· Ex Machina
Bob 'Mach' Finlay
Illustrated by Tonia Walden
Still, Bob Finlay remembers the night well enough. He remembers being all but wrapped in the motorcycle, the frame bent out of skew, the stench of oil and dust pouring into his face, his wounds. The pain was unbearable. Only the blackness behind that pain was worse, and he reached out for something else, something to comfort him. But the cycle was in pain too, so they had to be content with comforting each other. They had to cut the bike away from him, and he felt that too, blacking out after all. When he awoke he felt oddly alone.
He found himself in a small country hospital -- massive trauma to the left chest and side, scarring and minor burns to the face -- but he left sooner than anyone thought he could have, and drove himself back to the cattle station. He drove a manual car but that was fine, he didn't need the gearstick at all.
The cattle station was gone. Completely.
When he tracked down the head Jackaroo, now working in the Northern Territory, the man shrugged and said people just left. He didn't have an opinion on what happened to the buildings or equipment. Bob kept looking, and in the search came across ASHES, who were looking as well.
Bob Finlay was born and raised with a sister and a brother on a cattle station in Western Australia, about 250 kilometres NW of Kalgoorlie. In the two years since the accident, a little after his twenty sixth birthday, he was moved to Canberra and thence Sydney to join Phalanx. Any attempt at a secret ID (he would like to point out that 'Ex Machina' was Judy's idea) was blown by the exposé, and he was not overly worried. He went to see the reporter who had written the piece, and she actually turned out to be quite nice ("I'm Candy, it means I'm hard and bad for your teeth"). Six months later, he's still seeing her, much to ASHES's annoyance, though he takes his oath of secrecy seriously. He certainly hasn't given up on his family, but has accepted that being a part of Phalanx is the best way to keep looking for them -- not to mention the various other properties and two entire towns that are similarly gone. He likes the other members of the team, but doesn't get too close to them. He prefers being called Mach or just Bob, but Sheona and Ted seems to think Skidmark is an amusing option.
Quote: "Don't blame the car -- blame the driver."
Personality: For all the trauma of his 'awakening' and somewhat startling looks, Mach is a calm and charming individual, with a self-depreciating brand of humour, a knack for listening to people, and a seemingly effortless way of getting things done. He still feels a bit out of his element in the city, and although he is very fond indeed of Candy, he doesn't really understand her (the gap between the journalist and his missing sister -- who is as hard as they come -- is wide). Getting away from it all every now and again isn't a luxury; it's a requirement.
Powers/Tactics: He never tries to explain what it feels like to enter the machinery, but it seems a bit like how meditation is described -- a calmness and an extending of perception. Indeed, it is more like the machine becomes an extension of himself -- he can adapt its purpose to his own almost unthinkingly, though he can do more invasive work (jamming an opponent's weapon with a brief touch) as well. Electronics are denied to him, but with his own knowhow and extra ASHES training, he can usually control hybrid systems well enough, particularly if it is just a case of making sure the power is flowing.
Within Phalanx he handles technical support, some stealth and surveillance and, of course, driving -- he has been given some time on a variety of planes and different combat vehicles, and he picked them up just fine. He tends to keep out of fights, leaving that to the more specialised members of the group, but reckons he can sling the odd fist... He avoids use of his pistol if at all possible (certainly preferring the bolo gun), but has never complained about carrying the firearm offered to him -- even if others wonder how much a machine's purpose may influence his own.
Appearance: In 'civvies' as much as possible, he is a lanky, sun-browned young man, his smile out of sync with the odd mess of his face (the most distinctive feature being the bloody eye and extended parallel scars over his ear, both on the left side). His left arm tends to hang forgotten at times, but he has enough movement to tuck his hand into his belt or pocket, which keeps it out of the way. He wears his protective suit (dark and tight, for infiltration work) when he must, but usually keeps a shirt on over it -- and of course his hat as often as he can manage it.
Skills: Contact: friend inside police 11-; Acting 12-, combat driving 11-, conversation 14-, deduction 12-, CK: Sydney 15-, Japanese (basic; native is English), persuasion 12-, shadowing 11-
Disadvantages: Psych: overly curious (common, strong), Psych : in love with Bob Finlay (common, strong), fear of heights (uncommon, strong); Reputation: recognised as a reporter 11-
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