Operation Lantern: Blind Spot


auggie_icon.gif curt_icon.gif veronica_icon.gif

Scene Title Operation Lantern: Blind Spot
Synopsis On an unexpected supply run during Operation Lantern, a reserve pilot gets into it with a flying meth-head— and then the Company.
Date June 19, 2009

Staten Island: Inland

Twenty-five minutes after Operation Lantern gets underway, Staten Island's eventide horizon seems to have caught on fire— or so glows the dull orange light— and the first plane finally falls out of the sky.

The three Company agents had no way of expecting that, of course. Word of the astonishing brutality of a secretively sanctioned air strike had leaked to them through civilian channels, as had the involvement of an intriguing cast of unregistered Evolved within the ranks of the pilots inside the metal birds. Not that that was their business; not exactly. There was the unmistakable intimation of higher authority and jurisdictional differences that discourage even the most casual of butt-sniffing.

They had been on surveillance duty, mostly, monitoring the generalized responses of the island's many disenfranchised (or summarily 'criminal') refuge-seekers with a perfectly discreet van full of video and bugging equipment. The yellow on the edge of the sky had, for the most part, been unobjectionable, uninvolved, like stumbling upon a campsite with s'mores cooking in the middle of a wildlife safari. That was: until the sudden roar of engine rotor far, far too close overhead, a flare of machine gunfire twittering seizuring white a little bit below the level of the stars, shaking the vehicle's roof down to the raw bones of its substructure.

As crashes go, it could be more impressive. One tire explodes into a ragged confetti of rubber and there's a reek of scorching, but no fire, one wing dragging a pitted mark down the asphalt behind the partners for fifty squalling yards, before, abruptly, it groans to a halt.

"SWEET MOTHER MARY IN A D CUP!" Lu swears as the van rocks and bucks under the back wash of the downing plane. Only once the majority of the grinding has stopped does he start to move again. He reaches over to the bag at his feet and starts to pull odds and ends from it. "Gear up Princess." he says as his hands move, holstering the Glock machine pistols he's so fond of and what looks like three military grade flash bangs. Curt is always over prepared, especially on Staten. He eyes her, "We're gonna give it two minutes, assuming no one comes to check it out, we do. If there's a soldier in there I'm not gonna leave them to roast, assuming they survived." neither is he gonna break cover in case there are people near by. Gotta split the difference.

"A soldier? It's one of the fools that's blowing up the place. Why are we here again? Let them kill each other and they can be my problem over on Manhattan," Veronica says, a slight whine in her voice that might give her unfortunate nickname some credit. Still, she takes off the headphones she was using to listen to a pointless feed of one of the bars. Nothing worthwhile, of course. She pulls on her jacket over her bulletproof vest and her weapons harness, complete with guns, tranq guns, taser.

There had been a few. People: they had largely vanished into the periphery of hollow-eyed buildings in the course of the past fifteen minutes or so, however, in what was probably some form of deference to the fact that Staten island was getting unexpectedly bombed to shit. Chatter from the suspected Ferry houses and mutant thug enclaves had been alternately quelled and minimal. A lot of 'holy shit.'

Curt gets a brief view of the downed bush plane as gravity, engine power, and some form of assault had made it. One wing crumpled like a half-maimed bottlefly, its propeller skewed toward the light of horizon like a sunflower turned at the sun, an parasitic infestation of unexpected holes drilled up the metal its left side. It is immediately obvious that this transport sports no proud military colors; that whatever strangeness it heralds, the ensuing war on Staten has nothing to do with it. The next instant, the door erupts off its hinges. Flies ten feet, strikes tarmac— and then there's the strangeness— without a clangor of metal protesting against asphalt; not a sound. The thin light from the sporadic street lamp nearest flickers like the sudden onset of a subterranean wiring problem.

Very abruptly, a man drops out of the sky, with all the grace of a landing hawk and a hoot and a shout. His boots skid the street ten yards ahead of Curt himself, bulky armor pading his lean torso, a do-rag fluttering at the Company agents off the back of his head like a coy flip of a wave Hello. When the stranger flings his arms skyward, there's a combat turbine garishly huge in his hands, and then a barbarically ecastatic burst of autofire at the sky; only after the airship's racket could that possibly sound quiet in comparison.

Someone is, apparently, feeling proud of himself for taking down an airplane during a military air attack. A supply plane that had been minding its own business, granted, but an airplane nevertheless.

Curt eyes her, "You're absolutely right, there's nothing we could learn from the guy in the plane assuming he's /not/ a soldier. Like who he's working for, where they got the ordinance to blow up half of Staten Island, or perhaps what the fu-" he stops talking as their new player joins the game. He blinks. "Huh." he states simply, checking the load on each pistol, making sure they're preped and ready to go. He eyes her, "You game princess?" he asks quietly, a wicked grin crossing his face, "Or you wanna leave the flying plane dropping Evo to run about making like a one man 9/11?"

Veronica rolls her eyes and opens the sliding door to the van. She gives a little bow with a flourish of her hand to wave him out ahead of her. "After you. Age before beauty," she says, getting used to taking up the rear with Curt — keep him between her and the enemy, and she should come out all right as long as she can shoot Curt. "And have you ever heard of rhetorical questions?" she says, hopping out of the van and landing on silent feet.

The noise doesn't stop. Another snarling whoop of laughter; the hooligan swings the massive rifle back down at his side, bounds toward the vehicle hollering that you mahfucker better either come out or be dead. His boots tread air for a few yards before he comes rambling down like a great rabid puppy. There's something distinctly off about the sift of his limbs through motion, loose, from perhaps more than vertigo, adrenalized mania, or a combination thereof.

He doesn't notice the Company agents behind him, apparently thinking himself and operators of flying machines the only assholes reckless enough to be outside right now. If he's thinking at all.

Finally, there's movement inside the gutted maw of the fallen craft, a figure in a flight suit extricating itself from darkness, lopsided if not quite stumbling, gloves up against the ceiling in either surrender or some hapless effort to keep his balance on the listed floor. The flight-powered man standing opposite hauls his weapon up to his shoulder. The stretch of his shadow squirms where the street light bounces it side to side. He shouts: "Hands in the sky, asshole! Hurry the fuck up, I ain't got all fucking day."

Curt grins a bit at her but doesn't say anything more then that. His body crouches low, knees bent, and he starts to cover ground surprisingly fast. Though the run looks odd, Curt knows he has a few things going for him. First, the Evo has his back to them, secondly, Curt is very quite, and third… Well, that could be the flash bang in his hand, the one with no pin in it who's spoon is held down in preparation for it's toss. He lets the spoon go as he nears to within ten yards of the Evo and starts to count in his head. One. Two. Three. He slings the grenade side armed, letting it skitter across the ground as it rolls towards the other man aiming for it to land about two feet in front of him when the 2 seconds remaining on it's fuse give way and it explodes in a blinding explosion of light and sound. Curt doesn't screw around, when he hits a target he does it like he was trained, fast, hard, ruthless. There won't even be a warning from him.

Managing to put her ear plugs in just in time before the flashbang goes off, Veronica gives a shake of her head. She nears the plane and aims one tranq gun at each of the strangers — the pilot and the vigilante rifleman. She doesn't call attention to herself, but keeps to the shadows cast by a nearby building. She makes sure to keep Curt between herself and both men, not sure which is her priority just yet.

In those two seconds, the gravitationally-gifted gangster is pleasantly, mostly deaf, which is sort of why he's holding his rather one-sided conversation at the tops of his lungs. After those two seconds—

—he's utterly deaf. Blind. Yanking the trigger back, too, a tsunami of curses rolling out the gnash of his teeth. This was the last thing Curt had seen before the light snapped up the space around the thug: a back turned, derangedly fixated, a caterwauling twist of torso, the gun pointed squarely in the direction of the bush plane's ungainly sprawl.

This fails utterly to explain why, as the flash and bang suck back in on themselves, there is a vicious arc of high-velocity cartridges deflected toward Veronica and Curt, each one like to leave a hole the size of a human fist in human flesh.

Curt isn't where he was when the flashbang went off. After all, that's the first rule of throwing one. Once it pops, don't be where the victim would expect you to be. Instead he's shifted about ten feet to his left and has given up on silent movement. No more need for it. He flat out runs at the floating man. He doesn't bother telling him to freeze or any of that nonsense. Instead he flips the selector switch to three shot burst on the pistol, sights on the cannon in the Evo's hand and squeezes twice, sending 6 rounds hurtling at the rifle itself, intending to blow it apart. Into his coms Curt speaks, "Go go go!" obviously intending her to try and drop the other man, the one crawling from the wreckage.

Crouched low by the building, Veronica feels the whizz of one of the bullets close by before it lodges itself in the wall of the building— it's off the mark of Curt's original position by several feet, but it was the second of the two blasts, and thus was affected by the recoil of the powerful weapon. "Shit," she says with a shake of her head, glad she chose to put on the Kevlar today. She pushes herself off from the wall and shoots the tranq gun she has in her hand first, with no words of warning, toward the pilot.

Beautiful shots, really. Curt's rounds splits into gunmetal, hurling firefly sparks off points of impact as the racketing pressure torques the weapon out of the man's hands with enough force to take a layer of skin and callus off his hands. He twirls almost prettily in the balls of his feet like the figurine in a music box, but the look on his face

Is anything but beautiful. Eyes red-rimmed raw with the narcotic chemistry in his veins, his lips pulled into a rictus of livid agony. His left knee collapses before the right, folding up like tin foil, and blood sloughs down, out of his torso, in the narrow gap of flesh between his vest and the rude sculpted steel of his belt buckle where an entrance wound the size of a tailpipe has opened up there: a round from his own rifle.

It's difficult to explain, perhaps, to rationalize, but Curt and Veronica have seen a lot. And it can only be so shocking when the keening wasp-flight of the female Agent's dart abruptly spins around mere feet before connecting with its staring target, and comes hurtling back toward the flesh of her outreached hand.

Not that Auggie waits, of course. He's hurling himself down, rolling underneath the belly of his aircraft, boots banging a sudden clangor against the metal as he struggles to make himself small and beat a retreat with the wiry agility of a cornered coyote.

Curt doesn't even blink. The instant he spots the wound he knows it's mortal. He barely even slows in his run. As he passes by he lashes out with a foot, the toe of his combat boot catching the falling junkie Evo squarely on the point of the chin as he races after Auggie. If the bullet didn't put him down the kick to the face aught to. Curt is already following after Auggie, recklessly ignoring any potential harm to himself as he pursues his target. All he has to do is get close enough… he strives to get within ten feet, pulling his combat knife from it's sheath at his back, biding his time. "Move your ass!" he yells into his coms, not seeing the tranq or whether or not it hit his partner.

"Fuck!" Veronica hisses as the dart hits the knuckles of her hand on the gun, her instincts having her fling her hand away so that the dart can't get any purchase and falls to the ground. Some blood drops to the ground, but she manages to keep a hand on her gun. "Careful, Lu, he's threw the dart back; some sort of rebound ability or something," she shouts before darting away from her locale so if the pilot is following her voice, she won't be there any longer. She breaks into a run, giving chase. She holsters one of the tranq guns and pulls out her fire arm as she runs.

The thoughts in Auggie's head sound like a mouse in a wheel. Squeak-a-squeakety-a-shit shit fuck fuck — "Bloody ff—" but the sudden sight of Curt's running feet jams the breath out of him, twists the path of his sprint along an unsupportable turn around the curb. He slides over gutter, grinding the breath out of his flattening torso. The force is enough to set him skidding facedown on the tarmac: it's a minor miracle of flight gear that he doesn't lose his epidermis to road rash, tumbling elbow over foot right there.

He lands on one knee and a foot, his grayed hair flying wild in his eyes. Up close, despite the warping of light, Curt finally marks the fact that there's more to this pilot than a hapless civilian aircraft run afoul of over-excitable urban predators. There's an emblem stitched on over the breast of his gray flight suit, a raven rampant, wings unfurled and neck arched bellicose, a symbol that hearkens more to the knights of yore, when war was personal, rather than the simple patriotic iconography of your average airline.

His eyes are blue. His hands are up. There's a scrape healing on his cheek.

"Look mate," he says. "I don't mean you or your bird any fucking harm, all right?"

Curt slides to a halt a pair of strides away from the man, his eyes narrowed, stance low and squat. "That before or after you slung armor peircing rounds from that cannon at us?" he asks, fitting Vee's assesment of the man's power to the odd trajectory of the rounds from the other man's rifle. He keeps himself slowly circling, never growing still. "I'm gonna need you to lay face down on the pavement, hands on your head, fingers laced." he says in a calm voice. He doesn't even seem winded from the run.

Veronica glances at Curt and then back at Auggie. "We don't want to hurt you either… just… calm down. Let us talk to you, find out if we can help you, okay?" she murmurs in a calm, easygoing voice. "My partner and I are going to put our weapons down — like you said, they could just be used against us…" she bends slowly to set the guns down onto the ground.

"Crumpet," the Englishman says to Veronica, hands still up and the dirt-scuffed legs of his flight-suit in a crouch, bent, his weight shifted forward on the balls of his feet, points of contact minimized, as if he's waiting for a brush of wind to simply soar off the earth, a feather on the proverbial wind. Regrettably, that particular trick isn't in August White's repertoire, or you'd best believe— he'd be out of here like a bat through Hell.

His eyes switch to Curt. "— And very serious chinky male companion, I got shot down on a supply flight by a meth-head loon, and now I've got two kids in suits chucking grenades and bullets at me. Yeh, I fucking threw them back. Look — if you could just sod off backward, really slowly, I'd appreciate it. I've got a saucy redhead I'm hoping to move in with this weekend, somebody in Jersey waiting for their bread, and I really haven't got the time to be mutually harrassing America's ninja corps, yeh?"

Curt is holding a knife, not a gun. He looks reluctant for a moment before he slowly starts to bend at knees, moving to place his blade on the ground as well. Vee is all nice and warm like am other, the look in Curt's eyes is anything but. It's predatory and threatening. Good cop. Bad cop. He is most decidedly NOT the good cop. "First of all, chink is a bad word for a limey fuck to be tossing around in my country. Secondly, I don't wear suits. I wear BDU's." Curt has grown thoroughly tired of this man, and the racial slur has put him in a suddenly bad mood. Curt /was/ going to be nice about this. He's decided not anymore. In a quick flick of his wrist he sends the razored edge of his combat knife across the back of his leg. The wound isn't deep so the transfer is instantaneous, the sudden loss of hamstring control is probably going to be a bit painful. "Look at that, now you owe me new pants you inbred tea sipping feckless 'wanker'."

Unsure of how Auggie's ability works, and having a painful first-hand knowledge of how her partner's works, Veronica stays where she is, crouched, her hands flat on each weapon so they face away from her - just in case Auggie decides to try to manipulate them somehow. "Now, now, boys. In the words of one of my fellow Californians, 'Can't we all just get along?'" she calls to them, eyes narrowed against the smoke in the air. "You might be missing out on your little homecoming, mate, but if you play nice, maybe you'll see her soon." She lets Curt do the dirty work of restraining the man.

Blood seams dark and liquid through the fabric sleeving the man's leg— and there's a curse, snarled, pale eyes filling with pain— though not the liquid kind. His weight lists haphazardly onto his uninjured side. He hears the insults, mind you, but they roll off his skin like water off a duck's back. He wouldn't be quite so injured with knives.

Vaguely, he suspects Veronica could be telling the truth, but neither Company agent seems particularly reliable in his admittedly biased perspective.

Auggie doesn't even give himself time, really, to feel amazed at the circumstances of his injury. Instead, he twists on a heel, a last-ditch effort keening with the adrenaline of desperation. He bolts again.

Curt growls as the man turns, "Fucking moron." he growls as he flips the knife to the opposite hand and then stabs himself in the thigh of his 'good' leg. He twists the blade to make sure Auggie stays down this time. The blade comes out red, but leave not lasting mark on him. He stars to walk after the downed man, covering the short distance quickly, "Nothing good out of you people since the Stones, and even they suck now. You should be ashamed."

Veronica pushes herself off the ground, picking up both weapons and aiming the tranq gun as she launches into a run. When she has a clear shot of Auggie, she pulls the trigger, the dart making its way for the man's back just as Curt stabs himself in the leg. Well, at least his two knife wounds won't be bothering him for a short amount of time.

"God. That's gonna leave a mark," she tosses to Curt with a grin. "Let's load 'em up."

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