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Ethan Neufeld

Depth Perception

(following sim 04/22/12)


When gathering intelligence - unless you’re flying a UAV at fifty-thousand feet, conducting reconnaissance kilometers from your target, or hacking networks from your couch - more often than not you’re dealing with people.


The customs officer who thinks he has you figured out:



“Name, please?” The question sounded apathetic - unlike the complacence of a retiree-on-duty, the officer gave the impression that he felt too confident in his presumptions to ask the relevant questions.


Ethan considered the officer as the other man glanced at his ODRI. “Ethan Neufeld.”


“Proceed,” Senz replied, waving Ethan through without reservations.


Naturally, Ethan balked. “That’s it?”


“Have a pleasant stay in the Gular District,” Senz smiled.


Ethan’s expression narrowed in brief scrutiny. Then fishing out a palm-sized tablet from the pocket of his beige sport coat, he jotted a few notes on the screen with a stylus.


“Thank you, Officer--” Ethan intentionally paused, glanced at the officer’s name tag and drawled as he finished writing: “E. Senz.”


Bit by bit, the officer grew bemused, and maybe even a little uneasy as he witnessed the customer record details that might come back to haunt him. Giving a flat smile, Ethan slipped the tablet back into his coat and fell into an easy stride from the checkpoint.



The kid eating ice cream on the corner who stared as you left customs, or the clerk at the information desk you asked for directions:


“Can I help you?”


“Hi,” Ethan greeted, still smiling as he withdrew from the attention of a charming woman nursing her cappuccino at a nearby cafe. “Yes, directions to the main Sheriff’s Office?”


“Sure,” the clerk answered. “The office is on Promenade 1. Go down the hall here and take a right at the next junction; the stairs and lifts will be another two hundred meters on your left. Take a right out of the lift or stairs--” The clerk stalled and smirked, convinced by a stream of gestures that Ethan would likely get lost within seconds of leaving the desk.


“Here, I have a map,” the clerk offered and pulled a pamphlet from the rack. The clerk described and traced a neat path in red ink before passing it to Ethan. “Have a pleasant stay in Gular.”


“Thanks.” Ethan smiled and strolled away, winking at a towheaded seven-year-old as he crunched down the last of his ice cream cone. Only after he had entered the stairwell, did Ethan tuck the prop and valuable intel away in his coat pocket.



And the Assistant Sheriff of the local law enforcement bureau:


“Sheriff O’Brien, Ethan Neufeld,” he greeted as the official took his outstretched hand. “Remington Executive Security.”


“Mr. Neufeld,” the Assistant Sheriff replied as they finished shaking hands. “To what do I owe your visit?”


“Colton Dantinamede,” Ethan answered simply and received a shocked but predictably dubious look.



You won’t get anywhere without dealing with people and odds are someone will remember you. You can’t control who and sometimes they'll remember the things you want them to forget. If they’re the type to hold it against you that can be a bad thing. But being memorable can also have its advantages. The key is knowing how to sell what you want people to remember.

Edited by Ethan Neufeld

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“What about him?” O’Brien asked, pulling his hand back and withdrawing a step to open the distance between them.


“He and company are on your guest list for the Anniversary Gala,” Ethan replied plainly. “I’m here to assess your security precautions before they arrive.”


“Ah ha,” O’Brien acknowledged. “Well... Mr. Neufeld, we appreciate your concerns, and I’m sorry if you had to make a special trip down here for me to tell you this, but everything is well in hand. I hope that you enjoy your stay here, as it’s likely to be uneventful.”


Ethan smiled mildly. “Sheriff, between you and me, I hope that this is a waste of time. But I’ve been paid a large amount of money to ensure his security. I can’t make a favorable report if I haven’t seen anything.”


“I appreciate that, I really do,” O’Brien answered. “But at the same time, if you really do what you claim to do, for who you claim to, you can understand why I’m not exactly open to just letting you walk in and help yourself to things. Nothing personal.”


“Mm,” Ethan hummed in agreement. “Well, like it or not, we’re going to have to work together--”


“No, like it or not, we aren’t.”


“Maybe we can help each other,” Ethan calmly deflected.


“And how would you think we could do that?” O’Brien asked, sounding mildly impatient.


“This is a large, high-profile event: I imagine you want to avoid embarrassing incidents, but your resources are spread thin,” Ethan explained, gesturing minimally. “We’ve provided consulting and private security services to Mr. Dantinamede’s family for several years and take his security needs seriously. Recently, the life of a close family member was threatened and it’s my job to guarantee their safety while they’re here. Our company specializes in personal and asset security. We’re discreet and unobtrusive; we don’t want credit or attention. Allow us to handle the Dantinamedes' personal security while he’s here, and you can focus on the larger picture and present your best image for the media syndicates. If you’re concerned about my credibility, you can verify everything I’ve told you directly with Mr. Dantinamede, and I promise I won’t try to tell you what number to call.”


“Tell you what son,” O’Brien answered. “I’ll make a few calls. If, and I mean IF, your story checks out, maybe we can talk. That’s all I have for you now, take it or leave it. I will call you later on.”


Ethan nodded and smiled civilly. “Looking forward to it.”




“I’ll transfer you. Please hold,” said the operator in a melodic voice, followed by several clicks and the hum of transfer protocols. Dantinamede wasn’t in the office, given the gala was less than two days away and he was currently in transit to Andus. Getting the operator to actually transfer the call had taken some convincing. The delay lasted for nearly forty seconds while the operator explained the importance of the call and O’Brien waited on a silent line.


“Sheriff O’Brien?” the operator finally questioned.




“You’re on the line with Mr. Dantinamede,” she said and then disconnected.


“Sheriff O’Brien,” Dantinamede immediately greeted. “My secretary says you have an important question to ask.”


“Yes, sir,” the Sheriff replied, an unseen smile on his face. “It’s about your private security here at the upcoming gala.”


“My private security? Yes?”


“Who are they, and what did you hire them to do?”


There was a brief pause in the audio-only conversation and O’Brien could almost picture the bemused look on Dantinamede’s face. “Remington Executive Security and I hired them to do what any private security company does, Sheriff O’Brien.”


“Who was sent here this time?”


“Sent there? What do you mean?”


“Someone claiming to be working private security for you showed up at my office today sir, and I want to know if I should pay attention to what he says, or throw him in my jail until his bones turn to dust.”


Another pause; Dantinamede must have blinked at the caustic remark. “Who showed up at your office?”


As O’Brien had expected, Dantinamede was confused. It looked like Mr. Neufeld’s story was crumbling. “Some man claiming to be Ethan Neufeld from Remington Executive Security,” O’Brien replied. “He says he wants to help me with the security here, in particular, yours. First I wanted to know if you knew anything about Remington Executive Security before I even bothered tracking down information on them.”


From the sound of Dantinamede’s voice, he was smiling now. “I’d appreciate it if you allowed him to help you, Sheriff. I wasn’t aware that he had arrived before me, but trust Remington enough not to direct how they perform their jobs.”


“All right, Mr Dantinamede,” O’Brien replied, “I need to look into a few other things, mainly to make sure this is a real Neufeld, or a fake, and if Remington actually sent him, or someone else. Just routine things, nothing to be concerned about. I’ll quit taking up your time. Enjoy your trip, and we will see you when you get here.”


“Of course; thank you,” Dantinamede replied and hung up.




Assistant Sheriff O’Brien was waiting when Ethan arrived at the main office. “Okay Mr. Neufeld, I did some poking around and everything seems okay so far,” O’Brien announced. “But before we do anything, tell me what you had planned for this trip.”


“I’d like to look at your setup: incident plans, the extent of your resources, patrol routes, the location where guests are staying and, also, the complementary data security you’re offering guests during their stay.”


“And I get in return?”


“Potentially better data security, enhanced response plan and better asset dispersion,” Ethan replied smoothly.


“All right, come with me then, and we’ll take a little walk,” O’Brien gestured and Ethan nodded, falling in step.


The tour took the better part of the evening, but was a success and O’Brien appeared to be warming up to the idea -- as much as any honestly political man who encountered someone trespassing on his turf could. Returning to the main office, Ethan informed the Assistant Sheriff of a few initial concerns; including his impression of Emil Senz, citing a possible security hole in lack of investigative questioning on the part of the Customs Officer. They adjourned shortly after 2030, with plans to meet and discuss incident plans in more detail the next day. After a visit to the local Ataraxia Holdings branch and late dinner at a restaurant near his hotel, Ethan began conducting another casual tour of the promenades. He discreetly collected data on the evacuation routes - the routes Sheriff O’Brien hadn’t showed him, given they weren’t near the suites reserved for Dantinamedes or areas set apart for the Gala's events and guests - the district’s structure and traffic. He’d nearly finished scouting level 6 when patrols stepped up and rumors of a bomb threat surfaced. Evacuations were occurring on level 4 and directly above and below the medical clinic there. A murmuring panic set in the locals as a share of the patrons from the levels above filtered down and, predictably, Sheriff O’Brien called.


“Ethan,” O’Brien greeted on Ethan’s radio, “It’s Pat. Look, I have a few things I need to ask you about -- have a minute?”


“Go ahead.”


“Those people you came here with on your pass, how do you know them?”


“Not well,” Ethan replied honestly. “We just happened to be on the same transport.”


“All of your passes came from Samus,” O’Brien pressed. “I can only assume you must know him to get his pass.”


“Yes,” Ethan answered simply, eyes on the moving crowd.


“But you don’t know those people very well?”


“Honestly didn’t make it a point to become friends,” he said. “I know a few names and random details.”


“All right,” O’Brien said, pausing a moment. “The customs thing and those passes were a little confusing. But so you know, those hooligans on that transport are raising all sorts of hell on my station, so you might want to look into things on your end in case of problems.”


“Roger that.”


“See you tomorrow at breakfast,” O’Brien concluded before hanging up.



When you’re dealing with people, the results can be unpredictable. Some assets are easier to persuade and work with than others. But when you hit a snag, it’s always helpful to have an ace up your sleeve, a backup plan, or just plain backup.

Edited by Ethan Neufeld

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