul, but there's nothing about this situation that's setting off alarm bells. Maybe things are different in Miami. She pushes the money across the counter and then shifts from one foot to the other while waiting for her drink. "Gloves are in right now, man, you wait and see. I'm like the hot new thing this year." It's a comfortable line, one she's dropped on others before. But the brief, narrow look the girl gives the fellow is easily decipherable: it's pure street, and translates simply as 'back the hell off on the subject, okay?'

The glass is put out, and he gestures towards a lid and a straw set up if she wants one, but he doesn't seem like he's planning on getting it for her. Maybe sanitation issues! "I'll take your word for it. I've hard been in on fashion trends," the nerdy looking guy says, even smiling a bit, before he takes the money and exchanges out the coin change to hand over. "I was meaning the hoodie, though. Gloves I can understand. You never know where most stuff in public has been."

"Oh…" Cue feeling a little bit dumb, although in Lena that means she scowls. No blushing for her, thank you. She's grimacing at the guy even as one hand sweeps up her change and the other grabs the cup. "Whatever, man. It's my favorite. You don't see me saying dumb stuff about that hat you're wearing, do you?" Except she just did.

The vendor put in his place to her satisfaction, she stuffs the coins back into a pocket and grabs a straw. The lid's not so important, but now that he's mentioned cleanliness…it is a dingy little booth!

"You maybe wanna work on your conversational skills, you know? You wanna chat up a girl, you need new lines," Lena informs him pertly before stepping back and putting her lips to the straw for a nice cooling swallow of lemonade. She's going to give herself a brainfreeze, drinking it like that.

And actually, brain freeze is a good thing to describes what happens when she drinks the cool lemonade. It tastes exactly as it should. But a moment after she swallows, everything seems to fade away. Awareness of the situation, anything that's going on. When she snaps out of it a few moments later, her mouth is moving, she's in the middle of saying something, stuck on the vowels, and the man behind the drink stand is watching her intently. He suddenly has a notebook that wasn't there before, with chemical equations and notations on it.

"…aaaangh, what the fuck!" The brunette gives her head a shake, eyes blinking rapidly as she looks down at the cup. When her gaze whips back to the man in the booth, there is immediate and aggressive suspicion. "Did you just try to roofie me? You tried to drug me!"

Fear of causing a scene and drawing the wrong kind of attention is summarily set aside in order to express a certain type of panic: anger. Lena's voice raises, and her arm draws back in order to throw the cup, with the remaining lemonade, right at the guy's head. And his notebook.

"Goddamn pervert!" is about the most coherant thing she says, at that point; the rest of it is a mishmash of english and spanish cursing.

The man seems genuinely shocked and surprised when she snaps out of it, and snaps hard. The lemonade splashes his shirt, and the hat he's wearing, dousing his notebook as well. "I— you weren't…" That's not the way it was supposed to go. And Lena managed to do a couple things in a short time. Splash lemonade on the poor guy, and also attract attention from bystanders in the park. A few people look on, one pulls out a cellphone as if to call the cops, and then a big guy, starts to hurry over. A big tough looking guy.

And this is when Graham decided to high tail it. He turns around and runs away very quickly, leaving his drink stand and the notebook, as well as many other things (like… the money) behind.

Lena is not above calling on the kindness of strangers, especially when they're big and tough-looking. "That guy drugged my drink!" she shouts, pointing at Graham's retreating back. She could help chase him, but…well. She is not the fittest of girls, and besides. There's a refund to be had.

Which is why the teenager returns to the booth, reaching over it to grab the cashbox. It's flipped open and she helps herself to the money inside (her own as well as whatever else might be in there because, hey, a girl has to eat and she is the wronged party here). It's almost an afterthought that has her grabbing the notebook too, giving it a shake to clear any stray droplets of lemonade. Then, after a wary look at the person on the cellphone, she lopes off in the general direction Graham took. Making it seem that she's following, but really just leaving the area before the cops arrive.

A few blocks away, Graham stops running, rubbing his hands over his face. His cellphone rings loudly in his pocket, one of the few things he didn't leave behind. "This is Graham," he answers after a few moments to gather his breath.

"Has Gamma Protocol been successful?"

There's silence for a moment, as he looks out toward the city, the people walking about their daily lives with no idea at all what's really going on half the time. But even if it would protect them… this wasn't what he signed up for. "Gamma Protocol is unusable in the field."

"Keep working. She'll still want results."

"I know."

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Las Vegas, Nevada

"One more time, Lilian," a deep voice says, grip tightening on the shoulder of the woman sitting in a chair. Dark hair hangs in her face, unwashed and stringy. The clothing she wears is simple and torn in a few places, dirty in others. Bruises are visible on her skins, around her bound wrists and face. The room itself is dark, and the man that stands behind her towers over her.

A vibration rips through the air, heading out in a straight line. A sudden crack of glass breaks, and a thick glass pitcher sitting on a table shatters into a dozen pieces, collapsing.

From the pat on her shoulder, she might well be a dog who finished an order, what he pulls out of his pocket perhaps even more so. A granola bar, which he lets her take a bite of. "A few more and I'll untie your hands," he adds, just before a soft ring distracts him.

The granola bar put away into his coat pocket, he pulls out the cellphone and begins to walk away from the chair. "This is Jensen," he answers.

The answer comes from a figure in the confines of a white room. Unlike that of the caller, it's well-lit, but nevertheless gives the impression of being below ground; the low ceilings, the lack of windows. The figure itself is clad in a black business suit, blonde-haired, hands clasped behind her back — no cell phone, but Jensen's voice still reaches her. The phone sits on the plain, metal table she's turned away from, on speaker phone. She is alone. "Tell me the trials are still successful," barks Marilyn.

She stares at a large paper calendar pinned to the wall in front of her. August 2009. It's covered in markings; circled dates, notes in abbreviated code. The weekend of the 8th-9th is circled in vicious red pen and the letters BP. "We are on a time table."

"She's… cooperating," Jensen says, glancing back to look at the woman tied up on the chair. There's not even any struggling this time, and she doesn't bother to look back at him. "We can commence with Beta on schedule, Mrs. de Souza."

"Don't disappoint me, Jensen." The giant's answer may have been affirmative, but Marilyn must make absolutely certain every part of the plan falls into place. She turns away from the calendar, eyeing the phone she speaks into from afar. "I want you above ground afterward. I want a damage assessment."

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