“Olivia…” said Nomad warningly. The MHU officers waited for the slightest opportunity to pull the trigger.
Right, don’t look threatening or we all die. She noticed she still hissed with bared teeth (what am I, a cat?). She stopped that, curled up her hands and placed them behind her back, and took a step backwards towards Nomad and Miya. She looked back at them. Nomad’s expression was unreadable behind his bandana; Miya looked furious, even as she dropped her gun and put her hands up to her head. Should I be doing that? People don’t seem to like seeing claws.
“Sorry,” she whispered back.
She could try to fly away, but that would mean leaving Miya and Nomad alone with hostile, heavily armed officers. As well, they would probably shoot her. A lot, and at close range. She’d already taken quite a few shots dealing with Tod and the rioters. She didn’t notice it at the time, until she realized she felt a sharp ache in her shoulder when she moved her left arm. That, and the two power armored figures gave her pause for thought.
Seemingly made out of dull grey blocks of metal, the larger power armor actually matched Olivia’s height. Thick armor plates covered everything, segmented for movement. The helmet was the same dull grey, save for the black visor marking the eyes. Painted on the left shoulder was a skull and crossbones, with tallies below, around thirty or so. Below that was a tank silhouette with a red X crudely painted over it. Below that, seven scratched-in tallies marked the upper arm. She eyed the massive gun in his hand once more. It’s weird, being able to compare yourself to a tank. None the less, I absolutely do not want to pick a fight with the guy who kills tanks.
The smaller one, small in this case relative to the other set of armor, appeared to be composed entirely of cords of some burnished red metal. Arranged in a vague imitation of a human muscular system, the cords shifted as the suit moved. That seems delicate and exposed, but then again I couldn’t make a suit of armor to save my life, so I guess I can’t judge. On the back appeared to be a jetpack of some kind. He held the same gun the grey one held, the one that might actually be able to blow a hole through Olivia.
The officers in front relaxed marginally when she backed up. The officers behind them put Miya into cuffs. The one in grey power armor produced another set of cuffs and handed it to a nearby officer. The officer walked up, tore off Nomad’s bandana, and motioned for him to hold out his hands.
“If you try to shift, that will set off the thermite charge inside instantly. I recommend you don’t. And don’t think we didn’t come prepared if that fails,” said the officer.
Nomad’s face was impassive. He nodded, then said, “What is it that Marcus told you? That two MHU officers decided to defect out of the blue, along with a random vigilante and a feral? You buy that Bob?” He looked at another officer. The officer shook his head, but kept his weapon trained on Olivia. I really wish there weren’t a dozen guns aimed at me right now. She kept herself very, very still.
“Doesn’t matter what we think. If you’re innocent, you’re innocent. You know that. This isn’t up for debate,” said one of the power armor figures.
“Fuck you,” called out Miya. “We’re looking for F.F. too.”
“And who are you?” asked one of the power armor figures. The red one, I think. Miya spat at his face as he approached her. “OK then.”
Olivia noticed that no one had approached her with cuffs. In fact, they had moved Nomad and Miya off a little bit to the side. Now that no guns and explosions were going off right next to her, her ears began to recover. She heard the shuffles and clicks from officers behind her, well out of arm’s reach. Please don’t shoot me.
“So we just happened to be out here, fighting Freedom Fighter’s minions, even though you think we’re on the same side as them?” asked Nomad calmly.
“I can’t think of any other reason for F.F. escaping the first time. So far as we can tell he got out through where you were supposed to be guarding,” said Red.
“Never mind the fact that one of us tore his arm off in the process.”
“And your proof of that is…?”
“She did it, if you’ll believe that.” Nomad motioned to Olivia with his head.
“Didn’t you send two members of the Watch to the hospital? Aren’t you and your buddies running around with that feral? You aren’t talking your way out of this one,” said Red.
“That first one was Skulker, and you know how vigilantes operate. Besides, they fired on us first. And as for the feral, her name is Olivia. She’s actually been quite helpful against Freedom Fighter.”
“Oh, you guys named her.” Even through the voice filter, he sounded condescending. Olivia wasn’t liking the red guy.
“We didn’t, she did. Ask her, she can speak for herself. Marcus told you nothing, did he?” Should…should I say something? Should he ask a question first?
Red emitted a sort of derisive snort, sounding very strange after going through his speakers, or voice modulator, or whatever it was he used to mask his voice. He turned to Olivia. “So, Olivia,” he began, speaking slowly and deliberately, “Why haven’t you said anything yet?”
“Because I really don’t want to get shot. I can’t stress enough how much it hurts. I know firsthand, I got shot a bunch not too long ago” she answered. I probably sounded like an idiot right there, didn’t I? A couple officers exchanged glances, otherwise maintaining discipline. She heard trucks approaching.
“Wait a minute…” Red trailed off, probably taking stock of the bullet holes in her clothing for the first time. I’d really like to go home now. The rest of the officers came to the same conclusion, suddenly gripping their guns far more tightly. They’d been awfully relaxed before, considering the circumstances. Did you not hear the ‘please don’t shoot me’ part?
Grey said, “You know, there might be some truth to what they’re saying.”
At that moment two trucks appeared and parked a short distance away, one of which appeared to be far more armored than standard.
“You need to listen to me,” said Nomad. “We were sent to see if Olivia was not a standard, murderous feral. It was during this that Freedom Fighter’s attack started. We were sent to help contain, and Olivia got caught in his power. Delta recorded all of this. We’ve had no dealings with F.F.” How is he so calm? You’d think he was walking through a park or something instead of in handcuffs and staring down a hostile robot guy.
“YOU need to stop talking. You’ve been spouting lies from the beginning. I have no reason to believe anything you’ve said,” said Red.
“Hey, you ever hear the term ‘scapegoat’, you bitch?” asked Miya.
Red made a move towards her. To Olivia’s surprise, the two officers flanking her looked like they were about to come between the two.
“Hey, leave her alone,” said Olivia, forgetting the fact that she wasn’t supposed to move, beginning to move towards Red and Miya. Several metallic clicks from various guns reminded her of that. She froze again.
“You know, the Aztec might be right,” said Grey, seemingly unconcerned.
Red ignored him, turning his attention to Olivia. “What did you say? Go on, go on, say it,” he prompted.
“Leave her alone,” she said. After a brief pause she added, “Please.” No reason not to be polite about such things, I guess.
“Please,” he said contemptuously, “Why should I? You people are the criminals, I am the law.”
“So? Doesn’t mean you’re any better than anyone else. You’d hit a handcuffed girl?” said Olivia.
“I’m better than you lot. At least I got powers, instead of just some hideous mutations. I don’t care how smart you are, you’re still only just above an animal.” Ow.
“You’re nothing special. You’re just a bully who happens to have power.”
“Damn right I have powers! Damn right it makes me ‘special’, as you call it.” Suddenly, the officers around him seemed to cast hostile glances towards the oblivious Red.
“Pathfinder, enough, back off. Remove the cuffs from those two,” said Grey suddenly.
Everyone stared at him, the officers only moving when Grey motioned for them to move.
“What the fuck are you doing, X?” asked Red. Or Pathfinder, I think. And what kind of name is X?
“Cyrus’s been corroborating everything Nomad over here’s been saying, showed me some records from Delta’s headcam thing. The Watch and a vigilante named Purifier reported in, saying they were getting overwhelmed when this lot came up from behind their attackers. Also, Skulker and Delta, the two others that were working with these three, just killed F.F., so there’s that. Delta just delivered a goldmine of info to counterterrorism if you need any more reasons. I’ve broadcast it to everyone else too. Just to let you make an ass of yourself for a couple minutes,” said X, with a hint of amusement. I’m starting to like this Cyrus guy, and this X guy.
“Cyrus…” began Pathfinder.
“Is a good friend, one I trust,” said X. “We’ll take these guys in for questioning, but they’re to be treated as non hostile, except the feral.” No, no, no, no. She tensed, going into overdrive.
The smoke of five distinct fires reached her. Blood, dirt, sweat, adrenaline, gunpowder, gasoline, much more, too much. The red suit smelled of some strange substance Olivia couldn’t place, the other smelled more of oil and steel. The air tasted of soot and the trash of a city.
Several helicopters buzzed, going about to various destinations, ones Olivia did not know. Whirring noises escaped from both the suits of armor, with no rhyme or reason discernable to her. The hearts of the officers near her beat fast, far faster than her own. Their breathing heightened. Something exploded off in the distance for the millionth time; gunfire still rang out from pockets of the city.
She realized why the officers were so taut. She’d backed up a bit, taking up more of a fighting stance. Her hands uncurled, she crouched, observing the officers warily. Aaaaand, of course I’m hissing slightly. I need to keep better track of that. Her tail thrashed.
“Wait, why?” asked Nomad.
“Technicalities, more or less. Nothing to worry about. While I suspect they’ll be worthless, she’ll just be in standard cuffs. I’m trusting she knows fighting will only make her position worse.” He looked at Olivia. No, no cages or experiments or anything else. No.
She hesitated, so he added, “Don’t get me wrong here, this isn’t a request. You might even escape if you try. But that will only be digging yourself a hole, and I don’t think you want that.”
I hate logic right about now. Nomad gave a small nod. She’d been half hoping for him to shake his head. She gave an incredibly hesitant nod towards X.
“What?” exclaimed Pathfinder. “Non hostile? Are you and Cyrus out of your-”
He was cut off by X, all hints of humor gone from his voice, distorted as it was. “Another word out of your mouth and there will be hell to pay, Lieutenant. I will get Full Metal Jacket on your ass. Or have you forgotten you’re in the army? Act like it. Now, everyone, move.” An officer approached Olivia hesitantly with the cuffs.