There are ferries that run from both Vesper and Dogwood to the boomtown of Saren’s Rest pretty regularly during the daylight hours. It’s a good place to go if you’ve never been there and many do. Most never go into the abandoned city of Vanished Point, of course. That’s dangerous. Most come to gawk at the cyclopean mega-structures and peruse the market for tech that the local prospectors and salvagers have brought back to get ‘first pick’ of it before it heads over to the mainland and is sold to merchants there.
Of course for those who have the stomach for the danger, there are teams that do go in regularly. Some of them are fairly ad-hoc. One of them is apparently being put together by a tall grey furred wolfen with a cybernetic arm and a big, big robot.
It’s about seven in the morning. The first and second ferries have just come over and Hunter is waiting in a small, quiet plaza at the southern end of Saren’s Rest near the line of ward stones that mark the ‘safe zone’. He’s waiting to see who shows up for this little expedition. And sipping coffee. Because Coffee.
Mia pulls into the plaza in her cobbled-together jet bike. It doesn’t look like much, but the engine whine is just right, speaking to her real priorities. She parks it nearby and makes a gesture over it, causing a sheen of electricity to spark over the ride. Good luck trying to steal this bike.
All squared away, the pink-haired woman approaches the wolfen and lifts her chin in greeting. “You Hunter?” she asks. “I heard you got work.”
A tall, blonde, winged woman stands next to wolfen, her silver armour gleaming in the light, sipping coffee. Whilst she might be tall to most humans, she’s dwarfed by Hunter – well she would be, if it weren’t for her giant grey wings.
“Seems like you’ve got your first taker…” she murmurs as Mia approaches, inclining her head to the pink-haired woman.
Alas, coffee is one of the many things that Yaren has never properly experienced. But then being what he is, there are many things that would fit in that category, and thus nothing he dwells too much upon in regret.
The familiar hat might be glimpsed amidst the roaming foot traffic, eventually separating from those early risers as he walks purposefully in the direction of the wolfen and the familiar winged woman nearby. His violet gaze brightens slightly, pleased to see them again. He pauses only briefly when the other woman approaches, apparently with the same intent as himself, so he comes to halt just behind her.
“Good day, Hunter, Ardul,” he intones in his odd, hollow voice. He also offers a nod at Mia, at least once she might acknowledge him.Hunter nods to Mia and then waves his cybernetic hand as Yaren approaches. “Welcome both of you. I take it you’re both here for the expedition?” Extra bodies, eyes, hands and hopefully weapons are always handy on little sorties like this. Odds of running into demons are quite high and even if you don’t there are plenty of other hazards lurking out in the city.
“My name’s Hunter by the way.” That’s for Mia mostly since Yaren already knows his name. “I think this is all we’re going to have. Before we get started have either of you been into the Point before?” He knows Ardul hasn’t but Ardul seems to be some kind of a soldier or warrior so he’s less worried about her.
“Yeah, that’s right, Mia says, confirming her readiness to work. She makes a point of resting her hand on the heavy pistol at her hip. “Right, nice to meet you, Hunter. Ardul.” She turns to Yaren and asks cheerily, “And what do I call you, Glow Pop?”
“Ardul.” The winged woman introduces herself to Mia and inclines her head at Mia’s greeting. At her hip is a cylinder that might be a weapon though it’s hard to tell at the moment. Apart from that, she doesn’t seem visibly armed, but the blue edging around her armour does glow faintly.
“Hello, Yaren. I’m pleased that you decided to join us.”
“I have not, Hunter.” She confirms at any rate. “But my sword is sharp and my shield yours.” No speeches about the glory of battle for Ardul.
Yaren tilts his head at Mia. Glow Pop? That’s definitely a new one, and for all that you can only see the glowing eyes, he still manages to look quite confused. “This one is known as Yaren Seyuz,” he replies.
Looking back towards his two earlier acquaintances, he shakes his head. “This one has never been to this place.” He’s not sure what more is expected of him, but he seems happy to be counted among the group.“Right.” Hunter had expected as much but that’s okay. First time for everything.
“Okay. We’ll be going into the area called Upper Menagerie. There’s a lot of Simvan Camps and big beasties wandering around. We’ll do our best to avoid them. I’ll be in the Gunwolf up there…” Hunter pauses to gesture up to the rather lupine looking, heavily armed robot nearby. “… keeping watch. Stay close to me and if something big and nasty appears, take cover. Hopefully we won’t see any of that today, though. We’ll sell anything we find to Rousseau and split the haul four equal ways. If there’s something you want to keep instead of selling it, that comes out of your share. Sound fair to everyone?”
“Great. Yaren. Yeah, nice to meet you guys,” Mia says. Her voice is generally a bit quicker than most people talk, though she isn’t actually rushing just now. “I’m Mia. I haven’t been in the Point yet, just purchased goods from it. Been wanting to see it for myself.” Mia draws her pistol, racks the slide and looks inside to check it before letting it snap shut again. She re-holsters it and says, “Sounds good to me. Let’s do this.”
“Sounds fair to me, Hunter.” Arduls’ wings move slightly, even though the woman herself stays still, causing the detritus at their feet to swirl lazily. “A scavenging run, for profit. I like it. The winnings from the event the other day will tide me over a few more days, but…” It’s the same story for many wanderers, keeping just ahead of the funds. “… well, I only have what I came through the rift with.”
“I’ll take point when we get there, if you like.” Which should leave Mia and Yaren in the middle of the two. Hunter hasn’t really seen her in action, but she seems competent, right?
“Well met, Mia.” He begins to raise one of his hands in offering of a handshake, spindly long fingers or not, but as it seems the woman’s got her own hands occupied just then with her pistol, he lowers it. Instead, he glances back at Hunter.
“What sort of…big beasties..?” Yaren asks, curious. Still, he nods, not all that interested in profit either way, but who knows what one might find? “This one has no objections to Hunter’s proposal.”“Oh, Devil Unicorn. Maybe a Fury Beetle. Big nasties from the Dino Swamp and who knows what else?” Hunter is already headed up the ladder into the cockpit of the Gunwolf. “The Rifts drop in whatever they feel like, it seems. Never seen half the nasties in here before and I’ve been across half a continent.”
In any case, the group moves out. This part of the city isn’t yet sheltered by the massive ‘overhang’ of the upper levels and sunlight still comes through. The streets closest to Saren’s Rest look like a warzone from all the close calls that have happened over the months. As they move deeper in Hunter takes them on a long, circuitous route around several known Simvan Camps. After perhaps half an hour of walking he stops outside what was probably once a high rise office or technology building.
“I’ve got power readings coming from the tenth and eleventh floors. Bit on the weak side but it might be worth checking out. You’ll have to take the stairs though. I don’t think the elevators are working in this tower.” Hunter’s voice is ever so slightly tinny through the speakers. “I’ll stay out here and keep watch.”
Mia nods to Ardul and adds, “Sure thing, but I’ll be on point with you. You’ll want me up close and personal.” Mia pats the fifty caliber handfun at her side and says, “Old Bonnie here is just for emergencies, you know?” She doesn’t echo Yaren’s question, but she does follow it to Hunter, equally curious about the potential dangers.
She mentally ticks things off as Hunter lists them and can’t fully suppress the delighted laughter that bubbles out of the woman. “Oh I am pleased as peach to know that there is such a thing as a Devil Unicorn.
On the way there, she keeps up easily, occasionally ranges ahead a bit on long, loping strides. She has way more energy than a woman her size has any right to. She nods at Hunter’s suggestion and draws her gun as she approaches the ground floor. Glancing back to the others, she waits for everyone to get a position they like, before leading them inside the building.
“I’ve not heard of many of the Beasts that appear in this dimension.” Ardul murmurs as she strides along with the group, the blue edging on her armour glowing more brightly now, she’s activated something it seems.
As they stop outside the building, her head tilts as she looks up at the floors he identified. “Or, you know, I coud fly…” but getting through the windows might require more energy than necessary and there were ‘civilians’ to look out for.
Maybe they’ll need that to exit.
“Going in…” She draws the cylinder from her belt and an energy blade springs into being, glowing the same blue that edges her armour. “… after you Yaren.” That puts her at the back.
The cloaked one makes an intrigued sound as Hunter puts forth a few examples of the possible creatures they might run into. Not guaranteed, he notes, but they do sound interesting, nevertheless. But he’d probably say that about any such.
He’s quiet as they make their way to their destination, looking about at everything with barefaced wonder as a child would, ruins or not. And then they come to halt as the wolfen finds something. Yaren peers at the tower in question, nodding a moment before he hesitates.
He supposes they aren’t too important though, and stairs are just fine with him, so after a nod at Ardul, and perhaps a moment to admire her shining armor and the weapon she brings out, Yaren follows in after Mia.Hunter is going to let the others explain that. The wolfen just settles down in his seat flips on his scanners. Radar and LIDAR are only so much use here though so he’s going to have to keep his eyes peeled.
The interior of the building is trashed on the first few floors. Desks are upended and furniture and office supplies are scattered everywhere if not splitered into a hundred pieces.
As the group ascends two things happen. First the furnishings on the floors become steadily more technical. It looks like they’re moving into lap spaces. Indeed by the time they get to the tenth they’re definitely in high tech lab territory. Second, the equipment is a lot less disturbed… except in certain places where it appears to have been piled against doors or exits, leaving often only one way in or out.
There are faint thrums on the tenth floor. And the lighting is… pretty poor up here. Time to break out the lamps.
“What the-“ Mia says, turning back at the sound of Ardul’s energy blade coming to life. “How… You have a lightsaber!” She looks at Yaren, and back to Ardul, not being very careful about their surroundings just now. “Am I the only one seeing this? That is impossibly cool.” Mia just sighs, fully aware that no one in this world is going to be as impressed as she is.
Upstairs, Mia finally starts getting more professional. She blinks to engage the lowlight setting in her eyes, and crosses thresholds at the ready, checking high and low, minding the corners. Which is how she ends up noticing big gray canister, a little bigger than a fire extinguisher.
”Oh, no fucking /way/,” Mia says, holstering her gun and taking a knee next to the device. “Sorry friends, but I have to dibs this little gem. I’ll cover the overhead if the payout isn’t high enough.”
“What’s a lightsaber?” Ardul asks as they climb, grey eyes scanning the areas they pass through. “Not sure about cool, but there is certainly salvage here.” Ever the professional. Clearly well trained and disciplined. Into the comm unit she has, she speaks to Hunter “Do you have visuals here? If not, and we work together again, we’ll have to see about getting an uplink to my armour.”
As the light starts to dim, light sources on her headpiece flare to life. It’s not much, but it makes it easier for her to see, at least. “Those power cores appear to be able to still hold a charge. Let’s strip them down. They’ll be easier to transport separately.” She pauses then, letting the lights from her headpiece sweep the room “Careful. This room has been barricaded. I will err on the fact that there is something in here with us.”
Touching Mia’s shoulder, without looking at her “Get up. We might have company. I’ve no objections to you claiming that. Yaren, behind me.”
If Yaren hadn’t been certain that this was another world from looking around Saren’s Rest, then being in this building alone is enough to confirm it. Never has he seen such a structure, and he can’t even begin to guess what the place had been used for, the litter of furniture and otherwise within doing nothing to give him a clue in that respect.
He continues to move along with their small group, not even seeming to notice the gradual loss of light as they head up and up. Now and then he stops, his glowing gaze sweeping their surroundings. It occurs to him that he’s not really certain what in this place might be considered of value, but he supposes that it would be best to look in places that weren’t in plain sight. And at least once they reach the tenth floor, it’s considerably cleaner.
He’s wandered a ways to the side, poking at panels that turn out to be storage spaces. Hat tilting, he pulls out a bottle, held carefully between his clawlike fingers. Replacing it, he looks at the case they’ve been stored in, debating on whether it’s of any worth. It’s then that Ardul speaks up, and glancing back over his shoulder at them, he nudges the cabinet door closed again as he moves closer to the two women.
“What is it?” he asks quietly.“Those windows are electro-polarized.” Hunter’s voice comes over the radio. “I’ve got nothing on the interior. Be careful though. I’ve got some movement about five hundred feet out.”
There’s a scraping sound that comes from above. It’s difficult to tell in the low light but it looks like some of the ceiling panels are moving. Something long and thin reaches out of the roof. Then another thing. Then another.
If it’s not a spider it certainly looks like one. It pulls its bulk out of the cieling and begins to look around. It’s easily twenty feet across and dominates most of the center of the room, moving carefully so as not to disturb the equipment.
It hasn’t seen them yet… but it’s between them and the door.
“Yeah, sorry,” Mia says, nodding when Ardul’s at her shoulder. Before she gets up she grabs a long length of blue wrapped cabling of some kind. She pulls it out taught between her hands, probably five feet worth, and wraps the ends around her hands like a CAT5 garrote.
Something about the woman seems to thrum to life, and the light from her pink eyes is decidedly noticeable as she starts to prowl around the place, on the hunt. The chrome centipede on her spine is visible in the dim light too, a dull pink glow escaping from between it’s overlapping plates.
”Why did it have to be spiders?”she whispers. Mia puts her back against the wall between her and the spider, and looks at Ardul. Holding up the cable she says, “I bet I can loop its mouth shut with this. You think we can take it?”
“I’m not sure yet.” Ardul murmurs to Yaren, sword held in a two hand grip. “Every exit but this one is blocked though, like someone wanted to keep something … in.” She wets her lips as she speaks.
“We have contact.” That’s to Hunter, her voice low “Looks to be some form of Arachnid. Can you get a visual through the window?” She’s thinking they may need help.
Circling around, casting a curious but fleeting glance at Mia, the winged woman nods slowly. “I think I can take it, but we’ll need to work quickly.” Nodding, she steps towards the spider, preparing to rush it when Mia moves.
“…so it appears.” That would indeed explain why things are only piled haphazardly by the doorways. It only makes more sense now. At the sound, Yaren lifts his head, watching the ceiling. His eyes widen slightly as those legs emerge, and finally the rest of it to follow. “…fascinating,” he breathes. “This one has never seen one of such a size.” He truly sounds more interested than repulsed, and whatever defensive posture he might have taken earlier seems to relax considerably for whatever bizarre reason.
His attention cues in upon his two companions then, and he glances back. “Where will we take it?” ‘With them?’ seems to be implied, but left unvoiced.Outside the building something lets out a series of deep booms. Those familiar with such sounds may realize that’s an electromagnetic autocannon going off. Hunter is engaging something. The spider’s great bulk turns sideways as it peers at the noise and the shift is enough to bring it’s head closer to the direction of the three that have come into it’s lair.
And then it sees them. It’s maw seems to weep molten metal or something similarly hot and glowy. The creature screams at them and begins scuttling in their dirction. It’ll be on them in a moment. Whatever they’re going to do they need to do it fast.
“Guess she isn’t friendly!” Mia shouts when they’re charged, but she doesn’t shy away from the challenge. She gives the spider a straight on sprint, and then leaps out of the way at the last second. Flipping in air, she pushes off the ceiling with her feet and slams herself down on the back (top?) of the spider’s head. Once there, she uses the cabling to wrap around the beast’s pinching mandibles. Then she drops down in front of it, trying to lead the thing around like a horse on a lead.
Yeah, good idea Mia. What could go wrong?
“I guess not…” Ardul answers, as her grey eyes flick to the window where Hunter is. She can hear the cannon and it’s concerning, but that’s a wolf bot he’s got. “Take it out, Yaren. Put it down…” She’s not quite made the connection that this new acquaintance is very literal. Perhaps once the battle is done, she’ll think on that.
With Mia’s distraction and hobbling of the creature, the winged woman launches herself towards it bringing the humming the energy sword to bear. Aiming for the chink that’s exposed in it’s carapace, the sword bites deeply before she’s moving again.
Hopefully the wounds don’t weep molten metal, she might be in a spot of bother if they do.
The noise from outside startles him, but it is quite clear as to what should be attended to first. Besides, the large spider-creature doesn’t seem like it’ll allow otherwise anyway. Yaren flinches a little at the scream, a hand raising almost in placation.
Mia is first to move, and with surprising speed, he notes, than he’s ever seen of any human. And then Ardul is away, making it quite clear what she means as she brings her blade down upon it. Both women are probably too busy to see the troubled expression his eyes convey then. After all, they could have been trespassing upon its home, and it would make sense for it to be territorial. Such concerns are what has him hesitate to take action. And now that it’s been assaulted, attempting to put it at ease is probably beyond possibility now.The spider is shuffling, trying to simultaneously get away from Ardul who is hacking at it with a power sword and use it’s bulk to run over Mia who it’s mandibles bound together. It’d love to bite her or spit molten venom all over it. It can’t though. So it’s simply going to try to impale her with one of it’s forelegs. This does not work. It doesn’t quite have the room and Mia is just too quick. It’s side stepping though is going to bring it right into Yaren if he doesn’t move and quick. Using the cable like a leash, Mia gets a telegraph every time the spider wants to do something, and the fact remains that her reflexes are much too fast. Nothing goes over her head. So when the spider makes a move, she’s able to go with it and use the spider’s momentum against it. She yanks its head down while her knee flies up to the underside of it’s head with a loud <CRACK>. Mia grins through the battle fog, “Right in the cephalothorax!”
You’d think with those wings, Ardul would be hampered. But they furl and move as she does, not catching on anything and seemingly aiding her balance. As the creature strikes out at Mia, and then Yaren, the blonde whirls again. The blue of her sword flashes in the gloom and she strikes at one of the forelegs, intent on carving it off and disabling the spider.
For all her focus though, she’s listening for the cannon fire outside. It’s possible they’ll have to deal with that to get out of here.
It’s a mezmerizing display between the three- Mia, Ardul, and the spidery beast. But all too quickly do things start to get closer than Yaren had initially realized. As if snapping out of a trance, he jerks back, and as those flailing legs come too close for comfort, he flings himself to the side. It’s an unusual movement, given that it seems that there’s no push off from his feet, but more like something yanks him out of the way by the shoulders.There’s an almighty //crash// from the side of the building and the entire floor tilts sideways as windows shatter. Below them Hunter’s Gunwolf is wrestling with a giant horned, red-skinned demon slightly taller than it is. They’ve shouldered into the tower and taken out some of the support struts. It’s starting to show.
Some equipment – the stuff that isn’t secured – starts to slide out and fall to the ground ten stories below. The spider also does so, scrabblign for purchase but still having trouble with Ardul and Mia. If it goes and Mia is still holding that Cat-5 ‘lead’… she may well go with it.
“What the shit?” Mia yelps when the tables turn. Or at least the floor does. “Watch it,” she shouts to her comrades. “I’m cutting her loose!” And with the floor tilting in a decided direction, Mia drops the reins and somersaults under the spider, traveling up hill to get behind it. There, she does a hand spring back, landing both feet against the spider’s rump and pushes off with all her strength, giving the beast a good hard shove in the downward direction.
But all of that really was to get her back to the big gray canister she liked so much. It’s just starting to roll away when she dives, catches it, and hugs it to her. “Don’t worry, momma’s got you,” she coos to it.
Spinning again, blue blade flashing, Ardul doesn’t stop. But the building tilts and the equipment starts flying, hitting her on its way out. Combined with the fall of the spider, she’s knocked off balance and is sent hurtling towards the ground.
The blue limned form plummets along with the spider and equipment, disappearing from sight for a moment. But just a moment. Soon, she rises again, armour battered but still with the edges glowing blue and wings beating powerfully.
“Hunter. Report.” It’s probably a reflexive action, falling back to the familiar. “Yaren, Mia. Status report.” What can she say? She’s a soldier.
That…does not appear to be a good thing. It takes a moment for Yaren to register why his feet are not finding proper purchase despite standing upright. As it turns out, it’s not him, but rather the building itself. Ah. That would explain that noise…
But now they can at least see where their other comrade has been left- as well as the source of the earlier noise. Eyes flashing, the cloaked one does his best to keep from slipping, or rather it’s more the task of avoiding being slammed into by everything else that’s not nailed down. As a few of the cupboards are flung open, he spies the small medical bag from earlier as it flies out amongst a myriad of other supplies. It’s more out of reflex that he snatches it, tucking it beneath his cloak as he twists almost impossibly to get out of the way of things, the soles of his boots skidding a bit before finally catching. How long that lasts depends on how long the building holds up.
Mia at least seems to be holding up all right, but Yaren’s eyes widen as he sees winged Ardul struck by the things formerly standing so innocently in place. He’s quickly moving towards the edge of the teetering floor to look down, relieved however to hear Ardul’s voice. “This one is well…” he responds, although somewhat distractedly as he figures they need to be making their way back to ground level sooner rather than later. “The one engaging Hunter- what is it? Mia, come!”“I”m wrestling a huge ass demon! What do you think I’m doing?!” Hunter knows that Ardul can see him. He can see her on one of his monitor screens well enough.
“BWAH!” That’s a sound of surprise from the wolfen pilot as the spider goes //splat// next to him. “Stop dropping party favors on me!” The gunwolf throws the demon to the ground in a judo-like move and sprays both it and the spider down with several hundred nickle-ferrite slugs.
Neither get up.
“Right then. Everything okay up there? My scope is clear for now.”
If Mia and Yaren look at the hole in the drop-tile cieling where the spider came out they’ll see it’s nest. Webbed. Nasty. Several long since dead people.
Oh, and all their stuff. It’s something of a haul to be sure.
Mia tucks the canister under one arm, making it look quite light, and calls out to Ardul, “I’m good! And I got my babies.” She apparently doesn’t feel a need to clarify that mystifying point.
”Wuh!” is her cry when it looks like Yaren is going out the window. “Nonono,” but by the time she gets to him he’s got himself under control and is directing her attention. In an epic ‘hold my beer’ moment, Mia hands her canister to Yaren, which is in truth almost eighty pounds of something. She’s about to leap /ten/ stories to help Hunter, but he takes care of the situation before she’s able to do so.
Taking back the caniser gratefully, and with a little more time to wander aorund, she looks up into the storage spaces here and makes an impressed-sounding whistle. “Uh, guys…? You might wanna take a look at this.”
Ardul sighs as Hunter retorts. It had been instinctive. Then she laughs “I thought you might like that present. Next time, I’ll be sure to fall into your paws next time, shall I?” Once both her companions report in, she makes her way carefully to the hole in the ceiling and peers up. “We’re well and whole. And it looks like we’ve found the occupants of this building.”
She’s silent for a moment, probably saying a prayer or some such for their passing before moving again “They have passed. But there is a substantial stash. We should take what we can carry and be moving. There’s no guarantee there aren’t more of those Aracnids.” Pragmatic to the core.
There’s still the power cores to be harvested as well. Likely on the ground by now.Yaren is barely able to hold the thing Mia passes to him. It’s more or less propped up beside him until she takes it back, and that’s only because he had nearly dropped the thing. “-apologies, Hunter. This one was not aware that demons of this place appeared in such forms.” Still, one can hear the relief in his tone that the wolfen is all right. Rather than have his gaze linger upon the two bodies of the creatures below, he looks back towards Mia at her exclamation, slowly edging back along the slanted floor to peer up into the gaping space above the loosened panels.
“……” He lowers his head, saddened to see what has become of those unfortunate souls.“If you’re still breathing it’s okay Yaren. They come from all over. Never know what the next one will look like.” Hunter says through the radio. “I’ll take a look around the block while you three… clean up.”
Yaren might be getting an introduction to how savage this world can be. The good news, of course, is that he’s survived that. Not all do.
With her backpack securely on, she nods to Yaren and says, “You might wanna look away for this part.” It’s meant in a kind way, not mocking. Then she hops up into the mess to try and sort through what’s there. Collecting and sorting as she goes, she passes odds and ends down as she’s able.
“Yaren…” Ardul has seen the mans distress “… perhaps you will help me strip these power cores.” With Mia sorting the other goods, they can work quickly and be ready to meet Hunter on his return.
It won’t take them long to strip what they can and fill the containers the winged woman bought with her. When everything’s done she gestures to the exits “Time to go I think.”
“…yes. That much is true,” he says quietly in response to Hunter regarding the demons, almost more to himself. He’s indeed quickly finding out how different this place is from what he’s known, and something in him aches at the thought that this is only skimming the surface.
At Mia’s touch he raises his head, or rather the hat lifts in implication of the gesture. His eyes aren’t as bright and turned in the way that would follow the concerned knitting of a brow, had he any, but there is also appreciation in Mia’s gesture. Nodding, he’s grateful that she excuses him from the task, stepping back.
To Ardul’s suggestion he nods, moving to assist. “Ardul will have to show this one how,” he says, although he seems to catch on fairly quickly once she does. And after helping gather Mia’s findings from the nest, he can only nod once more at Ardul’s words.
“…this one has much to learn…”