[center Sirens sound in the distance. Horns blare. Stoplights flicker, dim in the coming dark. People rush by on the sidewalks while cars cruise by, rumbling over dry pavement. The world is at peace.]
[center And yet it is not. A dark power crushes close, insinuating itself among humankind secretly. Velveteen claws are curled into places of security and power, sheathed only until they can strike once and decisively. Every institution has been infiltrated. The intruders are everywhere, hidden in plain sight. Until the claws are unsheathed and the trap snapped shut, even the infiltrators do not know what they are. Human in appearance, human in nature, in every way, from memory to appearance, a perfect replica of those whom they have replaced. ]
[center There is no secret organization to oppose them. There is no resistance to be had against that which does not exist. Those who discover the truth cast their eyes aside and claim they did not see, for to admit to have seen such horror is to admit insanity. ]
[center Their patience is boundless. They have waited for generations, for millennia, watched humanity claw its way towards the unknowable beyond, but now their waiting is almost done. The coil bends, the pressure plate dips, the spring is compressed. And when the trap is sprung, nothing will be left of this Earth but ash.]
The black goat's thousand young are among us, perfectly disguised, preparing their final assault upon the Earth. When the thousandth child arrives, then will their disguises be cast aside and Earth's dominion shall be transferred to those beyond human understanding.
We play a pair of humans who have been upset from their homes by imposters who are, impossibly, identical to themselves in every way, down to the very memories. My character has been displaced for some time, while yours has only just been replaced. In this time of confusion, your character finds themselves drawn to mine, and mine offers yours guidance, hope, and a way to fight. So long as all thousand are not on earth, the trap remains unshut. And we two are the only two who know, the only two who can oppose them.
I want this roleplay to be dark and mature-themed. The black goat's young cannot be told from ordinary mortal humans until after a vital blow has been struck. There will be paranoia, fear, uncertainty, and surest of all, death. This is a long, hard battle with no certain outcome, where anyone and anything might turn against us at any moment. This roleplay is strongly influenced by Lovecraft, as you might have guessed from the title. The black goat's young are beings that defy human understanding, but they can be killed, or at least sent back to the dark realm from which they come. Romance is not necessary, but I would prefer a heterosexual or mxm relationship, if you desire it. I am very much open to any suggestions you might have as to where the plot might go.
Feel free to ask questions. Please pm me the skeleton below once you are ready to apply. This is not first come, first serve.
[center [b Name: // Age: // Gender: // Personality: // Bio: // Physical description: // Picture: (illustrated) // Sample post:]]
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Suicide-goat was a knife, sharp and deadly. Sam's goat poisoned the vat-goat with every strike, turning the very air against it. Bell's goat was the strongest, using raw force to tear vat-goat apart. Vat-goat was resilient though. Compared to the other three, it was much better at repairing itself and surviving in this reality. When it got cut, black gunk leaked out slowly, only dissipating slowly to black smoke.
It lashed out and caught Sam's goat in the side, slamming it into the wall and breaking it open. Black smoke gushed out, billowing into the air. Suicide goat and Bell's goat closed in in front of Sam's goat, buying it time to heal. Vat-goat lunged at them with tendrils, trying to tangle the two of them up. Bell goat stepped forward and wound the tendrils together, holding vat-goat down with strong arms that formed suddenly from its body. Suicide goat vanished, then reappeared even with Miss Hannah. It shoved down from the ceiling, using gravity and its own strength to lend power to the blow. Vat-goat was cleaved almost in half. Black gunk leaked out, soaking into the green goop already on the floor. Bell goat stepped back.
Vat-goat regathered itself. The black gunk regrouped, became solid again, poured back into it. Sam's goat leaped forward and clawed at the gunk, keeping some of it from recovering, but most of vat-goat reformed. It exuded smugness. They thought they could destroy it? These delicate forms, barely able to stand up under the harsh conditions of this alien world? It had spent so long modifying itself to survive on its own. They couldn't possibly size up.
Communication flashed between the other three. Sam's goat retreated, as did Bell's goat, both taking to the walls. Only suicide goat stood out on the field. Vat goat paused, then lunged at suicide goat.
Before it could reach, it hit something in the air, something invisible but thick; a trap laid out by Sam's goat. The gas burned into the goat's skin. It screamed and thrashed, and before it could escape, suicide goat lunged into it. Vat-goat was cut open. Black gunk slid out of its thick skin, falling into the preservative green gunk.
Bell goat slid into the crack, climbing into vat goat's body even as it reformed. It tore apart the tough skin from the inside, digging the black gunk out of vat-goat before it could climb back inside. The black gunk tried to reform outside the tough skin, but Sam's goat and suicide goat were there. The black gunk was turned to slime, smudged over the floor.
This was the end? This was the--no! Vat goat lunged at Bell's goat, spikes forming out of the remnants of the tough skin. They pierced into Bell's goat and injected black gunk under its skin.
Bell's goat shuddered, backing out of the husk of vat-goat even as it crumbled around it. The other two goats hovered, watching. Was it going to be overwritten? Would they have to put it down?
Bell-goat was there. It ripped vat-goat's inquisitive tendril from his intestines and Daniel thought he'd die then and there. Breathing became difficult, let alone staying conscious. Pain resonated in his gut, so much so his body was close to ignoring the hurt in favour of giving his overworked senses some rest. Bell-goat's hands cradled him, engulfing him with that perfect warmth. Daniel was barely able to accept the goat's gift before he was left, abandoned on a cold floor to die alone. No.
No. The goatling.
The pull. They were there. The blood would-
Some time was lost.
Daniel was dimly aware of vat-goat and Bell-goat's struggle down below. The ceiling caved in, heavy chunks of concrete showered down on the battle-field, burying vat-goat underneath. Dust clung to the goo, splatted up towards the goat where the chunks lay.
No. More of them.
Sam. Daniel smiled. Sam and Jenkins. That was nice. At least Sam survived.
No, wait. What was he doing? Bell-boy would return soon. Could they stay at the facility? Had it been cleared out? For once, it'd be nice to actually loot one of these places. Hunters would return to the facility. They needed to make sure everything was destroyed. Not an ounce of the hunters' research was allowed to persist.
And then. And then they needed to part ways. Daniel tried to move, tried to get up, but found he couldn't. Keeping his eyes open was a chore in and of itself. There was blood. A lot of it, actually. Daniel touched his stomach, but it was healed already. So he was fine. Why did it still hurt?
And then he was falling. Tumbling into the darkness, together with the goatling. Hands caught him, or perhaps it was the surface of an ocean that didn't allow for him to drown.
Miss Hannah was up above, carefully inching towards the edge of the gap. She was carrying a weapon, looked harried, but not much worse for wear. At the very least her goat had helped her heal whatever wounds she'd gotten. Despite Daniel's note, it'd been Sam who'd agreed to change.
Hannah's eyes were wide. Three of them.
She had no idea where the others were at that point. Her hands were shaky and her eyes wild. It'd take some long time to forget everything she'd seen. In some ways, the people who'd turned were the lucky ones. She never had to remember any of that.
The gun did almost nothing to the goat. Black splotches on the wall, but its bloated tendrils didn't seem to notice the holes that were cut in them; they healed as soon as they were injured. And then the gun clicked.
He and Daniel shared a moment of horror. Daniel raised his hand. Bell reached into his pocket at the same moment. Before either of them could act, the goat had slammed the both of them into the wall. Bell struggled with all his strength and the goat's strength, but he couldn't pull his arms far enough free to see his hand through the goatstuff. Shit! Was it just going to hold him against the wall like this?
Daniel screamed. Bell whipped around to stare at him, wide-eyed. "Don't you dare!" he shouted, enraged. The goat wasn't going to--it wouldn't--
The goatling screamed as well, its scream creating an odd harmony with Daniel's. Bell's eyes went wide, and then Bell folded out of existence. The goat took his place, and before vat-goat could even react, tore through the tendril that had held Bell to the wall like it was paper. In a blinking, it was beside Daniel. It cut vat-goat away from Daniel and ripped away the material, then darted away, up to the ceiling of the high room. It clung there, cradling Daniel for a second, sending images of comfort to the panicked goatling. One hand pressed a thumb into Daniel's mouth, urging him to bite. The goatling would need it.
Vat goat raced after it, something like fury gathered all around it. The great pretender! It didn't care about humanity. It didn't care about anything. It only cared about itself!
Bell's goat ignored the vat goat, nimbly dodging its clumsy attack. Compared to it, the vat goat looked bloated, slow and stuttering in its movements. It was strong--the vat goat was. If it was hit, it would be in trouble. But this time, it wouldn't be hit.
The goat set Daniel down on the highest point of the observation platform, then shouted. There was silence for a long beat, and the vat-goat charged at it, tendrils flaring. Bell-goat beat it back, parrying its blows. One struck Bell-goat on the side; it swelled with anger, then pierced through vat goat and dashed into the center of the room. Vat-goat followed it, lunging with all its huge tendrils. Bell-goat stood perfectly still, as though waiting to be hit.
The ceiling caved in right on top of vat-goat. Suicide-goat lunged at it, followed by Miss Hannah's, big and bulky but strong. Vat goat flailed under the weight of the falling earth and concrete, then wilted as the three goats attacked it in concert.
A cure? Another 'cure'? There was no such thing as a goat's cure. It couldn't save him. Bell-goat hadn't ever been able to, but it tried. Daniel knew it wasn't because it cared either. Nor did this one. He was just an experiment and if he had to be one, than he'd rather serve Bell-goat than any other particular one. At the very least he wouldn't be stuck laying waste to the most pathetic of creatures -but that was it, wasn't it?
Vat-goat chose those, because the humans would have the biggest chance of surviving those. And then the strong ones. The strong ones like Bell-goat and Sam's goat, they got dragged here and put into vats to rot away.
Daniel shook his head. No way. He wouldn't subject to this game, to this false poetry!
This goat could rot with the rest of them.
It seemed to express a lack of caring then. After all, it wouldn't truly die. None of them truly died at the hands of human weapons. So Bellwether was free to try. Of course, it would be somewhat of a minor inconvenience.
The goat stopped talking the second Bell pulled the trigger. It moved sluggishly under the weight of the goo, but was still nimble enough to move out of the uncoordinated hail of bullets. Some of the slimy tentacles that got hit left behind fuming black patches on the concrete walls they were confined to, but the appendages themselves mended quickly, black replaced with black.
And then the bullets stopped. Empty.
Daniel's eyes flew from goat to Bell, already raising his hand to draw Bell-goat's symbol, when one of the tendrils rushed up towards him. Unable to dodge it, Daniel found himself pressed against the wall, held there like a pesky mosquito. The goo felt slimy and gross, but it didn't have any effect on the human part of him. He was too much of a human to truly be goat.
Struggling however was useless.
Daniel felt how the goat's black essence pressed and prodded until it found soft parts and created an entrance into his body. It would show that one what it would do to its spawn. A nice lesson.
He screamed. It hurt. The goatling resisted.
The scream of the goatling's was different this time however. It wasn't the distressed cry that coaxed out that other side from the beyond. Rather, this one was a wail for Bell-goat to come and help it.
Goo came rushing out at them. Bell climbed higher, dragging Daniel along, but he only made it a step or two up before the goo struck. Bell grabbed the railing, same as Daniel, as the goo threatened to rip his feet out from under him.
He expected the goat to rush in and try to kill the both of them, but instead it spoke. Spoke clearly enough that even he could understand it, in a voice that hurt less than most goats' voices. It still hurt, still pounded into his skull like a migraine, but he could stand, could still think through the pain.I Away to kill goats? For real? Bell snorted. That was too good to be true. "What, trap them in your dumb vats?" he asked. "How many have you actually killed that way, huh? Two?" They'd seen goats survive that. And it wasn't as though the hunters always trapped the goats. They'd been doing more or less what he and Daniel had been doing, for the most part, which didn't kill goats at all.
It was tempting. He couldn't deny that. Killing goats for real was what he'd wanted to do this whole time. But the hunters, who experimented on humans, who'd hurt Daniel, who's trapped him more than once--no way was he going to work with them. Bell raised his gun, ready to fire.
The vat goat turned blank eyes on him. The little one inside Daniel. A little mass of pure black. When it was grown, was that goat really going to save this human? Its hunters could. It could save that one.
Bell froze. What...? It could... The hunters could...? Daniel wouldn't have to die? He knew his goat had said it would try to save Daniel, but what did that mean, after all? He'd been clinging to that hope all this time, but what if he didn't have to? What if he could just... know that Daniel would be okay?
He knew that he couldn't trust the hunters. He knew vat goat was just lying to prolong its life. But... What if it wasn't? He didn't want to destroy Daniel's only hope of survival.
Then he scoffed at himself. No, he was being stupid. Like the hunters would help them after they'd killed so many of them! That bridge was burned. He raised the gun again, for good this time.
At least Bell-boy was able to stand. Good. That was good. At least one of them could take a stand. There wasn't much time, Daniel knew that, but Bell didn't give them much repose either. Already the man was emptying his weapon against the tank. Daniel pressed a hand to one ear, trying with the other to get up. A crack.
A click. Empty.
Bell-boy grabbed his gun and continued the leaden barrage. Despite the glass' thickness, it started to splinter, started to yield under the onslaught of the bullets and pressure from inside. Thick green goo started to droop out of the vat and that's when Daniel tried to get up in earnest. There was a lot of goo. Last time they'd been doused in that hadn't ended particularly well.
Bell seemed to realize because he helped him get up, practically carrying him over to the observatory stairs. It was louder than Daniel would've expected. With an ominous groan the cracks started to tear down the vat's integrity. Goo flushed into the room in an impressive wave. Daniel reached out for the railing, holding on as the green substance gushed up against his feet and legs.
"Shit," he breathed, stepping higher. Vat-goat held itself by what remained of the vat; long, goo-covered tendrils attached to the ceiling and back withstood the seeping fluid that now covered quite a bit of the floor. With the metal doors down, it had nowhere else to go. It cocked its head, as if surprised such a small nuisance had been able to damage its container so.
It talked; like it had last time. Daniel shook his head, trying to shake the goat's voice. He wasn't in any state to deal with that.
Images flashed by. Goats that'd gone before. Slowly dissolving in their vats. Death. Decaying human flesh, black, oozing with insects, degrading back into the soil, where it ended up as nothing. They had tried to kill goats?
But death, such death was meaningless to the goats. Only it allowed for true death to happen. If the human race wanted to rid itself of the invasion, this was the only way. To become stronger. To wield the power of those who were fallen -who were...truly dead.
Surely it did not come to kill it? It, the only thing standing between them and the invaders? The ones who so gracelessly took on the form of their species, who hid and pretended, playing games? No, unlike those, it had found a way to be without the need of killing. Surely, that was not bad?
Daniel grabbed his shoulder. Bell looked up at him, watching his face as Daniel concentrated.
And then he wasn't. He existed, but he wasn't him. Black spiraled away from him, lit up with electricity, sparks flying from one spot to another. He was one of the sparks, darting through the void. No; all of the sparks. He felt himself expand, felt the whole world within him. An alien world, one he didn't recognize and knew intimately. He watched as the sparks duplicated themselves, once, twice, thrice, kaleidoscoping out as he flew upwards--
Breaching reality was like breaking through the surface of water. Suddenly he had a body again, limbs and organs and parts. Suddenly he was him, and not a multitude of endless sparks. A profound loneliness overtook Bell. He belonged back there. He was a part of that darkness, that perfectly interlocked black. His chest ached with longing to return, and he looked at Daniel, tears struggling to his eyes. They... they needed to go back.
His chest ached deeper, a more urgent need taking priority. Bell gasped a breath, realizing, suddenly, that he hadn't breathed the whole time. Colors bled back into the world, objects and shapes became hard again, and he shook his head. What on earth? What'd he been thinking? It slid away from his brain like water off an oily pan, disappearing down the sink of his subconsciousness. Why'd he wanted to go back? Bell shivered, heart suddenly racing. He'd almost died. He'd almost died! Just--forgotten to breathe completely! What on earth was that place? Where had they been, for that millisecond that'd felt like eternity? He'd thought he was never going to escape! Shit!
Daniel spoke, breaking Bell out of his thoughts. The man looked spent; it'd taken all his energy to pull them here, hadn't it? Bell wasn't about to let that go to waste. He looked up, slowly climbing to his feet. Vat-goat was staring down at them, black eyes blank, whole body bloated like some specimen in a tube. "You've stayed here long enough," Bell declared, raising the gun.
He fired. His injured arm almost gave way with the recoil, but he braced his elbow against his torso and made it work. Again and again, firing at the same spot in vat-goat's tank. The glass absorbed the first few shots, but then it cracked, a deep crack that ran halfway up the vat. More. The gun came empty with a click. Bell put it down and picked up Daniel's gun, walking closer slowly as he continued the barrage. The cracks spread, stretching through the glass with clinks and screeches. A piece fell out, and vat-juice started to stream out. Bell stopped firing, suddenly aware that the vat was several times his height and full of nasty liquid and a murderous goat. He grabbed Daniel and started to run, racing for the stairs to the observation platform. Adrenaline pumped his heart rate to a million beats per second; Daniel felt as heavy as a child under its influence. Another piece of vat cracked, more liquid leaking, then another, cracks picking up speed as the vat failed. Bell's foot hit the first stair.
And then, with an earth-shattering crack, the vat shattered.
Teleport? Daniel tried to catch his breath, dizzy with oxygen and high on adrenalin. Bell-boy was right. It was only a small displacement. Just a minor inconvenience and in return they'd be able to have some private time with vat-goat. Daniel wasn't entirely sure he wanted that, but it beat the alternative of being pinned down between goats and hunters. The only thing he was concerned with was how useful he'd be afterwards. A teleport like that had sapped him before, a great deal, actually.
And now there were the two of them.
Boots came in from behind and Bell-boy ducked behind the double doors.
Now or never. Daniel concentrated, reached out to the goatling and felt it reach back, felt it take over and alter his perception of reality. His hand reached out for Bell-boy's shoulder. Matter was far from solid. It moved in waves.
Waves that could be broken, reconstructed or displaced. First he felt the goatling create a void on the other side. The lines that wound around reality loosened, twisting and contorting what he saw into something unrecognizable. Something that was black on the other side. A putrid black, with small flecks of light blinking back at him.
Slowly reality reconstructed itself around him; his eyes were able to make sense of what they were seeing again. Vats. Several of them, filled to the brim with goo. Up above was the familiar observation-deck and the back of the heavy metal doors sparkled behind another set of double doors with glass.
Bell-boy was there too. Daniel could feel the man's shoulder become tangible underneath his hand, until finally the sickening swirl of reality and non-reality settled, suddenly sapping his strength, so much so, none of his muscles responded to his commands. Daniel fell forward, limp and exhausted.
For a moment, even the act of breathing seemed like too much effort. After a second, his body restarted. Lungs eagerly pulled in oxygen, shakily pulling at weary muscles. Other muscles contracted arbitrarily.
"F-fuck," Daniel managed shakily.
He had to get up. Stand. Do- do something. Push through. Daniel groaned and pushed himself on his back. Vat-goat.
It stared at him; black eyes seemingly unseeing. So it'd finally come to this.
The man ran past, firing the gun with great speed and deadly efficiency. Bell watched from around the edge of the door, then retreated into the room when a bullet struck the wall inches from his head. Someone over on the hunters' side was a good shot.
Not that it mattered. The man climbed through the melted hole, heedless of the heat--more goat than man now anyways, he probably hardly noticed the difference. The hunters focused their fire on him as he climbed out the other side, and Daniel shouted out to run. Hot on his heels, Bell held his fire while Daniel sprayed the hunters ahead of him, afraid he'd hit Daniel instead of his targets. Then Daniel took the lead, racing down the hallways to a set of huge double-doors that Bell remembered all-too-well. He charged through the double-doors--and crashed into another metal door, already sealing the way in to vat-goat.
Well... shit. Bell looked around, hoping some convenient goat would appear and open this door for them, too, but no such goat materialized. Then he glanced at Daniel, and something struck him all at once. Daniel had been trying to open the other doors with the goatling's power, hadn't he? He could open these. Or...
"Can you just... teleport us inside?" Bell suggested. That way, it'd be just them, vat goat, and whatever poor souls had gotten trapped inside the inner sanctum when the building went into complete lockdown. There might be a hunter firing squad inside, but honestly, Bell wasn't too worried about that anymore. He'd had to stay human to get them here. Now they were here, he knew he wouldn't be able to do much about vat-goat. He wouldn't, but the goat would. His hand closed around the scrap of paper in his pocket. Soon, it'd be time to use it. Soon.
Not quite yet, though. He heard boots coming from behind and ducked down below the level of the windows in the double doors, gun raised and ready to fire at whoever was coming, if they spotted him and Daniel crouched here by the inner sanctum. Closer and closer, until the boots sounded as though they were almost on top of him. Bell held his breath, unable to move a single inch.
Grabbing the gun was hazardous, but Bell-boy got the short-end of that stick. Shit. He picked up the gun and the guy seemed to finally realize what was going on.
"Give me the gun, I'll blast them all sky-high," the guy started, stopping his earlier rant in favour of trying to get Daniel to relinquish the weapon. Daniel shrugged and did as the man asked. He shot at the chains, uselessly.
"Alright, alright, stop," he commanded the desperate man, his ears still ringing from the noise of a blast in a small padded room. The man didn't pull his gun away, but he looked up at Daniel at least, a mixture of confusion and expectation. A whole door was too much, but breaking a chain, that he could do.
"What're you doing?" the man grunted, watching Daniel crouch down near the chains. He couldn't quite see what he was doing.
After an impatient few seconds though, the chain fell apart, much like the door had.
'Thanks, buddy -I...hmm." Whatever apology was made in the man's head came in the shape of actions, rather than words. He rushed out, gun first, bursting through while being shot at. The cowering man let out a whimper as the gunshots increased in volume and density. Daniel waited.
Whoever the man, he was obviously a hybrid.
Screams could be heard, more gunshots. Daniel carefully rounded the corner and almost got shot in the head. That- yeah. No, not doing that.
He aimed his gun and tried to get the hunters, provide some cover-fire for the man who was already more black than flesh-coloured. Tendrils shot out from the man, whose aggression came from his inability to merge with its goat-part.
It was sad. Chaotic. Brilliant.
Everything at the same time.
"Bell-boy, let's go," Daniel shouted, already running for the cooled down door.
He jumped through and sprayed several shots in the general direction of the fight, since most of the hunters had either retreated or turned their focus on their runner. Daniel rounded the corner, out of breath. His arm stung even more now. Slightly confused, he examined the wound, only to find there was more than a scratch marring his arm now. He lifted his arm, but it didn't look like it'd gone through and through either.
No time to fuss about that now. It wasn't bleeding too badly. Hadn't hit a vein then.
They were almost there. He remembered these hallways from his drug-hazy memories. Vat-goat was just beyond the great doors. On the other side, another metal door barred the way. No hunters would be coming in through there unnoticed. Nor would vat-goat escape them. They were the first to arrive. And there'd been no more static fields either. Someone had to have made it to the control centre.
Bell backed away as the goat unfolded. "A warning would've been nice!" he said, pressing himself against the wall. Unlike some goats, though, this one was almost... pretty, there was really no other word for it. Graceful. Delicate. It stalked past him without giving him or Daniel so much as a glance. Bell followed it at a distance and watched as it obediently burned them a hole in the door, then fled, moving so fast he could barely see more than a black blur. "Wonder if it's close to sinewy-goat," he muttered to himself. Really reminded him of that little bugger.
Which reminded him, what the fuck had happened to Spot? He didn't remember the dog coming with them after the cars. Bell mused on it a moment, then shrugged. Well, whatever. Spot could look after Ryan.
Shouting followed Daniel out of the next room. Bell wandered over to take a look, then jumped back against the wall as bullets flew from the melted door. He slid into the girl's vacated room and fired back from around the corner. Past the red glow of the melted door, it was hard to tell if he'd hit anything. The hunters zeroed in on him, though, and bullets chased him back into the girl's room. They pinged against the metal-reinforced walls, but didn't pierce through.
The man they'd freed had ducked back into his room, uselessly. He glanced over at Daniel. The one with fight would be useful, if Daniel could convince him they weren't hunters. He had another gun, after all--the one he'd picked up from Jenkins. Or the guy could go back and borrow a gun from one of their erstwhile hunters. The hunters wouldn't be needing the guns in hell, after all.
Bell made a split decision. The second gun was useless on his back. "Daniel, here," he called, then slid the gun along the floor across the hallway to Daniel. "Give it to our new friend, there."
Piercing pain shot through his lower arm barely a second later; one of the hunters had shot his hand before he could retreat it out of range. Bell scowled and yanked his hand back to his body, holding the wound tight against him. Shit, that hurt. Looked like the bullet had gone right between the two bones, shit. His hand felt funny; some of his fingers wouldn't respond right. Could he still handle the gun like this?
He had to. Bell grabbed his shirt and ripped some of it off with the uninjured arm, then wrapped the bullet hole tight, tight enough the cloth helped to brace the arm. He'd make do for now. Just a little longer. They were almost there.
Daniel watched as metal ground against metal; Bell-boy’s methods of progressing any further fell flat. He was about to try his hand, when Bell-boy kicked down the door to a smaller room off the side. A pathetic man was chained to the floor, curled in on himself.
“Hybrid,” Daniel remarked, watching the man back up from them, afraid of their wrath.
He didn’t stay to watch. Part of him felt like ending this poor man’s life, but there wasn’t enough goat’s essence inside this man to affect his human shell. Yet.
Bell-boy was already moving on. Another door. Daniel followed to find a girl, gun raised and unlike the man, this one was perfect. A shining pearl amongst a storm of imperfection.
“She’s a goat,” Daniel stated, still lost somewhere between reality and the goatling’s perception of it. A second later he lowered his weapon. Rather than that, he cocked his head and drew the goat’s symbol in the air.
It unfolded almost hesitantly. It was easy to see the hunters had gotten the goat out before, probably with dramatic effects for the goat before. Daniel stepped away from the door.
He sent it a message: the door. Bell-boy’s attempts at destroying the metal. If it could do that, there was also a way out. Daniel showed it to the goatling. Showed the dying hybrids, the wounded hunters, the trail of blood that lead out into the cold forest. Or it could fight alongside them. Take revenge. Kill vat-goat.
For a second the goat stood there, tall and frail, high on its hooves -no, hands. There were appendages on the end of its feet. Gracefully, it passed Daniel out to the door, where it pierced the door with a single, seemingly effortless blow. Daniel could see the structure of the metal ripple and contort as it was disturbed.
It melted. Soon there was hot metal dripping from the door, around the goat’s hand. It retreated and then, fast as it could, rushed through the hallways, trailing the route Daniel gave it.
“Well…” Daniel remarked. The door was technically ‘open’, but there was no going through yet until it cooled down more. The man, whose chain they broke carefully stepped out of his confines, saw them and shrank back.
Daniel figured they might as well see what was behind the other doors and he kicked at one of the doors on the opposite side. Rather than cowering and distraught, this one fought his shackles, fierce and full of fight.
“Get me out, filthy hunter! I will rape your wife and drown your children, assholes! I will get my revenge! I swear I will-“
Gunfire interrupted the man’s rant. On the other side of the melted door, several hunters had taken up station and they fired at anything that moved.
Blood. He caught sight of it when Daniel raised his hand to the wall, blood soaked into the sleeve of his arm. Daniel was injured too. Neither of them were doing great. But they were doing better than usual. Better than they were usually doing, by this point in a fight.
"We have to," Bell said. Couldn't exactly turn back now. Daniel seemed entranced by the dent in the metal door, and Bell glanced back over his shoulder at the distant cloud. Had that gas gotten to him a little worse than he'd thought?
In either case, they had to break through here. Giving his hand a last good shake, Bell drew his pipe. If his hand didn't work, might as well put the blunt weapon to work. Drawing on the goat's strength, he beat into the metal door with all his strength. The sound of metal on metal rang out loud down the hallway, ringing out like a bell. He grimaced and glanced over his shoulder again. If this didn't work, they'd be drawing every last hunter in the compound to them.
Actually... He looked at the wall by the door, then back a little further. A little ways back, a door opened into the wall. Maybe the metal wall didn't go all the way through to the far wall of the room. It was locked, but a good kick with the goat's strength and the door sprang open anyways. It led to a padded room with a single bed by the wall, a sink and lone toilet standing out against the padding. In the corner, a man cowered, hands over his head. A chain connected his ankle to the bedpost.
"Don't hurt me, don't hurt me, please," the man whined, curling up tighter on the floor at the sight of Bell.
Bell walked over and grabbed the guy's chain, then snapped it open. The man just shivered and fled from him as soon as he was freed, escaping deeper into the room. Ignoring him, Bell ripped the padding off the wall by the metal wall, but it was metal, too; no getting around it, then. But the guy... they still had options. He backed out of the room. "Daniel," he called. "Come take a look. This guy a goat?" If he was, well. That'd be one way to get through the metal wall.
And his wasn't the only door in the hallway. Bell backtracked a little further and kicked another door open. A girl cowered inside this one, barely older than Sam. Disgusted, he stomped over and snapped her chain as well. What the fuck were these hunter pieces of shit up to, capturing random people like this? Were they new goat-material fodder? Hybrid attempts? It was sick, regardless. He hoped they were goats; that way, they'd free each other on the way out.
It was hard providing cover-fire for Bell-boy as the man jumped out and fired. He hit one, two, then felt a burning tear across his upper arm, enough to make him flinch and shirk back. Not for long. There were still hunters out there -not for long. Daniel pressed a hand to his shoulder and concluded it was just a graze. Not enough to prevent him from holding and firing a gun, much less do away with any pesky hunters on their path.
Daniel caught Bell-boy’s disgust and sighed out. It wasn’t a pretty sight, watching the hybrids fall prey to the cursed path they’d chosen. Whatever remained standing ran. Daniel stood. The coast was clear. They’d known it’d be like this and there was no backing down now.
He nodded back at Bell-boy, getting up on his feet. The graze stung. Not enough to distract him. There was enough adrenalin in his veins to feed an army.
Daniel felt it was the adrenalin which got him through the cloying gas cloud, because the temptation to just give up and sit down was almost overwhelming. He shook his head and chuckled once he was on the other side. Felt too familiar. The sensation of being drugged felt too familiar.
Blood. Bell-boy’s blood.
The redness and volume of it woke Daniel from his daze.
“You okay?” No reply.
Bell-boy ploughed on until they reached a heavy metal door, barring their path. “Shit,” he breathed, approaching the door. He put a hand to it, feeling the cold seep into his fingers. It was thick, well-structured. Much like a perfect goat, these molecules were all in neat little rows, a nice, solid order.
Not like the hybrids at all, who were chaos. Bell-boy’s blow had barely bothered the metal. It’d bent it though. Daniel’s fingers grazed the bit where the structure had been disturbed by the force of Bell-boy’s blow and focussed on it. If there were more doors behind this one, they’d have a problem. One, he could deal with one.
“Do we push through?” Daniel offered, already entranced by the fine structure of reality. Bell-boy looked perfect. He bet Bell-goat could easily do away with this little challenge too. But they wanted to save Bell-goat for last, didn't they? If at all. Daniel wasn’t sure having Bell-goat around would be a boon or a detriment.
Another hunter down. Bell glanced around the corner. One of the loosed hybrids lunge at its companions; another issued a thick gas that was already seeping around the corner. Seeing his chance, worried about the gas, he jumped out and fired. The chaos didn't last; static crackled out, bringing the goat-stuff down. Bullets tore into the hunters, and flew back at him, buzzing hot by his skin. But every hit he got sent a hunter crumpling, goat-stuff burning away under the static field and leaving them crippled. He ducked across into the other side of the hallway and put his back against the wall, then just waited.
The hunters rotted away from the inside, static tearing apart the goat stuff from the inside, which in turn tore the hybrids apart. They fell apart, chunks of meat falling off bones, bones splintering apart. The lone human in the troupe screamed and ran, fleeing from his comrades as they fell apart. Bell made a face, disgusted too. That was what a hybrid was? Disgusting.
When the hybrids were dead, beyond any hope of revival, he raised his gun and shot out the black box on the ceiling. The static field went dead. Bell glanced back at Daniel and nodded. It was time to move on.
The gas still hung in the air. It smelled sweet as he ran through it, and made his limbs feel heavy, but then he was out in the clear air on the other side. Bell shook his head and wiped at his face, then pushed on.
His stomach hurt. He glanced down, worried. Blood. His shirts were stained with blood. Bell grimaced, then pulled them open, peering at the hole. It was--it had only just clipped his side. Bell breathed out. Okay. He was still fine. But maybe no more running out in front of the line of fire.
This way. He ran ahead, keeping an eye out for the static field generators on the ceiling. Whenever he saw one, he shot it down; worst case, if he had to go goat, he was getting them a route back out of here.
A big metal door blocked the way ahead, little more than a metal panel descended from the ceiling. Bell ran up, drew on his goat's strength, planted his foot, and punched it with all his might. The metal dented, but didn't break. He winced and staggered back, gripping his wrist. "Shiiiiit," he grumbled, jumping in place. Door didn't break, but it felt like his hand had.
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