3187/Dude. Where's My Car

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Dude. Where's My Car
Date of Scene: 01 September 2020
Location: Salem Center
Synopsis: Betsy's car is stolen in Salem Center. She, Kurt and Kitty uncover a chop shop, and evidence they built a heavily armed military vehicle for someone.
Cast of Characters: Kitty Pryde, Kurt Wagner, Betsy Braddock

Kitty Pryde has posed:
The trip down to Salem Center was to drop off at a repair shop some things that couldn't be fixed easily at the school. Also a small amount of shopping, looking for some good decorations for the monthly birthday party, and a few other small things. The trio had driven down from the school to the nearby town in Betsy's fine automobile.

Kitty steps out of the last store on the list, carrying a plastic bag that has a few purchased items in it. "That wasn't so bad. All done with the errands, and still plenty of time to get back to the school for dinner," she comments. "What was on the menu for tonight, did anyone check?" she asks.

The car was parked just down the street, in front of a section with a hardware store and a Chinese restaurant. Only the space is empty at the moment. Kitty hasn't noticed yet. The parking meter still has plenty of time on it.

Kurt Wagner has posed:
One might think that Kurt in particular would be a little more at home in big cities. Bustling metropolises of the sort where he could disappear into the masses. But that isn't really him, and while Salem Center might be a tiny spect compared to the nearby New York, it still somehow manages to feel like home. After a fashion. While the town might be small, they're pretty used to visitors from the school down the road. Even ones that look like Nightcrawler.

Like Kitty, the fuzzy blue mutant is laden down with an assortment of bags as well, carrying his fair share. "Not me," he notes cheerfully. "I like the surprise," he adds, a hint of mischief in his tone. "And besides, I figure any meal that I do not have to make for myself is a pretty good one," he points out. It's a pretty fair point really. As he glances about the street, his brow furrows ever so slightly. "Mmmmmm, did you not park right over there? It seems to be gone," he points out mildly. A keen grasp of the obvious, right here.

Betsy Braddock has posed:
Shopping is not something that Betsy Braddock generally ever turns her nose up at. She doesn't even mind carrying her own bags -- and she picked up a few good deals on the side as they browsed for the things their errands required. "I think it's pasta," she replies to Kitty, heedless of Kurt's spoiler-free desire for dinner. (Oops.) "I just know it's not fish."

Not Friday.

As they approach where the car *should* be, however, her steps slow. She looks around. Did she not leave the pretty little silver sports car here? Is she misremembering?

No. There's the buckled piece of sidewalk that nearly caused her to twist her ankle. She turns around in a slow circle, arms falling to her side, bags bumping against her legs. "Yes," she says to Kurt. "I did. I'm sure I did..."

She places half her bags down and reaches into her purse to fish out her keys, thumbing the panic button. She hopes to hear the horn go off, perhaps just in another spot than what she remembers. But, no. Nothing.

She tries again.

Still nothing.

"Sonuva..." The expletive is aborted and growled in a tone that would make Logan proud.

"It was right *here*!"

To say that she is now irate does not begin to cover it. Violet eyes flash and her right fist, wrapped around her key fob, is limned in violet psi energy that hasn't *quite* formed a psi blade. But it's not a far stretch to imagine that if she discovers the car has indeed been stolen and isn't just 'misplaced' that the thief may be in more danger from her than anyone else if she catches him first.

Kitty Pryde has posed:
"Oh crap," Kitty says as they draw attention to the empty parking space. "I remember looking in the Chinese place," Kitty comments to help confirm it's the right spot. She walks over and checks the parking meter. "Still 30 minutes on it, so no reason it would have been towed," she says with a frown.

The brunette turns and looks around the area. "Well, there's a surveillance camera above the hardware store," she says, pulling out her phone. "Let me see if it's connecting wirelessly, if so I can may pull footage," says the girl with the love of all things computer.

She glances around. "Maybe someone saw something as well? The staff in the restaurant or the store?" she suggests. "Heck, Kurt maybe you can spot it from up high even?" Kitty suggests, tossing out a few avenues of investigation.

Kurt Wagner has posed:
Look, they've dealt with some funky things before. It is not entirely out of the realm of possibility that their memories could have been modified. Or that reality might have shifted while they were picking up birthday decorations. Or that space aliens have abducted Betsy's car to take back to their home planet and worship it like onto a god. Actually that would make a lot of sense. It is a really nice car.

All of that is possible. But it does seem like a more mundance explanation might be more plausible. "You are reading my mind. I thought that was supposed to be Betsy," the effervescent elf says with a smile for Kitty before turning his gaze towards the nearby rooftops. "Mmmm, though the high ground is not all that impressive here," he points out sardonically, the main drag largely made up of one and two-storey buildings for the most part.

Still Kurt offers a jaunty little wave and instant later there is only a rapidly dissipating cloud of inky black smoke, a hint of brimstone and a popping *bamf* sound as the fuzzy blue elf disappears from view, reappearing on the nearby rooftops, jumping to a new vantage point every few seconds.

Betsy Braddock has posed:
Glancing to Kitty, as the other woman tries to be the voice of reason, the psi reins in her temper, though she's clearly unhappy. It's an expensive car!

Betsy tosses her head, hair flouncing as she turns on her heels and all but marches toward the hardware store. Nevertheless, as she pulls the door to the store, a veritable transformation comes over her. Who says she can't play nice?

She was raised to be a Lady, after all. Thus, she approaches the cashier, she gives as polite and winning smile as she can muster under the circumstances. "Excuse me," she says lightly, British accent softening a little. "Is your manager available? I'm afraid I may need some help."

And, yes. There's a gentle telepathic *push* underlaying her words. Because, really? What shop owner is going to just show their security footage to someone walking in off the street?

Kitty Pryde has posed:
Kitty Pryde flashes a grin back to Kurt. "Maybe she's rubbing off on me? They don't do that, do they?" she asks of the mutant powers. Though she knows better of course.

The girl is busy typing away on her phone, though as Betsy goes into the hardware store, she says, "I'll check with the restaurant. And forego ordering some crab rangoon since time is of the essence and all." She disappears into the restaurant.

Meanwhile, the hardware store clerk sees the supermodel come into the store and he stares for a few moments. "Sure. Ma'am," he says. "I'll... ah, I'll go get him." He motions towards the back, but is standing there looking at Betsy for several seconds before he actually moves. Soon thought he manager is coming out. "Hello, how can I help you?" he asks.

Meanwhile, Kurt has a bird's eye view. A low flying bird, but still a bird. While the car isn't visible anywhere, he does have a good view of each of the roads that exit the small sleepy town. If the theft was recent, then they haven't made it out of town yet.

Kurt Wagner has posed:
Certainly Salem Center doesn't exactly radiate the feel of a little town with a big criminal element. One would think if someone was going to steal a very expensive car that they would have to high-tail it out of the area. Kurt would be genuinely surprised if there was a chop shop in the immediate vicinity. Fortunately the town's not large either so that circuitous route of *bamfing* and scanning that the indigo-furred mutant takes along the rooftops of the main drag head towards the high point in town -- the clocktower of the quaint, picturesque town hall one would expect in a town like this. Gripping the flag pole, Kurt lets his gaze swing from one end of town to the other, looking for some glimpse of that silver sports car...

...with no luck. Maybe this is the type of town that has a chopshot afterall. He figured maybe some kids boosted it, but then they would surely be tearing about town with their prize. Not laying low. Betsy's car is not one that you lay low with. << Nothing up here. I hope you both are having more luck. >>

Betsy Braddock has posed:
Betsy gives the shop clerk a heartbreaking, picture perfect smile before she turns the same on the manager himself. "I certainly hope so," she says, drawing him away with a subtle telepathic suggestion and a light gesture. She brings him to the shop window and gestures the empty parking spot.

"My car's gone missing," she tells him. "And I am very, very sure that's where I left it." A beat. She adds, "My friends that came with me are sure, too. Would it be too much trouble to ask to take a peek at your security footage to see if, just maybe, there's something there that might tell me who took it?"

Again with that subtle psychic push. Betsy's scruples have shifted some, since her experience in Kwanon's body.

And, hey! Expensive car!

Kitty Pryde has posed:
The manager appears more than happy to help Betsy. "Oh, I'm so sorry to hear your car is missing. You know, that's the third car I've heard of doing that in the last week," he says with a shake of his head. He invites Betsy back to the office. "Let me just pull up the footage," he says.

Kurt's reconnaissance of the area isn't finding the car out in the open anywhere. There is a garage down at one end of a block, but he can see into the vehicle bays enough to tell that the car isn't in there. Another block over there is a building which used to house a florist and has a large rolling door to let their van in and out, though it's gone out of business some time ago and the windows are taped over with newspapers. Though there are a few cars in the parking lot.

Meanwhile, the manager is able to replay the video. Sure enough, a pair of young men in their twenties approach the car. They work quickly, disabling the alarm seemingly with some device they set on the hood and manipulate. It's not clear from this angle how they got into the car, but they did, and it pulled away, heading in the direction that would be away from the garage, or towards the florist and others points beyond.

Kitty comes out of the Chinese restaurant. "Someone saw the car drive off, but no more detail than that," she says.

Kurt Wagner has posed:
There just aren't a lot of likely spots where someone could stash a stolen car nearby. Short of just driving it into the garage at a personal residence. But one would think that the neighbors would eventually get susipicious of a constant stream of new cars showing up. This is the sort of place that sort of thing would get noticed.

Letting his gaze sweep over the roads leading out of town, back towards the city or to more isolated, rural areas where the more spread out nature would make stashing a car like Betsy's easier, Kurt gives a little shake of his head. << It's not on the road anywhere nearby. There looks to be an abandonned building a couple of blocks from you. It's the only place nearby where I can see anyone could have stashed the car. It's probably nothing but I'm headed there. >> Kurt offers up just an instand before abandonning his perch on the top of the clocktower, vanishing from sight one second...

...and emerging a moment later, walking between a pair of cars parked out front of the abandonned building with the newspapered-over windows.

Betsy Braddock has posed:
Betsy's mind drifts out to her companions, the mind link as easy as during any mission. <<Mine's not the first to be stolen,>> she tells them. <<Two guys, twenties. Using some sort of tech device. Heading away from the garage, towards the florist...>> She sends her friends mental images of what she's seeing on the camera.

She glances to the manager and offers another smile. "You wouldn't happen to have a map, would you? Something that might let me get some idea of where they might go?" Or, hey, maybe he has an idea, himself. She's open to options.

Locals tend to know all the best hiding spots.

<<Where's the building?>> Because she's totally going to go ninja all over whoever's inside it...

Kitty Pryde has posed:
While the manager is looking for a map, Kitty sends to the others, <<I've got maps covered. Sending to your phone now.>> She taps away on her phone and soon both of their phones will chime, not with a text but with the kind of extra communications that Doug and Kitty build into the X-men's phones for sharing information like this.

The map? It can be viewed flat or can be expanded into a 3d model of the town. Kitty walks past the hardware store, waving to Betsy through the window. <<Let's go check out Kurt's spot? Down this way.>> If Betsy is willing, then Kitty begins to jog and hoof it on over there.

Meanwhile, There's four cars outside of the abandoned flower shop. The path up to the large rolling door has some mud there from a rain the day before, and there are multiple tire marks that can't be more than a day old then. And with Kurt's hearing, he can hear some kind of machinery going inside the building.

Is that a saw?

Kurt Wagner has posed:
Well that is certainly interesting isn't it? It's been a few years -- before his time in England -- but he does indeed remember that this building used to be a florist. He was even inside a time or two so Betsy's report from the hardware store manager certainly sounds promising. << I do believe that I'm outside the florist's now. There's a few cars parked outside and I see some muddy tracks that suggest that someone might have been going in recently. >> the indigo-furred mutant reports back, nimbly moving towards the door, pausing just outside.

The newspaper barrier on all the windows keep him from seeing inside, and while he can't be sure whether or not that it a saw or not, there is no mistakning the fact that it doesn't belong in an abandonned shop. You know, unless someone inside is just getting things refurbished to open or a new business. But really, what's more likely? New business, or the fact that sone inside is stealing cars? Option B sounds way more exciting so that's what Kurt will go with. << There's definitely activity inside. >>

Betsy Braddock has posed:
Betsy pulls out her phone, swiping through to the map. She pulls it up briefly to get a feel for the 3D environment. Then, before the manager comes back, she swipes the map closed, it's layout fixed in her mind.

As she emerges from the office, she waves to the manager. "I found one on my phone." She then brings her bags to the counter. "Would you mind terribly holding these for me for just a few minutes? I need to go tell my friends what I found."

Again. Yes. Telepathic push to manager and clerk alike. When they so willingly comply, she flashes that model-perfect smile once more and darts out the door, hands empty of everything but the ability to strangle anyone who may have hurt her car.

In short order she's caught up to Kitty. <<Let's do this thing.>>

Oh, yes. Someone is definitely on a mission.

Kitty Pryde has posed:
Kitty joins up with Betsy for the jog over to the florist. Before long they've joined Kurt there. In the meantime, that sound Kurt heard starts and stops at times, rather than going continuously. And there are a few other noises, though not as loud so they are more difficult to make out. A few metallic bangs here and there, though.

Kitty looks at the building and the newspaper put up to stop them from seeing inside. <<Well, how about if we all just poke our heads gently through the wall over here by the door and see what's happening?>> she suggests through Betsy's psi-link. When she gets confirmation from the others they are ready, Kitty rests a hand on each of their shoulders and then leans her head through the wall, just enough to see without it being as likely to be spotted.

Inside is Salem Center's own hidden chop shop! The large storage area behind the florist storefront has been converted into a makeshift garage, outfitted mainly for taking the cars apart. There's a block and tackle for the engines and other heavier parts. A brand new looking sedan is currently being taken apart. Betsy's car is one of two others in the room, apparently waiting for the current car to be finished off. There are some spare parts here and there. There's also a set of crates of various sizes along a far wall.

All told it looks like there's about 8 men inside.

Kurt Wagner has posed:
While not particularly daunted by whatever they might find inside it would be rude to go and steal all the fun for himself. And Kurt certainly wouldn't be so discourteous as to do something like that. So he waits very patiently until the pair get to the abandonned shop, motioning towards the front door before he trots over to meet them, falling in line with the pair. "I'm almost sure I hear a saw going, off and on in there. Definitely some other movement. Probably more then one person," he offers up.

With Kitty's suggestion, the fuzzy blue elf gives a grin and a nod of his head, walking aside her and Betsy to the indicated section of wall. With her help, he to peeks through into the interior of the shop. Well, well, well. Would you look at that? It would seem that Salem Center *is* the sort of town to have a chop shop afterall. Sometimes you just never know. << I count eight. This will be fun. >> Kurt says, drawing back, out of the wall before letting go of Kitty. An instant later that quiet *Bamf* sounds from outside and the ever agile Nightcrawler is perched in the rafter up above the working car thieves, looking down on their stolen prizes as his tail flicks back and forth behind him in anticipation.

Betsy Braddock has posed:
Peering through the wall with Kitty's spooky power, Betsy's eyes narrow. <<That's my car!>>

She counts and then sends her mind out to verify there's no one else hiding nearby.

Eight men. Three X-Men. Unless those 8 are mutants... it's not a fair fight.

And Betsy is perfectly good with that.

She pulls her key fob silently out of her pocket. <<Can you phase cars?>> she asks Kitty. <<Because, if you can, you get to drive it out of here while Kurt and I take care of those bastards.>>

Of course, Kurt might have to remind Betsy that, at the end of the day, these guys probably aren't really dangerous to X-Men like them. But... well, hell. They can cross that bridge when they inevitably get to it.

She steps through the wall, now, eyes flashing as she takes in the scenes. "You boys do realize that grand theft auto is a *video game*, right? Not a good career choice?"

She knows she could just freeze them with her mind. And she's highly tempted to do so... if only because it would prove her superiority without earning her an interminable lecture from those less inclined to violence than she.

But, no. It's not her first choice.

Still... look on the bright side? She's actually starting with *talking*. Just don't expect any of them to get close enough to her to do any serious damage.

Kitty Pryde has posed:
Kitty Pryde takes the fob, thinking back, <<It's about at my limit, but you got a sexy little car, I can probably manage it.>> Kitty steps through as well, hands going to her hips and giving the would be car thieves one of those looks of disappointment that they probably received many times from their mothers given their life trajectory.

"Hey, what are you doing in here!?" one of them snarls. The guy with the big grinder that was sawing off a part of the car turns if off and sets it down, pushing his safety glasses up on his head. "Dumb move coming in here, girls," he tells them. He looks over at the others and nods his head towards the two women.

They start forward. One of them picking up a crowbar, intending to look menacing but not seeming to think he'll need it against the two women. Kitty doesn't wait though, she sprints forward towards Betsy's car. When one of the men moves to intercept her, Kitty whirls and sends a knee into his midsection, doubling him over. "Really guys, Salem Center? For a chop shop?" she says as she ducks under the grasp of another man and heads for Betsy's car.

Kurt Wagner has posed:
It does not seem all that likely that these guys are at the top of the criminal food chain. Of course, Kurt didn't think it was very likely that Salen Center was even big enough to have an operation like this and her it is, so he could be mistaken. But he rather doubts it.

Clearly this lot aren't anywhere near as sharp as their tools. One would think that in this little town of all places that one would be careful about confronting unknown 'prey'. You can never tell just what you might run into. And if Kitty and Betsy don't inspire a lot of fear, that in and of itself should be a big, flashing warning.

Kurt probably doesn't have that problem however. He might be the least ruthless of the three but outwardly he probably looks a whole lot more scary then them. Which is why as they start advancing he simply flips off the rafter, dropping towards the floor before that prehensile tail lashes out, coiling around the beam and bringing him to an abrupt stop, dangling there in front of them. "Boo," he says simply, grinning, letting those gleaming fangs show. "I think you are all about to have a very bad day..."

Betsy Braddock has posed:
"Oh, they really are," Betsy says in response to Kurt. Magenta energy flares in her right hand. Her psi katana ignites like a lightsaber. The smile she gives the thieves, though in an arguably 'prettier' face, is no less wicked.

"That," she says, pointing the sword at her car, "is my car." She steps back into a ready form. "And you... are going to give it back."

At that point, telekinetically enhanced, she springs forward. The fellow with the crowbar will find that crowbar is entirely useless, given her psychically enhanced strength and speed. She flicks her sword forward and the fellow screams, dropping the tool and grabbing his head instead. Right before he collapses with neural overload.

Oh, yeah. It's on. Psychic ninja in da house!

Kitty Pryde has posed:
The sudden appearance of Kurt puts some doubt into the men who range in age from twenty to their late thirties. "It's a demon!" one of the men says, staggering back from Kurt in fear.

"Nah, just a stupid mutant. Don't let them scare you, they go down just like anyone else!" the leader says. He starts towards Kurt, throwing a punch towards the upside down X-man.

If he'd seen what happened to the man with the crowbar, he might have checked that swing. A howl of pain goes up as the man staggers and falls to the ground under Betsy's psychic assault. The other men start looking at each other, quickly losing their courage. One of them picks up a huge wrench though and hurls it at Betsy's head. Others start to edge towards the exit to the store front where the front door is.

Kitty meanwhile, phases through the door of Betsy's car. It starts up with a deep-throated purr. She tosses it into reverse, the car having been the last one driven in, the roll up door behind it. The tires squeal and the car shoots backward and fwoosh! disappears through the wall like it wasn't there.

Kurt Wagner has posed:
He had rather hoped that his appearance might send most of them running. While they might be criminals they're not exactly dangerous threats -- at least not on the surface. And he doesn't really like hurting people. Though he is willing to make exceptions for people who threaten his friends with weapons.

"A mutant I am. But I'm not the one you should be worried about," he says just an instant before he teleports, leaving the man with a faceful of inky darkness and the stink of brimstone in his nostrils as he *bamfs* just an instant before that fist can find him. But he doesn't teleport far, reappearing an instant later in a crouch behind his attacker. That tail lashes out again, this time wrapping around the thief's ankles and jerking his feet out from under him, sending him crashing down to the hard, concrete floor with a crack as jaw meets ground.

He almost winces in sympathy. Almost. << Go easy on them Betsy. Your car is fine >> he urges mentally, jumping over to another nearby pair and grabbing them by the scruff of the neck before rapidly teleporting throughout the room, appearing and vanishing again every second before finally dumping the pair in the corner, leaving them huddled their, emptying the contents of their stomaches.

Betsy Braddock has posed:
<<Yeahyeahyeah,>> Betsy grumbles. <<Humans. I get it.>> She ducks the wrench, sliding beneath a table and out the other side, where she pops up and clocks the wrench thrower with an old fashioned uppercut. Well, okay. A telekinetically enhanced old-fashioned uppercut. She's not exactly pulling punches... but neither is she so souped up that their opponents will end up on the wrong side of a casket lid.

They just might have a weeklong headache, is all. Really.

She moves swiftly, now, as her car phases out through the wall. Her eyes glow in that way many psychics get when their powers are fully engaged. With catlike grace, she's on to the thieves who are at the back of the small mob rushing toward the florist shop door. The katana turns into a pair of simple punchdagger-like shapes that are nothing more than wedges of magenta psionic energy about her fists -- fists that strike with precision and intent.

Her goal is to disable and discombulate. And she's very good at it. She's had lots of practice -- even before her sojourn with the ninja clan that's turned her into a living weapon.

Kitty Pryde has posed:
The two X-men make short work of the car thieves. Soon they are either down, or at least trying to drag themselves and their buddies out of there if Betsy and Kurt allow them the chance to escape. Kitty is a little bit longer coming back. She does come back though, phasing through the wall. "Parked it and got that nice manager to keep an eye on it," she tells Betsy.

Kitty looks around the room. There's one car, still untouched, and one that has lost several pieces. "Well, they'll be glad to get these back at least," she says. She walks over across the room to where the crates are. "Huh," she says, the word having a particular tone to it that might draw attention.

Kitty runs her hand over some of the lettering on a crate. "HMMWV M1114 Armor. That's a Humvee isn't it? Why do they have crates of armor for- holy crap." Kitty moves to the last create in line. She pulls the lid off, it's already loose. "Looks like this held guns. Heavy weapons. Assault rifles, grenade launchers, machine gun," she says, looking at the interior shaped to hold the weapons.

Kurt Wagner has posed:
No one could say that Kurt was exactly gentle with his trio -- one of them unconscious and the other two not in any state to do anything but to try and crawl away -- but with them down, dealt with and any aggression at an end he is not exactly concerned with them either. At least not at first at any rate.

That changes however when Kitty returns and does her survey of the chop shop's contents. Stolen cars are one things. Military grade weaponry and armor? That's a whole lot more serious. And for it to be here in Salem Center is alarming. There isn't much here that anyone would want to attack. Except the school. It could just be passing through, already shipped off for sale somewhere else but the coincidences are adding up fast and Kurt doesn't like what they're adding up to. "I think we should contact the polizei, yes? The authorities," he says, that lighthearted air fleeing from him all at once. One of the men he downed is indeed crawling for the door and the elf pads over to plant one of those large feet on his back, pinning him down. So much for their nice, pleasant evening.

Betsy Braddock has posed:
"Thanks," Betsy says to Kitty as she's reassured her sweet silver ride is safe and sound. When the other woman discovers the remnants of something a whole lot more serious than a simple rural chopshop, however, she frowns.

Crossing to where Kitty stands, she peers into the crates and then looks back to the others. "That's serious firepower." All trace of the disgruntled motorist is gone. In its place, the keen edged X-Man. "And it's way too close to the school for my comfort."

Even if the school isn't the target... just how many other targets could there be out in the county? Unless they're staging for an assault on Brooklyn or something, which is highly unlikely.

"Call the police, sure. But I don't know how much help they'll be." She glances back to where they've corralled the remnants of the chopshop gang. "I think maybe it's time *I* have a little chat with our mechanically minded friends." And that telepathic, violet butterfly aura flares around her eyes.

Conscious or unconscious, human minds don't keep secrets well when a telepath of Betsy's caliber is near. The insult of the stolen car is forgotten. Now, it's time to prevent serious injury, instead.

There's a new mystery to solve.

Kitty Pryde has posed:
Kitty nods her head in agreement. "Yes, definitely should get the police here," she agrees, pulling out her phone. "I'll make it an anonymous call," she says, routing the call through a fake number so they can stay removed from the matter. Especially if they start telling the police about mutants.

With the conscious men already dazed from what they went through, Betsy is able to delve into their memories easily enough. A commission job. Someone who brought in a single Humvee and the armor for the men at the chop shop to install. The machine gun on a mount that can be popped up out of the top of the Humvee.

Beyond that, the information is scarce for Betsy. The man's face. He's bald, with a bit of a scar on the left side of his jaw. Called himself Harden though the men she gets the info from don't know if that's really his name. Paid in cash. Picked up the vehicle already. He had a deadline for when he needed it though, giving the team an idea at least of when something might go down.