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Observation by The V Man

[Scene: CWAL HQ - Roof - Noon]

(Despite his fear of heights, amplified more so by his loss of the ability to fly - in mid flight no less - The V Man spent a good deal of his time on the roof of CWAL HQ. After years of surviving out of doors, he found interior environments stifling and unnatural.)

(The binoculars in his hands felt warm from the sun above. Light glinted off of the lens' and he surveyed the scene a few hundred feet across the street. Blizzard HQ had been quiet on the outside, but the power feed going into the building had never been higher. At least that's what Phasmus' utilities report has said. It was good to have someone with some reach - even if it did come at a price.)

[Scene: Blizzard HQ - Primary Control Room]

(Several panels and LCDs glow in the dimly lit room. Despite the warmth of day outside, the room is chill as the air conditioning pumps in a steady stream of sale, cool air. Several security officers sit in front of the controls monitoring security both inside and out.)

Guard 1: Any news on what's going on with the Protoss?

Guard 2: Beats the hell outta me, but the observer they've had parked over top of the building has me a little creeped out. They say those things can see through walls.

Guard 1: That's crap, they can't see through solid buildings.

Guard 2: Says you - they can teleport through space, so I don't think a few inches of concrete and steel can stop them if they really wanna see inside.

(Guard 1, about to utter some choice words, is interrupted as PatN enters the room. The doors open and shut of their own accord with a swishing sound.)

PatN: That is so cool.

Guard 3: Says you. I'm the one who has to stand here all day and go *swhhhsh* when the doors open or close.

PatN: Quiet you.

Guard 3: *sigh* Yes sir.

PatN: Status gentlemen?

Guard 1: Nothing new. The observer is still hovering around out there.

PatN: I see. Any sign of other Protoss activity?

Guard 1: No sir.

PatN: Any movement across the street?

Guard 2: They seem to be watching us pretty carefully sir, but no one's crossed the road yet. All the same, we've got the auto-cannons powered on and ready to deploy at a moment's notice.

PatN: Excellent.

(A small red symbol begins to blink on one of the monitors.)

Guard 1: Sir, the observer's moving. It appears to be descending along the front of the building - it's level with us now sir - and it's stopped.

PatN: Alright, that's enough of that. I don't want it spying on us anymore than it already has. Open fire.

Guard 1: Sir? Isn't that an act of war?

PatN: No, they're unmanned robots. The Protoss don't generally attack when an observer's destroyed, though they won't be happy about the loss. However, if they find out what we've been doing downstairs we're all dead men. Take it down.

Guard 1: Yes sir.

[Scene: Blizzard HQ - Exterior]

(Heavy auto-cannons raise from the side of the building and take aim at the cloaked observer. The observer, detecting the presence of charged weapons systems spins and begins heading away rapidly. The cannons emit a whirling screech as super charged plasma hurls towards their target.)

(Taking evasive action the observer ducks, wheels and spins to escape its impending demise. All for not however as several rounds slam into the thrusters of the unit and knock it off course, then crashing into the ground - on the lawn of Blizzard HQ. The auto-cannons, job done, retract back into the sheer polished sides of Blizzard HQ.)

[Scene: CWAL HQ - Roof]

(V Man, watching from the roof, and ducking the occasional stray round, focuses his sights on the downed alien technology.)

V: 35 feet from the road, charged defenses. Hrm.

(Since losing his demon fueled energy manipulation abilities he was far more vulnerable. He was still quick and agile, that had been the focus of his training - along with his swordsmanship - to remain a viable member of CWAL, but he wasn't nearly as fast as he once was. He felt strong and healthy since he had reappeared in CWAL HQ several weeks ago - and with his old wounds healed, and his arm restored, he was in good shape. Sometimes though, he could still hear the familiar whirl of servos in his ears - and the added strength of his old robotic arm still would have come in handy at times.)

(Shrugging off the nostalgia and weighing the odds, he decided it would pay off in spades if it worked - alien technology was priceless stuff in CWAL. Running down through CWAL HQ, he grabbed a pair of riot shields to afford him a little more protection.)

(The street was quiet at midday. Fewer cars meant fewer obstacles - but also less cover. At least there wouldn't be much collateral damage - civilians had a tendency to get in the way. Hefting the shields, and ensuring his sword belt was tightly secured, he jogged across to the sidewalk facing Blizzard HQ. One more step and the auto cannons would issue a warning. A few more past that and they'd be super-heating his immediate area, and not for tanning purposes. A few more deep breaths. Stay cool. Be calm. And, RUN!)

(Dashing towards the monolithic head quarters, V Man's legs pumped hard and began to burn from exertion - the shields were heavier than they looked.)

(He covered the distance quickly, but not quickly enough. Motors and servos whirled as the automated warning played. Before it could even finish, the defenses were active and firing. Rounds thudded into the ground as V Man did his best to dodge them, fearing one wrong step could mean an uncomfortable end.)

(Running, jumping, ducking and rolling he came up to the downed Protoss unit - heavily damaged, half buried in the dirt and powering down, it didn't look like much could be salvaged - but who was he to judge, Pez had worked miracles from lesser scrap before now. Planting the shields around him - and listening to the rounds impacting on the thick plastic-polymer material - he knew he didn't have long.)

*Thud thud thud thud thud*

(The rounds careened into ground and plastic with sickening ferocity. Pausing for a moment at the curious sound, V realized that these weren't plasma cannons - they were firing rubber rounds designed to incapacitate an enemy, not kill it. Capture, it seemed, was the mandate. Deciding either fate, death or capture, was unfavorable he worked at prying the surprisingly heavy unit out of the torn grass.)

[Blizzard HQ - Primary Control Room]

PatN: What's that blinking?

Guard 2: It seems we have a trespasser, defenses are active and firing.

PatN: Do we have a video feed?

Guard 2: Yes sir, I'm bringing it up now. Screen 3.

PatN: That's one of those lunatics from the Starbucks - what's he after?

Guard 1: I can't tell, it's out of frame - wait, he's pulling it back into view - it's that observer!

PatN: Damnit. Stop him, NOW.

Guard 2: We're trying sir.

PatN: Wwell stop trying and DO IT! If he gets that back across the street - wait, no. Let him have it.

Guard 2: Sir?

PatN: If he takes it with him, we can blame CWAL for shooting down that observer - and possibly appease the Protoss a little with a tale of how we tried to prevent the loss, and recover their technology.

Guard 1: You want us to turn the cannons off?

PatN: No, let them run. So long as they’re at non-lethal levels. Turning them off would arise suspicion. If he's hit though, don't send anyone out - we want him to think he's making good on an escape.

Guard 1: Yes sir.

[Blizzard HQ - Lawn]

V: Damn, this thing's heavy!

(Straining under the weight of the device, V Man turned and moved carry it back to the street as quickly as possible. Unable to bring the riot shields with him though, left him vulnerable as the cannons caught him and knocked him to the ground under a barrage of rubber munitions. Grunting from the bruising sting of the rounds, and thankful he had his blackened rawhide jacket and pants on despite the heat, to help absorb some of the punishment, he struggled to get back to his feet and continue on. Several loud PINGs resounded off the probe as V Man took hold of it again.

*Vrrrrr* *Krchrrrrsh*

V Man: Vrrrrr-Krchrrrrsh?

(Under the fire of the cannons, several rounds had jolted the observer’s primary power core back into alignment. In response, the thrusters fired, though without the directional control of the primary computer - which was now a smoldering lump. Trying his best to hold on to the haywire alien contraption, V Man was pulled up off the ground and towards CWAL HQ. Thinking he had escaped the immediate threat, he smiled. He was forced to reconsider when he looked down to see the ground quickly falling away below.)

V: Hoo boy. This is going to sting.

(Trying to shift his weight under the observer, V was helpless as he and his out of control ride spiraled towards CWAL HQ....and narrowly missed a crash landing into the brick wall.)

V: Shew, that was too close...!

(Having sighed his relief too soon, V Man soon found himself and his stalwart steed crashing into a dumpster behind the bastion of insanity that is CWAL HQ. The observer, further damaged by a second crash sputtered and powered off, this time for good. V Man, finally at a stop, took a quick check of himself and noting no broken bones, thanked the excess garbage CWAL created almost constantly for saving his life.)

[CWAL HQ - V Man’s Rooftop shack]

V: Now, let's see what makes you tick.

(Several strained minutes of looking for anything that appeared to be a seam finally proved fruitful, but ultimately annoying as the jeweler’s tools he had failed to unscrew, jimmy, or pry the casing open. Throwing caution to the wind he took up a hammer and chisel, which managed to dent and then open a panel along the lower lens casing of the device.)

V: Jackpot.

[CWAL HQ - Pez's Laboratory]

(A knock on the door caught Pez unaware. The sound of glass shattering and the hollow pang of metal impacting on concrete were immediately followed by several creative Pezlandian curses.)

Pez: Damnit all - come in!

V Man: Ooo sorry Pez.

Pez: That's going to take me weeks to fix - do you know how fragile that--

(Pez stopped ranting as his eye caught the metallic yellow glint coming from under V Man's coat.)

Pez: Is that?

V: It is.

Pez: And where...

V: Found it on Blizzard's lawn. I figured you might have some use for spare parts.

Pez: Parts or no, the chance to study the alien technology alone would be..be..

V: Glad you like it. Have at it.

(Handing off the scrapped device, V Man headed out and disappeared down the hallway. Pez poured over the unit, taking every detail - every marking and cataloguing them all down systematically. Finally, he dared to dream of opening the unit. He reached for his hammer and chisel - the universal key for all things locked that needed opening, and noticed there seemed to be a dent along one side. He put his tools down and ran his fingers along unit - the panel hinged open.)

Pez: That's strange...

(Pez checked his records of other Protoss technology he'd seen. One piece seemed to be missing - a sliver of the Protoss focus crystal, commonly used to focus amplify their psionic abilities.)

Pez: How odd.

(Tracing what he could only assume to be the primary power and processing conduits he confirmed that the focus crystal appeared to be central to the probe's operation. very strange that it should be missing. Perhaps it was knocked loose in the firefight?)

(No, the scorch marks were on far end of the unit and there were no plasma burns anywhere near this part of the casing.)

(Deciding to leave the mystery for another time, Pez set the unit aside - hopeful that he might be able to find a way to focus the space-bending drive contained in the long-range scout bot for another use. Turning back to the mess on the floor he sighed, it was going to be a long day.)

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