Mutually Assured Erasure
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Porter returns to the safehouse where Ania is located, prepared.

Monaco

01/14/13

"I don't know about you, but I've been feeling pretty underdressed with a couple of knives, a stolen pistol, and a half a clip between us."


Monaco. 00:58 hours.

It's late. Too late. The safehouse that Porter has secured is serviceable, but by no means luxurious. Whenever they aren't out and about, he and Ania have access to a attic with high ceilings that's above an old man's bakery. He goes simply by Benoit, nothing more, and speaks warmly with them in French. He provides pastries in the morning and simple, hearty suppers in the evening. Perhaps most importantly, he doesn't ask any questions.

This comes in particularly handy when Porter returns from the Rainier Resort with his care package from the CIA. Though he's wrapped newspapers around much of it, concealed some on his person, and stuffed the rest into small red duffel bag that's slung across his shoulders, anyone but the most casual of observers can see that he's carrying a small arsenal. Not only did he retrieve what was left for him via dead drop, he found a second, smaller stash that he hid in the sub-ceiling of an office bathroom almost a decade ago. So now, heavily loaded down with gear, he staggers through the back door to the bakery.

Benoit raises an eyebrow and lets out a small snort of laughter. He doesn't comment on the obvious, though. He just slides two chocolate-filled croissants into a paper bag and slips it under Porter's arm. Despite being at least seventy, he moves briskly about his workplace, kneading tomorrow's bread vigorously even though he's been on his feet since sunup. "She's upstairs," the old man finally says. "Welcome back."

Porter nods gratefully, thumps around to the attic stairs, and lets himself into the safehouse. There's not much to it. A living area with a small, antiquated television, a coffee table, a sofa, and a bookshelf that Porter's been steadily adding to since their arrival. A kitchenette that's a long way from having all the amenities of home. A tiny bathroom with a rattling toilet and a glass-walled shower. And a bunkroom with four narrow, barely comfortable beds.

"Honey, I'm hoooome~" Porter croons, making sure to alert Ania that he's arrived. "And I brought presents."

A stool from the kitchenette has been relocated from its natural spot and moved more or less into the center of the main room for no obviously logical reason; even tactically, there could be better places to set up. But this is where Ania sits when Porter enters — hunched over, circling the tightly buttoned cuff of her shirt with her opposite fingers; the woman's monochrome wardrobe she fled Ukraine in has been disassembled and reassembled, coats gone but a vest of the same grey double-buttoned up her front over a white collar and sleeves. Her pants have been tucked functionally into boots that go past her ankles, only because they look too large on her; they're laced tight as a corset. While her repetitive motion isn't exactly fidgeting, and she doesn't seem nervous, per se, there's something quietly discomfited about the displaced Ukrainian. Almost restless.

She's already watching Porter, her eyes pre-set to the exact spot he was going to enter from before he entered. Big, grey, catlike from afar and just as animal until they steel with intelligence, only to revert to that of a caged, hungry pet as she assesses his new belongings, pointedly eyeing them, paper bag of food included.

Porter shifts his parcels around until he can toss the bag of croissants to Ania. Then he moves to the sofa, plops down, and relieves himself of his burdens. One by one he unwraps them, revealing a dizzying array of weaponry and equipment. A .22 caliber survival rifle, complete with scope, with all parts detachable and stored within the wooden stock. An MP7 personal defense weapon with a holographic imaging system and a side-mounted 20mm grenade launcher. Claymore mines, one of which he immediately wires to the attic's only window. A sawed-off shotgun. Several handguns of varying shapes and sizes. And that's just what was wrapped in newspaper.

There are two silenced pistols on Porter's person and the sack is filled with small necessities. Extra ammunition. Demolition caps and charges. Several sets of passports and identity documents for both he and Ania. Lockpicks. Listening devices. The list goes on. When the CIA sends a care package, they don't mess around. Once he's finally unpacked, his gear covers the entire coffee table and part of the couch. He eyes it critically, then tilts his head to the side and lets out a puff of air. "Suppose it'll have to do. Toss me a croissant, will you?"

Ania, completely silent save for the crunch of paper when she grabs the bag from the air, watches the full extent of Porter's unpacking process before assessing what's in her hand. She opens it and reaches inside slowly like she doesn't trust the baked goods not to contain poison that travels through contact, but grabs a croissant and tosses it straight as Porter as requested. She takes the second one out and, contrary to her dapper attire, rips quickly at it with her teeth like she's never seen food or manners before. Normal to her, it seems, as leaving the empty bakery bag behind, she jumps up from the stool like a shot and strolls more collectedly closer to Porter. She's calm as she gives the lethal goods a closer look. Chew, swallow. "You look like you are preparing for war." She plucks a few of the passports from the pile, letting them slide and fan out of her fingers as she gets a glimpse of each one, giving Porter a still look that only requests more information than the whole array of supplies says for him.

For a guy who doesn't care for guns, Porter is fairly comfortable with what he has in front of him. That's because the words 'RUBBER BULLET' are visible on a lot of the ammo boxes. Many of the grenade reloads and his various hand grenades are labeled with things like 'FLASH' or 'CONCUSSIVE.' There are standard munitions as well, but there's at least one rubber bullet here for every real one.

He catches the flying pastry deftly out of the air and bites into it. He's a little daintier than Ania, but not much. Apparently, nobody in this room is trying to impress today. As for the hardware, he just shrugs and gives a dismissive toss of his head. "I like to be prepared for anything. If I have my way, I'll get done everything that needs doing without a shot fired. Need help for that, though. I've read your file. You've only gotten better on the short con, it seems. And your skills at extracting information are, of course, legendary." He pauses for another bite of croissant. This time he's reached the chocolate filling and he grunts appreciatively. "Mmmmnnn. I could use you on my team."

Ania is mid-bite and mid-examination of a box of rubber bullets when she looks up sharply toward Porter when he speaks of her. There's a long pause; she shifts her squared little jaw from side to side and swallows. "And I could use," there's just a beat as she sorts out the English, "this file to be burned." She tips her head back, chin up — a considering pose, though her stare at Porter barely changes. "What is your goal, with all of this?" she queries concisely. "Stop the bad guy?" A glance aside. "With rubber bullets?" A glance back. "Get answers?"

Now halfway through his snack and showing no signs of slowing down, Porter stands and makes his way to the kitchenette, where he pours two glasses of rich, dark red wine. "Another gift from Benoit," he explains as he offers a glass to Ania, then sips from his own. "Damn. I love that old man."

He sits back down and lets out a low sigh. "Look, I don't like to kill people anymore. I've had my fill. Let's just leave it at that. As for the rest, yes to all of it. I intend to get answers and stop the bad guy. With rubber bullets. Once again, with the needing of the help. You want to disappear, I can have you scrubbed from the CIA's database. No problem. No promises, but I have a buddy who's pretty high up in Five over at Thames House. He might be able to do something for you across the pond. I'm not afraid to tell you that I could really use an agent who speaks Ukrainian, English, and French on this op. I'll lean on Mr. Five, don't you worry."

Ania is fixed on Porter as she nears again; staring precisely at him in a manner that doesn't match her roundabout way of approaching the kitchenette, not watching where she's going. Only the agent in the room with her. She takes the wine only to set it down and swipe her finger into the chocolate filling of her croissant, the only time her eyes divert. "Hm." Her tone goes up in a slight increment. At the very least, she doesn't sound bored. Her demeanour softens slightly in the few seconds it takes to disappear the chocolate, and her eyes seem brighter and more curious when they re-land on Porter. "I help you and disappear," she says, to make it clear, or to agree. It might as well be the same thing.

Porter finishes the last bite of his pastry, washes it down with some wine, and sets his glass aside. While they talk, he picks up a knife and busies himself with the business of cutting C4 into appropriately sized pieces for different tasks. When he's accumulated several piles of varying sizes, he starts attaching complex electronic detonators that can be set for impact, timed delay, proximity, or remote activation. "You help me and you disappear," he agrees. "Hell, we can make it look like you died in an explosion. That's what the CIA did with me. That way, even the people that don't erase you won't be looking for you."

Ania takes up a vested interest in the process of cutting C4. She takes a hearty gulp of the wine like it's nothing more than sugary apple juice. Something Porter says seems to quirk her lips at some private amusement; she takes another drink and it's gone completely. "No." Her head falls to the side. Her eyes still don't move, fixed like a doll's. "Maybe. I want to be found. I want to work. I have a… what did you say— a legend. It's only in the CIA's files I want to die." One shoulder rolls stiffly. She gestures at the explosives with the shred that's left of her croissant from Benoit. "What's first."

When he's satisfied with his explosives, Porter starts loading rubber bullets into pistol magazines. "We gear up," he replies. "I don't know about you, but I've been feeling pretty underdressed with a couple of knives, a stolen pistol, and a half a clip between us. Once we've rearmed, we need to finish putting together our team."

Click. Click. Click. One by one, he feeds rounds into magazine after magazine. "Once we have a team put together, we're going to find the bastard who captured me and take him down."

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