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Interference

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Emptying ATM's was one of Hoxton's favorite tasks. Not because it was terribly lucrative or challenging, but because it added insult to injury. It was the cherry on the sundae, a finishing touch. Sure, he could be the kind of fool who merely left a calling card as a taunt, but that was for lesser thieves. It took marginally more time to jam an ATM and dump the contents into a duffel bag and to do so to an ATM in plain view on the street in broad daylight? It showed that he had the time to do so, that he was untroubled and unimpeded by any attempt at security. That kind of message said a lot more about his skills than amateur credit-seeking would have. Menial though the monetary reward was, it was a testament to how unmatched GenSec was to their crew.

Hoxton crouched in front of an ATM and placed the ECM jammer on it. When he switched it on, his left ear filled with a painful screeching noise. It reverberated in his head and he lost his balance, falling from his squat to his hands and knees. He scrambled to scratch his comm device out of his ear and, knocked loose, it fell out onto the sidewalk. He sat there, staring dumbfounded at it as it continued to emit a shrill shrieking noise. In the distance, he could hear his crewmates groaning and complaining.

"What the fuck just happened?" Chains' distant shout came from upstairs. "Comms just went apeshit in my ear."

"Radio interference?" Dallas suggested up at them.

"It can't be," Wolf shouted back down. "I tested it. No one else transmits on that frequency here."

"Get the fuck back down!" Dallas shouted. Hoxton heard several of the civilians scream in response. Someone must have tried taking advantage of their momentary lapse in concentration. Despite the fact that the scene was locked down, civilians were handled, and there didn't appear to be any police coming, the strange comm interference had them all on edge. Not knowing what had caused it made them vulnerable to... who knew what. They were this far into the heist though so they continued working.

Whatever it was seemed to have rendered Hoxton's ECM jammer useless too. The ATM remained locked. Hoxton grumbled as he turned the device off and took it off the machine. As he did, the screeching from his comm stopped.

It didn't take a rocket scientist to make the connection. Hoxton flipped the switch and the screeching resumed.

He peeled the ECM jammer off the ATM and went back inside with it.

"It's my jammer," he told the others. "It's broken." He demonstrated the link between the jammer and the comm's screeching.

"At least it's just equipment failure and not the police," Dallas said, looking relieved.

"Yeah, but now we can't get into the ATM," Hoxton huffed, stuffing the broken jammer back into his bag.

"Don't worry about it. ATM's are chump change anyway," Chains said. He had a bulging duffel bag full of money from the safe slung over his back. Wolf followed behind him, packing the drill back into his own bag.

"Yeah, it's not a big loss. Let's just get all this jewelry into the van," Dallas said.

Hoxton knew they were right but it was so unsatisfying.

They took their time hauling the bags of jewelry out, safe in the knowledge that no one was coming.

---

"Hoxton?" Wolf said, surprising him as they were finishing up unloading the van. Wolf didn't seem to ever want much to do with him, and he usually went out of his way not to call Hoxton by his codename.

"Yeah?" Hoxton answered.

"Can I have that broken jammer?"

Oh. Well, that was underwhelming. Hoxton didn't know what he expected. He reached into his equipment bag and pulled out the defective jammer.

"Sure," he said, handing it over. Wolf took it without another word. They went inside and Wolf descended downstairs, probably to go fickle with his sentry build or something.

Hoxton didn't think another thing about it.

---

Over the next few jobs, though, Wolf seemed to have developed a strange new hobby of inspecting dead GenSec special forces.

"Wolf! Let's go!" Dallas barked at him, not for the first time that job. Wolf was crouched over the body of a dead Bulldozer. He'd pried the helmet off the corpse and was tilting the head this way and that. He looked up guiltily though when Dallas yelled for him. He took one last look at the dead man's face, dropped the corpse, and scurried after the rest of the crew.

---

They weren't in particularly dire circumstances on this job so Dallas just let Wolf be while they waited for the drill. He, Chains, and Hoxton watched Wolf from a distance as he pulled the goggles off a dead Cloaker and then peeled the balaclava off its head. Since he had started playing with dead bodies a few months before, Wolf's interest had narrowed exclusively to Cloakers.

"It's fuckin' weird, man," Chains said quietly.

"He's fuckin' weird," Hoxton replied.

"I think it's a coping mechanism," Dallas told them. "Wolf has always been pretty scared of the specials. Maybe he's trying to show himself that they're just regular guys under all the armor too." He looked on as Wolf, seemingly satisfied with his inspection of the Cloaker's corpse, got up and came to join them while they waited for the drill to finish.

Dallas, by all appearances, banished the thought completely from his mind. Hoxton looked over at Chains and their eyes met in a tacit agreement. Wolf just wasn't quite right and this was just another extension of that ain't-quite-rightness. But he was still a crewmate. It was weird, sure, but no one minded too terribly as long as Wolf still held his own and played his part in the plans.

---

A few weeks later, the situation of their latest job was becoming untenable. The police were coming in heavy waves and though they were mostly finished, getting to the van was another matter entirely. Chains and Dallas were already in the van and were trying to offer cover fire, but they were rapidly attracting their own police attention. Hoxton and Wolf understood that it was up to them to get themselves to the van too.

It was a grim prospect though. There was no coverage between the door to the bank and the van. It'd be a suicide dash. They lurked in the doorway together and tried to hold off the bolder of the police.

"Get ready," Wolf said, digging around in his C4 bag.

"It's a slaughterhouse out there," Hoxton said back, covering him nonetheless. "C4's not going to help."

"Just watch," Wolf said impatiently, pulling not C4, but an ECM jammer from his bag. He set it on the doorway and flipped the switch.

"That's not going to do anything eith-" Hoxton cut himself off as most of the officers around them stopped in their tracks, dropped their weapons, and grasped their heads in their hands. They stood on the spot and writhed in apparent agony.

"Let's go!" Wolf shouted.

He and Hoxton raced across the street, firing at the errant unaffected officer. Dallas and Chains yelled at them to hurry and they dived into the back of the van. Dallas yanked the doors shut and the van sped away.

"What was that?" Hoxton asked, impressed.

Wolf's masked face turned to him. "ECM feedback," he said with malicious glee. "I got the idea from your broken jammer," he explained. "The emitter on it was defective. It was transmitting the wrong signal to the wrong frequency so it blasted our comms and wouldn't open the ATM lock. But I can change the frequency to make their comms make that awful screechy noise!"

"How did you know what frequency the cops are on though?" Chains asked.

"I collected their comms the last few jobs to run tests on," Wolf said. "I needed to see what frequency they use, and if it's always the same. It doesn't work on Cloakers though," he said, losing a bit of his steam. "They use a different frequency than the rest of the cops. But it works on Bulldozers!" he added, brightening back up.

Hoxton had no idea that Wolf could come up with something like that. And truthfully, he was more than a little relieved that all of Wolf's corpse handling was just research and development as opposed to some psychopath proclivity too.

"That is brilliant," he said, amazed.

"Thanks, Hoxatron," Wolf said, pleased.

Hoxton was surprised by the nickname. Wolf had only ever used those kinds of names for him on that first job, when they were trying to create confusion about how many Hoxtons there might be for his predecessor's benefit. After that, Wolf would only call him Hoxton, and only if he couldn't avoid it. Hoxton didn't think Wolf would have been so familiar with him if they hadn't still been wearing their masks.

Wolf was now pointedly staring at the bags in his lap, perhaps having realized what he'd said too.

"Could you make all my jammers do that?" Hoxton asked to distract from the awkwardness.

"Yes. But it would be easier just to build them from scratch myself," Wolf said.

"Really?" Hoxton asked, intrigued by the possibility. "Shit, that would save me about sixteen hundred a job."

"Minus parts," Chains interjected.

"And labor!" Wolf added, the business acumen resurfacing at Chains' raised point.

Hoxton deadpanned.

"Thanks, Chains," he said in mock irritation. "Fine, I'll just give you the sixteen hundred instead. It'll be worth it for them not to be traceable to a dealer anymore, let alone that they blow out cops' ears."

"Deal," Wolf said.