Operation High Road, Part II


adel_icon.gif berlin_icon.gif colette_icon.gif huruma_icon.gif noa_icon.gif

Scene Title Operation High Road, Part II
Synopsis Strike Team Wendigo infiltrates a power substation at the Ross Dam as a part of Wolfhound's Operation High Road.
Date June 17, 2017

The roar of a waterfall drowns out the subtler noise of the Pacific Northwest. Bird calls from the looming pine forests are muted against the noise, the crack and snap of branches from the forest floor all but inaudible. Though the distant pop of heavy gunfire reverberates through the air even with the white-water roar as its backmask.

Ross Dam is a looming structure, a hundreds of feet tall monolith of concrete with two roaring columns of white water cascading down from either side. These roaring falls feed into the rippling flow of Riprap creek below, walled in on either side by the steep slopes of the forested box canyon. There is no civilization in sight, no city lights, nothing but the gray skies overhead that turn to black in the west while the sun has not yet fully risen.

A misty rain falls from the sky, collecting on the four trucks parked outside of the industrial building at the dam’s base. The orange flash of heavy artillery fire streaks in reflection across the trucks’ windshields from a firefight happening up on the dam. Two men in urban camouflage uniforms retrieve assault rifles from the bed of one of the idling trucks, looking at each other anxiously as they load ammunition.

Behind the soldiers, a boot print presses down into the soft, sandy ground near the creek. In Algonquian folklore, the wendigo is a mythical cannibal spirit native to the northern forests of the Atlantic Coast. It is described in folklore an unseen presence, existing only in the peripheral vision of its victims, driving them to madness and self-destructive behavior. The boot-print is an unseen warning: the wendigo is here.

Ross Dam Facility

Power Substation

Washington State

PNW Dead Zone

0537 Hours

“Was that a fucking fighter jet?” One of the soldiers asks the other, checking the rifle’s magazine as he looks back to the power substation. The other soldier nods, but his attention is up on the dam where the gunfire is popping steadily. “Fucking hell, how the fuck did they find us?” Neither man seems to know the answer, and as they hustle away from the truck back towards the substation, there’s an urgency in the unknown. They know what that black jet roaring through the sky means. They’d heard the stories during the war.

Strike Team Wendigo will approach from the south of the Ross Dam Power Substation

The soldier in the front comes screeching to a halt, rifle raised. The man behind him stops, noticing his partner has his rifle up and is frantically sweeping around, checking the areas under the trucks, checking the steps leading up to the substation. “What? What?” The other soldier frantically asks, and suddenly he too realizes something is horribly wrong as his heart begins racing in his chest. As an inexplicable wave of terror washes over him.

Stealth is critical here

One of the soldiers suddenly jerks backwards, blood spraying from his mouth and teeth knocked out. His gun is twisted from his hand, swings around, and smashes him across the side of the head sending him crumpling to the ground. When the other panicked soldier turns around, he lets out a muffled scream as his knee breaks to the side and he drops to the ground, followed by his head jerking in a snap.

The Substation is a valuable target and they’ll divert forces to protect it if they think it’s compromised.

Noa Gitelman and Berlin Beckett shimmer into being like phantoms, their bodies dappling into reality as though they were watercolor paintings coming to life. Neither of them truly need eyes to see with their personal radar and ability to sense the presence of living creatures. They turn, relieving the fallen of their weapons, and move toward the power substation. With the guards neutralized, the sleek and lanky form of Huruma manifests from the darkness of invisibility, climbing the steps to the power substation’s entrance, with Adel Lane sweeping in right behind her.

Entry to the substation must be quiet.

Inside the substation, a shower of golden sparks moves in a slow circle around the door handle. Molten pieces of metal drip and fall onto the floor, followed by the soft clink of the doorknob hitting the ground and rolling away. Lieutenant Demsky pushes the door open with a shoulder, pistol held in a two-handed grip. She moves to the side, allowing Adel to sweep in next to her, with Huruma’s tall and dark shadow ominously filling the doorway behind them.

The other teams will be counting on you.

One thing Berlin is good at is being quiet. Even taking out her guard is only marked by the man's pained noises. And after taking the guns, she does a quick pat down for anything like key cards or… actual keys, given where they are. But it isn't long before she's coming up behind Colette and the others, watching for any other people that might be nearby, but unseen. 'Watching', anyway.

She keeps a pistol in hand, as that is her favorite weapon. Or, well, her most familiar weapon. At the rear of the group, she faces outward, backing toward the door as the others enter. Until they're all in, she'll play rear guard.

Following Adel, Noa nods when Berlin takes the rear, her own weapon held ready as they step through the doorway and ensure the path is clear.

«Team Wendigo inside» is relayed not by mouth, but relayed nonetheless, to the coms of those listening for updates from the teams. Noa’s — not to mention the Major’s — gifts ensure that no one who shouldn’t hear their radio chatter will.

Huruma never tires of the tricks of the light that her team wields. If she had ever thought she had the element of surprise before, there’s no getting over it now. She follows to the door with a deliberate pace, languid for all that they are here in secret to tear in. Her frame lingers there in the door as she surveys Colette and Adel’s paths, reaching out with her senses to pinpoint live minds ahead. Between herself and Berlin, there’s no escaping the scan; there’s no such thing as hiding.

The pistol in Huruma’s left hand is kept at length, though not at attention; she allows Colette the lead, of course, white eyes bright against the burnished shade of her skin.

A knife in one hand, flat of the blade resting against her wrist, Adel moves quietly on the balls of her feet. On her back is extra equipment, a pack that doesn’t take up too much space or weight too much. The young woman rarely goes anywhere without at least an emergency jump pack, even if she’s not jumping out of planes today. Or off dams, hopefully. But she’s nothing if not prepared for the situation.

Keep silent, she moves along, following Colette’s every order without question. Despite being a little older than her mentor and idol, she still can’t help but see the ghost of the woman she would have become lingering over her all the time. She’s ready to take out anyone who gets in their way. As quietly as possible.

Beyond the power substation, there’s a thunderous series of explosions that reverberates through the walls. A bloom of orange light floods in through the high warehouse-style windows in the open space beyond the narrow entry hall. It casts long shadows across the floor, casts shadows of men against the walls. Colette’s eyes go wide when she sees them, around the same time Huruma’s senses pick up twinges of fear and anxiety. The photokinetic presses to the wall, looking back to the team.

She motions silently to the team, four fingers raised. Then, with Berlin taking up the rear, points to Huruma and Noa, another pair who can measure distance and direction without eyes. Colette closes her fist, and throws the pair into a lightless void of darkness as they are sheathed from all visible light in a heat-haze distortion. She waits, allowing them to walk ahead of her, then looks back to, Berlin and Adel. One finger circles in the air, follow, and then she moves hot on Huruma and Noa’s heels, visibly.

As she comes through the doorway at the end of the hall into the open warehouse space, Colette keeps her shoulder pressed to the wall, fingers spread on her free hand, waiting for the invisible pair to take the lead. The five soldiers look up at the windows. One quietly mumbling, “how… the fuck did they find us?” None of them seem overly compelled to move into action, they seem shocked from the sounds of combat beyond the walls.

That light draws Berlin’s gaze, too, over her shoulder first before she turns properly. Following Colette’s movement, she steps against the wall, too, gun pointed toward the ground. She watches as their teammates disappear. It’s quite the trick, but from the young woman’s face, she might as well have seen it a million times. The only reaction she has is a nod to the silent order to follow. And, of course, actually following when the time comes for it.

What gets a smirk out of her is the question murmured by the soldiers ahead, or maybe the shock in general. That is a trick that she hasn’t gotten used to yet. The expression might be a little sharkish, but at least it’s short lived. Her neutral expression returns a moment later.

What Noa once learned as a survival tactic in the short-lived weeks of her blindness several years before has become a finely-honed skill that pairs well with the tricks up Demsky’s sleeves — silent radio waves sent forward through that darkness ping back to Noa, giving her mind’s eye an image of the silhouettes of the five soldiers — enough for her to know where to aim.

As silently as possible, she creeps in that sphere of darkness closer to where the soldiers look dumbly up at the windows — just close enough that there’s not really a chance she’ll miss when she aims her silenced weapon at first one, pulling the trigger, and then the next, from outside in, knowing Huruma will take care of her targets coming from the other side. They can meet in the middle, if Colette or Berlin or Adel don’t get to those first.

Huruma has Colette’s signals committed to memory, and she holds patiently for when the shimmer falls over herself and Noa once more. The explosions outside get paid no mind, and Huruma’s gaze is settled silently on her intended targets as they are given the signal to move forward. She moves around to the other side of the soldiers staring at the outer world, the pack maneuver familiar. Noa’s presence moves closer to the first ones, and Huruma circles around under the cloak of bent light.

Her own weapon lifts unerringly close to her first target, and the silenced pistol lets out a choked peal of sound as it fires soon after Noa’s own— one, tilt, pull, two— Huruma’s shots come in the same cascade as the others, measured out by distance and the span between breaths.

Breaths slow, Adel doesn’t seem the least bit anxious in this moment. A steadiness in her heart and emotions that at least Huruma is used to. It’s almost as if she’s willing to take any risk. But in actuality she’s already lost most everything she could care to lose— this doesn’t make her anxious. Few things do, anymore.

With a nod, she follows after Colette at the order, keeping her hand on the knife, with her other hand going to the other weapon at her side. She does not pull it— it’s too loud for stealth even with something to dampen the sound. A knife is faster, quieter. And they are still wanting stealth.

Even with the explosions outside.

The cascade of gunfire drops two of the five men to their knees, and before they can crumple to the floor, she dismisses the invisibility on Huruma and Noa which drops them square into the sights of the remaining three men as they wheel around. Huruma’s tall and lean frame draped in terrifying black armor is the perfect distraction, if Noa having a gun trained on one of them wasn’t enough. They don’t see Colette in the doorway, nor do they see the lacerating wires of blue-white light that rise up from the floor like a jellyfish’s tentacles.

Both soldiers are distracted by the searing agony of those threads of laser light slicing up along the backs of their legs and thighs, lashing across their backs and curling up toward the wall. They fire blindly, one into the floor, another into the nearby wall, a third over Huruma’s shoulder. Another exchange of gunfire from Huruma and Noa has those three dropping to the floor atop one-another as well. Colette raises one gloves hand across her nose, sweeping pink over her upper lip.

“There’s bound t’be more here,” Colette offers as she looks to another bloom of orange and thunderous explosion from the top of the dam. “Berlin, Adel, you’re up. On me.” Colette leads the way across the spacious floor toward a metal staircase that descends below the largely abandoned looking building they’re in. “Huruma, let me know if anyone’s coming. Noa, keep an ear out for pinpoint EM fluctuations on the low end radio bands. I don’t want to be blindsided by one of those fucking robot dogs.”

As Colette heads down the stairs, she keeps her pistol holstered and stops at the door. One hand sweeps over the lock, followed by a crackle-flash of white light and droplets of liquid metal. Pushing the door open with her shoulder, Colette opens the way into a noisy machine-filled basement. Turbines powered by the hydroelectric dam whine loudly, still functional — or perhaps repaired — since the EMP. It plays havoc with Noa’s senses, the push and pull of the electromagnetic energy from the turbines crackling like static behind her eyes.

After a short hallway, the path forks three ways that run parallel to each other around the turbines: A set of stairs to the left and right go down below the turbines and a middle path follows a catwalk over the generator room. Colette points at Berlin and Huruma, and motions down the right stairs, Adel and Noa to the left. Colette shimmers into a heat-mirage of invisibility and quietly creeps out onto the catwalk.

They can’t be alone down here.

With a nod, Berlin comes up behind Colette, her own gun still ready as they make their way down the stairs and to the door. “I don’t like it,” she says in a whisper to Colette and Adel, “It’s quiet.” Relatively speaking. She steps into the basement, too, eyes scanning the room. It’s only a beat or two before she heads for the stairs, her steps quiet as she goes. She doesn’t look for Huruma, she knows the woman will be there, too.

She keeps a hand on the stair railing, her eyes closing as she concentrates on feeling the area out for any surprises. Flesh and blood ones, anyway. They only open again when she reaches the bottom and she starts deeper into the space, looking for the trouble they all know is hovering around them.

The directions from Demsky get a nod from Noa — she certainly doesn’t want a run-in with any of those ‘robot dog things’ herself. Berlin’s mention of the quiet earns the younger woman a small smirk — Noa’s head is anything but quiet most of the time, but with the turbines playing with her senses, it’s putting her a little on edge. She keeps that to herself, nodding when she’s pointed to the left stairway.

She glances at Adel to make sure her partner’s ready, and begins her path downward, weapon ready and her mind searching for anything emitting radio waves that they need to worry about.

Huruma’s whiskers are already out when Colette makes her request, and the least that the tall woman offers is an affirmative nod and a sound of a hum in her throat. Of course she’ll tell you all if someone is coming, that’s one reason she’s here, isn’t it?

Pistol held in her hands again, Huruma keeps it aloft as she pads after Berlin down the right side stairwell, expanding her empathic field at length to test the waters ahead and around, idly pinpointing the auras of the others as she feels around.

With a nod at her favorite mini-technopath, Adel pulls out the handgun finally. The knife swaps to her left hand, still intended for use on robots or man, but she’s less worried about being the quiet one now. “Right beside you, Noa,” she grins, eyes briefly shifting to that invisible heat mirage that Colette had disappeared in.

Only then does she have a slight spike of anxiety. But it doesn’t last as she moves behind the younger child of the Wasteland, eyes peeled for the potential dangers. Sometimes she really misses her ability. This is one of those times.

As Berlin and Huruma head down the right set of stairs, it brings them down to ground level with one set of the dam’s turbines fifteen feet below the catwalk Colette treads across. This side of the turbine room hums with noise. Fluorescent lights hang on the ceiling high overhead, and the floor is littered with broken pieces of concrete debris, shallow puddles of standing water, and wheeled construction carts filled with old piping, wires, and debris from what must have been remodeling or repairs.

On the opposite side of the wall of turbines, Adel and Noa descend into the other side of the room down their staircase. There’s old bags of concrete powder stacked up against the far wall, masonry trowels, plastic buckets, and other construction tools are collected together and look to have long since gathered dust. Other than the turbines’ hum, the two women from a worse future hear and see nothing.

So far, there’s no sign of anyone on either side of the room, but each rusted metal turbine is fifteen feet long and ten feet tall, jutting out from the concrete wall that divides the entire space down the middle. There’s plenty of room for someone to be waiting to spring an ambush. As Colette leads the way across the catwalk following the concrete partition, she looks to her right and tracks Huruma and Berlin’s progress ahead, then to her left and down to Adel and Noa. Breathing in deeply, she continues across the catwalk, an anxious tension building in the back of her throat.

«No sign of anything,» Colette radios down to both pairs. «I’ve got a clear line is sight to a door up here, based on the plans that should lead to the power converter room.» Once the disable the power relay here, that will presumably disable the heavy artillery on the top of the dam. But so far there’s only been a token resistance. It lingers in her mind, wondering if this is all the Institute really has left.

Then, Huruma feels it on her side of the divided room. Anxiety, pulsing through the air, three targets ahead ducked behind the turbines and out of sight. They’re not masking themselves, might not have the capacity to. They’re tense, afraid, but backed with that hollow confidence she’s come to identify as the emotional association of someone hiding behind a gun. But they’re on the other side of the concrete partition from Huruma. Noa and Adel are walking right up to them.

Divided from Huruma and Berlin by the concrete partition and the turbines, Noa picks up something that crackles too close on her radio sensors on the opposite side of the concrete divider. The disturbance of the turbines means it’s just a moment too late for her to notice, but the whine of a different kind of machine sends an all-too familiar chill down the spines of Wasteland survivors.

It steps out into Huruma’s field of view a moment later, fifteen feet ahead, green eyes glowing against the fluorescent lighting. Then another. Two leonine-bodied machines of rusted, bullet-pocked metal with exposed hydraulics, dangling wires, hastily welded repairs on their flanks. The mechanical syringes in each of the Hunter robots’ jaws spring forward with a loud clack and their eyes turn red, focused on Huruma and Berlin.

Berlin’s pace is slow as she and Huruma sweep their side of the room. Slow enough to be quiet. Anticipation builds in a heavy knot in her chest as they get deeper in only to find debris and not people. She looks into one of the carts and pulls out a long piece of pipe. She taps it against her boot to test the weight of it and seems to find it okay because she takes it with her as they go on. She twirls it in her hand, even, to work away some of her nervousness.

Of course, then the bots do it for her. She goes quiet— emotionally speaking— once the eyes turn red and the hunters lock onto them. A sort of cold calmness. She drops the pipe to her feet, putting a foot on it to keep it close, and her hands lift her pistol. Stealth is given up now. She notes the condition the bots are in, taking in fraying wires, sloppy welding and— her favorite— exposed innards. She takes aim for the bot to the right, shooting for those hydraulics first, bad welding after. Anything that will keep it from getting any closer to them.

«Dogs nearby!» Noa’s mental voice comes over the coms, of course a moment too late, as the robotic beasts have already made themselves known on the other side of the partition — she can’t see them to know this, but the high-pitched whisper and whine of hydraulics help to narrow down their location. She nods in that direction to Adel. «Your side, Beckett, Huruma.»

Unfortunately, she lacks Huruma’s ability to sense the human beasts on her own side of the partition; she moves forward, feet catlike as she edges along the first of the turbines, narrowed dark eyes glancing up to make sure there is no assault coming from above. When they get to the far end of the first turbine, Noa stops short, then nods for Adel to sweep the hiding space behind it, while she keeps her gaze forward and weapon aimed, ready for anyone popping out from behind any of the remaining five.

Huruma's senses travel sidelong, honing in on the huddle of distant nerves with an inward huff of breath that comes out in a comm.

"«You've got a few bodies over there. Be prepared.»" Huruma's voice is low, even in the recievers. As she's telling this to Noa and Adel, her own side of the room begins to liven up. So much for telling them to be ready. Huruma's eyes swivel back ahead as she senses movement, and she stops in her tracks with teeth biting down on air. Hello old boys.

The cats are familiar, but not like they are to the Wasteland girls; Huruma holds onto little apprehension in the face of them. They are little more than echoes of stories now. Her breath even comes out in a hiss of sound, irritation winning. She lifts her own pistol alongside Berlin, taking aim and giving a couple of shots before backing up.

“«Why couldn’t we get the robots.»” Adel whispers very quietly into the com, mostly to herself. It does seem like an interesting coincidence that they get the bodies instead of the bots. Maybe some kind of fate knew that Adel strongly prefered to fight automated defenses than actual security. She just has to tell herself that they picked the wrong damn side. While security guards might have been innocent a few years ago, by now they’d know they were being hunted and why.

And they still choose to stay.

At Noa’s instruction, she slides around one the first turbine, gun pointed outward, a little light flickering on in the sight to check the shadows before she shakes her head, light flicking back off so she can face forward, ready to move on..

Turbine one clear.

Adel's observation is an astute one, though. They chose to stay. But why? The Institute was destroyed, its leadership beheaded, its funding gone, the government that supported its infrastructure defeated. Why stay?

She isn't given long enough to think on that. As Adel sweeps out around the turbine, she's face to face with a security guard in urban camo. He fired off a shot from his handgun at her, slams point-blank into her chest and thanks to the AEGIS she's wearing it feels like a firm punch as the kinetic force is distributed across the reactive armor. Her return fire tears through Kevlar, sends the guard crumpling to the ground as she catches her breath.

Noa senses movement, sees another one pop out from behind a turbine and takes a long shot that hits the guard square in the chest, sending him sprawling back into the floor. A third pops out only brief enough to hurl a grenade through the air—

— but seconds after it leaves his hand there’s a flash of blue light through the air as a whip of sapphire laser light streaks across the grenade and causes it to explode. The guard doesn't even get to scream, just is blown backwards and apart by the close proximity blast. Colette ripples into view atop the catwalk, thumbs up to Adel and Noa before she disappears again.

The third guard should have been rendered into the same fragments as the second by the grenade blast, but when he steps out from behind the turbine — through the turbine — Adel and Now can immediately tell why he isn't.

He can phase through objects, and he's headed right toward them like a ghost through the air. Worse, Colette didn't — perhaps couldn't — see him. Possibly a vulnerability in her photokinetic sight she'd never discovered. The phaser has no mass, scatters light weirdly.

Across the concrete divide, gunfire pops explosively from Berlin and Huruma. Berlin’s shots from her handgun cause the robot she's targeting to jerk, spasm, and falter in its stride. The machine lets out a whirring sound, gets itself pointed at her, and breaks into a sprint that showers sparks across the floor from its claws.

Halfway to Berlin, Huruma’s fire hits something critical in the machine and it erupts into a shower of sparks and smoke, ripples forward and flips end over end, skidding between the two women as its eyes flicker out.

The second Hunter, having been running in the silhouette of the first, leaps at Berlin and sails past her, colliding with the tall frame of Huruma. The force knocks her down off of her feet, sends her gun spinning across the floor. Her AEGIS armor eats the impact of the floor entirely and Huruma is prepared, hands up and grabbing at the mechanical feline’s face as it tries to extend its syringe down into her. But she's strong and old hydraulics whine and hiss as the damaged bot bleeds fluids out of ruptured hoses.

A familiar voice crackles over the comms. «Wendigo, an ETA, s'il vous plaît?»

“Working on it!” Colette shouts in response as she leaps off the catwalk, down atop one of the turbines with a resounding clang. “We ran into some resistance! Hunter robots and security! Give us a couple minutes!” She hops down again, booted feet clapping onto the concrete floor.

It might be a good idea to start backing away from the charging hunter, but Berlin does not. However, she covers her eyes when it starts to spark and flip. Unfortunately, she sees the second one leaping too late and all she can do is duck down. It sails over her and she picks up the pipe at her feet before she turns to follow it over to Huruma. She doesn’t necessarily want to shoot Huruma, even with armor, so she takes her pipe and jams it into joints and through weak points. Until she reaches the head, because then she stabs it up through the open mouth.

The voice over the comms only gets a frustrated huff from Berlin. Because, yeah, they are in the middle of a thing, here. Luckily, she’s not the one who has to answer, so she’s free to focus on disabling their bot.

The first hunter goes grinding into the floor, and the second one sails in like a rusted lioness; Huruma feels the impact of the floor at her back as the world turns sideways, her arms up to block the incoming edges of teeth and syringe, hands gripping around neck cabling and the nasal ridge. She pushes back as it wheedles air through its systems, the gutteral sounds stunted by the strikes that Berlin delivers in succession to its sparse armor and joints and rusted plate. Huruma’s grip twists the head on its axis, turning that maw upright for the younger woman’s steel pipe to find the unguarded inside.

There is a breathy word of gratitude as Huruma shoves the creature’s weight off of her, turning to roll out from under it and let it crash, eyes darting in search of her pistol.

When Colette takes care of the grenade, Noa gives her a nod of thanks. It’s a short-lived bit of relief when they see the phaser coming for them. “I think I prefer the robots, too,» she mutters to Adel. “Cover me, grabbing the Banshee.”

Keeping her eyes on the phaser, the radiopath pushes a wall of radio waves at the incorporeal ghost — it’s an experiment, one she hasn’t tried before. She’s known phasers, of course, but most of them are friends and not suitable guinea pigs.

Noa’s dark eyes narrow with concentration. At the same time, she moves her firearm to a holster so that she can reach for the X-LRAD in its harness at her waist, lifting the high-tech weapon and firing it at their spectral assailant, holding the trigger to maintain the onslaught of sound.

No, Adel will never get used to being shot, even if the armor takes the brunt of it. It still feels like getting punched. Hard.

Shooting might also cause another kind of pain, but— they stayed. She doesn’t know why they would stay. They knew what they were getting into, though. At this point, they couldn’t feign ignorance. Perhaps it had been to protect their family, perhaps they had been forced into it. She can’t ask, and she probably won’t. She’s not part of the interrogation team, anyway. Should they survive.

She offers a grin up at Colette, before focusing on Noa’s orders— and the phaser. While Noa inacts her plan, Adel keeps her gun moving, focusing on anything that might come at them from the side.

The science behind phasing is inconsistent. Multiple people with phasing abilities often perform the same function in different ways. What is true for someone like D.L. Hawkins wasn’t true for Samara Winters. But, some constants remain.

The combined burst of near-microwave frequency radio waves and the high-pitched sonic scream of a Raytech Banshee sends a rippling wave of distortion through the ex-Institute soldier, scattering atoms and dispersing his body in part like a strong breeze through a plume of smoke. He is forced into a corporeal form, but Noa and Adel soon discover just how devastating that combination was. He comes back into corporeality in parts.

An arm is connected by a long, sinuous series of veins and tendons but no bone or muscle. His torso slides forward awkwardly on the lower half of his body, missing four inches of his chest that are six feet behind him. The attack forced him back into material form, but didn’t reassemble him. He lets out a high-pitched and gurgling cry before collapsing onto the floor with a series of wet slaps and clacks of exposed bone.

Unaware of the horror show that Adel and Noa are witness to, the Wendigo team members on the other side of the concrete partition have also narrowly averted disaster. The sparking and smoking chassis of the Hunter bot is hauled off of Huruma, the pipe wedged into its head surrounded by thin fingers of smoke reaching up into the air. As Huruma recovers her gun, Colette approaches the two.

“Francois’ team is pinned down, we’re almost done here. The control room is just up there,” Colette points back up to the catwalk that crosses the partition. «Wendigo-2, Wendigo-4» Colette calls over the comms to Noa and Adel, «Status? We’re clear over here.»

Sliding her gun back into its holster, Berlin gives the bot a shove with her foot. She doesn't need to, but she does it anyway. Once she's sure Huruma can find her gun, she turns to Colette. A frown comes to her face at the news, and she glances up at the catwalk. "I guess we better hurry," is stated calmly. Huruma can tell, at least, that her nervousness is creeping back in under that steady voice, which might be why her feet move a split second later. She takes the stairs up, two at a time, to head up to the catwalk and toward the control room.

Noa’s eyes widen a little at the horrifying — if satisfying — results of her little science experiment, taking a moment to reholster the Banshee and pull out her sidearm instead. “Clean up on aisle 1,” she mutters, grimacing as she moves gingerly around the blood and viscera of the phaser.

Raising her gun, she coolly fires off a shot or two to finish off anyone still breathing. She glances up at the catwalk and then the room at the end of it, and nods. «Wendigo 2 and 4 clear. Meet you up top,» she says, glancing over her shoulder to ensure their corridor is still empty, and then moving forward toward the stairs at the end of their path.

Huruma is sorely tempted to give the mech another kick for good measure; she doesn’t, instead checking the state of her pistol as she fetches it and rejoins Berlin. Her ceaseless study of the others takes a measure of them as Colette relays the direction of the control room.

“Any specifics? Or just pinned?” With Noa and Adel checking in on the positive, Huruma looks to Colette before taking steps after Berlin. Walk and talk, chica.

Oh. Gross.

“Thank lasers I’m wearing goggles,” Adel responds once the explosion of bits and pieces has settled. That was seriously gross. “I wonder if we should write the manufacturer about that particular side effect,” she mutters as she pulls the goggles up onto the top of her head so they no longer obscure her vision with blood and bits all over them. “Cause I’m pretty sure it wasn’t on the label.”

Dear Raytech,
If used against a phaser in phase the banshee splatters them. Just so you know. It was primal, but very gross.
Your Old Buddy, Adel

Since Noa’s finishing off the ones still breathing, she follows behind at the same, flicking on the light at the end of her gun so she can check the shadows and make sure no other phasers or other SLC-Expressives are lurking in the corners.

“Turrets have them pinned down,” Colette explains as she hustled behind Berlin for the stairs. “There's an Evolved security officer that's giving them trouble, some kind of mimic. I'm getting a lot of cross-chatter but I think they've got it under control. We just need to disable the power going up to those guns.”

Berlin reaches the top of the stairs first, hits the catwalk and finishes going the rest of the way to the doors to the control room. Gun out, she waits with her shoulder up against the door frame. Noa is next from the other side, mirroring Berlin’s position beside the closed door. Colette comes up behind Berlin with Huruma right behind her. The taller woman motions to the door, three fingers up.

Colette tries the handle, gently, it's locked. She then backs up along the catwalk and crouches. “There's one room past this door. Berlin, when I take down this door throw in a flash-bang. Noa, and Adel, you'll breach. Sweep left and right, try not to damage the equipment. Huruma, when I take the door down hit their minds hard.”

Colette holds out her hands at her side. “On three.” She breathes in deeply. “One, two—” on the third beat Colette pulls her hands up and drags two concentrated lines of blue-white laser light like whips through the air. They crackle over Adel and Noa’s shoulders with smooth precision. The ends of the laser whips lash up along the sides of the door, creating a shower of sparks and molten metal, sending the door toppling over as it's hinges and lock are sliced through.

Gun in one hand, Berlin slides a flash bang out with the other. "Everyone cover their eyes," she says in a low voice. Of course, it helps for Colette's power, too. "And their ears." Berlin turns her head to avoid the sparks, but as soon as the door falls down, she readies her stun grenade and tosses it in before turning away and covering her ears and shutting her eyes. For the whole flashing and banging part of this maneuver. Once it passes, her gun comes back up and she follows Adel and Noa into the room. She'll take a shot if there's opportunity, but in an effort not to break anything, she's playing it safe. And making sure no one is going to rush the exit. Or her team.

“I think I may have helped. Overkill?” Noa says to Adel with a small, rueful smirk. It was for the sake of science.

When Colette gives the orders at the door to the command room, Noa nods, glancing at Adel to make sure they’re working in tandem. Once Berlin’s thrown that flash bang, she darts in, taking to the left. When she comes to one of the security team members huddled behind a console, clutching his head, no doubt in an effort to block out whatever terror Huruma is inflicting on him, Noa’s is a quick and merciful bullet to the forehead.

Huruma hangs back as they prep on the outside of the door, nodding once at Colette before she watches the searing lights raze the door from its hinges. She stays between the frames of the others as the flashbang lobs in, followed by Noa. The sound is more delaying than the light; she does not need the light to make them afraid, and as it fades her ability lashes out as she enters the room, pistol raised in a seeking swivel.

The trio of security forces finds themselves under a fresh assault from the inside out, panic and fear dribbling down to the bone and sending all three into the grips of it. Huruma’s aim seeks out the nearest one as Noa’s does the same, swift and short.

“Fine, no note to Raytech,” Adel acqueses, though she kinda enjoyed the idea of dropping said note in Richard’s lap, now that he’s the good !shadow.

Those goggles had also been meant to protect her eyes from lasers and flash grenades, but since she just pulled them up, she opts to turn away and close her eyes tight for a brief moment, hand over the one ear that’s not already protected by the coms, which she leans into her shoulder. Once the moment has passed, she follows Noa in immediately, aiming her gun at a man wracked in horror. Like Noa, she puts him out of his misery, though her gunshot goes right between the eyes, before she moves on, scanning the room for more, checking the ceiling and the walls for places to hide— even if she knows Berlin and Huruma could find them far more easily than her eyes could.

Colette comes last into the room, looking around at the old computers and energy monitoring equipment. No more exits, no more security. Colette moves over to one of the consoles and looks to a handwritten note duct-taped to her sleeve. Smoothing it out, she enters a series of terminal commands from Hana’s instructions and clicks enter.

At the final keystroke there's a full whining sound from some of the turbines followed by a flickering of the lights. Colette can’t help it, and she lets out a resounding whoop of excitement, springing out of the chair and looking back to the others as she calls over the radio.

«Power is down! Wendigo mission complete.» She looks back to the others, “Looks like Amarok’s buying the rounds when we’re done with this. You're the best fuckin’ team.” Colette praises, briefly casting a look to the bodies. «No sign of LeMay. Anyone need backup or should we hold?» At the exact same moment, there’s a thunderous crash of an explosion from somewhere far afield, more than likely Amarok doing exactly what they do best. It’s a strong enough explosion that the lights flicker a second time and dust settles from the ceiling.

When the room ends up clear, Berlin lets out a sigh. "Clear," she says before looking over at Huruma. Her senses are far more honed than Berlin's, after all. She watches as their leader punches in commands and taps a foot while she waits to hear that telltale sound of the turbines. But Colette's whoop gets a jump from Berlin, but it's followed by a laugh. And she holsters her weapon.

"Probably for the best. I haven't found anyone willing to let me buy the alcohol." She smirks, but it's a shortlived expression. After a moment she turns, stepping just outside the door to watch their exit. Just in case.

“Go Team Estrogen,” Noa says with a grin at Colette’s whoop. Not that any of the guys would dare say anything about the all-female team — other than to praise it, of course.

To Adel, she shrugs. “You can still write the letter. It might be all the gun and none of me. Hard to be sure — We’d have to conduct more experiments to know, and it’s a bit hard to find people with that ability who have it coming to them, though. It’s a pretty small number of people, I think.”

She glances to the stairs they just came up. “He might be the only one.” Poor unfortunate soul.

Huruma is silent as Colette punches in the key to shut down the power, taking a point near the fallen security personnel and letting her field expand around the outside of the control room, a smooth wash of tide that searches for any last breaks in the water. Her pistol remains in her hand, and she watches Berlin take a point at the door, her own posture planted, shoulders back as Colette awaits the answer to her com.

No sign of their target, but the power is down, so that job is complete. Adel keeps her gun half up, keeps an eye on both Noa and the life sensors. Their abilities will give them a heads up most the time, but just in case, she keeps her eyes moving. “I suppose I could write in a letter that it might have an adverse effect on someone in an out of phase state. But it could have been you.”

It’s true either way, and they wouldn’t need to test it. It might be a good warning to put forth if someone ever tries to use the weapon against someone phased— that they don’t want to accidentally kill.

“Good job, team.” She waits for further orders, but she knows it depends on the state of the other teams.

«Tlanuwa, situation under control,» Crackles over the comms, «En route to command center.». Hana’s voice is an unmistakable order, hold position. Colette affirms the request with a nod, motioning to the doorway out of the control room.

“Alright everybody, let’s spread out and keep an eye on the exits. We’re going to hold this place for the Major. You all did a fucking great job today, and I’m incredibly proud of you all.” Holstering her pistol, Colette strides out across the catwalk and looks down to the carnage that had unfolded on either side, then back to the others. Though she’d vocalized her pride, it isn’t just words. There’s a look on her face that beams it to the others, pride in their ability to work together as a team, pride in their accomplishments, pride in the security they bring to the world. Pride, in some small measure, that she’s become someone her father could be proud of in return.

The noise of gunfire has subsided from the dam, perhaps the battle itself is over but one way or another, the war will continue.

But for Strike Team Wendigo, today was a clear victory.

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