August 11, 2019 at 4:58 pm #21146
Thorn grinned – probably – under his mask: “Well, it beats orchestrating car accidents and letting yourself get run over.”
Thorn nodded at Al’s companions: “Alright, I’m ready to get my feet wet.”
The insertion through water went well. The night was dark and the sea did not actively try to kill them. There was a tricky bit with where the currents did their best to cut them to ribbons on pieces of volcanic basalt, but the team made it to dry land only slightly behind schedule with only some minor bruises.
Al could see the barren beach – mostly black sand and stones. And great big imprints of walker drones.Spoiler:August 12, 2019 at 2:20 pm #21152
There was a dim shine of reflected light coming from the main crater to the south – likely the base – but also from what looked like a formation of larger rocks 30m to the west. A closer look revealed that this wasn’t a natural formation at all but likely some kind of shed or charging station as Al could make out the front foot of one of those large spider drones sticking out.August 12, 2019 at 6:24 pm #21158
Crouched in the surf with the others, Al whispered, “Hand me one o’ them data taps, Presto baby.”
Taking the plastic wrapped electronic component, Al dumped the SCUBA rig, switched to internal air, and disappeared back under the water.August 12, 2019 at 10:10 pm #21162
Two desperate days of remembering his childhood swimming lessons and getting an introductory scuba course had in no way prepared Preston for spending that much time under water.
* Oleg: If man was meant to go under the water, we’d have gills
* Gamma: You can get those these days, but I don’t think I like diving enough to go for it
* Monkey: There is no matrix down here, of course I don’t like it much! Not even Becky in a wet-suit is worth this.
It had been a bit of a near thing, but he’d managed not to panic, use up all his air, or end up in an asthmatic fit. But once they were on dry land he certainly didn’t look forward to leaving the same way. Maybe they’d find an alternative?
He was so enjoying sucking back normal tasting air that it took him a bit to pay attention to Al, and hence to the footsteps in the sand. Blast, more drones, and they didn’t even know what might also be airborne.
He shuddered a bit as Al slipped back into the water, but got ready to brave another host that surely would at least have the siblings of the A.I. he’d met in the last base.August 13, 2019 at 1:37 pm #21171
Reaching the drone proved to be no problem at all – in it’s resting state it didn’t seem to pose a threat. More important was, that there didn’t seem to be a wireless matrix around – at least there were no signals to be found that would betray the colony or the drones – not even a search for hidden icons brought anything to light.
But Al noticed that the charging plate was connected to cables that vanished in the ground, which made it easy enough to deduce that the drones not only got their juice from the colony but also their instructions.
Attaching the datatap to the drone wasn’t hard, but would grant access to the colony only while the drone charged.August 13, 2019 at 6:20 pm #21173
That made the choice simple. Al tapped the cables. Then, just to be safe (or reckless), he stuck a radio detonator into a kilogram of high-end plastique and gingerly attached it to the drone’s underbelly, careful not to place it in view of any external video feeds.
Then he slunk back into the water. Right before going under, he messaged Preston: <<Tapped they cables. So if’n ya also want marks on the drone, now’s the time ta git ’em, afore she disconnects.>>August 14, 2019 at 8:15 am #21177
[Saturday September 10, 2078; Volcanic Atoll off the coast of Panama]
Lily crouched in the waves at the edge of the beach as she stripped the waterproof cover off her new Colt Inception, the blocky rifle looking absurdly large against her small frame, particularly with the flash suppressor extending the barrel length. She checked over the rest of the gear for water damage, sea water being particularly pernicious, but thankfully all seemed to be in order and she was ready to rock when Al gave the word…
#33August 14, 2019 at 10:35 am #21180
Preston whispered “Try not to let me get washed away by any big waves, and ARO me if I need to be in my body” and then lay down just above the water line and cycled into hot sim. Then he proceeded to bust his way into the drone and then the host. He felt a bit off at first, but quickly got into the swing of things.August 14, 2019 at 3:10 pm #21186
At first Preston was pleased – no host protection on the spider drone. But that happiness turned sour quickly: The thing had armor mods against electricity and a military grade pilot program plus a really intimidating array of autosofts.
Worse, his first attempt to force a MARK on the drone failed, causing it to activate and rise from its plate, severing the connection between it and the tapped cables from Al.
It instantly began to run across the beach, emitting modulated ultrasound screams. It didn’t take a genius to realize that it was calling its palls. With an effective reach of 50m and an Island that wasn’t particularly large, it would probably be only a matter of seconds until it was close enough to wake up more of its kind…August 14, 2019 at 3:22 pm #21189
As soon as the matrix connection to the drone was lost, Preston messaged <<Drone activated!!!>> and then dropped to AR and scrambled from just above the waterline to just below, where he was hopefully going to be harder to spot. It would be a mighty unusual drone that was tougher in the matrix than in meatspace, and while Preston figured he was a better fighter than many deckers, the rest of the group was much stronger in that regard.August 14, 2019 at 8:31 pm #21195
Al poked his head out of the water. He’d made it back about halfway to the rest of the group. He could see the big spider scrambling across the beach. If drones could look happy, it wouldn’t.
<<Yep. Looks like ya done woke ‘er up.>>
He was fingering the detonate key on his ‘link. <<Reckon I can put ‘er back ta sleep, but it won’t be quiet. Then again, looks like she’s fixin’ ta make a helluva ruckus all on ‘er own….>>September 3, 2019 at 5:49 am #21284
Rebbeca has spent days preparing at the beach practicing her Spanish, swimming, surfing, and diving. She spoke very little due to language difficulties and trying to lay low. She avoided legwork or even associating with the rest until it was time to go. The way for the island went relatively easy, and once arriving, she quickly dressed for a raid with body armor that made her nearly invisible and dampened her heat signature.
She kept to herself, eyeing the drone Preston’s hacked, bow at hand and her body almost unnaturally still and she waited in silence. Then, when the drone started running about, and she realized that matrix magic failed – she sent her own version of hacking in the form of an arrow not a brief moment later. It was not an ideal solution, but bows made considerably less damage than bullets.Spoiler:September 3, 2019 at 1:59 pm #21303Spoiler:
The arrow took flight and hit perfectly the charging port. The drone skidded to a halt as it’s massive battery pack started to burn out with a silent, but remarkably bright conflagration.
The fire died away after a few seconds, leaving behind a burned out wreck. A few seconds went by, but no cry and no alarms went up.September 3, 2019 at 2:35 pm #21304
<<Now that…>> messaged Al from his position in the surf <<…was a righteous application o’ martial skills to an inspired weddin’ o’ primitive an’ modern weaponry.>>
Then, never one to waste good plastique, and confident from what they’d seen of the place’s sec network that there were no more eyes on the beach, he walked across the sand and retrieved his explosive charge.
<<Time’s a’wastin’, muchachos an’ muchachas. Let’s go git paid.>>September 3, 2019 at 6:31 pm #21305
Rebbeca watches the commotion tensely but as no alarms are razed she gradually eases up. She texts a thumbs-up emoji and follows Al from a bit of a distance like a shadow, carefull not to be seen or heard.September 3, 2019 at 10:28 pm #21307
Preston drags himself back out of the water, and confirms <<I’m following>>
Gamma: It all happened so fast, but it felt so longSeptember 4, 2019 at 4:00 pm #21319
Thorn had – unnecessarily – drawn a throwing knife, but put it away again and instead joined Al hustling toward the subdued light of the station.
The move was uphill towards the crater walls across dangerously sharp stones and treacherous footing.
When the team finally crested the lip of the crater, they were quite a bit out of breath. Below them a structure similar to Mt. Helens sprawled within the crater. The only difference was, that this was no longer bubble tents but stone buildings that looked like they had been made from molten dust:
The individual stones looked like huge, dirty lego blocks, interlocking with each other. The seems were fused together. Al guessed some kind of 3D printer/laser sinter process. Another pair of hovering drones were currently patroling along the structure walls and here and there tiny flares of reflected laser light pierced ruby red the night.
Interestingly, the drones were all connected to the nearest airlock by a long, thin lanyard, likely a fiber optic cable, because from the matrix side they looked to be offline.
As before, masts with sensor arrays formed a perimeter around the base – only this one seemed to have twice as much as Waystation 1 – and it looked as if half of them were current additions…September 4, 2019 at 7:43 pm #21322
« I wasn’t too keen on chatting up any more A.I.s, but I can’t say I’m happy about the lack of wireless access. Nor how good the security on that drone on the beach was — they aren’t relying just on being hardwired for their security »September 5, 2019 at 4:22 am #21326
Rebbeca observed the base, for any hints of ani-grav technology. >> I can do that speedup thing that Sam used, but only on myself. So
perhaps I can run inside at incredible speed – pickup our prize and runaway. Alternatively, I could run in, pick up something else and head out distract their security to allow you to rob the place while they are busy.September 5, 2019 at 8:17 am #21330
[Saturday September 10, 2078; Volcanic Atoll off the coast of Panama]
Lily brushed her fingers through the dark volcanic sand, noting that it wasn’t dissimilar to the hue of her own metallic form. Pulling the thermal camouflage tightly around herself and securing it against windbourne debris (damn sand got in to everything), and set off silently up the beach following the others…
At the crater rim she observed the scene below…just like at St Helens they needed something to go on before haring down in to Gods knew what. That drone protecting the beach hadn’t been alone and it was likely enough that there were more of them stalking about down there somewhere. But Preston being as in the dark as them wasn’t going to be much help. Subvocalising she said
“I have a small surveillance drone, we could set it wifi off so it isn’t throwing out signals and send it for a look around with a timetable for reporting back…?”
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