Groundbreaking Technology


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Scene Title Groundbreaking Technology
Synopsis Jaiden and Devon take on the robots of Midtown, and if you play with fire, you will get burned. Unless you have a hydrokinetic, then you could stand a chance.
Date July 30, 2011

Ruins of Midtown

Even passed curfew, it's that season where the sun is tingeing the sky until late — but by the time the last dregs of warm gold and orange have sapped from the landscape to bring about a patchily clouded navy sky, it's then that Jaiden and Devon make their journey into the bomb-wrecked, robot-plagued middle of Manhattan, where the crowds reduce from a sporadically thick mass of people-current through to utter draught. Wind whips through the avenues that used to be populated with cars that were whole and bright, with streets reduced to grime, sticky dampness and cracks in the concrete thanks to abandonment, abuse, and a very long winter in the not-so distant past. Yellow tape to cordon off sections occasionally remains strung up, but mostly flickers like a parade stream to gather dusty on the ground.

In keeping with popular belief but contrary to some expectations of the select terrorist organisations of the city, Midtown is not choked with robots. There is evidence where they choose to look for it, though — they passed a brick wall, not so long ago, laid to waste with a hail of automatic gunfire at some indefinite point in the city's recent history. Footprints in the form of cracked concrete and burn marks, and even some graffiti from someone like minded, painted on dirty concrete walls:


About half an hour ago, they heard a klaxon go off, but upon moving in that direction, whatever had set it off or made the noise had stopped and moved on.

Before going on this little 'mission,' Jaiden and Devon had what he liked to call a 'come to Jesus meeting' which, he was surprised to learn, was a kind of american term he picked up unknowingly. No usage of real names while in the zone or talking unless absolutely necessary. If seen, split up and get the hell out of there. If one is captured, the other goes straight to the safe house to warn and evacuate immediately. Little things like that. He also gave Devon a strange gift - a backpack containing foam with about ten chunks of rebar, each about two feet long, the end cut and then sharpened to a jagged point. With Devon's power, it might be a good thing to have around. Any damage to a robot could be chalked up to 'building collapse.'

Still, preparing for something like this - something very dangerous and daring, and potentially able to unload a story that could do LOTS of good for the Evolved people, it'll be worth the danger if they make it out okay. If they don't? Well?.let's not think about such things. His camera is ready, loaded with the infrared lenses to prevent flashes and plenty of batteries. He stops when he sees the spray painted warning, taking a quick few shots of it before continuing. Other than the camera, he's unarmed, trusting in his powers and wits to keep him safe. Here's hoping it'll be enough.

It had been a sober meeting, Devon expressing a far more serious side than he generally showed of late. The warnings of the robots being far more dangerous than anticipated was taken to heart. He asked few questions, a quick study more keen to take in the information offered and file it internally. There's no way to misunderstand or misinterpret the simplest instructions. And it's that seriousness that kept with the teenager even on entering the Ruins.

In silence, armed with a backpack full of rebar and his usual hand gun, Devon follows Jaiden. He stays to the rear, keeping a constant visual account going of everything they pass. Without lingering too long on any one thing, his eyes move to the next. Alleys and the levels above, overhead, even the way they'd come from, don't go by without some sort of notice, all while he follows the Australian.

For a while, the only thing that travels with them is the sound of their boots finding stray shards of glass and gravel beneath their soles, the sound of Jaiden's camera, and their own breathing. Buildings, as crippled as they are, reach tall and flat-faced along the streets, creating these vast, world-renowned corridors of giants.

They turn a corner, and their time and caution pays off almost immediately.

It's with no fanfare that they see it — at a distance, even, and so therefore difficult to assess the details of the situation, but the thing with the sentry robots is that they are quite large. Far away enough that they do not attract attention, but they can still approximate maybe ten feet of height on this monstrousity simply due to the length of its neck support its skull-like, equine head. Moonlight glints off hot steel, but more eye catching would be the plume of steam jettisoning out its sides to flag pure white in all the grey and black shadow.

It appears to be just standing there. Or guarding something.

Pictures of buildings, of strange tracks, of spray painted warnings and darkened boulevards, long abandoned, start to fill Jaiden's camera, and as they turn that corner, Jaiden freezes and slowly inches back behind, getting under cover, holding up a hand to stop Devon from going around the corner and being detected. They're here to leave only footprints and take only pictures - the last thing Jaiden wants is conflict with a ten-foot-tall monstrosity - especially when there might be more than one about.

Jaiden's been careful and quiet, stopping at the sound of anything out of the ordinary - and in an abandoned section of New York City, sucking up radiation that he doesn't need to suck up, that's not much. A quick look around to make sure nothing else is sneaking up on them, and for tracks in the dirt to indicate it patrols past this point, and a hand motion to indicate 1 robot ahead, and Jaiden starts to slowly detach the lens from his camera and attach the long-range telephoto lens. Using that and saving the pictures in raw format should give them plenty to play with when figuring out what these things can do. With the long-range lens attached, Jaiden slowly, and with the lens cover off and the shroud over it to keep reflections from the lens from drawing attention to them, slips the camera around the corner, focuses, and starts taking pictures of the robot. As many as he can, from head to toe.

The sound of steam hissing into the night air is what draws Devon's attention to the front just as Jaiden's hand pushes him backward. Taking a knee, he edges forward, under the camera's lens and without going past the older man's stance, just gaining enough ground to see what the subject is. His eyes narrow against the gloom to make out the robot in the distance while the teen's hands ease the pack from his shoulders and work the zipper to gain access to the main compartment.

Devon refrains from drawing length of rebar immediately, head tilting slightly to glance up at Jaiden. He touches the Australian's leg to gain his attention, then motions with his hands. A finger points to the pack then to the distant robot, followed by two fingers walking in that general direction. In short, the teenager needs to get a little closer before attempting anything with those weapons.

Even with the camera's settings and Jaiden's skilled hands, it's not an easy task to take clear and telling images of the robstrocity down the other end of the road. But not impossible. Its metallic silhouette is easily captured, a smear of light showing the green glow from its eye sockets, and the superhot rise of steam only briefly obscuring its definition. But seen through the lens, Jaiden can pick out what the naked eye might miss — the crumpled, humanoid form of a person lying very still at the scythe-like feet of the machine.

Around them, the city is silent. Nothing creeps up on their position — nothing noisy, anyway. Or on the ground.

Jaiden rests a hand on Devon's hand as he moves to draw the rebar, shaking his head in the negative. Right now, pictures are the goal, not physical evidence. Sure, if they end up fighting and defeating one of these things, they'll take a chunk back for show and tell, but they're not actively looking for trouble. At least, not until now. A twist of the lens focuses on the fallen form beneath the feet of the creature. A scavenger, perhaps, or someone unlucky enough to get in the thing's way while it was on patrol. But, that means it's decision time. A look to Devon and a shrug as he shows the image of the person beneath the thing's feet. It's standing guard over the form. He looks around for a subway entrance, a storm drain - something that will allow them to get close below the streets to determine if this person is a) alive and b) not a decoy. The pessimistic part of Jaiden is betting it's a decoy, but the heroic part of him is thinking that they should rescue the princess, as it were.

Dammit for being heroic sometimes. Makes all sorts of decisions hard

A nod follows Jaiden's instructions, And Devon gently pulls the zipper back together. His eyes again follow the camera's path to the robot, legs pushing upward for him to stand again. As he straightens, he looks into the image on the camera's display, frowning when he picks out the human-like form at the monster's feet. He lets out a breath and nods, pulling the bag onto his shoulders again. Looks like they're going in anyway. The teen, settling the pack against his back, takes a couple of careful steps away from the photographer, also looking for access into the underground.

Access underground is not difficult to come by — the closest access point is uncomfortably within 'view', or what passes for it, of the robot standing tall and still and steaming on the street. The second is a little ways back along the street, near the intersection they cross to come here, but serves the correct purpose. Trying to lever it back silently is a similar kind of difficult-but-not-impossible, but even the scrapes of metal and concrete that ring into the night do not appear to turn the robot's head. It is, after all, a machine, and designed to detect, see and sense different things. The shift of urban elements does not ping its radar.

Underground is wet, and dark, but the summer allows for a tolerable amount of moisture as opposed to slushy urban floods of ice that they'd have to tolerate in a different season.

At least underground they're relatively 'safe' from things like that giant robot. Reaching into his pack once they're out of view from the entrance they levered open, Jaiden looks down the tunnel that they've discovered as far as he can, turning on the night vision bit of his camera to get a better view of what's down there. Assuming nothing is found (no twinkling from infrared sensors, no visible trip wires and the like,) he pulls out a small plastic tube that he bends double quickly, causing a soft *snap* of cracking glass. Shaking the tube starts a chemical reaction, a muted green glow providing light for the two men. And down here, Jaiden dares to talk, even though it's not more than a whisper. "We've gotta see if that person is alive. It might be a trap, but?." He trails off, looking thoughtful. "It isn't right, just leaving someone there."

"So long as you take the heat if things go south," Devon whispers back, chasing the words with a grin. No way is he catching flack for playing hero this time. "I'll take the far side," he continues, pointing to the side he'll follow, "you on the other. Cover any openings we get to before we reach the robot." His own words are followed as he angles off, moving carefully to avoid any slips or snags or puddles. A thumbs up is given to Jaiden after a quick look behind and ahead, then the teenager begins the cautious walk toward the target, pausing at openings just long enough to determine it's clear to continue forward.

Devon's feet avoid the rippling water lying stagnant and smelly on the bottom of the tunnel, while Jaiden's step upon it in an even more silent creep through the darkness lit by chemical, casting eerie shades along brick and concrete. Shards of moonlit night time filter through where storm drains sporadically offer a hazy, ghost-like illumination, and small peeks as cautiously executed by both men guide their way closer and closer.

Without true incident, save for getting dirty, the men approach the storm drain at the better vantage point to view what's going on. The silver reflectivity of Jaiden's mirror doesn't have much light to bounce around as its angled down the road, offering that tiny window of visualisation.

The man lying face down on the street remains still, but his eyes are shut. Difficult to tell if he is breathing, but if you've ever seen a dead body, it's not impossible to differentiate between one and someone who is unconscious — and both Jaiden and Devon have, and this man seems to be alive. The lower half of his face is stained red from where a broken nose has gushed, and his clothing is that of someone who lives on the street, all layers and worn patches, his salt-and-pepper hair too long, his pale face thin. A tilt of the mirror shows something else illuminating, too. Green eyes of the sentry bot have switched to a throbbing red, for all that its posture and position has not changed.

At the other end of the tunnel, there's a different set of stimuli — a noise. A metallic scrape and the click of something mechanical, although a quick glance down shows nothing of the scale of either a sentry bot or a hunter bot.

Jaiden dares a few more pictures, being careful to not let any reflection give away their position, but at the metallic *click* he freezes, sinking back into the darkness, tucking the light away inside his jacket, and putting a hand to his mouth in the universal 'shut up!' sign. The fear is that they have company. And chances are, yes, they do. Jaiden turns on the night vision of his camera again, aiming it down the tunnel. Dappled moonlight more than likely will give it fits, but it might give them a bit of warning before something hits them. The memory card is withdrawn, tucked into a small lead-lined envelope, like the ones used to take film back through security at airports - the last thing he wants is an EMP to scramble all of their hard work. A few words are murmured, directly in Devon's ear. "Incoming. Follow close. Get out."

Jaiden starts to move, away from the man who was captured, toward the sound. Little may be better than big. A small wave of water precedes him, ready to snap up at the first hiss of negation gas?..

When he's able to discern that the shape is actually human, and does seem to be alive, Devon takes some few seconds to study the situation. They've come this far, the guy is bleeding and looks to need some help. If not for the robot's eyes changing color, he might even do the foolish thing and make a run for recovering the man. After all, physical proof would be a great help, and what better than a verbal account to go with Jaiden's pictures? All this is set aside in haste when a clicking sound comes from behind and, like the older man, the boy drops back into the darker recesses.

"What about the guy up there," Devon asks in contrast to Jaiden's orders, barely bothering to whisper, "we can't leave him to die." He follows for a few steps, then pauses to draw out one of those stakes from his pack. He looks back to where the man and robot are, fingers tightening around the rebar, before he hastens after Jaiden again.

The rise of water wells and falls again, but ever in control of Jaiden for all that it doesn't seem to hit anything save for a few stray droplets. Through the lens of the camera, Jaiden can see next to nothing out of the ordinary creeping along the wet ground — but then he catches sight of a dark shape huddled to the roof of the tunnel, unmoving but certainly, it was not there before. With a whir of shifting gears, it extends its spidery legs, seemingly capable of attaching the the slick underside of the tunnel. Approximately the size of a small dog, both men are able to see it when a pair of green-lit 'eyes' suddenly blink on.

It's almost cute.

In the time it might take to react, a sudden snap of white light strikes through the tunnel in the ever distinctive shutter of a camera going off. As if knowing that this might invite Trouble, the strange little robot begins to back up along its unlikely path way with a machine-like whrrrr.

He's already wanted, so having a photograph taken of him is probably not the best thing. Specifically with time stamps, locations, GPS tracking and more likely than not, radio warnings saying "Hey, people are here in this tunnel." That flash is Jaiden's sign for him and Devon to, pardon the french, get the FUCK out of dodge.

The water swells in the darkness behind the spider-like robot, then, with a gush from a disused drainage pipe slams into the thing with a good amount of force - not all Jaiden can muster, but it's enough. After all, he's run a water park with his power before, so amplifying the surface tension and pressure of the water slamming into the spider might be enough to disorient it long enough for Devon to pin it to something with a length of rebar. That'll also put a hole in it big enough for Jaiden's water to go in and short things out.

While all this is going on, he hasn't forgotten about the *big* one upstairs - a second wall of water - hopefully enough to block any negation gas, rises in the tunnel behind them as he, almost madly, moves _toward_ spider bot!

The flash of light is surprising as much as it is bright, and Devon flinches when his vision is so rudely disrupted by the white harshness. It takes barely a second for him to recover, another that's long enough for Jaiden's power to take hold of the little spiderbot. His pack comes off with a muted clang and the rebar he'd extracted his held in a death grip. Soon as the water lashes upward, the teenager breaks into a run to follow in it's wake, a dead sprint that'll bring him to the robot and add momentum to his next move.

After just a few strides, the teenager brings the stake up, clenched in two hands, point aimed at the center mass of the bot. And when he's near enough, just after the water impacts the spider, Devon drives the stake forward through wet and grime to skewer the robot. It may not pin it to the wall as hoped, but hopefully it will open up a hole for the Australian to flood the circuitry.

In the chaos of multiple attacks, it's not a haze of yellow gas that attempts to choke and clog the artery of the underground tunnel — but an eruption of fire, too deliberate and stinking of igniting chemical for it to be some bad reaction to Devon's attack. The heat sears up Devon's knuckles, stripping them of hair, and an uncomfortable, injured tingle to his eyes as the sheer heat of it slams him like something tangible. But it's reduced to steam under Jaiden's watery oppression, cutting out the fire before it can do any real damage beyond sizzled eyebrows and minor surface burns, and there's a spark and crack of electricity just as the rebar stake slides along the tough metal shell that compacts the spider-like robot, finding a weakness in its machinery as legs spaz, stretch, momentarily useless for a crucial few seconds.

In the same moment, obnoxious klaxon wailing breaks out above them, and although they can't see or hear or feel anything activity pursuing them, the noise comes from directly overhead. It's not only loud — it's offensively loud, the sound like an attack unto itself as the walls around them seem to vibrate with the ear splitting wail.

To quote Frankenstein, "FIRE BAD!" It takes just about everything Jaiden has to suppress a yelp of fear, instead driving forward through the steam, his legs pumping, his ability surrounding the spider-bot with a shell of water, the pressure exploiting that crack Devon put into it, and hopefully shorting it out and killing it deader than a post.

The klaxon, though, gets a "FUCK!" from Jaiden, the man looking up even as his water does it's work. "When we hit the street, Devon, split up. RUN."

A yell, both surprise and delayed pain, erupts in seconds after the initial explosion of flame and heat. Devon, squeezing his eyes shut against the heat, for all the good it'll do now, holding the bar in place until the second wash of water rolls past him and into the robot's innards. Teeth grinding, his eyes come open slowly after the second flash of light, breath coming in pants until the klaxons above begin tolling. The sound causes his breath to catch in his throat, his heart to skip a beat.

As Devon looks at Jaiden to nod his understanding of the orders, Devon reaches past the rebar with one hand and grabs hold of the robot's body. His attention turns back to the robot, to begin syncing with it. Physical evidence, right? He just needs a moment, less, really, some part of his internal understanding and awareness grasping hold of the spider to make it easier to transport. Then he'll run.

The spidery robot is quite thoroughly dead by the time Devon places his hands on it — it is uncomfortably warm to touch, bordering on painful in some places but otherwise, causing no injury as Devon focuses his power on the dense object he intends to take with him.

There's a sudden hail of gunfire, sparking off the edge of the storm drain they'd been peeking out of. Machine-gun rapid, it brutalises this mouth of space with bullets sinking into cracked concrete and lifting up dust and debris. It lasts a few second before stopping, the klaxon continuing to wail. Large feet supporting however many pounds of robot above them can be heard scraping on the road, and there's a slam of force, as if it were considering whether it could simply break through the blacktop, although it's all noise and loose particles in the air as opposed to real threat of breaking through. Right now.

Either way, whatever is up there, knows exactly what is down there.

Okay, gunfire. One of the few things worse than plain fire. And a klaxon probably summoning more of those giant things - here's hoping this is a testing ground and this is the prototype. Escape is really, really starting to look like a good thing, what with the assault. As they move through the sewer, Jaiden keeps an eye out for anything that looks like a 'weak' spot, careful that the rumbling footsteps stay other in front of or behind them. "Devon!" Jaiden yells over the cacophony. "Think you can pull the street down underneath that thing?" Here's hoping he can. They need to get aboveground and split up. Like nap!

With a flinch and instinctual jerk of his shoulders to hunch away from the gunfire, Devon wraps his arms around the prize and brings it in close enough to carry easily. If it can be called a prize. "I— maybe," he calls back to Jaiden's question. He glances upward, grunting at the weight of the spider as his concentration on it is broken. He heads first for his discarded bag, watching the ceiling and the egress they'd peered through only moments before. There's no time for care, grabbing the back end of the pack to dump out the remaining rebar.

Draping the pack over the spider, Devon hurries to Jaiden and the wall of the tunnel, slapping a hand against it. The robot wants down? Let's bring it down. The teen's eyes come off the ceiling and go to the wall, once again pushing his focus into the structure. "Stay clear," he yells over the noise, waiting a couple of beats before trying to harness his ability and pull the ceiling down and ruin the robot's walking.

Thirty seconds can feel like a long time.

It's interspersed with the thud and crack of immense weight of the sentry bot's consideration of what it detect beneath the ground, another spray of gunfire and what could be a sign of movement at the ruined storm drain— and then Devon's power sets in, sinking invisible hooks into the patch of road above their heads. Or a little off from their heads, ine would open. Fractures crack through the concrete and asphalt, and without much in the way of preamble—

With a roar of debris and straining metal, fragments of concrete come crumbling down as if made of cookie, the bulk of it slamming down into the bottom of the tunnel with force enough to make the ground beneath them shudder, and several hundred pounds of steaming superheated metal buckles and crashes through the chaos in an awkward tip onto its side, equine head whipping back and forth on its long neck with gleaming red eyes glowing demonic. In an instant, oily yellow smog billows out of its ribcage like sides, sickly gold in the rising dust of destroyed road.

The klaxon has stopped, at least.

That would be the sign to run hard and fast. Sure, they're probably going to get negated, but that doesn't mean their legs won't work. And with that thing on it's side? They need to make it to where ricochets don't come into play by putting distance between them and getting out of these sewers for fear of more spider-bots making an appearance. If he can, a wall of water comes up to block the gas, an airtight seal in the sewer as best as it can as they flee like scalded apes towards the opening they climbed through. If they make it there, Jaiden takes a look with his mirror to see if anything is up there… please, god, let there not be anything up there.

Cringing at the sound of creaking and splintering metal and asphalt, Devon scrambles backward to make more space for the falling robot. And street. He lets out a breath, a surprised and weak chuckle that in another time might label him as mad. Victory is short lived as the sickly yellow gas begins expelling from the monster and the teen is quick to turn and run after Jaiden. One arm tightens around the spiderbot as he follows the Australian, the other trying to work the pack down over the thing's body. When he gets the chance and if it fits well enough, he'll carry the robot on his back rather than his arms.

Jaiden's mirror shows nothing. Empty street. The spot they'd hidden before they'd approached.

The broken hole in the ground that Devon created has lifted a dust cloud enough to obscure the details of the spot. The location of the unconscious, "arrested" older man they'd gone to get a look at is difficult to make out, through the mirror — not even there, although that's likely the angle of the mirror and the storm drain. Either way, he'll be lying within firing range should the robot get its turrets in line, and though he himself is not in immediate danger—

Otherwise, the street is empty, quiet, and inviting. No scrabbling spiderbots, no hunterbots having made it this far just yet, and no back up patrols zoning in on the area.


The street, thankfully, is empty, and Jaiden even dares to poke his head up to see for certain before scrambling out of the sewer and offering a hand to pull Devon up. "Just run." He hisses to Devon. "Don't ask questions, don't do anything. RUN. Get out of here." Hopefully the things Jaiden told him before embarking on this little mission hold true, and the boy doesn't go straight back to the safe house with a spider robot in tow. "If you're going to get caught, drop that thing and run. If you get away, leave that somewhere safe. We'll get it later." Jaiden's voice is low, only taking a few seconds to impart this vital information. He doesn't want to leave the guy, but if they don't get out…this'll all be for nothing.

While Jaiden climbs out of the tunnels first, Devon jams the robot into the pack as best as he can. Not the nicest fit, but it'll do for now. He pulls the pack onto his shoulders and begins the climb upward, taking the help when it's offered. The question is plain on his face when he's told not to ask, eyes moving away from the older man to where the other, the apparent victim, still lays bleeding. His brows furrow and the frown is turned on the Australian, the teenager clearly not liking the instructions to leave someone behind. Grudgingly, he follows orders, turning away to pick his way out of Midtown and not by the route they'd entered on.

It'll leave a bad taste in Jaiden's mouth, for certain, and Devon, more likely than not, will confront the man about it once they're out of the woods, but for now, it's a matter of us versus them, and, sadly, us wins out at this point. The fact that the man seemed to be alive still meant that someone was coming to check on him, and now that there's a crater in the street and telemetry of a spider bot that torched a tunnel and then mysteriously vanished after short circuiting, going to help the man, as much as Jaiden wants to, is a thing that probably won't happen. Jaiden heads away from the robot, heading out of Midtown, following a completely separate route from Devon, trying to put as much space between him and the robot as he possibly can.

It's no straight path that Devon will follow, turns taken randomly and keeping to the darkest reaches of the buildings' shadows, but always moving toward the outermost edges of Midtown. The need to get away as much as the displeasure at leaving someone behind fueling his steps. There's no looking back to see if he's followed, relying on sound to alert him to anything behind. His eyes focus on the sides and what's ahead, constantly shifting in focus so that his course can be adjusted without hesitation. He won't head straight for the safehouse tonight, but he'll put as much distance between himself and the scene as possible.

The negation gas clears, the dust settles, and there's the crack and crumble concrete as the sentry bot takes its slow time in emerging from its pit. Strange, near mantis-like legs reach over the edge of the broken ground, with scrapes that send up sparks and the groan of stressed machinery and metal as the creature-robot gets out of its own predicament in slow, labourious heaves and hauls. By the time its out and on its feet, it angles a look down towards still unconscious prey lying on the sidewalk, before triggering its klaxon call again.

Its machine-like howl pierces through the air before the military truck of personnel comes to see to scene some moments too late. As Devon and Jaiden move their separate ways through the city, they can still hear it.

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