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Chapter 4

            The large cargo ship, Alton, attempted to convey a nonchalant profile sailing towards the coast of the United States. The crew was more worried about drawing the attention of the Coast Guard than their last minute passengers were. The passengers were more worried about the organizations assisting the Coast Guard in patrol duties.

            “I can’t believe we are in over our heads,” TT said lowering the binoculars from his eyes. He and Cecil had been standing outside of the bridge keeping watchful eye to the horizon behind them.

            “That is nothing new,” Cecil commented also viewing from behind a large pair of binoculars. When he had returned to their truck on Port Oaks before the others and found out from Jimmy what team was carrying, he immediately instructed TT and Jimmy to say nothing. He informed Jack and Keith privately, but Mickey would completely loose it if he knew for whom they were acting as delivering boy. The incessant rambling of his dementia would drive the team crazy and set everyone on edge even more than they were already. He made Jimmy digitally copy the documents and put everything back together. The temptation to read what was on the report was incredible, but he weighed it against the consequences of knowing too much. They walked an absurd thin line between stupidity and insanity.

            “Who do you think is following us this time?” TT asked.

            Cecil thought for a moment witnessing the dance of flickering lights well behind them where the black ocean and night sky shared the same cloak. They had indeed picked up a tail, even after covering their tracks. This umbrage displayed deft skill in tracking and had to have been tailing their customer from the start. He doubted whether whoever was following them knew exactly what organization their customer worked for, but would rather like to possess what they were carrying.

            “Longbow maybe, but they usually aren’t this good,” he replied stating his wild presumption. “If we don’t get a sighting from them within a half hour, that’d be my guess.”

            “I see,” TT said recognizing the rare occurrence when Cecil was truly guessing. He knew too well Longbow generally did not operate that way. “I don’t believe it’s them either.”

            “Contact,” Crazy Jack shouted from inside the cab summoning his two companions. Jimmy, Mickey, and Keith were busy prepping the truck for an assault and rapid deployment. “We got several blips on the scope.”

            Cecil and TT entered the bridge with the multicolored glow of the console giving them luminous skin like some deep ocean fish.

            “Can we get something to eat?” Jack asked the captain, an employee of OSI. The Alton was actually owned by their corporation, but to find that morsel of truth would take a team of federal investigators several weeks. A paper trail of pitfalls and false companies offered only dead-ends. Their boss was very well versed in hiding acquisitions, a skill he learned when he worked for Crey Industries.

            The Captain sent a runner to the kitchen.

            “This is looking worse,” Jack said understating the situation. If the Captain knew what they did, he would probably kick them off the ship. The dead and forgotten were better off left dead and forgotten. “We now have several tails. Our customer must work somewhere high up.”

            Cecil watched several of the blips on screen, “They are tripping over themselves now.”

            Jack nodded, “I bet one got wind of another was tracking something big and the rest are just now catching up.”

            “What are our options, then?” TT asked removing and retying his dew rag. He always liked to ensure a tight fit before entering a fight. The tightness comforted him leaving him with the feeling of invulnerability.

            “Well,” Jack said looking at his watch, “We’ll be within Paragon’s mediport range soon, which means Longbow and the Coast Guard will probably be in the area. As soon as Jimmy hacks the signal, we try to teleport into Paragon City. That should shake our tails, at least for a while.”

            Cecil agreed for the most part, “We need to get to a safe house too. Our boss needs to be notified.”

            “I agree. Too many ears listening now and I don’t dare try using a frequency, encoded or not.”

            The three watched the blips flicker in and out of range of the ships radar for several minutes when the runner returned from the kitchen with a plate of roast beef sandwiches. Another crewmember arrived with bottles of water and passed them out.

            “What exactly have you gotten my ship and crew into?” the Captain asked.

            Jack shrugged realizing the Captain reminded him of the fisherman from Jaws. He only shrugged because he really did not know how bad the situation was. It was possible the delivery would go without a hitch. He changed his mind when four new blips on the radar screen popped up directly in the path. Their projected course indicated they were heading straight for them.

            The squawk box rang out and the Captain ordered all hands to deck. Jack, Cecil, and TT left the bridge heading for their van when the Coast Guard started making demands over the radio frequencies.

            “Wyvern?” Jack asked Cecil leading the trio into the cargo hold.

            “Nah, they really aren’t good at cloak and dagger stuff. Whoever they all are the one thing that is in our favor is nobody, but our customer, knows what is in that package.”
            “I agree,” Jack said, “If any of them knew who contracted us, I mean really knew, then everybody would be after us. Actually, someone would have hit us by now.”

            Cecil mentally went through what he knew about the other organizations, analyzing their own motives and operating parameters. Slowly a profile formed and took shape. The temptation of reading the documents they copied taunted his logos. All he needed to figure it out were among those pages. Without it, he truly was guessing. He placed the thought deep into the corners of his mind not ready to be responsible for that decision.

            “Damn,” he exclaimed stopping short of their van. Jack and TT stopped and looked back.

            “Let’s pretend our customer works for Council, or even Arachnos. Since those organizations are related on one level or another, each may be suspicious of a spy. They tag their suspect and suddenly their activity is detected by Malta. We are definitely talking major black ops here. Possibly even Freedom Phalanx. And, I would not even rule out Crey either. I think Wyvern will eventually get involved.”

            “You think all of those?” TT asked. He liked a dirty fight as much as the next guy but all those organizations tailing them at once sounded bad.

            Cecil ran the remaining distance to their van, which had been completely prepped for combat now. Armor plating secured in the weak spots and vehicle weaponry loaded and locked. Several small arms prepped and cleaned laying throughout convenient racks ready for any emergency. Sliding the side door open, he startled Jimmy who instantly drew down on him with a .357 Magnum.

            “Whoa, man!” Jimmy exclaimed. “You scared the piss out of me.”

            “Quick,” Cecil ordered, “Bring up the spectrum analyzer and cross reference every frequency with our known database. I want to know who exactly is following us and how many. I wouldn’t even doubt our customer is having someone tailing us.”

            “A set-up?” Jimmy asked quickly powering up the test equipment.

            “No, the contents of the briefcase are legit, just ask Mickey.”

            “Oh, maybe yous’ be tellin’ meh sumtin’ now,” Mickey said standing in the opening of the van’s back doors. “We doomed anyways! I be sayin’-”

            “Yah, yah,” Cecil said stopping Mickey from going into one of his conspiracy rants, “Please, just grab a headset and give us a hand.” He wanted to tell Mickey the truth, but the way he was acting already proved he chose wisely. Cecil really wanted figure out who was after them before the drop off, if they even made it that far.

            Mickey grumbled and grabbed a headset. The fact they would not tell him only made him imagine the worse case scenarios. His imagination ran wild. The next several minutes found four of the six senior team members unraveling the radio spectrum.

            “Need a light,” Jack asked TT standing in front of the van. With a flick and metallic click, he held out a lit butane lighter he borrowed earlier from Mickey. His large muscled co-worker puffed the flame with his cigar.

            “Thanks. Think Cecil can figure this out?”

            “If anybody can, it’s him. I have seen his military record. Quite impressive actually, supposedly he even helped plan Hero 1’s assault against the Rikti.”

            “Yah, I have heard others talking about that,” TT responded, “If you believe that stuff.

            Another warning klaxon blared, echoing its warning throughout the cargo hold.

            “Shit, already!” Jack exclaimed glancing at his watch. “Damn they are in a hurry.”

            Jack jumped into the van and TT took his usual place behind the wheel, “Jimmy we are being boarded. Start hacking that mediport signal. Everyone prepare for translocation.”

            “Aye, aye, Captain,” Jimmy said replying in his Scotty accent.

            “Cecil, anything yet?” Jack asked.

            Cecil, too engrossed listening to the signals in his headphones did not respond.

            “Uh, Jack…”

            “Yah, Jimmy?”

            Jimmy scanned the dial again on the freq-grabber, “Uh… there is no mediport signal.”

            “Impossible!” Jack exclaimed realizing they may finally be caught.

            “No…” Cecil said grabbing his headset to listen to the pops and whistles of the static. “Someone is jamming the signal, I don’t think it’s Longbow either. They wouldn’t jam their own life cord.”

            “Damn,” Jack cursed as the realization of capture etched its way across each of the team members’ faces.

            “Narrow your band;” Cecil told Jimmy hurriedly, “The signal is there if you can boost it out of the dirt. Apply more filters.”

            All of them felt their forward moment with the ship suddenly slow.

            Crazy Jack stepped out of the van and looked up to the cargo hold hatches. Producing one of the two Uzi machine pistols from under his trench coat, he slapped in a fresh magazine. Pulling the weapons charging handle back to load the chamber, he flicked the safety catch to off. He knew what he was about to say would sound insane, but Jimmy needed more time.

            “Repel the invaders!”







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