2020-04-12 - The Arena - Part I


In which Hunter and Posse and two REACT veterans search for and find Domino's missing orange badge…intel gathering, they stumble upon a shocking secret underground!

Log Info:

Storyteller: hank-mccoy
Date: Sun Apr 12 01:06:57 2020
Location: The Disaster Zone

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Hours she waits, and virtually does not move. Coordinates were given, and she waits and watches over those coordinates from a position in rubble just over a thousand feet from that location. Since flashing her light beam at the irksome little drones the Posse sent to watch this place, she has barely even breathed; even the advanced image analysis algorithms of those drones can no longer find her position. Thermographics. Visual. EM scans. None of them turn up the Hunter's presence.

And that means it is unlikely those she is hunting know she is here, either. Here … and listening. Smelling. Feeling. And yes, watching. Amur Khatun would be even better at this, but few humanish-beings on Earth could compare to what a patient Hunter can do even in person form.

The Bearcat has hardly lifted off from RESCUE HQ before the VTOL jet's engines pitch vertical and the brief ascent into the night sky becomes a slow, controlled landing. There's no real time to take stock, reorient, or even really prepare for the change of scenery. Fortunately, this stop is only for the three-person recon team.

Surveying the cracked and abandoned facades of the disaster zone through her night vision headset, Posse's sitting with her legs dangling off the back of the aircraft's tail door and a carabiner clipping her vest to a mounting point on the floor - just in case. As the plane descends, city lights are blocked by the rising edifices of what was a short 6 years ago thriving urban sprawl, casting the landing zone into deeper darkness just as the jet exhaust stirs a cloud of dust from the ground below. With her pistol hanging in one hand and no sign of her contact, or in fact anything alive in the dark valley, the cyborg reaches back to unclip herself and makes looks at the two men with her in the blacked-out cabin. "Let's go, boys," is all she says before unhooking and dropping the five or so remaining feet to touchdown. There's no need to advertise her presence with a jet at her back. The sniper will come to her.

There's no sign at all of Hunter until the gigantic, noisy, annoying plane full of MORE PEOPLE is long gone. Only then would the outermost ring of Humblebees once more pick up her movement … and somewhere back in REACT HQ, one of the techs is commenting with wry amazement that they had no idea she had moved that far since the last time they had a reading on her. She spends a minute securing her rifle and scope, tucking it away until she can return for it. Then she slinks, quite stealthily, around the position.

This is not to say that Hunter simply materializes right beside Ava and her team; with the Humblebees around, that's rather unlikely. But without their feeds to the drones and their advanced scanners, they would have little or no clue she is coming before she does indeed hop up to her feet - again, almost silently - and pad over to join them, dull multi-grey and multi-tan ghillie suit fluttering around her. She seems to be strapped with an SMG, a bandolier of additional magazines and various grenades, a heavy pistol sidearm, a tactical knife (short sword?), and what seems to be a short-ish assault rifle on her back beneath the suit's outer layers. She is also covered in the concrete dust and dirt of the Disaster Zone.

And then those amber backlit eyes focus on the cyborg. "Tell time." she remarks wryly with a nod in that weird lilting mushy speech of hers. She eyes the two men briefly, assessing them neutrally, and then she points in the direction of the closest tunnel opening she was able to find. Forgive her; she has never seen a drillipede work before, and has no idea what it can do. Yet.

Without the sonar from her suit, the black-clad woman leading their little three-man assembly should be as blind as anyone except for the infra-red vision of her night optic, yet all she does is take a deep breath of the night air and move them under the cover of an overhang while waiting for the sniper to make herself known. Even as much as she appears to trust the enigmatic Hunter, the woman isn't offering her six.

"Just relax and let me do the talking," she informs quietly just as Diya stands to make herself known. The ghillie suit and excess of weapons are all observed, and the choices draw a lingering appreciation from the former operator's gaze. She appreciates preparedness more than most.

Looking eye-to-eye through her night-vision glass, she holsters her pistol and offers Diya her hand in greeting. "I'm /never/ late," she answers with a surprising firmness, then gestures to the drillipede and it small pack of supplies. "More weapons for you - non-lethal, quieter - and a radio. Once you're ready this little guy will drill us an entrance into the subway. It's a two klick infil north, our objective is the E&M station. That jet and some high-power friends are our emergency evac."

The Hunter looks curiously at the cyborg, and then at the pack of gear. Non-lethal weapons? What's the point? Her concern is written pretty clearly upon her face. She accepts the hand, but only briefly, because not doing so would be taken as an insult she does not intend. Then she taps her fist, forearm, bicep, and then the handle of that knife. "Quieter?" she questions, because she has found little in this world quieter than up close and personal. Admittedly, though, she is not packing a bow and arrows, or even a crossbow, for distance shots with similar stealth.

Nevertheless, given that Posse has proven herself capable, Hunter does eventually walk over and lift the pack, starting to inspect its contents. She hasn't been much for radio communications since going AWOL years ago, but she checks on that too, approving when she finds a throat mic assembly. Her ear will not like those buds, but she can deal with it. "Explain?" she asks of Posse; she doesn't have time to get up to speed on these weapons, nor to read a technical manual. So the other operator is going to have to give her those details so she can know how and when to use them … along with whether to bother.

Hunter is no big fan of this 'non-lethal' BS. But she won't object to silent.

Posse nods coolly back at the sniper's almost wordless reply to her offer, not contesting it even slightly. "Quieter at 400 meters," is all she has to say back until Hunter relents and inspects the equipment set aside for her. Pulling her own neurodart pistol from its holster, the cyborg shows a visual aid.

"Dart pistol, subsonic, 400m range. Controls are same as a P320. Effect within 1 second, paralysis for 10 minutes minimum, minus breathing. White grenades are ''screamers'', 90 second stun grenades; different kind of sound, won't blow ear-drums but still kills balance. Red grenades are pepper spray bombs. The goggles, earmuffs, and face cover will filter them. The small box is a med-kit."

"And the beef jerky bag is a snack."

Hunter listens to all of Posse's explanations. Dart pistol? OK. Reloads? Sure. She can take those, and attach that to her belt. No problem. But just about everything else the woman mentions Hunter drops to the ground and backs away from with visible horror. "Do not." she hisses, and actually tries to reach out to grab any screamers and pepper bombs she can see from Posse's and the other two men's gear to throw them away.

Of course, as usual, Hunter doesn't explain anything. Who needs words? She just tries to end the problem proactively right here and now! Yet another sign of the tiger's influence over her? She finds 'working and playing well with others' a profound challenge these days. Nothing like her times in Spetznaz.

All is calm in Ava's demeanor until the sniper reaches out towards her weapons, then the woman shifts with a surprising nimbleness to block Diya from the rest of her squad while tugging at her ghillie suit to cheat her way into a grapple.

"/Hey/, easy. Calm down," she admonishes with sharp terseness while using her metal arm to do most of the work - not trying to overcome and subdue the woman, only entangle her to make a point.

Hot amber-backed eyes flash as they stare into Ava's mixed optics intently: "Use, die." It's probably a tad more frightening to most because it is delivered softly, calmly. There is no raising of the voice. She does not explain; she never does. Hunter just lays out the rules … and then casually pulls herself out of that grip. She doesn't pull a weapon. She doesn't push Posse around. She just extricates herself and turns, stalking way into the night, needing distance.

Oddly, for no apparent reason, a strange subsonic rumble starts in the area. The effect audibly is minimal, really, but even for professionals this sound tweaks something deep down in the lizard brain and screams 'whillies!'

Posse snorts derisively at the threat but doesn't fight as the dirty blonde releases herself. Her eyes narrow subtly at the felt more than heard sound and she passes a momentary glance back to her team, checking their condition and alertness before taking a couple steps forward and once again placing her body as a roadblock between Diya and her men.

There's no call to the sniper this time. The cyborg merely folds her arms and waits.

Nor is there a call from Hunter back. There is no sound of the gear being dropped, either. The most annoying thing is that the subsonic rumble starts coming through as some kind of strange sub-harmonic signal on the comms. Could it be some kind of interference?

Profesionals, Posse's team is with her, one-hundred percent. They may be a bit nervy about whatever the heck is going on right now, but they are keeping it tied down, ready to go. Who needs the freaky sniper lady, anyway? They have Posse!

With the Humblebees and her own cybernetics, Ava can keep a moderate track of Hunter as she stops about a hundred meters away. There's movement, shuffling there. Nothing drops, but the pack Ava gave her is no longer dangling. And then … Hunter turns unerringly towards the point she indicated earlier for an entrance to the tunnels, and she takes off.

This is no loping jog, though that is what the body movements look like, when slowed down; this is an incredible, astounding ground-eating pace, the damned woman running away at very nearly car-on-highway speeds, out of visual range. Posse's augmented reality HUD shows the locator beacon on Hunter's comm gear zooming out to a point almost three miles away. Then the locator starts coming back. The pace is not quite so fast, but it is quick. Within just about five more minutes, the locator signal is approximately where Posse and her team are. But the signal is fuzzy and quite faint, growing moreso as Hunter has 'come back'.

Thing is? There is no sign whatsoever of Hunter around their position. Not even the Humblebees can spot her, except by that radio signal locator.

"Coming?" One word, over the comms. It's Hunter's voice, soft and mushy, a bit staticky. And maybe, just maybe, a tiny bit 'nyah!'

Posse's head turns to follow Hunter's run into the distance and then all the cyborg can do is roll her eyes while half her attention hangs on the sniper's locator dot. "New rule: you two would definitely slow us down. Being silent is more important than keeping up; I'll wait."

Her gaze returns to the direction of Hunter's ghillie suit as the dot makes its way back, but the sergeant's brow furrows as the woman fails to materialize on cue with her tracker. And then the radio message comes across.

A hot, soundless breath escapes the operator's nostrils as her false eye twitches before she turns back to the drillipede. "Dig a hole directly above her position," she instructs the machine in a completely flat and dry tone.

Blacked-out as it is, the drillipede can't flash its lights to acknowledge the order. But it does adjust itself and bring its boring heads online, spinning up in nightmare fuel fashion as acidic spray spews out onto the ground. And then off the thing goes, boring down through the stone and earth. Earth is fast, covering a foot per second or even more. But when it has to bore through stone it slows down; don't want to make too much noise, and frankly it can't go much faster than just a few inches in a minute. As it is, Hunter will be waiting about ten minutes before the drillipede comes down through the ceiling, activating its AG pod so that it does not fall with a massive CLANG! but instead floats down softly to the tunnel floor.

Long before then, though, Hunter does comment softly, "Toy get more work. Tunnel shut, half-click. Explosives, heavy."

"<Good to know but before that you and I are having a talk,>" Ava radios back down within the local team band. "<I need you to set down the PTSD grouch and get your head in the game if we're going in there together. I can't spend half my focus keeping you off the rest of the squad and they can't run security while keeping you off of me. You know how this game works, Hunter; a team looks out for each other. That's how we get in and out of there with Spot in one piece.>" Despite the sharper tone she took earlier, the former operator's voice is soft, even compassionate.

Descending after the drone, Ava lands in the dark tunnel with her pistol once again in hand and moves aside towards a wall, making space for Karl and Boulder to follow down after her. Her eyes seek out Diya with ease in the pitch black cavern and she nods her head one side.

Hunter is against the other wall. She does not really respond to Ava's lecture, but the rumble seems to intensify. And the crackle with it seems to make it pretty clear that's coming from Hunter, somehow. She just has no time to explain to these fools, frankly; she told them not to use those things, and that if they did they would die. That's it. She is here to find the Hellcat and get her out, and to avenge her people upon those responsible. Hand her a tactical nuke, she would willingly walk the damned thing down that tunnel, hug these assholes and set it off. But something like these 'screamers' or pepper-bombs is tantamount to torture for her in ways these poor flatscans cannot begin to comprehend. And their protective devices would render her deaf, dumb and blind. That's not something she's going to tolerate when lives are on the line.

Separating herself from Karl and Boulder, Posse watches the agitated sniper and waits for her to speak, approach… pretty much anything. And when she doesn't? The bionic woman disappears.

Quiet, mouse-like footsteps tread with no special effort across the hard and sonorous floor against the silent backdrop of at most a few small pebbles tumbling through the new skylight, and then on the sniper's opposite side, Posse reappears out of thin air. "We've got plenty of darkness, I'm willing to hold here for hours," she says with an almost conversation blas%<233> that echoes off the walls. "Come on, prove me you're safe to team with."

One thing does niggle at Diya, a scent, one she's smelled before…that Albino, Chalk's scent is down here, but only a little. Tracking it…she'd find an ID badge from RESCUE, it is setup against a blank seeming stone face. Hidden under a pile of rocks but quite clearly placed there. Actually, hrm…once dug out, there's a faint, even to Hunter's extraordinary senses, whisper of air at the base of the blank stone face.

Given she perceives far more with her nose and ears at this point than her eyes, Hunter does not 'miss' the disappearing, but she barely registers it really. Nice camouflage, however the cyborg pulls it off. But she does not startle. Instead, she turns and grimaces at her. "Safe?" she chuffs, as if it is the quietly most hilarious thing ever spoken aloud. "You call, Posse. Here. Target Hellcat." Beyond that she shrugs. "Use those? Not safe me."

In Hunter's opinion, she is not the one making this antagonistic.

Offering no further explanation or words, Hunter talks off whisper-quiet down the passage until she stops, crouching down and pointing at something, waiting for Posse to follow. "Chalk." she whispers right into the cyborg's ear once she is close enough. Then she sniffs audibly. "Passage." She taps at the wall, but does not actually touch it.

Posse's lips crease and the agitation rolls off her scent in waves, but eventually the woman in command weighs the super-human sniper as worth more than their screamers and pepper bombs. "Good enough. One more freak out, we abort," she concludes, mimicking some of Hunter's terseness back to her.

Watching the ghillie-suited stalker move down the passageway, the cyborg sinks into a half-crouch and wordlessly follows behind her. Just like that the conversation is over and it's time to get to work.

Peering at the wall, Posse closes one of her eyes as she studies it in excruciating detail, the gestures with her hand along the edges of a seam ever so faintly visible.

The stone is smooth, roughly 1.8 meters by 1, though irregularly shaped. Using nightvision, and thermal imaging, the very VERY faint trace of the outline reveals the door, there's no hinges on this side so either they're on the other, don't exist, or are built into the wall. There's also a very faint hum, now that everyone's close. Millimeter scan does penetrate the outer layer of the stone, there's some electronics inside it…pretty damn sophisticated, and the scan will let Posse map it. Karl and Boulder take up position so they can cover the rest of the team, one aiming up the corridor towards the rubble, the other in the direction everyone came, both in position behind cover and offering maximum line of fire. Thankfully they have NODs or they'd be screwed, blued and barbecued.

Hunter remains crouched quietly, watching Ava without having any idea what the other woman can see. "Shaped charge?" she questions, and waits for an answer. She'd rather not make a boom; but she doesn't have another solution unless …

And then Diya pauses, titling her head to the side. She reaches into her bag, as if getting ready to dig something out.

Ava signs negative and points, tracing a smaller outline with her hand. "Electronic." The cyborg goes quiet again and waits to see what Hunter produces. It seems she's got no better idea, though it might be telling that Ava places herself adjacent to the stone slab rather than in front of it. Better safe than sorry.

Hunter produces a long, thin inch-wide piece of metal, less than a quarter millimeter in thickness; a slim-jim. She then slides off one of the longer strips from her ghillie suit and ties that to the slim-jim by punching a hole through it. Then she lays down and tries to slide that through the gap at the bottom of the door, trying to get it through far enough to hook the other side of the door …

As it happens that bit of metal is worked under the door, slow and steady, and then just as it gets to the other side it creates a short. The magnetic seal holding the door closed glitches, and that triggers the door to open. It slides back about an eighth of an inch, and then slides silently into the wall.

On the far side can be seen a short service corridor, angling /down/, and ending in a circular grate filled with bars. The corridor is /flooded/ with white noise…it is eerily silent, a sonic deadzone twenty feet long. SCENTS however, those are just fine. Diya would smell people, hounds, blood, alcohol, food…an overpowering stench of too many people in an area with barely adequate ventilation. There's the stink of trash, the reek of death, and a positive effluvium of excitement, bloodlust, the regular variety of lust, copulation scent, and machinery of all sorts.

As the door panel shifts Posse once again fades from view, though not perhaps her new partner's other senses. A concealed gun barrel and bionic eye peek into the hall at first before the cyborg creeps forward, wordlessly placing the more agile but less camouflaged Hunter as her number two while she traverses the corridor towards the grate.

Hunter scoots back and then rises up to her crouch again, putting away her tool and getting out her own pistol, keeping it ready. She lifts her other hand to touch her throat. "White noise. Many here. Death. Blood." That said, she offers a hand signal to the two other REACT members, indicating they should follow. "Signal relay." she recommends softly, as she then starts creeping forward past the invisible Posse, staying low enough the woman's barrel should aim over her as she starts through the white noise, wincing. She does not like that. But she does not like an awful lot about all of this.

At the end of the short corridor can be seen the ventilation system, this room must be for service. The pair of Posse and Hunter get close and what they look down upon is /appalling/.

They're above an arena where once there was a subway station, a massive concourse. But down below there's a massive fighting pit, a dome wrapped by razor wire, and inside it is a rather battered woman that Posse and Diya will both recognize. The arena area is FULL of people…hundreds, spectators, and there's cages with cybered hounds, and merely adults, there's other cages with fighters, some of them people that Diya knew…some who went missing nearly a year ago, but so insidiously it just…blended into the normal statistics, clever, slow, steady, no traces.

At the moment, Neena is facing…ye gods, a woman…wrapped by barbed wire, whole body bleeding and eyes gouged out. And then voice rings out. "WELCOME, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN! Lords and Ladies! Damen und Herran…to the CYBERIAN /GAMES/!"

The speaker? A femme-formed robot, glowing red eyes and white hair, gleaming red from her every crack in the plating.

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