Agent Nico tries to grab the thing off the back of granny’s neck, but fails. Granny opens the lid on the box she’s carrying, and inside is a tick-like thing identical to the one on the back of her neck. The businessman opens his briefcase, turns to the party, runs over to them. Streetwalker does the same, opening her purse to let out a giant tick. Agent Peyote shoots at the streetwalker, but misses. Agent Holly shoots at a tick but misses. Agent Nico and Agent Peyote are dominated. The ticks attach themselves to Agent Nico and Agent Peyote. Agent Amy takes out his sword and kills one of the ticks. Agent Holly shoots Agent Peyote with her taser, knocking her unconscious and killing her tick. Agent Holly takes a picture of the tick with her phone and sends it to Agent Steele, who orders her to withdraw the team. Agent Amy grapples Agent Nico, then grabs his tick and kills it. Agent Peyote comes to and shoots the streetwalker, only causing a minor injury.
More ticks come out of the containers. Agent Holly orders a retreat, and everyone heads back toward the van. Ranger Browne shoots at someone but misses. Agent Peyote activates a white phosphorus grenade and drops it as she runs. Back at the van, Agent Amy notices (!) some kind of bag under the van and points it out. Agent Nico looks it over; it seems to be a burlap sack tied to the undercarriage of the van with zip ties, moving as if something alive is within. Agent Holly cuts it away, and everyone gets into the van. As the team drives down the road, they see some D7 jeeps come barrelling up the opposite lane.
back at D7
Agent Holly drives back to the San Francisco Claw headquarters at the Presidio. Everyone in Poison Wing is required to enter through the Decontamination Unit. After a couple hours of being stripped, searched, hosed down, scrubbed, immunized, and otherwise probed, they are given hospital scrubs and released to talk to their boss.
“You did very well on your first assignment. Those things that attacked you are called puppeteers. We have encountered them before, and would not have sent you to deal with them as your first mission. At least, not without special equipment. You did the right thing in alerting me promptly and in withdrawing when ordered to.”
Agent Steele tells the team, “All of your clothes have been incinerated, along with the sack of puppeteers you found. They are a threat that emerges occasionally from Shadow, and can become devastating in large numbers. The Tail team has sanitized the area, and we have alerted fire departments. You may hear this reported in the news as a deadly explosion at an elderly woman’s meth lab hidden at the campground. When the park rangers began to investigate, they were attacked by the operator of the lab, together with a distributor and his companion. In the ensuing gunfight, a bullet hit a piece of laboratory equipment, causing a large explosion that killed everyone present. You will, of course, not disclose the true nature of these events to anyone outside of Department-7.”
Agent Steele becomes even more somber than usual. “Speaking of the media…we have not found Kimberley Scott yet. If she was first ridden the day of her disappearance, her personality is gone by now. This is most unfortunate; she was quite useful, and her loss will require us to establish other contacts.”
“Your clothes will be replaced, and your equipment cleaned and inspected. Since you performed acceptably in your assignment, we are issuing you these.” He hands each member of Poison Wing a small box with an embossed D7 logo. Inside each box is an attractive wristwatch also bearing the image of a gold dragon. “These are synchronicity watches. They will enable you to move up to a minute each day without hindrance due to traffic or crowds. Use them only for Department purposes, and only when necessary. Now get some rest, and we’ll talk about your next assignment tomorrow morning.”
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