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Close Encounter in Westchester

Posted by hyperspace on 2008.03.18 at 22:37
In one part of Westchester not patrolled by the SHIELD agents and already mostly evacuated, several slate-gray machines sift through the wreckage of a few buildings. There was no explosion or collision here; the six oversized toasters have been methodically dismantling several houses and sorting their component parts into piles. There are large stacks of wood, roofing tiles and various pipes and metal components, all arranged by material type and density. One of the man-sized trapezoidal machines starts wrenching doors off parked cars, striking them with an azure arc of light that imparts a forceful and sudden pull.

Science can't be advanced unless some people are willing to sacrifice their own safety for the sake of observations. And, while Stan has seen the video with the event in LA, he also doesn't think he's one of those who are risking his own safety. He figures that, if worst comes to worst, he can just cut his losses and run. The speedster arrives riding on his hoverboard; it doesn't really make sense for him to ride one around, since it's much faster for him to run places, but since he's carrying his slomo sister on the thing, it's probably excusable. He pauses in mid-air when he sees the oversized toasters, head tilting slightly. He says nothing for now, unsure of how to take these alien constructs.

In one part of the sky not patrolled by the alien machines floats a more terrestrial construct. Within his armored shell, Jareth drifts over the houses and observes. He turns his attention here and there methodically, studying each activity of the machines with care to make recording all the more clear. All the while, he allows them no small berth and space to continue.

Slomo doesn't really apply to Trisha unless you're Stan - and like her brother, she's not all too worried about the invaders, though she seems more intent on learning about them to stop them, perhaps, than on simple science, though there's plenty to be gained there. Her backpack full of various odds and ends hangs by a single strap from one of her shoulders, not odd in and of itself but for the meter long, somewhat curved wooden rod sticking out of it. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Noah isn't in the area to stop the aliens, or to learn about them, he's here to report their activities to the world at large. When he heard about the attack on L.A., he thought he be the most unlucky reporter in the Western Hemisphere. As he was leaving a local restaurant visiting a friend and lamenting his bad luck, a local man came running down the sidewalk screaming something about aliens. Having already cut short his meal to return to NYC to cover the approaching aliens, his interest was piqued. He stopped the man and managed to calm him down enough to get details. Once he found where they were, he said goodbye to his friend and made his way to where the invaders were operating. Now he stands, a good hundred yards away from the aliens. He's dressed in a pair of jeans a flannel shirt, and a military looking coat with various unrelated patches on it. A camera case is over his shoulder and he has a camera with a long-range lens on it, snapping pictures.

The drones finish sorting various pieces of one building and move on to help out with the car. Between them, they are able to lift and move it with the arcs fired from the slots on their fronts. The various people here don't seem to interest the machines, until one 'looks' up. It rotates its entire body to point upward and faces Jareth. A Cherenkov blue arc of lightning fires in his direction. If it strikes the armoured mutant, it causes no physical damage but yanks him with sudden force in the direction of the ground.

Stan tilts his head slightly, and then says, "Backpack: Camera." He wants to get a few good photos of this, himself. His backpack pulls out his camera, and deposits it in his hands. The speedster lowers the hoverboard to ground level, though, seeing them pulling Jareth. He doesn't want to risk his hoverboard going haywire at a bad time. Stan straps the camera around his neck, shoots off a few pictures, and then lets it hang there. He doesn't even notice Magneto for now: he is more focused on other things right now.

Soon enough, Jareth's vigilant recording falls one by one on the rest of the inquisitive group. Some remark not overly polite passes through his thought, happily for propriety confined there. Less happily for either Jareth or perhaps a local chiropractor, this provides all the distraction the drone might require. He falls, and his attention diverts just as forcefully. Reflex takes over to send his thought toward the machine, seeking with some desperation something that will loosen the beam.

Trisha glances over at Jareth, taking in his plight. She idly wonders - should she try and save him? He looks like some kinda superhero type, given that he's flying - they can generally take care of themselves and there ARE a lot of them around in the area... On the other hand... what if it tries to eat him or something? They didn't say much about whether the aliens liked to eat humans or not, but they do in the movies. And Trisha has never encountered REAL aliens before. "Are we gonna help him?"

Noah watches Jareth's plight unfold. At this range, there isn't anything much he can do to help. He snaps a couple of more pictures and then starts making his way closer, to get a better view of the alien machines.

The drone facing Jareth disengages its attracting arc as he approaches. The others move nearer and face him. The same Cherenkov blue glows in the large slots on their fronts. The technopath receives some information from the inside of the machine: It is frighteningly ancient, maybe millions of years old or more. The machine itself seems to have a slight idea of its age but nothing precise. What is maybe even more noticeable is that its mind is hardly more sophisticated than a modern washing machine. It follows several directives that look like they could only be beaten out of it with a heated anvil and hammer. The thing's physical architecture holds these core motivations. While it can be read with some difficulty and likely some inaccuracy, to attempt control of the thing would be impossible. It does not realise Jareth is alive. It doesn't seem to know what a person is. In its eyes, he's just a mobile block of metallic and polymeric components. It thinks to itself, "Materials located. Gather materials."

"Should we help who? Oh. That guy?" says Stan, now pointing a hand towards Jareth. He shrugs, and then says, "I guess. I hope he isn't one of those cocky superheroes who are ungrateful about receiving help, though. Stand guard, Trisha." And with those words, the speedster is off in a blur, headed towards Jareth to try and drag the technopath out of the fray. After all, it would hardly serve his purpose to see the man in the metal suit get chewed up and used by the aliens: Science certainly can't be done when one is dead, and the aliens don't really seem happy friendly.

In the span of moments, Jareth runs a gamut of emotion passing through relief (the drone releases him), renewed fear (the drones surround him), shock (more computing power in his cell phone), and further fear (aw, crap). His mind races the Cherenkov glow to a solution, for several unpleasant moments much like spinning wheels in mud. He tenses, and inspiration thumps into place. His thought again reaches out, seeking as much as possible to cloud the sensors of the mindless things with the simple message that what they see is nothing suitable. This done, he is quite unceremoniously carried away (and the gamut reverts to shock).

And so Trisha is summarily left by herself, standing next to the hoverboard the middle of piles of rubble. "Careful! They seem to be... after... metal..." the girl trails off as she watches her brother race towards them. Metal, which he is currently wearing a bunch of. Now what? She suddenly feels very alone.

The drones are too alien and rigid in their machinery to be swayed from their task or confused. One attempts to pull an arm off with a tugging arc while two others try to hold on to his torso. Two go back to dismantling the car while the last one spots Stan. It detects the quantities of usable materials on him and starts following. It doesn't seem to worry that he's super-fast. It just moves after him and tries to latch a telekinetic arc onto his backpack.

Stan continues trying to drag Jareth away from the robots, giving up only once he notices one of the drones coming after him. "I'm sorry, alien droid, but this won't do. I have work to do." He picks up some rocks off the ground, and launches them rapid-fire towards the drone trying to come after him, only running further back if they seem to have no slowing or stopping effect on the machine. Given how fast his hands move when he's throwing, against a normal foe, these makeshift projectiles would be rather dangerous.

Once free again, Jareth rights himself and hurriedly examines the nearby drones (back to fear). He searches the surroundings before inspiration shines again, along with a vigorous curse toward the lack of intelligence of the armored suit's user. A bubble of force flicks into being around him, and a second reaches for a nearby chunk of large pipe. The pipe swings into the air, upright, and directly down, hurling its end toward one of the drones. Provided success of releasing the arcs, Jareth gathers Stan in the bubble and flies toward the remaining humans. "Time to go."

Noah has covered most of the distance between himself and the machines now. He reloads the film in his camera on the run in practiced motions. He is currently behind a tree, since cars seem to be a main target. He sees Stan save Jareth, he manages to get one picture which he hopes will turn out. As a reporter, he tries to keep track of all of the major players in the superhero business, at least around New York. He doesn't recognize either man, though both seem to be heroes of some sort. He comes out from his hiding place and goes still closer, both to get a better view. Seeing the two men in trouble. He decides to help surreptitiously. Slipping the camera in the case he looks around for a good weapon. Spying a few large rocks nearby he picks them with his mind and sends them flying towards another of the drones. The initial push is not enough to pierce their armor, but with a constant push accelerating them throughout their trajectory to gain momentum, they might actually do some damage.

The super-speed rocks thrown by Stan punch through the thin metal armour of the drones. The ones struck spray violently blue sparks and clatter to the ground. These things are only about as armoured as refrigerators. The pipe swung by Jareth smashes the top of one drone in. It, too, showers sparks out of its emitter and collapses. The remaining three machines spin to face Stan and Jareth and rush toward them, rapidly firing their arcs as telekinetic punches. They are no longer in gather mode, it seems. Trisha's charge catches one, spinning it in the air as it is struck at high speed. The surface is dented visibly. The strike to the internal telekinetic device finishes it. Fire explodes out of the slot and the machine drops to the ground. The last two drones are still attempting to follow Stan. On the way, one of them takes a hit to the side. A telekinetically hurled rock caves in the side with a huge dent. Another cracks the armour in another place and the drone tips over and falls to the ground. It doesn't spark as much as the others.

As a couple of the drones are destroyed, Stan turns directly around and shoots off a couple of pictures, before adjusting his goggles slightly when he realizes that Jareth's shield is moving him along. "Huh. That's peculiar," he notes to himself, calling to Trisha: "I think I am being abducted, though the intent is probably peaceful. If you could, use the hoverboard to intercept and destroy or disable the remaining construct." He doesn't even try to make an offensive gesture at this time, figuring that the force field, if it's strong enough to move him, is probably strong enough to keep him from attacking the last droid.

Most prominent in Jareth's current desire is escape. Until he notices the results of the pipe and rocks - and even that encounters several moments' delay in reaching conscious thought - he speeds along. When the realization finally makes itself known, he pulls up and turns around. He stares - for a long and thoroughly stunned moment. "...These things are as tough as god damn pinatas." He dispatches the bubble and returns Stan to terra firma, then offers the remaining drone a bitter smile behind the obscurity of his helmet. He reaches toward another piece of pipe, smaller this time, which flies to his hand. He holds out the pipe ahead of him, opens his hand, and the pipe propels toward the blue glow of the remaining drone.

Trisha puts her heel down just so, and the hoverboard zooms at a hundred miles an hour towards the remaining drone - of course, Trisha doesn't try and hit it going anywhere near that fast, because she likes her arms attached to her body. Slowing just enough to give the slot in the thing a good stab with the stick. There's definitely something crunchy in there, like if you stuck your foot inside a computer and stomped about, she decides.

Noah nods with satisfaction at the destruction caused by his projectiles. Since the last drone is in the process of being dealt with, his camera comes out again as he gets closer. He gets a good shot of Trisha dispatching the drown, and then turns to get a couple of shots of Stan and Jareth. This may not be the main event as far as the invasion is concerned, but this early in the game the story will sell. And if the pictures turn out, he should get a decent sum.
And the last alien machine is disabled by Trisha's precise strike. It clatters to the ground, sputtering and shaking for a few seconds before falling silent. All present threats have been eliminated.

Stan nods his head quickly a few times once the alien machine is disabled. "Alright, now we have to take one home to study it. This may give us some insight." He adjusts his goggles quickly and then asks Trisha up on the hoverboard, "It's curious that the machines aren't better armored." To Jareth, he adds a few nice words, "Thank you for your concern for my well-being. It's appreciated." Or at least -relatively- nice words.

With the final machine destroyed, Jareth turns back to the others, first Stan. "I thought the same. It puzzles me." He adds a matching appreciative nod. "Thanks for the help taking them down. I'm going back to the city to let people know about this. Anyone need a lift?" He provides this as needed, offering silent thanks, through much of the trip, to whoever might be listening.

"Well," Trisha replies simply, "We don't really armor our work vehicles, now do we?" she pokes the lifeless husk with the tip of her sword. "These things were obviously not designed for combat whatsoever. They're just workers. Cheap, replaceable ones at that, I bet," she comments. "I mean, if it's a race that can build giant spaceships to float over our cities and easily turn them into rubble, I'm sure they could build these things better."

Noah approaches one of the fallen droids. "So if we are just raw materials in them, why come here? Why not send their machines to asteroids or to the moon or something. Plenty of metal, less resistance."

"Perhaps they were not aware that there would be any kind of resistance. All signs point to that," says Stan. "If I were in a position that I was harvesting a planet, I would armor my harvesters, since intelligent life-forms tend to not like their planets being destroyed." The speedster puts his hand on his chin and says, "I can think of four possibilities. One, they didn't do their research. Two, they don't consider us intelligent life. Three, they did their research, but don't care. Four, something I haven't considered."

"Maybe they did their research, but it was a while ago. Celestially speaking, the entire human race has been around for about the time it takes to blink. And it's been civilized for about a tenth of that time, if modern science is any indication of the progression of things," Trisha notes, adjusting her glasses. "But then again, such a civilization would have to be absolutely enormous and inefficient for a ten-thousand-year oversight to happen." She mulls over that for a while.

Noah says, "Maybe the whole thing is automated, like a factory ship or something. Head to a planet, strip it bare, return home. And if these things are easy to replace, that would mean the if some were destroyed, they just make more. (He reaches down to pick up a piece.) Mind if I take a few pieces with me? Might add something to my story."

"We're only taking one of these. Should we require any more, I will collect them from elsewhere. You may pick pieces from any one of them. Whatever you want to strengthen your story," says Stan, shrugging a few times. To Trisha he says, "Come on, let's get to work."

"Ugh, you mean we're gonna take one of these home? Isn't it a little big?" Trisha sighs, leaning on the wooden stick idly. But she doesn't wanna work. "Maybe we should borrow a car, or something."

Noah starts examining one of the drones. After looking in one of the larger holes the battle made he starts rummaging inside, looking for something that looks important.

Very little of the machine's interior can be recognised as similar to any human technology. By looking at the connections and arrangement of parts, it may be deduced that the device in the centre is power source, propulsion and means of interacting with the world. It doesn't look like there is anything else in there that would fulfill those requirements. Some of the other parts near the emitter might be sensors of some kind, and behind them, the controlling computer.

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