The Staff Room with Audrey
Just like many things that the fresh bootleggers were subjected to, this also felt like some sort of examination or test. It’s the way Audrey held herself - quiet, observant. She wasn’t just watching who spoke, she watched everyone
; all the little side glances, the shifts in demeanor. Nobody could manage a sniffle without her picking up on it (and, in Angeline’s case, she definitely did). They were being measured, that was certain. What remained shrouded in mystery was the standards to which their behaviour was being compared to.
“We need to get a lot of things out of there. Can we steal one of their delivery trucks, that way we can really load it up instead of just getting a few bundles in the billy bus?” Ellen asked. “If we could get an idea of what uniform the loaders wear, perhaps we can disguise ourselves in the evening. Confidence can go a long way to getting you ignored. Could even fake some paperwork for a recall on meats, so if we do run into security, we could play it off as having to get the ‘tainted’ meat out of the store.” Ellen began. She barely paused between thoughts to let Audrey interject with feedback.
“Long haul vehicles tend to have GPS trackers and black boxes that’ll alert the company if tampered with,” Audrey responded. “It’s been considered, but the risk of being discovered is far too great. We can supply up to three supplementary vehicles if necessary - but we’ll need drivers for each and places to park them. I can get people working on finding some parking zones.”
Ellen looked up at Audrey for her next question. “Would you consider setting a fire to another building to redirect some attention from local authorities? A building on the opposite side of the station maybe near some roads with roads so the police need to work on traffic redirecting? It might reduce the chance for a random patrol to be nearby. And if there is a call made, we might buy a bit of extra time for escape.”
Audrey quirked a brow and said nothing for a moment. “If I gave you a map of the city, would you be capable of choosing a building to set on fire? We haven’t the time to scope out a building in person. There might be people in the one you choose.” She waited a half-beat longer. “If you feel up to accepting the consequences in that decision, I’m more than happy to provide you with a larger map of the area.”
She left the question to hang in the air as her gaze slipped to Abigail, watching her as she watched Audrey.
Ellen looked back down at the map. “If we do go in through the truck bay, that gives us great access to the fresh meat and bakery items. Perishable, but they will go a long way with morale. The produce is close, too, so assuming these connect, maybe through the chilled produce room, we can have someone go out and grab some of the fruits and vegetables as well.” Ellen paused. “To get us in at night, I think it makes the most sense to leave someone behind after we scope it out. Abigail is tiny and could hide among some of the giant stacks of food items. Or… I can hide in the freezer. The cold won’t bother me and security won't spend much time looking there for a person.”
Zephyr also spoke up after a moment. "I think staying behind after we check out the place is a good idea, the main problem with that is the time between close and when we'd want to go in is probably a lot longer than you think." Zephyr said in response to Ellen's plan, "the rest sounds solid, though if we do the fire thing I'd prefer it's a place where not too many people would get hurt." He turned to Audrey to ask something, "I do have a question about recon though, how many of us will be doing that? I just feel like we'd look strange walking in together considering we don't exactly look like a family going shopping together."
Audrey nodded. “Zephyr is right, we’ll have at least a three-hour wait time on our hands. If there’s four different vehicles to shift then people who aren’t doing recon can work on that, then all rendezvous at the bus to wait it out. Ideally I don’t want the bus hanging around in the parking lot for very long, so the addition of a normal car or two waiting near the entrance would be helpful.”
Audrey ran her tongue over her teeth as she considered how best to phrase her next statement. “Well,” she started carefully, “Brooks and Abigail should go together because they’re…” she waved a hand at the general presence of Abigail as if struggling to find the right way to put it.
“We got at least seven folk to our disposal. We can set up two teams of two that go in for recon. Different times, for different reasons. Rest of the three can work on getting us rides. Abigail should be in recon because she can’t drive.” Brooks interrupted Audrey.
“Of course,” Audrey agreed. “You can organise the specifics amongst yourselves.”
Before Angeline spoke she glanced around the room, ensuring no one else had anything to say. “Alright. So I’ve had a decent look at this floor plan while you guys were talking and Ellen, your idea is pretty good. One thing I want to point out, though, is that if the security is situated anywhere it’ll probably be here-” She pointed at the ‘main office’ section of the layout “-which is the total other side of the store from the truck bay entrance. So I suggest we try to get someone in through the main entrance or exits, or maybe, if we do have someone hiding in the store after hours, they could look along the side wall where the offices are for entry later. I mean one suggestion is having someone open a window in the bathroom if there is one as long as it isn’t locked or anything, you know?” She pointed at the bathrooms which were just above the main office.
“My other suggestion sort of builds on Ellen’s plan, I think everyone should have a planned route in the store we take, and we should have a ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’ objective, primary being important stuff, and the secondary is just add-on nice things we could take on the way back to the truck loading bay based on our routes.”
“Excellent idea Angeline,” Audrey acknowledged the bootlegger with a split-second smile, “consider how much your team can carry when delegating out who goes where, as well. Goodnight is a big place, so when I say ‘as much as possible’ I truly mean it.”
Angeline then launched into an in-depth description of the possible routes the Bootleggers should take whilst Audrey watched her with intrigue. She glanced at Brooks, but the other man was too busy following Angeline’s finger as it skirted across the map. “Don’t worry,” Audrey reassured Angeline (and most likely the rest of the Bootleggers, especially Abigail who was starting to wear her signature look of utter confusion) “once you’ve figured out a definite route - or routes, in this case - across the store you may plot it out on the map.”
Angeline continued. “Anyways… My last points are: here right at the entrance to the truck loading area are cleaning items, probably aisle 403. Grabbing a few tubs of bleach could be great for preventing disease spread and keeping things clean and toilet paper here too. Just last minute items we can throw on if needed. Finally, here-” She stabbed her finger at the top right-hand corner of the page. “Gas station. I’m not sure what the need is at the moment for fuel but that’s an option we could consider.”
“Given we may be taking out multiple vehicles, it’s definitely something to consider. However, we’ve not got a lot of intel on the gas station as it stands. The trip would carry its own risks and consequences if you don’t get it right...Brooks?” she looked at the other bootlegger. “What are your thoughts on this?”
“We don’t need robbing a gas station too. We can task others to deal with that. We’ll keep our objective focused purely on the store.”
“Mhm. We can organise a separate mission for gasoline - probably the next thing to get after filling those cars with so much stuff. Focus on the store,” Audrey agreed.
“How many people is that… 1 on meds, 2 on fresh food, 2 on preserved food.. That’s 5. How many people are coming with us? Uh… Anyways I know my plan is a bit over the top but it’s better to have a defined set of goals you want to achieve and then underachieve them than not know what else to grab if we have more time than we thought we would,” Angeline said.
“No, you’re right. Having a clear, well-defined goal for everyone going in reduces the amount of time wasted hesitating and gives them something to reorient themselves with once the disruptions start happening,” Audrey agreed with her. “We’ve got seven, as Brooks said, though if Ruby tags along that’ll be eight.”
"Y'all forgot about the janitors n' guards n' shit," Abigail eventually mumbled. A far cry from her usual boisterousness. "All I can do is set fire to 'em. 'Cept Audrey said the alarm's activated manually, so somebody's gotta get to the alarm n' set it off before any cops even know we're there. But people have phones n' shit too. Before y'all even start stealin' stuff you gotta find and shut up every single feller in and outside the building so's they don't call the cops on us. I don't know how, though."
Brooks let out a grunt of acknowledgement at Abigail. “The camera room, assuming it’s not being operated remotely, is the highest priority. We need to make sure everything inside is locked down before we even think of pulling the vans up. That means breaking in and carraling all the workers and guards together.”
Abigail raised her hand a little bit. "I can break the lock," she offered. "Sentex keypads, a lotta Yale locks...but they're prob'ly usin' a keypad."
Brooks looked down at Abigail for a moment before nodding. “Good. Impressive, if true.” he raised and lowered his brows at her exactly twice with a smile. That brief moment of liveliness in the otherwise deadpan Bootlegger caused a significant shift in Abigail's demeanor as she snickered and held herself a little taller than she did before. Her mood lifted.
Audrey took note of that too.
"Okay then, it's time to talk specifics. I want to know who's doing what and going where," Audrey moved the conversation on a little bit. "More intel for you; there's one security camera on each of the exterior walls of the warehouse monitoring the wall it's attached to. There’s also one pointing at the truck bay and the main entrance. After hours we've seen one bodyguard patrolling between the main entrance and the truck entrance, and the number of employees that arrive just after closing varies between two and three, hard to tell what their jobs are from a glance." She leant down and marked some crosses where each security camera was on the exterior of the building using the map.
"Nobody brought up the emergency exits either, so I ought to mention to you now that most fire alarm systems work differently from security systems. Smoke detectors are automated, and opening emergency exits usually triggers an alarm regardless of if there's any danger. Don't set any fires alight in the store," she glanced at Abigail again, "and don't depend on those exits unless the cops are already en route or in the building."