After returning from their time in France, the most wounded of their companions are rushed into medical care. Major Lowe has come directly from Belgium to assist with the more serious cases. Major Pringle has come along with him, to look at the devices that were retrieved from the site. Unfortunately as these were already claimed by shadowy Archival agents, he instead hangs around the labs being a pest and contributing to the design of new devices.
While he’s there, Lowe offers Aaron a job as field tester of some new devices he has coming out shortly, which Aaron accepts willingly, in the expectation that they may be healing devices.
Pringle offers the entire RSE the use of his life-force transferrance machine, to create attuned devices of their own.
After the chaos eventually subsides, the team eases into a quiet period over christmas and the new year, which they spend training and pursuing their own personal hobbies. Unfortunately because they all died last year, they can’t see family, so they stay on base for the holidays.
Major Bell comes by in January to review the impact of the kinetic weapons test in Normandy from the teams perspective, and to give Freddie a christmas present – a new set of drones. These drones are based on a reduced-capability version of the distributed AI used in the Alpha Arena bots, although hopefully less prone to homicidal breakdowns. If Freddie can ensure he brings back at least one of the six drones in the swarm, they will learn from their prior experiences and get smarter over time. Freddie names them the hounds.
The lull in activity continues through January and most of February, but can’t go on forever. Freddie passes the time watching their public sources (the red top and yellow paged tabloids for the most part) for anything worth looking into.
- A Mrs Tibbetts of Nottinghamshire reports being rescued from a mugger by a man in a policemans hat and cloak, who then flew away. Mrs Tibbetts reports “I’d not have been out there if my Bill were still alive, but I’ve been alone these last 12 years now, and that nice young man gave those hooligans a right good thrashing and then he was off into the sky. So nice to see that not all the youth are as bad as those ones off the telly”. The metropolitan police have noted that Mrs Tibbetts will get the help she clearly needs from social services, and further that impersonating a member of the police force is an offence under the Police Act 1996 liable on summary conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or to a fine not exceeding 5,000 pounds, or both. The met further noted that any person not a constable wearing an article of police uniform in circumstances calculated to deceive is liable to a further fine not exceeding 1,000 pounds, and that possession of an article of police uniform is an offence liable for a further 200 pounds. In short, Superintendent Barry noted, “don’t toss about with police uniform”.
- A meteor strike in northern france has caused a flurry of debate amongst the amateur astronomy community, as arguments flare up over the origin of the object that crashed into Normandy destroying several acres of historic regional parkland. Astrologers, meanwhile, have said that the arrival of the object clearly means prosperous times ahead for Aries, and that Scorpios should be wary of large financial transactions in the near future.
- Hacker group Anonymous have claimed responsibility for a power outage in Kent that largely affected the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory and Royal Air Force operations, as well as the nearby town of Sevenoaks. The activist group’s statement claimed that DSTL and RAF were testing experimental advanced weaponry at the base. A spokesman for the RAF stated “After parliament gave AgustaWestland almost two billion pounds for the Wildcat helicopter programme, you’d be daft to think we were trying to hide them. Quite the opposite.”
Something to do
Wills goes to talk to Mrs Tibbets in Nottinghamshire, just to be sure that the flying squad is not now a real thing. Unfortunately he then has to talk to Mrs Tibbets, in all her racist old bat glory. It’s hard to say whether she’s just loopy, or there really was a flying gentleman impersonating a policeman.
Wills focuses on trying to get a better description of what the man was wearing, as policeman don’t generally go around in cloaks. He does succeed in narrowing down Mrs Tibbets impressions of the policeman’s hat and cloak (with the help of a quick google search) to a more modern bobbies helmet from the early 2000’s, and a cloak that hasn’t been worn since victorian times but is common in costumers.
An unusual robbery
Freddie and Hal come across a bank robbery in Elephant & Castle that seems a tad unusual – the robbery itself seems ordinary, it took place in a tiny off-brand bank in a crappier part of london – but the circumstances are somewhat strange. None of the witnesses interviewed by police can recall anything about the robbery, and none of the descriptions given for the robber line up. Even more unsual, all the security cameras and CCTV in the immediate area were disabled just prior to the robbery.
On investigating further, Hal finds that another robbery happened seven days earlier in another bank in Elephant & Castle, which fits the same profile of unusual memory loss. The team surmises some sort of memory wiping device, and some sort of EMP or accelerated hacking device for the cameras.
Another robbery, another robber?
While Wills is up in Nottinghamshire, Aaron and KD deploy to Elephant & Castle under the guise of couriers. When another robbery occurs two days later at Lambeth North Post Office, KD is able to get to the scene in time to see a young dark skinned man running from the scene. Aaron has been holding a central position and hurries to the location of the robbery. While on the way to the scene, KD rigorously checks for the presence of magical devices, and does not discern any in his immediate area. Aaron is using the long range detector, and he only sees the signature of KDs own device in the region.
KD chases the runner down an alley, and briefly loses him in the nest of ancient and decrepit yards and run down buildings.
After some quick hunting down of information on the surrounding buildings, Freddie identifies that two are owned by Saudi investment companies, one by a French real estate investment vehicle, one by an English real estate company, and the last has been held since before records began by a Whitlaw family.
Given the curious coincidence, the team confers briefly and decides to question their CO about his real estate holdings. Major Whitlaw denies all knowledge of the Whitlaws in question, saying simply that his family is from Cornwall since centuries back and the only property they own is the house he bought his mother after he started working for DMG.
Putting aside for now the suspicious ownership issue, KD is joined by Aaron and they look further into the alley. At this point they start to hear swearing from across one of the fences. Aaron being Aaron, he glances over the top of the fence from the other side of the alley, and see’s KD’s erstwhile running man clinging desperately to the brickwork on the side of the building while attempting to open what is clearly a locked window on the first floor.
After thoroughly scanning for any devices, and checking with Pembroke that the devices couldn’t in some way be disabled and not show up on the scan, Major Whitlaw orders the team to disperse and disappear into the general population before the local plod turn up, as this young scofflaw is clearly in their purview alone.
A more likely contender
Aaron points out that the previous two robberies that were definitely their target happened seven days apart. The team confers and decides this is likely a pattern worth pursuing, and they gear up to prepare for another robbery seven days after the last – ignoring the incident at the post office.
They deploy to a carpark near Elephant & Castle subway station, as a reasonably central starting location. In the van are Wils, Penfold, Freddie, and Aaron, with KD scouting and generally roaming around the area on a couriers motorcycle. Upton is providing logistical support and overwatch from Fort Halstead. Freddie has all but one of the hounds ready to go, launching from the sunroof of the non-descript blue Mercedes Sprinter they’re staging in.
Sure enough, later that morning a set of CCTV cameras surrounding the Link Financial in Camelford house near the river go dark. The team move to deploy there, with KD leading the way on his motorcycle.
However, there is a problem. Camelford House is a mall right next door to MI6 headquarters at SIS house!
After hurried co-ordination between Fort Halstead and Vauxhall Cross, the team is allowed to deploy in a low key manner within the mall. The bank in question has only two entrances and occupies a corner section in the mall. Aaron arrives and enters the bank, queuing up behind three others to assess the situation. It doesn’t yet appear that anything has occurred amiss in this bank.
MI6 goes onto lockdown, and otherwise leave the team to it. Aaron waits, as first one then another in the queue approach the counter and are served. The computers appear to be down, and the tellers are laboriously working through the complex paperwork required to perform even the simplest transactions. Several waiting people appear frustrated, stressed, and potentially robby.
Flash and dash
As Aaron approaches the front of the queue and wonders if there is going to be a robbery at all, KD approaches the exterior of the bank and plants a drone in a pot plant to get some eyes on the ground nearby. He doesn’t enter the bank, for fear of giving away their presence to the potential robbers.
After a few minutes, the rest of RSE realises they haven’t heard from Aaron. They call in, and get no response, so KD charges in and the rest of the team decamps from the van to prepare to storm the bank. Freddie releases the hounds to get surveillance on the entire perimeter and watch the exits, since the CCTV in the area is all down.
KD finds Aaron standing in the queue, surprised to see him, and even more surprised to see that the man who had just reached the first teller is gone. All Aaron can remember is a bright light, then KD arriving to check on him. The team figures at least three minutes have passed, but the robber is probably still in reach of the mall.
Fast work with the hounds to capture the faces of all pedestrians exiting the area and some work from Upton to cross check them in a hurry against the previously recorded faces outside the earlier robberies finds a match from the first robbery, three weeks ago now.
KD chases after the man, who cuts across a local park. The robber gets to the other side of the park just in time to get into a black bmw and get away before KD can catch him. The team pursues their quarry, now in a vehicle, across the bridge to the Pimlico subway station. Aaron cycles directly.from the mall, and makes it their just as KD gets their on his motorcycle courtesy of london traffic. Unfortunately, neither KD nor Aaron make it there in time to stop the robber getting away on the Victoria line, as the train pulls away just as they make it to the bottom of the subway station steps.
Freddie and Upton are monitoring CCTV in the area, and they see another blip as several CCTV cameras on the subway carriages flake out at once, and the train itself is briefly stopped in the tube.
Assuming their target has pulled the emergency stop and debarked between stations, KD sets up a cordon at Pimlico, while Aaron races ahead and sets up a cordon at Victoria, the next stop up the line.
Wils and Freddie head into the line office to try and get control of the subway line in the area that they believe the man to be still within.
However, the line office is extremely cautious about letting unknown persons into their secure areas, let alone access to internal surveillance and controls or secure areas of the lines, as security has been ramped up in the wake of the deadly July 7 attacks in 2005.
After eventually convincing the line superintendent of their bona fides, they are allowed to access the controls and shut down the section of line to prevent any further trains coming in, which means they can venture onto the track (provided they are accompanied by authorised transit authority personnel) to continue their pursuit.
It isn’t until this stage that the line super mentions that they have internal CCTV over all the pedestrian exits from the line, as well as alarm systems in place.
On quickly reviewing the footage and system status, Freddie figures out that no-one ever got off the stopped train – their target has escaped up the line with the train, and is now somewhere north. After all the holdups, that particular train has since reached the end and is returning, so their foe has almost certainly got clean away.
The team call a halt to the active component of the mission, to review footage and try and figure out their next steps. If nothing else, there’s always next week.