In the Cat’s Ear Ch3 Ficbit – Communicating

Oh, this was going to be fun. Pulling his fist out, Hei opened his hand to display two earpieces with mikes.

Always have a backup.

Ichigo blinked, open-mouthed. “…Are those what I think they are?”

“Yes.”

“But-”

“It’s safe,” Hei assured him. “We’ve always checked our equipment for tracers. And our employers were too smart to put tracers on them in the first place. Anything you can track, can be tracked back.” Now he did smile, wry and dark. “The last thing they wanted was for me to know where to find them.”

“Um.” Ichigo didn’t pale. Just straightened, serious and interested. “What did you do-?”

“I was the one they sent when people defected.”

Ichigo blinked. Held that teenage scowl through what had to be a monumental effort of will, for almost ten seconds.

Gave up, and snickered.

Hei let him get it out. It was funny. “Here.” He lifted his own comm to his ear. “This is how you put it on.”

And suddenly he had to catch his breath, because the teenager trusted him enough to mimic him. Even when the earpiece pinched. It had to be secure. The last thing an operative needed was comms cutting out because they’d fallen off when another Contractor’s air-blast sent you through a nearby wall.

Hei watched Ichigo finish. Held up empty hands a moment, then reached over to check the comm really was secure. Nodded, and stepped back. “Comms.”

“Check,” Huang’s growl came over the line.

“Check,” Yin said quietly.

Ichigo took a deep breath. “Check.”

All voices came in clear. Good. Right now Mao was lurking somewhere near the market, ready to break into the net with a warning if a Hollow headed for Yin. And Huang did have a burner phone, with Dr. Ishida on speed-dial. They were as prepared as they could be. “Location?”

“Not on this street,” Yin stated. “Expanding radius.”

“How far can a kid get in a few minutes?” Ichigo muttered.

“More like half an hour, my guess.” Huang’s words were low, but clear, even as the murmur of other voices came through in the background. “Takes a while to admit your kid’s gone.”

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24 thoughts on “In the Cat’s Ear Ch3 Ficbit – Communicating

  1. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? I think the Syndicate had others they could send after defectors besides Hei? Mostly because the watchmen have to watch each other too.

    That isn’t to say that doing so would be easy, Hei’s seen what’s worked, and what doesn’t work.

    And yeah, I can see a bit of denial in the parent as they more frantically search before thinking their kid is just gone, not “not paying attention around the corner”.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Oh, they certainly do have other people they can send. But canon, Hei was the best. The one they sent when no one else could do the job.

      …The Syndicate is going to have to consider how to handle this carefully. Because Hei’s also fairly good at catching people non-fatally. Meaning anyone they send who fails might end up a source of info for people definitely not Syndicate.

      *Nod* Parental denial based on what I’ve read of a lot of missing/kidnapped/murdered child cases. One detective’s rule of thumb was that if a parent insisted their kid had been kidnapped “by a stranger”, instead of just “I can’t find them!” then the odds were good that the parent knew the child was dead. Because usually there would be denial.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Oh, they certainly do have other people they can send. But canon, Hei was the best. The one they sent when no one else could do the job.

        …The Syndicate is going to have to consider how to handle this carefully.

        I am suddenly reminded of the anime Noir.

        Or more precisely, of the Noir/NGE crossover fic, “The Black Hands of NERV”.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. I’m going to have to think about Noir; I had forgotten it existed.

        I remember Black Hands of NERV vaguely.

        I highly recommend the series. If nothing else, it’s highly interesting to watch an action-conspiracy series take place from the viewpoint of the assassins.

        As for “Black Hands of NERV”…

        Technically, while the situation I’m talking about here could actually be considered canonical to Noir itself, it was never actually explored because the series concluded before it could even be brought up. BHoN did so, and from there simply followed it to its logical end.

        Short version: the modern leaders of Les Soldats put so much effort into preventing Le Grand Retour from happening, that it wasn’t until after the fact that they even bothered to consider what to do about Noir – who had not only broken away out of disgust for their manipulations, but had also achieved their status of “the ultimate assassins”, explicitly by killing off all other assassins on their level. (Nearly all of whom had been deliberately sicced on them by Les Soldats in the first place, specifically in order to forge them into Noir!)

        (Gun. Foot. Boom.)

        The parallels by now should be pretty obvious.

        Liked by 3 people

    2. Nikas. You may have given me the solution to problems that I’ve been having with my plotting.

      If there had been a civil war within the Syndicate, it could have happened in South America after Heaven’s Gate.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. My inner engineer is insisting that I raise one technical quibble. It *is* entirely possible to build a tracking device that has no back-track risk. An extremely simple example is the ELT beacon carried by almost all civil aircraft — when triggered, it just “screams” on the designated frequency until its batteries go flat. An APRS packet relay would be more sophisticated, but still quite simple to implement. And even with things like Yin’s little wil-o-wisps, there’s really no practical way to trace anyone/everyone who would be *receiving* that signal. Otherwise, “number stations” wouldn’t work nearly as well as they do.

    Now, if Hei’s electrical talents let him pull a Shiro Emiya on circuits, as his “TV repairman” bit from Episode 1 suggests, I could see it being nearly impossible for the Syndicate to add such a feature to his gear without him finding it and/or disabling it. And if/when the Syndicate broadcast a trigger signal, and it failed, they wouldn’t have any means of being certain the unit was tampered with, or was just underground where the signal wouldn’t reach at just the wrong time, or just had a random quality-control failure.

    There’s one other disturbing possibility, though, that doesn’t require *any* Syndicate tampering with Team Hei’s gear: the Syndicate *made* that gear, they know what frequencies and encryption keys it uses. Even if the communicators are low-power and use frequency-hopping, if the Syndicate were willing to flood an area with properly-tuned receivers, they could eventually track the Team by their own emissions, and potentially even eavesdrop on their communications, all without the Team ever being aware it was happening.
    There’s almost no technological counter to this approach. But the flip side is that its speed and reliability scale with the number of receivers you cover an area with, and its covertness scales *inversely* to that same number.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. If Hei’s powers let him detect the tracer signal, he might potentially be able to detect transceivers that log it and send their own signal back to the data collection nodes of the detection network. Whether or not he can trace packets moving over the network depends on how bullshit his power is, and how bullshit his personal competence is.

      So, what does the Syndicate know about his power, and how paranoid do they have to be in their assumptions when it comes to personal security?

      It takes special instruments to detect when BK201 is using his power. You couldn’t simply build a network that only works when he isn’t using his power. So, how do you command your elite assassins of questionable loyalty without providing them with clues enough to take out your entire leadership?

      Liked by 3 people

    2. Both of this explanation and Satoyama’s response – while true, good, and accurate – are kind of skipping an important data-point.

      The Syndicate could reasonably assume if contact was ever lost that by tracking the activity of Bai’s star they’d be able to find Hei.

      The above solutions work, and as the saying goes triple redundancy is barely sufficient, but in a case where you’re balancing ‘could this be discovered?’ against ‘it takes what level of investment/resources to pull off with accuracy?’, with ‘do we have cheaper alternatives?’, the stars align (pun intended) to suggest there’s little need and little chance that such measures would’ve been taken.

      …Something I have no doubt the heads of the Syndicate are kicking themselves over at this point.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Posting the comment let me load the ‘Ice’ post, once. I have a feeling that debugging WordPress websites could be a full time job. Pity I don’t have the full skillset needed. Or rather, didn’t before I started the current round of occupational retraining.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. “And suddenly he had to catch his breath, because the teenager trusted him enough to mimic him.”
    “Hei watched Ichigo finish. Held up empty hands a moment, then reached over to check the comm really was secure. Nodded, and stepped back.”

    Big brother Hei! And Ichigo TRUSTING him enough to not only follow his lead, but letting him close enough to check the earpiece was secure?

    If Hei hadn’t decided he was keeping the weird half-trained kitten before, now you’d have to pry Ichigo from his cold, dead hands. Hei’d kill you first, though.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Hei will put disappear a few people to protect his fluffy orange kitten, but that’s alright. They were out of towners, far as anyone knows they just went home.

        Hei and Archangel must never meet. They’d either cause an international catastrophe or, possibly worse, they’ll get along.

        Liked by 4 people

      2. I’ve been pondering whether Air Wolf should show up when the class trip is hijacked to Venezuela. But Hei and Archangel must not meet. Before the end of Season One DtB.

        Liked by 3 people

  4. Now he did smile, wry and dark. “The last thing they wanted was for me to know where to find them.”

    Quite.

    Why do I have the feeling that if Hei had known where to find them, some of them at least would no longer be amongst the living?

    Now I were extremely paranoid higher up in the Sydnicate, I might consider changing my location anyway. Because I THINK Hei never tracked it back to our location. I do not KNOW. And Hei is dangerous enough that banking on a “maybe” seems very risky.

    It was funny.

    And more than little ironic.

    Said employers did not appreciate neither the humor or the irony of the current situation.

    They were as prepared as they could be.

    Yep. Sometimes all you can do is plan for the worst and hope for the best.

    And cross fingers that Murphy had decided to play with one of their OTHER toys that day. Or least for the next hour or so.

    (Ichigo and Hei are seldom THAT lucky).

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Make that MOST of them would probably not be among the living.

      …Not necessarily because of Hei. Hei might eliminate some, but he might turn over info on others to actual uncompromised law enforcement, and then the rest of the Syndicate would eliminate them.

      And now Syndicate members do have to wonder if they were paranoid enough… nope, they don’t think it’s funny. Darn.

      Murphy is sitting back with popcorn. 😉

      Liked by 3 people

      1. …Not necessarily because of Hei.

        Of course.

        Hei knows how to make good use of available resources.

        And is more than willing to let the bad guys do half of the work of eliminating the bad guys FOR him.

        And now Syndicate members do have to wonder if they were paranoid enough…

        At least some are going to go with “Not!”

        And sometimes overly paranoid people scrambling to hide themselves better make costly mistakes.

        Course one should be extra careful about going after them . . .desperate people do desperate things. And any paranoid Syndicate higher-up would be feeling very desperate if cornered.

        Liked by 2 people

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