7501/Relationship Extraction Task

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Relationship Extraction Task
Date of Scene: 11 September 2021
Location: Poisoned Pen Collective
Synopsis: Red Robin and Anarky lay a trap. With the help of X-23 and the Shadow, the trap is sprung.
Cast of Characters: Tim Drake, Laura Kinney, Natasha Cranston, Lonnie Machin

Tim Drake has posed:
    Two days ago, Red Robin and Anarky went undercover at an art collective to plant surveillance equipment in what they had surmised to be the next location for one of the underground altars previously discovered beneath an office building in Coventry. Less than an hour ago, the motion sensors and cameras in the collective's abandoned sub-basement have alerted Tim that they were right.

    The lack of light makes details difficult to discern, but the grainy shots of several disturbingly modified human figures shambling about beneath the hangar are a match to those that were encountered beneath West 17th and Bowers Street. The corresponding lack of heat signature in the thermal cameras only serves to back that up.

    "The Church of the Broken God," Tim is telling Laura, as they approach from outside. He's not dressed in his gear; in fact, he looks particularly un-Tim-like in a tank top, tight jeans, and steel-toed boots. Plus a pair of color contacts that change his eyes from blue to brown, and a quick application of makeup and prosthetics to change the shape of his nose, and add a scar across it. He has a baseball cap turned around backwards on his head, hair tucked up beneath it. "They're a transhumanist cult obsessed with the resurrection of some sort of tech-based deity that supposedly fell apart in Earth's atmosphere two thousand years ago. We have no idea what they're doing in Gotham, though."

    He has a duffel slung over his shoulder with his Red Robin costume inside. Given that the Collective is occupied pretty much all hours of the day due to artists having no set schedule, the only way in is undercover. Well, Laura doesn't have to do much beyond follow Tim in as his guest.

    There's a familiar face waiting for him at the front when they enter. "Hi, Sienna," he says, and a perky girl with rainbow-colored hair looks up from a sketch pad she's balancing on her knee.

    "Oh!" She smiles at him. "Where's your boss?'

    Tim shrugs. "He's still getting ready. We're just here to drop off some supplies for him," and he shrugs to indicate the strap on his arm.

    Well, Laura doesn't have to do much, but she does have to carry a plastic milk crate filled with cans of spray paint.

    Sienna waves them on through, and Tim wastes no time in leading Laura through the hallways made from the gaps between the various studio spaces erected for the artists in residence. There's a door to one side that opens onto a dark staircase descending into the ground that is particularly horror movie-worthy. Down they go.

Laura Kinney has posed:
Laura Kinney shrugs. "Gotham seems like the ideal place for a cult to be," she notes as Tim catches her up on the situation. "Lots of vulnerable people. It's the perfect place to recruit." She doesn't bring up how much smuggling goes on in Gotham. Tim already knows all of that after all.

To help with the infiltration she's in disguise. Dressed up as in a passable imitation of an arty student. Paint splatters on her jeans and a t-shirt with a bright and happy design. Probably borrowed from her sister.

"And our objective is?" She sniffs the air as they go. The better to get a sense of the place and the people.

Natasha Cranston has posed:
        Who knows what evil lurks in the heart of Man?

    What she'd found under the office building Pereault & Richelieu had owned for a long time was... Disturbing, but it left the question as to whether they were creating it or merely excavating it. CMS' recent purchase of local properties will answer some more questions in due time, but once Natasha learned of P&R's purchase of the gallery an opportunity presented itself.

    "You going to make a habit of coming here, Boss?" Benny quips as he pulls into the street leading to the gallery. Natasha gives him a reassuring smile as she slips on her gloves and hat. "Just looking, for now. I'm still not sure what they're up to and we need more information if I am to Know."

    The scarf and voice mask slip into place and the Shadow gives Benny one more nod. "Drop me off here and see if you can find yourself a fare that keeps you in town for now. I don't expect to be too long..."

    No one takes particular notice of a cab approacing a venue, even if it slows down briefly before reaching it -- and no one at all spots the shadow flickering along the pavement and towards the rear entrance...

Lonnie Machin has posed:
    Meanwhile the real Anarky is already here - he's infiltrated the place from above. "Anarchy one-oh-one," He says, for those already in the back, "How do you cover your tracks, create a lot of confusion and give people a window of opportunity to get inside a place unnoticed?"
    He considers the H-Vac system, and then muses, "Eh, maybe it's overkill. It's not like the place is full of ninjas." He leans against the HVAC on the roof and has himself a little think on the subject.

Tim Drake has posed:
    Lots for Laura to pick up here. The sharp scent of paint thinner, the earthy smell of clay, a whole variety of humans either here or recently passed through. At least until they're in the basement, and then most of that is replaced by that of stale air and dust.

    Tim nods along to what Laura's saying. It's nothing he doesn't know himself, but it's good to hear that she's on a similar wavelength. Makes it more likely that this is as real and as threatening as Tim suspects. Once they're in the basement, which beyond a few feet of the bottom of the stairwell transitions from art supplies storage to shelves upon shelves of old props and film memorabilia from the studio next door, arranged in a way that, in the darkness, is basically a maze.

    He ducks behind one of said shelves, balances a flashlight on top of a dusty cardboard box, and strips out of his jeans so he can suit up.

    "Catch them in the act. Based on the pictures, it looks like they're digging. M'gann's already offered to do a scan if we can bring one of the cultists in." Moments later, the flashlight clicks off and Red Robin emerges, fixing his domino mask in place. The lenses pop down over his eyes as his HUD boots up. "There are night vision goggles in the bag," he offers, to Laura, as he adjusts the clasps on his gauntlets.

    Nearer to the back door where the Shadow slips in, there is another entrance to the basement. This one, however, has been painted over enough times that it's going to be a real pain to get open, though in exchange it goes down two flights, direct access to the sub-basement. Meanwhile, Tim and Laura have to make their way through the maze until they come to a stack of dusty crates that show signs of being moved recently. And they have to move them again, as they're blocking the door they need to go through.

    And for Anarky's sake up on the roof, the entire HVAC system has been redone in the past year or so, which may be related to why the Collective is suffering financial issues now. But at least if he's going to go through the vents, they won't be completely filled with spiderwebs.

    At least until the point where they connect to the old HVAC system that leads down into the basement and sub-basement, which was clearly not part of the renovation. Who knows what creepy crawlies lurk in there.

Laura Kinney has posed:
"An extraction then," Laura says after a few moments. "Unwilling target. Did you bring sedatives or will we need to inflict a suitable injury?" Her gaze flicks around, never settling in place for more than a moment, as they walk. Building a mental map of the building as they go.

When Tim brings up the goggles there is a faint hint of a smile. "Why would I need them?" she notes. "My nose isn't my only enhanced sense." Which is true enough. Her eyes can operate in near total darkness and if it's total darkness? Well then she can just use her super hearing. It's a little bit unfair really. But hey on the plus side she's more than strong enough to handle the heavy lifting!

Lonnie Machin has posed:
"Welp." Lonnie says, "Let's hope the GCFD don't have a better response time than the police, just this once!" He lights up the smoker and drops it into the HVAC system - which proceeds to start blasting white smoke out of the air conditioning vents.

He hums to himself as he heads for the roof access door. "Nanananana, got lost in the game, oh baby baby..."

Natasha Cranston has posed:
    Opening a door that's been painted over isn't /too/ hard with the right tools; however, doing so /silently/ is a bit more complicated. The techniques involved aren't exactly part of a young lady's proper upbringing, but Natasha's grandfather had some odd ideas of what skills were and weren't worth learning...

    The door pops open fairly quietly after not too much effort, and the Shadow makes her way inside and down the stairway...

Tim Drake has posed:
    "Tranq darts, knockout gas capsules, and if all else fails I can smack them with enough volts to take down an elephant," Tim says, as he and Laura clear the way to the door. They get it open at about the same time Natasha does one floor above, so as they all begin their descent, there's only ten feet or so of vertical space separating them.

    A whole lot more of horizontal, though. Once the Shadow makes it down to the sub-basement level, she comes out in the opposite corner of the space.

    It's even darker down here. The dusty, unused smell remains, but there's also a clinging film of old, gritty oil from when the sub-basement held the hangar's various facility systems, and those machines loom like rusted monoliths in the dark. Against one of the walls is a seating area with a broken, rotting couch and overturned chairs around a card table, littered with the detritus of hours spent hiding down here while on the clock.

    A rhythmic scrape, scrape, scrape sound echoes off the walls, and every few moments, a shower of dirt scatters across the ground from where it's being tossed up from within a hole cracked into the cement floor.

    Two storeys above, someone notices the smoke. The same is happening down here too, slowly creeping out from where a vent has fallen to hang from one last screw on the wall. Within seconds, the ringing sound of the fire alarm begins to filter down the staircases and into the sub-basement.

    From within the hole, two heads emerge. Both are human, or humanoid, though their faces are frozen in a blank rictus, a crackled mask of porcelain glaze adhered to their skin. One of the figures has eyes that glow in the darkness, the other has only half its skull, the rest replaced with a glass dome that is filled with arcs of electricity like a particularly morbid plasma ball light.

    They both look directly at the doorway where Tim and Laura have just entered.

Laura Kinney has posed:
Even at the best of times Laura Kinney rarely just walks through a doorway. In a situation like this, where danger is potentially around every corner, she ducks and darts from one patch of cover to the next. Of course that really only works when people aren't looking directly in her direction. She's skilled and has physical abilities far beyond a normal human but sadly isn't invisible.

Not yet anyway. Visits to Xavier's Mansion can have strange effects...

So when the figures look up, clearly focused on her and Tim, she puts on a burst of speed. Charging right at them. Better to strike hard and fast, taking them out before an alarm can be raised.

Lonnie Machin has posed:
Meanwhile, Lonnie is making his way down - he doesn't run into anybody, since when somebody sees smoke and pulls the fire alarm everyone's first instincts are, quite wisely, to bug the hell out. He does move quickly though, boots thumping as he descends a flight of stairs to try and make the rendezvous point.

"Consider them distracted. What'd you find?"

Natasha Cranston has posed:
    Even as Laura charges toward them, a gunshot rings loudly in the enclosed room and the glass dome that serves as half a skull is shattered by a bullet.

    Even for those with nightvision, the movement in the far corner is disturbing - something resembling a shadow despite there being no light to cast it, moving along the wall, then moving away from the wall like something from a cartoon, shifting from two dimensions to three in a movement that isn't movement but something M.C. Escher might dream up, filling out, sharpening... And a (to some) familiar tall figure wearing a greatcoat and a hat steps away from the wall.

    "We seem destined to keep running into one another," the Shadow remarks with a nod toward Robin, glancing briefly over Laura and Anarky. "I take it you followed the same trail I did?"

Tim Drake has posed:
    In this instance, it's Red Robin who provides the easy target. He's standing framed in the doorway, electricity crackling off the ends of his staff as he holds it at his side. It's a bit of a role reversal, since the Bat family make use of stealth like it's the only way to move, but when there's someone who's quicker and quieter than him tagging along?

    Tim's not going to protest being a decoy while Laura gets her skulk on. It's kind of nostalgic, in a way.

    "The two cultists we saw on the video feeds," Tim confirms for Lonnie's sake upon his arrival, and then on instinct he ducks down when the gunshot rings out, reaching to drag Anarky down along with him. But the bullet shatters glass, and one of the figures climbing out of the hole falls down.

    It lands half over the edge of the trench, before slowly sliding backwards until it falls and disappears, though there's a soft thud immediately after.

    That leaves the other one for Laura, and it's faster to get up onto solid footing. One hand grips onto the handle of a shovel, while the other... isn't a hand. The stump of what was once its arm has a crude prosthesis attached to it, curved blades like claws in place of fingers. It twists to throw the shovel like a javelin at the shadowy shape that has just fired a gun into the brain of its compatriot, and then it crouches down and leaps at Laura. The removal and replacement of its legs from the knee down with more refined prosthesis allows it to propel itself forward with far more speed and force than a regular human would be able to bring to bear.

    "Seems so," Red Robin mutters in response to the Shadow's greeting as he scans the room, crossing the distance towards the hole but hanging back from direct engagement until he can get a read on how Laura is handling it. "We're trying to take one alive!" he calls out, in the hopes of discouraging any more firepower brought to bear.

Laura Kinney has posed:
When you have enhanced senses one of the best things to fight in pitch darkness are cyborgs and robots. All those gears, joints and wires make noise. Even if it's just the humming of eletricity down a wire. And those noises give X-23 as good a picture of where her enemy is as if it was bright as day.

The sprint turns into a last minute baseball slide. Taking Laura undernear the leaping figure.

Her arms sweep wide, claws popping out with a distinctive snikt, and then up through those advanced prosthesis. It's not exactly a complex plan she's going with. Remove non-organic leg parts and if she's lucky it'll disable him.

If not it'll at least slow him down enough for the selection of less than lethal take-down options Tim is carrying!

Natasha Cranston has posed:
    "I would have thought that that ship has sailed quite some time ago," the Shadow points out, then ducks and rolls away from the thrown shovel, coming up on one knee and shooting again - although in deference to Robin's request, aiming for joints rather than kill shots.

    The shooting stops when Laura closes with the thing; clearly, the Shadow is not willing to fire into a melee in this poor light...

Lonnie Machin has posed:
    "See, this is the problem with transhumanism. You take it too far, and you end up a zombie running on RAM." Lonnie says, before he takes out his phone. "I'm willing to bet if these... whatever they are are wired, they're also sending and recieving data. And as any infosec expert will tell you, any data input point is a vulnerability if you know the right way to hack it."
    "Actual viruses, computer viruses, cult rhetoric - they're all just corruptive data."

Tim Drake has posed:
    Before Laura gets to the lone remaining cultist, it loses that gruesome prosthetic hand thanks to another well-aimed shot by the Shadow. It hardly seems to notice, though, as it makes its leap, only to sail completely over its target and land in a pile atop its own severed limbs on the floor. The cultist pushes itself up onto its remaining arm, silent except for the whirr of mechanical joints and the click of its eyes shifting back and forth.

    It starts dragging itself into a turn, like it's going to make another go at Laura. Tis but a flesh wound, and all.

    Which is when Red Robin swings his staff at its head. The sharp crack of electricity briefly illuminates the room, and the cultist drops.

    "That was..." Tim begins, but then he thinks better of finishing his sentence. Instead he shakes his head and looks up at Laura, shrugging at her before he steps back to peer over Lonnie's shoulder. "Might be the only way we can access the site the cult has up online." And sure enough, there is a signal to find, one that is sending and receiving a truly gargantuan amount of data. At an extremely high transfer rate. Wirelessly.

    That's suspicious enough, and Tim frowns as he returns to the cultist's prone figure. Handcuffs aren't exactly an option now, so he stabs a tranq dart into its neck on the off chance that's going to do anything, and then stands back up so he can peer down into the hole.

    "This basically confirms that if we dig up all the basements of the other properties P&R have purchased and resold, we'll find more of these... stations. Or altars." He looks over at the Shadow. "You're following the company's tracks too, I'm assuming."

    He crouches down there, peering into the hole. "We'll take both of them back," he decides, and then stands. With the Collective above emptied out, hopefully they'll have time to get the bodies out and away from the scene before the GCFD arrive.

Laura Kinney has posed:
"Some kind of crashed ship remnants or maybe scattered emergency beacons?" Laura suggests, giving what remains of the cyborg a quick weapons check before getting up. "Or maybe there is only a single target location and a lot of false positives in the search they're using."

She shrugs and scoops up the body.

"I assume he's coming back with us to meet Miss Martian?" A pause. "I'd ask if you brought a jammer along but of course you did."

Those Utility belts. So useful!

Natasha Cranston has posed:
    A nod. "One of my agents caught wind of their latest purchase," the Shadow confirms. "I was hoping to find out whether they are building these -- or excavating them. The lack of any kind of pattern in their locations suggested the latter, but I needed to be certain."

    "... I confess I've yet to make headway on the why, but they seem perfectly willing to murder to keep their secrets; they can't be allowed to continue."

Tim Drake has posed:
    Before Laura leaves with the body, Red Robin clamps a small EMP device with a localized area of effect that has been kitbashed together for precisely this moment, on it. Indeed, the wonders of utility belts. He drops down into the hole with a quiet "oof" and does the same to the other cultist's body down there, just to be careful.

    A few moments later, he manages to lift the corpse up over the edge, and then with a huff of breath, Tim's climbing back up. "Heavier than they look," he says as he takes a moment, crouched right there, to shake out his arms.

    "I don't think we have a conclusive answer to that question either," he says. "But there's definitely a pattern, if you think of the locations as hot spots to provide coverage for the city. We've estimated that if each site that has been in the company's possession within the last two years hosts one of those underground stations, they have just over half of Gotham covered."

    He pushes himself up onto his feet and dusts off his hands. "I can only assume this has something to do with their efforts to revive their god, whatever it may be, but it is suspiciously difficult to find any information on them. Like someone has purposefully wiped all traces of their existence."

Lonnie Machin has posed:
    Lonnie has been spending a moment evaluating what it would take to break into the network - "Good news, I can do it. Bad news, I'm going to need tech I don't have here." He shrugs, "Worse news, I won't know what kind of security they have on the network itself until I can break into it."
    Then he rubs the back of his neck. "I wonder if... huh. I wonder if this is all an attempt to use existing technology to create a neural network powerful enough to bring it back online?"

Natasha Cranston has posed:
    The Shadow nods. "If that is the case, then installing jamming devices in their buildings could disrupt their efforts significantly," the figure replies. "I can arrange matters for some of them. Others..."

    The voice trails off and Tim can feel that gaze resting on him. "This city belongs to you and the Bat. I'm confident you can make arrangements."

Tim Drake has posed:
    Tim looks over when Lonnie makes his announcement. "Well, that's something, at least. We've been making decisions based on conjecture and assumption this whole time. Anything that might give us some answers."

    He sighs, and brings a hand up to pinch the bridge of his nose, through his domino mask. That's about when he notices the notification pop up in his HUD. "Fire department's on the way," he announces. Then he drops down onto one knee so that he can throw the cultist's body over his shoulder, and he staggers for a second before he gets the weight settled enough that he can manage it.

    "We'll get these back to the faraday cage I set up at the safehouse and go from there," he tells Anarky, and then nods at the Shadow. "We're working on it. Whatever plans they have for Gotham, someone's tried to do worse before, and we've stopped it." Tim stands at the cusp of the half-dug hole for a moment longer, staring down into it, before he turns to go.

    There's transport--and X-23, of course--waiting outside for them.



>> ping yodh037b



>> ping resh098k



>> cd AdminSitesBleake_12_backup

>> service hostACTIVATE start

Service hostACTIVATE successfully initialized.

>> start lamed001a_bootup.exe