View Full Version : Life in Black and White

Archived Post
06-01-2010, 08:43 AM
((OOC since I’m completely new to the Champions setting, some or all of this may be updated/changed once I’ve actually got some of the sourcebooks. It’ll do for now, though))

From ten feet away in any direction the slim figure nestling among the lower branches of the pine tree would have been practically invisible. Mottled black and white clothing seems to fade into the snow-hung branches, any little movement seems only the wind stirring the tree, even the little clouds of breath exhaled into the chill air are dispersed by a scarf worn across the face.

And the long barrel of the heavy-calibre rifle, wrapped with white camo-mesh, is surely just another branch, one among many.

A dollop of snow, disturbed by a pair of birds squabbling obliviously in the branches above, plops down onto her hat, spilling errant flakes across heavily tinted ski-goggles. A hand moves, with glacial slowness, to wipe the surface clean. Some icy melting water finds a gap in her clothing, and, swaddled as she is in a heavy parka, Bianca Black suppresses a shiver.

Two hours to get into position. Another hour before the courier is due. Whilst her eyes never stray from the rifle ‘scope, and her ears never cease scanning the background forest-murmurs for sounds of anyone approaching too close, her mind at least finds some freedom to wander to other places and times.

At least the desert, brief as it was, was warmer. I am so, so sick of this unrelenting cold.

You’re a long way from home, kiddo….

Home. Home had been England, the far North West, beyond the urban sprawls of Old Manchester and New Liverpool, almost into Scotland; sparsely populated, and an area of lakes and mountains, as much ‘wilderness’ as England had left.

A long way from anywhere. The middle of scenic nowhere, her mother used to call it.

Her mother. What memories she had of her were…few, and those of a little girl. She’d been only seven years old when her mother had finally succumbed to the cancers that had been eating away at her, grotesque, malignant teratomae that seemed to defy both diagnosis and treatment.

Footsteps crunching on the snow catch her attention, but they're distant, maybe half a mile away, and so no danger. Sound travels a long way in this frigid air.

Whilst a cure for her mother’s ills had eluded the medics, the root cause wasn’t hard to see. Both her parents had worked at the Winsfield reprocessing plant; of course they did, where else was there, in such an out of the way spot, to work?

Winsfield was a relic, once the centre of Britain’s nuclear ambitions, and a cradle of early fission technology, sited in such an out of the way spot in a stunningly cynical masterstroke that ensured employment was brought to a depressed area and that any catastrophic meltdown would incinerate the minimum number of voters. As fission technology was in turn replaced by cleaner and more efficient alternatives, Winsfield remained, initially and ostensibly involved in cleaning up the radioactive waste left by the early technology.

There were rumours of more, of course. Areas that no-one saw, the surprisingly heavy UNTIL presence, security that seemed overkill, talk of captured Gadroon technology and reverse-engineering of genetic monstrosities, but never anything concrete, never anything beyond vague rumours.

Right on cue, three figures appear around the curve of the road she has been covering with the ‘scope, walking quickly towards the Viper nest. The figure in the middle, large, wearing tactical, lightly powered armour, obviously the courier. Flanking him are a pair of standard issue Viper goons, alert, weapons slung ready for immediate use.

Right on time. You can say this for Viper, they’re trained to be punctual if nothing else,

Her mother had been a safety officer. Officially, anyway. The real details of her role had become plain only years later. That the start of the illness that was to eventually take her life had been linked to an event at Winsfield was in no doubt. The press release at the time talked about an escape of radioactive material, that her mother’s actions had prevented the situation escalating, and that she was to be commended for the professional way in which she had carried out her duties.

The battery of medical tests her mother had undergone immediately following the event had been far more comprehensive than just precautionary scans for radiation exposure, however. Whatever they revealed about induced changes to her mother’s genome remained locked in the vaults of UNTIL’s research division. The fact that they revealed her mother to be four weeks pregnant at the time of the exposure was not something that could be easily hidden.

Her hand softly cradles the stock of the rifle, and a gentle squeeze takes up all the slack in the trigger. A few more grammes of pressure is all that will be required. At this kind of extreme range, most snipers would be reliant on a degree of luck; for her, a shot at this range is a banker’s certainty.

And so her mother had declined even as she grew, and with her mother’s death her father had lost himself in alcohol and depression. Bianca had lost herself in the landscape, running for hours among the hills. The medics who had prodded and poked her through her early years seemed to lose interest as she apparently grew into a perfectly normal, healthy young adult. Bianca herself was happy to let them continue to believe that this was the case.

She hoped that in fact it was the case. Her mother’s death had been protracted and painful, and she wanted to be able to lock those memories away in a dark place. But as she grew, and ran, she knew that she was running further and faster than was anything like normal, her reactions sharper and faster than any human’s.

The flat crack of the rifle startles the birds squabbling in the branches above her head, and they fly squawking from the tree. Through the scope she can see the look of stunned surprise that crosses the face of the Viper courier as the bullet hits him full in the centre of the chest, penetrating the power armour easily. The two soldiers flanking him both instinctively turn to stare at him in surprise; at this range, it’ll be a second or so before the sound of the rifle-shot reaches them, and by this time the courier has folded silently into a motionless heap.

Freak had been her thought. There was joy in the sheer physical abandon of scampering up a mountainside faster than a rock could have fallen down it, but away from those wild times she took every precaution to hide the abilities she seemed to have gained.

An academic performance that was, at best, ‘passing fair’, combined with an obvious love for athletic pursuits in wild places meant that her path into the British Army surprised few who knew her. She remained quietly undistinguished, constantly performing competently but not brilliantly, always near, but never at, the top of her intake.

Still motionless, she watches the heads of the Viper soldiers snap back around in the direction of the gunshot.

Make if difficult for me boys. Please. Just this once. Just run away. You really, really don’t get paid enough for this. Or grab the body and drag it off the track, make me come looking for you, set up an ambush, give yourselves a chance.

Just don’t, please, run towards the source of the shot, firing blindly. You know you’ll be running straight into my field of fire. You know I’ve already seen you and you haven’t yet seen me. You know, surely, that that easy defile that runs off the side of the track is such an obvious approach that I’ll have it covered.

Go on. Just run away. Please.

The army also took her away from her sheltered home, and opened her eyes to things that had, until then, been only images on the vid-news. Superhumans….. outlandish characters in tights, always ready to save the day. Right. A million miles away from being a freak like her. Those she encountered within the forces seemed aloof, so sure of themselves. She could never envisage seeing herself in the same way.

Eventually, inevitably, her façade slipped. Whilst the Army had been a cradle for her talents, her quiet reserve and naïve backwoods outlook had made her a target for the ire of some of her peers. In the macho world of Army Specialist Infantry, being out-shot by a girl was too much for some of the more egotistical members of the squad.

She’d been finally pushed to her limit by a member of the Military Police, an obnoxious redcap named Webley, on attachment from a Canadian regiment. After quietly enduring yet another barrage of abuse at the firing range, she had simply snapped, hefted a captured Qularr Minigun – a weapon so notoriously inaccurate that they nicknamed it a ‘Spray and Pray’ – wolf whistled to make sure she had his full attention, and emptied the entire magazine, all 5000 rounds, downrange at him.

As one, the Viper soldiers shoulder their weapons and begin to run towards her position, yelling and firing blindly. A few stray rounds whip through the tree, shaking more snow loose. With a sigh, she hefts the assault rifle laid ready alongside the sniper’s weapon, and in two short, controlled bursts the Viper soldiers are down and unmoving.

One day, hopefully, I’ll get to line up on whoever actually trains these idiots. It’d be doing a lot of people a favour.

As the smoke cleared and the barrage of gunfire was replaced by a hushed silence in which the plink of the rotary barrels cooling down could be clearly heard, Webley's face, a pale rictus of sheer horror, could be seen at the end of the range. The target behind him had been blasted apart, leaving only an outline that exactly mirrored his frozen, horrified pose, to within a scant inch. The stains on his uniform weren’t his blood.

Flitting from shadow to shadow and snow-bank to snow-bank, she cautiously approaches the body of the Courier. She breaks cover for scant seconds, just long enough to retrieve the intelligence reports he’s been delivering, and then vanishes again into the woods, beginning the slow trek back to Force Station Steelhead. Not for the first time she looks up with envy at the occasional figure flying high above. Fast as she is, it’s still too risky to try to simply speed through the hazards between here and the end of her mission.

Some folk have it a lot easier…..

She had expected a court martial, and, at best, dishonourable discharge. Or, more likely, a hefty term in a military prison. What she had got was a very thorough debriefing from some branches of the armed forces of whose existence she’d been completely unaware. And a lot more information about what went on at Winsfield. Her mother had been a hero, without doubt. The escape she had prevented involved a lot worse than radiation.

That knowledge didn’t take away the pain; but it did, perhaps, ease some of the feelings of freakishness.

So now here I am, ostensibly a non-combatant British Army liaison to UNTIL based in Millenium city. Actually attached to an MI6 division called The Chosen Few, records of which will be buried deep, deep in the Army archives – if they exist at all. Answering to the callsign 'Monochrome'.

And they keep sending me to Canada. How about, for heaven’s sake, somewhere warm for a change??!!

Archived Post
06-01-2010, 08:57 AM
And they keep sending me to Canada. How about, for heaven’s sake, somewhere warm for a change??!![/i]

[Welcome to the wonderful world of Black Ops. If they were somewhere nice, EVERYONE would want to play...]

Archived Post
06-01-2010, 12:30 PM
(Really liked this one, I liked the build-up.)