Harper sat hunched over her laptop the bright blue-tinged light of the monitor the rooms only illumination. Hours earlier she had pressed her back up against the dull splotchy brown couch in the living room and began her work. In the early going Cullen had sat behind her on the couch doing his best to follow the never ending line of code on the screen. But as always happened he soon had fallen asleep, his chin coming down to rest on her shoulder as he dozed off. Projects of this sort gave Harper a severe case of tunnel vision and little would snap her concentration once she made her way down the rabbit hole, a sharp chin to the shoulder and a low but building snore did it each and every time.
Harper loved her brother. A fact she repeated to herself like a mantra.
Her focus broken her awareness of just how dry her eyes were, and how
scratchy her throat had become turned crystal clear. Raising her right hand she gently pokes Cullen in the middle of his forehead.
“You’re killing me, Smalls….”
Cullen still half asleep mutters something about not knowing who that is before he sits up swaying a bit as he makes it upright, only to sharply turn fall over again. Burying his face into the back of the couch as he settles again and leaves Harper to her work. Placing her fingers back to the keyboard she begins to type again, only for an alert to fill her screen and once again break her concentration completely.
Looking again Harper sees that it’s is instead a message from one of her online associate, the sort that she only dealt with under the hacker name Bluebird. Sitting up and leaning in to better read the words as they scroll past her eyes widening with each word. Something was going down in Gotham and more then a few people had used the word aliens. Of course no one was certain the contact would mention as a media lockdown had quickly gone into effect.
Bored and utterly unable to return her mind to the code of some rand8m app she had agreed to create for a little side money, Harper rises and packs up her laptop moving to grab her special bag on the way out the door. Once out in the hall she unzips the bag and pulls out a pair of goggles that look seriously homemade and high tech at the same time, as if they had been made out of scavenged parts. Mostly because they had been.
Slipping them on she makes her way down the stairs and out of the door to building she had not long ago moved to with her brother. Stopping at a bright blue and purple painted scooter that seems to lack any form of security until Harper approaches and hitting a button on her keys that makes a series of beeps and clicks sound as each of her security devices disable themselves allowing her to now ride the scooter.
“Please dear god let me find something worth my time…mama has tech projects that need proper components.”
Sitting on the scooter she reaches up to tap something on the side of her goggles, after a moment a rudimentary heads display appears complete with an augmented reality style arrow to point her in the right direction. Reviving the modified engine a few times Harper zooms forward to see just what she can find.
The weeks have not been kind to Maxine. Fuck, the years have not been kind, but she’s had some good days at least. This is not one of them. As a Person of Cybernetic Persuasion she is basically at her best on the front lines, a bad-mouthed termagaunt that is thrown like a dollar-store hammer into the face of that which threatens the world or whatever but way back when, when she’d been free to do what the hell she pleased she’d been kind of a menace. To be fair, though, society had screwed her over first.
A handful of corpses and some whiny little bitches in the hospital had turned a crime spree into an execution and from there shit had just kind of gone off the rails. Now at age nineteen she’s a widow by her own actions and missing roughly 95% of her OEM parts, now made of plastic, wire and steel. And some other crap that she neither knows nor cares to know. And right now she doesn’t even know where she is, nor precisely how she’d gotten here.
Error: Visual feed offline
Well, at least I still got-
Error: Audio feed offline
Fuck me sideways, I’ll just get up an’-
Error: Motivators offline
…The hits just keep on comin’.
A multimillion dollar pile of scrap metal with a mohawk and eyebrow piercings lays sprawled out in the alley, sparking from exposed wires. A light fog spills out from her leather jacket, like she’s got a lump of dry ice stashed in an interior pocket. It looks like she’d picked a fight with a garbage truck, and then all the garbage truck’s cousins had jumped her from behind while she was fucking up its face.
Harper raced forward with all the speed a heavily modified Vespa engine could manage. Her eyes kept a close eye on the road but occasionally one would glance to the corner of her HUD to read the update on possible alien debris locations. All anyone knew for sure is some had fallen out of the sky and wrecked a few penthouses, some extraterrestrials, other said Superman, and still, others said Elvis had returned from space.
Some people were idiots.
Rounding a corner as another update arrives Harper looks down to read it only to find a suddenly appearing garbage truck had lumbered into her path. Harper slams on the breaks even as she emits a sound that could not be described as anything close to dignified. A fraction of a second passes as she realizes breaking will not be enough, so jerking the handles sharply the scooter turns and falling to its side skids into an adjacent alleyway and smacks had against a dumpster just inside it.
“New projects Harper…components for NEW projects..fixing a busted scooter is not a ne…”
Having barely avoided cracking her head against the dumpster Harper sits up and looks down to the scooter to assess the damage, then she catches sight of something further inside the alleyway. Seeing the smoke and hearing the telltale sizzle of fried electronics she quickly stands and begins crawling toward Maxine.
“Ooookay so moving really fricking hurts…but Shiny!”
Slowly making her way over she brings herself up to one knee as she slowly looks over Maxine her eyes nearly sparkle at the presence of such technology and it is all she can do not to giggle at the thoughts of tinkering. Then it hits her, this is an actual person and they were clearly in trouble.
“Hey..uh…Lady? I don’t wanna assume or gender or anything. You okay?”
The question was more to see if any sort of response was even possible, clearly, okey would not be the go-to word here.
There’s no response from the punkish garbage heap in the middle of the asphalt. However, given the frequency of the sparks one might surmise that at least there’s still some kind of power source active. A keen mind might link that to the fog, maybe from some kind of coolant system. Beyond that, the cyborg is more or less in a single piece aside from some metal bits that may or may not even belong to her. She’s suffered massive damage despite being intact, much of it maybe requiring quick fixes at best but if there’s a lot of internal damage things could quickly get more complicated.
The chassis itself is extremely feminine, right down to fairly generous steel breasts tucked beneath a cutoff black Jack Daniels tank top. Functionally they would seem to have no real purpose except so as to present a gender but it’s possible perhaps that the recipient hadn’t really had any say as far as design goes. Actually, that’s the truth, but if she had been consulted Maxine would’ve contributed a big fucking thumbs up to the idea, regardless of how nonfunctional the addition was.
Ratty, torn-up jean shorts trail down to just above knee-joins that are bent at the wrong angle, probably need whole new pins there. A surplus combat boot is strapped to either presumably-robotic foot, and clenched in one bare metallic hand is a broken length of chain. The other is about as mangled as her legs, which is to say it ain’t real pretty but it’s probably something with access to a decent machine shop could fix without needing to call NASA. A hinged jaw is partially open, revealing a single row of basically human teeth past her upper lip, the only lip that still exists in fact. The teeth are in various shades of yellow, slightly crooked and pocked with cavities.
Leaning over Maxine, Harper adjusts her goggles and taps off the AR Mode, she then slowly begins to asses the damage or at least what she could assume to be damage and not design. Reaching out to lift the nearest piece of the cyborg she can find intact Harper pulls her hand back as she notices the giant hole in the palm. Cursing under her breath as it occurs to her it must have happened during the skid. Holding up her other hand she inspects the glove there and finds it intact.
Using that hand she again reaches out and lifts a piece from the ground and begins looking it over carefully. Harper was good with tech and she knew that but she also knew in this moment this might be beyond her. She might need help or at the very least someone to help her drag her new friend somewhere better equipped then a random alley.
Reaching into her special bag and fumbling around until she lays a finger and then another on the smartphone inside the bag. Sliding it out she taps on her contacts list and begins scrolling through the names until she comes to nearly the end.
Tapping on an entry that says only StepOnMe she hits the screen until the texting option appears and she begins to type in the following. “911, like Woah hit me back Brown.” Vague as it might be she knew Stephanie Brown would reply as soon as possible, the girl was reliable like that. Until that happened she would have to do what she could on her own.
“Stay with me….I can do this. No really.”
Harper then starts to pick at the pieces she can identify with some degree of certainly and begins laying them out where she thinks they should go. She really needed to get this chick into a real and actual workshop.
The mechanical parts are twisted and mangled but the ongoing power issue also seems to be a problem. There’s some kind of oil or lubricant slowly pooling around the broken cyborg, though it isn’t getting larger at any observable speed. Either she’d already leaked as much as she could or it’s just coming out at such a minute pace that it isn’t perceptible. If it’s the second one then that might indicate she’s been here for some time. Exposed wires spark and sizzle, sending tiny arcs of electricity into the viscous, tarlike stuff.
There’s a single pop followed by a prolonged hiss from somewhere beneath the leather jacket as another hose melts, thicker black smoke starting to pour out. Perhaps related, a little red light starts blinking on her weird metal torso in tune with a barely-audible, tinny beep-beep-beep. The beeps get closer together, tempo speeding up and a robotic voice whispers from a concealed speaker: Reactor critical. Please evacuate to a ten mile radius. Reactor critical. One minute to meltdown.
Harper might have to get her hands dirty with some tools to make a fix here. That or hope she’d brought along some kind of jetpack that can travel at speeds of over six hundred miles an hour. Either one, really. She could also try praying to God, but word on the streets is that Superman split.
Or maybe this is some kind of elaborate prank, but in this world and especially this city all the darkest jokes kinda tend to not be jokes at all.
Standing up sharply at the sound of the alarms and especially the warning about a critical reactor failure. While she did not know what shape her scooter was in she knew to a near certainty that it would not be fast enough. Worse still her brother Cullen was well within a ten-mile radius of her current location, so was Stephanie maybe. Her father could be as well but she didn’t really care much what happened to him.
Okay, she did care…but begrudgingly so at best. The man hadn’t been seen in weeks and the last time he been he was raving about a Clue Man or a ClueMaster? No that couldn’t be right who would call themselves Cluemaster? FOCUS. Harper!
Right. Nuclear reactor eminent..or was it imminent? FOCUS. Death soon. Scrambling through the field of strewn parts to dive for her bag Harper reaches inside grabbing a handful of hoses and assorted tools. Fumbling as she races back over to Maxine to begin sealing off leaks and tighten bolts or anything else she can think of to stabilize a cyborg.
“Is this where they yell…Don’t you die on me?”
Quick wits and some tape seals off the steaming hoses. Heat causes the air above the metal woman to shimmer as it radiates outward but the cybernetics themselves begin to drop in temperature once the coolant system is back online. There’s an internal whirring, and a smell of burnt ozone accompanies the intensified crackle of electricity from exposed wiring but the sparks subside.
Visual feed online. Engaging triage.
Maxine’s blue eyes open and the first thing she sees is a pigeon’s ass as it soars overhead. Nononono you fucker, she thinks, still trapped inside her own head to an extent. Limited motivators online blinks across her field of vision. She moves her head to the side, narrowly escaping a speckle of birdshit, then looks down kind of awkwardly. Her trapjaw works up and down a little as she flexes the hinge. “The fuck’re you doing?” she asks. Her voice sounds like if Courtney Love were yelling from the inside of a sealed trashcan, grungy and raspy with a kind of metallic reverb.
She still can’t move her arms or her legs. Power’s down in a number of critical areas and what little is left of her organics feels like it’s cooking. She also realizes that she can’t even make out her own voice. It’s just dead silence even though it looks like they’re in the middle of some kind of city. “Can you hear me? Am I even sayin’ shit right now?” Audio feed online. “There we fuckin’ are. Hey dumpster-diver, go get me a bottle of five-weight-forty. Or a beer.”
At the sound of Maxine’s voice Harper jumps back landing on her palms, the impact to the injured hand sends an intense jolt of pain through her arm. This sends her falling to her shoulder as the arms gives way under the pain. Her face turns away from Maxine and her eyes point directly into her special bag where her tools had been. Still inside she catches sight of one other special tool.
Reaching inside and sliding the object out she turns back to Maxine her aims a heavily modified taser at the cyborg. Considering the woman had only moments ago been about to explode she didn’t think lowering her guard was the best idea.
Harper snapped back as Maxine’s requested either oil or a beer, she of course had wither on her currently. Only now did she really notice the general look of the woman sitting still on the street in front of her. This cyborg looked like the love child of Johnny Rotten from the Sex Pistols and a toaster, it was an odd combo to say the least.
“What the hell happened to you lady…also don’t move…please?”
At this she waves the taser around a little to indicate she means business. The less then intimidating expression sitting on her face may undermine her efforts just a little.
Maxine inclines her head up a little, just enough for most of her matted-down mohawk to leave the pavement. She eyes the taser with no small hint of amusement; though without a human lower jaw it’s hard to say whether or not she’s smiling it’s pretty apparent from the set of her pierced eyebrows. “What’re ya gonna do with that, get me off? Tryna skip the whole buyin’ me a drink?” Damaged servos whir and, with another pop of electricity and puff of smoke, die. She slumps her head back with a metallic thunk.
“Yeah, null swear on that,” she grumbles. Her mouth kind of moves with the words but it’s probably an unnecessary cosmetic affectation. However, the motion does provide a glimpse of some kind of empty hole at the back of her robotic mouth, like the barrel of a gun. Could be dangerous, or it could be as broken as the rest of her. The chassis is clearly having power issues regardless, not to mention the fact that she doesn’t seem capable of movement. “An’ as for what happened, your guess is as good as mine, meatbag.”
Turning her head, she can see her mangled left hand and her eyes squint in concentration as if she’s trying to will it to move. There’s not even a static pop at this point, just zero response entirely. She groans in frustration. “Where the fuck am I? It smells like the inside of a fuckin’ septic tank… am I in New Jersey!?”
As if realizing her face told a story other then how much of a badass Maxine was dealing with Harper narrows her eyes at the cyborg, and then realizes her goggles were still on. Letting an exasperated sigh escape her lips Harper slides the goggles up onto her head and renews her glare. Looking down at the taser and giving a little shrug as she lowers the weapon and lays it on the ground.
“You wish this was Jersey…you are in Gotham.”
As fiercely as she may want to defend her hometown regardless of its many flaws, there could be no argument about the smell. Pulling herself to a standing position and careful not to use her injured hand Harper rises and makes her way closer to Maxine.
Running a hand through her hair Harper grips herself by the hair as she again takes in the extent of the damage. Despite herself, a low whistle exits her mouth. She could not say with any amount of certainty that she could handle fixing an actual really real cyborg. The already established nuclear reactor problem only magnified her growing terror.
What if she accidentally set the damn thing off?
“How do we get you moving? This is a real you don’t have to go home but you can’t stay her type situation.”
Dropping to one knee to bring herself closer to her special bag, Harper begins rummaging through the items that remained within. Something had to be of use in this situation…of course it’s not as of she had prepared to do emergency repairs on a punk rawk cyborg or anything.
“Gotham? Ugh, so it is.” She shakes her head as if to say no to reality. Fresh birdshit from the shot she’d narrowly dodged winds up all over the back of her head, which she doesn’t really seem to notice because what little skin she does have is fake anyways. “Garden State two, Maxine zero. At least it ain’t Trenton again.” It seems like she has an unpleasant history in this state. But her crime spree had been kind of a footnote compared to all of the crazy shit that happens in and around this region anyways. What are a handful of violent robberies compared to a week in the life of the Joker, for example?
Thinking a little less optimistically now, she tries to move her shoulder, which sort of works but the joint’s dislocated and hydraulic fluid bleeds out of it in a gush that quickly drops that side of her torso the couple inches it had risen back to the ground. “Haha, fuck if I know,” Ladytron assesses helpfully. “But you better figure it out before the Federales show up.” She doesn’t remember where she is or how she’d even got here, and she doesn’t really remember the past few months either.
It would be a lot more helpful if she did but she’s been on longer benders anyways in her short life.
“Go get like, a truck or some shit, your candy-ass ain’t movin’ me by yourself.” She cranes her neck to regard the girl, who really has no reason to be helping her in the first place. Maxine does not provide any further incentive to do so, either, adding, “And get me that fuckin’ beer,” before slumping back down. She looks up at the sky, her pierced brows taking on an angle that speaks more of the extreme discomfort of her present situation. As far as she knows, she’s being hunted by the law. She doesn’t remember that she does the hunting nowadays.
Trailing off as he thoughts drift back to the bag that contained her tools. She knew each and every one to be found within and she knew without looking that she lacked anything close to what she would need. The panic that this had slowly began to create in the corners of her mind only added to the tightening in her chest.
“This isn’t the sort of neighborhood the cops like to come to…Gotham remember?”
Harper knew full well that in this part of town the cops were the least of the things to fear. Gotham has its fair share, no it had far beyond its fair share of crazies and it only got worse with each passing day.
Finding her phone again Harper begins scrolling through the contacts list. Stopping suddenly on one of the listings Harper shrugs and presses the number an obvious reluctance on her features as she stood listening to it ring. After a few minutes, the endless ringtone pauses and a voice can be heard. Turning and walking a few steps away from Max She listens for a bit then speaks on a low voice to whoever was on the other end.
“Count your transistors chica…cause I’ve got friends in low places.”
“Yeah… you’re right.” The downed cyborg’s brow furrows in thought. “But if they ain’t the ones who did this… who did?” Whatever had put her in this near-destroyed state had clearly done a number on her memory as well, whether because of brain damage or some sort of gaussian effect to some kind of internal memorybanks. It’s really hard to figure how much of her is human in fact, but what’s clear is that whatever that percentage is it’s low.
Without being able to move much beyond her neck, there’s not much she can do except mouth off. While she is normally content to do just that, she’s aware she can’t really back it up while in this kind of condition. At least Harper still seems like she’s going to be of some further use, for whatever reason. But she’s not playing fetch, so what is she doing?
Not much to do but wait, something she sort of hates but otherwise what are the options? “Listen, if you’re callin’ a tow truck I ain’t exactly insured…”
Harper takes the phone from her ear and slides the phone into the inside of her coat. Walking back over to squat down in front of Max she grabs her by the side of the head and turns her face so their looking right into each other’s eyes.
“Okay here’s the deal…your clearly dangerous. So I’m not just leaving you lay here.”
Once she’s sure the cyborg is going to pay attention properly Harper lets her jaw free.
“But I’ve no options but bad ones to make that happen so….”
No sooner does she say this then a large white box truck drives up to the alleyway and turns to begin in until it’s right up to Harper and Max.
“I called some people I know who worked a chop shop that used to be in the Narrows…when there was a Narrows at least. They have the means to move you but might turn on us too so..”
Harper stops cold as a man exits the back of the truck a moment after the back slides open, two more men exit behind him each of these men carry pistols that are currently holstered. Harper holds up her hand and smiles.
“Hey there Uncle Rico…seen my dad lately?”
The man that Harper addressed as Uncle Rico had the bearing and dress of man that expected to be listened to. The suit he wore had the look of an expensive one but little details here and there betrayed it as a cheap knock off. A misaligned stitch here and a frayed thread there told the truth of the large muscled man who had stepped out of the back of the truck, he wanted people to think him important.
“You know I ain’t your daddies brother Harper…”
His tone seemed harsh until a broad smile crept over his lips and he held out a hand to the diminutive girl who only seemed smaller in the shadow he cast, a street light just over his shoulder mostly blocked out by his frame.
If Harper had any fear she showed little of it as she stepped forward and began a quick but elaborate handshake with Rico. As it ended Harper shifted her shoulder and aimed a thumb at the mess of a cyborg laying in the alleyway behind them.
“I’m not leaving that here…she’ll been up a dirty bomb full of Joker gas. Can I call in that favor and get her hauled somewhere I can work?”
Rico steps around Harper and stops just next to Max who he looks over slowly his smile only increasing as he realizes just what he has here. It would be a shame to have to take this from someone he did in fact owe a favor to.
“No worries Harper I’ll take the Killbot off your hands.”
Harper immediately has to stifle the urge to throw up her hands in protest, she knows she has little choice here. Walking up to stand next to Rico again.
“I’m going with…otherwise good luck getting her up and running.”
Rico nods and raising his hand snaps his fingers to bring his men running over one with the chain from a wench mounted to the back of the truck they arrived in. It would take a few minutes but Max would find herself inside shortly.
Huntress had picked up the call for help and to Tron’s luck, she’d been out in the city. The fight between Lobo and Starfire had dragged her out. While she wasn’t on duty per say, she figured something would need cleaned up. It always did. This wasn’t her job but it wasn’t like there were alot of their people inside Gotham. Because none of them were supposed to be there in the first place. Yet someone was.
Light bent around her as she walked slowly down the alleyway, leaving her invisible to the naked eye and most machines if they’d been watching. With a smirk she leaned down, picking a stray piece of broken brick up off the ground and flicked her first, throwing it at the man, meaning the wench, pinging him right between the eyes with pinpoint accuracy.
Reaching up she pulled her goggles down over her eyes, tugging the lower part over her mouth and nose, sealing it in place before letting the field drop from around her and making her visible once again. Pulling a metallic cylinder from her belt she squeezed it, snapping a long staff out as she walked toward them all.
“That does not belong to you.” Her voice, computerized and metallic sounding, was low and half growled. “Leave before I make you.”
For her part, Maxine could’ve done the smart thing and just played dead when the goombas showed up. Unfortunately, Maxine almost never does the smart thing, and she’s been mouthing off the entire time, issuing brutal threats despite her apparently helpless state. As the girl barters her like the pile of scrap she basically is, she continues her impotently wrathful spiel, essentially white noise by the time that she’s wrapped in chain and dragged up into the truck.
And then, the party really gets started. “Hey, did I just hear one of you fleshies eat shit? Is that another cyborg? I can’t seeee!” she complains, clearly disappointed that she’s missing out. Triage complete. The text flashes across her cybernetic retinas; she can practically hear an angelic chorus, like an answer to her prayers. Her joints crackle and pop as bent pins are rearranged by her servomotors, pulled back into alignment. Power is rerouted through alternate cables.
She flexes her limbs, popping the steel chains like they’re made out of plastic. Not even the good kind, the cheap kind from China with the delicious lead additives. Ladytron pushes herself up to her feet, and the suspension of the truck groans as she disembarks from it, a thousand pounds of weight lifting all at once. “You’re so unbelievably fucked,” she announces to everyone present. Tilting her head to one side, her neck-joints crackle menacingly as the pins there are unbent. A screw pops out and rattles down her shoulder. “Didn’t need that one anyways!” she says, kind of defensively, before clacking her metal fists together.
It’s a quick and dirty fix, and she’ll need repairs soon. Lots of them, really. But one thing Maxine Manchester doesn’t do is die easy.
Everything changes in an instant as the scene goes from in control to complete chaos. An object flies past Harper to drop one of the men working the wench, followed by the cyborg now back on her feet exiting the truck and basically blowing Harpers plan to smithereens. The plan had been a terrible one she knew but it had been all she could think to do. Seeing Rico look away Harper drops down to grab her Super Taser from the place it had fallen on the ground earlier.
Wasting no time she jabs it into the large mans ankle and hits the button to send a small but potent jolt of electricity up his leg and throughout his body. Rico twitches a few seconds and falls over with a resounding thud.
Turning is to look to in the direction of the previously cloaked new arrival Harper again tosses the taser to the side.
“Hey now Lady Predator…I’m just trying to get that…”
Pausing a moment she gestures to Max.
“Off the streets.”
Placing a pair of fingers in her mouth and whistling at Max.
“FYI there’s at least two more sitting up front.”
That said she stands and holding up her hands to indicate her surrender, Harper was brave. It not stupid. Taking on a She Predator and She Terminator would be the sort of thing she would lead to someone like Batman, or at least that guy in the Red Hood, Maybe even the chick in purple…naaaaah.
Lady Predator. She smirked under her mask as she walked up on the girl, then glanced down at Rico as he drooled and pissed himself on the ground. Whatever that little taser she’d had packed a punch. Not that Harper could see but her brow arched approvingly as she stepped past her toward the front of the truck.
“Are you functional?” She called to Tron as she gripped the drivers door, pulling it open. Flicking her staff up she cracked him across the back of the head. Then shoved the staff further through to nail the passenger. Shit like this was why they had rules in place. Rules that Tron hadn’t followed. Much like Starfire. But this one was simple enough to clean up at least. The witnesses little more than street trash that few would believe.
Reaching in she shoved the driver over, grabbing the keys out of the ignition before turning to walk back around to the back of the truck.
“And you are?” She leveled her eyes down at Harper from behind the purple glow of her goggles, resting the but of her staff on the ground as she leaned against it.
Maxine manually pushes her head back upright, but it falls back to the side just a few degrees. She can’t exactly frown but her pierced eyebrows suggest that she is not especially pleased. In the time it takes to do this, the other two women take care of the remaining thugs. “Holy moley, fuckin’ save some for me next time.” A few months ago she would’ve just upped her score by waxing both of them and then administering Manchester Smilies to the downed thugs but something’s changed, some half-remembered subroutine.
Her blue eyes take on a faraway sort of look for a second, but when Huntress asks if she’s functional the cyborg snaps back to reality and replies, “I’ve never been called that before.” In an act of petulance she grabs the rear bumper of the truck with both hands, lifts it several feet and then slams the back half of the truck into the ground, cracking the axle and destroying the suspension. It’s marginally less flashy than flipping the damn thing but it’s not going anywhere now. Even less of anywhere than it was without the keys.
But hey, she’s gotta break something.
“This little meatbag bitch tried to sell me to those cannoli-suckers,” the termagant answers for Harper, storming toward the girl with murder in her cybereyes. She reaches out to grab her by the throat but pauses when she realizes her left hand’s still pretty mangled, her metal digits failing to fully extend.
Harper to her credit stands her ground even as Maxine stomps toward her with obvious murderous intent. She contemplates diving for the Super Taser again but quickly realizes it would do little good against the cyborg. So instead she stands still and does her best to look like she doesn’t want to run like a bat of the Narrows. What she does instead is barely conceal the grin as Maxine brings up a mangled hand.
“That was embarrassing for you…”
In an effort to further pretend she isn’t completely terrified she looks away from Max to The Huntress her hands going up as she begins to try and explain herself to the imposing woman with the newly bloodied quarterstaff.
“Okay…LOOK…yes I technically did try to sell her. BUT…I was trying to get her out of here and somewhere I could try to fix her.”
Kicking at Rico gently with her foot before looking back to Helena.
“I couldn’t fix her here, I needed tools and time. I’m not even sure I could have really but…I did stop that meltdown.”
“Leave it.” She snapped at LadyTron, a gloved hand snapping out to grab her shoulder and pull her back a step. This was already a disaster. Cleaning up and covering up for a dead kid wasn’t exactly on the list of things she needed or wanted to be dealing with. She wasn’t in the mood for any of it. Street goons weren’t exactly the kind of fight ashe was in the mood for either.
She turned her attention back to the girl, scanning over her. Her goggles kicked up a reading, pulling up the pertinent information. Name. Date of birth. Known residence. All the boring information. What she was more interested in now was exactly why this kid though she could put back together the… mess that was LadyTron.
“Just why do you think you could have fixed it, Ms.Row.”
“Yer lucky whoever-this-is is here, kid.” She gestures vaguely at her eyes with her ruined fingers, then points them sort-of towards Harper. Like I’ll be watching you but I have lazy eyes. She steps back at the tug on her shoulder mostly because she expects it to be stronger but it’s not, it’s like… really not. She shoots a glance toward Huntress. “Are you not a cyborg?” Maxine asks, disappointment in her tone.
She fusses with her busted hand while the two of them exchange information. Her right hand’s mostly alright but there are electronic alerts popping off in her cyberbrain every time she fusses with one of her fingers. It’s extremely annoying and she periodically makes frustrated sounds in the back of her metal throat. When Harper cops to the fact that she’d stopped a meltdown, Ladytron speaks up. “Yeah, I mean I guess she did do that.” She runs her good hand through her wilted mohawk, trying to get it to stand back up.
Whatever files exist on Maxine Manchester do not speak highly of her character. She is an ostensibly-reformed spree killer with a body count that would earn a respectful nod from Victor Zsasz, and a reputation for taking things way too far. Still, she’s brutal as hell and that’s a useful enough trait to outweigh the downsides in this line of work.
Harper flashes through over a decades worth of memories of her fixing everything from the toaster to the television after one of her fathers drunken rampages. He would go out looking for work or for something as simple as groceries and when it all went wrong for whatever reason he would come home and take out his frustrations on his family. On a good night he would smash the microwave and not Harper or her brother Cullen, or their mother.
After she was murdered he only got worse. Snapping back to the present at the odd sounds emanating from inside Maxine’s throat Harper looks to Huntress and shrugs a little.
“It’s a talent, always has been really. A thing breaks I fix it.”
Looking back over to Max and looking her over from top to bottom.
“If she explodes it would kill my brother…”
Harper stops mid sentence as Huntress calls her by her name.
“Did those googles tell you that? All mine do is basic navigation and information.”
She says tapping the goggles she currently worse atop her head.
“We have the same boss.” She said to LadyTron, pointedly. “A boss that you should be returning to right now unless you need further assistance with that.” Because she shouldn’t have been in the damn city in the first place. The last thing Gotham needed was someone like the Joker getting his hands on some of this kind of tech. She’d already seen first hand what some of the criminals here were capable of. “No, I’m not a cyborg.” But enhanced she was, but that was something else all together.
“Interesting.” She turned her attention back to Harper, reaching up to unseal the bottom part of the mask from her mouth and nose, pushing it back up into the goggles so her voice wasn’t distorted anymore.
“Thank you for stopping her from exploding then.” She smirked a bit as she eyed the girl up and down again with a different kind of interest now. There were people who would be interested in her. But she spoke of a brother and that made her frown, and push the thought out of her head. The last thing this kid needed was to get tangled up in their line of work.
“They do, but I have access to some high grade gear.” She held out a hand for her goggles. “May I?”
“Wait, what!?” Maxine looks up from her mangled paw. “How fuckin’ big do you think it’d be?” The cyborg is unaware of her inner workings, as they’ve never really been her problem before. She’d always had someone around to fix her up in the past, except for her solo career as a maniac cyborg which had not been very long. The fact that she’d go out with any kind of significant boom is clearly a surprise to her.
Beats the hell out of a whisper at least.
She stops messing with her hand, letting it drop to her side. Her shoulder creaks softly, clearly in dire need of lubricant. Ladytron is not really capable of self-repair, though her systems can reroute power and generally find some way to keep going in the in-between. There are other cyborgs that can do this a lot faster out there but only a few of them come packaged with a psychopathic serial killer’s brain pattern.
“Yeah, I dunno who you’re talkin’ about,” she mentions to Huntress flippantly, her memory of the past few weeks a little corrupted from the fight she’d clearly lost. At least the subroutines against wanton cold-blooded murder are holding up. Apparently she’d been subjected to repeated simulations after her capture, a Groundhog Day-like scenario where she killed the same people over and over again until finally… she didn’t. Mentally broken and malleable.
Like most of her damage, her memory error would probably be a quick fix. “Who the fuck’re you, anyways? Not that I’m one to complain about a rescue, but I didn’t exactly need one.” If nothing else, Helena had headed off a total slaughter.
Harper reaches up to the goggles strapped onto the top of her head with both hands and slowly almost reluctantly slides them off of her scalp to hold them out for Helena to take. The goggles had an obvious look of home construction to the point most would never deduce how advanced they actually were. Harper if asked would claim this to be on purpose, but in fact had more to do with her limited resources. If she had a proper workshop she knew she could do amazing things.
Inclining her head back to Max at her question.
“I’m not about to take chances with something like that.”
Once the goggles are taken Harper pulls back her hand catching sight again of the large hole on the bottom of her left glove, she would have to replace the pair and soon. The expenses her distracted driving had cost her were piling up by the second.
Harper glanced down to the mess of parts strewn across the alleyway and just laughs as Max insists she had no need of rescue, she so clearly did.
“You need like all the rescue…”
“Check your system, you’re sending out a distress call. You need to turn it off. And you need to come with me. Please.” The last added on as an after thought, as though that might make the ill tempered cyborg come along quieter. Hopefully quieter. She was fighting herself not to be as hard edged as her usually was. This needed to get wrapped up quickly.
Turning back to Harper she took the offered goggles, holding them up as her own scanned over them. She gave a little nod, even as she reached up and pushed her own goggles up onto the top of her head, looking them over again as she turned them over between gloved hands. Handing them back she gave another nod.
“You’ve got talent. Keep it up. You’ll make it out of this city if you do.” She looked her over again before reaching up to slide her goggles back down over her eyes. “Did you take any recordings of this?”
Maxine shoots Huntress a hard look that quickly dissolves into confusion once she runs a quick systems analysis and realizes that the older woman is right. “…Yeah, okay,” she concedes, not entirely sure what’s going on but for some strange reason not feeling especially compelled to fight it, which would normally be her first and only choice in the face of something unknown.
Rolling her blue eyes at Harper, she mutters, “At least I can escape gettin’ roasted by a fuckin’ eight year old.” Ironically Ladytron is about the same age as the wunderkind, but she sure doesn’t look it, having been pretty tall even when she’d been mostly meat, not to mention athletic. Hard living and mass murder kind of require a matching build though, something that can endure it.
It had made her a prime candidate for this cyberization in the end, which was probably preferable to drowning in her own blood in some shitty New Jersey hospital.
Harper snatches the goggles back almost a little to quickly, as if she feared them being stolen. Which she knew was a ridiculous thought given the sophistication of the gear Huntress had at her disposal. Taking a moment to place them back on her head and another to make sure they were sitting in the exact right spot, Harper shakes her head at Huntress.
“Oooh no I did not, because they don’t do that yet..”
She says with a wry grin as she taps the goggles a few times. But her expression quickly sours at the Lady Predators next comment.
“Why would I want to leave Gotham?”
“Because there’s a bigger world out there than this damned city.” Spoken like someone who knew first hand. She looked Harper over one last time before nodding to herself, head turning to eye the alley way and the mess that had been left behind. She needed help with this, but she wasn’t likely to get any. This along with the alien attack was just a royal shit show. This was the kind of things that she’d taken leave to avoid for a while so she could get her head on straight but there wasn’t really such a thing as ‘down time’ with Nowhere.
“Good. It’s time for you to go now Ms. Row. I’ll get her to where she needs to go. I doubt it needs to be said, but I’m going to say it anyway. Do not speak of this to anyone.” She had her information already, she could track her down, but she left that unsaid too. The kid was smart enough to put that together.
She left Harper to getting to scramming if she didn’t have any more questions and turned back to LadyTron. “Pick up the important parts and we need to get moving before we attract any more attention.”
“Why would you wanna leave New Jersey!?” Maxine laughs hysterically at the rhetorical question, her beartrap lower jaw flapping with amusement. She wipes at her eyes with her good hand, though she is wholly incapable of crying even tears of laughter. Probably something to look into next time she’s gunning for new mods, which is basically always.
Huntress more or less has the rest of the conversation handled, though, and Ladytron glances around on the ground for any missing pieces that she would actually miss later on. There are some metal chips, a couple bolts and screws that she’s not even sure the origin of. “Eh, nothin’ important. Probably.” With a half-hearted shrug, she turns as if to leave.
“I can do a buck twenty if yer lookin’ for speed,” she says, glancing back over her shoulder. “Just climb aboard the Good Ship Ladytron. All passengers’re allowed one piece of carry-on luggage but there’s an additional fee for checked baggage.” She belches as she turns her eyes back front.
“I wouldn’t want to live anywhere but here…”
Harper says as she turns and Walks back over to her scooter by the dumpster, carefully lifting it she finds the kickstand has apparently gone missing. Grumbling under her breath she looks the bike over and realizes immediately how unlikely it is to start, not one to leave good scrap she begins walking out of the alleyway with the scooter.
“You going to snap my neck if I call an Uber?”
Or more likely a girl named Stephanie Brown, tapping at her phone she begins another next to her friend. More then a little concerned at being monitored she keep it simple, saying only ‘?…☠…? ’.
“Only if you do it anywhere near here.” Huntress tossed in Harper’s direction as she collapsed her bow staff back down and slipped it into one of the pouches strapped to her leg. She gave another visual sweep of the area, scanning with her goggles to make sure nothing other than bits and bolts were left behind before she put a hand on Tron’s shoulder as she stepped up behind her.
The drugs she’d taken earlier in the night were still running strong through her system as she stepped in closer to the other woman, extending and flexing her mental field around her. Light around them shifted, hardly noticeable to the human eye till it bent and they both vanished from sight. Her fingers flicked the silencing field on that usually dampened her footsteps but as she jumped on the cyborg’s back it covered them both.
“Just get us out of the city so I can get you a ride back to the shop. And we’re in Gotham. Not Jersey.”
“Ain’t Gotham in New Je- you know what, I don’t actually give a shit.” Maxine recalls an embarrassing incident where she’d meant to go to Star City but wound up in fucking San Francisco; she can never keep track of these kinds of things. Without a wifi connection, excluded from her chassis both for security purposes and because she’s shit with technology, she’s forced to rely on a cellphone for things like GPS and predictably she fails to keep hers charged.
Once Huntress is onboard, worn like a murderous psychic backpack, she takes off, keeping to the streets rather than the sidewalk and lane-cutting at dangerous speeds. She’s as good as her word, rapidly blowing past sixty and going even further. It’s a hell of a lot faster than an Uber, or even a supercar given that the latter would still have to contend with traffic. Maybe flying would be the best option but it’s not like she has a built-in rocket pack.
It doesn’t take long for the transport to arrive once Huntress has made an official call-in for it. The chopper barely makes a sound as it descends from the heavens. With the person who leaps out to meet with them making even less sound when she drops out before the vehicle is even safely down. Obviously the leader of the group, she stands nearly a foot taller then the half-dozen agents who load out behind her. Not to mention the tech crew that come in next.
She isn’t there to play nice, there’s no kissy face exchanges, no jokes to be told or banter to be made. A snap of the fingers sends one particular trooper scurrying to the Huntress with a digital clip board in hand. We’ll need your initials here, here and thumb print at the bottom.
It’s possible for someone to look more offended by their proximity to Gotham City, but not by much. She’s doing them a favor by not showing it any deeper than she already is. The all black troops move with precision and expedience once the signatures are there. None of them care to speak to LadyTron. None of them care about Harper. Exactly one of them cares about Huntress and that lasts only until he’s procured her signatures. Then they all set about completing their task and escaping the Lead Agent’s notice as quickly as possible.
Another cluck of the tongue gets their attention though. A raised eyebrow reminds the man with the clipboard that he’s forgotten something. His apologies to Huntress are made as he’s hurriedly shoving a small case of the medicine Huntress requires at regular intervals.
As quickly as that the troops will have LadyTron loaded up. Leaving Huntress as the one affixed with the expectant look from the obviously impatient Agent.
It’s still there, or rather it’s not there – that violent urge to murder everyone in the vicinity, to rage against the machine. Ladytron just stands there when the troops come down, not scared so much as surprised by herself. She could punch the skull out of the back of any of these fleshies’ heads but she just doesn’t want to.
She doesn’t remember that she’s already done exactly that, about thirty or so times, in a simulation that had ultimately broken her will to mass slaughter. But the after-effects are still there, the mental programming intact even through the memory corruption. Nobody responds to her quips here, not even when she gets a little nasty with them. Well, nastier than usual. They just buzz-buzz-buzz like little human insects and she goes along with it because she doesn’t feel like fighting it, a testament to someone’s psychiatric and programming skills.
Offering a half-hearted wave to Huntress, she hops onto the chopper, occupying approximately one thousand imperial pounds of cargo capacity. Sometimes that’s inconvenient, given that she doesn’t take up much physical space she creates more strain on the engine than she really should, but in action she’s worth it. All the trash-talking, vulgarity and frequent sexual harrassment is worth it for someone who can throw cars and absorb gunfire, a cutting-edge weapon against xenos and supers in general.
A hammer, not a scalpel. And not even the biggest hammer around, sure, but she punches above her weight-class and can take a beating long enough for backup to arrive. Usually.
This wasn’t what she’d planned on doing with her evening. She’d had a meeting planned with some old friends of her father’s though she by what she’d had planned for them, they’d be happy if she canceled. If she had time and she showed up late, after this night, she’d be getting twice what she’d originally planned. Irritation made her shoulders tight, left her pacing in the clearing they’d been waiting in when the helicopter showed up.
The paperwork that was shoved at her was little more than formality for someone to cover their ass. She signed over the cyborg, fingerprint recorded, knowing that this was no doubt going to end up a problem later but at least it was fixing the current problem and getting it out of the place that it wasn’t supposed to be. Everything else was just clean up work later.
Angry brown eyes regarded the agent even as he passed over the pills, taking them with a snap of gloved hands as she tested the weight of the package before sliding it away in one of her pouches. Part of her was dreading the run back into the city, but that feral side of her brain was hungry for it, something to burn off all the pent up anger and energy that had been building up over the last week. Helena just wanted to go home, Huntress wanted to hunt and fight.
Hands moved to rest on her hips as she watched the last of the load up finish before she turned her head to look at the lead agent with one brow arched. She shouldn’t say what she knew she was about to say, but she did anyway.
“Harper Row. Some street kid found it. It’s cleaned up. But the kid is a builder. Smart. Worth keeping an eye on for the future. Anything else?”
There is a tight lipped look through those sparkling glasses at the Huntress. One that seems to both offer judgement and yet withhold it all at once. So far she’s not commented upon any of this. Maybe it’s not her place to do so. Maybe she just doesn’t have enough investment in what is going on to do so. More likely her presence here is merely a formality brought upon by so many resources being diverted away from the field in the States right now.
“You were followed. I don’t mean one of the damned drones.”
Okay. So maybe it is judgment after all? The Agent actually points. As bold as you please. Back toward the city. “Didn’t show up on any of our sensors. None of the rank and file noticed it either. We caught a burst of static, then I spotted a silhouette in the moonlight, right before we landed.”
“You’re being hunted. On your vacation time. We’ll be checking in more frequently. At random intervals. Wouldn’t want out investment to go down the drain. You’re dismissed, Huntress.”
The growl that rolled up from her chest was low and dangerous, giving rise to that dark passenger that Helena so often tried to keep contained in the recesses of her mind. But Huntress was so often a beast of her own, burning dangerously in the depths of those dark eyes.
“Keep things like that out of the city and I won’t have to show myself to be hunted.” Her voice pitched lower. “Nor am I concerned by what is hunting me.” Because she had her ideas about what it could be. Undetected. Hidden in the dark. Probably the same thing that she’d been hunting the last few days.
Dismiss yourself. she thought in her head as she turned, shifting the light around her as she vanished from sight and slipped back into the woods to head back toward Gotham. Though now her eyes and ears were open, drinking in the silence of the night without the damn cyborg distracting her. She’d always worked better alone. The solitary predator. Her senses stretched out, listening for every sound, every twitch of the world around her, because now it was her turn to hunt.