Ming pulls the car up to the gates, but this time they are closed and remain so. The house can't quite be seen from here.
Huang's eyes narrow. The gates were open to them twice before, but the fact that Mr. Thomas has apparently shut them out is raising all kinds of suspicion.
Huang: This is unlike him. Do you think Mr. Thomas is away on business?
Huang doesn't relish having to climb over the wall without a warrant to talk to Mr. Thomas or otherwise break the law in order to conduct this investigation, but he'll do it if he has to. More and more, Huang suspects that somebody in the Thomas family is in on what's going on with Mingxia.
Ming: There's an easy way to find out!
She walks over to the intercom near the gate, and presses the button.
Cars pass. The gate stays shut, and there is no reply from the intercom.[/i]
[i]Huang gets out of the car. He uses his key to open the trunk, and in a Tarantino trunk-cam moment, he pulls two black bags out of the trunk. The first is a small bag with a strap that he winds around his waist. The second is an oblong black bag with a big sling. He slings this bag across his back and pulls the strap tight around him before closing the trunk.
Though it looks like he'll be using what's in the smaller bag, he hopes to hell what's in the larger bag will not see use.
Huang sighs, mentally steeling himself for the task at hand.[/i]
Huang: OK, guys. No one's answering the intercom, which would usually tell us if anyone's away on business or just doesn't want us here. Something is definitely up. We're going to need to get creative in order to find out what the hell's going on. We don't exactly have a search warrant for this place, so what we're about to do falls under what the HK criminal code calls "breaking and entering." So we need to be subtle about this.
I'm going to park this thing where people aren't going to see it easily, but where we can easily get to it if our sorcerer shows up or we otherwise need to get the hell out of Dodge in a hurry, and then we're going to scale the wall.
The Ming who likes quiet nights at home with a bucket of ice cream and a DVD considers Huang's plan for a moment with some misgiving. Then the Ming who gets a thrill out of running red lights with the police siren blaring rudely pushes her aside.
Ming: I'm in. Lead on, Inspector!
Nic tilts his head towards the closed gate and frowns in an overly dramatic manner.
Nic: Hey! I'll be darned, but I'd swear I hear somebody inside calling for much needed law enforcement assistance. It's not breaking and entering if we're rending assistance in the honest fulfillment of our duties.
Nic takes his cane from the car and spins it rapidly in his hand, flexing and loosening his wrist.
Nic: If we're going all-commando on this one, I'll go over the wall and sweep the front of the house if you two want to make a run around the back and side. If I get their attention at the front door, you may be able to see what's going on elsewhere in the house. Sound like a plan?
Ming: I'll break right, and Huang can go around on the left side.
Ming pulls out her satchel, and loads her shotgun with her "specialized" loads. She finishes with a loud "KA-CHINK!"
Ming: Let's stir up some trouble!
Huang opens the small bag and pulls out a grappling hook and a good amount of nylon rope.
Huang: Let's go. Try not to make the same mistake Benny made, eh?
And with that, he throws the hook over the wall, pulls on it until it's secure, and then starts climbing.
[i]Huang reaches the top of the wall, and straddles it to help the others up and over. Ming (Agility: 6+2=8) manages to heave herself to the top and drop to the ground safely but inelegantly. Nic (Martial Arts: 13-2=11), scowling at an ache from his shoulder, follows rather more quickly. With a last satisfied glance around, Huang swings his leg to face the house, and (Martial Arts: 10-10=0) topples face-first into a rose bush.
Ming is painfully aware that they are all in full sight of the security camera. The house is still partially hidden behind some trees, in particular the front door. They could follow the drive then split up nearer the house, but it would be possible to separate now and traipse through the flowerbeds. It would be a trade-off between visibility and noise.[/i]
Ming glances at Huang.
Ming: Those rose bushes are just asking for a trampling! I say we split up now and try to keep out of view of the house.
[i]Huang gets up, spitting out some dirt and grumbles to himself. He hears Ming's suggestion and mulls it over. Sounds good to him. Nic's plan was for her and Huang to head toward the back anyway.
He looks around and grumbles.[/i]
Huang: Mr. Thomas's gardener is going to be pissed.
Nic: Right-o, then. Let's trample some flowers, and hit the house.
Nic slips his sunglasses on and jogs towards the house, trying as much as possible to stay behind bushes and out of camera-view until he's closer to the front door. As he rushes through the garden, he hums the theme from Mission Impossible [i]to himself.
When he gets near the front door, he takes position a few yards from the building, looking around to see that Ming and Huang get around the other sides of the house. He then scans the front of the building to see if he can spot any activity, either at the door or in the windows.[/i]
[i]The front door is hanging open. James Thomas and the gardener are slumped, unmoving, over the threshold. James is lying across the doorway stopping the door from closing. The gardener is sprawled over the step, a trickle of blood visible running down the riser. There doesn't seem to be any activity further in the house or in the windows.
Huang makes his way past the house. On his side the house is quite close to the boundary wall. He forces his way through some shrubs, and into the dingy area. He passes a frosted bathroom window, and eventually finds himself at the back of the house. There's no-one to be seen, and the back door is closed. A window on the upper floor is open, the curtain flapping in the slight breeze, but that is all that can be seen.
On the other side of the house, Ming passes through some flowerbeds, screened from the house by a line of trees. She passes the spot where Benny fell from the wall, past a compost heap and the gardener's shed. To keep out of sight, she follows some overgrown paving slabs leading into the deep cover of a hydrangea. Once past the first screen of leaves, she notices that someone has partially cleared the path, close to the house. A few more steps in, and she spots a rusted metal trapdoor set in concrete. It's clear that it's been opened at some point recently.[/i]
[i]Nic sprints to the bodies of the gardener and James, looking into the house to see if anything is to be heard or seen. He quickly checks their vital signs and glances over the bodies for indications of their injuries.
He flips his cell phone open and hits the speed dial for Section 44 HQ.[/i]
Nic: Dispatch, this is Special Agent Bennet at the Thomas residence. I need medical services immediately at our location!
[i]Huang listens at the back door for a moment, then jiggles the handle a bit to see if the Thomases have taken the precaution of locking the place up.
(OOC: Perception, AV 5 and probably not going to get much from this point of entry)
He then backs up and looks up at the window and frowns. Open windows are never a good sign when you're dealing with the supernatural. This was most likely the perp's likely point of entry. Huang sighs. He wants to say something witty here, but nothing really seems appropriate.
He lifts his head skyward and offers a silent prayer to whatever power is out there, then throws up the grappling hook and prepares himself for another climb.[/i]
[i]The door seems securely locked to Huang. He manages to throw the grapple up to the window, and pulls himself up the side of the house. As he pulls himself over the windowsill, he flounders a little and drops into the bedroom with an undignified slump. As he struggles to right himself, a couple of porcelain figures fall off the windowsill and smash against his head. Muttering, he dusts himself off and looks around. (Martial Arts: 10-3=7)
He seems to have found the master bedroom. The bed is unmade and Aaron Thomas is slumped face down on top of it, fully clothed.
Outside, Nic gets through to despatch.[/i]
Despatcher: Nic, you're an inspector, not a special agent. Have you been up late watching Criminal Minds again? There's an ambulance and a car full of uniform on their way.
As he crouches in front of the bodies, Nic is relieved to see they are both breathing. The gardener's injury seems to be a cut to the head, possibly from falling onto the concrete step. He is unable to rouse them. His suspicions roused, Nic takes an envelope of white powder from his pocket, gets some on his finger, and rubs it against James Thomas' gums. The powder turns a vivid red, a sure sign that Mr. Thomas is under the influence of some form of Sorcery. (Sorcery (Divination): 14+1=15)
Ming tries to open the trapdoor.
[i]Huang checks Mr. Thomas's vital signs and checks for any signs of injury, though he knows full well that if this is a sorcerer that he and the others are dealing with, he could have gotten knocked out with a spell instead of something solid.
He whips out his cell phone and calls HQ.[/i]
Huang: Dispatch, this is Inspector Huang. We are at the Thomas residence. If Nic or Ming have called requesting medical attention, consider this an additional request.
[i]He frowns as he notices that Yunru is not accounted for. If somebody's taken her or she's involved in this...
He whips out a small flashlight and searches the room for anything out of the ordinary, then whips out a Beretta and holds it with both hands as he uses the flashlight as a gun light and heads out of the room to search elsewhere.[/i]