Date: December 24th, 2009
On Christmas Eve day, Robin gets an indication that the building he lives in may not be safe for himself or others.
New York City
It's Christmas eve. With no school, Robin spent the first few hours of the morning with his father, going over some of the games played by the real high-class grandmasters in the recent London Chess Classic. Now, though, as his stepfather disappears into his 'office' to do a paid chess lesson online, Robin plops down on the couch, his mind opening once again to the radio signals around him as he relaxes from his need to concentrate so wholeheartedly on his lessons.
There are those who have duties on Christmas Eve. They are not Santa's elves by any stretch of the imagination. That they have work to do, skirting the city's buildings — such as this one — out of sight, is unfortunate both for them — forced away from their families (if they have them) over the holidays — and those they target. However, someone in that scenario has the shorter end of the stick.
They have radios. It's how they communicate. Often they're radio silent unless the need arises to send an alert between teams. Today however…
The first signal is close-by, outside, on the very same street as the building. "AP One … confirmation from base…" A woman's voice.The radio communication is picked up by another set of electronic ears: a radio comm device in a nearby building, and the voice belonging to a gruff man. A neighbour of the Deveaux buildingif the signal's location indication. "… Listening." "ID confirmed to be Parkman in Deveaux. Do you have him in your sights?" "Negative. We can move on all of them at once."
Robin blinks, as he 'hears' that signal. He sits up straighter, closing his eyes as he follows the signals in his mind. Then he stands up, stepping over to the apartment window to look outside, looking around as casually as he can manage to try to see the source of either transmission, while still tuned to the frequency in his mind.
In front of the building is a van — not directly across from the apartment, however, so as not to draw too much attention. It seems to belong to a flower delivery company, UPTOWN FLOWERS, but it's been parked in the neighbourhood on and off for weeks.
The signal receiving messages from the van is more elusive. The building the other team hides in is to the right, and like the Deveaux Building, it's many stories high. Christmas trees twinkle in windows in which the curtains are pulled back, but others are closed, dark. It's one of these that the signal originates from.
"Holding." The radio from the van replies, followed by the other. "Hold but orders are to target them if they move out. Alexander is a low threat. Parkman flagged priority, he can get into your head." A crackle from the van and a sardonic response: "Merry Christmas."
For a few moments, Robin just looks out the window, listening. Then he turns back, running quickly to pick up his school backpack, and flashes a quick text to his stepfather's computer screen, 'Going out for a bit, back soon.' He quickly packs his bag with a disposable phone, his iPod, and a charger just in case. "Time to go see if I'm on their list," he says softly to himself, as he steps to the door. He goes out into the hall, stepping to the elevator. His plan is to go out of the building and to the nearest bust stop, as if he was off to do some last-minute Christmas shopping, or maybe to visit a friend. He's still focused on the channel, though, listening for any sign they notice him.
Robin seems to go unnoticed from the apartment from the elevator and from the elevator to the bus stop.
"… engaging audio," one of the voices on the radio frequency says. A new frequency is created … tapping into various apartments all over the building, picking up on voices of the residents, transmitting the sound to the van and to computers within the adjacent building. These aren't bugs, however. They simply point the device from afar— and they listen.
Technology is an amazing thing.
Robin stops at the bus stop, pulling out his phone to start pretending to send texts. Of course, he has no need of using the phone if he really wanted to, but it allows him to appear feasibly distracted as he continues to listen, now to those new channels as well.
The radio waves themselves are silent, the people responsible simply listening in, unaware that someone is listening in with them. None of the audio seems particularly threatening: normal people on Christmas Eve Day talking about Christmas Eve Day things.
Robin only listens for a moment, enough to get an idea who's being listened to. Keeping an 'ear' to the main channel, he starts to slip his way through other bands, looking for data transmissions that might indicate a computer in the van. Taking the chance to try to find a way into the AP computers.
Oh, the van definitely has computers. However, the information contained within is woefully bare. There is a security camera linkup to the Deveaux Building's cameras as well as relevant street cameras and views from in front of and behind the van itself. There are no files; no information; no database. They know their systems are vulnerable anywhere. They do, however, have a basic internet connection that goes mostly unused saved to share video feeds with another connection …which can be traced to a certain location high up in the Devaux Building's neighbouring apartments.
Robin frowns a little as he finds the computer so bare, but then he just nods a little to himself. Making his phone ring, he 'answers' and says, "Hey… oh, yeah, ok, I'll come by after the holiday then. Merry Christmas." He hangs up, pockets the phone, and starts back into the building. Now he just has to figure out a way to warn people…