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Redjack
The watchers give Book pause. The fact that they are not taking note of him being astrally active is a relief. Could have been a real short run Vern....

<<@Team [Book] System: Picking up wireless? Let me know when you have an idea about what the topography is and what our challenges will be.>>

Tank meanwhile takes notice of the guards and the dwarf. The fatigue of the guards will be a positive factor when they break loose. He looks to the dwarf, seeking some casual conversation. "How are we doing for time? We're on schedule, right?"
Redjack
<<@System [Book] What exactly is our cover? Are we going deeper as a part of the cover or are we about to have to freelance?>>
Alex
<<@Team [System] We are part of an outside maintenance crew. We are supposed to deliver a couple of boxes to the security area and then be escorted to the servers. I plan to work my magic from there.>>
Redjack
The team continues to follow the dwarf.
<<@Team [Book] When we make it to the server room, we play it by ear then.>>
Alex
The sour dwarf leads the team into the small office off the main area. He roughly jostles a sleeping elf who wakes up and smiles at him with a chesire-cat style grin. "Alright, you damn dandelion-eater, your shift started a few minutes ago. Get these people processed so I can go to bed."

The elf stretches out to the full extent of her frame and then hops out of bed. She is still wearing her night clothes, which while not much, don't reveal anything either. "You better go stuff yourself you uppity halfer or I'll kick your ass." Turning to the team she adds, "I'll get dressed and be with y'all in a minute." Slipping into a simple blue and white jumpsuit she plugs a cord from her comm into and old datajack behind her ear.

"OK, let's see what you are carrying."

System pulls up an AR display and pushes several icons over to her. She frowns for a minute and asks him a few questions. She then shrugs and says, "Looks like you are a day early but there is a note from management that they requested you to come early. OK, it's not my place to tell them what to do but would it hurt them to keep us updated?"

"OK, follow me." She then leads the group out of the little office followed by the snores of the dwarf. She heads through the large door to the other side of the elevator. She enters a few commands and a small person sized door opens in the second security door opens. She leads the group through the temporary parking area to the Security Center where a large ork and a troll nod and readjust their automatic weapons.

A white-haired human male opens the security office and waves the team in. The elf turns and heads back toward her small office. "Now, I understand that you have some parts for me. Please put them on the table for inspection."
Alex
System places what appear to be be circuit boards on the table and steps back. He pulls up an AR window and goes through some technical mumbo jumbo with the man who nods in what appears to be all the right places and then holds up his hand. "Good enough for me. Let's head down that way." His comm rings and his eyes lose focus while he answers it. "What the hell? I don't get it." Turning back to the team he adds, "You go ahead, I'll catch up, I have to talk to the department head for magical issues - we have a complaint."

Once out of earshot System sends a quick note via TeamLink
<<@Team [System] I sent him on a wild goose chase but he'll be back soon enough. This card is supposed to give me wi-fi access through the lighting system. Don't ask how it works, I don't know but this is what I spent my cash on. What is the plan before he gets back?>>
Redjack
Tank smiles.
<<@Team [Tank] Well we're in the belly of the beast now!>>

Book raises an eyebrow.
<<@Team [Book] No, actually we're just in the throat. We've got to go through the stomach and out the ass.>>

Book takes a moment to survey the surroundings.
<<@System [Book] How much control of the system do you have now? Do you control security? Can you issue a work order to isolate the system so that nothing outside is aware is something is tripped internally? I assume this is as far as we go according to our orders?>>
Alex
<<@ Team [Book] I have access to the system but don't have complete control yet. I can easily set up a work order for access to other areas. I might be able to isolate the system through a security test; however, I could just as easily set off the alarm. The system is loaded with IC. Technically, we can't go past the computer section but I might be able to whip up another work order.>>

About the same time the white-haired man comes back around the corner. "Now, where were we?"
Redjack
<<@Team [Book] Be cool till it pops. The farther in we make it the better we are. If we can make it to the computer system then System has a better chance for better control and I have the ability to size up the magical security... Which by the way we have to pass...>>

Tank gives the man a smile, "We gotta complete this work order and then we're outa here." He looks around, "Don't this place make you a little claustrophobic?" At this point, his intent is obviously to support the team's bluff as far as he can.
Alex
"Nah. I pulled a stint in an underwater lab a while back. This is easy by comparison. I do miss the windows though. Great thing is not having to worry about mages poking their damn heads in my space. Well don't let me hold you up. Go ahead and get to the computer center. I know it's a pain but I'll be on your six the whole time. Protocol you know. Promise I'll be quiet as a mouse. 'sides, I need to get away from Frick and Frack and their farting contest outside my door."

He opens the door to the Computer Center using a few quick AR based commands. A blast of cold air comes rushing out. Despite not needing as much cooling once they switched to optical based chips computer server rooms are still run like meat lockers. As the team pokes their head in, he asks, "Which way, boys?"
Redjack
Tank smirks as the man tells the story, half honestly amused at the story half amused at the fact that he will be soon be sleeping. After they step through the doorway, Book shifts his perception to the astral to determine the astral threat level while Tank looks to System for directions.
<<@System [Tank] Do we know which direction?>>
Alex
Seeing the trio hesitate, the white haired man starts pulling up AR windows. "Now, where did you boys say you were from again?"

[ Spoiler ]


Book notices a few wards around a few servers in the corner. Currently, there are no spirits or watchers in the area. The astral form of the earth itself is all around the man made structure.
Redjack
Shifting his perceptions to the astral, Book is pleased to find the area free of prying eyes. He does not fail to take note of the man's moving offensively, if not slowly.

Tank also notices the subtle movements of the man. It is at that moment he wishes he'd taken a few martial arts classes. You never know when you're gonna end up in a fist fight... He smiles at the man as if nothing was wrong, "Well I'm from Cleveland-"

-and Book releases a stun bolt at the man.

Tank reaches to catch the man when his eyes begin to close.
Alex
The guard looks a little bit surprised for a split second before sliding into Tank's arms.

Once on the ground, the trio is free to use the server room.

-----

System moves toward the servers. "I'll hold them off for as long as I can. However, I won't be able to spoof his comm for long. I'm shooting for admin access. What else do we need?"
Redjack
Book turns to the team's hacker, "Right now, information. I need to know how many magically active people are on site and where they are. If an alarm goes off, we can't risk them tracking or ambushing us." Book then turns his attention to the astral signature left by his spell on the guard and begins to scrub it clean.

Tank listens, zip tying and gagging the guard. He takes the man's weapons and com before unpacking his own XM-30 carbine from case he was carrying. "It would also be nice to know what is in the ventilation shaft we are using for an exit. I really don't want a surprise when the heat is on."

[ Spoiler ]
Alex
"Working on it. OK, we're in. I have ... wait. Damn tricky IC they've got. Hold it. Got it!. We have admin rights. Looks like they have some wireless routers for comm signal repetition so I'll set up a local repeater for us. However, it'll take me about 5 minutes. In the meantime, we have an honest to Code escape hatch - not a ventilation shaft. Alarm will go off once we leave - it's hardwired. Working on the mumbo-jumbo list."

A few moments pass and System responds again, "OK, there are currently five mages on site. Two in the prototype lab, two off duty in the upper section of the mage quarters and one in the command center. I think he is an adept or something. His profile is a little weird."
Redjack
The duo watch as their hacker works his way into the computer network. Tank loads the first round into the chamber and turns off the safety. For him, this is one of the most serious runs he's pulled with this crew. Every run before this one they could simply cut and run and any time. In this run they'd have to run the gauntlet to get out the other side and then, the Johnson may have a twist waiting for them.

"The mage command center is our next objective." Book says, stating the obvious. "You have access to the doors I assume? And you can shut down all com traffic is needed with your control of the repeaters?"
Alex
System glances up from his work on the repeater. His tools are neatly arrange in a rolling pouch that looks like the bags that a chef at a fancy restaurant would use. Through gritted teeth - holding what looks like a screwdriver he mumbles, "Yeth and yeth. Aldough, if I shut it don it may tri de alarm."

A few minutes later and he is done. "I wish I could hide this better but it'll have to do. Just so you know, I spoofed his last check-in," he says, pointing to the unconscious man, "so we should be good for about thirty minutes unless Frick and Frack come this way."

System pulls up a 3-D copy of the Johnson's map and shares it over the encrypted TeamNet™.

"That way."
Redjack
As System begins to speak, Tank looks back to the guard. He moves and quickly removes the guard's uniform and replaces the zip tie restraints. He puts the uniform on over his chameleon suit, then looks for a place to hide the guard here in the room.

Once he is done Book asks, "Done?"

Tank replies, a little indignantly, "Yea."

Book moves toward the door.
<<@Team [Book] Here is the next step of the plan: If there is a camera in this room, I assume you've already got it running in a loop. Let's move the guard in case the loop is reset so that he is neither visible from the camera, nor casual inspection should Frick or Frack open the door and peep in.>>

He turns his head towards the door, rubs his chin and continues.
<<@Team [Book] I'm sure that there are wards at the entrance to the Mage Silo, so any spells I would have now would have to be dropped to cross the threshold. Otherwise I risk alerting the ward's creator and drawing them into the fray prematurely. So that means we head on and use mundane means.
System - You will need to be ready to cut the wireless relays if our ruse fails. Can you open the doors to the Mage Silo when we get there and loop the cameras along the way to disguise our passing?>>
Alex
<<Sure, I can handle that.>>

The three of them head out of the server area and System seems to be elsewhere even though his meat body is still moving with the rest of the team. They pass by multiple cameras and the heavy blast doors between the main portion of the computer center before encountering a blue line on the floor with runes on one side and English on the other. It reads "Mage Center - Authorized Personnel Only."
Redjack
As they reach the door, Tank readying his XM, but keeping it slung across the front. Book looks for a ward at the threshold.
<<@Team [Book] Tank will lead us in, System you may need to momentarily disrupt coms in order to stifle any alarms.>>

Book is hoping no one takes the time to maintain a ward across the threshold.
Alex
As Book opens himself to the astral, he notices a watcher spirit eyeing the three of them. It appears to be waiting for something.
Redjack
Book drops back to the mundane.
<<@Team [Book] Astral security. Not sure what will set it off. Everyone go on my signal.>>

With that, Book lies down and slips into the astral. He holds a spell on the tip of his fingers to blast the watcher, should it react, as he calls forth a spirit-
Alex
The watcher turns to fly off down the corridor as soon as the spirit materializes.
Redjack
Switching tactics quickly, Book instead decides to banish the watcher, hoping that the summoner will interpret the watcher's disappearance as an end to it's time of service rather than due to an attack.

[ Spoiler ]


Tank, on the other hand, waits in the mundane world. Though only a second has passed, he knows a lot can happen in that time.
Alex
The watcher winks out of existence with Book's efforts. The astral remains quiet for the time being.

-----

<<@Team [System] Got the wireless signal. The mage quarters a different node from the rest of the facility but I think that I have them convinced that we are part of a routine service crew. Well, until they see us anyway.>>
Redjack
Air spirit waiting a command, Book summons forth mystic energies that enshroud his body; Increased Reflexes. Part of his consciousness is now distracted maintaining the spell, but his calculates that it is worth the cost. His essence then sinks back into his physical body and he takes a breath and sits up. He sees the message from System.

<<@Team [Book] Go now. The doorway's astral watcher has been disrupted, but he will be replaced quickly.>>

Tank moves forward. Time to start this party.
Redjack
Book signals System to open the door. Tank steps through the threshold and takes a calculated look around the room, his weapons casually at the ready.

[ Spoiler ]
Alex
The team surprises a young human standing in his boxers with a can of what can only be Fizzzz in one hand and a Nuke-it! burrito in the other. The look on his face in the instance is blank.
Redjack
Tank gently squeezes the and his carbine coughs a pft-pft-pft as it releases a short, wide burst of stick-n-shock rounds towards the man in boxer shorts as Book finally releases the spell at his finger tips. Neither are happy with their aim.
Alex
The man drops like a rock. A female face pops into and back out of sight through a door not far from where the man was standing.
Redjack
Book whispers to the waiting spirit. "Get her."
<<@System [Book] Watch the coms>>

Nearly instantly, the spirit crosses the minimal distance across astral space and begins to materialize around the woman. Tank steps across the threshold, releasing an elongated pft-pft-pft-pft-pft-pft as the carbine coughs out half a dozen barbed rounds in a wide pattern across the area.
Alex
The young woman drops to the floor. The materializing spirit turns and fades back into the astral as if under assault.

A quick check into the astral indicates that there is an earth spirit of roughly the same size bearing down on Book's spirit. It is shaped like an elemental in the traditional hermetic tradition.
Redjack
(( Pass #2 ))

As his spirit comes under assault in astral space, Book reaches his will out to the new aggressor seeking to return the spirit to its home plane. Tank meanwhile looks for another threat as he moves fully into the hallway.
Alex
The spirit ceases to struggle with Book's spirit and dissolves into the astral.

-----

The immediate threat over, System pokes his head into the room and signals, <<@Team[System]Tryin' to crush panic alarm ... Damn!>>

"We're about to have a security sweep. Get ready!"
Redjack
Tank groans and looks for a defensible position to move the team to, expecting frick and frack the trolls to respond. He drops the carbine, which falls against his body as the sling becomes taunt. He grabs the two fallen wage-slaves, pulling them out of sight.
<<@System [Tank] What is the specifics of the alert?>>

Book begins to call in spirits, starting with his air spirit. "Great air spirit, please protect us." He then calls forth a spirit of earth. "Conceal us from our enemies." Gesturing to himself, System, the air spirit and the earth spirit himself.
<<@Team [Book] This could get real hairy all over.>>

The earth spirit reaches out, enveloping the team in both the astral and the physical, distorting the teams presence from observers; All of the team except Tank.

While still maintaining his increased reaction, the shaman pulls his mask over his face, activates the chameleon suit and then weaves a physical mask around the team's adept. In a moment, Tank looks and sounds like the guard who is actually, tucked safely away in the computer room. The carbine rifle blends into his clothing.

Tank smiles. Time to earn my money.
Alex
The ork asks, "What's going on boss?"

The troll says, "We got the alert but it got canceled. Where are the mages?"

Neither of the two are out of breath and neither seems to be surprised that their boss is in the mages' quarters.

-----

There is the sound of dogs running up the corridor. They appear to have been dobermans in a previous existence. Now, they seem both part machine and somehow more than an animal.
Redjack
Tank walks towards the trolls, drawing their attention back towards the door and away from the room. "Oh My God.... I heard noises in the other room. I hit the alarm, opened the door and there they were... Fucking like rabbits." He shakes his head. "Now I've got to draft up an explanation as to why I hit the alarm..."

<<@Team [Book] What the hell? System - Can you do anything about those? If not, this is gonna deteriorate real quick...>>
Alex
"Who? Blondie and the redhead or him and the elf?"

Nearly simultaneously, the ork asks, "Where? Can I watch?"

-----

<<@Team [System] What the hell, indeed. Those things are reading like drones. How is that even possible? I'll see what I can do with them. Stall 'em or get the thugs outta here or something.>>
Redjack
Tank, getting the team chatter while dealing with the moron twins continues towards the door. "No." he replies, changing to a little more formal tone. "You better return to your posts before they find some way to turn this around and blame us."

Book, feeling the situation spiraling out of control, calls his bound beast spirit into astral space.
<<@Team [Book] We are now in improvise mode... If it falls apart we drop back to cut and run.>>
Alex
"Got it, boss."

Frick and Frack file out of the area with one of the dobermans. The other walks around the room and sniffs a few things before heading back out again.

The team is left in the room.

<<@Team [System] Whatever those things are, they are gone now. I'm not reading anything in the area. I spoofed the our white-headed guard's comm. He is now logging report of an accidental trip of the alarm system due to vigorous tandem exercise. Where to now?>>
Redjack
As the door closes behind the Tweedle brothers and the four-legged pair from the tea-party, Tank resists the urge to puke. "That was way too damn close." He walks over to the unconscious pair and zip ties up their hands and legs, before binding and gagging them.

Spirits watching over them, Book scrubs his astral signature from the two fallen magicians before preparing to move on.
<<@Team [Book] Time is short. The ruse will unravel soon. Time we got the package and cleared this death trap.>>

Tank looks for some place to hide the unconscious, bound mages while Book surveys the astral for wards or other impediments.
Alex
Tank's short search of the room identifies a walk-in closet. The briefest glance inside turns up several pairs of fur-lined handcuffs, chains and whips. It would appear that Tank's statement may not have been too far off the mark. There is more than enough room in the closet for the two unconscious mages.

-----

System pulls up an AR map of the area and highlights the quickest route into the prototype area.

<<@Team [System] This is the shortest path. We'll need some form of cover to get up to the door. I don't think a simple ruse will work this time. The thing is keyed to the comm of the user along with his prints. I'm pretty sure I can trick it but I'll need to be on top of it to do that. Otherwise, we can try the ventilation shaft but it is a really tight fit.>>

-----

Book takes a look through the astral and notices that the earth itself is very good at obscuring the pressence of other wards. However, it appears that a large ward is in the general direction of the prototype.
Redjack
Tank proceeds to stuff the mages in the closet while Book scrubs his signature left by the spell residue. As he makes quick work of the signature, Book formulates a plan.
<<@Team [Book] The spirit should provide cover to reach the door. There is a pretty large ward there though and neither he, nor my spells, will cross it. Once you open the door, it'll be up to Tank to deal with the mage on duty in there.>>

<<@Team [Tank] Guess its time to test the mustard. Its either going on the bread or all over the wall.>>

Once the duo are stuffed, Tank readies his weapon. Book shifts the mask to the appearance of the male mage.
Alex
The trio with spirit in tow head out of the area and down a flight of stairs. At the end of what appears to be a featureless hall near the point System indicated there is a dead-end. Once they get close, a section of the wall opens with locations for a hand print and retinal identification. System reaches out his hand and after a momentary pause, the system opens to the inner area.

The area is a large circular room with a catwalk surrounding the upper section. There is a pedestal in the center and two mages are hunched over what appears to be a technological device. An ebony skinned elf looks up and asks, "Looks like you and Casandra finished early. Is she coming to help?" The redhead next to him pulls her hair back into the hood she is wearing. Both are dressed in long flowing robes colored light blue. The elf pipes up again, "Hey, Madison, hurry up and get down here. Where is your robe?". He seems to be getting agitated.
Redjack
Madison smiles a shit-eating grin as he raises his arm, which barks out a pft-pft-pft-pft-pft-pft. Beneath the mask, Tank raised his carbine to his shoulder and drew down on the ebony elf. Book holds action, letting Tank break surprise on the final two mages. He grits his teeth at the decision, but he had to give Tank every opportunity to reduce the numbers of the opposition.
Alex
The only thing that the elf sees coming is the blackness after he is hit. His now limp body slumps down against the guardrail before rolling over next to the prototype.

The red-headed mage swings over the rail and is now out of sight. A spirit materializes and puts itself between the prototype and the trio. It is dressed in what appears to be a generic blue security guard uniform complete with badge and cap.
Redjack
(( Pass #1 ))

Tank's shots come fast. Book releases both his spells as he moves. He ducks, moving around Tank and through the door and the ward, no longer hindered by sustained spells. He slides through the doorway, prone, while calling in his beast spirit. "Protect me." He is counting on the chameleon suit, his being prone and the spirit to keep him alive long enough to deal with the problems. He extends his spell defense to the team and cringes as he moves at half the speed he was moving with his magical reflex enhancements gone.

(( Pass #2 ))
Tank doesn't know a lot about magic, but he does know that if you deal with the summoner then the spirit goes home. He moves in behind Book, stepping over the shaman and keeping along the wall and away from the enemy spirit. His chameleon suit is also active and now that the mask is gone, it is again effective.
Alex
As Tank moves into the room, he catches a glimpse of the red head ducking into a small room at the base of the pedestal. The door doesn't seem to be terribly thick but there appears to be a ladder and communication equipment inside.

-----

Suddenly, the door through which the team came to the prototype area closes. Red lights and sirens begin blaring.
Redjack
Tank trusts that System is suppressing the alerts from getting beyond the room, but he does not trust the contents of the other room. As he catches sight of the other mage, he releases two short bursts. Just go to sleep, bitch.
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