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Koekepan
It's the 17th of March. It's 2060. It's a hilltop on the fringes of the Seattle Enclave.

It's raining, in the sort of fitful drizzle that passes for rain in this region. Curtains of grey drift in from the Pacific, and bend around the mountains until they soak the dull brown countryside with a blend of water and all the filth driven into the atmosphere by a hyperactive industry. It's too early for the tree pollen to be very active, but the coal furnaces on the other side of the Pacific wash down the Enclave in an infinitesimal dusting of soot.

Inside the BioZu R&D offices, it's fairly busy. The middle of the week means that both ends of the 4/10 shift are in the office, so wednesdays are favoured days for corporate announcements, collective birthday parties, and growth medium deliveries. The droplets lazily ambling their way down the windows of the offices are largely ignored from inside, as being far less interesting than the employee break room, and even that gets less attention than computers, desks or prototyping equipment.

It's 9AM, and a driver is just delivering the regular monthly birthday cake (the size of a truck's wheel and tyre together) to the kitchenette. At least they shell out for good cake.

Upstairs, on the third floor, Klaus and Maria arrived early for some kind of meeting. Probably hashing out what the likely products for the next five year horizon planning will look like. They're not always in this office, but split their time between here and the main production facilities elsewhere. It's good when they're here, because the office staff always make sure that the dispensers in the kitchenette are well stocked up with goodies, but mostly they show up, have two or three meetings, toast the birthdays, and leave.

Another day in paradise.
Koekepan
Inside the actual functional offices, the night/morning shift is winding up, and preparing to hand over to the day shift. After that, at some point, the afternoon/night shift will take over from the day shift.

At the moment, the R&D office is between batches, so all the technicians are doing the complex, tedious, and malodorous job of flushing out, sanitising and maintaining the weird and wonderful equipment that is their domain. In the main production facilities, it's a rare process, but R&D does this more or less every week on at least some of the equipment. There's always a new test batch to be run, and cross-contamination is an ever-present risk. Klaus and Maria are sticklers for the cleanliness of the laboratory.

Connor has little to do with that part, except for the need to keep a ready stock of sanitation spell devices for the workers.

The workers have the good common sense not to refer to Connor as Klaus's pet owl ... in his hearing.
pbangarth
Connor smiles as he passes a group of technicians.

+++They think I don't know. Owl is no one's pet. But let them have their fun. Harmless, and it alleviates the drudgery.+++
Koekepan
The flushing process itself is fairly low tech.

The smaller tanks are simply put into a washing tool, which flushes them with pressurised bleach solution, and then flushes the result into a drainage system. Later a lead technician will use one of Connor's stored spells to do a sanitation effect on them.

The larger tanks are bolted in place, but have attachments at their bottoms for bulk extraction. At these attachment points are valve sections, which then afford an attachment point to the massive hoses that are used for piping stuff around. Right now, coils of hose lead from the bottoms of the tanks to the effluent channel, which is a tunnel leading like a short, wide sewer into a holding tank. Air pressure drives the sludge out of the tanks and down the hoses, and gravity draws the sludge into the holding tank. After this, a bleach solution will be used to flush tanks, valves and hoses, and then the effluent channel, all into the holding tank. More spells to sanitise the tanks, valves and hoses, and then ultimately sterilisation of all the tank contents before it is flushed with rainwater into a sewage line.

The sewage operator actually pays BioZu for the sludge, because it's sterile and nutritious for their own biological waste processing. Otherwise it would just get trickled into the storm water system - but BioZu didn't find success by flushing money away.

And yet, somehow the musty, yeasty smell never quite leaves the effluent channel.
Koekepan
One of the techs, Kevin, calls out:

"""Hoi, Connor! You sticking around after the cakeshift? Word is, there'll be some kind of announcement about a raise or something."""

Kevin may be right, but it might easily as well be about overtime requirements. It's a bit of a tossup, really.

pbangarth
Connor considers for a moment. """I'm kinda tired, Kevin, but if they are going to talk money, yeah, I'll stick around."""
Koekepan
The pungent scent of coffee drifts through the office from the direction of the kitchenette, and workers drift around, pouring mugs, chitchatting, and taking small plates of cake. Happy March birthdays.

The cake itself is decorated to resemble the microscope view of a yeast cell. The bits around the nucleus appear to be chocolate cake, while other bits have different flavourings. Some green icing appears to be mint. Spearmint?

The chairs and tables have been rearranged to provide a sort of makeshift auditorium, which is what they usually do when there's some sort of announcement or report. It's nothing fancy; just a five deep half-moon of chairs, and some standing room left at the back. Quite a few people have already plonked themselves down, but they're not neglecting their work. Most of them are paying more attention to pocket secretaries than they are to cake and coffee. Connor can see the head of microbiology poking at a monitoring tool, readjusting something or other. The office receptionist, also typically the HR representative for this office, is sitting separately at a table, steaming mug at hand, with AR interface slightly glimmering in her glasses. In front of her is also a nice chunk of cake, from which she takes occasional nibbles, raising one manicured finger to touch invisible specks of cake from the corners of her mouth.
pbangarth
Connor grabbed a mug of coffee and sat down near the back. He looked around to see who was there already. As yet, he hadn't seen Carlos, one of the few employees who impressed Connor. +++Sharp mind, that one.+++
Koekepan
Carlos, with his privileged position of rigging industrial machinery, has access to the building's primary eyes, so he of course is well aware of the gathering crowd in the kitchenette.

He's also well aware of the large articulated luxury coach style bus that is working its way up the hill to the facility, as well as the two Bulldog vans that pulled over at the charging station nearby. Unusual. Definitely not scheduled. And there's nothing much else on this hilltop for them to be doing.

With his rigger's eye, he figures the Bulldog vans are heavily loaded, and the bus is basically empty.
ntwi
"""Party day, a relocation bus and two unknowns down the hill... the bosses might be worth while actually listening to today.""" Carlos mutters to himself as he leaves his office to grab his morning snack before the meeting. He reaches into his pocket to ensure the chips are securely plugged into his jukebox as he walks down the hallway. +++Alright, loading up Polite_Words_For_The_Boss v4.3, make sure that the Booty_Call subroutine is not selected, no need for a repeat of that incident+++

Walking through the kitchenette, Carlos grabs a mug of soycaf and loads his plate down with three slices of cake before wandering over to the chairs and grabbing one in the back near Connor.

"""Somethings going on today Connor, more than just the normal cake and party. You heard anything?"""
Koekepan
Through the windows from the kitchenette, one might naively think that there were a view of the parking lot. One would be wrong. The designers of the building's layout determined that people would be happier with a panoramic view of tree branches.

They're not generally wrong; in the right season it's a cool, soothing view of gently swaying foliage. In snow, it can even be quite pretty. Right now one of the maintenance workers is leading a drone with a projector to the area in front of the windows. Another one is leading another drone that's bringing a sealed box to the receptionist/HR rep. """Yeah, just on the table's fine. Can you get me something else? Thanks, on the front desk is the blue ID recorder? You can just bring it up and plug it in here, that'd be great.""" The worker nods, hefts the box onto the table, and leads his little cargo drone out again.

Through the glass panels between the kitchenette and the landing, a steady flow of workers coming to the kitchenette is visible. One group isn't moving, though. It's Maria and Klaus, and a couple of professionally besuited folks that neither Carlos nor Connor recognise - possibly customers, or business partners, maybe investor representatives.

Whatever they have planned probably won't kick off for another twenty minutes, because the tech team is still flushing tanks.

pbangarth
"""Some typical rumours about pay raises, that's all. Nothing believable yet. If the bosses were this side of the glass, I'd take a look at their mood to try to get an idea. But with my luck, daytime and fatigue would scramble any sense I would get. Should know soon enough. You hear anything useful?"""
ntwi
"""Pay raise? That doesn't add up. HR was muttering something about needing an ID recorder, and there's an empty bus headed up the hill towards the office. With the two unknown suits, I'd put money closer to layoffs and chummers being escorted out of the building.""" Carlos pauses for a second and his eyes lose focus.

<<<Snip those two faces, add it to the profile shots from that camera and reverse image search for those two unknown suits>>>

Blinking, Carlos adds """There's been more noise in the data stream lately. A pair of loaded delivery trucks just sitting at the base of the hill right now too.""" Hefting another forkful of cake he adds """Cake is as good as ever though."""

<<<Carlos pulls the exterior cameras back up and looks for any activity down at the trucks, leaving it playing on his imagelink>>>
Koekepan
While events indoors seem slightly unusual, events outdoors are a lot more unusual. The vans by the charging station are not delivery vans; or rather, what they're delivering isn't stuff. They're conveniently parked in the charging station's lot, and now the doors are opening to produce a series of folks in body armour and the general appearance of what Carlos would consider security goons. There's some kind of marking on their uniforms, but they're not standing around to display things. They appear to have the usual; stun batons, tanglers and other nonlethal personnel control devices. They're splitting up into pairs, and moving to locations as if they know what they're doing. Two pairs are bracketing the road out of this place, while four other pairs are moving towards the BioZu building. They're not sprinting, but walking briskly and with intent.

They're completely ignoring the bus, which has passed by them and is setting itself up conveniently with entrances facing the BioZu main exit.
pbangarth
Connor moves a little closer to Carlos and lowers his voice. ___An empty bus? And two vans of unknown cargo below? You may be right. ___

+++Daytime. Why the drek does shit happen in the daytime? Owl, you and I are going to have to talk, later.+++

OoOoOo Talk to me all you want, kid. You have my power, you pay the price. OoOoOo

+++ Hmphh.+++

___Carlos, I think we better stop talking until we figure this out. You OK with me using a little mojo so we can communicate mind to mind? Like subvocals but not hackable. No risk to you.___
ntwi
Carlos blinks a few times at the results scrolling through his vision, and then again at the deployment of security personnel. ___Looks like life is about to get interesting, those two suits are Mitsuhama, HR/Headhunter and Investment Operations. They alone would be a change around here, but the dozen security goons walking up the hill from those two trucks are really saying things are gonna change around here. I'd drop you the feed but you don't have anything to watch it on, do you?___
pbangarth
___Just wait for the tickle in your brain, and I'll get the gist of it straight from you.___

Connor draws in the mana from the astral and reaches for Carlos' mind.

[ Spoiler ]


Connor thinks to Carlos:

_+_+_+ OK, Carlos, fill me in on what's going on outside. _+_+_+
Koekepan
Looks as if things outside are taking shape. Teams of two goons at each of the four corners of the building. Looks as if they expect people to want to head out, and don't mean to let them. However, they're staying low profile, so a casual step out of the main door wouldn't let someone see them, now that they're in place.

The bus outside can be seen to have Mitsuhama vehicle ID, and a small, tastefully painted Mitsuhama logo on the door. Nothing flashy, just an official notice to traffic enforcers.

Through the glass, Ahmed can be seen checking his wrist computer. Possibly for messages, possibly the time, possibly something else, who knows? Next to him, Klaus is staring vacantly out of the window, as if assessing the weather. It's raining, but maybe he cares. Maria is staring at the table with the cake, as if she didn't get the cool cakes when she was a little girl.

Around Connor and Carlos, people are munching on cake and coffee, and joking about stock options.
ntwi
_+_+_+ Two Bulldogs, probably security variants, parked in the charging station at the bottom of the hill. Two pairs of goons alongside the road there. Four more pairs of goons up here, one at each corner. Nonlethal weaponry that I can see, looks like crowd control type things. Mitsuhama corporate bus that pulled up outside, really looks like they plan to "encourage" everyone onto that bus. Odds are they have a rigger and/or a mage in each of those Bulldogs at the base of the hill.... You want a promotion to wage slave in a Triple-A? This is smelling like a corporate buyout, including all the personnel.+_+_+_

Carlos finishes off his first piece of cake and states """The cherry flavor this month just isn't as good as it used to be.""" as he pokes at the second slice. """What do you think the icing on this one, Soylent Green or Spearmint?"""
pbangarth
_+_+_+ I was hesitant enough to join this small-time operation. No way I want to be chained to Mitsuhama. What say we go for a walk, out of sight of the cameras here in the cafeteria, and I'll get a spirit to cover our exit? Can you mess with the surveillance in here, anyway?_+_+_+

+++ I don't know. Let's go back to the cake and check it out. It doesn't look like things are ready yet.+++

Connor turns to the employee on the other side of him, and with lots of obvious gesticulation at chairs and the cake, says, +++ Can you hold our seats for a few minutes? We have some science to do about the cake icing.+++

Big grin as he holds up his empty plate.
Koekepan
--OOC: I'm assuming that last was spoken, not thought--

Things don't look ready yet; a few people are still drifting in, out and around. They're pouring coffee, chit-chatting about sims or trid or how their daffodils are doing. Some of the technicians are starting to arrive, having sloughed off their protective gear, but the door to the stairwell still bangs open and closed fairly regularly. Gareth and Ahmed are strolling in the direction of the coffee themselves, having some sort of conversation, while Klaus and Maria continue their silent vigil on the landing.

The lady next to Connor says: """Sure thing. I think it's spearmint, but probably artificial.""" She smiles at Connor before going back to her cup.

While Connor and Carlos shuffle around the chairs and get off to one side, the kitchenette sound system starts to play music. Nothing very recent or special; it sounds like some kind of easy listening from the '30s.

ntwi
_+_+_+ If we end up on that bus our options are just about null... If we sprint to my car, burn rubber and redline the engine we can probably slip past the Bulldogs before we die in a beautiful explosion somewhere. Slip out a side door and get into the woodline quietly, and I know a guy that can pick us up just about anywhere. Trip the fire alarm or a real fire and everyone goes streaming out the doors in a mass confusion that might make it easier to slip away. Of course that could raise red flags for the goons and their bosses.+_+_+_

Carlos approaches the spread of food and carefully examines the frosting on the cake """Doesn't look quite the same quality as the last one, must have been made by the new guy or something."""

_+_+_+ The sooner we slip away the longer before someone notices our absence. If the alarms go off they'll pay more attention afterwards on whose missing. While there is no way to erase our existence here, if we leave with a bang Mitsuhama will presume we know or stole something important and I'd like to avoid being high on their hit list. +_+_+_

<<<Download the overhead imagery and map of this area from Google Maps for offline use. Connect to home network -> Prep and launch the Condor, up to 600 MSL and then move to 10T 543020 E 5225445 N >>> (OOC UTM grid for ~2 miles NE of the I-5/512 interchange)
pbangarth
_+_+_+ Can you get us to somewhere the cameras aren't looking?_+_+_+
ntwi
_+_+_+ Welcome to the Panopticon chummer, there are cameras everywhere. As long as they haven't killed my access however, I can make them see what they want to see, it just might take a minute to set up. Best thought I have is to write a quick script to loop only the relevant cameras from the bathroom by my office over to the R&D office and then squirt down the tube to the storage tank. Crack one of the hatches and you might be able to finger wiggle up something to help conceal us from there to the woods. Get some distance from here through the woods and I can have a guy I know pick us up by a road somewhere near here. Time's ticking though, what ever we do we should decide quick as they'll be counting heads and IDs before too long. The awkward part might be having to talk past the cleaning techs though. Anything you can think of to get us past them without undue attention?+_+_+_

Carlos grabs another slice of cake and heads back out the door towards his office with his pocket secretary in his hands """Drek, I forgot to plug that fraggin thing in.""" Text message to Joao Vigo <<<Vigo, I'm going to need a quick and quiet pickup for myself and a friend. How long would it take you to get to the Tumwater/Olympia area?>>>

_+_+_+ I could also put a fire alarm or other headaches on a timer to go off after we leave. Not sure if that would buy us more time, more attention in the long run or both though. +_+_+_
Koekepan
It doesn't take long for Vigo to reply.

<<<Quiet and discreet? Maybe 45 minutes. Maybe a little less if traffic is kind. If you're in a hurry I can shave 20 minutes off that number easy, but you said quiet. I'm starting now, just in case you decide that's good enough...

... should I bring heat, just in case?>>>
Koekepan
Connor has a fair degree of latitude in terms of coming and going, because who else in that location would be able to know what he was really up to? All he'd have to do is mumble something about a post-cleanup inspection or orichalcum residue or something, and as long as he weren't obviously setting dynamite charges, nobody would be likely to challenge him.

It's just the nature of the job.
ntwi
Carlos starts doing some rough math in his head. +++ Let's see, 60 seconds to the office, 2 minutes to write a quick script, two more minutes to the lab, five through the pipes, another couple to exit the tank and get to the woods. That's about 15, and then another 30? to get down the hill quietly to a nearby road? That's gonna be the hard part, I drive or fly not walk normally, and with a dwarf?+++

<<<45 should be fine. No need for heat on this one omae>>
Koekepan
Vigo responds to Carlos with:

<<<On my way. Let me know when you have an exact location. By the way, what happen to your wheels? Gutterball them running from the last squeeze you ditched?>>>

The hallways aren't entirely deserted yet; there are a few people still clearing the decks around the drekkers, including a few of the tech team who are scrubbing off some face sweat after being in those bunnysuits for the last three hours. Carlos can still see through one of the viewing windows how their last guy is closing the trash chute hatch and hanging up the big bulkhead wrench. Not technically necessary for a big, beefy ork, but it helps a lot for the smaller team members. Of course, it's heavy enough that the big, beefy ork is more comfortable carrying the thing, but ain't that the way it goes?

The music from the kitchenette speakers fades as Carlos walks down the hall, but not entirely; it must be on the overhead announcement speakers as well.
Koekepan
Carlos can quickly turn in at his office. Nobody else is there, except for a Connor trailing in his wake. There's nothing to hack, and no complex work to execute here; all he has to do is to put those cameras controllers into test mode, and rerun the same window of time over and over again. One second here, one second there and ...

yup! All done. Three naked trolls could cavort down there with a dragon's egg and nobody watching the video streams would be any the wiser. Every camera between his office and into the lab is now useless for creating a track record, or revealing the current state of affairs.
pbangarth
"""OK, Carlos. My turn. I'll see if I can conjure up a spirit to make us less noticeable."""

Connor takes a deep breath. Daytime magic is tricky for a follower of Owl. He does a little meditation trick to empty his mind, opens his perception to the astral, and concentrates on the, I don't know, 'soul' of this place. ::: Spirit of this place, come now, I ask service of you. In the name of Owl, I summon you. :::

He feels energy flow through him, reminiscent of the flow of bio-sludge through the tubes. In the astral a form appears, like a table or bench formed of pipes and slabs of ferrocrete.

::: I am here, servant of Owl. You ask, I will do. :::

Connor feels the tug of the energy on his mind, trying to numb him. He pushes back with his mind until the tug ceases.

::: We travel from this place to elsewhere in the building. Turn the eyes of others away from the two of us. Let them not see us. Do so until I ask you to stop. :::

::: I will do. :::

The spirit materializes in Carlos' office. """ Hold still, Carlos. It's alright. """ The spirit waves one leg at the two men and a faint green aura envelops them, fading immediately. The spirit returns to the astral plane.

"""Ready to go, then. """
Koekepan
The spirit doing its thing, it's easy enough to slip back out to the rest of the office. A few stragglers are still walking around, but nobody pays the least bit of attention to Carlos and Connor wandering down to the R&D production floor.

The spirit leaves once they move from the carpeted office to the different environment, but by now they're alone. All the technicians have already gone to scrub up for cake. Their respirators and bunnysuits hang neatly in a row on the wall, ready for the next shift. The viewports on the fermentation tanks show that everything has been sprayed down and flushed. Work done, ready for the next batch.
ntwi
___skip the suits but grab a respirator, you'll want it in the tank__ Carlos whispers to Conner as he grabs the big wrench before heading for the pipe hatch.
___You can clean us up afterwards right?___
pbangarth
___ Uh, yeah, but in the daytime magic is way tougher for me, and I risk not dealing with the drain of the magic flowing through me. I wanna stay strong for when magic is needed. We have clothing here to obviate the necessity for the use of magic. It's wiser to use what we have at hand rather than risk failure. I'm getting into a suit. We can ditch the suits at the other end.___

Connor grabs a suit that fits him.
Koekepan
The suits are pragmatically designed for a world of metahumans, and will fit anyone short of a troll, no problem. There are cinches that will blouse up the legs for a dwarf, and draw in the waist for an elf, while easily allowing for the burly bulk of an ork.

Fortunately, they're also designed to allow for quick and easy donning and doffing. A mere minute of grab, draw and zip, and Connor is ready to face the mean streets - or at least, effluent pipes - and a face mask should stave off asphyxiation - or at least, respiratory discomfort.

The pipe's access hatch is regularly used and actively maintained, so it doesn't take major muscle to open. The wrench makes quick work of the release; insert, turn, open. The hatch swings easily on its hinges, and reveals a dimly-lit tunnel wet from the flushing process, and stinking with a combination of chlorine fumes and chemically decomposed yeast. Access to the tunnel is a few steps down, with the interior marked with well-worn blobs of luminescent paint. Standard industrial design, in other words. Painted arrows indicate the direction of flow, the location of the egress hatch, and various emergency instructions and warnings. They stipulate how to work the hatch's latches from within (no wrench required), that protective clothing is required, that no user serviceable parts are within, and that in the event of inadvertent flushing while someone is inside, to follow the current into the effluent tank.

Aren't health and safety regulations great?

pbangarth
Once in the suit, Connor is ready to go. ___ You go first, Carlos. That way, if you get in trouble, I can easily target you with the appropriate spell. ___
ntwi
___ Sure thing Conner, you going to be able to swim when we hit the tank? ___ Carlos replies as he heads into the tunnel.
Koekepan
The passage through the tunnel is fairly brief (as Carlos and Connor already knew), and dimly lit (although dwarven vision made it less of a concern). Mostly, it was a couple of minutes of tedious crawling, because while a dwarf could crouch and still walk, it's just easier to crawl through.

The pipe itself is not as filthy as one might have expected. A slight greenish slime does build up on hands and knees, but the flushing was thorough enough. The smell, on the other hand, is like a janitorial supply closet dumped into an algae pond.

Warning splotches of luminescent paint are hardly necessary to determine that they're at the threshold of the tank. It's dimly lit because the walls of the tank are mildly translucent. The rain sifting down on the top of the tank gives a steady sort of drumming noise, but at least there's enough room to stand upright.

The tank itself is actually not flooded, but rather like a round, ill-lit, malodorous ballroom with a large drainage hole at one end; this last is guarded by a grille that would prevent anything larger than a fist washing down into the sewage system. From far below there's a faint sound of flowing water that echoes up until it seems faintly omnipresent in the tank itself.

Other than the effluent pipe down which they came, and the exit pipe to the sewage system, the only evident exit is a hatch in the top of the tank, to which there is a metal ladder, similar to what one might find on the edge of a swimming pool. A clearly-marked lever lets the ladder down, so that one can reach the hatch. There's an exit handle, which gives way with a mere tug so that the hatch unseals. It would swing outward, when opened.

What a way to investigate green cake icing. Want to taste some of the slime?

pbangarth
Connor thinks a moment. +++I should go up first. If someone is watching, they will see a typically suited person exit the tank. Wonder why I am not at the meeting, but not concern. I can talk or magic my way out of trouble.+++

He operates the lever to drop the ladder.
Koekepan
The ladder swings down with a slight creak, then a soft clunk as it reaches its full extent, and rests against the metal arms that support it in its lowered position. The lowest rung of the ladder is perhaps one foot off the floor. Inconvenient for a dwarf, but not insurmountable. The ladder reaches all the way up to the top, by the hatch, so it shouldn't be hard to open things, once at the top. Because it opens up outwards, a careful person could open the hatch a crack and peer out.
pbangarth
Connor mounts the ladder with agility and grace. He climbs to the top of the ladder, opens the hatch a little crack, and carefully peers out.
Koekepan
The view through the gap between hatch and tank wall is panoramic, but narrow. Most of it displays trees, of course, but some shows grass leading up the slope to the building. There, because Connor knows what to look for, he can spot the four goons occupying the back two corners of the BioZu building.

Right now they seem relaxed, but low profile. One couple is barely visible around some low junipers, the other pair is standing under the boughs of a cedar.

None of them appears to be specifically looking at the tank, rather than at each other, or the building, but the tank is at least potentially in their view.
ntwi
__Just stay low and creep out while you wiggle your fingers to conceal us or distract them. We just have to slip into the woodline. If you need a distraction I can have my car start up and drive, but that's just as likely to raise their alertness___ Carlos whispers up to Conner ___Keep low and use the concealment you can___
pbangarth
___Yeah, gimme a minute.___ Connor lets the lid close so he can shed the protective suit. ___Easier to conceal if you don't look so much out of place.___

Once that is done, he opens a crack again, to be in the realm of forest. +++I could use the invisibility script, but a spirit should do here.+++

Connor opens himself to the astral and seeks a forest spirit to help them escape. Maybe it was being on the ladder, maybe it was sunlight in his eyes, but this summoning nearly knocked him on his hoop.
Koekepan
The suit makes a sort of slithering plopping noise of a lump of synthetic fabric landing in a puddle.

The crack of rain-softened daylight from the slightly ajar hatch brings with it a welcome breath of forest air - itself a mercy with the respirator off. While Connor reaches beyond himself, it seems to cloud his senses, but he sees a red-tailed hawk sitting on a bough, near the tank, eyeing him.

:::What do you seek, child of Owl? This is not your hour, but we listen - ah, escape from the chiding jays? Very well. Follow in my shade, and do not tarry.:::
pbangarth
___ OK, Carlos, we have spirit cover to make us less noticeable. Lets just climb out and walk towards the forest. The less obtrusively we behave, the less likely the guards will take notice.___

Connor lifts the lid a bit more and steps out. Then he holds the lid for Carlos. Once they are both out, he slowly lowers the lid to shut it quietly. Then it's off to grandma's house through the forest. Connor nods to the hawk.

+++Don't look back. Don't look back.+++
ntwi
___That might work for you, your 2' something, it ain't gonna work for me.___ Carlos responds as he crawls out of the hatch, keeping it between himself and the closest pair of guards as moves. ___Keep the hatch and the bit of slope here from the tank between you and the building. These guys are here to keep anyone from leaving, there isn't a "normal" for them___

Carlos bear crawls quickly, keeping his body low to the ground and using every dip and divot in the ground for cover as he works towards the woodline. +++Less obtrusive??? These guys are watching for people leaving the building and area, we need to get out of their line of sight quick. At least our ride is already on it's way, we just need to get there to meet it+++
Koekepan
As Connor and Carlos make their way down and into the treeline, they hear a distant voice behind them. """Hoi! Down there! Hold on, chummer!"""
pbangarth
Connor chastises himself for his carelessness. +++ Lazy! Lazy! Lazy! You're on the run now, you drekhead. Do better! Well, we're not concealed anymore. No point in keeping that going. +++

::: Thank you, spirit for your aid. Your service is done. Return home, please.:::

Connor considers his options. They are into the trees and really just need to get to the getaway vehicle. So holding up the pursuit is all that is necessary. While the guards are still just talking, he calls again for spirit aid.
Koekepan
The hawk takes flight, its call echoing and fading in Connor's ears.

It is gone, and then he calls again on the spirits of the wood, when he sees the shape of a doe rising behind a thicket of brambles. Her large eyes gleam, and she speaks: :::A noisy owl in the morning is an omen. What do you seek?:::

Behind them, there's the thumping sound of a pneumatic launcher; typically used for nets or the like, but Carlos sees something that looks like a gleaming baseball bouncing into the forest near them. A surveillance drone? Something more sophisticated, or less?
ntwi
"""GAS! This way!"" Carlos turns and sprints, maximizing distance from the possible grenade while still heading deeper into the woodline and away from the Mitsuhama goons.
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