“Who in the hell is this cock rocket manhandling my gear?!” Wrench exclaimed the moment he stepped foot into the hackerspace.
Currently, only Marcus and Josh were present in their little hideout and neither of them seemed to acknowledge Wrench’s outburst. Wrench looked over in their general direction imploringly for answers and received none when they continued to carry on with what they were doing. Wrench made a growling noise deep in his throat and turned his attention back toward the problem at hand.
There was an odd lanky man over in Wrench’s working space currently fiddling with his various tools and side projects, regarding each one with a wide eyed and quizzical expression that made his eyebrows furrow. What made this particular man strange was the fact that there was a strip of black duct tape masking his mouth. Sure, Wrench had the whole mask thing going on to remain anonymous, but tape over the mouth was just… weird.
Without a second thought, Wrench stormed over to where the man with tape of his face was with the intent of giving him a piece of his mind for tampering with his things. Wrench didn’t like new people as a rule, but he especially didn’t like new people who put their grubby little hands all over his masterpieces. His LED visor light up with with an angry set of slashes that flared up whenever he was truly pissed.
“Hey! Hands off the hardware, Waldo!” Wrench snapped, referring to the striped shirt the other man was wearing. “You raised in a barn or what?”
He snatched a spanner out of the odd man’s hand with a chastising glare, making the boy with tape on his face recoil with a somewhat startled flail of his arms. It was as if the man was a living cartoon and over exaggerated his every movement, communicating with only his wide owl-like eyes and ever fluctuating browline. The man with tape on his face flinched from Wrench, holding his fidgeting, idle hands close to his chest as if he were afraid to touch something else.
“Yeah, you should feel sorry!” Wrench reprimanded when he interpreted the man's expression as guilt. “Touching things that don’t belong to you...”
Wrench cradled the spanner in his hands as if it were his child, feeling protective of his personal space and property that was currently being invaded by some weirdo with heavy eyeliner haloing wide blue eyes and tape over his mouth. The man was decked out in a pair of jeans, striped shirt, and grey suit jacket. The ensemble was complete with a messenger bag that was slung over his shoulder. Wrench went back to his tool and held it up to his face to nuzzle it.
“It’s okay, baby. Papa’s here to protect you,” Wrench reassured the inanimate object with a soothing robotic tone.
He turned towards the couch set up near the monitors and televisions, spying Marcus avidly watching tv without a care in the world. Wrench was baffled by Marcus’ lack of care that some stranger was messing with his stuff. He thought Marcus had his back on these things.
“Hey, Marcus, what the hell’s going on? What’s with Charlie Chaplin over here?” Wrench demanded, seeking answers and getting none. “Are you listenin’ to me, dude?”
“Man, quit shouting. I'm trying to watch Open Wounds 3,” Marcus complained, ignoring Wrench’s concern in favor of watching Jimmy Siska.
“I want answers, damn it. This is more important than your hard on for Jimmy Siska,” Wrench proclaimed, waving his spanner around like a madman.
Marcus tuned him out and continued to cheer on Jimmy Siska as he kicked ass on screen. Wrench’s LED eyes turned into hyphens, feeling done with this shit already. The boy with tape on his face reached out to touch the spikey studs on Wrench’s vest, but the hacker caught him at the last second and slapped his hand away with a muttered don’t touch.
“Josh!” Wrench called out. “Where did this douchenozzle come from?”
“Sitara brought him in. Said he was some sort of artistic genius that could help bring in more followers at protests,” Josh rattled off in that somewhat distant tone of his as he typed away at his computer.
“And this doesn’t bother you?” Wrench pressed, pointing the tool at the fidgeting man.
“He hasn’t made much of a ruckus, so I guess I don't mind,” Josh responded with a shrug.
“Well, no shit Sherlock! He’s got tape on his mouth!” Wrench exclaimed, throwing a fit as he threw his arms in the air.
“Maybe you could learn from him then,” Marcus mumbled under his breath.
“I heard that,” Wrench deadpanned. “How the hell am I supposed work…”
Wrench sighed heavily and he face palmed with a groan, mumbling to himself. Of all the people Sitara could bring to their hackerspace it had to be someone who couldn’t even respond to him. No, no, no… not couldn’t, but wouldn’t. Everyone had to be an edgy hipster didn’t they? With a heaved sigh, he started to head towards his workbench, stopping prematurely because the man was blocking the way.
“Excuse me, Buster Keaton,” Wrench mocked as he pushed past the silent man.
The man scuttled out of the way, flinching when Wrench pushed at his shoulder to make more room. Wrench was muttering obscenities under his breath and mocking the tape face man’s hairstyle of choice, calling him a fucking hipster since all hipsters had the same dumb hair cut. Although, Wrench can respect the man for putting a slight twist on it by spiking it up in the back and slicking the rest off to one side with gel. He hated to admit it, but it kind of looked cool…
Wrench set the spanner down on the workbench with a light clunking noise, being mindful not to throw it all willy nilly just because he was bent out of shape. He respected his tools too much to let anger cloud his actions. He stood there for a second, assessing his current project that was in pieces before him as he tried to gather his thoughts. Wrench could feel the silent man hovering over him and turned around to see that he was eyeing him inquisitively. The man raised his eyebrows towards Wrench and his bench.
“What?” Wrench inquired, not understanding what the man wanted.
The boy with tape on his face made a gesture at the workbench, causing Wrench to regard it with a sweeping once over.
“That’s my workbench,” Wrench stated, thinking that answered this guy’s silent question. The man nodded, but insisted on making another gesture. “What? What are you trying to say?”
The boy with tape on his face extended two fingers in a “V” and brought them up to his own eyes before pointing them at Wrench’s workbench. He repeated this a couple more times before it finally clicked.
“You wanna watch me work?” Wrench asked with a hint of uncertainty in his robotic tone.
The man’s eyes lit up and he gave him a thumb’s up of confirmation. He then started to lightly clap as if to congratulate Wrench for guessing correctly. The guy held out his hand towards Wrench’s project, nodding at it with arched brows imploringly.
“Okay, I guess you can watch,” Wrench relented much to his chagrin. He felt, maybe, he was being too harsh on the guy. Perhaps he could teach this man a thing or two. “Just don’t touch anything, alright? Everything here is in a very specific order and I don’t need you accidentally blowing the place up.”
He gave a thumb’s up that said he understood and that was that. Wrench swiveled back to his work as the boy with tape on his face slowly shuffled to the hacker’s side. Usually, Wrench didn’t like people hovering over him because he liked his privacy and also because people got in the way. For some reason, though, he found himself enjoying the quiet audience as he tinkered with his tech. Maybe because he liked the prospect of the man not being able to ask a million questions constantly.
Still, the boy with tape on his face found ways to ask questions anyway, but at least it wasn’t nearly as annoying as hearing someone not understand and follow up with even more questions. The only complaint Wrench had was that he hated having to play charades every time the guy had something to say, but it made things interesting to say the least. He could see the man staring at him intently from his peripherals and shot a look over his shoulder with a single nod.
The man responded with a nod at the quadcopter and held out his hand with a sweep as if he were presenting something. Wrench’s visor lit up with a pair of question marks and he tilted his head. The tape face guy did it again but wagged his finger between Wrench and his project this time. Wrench regarded the quadcopter in his hands for a split second before it dawned on him.
“Oh, I'm trying to equip this thing with a flamethrower. Except I'm running into a few problems,” Wrench clarified and he watched the man’s eyebrows shoot up in surprise. “Can’t seem to make it light enough to operate properly while still remaining stealthy and small enough to maneuver in tight spaces.”
He was awarded with a thoughtful nod and an expression that looked almost impressed?
“I don’t suppose you’re any good with a screwdriver are you?” Wrench implored with a slight chuckle.
The boy with tape on his face waved him off with a shrug and a shake of his head. Wrench was about to make a comment, but it was dead on arrival when tape face held up a finger, telling Wrench to wait a moment as he rummaged around in his messenger bag. Wrench set down his flathead and eased the quadcopter gently onto his workbench to see what this guy was up to.
The tape face man pulled out a set of plastic eyes that slid on like a ring up his middle finger. He held his hand up in a fist as he dug around for the next item. He pulled out some wiring that was already shaped and curled into loops and put that on so it looked as if the googly eyes were wearing wire framed glasses. Wrench was captivated as he intently waited to see what the man would pull out next as he constructed his crude sort of hand puppet.
Next to come was a small mess of mop-like material that acted as a wig for the hand puppet, but the man hid the finished product against his chest as he retrieved his phone and scrolled through his music before he found the song he wanted. The song came on and the boy with tape on his face slowly revealed the hand puppet to Wrench as he used both of his hands to start lip syncing John Lennon’s Imagine.
It took Wrench by surprise with how well put together and random it was, but damn was it entertaining. The makeshift wire framed glasses and the small mop of hair actually resembled John Lennon during his solo career and Wrench was simply enthralled by it all. This strange man took three seemingly innocuous items that were basically nothing and turned them into something most people could identify right away. Wrench had to say it was pretty impressive.
After about thirty seconds of the hand puppet lip syncing, the boy with tape on his face turned the song off and shoved his items back into his messenger bag before he took a bow. Wrench set down his tools and gawked at the other man as his visor displayed a set of zeroes.
“Alright, that was pretty cool,” Wrench admitted, offering up a small clap for the man.
The man gave him a thumbs up again and Wrench couldn’t help but let his visor display “^ ^” for a brief second before going back to the neutral “x x”.
“Still don’t see how that benefits Dedsec…” Wrench then huffed, trying to remain unmoved by the quirky nature of the odd man.
“I see you two are bonding nicely,” Sitara giggled as she made her presence known.
Wrench spun around fast, glaring daggers at his so called friend. She had a pleased little smirk playing about her lips, like this had all been a ploy to wind Wrench up with some tasteless joke.
“You!” Wrench accused, pointing his screwdriver at Sitara in a threatening manner. “Where the hell have you been?”
“Calm down, I was out scoping some places to lay down our mark,” Sitara replied with a roll of her eyes as she walked further in.
“You’re telling me to calm down? Why weren’t you here babysitting your pet mime?” Wrench interrogated, waving his screwdriver in the man’s face as reference.
“So you two met already?” Sitara said instead, ignoring Wrench’s tantrum.
“Define met, because as far as I'm concerned meeting a person usually means being able to properly introduce one’s self as well as actually fucking verbally contributing to the conversation,” Wrench ranted in one long breath. “It’s like trying to constantly play charades with this guy. And I fucking hate charades.”
“Well, get used to it buttercup ‘cus he’s staying,” Sitara stated, crossing her arms over her chest resolutely.
“No, no, no, no, no… You take him back to wherever it is you found him,” Wrench complained, walking over towards Sitara. “Right now!”
“He’s not a jug of spoiled milk you can trade in at the supermarket,” Sitara retorted, sticking up for their guest. “Besides, we need him at our protests to spread our influence.”
“I thought that’s why we have Marcus,” Wrench argued.
“We need someone on hand at all times. Truth is, we need Marcus here most of the time,” Sitara supplied, hands on her hips.
“But why him,” Wrench whined, bending at the knees and stomping his feet like a child. “I thought we were a team that talked these things out beforehand.”
He doesn’t know why he was so adamant on protesting against the new guy. I mean, he wasn’t loud and obnoxious like Josh had pointed out and he was fairly creative from what he had seen already. He showed an interest in Wrench’s work and communicating with the tape face man hadn’t been all that hard. Wrench supposed he just felt threatened by the prospect of having someone new around. He just didn’t want the hackerspace or his friends to be exploited if it turned out this guy was a traitor. And also because Wrench felt a little hurt by Sitara not talking to them about it first.
“He’s an artistic genius and having him at protests will get everyone talking about how bizarre he is,” Sitara stated flatly, trying to level with Wrench the best she could.
“So I've heard,” Wrench commented, looking in Josh’s direction.
“What do you say?” Sitara inquired, holding a hand out towards Wrench as a peace offering. “Can he stay?”
“Apparently we don’t make decisions as a group anymore,” Wrench huffed, turning his nose up at Sitara with his arms folded across his chest. “So why should my opinion matter?”
“Just shut up and say it’s okay,” Sitara snapped, getting impatient with Wrench.
“Alright… Fine! The 1920’s era of film can stay,” Wrench relented, groaning out a sigh.
“Good,” Sitara replied smugly. Her eyes drifted over to the boy with tape on his face for the first time since her arrival and smirked. “Because I think he just fixed your quadcopter.”
Wrench swiveled around to see that, yes, his quadcopter had been repaired and modded with a flamethrower. If his face wasn’t concealed by his mask, Wrench’s jaw would be on the floor in pieces right now. The whole time he had been arguing with Sitara, the odd man was working on his quadcopter. The boy with tape on his face threw his arms out towards the finished product as if he was showcasing it on a gameshow. Wrench mindlessly stepped forward and marvelled at the beauty and perfection of it all.
“Wha-? But-? How did you-?” Wrench stammered out, dropping his screwdriver on the floor because he was truly baffled by it all.
“See what I mean?” Sitara gloated. “Artistic genius.”
“Okay, okay. He was able to fit it with a mini flamethrower. But will it work?” Wrench posed, shooting a look over at the man who offered a nonchalant shrug.
“Why don’t you test it out?” Sitara said in a no shit tone and Wrench’s visor immediately lit up with glee, prompting a ”^ ^”. “And take Sam with you.”
“Who the hell is Sam?” Wrench asked with a set of question marks flashing on his visor.
“That’s his name,” Sitara informed, gesturing to the boy with tape on his face.
“Oh right, because that was totally obvious. How come I didn’t figure that out,” Wrench responded in a sassy tone. He regarded the strange man with a once over, holding his hand underneath his chin thoughtfully. “Guess I could use him as a target.”
“Don’t you dare,” Sitara warned with a stern look.
“Kidding! Shesh!” Wrench held up his hands as Sitara took a step forward. “You think I wanna kill a prodigy?”
Wrench scoped up the quadcopter in one arm, cradling it with care as he collected up his things. He hasn’t felt this giddy in a long time and he hated himself for getting blinded by the new guy’s skill. Maybe he could be of use to the team after all.
“Come on, Sam. I have the best vantage point,” Wrench proclaimed, yanking on Sam’s arm with his free hand like an excited child. “You’re gonna shit kittens!”
And with that, Wrench and the boy with tape on his face disappeared up the stairs and left the hackerspace. A resounding sigh of relief passed through the room and all was finally quiet, with the exception of Open Wounds 3 playing in the background.
“Those two are totally gonna bone,” Sitara laughed to herself with a shake of her head.
“Right?” Marcus concurred with a snort.
“How do you suppose that would go? I mean, with the tape and mask getting in the way?” Josh wondered out loud from his computer.
“I don’t think that’s something I wanna know,” Marcus said, cringing.
“Yeah, some things are better left unseen,” Sitara agreed.