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What, was "Rudy" on cable last night?

. . . Yes.


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Eliot Spencer vdistinctive
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Ben's Chili Bowl, Washington DC, Wednesday
Eliot nearly dumped a vat of vegetarian chili on himself the third time the comms squealed in an hour. They were feedbacking like crazy, today, ever since he'd gotten himself into the kitchen of the historic restaurant, and he'd been beyond done with it the very moment it started.

"Dammit, Hardison!" He wasn't quite beyond caring that his 'coworkers' were staring at him, yet, so it was a low hiss. "I thought you said you had these things fixed!"

"Hey! New guy!" The head cook, who had at least a hundred pounds on Eliot and a good seven inches, loomed over him. "Shut yer goddamn yap and keep that chili moving!"

Eliot had damn well better get to punch someone on this job.

[ooc: for the other leveraginians. Leveragites? Levers. Whatever.]

"Man, I did," Hardison snapped, hand up to his ear so everyone would assume he was on a Bluetooth or something. "And since the last three times you complained at me, I pulled mine out to test and they're perfect! Absolutely perfect! There is nothing wrong with the comms!"

And then, because Hardison absolutely could not leave well enough alone, he added, "Also, calm down with the garlic, man. That last chili dog gave me heartburn something fierce."

Eliot growled in response until he got to the back of the kitchen again, where he was less likely to be overheard muttering to 'himself'. "It ain't the garlic, man --" Then the earbud gave him feedback again. "Are you hearin' that? The hell is that?!"

Parker, on the other side of the diner, muttered under her breath while reviewing the menu. "Are we in a Bermuda Triangle of feedback? I don't see anyone having problems with their actual phones here."

"There's something causing feedback on our comms." Hardison hunkered over his cellphone, fingers flying over the buttons. "I've swept the building for RFID signals three times and there's nothing. We're clearly picking up another frequency, but since it's not something my phone is programmed to already pick up, I have to adjust the settings here, okay?"

Another few moments of work and then suddenly it beeped. "Awww, yeah, we're in business now. Age of the geek, baby."

"Awesome!" Eliot mock-cheered. "Now make it stop doing that! This kitchen is hectic enough as it is!"

"New guy!" the head cook bellowed. "Where're those onions?!"

"If it's Chaos who has other comms around here, I say we turn him over to the internet for lynching this time," Parker said, relieved the feeedback problem was solved. "...Senator Jessup just walked in."

"Babe, let's not use the l-word when we're standing in an African-American historical site that survived through the Civil Rights movement, mmkay?" Hardison suggested, fiddling around with his phone a bit more.

"Now I'm uploading the program to your phones as a passive interface, too. Once we find what's causing the interference, I can take care of it, but there are places I can't be seen wandering around." Their phones reacted as the program he sent automatically uploaded on their systems. "Cause I can't get to the kitchen or the store rooms or whatever. Eliot, that's on you. Make sure you go everywhere in there. Parker, do you want to make contact with him now or wait until later? If now, you can take the main dining room. Later, head outside and check for interference around the building itself."

Eliot wanted to object, to say he should stick close to the front in case Jessup tried anything -- but didn't. Parker could handle herself and while being a senator didn't necessarily mean Jessup was smart, it did mean he knew better than to try anything in a public place.

"Sure," he said instead. "These guys already think I'm an idiot." He pulled his phone out of his pocket and started surreptitiously checking it as he moved through the kitchen.

Maybe they'd think he was just a really old text-addict.

Parker winced at her gaffe, then nodded, and said under her breath, "Got it. I'll make contact now, in the dining room." She pulled out her phone and checked the app as she walked toward it, and watched the levels spike. "Are you seeing this too?... okay, talking with Jessup, now."

"Senator! Alicia Case, I'm with WTGH, I was hoping we could set up an interview..."

Leaving his girl to grift, Hardison pulled his coat on and headed outside to see if the interference extended to outside. The first thing he discovered was that, yes, it did. The next thing he discovered was the cause of that interference: a small device, roughly the size of a sugar cube, wedged into the doorframe.

He paused in the doorway pretending to be just another inconsiderate tourist checking his phone and palmed the device. "Oh my god," he breathed. "You are not going to believe this."

It was like hacker Christmas!

"Lemme guess," Eliot said, pulling an identical sugar cube thing from the top of the pantry. "You just found a 1960s FBI bug. Jesus, when was the last time they cleaned this place?"

Parker frowned while listening to the Senator pontificate about history. "It's really a shame, a place where Martin Luthor King, and so many others made history, is now being used by liars and thieves..."

Parker tapped her comm in acknowledgment, and a take note! signal.

"Senator, maybe we can discuss this further back at your office, so I can get the background material?"

"Wait," Hardison said. "How do you know what 60s bugs look like?"

"They still use 'em in some war zones. It's a very distinctive bug."

Really, why did Hardison even bother asking these things any more?

Because he lived in hope eternal the answer would be different?

"They're still transmitting," he said, moving around the corner and starting to open his up. "That's what the feedback was. Still gathering data and intel. Not sure where it's being recorded and saved to anymore, but if we could find the dump, we're looking at fifty-odd years of data."

He looked at the tiny microphone, smaller than his thumbnail but still many sizes larger than the far more sensitive equipment in use today. "But why would someone bother to bug a restaurant? Especially that long ago? DC was segregated; none of the politicians or big movers and shakers in the city would have even here. Maybe some organized crime, drugs through the jazz clubs or something, but what else?"

"Thought you said this place stayed open during the riots in the sixties," Eliot said. "Got special dispensation or whatever." Eliot tossed the bug in the air and caught it again. "Guess now we know why."

He glanced over and saw one of the other cooks staring at him.

"Güero, who are you talking to?"

Eliot shot him a long, very serious look. "The onions. Who else?"

The cook decided not to ask any more questions, today.

"Okay! I'll meet you back at your office!" Parker chirped, shaking hands with the Senator. "I'm so looking forward to this!"

As soon as the Senator was out of earshot, she said under her breath, "In so many ways. Either he wants to get something to blackmail someone, or..."

"Or there's something on here that he wants," Hardison finished for her. "It ain't like the 60's anymore. This place is super-popular. Man, Obama's been here to eat. Technically, there could be damn near anything on these."

Now it was making a little more sense. This wasn't one crime syndicate bloodying the nose of another. All someone needed to do was get an injunction to have this place closed for a few days and bam. Anyone who knew where to look could be in and out and nobody the wiser. "The website says that everything in the building's the same as it was in the 60's. Original seats, tables, decorations, the whole nine."

Of course, none of this would be happening if the government hadn't decided that a bunch of black activists had needed spying on. Of course they'd let Ben's stay open and provide such outreach to the community. They'd been profiting of of it.

He punched the wall next to him and then tried to bite back a string of muffled curses. Several tourists turned the corner, took a look at him, hissing and stomping and waving his injured hands, and decided to turn back around.

It was a little sad that at this moment, Parker was the sanest looking one of the bunch of them. "So Jessup hasn't tapped the feed yet," Eliot mused. "He's lookin' for a chance to get his guys in and get the data. We need to take him out and keep this place open at the same time."

"I'll stay on comms and tell you guys what I find in his office," Parker said, then said softly, "We'll make this right, Hardison. Promise. He's not getting what he wants."


"And I'mma head back to the hotel room, see if I can't track down where the signal's going to," Hardison replied, still shaking his stinging fingers.

Then, more softly, "I know we will, babe. It's what we do. The three of us."