Fly Blind


avi_icon.gif colette_icon.gif

Scene Title Fly Blind
Synopsis Some people just can't put the past behind them.
Date November 8, 2017

The engine has been dead for eight minutes now. The current of the Hudson has pulled a small motorized raft down in languid silence, flanked between the lightless silhouette of the broken Manhattan skyline to one side, and small fires burning in New Jersey on the other. Searchlights atop the seventy foot high wall surrounding the Manhattan Exclusion Zone reflect bright off of the murky river surface. They've swept square over the raft six times, the guards stationed at the entrance to the Exclusion Zone have aggressively watched the river for smugglers and drug traffickers. No one notices the raft wake in the water where a boat should be visible.

Liberty Island stands visible in the distance, crowned by the stunted remains of the Statue of Liberty, a twisted mess of copper and molten metal. Prefab concrete barricades surround the island's shore-line, trimmed in a fringe of razor wire and automated turrets. Heat sensors on the turrets register normal levels coming from the water, and pattern recognition software fails to key in on any discrepancy. None of the automated defenses have advanced enough to detect the subtle deformations in light caused by a trained Evolved with a photokinetic ability. Bent light confuses all but the most sensitive sensors, and even then only at a much closer range than this. It's what allows Colette Demsky to hide herself, hide her raft, and hide her intentions as she's towed downriver by the current.

Hudson River, New York City, Manhattan Exclusion Zone, 0200 HOURS

November 8th, 2017

Within the spherical field of invisibility Colette maintains, there is no light. It's all bent away, creating an illusion of whatever is on the opposite side of her field, a long-utilized and even longer honed gift. The darkness isn't a hindrance, however. Colette can feel the light beyond her invisibility sphere, she can feel colors, feel light above and below the visible spectrum the way that someone with synesthesia might see sound. Eyes, biological or mechanical, can be deceived.

When the drifting raft comes within a few hundred feet of Liberty Island, Colette slips off the back and into the freezing cold water. The wetsuit worn under her clothes helps protect her from the immediate shock, but the radiating cold is still numbing. She draws a knife from her tactical vest, slides it along the side of the boat and carefully lets out the air with a wide cut, so as to avoid too much noise. Once the raft starts to sink, the weight of the motor does the rest of the work, pulling the raft down below the strong current. That current is now Colette's first enemy, one she struggles against as she swims the remainder of the way below the surface of the Hudson, coming up on the rocky shore of the walled Liberty Island.

She moves with a slow fluidity, coming up out of the water and along the tumbledown concrete blocks covered in algae that dot the coastline, remnants of previous barricades destroyed during the riots nearly a decade ago now. Sure-footed, she ascends the rubble line and reaches the prefab concrete slab wall, directly below a pivoting turret. Back to the wall, she looks straight up and then drops into a crouch facing the wall. Her brows furrow, one finger pressed to the concrete. She concentrates, dismissing her invisibility and becoming momentarily visible. Doing so, she concentrates light into heat at the tip of her finger. That finger traces a circle in the concrete wall, leaving a molten arc of orange light in its wake as a concentrated laser cuts through the concrete like butter. Veins bulge at her temples from the strain, and just a few seconds later she's sliced a two and a half foot wide plug out of the wall.

Without taking a moment to catch her breath, Colette concentrates on the other side of the wall, dimming light there enough to obscure her next plan. She copies the visual texture of smooth concrete, projects it in front of the plug she cut out, and then pushes the sliced circle of concrete through the wall. The foot thick plug lands with a wet thump in the soft earth on the other side, briefly distorting her mirage. She doesn't wait to see if it was successful, it either was or it wasn't and it's too late to turn back regardless of the result. Colette slides through the opening head-first, coming out on the other side and projecting another sphere of invisibility as she quickly moves along the perimeter of the wall to the security door at the pedestal base of the Statue of Liberty's remains. As she moves in personal darkness, Colette swings a waterproof bag off of her shoulder, withdrawing a handgun from within along with noise-canceling headphones hooked up to a wireless music player. Then, an old, battered helmet with a spray-paint blinded visor. Headphones go on, helmet next.

One thumb click to turn off the safety, one thumb click to distract her auditory senses.

Am I—

Am I still tough enough?

An electronic beat pulses behind Colette's eyes, the rhythm helps distract her anxiety. The intense memories an old, familiar song brings back makes going through the motions again all the easier.

It's all happening again.

Feels like I'm wearing down, down, down, down

The guard at the steel security door in the statue's pedestal is pulled into Colette's sphere of darkness and her knife finds his jaw, neck, mouth, and eyes in no particular order. His proximity badge is removed, the door unlocks, and his blood-covered, convulsing body fades into view as the door closes shut behind its invisible infiltrator.

Is my viciousness

Losing ground, ground, ground, ground

Within seconds an alarm klaxon is blaring, security forces in three different wings of the Liberty Island facility spring into action. Colette is already moving swiftly, unseen, down concrete walled corridors. She doesn't need to hear the alarms to know they're going off. She can't feel the sound, but she knows. She's practiced. Rehearsed this. Gone against everyone's wishes for this. She turns right, goes straight, right, left, right, kicks in a door and opens fire at three guards putting on their body armor. Chunks of bone, brain, and clots of blood spatter on the floor and walls. She holsters her sidearm and the knife, picking up one of their high-velocity auto-rifles in exchange. She backs out of the room, checks her corners — three more gunshots — and guards already coming down the hall are riddled with bullets, screaming as they go down.

Am I talking too much?

Did I cross a line, line, line?

Colette backtracks, taking a left she'd gone right at the first time, shoots off the lock on a door into a security room and sprays gunfire across two consoles and three men, two of which beg her not to shoot before they're bleeding out on the floor. Red smeared boot prints fade into existence on the concrete floor as she leaves the room. She takes the right again, through a pair of double doors, then down a flight of stairs and rounds a corner. Gunfire again, this time into the backs of armored men, they're down and stunned but not dead. As she walks past, Colette briefly becomes visible again. A camera in the ceiling picks up an image of her, clad head-to-toe in black body-armor salvaged from the old FRONTLINE program without the bulky, mechanical exoskeleton. Her helmet is spray-painted with a red "X" across the visor. As she walks, the camera sputters as its light sensors are overloaded. Two hair-fine whips of blue light lash out from around her body, dismembering the stunned guards on the floor, through the concrete on the floor, through the rebar reinforcing it. The camera can't see her bleeding under her helmet from the exertion.

I need my role in this

Very clearly defined

She stops at another door, kicks hard but it refuses to open. She fades out of view again like a heat mirage on close inspection. Four men round the corner, her rifle pops off two quick, controlled bursts and they're down in writhing piles on the floor. She turns, visible again in mottling daubs of black and gunmetal. Her hand sweeps up and down along the middle of the door, a flash of light exchanges from between her palm and the steel, metal rains down and the door opens. There's four men, crouched and waiting, rifles up. They all open fire.

I need your discipline

I need your help

Moving as quickly as she can, Colette strikes the wall to her right with one shoulder as bullets impact her armor. The ferromagnetic body armor reacts to the shots, and the salvaged battery packs at the small of her back burn hot from the overexertion. Smoke issues from the wiring, copper sparks and plastic wire covers melt off. The armor goes from rigid to flaccid before she can catch her breath, but she's already dragging lashing lines of light across the hall like a fisherman's net. Burning flesh, molten metal, and seared concrete fills the hall with acrid smoke. She limps ahead, bruised and broken from the gunfire — preferable to perforated.

I need your discipline

You know once I start I cannot help myself

Colette slides in their blood, skids to a stop by a security door and tries her stolen badge. She's already locked out. There's already something else coming down the hall behind her, the high-pitched whirring is mechanical and the steel-on-stone sounds are telling. She turns, presses a hand to the door as a series of rapid-fire pops of light and smoke issue from her palm. The muscles in the back of her neck curl and tense, her eyes ache, her temples scream with tension and her head swims. The door comes open with the jangling sound of loose metal that nearly mirrors the screaming sound of straining metal getting closer down the hall.

And now it's starting up

Feels like I'm losing touch

A chair hits Colette square in the face, cracks the spray-painted and blacked-out visor of her helmet. She yelps, becomes visible and stumbles back. There's a gray-haired, one-eyed man in a bloodied business suit holding a folding chair in the doorway with half a handcuff dangling from his wrist. Across the room there's another man in a black suit blossoming with gunshot wounds. An empty handgun sits on the floor. «Epstein I swear to fucking god — » Colette hisses through the tinny and damaged loudspeaker in her helmet. The chair-wielding man, Avi Epstein, relents immediately.

Nothing matters to me

Nothing matters as much

"Demsky?!" He splutters, "I thought you were — "

«Fuck off and get next to me.» Colette spits back, stepping close to Avi as she calls back the invisibility, cloaking them both in a world of bent light and darkness. «Not one word,» she cracks through her helmet as a pair of green lights begin rounding the corner down the hall, back the way Colette came from, back the way they need to go. Soon a quadrupedal autonomous combat drone comes into view, a lithe feline body with a four-barreled machine gun on a pivoting turret where a head should be.

I see you left a mark

Up and down my skin

A drone operator across the country picks up photonic disturbances. Precise, delicate sensors that work well at close range. He presses a key, indicates "free fire" and the combat drone unleashes hundreds of bullets down the hall. Bullets rip through the doorway, shattering the upended table, blowing apart the chair that hadn't been used as a bludgeon. Colette and Avi are pressed together against the wall closest to the door, waiting for a sign that it’s safe to pop out. Avi can't see anything, Colette can see around the corner, up the hall, two floors past, and to their destination. She feels the fluctuations of light, sees them shifting, her path is clear. She hates it.

I don't know where I end

And where you begin

"Now!" Avi shouts, popping out from the door frame when the first magazines run empty, pulling Colette with him. Auto-reloaders in the drone's neck begin to replenish ammunition while a microfacturing printer in the torso fabricates new bullets from base materials nearly as fast as they're needed. The pair rush — one blinded by darkness, the other deafened to sound from her headphones — heading at the drone. Colette drops the invisibility and the pair come flickering into view, while Avi unholsters Colette's sidearm from her hip, just a step behind her. She drops into a crouch, firing her auto-rifle at the machine's head, Avi fire's over her as she drops, taking out the sensory lens between the four barrels. The drone collapses in a sparking heap, and Colette rises back up and shields Avi with her armored body as the drone detonates in a shower of shrapnel.

I need your discipline

I need your help

Avi can feel her shudder with the impact, the ferromagnetic armor plates don't harden this time; the batteries are shot. Colette slouches, momentarily, then forces herself upright. Bits of metal are embedded into the kevlar and nanofiber armor weave, only partly penetrating her skin. She's bleeding under the suit. "Up, up, up!" Colette can't hear Avi's call, but the push to her shoulder sends her moving forward. She needed the nudge, the world was spinning.

I need your discipline

You know once I start I cannot help myself

As they backtrack over fallen bodies, emergency lights flashing danger-orange all around them, Colette and Avi find themselves diverging from her original blood-stained path. They breach one last security door, exiting the base of the statue on the opposite side she entered from. There, a small landing pad contains a single VTOL aircraft; the X-51 ROOK, their confiscated bird. There's half a dozen security officers waiting, firearms at the ready. Turrets are pivoting to face inward. Spotlights sweeping. «Flickering,» Colette directs with a crackle-pop of her helmet's dying speakers. Avi closes his eyes. The world goes black for him, and blindingly bright for everyone else.


Colette turns the world into a strobe light that may as well be a knife to the eyes.


She's a black silhouette in the violent light. She's the flash, the rifle's the bang.


Screaming is drowned out by the music, gunfire a muffled vibration in her arms and chest.


Turrets fire blindly, shattering concrete, ricocheting off of the ROOK's armor plating. Bodies fall left and right.


Booted feet track in two pair toward the jet, Avi keeps one hand curled around a shoulder harness on Colette's armor. The barrel of her rifle swings in front of him, fires a round point-blank into the side of the head of a blinded security officer. He crumples, she fires twice more.

Once I start I cannot stop myself

And you.

The flickering stops. «Clear», Colette intones, motioning to the jet as she extends a hand up to the turret. The visual sensors on the turrets were overloaded by the light-show, displaying static back to mission command. Avi gets the back ramp of the aircraft open, fires up twice inside the crew cabin. A moment later two airfield techs roll out down the ramp, leaving bloodied streaks on the metal. Avi strides up into the back of the aircraft, already knowing what Colette has planned.

Once I start I cannot stop myself

And you know.

As she winds around to the back of the jet, four more guards come out. One of them carries a sidearm she's seen before, a compact sound-based weapon modeled after vehicle mounted LRAD nonlethal arms. Cables wind back from the stock into a battery pack. A high-pitched sonic blast ricochets across the landing pad from the firearm, but this time — this fucking time — Colette is prepared. The headphones, the helmet, the blaring music, it drowns out the debilitating sonic scream. Avi, also caught in the line of agonizing sound, crumples up against the aircraft's inner bulkhead.

Once I start I cannot stop myself

And you.

Laser lights dance across the airfield, whipping beams of bright blue that slice through meat, muscle, bone, and metal with equal ease. Cauterized chunks of human beings drop twitching to the ground, and Colette stumbles, clutching the side of her head with one gloved hand. «We have to go!» She calls up to Avi, who drunkenly staggers up now that the horrible screech has abated.

Once I start I cannot stop myself

And you know.

As she strides up the bloodied ramp, Colette looks back at Liberty Island one last time. Alarms are calling out across the city, across the Safe Zone. Her back is rigid as she looks out across the field of bodyparts left in her wake, stomach turning and hands trembling. Seven years ago she lost her father to a facility like this, lost one of the handful of people who ever unconditionally loved her. Avi Epstein may not be that close to Colette, but they're something like family. They're Wolfhound. She couldn't leave a member of the pack.

I need your discipline

(and you)

Avi climbs into the pilot's seat, aircraft still booted up and ready to move. Turbines whir, engines prime, and the back ramp begins to close as aerial drones streak through the skies from the direction of the Manhattan Exclusion Zone. Colette stamps up through the crew cabin, to the front of the ship and grabs a hold of a handle on the ceiling as she looks down to Avi in the pilot's seat.

I need your help

(Once I start I cannot stop myself)

"She's gonna’ hang you," Avi says, and Colette only half hears him. She unfastens the clasps on the side of her helmet, unlocks the hinges and slides it off, letting it drop to the floor with a thunk. Headphones come off, hanging around her neck and blaring the same song. Messy, short black hair is matted down with sweat against her head. She only now is able to wipe the blood from her face where rivulets of red have turned pink when mixed with sweat and tears. Blind eyes regard Avi beneath the ragged fringe of her lashes.

I need your discipline

(and you)

"If that's what it takes," Colette grouses as the ROOK begins to take off with a wobbling start. Avi swallows an awkward series of words in the back of his throat, they taste like resentment mixed with appreciation. "I couldn't let you rot in there," she adds, watching the walls of the compound recede out of view as Avi takes the craft into the air. "We'll figure it out."

Because once I start I cannot stop myself

Avi snorts out a laugh, brows furrowed. "Yeah, I've said that lie before too." Then, looking to the on-board radar. "So, yeah, I'm a little calm right now but — " he motions to two indicators of aircraft on the screen. "We've got about three minutes before we're fiery debris. I'm hoping you've got a plan?"

I need your discipline

(and you)

"Fly blind," Colette explains, motioning to the western horizon. "Keep her level and above building height. I'll handle the rest." Drawing in a deep breath, Avi pulls back the sticks, pivots the aircraft, and takes a westerly approach — straight at the oncoming drones. Colette slips back into the passenger cabin, settles down into a seat and buckles herself in. She leans her head back against the seat, expression tensing, veins bulging at her temples.

I need your help

(Once I start I cannot stop myself)

From the outside, the entire aircraft ripples like a heat mirage and fades from sight. The body design already protects it from RADAR detection, and now it's invisible to the naked eye as well. Inside, the ship is cold and dark, a lightless void where only Colette can see. "Steady," she indicates, "sharp right and then back to west. We'll weave between them." Avi, flying blind, does as he's told and hear the roar of two drones zip inches away from the sides of the stolen aircraft.

I need your discipline

(and you know)

He knew Colette was right. They'd figure it out.

Because once I start I cannot stop myself

They had to.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License