[Vector] ⊜ Two Birds With One Stone ⊜ [Ceara]

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Re: [Vector] ⊜ Two Birds With One Stone ⊜ [Ceara]

Post by Ceara on Tue Jun 11, 2013 2:42 am

She huffed and shook her head lightly. It was worth a try. This guy wasn't about to fall for the not so subtle goading she was attempting over the phone. That kind of thing was infinitely many times easier face to face. Ceara poured herself a cup of coffee, sipping at it as he talked. She would have to stay up a little longer to scrounge up what little more she could about him, so the caffeine was needed.

Ceara didn't know what to expect from him, but it certainly wasn't the random French spewing through the speaker. She barely had time to blink before the man hung up, leaving her with a phrase that was nothing but a string of syllables to her. Her head was chock full of colorful words as we chugged down the rest of the searing liquid and poured herself a second.

Fucker.

It only took her a little less than half an hour to smash together French sounding syllables to somewhat match what she remembered, only to nearly throw her laptop across the room when she realized it meant nothing. Frustration and exhaustion were wreaking havoc on her system. Taking one last look at the clock, she didn't even bother with getting back into her own room, instead curling up on the couch. Ceara barely had the sense of mind to set an alarm for six hours before slipping into a deep sleep.
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Re: [Vector] ⊜ Two Birds With One Stone ⊜ [Ceara]

Post by Vector on Tue Jun 11, 2013 11:32 pm

After ensuring himself some sustenance for the night, Vector returned to the monotonous countdown blipping on his laptop screen. He wondered how many hours, if any, the girl would spend trying to puzzle out where he was, and moreover what the relevance was of that quote he'd spewed at her right before he hung up--not that she would find anything without any context. He hoped for her sake she'd give up quickly and go to bed. She didn't have much time left, and unlike him, she couldn't afford to be any less than 100% when tomorrow came.

Speaking of being 100%, he made sure to shut off his temporary phone, lest the girl try to text or call him before he was ready. It would be him making contact with her when he was ready to deal with her, not the other way around. It wasn't just a matter of her disrupting his sleep--he was a light sleeper anyways, and he'd be up and ready in seconds if need be--but it was essential to the role he was playing. Joshua Barnes was an absolute control freak, to the nth degree. It wasn't even a matter of want, but need--he needed to be in control of all things possible at all times. He couldn't--or rather wouldn't--let her dictate the time of their exchanges.

Besides, he already had something planned for her. While he was sleeping his computer would send a voicemail directly to her phone. At midnight on the dot.

Voicemail:

You'll never guess what!
All this time I've been attributing that little quote to the wrong French writer.
Y'know, I kinda figured something like that might be the case, and I just couldn't sleep.
I guess that's what I get for stealing a little gem and passing it off as someone else's catch, right?
Or would a ribbon be more appropriate?
In any case, just thought I should keep you informed!
I'll see you tomorrow!
Or, well, that depends on whether you can find me or not.

Satisfied with everything, he set up the auto-forwarder and headed to bed. 8 hours of beauty rest sounded wonderful right then and there.

Vector
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Re: [Vector] ⊜ Two Birds With One Stone ⊜ [Ceara]

Post by Ceara on Fri Jun 14, 2013 1:52 am

Exhaustion was something Ceara was familiar with; it was also something she got over pretty quickly, with a little rest. Her eyes snapped open at the soft buzz and beep of her phone going off. It wasn't a phone call or a text or her alarm, so she debated slipping off back to sleep for a moment before sighing and checking the small device. Voicemail? It was midnight... Exactly midnight, and she hadn't heard it ring earlier, or she would have woken up. She knew who had left the message before she even started listening.

She grunted and sat up, rubbing a tired hand over her face. And of course it was him. She paused the message before stretching and yawning, resetting it when she was reasonably awake. His words made very little sense, which meant there was probably another purpose of the call beside waking her up in the middle of the night.

Ceara sighed and closed her eyes. She still had four hours of sleep, and she doubted she could go back to sleep now that she had a clue of some sort. It would have to do. She yawned one last time before grabbing her laptop again. Ceara was getting real tired of this game, but without any knowledge of the man's location she was completely blind and searching outside would only be a waste of time.

She had already found out the quote was from Rousseau, so whatever he was talking about, it had to do with him. Ceara frowned and replayed the middle section of the message, mulling over what he could mean. Sighing, she typed in the first thing that came to her head, and when that didn't work, the next thing. In all she took about an hour and a half to find the address. Addresses. She had narrowed it to two stores owned by Rousseaus in the South, and no idea which one it could be. Both were within five blocks of each other, so she could check out one and still look at the other in time. Ceara grunted and stood, pouring more coffee into a paper cup and grabbing her stuff before heading out.
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Re: [Vector] ⊜ Two Birds With One Stone ⊜ [Ceara]

Post by Vector on Sat Jun 15, 2013 5:59 pm

Vector hopped out of bed before the third ring of his alarm, feeling quite rejuvenated and ready for the busy (half) day ahead of him. With that in mind, he made sure to take all the time he needed doing his normal morning routine. There was no sense rushing through it. That'd be out of character for Barnes, not that there was anyone there to see. It just so happened that Barnes' interests and his happened to coincide sometimes. And some of those interests happened to be very pleasant, like long hot showers. That was not something he'd be keen to turn down when he was perfectly free to.

He trudged over to his laptop, numbers still blinking away as he finished towel-drying his hair. That extra hour he'd taken put the time elapsed at just under 17 hours. This obviously meant things were going to be heating up really quickly. He jogged back to the bathroom to put his towel away before returning to lean over his chair. He remained there, quietly watching the seconds change for a good minute before pulling out his phone and turning it on to see if the girl had left any messages during the night.

He also wondered if she'd managed to decode that voicemail that he'd sent her. If he did, it'd take her to the next clue, located at one of two family-owned stores in the South District. The first was a fabric store, and though it was an obvious choice, she'd already have solved the puzzle by the time she found the store, so the clue wouldn't be very original. So instead he'd chosen a little gift shop named (Rousseau's) Gift, run by a quaint little family of three--the father working in the back, the son in the store, and the wife behind the register. Very small and sweet, and utterly perfect for what he had planned.

They sold all kinds of ribbon, but that's not what she was looking for. He'd bought Ceara a little present--a wooden horse--and told them someone would come by to pick it up the next day. If she managed to procure it and fiddle around with it a little, she'd discover its tail was a lever that could be used to open and shut the horse's mouth, and that inside, written on its tongue was "TrojanHorse".

That was something that still made him chuckle in retrospect.

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Re: [Vector] ⊜ Two Birds With One Stone ⊜ [Ceara]

Post by Ceara on Mon Jun 17, 2013 12:42 am

Six hours. Six fucking hours until both stores opened. Ceara sighed and ran a hand through her hair, exhaling sharply through her nose. Of course they wouldn’t open until eight in the morning. Barnes knew that, and that was exactly why he woke her up at midnight. The girl swore under her breath for not the first time, circling around the gift shop one last time before heading back in the direction of her apartment. She wasn’t going to stake this place out for no reason. He wanted to tire her out, but she wasn’t going to fall for that. A nice, long, relaxing shower was in order, then maybe some takeout and a nap. If she got back to the store right as it opened, she would still have four hours before her deadline.

She picked up the pace, dipping right into an alley so she could sprint at full speed without any suspicion. She stumbled into her apartment less than ten minutes later, kicking off her shoes and staggering into the bathroom for her much needed shower. This entire day better be worth it. Skipping her meal, she fell onto her bed a long while later and set an alarm before she was knocked out cold.

It woke her up five hours later, and a much less cranky Ceara arrived outside the gift shop with fifteen minutes to spare, bagel and coffee in hand. They passed by slowly with her sitting at a bus stop across the street, impatiently glancing around. It was a relief when the family of three unlocked the doors and opened up shop. She waited a few more minutes before standing and making her way over. Her smile was bright, despite her irritation. "Hey," she nodded at the boy her age behind the counter. "I'm here to pick something up?"

Thank god the business was small and requests like hers were uncommon. She didn't want to give a name, and she wouldn't know what name he would give them, if he even had left something for her. Total shot in the dark, but - Her smile grew even wider when the boy lifted a small box from behind the counter. She thanked him and picked it up, heading right to the back of the shop once she left it.

Settling on a crate, she tore it open, pieces of wrapping paper falling to her feet. Her eyebrow lifted at the small sodden horse, and after a few minutes of tapping, shaking, and attempts to pry it open, she found the lever. A short incredulous laugh escaped her. Of course. She tugged out her phone, horse still in her lap.

"I'll admit that I laughed, Barnes. Should I expect a surprise if I open him?"
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Re: [Vector] ⊜ Two Birds With One Stone ⊜ [Ceara]

Post by Vector on Mon Jun 17, 2013 1:44 pm

He had about four until both stores opened, and then possibly another, depending on which one she went to first. That was definitely enough time for him to grab a bite to eat and unwind a little, which is exactly what he did. The omelette he made was absolutely delicious, with just a little bit of onion and cheese and stuffed with green peppers and mushrooms. It went really well with the french toast, which he just had to make considering what Ceara was going through.

All in all, by the time he'd finished he was stuffed. He'd made enough for two, leaving half of the omelette in the pan and a few slices of french toast on a plate beside the stove. That done, he wrote a little note and stuck it to the bare fridge door by way of a small magnet.

Timmy:

You never have time for breakfast nowadays with all that work, do you?
I made you some for when you finally get in. I know you can't resist French Toast!
I'm going to be out for most of the day, so make yourself at home, sweetie.

I'll see you tonight dear,
Love Grandma

Looking over it, he added a little heart after "grandma". Finally satisfied, he retreated to his laptop station in the basement and fooled around for a few hours, awaiting The Final Call.

"Presumptuous, aren't you? First you look the Gift horse in the mouth and now you want to kill it too?" He smiled to himself. "Troy wouldn't have fallen if there was just a little bit of presumption, though."

TrojanHorse was the name of the cryptocat encrypted chat room that he had just set up. Near-perfect security, even without using TOR.

"I've still got 8 of my lives left. I attribute it to AES-256 and 4096-bit asymmetric keys."

With that he hung up. A bit of tailored searching and she'd find what she needed.

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Re: [Vector] ⊜ Two Birds With One Stone ⊜ [Ceara]

Post by Ceara on Tue Jun 18, 2013 1:42 am

"No, don't you dare hang up you son of a fucking- Okay, you hung up." Ceara leaned back on her crate, her head colliding with the brick wall behind her. She wondered just how many more paths she was going to be forced to go down in before she could beat his sorry ass into the ground. It didn't matter who he really was at this point. She was at her wit's end chasing him down and he needed to know that.

Huffing, Ceara hopped off the wooden crate and tucked her phone back into her pocket, sprinting back home for the second time that day. She had a little over three hours and a half to go; she wasn't going to give up now. She sighed and pulled out her laptop again. Anything technology related was not her strong suit, but only because of a lack of use; she was a quick enough learner.

Not quick enough, though. She was inside the chat with a little under an hour and a half left to go. Barnes, I'm really getting tired of this. Just tell me if I'm getting any closer or if I'm just here to amuse you.
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Re: [Vector] ⊜ Two Birds With One Stone ⊜ [Ceara]

Post by Vector on Tue Jun 18, 2013 4:43 pm

How quickly time flew when having fun. Vector made sure he was prepared both technologically and physically for the coming hours. The most exciting part of the chase was almost upon him. He was undoubtedly ready and looking forward to it. He only hoped that she would be as well. Countless hours of planning had gone into this 'mission' that he'd given her, and it would be a shame if all of it was for nothing if she couldn't hold her own in a fight.

Her rise through the ranks seemed promising, at least. If she was as good as her record, and he was inclined to think so, things should be very fun.

With 22:35:16 elapsed, she logged into TrojanHorse.

Chat Log:

Gift_Horse: Welcome. I hope you didn't go to too much trouble trying to find this place.
Gift_Horse: You should understand my... dislike of giving out personal information where there may be eyes and ears watching and listening.
Gift_Horse: Are you familiar with the concept of ARG?

If not, she would have to maker herself familiar really quickly. Time was quickly running out.

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Re: [Vector] ⊜ Two Birds With One Stone ⊜ [Ceara]

Post by Ceara on Wed Jun 19, 2013 2:39 am

I ran into a little problem, but otherwise it was okay. Yeah, that little problem cost her about half an hour to work out, and time really wasn't on her side at the moment. But she was here and that was all that mattered right now.

Personal information? Great, though it wasn't going to he that easy. Probably not. He was just that kind of guy. Ceara sighed and stood to pour herself a small bowl of cereal in the kitchen. If she was going to fight soon, she needed something in her stomach, though not enough to make her restitution more of a problem than it already was. Your body after ejecting everything in your stomach was not in a good place at all. Luckily it had only happened to her once before, and she managed to stagger away when her assailants weren't looking, but she wasn't going to get that lucky this time.

ARG? Ceara frowned and plopped herself in front of the laptop. Alternate reality game? she typed, her frown growing larger. I know of them, but I can't say I've ever participated in one.
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Re: [Vector] ⊜ Two Birds With One Stone ⊜ [Ceara]

Post by Vector on Wed Jun 19, 2013 8:39 am

Vector found himself grinning at her first response. What a perfectly succinct understatement that was. He was tempted to respond with something commenting on the inordinate amount of time elapsed between their (albeit brief) phone call and her signing in, especially for a 'little' problem, but he decided against it. He'd already made this incredibly difficult for her, and drawing even more ire from her in these last 88 minutes just seemed spiteful and unnecessary.

Chat Log:

Gift_Horse: Ah, lovely. Saves me the trouble of havin' to explain.
Gift_Horse: And to that I say there's a first time for everything. Get your best running boots on and prepare yourself, my friend.

Why needlessly frustrate her with his comments when the mission itself could do it for him?

Chat Log:

Gift_Horse: I'd suggest you bring a laptop along with you. I've got USB keys hidden across the district, just waiting for you to find them. On each will be a single clue. I'll be sending you one to signal the end of this chat as well. Use them in tandem to speed up your search. 
Gift_Horse: Let's say you're on the trail of a criminal dropping clues for you to find. A real Carmen Sandiego, this one. The only way to stop him in his tracks is to get a step ahead of him, and for that you need to get all the clues in as little time as possible. You'll have an hour to find each.
Gift_Horse: The culprit always returns to the scene of the crime.

What he didn't tell her was that that last bit was the clue, or that other than that one, there only was one other. He smiled to himself wondering just how frantic a chase within a chase would make the girl. Either way, things were going to get interesting. Oh, and the chat would erase itself in an hour, so he hoped for her sake that she was paying attention.

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Re: [Vector] ⊜ Two Birds With One Stone ⊜ [Ceara]

Post by Ceara on Fri Jun 21, 2013 2:47 am

Ceara turned to punch one of the couch pillows by her side, letting out a muffled shriek in the process. This guy was actually ridiculous. Completely insane. She slumped down on the couch with her face buried in the pillow, thankful that her friend wasn't home to see her this angry and frustrated. There was no end to this road as far as she could see, and she hated not knowing how much longer she had to go. But what she hated more was giving up now once she was so far in already. She was going to find him, even if her time was up. There was no way she was going to go through this much trouble just to let him go. Ceara wanted revenge on Barnes for having her jump through so many damn hoops.

Without even responding, she snapped her laptop shut and slid it into her bag, heading towards the door. Fuck manners. Ceara checked her phone for any voicemails before heading towards the gift shop. Still convinced it was a test, she was pretty sure that this hunt was tailored to her. The file said nothing about his crime, so her best bets for 'the scene of the crime' would be the shop or the train station. She was hoping the key was in the shop. But that would be wishful thinking. Ceara smiled again at the boy behind the counter when she entered, hoping that he wouldn't comment on her second visit of the day. Strolling through the shelves, she scanned them for any sign of a USB key.
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Re: [Vector] ⊜ Two Birds With One Stone ⊜ [Ceara]

Post by Vector on Fri Aug 02, 2013 2:18 am

She was on the home stretch now, undoubtedly. Time was running out quickly as Vector hunched over his laptop screen, idly watching the seconds go by. The USB key at the shop shouldn't be too hard to find. That was relatively speaking of course. It would be foolish to hide it somewhere in plain sight. Rather, to find it she would have to find the shelf that held all the wooden horses. Inside one of them was the final clue--even if she was unaware of this--which would lead her straight to his location. From there the confrontation would take place as planned and he would get to test her fighting skills in a farm more personal and less removed way than he'd been testing her tracking skills and mettle.

He got up and stretched a little, sifting through his satchel for weapons. He had a decent amount of time to kill and he figured that he might as well do that by practicing. The house was already perfectly set up and he felt a little excited for the upcoming clash of wills. It wasn't often that he got the chance to find a worthy opponent, taunt them for nearly 24 hours, and then lure them to one of his many hideouts to vent their frustration in the form of a fight.

It's time to return to the nest, birdie.

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Re: [Vector] ⊜ Two Birds With One Stone ⊜ [Ceara]

Post by Ceara on Mon Aug 05, 2013 2:14 am

An impossible mission. Seriously.

Ceara's eyes scoured over the shelves of miscellaneous trinkets and toys, occasionally stopping her search to pick up and examine any one thing that stood out to her. She swore under her breath, ducking down to look at the lower shelves. Three copies of a familiar wooden horse caught her eye. Straightening, purple eyes glanced up above the shelves, making sure the attention of the boy was diverted elsewhere before Ceara crouched back down. Shaking the first proved useless, but the second made an audible clatter and that one was swept up and brought to the counter. Within ten minutes she was back home and the horse lay in pieces beside her, the USB already plugged in. She sighed and pulled up the files, raking a hand through messy hair.

Either the clue was easier than the rest, or she was starting to think like Barnes, as she decoded the address within a half hour. She'd like to think it was the former. Ceara shot a look at the screen of her cellphone - 11:15 a.m. Forty five minutes.

Snagging her gloves and hammer on the way out, fears wasted no time in making her way to the location. Forty five - more like thirty five, now - left little, of any room for error. And she wasn't about to let the son of a bitch leave now, not after all she had been through. If this was just another step to the next clue, well, then she was going to break something.

She glanced up at the perfectly innocent looking house. Not the place she imagined he'd ever be, but she knew not to underestimate him.

She stole one last look at her phone before heading around the back. Going through the front door was overrated and probably extremely stupid.
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Re: [Vector] ⊜ Two Birds With One Stone ⊜ [Ceara]

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