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Going for Broke

PostPosted: Mon Apr 29, 2013 8:57 pm
by Static Bolter
Originally posted by the Subtractor: August 6th, 2009

((Alright, here's some of Subby's story, related to the ongoing RP from the Shield of Paragon thread. It's fairly individual and the only ties to it are background and the reason for the conflict, so here it is. More to come when I get it written!))
Thunder rumbled through the afternoon air, as the looming storm drew closer to the city. Subtractor eyed the clouds as they rapidly approached from the south-west. He’d have to leave soon, or the journey would be harder. It was never optimal to travel during troublesome weather. Of course, wearing his full suit of armour would increase the probability of electrical interference, which added to the increasing likelihood of a speedy departure, as soon as possible. He would have preferred to have left earlier, but his calculations had taken longer than estimated and double checking had taken even longer. An unusual snarl escaped from the enclosed helm as he recalled events. It had only been a few days since all the problems had begun, for both himself and the rest of the Reciprocators. He’d planned to go over the events in Baumton properly, and construct a detailed analysis, particularly on the legislators’ speedy reaction. He’d even gotten a preliminary framework set out, and had begun the regression analysis when he’d gotten the phone call which had set him on this path.
“Sorry, sir, but there’s nothing we can really do in this situation, apart from offering you a short or long term loan to cover your rent and other necessary expenses while you find a source of income to support yourself on.”
Subtractor narrowed his eyes. “Look, I had ten thousand in that account three days ago. It can’t have simply vanished. That’s a mathematical truth.”
“Mr Hansk, our records don’t show that you had that money when you say you did. We don’t believe in letting our customers slide into bankruptcy, so we’re going to be very generous and offer you a short term loan of up to two thousand at a rate of fifteen point two five percent. I’m sure you’ll agree that’s reasonable, given your current scenario involving your income and...”
A glare silenced the man. “I just want a full printout of my banking records. No loan.”
“Of...Of course, sir. Just wait here a minute and I’ll get them printed out for you.”
Subtractor leaned back in the comfortable chair and waited, his mind already beginning to fully address just how he’d suddenly lost all of his money. Probability suggested that he’d lose his apartment too, even if he accepted the ridiculous loan conditions his bank manager had proposed. Something about his landlady’s voice had been different. He’d have to look into that when he met her, after he was done here. His thoughts were interrupted by the manager’s return with the bank records. A few minutes later, he’d left the building, heading for his meeting with his landlady.
Another rumble of thunder brought him back to the present. It was time to leave. A quick motion set his comm unit to broadcast. “Subtractor, going off comms. Be safe, all.” He shut the unit off before anyone could reply, and performed a quick calculation, rearranging the equation to put him high in the air. He allowed himself one quick look at the cityscape, before another calculation moved him away, towards his destination. Several calculations later, he was over the water, heading towards the mainland. Another calculation put him over the coast of the mainland, where he saw a family picnicking on a sandy beach, before another calculation sent him further inland. As the calculations quickly became routine, Subtractor relegated them to the back of his mind, where they continued to cycle, constantly rearranging him through the equation. With that done, his mind drifted to consider recent events once more. He’d taken the bank records back to the Citadel, and gone over them in great detail, but it had only been when he’d compared them to the records he’d collected over the years that he’d noticed the miniscule differences. Tiny, almost imperceptible changes, almost random in nature. He’d almost regarded them as rounding errors or oversights by the bank’s computers. Then he’d actually done the appropriate calculations and discovered the subtle pattern that linked the differences together, causing him to come to the conclusion that it was no mistake that his bank account was suddenly empty. Suspicion had caused him to find the online banking service his bank provided, and use that to gain access to the access logs held within the bank’s computers. There was a single record of one Eric Hansk accessing the bank’s servers one day prior to his knowing of his financial state. It wouldn’t have looked out of the ordinary to anyone except himself, as he knew that he never used the internet banking service.
Some more investigation led him to the physical location of where the bank’s computers recorded his logging in from. This discovery removed all doubt from his mind. He’d never been to Boston, let alone accessed a computer there. A chuckle resonated through his helmet, as he reflected that he would shortly both be there, and likely operate a computer as well.
A small error in one of the calculations at the back of his mind brought him out of his thoughts. The green fields had turned to outlying suburbs, complete with the changes in air composition that entailed. Some quick modifications to the working, and Subtractor continued to rearrange himself through the air, this time keeping focus on the calculations, just to be sure. One set of calculations finished, and he found himself several hundred feet above a pickup basketball game, just as a young man performed a quick shot. Another set of calculations, finished and he was hovering over the back of a small factory, as a single man shook a spray can and tagged the wall. Another set of calculations, and he appeared beside a large apartment complex, just as a young woman stepped out onto her balcony, shrieked, and vanished back inside. Another set of calculations, and he was above a large office building, with two men in suits, one older than the other, sipping at their drinks and smoking cigars. Another set of calculations saw him on the other side of the central business district. A final calculation sent the armoured man to the ground, in a secluded alleyway, a small distance from his destination.
Russell sat at his desk, rhythmic music playing in the background, fingers resting lightly on his keyboard, waiting for his opponent to make his move. The game had been in progress for several hours now, with neither side managing to acquire and maintain a decisive advantage. Russel grinned to himself. His opponent had seen through all of his bluffs, feints, feigned mistakes and attempted tactical placement, but he hadn’t displayed any signs of seeing what Russell had in mind for him. As he waited, he glanced at the second computer he had running, to check the progress of the build he’d been hired to test. It was doing quite well, only showing a small chance of vulnerability to his standard break and enter procedures. He pushed a hand through his unkempt hair. It had been a lucky break that DataSec had found him, and not the cops, otherwise he’d probably be in prison now, instead of having a cushy, work-from-home job that let him do what he loved doing.
A small tone from his main computer alerted Russell to his opponent’s move. He grinned again. This guy was completely falling for his trap. Soon, the game would be over, and his chess tournament rank would increase, pushing him into the next tier. Another tone sounded, this one harsher and from his second computer. He looked over to see that a minor error had occurred within the build, in response to a certain action his procedures had performed. A few taps at a keyboard later, the relevant data was entered into the log file he’d be sending to his employers at DataSec, so that they could get their programmers to fix up the problem, and send him the new build, so it could be tested all over again. To think that several months ago, he’d been doing this sort of thing for free, though without the whole error logging side of things.
Another tone sounded, this time the doorbell. Russell glanced at the time on his displays. Only just hitting five in the afternoon, so it couldn’t be anyone he knew. Sighing, he rose from his chair, and headed for the front door. Whoever it was, he’d see them off and then get back to his chess game. He really needed to get that intercom wired up to his room, it was just irritating and disruptive having it out by the door itself. He thumbed the switch and spoke, the displeasure at being taken away from his game evident in his voice. “Yes?”
A dull, bored sounding voice responded. “I’m here to check your electricity meter, sir.”
“Which company are you with?”
“Northeast Utilities, sir.”
“Ha, nice try. I’m not with Northeast. Now get out of here before I call the cops.”
The sound of heavy footsteps moving away from the door assured Russell that whoever it was had gone. He returned to his computers, noting that no new errors or vulnerabilities had shown up in the build he was testing, and that his opponent was waiting on him to take his turn. He studied his opponent’s pieces, making sure that nothing could possibly go wrong with his tactic. Confident, he made his move. As he did, a strange noise sounded out from the back of the house, one that he couldn’t quite place. Turning the volume of his music down, Russell listened attentively. Suddenly, a crash reverberated through the house. Russell jumped to his feet and jerkily pulled a drawer on his desk open, grabbing a revolver from inside it before nervously heading downstairs, shaking hands holding his gun out in front of him.
Subtractor swung his axe a second time, feeling the haft shudder as the blade dug through the wooden door and struck the metal hinge, removing it from the equation and causing the door to become solvable. A quick kick later left the problem answered, and allowed him entry to the building. He made it a few steps inside before a figure nervously stepped out on the far side of the room and shakily pointed a revolver at him. “Get out! I’ll fucking blow your head off unless you leave right now!” The man’s voice was just as shaky as his aim with the gun. Subtractor made as though he was backing off as he quickly ran a projectile motion calculation to conclusion. As soon as he finished, he stopped, and raised his shield. The man shook even more than he had previously as he attempted to line up a shot. Before he could take it, Subtractor had rearranged himself across the room, casually grabbing the revolver in an armour-clad fist, interposing finger in the hammer’s trajectory before a quick twist relieved the man of his sidearm. The man gulped loudly and collapsed to his knees, before almost squeaking some words out. “Who are you?”
A chuckle resonated within Subtractor’s helmet before he responded. “I could ask you the same.”
“Well, Russell, it seems we have a small problem.” Subtractor’s voice was calm, and as he spoke, he opened the revolver, emptying five of the six rounds from their chambers before closing it and slowly spinning the cylinder in place. “You took my money from me.”
A terrified look of realisation crossed Russell’s face, and he began talking, fast and high pitched. “Oh my God, I didn’t realise this would happen, it was just a job, they made me do it, I thought they were just getting me to test security, I didn’t know, I didn’t know, they told me to take it all, I don’t want to die, please don’t kill me, I thought it was just an exercise! I didn’t think it was rea...” He trailed off as Subtractor put one hand to the side of the revolver and spun the cylinder in a quick and aggressive manner.
“Do you have any idea what the probability of me believing you is?”
Suddenly, the revolver was pressed against Russell’s head, and a calculation flashed through Subtractor’s mind as his finger tensed on the trigger.
“The probability that the bullet is not fired is eighty three point three repeater percent.”
A whimper escaped Russell’s throat.
“The probability that the bullet is not fired twice in a row is fifty five point five repeater percent.”
Russell found his voice and began to plead with his tormentor. “Please man, just take my stuff. It’s worth more than you ever had in your account. Please, don’t kill me.”
“The probability that the bullet is not fired three times, in a row, is twenty seven point seven repeater percent.”
“What the hell do you want from me? I’ll give you anything, just please don’t shoot me!”
“Good. Let’s start with who ‘they’ are, shall we?”

Re: Going for Broke

PostPosted: Mon Apr 29, 2013 8:59 pm
by Static Bolter
Originally posted by the Subtractor: August 11th, 2009

Subtractor glanced at the metal rungs that were embedded into the concrete wall of the tunnel. It had taken just over a day to get all the information he needed out of Russell and to scout out the building where DataSec had their offices. He checked the time, making sure that it was after midnight. According to the various maps he’d had Russell find, he should be below it. He quickly checked his armour, making sure that all the pieces were solidly in place, and then began to climb. He always hated the way that the only way in and out of certain areas was by ladder. It was hard enough getting through the opening at the end of them, but in full armour, the task was made more problematic. Nevertheless, he made it to the top of the ladder with no setbacks, presumably due to all of the practice he’d had back in Paragon. He slowly opened the access hatch, and peered into the gloom of a darkened room. Nobody should be down here, but there was no point in taking any risks, especially when he had plenty of time. Satisfied that the room was empty, Subtractor emerged from the hole in the ground, flicked on a small flashlight, and took account of his surroundings.
Dust covered everything, but from what he could make out, it seemed like the room was being used as a paper repository. Judging from the dust, and the general state of the room, Subtractor estimated that it hadn’t been used in several months, which indicated that he was exactly where he planned to be. He performed a swift calculation, and nodded to himself. The maintenance stairs should be fifty-four steps to the right of the door to the corridor. A few quick steps brought him to that door, which he slowly opened, checking for any signs of life. There were none. Fifty-four steps later, Subtractor found himself at the bottom of some very poorly maintained stairs. The DataSec offices were on the thirty-eighth floor. Sighing softly to himself, he began climbing, silently cursing about the need to be stealthy and not take the elevator.
Subtractor finally reached the thirty-eighth floor, as indicated by the small numbers beside the doors he’d been passing on the way up the stairs. He’d used the time to perform a series of calculations, each more complex then the last. He knew that the CEO of DataSec worked odd hours, typically arriving in the late afternoon and leaving work in the morning. He knew that no one else employed by DataSec worked such irregular hours, so the probability that he’d run into any workers that he didn’t intend to was low. He didn’t know the layout of the floor, beyond the location of the CEO’s office and where he’d be once he opened the door. According to Russell, they changed the positioning of individual offices and temporary walls quite regularly. At least he wouldn’t be in view of the CEO, assuming he was in his office, when he opened the door. He ran through a quick efficiency calculation and kept it in mind, ready to be modified for when he could see the obstacles in his path. Then he slowly turned the handle on the door, opened it, and stepped into the dim lighting of the DataSec offices.
The first thing he noticed was a faint, one-sided conversation, which indicated that the CEO was in his office, talking loudly on his phone. Good. The next thing he noticed was the office setup, consisting of criss-crossing cubicle dividers, planters and desks, spread out in what appeared to be a vaguely fractal design. Nodding slightly to himself at the thought behind the design, he adjusted the efficiency calculation and completed it. It would take him two hundred and seventy-seven steps to reach the door of the CEO’s office. He shrugged his shield off his back and strapped it to his arm before gripping the handle of his axe and removing it from its bindings. Then he began walking.
Twenty steps in, Subtractor turned a corner to find a group of about six people dressed in black and carrying firearms walking slowly away from him. He adjusted the calculation in his head, promptly turned and started to walk back around the corner. A voice rang out in the dimly lit office, identifying itself as a security officer, and ordering him to stand still. As the rest of the security team noticed him, there was a rustle as they drew their weapons and took up position. Subtractor slowly raised his arms, preparing a falsehood in his mind that the men and women pointing guns at him would possibly believe. As he relaxed his body in a calculated effort to get the security team to see him as unthreateningly as possible, in preparation for his lie, a shot rang out.
The bullet sped through the air, headed straight for him. As usual, the adrenaline kicked in, speeding up his reflexes and slowing his perception of time. The bullet had barely left the barrel of the gun before he had a projectile motion calculation solved. It was going to impact with his head in twenty-five hundredths of a second. Not enough time to dodge. Another calculation revealed the estimated kinetic impact level, while a third calculation worked out the exact force reduction strategy he’d have to use.
The bullet struck, right where predicted. At the exact moment of impact, Subtractor relaxed his neck muscles, then the rest of the muscles in his body to ensure that there was no lasting harm. The unfortunate consequence of this was that he collapsed to the ground as he forced his legs to relax. As he fell, he heard one of the security officers, presumably the team leader, speaking in a raised voice to the officer who had fired the shot. The voices sounded indistinct, like he was in water. No matter, now that they’d noticed him, they were obstacles as well. A wave of calculations rushed through his mind, working out potential tactics and actions, taking into account the attitude of the security team, their current positions, the likely firing angles and the potential cover they’d seek. Then he stop up, causing the team leader’s angry tirade to halt in what he presumed was mid-sentence. It took them a moment to react, but when they did, they showed that they knew what they were doing. Three of them dived behind a planter, raised their guns over the edge of it and opened fire as the other three took cover in the cubicles around them. Subtractor raised his shield, keeping it in the path of the bullets he calculated would otherwise strike him, and slowly, calmly and coldly began to walk towards where the first security officer had taken cover.
Leaving the six unconscious bodies behind him, Subtractor continued walking. The probability of there being a second security team on the one floor was low, but the gunshots would have attracted attention. Only one hundred and nineteen steps to go. The one-sided conversation he’d heard before had stopped. It seemed that the CEO had heard the gunshots, which was unfortunate. Sixty-two steps. He could see the door now, but from what he could see through the window next to it, the office was empty. No matter, he was sure that if he couldn’t interrogate the CEO himself, he could get Russell to go over the man’s computer. Twenty-three steps. The door swung open, and an average looking man pointed a high-calibre handgun at Subtractor, pausing for a second too long before taking a shot, which passed over the armoured man’s head. He didn’t get time for a second, as an armoured fist slammed into the man’s face, lifting him off his feet and flinging him back into the office, leaving him sprawled on the floor. Subtractor swung with his axe, looping the ornate head above his head before bringing it crashing down to the man’s left. “You are Craig Larcy, CEO of DataSec, correct?” The man nodded dumbly, letting the handgun fall from his hand. “Good. I am Eric Hansk, also known as The Subtractor. You made a mistake several days ago. I am here to discuss it with you and correct it.” Realisation dawned in the man’s eyes, along with what could only be described as fatalism. “I see you understand fully, Mr Larcy. Let’s begin with who told you to get your hacker friend to take my money.”

Re: Going for Broke

PostPosted: Mon Apr 29, 2013 9:00 pm
by Static Bolter
Originally posted by the Subtractor: August 20th, 2009

Subtractor hummed softly as he rearranged himself through the clear morning sky. He’d made good progress during the past few days, having recovered his money and uncovered at least some of the conspiracy that had led to its theft in the first place. Russell had told him that DataSec hired him for the job, and Larcy had informed him that DataSec had been contracted to do it by Fergram Solutions, a company that Larcy claimed he owed a favour to. The man had been very reluctant to volunteer any information on Fergram Solutions, but Subtractor had managed to glean that they mainly manufactured equipment for the military, and were based in Paragon. He’d have to pay them a visit, and see exactly why they’d decided to try to ruin his life.
Equation after equation flitted through his mind, the numbers and pronumerals shifting endlessly as he resolved one after the other. Each problem solved brought him closer to Paragon, closer to home. Twenty-eight x equals y. Y divided by twenty-eight equals x. It was all so simple, much easier then solving the mass of problems that surrounded his friends and the Reciprocators as a whole. He let his mind drift to the integrity and sonic output equations that he’d been working on before he left for Boston. Jess had always said that her suit was incapable of that much damage. The way the equations were working out, she was correct, there was little correlation between the sonic output and the damage. He subconsciously solved another equation, sending him closer to Paragon. What about Yuki’s problems? He’d heard all she had to say about it, and his calculations made it seem incredibly unlikely for the girl to have been able to cause the wounds the Archon had received, even if she had shot him.
Something changed in one of the equations. Brackets. Factorised. Before he could react, his armoured body slammed into a containment field, and he fell out of the sky. A quick, imperfect calculation told him what he needed to know. He spread his limbs out, and activated a device he’d purchased, thinking he’d never need to use it. His body became less tangible, and his fall slowed. Not enough, he thought as the ground rushed upwards, meeting his body with an audible impact.
It took Subtractor a moment to collect himself before he began getting to his feet. The device that had surely saved him beeped once and shut off, the battery depleted. Groaning, the armoured man quickly assessed himself. No significant injuries, but he’d have some bruises later. An audible click sounded from behind him. “Easy there, fella. Armour-piercing rounds. Don’t move, or there’ll be another story about some guy in armour gettin’ attacked on the news tonight.”
Hurried footsteps indicated the arrival of another person, with a similar click sounding out when the footsteps ceased. The first voice spoke to the newcomer. “Big bastard, ain’t he? I reckon he’d be a good size even if he wasn’t wearin’ all that metal.”
The newcomer spoke, in a voice that was gruff, but distinctively female. “Least he’s human. Sure it’s him?”
“Yeah, armour matches the description. I’ll call it in, get his helmet off and check to be sure.”
There was an electronic chirp, and the man began talking softly, reporting his position, status and the detainment of the subject. A request for backup was made before another electric chirp signified the end of his conversation. Footsteps indicated the woman was approaching. Subtractor stayed perfectly still, aware of the firearms the two undoubtedly had aimed at him. The man spoke again. “Careful, watch the axe.” Subtractor felt the weight of his axe lift from his back, and heard a solid noise as it hit the ground. From the delay between the two events, the weight of his axe, the average estimated strength of a woman in a role that would place her here, with a firearm, and the gravitational pull of the Earth, his axe was lying approximately two metres and seventeen centimetres to his left and behind him. Probability stated that the woman had likely thrown it flat and head first. A lunge for it would see him shot enough times that the likelihood of survival was well below reasonable limits. At least they hadn’t thought about his shield yet, though they’d have to come into his field of vision to do anything about it. Still, it was their first error.
Unusual movement indicated that the woman was attempting to remove his helmet. She’d gone for the easy method, and grabbed the long horns. A second error. He twisted his head in a sudden, jerky manner, causing the woman to let go. She attempted to jump back, grabbing for her gun, but one of the horns slammed into her elbow, causing a sickening crunching noise as her arm went limp and she dropped the gun. The man fired, despite the woman obscuring his target, but Subtractor was already moving, shield angled in a manner to reduce the chance of the bullets penetrating the thick metal. As he placed his hand on the haft of his axe and brought it to a ready position, he heard the woman hit the ground. He turned, still moving, shield shuddering from the bullets skipping off it, axe swinging through the air, to find that the man had caught the woman in the process of trying to hit the armoured Reciprocator. Despite the chaos, he’d had the presence of mind to turn on his radio, and was yelling into it as he brought his gun to bear. Calculations flashed through Subtractor’s head as he brought his axe down on the gun, splitting it in two. He spun his axe slightly, and reversed his swing, slamming the flat of the axe-head into the man, who dropped to the ground. The radio squawked, and Subtractor crushed it beneath an armoured foot.
Then he saw the helicopter angling for him.

Re: Going for Broke

PostPosted: Mon Apr 29, 2013 9:01 pm
by Static Bolter
Originally posted by the Subtractor: October 2nd, 2009

((The grand finale, finally. I'm not particularly happy with it, as some of you know, I had at least three main ideas bouncing around for it, and was having quite a bit of trouble writing it. I'm also not a big fan of the quick, short changes in viewpoint. But at least it's done.))
Grady smiled coolly as he leaned on the flight stick, skilfully manoeuvring the sleekly shaped helicopter towards the armoured figure on the ground. It had only taken him a few minutes to get the covers off and the bird into the air, and now he was about to bag himself the hero who had taken out Bruce and Tanya. His smile widened. He’d never liked those two, Bruce with his cocky Australian accent and mannerisms, and Tanya with her off-putting attitude. He hoped that the hero had put them both out of commission, so he wouldn’t have to deal with Bruce’s stupid jokes about his home country’s wildlife, or Tanya’s horrible jokes about men ever again. Movement on the ground caught his eye. The hero had seen him, and was running for the shelter of a nearby building, some sort of old industrial complex. Grady’s smile widened even further. The hero was fast for a man in that much armour, but he wasn’t faster than the helicopter. Then the hero did something and vanished.
Subtractor continued to run after the rearrangement, a plan forming around the calculations in his mind. He’d have to find cover quickly, as the pilot would relocate him quickly in the absence of external factors. He didn’t know a lot about helicopters specifically, but he knew aeronautics and the mathematics involved. He also knew that the multi-barrelled guns he’d seen on the aircraft’s nose meant that the probability that he’d escape without disabling the vehicle was slim. As he ran, the sound of the helicopter intensified. A quick look over his shoulder confirmed that he’d been reacquired.
Grady’s smile turned to a grin as he spotted the armoured hero again. It took him a moment to angle his helicopter towards his prey, another moment to ready the firing controls and target the fleeing hero, and one final moment to squeeze the trigger.
A separate noise caused a new calculation to flash through Subtractor’s mind. He skidded to a stop, dropped to a knee and raised his shield towards the helicopter as its weaponry whirred to life and began spraying bullets at the Reciprocator.
Bruce shook his head, trying to clear it of the fuzziness that had enveloped him. The sound of gunfire helped, as much as it hurt to hear it. One final shake, and he managed to roll over and get on his hands and knees. A glance at his surroundings, and he dropped back onto his stomach. All he could see was the helicopter Grady had been told to mind firing bullet after bullet at the hero they’d been told to stop. His mouth slowly dropped open as the hero weathered the storm of metal being directed at him just by holding his shield out like that. There was just no way what he was seeing could be possible.
Subtractor growled as bullets slammed into his shield, causing reverberations up and down his arms. The physical stress was leading to mental stress, causing him to almost miss several vital mistakes in his equations. He needed to act soon. A quick expansion and refactorisation ensured that he’d have the few seconds he needed. He looked at the equation, isolated the pronumerals he needed to work with, and rearranged.
Grady vomited, the contents of his stomach hitting the ground upon which he’d suddenly found himself. The twisted metal that had been his chopper smouldered behind him. In front of him, the battered, but imposing, figure of the hero they’d been sent to stop loomed. He felt his stomach turn again, causing him to retch as the hero grabbed him by the collar and hauled him off the ground. He forced himself to stare into the black holes of the helmet that the hero wore, but he couldn’t force himself not to nervously gulp. The helmet tilted slightly, as if in observation, before the hero spoke, his voice a mix of anger and promised retribution.