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Crossfire (Post-Apocalyptic)

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1 Crossfire (Post-Apocalyptic) on Mon Mar 16, 2015 2:48 am

Zero

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“This planet has - or rather, had - a problem, which was this: most of the people living on it were unhappy most of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movement of small green pieces of paper with numbers on them, which was odd because on the whole it wasn't the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy.”


Backstory (Click):

January 1st, 2074: Operation Renewal
It was the perfect project to kick off the new year. Operation Renewal finally got the green light from The Council; a collaborative project that would bring Earth back into its prime. The first objective of the operation was to focus primarily on restoring beneficial flora; past and present. A chemical compound was developed that could be released into a body of water and would self-sufficiently spread across the globe. A dangerous idea, but two years of preliminary test results showed a 99% success rate in an enclosed habitat. Over three-hundred pods were released on each continent, and the chemical compound, which had been nicknamed "Greenwater" by those who created it, spread quickly. It attached itself to water molecules, and traveled with them as they evaporated into the atmosphere. When a new, unaffected molecule came into contact with Greenwater, it divided; bonding with the unaffected molecule.

Results across the board showed a success rate of 99%, with a margin of error of less than 1%.


November 14th, 2075: Operation Renewal
With over a year of success, The Council pushed forward the dates for Stabilized Ecosystem Manipulation (SEM). Which was the largest part of Operation Renewal. Compiled information in regards to the theory of such manipulation would require extreme resources of man power and supplies. Which, in turn, was beneficiary to the entire population of Earth, as it created thousands of jobs worldwide as the demand increased. The economy soared to new levels, and so did Operation Renewal. The first step for SEM project would be to restore the population of positive animal influences, and weed out the less desired. But how could they manage to affect every animal species? How could they make sure to get each and every animal? The solution was simple: everything needed water.

A new compound was not to be. Each test resulted in the Greenwater compound overpowering anything they tried to pair with it. When an animal drank Greenwater, and then ate from a plant, the compound would travel through the saliva and into the plant, helping it regrow substantially faster. The science community was afraid of making a fauna control compound with a higher priority than Greenwater, as it could undo all of their hard work, and potentially destroy the ecosystem. But a modification, another line of genetic code, was the most promising answer. Greenwater became Graywater, a compound that both gives and removes. It was designed to boost the flora growth rate, while increasing the fertility of fauna with certain positive attributes, and becoming a virus for the undesired fauna.

Results across the board showed a success rate of 99%, with a margin of error of less than 1%.


July 9th, 2098: Operation Renewal
It took 24 years for Operation Renewal to see its end. Graywater had become a booming success. Much of the world had exploding ecosystems. There were no longer any deserts, or arctic wastelands. Antarctica had grown into a tropical paradise, trees regrew to their full maturity in a fraction of the time it usually took. Evergreens for instance, took a matter of months to regrow to their full height. There were only two problems with this: the increasing temperature, and rising water levels. That's where the weather towers came into play. Hundreds of these towers, spread across the globe, all powered up on July 9th, 2098. The solution seemed as if it had been achieved; the global temperature remained stable. The towers turned the excess water into towering clouds, controlling the water level.

Results showed success of 99% across the boards, with a 1% margin of error.


January 1st, 3000: Millennium Celebration
The world was looking to become a paradise. Everything was under mankind's control. Weather, ecosystem, energy. Without the need to burrow into the ground, specialized jobs were created for the synthetic manufacturing of many nonrenewable resources. Though with the coming of advanced solar and lunar technology, the demand for such things were low.


August 22nd, 3000: Outbreak
Perhaps arrogant in their success, nobody had seen the Outbreak coming. When a molecule of Graywater failed to divide properly, it instead created two corrupt cells. This error in the genetic make up of Graywater had given itself a higher prioritization than that of the original. By the time it was noticed, it was too late to stop. The corrupted chemical compound turned the water black, as if to signify the death it was to deal. The new code remained attached to water, and kept its original intent, but there was now a mutation. When examined under a microscope, it was described as a shadow. Examination of infected red blood cells showed the same shadow. Media coverage of incidents caused by this new, Blackwater, spread panic across the globe. The once beautiful paradise of the world was quickly changing into something more hostile, and humanity was ill-equipped to deal with it.

Venus Flytraps now grew to a size large enough to capture a person, equipped with enzymes strong enough to break them down should a hermetic seal happen. Reports surfaced in Europe of a jungle cat, originally removed in the fauna manipulation, attacking a neighborhood. Rumors circulated of the jungle cat subduing its prey with the utilization of something akin to a scorpion's tail. And when a human is exposed to Blackwater, they catch a sickness. The sickness, dubbed "The Shadow" by the European population, causes a fatality in about a weeks time. After death, Blackwater takes control, keeping the body alive much the same way it nourished the fauna and flora. The original host becomes a carrier for the virus. However, contraction from a host results in a fatality within minutes, unlike the water variant.


The Aristocratic Evacuation: 3025-3045
The wealthy were the first to leave. After twenty-five years, the aristocrats had formed an alliance with private military organisations, and had provided them with enough funds to have themselves - and their military partners, in kind - escorted from Earth in order to populate the nearest planet suitable for human and anthropomorphic life. The nearest planet would take them another twenty years to reach, but the rich were well-equipped with patience... and the military, with discipline. A select group of the world's most intelligent and brightminded people went too, bringing the hope of ever restoring Earth to its former glory with them.

The people left on Earth soon exhausted the world's resources, and most of them slowly succumbed to the ill-effects of the Blackwater Virus. With survival of the fittest at hand, a last beam of hope was found; an old junker, in disrepair, newly discovered. It was broken; a failed launch attemptee, just discarded by The Council. If it weren't for the claims of it being repairable, it would have been insulting.

"We leave you, the last citizens of Earth, your only hope of survival. Best of luck to all of you."

The Crossfire War: 3055
Okay, so maybe the datalogs were a little insulting. Taunted and mocked by the aristocrats' final parting message - as if they weren't taunted enough already, of course - a war for the last remaining resources on Earth broke out. It began with mere quarrels and small firefights, but once the leaders emerged from the ranks and people had started to follow them for "the greater good", factions soon became clear.

Soon enough, each of the major factions had gained an advantage over the others. While one had access to the launch codes, another had the starcharts and data necessary to navigate the endless void of space. In time, the battles became more heated, and the hatred for one another had grown to disproportional levels.

And now? Well, the battles continue, the struggles persist, and the endeavours of the remaining population all but seem for naught...




Character Sheet (Click):

Being anthropomorphic does grant you certain advantages, like having a greater sense of smell if you're canine for example, but you will be treated like shit by humankind. In almost all encounters with humankind, you will be envied for what you are... and often enough, will be treated like somebody with the Blackwater Infection (BI): shot on sight. You are, to them, a rabid mutant. You will often be told to stay away from human settlements, and it is often accepted in society that being rid of you is a justice to the world. The more malicious of people are not above rape, torture or envious cruelty without reason. Expect the worst when dealing with humankind.

Name:
Age:
Gender:
Species:
Appearance:
Occupation:


Eye Color:
Height:
Weight:

Unique Physical Identifiers: (Scars, birthmarks, warpaint. Etc, etc.)
Parents: (Alive? Deceased? Missing?)
Children: (Alive? Deceased? Missing?)
Disabilities: (If so, please explain.)
Other: (Anything else you might want to add.)

Biography:

Skills and Talents
You all have basic firearms training, and some very basic medical knowledge. You all know some simple survival techniques too, and you're all aware of how Blackwater spreads; either via the water, or through direct contact with somebody who's already infected. You are all relatively street-smart, and have basic understanding of what something might be worth in trade.

Primary Skill: (Your most useful skill to bring to the group. Are you good with electronics? Perhaps a genius in robotics? Must be beneficial to your job, if applicable.)

Hobby: (A secondary skill that is both useful and applicable. Do you do parkour? Do you garden? Do you know any martial arts? Etc.)

Talent: (A passive talent that could be useful at some point. Can you throw a knife? Do you have good vision? Can you sing? Can you whistle like a bird? Etc.)

Negative Trait: (Afraid of spiders? Bad back? Poor hearing? Something that could be used against you.)


Gear (Click):
Pick four of these items, and then choose something for your personal item. All characters start with basic clothing, a waterproof backpack, a shoddy blanket, and enough credits to pay for a few consumables; should they be fortunate enough to have the opportunity.

-- Canned Food, x3
-- Purified Water (Canteen)
-- Melee Weapon of Choice
-- Pistol*, 9mm, 20 rounds. (counts as two slots)
-- Binoculars (Thermal)
-- Rifle*, 5.56x45mm, 30 rounds. (counts as three slots)
-- Ballistic Vest (counts as two slots)
-- Lockpicks
-- Grappling Hook; 30ft rope.
-- Torch
-- Pair of Radio Communicators
-- First Aid Supplies* (counts as two slots)
-- Camping Supplies* (counts as two slots)
-- Multitool* (counts as two slots)
-- Nightvision Goggles

*Pistol - See Glock 17.
*Rifle - See SA80.

*First Aid Supplies - A standard first aid kit, with a comprehensive first aid book. Also include things for headache, upset stomach, congestion, colds, such as Pepto Bismol, aspirin, Tylenol, Excedrin, disinfectants, prescription medicines; and anything else you might use regularly.

*Camping Supplies - A camp stove with good supply of fuel. Includes pots, pans, plates, bowls, and cooking utensils. A good tent, sleeping bag, extra blankets, sleeping pads, and ground cloth - and a waterproof tarp to cover your camp gear.

*Multitool - 2.9" carbon steel knife, wire cutters, regular pliers, wood and metal file, flathead screwdriver, phillips screwdriver, 20cm ruler, a bottle opener, a can opener, spring-action scissors, and a wire stripper.

(Mandatory)

Something personal, like an old photograph or a piece of jewellery. Something that keeps your mind at peace when you look at it. It should be the thing you cherish most, and should motivate you to keep on surviving.


Profitable Trade Chart (Click):

Items currently in high demand, in order of expense. This will be updated as the roleplay progresses and demands are met.

1. Robotics
2. Firearms and Ammunition
3. Construction Materials
4. Hand Tools
5. Meat (Cured)
6. Light Sources


Setting (Click):

You are all together. You've been together for a while, in fact. You are familiar with one another, and you respect one another's abilities. However, you do not have to trust them, or even like them. All you know is that being with the other two has been very beneficial to you, and that your small group has become quite popular with the local populace. People have approached you in the past, offering you work for rewards. People have asked if they could join you on your travels, but you've turned them down. People have even tried to kill you; perhaps in envy, perhaps for fun. You did not question why once the bullets were flying. You bunkered down with your companions and fought back. Your actions were not wasted, and because of your clever teamwork - you have all survived. Perhaps it doesn't matter if you like each other or not. Perhaps the only thing that matters is that you've all helped one another survive for such a long period of time. One thing is certain: you are all both loved and hated, evenly divided amongst the people. You yourselves have become a faction of sorts: an army of three. You have yet to receive a nickname for your trio. You have yet to encounter a threat which will actually provide you with a challenge. Perhaps... that's what you've been looking for. Or perhaps, you have no intention of aiming high for yourselves. Perhaps... you just want to survive.

You are all currently bunkered down in an abandoned military training facility. You have been tasked by a local group of mechanics to retrieve as many supplies that might be of use to them as possible. They have promised to reward you with food, water, and some ammunition. There is fuel to be scavenged from old, half-filled oil tanks, canned food untouched in the kitchens, and somewhere - though you're not entirely sure where, yet - there is a working generator. The entire facility still has some power left. The lights are flicking on and off in an unstable manner, and some of the advanced military hardware seems to be functioning. You are walking the hallways together. There are windows on either side; a narrow corridor connecting two of the main buildings together, similar to something you'd see in a hospital. The outside world is visible; a vast surburban jungle in the distance awaits, tainted with green vines and ivy. In the opposite direction, huge rocks and a sprawling forest towers over the facility, slowly creeping in to spread its mutant mark.

As you all reach the middle of the narrow hallway, a loud bout of gunfire is heard from either side. The windows shatter, sending glass flying in all directions. You all scramble for cover beneath the large windows. Luckily, none of you are hurt. The gunfire is still blazing back and forth; people are screaming and shouting from either side. Caught in the crossfire, you are unsure if they were aiming at you, or if there are two different groups trying to kill one another. Either way, one thing is certain: you are in a very dangerous situation. There's at least ten people on either side, all of which seem to be armed with semi-automatic rifles. The only barrier between them is the damaged hallway you're currently bunkered down in. It won't be long before one of them make haste towards the outer reaches of the broken windows, hoping to get closer to their targets.

You all look at each other, still caught in the crossfire and confusion. Were you set up by the mechanics who hired you? Perhaps they paid some members of a faction to be rid of you? You have, after all, upset a large number of people by merely existing and surviving. It was easy to make enemies these days, and the factions seemed to be no more than mercenaries most of the time.


Blackwater:

The first form of the infection was the transmission of the pathogen from a water source to a living body via consumption. The pathogen causing reanimation is not independently fatal and lies dormant within a host until the host dies of another cause. In the case of an Infected attack, the cause of infectious mortality is generally by necrotic biological debris and other infectious agents contained in that debris (for example, saliva from a bite).

Symptoms of the Blackwater Virus include:

-- Dizziness
-- Weakness
-- Fever/Delirium/Hallucinations
-- Chills
-- Nausea/Vomiting
-- Pale skin
-- Dilated pupils
-- Soreness
-- Fluid discharge
-- Spontaneous aggression or anger
-- Fainting
-- Loss of hair
-- Dehydration
-- Coughing up blood

Because of antibiotic resistance or inefficacy, and extremely fast growth rate of said bacteria, immediate amputation of the wounded limb is usually the most effective method of preventing systemic infection that eventually leads to death. Bites to the neck, head, or trunk are invariably fatal and cannot be treated.

If the wound is not properly cauterized, cleaned, and/or wrapped, however, amputation may not be enough to stop the lethal infection without medicine, and even then, survival rates are not easily estimated, as very few individuals have survived the procedure in each medium. Anybody that has become infected are commonly referred to as "Infected" or "Lurkers".

Though Infected retain a physical resemblance to the living, cognitive similarities are almost non-existent beyond low-level functions, though there are examples of behavior that suggest Infected may retain small fragments of memory of their past lives. Infected have enough intelligence to walk upright, to use their bodies to break objects, and to climb around or over somewhat small obstacles such as chain-link fences. They can ascend and descend staircases, as well as climb ladders, and they do so very quickly. They are swift, and are able to run. They cannot operate doors or gate, and prefer bashing through obstacles rather than traversing them.

Mostly, Infected are void of any emotional expression and thought. When stimulated, whether by noise, sight of prey, or simply encountering a problem they cannot solve, such as being unable to open a locked door, they quickly descend into a state of murderous aggression. If they spot prey when stimulated, they can pursue them ceaselessly, showing ravenous hunger. They are not hunters, however, and take no concern in alerting their victims or trying to hunt them with intelligence, always seeming to roar, grunt, and growl whenever they are stimulated. Infected seem to be drawn to noise, presumably because they attribute the source of the noise to be caused by potential victims. Infected also tend to form groups and stick together, and mimic the actions of other Infected, giving them a mob mentality.

Because an Infected is derived from a physical form, it is limited physically by many of the same constraints that the original host has. But because an Infected is, by definition, dead, it slowly rots and decays like other dead organisms. Over time, flesh and muscles deteriorate, and it becomes less and less formidable. It is assumed that the body will eventually decompose on its own until only its skeleton remains.

They are only truly killed by destroying the brain. A severed head will remain animated and aggressive until the brain is destroyed or eventually disintegrates from decomposition. Fire has little effect on Infected, other than possibly angering them further, and normally lethal things such as acid or electricity also do little to impede them. They can be paralyzed if their spinal cords are severed, though this does not kill them. even if their heads are severed from the bodies.


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2 Re: Crossfire (Post-Apocalyptic) on Tue Apr 07, 2015 10:18 pm

Name: Darkly. Or at least, that's the only one he gives.
Age: Unknown. He sounds as if he is in his early twenties, at the oldest. Or his late teens, at the youngest.
Gender: Male.
Species: Not known for sure, but assumed human.
Appearance:
(From the journals of Doctor Kristopher Ashkarov.)

To put it bluntly, the shape, the essence of the creature that is Darkly seems sharp and to the point, and this is reflected no more plainly that in his appearance; something likely to bite or snap or clack at anyone who comes near. Whether it be how his usual still body can twist and push itself into action in an instant, to how his appearance (at first glance at least) seems to avoid anything superfluous or unneeded, or how that mask dominates his look and being, his appearance makes him look a barren and Spartan thing.

In spite of, or more likely because of, his slight, half-starved figure, the thing dresses confidently (though it's not like anyone ever sees him in anything else!). Jeans and shoes and fingerless gloves, all black, remind one of an average humanity. There is his signature coat, long and black and woollen and mostly bare, except for a chain that leads into one of his pockets. Occasionally, the sounds of other things can be heard, the clashing of metal on metal that supersedes coins. Perhaps something fills the large pocket on his right breast?

All of this musing ignores the most noticeable feature of this thing, of course, and that is the mask that he wears. Resembling a plague doctor mask, only made of some kind of metal, tinted to a mahogany-red colour. The glass of the large eye-holes itself is a brighter, purer shade of red, such that they are impenetrable to anyone trying to see what it is that hides behind the mask, and these can be made to glow. The beak itself can also be made to snap, and many have assumed this to mean that he is some-sort of avian creature, but there are clues to the contrary; first, the fingers that poke out of his gloves seem quite obviously human, even if they are freakish-pale and freakish-cold. The same can be said for the back of his head, for instead of wearing a hood most of the time he chooses to show what such would hide: the straps that are presumably the only thing that keeps the mask so tightly clasped to his head. Hair as black as jet pokes out from in-between the straps, which are so tight that if one looks very closely, they can see impressions in the skin where they have been adjusted. Here, too, the skin is pale, though only the skin beneath the hair can be seen, and not the neck, for around the neck are wrapped belts of various colours and form, like a grotesque collar. Perhaps it is? In any case, despite these machinations, the mask seems a part of the thing... No, the mask seems more the thing than the man attached to it does. Odd, how one gains that view after looking at that pitiable thing long enough, hm? Almost seems inevitable... Perhaps that is what he wants. Perhaps he wants us to pity him, to mock him, to underestimate him...

... Perhaps he likes it...

Oh, as a final note, he reeks strangely of lavender.

Occupation: Assumed doctor, rumoured necromancer, actual sociopath.

Eye Colour: Unknown.
Height: 5"7
Weight: 8.5 stone
Unique Physical Identifiers: By the mask shall ye know him.
Parents: Dead? Probably?
Children: Certainly not!
Disabilities: Nothing physical.
Other:

Biography: Wouldn't you like to know?

Skills and Talents
You all have basic firearms training, and some very basic medical knowledge. You all know some simple survival techniques too, and you're all aware of how Blackwater spreads; either via the water, or through direct contact with somebody who's already infected. You are all relatively street-smart, and have basic understanding of what something might be worth in trade.

Primary Skill: Moral support. Survivalism, refusing to die. He acts as a scout, a watcher, a fire-starter. That sort of stuff.

Hobby: He also has something of an affinity for experimentation in all things, from tinkering, quarterising, quartering... To name a few.

Talent: He has the strange property of making most people increasingly nervous the more time they spend around him. Can't think why. He is also suspiciously /quiet/.

Negative Trait: His moral support. He's also a pretty easy scapegoat. Keep away from the mask. No, really. Fairly poor in a straight-up fist-fight. He's fairly poor too, but then, isn't everybody?

Gear: Pistol (20 rounds), knife, canned food x3.

Personal Memento: Everything in that suspicious pocket of his, as well as the thing at the end of the chain.

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3 Re: Crossfire (Post-Apocalyptic) on Thu Apr 09, 2015 7:27 pm

Name: Visi Eaves
Age: 18 or thereabouts, it’s difficult to keep a calendar these days.
Gender: Female
Species: Human
Appearance: A young girl of short stature with a thin, wiry frame she appears more a doll than a living creature. Drained and pale, a snarl of dishwater blonde hair almost obscures her eyes and straggles to her shoulders. She wears an oversized brown leather jacket, pinning the sleeves back, though whether she took it from house, camp or corpse is uncertain. Dressing in a patched olive t-shirt, fingerless gloves, black leggings, boots and dark purple shorts she has little care for appearances so long as they assist in concealment.
References:
http://36.media.tumblr.com/e3a71caec713bfc77ac08d340a000d6f/tumblr_n1trpcF4fn1tp3kfoo1_500.png
http://static.zerochan.net/Sabitsuki.full.1326642.jpg
(unmasked) https://i.ytimg.com/vi/2-Aso1JCwnA/maxresdefault.jpg
Occupation: A medic by necessity, a herbalist by choice.
Eye colour: Green
Height: 5”1
Weight: 6 1/2 stones
Unique Physical Identifiers: She wears a respirator gas mask that covers her mouth and nose. She’d have preferred a full mask for the purposes of concealment but found it somewhat claustrophobic. There’s only so close one can be to oneself. There are also several small scars on her hands and knees though they are usually hidden by clothing.
Parents: Both deceased.
Children: Are deadweight.
Disabilities: None that she could name
Other: Beware. She is always listening.
Biography: Born in what passed for late summer, Visi was brought up wandering the fringes of towns with her parents, and later her sister, spending little time in one place and scrounging supplies from wherever they happened to be passing through. She has existed nomadically for the majority of her life, the details of which are known to herself alone and considered private.
Primary Skill: Skilled in healing, she knows how to make several poultices, draughts, teas and the uses of many plants. Whether she will use this knowledge to help or harm is another matter entirely.
Hobby: Studying the plants she comes across, has a fondness for rats and mice
Talent: She has very good balance
Negative Trait: She tires easily and lacks physical strength, is somewhat stubborn and has the uncanny knack to remember every mistake you ever make which makes her a delight during and after an argument.
Gear: Purified water, first aid supplies, lock picks
Personal item: A small winding key that looks to be for a music box is worn on a chain around her neck, usually tucked underneath her shirt.



Last edited by Visi on Sun Nov 15, 2015 1:42 am; edited 3 times in total

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4 Re: Crossfire (Post-Apocalyptic) on Fri Apr 10, 2015 11:12 pm

Zero

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Alias: Zero, or 'Z'.
Age: There's just no telling.
Gender: Male
Species: Spotted Hyena

Appearance: http://d.facdn.net/art/hopeful-hyena/1427224919/1427224919.hopeful-hyena_88fd1bde8df8dac5f25d1e2ed6aae6bc.png

Occupation: Most would call him a rogue, and though they're practically on mark, that's not quite how he would put it. A self-titled "Infiltrator"; a thief, an assassin, a saboteur. Zero, as he prefers to be called, was once the leader of a small faction that's long been disbanded. They were covert and militaristic in their operations; swearing vows of secrecy, and were only to be hired by the richest of denizens. Once the wealthy left earth or simply disappeared, his group became forsaken, and he soon disbanded the faction to pursue goals of his own.

Eye Color: Grey/Green
Height: 6'1"
Weight: Average
Unique Physical Identifiers: Three horizontal scars line his muzzle, just above the nose. He often jests that he received them from a feisty feline, but never delves into the details as to why he might have received them.
Parents: Yes.
Pups: None.
Other: He occasionally gets migraines. He always seems to blame them for an accident he was involved in as a pup, but has never sought any clinical treatment for it.

Biography: Nothing he cares to share with the likes of you. Besides, even if he did tell you, would you believe him?

Skills and Talents
You all have basic firearms training, and some very basic medical knowledge. You all know some simple survival techniques too, and you're all aware of how Blackwater spreads; either via the water, or through direct contact with somebody who's already infected. You are all relatively street-smart, and have basic understanding of what something might be worth in trade.

Primary Skill: He is extremely stealth-capable; a fine hand for picking locks and pockets, a good set of eyes for scouting in the dark, and light on his paws. If you can hear him coming, then it's because he wants you to know he's around.

Hobby: Kendo, rendering him very capable with a blade. Sure, it's antiquated in these modern times, but he has a strange fondness for all things historic to the world; especially since most are eager to leave it all behind.

Talent(s): A keen sense of smell, and decent eyes for the dark. Strong jaws, too. The benefits of hyena-kind!

Negative Trait: Merciless. It takes a lot of convincing to stop him from killing somebody he doesn't like, even if he knows they might be of great value to him. Some call it dedication, others call it barbaric.

Gear: Katana, Lockpicks, Grappling Hook, and Pair of Radio Communicators.

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5 Re: Crossfire (Post-Apocalyptic) on Wed Apr 15, 2015 12:40 am

Zero

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Before they were caught in crossfire... they had all split up to cover each section of the abandoned facility. It had been agreed upon that they were all to meet at the entrance of the longest corridor once they had scouted (and cleared) their chosen areas...

Zero had chosen the solitary confinement and imprisonment wing. It was an entirely seperate building from the rest of the facility. A vast yard once used for training exercises spanned the length between the two large buildings.

Light flittered in the ruined corridor, an abstract display caused by the old, moth-eaten curtains that still hung around the cracked and grimy windows. Vines in various sizes wove their way through holes from the floor and walls, winding their way upwards and beyond. A scattering of plants lined the edges, finding a way to grow inside the old building. Zero continued to peer down at the far end of the structure, his eyes piercing through the darkness; eagerly scanning the gloom. Yet, nothing moved except for the curtains in their layer of dirt and filth. Slowly, he crept over the vine, crushing a half dozen of the purple and orange flowers that grew from it under his paws. He paid no attention, these particular breeds of flora were not dangerous like so many others, nor were they of any use from a medical standpoint. It was the sound he had heard just minutes before that had him worried. He stopped to check his gear. The familiar weight of the katana at his waist, and the soundless slap of the grappling hook's rope attached to his backpack kept his nerves at bay.

Tck, Tck, Tck, Tck.

Zero held his breath, carefully removing the curved blade from its sheath. The world was a horrifying place, but it was what you couldn't see, and what you didn't know, that was truly terrifying. All of the enemies he'd put down in the past would have said the same thing, just before being cut down by the prowling hyena. He heard the sounds again, and he crept forward slowly, stopping just passed a window. The red eyes appeared in the blink of an eye. Zero swiped the blade swiftly into the abyss before him. Whatever it was let out a strained cry, the eyes fading immediately. It thumped to the floor, and the building fell quiet. The tools they had been contracted to retrieve were around here somewhere. His eyes turned to the ground. He was unaffected by the gloom now that his vision had adjusted to the lack of light. Every time he entered a patch of darkness, it seemed as if he had vanished from the world. It made him seem... incorporeal.

His hope seized up and died inside of him. The sound came back, as a constant; a horde of skittering creatures. The red eyes appeared from the gloom, quickly followed by a dog sized mandible, armed with wide dangerous looking pincers. Four more appeared, one of which was crawling along the roof. The creatures were something between a leech and a crab. Their bodies were hard with a crustacean like shell, including their tails. Their face was nothing but a set of eyes set above a pit of teeth, much like a leech. They would pin their prey down with their pointed, tripod legs and tear chunks off of them with their mandibles. A few could be dealt with alone, but apparently Zero had stumbled upon a nest of these creatures. They were also swift, running - or skittering - as fast as any average person. Zero had heard them referred to as Trants - Tripod Ants. Clever.

"Nope!" He mumbled towards the horde of Trants, trying not to laugh at his own lack of wit. They were currently busy launching themselves over one other in a desperate attempt to be the first to tear Zero to bloody pieces. The hyena turned, unhooking his grappling rope. He vaulted over the thick, tree sized vine, smashing the end of the hook into it as he did so. He could hear the chattering of the Trant's pincers. They sound famished. He turned sharply and vaulted out of the window in a spray of broken glass. He could hear the creatures follow suit, more windows smashing as he swung into the floor below him. He gave a solid yank on the rope and pulled the hook free. No use... He gave it another yank, and this time it broke free. He kept the rope in hand, and ran. They were coming.

Second floor, one to go! He thought to himself, sprinting for the end of the hall. The window shattered in front of him. Zero tucked and rolled as the insect tried to land on top of him. He chose not to kill, so not to call the horde to his location with the creature's deathwail. His decision didn't matter so much in the end, as the vicious little spawn let out a screech anyway. Hundreds of replying screeches sounded around him. Not good, Not good! He was half tempted to slide down the railing to the first floor, but the plant life entwined around it made him think twice. He cleared the stairs with a single jump instead.

He hit the ground in a puff of breath, refusing to acknowledge the shock of landing with such force. His ankles begged to differ. Dust rained from the ceiling as god knows how many of the critters swarmed over the building. Many of them were already outside looking for him, apparently they didn't get the memo the ones chasing him did. That didn't last long as a wave of Trants tumbled down the stairwell, their chirps and chatters alerting those outside. Whole sections of crumbling wall caved in as the Trants smashed their way through brick and plant, forcing him to slice a few open with his katana to defend himself. Four dead Trants later, Zero's shoulder rammed the emergency exit doors to salvation; the rotting wood smashing into splinters against his weight. He laughed as he realised that this was the first time he'd ever used an emergency door for its intended purpose.

Fifteen minutes later, and Zero was finally able to stop and catch his breath outside. He looked back behind him, a few Trants still waiving their mandibles at him. Not as a goodbye, but in a territorial display of flesh-rending power. There were far too many to take care of by himself. They stayed another five minutes before wandering back to their hive. Zero still hands-on-his-knees gasping. He looked at the area around him, saturated in tall trees, tangled in miles of vines, and dense with tall grass and shrubbery. Each street looked nearly the same as the next, everything suffocated under a thick growth of plant life. He chose the shade of a large fern like tree to sit under.

"Well... at least I managed to get this." he mumbled quietly to himself once his breath had returned. From his backpack, he had slipped free an old circuitboard that he'd managed to salvage from one of the old security panels. He smiled to himself, took a moment to brush himself down, and then sought to return to the intended rendezvous with the rest of the group. He had some good news, and some bad news to share it seemed...

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6 Re: Crossfire (Post-Apocalyptic) on Fri Apr 17, 2015 7:23 am

Visi had chosen the administrative block, having no particular preference.

Little irritations cut through the gloom. A drip, a tap, the spark of a wire long severed or chewed through. Hanging loose from the ceiling exposed cords crackled as they brushed against each other in the light breeze the broken window provided. Someone had been here already it seemed, though how recently was another matter entirely. Visi kept to the shadows, well there were plenty to choose from. With every sound, every rustle, the girl’s head twitched toward the source though she kept her gaze grimly forward, convincing herself that there was nothing harmful in what she heard. Her task was more important. She had picked her way through several rooms scattered with gravel and mechanical guts, though most had been too severely damaged to be of any use, some by water from a leaking pipe, others, in being dismantled from their circuitry, had missing components or had been scratched and bent out of shape by eager, scavenging hands.

She moved quietly into the office, blinking slowly at the cannibalised computer spread across the desk. The husk of the working world. The title ‘Supervisor’ had been stencilled onto the door, only the word has stood the years, not the meaning. The thought of another evaluating every decision sounded overzealous on the part of the observer, in any case there was no need for criticism when they did not carry out the task themselves.

She twitched again, that scrabbling was back. Hush and shush. It was almost certainly alive, but Visi regarded it as more an annoyance than a danger and chose to ignore it. Carefully she knelt before the desk, gently manoeuvring the lock until it gave with a soft click, the drawer sliding open with little complaint. Stacks of paper greeted her, authoritative reports, all completely irrelevant. Pointless. Purposeless. There were a couple of things of use however, a little rifling revealed a half empty tube of anti-sceptic as well as a drill whistle. She was well aware how dangerous it was to make noise but perhaps it could come in useful at some point. Perhaps that creature in the mask would like the added clinking in his pocket.

Looking up she half expected to see a pair of eyes supervising her work, but there was nothing. Only the scuffling, and finally, understanding. It’s in the walls. It’s in the damned walls. Getting up she moved her closer to the surface and hummed the only tune she knew, her gas mask muffling the sound to a dull murmur. She tilted her head, listening for a response, stiffening as the song was echoed back to her in a wavering croak. It sounded like something that had once been a bird, as if it’s dried bones were trying to sing through an unyielding beak…unsettling to say the least, and too intelligent for her liking. She dreaded to think what else the little beasts had heard, what they’d learned to imitate. Slowly, she backed away and slipped downstairs having begun her search at the top of the building before working her way down to the cafeteria and reception.

Another disappointment as the food in the kitchen was largely expired though there was a dented tin of peaches which looked to still be sealed and so she shoved it in her bag alongside the cream, whistle and a suspicious looking ration pack which she’d found in a dented locker. It wasn’t much given the size of the building but she was surprised there was still anything left at all. Scrabbling. This time from above. Through the gaps in the Styrofoam ceiling tiles she could see a flicker of something. Lots of somethings. Lots of small, jostling, acrid somethings slithering in a wave above her head.

Visi held her breath and ran as the shrieking began, dodging around roots and vines and the waste of long-dead bureaucrats. Pelting her way back to the emergency exit she felt talons tangling in her hair, ripping at her scalp, unsure now whether the sensation was real or imagined. Seizing the fire extinguisher beside the exit she turned to spray the things in a last ditch effort before realising there was nothing pursuing her, no creatures vying for her flesh. She set it down with the smallest clink she could manage, straightening up and moving mechanically outside, her breath still shuddering through the mask. Time to regroup.

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7 Re: Crossfire (Post-Apocalyptic) on Sun Apr 19, 2015 12:39 pm

The light above hung by a thread. As it swayed there, bulb on wire, it flickered out a breath, stretching light across the room to beat back shadows. And yet, here and there, even the light seemed to circle him with a wariness; it knew its place, after-all. And yet, despite the light's obedience, the two glowing orbs that an observer could only take to be eyes, held firmly in the shadowy black, stern and still. Then, in a sudden movement, they turned on point, as if attached to a turret, and swept the room. Said room was littered with boxes of paper and patriotic slogans and printer ink and he was loathe to consider how it took people such as these so long to kill themselves. When the turning stopped, the red lights shuttered - no, blinked - and froze back into place, as if they had never moved at all. It held for moments, and then minutes, deep in consideration. Then the silence broke, and far away from anything living (or, at the very least, hearing) a muffled sigh rose from the shade. The lights turned and climbed the stairs behind the figure, presumably all the happier to be leaving that basement behind.

As he rose from the belly of the ruin and into the bare skeleton, the last light of a dead night flooded through the the gashes of the place. Bricks littered the floor, and here and there a skeletal hand could be found poking through the wreck; and these belonged men, not the metal structure that surrounded that thing. Now that the first dawn-light ran her fingers over it, it was shown for what it really was; a masked man. If only he were simply that, if only.

Up above, the first thing that the creature seemed to notice was the cold, despite his apparent immovability, and that in itself despite his slight frame. The cold found gaps were it could, and punched through his second skin, through to his actual skin, and then to the bone. The building frame seemed somewhat obscene to him, bearing breasts and skin and rib and bricks and bricks and so very many bricks. He froze again, folding his arms as he let that fiendish mask gaze over the ruin. The creature was irritated, that much was clear. This architectural skeleton was just like the basement below; somewhat empty on the inside, with its innards strewn about the place. And everything was so very, very dead. Even the birds, he noticed; as the sun rose behind the tree-line of dead soldier pines, no birdsong rose to greet it. Slowly the beak of the mask opened and shut with a sharp clack sound, and as he did this, the pale fingers of the man within the mask gripped tightly a the sleeve of his coat. In response, the trees rustled, in a fashion somewhat similar to how he imagined puppets danced after they'd been tied to their strings. The creature clacked again, this time at those puppet-trees; they were dead and should not think to pretend otherwise.

Resigning himself to a useless haul, the creature looked through the bricks for some of the rarer organs. A water pipe, valve and all, was one such that he found.ace. And the creature clutched it to himself selfishly, so that as he ghosted through that decrepit, post-industrial hulk of a building, he could run it across the brick piles. The echo rang out through those silent corridors, just as the wind was rising to a murmur, and from murmur to a howl. And it could have only been the wind; for all their noise, the creatures companions were far enough away that he could not hear them. Yes, he was sure it was the gale; the air here was toxic, that much was certain, surely. Obvious, even. Or perhaps it was just intoxicating?

That masked thing mounted the nearest brick-pile and watched the sun-rise. Though it poked through the branches of trees where it could, the horizon itself seemed somewhat moody to him; with all those blackening clouds, it looked like he might soon be reminded of what rain felt like. Although, in cold like this, rain could kill a man, even before he killed the man, and that would surely be a great shame. His hand found the knife in his back pocket, and gripped it tightly, pulling it out. He did not even look at it, such was his familiarity with the blade but even so, he liked to remind himself that he had it, and so he kept it firmly clasped in his hand as he dismounted that pile, and left the building through one of the smoking gaps. That haunted creature began to make his way back to their rendezvous, as the sun watched him the entire walk back. Smiling, like only a dead god can.

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8 Re: Crossfire (Post-Apocalyptic) on Sat May 16, 2015 7:26 pm

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Zero was the last to return, but he hadn't kept anybody waiting for too long. He'd taken some time to remove a few shards of glass from his left arm; patching himself up with some scraps of cloth from his well-worn scarf. He hadn't even noticed until he had almost made it back; the warm blood seeping down the spotted fur of his arm, and dripping off the tips of his fingers. Thankfully, he was no stranger to patching himself up. Living out in the wilderness all by yourself had its benefits. That's what he had been doing until this little group of his had come together. Hunting, and thieving, and scavenging, and lending out his talents to people that paid. Some paid with coin, and others with their lives. Those were the stupid ones. The ones that thought they simply kill him once he'd returned after completing a job. But those were the ones he was all too familiar with, and it never seemed to work out for them. People had told him that he was lucky, but he knew better than that. Luck didn't really exist anymore. Not as it had existed before, at least. He was talented, and he knew it all too well.

So, the hyena arrived with an apologetic shrug to the others. He had slipped from the shadows almost in complete silence, just as he always had. It was always difficult to tell when Zero was around. You had to have good eyes and ears if he didn't want himself to be seen. The others probably knew all too well of his particular set of talents. He wondered if it scared them. He wondered if that was a good thing or not.

He'd only kept them waiting for ten minutes, and fifteen minutes was the absolute cutoff time unless agreed otherwise. He held up the circuitboard he had scavenged, showing that it was intact, and probably functional. Electronics were hard to come by, especially security circuitboards like the one he'd managed to find. It was a good haul, even if it was the only thing he had managed to find before wandering into the heart of a Trant's nest.

"The other building is riddled with Trants." The hyena began, looking at the other two with a sullen smile. Those two pointy fangs of his seemed to purse down over his lips for a moment. One of them was cracked, and the other was slightly yellowed. It added to his beast-like charm. As did the scars on his nose, and those piercing grey/green eyes of his, and even his height and physique. He was taller than the other two, and well-toned in the muscles. But every time he had to look down at them, he offered a smile as if to offer some form of apology for being so... menacing. Being an anthropomorphic animal did that to you around humans. He always felt so... out of place... like he had to apologise for everything he did. He wondered if that scared them. He wondered if that was a good thing or not. He wondered if they... cared. They were the closest thing he'd ever had to having... friends. That word again... friends... It was hard on the tongue. Hard to think about.

"I used my hook to get out of there just in time, but I smashed through a pane of glass to do it. Caught most of the force with my left shoulder. Figured I'd need my right arm in tact for my blade." He felt obligated to explain himself.

He wondered if that scared them. He wondered if they cared...

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9 Re: Crossfire (Post-Apocalyptic) on Mon May 18, 2015 3:10 am

Visi was crouched with her back against the wall, wanting to be certain that nothing could approach her unseen. Her journey back had been a short yet cautious one, the girl pausing every now and then to tap at the plaster of this building, still uncertain as to whether the creatures in the administrative block had actually existed. That shrieking had been savage, perhaps territorial perhaps non-existent. What did it matter? The important thing was that she was alive, though whether that was a positive wasn’t something she liked to consider. She cursed herself for her paranoia but reasoned, tapping that familiar rhythm again and again, that there was no harm in being careful. There was sense in survival, of course there was, and nonsense in nothing and no-one, in time and place and everything in between, absent or glaringly present. She shook herself, rambling thoughts were counterproductive at best. Tap, tap, tap.

Her nails dug into her knees instinctively at Zero’s approach but other than that the girl was perfectly motionless, a glint of green peering through hopelessly tangled hair. Both him and the crow-man towered over her but she knew that the hyena didn’t intend to, always grasping for courtesy, no not courtesy exactly…well, she wasn’t sure what it was but he always put quite the effort into being amiable. As for the crow-thing, she wouldn’t be surprised if he took some pleasure in intimidation, not that she found him to be so, not after this long. If he wanted to kill, maim, what-have-you, he’d had ample opportunity but perhaps, she reminded herself, he simply hadn’t the reason yet. The same held true for all of them, she knew that well enough. The real monsters of this world were people: murderers, rapists and the like, so far from humanity they were incapable of compassion. What does that make you then? Of course the only thing to do is become a beast yourself. Merciless.

She got to her feet, tilting her head to one side, gaze latching onto Zero and flickering between his injuries and the circuit board he held. “…Are they deep?” She dug the anti-septic from her bag, holding it out to him. She knew that it was worth saving the cream, goodness knows when they might have greater need of it, but still she told herself that if Zero’s shoulder got infected then they’d be down their strongest member. He was necessary for jobs like this. Even without taking his skill with a blade into account, there was still the question of numbers; should their employers turn then three was more difficult to eradicate than two. In any case, if they constantly saved the stuff then there was the question of when it would be considered serious enough to use. In effect inaction would make the cream completely useless and not worth finding. She slipped the bag back on her back, murmuring, “Tech’s taken or destroyed. Unrepairable.” It was her duty to the group to report back she supposed, much good the news would do them. Still, even if they had only gained a little it was still a gain. Good.

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10 Re: Crossfire (Post-Apocalyptic) on Thu May 21, 2015 8:01 pm

The shambler made no attempt to disguise its approach, so very alone as they were. Because of that, it knew full well that the half-breed - no, not the dog-thing, the girl, the girl! - that half-masked pretender must've heard it. And yet, to its knowledge, she stayed perfectly still. She was afraid, it knew that. Anxiety personified, with a gas mask to stem the vapours of man and mutt and dead things and so there was no point in hiding that fear, not to it. Those red panes looked behind both of the masks that she wore as if it were their own reflection, and saw similarities that hid beneath. At least the body behind that glass had it in him to go all the way, forever and ever.

Those dormant two were utterly still, the crow-thing watching her with those big red eyes, the girl-thing watching whatever it was that she was pretending to pay attention to with her little green ones. Until the third member of their company approached, silent and unknown to it at least. That masked thing told itself that if it'd been maskless, it would have certainly heard the mutt-thing but even so, it was irate that it did not; that simply would not serve, to have anyone able to sneak up unknown. Especially one so fickle as him. Red eyes snapped to the scoutling, and then they slowly blinked. It'd lent up against a tree awkwardly to examine him, and thoughts came unbidden and unwanted to snap in two the silence inside that mask. Old thoughts, petty thoughts, thoughts that had been proven incorrect and false by the dog's loyalty though hardship, his attempts at wit, his usefulness. But one new one came, dripping with poison and prejudice, but nonetheless present and possibly hiding in its toxicity some good advice; Perhaps these two souls that greeted him should not be the only ones hiding themselves behind a mask.

The mask blinked again, and turned slowly to the thing that he was carrying. While from somewhere off to its left, there came the sounds of the half-masked coward fretting needlessly over a graze, it when straight for that which was important; the panel. It launched forward with an agility that might've seemed alien if it wasn't for the fact it'd done this before in their presence, and snatched the haul from him. Pacing around the clearing, it held the item up against the sun, long pale fingers turning it around in its grasp as it went. As it examined the panel, a voice came from behind the mask. A youngish yet frail male voice, it was one that was filled with a preoccupied arrogance, the kind that only an occasionally-pretentious introvert can truly (if unintentionally) master, and most of all, pain. It was a voice that hated speaking. "Switch-board panel... Obviously." It turned it over. "Screen on front. Fancy. Expensive." and back again. "Works from a PCB board. Cheaper than the maker wants the buyer to believe." it held the board up in the light for the others to see, tracing the appropriate points with a finger. "See, here. Here and here. Front is black and grey, sharp and modernist. Makes it looks like they know what they're doing. The back, here and here. Messy. Overwrought. Overcomplicated. Makes it look complex, for complexity's sake." it turned back to the board a third time, musing over it. The panes narrowed into a frown. There was a little pale green light, hidden beneath a wire. Reflecting off of the panes, it gave those blank ovals iris, made them look alive and scared. It cocked its head to one side, the fingers fiddling with a part. Something moved, two short cylindrical lengths of plastic. "Antennae." the voice said, foreboding. The head cocked to the other side, and turned the board back over again. There was hurry in the movements now, a worried sort of urgency. Then the mask turned to the dog that towered over him, that frown still on its face. "Did you know about this?" it stared for a moment at him, and then snapped the beak open and shut with an angry clack. And then there was a sigh. It held up the board before his muzzle, mere inches away from him, and turned it this way and that as appropriate. "See here? The lines on the back?! The ones for the antennae are separate. It is not part of the machine, it had nothing to do with its primary function. Not only is it separately powered and thus still working, it can send and receive signals, and is still doing so!" again, the mask clacked, and shoved the panel into the mutt's chest. It headed back towards the tree that it had been leaning against, and brought out its revolver, to check that it was still loaded. The mask shook its head, and sighed again. "I doubt there's someone on whatever machine it interacts with, but signals such as radios tend to mass their frequencies together. That fucking thing could interfere with that sort of thing. Are you hearing what I'm saying, dog?! People could find us using that thing!" It gripped its revolver tightly in one hand, and looked up at him. Somehow, the blankness of the stare still held in it hatred. "I'm sure technology must be unusual to you if you can't smell it out, so perhaps you can lead us the fuck out of here without screwing us over any more I'm sure we'd all be very grateful!" After the anger, came heavy breathes. The breaths of a hoarse throat and a creature in pain. It did not like speaking. "Lead the bloody way, oh Graceful Leader."

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11 Re: Crossfire (Post-Apocalyptic) on Thu May 21, 2015 9:18 pm

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The hyena took another moment to examine his bandaged arm. His cloudy eyes seem to flicker back and forth between the cut and the medicine that Visi was now holding towards him. He made an attempt to judge whether or not the cut warranted the use of her kindly-offered ointment. The bleeding had stopped, but there was still a sharp, stinging pain that he could feel throbbing with his each beat of his heart. The risk of infection was the worry; not the wound itself. So he took it, nodded appreciatively, and applied a very small amount to the wound. The minimal amount required to do the job. The sting it caused took him by surprise, and he whelped, and growled, and bore his fangs for a small moment... but stepped away, and turned his face from the small female in a self-conscious attempt to spare her from his bestial endeavours. It was uncomely of him. The grey eyes that returned to her were ones of wide and sullen reproach; apologetic in nature, like that of a puppy apologising for making a mess somewhere. "Thank you." he managed, clearing his throat. His voice was coarse, almost wrought with something affectual. Zero handed the ointment back to her, and applied a new bandage to his arm.

Then the... masked thing, as alien as he was, interrupted them with a movement similar to a lurching snake snapping forth to snatch up a snack. If it were something less delicate, Zero would have kept hold of the circuitboard. In fear of the thing snapping under his large paws. Paws. No, he couldn't call them that among humans. His... hands. Well, he let the item go. The... thing... was a terrifying being of curiosity personified, only the gods had thought it ironic to make him a crow, and not a cat instead. Although he wasn't really a crow. He was just masquerading as one. Zero wanted to smile at that particular thought, but he couldn't manage it in the end. Perhaps it was the thought of putting his fangs on display again. He couldn't deny the strength of his own bite, but others seem to shy away from him once they caught a glimpse of his fangs. To them, he was just a dog. A mindless feral on two legs. The crow had called him dog or mutt a few times now. The little one, however... had kept her thoughts to herself. She remained a mystery... and he hated not knowing where he stood with her. It was worse than that... thing... I mean, at least he was honest and upfront about it. But still, ignorance was bliss, and not being called such things was hardly something he was going to complain about.

Ignorance is bliss. Hah, tell that to the... thing.

And then it happened. The clacking. The angry, horrible clacking of a false beak that always came before the storm of words. "Did you know about this?" he had splurted afterwards. Zero had to take a moment to tune back into the real world and take a look at what was apparently wrong. His eyes focused, and then widened as he realised the problem. "I didn't." the hyena answered honestly. There was a glimmer in his eyes, however. "But this is a good thing, so stop with the complaining. We are now in the possession of two valuable items for pawning off to our employers. If we get out of this alive and well, it'll be their problem, not ours, so if you'll take a moment to stop with the clamouring and clacking instead of throwing false accusations of incompetence at me, we might actually be able to make an attempt at removing ourselves from this god forsaken facility. There's more in it for us if we keep the tracker, and stop complaining... human." he spluttered the last word testily, and then turned to Visi, prompting her opinion on the matter. The... thing... was making far too much noise for his liking. Too much unecessary complaining. It wasn't even that much of a big deal.

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12 Re: Crossfire (Post-Apocalyptic) on Tue Jun 02, 2015 11:56 pm

The girl merely gave her companions a long hard stare before padding over to the corridor entrance, glancing out into the gloom. With all the racket the crow-thing was making it would be a small miracle if nothing was attracted to them, especially if the tracker on the circuit board was indeed functional. She wondered, could real crows howl as their masked counterpart did? Would they feel the urge to? Turning back to them she shook her head slowly. Darkly had certainly grasped the severity of the situation, but perhaps Zero hadn’t. If there were others…if other people were going to come after them it might be necessary to cut her flimsy ties with these creatures and run again. I mustn’t be taken. I can’t be taken. Confinement was the only thing worse than freedom.

“Tshh.” She looked to the masked one, “Can it be removed or switched off? If so, do it. If not, they’ll need no further clues to where we are with your shouting.” Looking back to Zero she opened her mouth, about to speak, but decided against it, tilting her head instead with a look of mild disappointment. For him to descend to name calling, and making a poor job of it at that, was simply unnecessary given the situation, especially as he seemed so apologetic for his own appearance, perhaps even existence. What was it like to look through a beast’s eyes, she wondered, be it by nature or by the glass artifice of a mask.

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13 Re: Crossfire (Post-Apocalyptic) on Thu Jun 25, 2015 10:51 pm

The crowling looked to the girl as it pushed the barrel back into its revolver. Six in the chamber, fourteen... Fourteen on it. "No point in trying." came the reply in a voice so very quiet. "Zee's says we're keeping it. Giving it to Borden as is." The beak, and by extension the thing, nodded, albeit coolly. Behind that mask, ideas were forming. Or perhaps they were just latching onto what they thought the hyena had planned. Even if they did get out, they still might not survive Beancounter Borden, that fast bastard. He'd skin Wonder Pup and take her mask and take its face, its pretty red face. It shook its head, even as the cold winds continued to pierce the second skin. "Back to Rustonne then, sharpish," came the voice. Beneath leather and felt and glass, someone swallowed. It steadied is slowly shaking gun-hand, shoving it, and the revolver, back into its pocket as it barged past them both, passing from clearing to the corridor, a portal of decay. Soft ground turned to concrete, the soft depressions to shuffling footsteps. And the rain finally began to fall, the showers falling upon the roof above like a firing squad to the dead.

There was no talking for a while after that. At least, not from that beaked thing; it could not speak for the others, as it paid no attention to them. It concentrated on navigating the winding corridors, which seemed to have been planned by the same sadistic sods that had planned Rustonne; like it, there seemed no plan to them and so it had to work from memory. Though they'd only scanned briefly through the outlying buildings this time around, the remaining complex was a large gathering of buildings, structures and the like. Someone it used to know back at Rustonne had once tried to convince them that it was not a military base at all, but a remainder of some great city, perhaps the workplace of some giant of a man. But that was just the ravings of a madman; the cities were all husks. Only military bases stood this intact, only they survived, the shooters and the looters and the killers. Only those like it and those that followed behind it stood as exceptions: the scavengers, who picked the meat off of the bones and sold what they could not chew. In that, the hyena and the crow could not have been more well-suited. It was fairly sure that even the girl had her uses, beyond pouting at potions and scrapes. But right now, that was neither here or there.

Downward spirals of stairs only served to bring them to another staircase, and this time they went up. Up and up, yet when they found another window it saw that they were only on the ground level. This place had a way with messing with the sane, but Darkly simply kept walking. Left and left and then right. Another right, past the clown poster and up another set of stairs. Crossing through the big room that had the phrase 'Peter and Paul's Printers, INC.' plastered over it brought them to the long glass corridor. Darkly nodded. "Almost out." came a wispy voice. It was still cooling. They were still on the ground floor, that was plain to see and from the arrangement of the scenery - thick vegetation on one side, and the concrete expanse on the other side of the corridor - it was also plain to see that they were on the opposite edge of the facility, exactly the direction it'd meant to come. it had, of course, nearly memorized the layout. It was good at that. But still, something gave it paused, and it stopped for a moment. Despite its height, it took long strides, and so passed his stop off as a means of letting the others catch up. There was something, a sense of dreading perhaps, that it shouldn't have shook, but did. And it kept walking.

The showers slowed as they crossed the corridor, and then seemed to dissipate completely so that they could only hear the rustling of the leaves. The wind was fierce, and so of course the leaves were alive with movement. They were halfway across when a sharp ping froze it in place. As always, those red eyes snapped to the source of the noise, and found the crack in the glass facing the vegetation. Darkly cocked his head. There was something else there. In a manner akin to how it had so curiously snatched that panel from Zero, it approached the crack, and prized the black then from it. Too slowly it turned towards the others, realization dawning. The world crawled around the crow. It had not noticed they were already moving. Glass was shattering behind it, glass was shattering behind it and now in-front of it too.

That thing called Darkly did not get another chance to duck.

A bullet caught it at head level, and threw it onto its back. Already the masked thing was screaming, grasping with one hand at its face, but any blood there might've been would not have been able to be seen against the red leather of the mask. It was not frozen any more, though. Away it crawled, over to the other side of the corridor, as glass and bullets and resurgent showers rained around them all. It scrambled away, behind some boxes at the other end, with the speed of some feral child. As if remembering. And still it screamed.

"THEY SHOT MY FACE!" came the cry once it was finally hidden from all view, as shadow shooters closed in.

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14 Re: Crossfire (Post-Apocalyptic) on Fri Jun 26, 2015 12:43 am

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The hyena was hanging his head dejectedly by the time the crow-man had decided to take the lead. His ears were low against his head, and his eyes were glimmering with a sense of distaste; probably towards his own musings just prior to his puppy-like display. The little lady had shown him a gesture of disapproval, and to him that was worse than a verbal telling-off. However, after realising that his regretful must have looked rather silly - or cute, depending on your preferences - he soon snapped back into his serious self again with a shake of his head. Zero attempted an apologetic look, but it was so similar to his previous countenance that he practically ended up with glimmering "forgive me" puppy-eyes again. He growled himself into submission, which must have added to his beastly charm, and then straightened up his posture before following closely behind the other two. It was better for him to be at the back sometimes. It made it easier for him to slip away unnoticed. And right now, that's exactly what he wanted.

Bah... the fool...

It didn't take him long to forget his anger, however. He was easily irritated when it came down to insulting his pride, but thankfully he wasn't stupid enough to hold a grudge against somebody for it; especially an essential member of the small group he'd gotten together. He had, after all, chosen the strange fellow to join them for a very particular reason. Soon enough, he had found it in himself to quietly approach the little lady and apologise briefly, and then attempted the same gesture with the crow. It was short, and concise, and involved as little of his beastly charms as he could manage. All in all, he might have passed for a human were it not for the fur... and the fangs... and the ears... and the tail. For a small moment, he felt as if he was doing something right for once. Just like them.

"Wait, something doesn't seem-" He noticed a disaparity in the dense air. His muzzle twitched as he took in a deep breath through his nose. Just as he was about to warn the others of their impending encounter, a bullet torn through the glass on his left, shattering the large pane instantly. It flew over his muzzle, leaving a line of blood across his short whiskers. He immediately took himself to the ground and scrambled for cover. There were bullets and glass flying everywhere now. Zero snapped himself into his rigorous, militaristic mindset and took a quick peek over the cover he'd taken to. There was at least ten of them about 100 yards away. In the other direction, there were only five. They had been caught in crossfire.

Before he returned his head to cover, his eyes caught glimpse of a dark green object hurling towards their shelter. It stopped a few metres short, but it was close enough for him to realise that it was a grenade. These people were not messing around. Zero took a quick moment to determine the positions of his companions. The crow-man had taken a hit and was writhing around on the floor. He was screaming and shouting about being hit in the face, but he was well enough to crawl to some form of cover, so he must have been okay. That strange mask of his must have been tougher than he thought. He was well out of the explosion radius. The little lady however, was right beside him. This was bad. Very bad.

Zero rushed over to the little lady and embraced the front of his large body around her, putting his back towards the bullets and glass. He made sure to cover her entire form, not having time to move her and himself in time to get out of the explosion radius. There was a deafening explosion. Fire and shrapnel tore through the small corridor they were in, effectively splitting the structure in half, sending glass and rubble flying. The force of the impact hit his back hard, but he remained still and vigilant in protecting the little one. There was no way she would have survived such a blast.

He tore himself from her as soon as it was safe. His back was effectively shredded, and shards of glass stuck into his skin and fur like pins in a pincushion. The hyena winced at the pain as he tried to remove himself from the little lady. He managed it, checked her over very quickly, and after realising that she was alright, used the thick smoke that had gathered from the explosion to slip away; being sure to leave her with one of his radio-communicators, having placed it in one of her hands with a swift nod. All of this happened in a matter of seconds. The pain was almost unreal...

Ugh...This is my chance. It must be done.

And with that, he stealthed his way through the shadows and smoke, and made use of the large overgrowth outside to conceal his presence. They were still firing at the shattered corridor. They wouldn't survive long at this rate. But at his rate? Well, the odds were better. Not great... but better. So he moved, silently and unseen, leaving a trail of blood in his wake.

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15 Re: Crossfire (Post-Apocalyptic) on Fri Jun 26, 2015 1:41 am

A short, sharp scream ripped it's way unbidden through her mask. The time between the crow-thing passing through the corridor's exit and her suddenly being crouched into a ball seemed to have been lost on her memory. She heard the window above her give and crack under the strain of gunfire. Gunshots, smoke, the scent of something alive, something singed, that was what all that was real now. Where? How many? Had she been seen? Why no longer mattered, it rarely did.  

She tensed, poised to run to the other end of the hallway and back into the building but then there was warmth, fur brushing against her skin, the familiar smell of the hyena. Part of her wanted to shove him away, tell him to save his own damned hide, much good it would do; the stupid child that she'd believed she'd suffocated along with her desperately wanted to cling to the one friendly source of life in this godforsaken ruin. Her rattling cough sounding in her ears, straining to reach her, drag her closer toward death. Don't go, Visi, please...

She gave a brisk nod as Zero departed, gripping the radio tightly in a bid to suppress the urge to call out to him, a move that would accomplish nothing except alerting the attackers to both her survival and position. Still, the newly woken sun glinting from his glass bitten back wasn't a comfort. With no weapons to speak of, Visi knew the best force she could muster would be her own hands or shards of broken window against the shooters; unwise to say the least. She turned and, half-crouched, picked her way back upstairs and down two more hallways, ducking beneath a window sill with a good view of the fighting ground.

There was the crow-thing, cradling an injured mask in his hands, talons, whichever. He really seemed to believe it a part of him; did it feel pain? Did he believe it to? In any case he was alive, though she was unsure whether or not to be relieved. The both of her companions, there was something distinctly inhuman about them, one more obviously so than the other, but perhaps that made them more useful; at the very least they were durable. You're not a child, you're not a girl, you're alive. That's all. Exactly, there were only two necessary categories: dead or alive. Keep the others amongst the living if you wish to remain so.

Even from above, Zero was difficult to spot but...no, there he was. She scanned the area before pushing down the red button on her radio, speaking as loud as she dared, "Two on your left in firing range. Four on the opposite side, against the wall. Might not be on the same side. Guns don't match. Keep low. Darkly's covered for now." Gods only knew whether the arrogant beast had need of a radio to keep in contact with the group, for his sake she hoped so.

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16 Re: Crossfire (Post-Apocalyptic) on Fri Jun 26, 2015 8:02 pm

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Zero looked down at the radio device in his hand. It was buzzing with static feedback, and his sensitive ears were pulsing with a deafening screech. He had to stop and take a moment to close his eyes and calm himself. All of his training was coming back to him, but he was struggling to keep himself upright. The hyena was almost certain that he'd broken a few bones, and he had definitely lost a fair amount of blood. Still, it was better than being dead, even though it didn't exactly feel like a triumph. Not yet, at least.

Things became much clearer to him once he took a moment to gather his thoughts. The deafening screech of a past explosion seemed to be fading, and the pain ripping through the entirety of his back was becoming somewhat tolerable. Or, at least, it was becoming tolerable enough for him to make more of an effort now. Though he probably wouldn't last much longer. After reaching a corner, he put his back to it and peered around the edge. A large print of blood and fur stuck to the old concrete as he seperated himself, drew out his blade, and crouched as low as his injured body could muster. He stopped and waited for the smaller group to reload their weapons. They were firing together in short bursts, and-

"Grahhh!"

A human tackled him up against a nearby wall out of nowhere. Zero whimpered like a wounded mutt and crumbled to the ground, dropping his blade. It slid off a small ledge and tumbled down a set of stairs. Zero then took a swift kick in the chest, and splurted up some blood. His vision became blurry, and his breathing laboured. He coughed up some more blood and turned his eyes to the attacker. He crawled backwards and wiped the blood from his muzzle, growling lowly as his back encountered the wall again.

The human pulled out a small handgun and pointed the barrel towards the wounded hyena. Zero looked up at him with dark eyes and bloodied fangs. This human was barely a man, and his hands were shaking. The gun trembled in the boy's grip. Zero picked himself up and gripped his chest as pain tore through his ribs. Some were cracked, no doubt about it. No words were spoken between them; only an exchange of dark acceptance lingering in their eyes. The boy pulled steadied himself and took a deep breath. The gun still trembled in his hands, but it was steadier than before. He raised the barrel and looked the hyena in the eyes.

Click.

Zero's eyes snapped to the boy's suddenly terrified expression. He was pulling the trigger over and over again like he was in some form of chaotic stupor. The hyena felt his heart sink. The kid still had the safety on. He didn't even know how guns worked, most likely. Probably just found one and thought all you had to do was pull the trigger. He would have been better off beating the hyena down with his fists. Zero certainly didn't have much strength to resist. It was sad. So very, very sad...

I'm sorry...

He knew that this would be his only chance to end this dispute and leapt forward with the ferocity of a cornered animal. He sank his fangs briskly into the boy's neck and tugged. Hard. Blood sprayed all over his face and all over the nearby wall. His strong jaws had crushed the small bones in his neck, killing him instantly. He retrieved the gun and checked the ammunition. There were two rounds in the chamber. He readied the firearm correctly, and aimed.

Bang... thud. Bang... thud.

Two of the four went down. He took no chances and hobbled down the stairs before the others realised what was going on. He grabbed his katana on the way down, and then thrusted it through one of their backs. He turned with the blade still in the human's body as the other male faced him. The body impaled on his blade took most of the bullets before the familiar sound of an empty clip reached his ears. He tossed the body to the ground, and finished the final member of the small firing squad with a quick slash.

Zero slumped to the ground and took one of the semi-automatic rifles, resting it on his lap as he took a breather. He checked the radio again, pressing one of the buttons so that he could speak through it. "One squad down." he managed with a cough. Blood splurted from his mouth again, and he felt himself fading. "Get down here, little lady." he continued. Somehow he even managed to sound polite about it, despite the circumstances. "The other one is still in danger."

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17 Re: Crossfire (Post-Apocalyptic) on Mon Jun 29, 2015 3:53 pm

Visi watched the scene completely motionless, poised to run should anyone approach. There had been no point shouting a warning to Zero about the boy, he knew full well where his enemies were and what good would a 'look out' be against a bullet? Her jaw clenched, teeth locking and grinding against each other as she listened for the shot that would destroy their group, destroy this reality permanently...but it never came. Stupid boy. She tilted her head, watching the back of his, wondering what expression had replaced the fervent courage he'd had upon grabbing the gun. Waste of flesh that he was.

Once she saw Zero draw his blade she knew he was safe enough in the steel's hands so got to her feet, intending to search one of the mouldering rooms for any sort of weapon. That was when the sound of crunching echoed along the corridor, a misplaced foot skittering across glass fragments, strangely clear in the quiet that follows bullets. She slipped into one of the rooms with an open door, not wanting an unoiled hinge to be the death of her, scanning the place for any sort of weapon.

Someone was approaching, trying to be quiet, the soles of gummed boots sounding tacky kisses against the floor. She heard them tick-tack into two rooms in quick succession, weaving their way down the hall. Not stopping, must be searching for people. Only one, light on their feet but probably still bigger than her by the sounds of it, definitely not Darkly- he never made unnecessary sounds. If this scout had backup there was no chance for her to attack and live, but there was nowhere to hide either. She stood behind the door, waiting, grabbing something from atop the cabinet, hoping that they wouldn't pin her against the wall without realising it.

Her radio crackled into life as they approached, "Get down here, little lady," she tried to muffle it, pressing it into her side, "-oth... one...-danger." She cringed back as the boots followed the sound, standing dumbly in the doorway for a second before moving further in. Visi sprang forward, striking his neck once, twice, with the letter opener. The thing was hopelessly blunt but that didn't stop it biting into his eye socket as he turned and grabbed her hair, pulling her up onto her toes. She twisted it, pulling it free as he screamed and shoved her back against the door, kicking her in the ribs once she'd fallen, half blind with blood and rage. She scrambled up, narrowly dodging a second blow, aiming for his other eye and catching him in the bridge of the nose as he flailed and tried to knock her back, making snarls that would rival any real animal as he staggered forward. Shut up. She grabbed his vest and pulled him into the blade as hard as she could and ran, bits of his remaining eye slithering down his face.

She held her breath as she ran, down the hall and another, back downstairs, passing through through their meeting point, stopping, tucking herself behind the exit. She stared outside at the space that had once contained an injured Darkly. Red glass, red blood marked the spot where she'd watched his beak roar in pain but the rest of him had vanished. The bullet that had struck his second skin lay innocently in the midst of it all. Where the hell was he?

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18 Re: Crossfire (Post-Apocalyptic) on Mon Jun 29, 2015 7:55 pm

As if on queue, the sounds of a sharp clack sound filled the air off to the vegetated east. The shooters were a fair bit closer now, and so their shouts could be heard. Man called to man, and a woman howled out orders. More rustling sounded out, as they fanned out. They were apart, but all around. Then came the first set of gunshots, sharp distinct sounds, quite unlike the unfettered fierceness of a machine-guns. These two shots came from  a revolver, evidently. A shooter sent out a leaden reply, bullets ripping through the undergrowth. A man shouted out as the bullets caught him, and not too soon after the shooter fell silent.
Rustling again filled the air. A wolf howled, and then came the screams: "NO! SHOOT IT, SHOOT IT!" No shots, only growling and clacking. "DON'T LET IT TAKE MYAAAAAAHHH!" The trees wavered as the wind sounded out it's own ghoulish response to that blood-curdling scream. No shots, only barked orders. And soon even those dampened, as both parties retreated from each-other. The Clacker, for its part, took to concrete and corridors. Though it hid itself and its groaning haul in shadows for the moment, as it crouched over the thing so that it might finalise its work, if it looked up it would be able to see the blasted glass corridor from where it was. Only a corner or so away now.

That was the way it went, though without an eye it made sure to step carefully. Rounding the corner, it found the girl there, though for the moment it hung back, so that it might report without interference. "One dead." came the voice, weak and laboured yes, but it spat out the words all the same. "One injured. They are led by a brute of a wolf, a woman by the looks of things, and another wolf-thing. Perhaps a mate. And I have the fifth." The crow shoved the hostage before the half-breed, who crumpled into a ball the first chance he got. He was bleeding quite profusely. A crack of lighting painted Darkly's shadow over the wall. "They took my eye." came the voice in practiced fury. It lent forward, blood-covered fingers raised to its mask. "So I took my toll in full view of them, and they fled from the sight of me." In place of where there had once been tinted glass, there now stood something even more horrific; a bloody eye, jammed into the mask-socket, held in place with what glass remained there, and the shutters that the mask used to blink. The iris was grey and the arteries of the thing were bulging and strained and from the eye there streamed a liquid all the way down the mask in something that could have been tears, if the crow had it in it to cry.

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19 Re: Crossfire (Post-Apocalyptic) on Sun Jul 12, 2015 3:19 am

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The hyena inhaled sharply as he made an attempt to stand. There was a pool of blood beneath him, and the whole area reeked of nothing but death and decay. He wasn't entirely sure if it was his own blood, or the blood of the people he'd just killed; but it was blood all the same, and it wasn't particularly pleasant to be bathing in it. Struggling to his feet, he used his sheathed blade as an aid for walking with. Hobbling like a beaten mutt in the gutters of some long-lost hope for civilised society, Zero felt nothing more than a beast. He growled and mumbled expletives using what little breath and life was left in him, until he was eventually brought to a halt by a weak hand grasping around one of his ankles.

"Please..." the man coughed. "P... please, dog. I'll... do anything."

The hyena's ears twitched at the word. He kicked the man's hand away from his ankles, and the man curled his body defensively. He was sobbing in a pool of his own blood. It was pathetic. Zero was about to respond to the man when he grasped at the hyena's ankle again. He growled at the man this time, and was about to end his miserable life, when he spoke up again and caught his attention.

"My brother... you... k-killed him. Just let me... die by his side. Please."

The hyena looked over his shoulder towards the boy he had killed. The resemblance was uncanny, and the scent in their blood was the same. He frowned down at the man, and crouched beside him. He lowered one of his hands and rested it gently at the side of the man's neck, as if he was checking his pulse. Zero answered. His voice was dark and cold and full of anguish. "No."

There was a snap. A loud, crunching snap. And then a small moment of silence before the sound of a hobbling beast could be heard again. It didn't take him long to track down the others, and he certainly didn't waste any amount of time looking back.

I'm not a dog...

----------

Zero continued to hobble down the hallway. Their scents were getting closer now, and he could hear them talking in a room at the end of the corridor. The hyena reached for the handle and gave it a twirl, but it was locked from the inside.

Knock, knock. Slump.

He put his back to the door and let his body crumple to the ground as the last of his strength left him. Only then did he realise the huge trail of blood he'd left making his way down the dark hallway. Any normal being would have collapsed after the initial explosion, never mind survive it long enough to fend off four men and a half-man with pure strength and determination. The bullet the boy had failed to put in him would have been a welcome consideration at this point. The pain was... unreal. His back felt like somebody had plunged a thousand knives through it. His legs were numb from supporting the weight of his body. His blade had even snapped in two as he had attempted to make his way up the stairs nearby. It was a shoddy old thing, grabbed as a temporary replacement for his usual blade of choice while it was being reforged and sharpened. There were no feelings to be spared for a blade that was only worth a tenth of his original. Still, it had served him well for what it was. There was no denying its usefulness in their brief encounter with armed faction-based personnel.

"Visi? Darkly?" he managed, knocking the door again with the back of his arm. He was still slumped on the ground, wheezing with each breath. All in all, since arriving at the facility, he had broken an arm, broken some ribs, had his back shredded open by shrapnel and glass, been battered and bruised just about everywhere else, experienced tinnitus for a while, and had lost enough blood to make a vampire jealous.

"Could use some help... out here." The hyena winced. He could feel himself slipping into unconscious as he tried to remain as still as possible. It felt as if the world around him was twisting and turning this way and that. And then the world was nothing more than an endless void of black, accompanied by a silence so sweet, he could have stayed there forever.

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20 Re: Crossfire (Post-Apocalyptic) on Sat Jul 18, 2015 2:48 pm

The breath she'd been holding escaped her in a tight gasp, throat constricting, the dead eye inside the glass staring at her, weeping tears that did not belong to it. Unnatural, inhuman, just like its new master. It seemed to strain with a dying pulse, flinching away from the slivers of the crow's dead eye with each contraction only to inevitably skewer itself more firmly in place. Perhaps she was imagining it; an eye couldn't have a life of its own but still it seemed to writhe and struggle. Of course it couldn't watch them disconnected from its old body, and now its host. Yes, host. There was now something irrevocably human about that mask: human in the most inhumane way.

She didn’t dare question it, he’d explained himself perfectly well enough. Eye for an eye indeed but a vulture eye would reveal nothing to the crow, the iris already pale and clouded. She was certain he’d make quite the show of directing his questions to the man curled up at his heel. Was it his eye? She couldn’t tell by the way he was covering his face. It didn’t matter. It didn’t belong to him anymore.

Knocking? Visi stared at the door until she recognised the voice, pulling it open, glad to have any excuse not to look at the mask and its human. She was met with the scent of blood and a heap of fur slumping by her feet. Hands scrabbling, searching for a pulse, Visi looked the hyena up and down trying to assess the worst of his injuries. There wasn’t the time to do much here but once they returned to camp, provided they could get him there, this should be fixable, or at least that’s what she was forcing herself to believe. “Zero? Squeeze my hand if you can hear me.” She slipped her backpack off and grabbed the first aid kit she’d cobbled together, digging through the little bundles of herbs and weeds and slips of cloth. Ah, there, alfalfa, that should help the blood to clot and clean it. The last thing we need is for anything to get infected. She rubbed the leaves between her fingers, grinding them up as best she could before persuading Zero to open his mouth, needing to use her fingers to force it in the end and gently tipping water in to wash it down, leaning his head against the wall. She wasn’t sure if he was fully conscious but he was maneuverable at least. It was like nursing a large, heavy doll.

She knew if she tried to move him before splinting his arm it might very well make it worse, the same for setting his ribs, but there was little choice for supplies amongst all the rubble. She shoved some yarrow leaves in her mouth, chewing them into a paste and spitting them into her palm and holding it out to Darkly. “Spread this on anything bleeding. Don’t rub it in. Spread it. Gently.” Whether he found the task repulsive or fascinating was something the girl would rather not know; he seemed to be enjoying himself a little too much in keeping his new pet curled into a trembling ball, a strangely righteous fury in his remaining eye. At least that meant the stranger was easy keep track of, perhaps if they broke a few of his bones…

Clicking her tongue she glanced around outside, looking for lurkers in the fallout before creeping forward to gather a few sticks and part of what had once been a wooden board. She bound the materials around Zero’s arm with cleanest strips of cloth that she had. There was nothing to be done for his ribs, bandaging would only make it difficult to breathe and had little chance of setting the bones considering the angle. Time to move. Getting him to stand however would be another matter entirely.

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21 Re: Crossfire (Post-Apocalyptic) on Thu Jul 23, 2015 2:51 am

One eye blinked, while the other one bled something. It stood still there, as the rain ran roughshod over all the other sound. It seemed still righteous in its fury. Expectant, too. Perhaps the creature had been expecting more, perhaps it had desired derision or disgust. Perhaps it even wanted to see fear in their faces. Did they still fear it? Something deep within it answered, but it did not listen. Its dead eyes trailed to the half-breed's living ones and it thought it could see fear behind those masks she was trying on. She was waiting for him, something told him. It listened, eyes trailing down to her hand. Or rather, one did; the other swivelled and dipped. In any case, it saw the paste and scooped it too slowly in one hand, the feel of it strange against its numbing fingers. It hadn't realised it was shaking. The hostage was weeping in a puddle of his own blood behind him. "Move, and you lose another eye." it said.

Things were moving irrespective of what it had been expecting, and only now did it seek to keep up. Stumbling past the half-breed, it crumpled behind the dog. His back was a red ruin. Little pieces of gravel seemed almost indistinguishable amongst the shrapnel. The free hand reached towards the gorey display in a moment of curious concern, while a million morbid thoughts filled the mask. It said not a single word as it retracted the hand, and ran its still-shaking fingers over that back. It had been itself and the girl that had been travelling at the front of the pack, it mused as it ran human fingers over the jagged pieces of metal that had spliced its way through fur and flesh. It had been meant for them. The dog... Zero, Zero had been stupid. It's hands were shaking as it spread the mixture around. Zero had been brave. An eye blinked. The stuff spread, Darkly shuffled out of the way. Had been? It shook its head, briefly. 'Would be', came the correction. The mask watched him, watched them both. It was beginning to sense the urgency in her movements now, and found itself in agreement. They needed to get out of here, they would be coming back soon, with men and guns and a familiar anger. They would take her and him and it and all of its eyes, if they did not move. If it did not move. If he did not move.

Darkly crawled towards him, eyes staring down the hyena named Zero. It saw life in those eyes, and other things, too. Fire welled up within the mask, unfamiliar and strange. But this wasn't new, this wasn't something that was coming out of nowhere. This was old, and dirty, and anything but righteous. "Get up, Zero." someone said. Had it simply forgotten who? The mask swallowed. "Or I'll fucking carry you."

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22 Re: Crossfire (Post-Apocalyptic) on Sun Jul 26, 2015 11:26 pm

Doesn’t he realise…? She didn’t understand. She’d expected him to inspect the hyena and insist that he would need to be left behind if he couldn’t move and though she couldn’t pretend the thought wasn’t lurking at the back of her mind and demanding attention, she hadn’t expected Darkly to hide behind any niceties. He wasn’t exactly the courteous sort, not like Zero. Perhaps that mask really had distanced him from what was important, perhaps he couldn’t process it. Why did the human in him have to wake so late?

There wasn’t the time for this. She crouched beside Zero and put one of his arms around her neck, supporting him with her shoulder, slowly gesturing for Darkly to do the same. Hopefully if the human held out, then he’d forget about his new organ donor for the time being and move his…friend? Accomplice. She knew she couldn’t do it by herself, the hyena was almost twice her size, and as much as she disliked relying on the whims of a furiously spurned crow, there really wasn’t much choice. The hostage didn’t look to be in good enough shape to assist and she knew, terrified as he was, he might try to harm Zero in his panic. Frightened people were predictably unpredictable. Having no pattern to work from unsettled the girl, and now as she looked expectantly at Darkly she was unsure exactly who she was asking help from.

As soon as he was standing, or at least near enough to it, they trudged outside, following the trail of blood that Zero had left in his wake. How had he even managed to drag himself so far? Adrenaline truly was a miracle. It would be a long night at the camp picking the gravel and glass from his back, but there had been far worse nights and would likely be worse to come.

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23 Re: Crossfire (Post-Apocalyptic) on Wed Aug 05, 2015 12:33 am

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He was young back then. Everyone is at some point. Only a pup.

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Zero rolled, coughing in the dirt. He saw the man watching him as he struggled to his feet, the sword clutched in both hands. He swung it at the man, a great overhead arc. It bit deep into the earth. Somehow the man had already danced aside. A foot came out of nowhere and sank into his stomach. He doubled over, powerless, the air driven from his body. His fingers twitched, the sword was left stuck in the ground. His knees wobbled.

“And now what, hm?” the man sighed.

Something crunched into the hyena's nose. His legs buckled and the ground hit him hard in the back. He rolled groggily to his knees, the world turning over around him. There was blood on his face. He blinked and shook his head, trying to stop the world from spinning. The man was moving towards him, tipping, blurry.

Zero stumbled up, pulling the knife from his belt. He thrust at the man, missed, thrust again, missed again. His head was swimming. He screamed, slashing at him with all his might. The man caught his wrist in his hand. Their faces were less than a foot apart. His skin was perfect, smooth, like dark glass. He looked young, almost like a child, but his eyes were old. Hard eyes. He watched the hyena - curious, amused, like a boy who had discovered an interesting beetle.

“He doesn’t give up, does he, sister?” the man turned to face the woman behind him.

“Very fierce! The boss will be very happy with him, indeed!"

The man sniffed at Zero and wrinkled his nose. “Ugh. He’d better be washed first.”

The hyena butted him in the face. His head snapped back, but he only laughed maniacally. The man caught him round the throat with his free hand, shoved him out to arm’s length. Zero clawed at his face but the man's arm was too long, he couldn’t reach. He was prising the hyena's fingers from the handle of the knife. The man's grip was iron around his neck. Zero couldn’t breathe. He bared his fangs, struggling, snarling, thrashing. All in vain.

“Alive, brother! We want him alive!”

“Alive,” murmured the man, “but not unharmed.”

The woman giggled. Zero’s feet left the ground, kicking at the air. The hyena felt one of his fingers snap and the knife dropped to the grass. The hand gripped tighter round his neck, and he tore at it with broken claws. All in vain. The bright world began to turn dark. Zero heard the woman laughing, far away. A face swam out of the darkness, a hand stroked Zero’s cheek. The fingers were soft, warm, gentle.

“Be still, little pup,” whispered the woman. Her eyes were dark and deep. Zero could feel her breath, hot and fragrant on his face. “You are hurt, you must rest. Be still now… sleep.” Zero’s legs were heavy as lead. He kicked weakly, one last time, then his body sagged. His heart beat slow.

“Rest now.” the man whispered. Zero’s eyelids began to droop, the woman’s beautiful face grew blurred.

“Sleep.” The hyena bit down hard on his tongue, and his mouth turned salty.

“Be still.” Zero spat blood in the woman’s face.

“Gah!” she shouted in disgust, wiping blood from her eyes. “He fights me!”

“His kind fight everything,” came the man’s voice, just behind Zero’s ear.

“Now listen to me, you fucking mongrel!” hissed the woman, clutching Zero’s jaw with steely fingers and yanking his face this way and that. “You are coming with us! With us! One way or another! You hear me?”

“He goes nowhere.” Another voice, deep and mellow. It seemed familiar. Zero blinked, shook his head groggily. The woman had turned, looking at another hyena, not far away. Much older. Zero's guardian. His name was Jesahl.

Jesahl's bangles jingled as he padded softly across the grass. “Are you alive, Zero?"

“Gugh,” He croaked in reply.

The woman sneered at Jesahl. “Who are you, old bastard?”

Jesahl sighed. “I'm an old bastard.”

“Be gone, dog!” shouted the man. “We come on behalf of the Hunters. From Gerran himself!”

“And he comes with us!” the woman added with a squawk.

Jesahl looked sad. “I cannot change your minds?”

They laughed together. “Fool!” cried the man. “Our minds never change!” He let go of one of Zero’s arms, took a wary step forwards, dragging the half-beaten hyena with him.

“A shame,” said Jesahl, shaking his head. “I would have had you carry my respects to Gerran.”

“The boss does not talk with the likes of you, beggar!”

“I might surprise you. We knew each other well, long ago.”

“I will give our master your respects then,” jeered the woman, “with the news of your recent death!” Zero twisted his wrist, felt the hidden knife drop into his palm.

“Oh, Gerran would enjoy that news, but he will not receive it yet. The two of you have cursed yourselves. You have broken the Second Law."

"What the fuck is the Second Law?" the man chuckled mockingly.

"You've hurt my dear friend, here. It's my law. The second, of three in total." Jesahl retorted.

"Well shit, I'd better let him go then, huh?" the man grinned and threw a fist into Zero's stomach. The wind was taken out of his as he fell to the ground again, coughing and splurting blood from his mouth.

“Old fool!” sneered the woman. “Your laws do not apply to us!”

Jesahl slowly shook his head. “My laws govern all. There can be no exceptions. Neither one of you will leave this place alive.” Jesahl took one of the many different coloured vials from his belt. This one was yellow. Quick as a snake, he launched it at the woman with incredible force. The vial shattered against her torso. The woman gave a gurgle and dropped suddenly to the earth, more than falling - melting, flopping, dark silk flapping around her collapsing body.

“Sister!” The man let go of Zero, sprang at Jesahl, arms outstretched. He got no further than a stride. He gave a sudden, shrill scream and dropped to his knees, clutching at his head. The vapours had gotten to him as well. Zero forced his stumbling feet forward, grabbed hold of the man's hair with his broken hand and drove the knife into his neck. Blood blew out into the wind. A fountain of blood. It spluttered around his mouth as he gagged and choked. Zero dropped on top of him, bearing him back onto the ground; choking, snorting. The blade opened up his stomach, scraped against his ribs, snapped off in his chest. Blood sprayed everywhere. Blood and guts. He hacked at the body mindlessly with the broken knife, long after it had stopped moving.

Zero felt a hand on his shoulder. “He is dead, Zero. They're both dead.”

He saw it was true. The man lay on his back, staring up at the sky; a dead man's glare.

“I killed him.” His voice cracked and broken in his throat. "I... killed him."

“They were foolish. Still, you are lucky they wanted only to catch you alive.” Jesahl noted.

“I am lucky,” he mumbled, dribbling bloody spit onto the man's corpse. He dropped the broken knife, crawled away on all fours. The body of the woman lay next to him now, if you could call it that. A shapeless, lumpy mass of flesh. He saw long hair, and an eye, and lips. “What did you do?” he croaked through bloody fangs.

“Simply put... concentrated Blackwater Virus. It's a little more complicated than that, but let's leave it at there."

"Does that mean...?"

Jesahl smiled. "Don't worry... that particular concentration was concocted to affect humans only. I know what I'm doing. I am a very careful individual, after all."

Zero rolled over on the grass, looked up at the bright sky. He held his hand in front of his face, shook it. One of his fingers flopped back and forth.

Jesahl's face appeared above, staring down at him. “Does it hurt?”

“No,” he whispered, letting his arm drop back to the earth. “It never does.” He blinked up at Jesahl. “Why does it never hurt?”

The old hyena frowned. “They will not stop looking for you, Zero. Do you see now, why you have to come with me?”

He nodded slowly. The effort was immense. “I see,” he whispered. “I see…”

Zero woke abruptly and flung himself forward. It was something he immediately came to regret, as the throbbing pain of his sustained injuries tore through his body and caused him to lie back down as abruptly as he'd awoken, which was just as unpleasant an experience. He felt like a complete and utter wreck, and looked it too, but he was thankful to be laying on an old couch, and not in some pit somewhere... even if it did smell like dogshit. His back felt the worst, though. He could feel that all of the fur there had been shaved clean. It felt cold. Probably in order for Visi to remove the shrapnel and shards of glass.

Nobody else would help me...

The hyena looked around as best he could. He noticed that all of his wounds had been treated and bandaged appropriately, and even though his arm still throbbed with immense pain, the bones had been set rather well considering the circumstances. Still, he had to wonder where he'd been hauled off too. Did they carry him? He remembered a small bout of conscious. He had hobbled along with the help of someone's shoulder-support for a lot of the way. Something about not wanting the crow-man to carry him had spurred on his determination to at least get himself out of the facility. From there onwards, they must have carried him. It was all so... blurry, now. And that dream... he hadn't thought about Jesahl in a long time. It pained him to think about it, and he'd had enough pain to last him a lifetime during the past few days.

How long have I been unconscious for? Where am I? Where are the others?

He looked around again. There were two figures lingering in the background, sitting at an old table. "Visi? Darkly?" he mumbled, almost incoherently. He tried again after clearing his throat, louder this time. He didn't want to be alone. Not again. Not ever. "I fucked up... didn't I? I'm sorry..."

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24 Re: Crossfire (Post-Apocalyptic) on Wed Aug 05, 2015 10:35 am

The room was bare and filled with dust, as the light spooling through the two large windows on one of the horizontal walls of the room showed. The desk was bare, but one of the figures seemed bent over, working on something. Writing, perhaps. Neither of the figures wore masks, for better or for worse. One wore pale clothes, while the other wore mostly black and a large hat. The one with the large hat looked up. "Fucker lives!" that one announced, a man who was so obviously not Darkly or Visi. He stopped writing whatever he was writing, stood, and swaggered over to Zero and as he closed on him, features hardened into place like a ghost stepping into the material world, which was exceptionally ironic, considering the nature of the man that was walking so purposefully towards the hyena.

Borden (or sometimes Borden the Banker-Man, if he was feeling particularly fancy) had the look of a man who used to be fat, but tried to lose the weight to make himself seem more austere and pragmatic. Tall and thin, yes, but the jowels and the remnants of his second chin quivered faintly when he laughed and swayed when he walked, as if they remembered life. A faint fuzz splattered about his chin, one that tried to exclaim that yes, he did still know how to fire a gun, when the truth was perhaps something else entirely. He wore a ragged black suit and a dirty white shirt, with a plastic flower pinned to his breast, and a strange patchwork tie that seemed made out of at least nine different pieces of fabric, stitched together. Sitting atop his crop of greasy hair he wore a crooked top-hat. When Borden bent towards the hyena, it could be observed that yes, the top was missing from that hat.  He gaze Zero a long sniff. "You should be dead." he said. He seemed proud of himself. Evidently, he had practiced that line of his long enough to get rid of the accent, though which accent Borden used seemed to fluctuate as much as his arm-decoration. "Certainly fucking smell like it, Christ. Yer kind even wash? Guess that's what 'appens when yer been dead for a week or so." said the man who rarely seemed to bathe himself, though the same could be said of almost anyone these days. Borden straightened back up, and folded his arms across his chest.

"Yer prob'ly wonderin' how yur still breathing. Well, yur not the only one." He paced now, as he spoke, gesturing wildly with his hands as appropriate. "Payed for th'bandages an' meds. See, I'm gen'rous, me. Gen'rous." Borden the Banker-Man held the gaze he gave Zero for a good long while, before bursting out into a laugh that made him seem more pig than man, the amount of snorts it had. "Nah, course I ain't. I'm a business man. An investor, mate, that's what I am. Pretend it's a thank'ya kindly for th'tech if yerlike, but yeah." Smirking then, the face hardened, ever so slightly. The jowels swayed. "Yeah, th'tech plate. Beaker told me all about that panel-thing. The tracking thing on it. Said y'thought t'swindel me on it. Said y'thought to... Uh-mit that little detail from me. Hide it, like. But Beaker here, he-" Borden stopped, eyes looking to the ceiling, chewing on the word. "He? It? She, even? Eurgh, fuck it." Bead eyes locked down to the hyena's. "But yeah, Beaker fessed up, well and good. Got 'imself a hot meal for that he did. Christ, yer ever see that fucker eat before?" he shuddered. "Jesus. But I'm a business man, so I don't let it affect me, like. Gotta be professional, yeah?" He paused again. "Where was I, where was I... Ah! Yes! Beaker fessed up on what you were planning to do. Good on 'im like. Dunno what he thought would happen t'you, but I says to him, I says: 'Beaker-mate, Beaker' - cuz we're mates, see - 'Beaker, y'ain't thinkin' this one through. Yeah, he's a fucking traitorous cunt, right, but y'need t'think outside the boxes, like. I'll have muh-techies whip up something, and we can find where the thing was sending signals to. Gotta be a arse-loada tech over that way, get what I mean? Gotta think that way when yer a proper fancy-man like me. And well Beaker he ummed and ahhed and fucking clacked at that, whatever the fuck that means. Any case, ain't seen 'im since then. Fuck knows where he scarpered off to but somma-me kiddies were sayin' they saw 'im about the Wasting Bluffs," at this, his face darkened. "Now, you me both know - well I do, fuck knows what you know - but you me both know that's Thuidi's lot's place. Now, I 'eard what went down, down over th'base I sent yur lot off to. What was it, yur lot, her and her lot, and some mystery cunts? Sent some boys over there, yuh turned that into a real fucking shit show, didn't yuh?"

Borden let out a long, drawn out sigh. It was one that he'd evidently practiced, just to try and twist together tones of mercy and anger. "Now, I'm a forgiving man," said the man who only forgave what he could price, "And I get how these things work. Heat o'th'moment, fucker shoots at you, you shoot back, baahhh! It's crazy, like! But I don't need that fucking dog coming over and shitting on my doorstep, thank you very fucking much. And I'd rather not have Beaker going over there and shitting about 'er place, cuz it comes back to me, see?" When Borden grinned it was very easy to get the sense that his teeth were too clean for his mouth. He ran his slimy tongue over the top row of teeth, before grinding them together. The jowels swayed. "Speaking o'shit turning up on my fucking doorstep," He turned over towards the other person at the table, who had been sitting there so quietly this entire time. "Oi!" Borden called, pointing over to the figure. "Get yur fucking ass over here, sharpish!"

When the figure moved in their pale clothes, they hobbled. On their face, there was a large white patch over one eye, which when they closed, hardened into a medical patch. The rest of their formed hardened, too. This person was smaller than Borden, but taller than either Darkly or Visi. Though they had more meat on them than Borden, they still looked like they'd not eaten in a good long while. Their head was shaved, and the lines of their face as soft as they were young. Grey tracks were forming underneath those pale-grey eyes. They wore ragged clothes, rough-spun cotton, pale and dirty. The clothes of a prisoner, possibly. This person seemed ragged in every sense of the word, to be honest. Borden looked back to Zero. "I know what yur thinkin'. Fucking hell. Trust me 'ere mate, I checked 'er myself. Definitely a woman, this one." Borden burst out laughing, though no one else did. "I know! I know! It's the hair that gets me, man. Fuck, those wolves. Don't even fucking know." he shook his head, and cleared his throat.

"Anyways, seriously. Beaker, right. Fucking... Fucking Beaker, right. 'im an Mouse fucking show up at my door, you about their arms and that fucker drags this fucker into my place'o'work. And he's got her fucking eye, in that fucking mask of his. You fucking crazies sure do stick together, don't yuh? Jesus. And I'm getting stories about a shootout in one ear and something about some fucker taking 'eye for an eye' real fuckin' literally in the other and I don't give a shit. Right? I do not care. But yer lot show up at my place with a fucking bleeder - no offense, mate - and one o'Thuidi's mutilated mates at my fucking place and it becomes my fucking problem. And I don't want you lot throwing away all I invested in yur 'quipment, so I have to patch this shit up, right? So I gets Beaker to give me the eye back after I promise the fucker an hour with this-" Borden looked over to the girl. "Oi! You, what's yer fucking name?"

"Mercy." When she spoke she showed off the new gaps in her teeth. Those that were still in her mouth were sharpened to points and though her voice was parched and her body half-starved and ragged, she looked as if she was picturing just how she would plunge her thumbs into Borden eye-sockets. But Borden only laughed. "Mercy. Right, fine. Stupid name, but fine. So I gives Beaker an hour 'er and a new fucking eye or whatever he calls it and he still fucks off!" Now, Borden poked Zero hard in the chest. "Now, this is what you and Mousy, once you get to her, are gonna do. Yer gonna take fucking Mercy here, get your sorry asses over to the Bluffs, get Darkly, and if you have to you will fucking beg for Thuidi's fucking forgiveness, because I ain't having a loada wolves up in my arse, as well as a load'uh incom'tent cunts like you." Borden stood, and chewed on the inside of his cheeks. His stare was hard and for the first time since he had started, he looked like a man who had killed someone. "By the time you get back, me boys'll have gotten the location of that tech-dump. Get that and maybe I don't fucking kneecap you cunts. Hear me, Zero? You better rest up good, because once my guys find Mousy and bring'er back 'ere, yer off."



Last edited by Darkly on Sat Feb 13, 2016 2:53 pm; edited 1 time in total

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25 Re: Crossfire (Post-Apocalyptic) on Thu Aug 06, 2015 9:26 pm

Without warning she'd fallen back into her old life. Visi took the most interesting routes of exploration rather than the obvious; difficult tracks were better hidden and always made for a more entertaining journey. The things you could find in little hidey holes were usually worth the effort and they sometimes made good camps besides.

Ceiling tiles, crackling cables and rust eaten pipes...the innards of this building were all crying sparks and dust, spilling themselves onto the floor. A glass dome had splintered under hundreds of beaks of bullets by the entrance, steps leading down into the dark, little traces of shrapnel skittering away from her feet as she moved. Most of the place was shuttered and locked down and empty cans had been kicked into various corners, at the very least there were benches for the ghosts to spend their eternity in comfort. Scattered memoirs, fragments of people's lives nestled amongst the rubble always made her wonder how much significance a rose brooch or paper bird had carried to their dead.

The maps here were strange too, coloured lines interweaving with each other and branching away just as quickly as they intersected; it almost seemed a circulatory system of the underground. Flatliners. For now she'd forced herself into the building's skin, climbing the edge of a shutter and through a gap in the ceiling tiles, crawling her way through the gloom and skuttering across air vents. She knew that ridiculous man would have sent people to search for them and she wasn't risking staying in sight. He was disgusting. She'd wanted to stretch his spare flesh back across his face and press it against his skull to see which face was underneath it. Still he lied for the sake of business, or so he said, and she was certain his business was the same as all of theirs: self-preservation. Selling an hour of that woman to Darkly when he already owned her had been ridiculous, and seeing the results had been worse. Perhaps his teeth could benefit from the same treatment, they were too bright, they had no business being in such a filthy mouth.

They were relentless, she'd seen them wandering through town in a tight knit group searching buildings and cars and back alleys for days now. Always gun first, human dragged along behind on their leash. Did it give them comfort, security? The best she'd managed to scavenge was a kitchen knife but against a bullet she may as well have taken a sewing needle, though they had their uses too. It was at her belt regardless, a familiar weight, or had been since the last one had been traded away for food. That winter had eaten most of her supplies, she recalled, but still, better than that summer of fireflies that had taken most everything else.

Still, she was here to get out of the city, that's what stations were for right? She was about to drop down on the other side of a barrier until she heard the footsteps, several sets of shoes by the sounds of it. She edged her way further back from the edge of the hole where the cieling tile should be. Was it them or another group? Bandits weren't uncommon but these people looked a little too well fed not to be pandering to somebody. She could see their lips moving but couldn't make out the words. She inched forward, knocking a small piece of tile free, the men turning to face her as she slunk backwards. A click.

The air came alive with a spray of bullets. Visi curled into a ball, trying to minimise their target but couldn't stop herself from shrieking as she felt the bullet rip through her left arm. "Stop! Please! I'll come down, I'm coming down!" She could only pray that they wanted her alive else she'd slip into a silver stream of metal and gunpowder.

Dropping to the floor she stood as tall as she could, facing the group, feeling very much a child as they looked down at her. At least with her mask they couldn't see her grimace. "You're Borden's?" She thought she recognised the surly looking tub and the thin haired one that he'd introduced as Beetle.

"Aye. 'es gotta job for yer. Yer dog's woke up and we ain't a kennel. Wants him to sniff out that beaky clacky thing he said. He'll let you know proper once ye've come back. 'Course, if yer don't feel up to'it then I can think of sommat else for you to do..." He reached out a grimy hand and dragged it across her tangle of hair, running a finger down her cheek and cupping her chin.
"Y'ain't s'possed to mess w'it till we get back yer tosser. Borden'll skin you."
"And if we do how's he supposed to know? Unless one of you lot can't keep your damned mouths shut."
"Y'know him and y'know he'll know. Move it."

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