[center [pic https://s15.postimg.cc/pwypyl1nf/28947291_1696930453685833_381317954530457443_o.jpg] ] [h3 [size20 A War in the shadows...] ]
[div [size20 [germania+one The monsters of the world hide in dark alleys and dimly lit clubs. They stalk their prey in jungles of the wild and concrete alike. The fight against them has been as old as time. And only the bravest stand between humanity and the dark. That would be you.] ] ]
[div [size20 [germania+one Shit is hitting the fan more frequently than those King Arthur days. And the monsters have gotten very good at hiding their private wars. O.D.D. is there to shut them down where they can. Made up of humans, sorcerers, superbeings and supernaturals alike. They're a force for... maybe not good, but Balance. You've been drafted to the frontline.] ] ]
So this isn't first come first serve. In fact, it's almost private. Though if you impress me. And I mean REALLY impress me. I may let others join. Otherwise this is just for a few friends of mine and myself to shake off the rust and get back in the game.
[h3 [size20 Plot Summary:] ]
O.D.D. has several groups. Intel works small, stalking here and there. Agents work in pairs and small strike teams to do the most damage in secret. And then theirs you. You're the frontline when it really hits the fan. Expendable soldiers on the front line of whatever zombie horde or otherworldly invasion is spewing into the world at the time.
[space+mono [size15 [b Rule 1.0:] ] Pictures should be classified as Digital Art. Try to keep away from anything anime-like and if I can name the character/source... It's an instant NO till you find something else.]
[space+mono [size15 [b Rule 2.0:] ] Joining. You do this by filling out a skeleton and PMing me it. That's it. I'll go through your previous posts myself. And it is NOT first come first serve. So don't feel rushed. If I don't like something, we can work on it together. Okay? ]
[space+mono [size15 [b Rule 3.0:] ] Attitude is a motherfucking must, but keep it in character.]
[space+mono [size15 [b Rule 4.0:] ] Posting will have an order to be determined later. Try to keep it above 1000 characters and keep the misspellings and punctuation errors to a minimum. Everyone has typos, but slapping it into an autocorrect doesn't take much. Otherwise I'm not going to be too picky... for now.]
[space+mono [size15 [b Rule 5.0:] ] The Species and types of things is already set up. Don't make shit up without checking with me first. I've got whole pages of this crap. Some of it will be posted here. Some of it you can even play as. If you DO want to make something up, we'll talk, but it may be added to canon if it's really awesome. OH and a Half- something doesn't mean it has to be half human.]
[space+mono [size15 [b Rule 6.0:] ] Look, I'm an asshole. A tyrant. I'm sure there's a couple hundred words in the dictionary that you can use. None of them flattering. I reserve the right to refuse anyone for any reason, I'll probably even tell you why. I've been around for a while, in ES years I'm a bitter old man. Sorry. Luckily for you folks I'm really needing an rp.]
[space+mono [size15 [b Rule 7.0:] ] Lots of annoying rules, but let's try to have fun, okay? I mean. It's why everyone is here usually.]
[h3 [size20 Character Application:] ]
[b Picture:] [b Picture Link:] [b Username: ] [b Name:] [i First, middle, last, plus whatever. More info means more creative.] [b Alias:] [i I'm gonna be picky here. Might even dish them out unless you have a good one.] [b Age:] [i Depends on the species, check with me.] [b Gender:] [i My brain can only handle 6 of them.] [b Species:] [i Like I said, this is particular. I'll outline a bit below and we'll talk if you have issues.] [b Height:] [i If this becomes an issue I'll ban your ass... You know who you are... >_>] [b Weight:] [i Some things ARE heavier.] [b Eye Color:] [i Some things have 2.] [b Skin Color:] [i This more like a test of your creative talent than anything important.] [b Hair Color:] [b Powertype and Description:] [i There's a list.] [b Known Talents:] [i We aren't Batman... but this should have more than a few things.] [b Known Languages:] [i Useful info. ] [b Quick Bio:] [i Summarize it. Most importantly I want to know who you were before the team.] [b Pertinent Information:] [i Just the tidbits you want people to know that don't fit anywhere else. I.e. tattoos, oddities and extra bits.]
[h3 [size20 Current Cast:] ]
[pic https://i.postimg.cc/FsqfZFhy/kimon-by-rohan-lockhart-d9fv9j2-fullview.jpg] [b Username: ] Daedulusesque [b Name:] [i Anton Wyrick.] [b Alias:] [i Cage.] [b Age:] [i Twenty-Seven.] [b Gender:] [i Male.] [b Species:] [i Demigod - Chur] [b Height:] [i 5'11"] [b Weight:] [i 192 lbs] [b Eye Color:] [i Pale Grey] [b Skin Color:] [i Alabaster] [b Hair Color:] [i Ash Black] [b Powertype and Description:] [i Boundaries.] [b Known Talents:] [i Marksmanship. Paranormal encyclopedic knowledge. Relatively athletic. ] [b Known Languages:] [i German. Polish. English. French. Ancient Slavic.] [b Quick Bio:] [i Being the son of a god is all fun and games. Unless you're father is so obscure nobody knows about him. Anton grew up in Prague, assisting smugglers transporting contraband between Germany, Poland and Austria. Often times this contraband was paranormal in nature. It drew the eye of O.D.D. who cut Anton a deal. One he gladly took to make a name for himself. He knew smuggling would have gotten him killed eventually.]
[pic https://cdnb.artstation.com/p/assets/images/images/000/583/695/large/tony-foti-aneightypercentsolution-full-no-copy.jpg?1427523078] [b Username:] [i Dyke] [b Name:] [i Quinn Mannix O’Donough] [b Alias:] [i Jack (Jack-of-all-trades)] [b Age:] [i 27 ] [b Gender:] [i Female] [b Species:] [i Homo Sapien] [b Height:] [i 5’6”] [b Weight:] [i 67KG] [b Eye Color:] [i Heterochromia ] [b Skin Color:] [i Beige] [b Hair Color:] [i Ash Brown] [b Known Talents:] [i Quinn has always had a talent for working with her hands. Mechanics, animatronics, weapons, software. Give her something she can rip apart and reassemble, coffee, and an hour, and she’ll have taught herself at least the basics. She also an excellent tactician. Often feeds the team useful information when they’re out in the field. She is apparently terrible at chess.] [b Known Languages:] [i Scottish Gaelic, Irish Gaelic, English, French] [b Pertinent Information:] Quinn has Celtic runes, long thought lost, tattooed down her arms, chest, and legs.]
[b Powertype and Description:] [+red Cybernetic Enhancements] [b Head:] [i Air Filtration System, allowing Kincaid to breath freely without risk of smoke inhalation or contamination from airborne pathogens and chemicals. Thermal vision. Does what it says. Can detect standard human body heat through several centimetres of dense material. Tactical H.U.D. Displays constantly updated data on temperature, air pressure, radiation levels and the integrity of his own body. As part of this retina-mounted technology, footage is sent to Quinn who can set up waypoints and flag key targets to display directly in his vision.] [b Torso:] [i Blood Filtration Pump. A mechanical addition to his heart, the BFP ensures that anything that makes it into Kincaid’s bloodstream is swiftly isolated, neutralised, and stored in a small vessel mounted where his appendix used to be.Can be turned off wirelessly so he can get drunk. Hemo-Turbine. Basically a water turbine plugged into his heart that uses his pulse to create power for his cybernetic enhancements. Nerve Processing Unit. Allows the wireless shutdown of key nervous systems, allowing Kincaid to not just ignore pain, but not feel it at all. Controlled wirelessly. Has the unfortunate side effect of basically being Multiple Sclerosis with an off switch.] [b Arms:] [i Right Arm Replacement. The RAR is his right hand man. This man’s right hand. This man’s right to bear bare arms; and optionally, bare bear hands. With recoil reducers and aim stabilisers, his pre-existing talent for putting lead through small holes far away is only enhanced. Left Arm Enhancement. The LAE is the layman of this man’s arms. Featuring highly durable skin and skeleton, the LAE is a capable shield against medium calibre weapons and most melee combatants. The palm can also be magnetic, making him very hard to disarm and aiding in the climbing of some structures.] [b Legs:] [i Remarkably, his legs have undergone relatively minor surgery; mostly just joint and muscle enhancements to help cater to moving about his new increased body mass.] [b Overall:] [i Highly Improved Dermal Enhancement: H.I.D.E. is a biological and metallic marvel of Quinn’s own invention involving the grafting of metallic compounds to recently removed tracts of skin before re-grafting it with a hyper-reactive growth enhancing hormone. The result is an outer layer of highly flexible metallic “skin”. A truly brilliant invention, it doesn’t rust, and somehow still allows sweat to pass. It is resistant to cuts and scrapes, whilst its flexible nature helps with metals natural weakness to blunt force.]
[b Known Talents:] [i Trained in marksmanship and quick battlefield analysis. Trained to participate in covert and full-fire operations. Can pull his fingers free of a chinese finger trap. Has experience in the use of heavy artillery and experimental weaponry. Supposedly, a chess expert. Purportedly, the ideal soldier. In practise, not.]
[b Known Languages:] [i Scottish Gaelic, Irish Gaelic, Scottish English.]
[b Pertinent Information:] [i Accent is a strange combination of Scottish, North English, and Irish. Whilst most of his skin is beige, it does have a slightly metallic gloss to it. He has a tattoo of the O’Donough crest over his heart. ]
[pic https://scontent-sjc3-1.xx.fbcdn.net/v/t1.15752-9/58383187_669281840197323_728177680305881088_n.jpg?_nc_cat=110&_nc_ht=scontent-sjc3-1.xx&oh=d00bcb4ac2cf80873f717d8784fcac81&oe=5D6F6D7C] [b Username:] [i SuzumebachiAngst] [b Name:] [i Amaranth Locke] [b Alias:] [i Black Chess] [b Age:] [i Appearing 23] [b Gender:] [i Female] [b Species:] [i Homo Sapiens Demonica (Hellhound)] [b Height:] [i 5'8"] [b Weight:] [i 140lbs] [b Eye Color:] [i Yellow] [b Skin Color:] [i Pale Gray] [b Hair Color:] [i White] [b Powertype and Description:] [i Hellhound Transformation, becomes one with shadows and smoke. Teleporting in short distances.] [b Known Talents:] [i Tracking/Stalking, Chasing people down, Black Ops skills] [b Known Languages:] [i Latin, English] [b Quick Bio:] [i Summoned from hell by an amateur occultist, Amaranth temporarily served as the black hand for a small conjuration cult. In doing so, she evolved to have a human form and that, combined with becoming more familiar with the world of living, decided to break free from her service to pursue different experiences.] [b Pertinent Information:] [i Hellhound form appears to most non-magic oriented mortals as a black dog.]
[pic https://i.postimg.cc/QdVBN9Rg/2122497-204999905-ed17dd9bf2e3824f218f05e5a45ed6bf.jpg] [b Username:] [i Venomous Hydra] [b Name:] [i Stefano Orsatti] [b Alias:] [i None] [b Age:] [i 72] [b Gender:] [i Male] [b Species:] [i Homo sapiens vampirae - Arachne] [b Height:] [i 5'9"] [b Weight:] [b 193 lbs] [b Eye Color:] [i Stone Grey] [b Skin Color:] [i Olive Complexion] [b Hair Color:] [i Onyx Black] [b Powertype and Description:] [i Spiderwebs made from glands beneath middle, index and thumb nails, each nail suitably sharper to cut webbing when needed. Thin long fangs that retract for injecting venom. Wall crawling via typical Vampirae power. Collapsing retractable spider legs protrude from back, they can act defensively or be used to assist in wrapping prey in webbing. Lightly armored with sharpened tips.] [b Known Talents:] [i Multilingual, vehicle maintenance, teaching, archaeology (normal/mythological).] [b Known Languages:] [i Italian, English, Spanish, French, Latin]
[h3 [size20 Boring but necessary info:] ] [+r The year is 2042!]
[u The Nine Realms and the road that binds them:] [i As discussed by the sorcerous community] [b Click [https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Ha-ugVDBb_HwWR5PX9ar0jvRrNFkJIAt-qYueWXaEc8/edit?usp=sharing HERE] if you want a more in depth explanation.] [u Mortalis - The realm of humanity.] [i a.k.a Earth] [u Celestia - The realm of the angels.] [i a.k.a. Heaven] [u Abyssia - The realm of the demons.] [i a.k.a. Hell] [u Deitana - The realm of the origin.] [u Anderlund - The realm of the fae.] [u Azathoth - The realm of the forgotten.] [u Nativus - The realm of spirits and djinn.] [u Sylvaticus - The realm of the wild.] [u Castellum - The realm of the gods.] [u Eminus - The realm between realms. A winding labyrinthine forest of gateway's, haunted by things best not seen.]
[u The Various Schools of Magic:] [i Necromancy, the practice of reviving the deceased.] [i Conjuration, the practice of summoning beings from other realms to do ones bidding.] [i Abjuration, the practice of warding and charms to guard ones self.] [i Illusion, the practice of trickery and misdirection.] [i Transmutation, the practice of shifting one targets shape into anothers.] [i Divination, the practice of sight. In the past, present and future.] [i Evocation, the practice of calling forth elemental energies.] [i Entrancement, the practice of beguiling your foes into doing your bidding.] [i Enchanting, the practice of applying magical energies to an object.] [i Faith, the practice of belief in a greater power and symbol.]
[u Spell Components required to cast:] [i Verbal - Spoken words.] [i Somatic - Movement of body.] [i Material - Using objects and tokens.]
[h3 [size20 Humanoid Species:] ]
[b Homo Sapiens Sapiens a.k.a. Human] [i Your everyday base average human of various gender/ethnicity.]
[b Homo Sapiens Vampirae a.k.a Vampire] [u Sanguinae:] [i Human turned vampire through blood infection. Basic attributes.] [u Chiroptera:] [i Human turned vampire, evolved for aerial combat and stealth. Batlike.] [u Nosferatu:] [i Human turned vampire, evolved for cave and tunnel dwelling.] [u Draconis:] [i Pure blood vampires. Born and raised as royalty. Elementally inclined. Adept at magic.] [u Sauria:] [i Human turned vampire, evolved for brutality and battle. Lizard-like. Very large.] [u Arachne:] [i Human turned vampire, evolved for trapping and murder. Spider-like.]
[b Homo Sapiens Animalia] [i There's a lot here, it exists, I probably just haven't listed it.] [u Lycanthrope:] [i Human turned wolfman through infection.] [u Ailuranthrope:] [i Human turned catman through infection. [u Loup Garou:] [i Human turned wolf through magical means.]
[b Homo Sapiens Demonica a.k.a. Cambion] [u Incubi/Succubi:] [i Demon of Lust. Feeds off emotion and sexual energy.] [u Imp:] [i Demon of mischief. Low-level demon, known for causing trouble.] [u Drude:] [i Demon of Dreams. Thrives a person's dream, feeding of mental energy.] [u Hellhound:] [i Demon of Hunting. Demonic trackers. Hides well in the shadows.] [u Nightmare:] [i Demon of fear. Haunts in dreams and reality, feeds of terror.]
[b Homo Sapiens Arcana a.k.a. Magic Wielding Humans] [u Witch:] [i Predominantly female caster, specializing in herbs and incantations.] [u Warlock:] [i Predominantly male caster, specializing in elemental spells.] [u Wizard:] [i Caster specializing in summoning and communication.] [u Necromancer:] [i Caster specializing in death and resurrection.] [u Druid:] [i Caster specializing in channeling spirits and nature.]
[b Homo Sapiens Varia a.k.a. Variant/Mutation] [i Humans evolved to survive a dangerous world. Imagine X-men. If you need to discuss it, we can.] [u Seer:] [i Mental abilities, usually pertaining to sight.] [u Immortalis:] [i Physical ability pertaining to longevity.] [u Lancer:] [i Mental abilities, pertaining to striking.] [u Ranger:] [i Mental abilities, pertaining to range.] [u Brawler:] [i Physical abilities pertaining to offense and defense.] [u Cleric:] [i Mental abilities over organic material.] [u Gizmo:] [i Mental abilities over technological material.]
[b Homo Sapiens Mythica a.k.a. All that weird national shit.] [+red We'll talk if you want any of these.] Examples: [i Wyvern Gorgon Harpy Ogre Minotaur Wendigo Tengu Nymph Pixie Siren]
[+blue Non-Living Entity:] [i There are way too many of these. So here's a couple.
[b Non-Physical Entity:] [u Ghost:] [i Typical haunting spirit. Generally still around due to unresolved issues.] [u Poltergeist:] [i Mischievous ghost with telekinetic abilities.] [u Reaper:] [i Spirits tasked with taking souls to rest. ]
[b Physical Entity:] [u Revenant:] [i Truly undead. A soul brought back to the original host.] [u Zombie:] [+blue Playable] [i Reanimated corpse. Brought back by many means.] [u Mummy:] [i Corpse brought back with a vendetta. [u Ghoul:] [i Grave haunting corpse. Strong and fast. Feral.]
[b Construct:] [u Homunculus:] [i A biologically animated being forced into a living semblance.] [u Golem:] [i An elementally animated being forced into a living semblance.] [u Automata:] [i A technologically animated being forced into a living semblance.] [u Animus:] [i Neither living nor dead. Magic and science moving a corpse like a machine, with a soul as a pilot.]
[b Special Circumstance Entities:] [u Afflicted:] [i A being of various kinds afflicted by an outside source, whether it be a curse or possession, to become something wholly different. And often unique. ]
[u Aspect:] [i A creature that symbolizes the very essence of a thing or idea. Some include The Aspect of Survival. The Aspect of Cunning.]
[u Avatar:] [i Much like Aspect, with the difference being its abilities come from an outside source. The current Four Horsemen are Avatars of their attributes. Death, Famine, Plague and War.]
[u Pantheonic Deity:] [i While there are many pantheons, only one may rule at any given time. The current ruling pantheon is the Mason's. The heads of said pantheon, a mortal and a sorceress who obtained godhood, then had children who grew into their own abilities. Deities, while seemingly all powerful due to their creation and destruction abilities and in the past were often worshipped, have become much less powerful over the eons. Now the Mason's mete out justice while fighting a secret war against The Outsiders.]
[b Lazy Roost:] One of the last sanctuary bars running in the world. Caters to oddities, but leans toward the 'good-guy' spectrum.
[h3 [size20 Known Agencies:] ]
[+blue Good:] [u The Mason Pantheon:] [i The newest pantheon, the world's antibody against the Outsiders. Self-appointed buffer between the paranormal and the non.] [u The Four Horsemen:] [i The four 'Strongest' entities. Death, Famine, War and Pestilence. They have been very recently updated.] [u The Occult Defense Department] [i The "O.D.D." are a U.N. run agency to combat the paranormals and police the world. Often works with the Mason's.] [u Military Intelligence Division Zero] [i "MI-D0". The British paranormal police.] [u Special Division Police Department] [i "S.D.P.D.". The American paranormal police.] [u The Agency for Mutations and Psychics] [i "A.M.P.] The other side of the O.D.D. coin. Focuses on the new breed of mutated humans and creatures.]
[+red Bad:] [u Consortium Sanguine] [i Vampiric Mafia.] [u Lykos Symmoria] [i Werewolf Mafia.] [u Sindikat Magi] [i Sorcerer Mafia.] [u La Cabalo] [i Outsider Cult] [u Hisakawa Conglomerate] [i Paranormal based Yakuza family] [u Fonseca Cartel] [i Paranormal based Drug cartel] [u Grand Bay Gangsters] [i West Coast gang of supes and paranormals of all breeds.] [u Fallen Shadows] [i League of paranormal assassin's feared world-wide and even in some other dimensions.]
Neutral: [u Vampyr Regalitate] [i Vampiric royal family. No longer in charge of the vampiric community as a whole.]
[b Charles Mason:] Currently riding heard on the paranormal community as lead god in the new pantheon.
[b Ethan Deckard:] Chosen to run Night Watch. A paranormal/superpowered strike squad working behind the scenes to prevent a dimensional/world war. [pic https://i.postimg.cc/gJQJWVzC/Julian-Jakobs-Jeanot.jpg] [b Julian Jeannot:] Leader of the Occult Defense Department and owner of the Hallowed House. An island sanctuary for the youngest of paranormals and supers. Those who cannot fight.
[b Artemis Penn:] Current head of Military Intelligence Division Zero, holder of Caliburn and newest incarnation of Artur.
[b Malone Mstislav:] The Undying man. Koschei and an O.D.D. agent.
[b Grady Cavanaugh:] North American Varghulf. Mason Pantheon General.
[b Murphy and Maximillien Moreau:] Dragon and Knight. Leaders of Valiant, a hero organization on the west coast, though now branching global. Some of the first superheroes to see the light of day. Also CEO's of Moreau industries. [pic https://i.postimg.cc/DZ8ZHjTQ/Hildegard-Sigrun.jpg] [b Hildegard Sigrun:] [i O.D.D. Agent and Werebear. Tiny human, enormous beast.] [#FFD700 In Gold Squad.] [pic https://i.postimg.cc/zXnfsH9Q/Olympe-Amarante.jpg] [b Olympe Amarante:] [i O.D.D. Agent and Summoner. A descendant of the Morrigan.] [#FFD700 In Gold Squad.] [pic https://i.postimg.cc/15xt7rY6/Yunuen-Amaru.jpg] [b Yunuen Amaru:] [i O.D.D. Agent and Shaman. Spirit seet of Native American origin.] [#FFD700 In Gold Squad.] [pic https://i.postimg.cc/MpqGqKwp/Vala-Ree-Dythec.jpg] [b Vala'ree Dythec:] [i O.D.D. Agent and Soldier. High Elf Fae descendant. Unknown if she is of Summer or Winter court.] [#FFD700 In Gold Squad.] [pic https://i.postimg.cc/9Xw0Bn1C/Kaede-Miyamoto.jpg] [b Kaede Miyamoto:] [i O.D.D. Agent and Swordswoman. Wields a blade haunted by her ancestors.] [#FFD700 In Gold Squad.] [pic https://i.postimg.cc/NFX0fKL5/Moshe-Salathiel.jpg] [b Moshe Salathiel:] [i O.D.D. Agent and Incubus. Inhumanly strong and equally also a talented spy.] [#FFD700 In Gold Squad.]
Roleplay Reply. Do not chat here. (50 character limit.)
Stefano was relieved to see that Caid was stable, he stood up, letting the others gather in to check on him. He pulled out his glasses that showed him the battle information, and maps and all the stuff the techie's put up on the screens, probably the same stuff that Caid got, but far less tactical, since they were merely glasses. He slipped the pair of frames on, and turned them on. It sped through the loading process. [b "Wait...What are you talking about? It's headed for the base?" ] He looked over the map on the screen, it was heading that way, and it seemed like updates came to a halt, though the pinging of the GPS ran across the screen. Likely all the techs running to hide before the creature made it to them. Did they even have any defenses up there? They didn't really think on that...Outside the Miasma was supposed to be safe. But he should of known better to suggest they shore up the defenses at camp, just in case.
He looked to Anton, ready to make a move if he said the word. But the comms went silent, and then the tracker settled, and stopped. He was terrified that they just had the entire tech team killed, in an instant. But it soon passed once he heard Quinn's voice again, it had just been the drone? Thank the gods...He shook his head, and ripped the glasses off his head. [b "I wish I did not just watch that, my adrenaline is pumping for them." ] He halts Kincaid from getting much further. [b "Let's wait for the replacement that Quinn mentioned, we'll need our full firepower, if what the hound here said is true." ] He takes a seat on a nearby desk, and begins chewing on a nail, somewhat nervously.
It was the only way to describe events you could do nothing about. Everything happened in a matter of seconds, and yet time seemed to slow and stretch on. No visual except flashes from Kin's visor, sparked only by the milliseconds of light from his gunfire. And then nothing. Only the sounds. Sounds that an old soldier might hear during a PTSD flashback. Sounds of your life, and that of your brother's flashing before your eyes. Precious memories all but fading away in mere seconds as absolute terror and helplessness settled in. A grip so strong that not even the silence that followed could break it. And then reality. Crashing down like the wave of a tsunami, cold and heavy.
"[b Kin!]" the tortured scream of a distraught sibling. "[b Nou! nou, nou, nou, nou. Kin! Answer me! For fook's sake, someone tell me what's going on!]" She could still hear shuffling. Glass breaking. The crunching of footsteps on glass and debris. A pop-up flashed on the screen in front of her. A warning that her heart rate was too fast and breathing uneven. She took a moment, calming herself and evening out her breath again. It took all of ten seconds. A practiced skill when you had a brother who was prone to near-death experiences. Turning to another monitor to pull up Kin's vitals. A heart beat. Thank the gods. There was a heartbeat. An excessive, post-adrenaline heartbeat, but still. "Amico, stay with me." It wasn't Kin's voice, but it was enough proof to Quinn that her equipment wasn't on the fritz. Kin was alive. Massively damaged, most likely, but alive. And she'd never been so happy to hear Stefano's voice. Her own adrenaline high coming down, she didn't even register what he said about trackers, not until Anton's voice sounded over the comms with instructions. Grounding. As indecisive as he could be as a captain, he was the one thing that kept the team grounded in situations like these.
"[b On i', boss.]" She minimised Kin's vitals, content with the results, swapping it for her tracking system. "[b 8922450, 7643882, and 3019482. Roi't then. 301 is stuck in tha wall behind ye. How it go' there is beyond me. 764 made it into the targe'. I'm assumin' anyway, cause it's up a' tha school. And 892... is movin'. Where's i' goin'?]" Quinn tapped away, continuing to track the creature's movements and comparing the speed to the time it took to attack Kin. It matched. "[b Oh, shite. I think it's headed for base.]" a moment of silence passed. The tracker didn't veer, or slow, or deviate at all. It ignored buildings, probably either leaping through or over them. "[b Táim marbh...]" "Jack! Get out!" So much for keeping the team grounded. Quinn watched as the little red dot on her screen passed through the miasma. it was already here. Trying to escape now would only set off it's predatory instinct. They were already trapped. Closer and closer it got, Quinn waited for the sounds of screams, inevitable, from the lab techs the O.D.D. had sent on this suicide mission. Lab techs weren't supposed to face this music. Most of them already had families, because they could. No fear of being caught in the crossfire. "Quinn!" Seconds stretched into minutes, but no screams came, that or Quinn had already started blocking it out, preparing herself for her own fate. The dot didn't even pause to take out techs. It moved straight toward the tarantula. And inside.
An extremely recognisable R2-D2 scream sounded as the drone descended from the Synth-sized hole in the side of the tarantula. Basically a glorified doggy-door. "Quinn, respond!" An order sounded through her comms, though the voice starting to break. Quinn let out a breath she hadn't realised she was holding. Relief giving way to anger. "[b For fook's sake you stupid drone! I really have to put a better nav system in you. And-- i-is that Kin's arm!?]" Amaranth's chuckle came over the comm, dark and smooth. "[b Shut i', mutt.]" Turning back to her monitors, Quinn flicked Kin's secondary communications on. Taking a moment to think, turned on his HUD recording as well, almost screaming at the picaso level of damage he'd done. "[b Fookin' christ, Kin. I really want ta blame ye for this, bu' I saw tha' thing, so...]" She set up a full system diagnostic before spinning in her chair, Quinn passed over several drawers before finding the one she wanted, pulling it out beyond how far it looked like it should go. Inside sat several spare arms. She flicked through a few, toying with the idea of sending him a left arm instead of a right, but quickly deciding that her brother had met his quota for near death experiences for that day, and didn't need any help getting into another, because the gods knew that he would. She picked one up. Not one of the fancy ones. Those were for special occasions. She handed the spare to Synth, the drone immediately prepping the wires for nerve attachment, while Quinn measured out health dose of local, placing the vial into the drone, the contents draining into a hidden chamber for application. "[b Alrigh' Kin, I've go' a new arm for you. Do [i no'] ignore the local. I've been working on this one for a while an' 'ave been meaning to test i' ou'. [i If] you apply the arm properly, meaning, use the damned local, it will sync up with yer armour. Damage reports will send straight to Synth. He'll do patch up work more often, even on yer armour.]" She glanced up at her monitors. "[b As for yer eyes, there's no physical damage, so I can fix tha' from here, bu' it'll take loike, five minutes tops, so deal with i'.]"
Quinn paused. "[b Did you send me a sample of it's blood?]" Beat. "Yeeeeaaaaah?" "[b Aw, little brother, yer tha' best. I'll ge' on tha' as soon as I've fixed your eyes, because the god's know I cannae fix yer face. Well, actually I could. But i won't.]"
A few minutes passed, the group waiting for Synth to return and patch Kin up as well as discussing their next move, Quinn busy setting up tests for her blood sample. One of the tech who'd been running tests came to report to Quinn. Leaving the tarantula to verify the results herself, Quinn turned her comms off. "[b What the fuck is this?]" she asked, the tech looking every bit as nervous as she felt. "Nano-drones, Jack." "[b Well, fook.]"
[i Foooook… mah head…] He blinked, sluggishly, as his vision struggled to take hold. A humanoid shape with four protrusions extruding from its spine stood over him. "Stay still amico, seems like that will take some time to mend, did you see where the creature went?" [b “Tha’ way.”] He pointed with his left arm towards a portion of wall that had been busted down. "Quinn, I need you to check GPS Trackers for me, ID numbers 8922450, 7643882, and 3019482. If any of them are on the move let me know."
He closed his eyes, trying to center himself. What had happened? The thing had got the drop on him, he managed to put a few rounds into, it hit him… he put his hand up to his temple, wincing at the touch. Pulling his hand away, he opened his eyes. [i Blud…] His left eye seemed to be malfunctioning; it was like a horrible double vision interspersed with flashes of thermal and night vision. It created a hellscape overlay for the rest of the world around him. He took a glance at the keypad on his left wrist. Sure enough, there was a flashing yellow symbol. He reached to press a few buttons with his right hand.
It was ruined. He watched the crab-like pincers of Synth prodding and pulling at various wires and struts. [i ‘Ow did…?] A flash came to him, of holding the beast’s maw from his face as it bit and chewed on his arm, and of managing to get his pistol into his left hand. [i Bang. Bang. Bang.] He’d put three fifty calibre rounds into it. Two were barely scrapes; looking at the ceiling he could see their final rest. But one had gone straight into its thick scaled neck. Allowing himself a grim smirk, he reached up to his right shoulder, unclipping the pauldron there. [b “Synth, remoove RAR.”]
Galvanised into action, the chubby little robot hopped onto his shoulder. Sparks flew as the drone severed the bindings keeping the arm in place. Kin grimaced at the sensation. [b “Fookin’ ghost limbs."] He could feel the arms presence still, even as it clattered to the floor. [b “Go take tha’ home to Jack. Oh…”] He smeared some of the blood on his torso onto the palm of his detached hand. [b “And take tha’ too.”]
He adjusted his position, slumped against the wall. He closed his eyes for a minute. He’d been through a lot, it was true. But it didn’t mean that when he got knocked about he didn’t need a minute. He was still human. If anything, he had to get his mind back into pace. His moment of rest was interrupted by nudging at his foot.
[b “Sorry bou’ tha’ folks. Jost needed a wee catnap.”] Leaning heavily against the wall, he rose to his feet. If he hadn’t looked intimidating before, the one armed cybernetically enhanced menace with blood streaming down his left side was sheer nightmare fuel now. He stepped slowly to where his pistol had fallen, carefully bending down to pick it up with a groan. [b “N’aw even tirty an’ oi’m too old for dis shite. Did anyone ‘appen to grab my visor?”]
He looked at the three concerned faces before him, giving them a wicked smile. [b “Also, if ya wants’a use mah roifle spoider boi, it’sa joost ovah dere. I’d offer a ‘and on usin’ it, but ah…”] He shrugs in such a way that would’ve looked better with two arms, before smacking the side of his head twice. [b “Also, someone tell Quinn to shut down me left eye? Shite is well more fooked than hooker on a pirate ship.”]
“Amara swee’art, why dun you step on back dis way where I can keep an eagle eye eh?”
At that she feels annoyed, "[b I have a feeling that my eyes are better than yours.]" and instead of returning to them, she fades out of physical vision, leaving behind a trail of smoke where her afterimage stands. This was a gamble considering that she is the only one on the team not equipped with electronic communication.
As the sounds of her comrades grow fainter, Amaranth continues to follow the scent tracks of the "animal" up the hill. In the distance, she sees the top of what seems to be a school building appear, the line of blood and gore gets stronger. To the side, she sees the severely severed arm of a juvenile. To her contempt, she feels a trace of sorrow at the lost life. [i I am growing soft.] Lord Azhram would laugh at her for being so moved at a severed mortal arm. Especially considering that, long ago, she once had given no second thoughts at hunting town escaped souls, children and adults alike, and ripping them apart into the nether like a hound upon a rabbit.
When she approaches the school, Amaranth fades back into view, "[b Hmm...]" she stares. A scorched out mess, the ground burnt, and a wall of cars, metal, and flesh melded together by Azhram knows what, forming a fortress around the school. The blood, gas, and smoke was choking . . . and exhilarating to her. The animal smells were stronger as well, and she could hear the faintest noises of feral life behind the wall. She inhaled and the horrid stench enlivened her, and Amaranth grew larger from feeding off of the death aura permeating the environment. While this may be the creature's habitat, it can also easily be her's.
At the same moment, she hears shouting and shooting come from back down at the hill. They were being attacked. As she is about to turn around to head back, that hair-standing feeling of imminent danger crept up on her and from her peripheral vision, something came around a destroyed car, snarling, and lunges at her. Amaranth flattens herself to the ground and dissolves into smoke, diving to the side and holding herself in the in-between form as she gapes at the thing that attacked her.
It tears into the ground where she once was, a huge black carnivorous beast with razors for claws and an alligator mouth snapping at the air. She fades into view and it charges at her. Amaranth fades into smoke and dissipates around its snapping jaws right in time. She flies over to the top of the wall and her eyes darken with both pleasure and horror.
Inside of the circle of molten carnage, is what is left of the entire town. Piles and piles of bodies and dismembered bodies, half eaten, picked to the bone, left to age in the smoke. Two of the similar creatures she saw mill about the area, some distance from her. She looks back and the creature that once attacked her has disappeared from view. At the same time, the shooting and commotion has stopped. [i Are they dead??]
Then more movement, another one of the monsters bound over the wall of metal on the other side, except it appears to be injured as it drags its leg behind itself. [i Nice job Battleship.] It hops down onto the ground, shrieking in agony . . . until a larger, a p[i very] large monster with red patches on his green scales and bigger horns swoops out from behind a tall pile of bodies pounces on the injured one and pins it to the ground, squealing. Then it tears into its' kin's flesh, exciting one . . . two . . . four other of the same kind of monstrosity to join in the feast. Dumfounded, Amaranth didn't realize that her fade has disappeared and she, in her enlarged black form, was visible at the top of the wall. One of the monsters looked in her direction and she immediately faded away, traveling faster than wind back towards her comrades.
She came to the store where they were attacked and sees Stefano and Anton bent over Kincaid, whose arm looked like it has seen better days. Amaranth walked over to them, aware that she looks bigger, redder, blacker, and more menacing. Her legs were trembling as well, both from unwanted adrenaline and exhilaration at seeing the carnage, and from a deep-seated fear.
[i Coward] Lord Azhram would have said to her.
"[b Between you and me, I think I got lucky,]" she leans over and sniffs Kincaid's arm, feeling unfortunate she had no healing capabilities, "[b I encountered one myself. They have a nest up at the school, I saw five total, including one that was wounded in the leg from gunshots. But it got attacked and eaten by a much bigger beast. As far as I know, there are no survivors either . . .]"
[b "Jack! Report!?"] Anton's skin was crawling, he had his revolver out before she had even spoken, hammer cocked back. He could feel his skin breaking out in a sweat as it ran slowly down the back of his neck. Something was wrong, he never felt fear like this.
"Incoming at 11! I've only seen one of these things, so watch yer six... and yer three, and yer nine! Christ, jus' watch everythin!"
The world slowed and with heightened senses he leveled his gun on the figure reaching through the glass to pull Kincaid in. Only he stood frozen, horrified. The scales were such a dark shade of green they were almost black. Teeth and claws and spikes jutted in no discernable pattern, and its eyes were glowing sickly yellow eyes that stared directly at him. The beast and Kincaid were ripped inside and Stefano was firing shots and entering right behind. The silence broke his poorly timed freeze, and he hurriedly leap through the window to find a wounded Kincaid and Stefano covering him. He crouched and assessed the damage as Amara came inside and covered the window. [b "Kincaid, you with us soldier?"] He could see great rends and tears in the man's. It had damn near gone through the armor and through a portion of the man's synthetic skin. He could the see the endoskeleton beneath. [b "Jack, I need a sitrep and eyes on. Did any of Stefano's trackers stick?"]
Anton moved the window to peek outside, but the street was as silent and empty as it was before. [b "We've made first contact. Definitely reptilian... Something... monstrous. It almost looked like a Sauria vamp... Only like it's been taking steroids since the 60's."] He moves back and sets down on a knee as a drone begins to stitch back Kincaid's arm. He wipes a finger through the blood on the ground. Viscous and green he quickly wiped it away. [b "At least we know the thing can fucking bleed..."] Something about this thing had his every sense on high alert. And dread started to coil in his gut. [b "All right... We need to either keep moving towards the school or back out..."] He quickly looks at them all for answers. They all knew his was to take this thing, or things out as quick as possible.
Stefano listened to the comms, he had been moving about upon the roofs, looking over the areas, the miasma severely crowded the area, but he could make out the outlines of the surrounding buildings. His ararchnae legs pressed into the ground, and launched him across to the next building, the launch and landing in almost perfect silence. He scoped around each area. Nothing quite yet. While he had the moment, he began grasping the edge of the buildings, and drawing his spidery silk across the rooftops, with each leap, he slowly netted the tops of the roof, if anything decided to swoop down on the squad, they would meet some unexpected resistance.
[b "Hmm?" ] He paused and turned to look at the group down in the street. He stopped to listen to Anton. "Looks like we've got some kind of animal. Could be a clue, rack your brain and see if anything starts to make sense." He pressed a button on his glasses to bring up views of their cameras, taking a look at the visual data they had gathered so far. [b "Sorry boss, without a visual on the creature, this could of been caused by anything." ] He continued his leaps across the buildings. [b "Quinn, keep your drones from flying straight up, we now have a net for any flying creatures if they attempt to swoop down on us." ] He crawls through a gap in the webbing, and crawls down to the street.
He hears Quinn mention there's something here. [b "You saw it?" ] He said with a hint of curiousity, he wanted to see this creature, find a way to rid this town of it, and get back to his dusty old tomes. He could feel everyone becoming tense though, and began moving to a better position to cover the team.
Hearing the warning come over the comms, he began to skulk around, crawling along the buildings, watching each position. He pulled out some gps trackers from his tactical gear, and began webbing certain areas. He managed to get three of them webbed up over easy access into the street around them. He then heard gunfire. The beast had snatched Kincaid in mere moments. He leapt to the side of the building, and saw the beast drag him inside. He pulled out his pistol, and tried to get a sight on something in the building. He saw the shadows of something standing over Kincaid. He had no time to do anything. He fired three shots of his heavy pistol through the window. The window spider-webbed in cracks, and became impossible to see through, he heard a crash inside the building, and he was forced to stab through the window, and climb in.
The silence was deafening afterward...he moved into the building and the creature was gone. He moved up to Kincaid slowly, looking over every shadow. He could see blood splattered over Kincaid, it seems he hit whatever was standing over him. [b "Amico, stay with me." ] He looked at the damage around the room, the creature made a retreat it seemed, and it was likely running to nurse wounds, or search for prey that didn't bite back. He turned to look at Kincaid now more thoroughly. His arm was torn to shreds, and he did not look good. The drone sprang to life on his back, and began welding bits of his arm back together. [b "Stay still amico, seems like that will take some time to mend, did you see where the creature went?" ] He took a heavy breath, adrenaline flowing through him. [b "Quinn, I need you to check GPS Trackers for me, ID numbers 8922450, 7643882, and 3019482. If any of them are on the move let me know." ] He said as he knelt down next to Kincaid, helping however possible.
"Or we could check key areas based on actual deduction and tracking, Kin. Ya kno, instead of walkin' around loike chickens with our heads up our arses, tryin' ta foind somethin'.” [b "Och, I guess tha' could work tou."]
Anton gave his orders, and Amaranth wandered off a ways. Kincaid noted that her thermal image was slightly larger than her visual form. [i Intressin…] He propped the butt of his rifle into his shoulder, slowly stepping forward and scanning the street. [i Plenny of hidey holes, mul’iple story buildin’s… place is an ambush wai’in’ ta happen.] He watched one of the drones detach from its buddy, ascending slightly before shooting down the street. He dropped to one knee, keeping his weapon ready in case anything pounced on it…
Nothing. The drone vanished into the distance, and he resumed his watch, keeping an eye on the groups rear. A single line in the radio chatter caught his attention. "The pattern indicates that someone threw themselves ou' a second storey window. There's no body. No indication of any struggle after tha'." [b “Well fook. Frew or got frewed?”] "Alright Jack, bring the drone back, we'll head toward the school. If there's no sign of life then it should be fine to proceed." Anton sounded tense, as if he was ready to be attacked at any moment. Kincaid felt the same.
“Jack?” "There's somethin' here."
Amaranths low voice broke through. "It's certainly been here but I can't tell if it's nearby. Why don't you guys . . ." Her voice drifted off, and Kincaid immediately swivelled 180 degrees to check on her. Her smoky thermal trace looked lower, and he could just make out her paws shifting backwards. Something had set her off. He started to scan the windows and rooftops around her position; he’d learnt to trust her instincts. [b “Amara swee’art, why dun you step on back dis way where I can keep an eagle eye eh?”] His heart was bounding, and his voice was monotonous; none of its usual boisterousness was present. It was the calm before the storm. He could damn near smell the gunfire that was about to go off.
"You saw it?" It was Stefano this time; Kin could damn near hear him without the comms. [b “Ger yer ass doon from dere. Non’a us can get dere quick enoof ta help ya.”] He kept half an eye on Stefano’s rooftop position, but from his grounded position in the middle of the street he wouldn’t be any use. "Nou. Bu' I heard i'."
Everyone was tense now. Kin spared a moment to loosen his pistol in its holster, and stood up. A rearward camera on his helmet gave him some view of the rear; nothing.
"Shite. I know I heard somethin'." "Don't worry about it Jack. Regroup for now. We'll head up and do a more thorough search." [b “Cap’n, our skin is a crawlin’ ou’ ‘ere…”] "Affirmative." Kincaid started taking baby steps towards a shop front window; the flickering lights within revealed a gory display against the window, with a mannequin silhouette showing menacingly through the blood. He needed to reduce his flanks, put his back against a wall. "Fook!" "Jack? Report." Kincaid dropped to one knee, leant against the low wall beneath the window and facing up the street. He couldn’t see anything. [b “Erryone shol’ grab sum covah nouw! Maintain line o’ sigh’!”] "I think I just lost drone four. Controls aren't responding. Running a system diagnostic." The whole world held its breath. "Wha'..?" There was a clattering sound of a dropped headpiece, and then a ping on his HUD. A swift press on his wrist opened a small video clip; [i Reptoil, large, sharp bits… Runnin’...] Quinn’s voice exploded onto the comms. "Incoming at 11! I've only seen one of these things, so watch yer six... and yer three, and yer nine! Christ, jus' watch everythin!"
Kin exploded into action; he knew his role. [b “Confirm’d singul target, unknown othahs. Large as a car or van, reptoilian, lo’s of sharp bits! Quickah than i’ looks, snook up on a drone. Check ya shadows, ge’ where ya can see erryone. And put ya backs against a wall!”] A shadow flickered on the other side of the street. Without hesitation, he turned and loosed two rounds. [b “And fook the PID. If it twitches, shoot it.”] Pressed into the wall, he kept a wide field of vision open and flicked his rifle to fully automatic.
[i Come ou’, come ou’, where evah ya be…] Even the wind stopped. The fires crackling turned silent. Kincaid was a soldier; a survivor of the unsurvivable and a hunter of the unkillable. This was his element. He knew exactly where his squad were, he knew exactly where they would go. Amaranth would be finding the nearest shadow to pounce from. Anton would be moving to a position where he could coordinate and safely give orders. Stefano would most likely take a position opposite Kin against the wall of a small cafe; though with very little field experience it was hard to be certain on that.
There was no history and no future. There were shadows and light, movement and the absence of life. A shutter creaked in an upstairs window 200 feet away; a 15 round burst saturated the front of the building next to it, an attempt to hit where the beast would be. Kincaid was not a man with a story. He was an extension of a gun, and commanded all it willed into being. Something shattered in a shop front on his side of the street; four round burst past Antons shoulder. He never missed his shots. He never hit his allies. There was too much invested in him for it too be possible. A twig snapped in a tree behind him, and the staccato of gunfire dropped a pigeon.
Silence. Not even the breathing of his allies cut through the air. The shadow of the mannequin behind him vanished as the store light flickered out again. He dropped the magazine from his rifle, grabbing a spare from his waist. The magazine was slightly bulkier, heavier, and bore a wide yellow stripe near its base. Strictly speaking, the rounds weren’t legal… but as long as you had a camera mounted to your face capable of finding and recording every single uranium tipped armour piercing round fired so that the cleaners could dispose of the evidence, command didn’t seem to mind.
He clipped in the mag, and noticed something strange in his rear camera. As the light flickered back on the shadow of the mannequin seemed… different. It was bulkier in the shoulders, and its edges had a different cut to them. He whipped around, rifle already firing as the glass shattered over him. Large razor sharp hands grabbed his shoulders, pinning his arms against his sides. With a yell, he was flung against the back wall of the shop, smashing through the hanging light and plunging the room into darkness. He sprayed his rifle wildly, tracking the beast. He only saw flashes of thermal; it was hardly registering. His camera picked up on the light change, and switched to night vision.
It was horrific. With the jaws of a gator, the stance of werewolf, the claws to make a cassowary jealous… blood dripped from its maw, and a few light patches on its thigh indicated where Kincaid had clipped it. He raised the rifle to its face.
Leap, bound, swipe. It was on him before he could even pull the trigger. Kincaid’s vision exploded into white as his helmet was ripped off his head, severing his radio and video connection with Quinn. [i Damn.] The beast grabbed him by the waist, slamming him into the wall before vanishing into the back of the shop with Kincaid in tow. It was over in seconds.
Gunfire. Strangled cry. A crash in the upper story of the building. A battle cry. A different gunfire; not fully automatic, a distinctly thunderlike trio of booms.
“Jack? If’n I just noticed ah, y’must’ve by loike… t’irty secoonds ago.” Jack groaned inwardly. Here we go. “Black Chess cannae track a soose, mah soot ain’ got shite. We’ve go’ nou wey of trackin’ dis doone. We’ve gotta sweep an entoire toon befah promeefious stroikes, not joost sum key bits.” "[b Or we could check key areas based on actual deduction and tracking, Kin. Ya kno, instead of walkin' around loike chickens with our heads up our arses, tryin' ta foind somethin'.] "Och, I guess tha' could work tou."
As soon as the orders were on Anton's lips, Quinn began typing away, grateful for the interruption, her drones pre-programmed to work together to form an analysis. Several ran over the blood splatter patterns, while others focused on the slash marks on the car. Each screen lit up with grid-like patterns, tracing each mark. Quinn went into overdrive, eyes darting to each screen and matching up patterns to others the drones found, and the O.D.D. database. The blood pattern was the first to yield results. "[b The blood leads North, toward the school. Loike, all of it. Toward the school, or beyond it. Bu' the school would make sense. Since this one is old, it's basically a fookin' bomb shelter. It'd be easy to keep victims there. And if they're anythin' loike ma brother, it's their wurst nightmare.]"
Amaranth had been busy doing her... dog thing. Trying to smell something that wasn't there. Even a creature of magic couldn't get a pull on the source, or even a trail, or anything that would indicate what had made the miasma. Which in itself was odd. Had it been created magically, there was always a trail, and if the caster managed to hide that trail there was always something else. A scent, a feeling, physical or emotional, that always gave away at least the species of the caster. She could however, get a track on a creature. It was at that moment that the rest of her analysis yielded some results. A projection began to appear behind her, light shaping into the best visual representation of what would have made those gashes. Five razor sharp claws protrude from long fingers, long, but in no way lean. A forearm appeared in the projection, double the width of Quinn's neck. Whatever this was-- "[b It's huge.]" It wasn't meant to be said out loud, but it had as a breathy and awed whisper. "Repeat, Jack." Blinking and turning back to her screens, Quinn pulled the projection and sent it to all her drones, each one projecting the hologram. "[b Yer both righ', boss. They are claws, and i' is large. Bu' this gives me nothin'. The patterns don' match up with anythin' in our database. The closest thing I could give you is a Wendigo, bu' they don' have the power behind them to do this sor' of damage. So it's either a seriously pissed off Wendigo with the power of Heracles behind it, or it's somethin' else entirely. Somethin' new.]"
The silence was enough of an answer. "Jack, send one of the drones ahead. See if you can get your eyes on anything useful. More tracks. Bodies. Signs of life. Anything." "[b You got it boss,]" she immediately switched drone four to manual piloting. The drone beeped in confirmation, her systems letting her know the switch had been successful. The drone floated a little higher, leaving Stefano's side. It was always better to test before flying in blindly. Satisfied with the controls, the drone shot forward, headed straight toward the school. It was eerily quiet. "[b If this were a horror movie, this is the part the suspenseful music would star'.]" "Not the time, Jack." "[b Sorry, boss. A bi' nervous. I don' know if the drone will hold ou'.]" It wasn't long before the drone reached the edges of the school grounds, showing no signs of slowing. With a sigh, Quinn pushed it forward. Like the rest of the town, there was no sign of movement, much less life. Small fires littered the area, mostly around overturned cars. Windows smashed from both inside the building and out. It wasn't long before the drone came across a particular sight that gave her pause. A small choking sound came over the comms. "Yer alrigh', Jack?" "[b There's a blood splatter here...]" Amaranth scoffed. "What's new?" "[b The pattern indicates that someone threw themselves ou' a second storey window. There's no body. No indication of any struggle after tha'.]" The group was silent for a moment. "Alright Jack, bring the drone back, we'll head toward the school. If there's no sign of life then it should be fi-"
Noise behind the drone caught Quinn's attention. She immediately directed the drone to face the noise. Nothing. "Jack?" "[b There's somethin' here.]" "You saw it?" Stefano almost sounded excited. If this went well, he'd be able to document a new creature. Assuming anyone even survived. "[b Nou. Bu' I heard i'.]" The drone moved forward, toward a corner and then around it, ever so slowly. It inched around the corner, finally getting a full view and nothing. "[b Shite. I know I heard somethin'.]" "Don't worry about it Jack. Regroup for now. We'll head up and do a more thorough search." "[b Affirmative.]" Quinn turned the drone to head back to the group only to have it immediately drop. "[b Fook!]" "Jack? Report." "[b I think I just lost drone four. Controls aren't responding. Running a system diagnostic.]" It took only seconds before the screen for drone four began lighting up with red [i non-responsive] and [i critical failure] warnings. "[b Wha'..?]" A loud crunching noise forced Quinn to take her headphones off, looking up at the feed from the drone, crackling with static. A foot appeared on the screen, large, green, scaled, and clawed. Another foot, identical, but scarred as though it had been stretched far beyond it's original size. The creature moved away, travelling on all fours, giving Quinn no view of it's face. It's tail however, knocked the now partially destroyed drone onto it's side, causing Quinn to swear again. It's tail was long and pointed, covered in short spikes, but gave nothing on the creatures identity. It took a moment before Quinn finally realised the direction the creature was heading, and by then, it was already at full bound. Throwing her earphones back on, Quinn sent any information and visual feed to kin's HUD. "[b Incoming at 11! I've only seen one of these things, so watch yer six... and yer three, and yer nine! Christ, jus' watch everythin!]"
"Chess, I need to see if you can track any of these sents individually. I know it's probably overwhelming, but if we follow the bodies, we might find the culprit."
"[b Already working on it.]" she says as she puts her nose on the ground and then to the air. The smell of blood and violence is already making her feel quite optimistic in a wrong way. She follows the blood tracks up the street, scenting that the smell is strongest this way. As Amaranth pads up the street, some distance ahead of the group, she also picks up the smell of another animal.
"[b I'm getting hints of some sort of animal . . .]" she reports outloud, still focusing on the smells, "[b It's a large one, a predatory-kind of animal . . . and it's . . something's wrong with it.]" She feels confused. One can get a full health and physical profile through the smell of an animal, but with this one she feels that it's a little off. This animal seems to bear traces of being . . . sick? Hurt? Traces of something abnormal in what she would expect.
Amaranth pads up further and the smell becomes everywhere, it permeates the area, but it's also not very strong. "[b It's certainly been here but I can't tell if it's nearby. Why don't you guys . . .]"
Her fur rises on her neck as the familiar feeling of being watched returns, except that she feels like a piece of prey being stalked by a predator in the bushes. Somewhere, out there. Amaranth freezes and growls, anticipating some sort of response. She swivels her head to the left and to the right and begins to back up . . . . . .
Anton began moving forward, letting the group walk behind. The school ahead was just barely in sight. Clearly a source of the burning, if the cloud of smoke rising from it was any indication. As he moved he couldn't see signs of any life. Just life interrupted. Purses and bags laying strewn across the sidewalk. The occasional splatter of blood and there was broken glass everywhere. [b "Jack, give me some pattern analysis on these blood splatters."] He pointed to a pool that had dried on the sidewalk. [b "It looks sudden... and like the bodies were dragged afterwards."] He glanced backwards. [b "Chess, I need to see if you can track any of these scents individually. I know it's probably overwhelming, but if we follow the bodies, we might find the culprit."]
He kept moving forward, keeping a close eye on small details. There were cars flipped and smashed, broken lamp posts and even a hydrant ripped off the ground. The street ahead was flooding slowly from the gushing water. Anton moved towards one of the vehicles. The door had been torn clean off and blood caked the inside. He moved to the hood and placed his hand down against the rips in the hood. [b "Whatever did this had claws."] The rends matched his hands, if only a little larger. [b "Claws that go right through metal. And I'm not seeing any hair left behind."] He glanced back through the window. [b "And not a single piece of the victims is left..."] Anton kept moving forward and looked over his shoulder at Stefano. [b "Looks like we've got some kind of animal. Could be a clue, rack your brain and see if anything starts to make sense."]
Kincaid smiled at the protective chanting. He wasn’t particularly religious, nor was he overly distrusting of magic; not that he really even understood it. Kincaid just appreciated that Yun was a man doing his best to help with a goal he believed in. Yun performed his ritual over the cybernetic soldier last. [b “T’anks bud.”] Kincaid gave him a friendly slap on the shoulder, and Yun grasped both of his in return. After a moment of silence, the two simply nodded. It was the same thing everyone else had been thinking and wishing each other, of that Kincaid was sure. [i Stay safe.]
The captain stood tall between Gold Squad and the miasma, and everyone waited patiently for him to speak. Even with the events of the past few hours, he still commanded respect. He watched silently for Yun to finish, before speaking up himself. "All right everyone. Stay together, stay vigilant. We don't know what's in there, but I have the feeling this miasma isn't the only thing wrong here. Smoke and fire and all that." He turned his back on them, looking into the mist ahead before turning on his radio.
"Quinn, keep an eye on comms and equipment. I'm entering first."
With a soft swirl, he disappeared into the purplish black haze. Freakishly, Kin lost all thermal tracking of him the moment he stepped within its bounds. He turned his masked face towards his two companions, looking for any reaction; only to find Stefano staring straight at him.
“Remember, earshot, if you need me.” Kincaid simply nodded, keeping his thoughts to himself. Amaranth glanced towards the vampire as he spoke. “I’m sure you’ll find me if you need me hound.” She only turned away in response, although the moment between them seemed strange. [b [i Oil hafta keep an’eye on ‘em.]] Suddenly, her nimble frame jumped as their earpieces crackled back to life. It was the captain speaking.
“Alright. I’m through… it’s…” There was a long and awful pause as Anton seemed to struggle to define the scene. “No sign of survivors or assailants in direct sight, but the town has been trashed. It looks like a fucking warzone…” Glancing about, Kincaid couldn’t see any surprised faces. [b “Ah meen, when doon’t dey?”] With a humorous shrug, the radio chatter continued. “"Vanguard team, move in. I'm on point, Battleship on rearguard. I don't want anything sneaking up on us here. Visibility is poor and there's too many hidey-holes." [b “Arrigh’, le’s go-”] “And no, Kincaid, not those kinds of holes.”
Looking around, Kincaid couldn’t see anyone laughing; which either meant the joke wasn’t good or it was so cruel that his friends couldn’t bear barb him more. Either way, Kincaid had no idea what holes Anton might have been referring to. [i Ooooh, so i’s loike tha’, es ah? Yeh datin’ my sistah, nouw yer pookin’ foon at meh? Arrigh’, arrigh’.] Thankfully, his twins voice broke over comms before any further commentary could be made.
"Alrigh', I don' usually send all my drones, bu' I think today migh' call fer i'. If they die, please bring them back. They're expensive... and incredibly custom." The beeping of programs being run echoed through Quinn’s microphone, and from the nearby mobile Lab a faint noise like a hundred lazy wasps could be heard. Many small metallic objects flew through the air, and two separated off from the rest and bee-lined towards them. As they walked the last few feet towards the edge of the miasma, one zoomed past Kin’s shoulder and vanished into the miasma where Anton had disappeared. Kincaid lost track of where the other one had gone before Quinn spoke up again. "Soo far, soo good. Let's hope my babies hold out. I'll be doing any field tests along the way, so hopefully this entire operation doesn't die in the ass before the children of the corn tear us down."
And with that, the trio submerged themselves into the fog. All the noise of the outside world ceased. Even the hum of drones moving around the AO was nothing more than a muffled undertone. Kin’s thermals were useless in here, and a small blinking icon in the corner of his visor told him that whatever was in this miasma, his armour was working extra hard to keep it out. Holding up his metallic left arm he noted how the vapors twisted and pressed against his fingers. It made him feel… unsettled. After a moment, his mind snapped back. [b "Bu' Quinn, there's nou meeasma in tha' mo--"] "I knou, Kin, bu' I couldn't remember wha' was in the Hills Have Eyes. Now shush."
A moment later, he sensed more than saw his demonically canine companion by his left side. "You know what I don't like the most about this miasma, Battleship?" [b “It’sa tochin’ ya? ‘Cos it’sa tochin’ me.”] He adjusted the grip on his rifle. “It has no smell.” With the faintest pause in his step, he pressed a button on his wrist and brought up his suits atmospheric data, trying to see what exactly this miasma was comprised of. With a start, his thermals lit back up with distant fires and the vapor cleared. He swiped the data to one side and surveyed his surroundings. Nobody said a word until Stefano broke the silence.
"Not a single soul out there it sounds like...no one running, or fighting, perhaps bunkered down somewhere, hopefully. Aside from the crackling of fire...there's a faint alarm in the distance. May be worth checking out." With a slight creaking, Kincaid noted the long carapaced appendages unfurling from Stefano’s spine. With an eerie calm, the vampire used his extra limbs to swiftly and silently clamber upwards; Kincaid assumed to keep a watch.
A slight tap on his back distracted him again, and a small yellow bumblebee icon flashed in the bottom of his screen. His personal drone had arrived; fashionably late as always. [b "Alrigh' there Quinn? How's Synth doin' today?"] "A lit'le dented after the last mission, since someone used him as a makeshift shield, Kin, bu' he'll hold up aligh' Jus' don' be surprised if he dies before any of the others." Kincaid gave a reassuring pet to his chunky metal friend as it booped and whirred in response. "If I catch you mistreatin' him again, I'll infect yer brain with that pornhub virus I extracted from you a week ago." The captain took a hand off of his revolver and to his ear. “Jack…” “Sorry, Boss.”
Kincaid smiled, flicking the safety off of his pistol holster and putting a finger on the trigger of his rifle. There’d be no threat of friendly fire on this mission it seemed. Amaranth sidled past him, head twisting to keep eye contact with him as she passed. He couldn’t tell through her hound form whether she was grinning or grimacing. "Perhaps I liked the way the miasma smells, because now it stinks of blood and smoke . . ." [b “Oh, tha data!”] He lifted his left arm, bringing the graphs back up as Amaranth walked to take the right flank, with her mind on other things. "I think I could have done a better job with the death and destruction here . . . at least leave behind some bodies to intimidate my enemies, goddamn. . ."
[i There’s nou t’ing chemical aboot ah… an’ tha hellhoond cannae smell ah’...][b “Jack? If’n I just noticed ah, y’must’ve by loike… t’irty secoonds ago.”] He looked to Anton, with the slim Drone 4 hovering by his side. [b “Black Chess cannae track a soose, mah soot ain’ got shite. We’ve go’ nou wey of trackin’ dis doone.”] With a swift sequence of button presses, he sent the data his suit collected to Quinn; every bit helped. [b “We’ve gotta sweep an entoire toon befah promeefious stroikes, not joost sum key bits.”]
Stephano stood by, doing a last final check on his gear, he switched the safety off on the pistol, and began wrapping the grip in webbing, just in case he ever ended up in a situation where he can't pull it normally, he'll have his webbing to pull it to him. He watches the group begin moving in. His eyes glazed over Gold squad, his eyes stopping for a brief moment, then moving along to Kincaid. [b "Remember, earshot, if you need me." ] He mentions once more. His eyes turn to see Amaranth, a creature that seemed to have disdain for him. [b "I'm sure you'll find me if you need me hound." ] The sentence sounding polite, but obviously passive-aggressive.
After Anton had made it clear comms were still working, at least for now, and there was no immediate threat, he took a few strides forward into the haze. He slowly pulled some webbing, and began touching it to random places along the way. A trail for himself to be able to follow back out, in case he really needed it. He tried to perceive around, a thought that made him think of his time in university, his old room-mates and him playing a pen and paper game, archaic for the time, but he was eager to read old books. A rarity it was to find some actual dice that worked for the game too. Everyone had moved onto the apps and such to do those things for the players. But Stefano was a man of history, and loved the feel of the real deal, technology had just advanced far to quickly in his mind.
His head cleared as he pulled himself away from the random thoughts, and focused himself on the sounds, since sight was slightly hindered. [b "Not a single soul out there it sounds like...no one running, or fighting, perhaps bunkered down somewhere, hopefully. Aside from the crackling of fire...there's a faint alarm in the distance. May be worth checking out." ] His legs had slid out, and became apparent, as he climbed to the higher vantages, looking for any signs of foul play. It was likely to soon to be searching, as they had some distance to go before the first rally point.
Amaranth lets Yun do his chanting, feeling his empty words on her ears like he is doing a commercial speel. She looks away, indifferent, and watches as some of the other crew seems to take his words to heart. The chanting doesn't take away the feeling of being watched, the evident sentiment of doom and bemusement the hellhound senses.
"All right everyone. Stay together, stay vigilant. We don't know what's in there, but I have the feeling this miasma isn't the only thing wrong here. Smoke and fire and all that." Anton turns again. "Quinn, keep an eye on comms and equipment. I'm entering first."
She narrows her eyes and nods at him. When he disappears behind the smoke that beckons him in, she grinds her jaw. The silence is difficult to deal with, less because she worries for Anton's safety - a demi-god should be able to handle his own - but more because she doesn't like the seemingly complacent nature of the miasma. It feels like it knows, like it has been waiting, like it bides its time . . .
Amaranth inwardly jumps when she hears Anton's voice through their comms break the silence, "All right. I'm through... It's..." she hopes nobody saw her startle and calms herself when she hears Anton try to find words for what he sees.
"No sign of survivors or assailants in direct sight, but the town has been trashed. It looks like a fucking warzone..."
[i War zone? That's not news . . ]
"Vanguard team, move in. I'm on point, Battleship on rearguard. I don't want anything sneaking up on us here. Visibility is poor and there's too many hidey-holes. And no, Kincaid, not those kind of holes."
The humor was lost on Amaranth as she immediately moves into the smoke that beckons her, taking the lead and sensing Kincaid coming up near her as the two of them were on Vanguard. She goes into the miasma and feels the same sensations that Anton felt moving through. It was cold, and felt like wading through water, but it wanted her to come through.
A small sound of mechanical shifting reaches her ears as she looks to her side and sees Quinn's drones following her. Amaranth's muzzle grimaces, "[b You know what I don't like the most about this miasma, Battleship?]" glancing at Kincaid, "[b It has no smell.]" She takes another deep breath and there's nothing remarkable. The smoke presses against her sides and she can swear that she feels like she is being petted.
When they make it through, she raises her non-existent canine eyebrows. The sky was entirely dark. No stars, or moon. She can see fine in pitch blackness, but Amaranth can predict that the only light source that permeates this area being fire would make vision difficult for her mortal comrades with no added visual support.
"[b Perhaps I liked the way the miasma smells because now it stinks of blood and smoke . . .]" though to be honest, her natural instincts revels in the smells of blood, smoke, and death. In a way, she is conditioned to thrive in the scents of the evil. But to live with humans, she must learn that these smells are bad smells. And her only coping mechanism is to tell herself that it smells like shit . . . but it doesn't work very well.
Amaranth's appearance seems to grow slightly bigger, her hellhound eyes glowing a darker shade of red. She walks up to Anton's right and checks her senses. No movement other than the fire ahead, the crackling of the flames. [i Trust . . .] she glances up at Anton for a moment and then looks ahead of her. Searching the darkness.
She had expected to smell burning flesh, rotting corpses, freshly spilled blood . . . but there is also none of that.
"[b I think I could have done a better job with the death and destruction here . . . at least leave behind some [i bodies] to intimidate my enemies, goddamn. . .]" Amaranth mutters.
Quinn held her breath. Seconds passed as Anton entered the thick mist, but it dragged on like hours. Hours in which anything could have happened. When he finally spoke, she only just managed to slam the mute button before releasing the breath. "[b Fook's sake, this idiot is gon' be tha death of me,]" she sighed, turning her comms back on and opening several programs. "[b Alrigh', I don' usually send all my drones, bu' I think today migh' call fer i'. If they die, please bring them back. They're expensive... and incredibly custom.]"
Around the group a low buzzing sound begins to emit from the tarantula. It almost sounded like... well, droning. A dozen small drones lifted off from their perches, all unique but following the same design patterns. The drones move off finding respective people to follow, one heading straight through the misasma and floating by Anton's side. [i No damage detected.] "[b Soo far, soo good. Let's hope my babies hold out. I'll be doing any field tests along the way, so hopefully this entire operation doesn't die in the ass before the children of the corn tear us down.]" A pause. "Bu' Quinn, there's nou meeasma in tha' mo--" "[b I knou, Kin, bu' I couldn't remember wha' was in the Hill Have Eyes. Now shush.]" After her sleeker drones paired off with individuals or groups, a final drone ambled it's way toward Kincaid. This one had the same overall design, but seemed bulkier. Much like a drunk bumblebee, it seemed to sway back and forth, not able to pick a damn spot.
"Alrigh' there Quinn? How's Synth doin' today?" "[b A lit'le dented after the last mission, since someone used him as a makeshift shield, [i Kin], bu' he'll hold up aligh' Jus' don' be surprised if he dies before any of the others.]" The fat drone made a beeping noise. Something akin to R2-D2 from Star Wars before latching itself onto Kincaid's armour, chirping happily. "[b If I catch you mistreatin' him again, I'll infect yer brain with that pornhub virus I extracted from you a week ago.]" "Jack..." "[b Sorry, boss.]"
A knock at the door pulled Quinn from any dark thoughts that had begun swirling around. Muting herself once again, she turned to the nameless lab assistant. Morris, maybe. The young girl looked absolutely petrified. "[b I knou yer new an' all, bu' I prefer my staff to actually speak,]" as if knocked from her stupor, the girl physically shook herself before reporting. "The tests came back positive, the miasma is magical in origin." "[b I knew i'. Where's it centred from?]" "That's the weird thing, Jack. We found signatures of magical properties, but there's no trail." "[b Tha's no' possible. Every magical creation leaves a trail. Especially somethin' of this mass.]" Quinn paused a moment, cogs turning. "[b Run the macro tests.] "But--" "[b Jus' do it. An' tell Brighton to search for micro frequencies. I have a feelin' and it ain't a good one.]" With a nod, the young woman left, somehow, even more fretful than when she'd first come in.
Quinn sighed, returning to her station and glancing over the feed from each drone. Her eyes lingered on number four. The drone with Anton. The town really did look like a warzone, except instead of civilians running for their lives or refugees just trying to survive, it was completely devoid of life. It felt worse than war. After a moment of contemplation, Quinn flicked comms back on, switching to a private channel. "[b Please don't die, Anton,]" knowing he probably wouldn't respond, she flicked back to the open comms, and after a second she set up a program to run in the background. "[b Shite's gunna get roil scary,]" she muttered, her natural accent slipping for the first time.