Upon hearing Diana's threats, Frederick's mood shifted again. He began wailing and blubbering. "What did I do to deserve this? ::sob:: I'm a good citizen. ::sob:: And my contract specifically says I'm supposed to be kept out of combat. ::sniff:: But here you go, ::sob:: dragging me out in the middle of nowhere. ::sob:: Our fixer, who may have been SS, gets killed by the SS. and know my own group is threating me. ::sniff:: ::sob:: Why? ::sniff:: What did I do?"

"SS," thought Ti to himself. His brow furrowed in sudden concern. The mob was bad enough. They probably would have beaten him to get their answers, and maybe dropped him in a river to get rid of him, but the SS? Those sick bastards would have kept him around for weeks just to see if they could keep him screaming. Not good, Victor, not good.

He looked down at the Jackhammer lying in the gravel at his feet, thinking he should maybe go out in a blaze of glory rather than get captured and broken on some torture wrack.

Ed darted out from the wall by the door. In a fluid motion he grabbed Frederick and continued to the other side. It happened so fast, Ti's poor little brain couldn't keep up with the motion. To him, Frederick stepped, sobbing into the shadowy barn opening and suddenly disappeared. This whole thing was getting spooky.

"Shit, where'd the little guy go? What kind of setup was this?"

Ti didn't like the way things were going and decided it might be better for him to leave. The whole operation didn't seem anything like he'd seen before... no professionals would be acting like this. Sending one man out alone who acted like he stepped from a surrealist novel, firing two warning shots when it was obvious they could have taken his head off with at a moments notice, and now the 'bait' just dissapeared.

Who could they be, and what did they want? If they were here just to rob him, then why go through these theatrics? Ti couldn't help but wonder.

"Hey?" He called up to the phantom sniper. "I'm not sure what's going on here, or what you guys have to do with anything... you sure as hell don't work for the mob and I don't think you work for the SS, so if you don't mind I'll just put some gas in the truck and get lost, okay?"

Once released by Ed, Frederick clutched his ribs and smacked Ed on the shoulder. It wasn't hard, more the way you would smack a friend who did something insensative.

"Watch the ribs. They're still sore." He was no longer crying and shows no sign he ever was. "Sounds like he may be mafia. I doubt he has a licence to carry that gun of his. We should see if he has any skill and if he needs a job."

Ed peered around the corner. As Ti cautiously leaned toward his weapon, it seemed like a gust of wind disturbed the dust and gravel around his gun for a moment. Blinking out the dust, Ti witnessed his gun suddenly leap up and fly through the air, disappearing straight into the barn. Ti couldn't believe his eyes. Maybe the blow from the bottle did more damage than he'd thought?

Once the weapon reached Ed's hands, he checked it for amunition and cleared the chamber. Turned out it was a big Luxembourg Jackhammer heavy revolver with three rounds and one empty chamber. Once checked, the weapon was placed in his waist band. He then looked at Frederick and nodded his head. He pointed to the kid then to the back of the barn towards a dark corner. This was indicating he should go there and stay.

Frederick did as instructed, moving to a back corner of the barn. After sitting on an old log, he began scanning for a local comm. frequency. If there was one, perhaps he could check a few things out on the 'Net while waiting for his fellows to deal with the stanger.

Gisele sighed once, and put a hand to her head.

"You," she pointed to Frederick, then to the corner Ed indicated. "Stay." The stern tone of her voice indicated that a punishment would be coming later, but that she had neither the time nor energy to do it right now.

She gestured to Ed to stay put and keep his eyes open, then stepped into the opening of the barn.

Gisele put on her best intimidating manner, shoulders arched forward, eyes half-lidded, and more to the point, with a loaded .40 pointed at Ti. Maybe it was the fact that she looked like a twenty-something
troublemaker-wannabe, wearing a long coat in a desperate attempt to look edgy and dangerous. Maybe it was the fact that the stranger literally dwarfed her, but she somehow sensed that it wasn't going to work this time. Best to stick with the basics, then.

"Just give me the keys and you don't have to die. This can all be done very simply."

Secretly, Gisele really hoped he would just cooperate. It would make her day so much more bearable...

"Aw, man... no!" Ti moaned.

"They couldn't expect me to give up to a little girl, could they?" He thought to himself. On the one hand, he had a great deal of respect for the .40 aimed at him, but not if it was weilded by some little slip of a
thing barely able to reach his...

His mind quickly changed that track. While the girl may have been attractive and dangerous looking... for a lolita... but no way was the big T-Man going to give up his ride to a school girl skirt. If only someone
else were holding the gun.

"Tell ya' what!" He called to her. "I'll arm wrestle ya' for them!" Half serious, more intending to stall for time than anything else.

"What's so funny?" Asked Ti to no one as Gisele chuckled.

<A forgotten and long unused wireless uplink apparently located within 70 meters weakly responded to the service query. Apparently, when the house was still in use they had a nice little broadcast Internet setup. Well, it would have been nice for ten years ago.

At any rate, it must have been solar powered, but cause the signal strength indicator that floated into Frederick's mind from the SkullCom and Coded Transceiver showed it was enough to pick him up. Unfortunately, service must have been turned off when the place was abandoned, because it was automatically sending a denial of service response to Frederick's Net query.>


Diana was down from her position in a flash. "What the hell is your problem!" She demands of Fredrick.
"Are you a total fucking idiot? Get a freakin' grip!" She says, anger flowing from her. "That was the stupidest move I've ever seen anyone do. It wasn't bad enough you charged out there like a damned bull in a china shop, but now, thanks to you, we've been compromised. Are you totally satisfied? Is there ANYONE else you would like to whine to?" she said, anger in her voice, and her eyes flashing.

She then spun around on her heel, and marches out the door, MP aimed at Ti. "Don't move, and you won't have to die," she said. There is still anger in her voice.

"Now, we can do this the easy way, or the hard way. The easy way, you give us a lift out of here. The hard way, I shoot you, take your keys, and we leave out of here in your truck, and whatever animals live around here have a free meal come nightfall." She says.

"Damn!" Ti jumped at Diana's appearance. Now here was a finer piece of fur if he'd ever seen one. Things just seem to be getting better and better... except she was yelling at him. Women did that a lot but they usually weren't holding lethal iron while they did it. It looked like he didn't have much of a choice, but at least this one wasn't going to simply rob him.

"Sure, sweets." He said to her with a lascivious grin, hands still raised. "I'll give you a ride if you want, your friend, too."

Diana smiled a wicked smile. "Turn around, very slowly," she ordered him. "Stop." She said, when he had his backside facing her.

As he did so, she stepped forward, and grabbed a large handful of his ass, and squeezed. Much like someone like him would do to a barmaid. "Nice ass. Not much fat. I think you might do," she said, in much the same tone someone would speak to a barmaid.

She quickly stepped back. "Okay, turn back around." She ordered. "So, what's it going to be, the easy way, or the hard way?" She asked. "Frankly, I don't much care. Either way is fine with me." she said. "Now, you can toss the keys over there." She motioned, several feet away from where they were standing. "Or I can just shoot you, and get the keys anyway. Choose," she said.

Ti was confused beyond beliefe at this point... they're shooting at him, they're crying at him, they're robbing him and then they're grabbing his ass and asking for rides. Whatever was going on he needed sub-titles to
follow everything. The whole thing struck him as being surrounded by amatures, something he might be able to turn to his advantage.

After Diana's goose he turned around with a wide grin on his face.

"Damn skippy, missy. More titanium in that ass then fat on my worst day. Front side's nice too, if you want to try grabbing a hold of that. Better use both hands, though, or it might get away from you."

As for the hard way... even HE wasn't crass enough to make the obvious joke.

"Tell you what." He did say, though, "Keys are in my pocket. Why don't you come get them yourself?"

He jiggled his left leg in demonstration and the sound of cars keys was heard clearly. Only a base fool would fall for a trick like this, but so far this group hadn't struck him as all that sharp. Maybe she would be
dumb enough to go for the bait, drawing her in close enough to be used as a hostage.

"But I could just shoot you, and take the keys anyway. Tell you what, you have till a count of five to toss
they keys. If you dont' toss them by then, I'll shoot you in the balls, and take them anyway." Diana said with a very nasty, evil grin, like it is something she would definitely enjoy doing. "One .... Two .... Three ...." She paused here. She fired one round, right between his legs, barely grazing the inside of his thigh. "Oh, damn, I missed." She said sarcastically. "Four ...." As she counted four, she began to smile again, and this time, take very careful aim. "Well, I guess you could always become an ugly woman." She said with a chuckle. "Although, from what I've heard, they can do amazing things with sex changes these days. Make you look like just about anyone," she said in a voice that sounded dead serious.

Ti frowns deeply and dug the keys out before she could fire again. "Geez, what happened to you, hun? You used to have such a great sense of humor." The keys were tossed to Diana in a glittering, jingling arc and land at her feet.

Diana glared at Ti for a very long minute. "Let's get something straight, asshole, I don't know you, and you damned sure don't know me. So, don't act cute." She said, aiming the muzzle of the MP between his legs.

"Yeah, sweetcheeks? Remember, you were the one that grabbed MY ass. Sorry if I got a little familiar." Ti actually didn't sound very sorry at all.

The keys were tossed to Diana in a glittering, jingling arc and landed at her feet.

She kicked them over to Gisele. "Now, we have a vehicle. Two questions arise. One, is, of couse gas. The
other is what do we do with numb nuts here. Kill him, tie him up or what?" she said.

"Numb nuts?" He repeated to himself. "Look, forgive me if I get a little frisky when some psycho-kitty feels me up, but if you want this to be business then we can make this business.

"I'm a professional, got that? I do work and I know when to keep my mouth shut. Now, I'm outnumbered and outgunned at the moment, so I recognize a loosing propsition when grabs me by the ass. The best I can hope for right now is to walk out of this with my johnson intact, so I'm going to take that option.

"The road's a bitch on feet, but it beats the alternative. So take the truck, there's probably gas in that shed over there, and we pretend we never met each other.

He presented the option with self confidence he didn't really feel at the moment and attempted to pass the suggestion off as a viable alternative to shooting him in the Little T-Man.

This comely newcomer was bearing her teeth and showed a professional demeanor and aggression that the group had been lacking, or maybe it was just that one loose cannon throwing things off stride.

At this point Slave emerged from the barn. Encoded: //Query: weld target?//

Frederick broke his silence to say, "Negative, Slave. Do not weld target."

Ed sat back and shook his head. There was no way this would have happened if they were all trained correctly. No way in hell. He went over to Frederick to check on him. "Are y-y-y-you r-r-r-ready t-t-t-to

Frederick was sitting quietly with his eyes closed. With Ed's inquiry, he held up a finger as if to say 'one moment' then whispers simply, "on-line".

Gisele was quietly fuming. Everything was wrong. The situation was awkward, taking every bad turn that it possibly could. If her face had natural veins, one would be on the verge of bursting in frustration. She let her hands drop. Diana still had the man covered.

"You're not going anywhere until we're gone, pal. Now get inside and don't do anything stupid." She gestured toward the barn. "Maybe I'll arm wrestle you for your freedom.."

She stooped to pick up the keys.

"Sure, hun." Ti responds. "You're serious, aren't you? I outweigh you by, what, a good 50 kilos? Maybe more? Heh, you are serious. Must mean you either want to lose an arm or you have some serious upgrades going. Don't matter, though. I've had damn near the entire Daimler autwerks installed in me. I don't think you'll be able to top what I pack, babe. Any time you want, any terms you want."

Frederick raised his voice. "Will someone check the damn shed for gas already? I need to get to Warsaw
and pick up some medication."

As he walked past the standing drone(Slave), Ti let his gaze sweep up and down her curved, polished body.

"Damn, so how did three hotties end up in the company of that fruit loop in the barn?" He indicated the direction Fred had taken. "Maybe you're just all so uptight because it's been too long."

He was feeling much more comfrotable now that it didn't look like he was going to be killed or castrated, and Diana's behavior was having strange effects on him. The tension of the last day and a half, combined with the lack of sleep and food made his tiny little brain spin in its thick skull.

"Bet whoever made you was twisted enough to give you a soft spot somewhere, didn't he?" As Ti said that last, he leaned in closely to examine the closed port where Slave's mouth should have been located.

When Ti passed Diana, they had a short and questionably intimate moment.

"Oh, baby, talk dirty to me," she said, in a sexy, sultry voice. There was absolutely no mistaking the flirtation in her voice, if there was any doubt before, this should definitely remove it.

"Definately psycho." Ti muttered to himself. He'd met women like this before, one minute scratching your eyes out, the next cuddling up to you by the fire. They never knew what they wanted or how to get it, and it made them pretty insane.

Insane... but definately fun.

Inwardly, Diana recognized what she had done, and chided herself for it. I could NOT be that time ALREADY. It had NOT been six months, since her last cycle. No damned way. Yet, there it was, right in her face. The first sign that it was coming. She closed her eyes for a second, took a long, deep breath, and let out slowly. She was NOT going to give in right now. She steeled herself to fight against the coming storm. Now was deffiantley NOT the time. Not that any time really was. But now was not a worst time.

Ti stopped moving despite Gisele's prodding and watched Diana let out the long, slow breath. "Damn..."

"Damn." Diana cursed. She turned her attention towards Fredrick. "Well, get off your ass and check!" She snarled. She was deffiantely NOT in a mood to deal with his crap. Especially NOT after what he had pulled. Then, she looked at him, with a sideways glance and faught back a smile that threatened to take over her lips.

He sure was cute. She immediately banished the thought. Oh, man, she was deffiantely in for a battle, in the next few days. "Okay, Ti, answer me this. You know Moscow like the back of your hand, correct? What about the surrounding cities? how well do you know them?" She asked.

In the back of her mind, the idea came and just as quickly went, that she would like little better then to toss Giselle the MP, and take that big, bruiser right then and there.

"I grew up in Moscow, and yeah, I know it pretty well. The areas around it? Didn't spend too much time there but I know a few things that the tourists don't get to see, if that's what you're after."

Or, is that what she was after? So far this group had been pretty loony, and Ti wondered if he were being put through some piece of psychological B.S. The whole thing was just too weird... Everyone acted like they had split personalities. Looking over at Gisele and the Slave unit, he wondered what other surprises were in store. And how many...

"So is that all of you?" he asked. "Anyone else I haven't met yet?"

Once Ti and Crew crest the door way of the barn, two dark shadows could be made out in the far corner. One standing watching over the other one, sitting. When the group entered, the standing one turned and checked out the situation. As the shadow stepped from the corner, it can be seen that it was male. He approached one of the females and asked, "W-w-w-what h-h-h-happened?"

"Huh..." thought Ti to himself, "And this one stutters." Out loud he said "Is that all of you? Any more lurking in the rafters?"

"We picked up a stray." Diana said with a smile. "Why don't you go and check the shed for any gas. Hopefully we will be leaving here soon."

Ed nodded in agreement. He exited the barn and checked out a few of the nearby sheds for any signs of petrol. Not wanting to be surprised, Ed kept a sharp look out and checked frequently for anything out of the ordinary.

Ed, although apparently healed, was still feeling the after-effects of his near-death experience. Therefore, his progress was much slower than he was used to. In spite of newly-restored muscle and organs, or perhaps because of them, he still felt phantom pains from his experience.

Fortunately, those would fade in time, perhaps in another day or so if he took things easy. A little longer if he remained active.

The sitting figure in the back said, "Only the Slave Unit is left. Now, can we concentrate on getting out of here. Not only do I have to pick up my medicine, but we also have to meet someone in Warsaw."

He then turned to the others, "Remember the two women from the Big Eden? They'll meet us there. We should be able to find out a little of what Chalk was hiding from us."

Ti didn't know who these women were, who Chalk was, where the Big Eden happened to be and he really didn't care. Nor did he know why these people had any interest in going to Warsaw. All he knew was that he wanted to keep going south, and good luck to the loonies.

"Yeah, that sounds like a good idea." He said to Fred. "You guys head on up to Warsaw and I'll catch you later."

Gisele seemed unconvinced about this new piece of information. Her posture told the story; arms folded, leaning gently against the barn wall, and a scowl forming on her lips.
"I don't like it," she said obviously, though it seemed to be a valid opinion. There was a lot of information that was withheld, and if those two knew exactly where and how to contact Frederick on the Net, and if they would just happen to arrange a meeting in Warsaw...
It felt like playing a game of chess and not knowing the rules. Awkward, incomprehensible, and your opponent is two steps ahead of you. Gisele hated chess. But she hated being a pawn even more.
"This stinks." she said, kicking some dirt and hay in mild frustration. "Even if we go there to meet with them, there's no guarantee that whoever goes in will come out again. We need to keep our distance. You know, send someone in to check it out first."
If things weren't already beginning to become clear, what she said next would wrap it up nicely. With a quick glance at Ti, she smiled. And then, in a quiet voice, "We need someone... disposable."

"Absolutely" Was the thought which went through Ti's mind. "Someone they don't mind loosing. Makes perfect sense."

His gaze drifted over to Fred in a 'poor bastard', sympathetic way, but then noticed how everyone suddenly was looking at him instead.

"Oh no...wait just one damn minute!" he growled. "I have no idea what's wrong with you people, but SEEK HELP! First... HE wants to yell at me like he's my dad..." A beefy finger jutted towards Frederick. "And then wants to tell me a joke... and then wants to rob me! Then SHE wants to do the same, and then arm wrestle me. AND SHE!," he accused, stabbing a thumb at Diana. "Wants to grab my ass... no wait, she wants to shoot me in the dick... no wait she wants to rob me and then take me hostage... no wait, she wants to throw me onto a pile of hay and lick cream off of my nipples... after shooting me in the dick again! And now you expect me to just say 'Oh, duh, okay... send me on a suicide mission which I will gladly perform out of the goodness of my heart -- ah-yuh-ah-yuh!' What, you think I'm a moron? Forget it!"

Gisele stood up straight, hands on her hips. She regarded Ti with what she hoped was a good, cutting glare. "If you can do this for us, you'll earn 10,000 marks for yourself, then you can go on your merry way and never see us again for as long as you live." She cocked her head to one side and changed her tone of voice slightly. "Or we can just kill you right now."

"Uh..." He muttered to himself. "Uh..."

"Ten THOUSAND!" He was thinking to himself. "TEN thousand?" Holy shit, that was about ten times anything he'd ever made before, and about a hundred times his usual fee. What were these people planning? Did they SERIOUSLY overestimate his experience or were they planning on not paying him because he would be dead? Now that was a real possibility...

"Make it 20." He stated calmly despite the inner turmoil. "Cash... up front." Hah! As if they walked around with that kind of money in their pockets. When they couldn't pay, he'd have no choice but to take a hike, and if they wanted to kill him then he'd give them the fight of their lives.

Meanwhile, Ed had finally made it to the shed. A quick look showed him a couple of old tractors with half-full tanks. One sniff told it was diesel in those, however, so Ed moved on. In the back of the shed, near the lawn mower, Ed finally spied two five-gallon tanks of gasoline. Or he hoped it was at least mostly gasoline. Anyway they were full, which meant they could get out of this place. They were quite heavy, and in Ed's current state, a bit much to carry. A little help was in order.

"Twenty?" Diana said, with a scowl. "Hell, for that price, we could buy ten 2 mark suckers and send them into whatever they had waiting." Diana says with a snarl.

Then, she gets a twinkle in her eyes. "How about we split the difference. Fifteen. half now, and half when the job is done." She said.

Frederick still seemed a little agitated when he spoke up. "How about 5 thousand. Since I seriously doubt it is a trap. Especially since *I* contacted *them*. Not the other way around. If he performs well, we can up the fee to 40 and keep him for the duration. Do you have any zero-G experience? And what do we call you anyway?"

"Aha!" Went that inner voice of Ti's. "I have them now. They can't pay, and when they realize they can't afford me this whole thing will come to a close." Still, fourty thousand was a lot of money, or even the fifteen that long-n-lean was offering... but neither mattered if they didn't expect Victor to live. "Disposable asset, my ass!" He thought visciously.

Besides, Warsaw was in the wrong direction. He wanted to get as far away from Moscow and those... things... as he could. Sicily seemed more and more like the place he needed to visit.

"Yah, just what I thought. Can't afford me. Probably means I'm going to die here, in this barn, but that's better then walking into a trap like some two mark sucker."

No matter what the hacker claimed, Ti still thought he was going to get sent into a meat grinder.

"So, do you shoot me now, or do I get my money?" He began to look around for potential weapons.

"Let me get this straight. You think that just because I don't want to pay you as much as you were wanting that we can't afford you? We don't need you. Why should I pay you 15,000 Marks to do something I'm willing to do myself?"

Turning to Diana and Gisele, the hacker still seemed irate. "And how do we send him in ahead of us when there's no set meeting place and time? They're going to find us while we're in Warsaw. And we have to
go to Warsaw to get my medicine."

Frederick then stormed off to the shed to see if Ed needed any help.

"Then go." Ti suggested. "I'd love to see that. And you may not need me, but I don't even WANT to know you. Got that? I was on my way to Italy when your crew ambushed me. Now take the damned truck and go! Stop wasting my time!"

Ti was genuinley getting upset. That these people thought they could hijack him at gunpoint and then expect him to do them favours was outrageous. He was starting to wish they'd just shoot him and quit fucking around.

"Fine," Gisele said simply. She then quickly drew her .40 and aimed directly at Ti's head.

"Gimme that gun, you bitch!" For the first time in Ti's potentially short life, he actually got lucky. One hand snaking out, he grabbed the comparatively small .40 cal pistol and Gisele's hand in one large, hammy fist. Surprised at the strength of Ti's hand, Gisele's aim was forced away from Ti's head and when the gun fired, it drilled two holes through the barn wall just past the big man's head.

"No need to get testy." Ti tells her, amazed at the power he feels beneath his hand. "You've made your point, and I'm not going to throw away fifteen thousand based on your enemies being bigger bastards than you are. Okay... what's the setup?"

Ed and Frederick met half-way between the barn and the shed.

"Ed, how did you do that healing thing?" asked Frederick. "You shouldn't be able to walk around right now."

"Ummmm.....N-n-n-not r-r-r-really sure m-m-m-my self" Ed answers. "Ap-p-p-pparently everyone has u-u-u-unique ab-b-b-bilities. I am n-n-n-no exception."

Hearing the shots from the barn, Ed dove on Frederick and covered him. Once he was sure he aws not being shot at, Ed proceeded to rush the barn. His form seemed to shift as he jogged quickly to the building.

Peering into the barn he saw the two figures struggling with the firearm. When he saw his team mate struggling with the large man, Ed pooled his energy and targeted the big guy. His collapsible staff extended in his hands and he moved in.

Gisele had just had her right hand seized and forcefully wrenched aside, gun and all. This burly stranger was very strong. But it always came down to one important fact, and that was that the cyborg girl was not used to being overpowered. If any words were available to describe Gisele, "underpowered" was absolutely nowhere on that list.

Besides being incredibly confident in her own strength, in that, to date, she had not been physically overpowered, ever, she often relied on underestimation. There was nothing like the thrill of being assaulted by some street trash trying to steal her purse, and then breaking him like a pretzel for assuming she was just another weak female victim. She got off on it.

As Ti grabbed her gun, she jerked her right arm back violently, using her full strength for the first time in a long while. This guy, big and strong as he appeared, was only human. He couldn't possibly hold onto her arm with that kind of power behind it... right? And even then, it would certainly jerk him off-balance.

At the same time, her left arm was rising up and forward, but not in a punch or slash with her specialty fingernails. It was an open-palmed thrust, and didn't seem like the type to do very much damage. It wasn't even a particularly violent swing... more like stretching her arm to show Ti her hand. What was she planning, to have him read her palm?

Then his words hit home, and she stopped slowly in her attempts to inflict greivous bodily harm. It was like a car slowly coasting to a stop after the engine had cut off.

"W-... what?" she stammered. She was obviously struggling with the concept that Ti had just given in, and would actually work with them.

She was totally floored.

A ripple of force warped the air between Ed and Ti for an instant and suddenly Ti suddenly had a headache, and there was something wet and sticky that suddenly dripped out of his ear. Whiping at it, the big guy noticed a the source of the wetness was a thin trickle of blood.

Maybe he was getting too excited. Was this what having an aneurism was like?

Not owning the most powerful brain in the world, Ti sunk to his knees and tried to figure out what just exploded inside of his head. "Blood..." Ti muttered thickly as he stared at what came out of his ear. With the healing touch (I assume), he looked around like he'd just been visited by his grandfather's ghost. "What are you people?"

Having followed Ed back to the barn. The slender Hacker decided to point out the obvious.

"Guys, He said he had damn near the entire Daimler autwerks installed in him. I don't think you're going to be able to overpower him. We could use his talents. Especially if we continue the mission. These two that are going to meet us in Warsaw may be able to shed some light on what it is we were after. But think about this for a moment."

"The phone call we received at the base after clearing out the terrorists was from Chalk's employer. The security blocking my trace was military grade or better. That means they were probably either SS or Abwehr. Addy had mentioned something about Chalk working for the SS. Since she was an escaped SS asset and a former Abwehr asset, she was probably right. The only thing either of them would hire an outside team for, is a run against the other. That means our target is the Abwehr, or rather that Tri-Tech is
probably Abwehr controlled. We can make use of his strength."

"We should know what we are after before we go. Once we know what we're after I can try and set up a buyer within the Heer. Get the stuff into the hands of true patriots instead of power hungry spooks."

Gisele was in awe. Who in the hell was Ti? What was going on, and why was he as powerful... no, MORE powerful that her?

Inwardly trembling with fear, but trying to let nothing show but a face of determination or anger [Yay for Acting!], she tried again to free herself, short of gnawing her arm or breaking it off at the elbow. Something weird was going on, and now Ti was bleeding. Too many things at once.

She was scared. She tried listening to Frederick, but it just wasn't working very well.

"STOP!" Ed steps between the two. "Sit. Listen. Teamwork. Now." Ed was rather upset and his even stutter was absent.

He then touched the big guy. Both glowed momentarily. Once the glow subsided, Ed slumped against a wall. Sliding down it he fells unconscious.

Ti's headache went away.

Diana watched amazed. "Nice trick," she said. Even though Ed doesn't hear her, because he's unconscious. "Okay, what did you guys find in the shed?" she says, turning her attention back to Fredrick.

"I don't know. We'll have to go look." Frederick stepped out of the barn and headed for the shed. He found what Ed found. "There's about 10 gal. of stuff passing for gas. That should be enough to get us to a gas station. I can't lift the cans though."

Blood? No blood? Ti is confused, but that's pretty standard for him. It looks like the fight is over and no one is pointing a gun at him anymore, though he wasn't sure where he stood paywise. It doesn't really matter, though, he just doesn't want anyone else to stab him in the brain.

"Can I have my gun back?" He asked no one in particular. In truth, he wasn't sure if he wanted to shoot Gisele, himself or just go with these guys wherever.

Slave took a minute to examine Ed's prone form. Then she went to the shed to retrieve the gas cans.

Victor regained his feet and checked one more time to make sure he wasn't having any more problems. What happened to him was painful and scary, but not totally out of the ordinary. In his career, he'd been hurt a lot of times in a lot of different ways and this was just one more. Of course, he'd never been hurt like this by what was supposed to be his own team.

Or were they?

He was thinking a little more clearly now and had a few things to ponder (not his strong suit, for sure). He didn't want to go back to Warsaw, not by a long shot. What he'd seen in Moscow scared him enough that all he wanted to do was get out of the country and as far away from the mob, Tsosis and Damiel as he could... and those THINGS! Flight was what he really was looking for.

But fifteen thousand? That could start him on a nice lifestyle when he finally did make it south. And what did the hacker say? Something about fourty thousand, but that would have required him to stick around as a long-term member of the team. Ti didn't know if he wanted that, but still... these were the big bucks he'd been looking for to begin with. Maybe he was going to get his big break after all.

Or was he?

He remembered very clearly what the short girl had said, the one with the wrought iron frame under her soft, pale skin. She'd said 'dispolable', and there was no doubt about that. He for damn sure didn't want to take any contracts that would end up with him being sent into a mine field as a test dummy. Could he trust them?

Probably not, but he could trust himself. He could trust to his own strength and skill in keeping himself alive. The gal might have been strong, but Ti was stronger and knew how to use it more effeciently. He
was pretty sure that in a real scrape he wouldn't come out too bad. As long as he could stay out of the lnie of fire, that was. Brawling was one thing, but he really didn't like being shot. And he STILL didn't know what went on inside of his head just before that guy dropped.

Speaking of which... that same man was the one who'd taken Ti's Jackhammer. Moving as if this was the most natural thing for him to do, the big man walked casually over to the fallen one and retrieved his gun. He made no threatening motions with it but simply checked the load and started looking for his shells.

"For the sake of our relationship." He announced while jiggling a handful of the massive rounds. "I'll assume that was simply a test of my abilities, to see if I'm up to the task. Hopefully I passed."

Victor sounded now like he was in his 'business man' mode rather than his normal posturing. His speach and mannerisms were more stilted and formal. "According to your hacker, it doesn't sound like there's a specific task anymore, but there is an opening in your team. How about if I take the fifteen thousand for whatever you need to do in Warsaw see how things go? Keep it to a trial basis?"

He began to load the shells carefully into his massive hand cannon. "If everything goes okay," click went a second bullet in to the Jackhammer, "And no one else in the group tries to shoot me again," click went another, "We can discuss the 40k salary for a permanent position?"

The drum snapped shut heavily and the gun was replaced in Ti's shirt while he stood and waited for a response.

Frederick looked up at the big man and said, "Well, we all need to discuss pay. And that will have to be done after the meeting in Warsaw."

"Speaking of which, what's that all about? How about cluing me in before I get too deap, here. Who was this guy Chalk, what are you guys after and what do you expect me to do?" Dredging his memery, Ti managed to come up with a piece of information. "Didn't someone say something about zero-G?"

Frederick seemed to be calming down as he responded. "Chalk was a fixer. Or at least he claimed he was. He's the one who knew what we were after. All the rest of us know is that it's on a space station. The meeting in Warsaw is with a couple of people and we don't know if we can trust them. But they can fill in some of the gaps, and possibly tells us what the target was. After we get the information these people can offer us, we'll need to discuss whether or not we want to continue the operation. And if we decide to continue, we need to decide how we're going to handle the money situation."

"So... Chalk WAS your fixer?" Ti asked with suspicion. "And what happened to him? I take it he didn't just decide to take a vacation mid-run?"

Frederick simply said, "He met his match."

"Then you've already seen combat?" That doesn't really surprise him at all, considering the warm welcome he'd been given.

Frederick calmly responded. "I'll tell you about it on the way to Warsaw. Diana, you should tend to Ed
in the back. Slave, if you can put the gas in the truck's tank then get in the back with them, that'd be great. I'll be up front talking with our new friend if that's ok with you Gisele. What is your name anyway?"

"Street name's Ti, but my real name's Victor Her..." The rest of his sentence is wiped out by an explosion.

Suddenly a brilliant white light glared in from the barn's east-facing windows. Then a jarring crack sounded through the air followed by a whirring sound and finally, a big boom that everyone felt through the ground.

Apparently, the sky was falling. Perhaps it was a sign from the heavens.

Thinking 'Screw the others', Ti headed for the east side of the barn to see what had happened. If the anyone objected to his movements or the fact that he just drew his gun, then they'd just have to deal with it.

Groggily, Ed gets to his feet. Looking around he sees that hell is starting to break loose. "W-w-w-whats h-h-h-happening???"

Looking out the window, Ti saw a rolling hill which extended behind the barn had acquired a kind of halo effect. Like there the glow of a city, or a big fire. Of course this was the middle of the morning and the sun was up bright as could be. That glow was brighter. The hill itself was no terribly large. An educated guess would place whatever is glowing within a kilometer of here.

As he gazed at it, the glow seemed to be diminishing.

Diana immediately thought of the hunters from last night. She moved quickly, to get the advantage of seeing what was happening from the upper level of the barn. She ignored the ladder, and just leapt to the upper level. From there she looked to see what is going on. She saw the same thing Ti did.

Slave froze at the sound of the explosion and "stared" at the glow in the distance. Oddly, her radar could see nothing out of the ordinary.

"Hey, everybody! I think I just saw... a.. U... F....... Ohhhhhhhh boy..." said Ti.

The gears in his head went grind, grind, grind... ding. "Hey, hey. How's the truck coming? We really should be going, don't you think?" Acting or no acting, Ti was now scared more shitless than he ever was with either Diana's or Gisele's guns on him.

Gisele was still far too cowed to speak up as Ti bent down to take his revolver back from Ed's prone form. She seemed weak in the knees and almost ready to fall over herself. It would take something fairly big to shock her back to her senses.

Ask and ye shall receive. The explosion snapped Gisele back to reality rather sharply.

Turning reflexively in the direction of the explosion, she quietly mouthed the words "What the fuck..." but made no sound. Or maybe she did and everyone's ears were still ringing.

Ed looked at the new guy. The strange look says 'Are you crazy?' Ed then gathers his wits and equipment. "G-g-g-get into the tr-tr-tr-truck." He follows his own orders, taking the driver's seat. "K-k-k-keys!!!"

"Supergirl has them." Ti refers to Gisele.

Ed slid over to let her drive as Slave filled the gas tank.

Seeing his suggested seating ignored, Frederick will climb into the back of the truck.

"Shut up!" she snapped, very probably in response to Ti calling her 'Supergirl,' but it could have been a general command to everyone present. "What the hell was that?" Gisele had the keys, yes, but she either wasn't thinking of that particular problem or was purposely ignoring it.

"I don't know but I'm fairly certain I don't want to find out." Ti said, thinking of all the sci-fi movies he'd seen as a kid, and also the creatures that'd taken out his team. It made sense that they were... alien. That they
couldn't have come from here.

Granted, corporations were working on new things all the time, but he doubt anything like that had come out of a laboratory. And now they had followed him. Probably came chasing him down in one of their shuttlecraft or flying saucers or whatever aliens used these days. Granted, it had sounded like the ship crashed, but that could have been a mis-conception. Best to assume they were alive, kicking and ready to suck out his brain with a straw.

Of course... what if he was just completly off base? Was there a legitamite reason for him to need to investigate an explosion like that?

He couldn't think of one.

The van roared to life as Gisele finally found her back to her senses and the began rolling down the driveway. In minutes, they were on their way headed to Warsaw.