The sky is a screech of rusting gears and loosening bolts. The streets below them cower in the gloom of Metropolis. Even the air is tainted, tinged with the cloying fragrance of rusting iron.
It could easily be blood.
The hooded figures, their cloaks adorned with blue, steal through the oppressive confines of Metropolis via back-alleys and side-paths: all of them are ready to leap on the slightest hint of movement. It doesn't pay to be lax in this place, not with the creatures that lurk here. Not with the soldiers of the Heavenly Choirs passing overhead intermittently. They duck into crouches and remain motionless during these moments, watching the faceless armoured shapes scan the streets and alleys. By the markings of their armour they can tell they have strayed into Penemue's territory: good to know that their foes will at least proclaim what their sins are before they attack, should they be spotted. The shapes fly in groups of three, but where there's one patrol there will always be more.
This close to the Lie, to the dividing line between wasteland and prison, it pays to remain vigilant.
The Rudiarii mastered this a long time ago.
To break into Elysium is no small feat: it requires precise timing, the ability to stay out of sight and an expert knowledge of the winding, endless streets of Metropolis. Fail, and you face the wrath of Angels. Succeed, however, and the rewards are great. A chance to further dismantle the prison that shackles untold millions without them ever knowing. An opportunity to sabotage and disrupt the machinations of the prison wardens.
Not far now. Soon the borders of Elysium will be in sight.
All they have to do is keep out of sight until then.
Horace rubs his eyes as he sneaks quietly in an alley not only was this his first mission, but also the first time he had ever been to the Metropolis. In fact, he thought that this place almost mirrored the machine corroding and rotting away into nothing. As the night went on Horace continued to watch the rear, but sadly really all that he spotted were a few corpses and the rats feasting on them. Suddenly Horace was ripped from his thoughts as he heard the faint sound of wings beating against the air and the clanking of armor. Horace's heartbeat rose rapidly if he didn't take cover or hide he was going to be spotted and in turn ruin the Rudariis entire operation. Thinking quickly Horace closed his eyes and felt as though a bubble was surrounding him. Opening his eyes again he found himself inside a bubble he hoped that this would work like the last time he had used this new power of his. Slowly he began sneaking out of the line of sight of one of the angels trying to make as little noise as possible. As he reached the other side of the opening in the alley and with the angels not longer able to see him he moves to meet up with the others.
There is no greater monument to man than our major cities. Massive sprawls with constructs of glass and steel stretching eternally upward, and expanding eternally outward. Modern Cities are perhaps humanity's greatest accomplishment. Symbols of The Lie, the power it holds over us.
Metropolis is the infinite city. The sum of every building ever built. An integral part of the machine. Every building in Metropolis, a piece of The Machine, helping maintain The Lie. The Lie must be broken, the cities must be seen as they truly are. Man must break free from its bondage as prisoners of the Demiurge, as prisoners trapped in The Lie.
Metropolis, the Eternal City. The culmination of urban sprawl, the culmination of our greatest accomplishments. The Lie was the prison that built itself. Businessmen and rich men building ever taller buildings like the Babel of the Old Testament in cities, families building new homes, always adding to the collection of buildings, both old and new. It was designed perfectly. Don't let the prisoners know that they lock themselves in deeper and deeper the more they construct. The more their hubris gets to them.
And they were here to help break it.
The smith answers only to God, for his hands repair His body.
-Builder Robert Bumaro
Doctor Park remained quiet. She had come along on this quest as the medic. She wasn't a fighter, and hoped they could finish their goal with no bloodshed. She pressed her hand against the wall, and squeezed her eyes shut.
"Brick." was her first thought. It was cold, rough, and made of stone. Possibly some older red brick building back in Elysium, perhaps a Post Office built by the WPA in the 30's, or a house where a family of four lived. Here, it was just another building in the infinite sprawl. She shuffled along the wall for a moment, breathing steadily, and stopping when an angel was noticed.
She opened her eyes for a second to get her bearings. If she wasn't careful, she could end up accidentally exiting in a city like Pyongyang or somewhere else that would end badly for her. In her hands, she carries an H&K USP pistol in her hands, a surgical mask covered her mouth, and she wore a cloak over her lab coat. This operation is important, and she's trying her best not to fail.
After an angel passed over, Doctor Park takes a quick dash to the next building, an Art Deco skyscraper that looks like something out of a noir film. She rolls and slides to get past the alley where a monster might lurk, and once again begins her pattern of shifting, stopping, and running. It's slow, but gets the job done. She'd rather be safe than sorry on a mission like this.
Horace darts through what seems to be a maze of alleys with twists and turns and dead ends trying to make as little sound as possibly without slowing his progress. Running into yet another dead end Horace looks up at the tall flat-roofed brick building in his way, scratching his head and thinking of a few scenarios that could either lead to success or complete failure Horace looks up at the building picturing himself on the roof of the building in front of him, and in a split second Horace finds himself standing on the flat roof the sound of the wind blowing by him and the sound of rusted metal creaking ever so present. Slowly looking down at his hand Horace looks at the all to a familiar side effect of using his new powers his entire body looks otherworldly and spirit like shrugging it off Horace moves to one of the edges of the roof and stares down at the surroundings below him searching for the other Rudarii.
Horace begins to whistle as he looks down at the alleys from the roof he is currently perched on. Horace begins to feel a bit frustrated by the fact that not only did he get lost from the main group but that he has nowhere to go in enemy territory where everything wants him dead. Horace gets up from where he was perched this was not the time to get lost in thought if he was to survive out here he would need to find the others. Out of the corner of his eye, Horace notices a cloaked figure in the moonlight moving swiftly through an alley. Horace thoughts began to race could it be another Rudarii he almost felt reassured until he saw the outline of a heavenly choir squadron approaching not too far away. Swiftly Horace ran from rooftop to Rooftop trying to reach this other Rudarii as quickly as possible but in his attempt to reach this other Rudarii his hand slipped when he tried reaching for the ledge of an apartment complex.
Horace groans in pain from his sudden fall he knew for certain he had broken at least one rib and that he had made a lot of noise making contact with the dumpster. Getting back to his feet Horace limbs away from the dumpster in the direction he had last seen the Rudarii. After a few minutes of limping Horace lays down against a stone brick wall catching his breath, he hadn't until now realized how truly exhausted he had been and a little rest wouldn't hurt just as long as an angel didn't see him.
“Right or wrong, it's very pleasant to break something from time to time.” Fyodor Dostoyevsky
There was no such thing as an easy mission, nor had there ever been. Every day that dawned was another in which they could be captured but harder still was watching the progression of time crawl past knowing that these days would bleed together as the forward to the main event, liberation. It was not a requirement that everyone who would call themselves a part of this shadowy cabal should think the same but many with similar ideals had clustered together and there was a guiding ideology. It was of no surprise, however, that it would bear more than a passing resemblance to the ethos of its leader. And so it was that the loose collection of would-be saviors was but a predator in the shadows, lashing out at times to test for weaknesses or cause distraction.
One would think that the sharp tang of rust - she would steadfastly hold to the assertion that it was just the iron smell of dilapidation - would keep the air from feeling oppressive with the dank musk of rot and filth as the city began to break down. That would be an overly optimistic stance and instead the odor crept into the nostrils and then chose to linger like the patrols which never seemed to leave. It was here, with her finger splayed across the red brick of an abandoned building, that Lux waited with bated breath for the rustling overhead to fade into the distance.
A single misstep could spell a prolonged and painful death for any caught by the angels. More menacingly, it could lead to the capture of anyone accompanying them. Which aspect concerned Lux more was hard to say as she scanned the alleys for the young recruit who had managed to separate himself from the others. The stern line of her lips belied concern but whether it was over his fate or her own was not so apparent.
There was no time to spend waiting on a single member, though, not today. No mission was an easy one but comparatively speaking, this was one of the more difficult feats. Running medical supplies and food was far simpler than attempting to break into Elysium and time was of the essence. Whether captured or lost, it was better not to search too hard for one who had peeled himself from the group. If lost, it was only a matter of them finding their way back to the base. If captured... hopefully it was not that. But should it happen, it would be prudent for none to draw attention to themselves and risk the same.
At least the doctor was still present to play medic. This was not a venture that Lux would want to go alone and she had so precious few members of her little group that could join her in such dangerous undertakings. She was about to whisper to Park to continue forward when she felt the air behind her shift. She turned owlishly to the young recruit.
"What happened?" Words not much louder than a hiss of air escaping from a nozzle shot forth, her brows knitting together.
Horace looked up at the night sky for even in this wretched place the sky managed to still look beautiful in Horace's opinion, but there was a thought that lingered in Horace's mind What if he was caught what would be his fate for certain he knew he would be sentenced to death an awakened is too big a threat to the angel's so called "order". This thought slowly made Horace paranoid a single creak of rusted iron would frighten him. Horace attempting to try to move raised his body slightly and was suddenly hit with a wave of pain from his side, he knew his attempts were futile he had to stay put or risk further injury to his rib. Horace slumped against a brick wall. At his side lay his combat knife reflecting the light in the sky in case he was about to be captured and needed to fight back.
Yet even in his current state Horace had a dim light of hope that the other Rudarii would find him he just needed to wait.
They see Proctor’s teeth for at least a second before his face leers out of the gloom of Metropolis. Thin and sharp, his bone structure all sheer angles without any smoothness, his small size and gaunt features combined with the low light are enough to almost make him look like a threat.
It’s the pale blue and black shemagh wrapped around his neck that suggests otherwise. Along with the wiry Giselle crouched in the dark with him.
“Took you lot long enough,” he remarks, smile never fading, “Thought we was gonna be waiting all night, and all. Me and the new blood have been watching for patrols, as per. Our window for entry’s coming up, so you lot better be ready to motor.” Though the small, rodent-like man is one of the older Awakened still alive to talk about it, his thick London accent has never faded. He turns to grin and nod at Giselle, the recent addition to the Rudiarii’s efforts who has been accompanying him on his scouting run. “Let’s show them to their seats, shall we?”
The two of them lead the main group through underalleys and side passages, the spray of rust and copper-stained water spattering down upon them as they move. Even here, this close to the borders of Elysium, the Machine’s death throes continue. Soon enough it will be spreading into Elysium itself, and at that point what might happen is anyone’s guess. Getting in to see it is no easy matter, however: the walls of the Lie remain closely guarded and patrolled, the forces of the Heavenly Choir ever watchful for potential escapees.
They’re expecting people to break out, however.
Not break in.
Coming to a halt and crouching at the mouth of an alley, Proctor nods towards the Lie’s walls directly across from the group. It erupts from an old, dilapidated cinema that looks like it hails from some 1950’s Americana film-set, complete with peeling posters advertising decades-old films. “Should be able to get in through there. We’re gonna need some cover, though. Big open space to cross.” His toothy, rat-faced smile catches the glint of the searchlights mounted atop the Lie’s walls, panning back and forth across the open expanse of road separating the alley from the cinema.
Tanned alabaster skin was hidden beneath alternating shades of grey, painted as broad strokes breaking up the features of her face. It made her hard to see, unless someone knew what they were looking for specifically. She was dressed for war, wearing the cannibalised uniform of armies long fallen. It was fabric patterned in a pixelated manner, the fractals a link to the fundamental, mathematical nature of the world. On her head was a jungle hat in matching hues, casting a shadow over her face every time the illumination of the searchlights passed over them.
Yet there remained a softness to her. Giselle looked like she belonged in a sundress, in a faraway field, but here she was, a soldier. She was a walking incongruity.
She greeted them with a silent nod. Tactical enough, but also to mask her nervousness. She knew that there were those who looked to her for peace and calm. She could not let them feel her anxiety. It would be bad for morale. Crouched, she rested some of her weight on the length of wood she carried in her left hand. The moment the older Awakened prompted her, however, Giselle was off. Long legs bound silently across cement, cane clutched firmly between her fingers. Her heart beat with the trepidation that any moment, the soldiers of the Heavenly Choir would descend upon them. They knew more powerful songs than her.
Kind eyes searched the group, and Giselle broke the initial silence that followed the Proctor's words. "My suggestion was that I could sing. Project my voice elsewhere, and they will be distracted. They will not be looking at us." Her voice was soft, but her words had steel to them. "I cannot sing their Songs but I will make them Listen, and go last." She swallowed, stopping herself before her voice could break.
There had been no promises that this life would be an easy one. Lux almost wondered if this was some kind of karmic retribution for the life of comfort, the years spent bathed in the love of her father. Perhaps everyone must take a turn to suffer and this was hers. But that meant that there would be a light at the end of this tunnel - that kept her going.
It was a relief to see Proctor, a sight for sore eyes despite the fact that the man was made of hard edges and sharp corners. Lux had trusted him to start taking new recruits out on patrol to show them the ropes and not a single one of the newblood had turned up dead yet. No matter what else one could say about Proctor, he was competent and had proven himself nothing but reliable. In other words, she liked the man even if they probably would never have spoken under any other circumstances than the ones they found themselves in now - desperate ones.
"Ah, yes, Giselle. You have that singing thing."
Lux nodded to the girl as she said this, struggling to come up with a better term for what the girl's power was and failing. A distraction wasn't a bad idea by any means but relying on that alone while the others had to go in plain sight through an open space wouldn't due. Backup plans and safety measures were king in tricky business like this.
"This one here, Horace, he does illusions. So you do the singing and if things start to look like they're going sideways, a couple fake teammates would help the odds out so the real ones can get through. Now if things start to go real south, I'll dip out but you guys keep going. I'll try to give them some a nice zap. I know where you're supposed to be headed and Proctor can take you there without me, so I'll catch up."
She turned to each of them as she explained their role in the diversion, settling last on Proctor to whom she flashed a bright smile. "Don't get your hopes up for taking my job or anything. I won't be stuck here with them, they'll be stuck here with me. Remember that."