by Marc | Nov 26, 2018 | Chronicles
Synopsis: Faye Gunn, foster mother extraordinaire, stops in Harper Row’s shop to have a old gaming console repaired. Harper supplies her with a working gaming console and several more games that she had before. Faye advises that she will come by with one of her folder children to drop of her television for Harper to repair.
People visiting Harper happened often given her reputation. Whether they got in to see her was another story. When the van pulled in front of her shop a few people took notice as it was definitely more than a few years old. It sounded like it was in needed of new muffler. It was one of the stops that the owner was going to be making today, but this was a more important stop given the information that had been shared with her since she set out in search of a young boy that seemed to be quite adept at hiding in plain sight it seemed.
Opening the door she stepped out looking around while drawing her coat together. Clearing her throat she shut the door behind her before moving around to the opposite side of the passenger van. Opening the door she lifted a box up. She moved well, but it was a lot to maneuver.
“I got it ma’am.” A young boy wearing a boy scout uniform ran over to shut the door for her.
“Thank you, young man.” She smiled over at him while she walked over towards the shop. He opened the door for her while she walked in with the box in her hands and her purse hanging off her arm. She gave him a nod stepping into the shop looking around tipping her head to the side for a moment looking for the proprietor.
“Hello.” She called out taking another step inside her eyes gazing along the shelves before setting the box down upon the counter. The door was open so they had to be open. Hopefully. It was the Narrows.
Opening her purse she reached in to retrieve a piece of candy while she waited.
Harper Row sat at the larger of her two work stations in the hidden rear section of her shop. She had intended to begin working on one of her many pending projects, but then as they say the rhythm got her. So instead she found her hands moving in a faux rhythmic drum movement of the music blasting over old school book box that presently sat in the corner of the shop and all but ignoring the monitors for the front room. The goggles intended for use with a welding torch swung forward and back again as Harper moves her chest ever so slightly with the movement of the song she had found herself truly enthralled with.
“Twenty..twenty four hours to go….”
Harper continued to mime the minimal but no less potent drum portion of the song despite having not a single drumstick on hand, the long slender wrenches would have to suffice for now. Spinning one of the tools in her fingers she finds it slipping from her grasp and sailing into the air. A sound best described as the mournful cries of a heartbroken and possibly randy gibbon escapes her lips as she scrambles to catch up to the rogue wrench.
Her distress can only rise as the wrench strikes the boom box sending it teetering back and then over to fall to the floor the music it produced ending far to abruptly for her taste. Waking over to inspect the damage she stops as her eyes catch site of the monitors for the outer room. Taking a few short steps to the laptop the monitors were linked to Harper zooms in on the older woman in what some might call. A lobby, but only if they were being nice.
Tapping the microphone icon on the laptop Harper begins to speak.
“Can I help you?”
The woman continued to look around pausing when she heard the sound of the girls voice across the intercom. Taking a step back she scanned the lobby turning her attention to any cameras she might come upon.
“Hello there.” She waved. “Perhaps. It all depends.” She moved towards the box holding it up. “I heard you’re a bit of a fixer and I have something called a Super Nintendo Entertaining System.” She shrugged. “The fellow I bought it off of said it needs to be fixed. Most laughed when I set it down before them started talking about X Station and Playbox.” She shook her head.
“Whatever those are. All I know is that this was thirty dollars and if it’s salvageable then i would like to give it a shot for my kids. I think they would like it. It would be a bit of a treat for them. Could you take a look. Let me know if it’s possible?” Setting the box back down she stood there waiting.
“I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I couldn’t…”
Harper said in reply, then tapping the microphone icon again to mute her voice she moves to pick up a nearby broom. Snapping the dustpan free she takes a quick moment to sweep up the bits and pieces that her wicked wrench solo had caused to come loose from a clients boom box. She supposed that project had gone from competed to once more being on the pending list.
“Be right out.”
A moment passes and the door to the interior shop sides open following the sound of at least three locks disengaging. Stepping into the lobby Harper moves closer to Faye taking a moment to wipe her now gloveless hands against the grungy overalls she wore before offering one to her new client.
“Harper Row and you are?”
“Sounds like I’ve come to the right place then.” A warm smile spread across her lips. She did want to get this fixed up for the kids. A bit of a reward for doing so well with their schoolwork and chores. She seemed to be quite pleased with Harper’s responses. Hopefully this won’t cost too much. There was a budget that needed to be followed and she rather find a way to give the children something to enjoy without having to send them out to the arcade. If they went to the arcade then they were limited in the number of games that they could play.
“Of course.” She stepped through the lobby noting that it could use a good cleaning, but it is a workshop not a home, but a good cleaning could do wonders.
When the door opened and Harper came into view Faye offered a polite smile one that seemed familiar while she stepped towards the box.
“Well, look at you.” She reached out to shake the young woman’s hand. “Miss Gunn. Most call me Ma Gunn.” Releasing Harper’s hand she took a step back the other could take a look at what she had.
“So I take it you do well in your science and math classes. STEM is what they’re calling it right? Is that what you want to study when you go to school, engineering?” She paused.
“Apologies for prying. I just find it refreshing to see young people so curious and interested in science and technology. So many have no idea what they want to do or what even interests them.”
Harper moved to open the box the system sat in her movements careful and deliberate. Clearly she held the system in a high regard and knew just fragile an item she held. Taking the lid to the box and laying it on a nearby countertop , Harper places the Nintendo on the lid clearly to keep it from the grime of the actual counter.
“I wouldn’t know…”
She said in reply containing to work on accessing the inside of the system stopping just long enough to slide a pen light from a pouch on her chest. Clicking it on and aiming it inside inspecting the simple inner working a moment before looking back to Faye.
“Did you try blowing into it?”
Harper,s face remained impassive and without emotion for less then a second as a wide grin moved across her formerly serious features. Turning back to the system and again aiming the small but powerful light inside.
“I haven’t been in school for awhile Miss Gunn, life sort of demanded I pick it up on my own…”
Faye watched the young woman while she examined the item in question. It was definitely second hand, but seemed to be clean enough. It would power on, but it would not read the cartridges when one was placed inside. “Yes. The game box itself and the cartridge. The person I purchased it from said that that might be required. Something about older games being quite sensitive.” She shrugged.
“If I need to get my money back then I will have to undertake that task, but I think it still has some life left in it. So I thought best to bring it into a repair shop. I’ve heard that you had a bit of a magic touch. I was in the area, so I thought I would pop in and see what you would say.” She moved towards Harper watching as she worked a bit.
“Well, that’s unfortunate. I gather you’re a bright young lady. Hopefully someone appreciates your talent, but I understand. Life doesn’t always unfold the way we would like. We can either let it have its way with us or we adapt. Though I do hope that if the opportunity of school presents itself that you will take it. Sometime tells me that you would do quite well there and perhaps teach the school a thing or two.” Faye might be buttering her up a bit just to get a good deal on a the price of a repair or she could be quite honest or a bit of both.
“I want my children to finish school. If it is not for them there is nothing that I can do about that, but they have the opportunity. I don’t want them to ever think that it was not possible. After they’ve graduated then they can make the choice to continue or not continue. It was the promise I made to them. It’s also one of the rules.” She smiled a little.
“Their my foster children. They’re dears and monsters. Their children.” She laughed. “I love each and every one of them. We make due with what we can, but they have to do their part and I have to do mine. Good home. Meals. Clean clothes most of all, all the love and support I can give them even if it feels like I’m being the monster, because I won’t let them do whatever they want.” She made a bit of a sound.
“Sorry. One of my free days and I’m boring you with the prattle of old woman. I usually meet with my friends to play a few hands of poker or bridge. They’re used to it. I’ll let you get back to examining the game box.”
Clicking the pen light off with her thumb and placing it back into its spot in her grease stained overalls as she turned around to face Faye again. Moving to lean on her palms as they were placed behind her against the counter the system sat on. Harper listened quietly as the older woman spoke nodding a few times until she again paused.
“Ill give you a free pass this once I suppose..”
Jerking a thumb over her shoulder at the system.
“This I can fix in the time it takes me to grab something from the back room. It you have the right part and an obsession with old tech its not hard to repair at all.”
Harper had known the moment she had looked inside the system that it was truly screwed, but she also knew she had at least three working Nintendo, and a box of games her father had left behind somewhere in her workshop. It wasn’t as if he would be coming back for either item anytime soon, little time for games during thug time…
She looked towards Harper with a smile. “Thank you. Once I get going sometimes I don’t how to stop.” She chuckled shaking her head, but smiled when Harper said she had what she needed to fix the game.
“That would be fantastic. You are a life saver. I knew when I came in that you were the right person to speak to. Miracle worker you are.” She smiled over at the young woman. “Perhaps I can pop again with another item, that’s been giving me a bit of trouble. Television set. Might have to have one of the boys come with me to carry the thing, but it’s been a bit twitchy. I should really buy a new one, but it hasn’t gone out on me completely.” It’s something that needed to get repaired.
Still, it’s possible that Harper had other work that she needed to do.
“Only if it wouldn’t be too much of a bother. It’s my own set. Had it for years actually. Probably due for a new one, but I have to focus on our expenses. Enough for a repair, but not a new one yet unless the repair is going to be quite steep. I might need to consider my choices, but the only way I’ll know is if have someone look at it first.”
Have to start somewhere.
“I don’t see why not…”
Turning from Faye and walking to the keypad alongside the door into her actual working area, Harper presses her thumb against a well worn and greasy biometric scanner. A moment passes before a series of sounds can be heard from the other side of the door. The moment the sounds stop and the locks cease opening the door itself slides into the wall to let Harper enter.
From within the shop Harper again speaks out to Faye.
“Give me a minute…five tops…it’s in here I swear..”
The voice comes across muffled and difficult to fully understand as Harper moves further into the shops interior searching for the needed device. The strange series of sounds emanating from within the room that Faye can hear now with the door open likely only add to the break down in communication.
Shouts Harper emerging back into the light of the outer waiting room with a sizable beaten and faded cardboard box, its contents clearly held in place with due to the liberally applied duct tape and the odd dinosaur sticker.
Harper sets the box down in front of Faye and steps back to allow the woman to look inside for herself.
“Splendid! I will pop by in a few days to drop it off. Pick it up in a few days.” There was a schedule to keep. Today was a bit different she had a bit of time to spare, but most days there was work to be done. Faye’s lips curved into a warm smile at the prospect of getting her television repaired. Now if she could get this gaming system fixed then everything would be perfected.
Of course, she would have to devise a schedule and perhaps the children would now be more inclined to do complete their chores and school work in a more-timely fashion. She knew it wasn’t the latest and greatest, but it was better than nothing.
“No worries, dear. Take your time.” Far be it for Faye to rush the young one. She seemed to know here way around electronics. She watched her go in to what she could only assume was her workshop. Interesting the precautions she took. It made Faye wonder if there was something dangerous behind the door, expensive perhaps. They were in the Narrows and one never could be too careful.
While she waited, Faye walked the length of the front room counting to herself silently while taking another pass with her eyes while running her finger along the counter glancing at it few times before turning back towards the direction that Harper went when she cried out that she had located what she was looking for.
“Have you…” Faye blinked several times stepping toward the box. “What is this?” She took another step until she was close enough to look inside of the box to see what was inside.
“Oh my…” She glanced towards Harper then back into the box. “This is quite generous.”
Harper waves off the comment about her generosity in as nice a fashion as she can muster, she didn’t want to appear dismissive. Stepping up closer to the box and leaning over to reach inside her hand grasps one of the games inside and pulls it out holding it up toward the dim light overhead. Tilting it to better catch the light her eyes light up as the label gains new clarity with proper illumination.
“Ikari Warriors…a true classic.”
She holds the cartridge up for a moment longer and with a brief sigh places it back into the box, her hand now free moves to slide into one of the side pocket of her overalls. From within she removes a card which she holds for for Faye to take.
“Just call ahead and I can make sure I’m about to let your kids in with the television.”
Whether she was waving it off or not, Faye, didn’t care. She meant what she said. This was quite generous and unexpected. To provide this to her for the children. It made Faye’s face light up. It was far more games than she originally brought it.
When the game was brought up into the light Faye looked it over. “I’ll be sure to mention that. Perhaps the children can teach me to play. I’m sure I can keep up if not I’m sure there’s something in there that’s more my speed.” If not there was always cards right?
Reaching for the card she looked it over before she moved in to give Harper a good-natured hug. “Oh, I know probably too much, but I can’t help it.” She stepped back looking into Harper’s eyes. “The children are going to absolutely love this.” Faye transferred some of the games she had from her original box into the larger box. No sense in carrying two of them.
Slipping the card away she nodded. “I’ll make sure to send them in and you have my word they will be well behaved. If not they know that I will be quite disappointed with them and they will be reprimanded appropriated.” She did hate the word punished.
Slipping her arms around the box she lifted it up. “If you could help me with the door. I need to get this in the van. I have a present to wrap up.” She sounded positively giddy.
Harper nearly falls over herself when she realizes how truly terrible a person she was being. Running the two steps it takes for her to catch up and pass Faye she sweeps the box into her hands as gingerly as she is able.
“I got it, no problem.”
With that she turns and opens the door using her foot and then moves to take the box to Faye car.
With a smile Faye walks towards the door but Harper’s already pushing it open with her foot. Walking towards the van she opened the passenger door so Harper could load the box inside.
“Thank you, Harper, for everything.” She came in to get a repair and got more than she anticipated. “Now, don’t linger to long it’s a getting nippy out. Oh..” Before she forgot. She reached into in her purse to get what she needed and pressed it into Harper’s hand.
“I think that should cover it for everything that you’ve done.” She hoped eighty dollars would cover it. She felt it was fair. Perhaps there could have been some more, but she moved around to the other side of the van before Harper could say anything. “If it’s not enough let my boys know when I come by with the television and I’ll add a little more.” She slipped into the van starting it up.
With a wave and a smile she shifted the van into gear and began pulling off from the curb with a light double tap on the horn.
by Marc | Aug 18, 2018 | Chronicles
Synopsis: Aaron takes his broken stero in to Harper’s repair shop to get fixed. He also makes a request for a piece of equipment.
JASON: Two days had passed since my mother’s repast. Two days which meant the moment the door shut behind the last of my guests there was work to be done. Work that would ensure that when the landlord returned within a day’s time and Johnny perhaps less than that everything that I valued would be gone. The apartment would be picked clean as if a den of thieves had made themselves at home here and departed just as fast. The moment I returned after getting out of the hospital things were marked into three categories:
- To my mother or father’s friends.
Most of everything that we had in the apartment went to category three. There were some items that found their way into category two, but category one. well, that was rare. It was few and far in between. The things that I gathered to keep were the first things to go. They were transported to a safer place than the apartment, they were sent to what I affectionately called the Nest. The things that were going to be given away to my parents’ friends were delivered quickly.
The items to pawn or in some cases fence that went to the appropriate associates that shared their condolences, which I milked to get better prices, because they would be stashed in to their appropriate spots. I no longer had my mother to worry about raiding my accounts or my piggy banks, but there were debts that had to be settled and I rather handle them on my own. It was better that than a shake down.
When Johnny came for his money he would find nothing there for him to break or shake me down for instead he would find a neighbor who had an envelope with the money and a note saying that it’s settled. If he comes for me then I will respond appropriately, but as far as I’m concerned my mother’s debt is settled. With him, there were others and I would work my way down the list, but his was the most immediate that needed to be handled.
I have no idea what went down in the alley, but I’m sure he wasn’t too happy at the fact that I got away, but I wasn’t too happy that his poison killed my mom. I think we can come to an understanding. The lanlord had gotten the rent before my mother died so he was settled so what I paid him was the next months rent which was more of. You don’t know where I went and if CPS comes knocking you don’t have a clue and make up whatever you wanted. They wold try what? Two times tops unless Thompkins pushes them.
Of course, this left me with no place to live, nope had that taken care of, because there were times when I needed to disappear to get away from the bad moments, because there were plenty with my mom. Sadly, it didn’t really become available until my dad was sent away. When he got sent away it became mine, fair and square. It was my retreat from all the crappy things. It was the Nest. It’s all I had that was mine despite the fact that it wasn’t, but I’ll take what I can.
However, right now I caught the bus into the narrows. It’s where I needed to be to find a fixer, because I was in need of one. Why? Of the things that I kept, I kept the stereo and right now it wasn’t working as well as it could be, so I brought the unit in to get it repaired. I heard there was a good fixer in the narrows which meant one of several things. I could barter or cash. Luckily, I had cash, but let’s find out how much the repair work was going to cost before I went dolling out any. It might be a situation where barter might be better…maybe.
HARPER: It had been several days since a random bump in the road a literal one in this case had sent Harper sliding into an alleyway, and a mouthy upright Roomba of a cybernetic woman. The truly sad fact is this could not be said to be entirely unusual in a town like Gotham. Nor could it be said of the cloaked woman who emerged from thin air with a quarter staff to retrieve the Roomba moments later. Harper herself had never encountered the stranger elements of the city beyond a chance encounter with the Batman months back. So to say this most recent one had been a significant moment in her life would be an understatement.
The long, slow trip home as she pushed her busted and only means of transportation had been one of reflection. Something had changed in Harper after seeing Batman in the flesh and this had only increased in it pace of growth after meeting The Huntress. While some doubts remained about whether or not she could actually pull off the role she had chosen to play she knew she had to at least try. A part of her wished she could ask someone for advice on the matter but what would Cullen or Steph even know about playing hero? Or of what would be required to become one.
Could you even imagine what Stephanie Brown would wear!? Probably something bright purple.
At the end of her long and slow trip and her deep thoughts on vigilante..ism? Harper had rolled her scooter up to the entrance to the shop she worked out of in her role as the neighborhoods resident handyperson. That had been days ago and she had not yet left the shop the projects at the front of her mind were just to important to allow for interruptions. Lifting up the goggles she wore while using her blowtorch Harper held up what she hoped would be a suitable set of body armor.
“UGH…Hardly Bat certified level here Harps…”
Lowering the goggles again she aimed the torch down again and started to fuse the panels again. Perhaps she should start with the weaponry she would employ that she knew she could handle. Halting the torches progress she turns to look to a set of gloves on a nearby workbench.
“Shock gauntlets. YES.”
But first she had to finish her current project, being distracted would only guarantee another faulty seam.
JASON: When the bus began to approach my stop, I glanced down at the slip of paper where I had written the address down and rang the bell beside me. Moving to my feet I picked up the unit and made my way to the front of the bus. The entrance was closer. Holding on to the bar I waited for the bus to come to a step before moving past the all-important yellow line. The doors opened, and the driver gave me a look.
Yep this is where I wanted to get off at. Holding onto the stereo unit I walked down the stairs looking around. Not that the Narrows was a step up by any means it was at a bit of a crossroads if someone liked to think of it that way.
I didn’t care much else with me beyond what I had in my arms. My money was where I could get to it, but again I would have to have a discussion about payment. The stereo itself could fetch a price, but not much especially since it was busted. I headed down the street making sure to keep my eyes and ears open to everything around me without making it obvious. I knew a few people in the area, but I wasn’t about to go look them up. That would invite them into places that I didn’t want them.
Instead I made my way to the workshop with no incident, so things were looking good, at least for the moment. Pushing against the door to open it I glanced around getting my bearings as it was my first time here.
“Hello?” Was there a bell?
HARPER: There was in fact no bell or any other means by which you might signal your arrival. In fact the front of the shop had the look of a place that had not been used by anyone in sometime it could easily be mistaken for abandoned. Harper preferred it this way and used a purely word of mouth method of advertisement, which only backfired when someone couldn’t keep their mouths shut. The receiving area contained little except for an old and dusty desk piled with folders and old books, behind it were somehow dustier bookshelves also piled with random and ancient texts or so it would seem to someone of Jason’s age. The three folding chairs to the left of the door by the wall with the peeling wallpaper might have offered a place to wait if they too were not over encumbered by a leaning towers of mostly Popular Mechanics magazine.
What it lacked in bells the receiving area made up with its hidden camera and the sudden alert it sent to Harpers phone. Feeling the buzz in her pocket she turns off the torch and gently places it on a nearby table. Pulling the glasses up to sit on her head Harper removes her phone from her pocket and opens the alert.
Someone was out front, someone she did not know. Tapping the alert again she brings up the microphone function built into the camera.
“I am the great and powerful Oz! Whatta ya want?”
JASON: “Yeah, well, I guess the Emerald City has seen better days…years.” By the looks of it. My eyes moved around to see if I could spot the camera, but obvious moves would pick up what I was attempting to do. Despite the look of shop, it was obvious that the front of the house was not utilized that often or wasn’t the real front of the house.
“I’m looking for Harper. I was told that she was good with electronics. I have something that I need her to take a look at. Two things actually, three if she’s any good.” I don’t know. I mean it was all word of mouth and apps only tell you so much like anyone can buy or make an app these days. He arched his brow turning so he could find a spot to set the stereo down.
“Its work so do you do that kind of thing or do you just claim squatters rights? Also, if we’re talking Great and Powerful Oz.” Who was actually a charlatan, perhaps someone after my dad’s heart. “I’m not looking for a heart, brain or courage. Home is what is, Gotham. So, I’ll take a hovercycle. I don’t know any witches, but big Bertha comes close. So, if I dump a bucket of water on her you can make the hovercycle happen right?”
I really did need the stereo fix, but she was the one that all L. Frank Baum on me.
HARPER: Harper couldn’t help but to grin at the response she was given, this guy talked like a kid from Gotham. Peeling off one of her heavy duty gloves and then the other she lays them on the table careful to keep from placing either to close to the still warm end of the torch that she had placed on the same table. Harper turns toward the actual entrance to the shop stopping to wave a few times at the air to disperse the odor welding had dispersed throughout the shop. She loved making things but had never come to enjoy the smell a blowtorch put into the air, now the sizzle of electronic that was a different matter entirely.
Walking toward the door to her shop she scoops up a small device as she makes her way out to speak with Jason. Her hand on the panel to open the door she stops again and turns back taking a moment to slide a tarp over the objects on the main table like her body armor.
That done she taps a panel next to the door to disengage three separate sets of heavy duty locks she had placed on the door. Despite the sound proofing she had installed the sounds of this happening likely still filtered through the walls. Stepping out into the front room the taser like device still in her hand Harper looks Jason over a few times before speaking.
“I might be Harper..I might be Dorothy. I usually only work on referrals.”
She said crossing her arms over the Sex Pistols t-shirt she had on under the tool belt that hung on her like an under arm dual pistol holster. Whether or not she was Josey Wales quick with the wrenches and assorted tool in the belt would be anyone’s guess.
JASON: I waited patiently to see what was going to happen. Was the counter going to slide away revealing a hidden staircase that lead to the actual shop which lay beneath the “decadent” exterior. Or was there going to be a wall that split a part or opened out to welcoming me to the inner sanctum? That would be pretty cool, however unlikely as I heard the three deadbolts that unlocked themselves.
Perhaps in another life, another Gotham, because in this one it sounded like someone who was into security. The only thing that was missing was the rod that slipped into the little box n the door and caught along the floor.
One could never have too much security, especially when they did they type of work that Harper was alleged to do. People to tend to take anything that’s not bolted down, and when it is bolted down it just means that need to come with the right tools to make it theirs. Of course, that brings me to allegedly. Why do I say allegedly, because I haven’t seen any of her work. There’s no real proof and until I see with my eyes it is rumor and hearsay.
Also, it was the word that got me the Spelling Bee trophy in third grade, well it got me into the tie breaker. Incarceration got me the trophy.
When the proprietor finally stepped out Jason tipped head to the side. Maybe he can get a kid discount. She was probably what a year or two older at most, maybe three. She had bags under her eyes. Probably best not to mention that. His nose caught the distinct scent that comes blow torch work.
“Blow torch or acetylene.” Of course the moment I said it, Blondie’s <i>The Hardest Part</i> passes through my head. It can’t he helped. Nor can me noticing the Sex Pistol’s shirt she has on. Pretty hard to miss that, or something that looks interesting from afar in her hand. She looked me over a couple of times. I guess I passed the test, not really because she still holding that interesting item in her hand.
Trust. It will get you killed if you’re not careful.
“You don’t look like Dororthy. Maybe DG, but not a Dorothy.” Points for catching the reference since we’re all about Oz or something. Maybe she has a Scarecrow fetish. I’ll try not to visibly shudder about that. Next thing I know she’ll be chatting me up about the Mad Hatter.
“Harper most definitely, but I could be wrong, and I got a referral. You fixed a dishwasher for a neighbor of mine.” Three blocks over and two blocks down. “For a bucket of chicken and peaches. The peaches I get, because she gives everyone peaches. The chicken. She said you were a little reluctant. I bet you’re Popeye’s kind of girl and she was only dealing in the Colonel.”
The sad thing about this. It’s not the most absurd conversation I’ve ever had.
HARPER: “I try to avoid fast food it goes straight to my thighs.”
While Harper couldn’t claim to remember every person she had helped in the Narrows she absolutely remembered Miss Brenda, and her bucket of KFC. Of all the things you could invest in Gotham that might kill you fast food could still be considered one of the worst offenders in Harpers mind. Still she had placed the chicken in the fridge and had found it gone the next day. Cullen pleaded innocent but also refused to show her his fingers, tainted with grease no doubt.
“Okay then if you know Miss Brenda then we can do business.”
Harpers mind drifted to her long list of important projects and how she really shouldn’t work on anything else right now, still it might raise suspicion if she turned anyone away. Taking a step back she gestures for Jason to go first.
Grinning just a little she gestures inside with the object in her hand.
JASON: “Uh huh.” I left it at that, because it was best not to comment on things of that nature. Girls go upside down and sideways about it, usually against a guys head, so yeah no comment. I’ll play the innocent little lamb when it comes to that.
“I do. She says hello and something about coming to see you about her clock radio.” Message delivered. Turning towards the counter I lifted up the stereo unit and proceeded to step behind the curtain so to speak though I had no idea where I was headed really
“If you insist. So straight ahead into the back or am I making turns? Is this some kind of ploy to look my butt? I’m a little young for you aren’t I?” There might have been a hint of a smirk while I headed towards wherever we were going.
“Now if it gets me a discount feel free to look, but I may feel ashamed in the morning.”
HARPER: “Not really no, but I reserve the right to sneak a peek later.”
She could tell him it really had to do with keeping a knife or worse from being stuck into her back, she wished she could say it had never happened before. Of course Cullen would never hear about that particular incident, he worried enough as is. One bad apple had ruined it for everyone else and now Harper insisted clients go first where she could keep a good eye on them.
“I don’t prescribe it puritanical concepts of shame it’s a total waste of energy….unlike this.”
At this she sparks the device in her hand to give Jason a good look at the super taser she had been holding since he came in. The possibility excessive amount of electricity the device emits lights up the darkened front area and illuminated the shop just inside the door, as well as Harpers best don’t mess with me face.
“You can unload your stuff over there…DO.NOT. Touch anything.”
Harper points to a table on the far end of the room and well away from the center table covered by the tarp.
JASON: “I’ll go slow mo if it gets me a hovercycle.” Yep I totally said that. Whether or not I would do it another story, but we are talking about a hovercycle. I was doing my best to keep light, because let’s recap on what’s going on here.
- Stranger shows up on your door step asking for you to do some work for him.
- You work in the Narrows where lies are candy and betrayal dessert and people tend to eat dessert first all the time in the Narrows, East End, well, just about everywhere in Gotham and if you wanted something more decadent head over to Bludhaven. It’s like’s Gotham’s Red Light district.
- I’m pretty sure she has more than one weapon ready for me if I do decide to clown out on her, but totally not what I’m here for.
“Well, that’s good, because ashamed means for me I get a pint of ice cream and forget about what I was supposed to be shaming myself about.”
With a turn of my head my eyes catch the sparks of the taser making note of it.
“Wait I can set my stuff down, but don’t touch anything. What happens if my finger touches the top of the counter. Is that included?”
HARPER: Harper considers giving Jason a good zap for his sass or at least she would if she herself wouldn’t have likely said the same thing. Instead she spins the taser in hand and slides it into one of the empty holsters hanging at her sides. Thankfully she doesn’t fling the weapon across the room this time, that had proven to be a bit of a disaster. Thankfully her neighbors cat had only gotten a little scorched and it’s hair eventually grew back in, of course Purrrcevil did his best to avoid her to this day.
“My fee goes up by the sass just FYI”
In contrast to the outer office Harpers actual shop is meticulously sorted, with just a smudge of chaos here and there. Where she had tools placed on the walls they were arranged in order of size and or condition, clearly a few had seen better days. In addition to the large center table covered with a tarp she had the table she was pointing to against the wall it was smaller and mostly clear except for the strange gloves she had forgotten to put away.
Spotting them Harper mutters something under her breath and hopes Jason doesn’t ask to many questions. Stepping head of him she moves in to moves the gloves aside before he sets his stuff down near them.
“Just put them on the table sassmouth.”
JASON: There had to be a little sass. I mean what’s Gotham without a little sass or wit coming from some direction. Without it, we’d be a failed Metropolis, or at least that’s what people like to think. Me, I see potential, potential for so much more, so much better, but setting it aside I couldn’t help the smirk at the fee business.
Setting the unit on the table as instructed I stepped back while taking in the shop. There were things put away in places, all neat and tidy and the tiny bits of chaos I suspect are from just finished business, in the middle business, or just started business. Things she didn’t mind people seeing.
Then there was the don’t look at me, but can’t but notice me tarp business which would likely get me a zap from the taser and if I was a betting man I’m pretty certain it’s set for twitching on the floor, foaming on the mouth sucks to be you if you have a pacemaker setting. So no peeky under the tarp.
Of course it made me wonder where other such things were that weren’t being worked on were.
“So, I guess introductions are in order less I get stuck with sassymouth, but given where your eyes were sassypants would work too.” I just can’t help myself. “Jay and I’m here because my precious has stopped working right. Tape decks running slow and the turn table is even slower.”
HARPER: Harper walks over to the table where the stereo had been placed and slowly moved her eyes over it. Leaning in a bit and pulling a small pen light out of one of the pockets on her belt she clicks it on moving it’s bright and slightly bluish light over the mentioned tap deck and then the turn table. If she even heard Jason’s comments she made no reaction to them, nor would she while she worked.
A minute or so later she turns and aims the narrow beam at Jason and then the tarp on the table, then back to Jason. Seemingly satisfied she clicks the pen off while still holding it up and after twirling it in her fingers places it back in its place on her belt.
“I think I see the problem…it’s a piece of junk.”
Offering a quick shrug followed by a rapidly fading grin Harper again turns back to the stereo.
“I’d recommend jacking…or maybe buying an iPod or phone or something. I hear Spotify is just the best.”
Her hands reach forward and begin removing the front of the stereo a tiny screw driver having appeared in her hand as of by magic. As she continues to work at removing the face of the unit she again speaks.
“But if you’re dealing with an emotional attachment I get it and…give me like five minutes?”
JASON: While Harper focused on the stereo on unit, I took a moment to look around the shop. I didn’t touch, I didn’t even try to see what was on the tarp I just looked around before looking over my shoulder at Harper as she holstered her taser. “There’s a lot to look at. I’m just taking it all in. I’m behind the curtain without a little dog running back and exposing you. I think I’m doing good.” Smirking he turned back towards her nodding.
“It’s my piece of junk and if you can get it up and going then I’ll be a satisfied customer. I like to keep it analog sometimes.” Simple as that. At least that’s the way I wanted to keep it. Don’t need to talk about any other reasons.
“So, if you can get it squared away I’d like that a lot and then I would like to talk about another project if you’re up for it. One that doesn’t deal in peaches. Deals in presidents. Dead ones.”
HARPER: “I’m not interested in joining your crew…if your looking for a criminal I’d suggest looking up my dad.”
Harpers eyes had not yet left the stereo as she removed the face and then began working on the tape deck itself. Jason had lucked out in that Harper had experience with fixing devices as old as this one, her youth had seen dozens if not hundreds of such things smashed in fits of rage or outright sold to make ends meet or even more likely so her father could buy some illicit substances. Far to often she would come home from school to find the television missing and be forced to find a cheap replacement, which she would then be forced to make work.
It had been a maddeningly predictable cycle but it had been what had made her the tech wiz she was today. No amount of skill or strength came easily or without trial and Harper would not claim to be different.
“So…Jay right? If that’s what your after you can get the hell out of my shop. I’ll still fix your stereo because I’m nice like that but…”
JASON: “Do I sound like I have a crew? Do I look like I have a crew? Talk about emotional attachments?” I pause for a moment shaking my head. “I’m not sure what you’re talking about. Just saying that I’ll pay you in cash. ” Did I hit a nerve probably. Wouldn’t be the first time. Walking over towards the table where she was working on the stereo I leaned up against it watching her work.
“However, I am in need of someone that has expertise in your area. Fixing things, possibly modifying them that’s all. Currently in need to be able to see someone coming that’s all. There’s a bit of business that my parental involved herself in, and due to a change in her status I am now probably on the hook for it more than likely so I want to try and be prepared if I can. My living situation is….” What’s a good word.
“Tenuous at best. Meaning I could be sleeping and someone might come knocking and I rather be in position to make a quick exit if need be. So, I need to see if this is or isn’t out of your wheel house. It could cost so hence the dead presidents.” He shrugged. “Kind of looking for night vision goggles, but not big clunky ones. I was curious if you worked on anything like that before.”
It was no big whoop if not. “Not all of the street lights are lit and I find myself running through the streets or trying to make a quick exit through various buildings I’d rather not impale myself.” I would say fourteen is too young to have a crew, but we both know that’s not true.
“As Nancy Thompson said. I’m into survival.”
HARPER: Harper stood up from the stereo and turned to face Jason holding both her hands up in apology. Twirling the small screw driver in her fingers as she lowers her hands again her mood leveling out again as she basically forces it to do so. She might have made an assumption and that wasn’t right of her.
“Okay I may have over reacted a touch…but..”
Stepping back to the table she placed the screwdriver down and brought out the pen light again. Thinking a moment she places the light in her mouth and picking the the screw driver again gets back to work.
“Night vision goggles that is some vigilante level stuff and those are illegal I hear… but yeah I can totally do that.”
Both her hands move to work their way into the stereo as the light does what it does best, illumination. A few second pass and Harper begins to place pieces back onto the stereo and again takes a step back.
“That might have done it.”
JASON: “It’s cool. I get it. I mean. It’s the environment we live in. Crime’s a way of life for some of us. You never can be sure, but trust there is no crew. I’m not crew material. Remember, I’m Mister Sassypants. I wouldn’t last a day, may not even an hour. My mouth would get me in trouble. Probably why I’ll be picking up an unwanted debt. Too many clapbacks for my own good.” My shoulders rise and fall while I watch her work.
“That they are, but sometimes to survive you have to risk it. As much as I would like to turn to the cops that usually makes a bad situation worse, and judging by your reaction I think we both can agree that not ever cop is a stand up individual.” Not in the least, but I wasn’t about to walk that winding road. I had a stereo to get fixed and goggles to see about.
“Cool. Now I can have tunes again. Sweet, sweet tunes. So let’s see. How much for the repair job? How much for the goggles, and when should I expect my hovercycle?”
HARPER: “Honestly this thing barely required any amount of effort…so we can call it even for now.”
Scratching at the side of her head with the screwdriver as she accidentally flashes Jason with the pen light still in her mouth. Eyes widening a bit she takes it out and clicking it off places it back in its proper place.
“I can look the goggles and I’ll let you know what I’ll need payment wise in a few days…and pal I make a hover cycle it’ll be all mine.”
JASON: “Aww really. Not even a box of Popeyes?” I couldn’t help it. I was completely amused, by the entire thing. Also there was a box in my fridge, because I helped Ms. Brenda with carrying in some groceries and moving furniture. I’ll take what I can get.
“Few days. Alright. I’ll drop be in a few days to check in. Oh yeah for sure. First generation is all yours. I’ll take the next one after that after all the bugs are worked out. That’s really generous of you. I guess you really are the great and powerful Oz. I didn’t even have to douse any witches.”
That’s when she flashes me with the light. Looking away I cast my eyes down for a second before looking up again. “Well, that was fun.”
Reaching out for the stereo I thought about before turning back towards Harper. “Actually…” Taking out my wallet I pull out a few bills and set them into her hand.
“Here’s seventy-five for a down payment. If it costs more we’ll discuss in a few days about payment. If it costs less well, I’ll open an account or something because if I break them someone’s going to have to repair it right?” Right. They were probably going to cost more. Either way I picked up the stereo. “Thanks for the work.” I wait for a moment. “So same drill as the first. I walk ahead of you and you see me out?”
by Reclaimer | Jul 22, 2018 | Chronicles
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.