TURN 8: A Murder Death Kill

Chalk cursed as he twisted the wheel violently and attempted to save the van, but it tumbled regardless of his efforts and the airbags exploded into his face.

And crumple thud, screeeeeech, bam, bam bam, as the van rolled what seemed like a dozen times. Every window was burst and shattered as the machine finally came to a rest on its side in the road.

Chalk was lifted and almost thrown through the window, but the airbag slammed him in the midsection, stopping his high-speed ejection. Dianna was tossed violently around in the van. Ed, too was banged about. Frederick smashed into Slave (who was curiously immobile and clung to the side of the van in an iron grip). Slave didn't move, however. Stuff bounced off of her. Gisele, had she not managed an inhumanly strong grip on the other side of the van, would have bounced around in there grinding people into chunky salsa due to her mass. Stuff bounced off her, too, but it hurt more.

Once the motion of the van had subsided, Ed checked the nearest body near him for life and woke them, "G-g-g-get r-r-r-ready. C-c-c-contact im-m-m-minent." After that he fishes out his collapsible staff and made way to a door.

Once able, Frederick quickly checked the others for conciousness. He especially checked to make sure Gisele was ok. "Is everyone ok?"

"I suppose this means I'll have to give Klemmer his combat pay," thought Chalk silently.

From his head-over-tail position, he once more he drew his magnum and replaced the clip with one from the specially lined pocket. Snugging the gun back into its holster he retreived his wayward cane and crawled through the shattered windshield, mindful of the scattered safety glass.

Chalk gingerly crawled out of the van (which was currently laying on its side and leaking what appeared to be oil or perhaps break fluid out of the engine block) careful not to slice up his hands on the crumpled sheet of safety glass. Good stuff, that windshield. It had a million spiderweb cracks across it and had popped completely out of it's mounting, but was still in one piece.

Chalk's albino eyes strained into the darkness trying to pick up some sign of whatever caused the accident. Whatever had hit the tires would have been at least a good 60 meters back up the road, however.

This is where Chalk got very lucky. A loud SNAP!, was instantly followed by a crackling sound reverberating through the surroundings and a flash briefly lit up the road side. Chalk smelled his own hair begin to burn.

Shaking his head to clear it from the surprise hit, Chalk focussed on his aggressor. Thankfully, his night eyes were quite good and in a moment he was able to identify 4 men dressed in black camos arrayed in an arc about the fallen van. One female appears armed with a pistol of some sort, another female has a Close Assault Weapon (automatic shotgun), a male has an assault rifle, but the last male is a bit different. He does not appear to have a weapon ready at all, but is simply watching Chalk. More specifically, he was watching Chalk's cane.

He spoke. "If you would be so kind as to lie down, this will be a whole lot easier."

His words suddenly sounded very familiar...

Holding his ribs, Frederick tried to stick with Gisele and under cover at the same time.

With his cane planted firmly on the ground before him, Chalk's eyes lit up with an internal burning that seemed alive in it's own right. Quickly, this fire grew in intensity until it lept from his visage and formed a colorless orb of delicate light engulfing him, appearing much like a soap bubble. Just as soon as it had begun, the orb lost its gleam and faded into the background, though it could still be seen feintly when the light hit it just right.

"Who are you?" Chalk called to the opponents. "And why have you choosen to die tonight?"

The foursome didn't respond to Chalk's false bravado. Instead, the woman with the shotgun pointed it away from Chalk. "A Psycher," said the woman genius.

The young man in charge didn't waver. "It won't protect him from me. Get on the ground, sir. Now."

With a single blurred motion, a long, two-handed katana appeared in his hands to demonstrate he was serious.

Not even listening to their reply, Chalk instead sent a transmission, subvocaly, to his comrades. /Status report. Anyone down?/

"Ed, m-m-m-minor w-w-w-wound." Ed exited the overturned van and looked for any potential aggressors first, spotting the four commandos.

After a quick self exam showed she was not seriously injured, Diana went into combat mode. She removed everything of use she could find in the van. Weapons, ammo, grenades, medical supplies, mines and anything else. Then she crawled out of the van. She used her enhanced vision to scan the area,
and cursed silently. What she saw, was something she hoped not to see. Familiar faces. In the
back of her mind, one name screamed out. "De Beers!"

"Get out of here, now!" She said to the others. "Get the hell out of dodge. Don't try to fight these people, just go. Head for the cover of the countryside," she said. "These people will kill you all."

With that, Diana began to walk forward, The MP in her hands. Her stomach was doing butterflies. She had an idea what needed to be done, and sure as hell didn't want to do it, but thought she might, just maybe, be able to get the team out of here, in one piece. /Chalk,/ she said, coming up behind him. "Don't resist. These people will kill you in a heart beat. It's me they want,/ she said over her radio.

She took to the shadows, trying to stay out of sight as much as possible. She found a spot, and took cover,
knowing that if the proverbial shit hit the fan, it would not do much. "Hello Jeff." She called out. She used her training to try and make her voice seem to come from another direction. "Let him and the others go." She said. "De Beers was me, and we all know it. We can do this one of two ways. Either you let them go, and we all deal, or we start shooting, and you die first." She called out.

Diana found the only cover available - the van. From this vantage point, which was right next to Ed, she could see bright lights in the sky fast approaching. The brightness of it distracted her for a moment, before turning her attention back to the confrontation.

Diana cursed under her breath. This was not good. Not good at all. They had to escape, and get the hell out of dodge and fast. If De Beers arrived and they were all still here, she knew the others would be dead. He wanted her, and damned be anyone else who got in the way.

She did know these people. Hell, Wanda had been part of her unit that escaped. She didn't want to do this, but she would if she was pushed.

"Motherfucker..." she cursed under her breath before climbing out the back of the van. This was followed by several more strings of profanity, which was cathartic if nothing else. Then she looked around.

'Oh... shit,' she though, which summed up things rather nicely. They had Chalk covered, were armed well and dressed to match, and looked none too friendly. Drawing her pistol, safety off and ready to rock, she followed Diana out, ready to defend Chalk and preferably get as far away as possible.

Things were twitchy, and she was ready to fight. Levelling her pistol to the assailants, she paused, sighting the head of the commando with the riot gun. The group wasn't going to get away easily, but she also didn't want to start a firefight until the others were ready to help.

"Fuck!" she shouted as she scrambled away after Chalk. Quite a mouth on her. In doing so, she squeezed off as many rounds at the commandos as possible while running. Hopefully they were human and would duck for cover in return. That was the idea, at least.

"Good God," Thought Chalk. "All this fuss over DeBeers. It's not like I didn't come prepared, after all. Kellinger, watch for a large, walking vending machine. Hit him with the EMP until I have a chance to kill him and maybe we can get Diana to quit wetting her shorts."

"Fuck you, Chalk" Diana shot back. //Damn it, man, I'm trying to save your life. De Beers gets here, and you
and the others are still here, you are all dead. Do you understand me? He wants me. Now, get the hell out of dodge. I'll catch up to you shortly,// she said over the radio, not wanting the others or the enemy to her.

With his clothes shimmering in the air, Ed only raises an eyebrow. It was empressive to force your mind in to anyshape. No other expression is shown on his face. He remembered what he'd been taught: 'Letting your emotions and vanity show, only weakens you.' Ed only stood there with his hands at his side. He was ready to spring into action, to lash out with the force of his mind.

"Fine," stated Jeff. "Get lost," he told Chalk and Ed. "Get your deserting butt over hear Diana. Oh, and you better tell your buddies if they are not either face down on the ground, or running the hell out of here right now, Wanda here is going to shoot your gas tank with that electrical stunner next and you will all be dead." Wanda shifted her aim to the exposed gas tank of the van.

Dianna was unsure if Jeff was bluffing or not. The question was, would Wanda do it? The explosion might kill her friends, but it was possible it could take them out, too.

"Just a minute Jeff." Diana called out.

This was going to be tough. She had seconds till De Beers arrived. She went to the back of the van and crawled back into it. She made her way to the driver's seat. There, she pushed a button, and pulled a lever, before crawling back out of the van. Okay, now things were really going to get very dicey. It then dawned on her. Slave! An evil smile crossed her lips.

//Chalk, have Slave go into battle mode, and arm her weapons. I have an idea. Get back here, to the van. We are going to make a run for it, and hauling ass is going to be a huge requirement.//

She said over the radio. "Listen up. The van is rigged with a motion sensor, that is tied into a pound of explosives. When it goes, it will give us all of about a minute, at most. Run, and run like the devil himself is on your heels." she said to the others. "The man who is coming is a blood thirsty son of a bitch, who wants me. He will kill anyone who gets into his way. Those guys out there, are genetically enhanced, and trained to kill. Jeff is being nice because we go way back. Get the hell out of dodge now. Stay low, and use the coutryside for cover. Get into the shadows, and keep going. That is the only way we are going to walk out of this thing alive." she said.

"Give me five minutes Jeff. I need to see to the injured here. They deserve that much." She called out, hoping that he would allow the stall. As for the threat, she half believed he was serious. She knew how badly De Beers wanted her. If he did kill her, she knew that De Beers would be all over him like a tiger over prey. She checked the sky again. The light was coming ever closer.

Oh, how Chalk would cut down the man with the katana. The need was like an itch on the back of his skull and he longed to feel Jeff's skin flayed from his body. The flowing warmth of his blood upon Chalk's blade was a singing desire that demanded to be stated.

"But not now," the cold rationality of Chalk's mind spoke in volumes. DeBeers was approaching and the killer had no grievance with that man despite the longing to see his second broken and bleeding on the ground. The Oberst was, perhaps, the only person who could interfere in his greater quest against the SS and Chalk felt the detached, emotionless calm engulf him once more.

"It's your show, Diana. What's your plan."

As swiftly as he could, Chalk positioned himself between the gas tank of the van and the threatening stunner weapon. Hopefully his deflecting shield would be enough to prevent her from carrying out her promise. Looking up, he also noticed the closeness of the approaching vehicle.

"Kellinger! That light bothers my eyes. Do something about it."

"Slave, combat mode." Though, in truth, Chalk had no idea if the utility creature even had a combat mode. Now would be the time to find out.

Until Diana finished her preparations there was nothing left for Chalk to do. He would not run, not from the man with the katana who chose to threaten the god of death himself with his own weapon. No, that man would die soon, and by the albino's hand to be certain. Looking forward to that day, Chalk marked his face and burned the image of it into his memory as he slipped a small capsule into his mouth.

Spying three sets of lights coming in low and fast, Chalk gave the order,"Fire the EMP, Ed!"

However, ed could see they were still well beyond the limited ranged of the EMP pistol. Ed prepared to wait until Diana or Chalk made a move of aggression towards the guards or their leader. Once that is made he mentally prepared to lash out at the katana wielder with a deadly attack. After that he planned to move in to HTH range.

//Combat mode acknowledged.// replied Slave digitally. Of course, only Frederick and Gisele were able to witness the confirmation. Slave initiated a high-powered radar sweep.

She began running her defense program:

IF any enemies are close (ie. 1 meter, or "welding range") to the van THEN Slave will target them THROUGH the van's body with the laser.

IF no enemies are in welding range THEN Slave will select whichever side of the overturned van has no enemies, and cut through it. THEN Slave will circle around, grab the nearest enemy, and weld their eyes

IF Slave gets hurt or someone demonstrates enough firepower to pose a serious threat, THEN the unit will use evasive actions to scuttle around like a cockroach, evading their attacks until Slave can get right on top of them. THEN Slave will "initiate welding sequence" as above.

Jeff looked disappointed to the wary eyes of Chalk. He felt he had really tried to give the team every opportunity for a peaceful resolution. But he, like Chalk's team, was out of time. "No Diana, you've had far more time for your freedom than you ever deserved." To his team, he said sternly, "Subdue Diana. Kill any of them who offer resistance."

Those words angered Diana. How dare he judge her. She glared in his direction, she could feel her adrenaline begin to rise. Now, it was time to fight.

And suddenly it was like a 'break' in pool. The four commandos broke and scattered instantly; it seemed they were running everywhere, shooting everything and everyone at once. No one had experienced such reflexive speed, not even Ed or Diana, before. But there was no time for surprise. Now it was instinct and reflex, fight or flight.

Jeff was on Chalk like stallion on a mare in heat.

Whirling his katana with two hands, the commando was faster than Chalk ever expected, Chalk whipped his cane up to deflect the incoming attack, but it was too fast. Jeff's blade bit into Chalk's left leg - an obvious attempt at a disabling blow. Luckily, the blade was slightly off edge and it did not sever the leg. Chalk was definitely feeling woozy from getting shot and now slashed. For the first time in his life, Chalk met someone as skilled as he, and just as ruthless.

Wanda, meanwhile zipped around to get a bead on Diana with the stunner. She was still using the van for cover, however. The van's cover saved her from the shot, but both Diana and Wanda stared wide-eyed for a moment as sparks shot around, dangerously close to the fuel tank.>

Boris rolled to the side and sprayed Ed's position with High-powered assault rifle rounds. A stream of five bullets drilled a deadly pattern into Ed's Psychic Armor and the van. Luckily, the first bullet picked him up and slammed him into the van, reducing the chance the stream of bullets had of turning him into instant giblets. The damage was severe, nonetheless. Three bullets drilled him in the chest, one in the vitals, and as he was knocked off his feet, one holed his right foot, too. Ed was down and if he didn't get help RIGHT NOW, his life would be over.

Marlene flip to the left, then ran right as she opened fire with her CAWS automatic shotgun. Flechettes showered Gisele like a steel rain. Instinctively turning, she used herself as a shield to save Frederick from entering a new profession as chunky salsa. The explosive force of two shotgun blast shredded the nearest part of the van and embedded a score of flechette needles into the shoulder of her Armored Jacket. Less effective against armor than flesh, the needles stood out like porcupine quills, but did not penetrate.

Slave reacted the quickest in her team. Not detecting anyone within one meter, she immediately cut a hole in the thin van roof and ripped a wide hole. She would be free in a moment to find and attack the first aggressor.

Diana leapt away from the van, realizing Wanda was just stupid enough to get them all blown to hell trying to hit her with the stun pistol. She whipped free her pistol, firing toward Wanda as she went. She knew the pistol wasn't likely to penetrate the camos much unless she got a lucky head shot, but it might keep her from closing while Diana figured out where to go from here.

Diana cursed, and opened fire again. She needed a plan, or everyone was going to wind up dead, and her in deep shit. She glanced back at the van. That was when she noticed Ed. He was badly wounded and lying propped up against the van. She cursed. "Son of a bitch!" She said barely out loud. She removed her first aid kit, and did what she could for all of a minute. She hoped he would hold out for that long.

She holstered her pistol, and removed the MP. It was the only weapon she had, at the moment, that could do anything. She opened fire, firing a short, controlled 3 round burst, at the closest target.

Wanda easily twisted out of the way of her shots.

Chalk didn't expect to have to go immediately on the defensive and his abortive attempt to block Jeff's blow left him out of position to attack for a moment. Fortunately for Chalk, he had the presence of mind to swallow a small pill just before the battle which should be kicking in by now if not already. With his reflexes and strength increased by the potent alkaloyd, Chalk rose up with a lunatic grin on his face and ignored the pain in his leg.

Gisele, shrugging off the flechettes (but fervently glad she hadn't been hit in the face), extended Razors from under her fingernails and slashed at Marlene's face. It was a miss but the powerful whoosh of air produced as a result was enough to convince Marlene that staying too close would be a bad idea. Frederick took shelter behind Gisele's armored longcoat, but peaked around to fire his pistol. He squeezed off a couple shots, but Marlene proved to be too difficult a target.

It was a tricky situation. It was obvious that this Marlene person doesn't want to get too close, which made the obvious choice to get as close as possible. Overpowering Gisele in hand to hand would be extremely difficult, and closing the distance between herself and that flechette gun would be good. Wrenching it away or just ripping into Marlene at close quarters would be even better.

Gisele sent to Frederick encoded //Stay down, and for God's sake, don't get yourself killed!//

Frederick ducked back in the van just long enough to grab the bag of money. coded//Gisele, we need to get out of here. I have the entire payroll, we don't want it to get destroyed.//

Unfortunate Ed took a moment to bleed messily.

Wanda watched Diana rush to Ed's aid with the medkit, but she had only as much compassion as Diana did herself. Perfectly capable of letting someone die so that she could complete her mission, she fired her Zat gun at Diana again. It was a direct hit which vibrated Diana's right arm but was largely dissipated by the heavy armored long coat she wore. Wanda realized she was going to have to go hand to hand since her weapon didn't seem to be working on her.

Jeff pressed his attack and again Chalk was forced to defend against his attacker's longer weapon. This time, Jeff sliced at Chalk's arm, but the blow wasn't quite as well-placed. It tore a bloody gash in his arm, but no more. Chalk knew he was almost out of time...

Marlene glanced around the battlefield and drew away from Gisele. "She's got armor. Take her out, Boris."

Boris rocketed across the battlefield, covering seven meters before popping out of the flying somersault and spraying his new targets with bullets. He let loose a tight burst of three shots at Gisele. Fortunately for Gisele, Boris may have been moving *too* fast. Only one round hit, smashing into the same firm shoulder Marlene hit with the shotgun.

Slave came racing around the back of the van like the deranged space-mechanic she was. It took all the speed she could muster, but no one could ever accuse Slave of being a slacker. The closest opponent was Marlene and she charged the commando in an attempt to bowl her over and grapple. She proved a much harder target that the satellites Slave was familiar with grappling. Marlene was able to move out of the way and deliver a parting kick as well, just catching Slave in the chest.

Although once again staggered by Jeff's onslaught, Chalk managed to put in an offensive strike. He was determined not to go quietly into the night, but Jeff proved as elusive as his compatriots.

Diana, shrugging off Wanda's last attempt to subdue, ripped out the slap patches, tore Ed's shirt open and smacked them hurriedly over the bullet wounds. She could only hope the man would live.

Gisele, taking Frederick's advice, lent a helping hand to Frederick and headed south into the countryside with all speed.

Ed stopped bleeding. Unfortunately, no one could tell whether that was because of the first aid, or if it was simply because he was out of blood.

Then Wanda rushed Diana, closing to hand to hand to take her down. She smacked Diana hard enough to to wind her slightly, but more than enough to tick Diana off even more.

Jeff was like a machine, raining blow after blow upon Chalk. But he was dropping some of his finesse in trying to simply disable Chalk. This time he violently introduced his katana to Chalk's lungs. With a surprised look on his face, Chalk looked down at the sword sticking out of his chest. For a moment Chalk looked like he was going to laugh, but then his eyes rolled up into his head and he collapsed.

Boris saw Gisele and Frederick taking off. Whether they were running to the hills, or lying bleeding in the road, it was the same to him, just so long as they stayed out of the fight. He turned his attention to Slave. Unfortunately, she was now in close combat with Marlene, preventing a clean shot. Instead, he turned to watch Gisele and Frederick leave to make sure they didn't decide to get back into the fight.

Marlene tried beating the armored cyborg with her shotgun. She just barely managed to land a blow.

Slave fought back, attempting to grapple with Marlene. She needed a pretty lucky shot to grab Marlene, and she was proving more slippery than an eel. Missed. More important to Slave was that her radar was now picking up three heavily armored hovercraft moving this way fast! ETA: less than 10 seconds. Probability of successfully taking down 12 more commandos: Null value Null value Null value. It flashed before her eyes. Commander designate Chalk is down.

Diana, meanwhile is in a heated close combat with Wanda. It wasn't going too well. Wanda was a third rank martial combatant. Diana was only a 5 ranker. That meant it would be seriously difficult to beat her at this game. However, remembering back when they used to train together, although Wanda was a champ in hand to hand, Diana remembered that no one could match Diana's sheer speed in a full-out sprint. Everything else being equal, that was her one edge.

Gisele and Frederick got clear of the combat and kept moving south. While running Frederick did his best to communicate to Slave, though the uncoded transmissions could be picked up by the enemy. //Slave, A withdrawal is necessary. See to the safe savalge of as many team members as can be quickly saved. When those transports arive, all is lost.//

"I'm not sure if there will be much left to salvage..." said Gisele aloud to Frederick.

As the pair fled the scene, there were very few thoughts in Gisele's mind. But later would come much heavier concerns. Would the strike team really let them get away, or would a clean-up crew come later to find them? Assuming the any of Chalk's ragtag band survived, and assuming they would want to track down Gisele and Frederick, could they? It wasn't as if they were leaving a phone number and forwarding address.

Even if they made it away for now, there was no guarantee that either of them could return to life in Berlin. It was likely, if not dead certain, that whoever was hunting them had all the right information, from registry numbers to shoe size. Living quietly off stolen funds would be rather difficult with an SS dagger in your back.

For now, though, these things were not at the forefront. Putting plenty of distance between them and the scene was. So was finding a safe, private place to regroup and collect their wits.

Ed laid there some more.

"Go.." Blood flecked the air as Chalk spoke the retreat order. "Run... take the money, get to safety."

Slowly the killer sank to the ground before Jeff. His eyes were shaking with the disbelief. Never before had he so much as suffered a shaving cut, let alone lethal wounds. This was the first time he'd actually been injured in combat.

"I am the Bladed god, thy Lord." He intoned to Jeff on his knees. "I am the pale death that stalks the land with sword in hand. I am the... I cannot.."

The pearlescent sword fell from his numb fingers to the asphalt beneath him, his bloody eyes following its descent. Those same eyes raised again to his opponent, pleading wordlessly, then he dropped prone on his left side.

Jeff looked surprised as Chalk crumpled and fell. He hadn't expected it to be that easy. He poked at Chalk's unmoving form with a foot. Chalk didn't move.

Turning to Wanda, he stated, "Quit fooling around Diana. Don't make Boris shootcha. I--" BANG!

Whirling back toward Chalk with angry fire in his eyes, he stared at the grinning albino. The enraged commando stabbed viciously down with his katana, pinning Chalk to the ground. With a savage twist of the blade, he ripped open Chalk's chest and blood gushed everywhere. The evil light in Chalk's red eyes faded and died as he mouthed his final command to Diana. "Go."

Then Jeff swayed, looking confused. Reaching around, he touched the minor wound on the back of his left shoulder and smelled the blood. "Poison! That motherfucker! Boris! Get the medkit, now! Jeff staggered backwards, trying to shake the fog from clouding his mind." Boris ran to Jeff, catching him as he began to fall.

The sound of approaching hovercraft roared in the ears of the team.

Diana realized that she was out of time and needed to get out fast. She didn't have time to try to beat Wanda to a pulp hand to hand, so she grabbed a handful of gravely dirt from the roadside and threw it into Wanda's face. Wanda back-pedalled but caught an eyeful of the irritating stuff.

Sprinting like an Olympic runner even with Ed draped over her shoulder, Diana quickly put some distance between herself and any pursuit. Logically, they must now choose between getting Jeff immediate medical attention or risk losing a top Feline Splicer Commando and capturing Diana. Jeff is more experienced and in a command position. They would be stupid to allow him to die, just to capture one of De Beers' wayward "children".

Then again, this is the government we are talking about here.

At any rate, Diana triggered her detonator and the van exploded in an immense fireball. If anyone was close to it, they now have a great deal of pain to worry about -- if they lived.

Which brought up one small detail.

What happened to Slave?

There appeared to be a farmhouse and some outbuildings up ahead, perhaps a mile off the road. Beyond that Diana could just make out the dim, night-time outline of a tree line.

Checking on Ed, Diana looked for signs of life. There it was. Amazingly, he was still breathing. It was shallow and he struggled with each breath, but he was alive.

And thankfully, there was no sign of pursuit as of yet. Perhaps the exploding van forced a mission abort.


The huge bruiser had been driving all night to get here and he was tired, thirsty and hungry. This place, with its old neon signs and rough exterior seemed just the place to get properly lubed. He walked into the Slippery Nipple and saw that the place lived up to its name.

Slippery, for sure. Spilt liquor, and whatever else soaked the old oak wood floor. Even the denizens looked slippery, somehow. Maybe it was the grease, maybe it was the too-much makeup of the male and female escorts. Sure, none of them were high-class, but then they didn't really have the pretensions status brings either. They were his kind of people. Straightforward and honest, when you could make them give you their word.

There were perhaps forty patrons in the bar, making it moderately crowded. The bartender, sporting one claw-like artificial hand was wiped down a mug as T-Man approached, eying his new customer warily. Guys that size were very uncommon, but T-Man was used to such attention. In fact, he rather like it.

His rugged looks and obvious strength wasn't lost on one of the local barflies, either. She might have been in her late twenties, probably and alcoholic, but still pretty cute. More importantly, she seemed interested.

"Hey, there big fella. I see you're new around here. The barkeep's got some pretty good homebrew, and for a little company I'll buy ya a mug."

He should have expected this and on a normal night would have even welcomed the woman's advances... he checked her a second time just to be sure of that. Sometimes it was tough to tell in these places.

Yes, she was female.

Normally he would have welcomed her advances, but this night he just wanted to be left alone. The things he'd seen too recently stayed in his mind and did not enjoy company.

"Nein, frauline." He told her with his heavy voice, thick with the Muscovite accent. "Not tonight, Ja? Go pick on someone else."

His words were rough and insistent, but as pleasent as he could make them. Maybe later when the road tension was gone he'd regeret seding her away, but there you had it.

"Something here, bartender." His German was imperfect, obviously not his first language. "Strong, yes?"

He turned from the response, not even hearing it clearly as he scanned the bar once more. Was that a familiar face he saw in the corner? No good. He didn't recognize the jacketed tough. Maybe if he didn't know anyone here, they wouldn't know him either.

Well, one thing was for certain. No matter how much that bartender wiped the glass mug with a dirty towel, it could never get the brown stain off the bottom of the mug without actually running it through some soap and water. Therefore, he gave up and put some donkey piss he called "something hard" in it and handed it the hulking newcomer.

"Three marks, bud," requested the 'tender.

Ti wasn't sure if the stuff was sanitary, but it was as strong as it was bad tasting. Anyway, after the first couple gulps, the stuff sort of grew on you. Like ringworm.

Anyway, it didn't help T-Man's mood much, just loosened his inhibitions. After loosing your team in the one mission that could have paved the way to a profitable career to a couple of lousy frigging jelly-fish things, it tended to tick you off.

As a matter of fact, ol' T-Man was feeling mighty tense about not getting a chance to kick those suckers back. Right in the, uh, whatever it was that hurts them things when you kicked 'em.

So it was easy to see that T-Man would get even more bent out of shape when he saw that chick what tried to get friendly with him earlier get slapped down so hard a tooth actually flew out of the poor woman's mouth and splatted wetly on the equally damp barroom floor. Apparently, the pug-faced, fat pile of a man she approached thought he was too good for her company. He turned back on his sagging bar stool, ignoring her now like she was so much filth to be tossed out with the morning trash and didn't seem to give a damn what she did after that.

It was a shame really. Different time, and maybe a different place, she'd been all right. Pretty enough, anyway. It was her desperate apparent fear of being by herself that seemed her biggest flaw. Or maybe she was just hoping she'd find someone who'd buy her drinks all night. Who knows? Apparently no one cared.

That is, no one cared until she staggered right into the bar next to T-Man, spilling his drink all over the fine oak woodwork. And it wasn't so much that T-Man wouldn't knock her block off for daring to get slapped into his drink. It wasn't that he suddenly felt like sticking up for the woman. It was just that the fat man suddenly looked like he'd make a really swell battering ram all of a sudden.

A thin part of his mind that was thoroughly professional, that same part which enabled him to pull himself from a lowley street level to...well, this bar... A part of him that enabled him to almost make good with one of the largest crime families in the Reich shrieked at him to let it go. It warned him what would happen if he attracted too much attention, but it went ignored. No one could accuse T-Man of being the sharpest shrapnel in the box, but at least he was big. And mean when he really felt like it. Now was one of those times, he was tired, scared and upset. The easiest way for him to take out his frustration was on a very deserving rat.

"'Scuse me." He muttered to no one in particular as he left his perch at the bar. Shrugging his shoulders, his trunk like arms seemed to swell even more beneath his heavy coat.

"You." He spat at the man who'd split his drink. "You make me... not happy. You need to appologize to me, yes?" His grasp of fluent German seemed to slip away with his mood. "You will, now."

OH how he prayed that the man would not.

"What the bugger do you want?" Oh, he was a fat ENGLISH-man. Even better. At least his Russian was passable. He got the translation of "bugger" quite right and of course, in Russian that's an extremely crass thing to say. The English were always saying stuff like that. Sure, they /seemed/ all proper with their fine accents and what not, but in fact the trash that could come of their mouths was appalling.

To a curious man, it would have been interesting to find out what took brought this man all the way to Warsaw. However, the fat man was obviously not here for the fun of it. He had settled into the serious business of getting flat drunk and doing it alone. Apparently he had achieved this state often, judging by the size and the coloring of his nose. Unless he had heart problems.

"Go bugger yourself, Russian," stated the fat man stubbornly.

Seeing that the man could almost speak his native tounge, Ti switched back to something he was more familiar with. "How about if I take your tiny, pin head and shove it up your ass... assuming there's not too much lard you ponce."

There... if that didn't provoke the man to attack, T-Man would just have to throw him against a wall.

The Englishman rose drunkenly to his feet and confronted Victor, who moved back with a wicked grin on his face as the prelude continued.

"Look, Ivan..." The Brit said. "I come to this armpit of the world on business and I don't need you or anyone else giving me attitude about it. The food here is lousy, the women repulsive and even the dogs are of
questionable breeding."

He staggered somewhat but continued, raising a single finger towards his target. "Now, I know people. Powerful people and if you lay so much as a single hand on me, I'll see to it that your passport is revoked, all of your liscenses suspended and your entire life confiscated right down to your
grandmother's false teeth."

"Blah, blah, blah." Thought Victor to himself as he rolled his eyes. "Just like these Brits to keep talking and talking when there was fighting to be done."

The fat man continued his threatening tirade when Ti decided enough was enough. Despite the fact that it was a foolish thing to do, that he needed to avoid conflict and encounters with the authorities at all costs, sometimes things just happened.

"And ANOTHER thing... GYAK!" The fat man's rant was cut off midsentence by Ti grasping his shaking finger and turning it forcefully backwards. The snapping sounds which came from the Brit's wrist were music to Victor's ears.

"Shut UP, you ugly, annoying man!"

While Ti's right hand was releasing the broken wrist, his left grasped the surprised man by the collar. With a single heave he lifted the massive bulk off the dirty floor, shoes clearing the warn boards by a good six inches.

"You like to hurt people, no? People smaller than you? Now we see what happens when someone hurts you!"

The expensive shirt in Victor's grasp started to give way under the enormous strain of holding the so much bulk, but he grasped the man's belt before the seams tore completely. Like an olympic lifter, Ti shifted his position and got under the Brit with his knees bent. One smooth heave raised him above the Russian's head in an impressive military press.

"Help!" Cried the Brit to the stunned bar crowd. Victor crouched slightly and then straightened, throwing with his arms to send his load sailing across the room. Severeal feet later, the Brit slammed into a table,
shattering it completely.

Victor stood, gloating, over the fallen wreck of the Englishman. The three toughs who had previously occupied the table were all on their feet glaring at the big Russian in anger. The big Russian glared back, but almost with glee at the coming scrap.

Without warning a vodka bottle shattered against the back of Victor's skull, sending fragments of glass and liquor spilling down his coat. He stumbled forward, surprised at the impact, and felt his head. Fingers came away wet with blood and he turned towards his cowardly assailant with a look of contempt.

"Dog, do not do that again."

A small man stood behind him with a broken bottleneck dangling uselessly from his hand. A look of terror eteched his face as the big man descended upon him and he scrambled. Always having been a small, nimble man, the panicked victim managed to elude Ti's first grab, but unfortunately had the back of his jacket snagged in an iron grip as he darted away. One turn of powerful shoulders sent the little guy sailing into the oaken bar in a heap.

As Victor finished the throw he was hit by two of the three from the smashed table. They slammed into him in tandom, but were unable to knock the big man off of his feet. They only succeeded in rocking him a bit before one each secured his arms.

These two grapplers were stronger than the previous opponents and they managed to keep Victor from getting the leverage he needed to throw him off. While they held him, the third of their party stepped in front of the Russian and rasied a fist.

A gloved hand slammed into his solid gut and emited a sickening crunching noise. The attacker reeled in pain, clutching his mangled fist and looking Ti ni the face with surprise.

Ti chuckled to himself and rolled one shoulder forward unexpectedly, throwing that captor off balance enough to loose his grip. Reaching to his other side, the strong man grabbed his third attacker by the collar, drew him down and brought a fist to the back of his neck. The man fell like a pole-axed bull, not to move.

Turning as quickly as he could given his bulk, Ti raised his shoulder in time to catch a chair being swung at him and the cheap furnishing shattered. He shot his fist forward as the debris was settling and felt the bridge of a nose collapse beneath the blow and another man went down.

Stepping forward he then helped the man with the shattered fist back up to his feet and more, lifting him until he had him in a solid fireman's carry. One quick shrug sent the terrified pugilist up and over Victor's head to arc down onto a planted knee. Another crunch echoed through the bar as the back breaking move was executed.

Ti surveyed the damage he'd caused and raised his fists triumphantly.

"Yah! Anyone else!" He called to the bar. A booming noise caused him to duck instinctively and turn.

In his view now was the bartender with a short shotgun in his hands, the artificial claw supporting it's stock. Smoke rose from the barrel as he stared down the powerful Russian.

"Hey, now, don't do anything silly." Ti told him, a tinge of panic now in his own voice and hands raised in surrender. "All in good fun, you know. Besides, you saw, they started it."


Once Slave broke off combat, the commandos did not pursue. Slave was not the target, and soon after, the exploding van gave them some wounded to look after. Pursuit, if it occurs, will not happen immediately.

The others were not difficult to track on Slave's radar. In fact, they appeared to be broken into two groups of two, each making their own way in a slightly different direction. There was next to no light out here in the early hours of the morning, so it might be sheer chance that allows them to link up.

At the outskirts of the farmhouse, she laid Ed down. She decided to recon the area first before just blundering in. The recon would took about 30 minutes. Not as thorough as she would have liked, but good enough to determine If there was any danger present. Fortunately, the place was clear.

As Diana completed her recon of the area, she was able to find discover Frederick and Gisele both safe and unharmed except for a moderately ripped up bit of Gisele's coat at the should. It was clear they were fine.

It wasn't long before Diana's recon also uncovered the last straggling member of the team: Slave. Diana moved Ed to the barn and was joined by the rest of the team. The hay was old and dusty, but the smell of farm animals was distant, as the place seemed currently unoccupied. In fact, Diana's recon turned up no residents at all.

More importantly, it showed no sign of pursuit. In fact, there were no longer any lights from hovercraft back at the road which should have been readily viewable from this position. Apparently, the destruction of the van must have done something severe enough to them that they decided they needed to withdraw. It would have had to have been serious to make De Beers let go this easily.


It was a bright, sunny day and as the last of the team members roused themselves. Ed still slept peacefully as he recovered from the bullet wounds. Diana managed to pick the last of the embedded 5.56 mm bullets out of his body and there appeared to be no signs of infection. Ed was a rather healthy specimen.

A couple hours after the others started moving around in the brightly sun-lit barn Ed finally awoke. Still severely injured and very much in pain, he was at least conversational.

Suddenly remembering he'd be shot several times, Ed grimaced in pain when he moved in a way that irritated the wounds and caused a couple to reopen. Furrowing his brow in concentration, Ed concentrated for less than ten seconds. Then, he gingerly peeled off the slap patches covering the bullet holes and collected them in a pile to be disposed up. Sitting upright, the man no longer had so much as a scar.

"Nice trick." Diana said with a smile. "You will have to teach me that sometime." she says with a chuckle. "I'm glad to see you are feeling better." She says.

Ed smiled and blushed pinkly at the comment. Looking around for something else to do, Ed moves slightly away.

Though the night had been long and unforgettable, the dawn rose again without fail. This kind of unflagging persistance on the part of the sun really annoyed Gisele right now.

Four abandoned mercenaries and a mindless Reich drone. Pursued by special forces with an obvious intent to kill. Their team leader, really the only one who knew exactly what was going on, was dead. Diana has explained that in detail. It seemed fairly hopeless. There were two things in their favor, though. The four of them were alive and in good shape. It was a miracle that Ed hadn't been killed during the attack. The same could not be said for Herr Chalk.

Diana thought about that. She hoped she had killed her would be persuers, and yet she also hoped she didn't. The emotions warred inside of her before she turned her attention to the current problem. She was sure Chalk had died before setting off the van.

The second good fortune was that they had a million marks in cold, hard cash.

Gisele, ever the ray of sunshine, broke the silence, "What do we do now?" She also voiced the rest of her concerns, the SS hunting them for a reason that was beyond her, all the while pulling a half dozen needle-like flechettes from her coat shoulder and laying them in a neat row on the ground. "Do we even bother to finish this mission?"

Slave picked up a flechette, examines it.

"It m-m-m-makes n-n-n-no d-d-d-difference to m-m-m-me. W-w-w-we d-d-d-do n-n-n-need w-w-w-work. If w-w-w-we d-d-d-do finish the w-w-w-work, w-w-w-we c-c-c-can sell it t-t-t-to the highest b-b-b-bidder."

Ed moved slowly as he says this. It was obvious he was still hurt, but not as bad as he was half a day ago.

"We can use the money." Diana says. "But I think we should worry about one thing at a time."

"W-w-w-what ab-b-b-bout f-f-f-food?"

"We can come to that, later. Right now, I think transportation and distance are a bit more important." Diana said.

Gisele shot an odd glance at Slave, then sighed. "We're doing no good just sitting here, that's for sure. We don't even have any food. How far is the nearest city, anyway? What was it... Warsaw? We might blend into the city, and at least buy ourselves some time."

Gisele seems to be presenting the options as some sort of pro-tempore leader. She isn't demanding or authoritative, though. Just stating the facts as she sees them. "Well, I don't know about the mission.. but I could use a drink, at least. There are probably some nice bars in Warsaw."

Diana pointed out, "We could steal a car, or see about buying one from the locals. Give them enough cash, and they can forget they ever saw anyone," she says. The mention of those hunting her, brought back that warring of emotions. She knew each one of the commandos, and had even been trained with and escaped with Wanda. Yet, she also hoped they had been killed, because it would slow down any persuit by quite a bit. But then again, knowing DeBeers, he probably wouldn't let a small thing like having a team wiped out slow him down anymore then barest necesessary. For the moment, however, they had time. That was important.

Frederick gathered up his now full back pack and walked over to Slave. He stood and stared at her as if studying her. Then he began to speak to the group while continuing to study Slave. "Money's not a pressing issue. I can fund the operation. We need to postpone the mission a little while though. We need to throw off the scent so to speak. Stuttman's body burned up in the van, so they won't know we had him. I say we stop at Warsaw for supplies and a vehicle, then proceed to Odessa. Maybe we can find out something about Slave. I downloaded the meeting information that the dissidents had."

"Also, I'm curious as to why the SS is trying to take you alive, Diana. I have no love for the SS, and I'm willing to help you stay away from them, but if I'm going to risk my neck to keep you out of their hands, I'd like to know why."

Slave cocked its head, "stares" back. At least, that's would it would look like, if it had eyes.

Diana was silent for several long minutes. What should she tell them? The truth, part of the truth? Finally, she just internally shrugged. "The SS wants me so badly because I escaped from them. I'm a feline splicer
commando. Trained since the age of five to be a warrior. About 45 years ago, in 1985, after the human gene code had been cracked, the reigh began spending billions of marks trying to perfect the "ultimate soldier." They began splicing various human and animal DNA together, specifically, feline dna. Someone got the bright idea, that cats were the ultimate hunters. With enhanced smell, hearing andnight vision, they could track any target they could. Also, with their strength, speed, stamina, and balance they were the "perfect" idea of what a warrior should be. In 2015, they finally perfected the process. They took orphans, and gene spliced them till they got the absolutely perfect mix. In the meantime, they took the orpahs, usually around age three or so, and began military training them. Everything from weapons, to tactics, combat styles, you name it, they trained them for it. They trained them in 10 man units. About 10 years ago, five units manage to escape, mine being one of them. Since then, I've been dodging and ducking them. The man who is after me is called DeBeers. He was in charge of the five units that escaped. Those who are captured and brought back, are "properly reprogrammed" to serve the Reich and their leaders. Those commandos we met last night, I knew all of them. We trained together. In fact, Jeff and I had been good friends. But, I still hope I killed them."


The bar fight was soon over, and the air began to fill with the wailing sound of sirens. That was the cue to leave, if Ti ever heard it.

Ti moved carefully but quickly towards the Bar's back entrance (assuming it has one) and out into the Warsaw streets. He considered himself lucky that the bartender hadn't shot him anyway and moved away from the scene.

"Not bright, Victor." He chided himself. He needed to stay low, keep quiet. He doubted that the Mafia would follow him this far from Moscow, but you never knew. Throwing his weight around was a sure way to get their headhunters breathing down his neck.

He'd always been the impetuous type, though. Lying low was simply never his style. He enjoyed action far too much, and in the criminal world such was a good way to get yourself killed.

Not making eye contact and adapting a casual air, he circled back to his vehicle and prepared to continue his flight. His haspanic looks might allow him to blend in better in the southern realms... maybe Spain or even Itally. He'd heard that the Sicillians were, at times, open to non-family members doing good work for them, and who better to protect him from the Russians than the original mob?

Damn. Ti was cranky now as well as tired and slightly sloshed. The sign had said the next fuel station would be only 12 klicks down this road. He began to get the sneaky suspicion that either he missed a turn or it lied.

At any rate, he was definitely running low of fuel and somewhat lost running around on these stupid side roads. The sun had been up for a few hours now and he'd been driving right into it. All this would have put Ti in a dangerously bad mood except for the thought that he now had about 2000 klicks between him and whatever the hell those.... THINGS were. That could put a smile of relief on even the grouchiest of men.

The truck was on fumes now and it sounded like it. Luckily, there was a farm house not far up the tertiary dirt road he'd been taking. Heck, these country folk are supposed to like helping people out, right? Maybe they'd have a few liters of fuel to give him for the right price.

"Just keep moving, act natural." He told himself.

With the engine choking and knocking, he rolled up to the farmhouse and stepped out of his truck. The chassis popped up a good half foot when he stepped out. Probably bad suspension, it didn't look like the previous owner had taken good care of the thing.

"Guten morgan." He practiced his rusty German as he walked. "Petrol, biter shen. Bitter shein? Petrol por favor? D'oh!"

"I need to borrow some gasoline." He managed to figure out in the proper language before getting more than a few feet from the 'Burb.

The team, sequestered in the barn heard the tell-tale rattle of an old truck rolling up the driveway of their new-found refuge. Peeking out one of the barn windows, they saw the large man apparently trying to get the attention of someone in the farmhouse.

For his part, Ti began to get the feeling this place wasn't occupied. No one answered his calls to the house, and upon looking a bit closer, the place appeared to be in some disrepair. Shingles were falling off the roof and the paint had nearly completely peeled off the wood siding. The windows were all intact, however. The place didn't look like it was left in a hurry. In fact, it looked like someone a long time ago, carefully and perhaps lovingly shut all the windows and shuttered those they could. The door appeared solid and still closed.

There were a number of outbuildings on this farm, too. There appeared to be what looked like an old chicken roost which had at some point been converted into some kind of storage shed. There was a larger machine shed which was probably meant to house tractors and other farm equipment. Finally, there was a large barn with attached fenced-in area where livestock once probably roamed.

All of it looked to have been quietly locked up and left behind years ago. Except one thing looked out of place. The door to the barn was just slightly ajar.

"Could have been vandals, or maybe just high school kids looking for a place to fool around in." Thought Ti to himself.

He ignored the barn for now and began walking away from the farmhouse. Most likely if they had any gas around it'd be in the machine shed. As he neared that building, perhaps passing closer to the barn itself, his face became clearer with proximity. His hair was dark and wavy, and his face was slightly darker than the normal Russian pale, perhaps with an olive tint to it.

While his eyes had the narrowness of a Muscovite, there seems to be a cant to them which bespeaks of some Hispanic heritage. Most likely the man has a bit of latino blood in him somewhere. He's whistling a familiar, popular theme as he walks, apparently paying little attention to the surroundings.

While the distance was previously making it difficult to tell, now that he was closer his size stood out as impressive. Not a legendary giant by any means, the man was certainly large. He probably stood nearly two meters in hight and weighed over a hundred kilograms with chisled arms as thick as posts. His loose fitting tunic gave him a classic 'muscle man' appearance.

Inside the barn, Frederick commented out loud. "Mixed blood. So, it's unlikely he's either SS or Abwehr. Doesn't look armed. Truck sounded like it's out of gas. He's probably looking for some in the shed. The man could be an ally, or we could leave him here. Ally would be preferable. Especially since I don't want to have to fight him for any gas he finds.

"Diana, you're the least likely to be spotted. Why don't you go see if there are any weapons in the truck. And take the keys too, if they're there. It'll make a nice barganing chip with our new friend."

Diana smiled. "Consider it done."

She slipped out of the barn via the back enterence and work her way around slowly and quietly toward the truck. She used every advantage she could to keep from being seen. When he got to the truck, she opened the driver's side door as quietly as possible, and once inside, she did a quick search.

Slave made the following transmission: //Intruder approaching//6 meters//Initiating combat mode//

Slave took to the wall ABOVE the entrance to the barn and waited...

Luckily, the barn wall was made of stout wood. As Slave attached herself there with spider-like firmness, the boards creaked quietly with the stress.

The large man didn't appear to notice the creak, due to the sound of his own whistling.

"So just tell me what ya' want, what ya reallyreally want..." Ti began to sing to himself as he walked. The day really was pretty nice and maybe he'd been worrying too much. He was begining to think, again, that the mob wouldn't possibly chase him this far and since he hadn't hit trouble yet he was reasonably safe. All he had to do was get out of the coutry before anything else happened.

Thinking back he tried to remember if he still had any outstanding warrants that could keep him from crossing the boarder and didn't come up with anything. He'd already servered the three months he'd been ordered for the assualt on that shopkeeper who wouldn't pay his protection money... he'd been aquitted on the murder charge since he was only an accessory anyway and there weren't any credible witnesses. Both he and Dante had gotten lucky on that one.

The breaking and entry charge didn't stick... he thought. He'd been drunk when they arrested him and he couldn't remember for sure if he'd been charged for the misdemeanor or not.

He bent over in mid-stride and plucked a smooth stone from the gravel driveway, tossing it casually in his hand. After judging the weight of the rock he cocked his arm and tried to pitch it ino the open hay loft over the barn. The stone flew wide and clattered off the peeling, wooden boards just below and to the left of the portal, clattering noisily.

Stopping and squinting in mild frustration he bent to pick up a second missle and took more time to gauge his target.

Watching his second shot sail, cleanly, through the large hayloft gate, Ti pointed the first two fingers on his right hand and kissed them gently. He then pointed both fingers towards his target, bowed his head slightly and cocked his left fist against his side in a 'he shoot, he scores' pose.

After holding the position for a few seconds he then turned and merrily continued his march toward the machine shed.

But when the rock came through the loft, Frederick yelled, "Hey!" and exited through the barn door. His temper once again flaring unexpectedly. "What do you think you are doing? You can hurt someone throwing rocks like that!"

Victor spun on his heels at the heated words, one hand going instinctively for his shoulder holster. Seeing that the person posed no true threat, though, he relaxed somewhat.

"Oh, hey, sorry, squirt. I didn't realize there was anyone in the barn."

He straightened from his half-crouched postion and looked at the small hacker.

"The farmhouse was shut up so I didn't think anyone was here..." His words trailed off as he slowly looked up at the farmhouse and then back to Fred. He then swept his gaze across the open barn door, and then back at Fred once again.

"Wait, this place is shut down. I don't think you're supposed to be here, are you?"


Seeing how things were going, Ed went to the door and pressed his back to the wall. He wanted to be ready, just incase Frederick got in over his head.

For her part, Gisele was stunned when Frederick suddenly yelled. She was actually so surprised that he managed to slip out the door before she could really react. She reached a hand after him, but realized it was too late, and withdrew it before it could be seen from outside. coded// Frederick... if he doesn't beat you, I will..//

Quietly seething, Gisele pulled her gun and tried to watch the scene without being seen.

Diana returned to the barn, just in time to see Fredrick storm out. ~Oh, great, now what?~ She thought to herself. Then she heard him confront the guy outside. "Oh, this is just freakin' great!" She exclaimed, more to herself, and a bit louder then she planned.

She quickly climbed up to the loft, unslung her MP, and took aim of the stranger. If he tried anything he would be one dead stranger. She sighted the smg right between his eyes, and waited for him to move, hostilely or not.

Gisele waved a hand at Diana and shook her head, trying not to be too hasty. Not that covering Frederick was a bad idea, or assuring that their new acquaintance didn't cause too much trouble. Covering the stranger was a good idea, but maybe not taking his head off at a moment's notice.

And besides.. after that little stunt, she wouldn't terribly mind seeing Frederick get smacked once or twice.


Frederick seemed to get even more irate at Victor's comments.

"Squirt?!? Who you calling a squirt, you overgrown Ruskie mutt!?! You can't be a squirt and get the death penalty in America."

"When were you in..." The confused look on Ti's face continued even after his question was cut off by Fred's mood change.

Suddenly, mid rant, his mood shifted. He smiled broadly and begins to laugh to himself.

"Hey, that reminds me of a good one. Have you heard the one about the German, the Rusian, and the American on a roller coaster? It gets to the top of the first hill, the German just out and yells 'Eagle' and he turns into a big black eagle and flies away. It gets to the top of the second hill, the Russian jumps out and yells 'Hawk' and he turns into a huge hawk and flies away. It gets to the top of the third hill, the American jumps out and yells, 'Shit!'"

Frederick then paused waiting for the Rusian to laugh.

Ti stands baffled at the antics of the smaller man, but at least he seemed
to have calmed down. Listening to the joke he emits a powerful, deep laugh
robust and full o life at the punchline.

Frederick laughed along with the large man and then turned to go back to the barn.

"Shit!" He said through tears. "Shit! I love it... Hey, where you going?"

Ti then followed Fred towards the barn, calling after him.

"Hey, who are you? I'm trying to find some gas. I don't suppose you know anyone around here?

And what was this strange man doing here in the first place? It really didn't matter to the big Russian, since he wasn't going to have to pound his head in after all.

Frederick paused in his walk and turned back to big man.

"Actually, we're just passing through. And if there's any gas in the shed we'll be taking your truck."

Through the comlink, Frederick whispered, //Big and not too bright. He didn't even realize that I messed up the punch line. The American was supposed to trip when he jumped.//

"Oh, you'll be what?" Ti shouted once the small man's statement penetrated. At first he thought it might just be another joke, but apparently Herr Squirt was serious.

Now, Ti did catch that he said 'We', meaning there were more then just him. That was bad since Victor would have had little problem handling the skinny, frail person before him. Probably his partner, or partners, were a little more physically capable.

"I hate to break it to you, skinny, but no one's taking my truck." After all, Ti had to steal it in the first place, so he'll be damned if someone steals it from him.

Carefully he reached for the gun under his shirt...

Diana remained where she was, at the top of the barn, watching closely the encounter. When she heard Fredrick make the threat to take the truck, she wondered what the hell his problem was? What the hell was that idiot thinking?

As the stranger went to draw his weapon, Nikita put one round very close to his head, but missed intentionally, to send a message. As much as she would have liked to either see Fredrick get his ass kicked, or even kick his ass herself, she was not going to watch as this guy killed him.

"Nice and slow, with two fingers, or the next one doesn't miss." She said out loud to the stranger. To emphasize her point, she put a round as close as she could by his head again, and again, making sure she misses.

//Fredrick, you son of a bitch, when this is over, I'm going to kick your damned ass!// Diana sent angerily to him over the comset. //Don't you have ANY people skills at all? Damned idiot!// she said, making
sure he fully understood she was pissed off at him.

Ti gritted his teeth in anger, eyes scanning the barn for signs of the sniper. Not seeing anything (yes, he was that dense), his gaze returned to Fred's back attempting to burn holes with its intensity.

Two fingers went slowly in a familiar movement as the man disarmed himself. A god-be-damned-big gun was revealed and dropped with a clatter to the dusty, gravely path.

"Pretty good setup. Who are you? You work for the Mikhalivich family?"