It was not an uncommon occurrence for a disposable phone to light up in the middle of the night, sending a baritone buzz reverberating about the room. More often than not, in truth, night was by far the best time to try and get in touch with the shadow that lurked in the room. The night was a place of safety, a place where prying eyes and ears would not try and watch and listen to everything around them, whether they knew they were doing it or not. That, and the people who might want to reach out so as to have something done often had tasks that were best completed in the night, when the lawful forces became blind to the happenings of the city. The person known from birth as Quinn to close friends and family, of whom none were left alive, was more commonly called Quebec, or simply Q. The person who was calling knew better than to expect an answer, and the phone only rang five times before redirecting to voicemail. Quinn stood slowly, walking over to the phone and picking it up with first finger and thumb, before flipping it open, pressing a button, and listening to the message that quickly reeled off. “Hey, Q,” the man’s voice on the other end of the line was slurred, almost as though he was drunk. It was easy to picture him, dressed in a loose denim jacket, stumbling out of some bar. But the drinks he had imbibed for appearances would have had absolutely no effect. As the only man with access to Quinn’s number, it would have to take a lot more than a few drinks to even start to throw him off his game. He knew the risks when he agreed to be the in-between man for Quebec and America, and had been forced to face them more than a couple times. The scars that littered his body were a testament to that fact. But he had never given up any information, which was the only reason he was still alive. Besides, being the only man in America who was able to contact one of the most sought-after contractors in the world had its advantages. Nothing got to Quebec without going through him first, and that meant a lot of people had to stay on his good side. Of course, the man wasn’t Quinn’s only set of ears, and if anything really important came up Quinn would know about it. But he still got to play selective service for most of Quebec’s contracts. “My friend in the Grand Cafe got ahold of me earlier today. Apparently the renovations aren’t going so well, and they are ready to contract out. They have the basics for the Madeleine Room, but apparently don’t have the brainpower to finish it themselves. “Anyways, they have to get it done by Saturday at noon, or Wash loses his job. Hope you can help.” The message was almost leaking cold, but Quinn didn’t even have to listen to the message a second time to get all the nuances. Grand was government, as opposed to mob, corporation, or private contractor. Combine the fact that the man who had called was Quebec’s American contact, it was a government job, and the fact that the mission was a “Cafe” meant that the contract was joint between the CIA and the FBI. And were they ever willing to pay. Madeline, MDL, 1,550 in Roman Numerals. Which meant that they would pay just over one and a half million to get the job done. Brainpower was interrogation, finish was assassination. Saturday, the second to last day in Quinn’s week, meant that they wanted him Tuesday, which was tomorrow. And Wash meant that they wanted him in DC. The final closing statement, hope you can help, was the last piece of information that Quinn needed. Hope you can help, 4334, which, when combined with Washington DC, could really only mean one place. They wanted to pick him up in Washington Circle Park. It would be up to the agents to pick Quebec out from the crowds. Since no group had ever been able to agree upon an appearance, or even a gender, for Quebec, most of the world now believed that it was an organization, rather than an individual. The fact that they were dead wrong did not matter, so long as they continued to pay. If anything, it was almost preferable, since sending a massive amount of money to a business was far more justifiable than sending that same amount of money to one person. But it also meant that those looking for Quebec could only rely on the classic calling card. A hat with a logo of the French National Flag, and a certain exchange of dialogue. The night was waning on, and there was little time to waste. Quebec had a flight to book. The young woman walked briskly along the path, high heeled shoes clicking against the asphalt with every step. Despite the uneven path that circled around a central grassy area she never seemed to wobble, but her blonde ponytail, pulled through a blue hat marked with the French flag, bounced with every step. Quebec settled herself delicately on a park bench, tipping the brim of her cap forwards over her cold, blue eyes. Her expression was all business despite the lazy atmosphere of the day, and the people around her unconsciously gave her a wide berth. There were very few reasons why Quebec did not hate working for American Intelligence organizations. The worst of which was, they were always asking questions. They believed that they had to know everything that was going on down to the finest detail. The mob and, to some extent, corporations were much more willing to let things be. The mob didn’t care how you got the information, and as soon as they were certain they had everything they needed, the interrogated was dead, no matter what state he was in. The mob certainly didn’t want to know how you got the information, just so long as you got it. The CIA was different. They knew full well that they weren’t allowed to watch, so they would swarm in as soon as her interrogation was over to see if they could decipher just what methods Quebec had used to get the person to spill everything. If they came in and found him completely normal questions would be raised. Questions that Quebec did not want to bother having to answer. Which meant now she had to go through the trouble of actually breaking the man, and it was almost certainly a man. That was part of the reason it was a young, attractive, almost delicate looking blonde sitting on the park bench, pulling out a compound mirror and carefully recoating her full lips with a bright shade of red lipstick. The person she had to interrogate would put up more defenses, not less, when confronted with her, defenses that, when shattered, might just shatter his mind with them. Leaving the man a gibbering mess fit for nothing but incarceration in an asylum seemed like a perfectly valid solution to her. It would keep the CIA from being able to figure out just what it was she did to the man. “Excuse me, miss.” Quebec glanced up at the voice, taking in the rather plain looking man standing before her. He was at least fifteen years older than her, the lines on his face somewhat more pronounced, and the smallest touch of grey staining his temples. At least they had the sense not to send someone conspicuous, although the quick run-down that he was giving her spoke volumes about his training. Quebec narrowed her eyes slightly, not deigning him with a response. Her turn to speak would come later. It was clear from his pause that, despite the clear instructions he had been given, the man could not believe that this young woman was the master interrogator he had been sent to collect. He wanted to give her every opportunity to break script, and prove that he had found the wrong person. When she continued to remain silent, he was forced to continue. “Would you come with me, please?” Quebec stood up delicately, smoothing out the creases in her slacks. “Where are you taking me?” She didn’t bother to prevent the cold smirk that crossed her face as a look of disappointment flickered over his expression. Selfish, and prideful. What a wonderful combination. “Quebec,” he replied. “I’m taking you to Quebec.” “Then shall we get going,” she replied, satisfied with his completion of the script. “I believe we are on a tight schedule?” The man waiting in the black SUV parked a couple blocks away had wanted to blindfold her when they had left the city. Her answering look had been enough to freeze his arms, midway through reaching over his headrest to place a bandanna over her eyes. She had left him frozen in that position for over a minute, relishing his clear conflict between his orders, and straight up fear. When it became clear that she was facing a bulldog, who would not so easily release any instructions he bit into, Quebec made it a little bit easier for him. She snapped out a hand, snagging the loosely clasped bandanna and tying it around her eyes. The agent at least had the sense not to check whether or not it was properly in place, and she heard him turn around with a relieved sigh. Of course, the bandanna had made absolutely no difference in Quebec’s ability to tell where they were going. Just to spite the men, she committed every twist and turn of the road, every bump, every dip, every stop and every acceleration into her memory. Even without any visual clues, she would have been able to navigate her way back to DC, or from DC to the facility, with little problem. It wasn’t so much that she had any intention of coming back to this empty corner of the woods, it was doubtful that the CIA would ever come back to this building again, no matter what precautions they had taken, as it was that Quebec was not fond of being treated as anything less than a superior. You most certainly did not blindfold your superior. She would sell the information on the facility's location, just as soon as she had finished working her job. It would likely get blown up, and her message would be clear. Treat me like a servant, and I’ll make you all my bitches. Above ground, the facility was little more than a dusty old shack. Once she was inside and underground, it opened up into a series of small living quarters. This was most likely a safe house of some sort, but it had been emptied and cleaned out, just for her arrival. There were a large number of people filling up the rooms, and it was almost impossible to tell the CIA from the FBI, although both were most certainly present. They watched her with a guarded wariness, her reputation, or at least the reputation of her “company”, clearly preceding her. One man stepped forward, and boldly shook her hand while offering her a charming smile. Quebec’s answering smile was just as charming, and just as false. They quickly exchanged some traditional pleasantries about honor, before the agent began to fill Quebec in on what was expected of her. They didn’t really want to reveal much to her, but the fact that they had contracted her to complete almost every aspect of this process meant that there wasn’t much they could reasonably hide. A terrorist cell had infiltrated America and spread out all over the country. They had apprehended this man doing a preliminary recon of the White House and several other famous landmarks of the capital city, and had spirited him away for questioning. Although they wouldn’t admit to it, two weeks in, and they had still gotten nothing out of him. And now they were almost certainly running out of time. The plans would have been made long before the men left their home base, all that they had needed would be a little bit of time to scout out the locations, and complete the construction of whatever explosive or destructive weapon they planned to use. Quebec’s job was to get the man to reveal where he was based, or where he would now be based, and work her way across the country, destroying every terrorist base of operation along the way. When the threat was removed from home territory, she would go after the head of the snake, and destroy whatever foreign base of operation was in use. It was a monumental task, one well worthy of her, and something it should have been almost impossible to complete within the limited time-frame of one week. Of course, both the CIA and the FBI were willing to give her “every possible aid”, which meant that they wanted her to tell them where the bases were located, and let them take all credit for the clean-up. Quebec, of course, had no such plans. This was her task, and she was going to see it through, start to finish. They led her to her target only a few minutes later. He had been sealed away in a back room, a reinforced shelter designed to withstand military assault. He had been tied down a chair, but Quebec was informed that they could put him however she needed him. Quebec dismissed the men escorting her with a lazy wave of her hand, and they slowly walked out of the room with more than a couple backward glances. Once alone, Quebec turned her attention to the man seated before her. Her face twitched slightly, and the expression in her eyes went from aloof disapproval to calculating sociopathy. There was no doubt what the government men wanted to see from Quebec. They wanted someone in control, someone authoritative and self-important. Most of them probably didn’t even realize that was what they had expected from her, but the look in their eyes said it all. The man seated before her was likely to be entirely unconcerned with any “boss” air that might come off of her. A rather standard looking Caucasian male, with brown eyes, sandy brown hair, and a square jaw, he practically looked right through Quebec as she walked into the room. He had been under interrogation for two weeks, and had resisted it all. Doubtless the CIA had already thrown everything that could even remotely be called legal at him, and more than a few that couldn’t. And he still continued to resist. That meant one of two things, either he knew nothing, which was highly unlikely but technically possible, or he believed enough in what he was doing that he would never give anything up. That was fine with Quebec. She walked towards him, entirely unconcerned, and spread her hand out over his face. He blinked, slightly surprised, but forced himself to resume the vacant expression he must adopt whenever someone was in the room with him. Quebec reached her other hand around to the back of his head and pressed, forcing as much of his forehead as possible into contact with her palm. Normally even a hint of contact would be enough, but this man was far too important to mess anything up, and as long as she had the luxury, Quebec was going to take it. In some ways, her mind was like a stack of boxes. Rows upon rows of tiny boxes which she could sort through, and store information in as she needed. When she wanted it back, all she had to do was find the correct box and open it, and the information was waiting for her. Some boxes were permanent unless emptied, some boxes faded away with time, fast or slow, until they were gone forever. And there always seemed to be another box. This time, when Quebec grabbed onto an empty box, she didn’t put what she was seeing into it. Instead, she slid the mental box down her arm, through the palm of her hand, and into her captive’s own head. His eyes went wide with surprise, and his mouth opened in a small “oh”, of surprise. For a moment Quebec shivered, and her eyes briefly flashed the exact same shade of brown as the man tied down before her. He gasped and tried to push himself away from her, but the chair only tipped slightly before rocking back into place. Quebec’s smile was ice cold, and the man seated before her began to sweat. She pulled her hand away lazily, rubbing her palms together. It was time to break him, to make sure that the CIA and the FBI couldn’t get anything out of him about what she had done. And now she knew his every sense of failure and every fear. She knew the things that haunted him, and what would bring him to his knees in a matter of moments. There was no hope for him. Quebec had walked out of that interrogation room a half hour after entering it, self-satisfied smirk lodged firmly in place. The men had raced into the room to check on their captive, only to find him leaning forward in his seat, a small string of slobber slipping slowly from between his lips and his eyes glassy. They had spent a few moments to try and get a response out of him, before checking him over for any signs of physical torture. They found nothing. The men backed away, awed expressions on their faces, and hurried out of the room to get one last glance at the infamous Quebec. They had tried to get her to hand over the information she had managed to retrieve, but they let her go willingly enough when she refused, and escorted her back to DC. What they didn’t know was the five microphones and three cameras hidden in the room had all been destroyed, courtesy of that welcoming handshake the Director had offered her when she walked in. They were getting nothing from her. But she would do her job, and they would pay her. That was the way that it worked. They knew that if anyone in the organization dared try and renege on that promise, no one would make it home alive. Because those were the rules. Quinn spent one night, and one night only, in DC. There was too little time for the mission to be postponed any longer than that. The terrorists situated in the capital were preparing to strike, and were days away from their grand arrival. Quinn was there to make sure that they did not succeed, and most of that night was spent in planning, and in learning everything there was to know about Jan Srocki, a Polish man who had crossed the seas with a large group of his countrymen; countrymen who had been planning a complicated terrorist attack against America for the past five years. The CIA had gotten lucky. Jan had been one of the first groups of men to cross the ocean, and was among those who were to launch the leading attack, the attack that would set off all the others, crossing the country so quickly that no law enforcement would ever be able to keep up. With the preliminary group soon to be eliminated, it was likely that Quebec would be able to cross the country and destroy all the chapters before they could do any damage. Jan got dressed very carefully the next morning, fingering slowly through the wide variety of clothes that Quinn had packed before leaving for DC. He needed to blend in, but he also needed to stand out enough that the man from the terrorist cell, who would undoubtedly arrive at some point during the day to continue scouting the White House, to recognize him. The cell had set up a base of operations in a small sandwich shop called the Potbelly, which was within viewing distance of the White House. He finished getting dressed quickly, ran a hand through his short sandy brown hair, and then left the hotel. It was not that far from the hotel to the restaurant, and Jan shoved his hands deep into his pockets and walked briskly, making no eye contact but always remaining generally polite. It had yet to get busy in the cafe-like shop this early in the morning, but the smell of freshly baked bread and sandwiches was drifting enticingly out over the street. Jan ordered his favorite sandwich, ham, mushroom, egg and swiss cheese, before sitting down in a corner of the restaurant to enjoy the food, and wait for one of his “friends” to arrive.