Logs:Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man or birds or animals or reptiles.
|Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man or birds or animals or reptiles.|
"Great place for an ambush, too."
<NYC> Abandoned Construction Site - Lower East Side
There are many lots like this scattered across lower-lying areas in the city, bought by hopeful developers who started to build condos or shops or parking garages, only to abandon the venture when Hurricane Sandy dropped the property value. This one was probably intended as the last, though it was early on enough in its progress and has weathered the intervening years badly enough that it might be hard to tell. Huge, naked concrete pillars sketch out the shape of the place, only partially joined by walls (more gap than not) and two elevated floors -- the upper almost wholly collapsed and the lower only partially so. The ground level is a maze of broken concrete fallen from above, twisted rebar exposed and bleeding rust onto the dingy gray.
Despite both desolation and danger, there had been a tent city under the remaining shelter of the partial second floor until fairly recently. Now it is altogether abandoned save by the occasional transient, and the urban wildlife that has taken up residence in the debris field. Graffiti both crude and artistic dots the outer walls and pillars, and a few difficult-to reach ones on the upper levels, bespeaking someone eager to showcase climbing if not tagging skills.
Today, though, there are many interested eyes nearby -- or cameras, at least, moving steathily across the roofs of nearby buildings where they've been trailing their quarry. These Sentinels, much like their NYPD cousins, are disquietingly spider-like, but instead of gleaming white are painted in matte urban camouflage. They fan out as their targets arrive at the construction site, fanning out to surround the building, but waiting still.
Steve is wearing a khaki trench coat, still a touch damp from the earlier rain, though open now in the mild if damp evening air, a smartly tailored navy suit underneath with a metallic blue chevron tie. He's been watching their surroundings the entire way down through the Lower East Side, ice blue eyes scanning the street corners and occasionally even the sky above, though he does not spot the Sentinels trailing them. His eyebrows raise up when they arrive at the lot, and he glances at the street signs to be sure. "Gosh, but this is...unpleasant-looking." Then, as his eyes light on the field of broken concrete, his lips pressed together thin, he adds quietly, "Great place for an ambush, too."
Despite the warm black peacoat he wears, Leo still looks shivery as he follows after Steve. One arm has crossed over his chest; in his other hand there is a still-half-warm bag of carry-out cooling. He has a backpack slung over his shoulder, and as Steve speaks his brows pinch together. Eyes darting uncertainly -- first to Flicker and then around them. "Is he always like this?"
Flicker is in the rear, his own canvas jacket unzipped over a grey polo and khakis; the sinuous gunmetal-grey tentacle arm he wears doesn't really fill out the right sleeve. His smile curls quick, wide when he follows Leo's glance to Steve. "What? Yeah. Pretty much always." Though a small furrow of brow follows, together with the acknowledgment: "He's not wrong, though. It's not exactly welcoming in here."
It doesn't take long for Heather to make her appearance, as she dashes towards the meeting place, but for the last part of her approach, she slows to a sprint-speed walk. When she tries to stop, she stumbles a little bit, her arms turning circles to maintain balance, but successfully halts. Yellow-rimmed and purple tinted ski goggles obsure her eyes. She wears a purple sweatshirt, unzipped, over a yellow t-shirt that has large print of a grinning watermelon in shades and bright blue board shorts riding on surfboard on what appears to be a wave of trash and holding a can of some kind of unbranded beverage in its hand. Her patterned yoga pants are marginally more muted, depicting many multicolour stars over black fabric. "This place has good graffiti," her flat voice says over her recorder. Her gaze snaps to various places, as she tries to follow where everyone else has been looking. "What were we looking for?"
"It's habit," Steve says -- presumably for Leo's benefit, though he does not turn around. His gait has changed, his weight settled lower, even more precise and graceful than usual. He tenses, teeth gritting hard, with Heather's rapid if somewhat uncertain entrance, dropping more fully into a combat stance and placing himself between the new arrival and Leo. Then relaxes fractionally. "Oh -- sorry, um..." He blushes slightly. "I assume this is your friend? We're looking for -- nothing, I hope."
"Hi, Heather." Leo's startle is a lot less twitchy than Steve's -- just a slight widening of eyes, a tense of shoulders as he turns. "Do you want fries? Souvlaki? I saved you some." He offers the bag out toward Heather. "We're looking for an ambush."
The looked-for ambush materializes in the form of half a dozen giant mechanical spiders descending with shocking rapidity from the surrounding buildings and dropping into the adjacent streets and debris field. They zero in on Leo at once, moving with unerring, balletic precision over pavement and broken ground alike. "Please lie on the floor and put your hands on your head," the Sentinels' neutral synthetic voices chime in eerie unison, "this is a federal law enforcement exercise. Thank you for your cooperation."
If Flicker startles at Heather's arrival, it's hard to catch. He does smile, warm -- though short-lived as the spider-bots swarm down from the rooftop. Before the first robot has reached the street he is at Leo's side, lips compressed thin. "You weren't supposed to be right," he mutters in Steve's direction, grimacing as the robots surround them. "Too bad I finished my Pepsi on the way over, huh?" His hand rests lightly against Leo's arm, his teeth worrying at the inside of his lip. "I can get you out of here," he says quietly, "but -- probably not them, too."
"Hello, Leo." Heather waves her hand in a measured way to appear at a natural-ish speed as a greeting to the others. Her eyebrows raised, she nods and gestures with enthusiasm that her voice doesn't carry. "I like fries and souvla-" Click. Her thumb stops her voice from continuing, and her posture deflates into something more disappointed when she sees the sentinels. The recorder is clipped to the strap of her messenger bag. In a blur, she repositions herself to a place that she can better protect Leo, and raises her fists up as she tries to assess the assailants.
The Sentinels all open their gun ports simultaneously when none of their targets comply with instructions. While the dark metal barrels fold out from their not-so-adorable ovoid bodies, they repeat their warning even while stalking ever closer, "Please lie on the floor and put your hands on your head..." Their targeting clearly isn't quite equal to tracking Flicker or Heather while they move, but fix on each again once stationary.
Steve had just begun to relax his posture at Leo's easy reaction to Heather, but the whisper movement in his peripheral vision drops him right back into his stance. Even so, Flicker and Heather's reaction times far exceed his own. He steps sideways and makes himself the third vertex of a triangle around Leo. "Go with him." It's not quite an order, but there's a calm, steady command in his voice. "And God go with you both."
"But you don't -- Pepsi?" It's not the most helpful reaction. Leo is leaning into Flicker's touch, his eyes wide as he drops the bag of food. His hands reflexively start to lift towards his head before the others' words sink in more fully. "-- Yes, please."
Flicker doesn't need further urging. In the next moment there is only a blur where he and Leo had been, and the moment after that nothing. They flash through the pillars in a ghostlike flutter of motion and then -- gone.
"...Thank you for your cooperation." The Sentinels finish repeating their warning a split second before Flicker vanishes with Leo, and three of them whip around to give chase. Their movements are lightning-fast, though still likely no match for Flicker's teleportation. Their weapons discharge in rapid sequence, three quiet reports of tranquilizer rounds -- pft, pft pft! -- though the shots go quite wild.
Steve is moving, too -- glacial beside the strobing blur as Flicker whisks Leo away, but fast enough to keep up with the Sentinels. He catches one of the robots by a trailing leg as it gives chase and swings it fast and hard in the direction of its moment into the path of one of its companions, diving into a roll the moment it leaves his hand.
With Flicker streaking off with Leo, Heather zips towards the third of the sentinels that is giving chase. She slams into it with all the momentum that she is carrying shoulder-first, and when she pushes back off of the machine she crouches low to pull a piece of broken off concrete from the abandoned building project where it is partially lodged in the ground.
The Sentinel Steve grabs, intent on pursuing Leo, makes no attempt to avoid him and, once airborne, cannot avoid its fellow. They smash into each other, both coming apart with startling if satisfying ease into several pieces each. Likewise the one Heather tackles breaks apart upon impact, its components wriggling in grotesque fashion on the broken ground. One of the other three re-targets and attempt to locate Flicker and Leo -- both already long gone -- deploying its sensor, scanning. The other two come after Steve and Heather respectively, dart guns firing and limbs grasping.
Steve comes upright and plucks up a severed Sentinel limb, hurling it with force at the scanning apparatus on the one still and searching for Leo. The delay costs him, though, and the other Sentinel's dart catches him in the side. He hisses but doesn't seem much put off, grappling the robot by one of its legs and -- again, partly using its own momentum -- lifting it overhead to slam solidly down into the concrete on his other side.
Heather sidesteps quickly to stay out of the line of fire of the darts, and replies by throwing the chunk of concrete. The accelerated arc of her arm carries her projectile at a speed that makes an audible whirr while flying through the air. She also opts to pick up a sentinel limb from the one that she had tackled as she zooms by it again. It is wielded in both her hands and she overhand swings it at the sentinel that was still scanning.
The Sentinel that shot Steve comes apart much like the others when he slams it into the ground. The one that tried to shoot Heather fares slightly better from the impact of the thrown concrete block, though it does stagger back, disoriented, as it rebalances itself and opens a second gun port on the other side of its carapace.
The Sentinel that had been busy scanning for traces of their escaped quarry catches the severed limb of its fellow right in the sensor package, which probably does the instrumentation no favors. It's just starting to turn to assess Steve as a higher threat when another severed limb, wielded by Heather this time, smashes into its already damaged sensor array, breaking off several components this time. It whirls on Heather, too, also deploying a second gun barrel.
Meanwhile, the components of the first three dismembered Sentinels have continued squirming and twitching, the limbs crawling back toward the bodies, reorienting themselves, then reattaching. This reassembly looks like fruitless death throes at first, but as soon as each has a couple of limbs functional again they rapidly finish repairing themselves and rise -- dented and lopsided for the most part, but wholly functional.
And also folding out their secondary weapons.
Somewhere through the husk of building around them is a returning blur, flashing through the twisted rebar and concrete chunks in an odd staccato that comes to an abrupt halt over the franken-robots resurrection. "Son of a biscuit." His eyes are wider, one hand starting to stray towards his pocket before he catches himself. Blinks back into motion. A rapid zig-zagging path toward the nearest of the reconstituted robots, his claw-hand reaching straight for one of them. There's not a lot of flash to it afterwards -- just a small shift downward, the bot once more separated from its limb and both embedded half a foot deep in the concrete at their feet.
Steve pivots smoothly, keeping hold of the severed limb by which he had thrown the last Sentinel that attacked him and hooking his leg around to kick its limbless central body toward one of the robots taking aim at Heather -- the one she'd just a moment ago knocked back with a chunk of concrete. In the course of this turn he takes in more of the battlefield and his eyes widen, too. His "What the heck..." sounds more bewildered than worried.
Heather starts to speed around the sentinel she bashed with the robo-limb, smashing with special attention to bits she deems likely to be important to the thing's function. Her blurry battering does not last long, and her reaction to the robots reforming is a series of squeaks of apparent exasperation. She continues to wield her improvised weapon in both hands as she also zig-zags towards one of the reforming machine; her swing is similar in form to that of a baseball bat.
The newly re-assembled Sentinel has only just registered Flicker's return and rotated its weapons toward him when suddenly it just -- displaces into the concrete below. It emits a horrible screeching noise as something inside it grinds against abruptly unmoving components, then goes still save for a red LED indicator pulsing in the panel beside its camera pod.
The -- rather aerodynamic! -- body of the Sentinel Steve kicks smashes slidelong into his target, the impact ringing loud and sending both tumbling into a jumbled heap. Some of the limbs that come loose from the target this time reattach to the limbless one that had been used as projectile, leaving both damaged and wobbly but functional as they right themselves
The unit Heather has been waling on rotates rapidly in a bid to keep up with her, and might have been successful if it had not lose almost its entire sensor pod. As it is, the thing dances a jerky dance in place and fires its secondary weapon wildly. There's no pft this time, though, but the sharp cracking report of a live round.
Two more reports of gunfire follow in rapid succession from the Sentinels that had been taken down first, one aimed at Flicker -- or, at least, where he had been just a fraction of a second ago -- and the other at Steve.
"You all are seeing this Stalkoblin nonsense, right?" Flicker's voice is a strangely choppy thing in motion, too. Intermittent crackle of lost sound like a poorly tuned radio. He's at Steve's side now -- phone in one hand. A brief touch to the other man's shoulder dropping Steve just a couple inches to the right of where he was a split second before. Snapping another picture -- of the bot that had been shooting at him not a second before -- before flitting to the no-longer-limbless Sentinel Steve had just recently kicked. When he reaches for this one it is to pass it along again, blinking the thing over toward the bot that had just shot at Steve -- not on a collision course but aimed to land directly in the other robot.
"Stalko-what?" Steve does a double-take at Flicker's photography when the other man teleports him out of the bullet's path. He picks up a loose, rusty length of rebar and charges the one that had just distantly tried and failed to shoot Flicker, kicking it over onto its side -- or back, if possible -- to jam his improvised weapon up into its carapace where one of the limbs attaches. "We stick around here too long, their handlers are sure to come running."
At the sounds of live rounds firing, Heather opts to try and stab the arm through to end the gunfire, winding up so that she can gain all the benefit of her weight and velocity to finally smash through the bot. When she is satisfied, she moves in a streak, while responding to Flicker on her recorder- at highest volume- first in a reassurance, then a warning: "I understood that reference. It is like that. The machines are well designed. Self healing. Learning. Destroy their brains."
The Sentinel blinks away from Flicker's hand and re-appears partially protruding from the other unit in vaguely surreal fashion. Both give only a few jerky twitches before going still, looking ever so much like a video game clipping error.
Steve bowls his target over easily enough, but the already much-abused Sentinel thrashes at him violently with its clawed feet before he can quite drive the rebar home. Even then it struggles, wiggling loose from Steve's grasp and never quite going still, though it's clearly too damaged to function to specification for the moment, clumsily attempting to extract the heavy steel bar impaling its body but failing for the lack of its full complement of limbs.
The severed limb in Heather's hand bends unwieldy in the middle as she drives it at the Sentinel, but even half of it is enough to puncture the weak spot where the sensor package had been destroyed, its wreckage blocking the armor in that area from closing back up. Sparks fly rather spectacularly as the unit emits an awful clatter and crunch, then slowly subsides into a heap. A red LED flashes beside its camera, just in case it escaped anyone that it was in need of repair.
The very last surviving Sentinel doesn't seem to have any awareness that it is outclassed. Its choice of targets demonstrates this somewhat elegantly, as it spins around and fires both guns -- pft bang bang bang! -- at Flicker. Beneath all this ruckus it's probably hard to hear the revving engine and screeching tires that presage the arrive of aforementioned handlers.
"I'll show you later," Flicker promises Steve. "We should get back Leo anyway, he's probably --" He's just dropping back beside Steve, frowning as the bot lashes out. "-- Worried." The rebar vanishes, reappearing buried in the Sentinel Heather just dispatched. The death-spasming Sentinel beside them is next, one of its remaining limbs parting from its body -- the latter headed to intercept the bot that is still shooting at Flicker, the former held almost casual in Flicker's claw. "Learning? I liked it so much better when B was just making hoverboards." After all the jittery blinking it looks near slow-motion when he walks nearer the first Sentinel he had buried in the floor, the detached limb dropping from his claw to bury itself in the quiescent half-buried body. He offers a hand out toward Steve, brows lifting. "C'mon. -- You okay? Cuz we should probably also get Heather more souvlaki before they head home."
Steve's wince looks more annoyed than pained when the Sentinel's flailing claws cut into his forearms and chest. "Too many of your machines these days can learn. Soon you're going to tell me they can think and feel, too." Blood soaks through the tears in his trench coat, but he ignores it. "I'm fine, it's more a mess than any kind of danger." He takes Flicker's hand with his own, minimally bloody, right one. "Let's get out of here."