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Adventure! RPG: Heroes of Our Time - episode 2: Air Raid

Alex Craft

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(late February, 1924)

The noon sun shines down on New York City, marking the end of several days of leaden skies. The February cold still lingers, but the clear sky and warming sun blunt the edge of the chill. This relatively pleasant weather greets five unique men in front of the Waldorf-Astoria as they await transportation being sent for them by their employer, King Industrial Steel.

The past couple of days have given our heroes time to relax and forget the tension of their recent visit to Cairo. With the stress gone, they are in generally high spirits - riding high on the memory of their achievements. The only exception to this rule is one Blaine MaCallister, who is frowning with mixed concern and anger at a copy of that morning's newspaper.

The five men aren't kept waiting long before two K.I.S. cars pull up on the curb and spirit them away to the company's New York headquarters at K.I.S. Plaza. This location bears a dramatic difference from the historic Georgian elegance if the original Baltimore headquarters. A major landmark in a city of landmarks, 1 K.I.S. Plaza is a modern skyscraper - and at sixty-eight stories it is the second tallest building in NYC. The cars pull up to the Plaza and their passenger's disembark, John wincing slightly as he absentmindedly pulls himself out of the car with his wounded arm.

The men cross the Plaza, passing scattered groups of citizens brought out by the brisk, clear weather. To their right stands 2 K.I.S. Plaza, a thirty-four story structure built and owned by K.I.S., but housing rented office space. To the left is the gradually growing superstructure of 3 K.I.S. Plaza, the company's current construction project. When complete, the third building's revolutionary design will be by far the tallest structure in the city - weighing in at a even 100 stories.

The five men meet Rhiannon just inside the doors of 1 K.I.S. Plaza, standing within the five-story atrium that serves as the building's lobby. With greetings all around, the reunited group ascends to the top floors of the building - taking a keyed elevator up to the 68th floor. There, they find themselves in a spartan lounge, serving as a node for two halls on this floor and a spiral staircase descending into the research labs below. A pair of double doors open into a spacious conference room, occupied by Anthony King, Leslie Cornish, and a petite woman unfamiliar to the men in the group (and only passingly familiar to Rhiannon).

King gestures for the group to enter as the woman stands and prepares to leave. Meeting the group in the doorway, she greets them, smiling broadly and saying in slightly accented English, "You'd be the field team, right? I haven't thanked you yet for that toy you brought me. I'm Katherine Schafer from down in R & D - call me Kate."

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Jameson watches as Ms. Schafer introduces herself to the group, when she turns towaerd him he smiles his best "dashing" smile. "A pleasure Ms. Schafer," he says bowing over her hand, "Please could you tell me if you've determined the workings of that small box we returned with the engine? I'm a bit of a student of the sciences and engineering myself."

He pauses and again flashes his best smile, "Perhaps we could dicuss these devices over dinner sometime?" he finishes.

He waits for her response and then bids her a fine day regardless of her answer and heads into the conference room.

Once in the conference room his posture and attitude seems to visibly relax slightly, it was apparent he was putting his best feet forward.

He introduces himself to Mr. Cornish and greets King with a string handshake and a friendly pat on the back before sitting down and taking a swing from his whiskey flask.

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Blaine is dressed as normal (rather shabbily), however it looks like he's sporting a new pair of shoes with a mirror like shine. He's reading a newspaper and carrying a black leather gym bag with him, and the newspaper is practically shredding from the white knuckle grip he has on it.

"Oh! This chaps my hide!" he frequently exclaims on both the taxi ride, the walk through the lobby and up on the elevator.

"Well I guess old 8-Ball made good on his promise." he says to no one in particular. "And I know he's putting foot to ass right now trying to find me. Son of a b...!" he's about to say as Kate is introducing herself. He puts the newspaper away quickly while Bradford introduces himself, and straightens his worn out tie.

Once Bradford is done he takes off his hat and offers his hand.

"Hi Blaine MaCallister. Nice shoes, you get those custom made?" he says as he appraises her footwear. He then shakes Cornish's hand. "Mr. Cornish. You're the bean counter eh? Never met one I didn't like. You're the guys that usually cut me a paycheck! Haha!" he says and gives him a good natured (but maybe a tad strong) pat on the arm.

He loses his smile and gets all business as he moves to King. "Mr. King." he says and gives him a firm handshake. "Mission accomplished, hope you get what you're looking for with that 'whatzit' we nabbed. This is gonna sound like an odd ball question, but ya got a gym in this palace? After the meeting I need to let off some steam." he gestures with the newspaper. "Got some bad news from home." and then remains standing for now.

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Janos will take Ms. Shafer's hand and place a delicate kiss upon her knuckle. Raising himself erect, he says,

"Enchanted, Ms. Shaf ... Kate. It was our pleasure to be of service to such a spectacular intellect."

The Count turns and gives a brief nod to Mr. Cornish,

"Mr. Cornish,"

then smiles to Mr. King and says,

"Greetings, Anthony."

As the others get their introductions out of the way, Janos will close with Blaine and quietly ask,


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Blaine nods to Janos and just hands him the paper, pointing to a story on the front page regarding a dramatic jail break in Baltimore of an incarcerated crime lord, Carlos Sapetti, also known as Crazy 8 and 8-Ball.

"I'll tell ya more later, it's the boss's time right now. Join me at the gym if they got one, I'll fill ya' in." he whispers.

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"Hello Kate," Rhiannon says cheerfully, nodding to the petite woman with a dazzling smile. Today she is clad in a slightly old-fashioned brown wool woman's business suit and grey linen blouse, her long brown hair gathered into a chignon. Apart from the healing bruise on her forehead, she is impeccably made up and groomed, her emerald eyes as sharp as ever. But there is a new assurance in her bearing, and she no longer seems as retiring as before.

She nods to Cornish with another dazzling smile and gives a deeper one to Anthony. "Mr King," is all she says, before falling silent and waiting patiently.

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"It's a Pleasure to meet you Kate," says Locky, in the most polite way he can muster. He doesn't necessarily ignore Cornish, although he's obviously more focused on Mr. King. Locky waits until Mr. King gives him eye contact, then starts looking around, waiting for Mr. King to begin.

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Kate flashes a smile at Rhiannon and Locky and thanks Janos and Jameson delightedly. To Blaine she responds, "Um, no ... I bought them out of the store ..."

Then - her attention focused on Jameson - she smiles, thanking him again and answering him: "I'm sure we could think of something more interesting to discuss over a meal, Mr. Bradford ... But, yes, I have made some progress -"

She cuts off at King's pointed glance, saying, "Seems I still have some work to do, though. [grins] Drop by after the boss is done with you, and we'll chat, ok?"

With that, Kate continues on out, crossing the lounge and disappearing down the stairs into the labs below. As the group gravitates toward the conference table, King gestures to the chairs and greets them in turn, telling Blaine, "You should find a fairly complete facility in the basement. I'll have someone give you directions."

Cornish seems hung up on something - standing stiffly behind the seated King and responding to greetings only with a quick, grim nod. King, in contrast, seems calm and relaxed, his warm grey eyes tracking the team as they take their seats. Once everyone is settled, he begins:

"Gentlemen. Glad to see you all in one piece. We have some matters to discuss, but that will have to wait a moment. Leslie has compiled a report based on debriefing Rhiannon, your pilot, and personnel from the Cairo office. Leave comments until he's done. Leslie?"

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Leslie Cornish steps forward from behind King, splaying out his notes on the table. He glances up and down the table, the same grim expression on his face, then - clearing his throat - begins.

"I will begin with the state of requisitions. Articles of clothing including two chauffeurs's uniforms, gentleman's dress clothing, and a woman's evening dress. Most of these damaged to some extent, with the exception of the dress."

"Weapons - all returned, but with excessive expenditure of ammunition. Further, the owner of the plane transporting the field team between Cairo and Alexandria has complained of missing ammunition and ransacked equipment. This may be deemed without cause, because the mission had been largely completed at that juncture."

"Two vehicles. One purchased on site, the other donated by the manager of the Cairo office. The former was found badly damaged and apparently stripped by scavengers. The later was later identified, but was so badly damaged by gunfire that it was entirely unsalvageable. Manager reimbursed for loss of property, and the loss of investment in the other vehicle absorbed by local slush fund."

"Further requisitioning of minor or unusual objects, including a custom made caterer's trolley - which was lost with the manager's vehicle. No other notable requisitions."

"Mission plan as developed by the field team required a clean extraction, with no detection by consulate staff or by competition. Former goal achieved, but later goal failed. Possibly due to a lapse by the field team, the competition noticed the extraction - resulting in the destruction of property (both company and public property)."

"Further, since the competition did not take the decoy from the consulate staff, the ruse was quickly uncovered once the decoy arrived in England. The consulate staff rightly suspects the involvement of the field team, due to their conspicuous behavior on the evening of the mission's execution. Long-term repercussions are currently uncertain, but could include sanctions on K.I.S. holdings throughout the rather extensive British Empire."

"Further expenses incurred ... medical fees. Most of the field team was injured in some way, including Mr. Bradford's apparently intentional injury. In addition to medical fees, it was necessary to make repairs to the extraction aircraft before returning it to its owner. Further, the pilot demanded hazard pay due to circumstances beyond the scope of the mission contract. Other incidental expenditures of lesser importance."

Cornish concludes, and gathers up his notes again. King presumably needs to preempt the group's objections, cutting in and saying, "Thank you, Leslie. Quite thorough. I will speak with the team on this, but I'm afraid it will have to be in private. Do you think you can have that report on the East Asia situation ready by the time we're done here?"

Nodding briefly, Cornish takes his notes and leaves - obeying King's request that he close the doors on his way out. King turns back to the group - his face as unreadable as ever - and asks, simply, "Comments?"

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Blaine shares the rather uncomfortable and embarassed look that undoubtedly many others have right now. He loosens his collar a bit and cracks his knuckles nervously before he speaks.

"Geez, it almost sounds like we failed the mission. Yeah, we did rack up a few incidentals along the way, but an operation like this, ya gotta expect that. The only people that got bent and broken pretty much had it coming, and they were ready and waiting for us. Remember our original idea that we scrapped? To heist it from Luqmani? Well that turned out to be HIS idea, to heist it from us when we took it from the consulate. And he had a lot of help."

"It didn't go as smoothly as I would have liked, but we still brought the 'whatzit' in one piece. The Brits are smart though. Us getting away completely clean, was pretty much impossible. They would have found out eventually anyway. They happened to find out pretty quick, but we'd be dealing with it soon enough, ya' can bet on that." he concludes and sits back again.

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Jameson leans back into his chair and appears to be on the verge of putting his feet on the table before settling on crossing his legs. A slight smile on his face reveals his pleasure at apparently attracting Kate's eye and his amusement at Cornish's tirade.

"As Blaine pointed out, it's highly unlikely that the British would have been completely fooled," he begins, "Now I'll wager that not one person there could finger our three theives and lets face it Janos, Rhiannon and I have an iron clad alibi. It's safe to say that the plan could have come off better, but we had no way to know that Luqmani had us pegged."

Jameson sits upright and puts his hands down on the table, fingers splayed slightly. "I for one think that this mission was a complete success, all 'indiscretions' aside I think we came out of it all better than not.

"And as for the, how did he put it?, 'excessive expenditure of ammunition', well I for one would like to see, Cornball do better himself." Jameson sits back finished saying his peace, and chuckles a bit to himself at the "Cornball" comment.

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John is dressed in his stage uniform, now patched at the shoulder. One arm hanging at his side. John, after follwing the group in silently, almost seeming to slink in after them. After Jameson speaks, he pipes up himself.

"I must say, I concur with these gentlemen. We appropriated the target, and were required to fend off attackers without much preparation. I would venture to say that we did a fine job."

John's nose twitches in slight irritation.

"I don't think we're through dealing with Luqmani either."

He leans against the wall, pulling his cane from his coat, and fingering the head of the cane absent mindedly.

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Rhiannon listens to Cornwall's report with her customary serenity, remaining silent until he leaves and most of the men have spoken first. "Mr King, I take full responsibility for the damage as it was my idea to split the team to make us harder to catch." She frowns. "I suspect that al-Luqmani is... akin to us. Unique, like us. I also intend to speak to my Oxford connections about him - he spoke like an Oxford-educated person. To someone like me, from there, it is unmistakeable."

She falls silent again.

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"I agree with Ms. Lewis in that Al-Luqmani was similar to us. Add to that he was both educated and made tactically sound judgements."

"To a degree, I will also agree with Mr. Cornish's assessment of the situation, but only to a degree."

"I will trade material for lives any day. Likewise, I will trade copious amounts of firepower spent to stop bullets from coming our way."

"As for the vehicles damage or destroyed ... what is that compared to the value of the item we have aquired for you?"

"It is a poor exchange, that of lives for material. If you want to use people who will make that exchange, you should expect a certain decline in the quality of your help. I will stick with you no matter what you decide, Anthony, but I couldn't blame the others for departing."

"At the end of the day, we achieved our objective within the limitations we were given. Time was tight, and our resources were limited to what you had on hand. We won. They lost."

"Also, can you now tell us who we were really up against?"

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King momentarily breaks his glacial calm with a slow, reassuring smile, then speaks:

"Understand that Leslie never supported this project. He views this team as a waste of resources and takes this mission as proof of that belief. I, on the other hand, believe that you have proven quite the contrary."

"Leslie's overly critical assessment aside, you all did very well. Truth be told, you handled the situation far better than I would have anticipated. For the most part, you hadn't even met each other prior to your briefing a week ago, and yet you managed to work together as a unit, even in the face of unexpectedly challenging opposition."

The sun shining through the windows behind King is dimmed by a passing cloud. The reduction of backlighting brings King's face into clearer view, revealing a pleased turn to his features.

"The money and equipment is of no concern to me - this company can easily afford the loss of a couple of automobiles. The issue with the consulate is trouble, but Leslie far exaggerated the situation - it is already being dealt with. I am playing off of your assertion to the Consul that Luqmani had attempted to insinuate himself in your party - incentives have been offered to insure that the consulate places the blame on Luqmani, rather than myself."

"I do find Mr. Luqmani to be somewhat interesting, but I doubt that he will ever be a direct threat to us. My contacts have ... determined ... "

Trailing off, King turns in his seat and looks back through the windows behind him - just as a rope drops from somewhere above, hanging about a meter away from the window. This is immediately followed by another, then two more ...

With a sudden explosion of speed (more than anyone present would have figured him to be capable of), King lunges away from the windows and vaults the table while shouting, "Get down!"

Rolling off the near edge of the table, he simultaneously pulls a pistol from somewhere and grabs Rhiannon - jerking her to the floor, but cushioning her fall reasonably well. As he hits the ground as well, anyone still standing sees a hand full of men sliding down the ropes, just now entering view.

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Before he even realizes what he's doing Jameson has shoved his chair behind him and dropped to a one-knee kneel behind the table, his guns drawn and appearing in his so quickly as to be almost like magic. Two soft clicks can be heard as the hammers are pulled back and click into place ready to blaze.

Jameson turns to his right slightly and with a lunge his left shoulder impacts the table edge and he heaves, pushing off the floor with his legs, trying to flip the table onto it's side. His right hand gun remains steady and pointed directly out the window, between two of the ropes.

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Blaine reaches into his jacket and pulls out his heavy pistol in a flash. He's on his feet already, having the same idea as Bradford, and lends a shoulder to his efforts in flipping the table over for cover. It looks like he's about to begin shooting when he sees the rest of the group. He bolts back for Locky once he sees that Rhiannon is protected, and grabs him by the collar bringing him over to the desk and shielding him with his body.

"Stay down Kid! Bradford I got the left, you take the right!" he shouts as he begins looking for his targets.

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As the first rope drops into view, the Count whispers,

"Oh, bother."

At Kings warning, Janos' Great War instincts take over. He grabs the arm of his chair and the chair next to him. He then dives for the cover of the desk, drawing the chairs over Mr. King, Ms. Lewis, and himself. Once there, he draws his sword form its back sheath. He awaits for the inevitable explosion, or hail of bullets, as he doesn't recall the windows on the 68th floor's conference room opening onto a balcony.

Seeing that others aren't ducking,

"Beerkezo!" he screams.

{Hungarian for "Incoming!", for anyone who speaks it.}

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As the first few ropes fall, Johns eyebrows arch questioningly, as he drops a smoke bomb, vanishing from sight immediately.

He ducks down, shuffling quickly around the right wall, backing against the wall about three feet from the corner. He crouches, catlike, waiting for the intruders, cane in hand.

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Jameson and Blaine throw themselves bodily against the massive wood conference table, shoving up on the nearest edge with all their strength. The heavy table budges only grudgingly as the two men force it up inch by inch. Prone on the floor, King sees what they're doing and lends his aid - kicking powerfully at the bottom of the table. The blow nearly knocks a chuck out of the edge, imparting enough force that Jameson and Blaine can easily take it the rest of the way.

The table slams down onto its side to form a makeshift barrier between the group and the windows. As Jameson brings up his guns and Blaine moves to cover Locky (already hunkered down behind the barrier), four men rappel professionally down the side of the building and bring around submachine guns as they brace themselves against the stone just below the bank of windows.

Those prepared (Jameson and Blaine) open fire, punching bullet holes in the windows. Blaine connects with his target, but causes no damage - the round glancing off some kind of body armor. Jameson has somewhat better luck - one of his two hasty shots penetrating enough to inflict a gut wound on one of the raiders.

Then, the four men open fire on the room - shattering the windows and riddling every exposed surface with bullets. Jameson and Blaine duck down in time to avoid the barrage, and John throws himself towards cover. John drops behind the table just in the nick of time - the flying tails of his coat getting perforated by a couple of errant rounds.

Thrown off balance by their guns' recoil, the four raiders cease fire - trying to regain their footing and swing into the conference room. As they do so, a couple of small canisters leaking white smoke tumble into the room from above.

[identifiable as tear gas by anyone with personal experience]

As the gas slowly spreads in the room, a highly amplified voice with a heavy German accent echoes over the city - heard even over any retaliatory gunfire launched by our heroes.

"Surrender ze atomic force generator, Herr King! Do not attempt to resist! RESISTANCE IS FUTILE! None may stand before the gathered might of DR. ZORBO, Tyrant of the Skies!"

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Jameson grits his teeth as Zorbo's words echo about the room, he had a strong feeling this was about the engine.

"Shit! They're headed for the lab!" Jameson yells as he pop up to a standing position. He raises his guns once again and they spit the sound of thunder into the small room as he fires shot after shot toward the enemy...

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Janos nods in reply to Jameson's outburst.

"Seems I've come to the party underdressed," he quips to Rhiannon and Anthony.

"They have the high ground, and we aren't going to take it from them with ... this", he motions with his sword.

"We had best withdraw."

With that, he gets up into a crouch and runs for the stairs leading down to the labs.

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As the echoes of the loudspeakers above die down, Anthony King mutters, "Screwball never could resist bragging," and he rises to a crouch behind the cover of the table. To Janos, he says, "Yeah, go. We'll cover you ... No. Wait a moment."

Reaching into his suit jacket, he pulls something out and presses it into Rhiannon's palm - a key. He says, "Armory - you know where it is. Go on."

Janos and Rhiannon crouch and scramble for the double doors - shoving them open and side stepping the doorway once in the lounge. John - running upright - is right with them, with Locky not far behind. The lounge won't be secure for long - staccato bursts of gunfire sound forth from one of the halls leading off the lounge (access to the office suites). More distant gunfire can be heard from downstairs, as well - building security isn't going to stand a chance against a full on assault like this.

[blaine could, of course, be moving into the lounge as well.]

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Noting that most of his friends have gotten out safely and that only King and Blaine remain with him Jameson will prepare for a strategic withdrawal.

After the first round (hopefully he hit everything) Jameson rises into a partial crouch and backs out of the room firing at any remaining targets as he does.

As soon as he is in the hall he'll spin and bolt down the hall towards the stairs and head to the lab below. As he runs toward the lab he'll reload his guns.

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Once Bradford is heading out the door, Blaine takes his cue to leave as well. He crouches low, running along the length of the table to get as much cover as possible for as long as possible, and blasts away several shots. He doesn't expect to hit anything, just wants to keep them hopping.

"Sonuvabitch!" he yells as he heads out with the others.

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"Rhiannon, stay behind me and tell me which way to go. They seem to have infiltrated the building from different directions."

Under his breath, he adds, "I hope the civilian staff is giving up and not being slaughtered. I don't want to see Anthony get angry over this."

Janos will lead off in the direction Rhiannon tells him head for.

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[note that Dr. Mystery is now more-or-less visible to Janos and Rhiannon, since he has called their attention to himself]

Three of the four raiders attempting to enter the conference room fall before the concentrated fire of Jameson, Blaine, and King - one of them falling to a no-doubt gruesome death as Jameson clips off his line with a well-placed bullet. Not even Jameson's skill is sufficient to shoot the tear gas cannisters out of the room, but it matters little as our heroes rapidly evacuate the chamber.

As Jameson and Blaine retreat, they witness another wave of raiders dropping down to this level. King covers their retreat with several well-placed rounds - following them out of the room almost immediately.

Rhiannon has reached and unlocked the armory, with Janos hot on her heels. It is small as such things go - quite possibly intended for King's personal use. It is about the size of a small closet, with the bottom half filled with drawers of various ammunition. The top half is open - the back wall hung with perhaps half a dozen guns, ranging from a pair of light pistols to two Thompson submachine guns. Unfortunately, none of the weapons have clips loaded.

Jameson and Blaine back into the room, followed quickly by King - who is emptying his pistol into the conference room. Jerking the doors shut behind him, he ejects his clip, shouting across the room to Janos and Rhiannon, "Get me a couple of clips - second drawer down."

Without checking for a reaction, King grabs a floor lamp from the nearest corner, snaps off the base in a somewhat impressive display of casual strength, and shoves the pole of the lamp through the handles of the conference room doors.

Turning back to the room, he states with surprising calm, "This is bad, people - but may still be salvageable. Get downstairs to the labs and grab Kate, the device, and any other researchers you can manage. Do whatever it takes to get them downstairs - security will be able to respond better down there, and it'll be easier for the authorities to get involved. I'll try to keep the intruders on this level off your back as long as possible. Now move."

By this point, Jameson is on the first couple of steps down - his weapons loaded and ready. The sound of gunfire is distinct, but in scattered bursts. Of course, it makes sense that a full scale battle wouldn't erupt when the area is filled with a bunch of scientists ... or at least that's what you'd think. The sound of a decent sized explosion thunders forth from the next level down - not enough to cause structural damage, but enough to cause a slight tremor to ripple through the floor.

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"Well here goes nothing," Jameson says as he snaps the revolver's cylinders back into place and turns toward the stairs down.

Guns held out before him he begins to head down toward the lab taking the stairs as quickly as possible, his heavy boots making his footsteps nigh impossible to hide on the hard surface.

Once down at the level of research labs Jameson bursts out of the stairwell guns at the ready. "Kate!! Miss Schafer!?!" yells Jameson as he begins to methodically work his way through the lab, "I've come to pick you up for our dinner!" Jameson quips.

Any employees he comes across he'll tell to head downstairs and take only what they can carry. He'll be coldly efficient when dealing with the intruders though, taking them out as quickly and as finally as possible.

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Janos grinds his teeth in frustration. He grabs the 1911 and a clip for it out of the second drawer (a clip for a 10mm would be noticably bigger thatn that for a 9mm), but doesn't have time to load it as he then sprints down after Jameson to cover his back.

"Could someone bring me some more ammo, please?" he says over his shoulder.

Once he catches up with the bellowing Jameson, he quietly tells him,

"Keep your mouth shut and your ears open, Jameson. The explosion would have come from the area nearest the engine, as Zorbo has a detector for the damn thing. Let us follow the blast pattern, and I think we will find both the engine and Kate. If we don't run about yelling, we may get the drop on them, eh?"

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Jameson smiles grimly back at Janos, "My friend sometimes stealth is the answer and sometimes its better to charge in, guns blazing, with a war cry on your lips.

"Right now I'm more concerned with saving lives. There's non-combatants here, people who can't fight and they need our help, if Zorbo wants the engine bad enough he may start taking hostages or harming innocents," he pauses and looks at Janos an expression of grim determination and yet his eyes are touched with genuine concern for the wellbeing of the office workers and scientists here.

"I ... WILL NOT ... allow that to happen," he finishes emphatically.

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Still quietly, as they are moving along, Janos says,

"You are already too late, my friend. They have surprise, superior mobility, and superior numbers. They already have hostages in some of the areas. What we have is interior lines and the quality of our limited personnel. We also have time on our side."

While his talking, he flips his sword into the air, and slams the clip into the .45. He catches the sword, flips it again, chambers the first round, then catches the sword again.

In a completely calm, cold voice, he adds,

"Now, lets kill these bastards and get back to work. You have a date tonight, and it wouldn't do to be keep the lady waiting."

Jameson might recognize the tone of a man all too comfortable with killing.

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