Meet Maya - Cops


emily_icon.gif kaylee_icon.gif luther_icon.gif ff_silas_icon.gif squeaks_icon.gif zachery_icon.gif

Scene Title Meet Maya - Cops
Synopsis Nothing like a little virtual unreality to give people the opportunity to do what they will.
Date May 20, 2019


The rain is coming down hard, and you think you can feel it, tingling over your skull, pattering against your shoulders, cool down your neck. The ground beneath your feet is hard concrete. You look around, and see other figures standing in the circle you stand in, dressed as you are dressed: in body armor, futuristic, shining black plate and leather, equipped with an alien looking pistol holstered at the hip.

And beyond them, you see a panoramic of a city. You are on a tall rooftop. Floodlights beam down from the sounds of helicopters in a night sky.

One of the figures in the circle breaks, coming to stand in the centre. A woman, her black, glossy hair pinned tightly to her skull, her olive skin flooded almost white with casual passes of the spotlights from above. "Welcome, players," she says. "You and your peers have been selected for Operation: Clean Sweep. Beneath our feet is a megacity structure — a single building that houses not only hundreds of civilians, but its own metropolitan ecosystem. This morning, a criminal organisation known as the Rapture have taken control of the megacity, throwing it into full lockdown. The city police have been unable to penetrate its defenses without risking civilian lives.

"Until now."

Beneath your feet, you notice a soft glow emanating from a seam in the rooftop floor. A wide circle implies some kind of doorway or elevator set into the concrete. "Operations has managed to hack through the megacity's security, allowing us access to this emergency escape. We will have ten seconds to enter before overrides once again seal the megacity from the outside world.

"Once inside, it's your task to make it to Level Twenty, take over command of the central security systems, freeing the civilians of the megacity and granting access to the city police force. Remember, Rapture is ruthless, uncompromising, and will defend what they've stolen to the death. It is our singular imperative to get to Level Twenty before they do something… drastic."

Her severe tone seems to change, listing into a more upbeat, neutral affect as she says: "Please review the rules of the game before entering the circle. When all players are ready, we shall begin simulation."

Welcome to Maya, running simulation: COPS

You are equipped with a laser-type sidearm. Your ammunition is unlimited, but inaccurate shots will be deduct points from the final tally. You cannot be hurt and killed in Demo Mode, but hits taken will deduct points from the final tally.

You are equipped with a superpower. You may choose between Fire, Ice, or Telekinesis. To trigger this ability, simply direct your focus using an empty hand. Please make your selection now.

If you wish to exit the simulation at any time, simply touch your left hand to your right wrist, and hold for 10 seconds.

Do not, under any circumstances, trigger your real life ability if you are SLC-Expressive. Doing so may cause harm to the equipment, yourself, and others.

Remember: you can choose to play, or not to play.

Beginning simulation in 10 seconds.

The circle engraved into the ground glows brighter, shining up in front of you.

God, this feels weird, Silas thinks to himself. He's wondering if he shouldn't have chosen Robber; it'd probably be more in character for him, anyway. But… the whole point of something like this is to step out of your comfort zone a bit, isn't it? Besides. He's an Upstanding Citizen now, so he might as well play one of the boys in blue. Or… black, in this case. He has to admit, the gear — the space age combat armor, the alien-looking laser pistol — feels pretty rad.

Plus now he can make all the donut jokes. All of them.

Not getting to use his actual ability in here is a little disappointing, but eh. Maybe the Robbers get a more subtle selection, but it looks like the cops get fairly standard powers. Ah well. Plenty of room for subtlety, even so. Hm. Fire, Ice, or hitting people with my mind? he ponders. He mulls it over for a minute… but there's really only one choice here. Batman & Robin was easily one of OJ's worst movies, but being the one dishing out the terrible ice puns should be more fun. He grins ferally, selecting Ice… then, as the rules overlay fades, he steps forward into the circle. "Ready, Player One."

Equipped with a superpower? Well.

Eyebrow quirked in an arch, Emily makes her selection without hesitation, hand grabbing at the stylistic representation of the ability before stepping forward into the circle. The others around her slip into better focus as the selection HUD fades away seamlessly, but she ignores them in favor of tilting her head up to the darkened sky and closing her eyes.

She feels the rain.

Her hands slowly lift from her side to touch her face, feeling the water streak across her cheek. It's disorienting when Emily touches the spaces where the instinctively knows she should be finding something of the interface she'd worn to get here … and feels nothing. Instead, she feels the helm, feels her hair — wet — all when it shouldn't be.

Instead of fighting it, she embraces it, and when she takes in a short inhale in awe at it all, she takes it accepting the world rather than simply suspending her disbelief of it. Sure, it's a game, but it's also real in this moment. The objective is pure and also addictive in its cleanliness: good guys destroy the bad guys. Keep your hit/miss ratio respectable (okay, maybe that shooting training with Teo was really about to pay off) (wait, was there even a prize? What was she getting excited about?)

Emily turns at the sound of the voice by her side, her appreciation for the moment roughly jarred when she sees who else is in the circle with her. "Wait—" she stammers. What even? She sidles a step to the other side, just peering hard at Silas.

He looks weird. Like him but not him. On top of being a facestealer from another dimension, this takes it to a whole other level. She can't put her finger on it. "So, holy shit, we look like ourselves instead of avatars?" Emily asks out loud, looking down at her hands again. They look like her hands. Well, okay then.

Zachery Miller has not ever been a cop or a robber. He has been things adjacent to both of these things, though. And today, he is here. And this.

To start with, while he adjusts, his movement is minimal. A roll of his shoulders, back straight but head lolling forward and then slightly to the side as his eye— eyes, plural, catch sight of the pistol. Its grip gets an idle flick of thumb and middle finger, barely enough to jostle it in its holster. Well, alright.

If he is anything but comfortable with this situation, he is, at least, good at keeping it hidden. Once he looks back up, it is with his head held high. It's time for a decision. "Telekinesis…?" It's more a mumble to himself than anyone else, but who knows how things are transmitted here. He sure doesn't. "Don't mind if I do."

After making his selection in the manner that was instructed, Zachery immediately steps forward, perfect posture, fingers idly curling in and out at his sides, expression neutral. That is… before Emily's voice draws out a few blinks, and then a wry grin. Oh boy.

“This is primal.” Squeaks’ voice is, well, practically a squeak. Excitement pitches her tone high and tight, like if she relaxes even just a half second, all the energy would gush out. She’d be like a squirrel on speed, unable to stand still or focus long enough to hear the instructions. There’s a giddiness to her actions, as she examines her armor — it actually fits! See, Raytech, it’s possible – and when she tries to take in everything all at once. Her eyes are wide with wonder, as she looks at everything, head and body twist and swivel about.

“So primal.” More a murmur this time, following the explanation of the scenario. Either game would have been fine, and fun. But secretly she’s glad to be on the cop team. Being the good guy is always better.

In her opinion.

Eager, shuffling steps bring the young teen close to the edge of the circle. She follows the glowing ring with a look, then settles her attention on the superpowers. “Woah. Okay. Okay.” She doesn’t bother giving it too much thought, her eyes track to the longest word first and that’s the power she chooses. Telekinesis, go!

Then, Squeaks takes a deep breath and steps into the circle.

“Don’t use your ability?” Kaylee murmurs under her breath to herself. “Really?” They were out of luck, cause her’s doesn’t shut off. Standing there, staring at the rules screen she feels a twinge of uncertainty. Maybe this was a mistake. She felt a touch disoriented after being transported to that rooftop. The downside is, she knows there are people near her… but the mental hums do not correspond with the bodies.

Kaylee might have gotten excited when she saw the theme, drug her companion with her, even. There wasn’t even a choice for her on what side to pick. Now they were here and committed. This woman was clearly in that age group where ‘this was so freaking cool’ and ‘this is really weird’ meet, so she was kinda in a odd place mentally on the whole experience.

The hold up, at the moment, was the ability. How do you choose? Fling people around with her mind sounded kinda fun. Freezing people - peepcicles? - could be pretty neat. She had been pretty close to picking that. However… The telepath snags the fire option after second read through, possibly influenced by those in her life that use it regularly.

Time to see what the hype is all about.

As the rules fade and Kaylee steps into the circle, the familiar faces, the “god that guy looks familiar but I don’t know where’ (That might be Zachery), and the unfamiliar come into focus. The telepath grins brightly at Squeaks and even Emily, she was so ready for a little unwinding after some very hectic and stressful months.

Minutes ago he'd accompanied Kaylee into this simulated reality program to try it out. While he harbors a vaguely uncomfortable feeling overall towards the realness of the simulation, Luther games on. The armor, the weapon, the conceptualization of the surroundings otherwise all feel familiar. Training simulations for security teams aren't unusual.

The presence of a simulated ability however… given the trio of powers to choose from, Luther goes with another familiar choice. Fire. That's normal enough. Not as normal, seeing and recognizing some of the others in the group. Despite misgivings, he chooses to play along for now. "Once we're in there," he calls over to the others, "We should stack up, two teams of three for cover."

The light emanating from the circle seamed into the ground glows brighter, and then veins inwards, carving through jagged etchings in the concrete beneath their feet. Where one might expect a sudden sinking of the ground beneath their feet or some other mechanism, there is instead a subtle vibration that tingles up from the soles of their boots.

And then vision collapses in on itself, black filling in the sight of the other figures nearby, the distant city panorama, the lightning riddled clouds above.

And returns. The players find themselves standing in the same configuration as they were before, within a circle with the same glowing patterns (now fading), but they are somewhere within. They find themselves within a large, industrial chamber, reinforced steel, old flaking paint in warning yellow stripes, and dim red glowing lights. They stand on a raised circular platform, and that vibration beneath their feet passes, the mechanic humming dying, as what must be some kind of teleportation pad powers down.

The woman — Maya — moves first, hopping down off the platform, and taking her pistol into her hands. Although Luther had addressed the other players with his directives, she seems to respond with a nod.

The chamber, as long and wide as a whole floor of megacity, it seems like, is in itself riddled with objects — a caged row of what looks like servers, caged, but no lights emanating from them. Some steel storage crates, stacked high. There is an air of neglect, dust motes in the air freshly disturbed from their appearance, whorling beneath the glaring red lights.

On the ground, a clue as to where to go — faded, painted stripes of different colours, but one is green, with arrows that point back towards the teleportation pad. It's this one that Maya starts to follow, quietly.

All the while, data begins to scroll across the visual perspectives of each player. A bar to indicate health, currently full and green in their upper left. As their gaze landscapes the terrain, each object and obstacle is briefly highlighted in dim green. This overlay of unreality seems to throw the realism of everything else into sharp relief, the textures of scratched steel and stained concrete, the sheen off of their own armor, and the depth of shadows between the bright scarlet light.

A sound suddenly intrudes in on the quiet — a sound of rolling metal and mechanical shifting, and then a SLAM of metal on concrete. Somewhere up ahead, unseen.

Maya goes still.

Silas blinks as he recognizes the second player to join the simulation. Elbows! he thinks to himself, lips curving up into a small smile of genuine amusement. Then the fourth player joins up, and his eyes widen in shock. Squeaks! he thinks, smile widening; he's beaming now.

The expression wavers a bit when Luther ventures his battleplan, becoming more of a bemused grimace. It… doesn't sound like bad advice, really, just… ugh. Maybe I shoulda gone robbers, he muses… but it's too late now. Might as well make the most of it.

He takes a moment, as the circle beneath their feet is starting to power up, to scrub a hand up his face and back through his hair to get some of the rain out… then he takes another to marvel at how striking the detail is here. The rain, the wind, the flickering of lightning across the sky, the chop of the helicopters mixed with the sullen rumbling of distant thunder.

Then, the circle activates; he'd been expecting the dropping sensation of an elevator, but instead the world implodes. He has a half second to start to think oh shit, am I dead? before the world returns… this time in what looks like the cyberfuture equivalent of a dusty old warehouse.

Okay. He can roll with this. He notes that… Maya?… seems to approve of the whole 'split into two squads' concept. He doesn't get too long to think about it before the noise of metal on concrete rings out; sounds like someone else is already rolling with it. Ah, hell. Sounds like the welcome wagon's already on the way, Silas thinks.

Quickly, he takes a few steps forward to get down off that raised platform — he wants to be able to get some cover if anyone starts shooting his way. There's plenty of that, at least; he's not super wild about all the green glowy stuff flickering in his vision, but… it doesn't really seem to be interfering with his vision, and the way it outlines potential cover seems pretty useful. He takes a moment to position himself against a server rack before looking back at the others. "If we're doing three man teams… Squeaks, Elbows. You two wanna team up?" he asks, looking back.

Remembering what the instructions had said, he raises an empty hand, focusing on it for a moment… and cold fog starts to swirl from it. Holy shit. Badass, he thinks, but doesn't let it show; instead, he just grins. "Sounds like company's already on the way; let's give them… the cold shoulder."

There's not any time to consider the suggestion to split into teams, though the desire is there, due to the world falling apart. Emily's gut drops when the floor is just gone, even though it reappears shortly after. She lets out a shuddering breath as she fights the vertigo that was clearly meant to be mollified by the vibration in their feet, but she'd make the mistake of looking down into the nothing, which didn't help when things were this realistic.

Phew. Okay. Get a grip. She shakes her head and reaches for her gun right away once they're teleported into the game, because it's been stressed this isn't a mode where diplomacy is an option. The flare of color around the edge of the objects is met with a slight narrowing of her eyes — disappointment in the clear, obvious stress that this isn't reality. She'd really been enjoying it, surprise vertigo and all.

Emily finally gets around to parting her lips to suggest a team combination when Silas beats her to it, and her gaze slides slowly in his direction. Elbows? Really? She blinks once and looks Zachery's direction with a shrug. She's been claimed, it would seem. With a glance to Kaylee first, but mostly to Luther at the telepath's side, she voices, "It's a good team composition."

Hey, at least two people on each side knew their way around a gun. Zachery and Silas she wasn't sure about, though. She pads along behind Maya because it seems like she knows where they're supposed to go, though when the woman freezes at the sound of the banging, her brow ticks down in a furrow. Did they lose points if the AI got hit, too? Emily reaches forward to grab Maya by her arm, to drag her back into cover as well.

It's possibly cover that will protect them from Silas's godawful puns, too. "Is shooting someone considered tsundere these days?" she wonders out loud, eyes on the direction of the sound.

Squeaks has been too busy trying to investigate everything all at once to really recognize anyone at first. And then the whole thing goes dark and woozy. It isn't the dark that really gets her, she can still see — if she needs to. It's the woozy that comes with it. Space folding in on itself and the appearance of movement when her body is still messes with her sense of direction.

Luckily it only lasts a few seconds. And a deep breath helps make it go away.

She looks up from the lighted circle to see everyone else. Finally she's giving them some notice.

Except it's really only a look, because there goes Maya walking off like that. But there's talking about teams also, so when she falls in with following their… guide? the young teenager bobbles her head in agreement. It's always good to have a buddy, someone to watch your back. She doesn't know a lot about being a cop, but she knows how to survive.

“Okay,” is an enthusiastic chirp given to Silas’ suggestion.

Her pace picks up a little bit, kept from actually catching up to Silas and Emily while she fusses with getting her alien-gun free. She checks it over, her feet slowing for a second or three so she can, then she runs until she's back with her two teammates.

She follows them right into cover. Her movements mimic theirs, although she wedges herself further from the noise and with Silas in position to be a shield. “I thought we're supposed to stop them,” Squeaks says, puzzled. “Why would you make their shoulders cold?”

Emily reaches out, hand guided in impulse to reach and grab onto Maya's arm — and for a moment, she feels nothing in her hand. The slightest lag. And then she feels the pressure of her own fingers imposed onto rough textured armor, just as Maya snaps her attention backwards. There's no real time for her own brain to catch up with analysing the realism of the moment, not when dark eyes meet hers, and so clearly telegraph nuanced thought — startle, then understanding and compliance, as she moves as directed, crouching behind a stack of steel crates.

"Ice abilities can be used to slow or wound enemies," she informs them, and keeps her voice low as she says it. "Or manipulate the environment to your advantage."


It's Luther's team that spots something first — the overlay of their vision sweeps over the shapes of objects, before another artefact or two hovers into view — two green targets centred on the fuzzy, indistinct outline of two people some fifty feet away, but moving at a casual pace towards their position.

Heat signatures.

It takes a moment for the telepath to orient herself, giving a shake of her head as she tries to push away the humming around her, instead she grabs onto one and lets her mental focus settle in… Sorry Luther. In that time, she misses the transition; but not that horrible pun — Silas gets a bit of a side eye for that one — before she lets out her breath and can finally turn her attention to the game. Noting the immediate pairing off leaving then with… who was this guy?

It didn’t matter… for the moment.

Curious, Kaylee looks at her empty hand, taking a step back immediately when a ball of fire erupts where her hand once was.“Whoa!” She hisses under her breath and nudges Luther to check it out. Not that he has much of a chance, the flame puffs out of existence at the rolling and subsequent slam that follows it. Her pistol is out and she quickly moves, fanning away from the others just enough to avoid any friendly fire.

The heat signatures are registered quickly, “Do you see this?” She asks the other two in her half of the team, to direct their attention. Her pistol is trained on the moving targets, casual or not. Green means good right? Shit! She couldn’t remember. “Luther?” she asks him, cause she knows who he is.

Ten seconds. Luther starts the count in his mind from when he steps into the starting circle, but he's not entirely prepared for the rapid shift of visual stimulus and vibrating sensation. He tenses silently, wordless but thoughts anticipating change of whatever kind. Accompanying it, a quiet reminder made to himself that this is merely a demo and to have patience in playing the game.

The scenery change draws his vision around to reorient himself in the dim red glow. He glances down to the telepad, then to their NPC guide, looking slightly surprised that she's still present. Surprised, and maybe a touch relieved. A hand moves to the draw his laser-gun from the holster - one to study the weight of it in his hands and how it works. Safety first.

But also, picking teams. Or rather, Silas picking his and Luther taking on the remaining pair. With a nod and a faint smile of reassurance sent over to Kaylee and the Other Guy, he gives a thumbs up indicator that teams chosen, they're good to—

The sudden puff of fire from Kaylee's hand interrupts just long enough to distract him, but the heavy slam sounding further away draws his attention. Luther studies the HUD bars and outlines in his vision. "Maybe we get an extra bit of backup," he considers aloud, looking briefly towards Maya. But eventually his focus swings back on the two figures coming in. Or it could turn into an escort mission. Who knows?

Hand held up to gain the other team's (Team 1?) notice, Luther takes that moment to indicate they should sidle up to the opposing walls near the entry point, and lay an ambush in case the green painted targets are actually 'green means go…take them out' or something else indicative of their take-down-ability status.

Though he bristled when the surrounding area changed, Zachery has been quiet, keeping to himself. Having hopped down from the pad last, his gait is steady, head low as he tries to reconcile unfamiliar input pretending to be his senses. He gives a look over his shoulder, and seems to accept his position as trailing behind and off to the side, sticking close to potential cover as if purely out of habit.

He's paying full attention, though, looking at those who speak up, or at least angling his head toward them when he's taking out his gun, probably apropos of the noise up ahead. He, too, notes the weight, lays it flat on his palm and fingers as he studies it. When Luther is motioning toward the other team, Zachery slides the gun right side up in his hand, points it directly at the point where Luther's head meets neck, and hooks his finger onto the trigger.

And pulls it.

Maya's head turns to Luther as he directs a look back to her, and she shakes her head slowly. No cavalry. "In this building, we're the only ones we can trust," she says, one dark eyebrow raising. "But once we reach Level Twen— "

And then Luther's vision suddenly goes angry red (redder still, bleeding into the shadows) in a pulse of sensation that feels almost like balloon full of warm water striking the back of his neck — soft impact, nerves tingling warm, and then nothing. In his hovering health bar, he sees it deplete by a small fraction, vision clearing once again.

And as for Zachery — and those standing near — he sees a beam of blue light flash through the gleaming scarlet of the back-up lighting, a sound like electrical discharge — but Luther's head does not explode into confetti, there's no simulation of gore or blood or burning. Instead, a number scrolls up in his vision, glowing an accusing red.


Before it disappears.

Up ahead, those figures that Kaylee sees go still.

And then splitting up in a hurry, moving in closer with less that casual strut, but more the distinct zigzagging of two people using cover to their advantage. As they near, their little green indicators and shadowy outlines flicker into view for everyone else.

Silas isn't sure what a 'sundaray' is, so he only glances back at Elbows with a hint of a sly grin before turning his gaze forward again.

At Maya's explanation. he nods along distractedly… but a moment later, his gaze swivels over to her, lips curling into a smile of mixed appreciation and amusement. He considers himself pretty good with words, but what she did there was graceful; she answered Squeak's literal question in a way that also imparted information to Silas on the proper use of his powers.

She's a smart cookie. He likes her already. "Elegantly spoken. Thank you, Maya," he says with a grin. Then to Squeaks, he adds, "Giving someone the cold shoulder means to make em feel unwelcome," he adds as an afterthought.

Luther's gesture catches his attention, and again he grimaces. Not because it's necessarily bad advice so much as not advice he particularly needs to hear. He nods grudging agreement, starting to slip forward again —

— when an electrical pop rings out from behind him.

He turns back in surprise… to see one of the players on Team 2 standing with his gun lined up with the back of Luther's head. "Shit!" he hisses, immediately putting some cover between him and the apparent dirty cop… and as he glances forward again, he sees flickering outlines coming from that way, too. "Welp. Company's here," he murmurs, easing his gun out of its holster. "If we start getting it from both sides, fall back. I can maybe slow em down a bit with my ice powers." He considers. "Also maybe draw their fire with bad ice puns. I've got a million of em, and who knows? Maybe they're sundaray, too," he says, glancing briefly back at Team 2's crooked cop teammate.

This has certainly taken a grim turn. He peeks out from cover a bit, extending his empty hand forward and focusing on it; a nice thin layer of ice on the floor ahead might serve to give the Rapturites a bad time if they try to come straight forward.

Emily's picked up on Luther's signing, brow lifted to indicate she's listening. She's in the midst of issuing a nod when she feels her gaze sliding toward Zachery, something about his actions demanding it. He's lifting his gun after all. Does he see something they don't? She's about to ask what it is when she realizes his aim isn't slightly off from Luther, it's directly on him. The shock in her expression is instantaneous, but there's not enough time to voice either warning or reprimand.

"Zachery, what the fuck!" the teenager is shouting after the zip of the fired round clips into its target. She rounds immediately back on the rogue shooter. Fuck their positioning and maintaining surprise after the shot and the shout. For a moment, she's rooted in shock at seeing him immediately do that. It ebbs when she notes Luther hasn't done something as dramatic as fade out of the simulation due to death from headshot.

The next, that knowledge gained, Emily is lining her gun up with Zachery's chest and firing at him in return, since she's on the opposite side of the aisle to be able to hit him herself. "You fucking griefer, what's the matter with you? We're on the same fucking team." She came from a school of thought where team-killers were shown the same respect, regardless of the tank to her own score. Remove fun for the shit-stirrer was the goal.

Too mad to barely see straight, much less reprimand Silas for the misuse of 'tsundere', Emily manages to turn and note the outline of green shapes heading their way. "Goddamn," she sighs out in frustration.

The moment the opportunity presents itself, she means to shove her offhand forward and send some other assholes flying with a telekinetic blast.

“Why wouldn’t you just say they’re not welcome,” Squeaks wonders out loud, and maybe grumping just a little bit. People always saying one thing and meaning something else, it makes no sense! “Giving them cold shoulders is just rude. I don’t like being cold.” Her head shakes slowly, side to side, disappointed that grown-ups aren’t just direct about things.

Getting as low to the floor as she can, she eventually peeks past Silas and Emily’s feets to look down the hallway. “There’s people coming,” is what she starts to say. It only gets part way into the first syllable — “Theh” — when there’s shooting from behind and then beside. That’s not supposed to happen! and wide eyes precede a full-body twisting and turning to look from Emily first to Zachery, Luther, and Kaylee.

Keeping her really low stance, Squeaks sidles slowly by her teammates, all while darting suspicious looks toward the other team and those green figures somewhere ahead. Please excuse while escaping potential crossfire. She slinks away and around the bit of cover Silas had first claimed, and half-crawls-half-creeps forward for a better point of cover. One where she can’t maybe get shot in the back by someone who’s supposed to be a friendly.

Kaylee’s attention is on Maya as she explains the objective. It’s so laser focused, that she doesn’t notice the movement of the other member of their party. Never in her wildest dreams, did the telepath imagine that she’d have to worry about friendly fire, even in a video game.

The sound brings her around quickly, startled. It takes a moment, for her to realize what’s happened and suddenly she’s furious. Right on the heels of Emily’s shout, Kaylee yells, “You goddamn Troll. Save it for the fuckin’ bad guys.” There is a bit of a southern twang to her words, angry like that. “You stupid idiot.”

Luther might be seeing red, still he wasn’t the only one Blue eyes practically stare daggers at the man who was supposed to be on their side. Kaylee was angry enough, despite her own words, her pistol comes up to place one between his eyes. HOWEVER, Emily manages to be faster hitting him with her own weapon. It startles the telepath out of her action, so instead she looks past Zachery to Luther. A subtle nod of her head towards the door and an arch of a single brow. Shall we? The motion suggests, while moving to grab one side of the offender.

Until the sensation of warmth striking the back of his head and tingling sensation between his ears alerts him, Luther isn't aware of the utter betrayal from his teammate. The red that flashes over his visuals along with an outcry from the others, causes the man to turn his attention away from the green outlined pair approaching. His hand reaches up to clasp the back of his neck for a moment, confusion writ over his knitted brow.

"The hell just hap—"

He doesn't even get the chance to ask as more shots are fired, laser and verbal, in Zachery's direction. It doesn't take him long to put two and two together. But there's something to be said about Luther's mental resilience that he barks a sharp, "Enough! Cut that shit out!" at Emily with a slash of his gloved hand in the air. He next turns to meet Kaylee's gaze. Later. Remember the mission.

Luther turns back to Zachery, however, and levels a piercing, cold stare worse than Silas' ice related humor at his "teammate". Kaylee moves to grab one side, and he shoots out his free hand for the other with the intent and purpose of slinging Zachery out in front and center of the rest of the others, even Squeaks.

There is a moment, amidst the yelling and the gun pointed at his head and then the gun fired into his chest, that Zachery looks genuinely surprised. The last part certainly, earns a sharp intake of breath, though it leaves his lungs just as abruptly a few seconds later.

His frantic looks between all of his assigned allies in turn precedes a grin that bubbles its way up to the surface on one side of his face first, then the other, wide and bright even if the rest of his body language speaks of something a little more… anxious. His hands go up beside his head, gun pointed to the ceiling, held loosely against upturned palm.

"Hhh-" The start of a laugh? Nervous failure to start sentence? Both? "Hhlisten, now we know, there's frwWHOooOOP!"

Aaand he's slung forward by Luther and Kaylee, into the fray, eyes wide as the gun comes forward again — both in an instinctive attempt not to topple over, which he only just manages, and because he knows what's ahead and braces himself to shoot at the first visible body part that pops out. Speaking of, he awkwardly lifts his left hand, too, to do…? Maybe fling a person up at the ceiling? How does one telekinesis. Somewhat— unstable-like, he announces through a chuckle, "Come get some meat shield!"

Zachery's vision is still clearing of red by the time he is positioned front and centre — although it's difficult to tell, what with the low scarlet glow of the lights of this chamber. He knows his vision is clear when he can see those smokey-green silhouettes along with everyone else, both of which pause as soon as his voice rings out.

And then one of them vanishes.

The other seems to sense a trap, and reverses, moving at a sudden pace from whence they arrived.

"Damnit," whispers Maya, her eyes trained in that direction. "Lost visual on one target. The other is making a run for it. We have to stop them from warning the others. This way." And for the sake of anyone willing to follow her, she moves — not in the direction that Zachery has been, uh, pointed, and avoiding the ice slick created by Silas, but something more sideways, keeping her centre of gravity low as she starts that way.

And she ducks, flinches, but doesn't stop, when the sudden sound of further pistol discharges fills the relative silence — bright yellow light suddenly fills the immediate open area in the form of a laser blast that strikes Zachery cleanly through the chest, that static tingle accompanied by his vision filling blank red, his health bar lowering. A second shot only narrowly misses Kaylee's head.

Wherever these shots are coming from, nothing registers on their HUD.

But they can hear the pistol shots, and then they hear a masculine sounding grunt in the wake of body weight hitting ice slicked ground. And Silas sees a green '34' floating up from where a spot on the ice has shattered under invisible impact. Mostly invisible. There is the faint, glass-clear outline of a figure trying to get to his feet.

Silas nods at Maya, starts to move after her, but the sound of laser blasts has him hesitating. He glances around… but the shiny new display isn't doing him one bit of good at the moment when it comes to figure out who's shooting. Son of a bitch, is this what it feels like to be on the wrong end of me?

That's… worrisome. Luckily it's not something he has to worry about long, because that handy little ice slick he set up has paid off. "One o'clock, from my position!" he calls, his hand already starting to go for his pistol… but then he hesitates. If he can freeze the floor… maybe he can freeze the Rapturite to the floor. Or at least ice him up enough that his little invisibility trick isn't gonna do much good. Can I do that? he wonders. One way to find out.

He raises both hands and focuses. "Freeze!" he calls.

The flare of the shot catches Emily's attention, tracking the light in the dark before she hears the fall. She hears Silas's (possible) pun, sees the fracture in the ice, and makes a decision — shoot at it anyway. She fires repeatedly into the area the man's body looks like it should be at, and after the third shot notes Maya's path. Making sure to stay out of Silas's freezeray, since friendly fire is definitely a thing, she starts to follow along after their AI companion. "Let's go, Squeaks." she urges quietly. Emily figures one way or another, they'll meet up again with the other team in the course of their pursuit.

“Oh no,” Squeaks whispers when Zachery goes crashing past her. She skitters for cover the other direction, the way she'd come from, practically on hands and knees. Good thing too, since there's now more gun shots flying around!

She flattens herself on the floor. That's totally how you avoid being shot at, right? Small target?

On the floor, the younger teen does crawl now. On her belly. And after Emily and Maya, instead of hunkering down somewhere. Only when she's mostly clear of the hallway… place, does she get her feet under her again.

Slinking along, but faster this time, Squeaks hustles after Maya and Emily. Her gun comes out again so she can shoot things. Preferably the bad guy types. And there's a lot of looking over her shoulder for danger while also keeping track of her forward progress. This would be way easier if she had her real ability. But it's still way lots of fun.

There is a bit of a smug smirk as Zachery is hit, but it doesn’t last as Kaylee is almost winged by a bolt of light herself. Kaylee ducks behind cover, fighting her instinct to scan for the position of the bad guys. Instead, she reaches and pulls their meat shield behind cover, too. She knows Luther can take care of himself there. “Hey look at that… you lived, Troll.” she says brightly, giving Zachery a grin.

“Alright…” Kaylee looks between him and Luther. “Maya’s right, we gotta get that other guy,” she says to her teammates while the others take care of the one slipping on ice. There is a nod of her head towards Maya, it indicate the direction to the other two, before Kaylee finally moving to join the computer program and others. “Good job there, Iceman.” That said to Silas. “Slick trick.” Yeah… yeah she did.

Luther ducks behind cover on the initial sounds of the gunfight. "They've got invisibility powers," he growls to the others after a thought, "We're going to have get creative." And with that he nods at Kaylee and Zachery, communicating with an open hand that they follow Maya and the other team as their rear and side guard.

The shot that hits his chest has Zachery's attention snap downward as if, just for a moment, expecting there to be more than just simulated impact. when he's unexpectedly yanked to the side and to safety, surprise shows possibly even more clearly on his face. To the comment of him living, he says with a somewhat wary smirk, "Funny, that. I keep doing that in real life, too."

He is slow to move when Kaylee and Luther do so, after Maya, but does eventually follow suit all the same. Gun pointed down for the moment and everything.

As Silas focuses his power towards the struggling invisible figure, white frost paints up over an awkwardly crooked leg, hip, torso. It seems to seal foot to ground as the Rapturite struggles, and twists his body. Yellow light darts out from the unseen muzzle of his pistol, striking Silas in the shoulder — red vision, strange tingle, health bar depletes — but he only gets one shot off before Emily pelts him with rapid-fire rays of brilliant blue. On her third shot, she strikes where glowing ice has coated the enemy's chest, and there's a crack.

Ice explodes outwards, torso shattering with a strangled cry from the enemy, invisibility stuttering and dropping in his last moments before he falls backwards. Both Silas and Emily are treated to a dazzling green '991' drifting up off his frame as vaporised ice mists away.

And then the chase is on.

Maya leads the way in confident strides, keeping her centre of gravity low, but ultimately compromising cover for speed. Ahead of them, they see that green figure darting its way forward, suddenly winging to the left—

And then a piercing shriek of metal as, to the left of them, one of those hulking steel crates suddenly lurches from its position, and before Maya can turn her head, a few thousand pounds of car-sized crate goes careening straight for her, a roostertail of sparks kicking up from where the edge scrapes the floor — and straight, too, for those closest to her, Emily and Squeaks, with only a few scant seconds to react.

"HaHA!" Silas laughs, glancing to Kaylee with a grin, still keeping his freeze ray focused on the Rapturite —

— who is apparently either not a huge fan of puns, and manages to shoot him. Silas lets out a grunt at the tingling, half numb sensation as the blast hits, but he's promptly avenged as Elbows lights him up. Three shots, the third landing neatly in the center of mass and exploding his chest. He glances to Elbows, looking suitably impressed… but she's already gone.

Silas chuckles, shaking his head. Getting slow. No wonder people keep calling you old, he thinks to himself… then, with the threat neutralized, he turns and moves after his teammates as quickly as he dares, hand moving to his pistol. There's still the other Rapturite to deal with; they can't afford to let them get off a warning.

Emily's eyes widen as the crate comes their way, hand lifted out toward the crate with fingers splayed. Fuck. Fuck. There's no time to bring the words to life, only to act. She feels a tingle around her fingers, a faint purple light haloing her hand as she pushes forward and tries to bat away what looks like surefire dead-end to their game. And at the moment, it looks real, like it might actually end their life.

Please work, please work, please work! Emily prays.

Head turning toward the sound, Squeaks only manages to process that something is suddenly coming at her. Her hands come up, like her small frame is going to stop that huge crate thing with pure physical strength. Because she totally could in an ordinary virtual reality game.

But she's pretty sure this isn't an ordinary game now.

Not after seeing that friendly fire can happen.

Luckily, the younger teen chose the same ability as the older one. And like Emily, Squeaks activates her telekinesis. With their powers combined… it won't be Captain Planet saving the day, but maybe together they'll send that crate crashing back into whoever threw it first.

As Emily and Squeaks focus on the great mass careening towards them, they both, in unison, feel their senses suddenly lock into the bulk, feeling its movement like a pressure on their minds, feeling their own control a little like drawing back an elastic band and awaiting release. In the suddenly urgency of not getting crushed, there's barely a split second to harness that tension, but together, they release — and the crate goes swerving aside, slamming into a server cage with a thunderous clang of colliding metal. Still, neutralised.

It's the team of Kaylee, Luther, and Zachery, bringing up the rear, that see movement — a tall, slender figure, outlined in green in their HUD, crouched atop another crate some forty feet to the left. Their hands are outstretched, that same dim purple glow that had encircled Emily's and Squeaks' hands vanishing.

She starts to move as if to leap down, then pauses, and—

The sound of electrical discharge accompanies a flurry of piercing golden light as she unleashes a torrent of laser light in the direction of the gathered three.

As soon as the green outline shows up on her HUD, Kaylee is already slowing down, eyes narrowing a little. Her laser gun is out of her holster just in time for the figure to start firing at them. “Son of a — “ the telepath quickly moves for cover behind some crates, dragging Zachery with her if she needs to do it.

Leaning against the crates, Kaylee leans out and sends a volley of her own laser lights. She can only pray SOMETHING hits. This isn’t exactly her specialty, though her aim has improved drastically with her police training.

When Kaylee leans back, her attention goes immediately to Zachery. “Hey… you took telekinesis right?!” Then she glances at Luther, “And him fire.. Let's burn that bitch.” There is a wicked curl to her smile — kinda concerning really — and her laser gun comes up again, ready to fire. “You.” She points at Zachery, “I’ll distract them while you pull the boxes out from under them and my buddy” she motions to Luther, “will light the bonfire.” She looks at her firestarting friend to see if he is okay with that idea. “Only thing missing is the marshmallows.”

This time when the lasers start going off, Luther takes some cover against nearby crates as well with the lasers shot their way. Teeth grit, an initial urge stifled as he realizes this is an artificial laser within the VR world and not one he reflexively reaches out for energy-wise. His focus shifts back to present virtual reality as he hears Kaylee’s plan.

For a moment there is a dubious look towards Zachery. This idea hinges on the other’s cooperation. But in the end it’s what he believes will work in the moment, so Luther nods to it and raises his hand slightly, ready to hold out and fire blast the slender figure’s general direction.

Getting pulled behind cover is apparently not something Zachery expected a second time, because it both works and elicits a look of amused surprise at Kaylee, eyebrows up. Alrighty then. Surprising others, maybe, he actually listens. At the suggestion, he throws a quick glance between Luther and Kaylee both, then leans out from cover and… uses telekinesis? On the box he's been told to use it on, even!

Except Zachery is still Zachery, so he aims for it to go straight up rather than sideways as directed. Let's see if that box can reach the ceiling, enemy between the two or not.

Zachery's focus closes around the bulk of the crate, and there's a metallic thrum as a soft vibration emanates from it, around it, travels through the floor up under their feet. Inevitably, the figure crouched down and low, ducking beneath the latest onslaught of laser fire, feels it too — she suddenly flips aside with the intent to roll and launch herself off—

But not fast enough. Zachery feels his control like a tight rubber band being stretched, focuses on his preferred direction — that being up

It's not fine hovering motor control as might be expected of telekinesis so much as a sudden propulsion. The crate jumps, with a slightly uneven distribution of weight seeing the lighter loaded side flip upwards, crashing clumsily against a crate beside it, turning in midair, not quite making it all the way up before Zachery feels his control unravel, and the crate crashes back down with a thunderous metallic echo, dust now whorling through the red-lit air.

As for the person on top of it — it amounts to thereabout the same effect. She goes tumbling, slamming down into the floor, her laser pistol skittering away from an open hand. As she reaches to grab it—


Luther sees that stream of green numbers, '16', '8', '22', '13', '15', drifting up off the writhing shape of the figure at the centre of bright orange flames. As Kaylee's bright blue lasers piercing through into the prone body, the struggling ceases, and she, Luther, and Zachery all see the same drifting '854' drift up once movement ceases, and flames die down into a fog of smoke.

Ringing silence.

"Let's proceed," Maya says, "with the assumption they know something's wrong."

She straightens up from where she had instinctively made herself small at the incoming crate, which now lies still and silent where Squeaks and Emily had flung it aside. Resuming her lead, with less hunting energy than before, Maya leads them to the source of that initial sound of rolling metal — steel doors set into the wall, and within, the squared off chamber of a maintenance elevator. White light, in contrast to the red of the floor they are on, floods out of it in stuttering flickers from fluorescent panels.

The walls are paneled in metal, and there are a second set of doors on the other side of the wide elevator carriage. The floor is also mostly exposed metal, showing off the seams and an inlaid handle for an access hatch to the empty shaft below.

Maya stops at the edges of it, and turns back to them, her face troubled. "Had we managed to conceal our arrival, we would be able to use this route to Level Twenty, overwhelm their forces with surprise. They don't know what to expect, but I'm afraid we've roused their suspicion — these doors might open on quite the welcome party."

Silas has his gun out, but Team 2 manages to finish their target off before he can draw a bead on them; frowning, he shoves his gun back in his holster and hurries over to join his own team, arriving in time to hear Maya's assessment of the situation. He frowns. "Okay. Is there another way, then?" he asks. "If you think they're gonna be focused on this door here… then let's play that to our advantage. This place is a whole metropolitan ecosystem; are there any maintenance passages, anything like that?"

He shrugs, looking serious. "I mean… we gotta use our heads. There's enough of them to take over a city, and they've got unknown resources and abilities. Gettin' in a head on fight with those kinda odds ain't gonna work," he states, shrugging at his teammates; they're good and he knows they're good, but odds of a zillion to one go a long way towards neutralizing individual skill in a head-on fight. "Hmm… maybe Team 2 can make some more noise to draw em to the door while we sneak around behind and catch 'em in a crossfire?" he asks, his gaze shifting back to Maya. "Assuming there's a way into that room beside this door here."

Emily lets out a breath of relief when the crate doesn't crush them to death, a second exhale of disbelief following it when her hand ceases to glow and she no longer 'feels' the weight of the crate as though she were connected to the object. She turns to the younger girl by her side, a faint smile of surprise on her face. "Good job, Squeaks," she says, her adrenaline still racing.

Man, she could get used to that feeling — the exhilaration of being able to effect change.

She snaps her attention forward again at the sound of the laser fire, watches as the other team dispose of shooter. It's a little unsettling — more than a little, actually — to watch the woman writhe under the flame and burn to death. Emily flinches, having to look away. You just killed someone, too, Em. she has to remind herself, but still something feels different about it. She can't decide if it's that it happens not by her hands or in the way that it does.

"Great cops we are," she can't help but say anyway, finally turning back once Kaylee's shot seems to bring the death animation to a blessedly early conclusion.

Silas's insight is addressed with a nod. "Any ladders we can take— stairways, side passages, anything other than the lift?" Emily half wonders if they could use telekinesis to tear a path between levels themselves, but doubts that would earn them any stealth points at the end of the day… assuming it were possible at all.

It actually worked! Squeaks laughs with relief and victory, to see the crate flung aside and crashed not into anyone it shouldn't. The laugh cuts short when flames erupt further away. Oh right, they still have things to do. They haven't won anything yet.

Turning when Maya does, the younger teen creeps after their guide. Her eyes tick up to the woman occasionally, noting the change in presence. The grip on her alien laser gun tightens. Just in case.

The hatch, and the assumption that they might find a trap waiting beyond it is wondered about while Silas and Emily ask their questions. For once, Squeaks doesn't interject with her own. She's thinking instead, weighing possibilities and considering the different approaches.

“But they might not be,” she points out. As far as she can tell, it's a 50-50 split. The bad guys could even be coming from the other direction, whatever alternate routes that Maya could lead them to. “If one of us lifts the latch, and the other two be ready to shoot. And Aunt Kaylee’s team can make a perimeter around us in case we get ambushed from outside.”

Squeaks looks at Emily at Silas first, after offering her plan. Then she turns to look back where the other team should be coming from.

There is a bright smile plastered on Kaylee’s face when it actually worked. Zachery gets rewarded with a friendly shoulder punch. “Good work, Troll. Not what I was going for, but I call it a win.” She gives him a wink, “Names Kaylee and that’s my buddy, Luther.” She jerks a thumb at the man looming near her, “Can’t guarantee he doesn't want to hurt you, but we’re good.” He listened, slates wiped clean. It was a game after all.

For now.

Introductions out of the way, Kaylee give’s Luther’s wrist a brief tug, a silent urging to follow, before moving to join the others. The telepath arrives on the tail end of the bad news. “Don’t count us out yet,” Kaylee comment. “What if we send the elevator down as a distraction and flank them?” She looks behind her at the boxes. “Could pile a bunch in it, set on fire and sent it down. Then take another route. What I wouldn’t give for a smoke bomb…. Or five. Tear gas?” She murmurs under her breath thoughtfully, looking at Luther for better ideas.

The fact that Kaylee isn’t flinching at any of the violence done so far and even suggesting more… that might speak volumes for her past.

Satisfactory. That's the overall feeling Luther has when the enemy target has been neutralized. There's a cold sense to the act, a disassociated, detached stare at the unmoving figure after the flames die off and silence fills in the space. Kaylee's wrist tug interrupts. He blinks, looking over at the telepath and Zachery, before following after. Even trusting Zachery not to turn on him again. Or at least he's wary and cautious about it.

As they rejoin the other half of the group, Luther stares at the maintenance elevator and the access handle

"There's no time to go exploring. And they likely already know we're here. The place is on lockdown so in all likelihood the chances of finding a passageway that's going to get us all to Level Twenty without getting caught are slim," assesses Luther after a moment more. "And I hate to break it to you, but this body ain't going to fit in an airshaft."

Or maybe it can? Depending on the rules of the VR world. Not that he thinks too hard on it.

"We can take the chance if we TK us some panels off this flooring we can use as cover for the lasers. Kaylee and I will handle firepower. And Iceman, whoever breaks through the line, can stop 'em cold." He glances over at Silas, giving a faint shrug for the unintended pun and intended one.

"That's all assuming we get to the right floor." For that, he glances over at Maya.

His actions garnering success bring a look of almost giddy fascination to Zachery's face, watching those numbers pop up. The punch to his shoulder has his attention snap to Kaylee, his weight shifting in a way that might suggest he's not used to such enthusiastic praise. In the face of victory, though, he seems more pleasantly surprised than bothered. "It is a win, isn't it?"

… But it's her name said aloud that truly seems to set the cogs in his head turning. While others move to continue their mission, Zachery ends up simply standing still — arms dropping down by his sides and looking for all intents and purposes like he has simply mentally checked out upon a lingering look in Kaylee's direction. Maybe the VR is glitching out? AFK player?

Except when he finally shakes out of his stupor to move again, it is to make a frantic grab for his sidearm, shoving the business end immediately up under his own chin. An act of instinct, before the memory of instructions resurface just in time and have him wrap the fingers of his left hand tightly onto his right wrist. Probably not to steady his aim.

Nobody sees what happens, the rest of the group pulling ahead. And when the simulation suddenly stutters out before everything goes black around the players, they can no longer see each other either.

"Wh—?" Emily blinks when red lettering begins to pop up in streamers before her, when the sounds of reality begin to filter in to her like from beyond a long, long tunnel.

She and the others under the simulation one by one begin to pull free from their rigs to come back to the real world, all while being corralled by concerned Crito Corporate attendants who smile— nervously— and provide customer-service-perfect reassurance that all's well. A show is made out of making this look from an outside view like a debrief of their experience, like nothing unusual has happened in the demo process. At the end, they offer each participant the chance to come back again when Maya has rebooted…

Every participant except Zachery.

The interface he was wearing is left dropped on the ground, and he's nowhere in sight.

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