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Two cars zipped through the busy 12:00 PM streets of La Union, swerving left and right as harried tricycles, rickety Nissans and new minivans poured into the highway. A bright blue jeepney led the chase, closely being followed by a glossy black coupe.

Agent Rodmar swore from the driver's seat, lamenting why Command had chosen this time of day for an operation, which had already cost him a bruised knee and had prompted him to make a half-second decision stealing some poor man's jeep to escape. It mattered very little now, though. John Feal got the artifact and nobody in his team was left behind.

gunshots

Except the NBI was very clearly behind them, carrying submachine guns and opening fire at the unprotected entrance in the back. Rodmar yelped and yelled at Garcia to provide cover as they exited city proper and took a secondary road to a nearby village.

"HOW MUCH ARE WE GETTING PAID FOR THIS AGAIN?!" Garcia shouted, referring to the prized Item-to-be currently held inside a steel box on John Feal's lap.

"I THINK ABOUT A QUARTER HUNDRED GRAND EACH!" John Feal replied back, fighting against the noise of the loud wind rushing into the vehicle, the rumbling from the rocky road below, and the gun-firing business clearly happening before them.

Rodmar took a hard right as he avoided a death curve, pushing everyone inside like ragdolls.

"THAT IS ACTUALLY A DECENT PROFIT, ALL THINGS CONSIDERED." John Feal mused.

"WHAT D-" JF stopped, noticing the absence of gunshots and the general peaceful change in the surroundings, "what does the RTI do again?" The box containing the Item seemed to shake uncomfortable on his lap.

"WELL I- Well, it knocked out the maid and the security guards in the house we found it in." Garcia said.

"It's another 'trapped-soul' wooden figurine apparently. The report said it housed the soul of a vengeful unwed bride who was murdered on her wedding day. Field intel told me it renders unconscious every person in the vicinity who is no longer a virgin when held."

The three paused and shared a brief look at each other.

"Uuugh, are we still in the mission?" Sixto said groggily as he rose up from the jeep's floor. John Feal flatfaced almost tried to wrangle him from the passenger's seat. Rodmar brushed his arm aside.

"I'm afraid yes, pare. NBI's run out of bullets, but they're still trailing behind us. Heads up, we're re-entering the national highway." Rodmar said, as he merged with the traffic on the road.

Sixto scratched his head and picked up his machine pistol from the floor. "So, we're going to lose the heat and then go back to the safehouse, deliver the Item to the port, then collect our pay, right?" Rodmar nodded. "Yes. That is the idea."

Garcia called to Rodmar. "Overhead the NBI guys radio chatter. It looks like they're having the local PNP set up a roadblock a bit ahead of us." He resumed to firing at the black coupe, each shot bouncing off the bulletproof glass.

Just ahead of them, a plainclothes officer popped out of a bush and rolled flat a strip of spikes across the road. Rodmar ran right through it, having had little time to react, which caused the already unwieldy old jeepney to careen off the track and into the front yard of a house by the highway.

"Fuck!"

The jeep's doors opened and out came the four agents. Rodmar barked for covering fire as he led the team into an alleyway. "We have about two hundred and fifty meters to cover before we can reach our reinforcements. Move, move, move!" He said, as the coupe unloaded its passengers and the Bureau's agents followed them. The team raced into the slums.

John Feal was covering the Item in his knapsack as a fist went flying into his left cheek. He stumbled, as Garcia helped him up. The local police unit now joined the NBI agents in pursuit of the agents, running out of the woodwork of the grungy city underbelly armed with rattan sticks and pistols. Garcia shot one in the chest as he tried to lunge at Rodmar. "What's the reinforcement we're gonna get here?" He yelled.

"Field Proc, agent." Rodmar reminded Garcia. In the presence of enemy agents, especially the NBI, whose objective in this case is to obtain as much intel of the team as possible, disclosing anything in the heat of an operation will bite them in the ass. The principle could be applied to previous missions, where many a broken bone and sabotaged support could have been avoided if everyone had kept their mouth shut.

Rodmar kicked an officer in the gut, pinning him down and taking his firearm.

"Opening just ahead!" John Feal said. The team raced towards the exit in front of them, barging into the sidewalks. Police gunshots from behind went noticed by the passersby as they too exited the alleys. Rodmar tossed his last remaining stun grenade at them, knocking out the officers, but not the NBI, who left their blue-clothed brethren in the dust.

Rodmar grinned as they rounded a corner and came into view of their reinforcements. He waved at what appeared to be the streetlights as a crowd of diners outside a cafe looked at him.

The Shades agent in civilian attire immediately plunged a runed knife into a fellow streetgoer's neck, holding them up waltz-like, making a concerted effort to spill the stranger's blood into the sidewalk. A dark shroud of greyish-violet smoke immediately fumed forth from the liquid, uncloaking four motorcycles from thin air. The crowd dispersed into panic, unwittingly separating the team from the NBI agents as they rode on the ghostly motorbikes and sprinted out of their sight.

"Stay frosty, everyone." The Shades operative radioed Rodmar as the NBI caught up to grab her, only to grab at nothing but the calm ocean breeze.

Rodmar almost replied to her, before her intercom went silent. "Shades policy, man. No chatter." Garcia reminded him. "Now, we're back on track and we've got the NBI agents neutralized. How far is our basepoint?"

"OH SHIT!" Sixto said, as he dodged incoming gunfire from up ahead. "More PNP gathering in front of us."

As if on cue, two police cars appeared, ambushing the four men and squeezing them into the middle of the road. The car at the right rolled down its window as the officer driving it yelled cease-and-desists and threats at the team. No one replied to him. Instead, he was merely backed up by an incoming squad of police motorbikes that tried to outmaneuver the agents into a stop, preventing them from escaping.

"Lead, I wouldn't suppose there are more reinforcements just close to us?" Garcia said.

"No." Rodmar said, as two small gatling guns emerged from either side of his bike in a dark haze. "But our R&D's got us covered." The guns opened fire on the two nearest bikes, blasting their engines apart and sending their riders flying. The rest of the team opened fire as well. They put several holes into the police sedans before clicking empty. "Well, they couldn't squeeze much more into the pocket storage." Rodmar remarked.

Ahead of them, police cars converged to form a horizontal line as officers put up barricades to fence entry to the other side. Roadblocks.

An idea suddenly entered Rodmar's head. "Everyone, keep your speed steady and try to let as many cops get as near you as you can."

"I can't die yet!" Sixto yelled into the commlink.

"No, we're going to pull off an amazing stunt here." Rodmar said, turning his head around to look at John Feal.

"JF, I want you to take point." John Feal complied.

"Garc, get beside JF. Near enough so you can reach into his backpack. Open it." Garcia nodded, effortlessly dodging police, and blazed along John Feal. He opened the bag and held the box the Item was in.

"When we reach the roadblock, take the Item out of the box and-."

Rodmar dodged a fucking cattle prod from the remaining cattle prod.

"-listen to me. Firmly grasp it." Garcia nodded. "And you, Six." Rodmar said.

"You might want to hold on to my back when Garc activates the Item."

"Yes sir."

"Oh, and Six?" Rodmar unholstered his combat knife and sliced a long, shallow cut into Sixto's chest as he went beside him, sending blood flying. As the blood hit the team, their bikes started to flicker, emitting more of the dark haze.

Then, just a split-second before they phased through the roadblock, Rodmar shouted "Now!".

Garcia instantly took the Item out and held it tightly. The wooden head of the woman sprang into life, unleashing an earsplitting shriek that decked the entire police force, sending their cars and bikes flying into the sidewalks or crashing into the railing. Sixto also fell unconscious, but grabbed Rodmar just in the nick of time. Rodmar immediately loosened the safety strap to accompany Sixto.

"Woooooo! That was a nice plan, pare!" JF said.

"Hey, man, you know what I want to do with today's pay?" John Feal asked him.

"Finally getting some tail? Or are you going to learn how to run before you learn to walk and find a wife?" Rodmar said.

"What? No." JF said, annoyed. "I'm going to donate some of it to the city's Jeepney Drivers' association and then I'll treat you guys to dim sum sometime."

Rodmar smiled. "That's real nice of you, pare. Come on, let's get back to base."

He helped Garcia load the Item back into the box as the four rode off into the horizon.

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