Location: Starlight Mansion, Los Angeles
Date: 29 March 2017
Summary: An Incinerator gets curious about the real condition of Starlight Mansion.
As logged by Major Bludd
Starlight Mansion - Los Angeles, CA
The Starlight Mansion is the second and current home used by the Starlight Foundation. Both The Holograms and the Starlight Girls live here.
It's taken a while for Cobra to get suspicious about what might be going on down at Starlight Mansion. Synergy's hologram has made the manor look burned out and unappealing. She's also helped the Holograms get past the BATs with little trouble for food runs and the like. Calhoun Burns got busy elsewhere, so there haven't even been flying cars entering and leaving the grounds. Nonetheless, there's been enough unusual activity around the manse that a certain particular Cobra has finally come a-calling. She seems to have healed the wound to her arm and gotten a fresh red and silver uniform, but the number stenciled on her gear is the same: 8299.
Major Bludd is on one of his routine patrols of the grounds. He moves across the back porch, pausing at the corner of the building to scan for anything unusual before continuing on toward the front of the house. His sidearm is in his chest holster, but as usual he's alert for anything that might be a threat.
Incinerator 8299 slips through a gap in the fence, looking around at Synergy's approximation of a burned-out wreck of a building. However, Synergy isn't the expert in arson like Cinny, and while the illusion she's cobbled together from online sources would fool the casual observer, something about it seems wrong to Incinerator 8299. Curious as to the cause of the fire (and the lack of lingering smell), Cinny ventures onto Starlight's grounds, poking around curiously.
A flash of bright colour, moving in an unusual way, grabs Bludd's attention as he rounds the corner. He recognises the uniform immediately and swears quietly under his breath. It was only a matter of time, he supposes, before Cobra started looking in on the mansion. Keeping a sharp eye on the intruder, he moves toward it, quietly slipping his .45 from its holster.
Incinerator 8299 spots movement, and glances up, her finger moving towards the trigger of her flamethrower. Her first thought is this might be a looter -- she hasn't met with a lot of resistance since Cobra took over the city, and what she has run into has been quickly taken care of with a swift jet of sweet, cleansing fire. Instead, she's mostly encountered other criminals, breaking curfew or stealing. Assuming this guy is one of those, she barks out, "Hey! What are you doing here?" She seems to enjoy the sense of authority the occupation grants her over innocent civilians. She brings around the barrel of her flamethrower in a vaguely threatening gesture.
That's a familiar voice. Even if he's not sure this is the same Incinerator he's encountered a few times since Cobra's occupation, Bludd -is- sure the flamethrower she's carrying is something he doesn't want pointed in his direction. All the same, he can't let her poke around the mansion. He lowers the gun to his side and sidles slowly away from her, in the general direction of the gate. "What's it to ya?" he calls, putting on his best 'snarky, self-important American' accent. If nothing else, maybe he can get her to follow him off the Starlight Mansion grounds.
Incinerator 8299 gestures with her flamethrower, turning her body to follow Bludd as he moves, but not stirring from her spot. "Do you know what happened here? It looks burned out, but it doesn't smell right." She gestures with the barrel again, the small flame at the end flickering. "None of this looks right, actually. You live here, or just like fire?" She raises the flame barrel slightly. "Looting is forbidden, you know." She sounds amused at that.
Bludd smirks, leaning his back against one of the ruined gate's supports as he gazes at the Incinerator. "I don't care what it smells like. Do you usually go around smelling things? That's kinda odd." He sweeps his left arm out to the side in a broad but vague gesture. "Looting would mean I took somethin'. I didn't take anything."
GAME: Incinerator 8299 PASSES an INTELLIGENCE roll of Average difficulty.
Incinerator 8299 looks over at the image of a burned out hulk of a mansion. "I don't just go smell things at random," she drawls in a huff. "But I know fire, and something ain't right here. I guess you can't be lootin', though, if there's nothing left to loot." She follows Bludd's broad gesture, but is well-trained enough not to fall completely for the misdirection. Snapping her helmeted gaze back to Bludd, she asks sharply, "Do you have a gun? Show me your other hand." She takes a step forward, raising the barrel of her flamethrower defensively.
Obediently, Bludd moves his right hand away from his side, revealing that he does indeed have a gun. He keeps it pointed at the ground and continues to bestow a smartass smirk on the Incinerator. "My granny gave me this gun," he lies. "You gonna make barbecue outta me with that thing?" He gestures at her with his chin.
Incinerator 8299 chuckles. The barrel centers towards Bludd's chest a moment, and then lowers towards the ground. "Nah," she says. Indicating Bludd's pistol, she asks, "What kind is it? My granddad taught me to shoot when I was little, but we started with rifles. It's before I really discovered fire," she laughs, approaching Bludd, her attention on the gun he has pointed at the ground. "Is it an antique?"
Bludd hadn't expected the Incinerator to express interest in the handgun. "Just a Ruger," he replies. "It's kinda old, but not that old." He flicks a glance at the weapon in his hand, then returns his attention to her. "What're -you- lookin' for in this busted-up old place?"
Incinerator 8299 brings her attention from the gun back to Bludd's average, bland appearance. "Oh. Well, I'm just following up some odd reports around here. Nothing I can really discuss, but worth checking out. When I saw this place burned down, however, I couldn't resist checking it out -- try to figure out how the fire started, what accelerants were used -- it's kind of hobby of mine." She turns to look away from Bludd, toward the main building. "I don't understand it, though -- it doesn't look like anything I'd have caused. I'm curious." Her gaze lingers on the 'burned out' structure.
"Eh," Bludd grunts, seemingly bored with the conversation. "What's it matter how this one went when there's so much else to burn down, right? I mean, that's what you signed on for, ain't it?"
Incinerator 8299 chuckles. "Yeah, true, but this is a mystery to me. I'm going to check it out." She turns her gaze to Bludd, and he can see a red-tinted image of his bland disguise reflected in her helmet. "You should take off," she warns him, not unkindly. "It'll be curfew soon, and I'd hate to see you get into any trouble." With that she takes off towards the manse, raising the barrel of her flamethrower and pointing it towards the sky as she walks.
The Incinerator (unwisely) turns her back on Major Bludd and heads for the mansion. She casually leans the barrel of the flamethrower against her shoulder, pointed up at the sky. While she walks, she whistles a jaunty tune, covering the distance towards main house in long, loping strides. Soon she'll at the back studio entrances and possibly discover this is all an elaborate illusion... and probably want to burn it down for real.
Bludd shakes his head slowly and aims his sidearm at the Incinerator's back. "Can't let ya do that, love," he mutters under his breath as he pulls the trigger.
The Incinerator is struck completely unawares, having wildly misjudged just who Bludd was and of what he was capable. She curses loudly as she staggers forward. Blood runs down her back, soaking her crimson uniform. She spins around and brings up her flamethrower. "You've made a big mistake, whoever you are," she calls out through her red-faced helmet. "For that, you're gonna burn!" She fires a quick, shaky stream of fire Bludd's way.
>> Incinerator 8299 misses Major Bludd with Fire <Low>. <<
A good shot, but not nearly good enough. Bludd throws himself to the side as the gout of flame rushes toward him, rolling into a crouch and taking another shot. "We'll see, firebug."
>> Major Bludd strikes Incinerator 8299 with M9 <Low>. <<
The Incinerator ughs as she's shot again, this time in the ribs. While her armor slowed down the bullet and deflected it enough to keep it from being instantly fatal, it still pierced her skin and now she's bleeding from two wounds. "What -- did you live here, or something?" she asks, trying to understand sudden violence not initiated by her. Advancing with each wobbly step, she tracks the stream of flame around, trying to catch up with Bludd.
>> Incinerator 8299 strikes Major Bludd with Flame-Weapon <Low>. <<
Bludd yelps as the flame washes over him, backtracking in a rather uncontrolled fashion and nearly overbalancing in the process. He didn't need a reminder of how much he hates the smell of burning hair. "Yer not gonna find out," he promises her, changing up tactics and choosing to charge her in an attempt to knock her down and perhaps even wrest the flamethrower from her hands.
>> Major Bludd strikes Incinerator 8299 with Bash. <<
The Incinerator grunts in pain as she's driven back onto the ground, the barrel of the flamethrower successfully knocked out of her hand. The fuel reservoir strapped to her back digs into the nearby wound, and she silently thanks the gods of fire that Bludd didn't hit her tank. For the moment, however, she needs to get this dangerous stranger off of her. She pulls back her head and then swings it forward, trying to smash the silver edge of her helmet into Bludd's bland face.
>> Incinerator 8299 strikes Major Bludd with Smash. <<
The Incinerator's helmet connects with Bludd's cheekbone with a disturbing crunching sound. Pain spikes through his face and his vision wavers for a moment. Driven by pain and a growing anger, he temporarily abandons any real attempt at strategy and simply tries to slam his elbow into his opponent's throat.
>> Major Bludd misses Incinerator 8299 with Blow. <<
The Incinerator lowers her helmet quickly so Bludd's elbow impacts the bottom of her faceplate instead of her more delicate neck. Although the blow rattles her, she shakes it off and struggles to free herself, thrashing around on the brown blood-soaked grass. While reaching up to try to key her radio with one hand, she balls up the other into a fist and strikes at the side of Bludd's head. "You just wait 'til my friends get here," she warns. "You're gonna be in big trouble."
>> Incinerator 8299 critically strikes Major Bludd with Punch! <<
The jarring impact of his elbow on the surface of the Incinerator's faceplate merely fuels his already rising anger. That arm is rendered temporarily nerveless, so he compensates by dropping his heavier body onto hers to restrict her movement, reaching desperately for her radio with his other hand. If she alerts other Cobra forces to what's going on here, the endgame is not going to be pretty.
>> Major Bludd succeeds with his generic combat roll on Incinerator 8299. <<
The Incinerator lets out a pained groan as Bludd drops weight onto her, jarring her cracked ribs near the bullet hole in her side. Bludd grabs her hand before she can key her radio, and she pulls weakly against him, no match for his brute strength in her weakened state. Kicking her feet, she tries to use her stronger legs to lift herself up and throw Bludd off of her before she passes out. "Get off me, you freak!" she yells impotently.
>> Incinerator 8299 fails her generic combat roll against Major Bludd. <<
Bludd squeezes the hand holding the radio, using brute force before remembering he can use a pressure point in the wrist to force the Incinerator to drop it. He manages to keep from being tossed to the side as she struggles beneath him. "Not gonna win this, firebug," he grinds out, regaining the feeling in his free hand and arm and attempting to maneuver so he can press that arm against her throat.
>> Major Bludd succeeds with his generic combat roll on Incinerator 8299. <<
The Incinerator gasps as first she's freed of her radio, and then she's pinned by the throat. "What... do you want?" she chokes. She tries to bring up her knee into Bludd's jewels, but in her position she has no leverage for attack. "What... are you going... to do? Just... kill me... on the lawn?" She sputters unseen behind a mask that simply shows a red reflection of Bludd's bland hologram, which even hides the new damage to his face. Her struggles continue to weaken. (no attack)
The question brings Bludd back to himself, and as he takes stock of the situation and listens to the Incinerator's question, he realises the best way to keep the mansion and its residents safe is to do exactly that: kill her. The thought of Kimber and the girls living inside the holographically-altered building gives him pause. There isn't going to be a good way to explain this to Kimber. But he can't let the troop go. Not unless he wants to risk the house and its occupants, whom he's put a great deal of effort into protecting. Cobra will just take this place. Burn it to the ground, maybe. Take the girls prisoner...
After a long moment, Bludd stares into the face he can't see through her helmet's faceplate. "...Yes." He leans harder against her throat, shifting to place his elbow against the hollow at the top of her sternum and crush her windpipe. "It's the only way," he murmurs, his expression going vacant as he attempts to crush the life out of her.
The Incinerator frantically struggles with renewed desperation. She grabs onto Bludd's arm, trying urgently to pull it away from her. "You can't... just kill me... like this!" she gasps, as the gravity of the situation fully seizes her. "Not... like this..." she says, her grip weakening against Bludd's arm. "Please," she begs, voice cracking as she tries draw one more ragged breath.
On hearing the Incinerator's plea, Bludd's determination wavers. He closes his eyes and pictures Kimber and the girls, gathered in the kitchen as they cook, watching a recorded program on the television, sitting around chatting and joking. They deserve to have a peaceful life, and they certainly won't if this troop gets loose.
He opens his eyes again and looks into the faceplate. "I'm sorry," he says, making a sort of lunge in an effort to drive his elbow sharply into her throat, to try at least to make it quick. This one was smart too. Why is it always the smart ones? he asks himself, recalling a time some years back when he asked the same thing after Snake-Eyes killed his soon-to-be XO. They're the biggest threat, he answers himself as he puts an end to her.
There is a muffled crunch, and the Incinerator slowly lets go of Bludd's arm. With her face masked, there is no one to see her die namelessly on the lawn of Starlight Mansion. Her hands fall lifelessly to her sides and she lies still beneath Major Bludd, the last of her lifeforce oozing out of her wounds and sucked down eagerly by the thirsty earth.