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[center][SIZE=4][FONT=Lucida Sans Unicode][SIZE=1][IMG]http://i16.photobucket.com/albums/b16/Blayze54/HoodBanner2.jpg[/IMG][/SIZE]
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[FONT=Lucida Sans Unicode][I]November 19, 2020[/I][/FONT]
[FONT=Lucida Sans Unicode][I]Outside Nottingham Corporation Headquarters, London[/I][/FONT]
[FONT=Lucida Sans Unicode]
Crowds of people milled around in the dull half-light of the dreary morning. Rain misted down, only serving to anger the people further. Bright red banners emblazoned with the Nottingham Corporation logo hung from the grey concrete walls of the building, fluttering slightly in the breeze.

Nottingham soldiers, dressed in dark, padded armour, armed with automatic rifles and short swords hanging from their belts patrolled the edges of the crowd. Their gruff demeanour suggested that they were fully prepared to open fire if the crowd became a mob.

A squeal of feedback howled out of the PA speakers, and a man in a sharp grey suit walked out of the front of the building, flanked by black-suited security guards, and up to the podium set up in front of the doors.

[B]"Ladies and gentlemen,"[/B] his voice boomed out of the speakers, gravelly and coarse, [B]"As we all know, our war with various terrorist factions in the Middle East continues. While our brave soldiers fight on, the cost to all of us becomes greater and greater. Many of you have lost husbands and wives, fathers, sons and daughters, and that is a loss which cannot be recovered from easily.

"However, to keep our soldiers supplied with the weapons, equipment and support they need, we must, regrettably, raise our taxes."[/B]

A chorus of boos echoed throughout the crowd, feet stamping and voices raised in anger.

[B]"This is obviously not the ideal solution,"[/B] said the Nottingham representative, raising his voice to combat the swelling noise of the crowd, [B]"But it is necessary! There is no other solution which can combat the losses we are suffering in the Middle East!"[/B]

A rush of air whistled over the heads of the crowd, and an arrow, it's tip flickering with flame, slammed into the banner to the left of the representative. Within seconds, another flaming arrow struck the banner on the right, and moments later, both banners were blazing, the fabric blackening and curling as the crowd cheered and the Nottingham soldiers mobilised.


Atop the building opposite Nottingham Headquarters, a lone hooded man slung his custom-built bow onto his back, turned from the scene with a smile and ran, full pelt, towards the other edge of the roof. With a quick vaulting movement, he leapt over the edge and onto the window cleaner's motorised gondola which hung just over the edge.

Slamming his foot down onto the brake and releasing it, he grabbed onto the edge of the gondola tightly as it sped down towards ground level.

He ducked as a bullet pinged off the metal floor of the gondola, and looked up to see two Nottingham Corporation soldiers levelling their rifles at him and firing. Muzzle flashes burst through the drizzle, and bullets whizzed towards him. He smiled and gave a tiny wave, as the gondola stopped abruptly a few feet above the pavement, allowing him to leap out and drop the short distance to the ground.

Dashing across the road into the alley opposite the building, he signalled to the shadowy figures lurking in the darkness. They moved, and a pair of bright headlights flashed into life, followed by a large pickup truck screeching out of the alley and swerving in front of him.
"Jump on, Rob!"[/B] shouted the young, bespectacled man as the hooded man swung onto the back of the truck. The vehicle sped off, tyres squealing on the rough tarmac.


[I]Sherwood's Bar[/I]

Beer bottles and pint glasses clinked as the outlaws raised a toast, the TV blaring out reports of the "terrorist attack" on Nottingham Headquarters.

[B]"Bloody hell, that was some fancy shooting, Rob,"[/B][/FONT][FONT=Lucida Sans Unicode] said Allen, clearly genuinely impressed, as he twisted a battered cigarette into the corner of his mouth.

[B]"Absolutely,"[/B] added Scarlet with a smile, [B]"Looks like we made an impression on those bastards."

"Following this heinous and unprovoked attack on the Corporation, a nationwide manhunt has been issued for the terrorist cell which carried out the act. A reward has been issued by Joseph Sheriff himself for any information regarding the identities of the attackers,"[/B] the news reporter stated in a dull monotone, as shaky handheld camera footage of the burning Nottingham banners was displayed, along with a grainy, unclear photo of Robert's hooded face.

[B]"We need to be more careful,"[/B] said a calm, deep voice from the corner, as Tucker stepped out of the shadows, a glass of water in his hand, [B]"You nearly got caught, Robert."

"But I didn't,"[/B] replied Robert, getting to his feet, beer bottle in his hand, [B]"Tucker, I realise this was a risky move, but we needed to get their attention. By broadcasting this on national TV, we're getting a healthy dose of free publicity, and you know as well as I do there are people out there who support what we're doing. It was risky, yes, but necessary."[/B] He put his hand on Tucker's shoulder, and smiled at his old friend.

Tucker placed his hand on Robert's, returning his smile, and nodded.

[B]"Thank you,"[/B] said Robert in softer tones, then turned back to the TV.

[B]"We'll be back right after this,"[/B] said the newsreader, and the image faded out into the commercials.

The image which replaced it was that of a gorgeous young woman in a flowing, backless dress, walking towards the camera, the expression on her beautiful face sultry. The bar went quiet, and everyone's attention turned to this stunning woman on the television set.

She seemed to glide down a set of marble steps, her flowing brown hair and dress fluttering in an artificial breeze. The music behind the images built to a crescendo, and the name of an expensive brand of perfume appeared next to the young woman. Her name faded into view in the corner of the screen, the script curling and ornate:

Marian May.

[B]"She's beautiful, Rob,"[/B] said Scarlet, his tones hushed as he placed his hand on his leader's shoulder.

[B]"Yeah, she is,"[/B] replied Robert in a whisper, his eyes glistening with tears.

[B]"That truck is a bastard to park,"[/B] Jason boomed as he burst through the front door of the Bar, shattering the awed atmosphere. The gang turned to him, and Robert wiped his eyes with his sleeve.

[B]"So what's our next move?"[/B] Jason asked, beckoning to Frank Sherwood, the bartender, who poured him a pint and handed it to him.

[B]"We've got their attention,"[/B] said Robert, now all business, [B]"Now we need to start hitting them where it hurts. I'm talking fuel depots, weapon silos, deposit boxes - anything we steal from them goes straight back to the people. Allen, I need you to do a little recon - find any high-ranking Nottingham officials and find out where they operate. Scarlet, we need more weapons - I know you're good at stealing them, so go do your thing. Tucker, if you have any contacts anywhere near the higher echelons of Nottingham then squeeze them for any information they might have. Jason, get to any Nottingham-affiliated bar and start hunting for information - we need locations of facilities, numbers of guards, anything you can get."[/B]
"What about you, Robert?"[/B] asked Tucker as the others moved off to their various assignments.

[B]"I need to go see Marian,"[/B] he replied, pulling his jacket on and heading to the door.

[B]"Re-convene here at midnight. Tomorrow, we take the fight to Nottingham."[/B][/FONT]
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[COLOR="DarkOrchid"][FONT="Times New Roman"][i]Marian had wondered, perhaps for a little longer than she usually did, if Robert was going to visit her again after he'd shown up at her dressing room two weeks ago. He'd listened to her explanation of why she allowed the corporations to use her face and her body, and he'd promised to visit her again. Did she disgust him? Did he look down on her for the lifestyle that she'd found herself propelled into?

She sighed at her reflection and allowed Frederick to finish pinning back her carefully braided hair. With one hand she swept her used makeup towels into the trash bin and then applied the much lighter makeup she preferred to wear when she wasn't working.[/i]

"Earl Gray please Frederick. There's a gala tonight for the corporate bigwigs. I've been asked to make an appearance and promote another designer's new line."

"Oooh, flashy. Is that why there's a new garment bag in your closet that you haven't even showed little old me yet?"

"It's under contract. You'll it when you're sewing me into it."

"Oh pooh. Fine."

[i]Frederick stomped off with only slightly hurt feelings, but Marian knew that it was just his way and let him enjoy his huff. She went to her closet and pushed aside the enormous garment bag she knew contained a black and gray dress that was worth roughly more than the annual income of at least ten families. Slipping into a simple white dimity with flutter sleeves and adding a matched pair of cork wedges, she returned to her chair and sat, reading one of the magazines that didn't have her face on it. Frederick normally kept her supplied with the other kind too, but Marian wasn't quite so vain as to need innumerable images of herself to bolster her self esteem.

A knock at her door gave her a start, knocking her out of an extremely interesting article about the new role of the Euro and its impact on the British pound. Rising in a rustle of linen and cotton she opened the door, expecting Frederick with a substantial enough tea to last her until well after the party. Instead it was Robert again, looking more like himself in jeans and a pullover with a deep hood. She quickly stepped aside to let him in and shut the door behind her only a little faster than she would've if she'd been receiving a normal guest. As soon as the door was shut she turned and threw her arms around Robert's neck, enjoying the way he held her, inhaling the masculine scent of his conditioner and aftershave.[/i]

"You're back. I thought you weren't going to come."

"I told you I would. Didn't you believe me?"

[i]Marian flushed red, which Robert noticed immediately. He gave her a reassuring squeeze, then gently pushed forward a chair for her. Sitting across from her, he looked down at the magazine she was reading.[/i]

"Economic articles? What are you looking at those for? You know it's all as depressing as the weather. And about as accurate as the weatherman's predictions."

"Well sure. But I have to stay informed. Anything that the magazines say is what the corporate head honchos want to hear when I'm at their little fete this evening."

"About that. I heard you were going. Can you gather information for us?"

"I already do. But why do you want me to-"

[i]Frederick breezed back in with the sterling silver tea service and set the tray down on her miniature black coffee table. He was just getting ready to pour the tea when he finally noticed Robert sitting across from Marian with a slightly amused expression on his face. Frederick's hot pink slacks and open white blouse tended to get a reaction out of those of the slightly more masculine school of thought.[/i]

"Marian.. ...that IS the guy who was here awhile back with the rented tux and the borrowed Prada shoes right?"

"They were last season. And yes. And not another word out of you. Go answer the phones with Ellie or something."

[i]Her aid shot Robert another look that was half appraisal half bewilderment, and took his employer's order. Unflustered for a change, Marian poured Robert a steaming cup of the darkest Earl Gray he'd ever seen and dropped in half a teaspoon of sugar and a dash of cream. Stirring it clockwise, she tapped the spoon against the side of the cup and then held it out to him. He took it and let his fingers brush against hers as he did. She gave him a small smile and prepared her own tea in the same way.

Two sips later her nerves had calmed even further and she was feeling as relaxed as a dishrag. Robert had drained his cup, eaten about six of the shortcake biscuits Frederick had brought and had two slices of pound cake. Sometimes Marian wondered if Frederick was purposely trying to make her gain weight. While he finished two more slices of marmalade toast, and eyed the Welsh Rarebit Marian stood and walked over to her vanity. Opening the bottom drawer with a small key she pulled out a stack of files as large as a phonebook and brought them back to the coffee table. Thumping them down with a rattle that made the tea service jump on its tray, Marian smiled at Robert blithely.[/i]

"There. That's all the information I have so far on the major heads of Nottingham Corporation. The black files are confidential and the red ones are public knowledge if you have a press badge, a lot of money, or great knockers."

"Don't you have all three?"

"Hence the white folders. Instead of just dossiers, those are the future projections and projects. You wouldn't believe the fun I had at the copier machine."

[i]Robert opened the first one and blinked.[/i][/FONT][/COLOR]
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Jason knew of three bars frequented by Nottingham goons. The most obvious choice was Latrine's Canteen, only the darkest, meanest, most sinister of Nottingham's muscle visited this establishment.

Entering the bar, the tired old crow of a bar tender shot Jason a look that screamed [I]"[B]If you'll only give me the time of day I'll show you the best time of your life."[/B] [/I]Unfortunetly for her, Jason was faithful to his wife and he had a problem with...homley woman.

As he scanned the bar he saw his mark. A group of three Nottingham guards were seated at a table, laughing, joking and drinking, on a second look it seemed like they were the only three, besides Jason, present at the moment. [I]"[B]Like taking candy from a baby"[/B][/I] He smiled as he took a seat.

[B]"Who the blazes are you eh?"[/B] The largest of the three, who was just about Jason's size, asked poking a finger into Jason's chest. [B]"Just a solo gent looking for a card game and a friendly ear."[/B] Jason turned on the charm as best he could, unfortunetly he wasn't blessed with Rob's charisma.

[B]"Game's full, why don't you get to walking"[/B] a smaller, weasely looking one growled placing a handgun on the table pointing at Jason. [B]"Suit yourself, but I was going to offer to buy a round for all friendly faces at this table."[/B] He smiled to himself as the mood quickly shifted.

[B]"Ahh Latrine, this man wants to buy all our drinks for the rest of the night! 4 pints of Guiness, and keep umm coming."[/B] The large man of the group called, a cheery tone in his voice.


After a couple hours passed Jason started slipping in the questions. [B]"So I assume you work for Nottingham eh?"[/B] All questions were answered in just about the same way. [B]"Sorry, not allowed to divulge any information."[/B] The weasely man tapped his nose as he said this.

"[B]Wow, great gig. So I hear that there are quite a few banks owned by the Nottingham corp. It'd be easy to do a lot of dirty, sneaky things with tax payer money."[/B] Apparently the big man turned out to be the brains after all and kicked Jason's chair out from under him, sprawing him to the floor.

[B]"Grab him"[/B] His gruff voice boombed. The two others grabbed Jason under the arms and began dragging him towards the rear door, the alleyway, the same alleyway Jason was already parked in.

As they tossed him outside, the big man took his jacket off and squared off with Jason while the others drew their pistols and pointed.

"[B]Damned if I do, damned if I don't eh boss?"[/B] Without a word the big man swung. Sidestepping him easily Jason planted a knee in his stomach the wind escaping from his lungs in an instant. Then grabbing his throat as not to let any air in he pushed the man in front before either other could squeeze a shot off.

Flining the man into the smallest of the bunch, Jason used the surprise to hammer down on the arm of the other guard knocking the gun from his hand. As he turned he slammed his elbow into his chin, dropping him to the ground.

Then he was on the smallest one before he could recover from the big man being thrust at him. Grabbing the pistol he wrenched it out of the small mans hands, a single kick to the chest droped him to the ground.

[B]"Just wanted to have a couple pints with you fellows, get the information I wanted and get out. But of course it couldn't be that way."[/B] Taking a silencer out of his coat pocket he quickly screwed it onto the pistol.

Before he could finish the big man regained his composure and was rushing Jason. [B]"Common now, there's a reason you guys are at the bottom of the barrel." [/B]The man didn't slow a step. Jason drew back, slamming a fist into his face with such force the man hit the ground before his teeth did.

Pointing the silencer equiped pistol at the big man he grabbed him by the shirt. [B]"Okay, so is it true all banks that run along the river Thames are owned by Nottingham and used for laundering?"[/B] The big man wouldn't even look at him. With a silent crack the bullet ejected from the pistol cut cleanly through the mans knee cap, sending him screaming to the ground.

Walking to the smallest man Jason waved the pistol. [B]"You same question?"[/B] The one Jason originally thought the brains, turned out he had some. [B]"Yes, all those banks are owned and used by Nottingham."[/B]

[B]"Very good my friend, now question number two. How many guards are posted at each?"[/B] Again a quick reply. [B]"4 visible and 6 that are stationed in the vault. There's a secret passage in every vault...now please leave me alone." [/B]Jason stoppd pointing the gun at the man to show good faith, [B]"Last question, does Nottingham station his secret police force?" [/B]The man looked at him with disdain, [B]"So you are a terrorist, looking to wipe out the secret police eh? Too bad I won't tell you."[/B] Yet again the silencer did it's job as the bullet left the chamber in utter silence, burrying itself in the man's elbow.

With a sense of urgency he went to the previously silent man who was already crying, and Jason was relatively certain he'd wet himself. [B]"Okay, same question. Give me some locations on the secret police headquarters."[/B] The man looked at Jason, crying harder then when he approached him. [B]"I only know of one of them. It's on the corner of King James and 13th street. It's disguised as a bakery, but the freezer has a weapons cache in a secret compartment, and the guards are posted in the basement. I can't tell you for certain how many guards are posted."[/B]

Jason took his silencer off, ejected the magazine and the one round and started walking off. As he walked away the big man regained some composure, [B]"I won't forget your face. I will find you!"[/B]

Jason turned, drew out a dagger he'd been carrying and buried it in the mans hand with such force it pinned him to the sidewalk. [B]"You remember being jumped by a gang who stole your wallets right? I'd hate to see what the hire ups would do if their "super" soldiers were bested by a single man who came with no gun. I figure I'd see you on a missing persons flyer in a few months."[/B] Jason began walking away again when the man with a bladder control problem spoke up. [B]"But you didn't take out wall..." [/B]Jason held up three leather wallets as he climbed into his truck parked on the otherside of the alley.

[B]"I'm sure you guys have some nice bank rolls in here. Think of it as giving back to your community." [/B]Jason laughed as he opened his phone to call Scarlet he had to relay the info about the weapons cache before heading on to the next bar.
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[FONT="Garamond"][B]“I can’t believe this! I’m so bloody bored!”[/B] Scarlet slammed his head against the bar. Everyone else had left immediately to complete their task, but he was left to wait for Jason to give him a heads up on where to go looking for weapons. That had been two hours ago, and though Scarlet was working hard at developing his patience, he was only human, and he was eager to see some action. He grabbed his phone from his pocket and yelled at it.

[B]“Ring! Ring damn ya!”[/B] Much to his surprise, the phone did indeed begin ringing. He quickly flipped it open and answered.

[B]”Fuck me! You sure took your sweet time didn’t ya?”[/B] Jason’s response barked through the phone.

[B]“You ungrateful… I just put my ass on the line for you, you know, and I still got two more places to hit. You could pretend to show a little gratitude!”[/B] Scarlet grimaced and apologized quickly.

[B]“I’m sorry Jason. I appreciate ya big man, I really do. So you find an’thing out?”[/B] Jason apparently took Scarlet’s apology, as his response was a bit more pleasant.

[B]“You might want to be visiting the bakery on King James and 13th. You might find something you like there.”[/B] Scarlet grinned and hopped off his seat, running towards the door. He ran up to his motorcycle and hopped on, then addressed Jason again.

[B]“Much obliged, Jay. G’luck with the next two bars—don’t go tiring yourself out, you got me?”[/B] Though the motorcycle had sprung to life, Scarlet could still hear Jason’s boisterous laugh echo into the phone.

[B]“I’ll remember that kid. You don’t go doing anything stupid then, ey?”[/B] Scarlet grunted in response, then hung up. He revved the bike again and sped off down the road. They weren’t too far away from the ‘bakery’, and Scarlet could easily have run there, but he preferred to have a quick getaway… and to travel in style. He took another sharp turn, but didn’t reduce his speed any. If anyone saw him driving reckless out here, it wouldn’t really affect him. He had bought the most popular model, in the most popular colour, and had stripped the motorcycle of its plates. And in case they came looking for a motorcycle without plates, he had them stored at their base to put on whenever he needed them.

[B]“Aaah… ‘bout time.”[/B] He stopped abruptly in front of the building and looked it over. It was relatively unassuming, and if one wasn’t looking for it, they would probably pass it over without a second thought. A poor way to do business indeed, but a great way to keep hidden. He kicked down the kickstand and hopped off the bike, and walked casually into the shop. [I]One behind the counter…[/I] The pretty, thin woman behind the counter looked up and smiled at Scarlet. He smiled back and walked up to her. He was almost sorry for what had to happen next. The woman was first to speak.

[B]“What can I do ya fer, sir?”[/B] Scarlet put on an embarrassed face and scratched his head.

[B]“Well… t’ be honest… I seen you around here a couple times and I was won’dring if maybe I could take ya t’ dinner… Yer not taken, are ya?”[/B] She smiled and chuckled lightly, raising her hand up to show that there was no ring there. She looked behind her for a second than leaned towards Scarlet.

[B]“Lemme just tell the folks I’ll be stepping out, yeah?”[/B] Scarlet laughed and nodded. The woman ran off in back, and Scarlet quickly tailed her, leaning against the door to hear in on what she was saying. Her voice flittered over to him lowly.

[B]“Hey, I got plans, so you can man the front, ey? Don’t tell the others I’m leavin’ though. I don’t need them reportin’ me to Sheriff for taking some leisure time.”[/B] Scarlet nodded and quickly ran back over to the counter, casually leaning against it as the woman came out. She smiled and grabbed her purse.

[B]“Shall we?”[/B] Scarlet grinned and walked over to her, taking her arm. They walked to the front of the store and he grabbed her coat to put in on her. She lifted her arms up to put it on and spoke.

[B]“So, my name’s Rebecca. You have a name, stranger?”[/B] Scarlet frowned at this, and finished putting her jacket on. Before she could turn around he put her in the sleeper hold and responded solemnly.

[B]“I’ll make this up t’ ya another time, Becca.”[/B] She struggled for only a second before becoming limp in his arms. He quickly grabbed her keys and searched her body for any weapons. He found her firearm just as the door in the back opened and a large man peaked out.

[B]“Bec--.”[/B] Before he could finish the sentence, Scarlet planted a bullet between his eyes. Scarlet grimaced at the sight and shoved Rebecca’s gun into his pants, then ran over to the big man and repeated the searching procedure. He received the same from him—a set of keys and a handgun. He also took the man’s wallet. Just in case, he thought to himself. He then cocked his guns and walked through the door. There was nothing out of the ordinary in this room, so he breezed through it to the door on the other side. He pressed against it lightly, listening for voices. Hearing none, he opened the door cautiously. A dimly lit stairway lay in front of him. Scarlet smiled and muttered under his breath.

[B]“Guns a plenty down ‘ere, I reckon…”[/B] The stairway was relatively easy to travel down without making any sounds, though he crept along barely breathing nonetheless. The stairway led into another dimly lit area-- a hallway this time, with light peeking out from a curtain at the end of it. He trekked slowly down the hallway and listened in on the guards. Four of them, by the sounds of it… playing poker or something of the sort, Scarlet ascertained. Scarlet growled lowly.

[B]“This is like a lousy action flick…”[/B] He could imagine how the situation would play out already. One would get up to use the can, and Scarlet would take him out easily. One of the others would hear a sound and follow after and would get shot just as he yelled out his warning. The last two would raise up their guns, cautiously approach the doorway, and receive Scarlet’s blades between their eyes. Scarlet sighed lightly, waiting for the relatively boring plan to come to fruition when a cold metal object was shoved into his back and a cocky voice reached his ears.

[B]“Thought you could pull one over on us, huh? Drop your wea—”[/B] Scarlet spun around quickly, dropped his weapons, and grabbed the man’s gun. Startled, the man was helpless to keep Scarlet from jutting the back end of the weapon into his chin. The man staggered backwards, and Scarlet took that as an opportunity to pump the man full of lead. The sound apparently caught the attention of the other guards, as Scarlet could hear stirring from the other room. He drew one of his blades and pressed himself against a wall, standing a still as possible. A second later a guard came bursting out of the room gun aimed high. Scarlet quickly grabbed the man’s throat with his right hand, slammed him against the opposite wall, and drove his blade through the man’s wrist, forcing him to drop his gun. The man shouted out loudly, despite Scarlet’s firm grip on his larynx.

In response, Scarlet dislodged his sword from the man’s wrist and flipped it so that the blade was adjacent to his arm, and, in one swift motion, let go of the man’s throat and decapitated him. The soldier’s body hang suspended in time for only a moment, then came crashing down to the ground. Scarlet sucked his teeth at the site.

[B]“Pity, that.”[/B] Without looking away from the body Scarlet tossed his blade into his right hand. He caught the weapon just in time to impale the next rushing guard in his abdomen. He grabbed the guard’s machine gun as he fell to the ground and confidently stepped into the room, firing wildly. The last two guards fell easily to the onslaught of bullets. Scarlet shrugged and tossed the machine gun away. In retrospect, he realized, he probably should have left the guards alive for questioning… But alas, weapon collection was his job. Not acquisition of information. His eyes shot immediately to the ‘freezer’ in the back of the room and Scarlet sighed heavily.

[B]“Really? In a freezer? Do these people ‘ave no originality?”[/B] He sauntered over to the door, opened it up and stepped in. Much to Scarlet’s amusement, the inside of the freezer was covered with alcohol bottles. He kicked his way through the ocean of alcohol until his foot hit something unusual. Clearing away the bottles, he found a large brass ring, and grabbed it with both hands. He ground his teeth together as the secret door noisily opened. It was well worth it for what was underneath, however. Scarlet couldn’t help but whistle and the mounds of weapons located below. He grabbed his phone and punched in Robert’s number. It barely rang twice before Robert picked up. His naturally jovial voice burst out of the phone.

[B]“Everything in order Red?”[/B] Scarlet responded cheerily.

[B]“Pre’ty easy job you set me up with, Hood… Thanks to the big guy I found a pretty large stash o’ supplies.”[/B] Robert congratulated him on a job well done and spoke away from the phone a moment. Scarlet smiled. He knew Robert must have been happy to be with Marian. Robert’s voice came back onto the line promptly.

[B]“Alright Red. Bring your find back to base and find out if any of the others need your assistance. See you at Midnight.”[/B] Scarlet nodded and hung up his phone. He looked over the piles of weapons and frowned.

[B]“Bugger…”[/B] [/FONT]
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[SIZE="1"][B]"Go with the blessing of thy Gods young one."[/B] Tucker said as a young guard of one of the largest branches of the Nottingham Corporation allowed Tucker access. Tucker was the religious relief of major corporations like this, they sometimes called in normal priests. Ones that were so focused on their single ideals that they always seemed to cause more problems then they solves. Tuckers open mindedness and religious beliefs in all things allowed for people to speak to him more freely, they knew he wouldn't call them blasphemers for having original thoughts or questions.

This had placed Tucker in a position the others couldn't get to. He walked across the opened parking lot, his robe over him, hiding his nap sack and other belongings. When he came to the second ring of security, they escorted him through another direction, allowing him to circumvent the metal detectors and x-ray machines.When he finally entered the actual structure, he moved smoothly and normally. Clearing his head and letting himself think through all the adrenaline flowing through him. He managed to slow his heart and finally relax again, he arrived at the first room.

It was the private study of one of the executives of the branch, one of the many that was well connected with the corporation. If nothing was discovered from this one, then more would be available for convincing. When he entered the room the executive stood from his chair, his hair was shot with grey on both sides and still black on the top. He was some what fit, but showing the slight pudginess of his comfortable position. When the door closed he approached Tucker and took to one knee and bowed his head. He looked up to Tucker with the look of someone who had much to confess.
"High Priest Tucker. It has been a long time since we last 'talked'."[/B] Tucker bowed his head and gestured for him to stand. The executive rose to his feet and then escorted Tucker to a red leather armchair and waited for the Wise Father to seat himself. When Tucker was seated, the Executive sat down and began to wring his hands together.
"What is on your mind my son?"[/B] Tucker simply said as he gestured to the mans nervous habit. The man looked down to his hands and then rubbed them on his jacket to avoid from wring his fingers again.
"It is this terrorist business Father. Seeing the banners burning brought a chill to me. It was such rebellion that we haven't seen for a long time now Father."[/B] Tucker patted the man on his shoulder.
"It is alright James, such acts of violence can cause that in the truly devout."[/B] Tucker felt a small twist in his gut, but he pushed it aside. He returned his attention to the somewhat quivering man.
"Now, tell me what it is you think of this whole situation."

"I think it is a stain on this society that will be purged."[/B] Tuckers attention was sparked slightly.
"How do you and the rest of the board plan to deal with this matter James?"[/B] James let out a small chuckle as his hands began to quiver heavier now.
"We are looking into the identity of this man called 'Hood'. And from what i've heard from our police force, they have a few suspects that they plan on persuading to divulge the information required."

"That is indeed interesting information James. Are you sure you are allowed to divulge such information to a lowly person like myself?"[/B] James let out a loud laugh and patted Tucker on his shoulder.
"Of course, they are not worried about you knowing Father. We've researched your past, you have been deemed not a threat to either security or our corporation."[/B] Tucker bowed his head to him.
"That is reassuring to know James. But I must end our session now, there are many more that need my attention and there is only so much time in a day."

"Of course Father, I will let the guards know that you need the escort."

"Thank you James. May the gods care for your soul."[/B] James bowed at the waist and Tucker left the room with his escort. He visited dozens of others before he finally left the building. He had confirmed the story, some of them claimed they already knew the identity of Hood, and others claimed they were close. Regardless of whether it was boasting or not, it still proved they were quick and were restless when it came to quieting this organization. He immediately headed for the bar, knowing he would get their only about and hour before it was midnight if he continued to walk. He refined the information, pulling out the small bits of it and the the parts that mattered. Robert needed to know they were coming for him, and they were getting closer.[/SIZE]
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[FONT=Arial][SIZE=2][COLOR=Navy]The back door of Sherwood?s Bar rasped shut and Allen heard the lock slide on the other side of the door. He took the last long drag of his cigarette and let it out with a pleased sigh. He flicked the butt aside and scanned the alleyway behind the bar. Other than Allen, it was deserted. He readjusted his jacket and walked down the alley. He rounded the corner and there sat an old Indian Motorcycle.[/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT]
[/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT] [FONT=Arial][SIZE=2][COLOR=Navy]The hog had seen better days but it still served its purpose dutifully. The paint had begun to fade and anything that once shone with chrome was now tarnished and cloudy. It is said that one should not read a book by its cover, but in this case that rule does not apply. It ran like crap and took a lot to get started.[/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT]
[/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT] [FONT=Arial][SIZE=2][COLOR=Navy]Allen donned a pair of goggles that hung on the handlebars and mounted the bike. He got everything in motion and tried the kick starter. The bike sputtered and quit. Allen pumped the kick starter three more times before the engine caught. He adjusted his goggles and set out.[/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT]
[FONT=Arial][SIZE=2][COLOR=Navy]The only rational place to find the information he needed on the officers would be the personnel files at the recruiting office. Allen weaved in and out of traffic, enduring all kinds of honking horns and curses. After a few minutes and a few near death collisions, Allen pulled into an underground parking garage about four blocks from the office. He opened up one of his saddle bags and pulled out a small case and systematically removed each of his piercings. They would make him stick out too much and were a bit of a liability when it came to a fight. He replaced the case and started on his trek the rest of the way to his target.[/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT]
[FONT=Arial][SIZE=2][COLOR=Navy]The streets weren?t as busy as they used to be, most people didn?t think it smart to just go wandering the city. Allen had to go to great pains to stay unnoticed, but it had become second nature to him. He crossed the distance to the recruitment center without so much as a hiccup.[/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT]
[FONT=Arial][SIZE=2][COLOR=Navy]The building was tall, made of glass and concrete. Two guards stood at attention at the entrance as recruits and recruiters alike went in and out. Allen watched the entrance for around an hour before decided that that was the wrong way to get in. By doing a bit of backtracking Allen made his way to the back of the building. He sat in the back by the dumpster for a few minutes watching the service door. As to be expected a weathered looking uniformed man, presumed to be the janitor, came out bearing a garbage bag. Allen fumbled with a cigarette and came around the dumpster.[/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT]
[FONT=Arial][SIZE=2][COLOR=Navy][B]?Oi mate! Mind if I bum a light from ya?? [/B]Cried Allen popping the cigarette in his mouth.[/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT]
[FONT=Arial][SIZE=2][COLOR=Navy]The janitor blinked at Allen before sighing and fishing into his pocket. He pulled out a bronze lighter and lit it walking forward to light Allen?s cigarette. He didn?t notice as Allen put his hand behind his back. He lifted his jacket and felt numbly for his gun. He found the heavy handle and pulled. He inhaled deeply as the cigarette took spark and rolled the gun in his hand until he was holding the barrel.[/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT]
[FONT=Arial][SIZE=2][COLOR=Navy][B]?Much obliged.?[/B] Allen said as the man pocketed his lighter. [/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT]
[FONT=Arial][SIZE=2][COLOR=Navy]He waited until the janitor turned his back and brought the handle of the revolver down on his head. The janitor stumbled and gabbed at the back of his head. Allen grimaced as he brought the gun down on his head again. This time the man fell, out cold. He holstered his gun and pulled some plastic ties from his pocket.[/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT]
[B][FONT=Arial][SIZE=2][COLOR=Navy]?My apologies mate, If it wasn?t for that fancy outfit of yours I wouldn?t have done it.?[/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT][/B]
[FONT=Arial][SIZE=2][COLOR=Navy]Allen undressed and tied the man with the plastic ties before placing him in the dumpster as gently as possible, he then the dressed in the uniform and tried to tidy himself up as much as he could and went to enter the building.[/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT]
[FONT=Arial][SIZE=2][COLOR=Navy]The janitor?s keycard opened the outer door and Allen found the man?s cart on the other side, along with a number of other keycards to the rest of the building. Allen then went about searching the building for an empty office. He moved through a few populated rooms and even though he feared it, he was never discovered. In fact, he wasn?t even given a second glance. Walking like you belong in a place is better than being invisible.[/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT]
[FONT=Arial][SIZE=2][COLOR=Navy]He stumbled upon an unoccupied office and slid the corresponding card to get in. He checked the hallway once before pushing the cart in. Before the door even closed Allen had gone to work hacking the terminal, he hooked up his own hard drive and started plugging in numbers while the computer was still booting up. It took about ten minutes before Allen had made his way through the password protection and started on finding the files. [/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT]
[FONT=Arial][SIZE=2][COLOR=Navy]Two men passed by outside the room and one paused outside the door. Allen snapped up and froze eyes wide. He watched as the blurred silhouette of the man stood right outside the door. Allen pulled his revolver free and thumbed back the hammer. The man said something muffled to the other and bent down and picked something up off the ground before holding it up and heading after the other man.[/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT]
[FONT=Arial][SIZE=2][COLOR=Navy][B]?Easy Allen, can?t be losing it this far in the game.?[/B] Allen sighed to himself as he let his thumb off the hammer and holstered the gun.[/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT]
[FONT=Arial][SIZE=2][COLOR=Navy]Allen found the personnel files and uploaded them to his hard drive. He exited the office after making sure the hallway was clear and left the building, he had to hustle to make it back to the bar on time.[/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT]
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[FONT=Lucida Sans Unicode]Robert checked his watch as he flicked through the thick files that Marian had given him. 3.30 - it was just about time.

[B]"I've got to go," [/B]he said, downing the tiny cup of espresso and throwing his jacket back on, [B]"I'll be in contact as soon as I can."

"Not so fast," [/B]Marian said as he tried to leave, grabbing him by the arm and stopping him from going, [B]"You're coming with me to the gala tonight."

"Ummm..." [/B]Robert replied nervously, [B]"I don't have anything to wear. That tux was for one night only."

"I'll get Frederick to find you something stunning to compliment my new dress," [/B]she said with a smile, [B]"I need some arm candy."

"Arm candy? Is that what I am now?"

"Well, you've been gone for years, and now you're unemployed. What else are you going to be?"

"Fine," [/B]sighed Robert, [B]"I'll go. But I have a few things I need to take care of first."

"Be back here at 7. If you're late then bad things will happen to you," [/B]she said with a seductive wink, turning and walking away from Robert. A tiny shudder of pleasure ran down Robert's back as he gathered the papers up from the coffee table and stuffed them back into the file before leaving.


Thirty minutes later, Robert was crouched on top of a small, four-storey building opposite a bank with the Nottingham logo emblazoned across the front. He lowered his binoculars as the two security guards loaded a series of strongboxes into a silver Transit van.

He loaded an arrow into his bow, with a thin wire cable attached to the end. Taking careful aim, he let loose the arrow into the grey concrete above the bank's window. Tying off the loose end of the cable, he hooked a rolled-up cloth over the cable and launched himself off the roof.

Sliding down the cable, he dropped onto the top of the van, and rolled off sideways. He landed as gracefully as a cat, and grabbed the first security guard in a tight sleeper hold, lowering him gently to the floor. Jumping in the driver's side door, he crawled across the seats and slammed the passenger door open, timing it so it knocked the second guard to the floor.

He hopped out of the van and dragged both guards into the alley close by, taking their keys and jumping back into the driver's seat.

[B]"Sorry boys," [/B]he said, igniting the engine and slamming the van into reverse, [B]"Needs must."


[I]Sherwood's Bar

[/I]Robert screeched into place outside the front of the bar, making sure the back doors of the van were facing the front door of the bar. He leapt out, ran round to the back and pulled the pair of strongboxes out, dragging them into the bar.

[B]"Frank!" [/B]he shouted, stacking the boxes behind the bar, [B]"Look after these, and give them to Allen when he gets here. I reckon he can get through the code-lock and transfer the funds to our friends at the various London-based charities."

"No problem, Rob," [/B]replied Frank, the good-natured bartender, [B]"Anything else I can do for you?"

"Yeah, could you give them this note?" [/B]Rob said, scribbling something down onto a napkin, [B]"Just let them know I might not be back by midnight, but I'll be here as soon as I possibly can. I've got a gala to get to. If they need me desperately they can call me, but that's only for emergencies."

"'Course I can, Rob. Don't keep that lovely girl out too late, alright?" [/B]Frank said with a wink, and a broad smile crept across Robert's face.


Rob stepped outside the back of the bar, flipping his phone open and dialling a number, a few sheets of paper that Marian had given him in his other hand.

[B]"Hello?" [/B]came a crackly-sounding voice from the other end of the line.

[B]"Much?" [/B]asked Rob, [B]"It's Robert."

"Robert Locksley, as I live and breathe," [/B]Much replied, his voice perking up, [B]"I thought you were overseas, mate."

"I got back a month or so ago. I need a little bit of information."

[/B]Much Millson was probably the best person to go to for any kind of information in London. He had more contacts than anyone inside Nottingham, and he was an old friend of Robert.


"Can you tell me anything you know about something called "Operation Sha-Mat"? I've come across some intel and I'm not sure what it is."

"Sha-Mat?" Never heard of it, mate," [/B]replied Much, [B]"I can have a dig and see what comes of it if you like?"

"Nice one. It's probably nothing, but it would be good to know. I'll come and pay you a visit so we don't have to do this over the phone."

"Alrighty. See you later, Locksley!" [/B]Much said, hanging up. Robert flipped his phone shut and shoved it back into his pocket. Checking his watch, he headed back inside, ready to head over to Marian's.


The clock ticked ominously towards 7 as Robert knocked three times on Marian's door. The effeminate young man who had welcomed him in earlier opened the door.

[B]"Ah, so you must be the six foot one chap I picked out the dazzling tuxedo for. It's in the second bedroom," [/B]he said, pointing an elegantly-manicured finger to another door within the apartment.

[B]"Can I see Marian?" [/B]asked Robert, stepping in and shrugging his jacket off.

[B]"See Marian? You want to see Marian?" [/B]Frederick replied with a snorting little giggle, [B]"Darling, no-one's allowed to see Marian before she's completely ready. She'll be so unbelievably ravishing that you would, without a single doubt, crumple her dress."

"Fine," [/B]said Robert, taken aback, as he headed into the second bedroom, listening as Frederick minced off screeching Marian's name. He saw the beautifully-tailored tuxedo hanging up for him, and grimaced a little.

An evening with the people he was working so hard to take down.

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