Hungry Like The Wolf, Part Four: Prep Work

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(April 1st)

Jack turned slowly, considering the dark security uniform that he was wearing, and then sighed disapprovingly. Catherine turned to look at him, one eyebrow raised. “Problem?”

“No,” Jack said slowly. “I'm just missing my Magisters uniform, that's all. I'll live.”

“I don't know, I think it's all in how you stand.” Roland grinned, flexing. He filled out his uniform much more fully than Jack, his muscles standing out against the dark fabric.

“Alright, if you're done enjoying your reflections, we have a briefing to cover.” Catherine looked around her team. “I know I've discussed some of this already, but we're going to go over it again. Jack and Roland will be acting as two of the four guards who are on the truck carrying the exhibit – the other two will be joining us at the airport, when we offload the pieces from the plane. We expect that the Mythica will wait until the truck reaches the museum, where it will be easier to ambush, but it's possible that they'll move earlier, so Blossom and I will be shadowing the truck from one block west. Yousef?”

Yousef stepped forwards, holding four small metal clips with glittering amethyst tips. “I've made some subtler comm units than the ones that you had,” he explained, stepping forwards to pin the first one on the underside of Invictus' collar. He tilted his hand as he did, letting the others watch. “I call them radiogems. They basically broadcast highly focused vocalization thoughts on a theta-band frequency, which is really more than any of you cared about, wasn't it? Sorry. You just clip them here, unobtrusively near your throat, and you focus on words that you want to say.” He stepped over to Jack, handing him the second comm, and then passed the third to Catherine. “It takes total intent, so there's no risk of thought slippage the way psychic comms do sometimes. You should hear a sort of echo when your teammates speak.” He paused at Blossom. “I, uh, you don't actually have a collar. Or a throat, actually, uh, because you know, but I modified this one, so, uh, you should be able to just, attach it. I mean, I would, but it seemed kind of like it would be intrusive, so I…” He trailed off, handing her the gem quietly.

Blossom studied the small gemstone, then slipped it easily under her mask, which smiled at him. “Thank you, Yousef.”

“Uh, no problem.” Backing up quickly, Yousef looked around the group. “Alright, so you should have all heard a sort of echo when Blossom said that. Right?” Jack and Catherine nodded. Roland frowned.

“I got nothing,” he said.

Yousef rubbed his hair. “Oh dear. I was afraid of that.” When Roland turned his frown towards him, the scientist winced. “It's, uh, your powers. They're blocking the gem from reading your intent. You'll have to use a walkie, until I can figure out a bypass. Sorry.”

“Lovely.” Roland crossed his arms. “Thanks.”

“Sorry,” Yousef repeated, before turning back to the others. “Okay, but the rest of you should be patched into our systems. Whenever you speak, everyone else will hear you. If you really focus, you can also speak into the system without actually talking. So no monologuing, okay?” With a small laugh, he stepped back. “Uh, Piper, you have the floor. That's it.”

“Thank you, Yousef.” Catherine nodded professionally as Yousef slipped back several steps. “Now, there's always the possibility that the attack will actually take place at the airfield, or even on the plane itself. If the latter, we'll play it by ear. Alice will be flying cover, so if we get it trouble we have support. At the airport, we'll have a lot of security around to act as backup. On the road, it's just us. Jason?”

Jason nodded, stepping forwards and handing a set of photos to Roland, who glanced at them for a moment before passing them to Jack. As Jack studied them, Jason said, “The Mythica are after the three carved stone statues in those photos. By themselves, they're just ugly pieces of Mesopotamian art. However, we think that they could serve as focusing keys for a much larger series of devices, designed to allow their original creators to speak to the dead.”

“Can't be done,” Roland interjected. Jason nodded, smoothly continued.

“True. Any ghost that can be talked to is still on this plane. But if they work even a little, they could weaken dimensional boundaries, which means that they might be adapted to a different sort of barrier. The one holding Jormungandr, say.” As Jack passed the photos to Blossom, Jason looked over to Catherine and then back to the group. “We have permission from Director Henry to destroy the sculptures rather than let them fall into the Mythica's hands, but it's a last resort.”

“Thank you, Jason.” Jason stepped back smartly as Catherine looked over the group. “That basically covers our objectives and the situation. You've been given our notes on the Mythica, which amount to very little. We suspect them of having a wide array of artifacts which they could use on this mission, and we know that they have at least two front-line fighters, one a super-quick and agile woman, the other a werewolf who can reputedly cut through steel with his claws. We expect that they have at least one or two more super-powered agents. Jack will be responsible for identifying exactly what powers we're up against, and I will modify our tactics depending on what we're facing. We will also have Director Henry overseeing operations from our base, where Jason and Meredith will be doing any on-the-fly research we need, and Yousef will provide technical support. Now, are there any questions?”

“Why not ask Justiseer for support?” Jack said softly. Seattle's municipal guardian was renowned for his ability to see two seconds into the future, allowing him to predict his opponents' movements and win any fight where his tactics could help him.

“We've warned him that there may be trouble, but he's not a soldier, and he's not a great liar. If he's onhand when trouble goes down, that's great, but we'd rather rely on our own forces for this one,” Catherine answered.

“Why not just break the statues now?” Roland asked. “No big loss, you ask me.”

“I didn't.” Catherine said bluntly. “Each of those sculptures is valued in the tens of thousands of dollars. I suggested to Director Henry that we replace one with a fake, and he responded that the Mythica will likely be able to track them directly, so they would simply abandon the heist.” She tried to keep her voice level. “Any other questions?”

“Nope, I think that covered it.” Roland nodded. “Let's go kick some fake mythological ass.”

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