A Green Home Invasion

Summary:
September 12, 2014: The Green Arrow goes looking for something in Queens and runs into a Buddha Bird!

Apartment 320B

This studio apartment has seen better days, and the walls have the amazing property of muffling only the important noises but not the noisy neighbors at all hours of the night. It has a kitchenette with a counter, a futon that's been spread out, and a small bookshelf with some books. Along the door and the window there are horse shoes with the 'open' end 'up' and various other folklore markings. A laptop on a small kitchen table is the Internet Window To The World.


Characters

NPCs

  • None

Mood Music:
[*None]


Queen Consolidated just released its most recent innovation, the newest model of the qPhone. It is normal in the tech business for things to be obsolete almost as soon as they are pulled out of the box, especially when proprietary information is pulled from production models and reverse-engineered and the like. Usually hot-fixes, patches and the sort can easily deal with this sort of intellectual theft.

Thus it was rather strange, indeed, that a version of the qPhone OS somehow appeared on the corporation's servers with little explanation or warning, with patches predicated on average computing developments over the next year. While on one hand it would save someone a great deal of time and research, on the other hand, that code is no longer secure… despite the fact that the only location the Tech department has been able to find is on the corporate network.

Someone, or something, is playing games, trying to either be cute, help out, or perhaps a bit of both.

Oliver's tech folks are well-paid and highly skilled, and they are easily able to narrow the source of the code to a battered studio apartment registered to a one James Reha. Mister Reha is noteworthy for holding down two jobs, part-time at Stark Industries, the other full-time at Drakos Recovery Solutions, LLC.

The oddity that definitely sticks out is that someone with the apparent level of skill to extrapolate that sort of coding would have to be a savant of the highest caliber, and from all appearances, Jim is *not* that clever. Couldn't be, if he allowed the trace to reach back to his apartment. And especially not if he's working for those other two corporations. Something is afoot.

***

"Of course I'm being sneaky. This isn't the first time I've had to snoop on someone, you know…." There are many buildings hear Jim's apartment, many places where a person could hide while checking out his target from a distance. Oliver Queen is standing atop one of those buildings, looking down at Jim's apartment through a pair of tricked-out binoculars.

Of course, he isn't standing on a rooftop dressed as Oliver Queen. That would be a surefire way to attract the Wrong Kind of Attention. Instead, he wears the uniform for his other job, with the green hood pulled down over his face almost far enough to obscure the lenses of the binoculars. "Look, I was doing this kind of stuff way before I ever met you. It'll be nice to get back to basics a bit, try to solve a mystery. Like the good old days." Who he is talking to is unknown, but he's clearly alone on the roof. His costume must have a microphone hidden somewhere, but it definitely isn't anywhere near his mouth. Unless it's hidden in the stubble on his face.

"Looks like he may or may not be home. I'll just swing down there and take a closer look. Yes… I'll be sneaky." He puts the binoculars away, and pulls out his trusty pop-up compound bow. He runs his fingers over the arrows in the quiver strapped to his back, selecting one among the many seemingly at random. But when he fires the arrow, it's clear why he chose that one. A long, superfine cable is dragged behind the arrow, which is left in Green Arrow's hand after the arrow has embedded itself above Jim's window several hundred feet away. Using the makeshift zipline, Green Arrow speeds from the top of the roof to the side of Jim's building, and drops just in time to gracefully perch on the fire escape outside of Jim's apartment.

***

The window is cracked open to his apartment, perhaps to allow ventilation, perhaps for some other reason. Still, it is well-maintained compared to some of the other windows nearby, and shows signs of recent caulking and painting. A careful listen and peek would prove that yes, there isn't anyone home at the moment, though there is a folded-up crap-top in plain sight.

There is a brown paper bag on the counter with a loaf of bread sticking out of it, and the television appears to be turned to coverage of some sort of rally happening over in M-Town.

There is the sound of plumbing going from a previously un-noticed door, clearly the bathroom to the studio. This sound is followed by the turning on of faucets by a sink…

***

With his face pressed against the window, Green Arrow looks more like a Peeping Tom than a superhero. But his instincts have served him well. Rather than simply barreling through the window he waits for a few moments, taking in the environs and looking for indications of activity. He doesn't seem to find what he's looking for.

However, when the water begins to run, he recoils as if bitten by a snake. But a second glance through the window assures him that nobody has seen him. So he uses the noise to his advantage, and takes the opportunity to raise the window slowly and silently. Once this is done, he takes another look through the window, nocks an arrow onto his bow and steps gracefully over the window sill and into the living room of the apartment.

"F. I'm going to place the Scanning Arrow next to his computer. Let me know what you find." Moving swiftly and silently through the room, he takes the arrow out of his bow, and sets it next to the computer. A light on the side of the arrow begins to blink as it begins to broadcast a scanning signal.

***

The computer seems to be the origin source of the data. That was quick. Too quick. Almost like it was waiting for something to scan it. Paranoia might lend itself to thinking perhaps explosive or the like — but who would go so far as to bomb their own apartment while they were in it?

The doorknob to the bathroom begins to turn… then gets jammed, prompting some male cursing on the other side of the door as the handle is jiggled a bit.

***

One of the reasons that Oliver Queen is still alive is the ability he has to react very swiftly when the game plan changes. Which is why with a quick movement he grabs the arrow, and throws it up into the air to embed in the ceiling above the computer. Having done that, he finds the nearest closet and vanishes within it so fast that anyone watching would swear that he is the bogeyman.

"F. Change of plans." He whispers into the microphone, wherever it is. "I need you to download that data now, and then I need a distraction to help me get out of here. God knows what kind of weaponry this degenerate has on him."

***

The closet is more of an alcove than an actual door-closet, but it has enough clothes in it to most assuredly cover the master of camouflage's cover. The person on the other side moves with speedy efficiency on the data even as the door pops open and reveals…. a heavy-set salt-and pepper sort of guy that looks like he's been dealing with the public for a few decades.

Given that the arrow is in the ceiling, and the intruder is hidden, he heads over to his bag of groceries and begins to put them away.

The 'degenerate' doesn't seem to have *any* sort of weaponry on him — well, unless one counts that painfully loud tropical shirt — and is blissfully ignorant of anything amiss for the moment…

***

"What do you mean you don't have a distraction ready? Didn't we go over this during the mission brief?" Green Arrow hisses into his transceiver, the anger in his voice obvious. "… Well… I MEANT to hold a mission brief this morning… don't change the subject, you should have a distraction in place. Add that to the official Team Arrow strategy book."As he shifts around in the closet to hide his presence, he tries very hard not to think about what sort of things he might be rubbing against. People only put clean clothes in closets, right?

***

The portly man finishes putting away his groceries… no booze, lots of healthy stuff even. Not quite vegan, not quite any sort of extreme diet. If anything, almost painfully bland.

The discussion does cause him to pause briefly, then shrug and keep moving as if nothing were wrong… right towards the closet alcove.

"If that's you, Jericho, you're getting spam in your brain until it bleeds out of your ears, you hear me? I warned you about this kind of thing. Twice."

***

"Dammit. He's on to me. Any last minute advice?" There's nobody to see it in the dark of the closet, but Oliver's face is all manner of disappointed and angry at himself right now. This is why he stopped trying to solve mysteries. He should really stick to what he's best at, shooting sticks at people. "Screw it. I'm going old-school on him."

He taps something on his throat, and then suddenly kicks the door to the closet open right before the apartment's rightful occupant can open the door. As he bursts through the door, he sends various garments flying dramatically in all directions. With an arrow already nocked, he pulls back on the bow string, aiming the arrow's tip right at the face of the portly hacker(?). With a voice that is electronically altered to be both anonymous and more scary than normal, he shouts at the top of his lungs in an attempt to pull a shock and awe.

"DOWN ON THE GROUND! DOWN! OR YOU'LL LOSE AN EYE!"

***

To his credit, the guy slowly goes down to one knee, then the other. No sudden moves, casual, peaceful, and oh, hey, no sudden tell-tale marks of having something scared out of him.

"The police don't use bows, so I'm wagering you're not official."

Little does Jim know…

"Please put the bow away. You're not Jericho, you don't get a brainful of spam. At least, not today. But you really are freaking out the partner and it really DOES want to use lethal force on you right now so please, just… bow down, chill out, let's talk, okay?"

The heck is he on about?

***

With his hood pulled over his face, and his voice about two octaves lower than it should be, Green Arrow usually scares the unsuspecting into doing whatever he wants. However, he's getting a somewhat different vibe from this guy. Clearly he's nervous about something, but he doesn't seem all that intimidated by Green Arrow himself. Yet another mystery, and we've already established how good Ollie is at solving those.

So what does he do? He doubles down on the intimidation, of course. "TALK FAST!" His amplified voice carries extra decibelage even when he's not shouting. "YOU'VE BEEN A BUSY LATELY. Tell me how you gained access to Queen Consolidated's network, or you might lose an eye." The voice-changer seems to finally catch up with Oliver's tone, and adjusts its volume level accordingly.

***

"I have absolutely no freakin' clue what the hell you're talking about. Honest to God. Whatever God you want."

"And I've seen a couple, okay."

He slowly lets out a breath. "The partner may, though. It's very sensitive and you've upset it a bit. Please, please, just put the bow down.

And then the voice changes, becoming almost ancient in tone, completely sober.

"This one would humbly request one remove the weapon from this one's facial region. This one will not react kindly to a display of overt force and respectfully acknowledges that one must have concerns as to one's creations. This one was merely seeking to help identify structural faults that had not been identified during the construction process."

So matter of fact, almost… zen… and the hint of ages behind the tone.

***

"Uh…. F? What do you know about demonic possession?" Not only does Green Arrow relax the bow string a bit, but he also takes a step back from the creepifying man. Then he takes another step for good measure. He does not, however, step far back enough to get trapped in the closet again. Nor does he put the bow away. Better safe than sorry when dealing with demons.

"What do you mean 'why?' because this guy's probably possessed by a demon or something. Like… a hacking demon. I don't know, google 'demonology.'"

***

"This one is not possessed. This one is part of a symbiotic partnership with the one before you. This one recently implemented PATCH 667.1: DEATH to the DEMON POSSESSING SCUM!" Yes, that shout seems completely out of place but genuine, like perhaps some demon HAD attempted to do exactly that in the past.

And then the zen calm returns.

"This one is not possessed, this one did offer assistance in return for chance to work on the mental exercise of 'Improve the qPhone Functionality as an inverted sum of irrational numbers. This one hopes that one found the improvements satisfactory and Enlightening?"

And then things get really weird.

The man's form stretches and distorts to something… not human.

***

"Scratch that. This is some sort of…. Bird… Alien? How did you not know you were sending me after a Bird Alien?" Green Arrow silently curses his inability to find good help. But he apparently is aware that he's being a bit rude, so he takes a half step to the side, and lowers his bow even more. Sure, the thing looks docile right now, but it also just morphed into a bird alien and started screaming.

"Well… hi there big fella. I'm not sure what exactly you're talking about, but surely you're aware that stealing proprietary software and altering it is in violation of oh… about seven laws that I can think of off the top of my head?"

***

"This one is The Corvinus. This one has been — partner term — 'keeping a low profile'. This one was under the assumption that the creative puzzle in the small box was designed to test the intellect and understanding of those who would seek Enlightenment, and thus provided several solutions to improve the puzzle for future education. This one did not steal, this one improved for one. The partner would have mental trauma over stealing."

"One did find the new iterations challenging and helpful in focusing one's development?"

Whaaaaaaa?

Almost as an afterthought it allows its talons to retract fully.

***

"Corvinus. Is that Italian?" It's hard to keep the tone conversational when you suddenly find yourself in an apartment with a large bird alien. Which is why Arrow is ever so slowly inching back away from the creature and heading toward the window. "I guess there's really no harm done. I was mostly just curious how you did it. Not because I care about Queen Consolidated's interest… because I have no affiliation whatsoever with that company or its CEO."

***
"The Corvinus is the closest term in the Terran English Language to approximate this one's identity and being."

"Shielded assets make for intellectual challenges. In a truly enlightened society, there is no need for such shielding, for all information should be free. This one is beginning to understand that this society is not enlightened. This one would offer to make tea for one, to settle one's nerves, but one seems dead set on egress. Using partner terms — Don't let the door hit your backside on the way out. Also, please convey this one's thanks and appreciation for the challenging logic puzzle and hopes that next year's puzzle issue will be even better, person who has no affiliation with a particular organization yet felt it was necessary to barge into an apartment and demand answers at weapon-point."

Was that… ancient Snarkese?

There's definitely a tone of mirth… not mocking, just gentle laughter. It at least sees something amusing in this.

***

"Right. So… looks like you've learned your lesson here." It's doubtful anyone has learned a lesson here, but at least nobody lost an eye or got eaten by a large bird alien.

Green Arrow keeps heading toward the window, whispering into his microphone "You got everything you need? We'll analyze it when I get back."

Having gotten all the information they're likely to get for now, Green Arrow gives the strange creature one of his trademarked roguish grins. "Now that we've straightened all that out, I'll be on my way. Just try to stay out of trouble. And… maybe… let your partner come out and breathe or something?" One foot goes through the window, followed by the second one. He rolls over the side of the fire escape, as if he were about to plummet to his death. But shortly afterward, the sound of arrow puncturing brick can be heard, followed by the sound of a man speeding away on a metallic zipline.

***

The bird thing reaches up to the ceiling and pulls down the arrow carefully. It analyzes it for a few moments, then gives it a nice, gentle arcing toss to land on the roof where the other end of the zipline is.

"One forgot something! It looks expensive!"

Nobody looks up in this neighborhood. Nobody even notices.

After a moment or two the bird-thing glances around the apartment, shrugs, and lets Mr. Reha back out to watch the unfolding drama with the riots over in MTown.


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