Sheep Gone Astray


daphne_icon.gif koshka_icon.gif sable_icon.gif


Scene Title Sheep Gone Astray
Synopsis A determined Koshka makes an effort to return stolen objects to Ted's house with escorts Daphne and Sable.
Date May 1, 2011

Eltingville Blocks and Beyond

There are just a few hours of sunlight left — waiting until dark would mean getting back after curfew, something not worth the risk to the speedster who has agreed to be their "taxi" should things go badly. The clear bright day is still warm, the sun starting to fall in the western portion of the sky barely visible above the buildings and casting a yellowish light on the Blocks.

The time to meet was agreed on a few days ago, but Daphne is not yet in sight… those who know the speedster a little better know that this doesn't mean she's not nearby — after all, standing around and waiting for people to show up is not her style. Nor is hanging around and waiting in what could be a trap.

The spot that Koshka chose to meet seems safe enough — no one seems to give the two petite and young women much more than a cursory glance; the residents of Eltingville all seem much more wrapped up in their personal dramas to care about any one else, on a good day. No one "official" seems to be keeping watch in this corner of town. So far so good.

Despite the warnings, despite the requests, and despite nearly being called names unbefitting a rebellious teenager, Koshka had slipped out of the house made home by Brian and Samara. Busy with catching up, it wasn't difficult for her to take off with only a small note that she was gone. They knew, they'd had a week and some to realize she was serious about returning. She was fairly certain she knew what she was doing.

A quick, twenty minute stop by the Trafford house produced one Sable. Though the time spent had Koshka glancing nervously toward the door and shuffling her feet around. And, what seems to be a normal habit by now, declining any offers to sit while she waited. Anxious for the trip, waiting by the door made the wait seem mild and bearable. And once the yellow-eyed woman was ready, the pair took to the streets.

Their arrival was a little late, by a handful of minutes. Koshka took a random turn and backtracked a block, saying something about throwing off potential followers. But arrive they did, in sight of the hole though it's for Daphne that the teen is watching. "We're not that late. She should be here already," isn't really a complaint but nervous chatter pitched low with the intent of being heard only by Sable.

Sunglasses again, even with night closing, a disguise played off as a fashion statement, if an unhinged one - Sable has her ill-fitting leather jacket on to complete the look, causeless but rebellious. Her thumbs hook into the belt loops of her pants and she gives a very attractive hock and spit, loogie arching through the air and landing in the brown-green wilt of grass.

"Speedster, eh?" Sable remarks, with the casual ponderousness of a farmer 'reckoning', "figure she could afford t' be on th' dot. Mebbe she's a no-show," she arches a brow, dark against pale above the lens, "that th' case, Kosh, y'all mean t' see this through or we holdin' off?" Dinner wasn't quite ready when Sable was reminded she agreed to go along, and her stomach is lobbying hard on her priorities, grumbling its discontent.

A sudden and mighty wind rustles the hair of both Sable and Koshka, and what was a blur in the corner of their eyes coalesces into the solid form of the petite blonde speedster, a decade older than Sable and more than that than Koshka, but just as small and impish for all her years.

A Cliff bar is shoved into Sable's hand, pulled from a backpack and she raises one dark brow beneath the shaggy bangs. "No point being 'on the dot,' if there's no one here yet, is there?" she says, tipping her head to survey with dark eyes the woman she hasn't met, then turning to Koshka. "If I say I'll be here, I'll be here, half pint. So where do we get out?"

"I'm going," Koshka states looking at Sable. "If you want to go back you can. But I'm going no matter what." It's the same line she'd been giving everyone she'd told the plan to. Her hands go to the pockets of her jacket, feeling the photos and jewel case, reassuring herself that the items to be returned are still there. "She'll be here."

And as if on cue, the wind that announces Daphne's appearance turns Koshka's head away briefly then back toward the flicker of movement. "But if no one were 'on the dot' then what's the point of meeting somewhere," she counters. "Sable, Daphne— Daphne, Sable." Introductions short and quick, the teenager nods toward the fence. "There's a hole there that we'll all fit through. We go into the woods, follow the track to a clearing and that's where Ted's house is."

As she explains, Koshka moves toward the fence to let herself through first. On the other side, she straightens and holds back the loose wooden plank. "If either of you want to, you can turn back. I don't know how dangerous it's going to be, or… It won't hurt my feelings if you don't want to risk yourselves on my silly ideas."

Sable finds herself snatching a Cliff bar out of the air before she even knows that a Cliff bar's what it is. And for the first few seconds, she's focusing on the bar rather than the woman who just threw it, her free floating surprise attaching, arbitrarily, to the wrapper clad energy snack. Blink blink.

The stomach lobby makes a temporary coup once they're informed of the bar's contents. Hands pull the wrapper open and lift the protein-rich bar to her choppers before she's had adequate chance to offer Daphne greeting, or thanks. So it's with a mouth full of energy bar that she garbles out: "Fanks much, gal, 'n' ples-" gulp, "pardon me- pleasure t' meetcha."

The bar doesn't last long, and she's mashing the last bite as she sidles over to the fence, trusting that Daphne can keep up (harhar). She stops at the gap, and gestures - "Ladies first!" - at the aperture. "Won't hurt yer feelin's, hon," she comments to Koshka, through the fence, "but it'd hurt my pride, 'n' sense 'f duty. Gotta look out f'r y', eh?" The craziness of her smile undercuts her words just a little.

The hole in the fence is scrutinized, and Daphne peers through to the other side. "Hold on," she says — apparently deciding she's the la-dee in the bunch — before squeezing through. Once on the other side, her form once more blurs into a streak of black and red and pale, disappearing from view for a short few seconds, making a very fast circuit before returning.

"Looks safe enough," she says, giving a nod behind her.

That it looked safe enough before crosses Koshka's mind, but the words are stayed and she only nods. Sable is given a half smile, a thanks though she doesn't agree to the whole looking after her bit. As much has been said and it doesn't need repeating.

Turning from the fence and letting the hole cover itself again, Koshka leads the way into the woods. She sets a brisk pace, it'll carry quickly though hopefully not tire too soon. Once traveling, her fingers again go to touch the items in her pockets, for confidence. Her eyes move continuously, ears straining to pick up even the faintest non-forest sounds. And every so often she glances toward the sky.

Promise you, Koshka, best thing you can do is not disagree - don't react at all. Sable just wants attention, to get a reaction, don't humor her. That big dumb grin is gone by the time she's ducked over to join the other two women, though her 'cool' attitude is maybe not an upgrade. Her rolling tread is able to keep up, at least. Her gaze slides over to Daphne after a few minutes, a consideration of her motion; its potential trajectories cause Sable to blink, and rub at her eyes as for split seconds she could swear Daphne is about to bolt— but there she still is.

"This drive y'all crazy, hon?" Sable inquires at length, having to speak out of the side of her mouth because it's actually sort of hard to look at Daphne - or it will at least take some getting used to - "havin' t' mosey like this, with th' rest 'f us?"

Daphne has to let Koshka lead the way… she supposes the girl could point them in the right direction and the speedster could get them there and back faster, but she's only there in case of trouble; most people don't like traveling by Daphne Express unless they have to, and there'd be a whole slew of fine print about who should not ride this ride if she were a Disney World attraction.

The speedster's dark eyes shoot over to Sable, and she smirks. "Not enough to complain about. I like to go fast, yeah, but it could be worse." She's gained a little perspective in the past year or so.

"So how far's this place?" she asks Koshka.

"Not far," Koshka answers absently. Her focus is kept outward, the anxiety of putting two more at risk for her chasing rainbows idea showing through in her step. "Mile, give or take." She glances skyward again, trying to see through the trees to the darkening sky overhead, hoping that if McRae really is in control of things that he's watching the woods now. "I don't know how they're going to react to strangers." If they're even there at all. Ted held a gun to her when she showed up last time.

Once again the teen's hand goes to her coat pocket, fingers curling around the picture and cd case. She wishes, too, that it could have been more being returned, but the others were resistant to her unexplained request. And that strange man, Astor, stole one of the items anyway. "Just keep a lookout for any robots or soldiers. First sign and you two run away. Back to the fence."

A gun? Koshka was held up on her solo trip? Sable would have liked to have known these things! She would like, even, to know them now. But while she is canny sometimes, she's loony the rest, and the (in her mind) success of last trip bodes (again, in her mind) well for the return. She's done this before. Piece of cake.

Just as long as they don't run into, thanks for reminding her Koshka, robots or soldiers. The monster from last time has since been mythologized into the role of beast, bestible by the hero. Sadly, new enemies Sable won't have narratological advantage over - that would mean genuine trouble.

"How's 'bout we compromise?" Sable suggests, "le's 't least knock this trip up t' a canter, eh? Go jus' a little faster, courtesy t' our friend here?" And, in getting to the hidden house faster, reducing the chances of a hostile encounter.

"'You two?'" Daphne echoes Koshka, turning to shoot a narrowed-eyed glance at the youngest of the trio. "If we run into trouble, I'll have two passengers, brave little toaster, and I won't take any argument from someone that's young enough never to have seen an original Smurf cartoon."

But Sable's suggestion gets a nod. Daphne's nervous — there's a tension in every step she takes at this slow-molasses pace, and her eyes dart around, seeking for anything out of the ordinary in the trees.

"All right — you probably won't like it. Helps to keep your eyes open, watch the ground." Or so she's heard. That's all the warning she gives the two before reaching for each of their wrists, her fingers clamping around them, and suddenly their surroundings are nothing but a blur, the ground losing focus and becoming an impossibly vague streak of green and brown and gray; trees are barely recognizable, just a blur of tall vertical shapes that are gone as soon as they register as there.

But suddenly it all stops.

Letting go of their wrists and sending each flying a few feet away from her, carrying the momentum of their speed for a short instant before they tumble, Daphne herself collapses to the ground. For a moment she lays stunned, hands skinned and bloodied from catching her fall starting to push herself up when…

The feet and legs that should be taking her weight upon them to rise refuse to do what she wills them.

It takes a second as well to register the pain in her ankle, a trickle of blood dripping down onto white shoe and pink and black sneaker from a needle in her anklet. The red light begins to blink.

"Run," Daphne whispers. The house is still too far away — it's closer to go back.

A word of protest is stopped before it even has a chance to become reality, and those instructions to look down? Well Koshka's still registering Daphne's speaking when she's hoisted along. Her brain doesn't even have the chance to register the sudden movement and blurring shapes, still trying to play catch up with the response that running isn't necessary. And it all ends so suddenly that the protest turns into a garbled mess as she's flung into the forest floor.

After sliding face, hands, and chest, Koshka gives a small shake to her head to clear it. She spits out a mouthful of dirt and forest debris and lifts a hand to lightly touch the stinging ache on her chin and forehead. Nothing that won't heal. Her eyes go to her palms and scoff at the bloody tracks the ground left. Daphne's warning is only barely heard.

The teenager turns to look at the speedster, questioningly. Then her eyes catch on the blinking red light and her breath catches. She looks at Daphne then Sable, then to the direction they were headed, the house still hidden from sight. But torn, between helping someone she didn't want to come in the first place and finishing a task, her movements are slow as she picks herself up.

Sable most definitely did not look at the ground. Ready for the ride of a lifetime, her eyes were raised to the horizon, wanting to see the world resolve into a blur. Of course, this means she's also slightly queasy when the ride comes to a sudden and unintended stop and she, lacking safety equipment, goes plowing into the ground. Hissing fury and spitting what she hopes to God isn't half an ant colony, Sable scrambles to her feet and then immediately falls on her ass, equilibrium shot for the same reason her tummy feels whoopsy. Daphne's rasped urging gains her attention, however compromised, and Sable blinks, one yellow eye visible - must have lost a frame in the fall.

A clenching of the eyes, a few more spits, and a drag of the arm across her dirty face achieve some modicum of clarity. Sable hauls herself to her feet and stays there, with a little work. The significance of the anklet sinks in and she is able to catch Koshka's look.

"Aw hell," Sable yowls, "fuckin'- Kosh jus'- jus' go. But you get there quick 'n' y' don't turn 'round 'til y' get there." She grunts with pain as she trots over to Daphne. "I'ma get her back, can't leave her t' th' mecha-cougars," Sable says, and offers Daphne an arm, addressing her in a softer tone, "whatall you need? Jus' t' lean on, or I gotta try 'n' carry y'?"

Somewhere in the distance, beyond the trees and between the trio and the house that was their destination, klaxons — at least two — can be heard. A sound all three know too well by now.

"I'm negated," Daphne hisses. "I … you should just go…" Her brows furrow and her voice trembles with fear, bravado gone. It's all too familiar, and she knows how it ends.

There is the sound of something mechanical beyond them, and the sibilant hiss of expelled steam before somewhere behind Daphne, Sable can see a red gleam of a robotic eye. The klaxon sounds again, louder, closer, and then the other, behind Koshka, and one of the silvery metal beasts makes its mechanical step onto the path, blocking the way.

They stand. They wait. The silver needles both point in the direction of Eltingville like compasses, giving directions.

Koshka manages a speechless nod to Sable, silently thankful the decision was made for her. A single step is taken, the step that would start her running toward the house, when the klaxons sound. Her head whips in that direction, breath catching in her throat while her heart makes a leap in her chest. "You get her out of here," she hisses at Sable, words driven by fear. Bringing more people was a terrible idea. If either of them get hurt… "You to get back to Eltingville and don't come looking for me." She'll make it back alone, she has to.

Without another word, Koshka takes another step toward Ted's house, eyeing the robot as it steps into her way. She swallows against the lump of fear in her throat, trying to choke back the terror and put her hear in its proper place. The thunder of its beating is almost enough to send her into panic and run the wrong way. Her eyes dart to the sides, to take in the other sentinels and gauge at distances. To find an opening.

Where the one had come up from behind her is where the teen bolts. Like a rabbit from the brush, or a cat with a wild hair, she takes off at a dead run. Please let them follow, give Sable and Daphne a chance to escape, Koshka prays silently. And please, McRae, hope you're watching out for me today. She's little faith that the atmokinetic was specifically watching out for her, but when faced with giant robots of doom, hope has to be placed somewhere.

Sable's eyes flash across the guardians, and she takes in their sinuous, alien forms. Belatedly, she looks down at the ground. From what she recalls, its using abilities that set them off, set them to pouncing. Daphne's negated, and if Sable isn't trying to see anything coming…

Her ears remain sharp as ever, though, for the slightest sound of a metallic motion. She does her best to haul Daphne up into a piggyback, trying to place as much of the other woman's weight directly on her legs so she can teeter back without collapsing. She moves steadily at first, mumbling low as she can and hope to still be heard. "Keep 'n' eye on 'em, gal, 'f y' can? Lemme know if I should start bookin'," she gives a forced, wheezy laugh through a crooked grin, "or jus' ditch y' 'n' run."

She might protest — if she were a braver creature — but Daphne is about self preservation, and even though she knows the odds are against her — two slow humans against two fast robots? — she still allows herself to be pulled into the piggy back, her arms linking around Sable's neck. "It's not … shooting us or anything so maybe…"

Koshka's running has her turning her head, eyes wide. "Shit…"

One robot stands, then takes another step, slow, creak of metal joints eerie in the woods. It waits. Clearly, it wants them to move, too.

The other turns, tracking Koshka's moves, when in the distance klaxons sound… a third hunter has joined the hunting party.

As the metallic form comes into view, the second moves; swift and powerful, it soon circles around to join the other, facing down Koshka where she stands. There's less space between them for her to dart through this time.

One takes a slow step forward, then waits.

"You can't outrun it," Daphne shouts back. "They're faster than you. That stuff isn't that important. Drop it and maybe your friend'll find it."

Oh, but it is important, or there wouldn't be precogs coming into her home and stealing pieces back. Koshka throws herself to one side, feet sliding and skidding against the ground, one hand going out to to add a third appendage in keeping her momentum from slowing much. With hand and feet she pulls herself off the path and perpendicular to the newly arrived robot. She may not be faster than them, but she must be more agile. Or smaller. The smallness should work to her advantage.

Or so she hopes it will.

Dragging herself upright and kicking it into high gear again, Koshka makes another mad dash for the house. Her breath coming more in ragged gasps and gulps than proper breathing. She spares a look for the robots, a wide eyed glance to see where they are in relation to herself. "Faster, faster, faster," she urges herself, her tone tinged with fear. A hand jumps out to push herself off a tree without slowing, propelling herself a little further.

The plan was to just plod on, to risk no robo-wrath that could be avoided - head down, Sable was picking up speed, overcoming inertia enough to keep a sustained jog. But from the sounds of it, while she and Daphne aren't being chased, Koshka is. Sable starts to slow herself, feet thumping against the winter-mulched layer of now-visible leaves as her knees absorb the shock of the momentum. She gives a short series of coughs - a smoker's penance - and wheels a bit to steal a look at what Koshka is doing. Or trying to do.

"Fuckin' hell- Kosh!" she barks out, anxiety straining her voice, "don't be a damn fool, don't y'all dare put this on my conscience!"

The robot that follows Daphne and Sable does so sedately — there is no rush. It stays a "respectful" distance from them, speeding up when Sable does, slowing when she does, some predetermined measurement kept in check.

There is a hiss of steam as the hunter closest to Koshka moves into action, and then a hiss of something else — a cloud of yellow gas that is emitted from the mechanical beast’s sides, once it is close enough, instantly enshrouding the teen before the light wind begins to carry it away into the woods. The second robot moves faster yet, to circle around to cut off he girl’s pass should she break for it again. It only takes a few seconds — her speed is no match for theirs, and agility can only go so far.

She’s caught between the two in a very dangerous game of Pickle.

The one facing her takes a step forward — then waits.

The one behind takes a step to the side — without looking over her shoulder, she can hear its metal joints creak and the brush beneath its feet crunch as it shifs to the side of the path, to let her move back toward the fence. Back toward Eltingville.

She’s being herded.

Daphne looks over her shoulder, then peers over Sable's shoulder. The robot that faces the two women lowers its head in a menacing manner. It takes a step forward…

…and waits.

The message is clear: There is one "safe" path to choose.

A cough of her own follows the acrid yellow gas as it washes over Koshka, her steps slowing with the heavy and numbing feeling. Her head turns slightly toward Sable's voice, eyes showing more white than iris to the robot as she dares another look toward the yellow-eyed woman. If anything about the teen is a damn fool it's when she'd agreed to let Sable and Daphne risk their lives to come with.

If she's aware she's being herded back toward Eltingville, Koshka gives little sign. Turning back to the robots, she makes another dash for the ever narrowing opening. Her run this time carries her briefly toward the fence, a few yards only, and then she's throwing herself to make another hasty scramble toward Ted's house. It's futile, she's realizing, it would be better to go again, alone and another day.

As Koshka turns away from the fence to head back in the direction of the two robots that seem to be herding her, one moves to block the most obvious trajectory of her path while the other takes to the side, curving around to launch itself against the girl.

Somewhere behind her, Daphne shouts, everything slow motion in the speedster's eyes.

This time, it is a blade, not a needle, that comes up to slice the girl's leg, the searing hot metal slicing through fabric and flesh of Koshka's outer thigh; the scent of burning cotton and skin combines with the pungent smell of the negation gas.

"Don't run to her," hisses Daphne in Sable's ear, arms tightening around Sable's neck as if to stay her. "They might think you're running too." Louder, she calls, "Can you come this way? How hurt are you?" Her heart pounds, palpable against Sable's back.

A cry of pain rips out of the teenager as her leg is cut through. Clamping her mouth shut cuts the sound almost as quickly, though another grunt punctuates the burning laceration as that leg gives way. Still trying to keep moving, she presses a hand to the wound, the other working with her feet to drag herself unevenly toward the path that had gotten them this far.

"Get moving," Koshka yells at Sable and Daphne, pain threatening to loosen panic evident in her voice. "Keep moving for the fence." She half gets herself upright to scramble another step or two, haste driving her to follow the path to the fence. But a couple of steps is all she manages before resigning to half crawling through the fallings of last autumn.

It's hard not to feel like a shit to 'keep moving' when your teenaged ward (the role Koshka has been assigned in this particular Sable-centric drama) is dragging herself through the black-laced leaves. Still, what the hell is Sable supposed to do? She begins to trudge back towards the fence, trying to keep sight of Koshka from the corner of her lensless eye, huffing with exertion as she against buckles before the urging of their grim escort. Breath saved for bearing Daphne, who doesn't seem about to get up and tapdance in the immediate future, Sable keeps her peace, in the interests of keeping her head, and that of her current passenger.

The robots lock in step, one following Sable bearing Daphne, the other two flanking a little behind and to each side of Koshka. With each step made, they make a step, the metal sound of their mechanical joints creating a slow and percussive rhythm.

Eventually the fence comes back into view, the refuge of the abandoned yard on the other side promising some respite from the threat of their robotic guards.

"It doesn't look like anyone's been alerted," Daphne says wonderingly, a glance toward her anklet hinting she doesn't altogether trust that it's that simple.

Their robot has stopped, waiting once again several feet behind them as Koshka nears the fence as and Daphne looks behind. The speedster swallows. "I'm so sorry. I didn't know it'd do that…" she whispers. "You said nothing happened with yours… I didn't realize. I'm sorry."

With that, she lets go of Sable's neck, letting herself slide to the ground. She scootches herself to the fence to pull the plank of wood over. "You first, Koshka," she tells the injured girl.

In silence, teeth clenched together so hard her jaw hurts, Koshka half crawls, half stumbles in the wake of Sable and Daphne. No further attempts at running are made, but one can bet she's planning. She's not going to risk it again. Her next trip will be made alone. She hardly glances toward her two companions as she arrives at the fence, keeping her gaze cast down.

A baleful look is directed at her two escorts as Koshka musters pride to stand so she can walk the last pace and step through the fence. "We can talk about it later," Koshka says to Daphne, her voice tight with effort except for a quaver of pain. She makes it to the fence without shaming herself, but clambering through rekindles the fire in her leg and brings her to the ground again with a wordless groan.

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