Saints in the Shadows

Aboard the Crazy Train

I get talked into covering Ziggy’s shift, cause he is chasing some skanky tail. He offered to cover my double on Saturday, so I guess we’re even – more or less. It’s been kind of dull night so far. Had to throw out some ganger punk who has more ego than sense. Talked shit to the ladies, when he’s backed by some of his buddies, but they melted into the woodwork, once I called him out on it. Got cocky to me as well, until he realized that they left him hanging. Then, I had to threaten some leering drunk monkey thing who’s tail ‘had a mind of it’s own.’ I threatened to tie it into a fucking knot if it started thinking again. He sat real quiet like after that. He was sitting with some ugly-ass dude who ended up shouting over his comm when he got a call. It’s a comm guy, designed to filter out noise so you don’t need to fucking shout even if it is loud out – they work around that. So, he’s talking to his brother or something about some smash and grab job. Right out in the open, conspiring to rob a train or some shit. If it wasn’t for Sapphire’s reveal on stage, the whole damn bar would have been aware of what plans he was making. My jaw almost drops when he mentions the job could net them over over 2 mil. Seriously, what in the hell are these guys into?

My interest is raised when the yammering monkey mentions that they do not have enough crew to pull any of this off, and they start rattling off who may be around to help. Now, I want in. This job it dull, and I really need money – so what if I’m risking jail time? It’s not like Jacobs won’t cover for me. Even better, this wouldn’t be through Jacobs, so he won’t have a ’finder’s fee’ tax taken off the top. I’m about to offer them a hand when the twit I tossed out earlier walks slithers back in with a few of his friends. They are local bangers from some pathetic local gang, all decked out in black and yellow, seriously it’s like being threatened by a hip hop bumble bee. It don’t take no genius to determine what he is looking for, payback – not specifically from men by Kiki’s. I embarrassed him when I launched him, so he’s going to try to knock the place over to earn back that ’don’t fuck with me’ credit. Well, not on my watch. I move back to the bar, and grab my piece – not likely I’ll need it, but hate to regret that decision. I shoot Twitchy a look that there is trouble brewing, and move to ruin their day. It’s a little scuffle, that turns ugly quickly when the ass on the shotgun fires wild, winging one of our customers. Uh-oh, time to end their night badly. Things get a little easier when the monkey and ugly guy move in to help me like good Samaritans – not that I needed it. I let them live, but they are wrecked. It’ll take more than a bit of liquid courage before they show their face around here again. They will have to go else where to pretend to be bad asses.

This little fracas proves to just the entrance that need. I pick up their tab with the cred the bangers donated and soon we are scheming like old friends. Nova, the ugly one, has a brother that works for some company that is sending three train cars full of some cyberware parts to Texas. In two weeks it’ll pass through Chicago. It doesn’t take long for his sidekick monkey, Bobo, to get the train’s routing information from the Deep, so we are able to determine what cars it’ll be on and what else there is on it. It looks like there is not much else of valuable. Some rich dude is hauling some expensive classic train car here, so there will be some layover in one of the yards, and they figure we could hire some of the locals to switch the train cars there. The train would leave without the cargo, and be none the wiser. Bobo also lines up someone willing to bay 70% for them – almost a mill and a half! Some New York company called Lincoln Security is guarding it in transit, and within 2 hours, I have falsified data stating that I am a recent transfer to their Albany office where I will be joining them as a guard on the train. The plan will be that I will be a ringer on board, and allow Nova entrance to the cars, after the custom’s check point in the Hells and dispatch the other guards. He will have picked up a short-range jammer with will kill communications for around 10 cars, allowing us to work without anyone calling anything in on us. Bobo will be at the train yard with a crew to exchange the cars and we will transfer the goods to the hells, where we will meet with Bobo’s contact and sell them off. Plan B is to decouple the cars once we pass through a second train yard in Chicago, diverting us to another yard, where we can offload there. Either way, 48 hours later, I am bound for New York.

The group I am assigned to looks to take their job seriously, and I do my best to fit in. I learn what I can about their preparations and defenses and send that back to Nova. Hopefully he is up for the fight, these guy’s aren’t going to go down easy. Finally, we make it to Chicago, and through the Custom’s check point. I’m guarding the third train with Sara so, I unlock the back door to let Nova in when Fairchild, our tank, walks in. I motion for Nova to hold, but Nova screws it up and charges in, getting shredded for his efforts. This just went south. I took a cheap shot at Sara, hoping that Nova would keep Fairchild but Nova’s screams distract me and she rolls with the shot. She correctly reads the scenario and decides that the FNG is in cohorts with Nova, and turns and first at me. The blow to her head must have at least stunned her as her shot fires wide. Having reduced Nova to a puddle, Fairchild turns to see Sara holding a smoking gun leveled at me. Now, I am no actor, but I point to her and say that she just drew down on me, and must have been working with the other assailant. It turns out that I should have gone to Hollywood instead of Chicago, ‘cause he buys it and turns his gun on her, dropping her like a stone. I continue my flawless rendition of ’Not the Traitor’ and convince him to check out the rest of the cars, in case there is anything troublesome there, since our comms are jammed. Again, he buys it, and runs off to save the day. I check Nova to see that he is not totally dead, and offer him some Overdrive to keep him on his feet. We keep a small cache of it here, just in case.

He says he is alright and can continue on. I’m not sure, but if we cut out now, we end up with dick. So, we press on. We set an ambush back here, and I call the guards stating the more are coming. The guards rush to my assistance only to be caught in the crossfire. It is a fight, but we end up on top, with only a bit of injury. Nothing to slow me down. Now another hour of smooth sailing, and we are home free. We kill the jammer about a quarter mile from the yard, when Bobo breaks silence, shouting something random like “Ohmergod arpygee lookout!” Moments later, the train is rocked by a large explosion ahead of us and the train shudders and grinds to a halt. What in the shit just happened? Looking back, RPG should have stood out on that call, but I can say that was the least likely statement I would have expected to hear. Bobo is back on the comms, gibbering non-stop about a SUV that is racing towards us with whoever shot the RPG at us, and we can now hear gun fire from behind us as well. The Hell? We have no idea what is going on,so we head towards the back, as that is where the commotion is concentrated. We make it back to the Pullman car, the one with the rich guy on it. Two men are assaulting it, so we dispatch them, and offer to protect the VIP, as it seems that this new crew is focused on him. We get them out and dump him with Nova and Bobo to get them the hell out of here. I return to my station and await for the boys in blue to arrive. The new crew takes off once the sounds of sirens close in. In short order, we are towed to the train yard and I tell all interested that the train was assaulted and my security team was wiped out by some guys who attacked the train. There are many witnesses who confirm enough legitimate parts of my story, and there was clearly a fight here, so they don’t put too much work into it. It looks like someone was looking to grab that rich kid, so we earned his gratitude there. There is too much security here for us to switch the train, so we opt with Plan B.

We leave the yard several hours later, and I decouple the cars from behind us soon after. We flip the track over for me, and roll into the backup yard, where Bobo and the boys are waiting. I clean out the storage lockers for anything useful, and join Bobo in the cab to take the cyberware parts to the sale. Thankfully, the rest of the deal goes smooth as silk and everyone leaves a winner. We even scored a reward from the appreciative rich kid. Thankfully, tomorrow is my day off, and an hour later I crawl into bed for some much needed shut eye. Since I have my weekly check in with Jacobs this afternoon, I need to the rest. Needless to say, I am none too fucking happy to see my comm buzzing with a call from Ziggy who I know is going to tell me he can’t cover my shift today….

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Test run with new friends
The group is hired to recover merchandise stolen from another team of troubleshooters.

The comm lights up for the first time at Cloak and Dagger Solutions that I have seen since Cloak ‘took’ a vacation 38 hours ago. The comm displays Bobo, some simian hybrid, and one of Cloaks‘s friends. I answer the comm and Bobo seems confused that it is not Cloak who answered and asks to speak with him. When I explain that he is not here, is seems quite discouraged, but then almost skittishly asks me if I’d like to help him on a job. Since the comm has not received a call in over 72 hours, I agree. It seems unlikely that my absence in this office will be noticed. Besides Bonz will probably take the call and relay anything pertinent. I agree to meet him at Club Vortex on the Gold Coast. I comm a taxi and I am halfway there before I remember that this area his quite secure. For some reason, I thought I remembered that it was fairly run down, and brought my weapons without thinking. I will have to stash them before I enter, I’d not want to cause any problems if I had reason to use them. Luckily, Bobo and his crew arrive in a nondescript economical van, and I am able to store my gear with their equipment in the van. Aside from the simian, he is with another man and woman. After a moment, I am introduced to Nova, a confident bodyguard and Anise, who has no offered or discernible skill set. When told of a 500 credits cover to enter the establishment, Bobo informs the security guards that we are here so see someone named Coal, and they let us enter sans charge, and tell us to proceed to room three.

Once inside, we make it through a throng of people, and and overwhelming aural and sonic bombardment back towards room three. A waitress offers to get us drinks, and while I seldom imbibe, I order a drink in an attempt to better fit in to the club. It is observed that Bobo is the only other one to order a drink, as the other two abstain. We enter room three and see an older man sitting at one end of the table. He is notably armored, something uncommon in this district. He is also flanked by security. Evidently our employer is serious about his protection. He identifies himself as Coal tells is that his employers had a prototype piece of cyberware stolen from their undisclosed faculty approximately 48 hours ago along with the blueprints, research data & technical specifications, by an unidentified team. We are simply offered 100,000 to recover and return the cyberware and 10,000 for each of the other stolen materials. He is very protective of his identity as well as the identity of his employers, even to the point of being restrictive of essential intelligence. Watching the edited security footage, we see 6 men enter the facility and proceed directly towards the labs where the item was stolen from. Of the 6 men, 2 of them run point, serving as a effective and lethal tandem, quickly eliminating several security guards. The rest of the team’s actions define them as a marksman, hacker, technician and psion. While viewing the footage, we are joined be another troubleshooter, a woman named Cindyloowho who we are told, will be accompanying us on the mission. The rest of the footage shows them doing directly to the stolen items, while ignoring everything else. On the way out, they are ambushed by security and one of the point men falls, but the rest of the group escapes, with several having sustained injuries. The fallen thief has been identified as Rufus Santiago, a former CDF who has been off the grid for the last few years.

This theft seems too efficient for any team on their own. While they were almost caught on the way out, but managed to make it into the facility and to their prize without wavering. This could only be accomplished if they knew exactly where it was at, as well as the means to navigate to it. The team also seems to agree that they must have been fed intelligence. There was an insider in this theft. Someone who works here. I ask Coal if there has been any sudden changes in his employees. He says that three people have quit since this incident, stating that they no longer feel safe. However, statistical analysis disagrees with. It is far more likely that this well financed nameless facility will undergo a substantial improvement to security,and when added in to the likelihood that the thieves got what they wanted and are therefore unlikely to return, reduces the chance of another violent crime here in the next 240 days by over 85% Only one of the former employees that quit had had access to the area where the theft happened. Coal agrees to provide us that employee’s personnel data, again heavily edited, shortly and take leave, offering us the room for the rest of the evening. Upon his exit, he provides us 25,000 as an advance to cover expenses, and a business card for Patrick Coalman to contact him.

Bobo comms a friend, a mercenary by the sounds of it, and asks about Santiago. He is told that he knew of Santiago only as a fellow mercenary some time ago, in Nicaragua. He believes that he runs with a crew called the Eye or something similar. A search on in the Deep shows two local groups with “Eye” in their name – the Black Eyes and the Shadow Eyes. The leader of teh Black Eyes has been incarcerated for more than the last 6 months, and one of his former teammates is now some minor local celebrity, so it seems unlikely that it is them. The other team is rumored to have robbed the Chicago Stock Exchange only a few months ago. Reviewing the poor and limited footage of that robbery, we find much similarity between the teams, while some of the members do not match up, the two point men are almost certainly the same. Bobo received the data from Coal. Our primary suspect for the inside man, Charles Francois, lives in Oak Forest. We loaded up in the van and made for Oak Forest.

As we head to Francois’ residence, I take stock of my companions. If things get violent, as they always do, I need to know what I am dealing with. Bobo carries a pair of large pistols, that seem far too big for him to effectively manage. No doubt they’ll do some serious damage, but they seem more unwieldy that he’d likely admit. He is nimble, I can see that from the way he moves, but it is probably more flight than fight. Speaking of agile, Cindyloowho moves with the confidence of someone who knows how to survive. I’ve little doubt of her ability to hold her own. Nova carries a sidearm, and says he is a bodyguard. Let’s hope he is good at his job. Anise, I have no idea. She also carries a pistol and hopefully knows the dangerous end. Let’s hope looks are deceiving, she does not yet impress. I gauge their overall threat response capacity at 44.5, with a 3.3 point variance, but that is simply based on observation, not affected by external stimulus.

Arriving in Oak Forest, we quickly identified Francois’ house The back looked heavily secured, so we entered through the front door, courtesy of Cindyloowho. The location and property itself was unimpressive, better than the Boneyard, but nothing to justify the new entertainment center that occupies the majority of the house. It seems that Francois spent some considerable cred recently. We abruptly wake him and confronts him of his actions, and he quickly confesses that he was approached by the group, who paid him considerably for intelligence on the facility. Bobo and Cindyloowho also get him to namedrop his former employer, SmartWare, a relatively new cybernetic company and that the item stolen was a reflex booster. Not only did we just confirm that our suspicions have so far been accurate, we also know who our employer is and what was stolen. He admittedly did now know much about the thieves, beyond that they contacted him for the job and paid him well, it identified the psion as Luis, and that he called the technician ‘friend.’

After quick hack of the local street securecams, we are able to identify various members of the Shadow Eyes in footage at the two times that they would have been in the area. We are able to get the vehicle’s license numbers and Cindyloowho comms Cloak, who must run it by Lex for they quickly tell us that the vehicles have both been reported as stolen from a lot near the former Austin Library in Northside. The first vehicle has been recovered, found at the same lot in fact, but the second one is still missing. Either still being used or perhaps dumped elsewhere. With some hesitancy, we agree that we should head to the irradiated Arlington Heights district, as the recent car thefts originate there. Perhaps we can pick up their trail once we are there. Once there, we find the lot and I look around for spots where the lot could be watched and easily access. While there are a few spots, it proves much easier just to ask the locals. One man, for the cost of a cheap bottle of rum, takes us to the location where he claims recently saw the last stolen car. Sure enough, he points into a garage who’s door is partially opened. The house appears to be at an odd slant, and this is confirmed by the bum who believes that this abode did not look like this yesterday. We split up and I enter in the front with Anise, while Bobo enters the garage and Nova and Cindyloowho secure the back. We enter in tandem, and realize that something has seemingly burrowed underneath the house, as we all tumble into a deep pit. While we are fortunate enough to not sustain any serious injury, others before us were not so fortunate. All the members of the Shadow Eyes we know about, except the technician lie down here with us – two of the bodies appear to have sustained fatal damage from the fall when their stolen car plummeted into the hole, while the other two were killed by something more savage, likely from they pit where they, and now, us landed in. This may not bode well for my new found allies.

Before we proceed, we notice a ruck sack under the car. Opening it up, we see what appears to be the technical specs for the cyberware. We grab the ruck and proceed through the tunnels with caution. Whatever dug out this tunnel here, did not likely worry about if being structurally safe. We don’t know what is above us, and the wrong move could bring an apartment building crashing down upon us. The tunnel widens and narrows seemingly with no discernible intent. It would seem that whatever tunneled in here, unintentionally ended up at their safe house. Several of my allies seem to have night vision, but the remaining ones now are relying on my As we round one bend, we stumble across a smaller cross tunnel, to which rats, as large as Ajacutty pour out, looking for an easy meal. No luck for them, we are well armed and armored. Ballistic armor and high-velocity ammunition end their futile assault. A few of my allies, crawl into the tunnel to discover a rat’s nest and in it, the case containing the blueprints.

A while later, the tunnel opens up into a sub-level, who’s room beyond leads to the surface, and we can hear voices inside it. Before we surprise the occupants, two hybrid-dog gangers, and quickly dispatch them, we overhear one of them say to the other that “Viper said it would would totally do for the Gold Coast.” We leave one breathing and ask him for clarification on his gang’s intentions. It appears that his boss, Viper has himself a tactical nuke he found buried that he intends to use on the Gold Coast. While I have no loyalty to anyone on the Coast, this attack could affect hundreds to thousands of innocent people. Whatever vendetta this Viper has, I will not idly stand by and let him carry out his plans unimpeded. His clubhouse is a few blocks away, so we convince him to escort us there, ideally, we can deal with this Viper quickly.

Once there, my allies are debating on how to enter, when a muffled explosion from inside the building buckles both heavily secured doors, followed almost immediately by the rapports small arms fire. While the doors have been heavily damaged, they are still quite secure, and it takes a moment to torque them enough to gain entry. In the hallway beyond, we see the scoring of a grenade, and movement down the end of the hall. It appears that the gangers, known as the [[Fangs Forward] have been attacked by some well armed men, armed and armored in a samurai motif. While I am unsure of what or who they represent, they appear to be inflicting considerable damage on the gangers. A ‘samurai’ soldier lies motionless at the next hallway, so I make my way toward him, dodging fire from the cross hallway, as the gangers have now seemingly improvised some defense at the end of the hallway. The samurai is dead, having sustained fatal wounds from small arms. He is armed with a katana, who’s sheath is built into his armor. At the incessant nagging from Nova, I toss the him the sword, who excitedly picks it up and wields it like a prized birthday present. You have a sword, good for you, kid. The samurai’s side arm is a Gyroc, somewhat uncommon for those outside the military or police and the like, so I scoop up the firearm and his spare clips as we prepare to involve ourselves in this little skirmish.

We press on, through the new few rooms, and pass nothing living. Eventually, we come to a recreational room, with a few gangers pressed against a wall, behind a makeshift barricade. Facing them are a few of the samurai. We move in and dispatch the samurai, but a stray round or two strikes a ganger, killing him. While our intent was not to hurt them, as they may ease our process of finding Viper. They are uncertain if they believe that we are sincere about our lack of hostility against them, but they are too scared to call us on it. We ask for the location of Viper, and they gesture behind them, to the door they were guarding, and bolt for the main entrance. Kids. We move through the door and up the stairs to a long hallway with several doors. With a nose or ear to the air, Nova points to one of the doors at the far end, and we enter through the door.

The remains of a man is lying on an office desk. I’m no medic, but he is beyond saving. If this is Viper, we are not getting anything out of him. A large window is broken inward, suggesting someone or something came in from the second floor. Peering out the window, we see several of the samurai at the bottom of a rope, making their way to several vehicles some ways distant. Two of them are lugging a rucksack to the vehicles. Seeing nothing in the office that looks like a bomb, we quickly agree that the item in the ruck is likely the bomb, and set off in pursuit.

By the time we get down, and to their vehicles, they have sped off in two of them, leaving one remaining. Bobo, Anise & Nova cram into in the cab while me and Cindyloowho jump into the bed. We catch up them and manage to run one of them off the road. It is not the one with the ruck, so we continue after the other truck, quickly catching up to it. As soon as we are close enough, I jump over and into the bed of their truck. The samurai assumes a combat stance, much to my satisfaction. Ignoring the 100kmh speeds the we are traveling at, a calm settles over me as we face each other. He is a challenge as I find ourself unable to gain an advantage against each other. While I am confident that it is only a matter of time before I am the victor, my so-called allies have other plans. I hear the sound of gunfire, as I see shots tear into the cab. Not so surprisingly, the truck suddenly loses control and within a nanosecond, we are careening out of control.

I find myself thrown into the side of the bed as the truck rolls over, throwing out my adversary. When the truck is completely upside down, I find myself falling about a half meter to the ground as the vehicle continues it’s death throes, impacting moments later into the corner of a sturdy building. Miraculously, I stand up, completely unscratched. My allies screech to a halt in the truck, and jump out, looking dumbfounded at my unharmed condition. Dismissing their concerns, we quickly determine that the samurai were not as fortunate as me. They all lie scattered about, both in and out of the vehicle. Thankfully, we locate the ruck and open it, only to discover that the case of the nuke has ruptured. Almost immediately, Nova begins showing signs of radiation sickness, and I fear we may not be far behind. None of us have any skill in this matter, so we secure it up, and anonymously call the local authorities, informing them of the ruptured bomb.

Having yet to find the necessary cyberware, nor the missing thief, we head back to the gangers hq and talk to them. Perhaps they may have a lead for us. We try to convince them of our role in their survival, having fought the samurai here. A bit of cash helps and they tell us that they scooped up the thief and he is being kept in a safe room down the hall. Having purchased him, we make to the room, only to see that it is empty. Nova, while reeling from the effects if his exposure, and yet still refusing to leave, indicates that more than one person left through the window and appears to be traveling on foot. We follow, and quickly catch up with a wounded man, fitting the description of the thief being assisted by one last samurai. He sees us approaching and stops. While not threatening, he clearly is marking the thief as his territory. Instead of fighting, which I want to do, we parley. The samurai says his charge is the return of this man, but allows us the opportunity to talk to him. Since his options seem limited, we manage to convince him to sell us the cyberware. He does not want to, but eventually relents and takes it to a burnt out car near the tunnel entrance. In the trunk is the cyberware and the research data. We scoop them up, allowing the samurai and his charge to leave and make our way out of the zone.

We drop Nova off at a med center to get fixed up and call Coal, who seems impressed at our quick accomplishments. He payed us, and even added a bonus for our efficiency. Now, I can go an pay the rent, which Cloak conveniently forgot to do before he left town. As far as my new friends go, they seemed to do well, even without a great talent at fighting. As a group, we worked together well, and their non-combat skills, such as tracking, driving or etiquette helped in situations where I would have had a significant challenge.

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I need credits

As I returned to my home, the Ahava Kshera Hotel, the manager, Sid told me that he is raising my rent. I told him I couldn’t afford it. Despite my clever response he assured me that rent was increasing regardless. He informed me that he had overheard some men say they were looking for a wheelman for a job. I told Sid this was interesting but I needed to find a way to get additional credits to pay my rent. Strangely he acted as if he thought my response was exasperating and he repeated that these guys needed a wheelman for a job that would pay credits. I replied, “Thank you, Sid”. Clearly he must have been wanting appreciation for this information. As I headed towards my room, Sid groaned and repeated for a third time the same information. He added, perhaps if I found them a wheelman, they would give me credits as well. Ahhh this may work. Well this was a problem but I know a place that will take care of it for me. Claok & Dagger Solutions ‘All your problems, solved’.
In the back of the Boneyard I found the place and within I spoke to Cloak. I let him know that I was in search of a wheelman for a job. I am sure I was quite clear about what I wanted but still he was acting frustrated by the time he picked up his phone and made a few calls. In short order he told me that he found just the man I needed and that he would be here in short order. I sat in one of the few chairs in Cloak’s office which also appeared to frustrate the man. He said, “There are much more comfortable chairs out in the bar where you could wait.” I assured him that it was no bother and that I had sat in much less comfortable chairs. This seemed to frustrate him as well. This fellow seems to be easily frustrated.
In less than an hour a man arrived in the office dressed in casual attire and sporting a tail. I am not certain what it was about the fellow but he reminded me of some kind of animal. A possum perhaps? He must be a hybrid. I let the man know what I was in need of and offered him my assistance with discussing terms with our potential employer. The man introduced himself as Bobo and was in quite a hurry. He was willing to perform the job and willing to have me assist him with procuring employment. Cloak seemed very happy that we had come to an agreement and ushered us out of his office. Strange it seems that the few times that I have seen him happy is always as I am departing his office, he must draw a great deal of pleasure from solving problems.
Bobo and I spoke with Sid again to get details of where to meet our future employers and were soon off to Kadie’s Bar. Kadie’s Bar was an adult entertainment dancing establishment. I was quite distressed at the poor skills of some of the dancers and offered to show Bobo how much better I was at dancing but he declined. We asked around for Chazz, the name that Sid had given me, and were directed to a side room. Within, we found a group of men and a woman and by his description, I picked out Chazz immediately. I told him who we were and that we were here for the job and though he was a bit surprised, we soon convinced him that we could do it. He informed us of the plan and told us to be ready the following morning.
The plan was to hijack a truck load of electronic equipment in Southside and deliver it to a building at the north end of the city. The other teams members would be working in The Deep to arrange for the truck to be loaded and the route it would take for us to meet it. The final team would attack the security convoy and lead them away so that Bobo and I could hijack the truck.
The following morning all went as planned with the other teams. As soon as the security vehicles were lead away, I hacked the locks of the vehicle and popped the doors. Bobo and I went in then tranquilizer guns blazing to incapacitate the vehicle crew. Apparently Bobo and I should have practiced with this type of gun before attempting the attack, the needles did not fly in a predictable manner and the vehicle nearly escaped before we finally managed to incapacitate the crew and hop in the vehicle. Unfortunately, the security vehicles were just returning as we got under way.

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