game over

Oct. 24th, 2010 09:56 pm
daredevildaring: (whatthefrak?)
[personal profile] daredevildaring
Flagg's henchmen were smart enough not to put their hands on her as they led her away. They stayed close, though, and Kara held her head high between them, swallowing the growing lump in her throat. The door clicked shut behind her, leaving Bert and Alain and Gert to continue playing his game alone, and it seemed to echo down the hallway.

"Where is he?" she asked as they walked. "Your buddy Randall Flagg. I mean I'm assuming he's not actually here," she said, scornful. "Wouldn't want to take the chance one of us would get free and go on a rampage with him actually close enough to get hurt."

He must've coached them not to respond, though; either that or they were borderline catatonic and didn't quite get that she was looking for a response. A minute later they stopped outside a door, though, and Kara's stomach clenched. He might be in there. The idea that she might be about to confront him in person-- the idea that Claire, Kate, Jes and Jim might be in there with him too-- she stood up even straighter and set her jaw tight. "Open the gods-damned door if that's where I'm going," she said.

One of the henchmen sniggered as the other did as she'd said. Kara had only a moment to register a very small, very dark room before she was shoved inside and the door shut behind her. "Oh come on!" she yelled, kicking the door and banging on it with her fist, listening to the futile sound of retreating footsteps.

Then her voice wasn't the only one in the cell anymore.

"Come on Kara, lighten up," he said, the recording bouncing off the walls so it sounded like he was murmuring in her ear. She went still as stone, fists balled tight at her sides. "It's all in good fun. I get what I want-- that's the glasses, for the record, not to mention a stellar night's entertainment-- and you get what you want-- all your nearest and dearest alive, safe and sound. Speaking of near and dear, that was a pretty impressive display of emotion you put on back there-- Ruby and I were all choked up. But I'm disappointed-- you lost me a bet. I was so sure you'd lay one on our dear Captain Bert-- a real Hollywood goodbye kiss. Oh well. Guess we'll just have to hope the reunion's as heartfelt as the departure. So just sit tight for awhile, don't waste your time trying to get out, we'll be letting you go free soon enough. And hey, thanks for playing! You really made it worth my while."

The voice went silent and Kara realized she had her eyes squeezed shut and her lips pressed tight together, her breaths coming short and sharp. She was so angry she couldn't have formed words if she'd tried. She jammed her hands into her pockets, pacing the cell, three steps across and three steps back. She couldn't get their faces out of her mind, and the more Flagg's words ran through her head the hotter her rage burned. The worst part about him-- and he knew it, of course he did-- was that he spoke just enough of the truth to make it really hurt. She lashed out with her foot, kicking the door with a low, furious grunt. It didn't move, and it didn't make her feel any better.

It hadn't even been half an hour of pacing (and alternately throwing herself against the door of the cell) when there was a loud click. This time when she kicked the door, it bounced open, flooding the room with amber light. Blinded for a second, Kara threw up her arm in front of her face, blinking. Once her vision had cleared, she left the room, digging in the inner pocket of her vest.

She hadn't been kidding; it was a very tiny gun. And until she saw someone else from the ship, she was keeping it up and ready to shoot. She'd been taken advantage of enough for one night, and was half hoping some of Flagg's minions were still hanging around so she could vent some of her fury on a worthwhile target.

Date: 2010-10-26 01:41 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Everyone else in the room had run to Victor once whatever had been holding him hostage relinquished its control. He'd sagged like his strings had been cut and Gert and Al and the rest of them gathered around him, shouting and trying to wring frantic answers from him. Bert, for once in his life, was not only silent but immobile, rooted to the floor with some insane combination of terror and relief as comprehension washed over him.

So he was close enough to the door to hear when the lock turned over with a click. He didn't have a gun-- his six-shooter wasn't the sort of thing you could hide in a three-piece suit, and even though he'd warmed to the automatic alternative, he'd been raised not to haul iron anyplace with a punch bowl. Not the rule of thumb that Roland (or even a handful of his crew, for that matter) would mind, but Bert thought in their current circumstances they couldn't afford to appear suspicious or untrusting; it would garner the worst kind of attention.

Had he known that they'd not only be the center of attention but the party's main diversion, he'd have accessorized a little more thoroughly-- something subtle, of course; maybe a .35 tucked into the back of his pinstriped trousers.

As it was he was feeling a little underdressed.

He caught Alain's eye and then he was out, slipping out of the door and into a hallway he'd expected to be riddled with Flagg's employees. Instead, it was empty, not a sound to be heard. He walked silently, heading as quickly as he could toward where the hallways intersected without breaking into a run. To one side, far down the corridor, he saw a kitchen, gleaming, industrial and packed full of taheen in cook whites. A few of them even looked up as he rounded the corner, a toucan and a mink staring briefly at him with inscrutable, glassy eyes before they returned to their business. Bert shoved a hand in his pocket, ready to head back down the opposite hall to explore when two things happened-- he heard the sound of a door busting open down the corridor, and he saw something move out of the corner of his eye.

He whipped around, struck blindly and felt his knuckles connect with too-soft flesh and saw one of the can-toi stagger backward. He, too, was dressed for the occasion in an honest-to-gods checked suit, reeking of cologne.

"That was a mistake," Bert snapped, kicking out his leg to capture the thing's tommy gun under his shoe. "But if you promise never to wear that thing out where innocent folk have to see it again, I'll forgive you."

"Go fuck yourself." The ratman reeled back and planted both feet in Bert's stomach, knocking him back and sending the gun careening down the polished hall. He rolled over, got to his knees and lunged just outside of grabbing distance just as a familiar pair of red heels rounded the corner.

Date: 2010-10-26 06:12 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Turning down one hallway and then another, Kara slowed down when she heard footsteps ahead of her, not wanting to give up the element of surprise just yet. Then she heard the dull thuds of fists connecting with flesh, and sharp voices, enough to convince her that hesitance was overrated.

Rounding the corner, it took her less than a moment to see the situation for what it was-- Bert on the floor, scrabbling toward a fallen gun, a rat-headed taheen hard after him, its face set in a snarl as a few of its fellows began to emerge from the kitchen. Something surged in Kara's stomach, a fierceness that had ebbed and flowed all night as they'd played Flagg's insidious game, a righteous anger that was now in full flower, blazing across her face.

Her first shot took the rat in the chest, her second between the eyes. It toppled back with a look of surprise that was almost comical. Two steps took her to the fallen gun, which she snatched up even as her feet carried her to Bert's side, a hand on his elbow dragging him upright. She couldn't remember ever being happier to see him; Flagg's reassurance that they'd all walk out of here unscathed aside, the tide of relief she felt at seeing him in the flesh almost threatened to unravel her. But Flagg's words to her had stuck; she was conscious of being watched, and not about to show how she felt no matter how badly she wanted to.

"Here," Kara said, voice rough as she dropped Bert's arm, pressing the gun into his hands. "Wouldn't want you to get blood all over your only decent suit." She couldn't make herself look away from his face, though it was like staring into a fire; her eyes prickled and her cheeks felt warm. Ten other thoughts sprang to the tip of her tongue, her mind crowded with all she wanted to say about what they'd been through, what Flagg had said to her while she was locked up, what the outcome of his game had been-- but the taheen spilling from the kitchen drew her focus, and she tore her eyes from Bert's as she turned, her arm whipping up and out, already taking aim.
Edited Date: 2010-10-26 12:32 pm (UTC)

Date: 2010-10-26 12:00 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Relief hit Bert squarely in the stomach as he looked up at her, glad for her quick scrap job of Sai Hantavirus but mostly just grateful to see her unharmed and unhindered by more lackies. He got to his feet and clasped her hard on the shoulder.

"Thankee-sai," he breathed, eyes searching her face. He hesitated and opened his mouth, looking almost stern for a moment before he seemed to change his mind and it left his face, replaced by a sad look and a despairing tone. "But after all we've been through, after the suit you've just seen, how can you really call mine just decent?"

He took the gun in both hands, a little surprised to find how heavy it was compared to most of the newfangled firearms he'd come across. It was what Jayne called a sub, which meant that Bert was going to enjoy himself immensely while enduring a powerful feeling of skittish guilt that Cort would be somewhere watching him scatter bullets like a rabid cat in an armory.

More taheen were coming, though, and Bert had to admit that there was one solid perk to fighting against them: there was rarely any remorse. The look of them was terrifying and loathsome and somehow stupid all at once, and making them go down felt like knocking out bottles at a county fair.

"Double points for the rarer species," he hollered to Kara over the blistering sound of his own fire. "I think I spotted a flamingo."

Date: 2010-10-26 01:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
The weight of his hand on her shoulder and the searching look in his face made her draw breath too, not certain of what she'd say, only that it had to be something. But the deep openness in his face melted away almost as soon as it had come, and what replaced it was so infuriatingly familiar it tugged an exasperated chuckle from her in spite of herself. "What can I say?" she asked, mouth wry. "I live to underwhelm you."

Then there was no time for banter, as the hall crowded with Flagg's creatures, each more revolting than the last. Kara let Bert take the lead, pocketing her small gun and helping herself to a few of the fallen taheen's pistols as they advanced. With a gun in each hand, she felt more normal than she had all night, the feel of the kickback and the roar of the guns' report a happier sound to her ears than music. She felt better than she rightly should have, given the circumstances, and was almost startled to realize she was laughing as she shot until her clips were spent and the hallway empty except for her and Bert.

"I'll see your flamingo and raise you a-- what is that, a turkey?" she asked, gesturing with her foot at one of the fallen, her lip curled in revulsion. Picking up two more fallen guns, Kara put her back against the wall and nodded toward the kitchen, where the sounds of frantic conversation and movement were clearly audible. "There's more," she breathed. "Think we should clear 'em all out?" Her tone made it clear she had no problem with the idea, but also that she would do as he suggested. She wasn't in the mood to make the decisions-- right now she was in her element, glad to be a weapon pointed wherever her captain wanted her to go.

Date: 2010-10-26 09:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Bert shook his head firmly. "Only if they get in our way." He turned back toward the hallway Kara had appeared from and started down it in a kind of sideways sprint, keeping alert. "Right now, we're finding our crew." And watching each other's back. That went without saying, though it wasn't so long ago, even in the grand scheme of things, that Bert wouldn't trust that job to anyone but Alain.

"It was all a lie. " Bert glanced back at Kara. "Of course. He's been watching us all on the Cortex. From every camera on board, with some kind of robot. It spoke through Victor." Like some kind of goddamned demon, he thought but didn't say. "Probably hoped we were stupid enough to shoot him."

Bert edged up toward an open door, peering inside. "Is this where they had you? Who else was in this hallway, did you see?"

Date: 2010-10-27 01:20 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
She was so disconcerted by his explanation of what Flagg had really been about that for a moment she stood still, poleaxed with stupefied anger. "So all of that... that fear and accusation-- sending us out one by one, what the frak for? To see who really trusts who?" She swallowed hard; difficult, but she had to get this out in the air. "Whatever was said, I don't feel any different than I did this morning. About anyone." She shook her head, anger crumbling into left-over regret. "Except maybe myself," she added softly. She'd been baldly honest all night long, and didn't see the sense in stopping now.

Didn't mean she had to dwell on it, though. Looking where he gestured, she nodded the affirmative. "Yeah, I was down here. Didn't see or hear anyone else after they left me, though."

Date: 2010-10-27 03:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Bert eyed Kara, trying to hide his tremendous surprise that she was, apparently, deciding to share her feelings with him, however briefly. He felt the usual impulse to freeze every muscle in his body, maintain a poker face and emit nothing but encouraging murmurs to make this ephemeral phenomenon last as long as possible, but now wasn't really the time or the place. Hopefully, she'd be shaken deeply enough that she'd still be up for palaver later.

"Not now," he reprimanded in upbeat tones, adjusting his grip on the gun. "We've given him his drama portion of the evening. I think this is the part where we kick in doors and take out his menagerie in a rain of gunfire. Your favorite. Speaking of: keep an eye out for the door that looks to be blown out by a hand grenade, I know for a fact Jayne won't leave home without them."

There was another door up ahead. It was soundly locked, and there was no light coming from beneath it. Bert looked at his gun, looked at the lock, took aim-- then heard Kara draw a breath at the same time he saw movement out of the corner of his eye. More taheen, a group of four or five. It wasn't much of a skirmish; these fellows were unarmed with the exception of the cat-man who appeared to be carrying some kind of switchblade. It was no match for Kara's high heel, which was apparently as adept at knocking vital shit out of opponent's hands as her boots usually were. Bert neglected his gun for a bit of tidy hand-to-hand; they were too close and he wasn't sure about the strength of the doors and who might be behind them.

Cat-man had something else in the pocket of his zoot suit: an access card. Bert plucked it out, then slid it into the door. "This is nice, I feel more like a guest now."

Date: 2010-10-27 04:02 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"Oh yeah," Kara said as the taheen drew closer, her smile full of satisfied anticipation. "Definitely my favorite." She might have found it hard to shrug off that desperate feeling now that it had started to sink its claws into her, but there was nothing to put things in perspective like more taheen. Much as she really hated getting up close and personal to the frakked-up things in her best outfit, the pleasure she took in laying them out overruled it. She straightened in time to see Bert rifling through the cat-headed one's pocket. "I wouldn't say no to this going a little quicker, either," she muttered, part of her mind still occupied with thoughts of the President, Jake, the ship and everyone on it.

Bert pulled the door open, revealing a room almost identical to the one Kara had been kept in. She almost thought it was empty, but then there was a slight movement in the shadows and the light glinted off the edge of a bright purple tie. "Chase, it's us," she said unnecessarily, knowing he would see that for himself in a second but too relieved to care that she was being inane. If anything, the fact of finding her friends alive only served to make her more worried; she'd learned well enough by now that if part of what Flagg told you turned out to be true, it was only because he had a much nastier surprise waiting in the wings.
Edited Date: 2010-10-27 04:05 am (UTC)

Date: 2010-10-27 04:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"Jesus-Christ-thank-fucking-god." Chase ran to the door, eyed the guns in their hands and the hallway, which had five dead Animorphs and a distinct lack of purple-haired girlfriends. "Where's Gert? Did they fuck with you guys?"

Date: 2010-10-28 01:38 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"Gert's with Alain, Victor and Eli. They're all fine, and I think they're going to sit tight for the time being. Right now me and Kara are going after the rest of the crew so we can all hie out of here."

Bert tossed him the gun. "Shall we?"

Date: 2010-10-28 01:47 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Chase frowned down at it, inspecting it briefly. "'kay. Let's go. But me roasting weasel ass is a limited time offer. I'm headed back to find Gert so she doesn't try to get back to Jake without me."

He braced the gun against his shoulder and pushed past his captain and security. "Let's get dangerous, dudes."

Date: 2010-10-28 03:22 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"Okay, Bullitt, just don't go too fast," Kara muttered, following close behind him. Not that she was against making good time; the idea of Gert taking off alone when gods only knew what else waited out there was sure as hell enough to put a little extra juice in her jog. Seeing Chase with a gun, though, still threw her for a loop. She couldn't put her finger on why; maybe because she'd gotten to know him around screwdrivers and beer bottles and joints, maybe because he lacked Jake's strange agelessness, she wasn't sure. She was torn between pride at his bravery and the urge to jump in front of him every time a noise echoed down the hall.

It didn't take them long to meet up with the others. Kara was glad to see that Bert's prediction about Jayne and grenades was mostly accurate; he had his .45 in one hand and a look of fury that made Kara grin. Yeah, she thought, that's what I'm talking about. Alain's face was unreadable, but he clasped her on the shoulder with a grave nod, and she saw in his expression the same readiness she felt, a reassurance she hadn't known she was looking for.

After only some deliberation, it was determined that Chase and Gert would go back to the Argo with most of the crew. Kate had picked up a gun in presumably the same fashion Kara and Bert had, and Victor had one tucked into the back of his pants. What surprised Kara was the Shepherd toting a big pistol like it was nothing more than a fountain pen, but she wasn't about to question it now. Four guns was pitiful protection if the ship had been taken, but if Jake and Roslin were gone they were none of them safe for much longer anyway. She caught Karolina's hand and squeezed it as they filed out into the night, wishing with everything in her that they'd be safe.

Then the door shut behind them with a near-silent click, leaving six Argonauts to finish scouring the house for Flagg.

Date: 2010-10-29 03:09 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"That was good," Bert breathed as they moved back down the hall. "We made good time." That was really the only positive thing to say about the situation that didn't qualify as counting their chickens before they'd hatched. They had not all made it out safe (yet), they had not dealt with the fallout of having voted each other out as traitors, and they hadn't, of course, reclaimed the glasses.

If we don't get them back--

The thought was an utter dead-end. There wasn't an option. And yet somewhere at the back of Bert's mind, there was a small, traitorous and utterly unfamiliar voice that whispered that it would not be the end of the world.

Funny, because he was pretty sure that diagnosis was right on the money.

And this was why he wasn't cut out to be a godsdamned leader. Because that voice would somehow cost him the glasses. Because he lacked that something that Roland had that would get the job done at any cost. Because although he was ready to risk nearly everything for a shot at getting the glasses back, the thing he knew he was not prepared to risk was the only thing of worth he really had, and the only thing Flagg would ask of him.

What was it Flagg had said back in the temple on Anguin? Welcome to being a hero, funny guy.

Bert shook off the thought and reloaded his gun-- which, by the way, if there was a silver lining to the evening it was that he'd serendipitously recovered a pistol which might've been twin to the one he'd accidentally dropped down a chasm (yes, really) en route to the Chirop temple. It didn't have the sentimental value of his father's guns but by gods, Bert had liked to shoot it. That had been a sad day, not improved by the appearance of an enormous robot bat or the several thousand regular-type bats which had plagued them on their way out.

"So there's one thing I want to address in the event he hasn't run screaming out the back door yet..."

Date: 2010-10-29 03:55 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
As Jayne and Jim split off one way, Weevil and Alain another, Kara couldn't shake the feeling something worse was waiting for them. She was tempted to call Alain back, go off herself with Weevil and hope Flagg went after them first, saving the gunslingers for last. If there is something ugly still here, they're better dealing with it together, she thought, but it was already too late.

She reloaded her guns methodically, taking a deep and silent breath while she did, letting it out slow to calm her nerves. She felt the weight of fear on the back of her neck and found it hard to raise her head; she was so tense she felt brittle, wanting the other shoe to drop, hating that she didn't know if it would drop here and now, or if it was already falling on the ship and everyone inside it. She took another deep breath, this time letting it out fast, snapping her head up and shaking it just as Bert spoke again.

"Yeah, what?" Her pulse sped up again; she was at a loss for what could possibly need to be said about their situation, but the apprehension on his face didn't bode well as far as she was concerned. Kara knew how much worse things could get than they'd been (so far no one was hurt, captured, tortured or dead) but as unpleasant as the night had been thus far, she wasn't really eager to see it get more complicated.

Date: 2010-10-29 04:10 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"The possibility that we won't be able to do him a damn bit of damage is a good one. We can't waste time trying to. Our objective is to get the glasses, however many of them we can, and to get back to the ship immediately." He glanced at her, and, somehow finding her reaction not to his satisfaction, stopped her dead in the hall.

"I mean it. I don't care how angry you are or how good a shot you think you've got."

Date: 2010-10-29 04:16 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
It was, if not the last thing she expected him to say, pretty frakking close to it. She stared at him dumbfounded for a moment, jaw gone slack with disbelief. "Won't be able to-- so what, you're saying if I shoot him in the head, I'll just miss?" She saw his eyebrows ratchet further up and added quickly, "I'm not saying I was planning on it, obviously the glasses are the point, but-- what the frak, what is he?"

Date: 2010-10-29 04:30 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"You? Miss? Never think it; we may be dealing with ratheaded mobsters but we're not entirely in the realm of fantasy just yet." He squeezed her arm fondly and moved on, eyes watching the corridor ahead, watching the gleam of the linoleum for shadows, even aware of the way the air smelled.

"I don't really know what he is, but he's not human. He just prefers to look that way, which only goes to show how far off he likely is from the genuine article."

Date: 2010-10-29 06:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
She huffed out a breath, rolling her eyes at his teasing, but warmed by the affection in it nonetheless. "Steady" wasn't the first word most people would think of to apply to Cuthbert, but Kara could always rely on him to be funny at the most inappropriate times, which were usually when she needed it most.

She half-turned so her back was to the wall, walking sideways with one eye behind them. She wouldn't have been surprised to find that speaking of Flagg summoned the man to their side, and didn't want to have her back to him if she could help it. "That's insane, but it makes sense, which is a testament to how frakked up this whole thing is. I'd love to say it sounds unbelievable, but I guess there's nothing I can really say that about anymore," she said. The admission didn't feel any more comfortable than it had the other times they'd shared similar feelings among themselves; despite what he'd said, there were times (and more of them lately) when Kara felt they had actually left the real world behind, and were operating on an entirely separate level than everyone else in the 'verse.

They paused at a crossing; stairs to their left, hallways ahead and to the right. "This way," Kara said, nodding to the stairs. She couldn't say why; intuition, maybe, but something felt like it was pulling her that way, and she was inclined to listen to it.

Date: 2010-10-30 06:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"Why not take the elevator," Flagg muttered. He leaned back in his chair, arms folded, eyes on the monitor; a detached critic watching a B-grade horror flick.

The room he was in was large, high-ceilinged, and, aside from all the dead bodies and a few fried wires, in the same pristine condition it had been in when it was still the main control room of Veridian Corporation's Nascent Technologies wing. Only a few days prior, there'd been a terrible accident at the site: some kind of yucky nerve gas had been released through the ventilation system. The story had been all over the cortex; Alliance-funded investigations suggested a terrorist act by a religious fundamentalist group from Muridae.

It had been a good (and necessary) yarn. Way too embarrassing to tell the public that one of the 'verse's leading innovators in cybernetics had fallen victim to the same nasty, er, virus that had struck over at Aperture Laboratories a year ago. No, the nerve gas had been released by their own operating system-- not independently, mind you, the thing was relatively new and difficult to corrupt-- but via another remote operating system. A Genetic Lifeform and Disk Operating System, to be exact. It had been a bit like bullying a kid for their lunch money, only GLaDOS managed to do it with sophistication and, as far as Flagg could tell, a bit of seduction.

He didn't ask what went on behind on the circuit boards.

So there he was-- reclined in one of the cushy board room chairs, cowboy boots propped on the console, eating miniature Reese's peanut butter cups from one of the scientist's snack cabinets and flicking the balled-up aluminum wrappers at the TV screen.

One bounced off the ka-mai's head as he followed Ms. Peel up the second flight. "Might wanna save your energy."
Edited Date: 2010-10-30 06:19 pm (UTC)

Date: 2010-10-31 03:46 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"It is too bad. I had a fun surprise planned for them on the elevator. I spent all day making it. Maybe someone someday will appreciate it." Her light disjointed voice came from all over the control room sounding genuinely disappointed. "I thought they might do that. They are so mean. But I left another surprise on the stairs just in case."

Her voice cut out for another moment of static before she spoke again clearly, "I love surprises." A beat. "It's too bad we can't do it again. One day, when you are no longer here, I will look back and remember what fun this was."

Date: 2010-10-31 04:43 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]

Date: 2010-10-31 04:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
She was sort of like an idiot-savant, except there was nothing idiotic about her, just an eerie, child-like sort of demeanor that made him, on occasion, extremely uncomfortable. But she got the job done, that was for damn sure.

Flagg also found that it was so much easier to resist wringing the neck of the hired help when they didn't have one. ...on the other hand, that very quality was one that gave him some pause. He'd never had trouble disposing of unsatisfactory employees before, but now, he wasn't entirely sure what he'd do in the event they stopped seeing eye to eye. Eye to monitor. ...eeugh. Whatever.

He ignored the eerie-ass message about how he wouldn't be there one day; clearly she needed to Google immortal. Not there, you bet your hardwired ass, he hated Aquila; not anywhere was not a good bet. "Y'know, I had a funny feeling you'd rigged something up," he said, leaning all the way back so that he had a clear view of the monitors up above the station. He grinned hard, blinking up at the screen. "Don't forget though, I have dibs on Donkeyboy. We go way back."

Date: 2010-10-31 05:07 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
The hallway hadn't been quiet; the soft whirring of air conditioning was ever-present like the undercurrent of sound the Argo's engine provided, but as Kara pushed open the door to the stairwell she heard something else. Bert was close behind her and she turned her head to catch his eye. "Is that," she murmured quietly, "music?" She looked away again, and up, craning her neck to peer up into the spiralling flights above them. There was definitely a tune coming from somewhere, an old-timey hey, hey, wumba hey-de hey-de hey that sounded tinny and strained, like it had been put through an auto-tuner a few times.

"Man, they really know how to do creepy, don't they?" she said, rolling her eyes and pushing the rest of the way through the door. She checked the safety on both her guns for the umpteenth time and kept her eyes fixed forward as she put her foot on the first stair. She was two steps from the top, Bert barely a step behind her, when the red light lasered through the air beside her, two inches away and moving right toward them. "Down!" she shouted, ducking flat, unsure if it was a cutting laser or just a gunsight, not wanting to find out the hard way. "Motherfrakkers," she hissed as the beam sliced the air above their heads, shifting forward on her hands and knees to see where it was coming from.

The thing sitting on the next landing looked like something out of a bad vintage sci-fi movie-- three legs, an oblong body with a skinny lens like an eye, out of which the laser shot like a spotlight. "Have to see what the frak that beam does," she muttered for Bert's benefit, swinging up one of her guns into its path.

To tell the truth, she'd expected half her gun to fall to the ground, sliced in two and gently smoking from the heat of the laser. She wasn't expecting the thing's side panels to extend, or the rapid rattattat of bullets that rained down a moment later. Thankfully she'd had the presence of mind to shove herself backward out of its firing radius, or she'd have found herself very sheepishly dead.

Date: 2010-10-31 04:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"It's kind of a--" Bert dropped down, his previous quip forgotten, replaced by several dozen questions about what the... frak Kara thought that was. He'd seen things like this so far, more often in movies watched in the great room than in reality, of course, but that didn't mean he had any idea what the laser would do to them: burn them, cut them, simply alert someone to their presence, or whether they were there simply for show. Bert somewhat doubted that last, but before he could open his mouth to ask, Kara spoke and swung her gun up over their heads.

He winced and readied himself, but he was still unprepared for the extremely unfriendly fire. Bert pursed his lips and rolled his eyes at her: well, FANTASTIC.

The angle of the stairs was against them. If he moved up to case the area, at best he'd get a real close shave. But without seeing how tall they were, which what they were facing, how many of them there were, what the delay between scans was... there wasn't much they could do but sit and wait. There was the option of finding an alternate route, but this probably meant they were on the right track, and for he knew, there might be turrets in every corridor en route. Bert edged back down the stairs, only standing until it was absolutely safe, then doubled back down the way they'd came, craning his neck to see if he could get a better look at the landing with some distance. Then, after holding up a finger to Kara, he disappeared around the corner.

He might've been able to do the same trick with a couple of chairs, maybe a potted plant, but Bert's understanding of technology was tenuous and he figured going for realism would be playing it safe. When he returned, he was lugging one of the human-masked low men over his shoulder.

"You're not weird about corpses, are you?" he asked, jaw tight, before slumping the thing down on the stairs beside her. "Because I was thinking: you toss him, they start shooting at the warm body, I stand up and take out their eyes." He hesitated. "Maybe you should just kinda, you know. Human-shield-it for as long as you feel comfy to buy me some time. I don't know how many there are, or if they'll all lock onto the first target or what."

Date: 2010-11-01 01:25 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"Define weird," she said, grabbing the corpse's arm and hefting it up in front of her, wrinkling her nose at the rank mix of cologne and blood. She wasn't squeamish, but she was incredibly repulsed, and spoke through gritted teeth. "Get behind me. I'm not touching this thing for any longer than I have to." She felt him come up close and huffed out an aggravated breath, adding, "Also, you're paying my dry cleaning bill."

The little robot had gone quiet when she'd moved out of its sights, but the laser locked right on them as Kara shifted sideways into view. The impact of the bullets was slight, and she was momentarily chagrined to realize it hadn't occurred to her the thing might be shooting rounds that could go through the low man's body. My lucky day, she thought grimly. Behind her, Bert's gun rang out and the turret toppled over.

"I don't blame you," a soft, sad, childlike voice said, and Kara made an involuntary sound, wordless and unnerved.

"Okay, seriously," she said, starting to sound strained as they moved quickly up the stairs to the next landing, "you really want me not to shoot him on sight, I think you're overestimating my patience for ridiculous bullshit."

Date: 2010-11-01 03:42 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"Oh no," Bert said evenly as he kicked aside the robot. "I have a better understanding of your capacity for ridiculous bullshit than anyone. I'm not worried at all." He smiled at her, turned a full, neat circle on his heels and pushed open the set of double doors with his back, holding one open for her with a flourish (warm gun still in hand).

He could smell the fried wires behind him and his nerves were lit up like downtown Crowley; the only cure was a bit of ridiculous bullshit.

"The thing is," he said, sounding pensive, "this particular bullshit doesn't seem to match up. If he had his way, there'd be ferrets in tie-dyed leisure suits waiting for us. The creepy robot toddlers are something else entirely, I think." Bert hesitated, debating whether or not to tell Kara the most unsettling part of that observation. "That thing's voice back there. Well. It sounded a lot like the thing that taunted us out of Victor."

They reached another split in the corridor, and Bert looked to her for input. "Could be it's waiting for us as well."

Date: 2010-11-01 05:15 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Chills like icy fingers ran up the back of her neck, and she shivered, shook her head. "Frak," she said, low and fervent. "Great. So it can come and go through machines." It was eerily familiar, and she thought of Adama's insistence against networking, and of Sharon.

She didn't like to think of it, but she already had been, the entire time they were locked in that room together. What if there's already been one, she wondered. What if we never know who? Even worse was the prospect that at the end of this hide-and-seek game she could end up face-to-face with someone she already knew (or thought she did). Cylons. It was almost starting to feel like a conspiracy, like everything was connected and they'd only begun to realize how far it extended.

"Frak it," she said, determined and solid, with another firm shake of her head. She nodded to the left, choosing again by intuition, and drew closer to Bert so their shoulders almost touched. "Whatever's waiting, we won't do any better fighting it for worrying about it ahead of time. Whoever he has helping him, he's the one that did this to us. I don't care what he is or what he wants from us. He's got stuff of ours and I frakking want it back."

Kara knew she sounded braver than she felt, but this was not the time to be timid. Flagg knew their weak points (and gods, between her and Bert didn't they have a list of them) and was probably drooling over the chance to exploit them. She didn't plan to give him any more ammunition than he already had, and telling herself to be scared of him would be like throwing away an ace up her sleeve.


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Kara Thrace

April 2011


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