The road to the so called Treasure so far has been more bumbling luck then well planned expedition, and now that they’re all finally inside and laying out their plans, the damned building is talking to them. And it’s using big words. Seriously. Who says ‘inumerated’ anymore? <Please state your preferred destination.> the saccharine sweet and cheerful voice pipes up, repeating her last request. Leo eyes the everything around them suspiciously, “Um.” he says, considering, “The… vault…?” he cringes a bit as if expecting to be swatted with something.
The voice doesn’t even pause, <Stormbrige International’s R and D department’s labs and store rooms, coloquially known as ‘The Vault’,> the building actually giggles at that as it if were funny, <are open to all visitors with a security clearance level four and above. Congratulations! You qualify!> nothing moves, but the voice is so cheerful that it’s hard not to imagine the building hopping and clapping arms for happiness at their good fortune. <Please follow the green lights.> and along the floor, nestled into the place where floor meets wall, a line of green appears, visible, but not /to/ bright, as if it’s level of illumination was intentionally designed to be noticed but not distracting.
Leo looks around the room and absently rolls up the plans, “Okay. So I’m half sexually aroused by this level of engineering and half shitting myself in terror.” he looks back at the others in the group, “You guys too, right?” he doesn’t wait for an answer, “Aiden, you wanna guard our six? Hang back a bit in case this is a murder building of murdery murder and we need quick yoinking out of, I dunno, spike pits or whatever?”
At Leo’s interactions with the building, Ser Ted Mercier retracts his helmet and looks about the room with a hand to the back of his neck. He is frowning. “Well. Ain’ this a thing… found ourselves a building as nuts as our guide — no offense. Wait — did you say ‘sexually aroused’??” Ted blinks.
He turns his back.
Walks over to Slaine.
“Ah may go with Vargr fo’ a bit… just had me a dose o’ too much info’mation, if ya know what ah mean…”
Slaine just raises an eyebrow at Leo and looks around “If ye say so, Leo…” she’s used to the Techno Wizard and his little … ways. Teddy’s comment gets a smirk from the Mystic “Ye ain’ leavin’ me alone with him, are ye, Ser Mercier?”
As the lights on the floor appear, her eyes follow them and then looks at the other two. Aiden hanging back might not be a good idea, but it might be.
“Well. No’ sure what how we got the clearance level, but let’s go.” ‘nudging’ her magelights ahead of them, she starts to follow the illumination.
Leo climbs to his feet and nods emphatically at Teddy, “Totally. How can you not be? Do you not understand the engineering that went into this building?” he asks, his expression vasilating wildly between a sort of mad uphoria and a lip gnawing fear. It’s not dissimilar to a series of facial ticks. Leo gets them under control after a moment and moves ahead, “I mean, think about it. We’re buried dozens of feet underground and we’re walking on a firm carpet, through a Golden Age wreckage that’s not only still active, but apparently alive. I mean.” he pauses and adds, “And there isn’t even any magic to it!” he stares at Teddy with giant round eyeballs in his head, “That level of tech is… staggering.” he licks a recently gnawed lip and then continues on. “So I’m pretty sure it’s evil. Good stuff never lasts.” That part he just sort of… tosses on the end. Like it’s normal.
The entrance they came through is all black marble countertops and high polished deep redish brown wooden desks, with glass ‘walls’ seperating out various offices, names and titles etched into the panes of people and dreams long dead. The halls are painted a soothing sort of taupe color, the monotony of it broken up by the occasional pin stripe or painted texture, all very corporate, or it least it was back when that was a thing. The slightly less corporate touches are shown in less subtle more jarring ways. Like the long dead and rotted away bony corpses of a soldier here, a neat hole seemingly plowed through his forhead the diameter of a finger, the helmet he was wearing not doing him any good. He’s slumped against a wall, face first, back bent at an improbable angle. Then there’s what was likely once a scientist, though it’s hard to tell with the bottom half of her missing. The skeleton still has whisps of hair on it and something vaugely labcoaty draped a bit like a shroud over the torso. Which appear to have been cleanly and neatly severed from the leg. Which are several feet away. This sort of random sign of violence isn’t frequent, but it is starting to feel vaugely breadcrumb like as the further into the building they go, they never seem to go long without spotting another one. Each emblazoned with a Graves crest.
Somewhere along the way, Leo stopped being glib and became silent.
The green lights lead them down a hall way, then another, to an elevator, which dings cheerfully as it’s doors open. Inside is no body, but suspicious rust-brown splatter stains cover the entire wall opposite the doors. “Well good thing that’s not ominous.” Leo says, breaking what was for him a record string of silent minutes.
Ted stares at Leo, then down at the corpse they walk past, and then back at Leo. “No,” says he slowly and carefully. “Ah really don’ un’erstand the engineering that went into this godawful deathtrap o’… death ‘n things like that.”
He triggers his helm to form again (not that it did that dead fellow much good) and approaches the elevator. Then he shifts his attention to Slaine. “No, ah… reckon ah should stick around here some mo’… just in case.” <~Kinda envyin’ Vargr at this point, though…~>
“Things aren’t good or evil, Leo.” she mutters at the TW words. “It’s what people and beings do with them, or two them.” she adds the last, thinking about the number of enchanted items she’s seen in her time. Those can be good or evil – but that’s because of what’s been bound to them, not because of what they are.
<~Appreciate that, Ser Mercier ~> she //thinks// at the Knight, not knowing if he can hear her or not. <~Leo’s no’ interested in me though I’m no’ sure what he’ll when he minds the ‘real’ stuff here. ~> There’s a light, teasing tone to her thoughts.
As they walk through Slaines quiet. She usually is during these things. Her eyes scan everything, face scrunching a little as they pass the corpses. She’s no idea about the level of tech in this place, just that it might be Dogwoodian – which in her books is bad.
As the elevator opens, she looks to the other two and steps inside.
Leo purses his lips a bit as they stare at the elevator, “I’ve heard that before,” he says to Slaine, staring at the splatter covering the wall before stepping in to join Slaine, “but I don’t knit booties for a living and I don’t lie to myself about it either.” he’s a merchant of death, and he’s aware of it. He creates things that serve only one purpose, to find something alive and make it not. Aren’t a lot of ways that isn’t evil. If you’re a strict adherent to base moral codes.
The elevator begins to decent smoothly and in quiet, though not silence, as soft music plays. After a couple of floors, the voice returns, still cheery and sweet, <Stormbridge International would like to remind our honored guests that recording devices of any kind or attempts at violent removal of Stormbridge property will be met with swift and decisive action by our patented anti-theft deterent system. This, as you will remember from the waiver in your disclaimer share holders packet will likely involve lethal force. Do not be conserned!> she’s quick to add, sounding worried about everyone’s mental state, <All possible care will be taken to have the body returned in presentable condition to your listed benefitiary, though all stock holdings and dividends will be forfeit. Thank you for investing in Stormbridge International!> eight floors down, the elevator comes to a stop and the doors open. This hallways is considerably less cheerful then those above.
The green trail continues down, but it’s hard to see, as there are dozens of bodies in the coridor, slumped and leaning in various states of inhuman complexity. The rust splatters from before are now clearly explained, as once the doors open they line up /perfectly/ with a corpse directly before the doors and the splatter that leads from it to the inside of the elevator. Someone didn’t make it. There are stains on the ceiling, the walls, and a quick head count comes up with roughly eleven soldiers bodies, bringing the total of dead people in the building to something close to thirty. No wonder they dropped those drones on the beach as they fled… and it /is/ looking more and more like they were fleeing. “Shit.” Leo says, staring out at the massacre. He reaches down and pulls off his right glove, baring the skeletal gleaming hand beneath to the air, somehow the act has the same feeling as one might have if a normal person pulled a gun from a holster.
Inside his helmet, Ted’s nose wrinkles.
Then he shakes his head.
“Keep a sharp eye,” he tells his companions, and slowly approaches some of the bodies on the ground. “This sorry bunch were cut down — literally. Fo’ all they tech ‘n shit… some’in with a sword got to ’em. Stuck ’em like pigs. Leo… why’n hell didja bring us here?”
The burly knight murmurs a brief prayer for the dismembered… and extends a hand to his side. Threads of amber light weave around his fingers and coalesce into the hilt of his psi-sabre. Thus armed, he stands up.
“Some’in tells me we in fo’ a fight…”
Slaine actually stops as the massacre is revealed, drawing in a sharp breath. She might not be familiar with war and what its results but she knows a slaughter when she sees one. “These weren’t projectile weapons that did this …” She’s already looking around the room, trying to see if the ‘culprit’ might still be there – mechanical or otherwise.
The little mystic has spent enough time in Vanished Point to know that not all automated security systems shoot things.
“I got a bad feelin’ abou’ this.” Her eyes glow as she speaks and blue energy crackles across the back of her hands.
After a few long moments, she moves to a body and points “Do ye see that? Whatever did this, went clean through the body and into the wall. Cut through the metal like a hot knife through butter…” Looking around the room and back to Teddy she shakes her head “Can’ see what did it though. It’s either gone or hidden somewhere quite well.” Maybe it chased those who fled back down the beach.
“I can try a scryin’ if you like … Enough left of the bodies to do that.”
Leo eyes the hallway and steps out amid the bodies, his expression focused and somber, “Because I need something from inside that vault.” he says as if that explained everything, “And you wanted an adventure and a treasure.” he reminds Teddy before he nudges a decapitated helmet/head out of his way with the toe of his boot, letting it roll to the side as he approaches the paired doors at the end. He pauses there to turn and eye Slaine, “That… that is impressive craftsmanship. I could make a blade that did that, but I’d have to enchant it. Hard. Or use, I dunno, something like enriched titanium? It would cost a fortune to make and take me a month, easily.” he leans forward, the metal fingertips of his skeletal hand hissing over a thin cut line in the metal wall. He whistles low and then eyes Slaine, “I vote yes. I’d rather know what may lie ahead.” he eyes Teddy for the Knight’s vote.
Psi-sabre in hand, Ted walks forward to stand side by side with Leo, and motions ahead with his helmeted chin. “Awlright then, so we all got some business down here… Don’t mean ah like it any better…”
Turning to Slaine, he nods his head. “Go ahead ‘n scry what ya can, Slaine. Ah’ma try the same thing with mah head… if there’s a livin’ thing round here, ah’ma find it…” With that said, he takes a breath, closes his eyes and lets his mind free to go searching…
“I don’ know what did it, Leo.” Slaine mutters, moving around the room, but not straying too far from Teddy. She knows she’s squishy and whatever did that would make short work of Half Pint.
Muttering indecipherable words, blue arcane symbols form at her fingertips. As she reaches down to touch one of the corpses, the symbol seems to melt into it and the little redheaded mystic frowns “I can see things, hear things, but they ain’ real clear …”
That’s all she gets out before her body tenses and her eyes go white, all colour bleeding out of them. Her voice becoming quite … vague as she recites what she’s seeing. If Teddy’s scanning, he’ll know this isn’t just magic, she’s experiencing a vision. He might even see some of it himself.
The images are slow to start, but once they do… it’s like a movie made real around here. Maybe it’s because there isn’t a trace of magic in the place, an untainted, uncorrupted place, or maybe it’s because so much dead took place here and has remained undisturbed since. Hell. Maybe she’s just good at her job. But Slaine can see it all now, hear snippets of conversation as a hazy overlay of the corridor appears over the gorey remains of it’s exsisting reality.
Two soldiers, well heeled, stand ready watch at the double doors, which are open to show a hallway beyond, labcoats walking up and down the corridor chat with one another or look down at thin computer pads, tapping excitedly with fingertips, showing readouts to their parteners. Slaine can pick up a few bits of the conversation, but it’s techno speak and fades in and out quickly.
A stately woman comes out of a room three or four doors down into the next hallway, a group of other labcoats around her, hanging on every word she says. There’s not rank insignia on their clothing, but from the body language alone, it’s clear who’s in charge here. She is excited about something and her face is alight with discovery.
Anyone who can see this vision will recognise that expression. Leo’s been seen with that look.
Up until now, the vision is almost boring. Then something happens. It’s unclear what, but people are turning, “What was that?” the woman asks, her voice cutting through the room like a blade, there are confused answers and then something wet and chunky spewing out of the room as if it had been fired from a cannon. There’s a scream, it’s cut off with a suddeness that’s chilling. The woman stiffens, “Run.” she says, and turns on her heel to haul ass towards the elevators.
What happens next is hard to follow. Something man shaped, but not, dark, but not black, moves in a blur. Labcoats freeze in fear, soldiers draw weapons, neither is an effective deterent to the shape. It’s too perfectly manshaped. Seems to move like a man, but at the same time not. It has a sword, that’s clear, a long, thin, two-handed, double sided blade with a cross guard.
The humanoid figure moves in starts and stops, zipping in and out quickly, it’s motions somehow /too/ perfect to be normal.
Weapons fired at it, missing by fractions of an inch, while it’s sword never does, every stroke a killing blow, severing a head an arm a leg. It works its way down the hall methodically while people run screaming, stopping only as the last straggler, a soldier, makes a break for the elevator doors. The blow from it’s bare hand punches clean through the soldier’s chest, not so much ripping her heart out as shredding it on the way, causing a literal explosion of blood to cover the floor and interior of the elevator. It’s arm lowers, the body slides off of it, the doors ding softly and close, then it turns it’s head 180 degrees to look towards the stairwell where a dozen or more people fled.
The sword changes shape, becomes something more javelin like, and it turns to sprint after them.
The thing looks almost like one of those dolls that artists use to mimic human form. It’s human shaped, the joints are all right, but they bend inhumanly, it’s arms and elbows and knees and everything is a ball joint, giving it dexterity and agility beyond the ken. It had no facial features at all, no eyes, no nose, no ears, just a head shaped protrusion atop a neck. Because of this, it’s hard at any time in the vision to tell which way it’s facing, or even if it has a front or back. It’s some sort of matte black material but all the gore and blood slide off of it as it it were greased, for all the gore and horror it unleashed, there’s not a single drop of blood on the sword, or even its arm, despite its sharp pointy fingers blowing clean through that woman’s chest. If a spider and a samurai and a knight and a nightmare all teamed up for a horror-orgy, this would be the spawn.
As the vision fades, Slaines knees giveway and she falls unable to catch herself on the way down. “Tell me ye got all that … ” she whispers, colour slowly returning to her pupils as she raises a hand to her head. “My head is poundin’. That skull we saw with the hole in it, that javelin thing might have done it…”
Leo sits and stares at Slaine for a long, long, moment once she’s done, his face unreadable and still. He opens his mouth once, twice, then manages something on the third attempt, “If you /ever/ pull that shit with me, you and I are gonna have words.” he says before turning to look around him, and most noteably at the corpse that was nearest the elevator doors. With it’s outward explodey ribcage on the front. “Fuck me.” he mutters softly before looking around once more.
He heads to the end of the hall and the double doors there, pushing them open to see what’s beyond, “Yeah.” he says flatly, “That was creepy as fuck.” and then he pushes them open, far enough that they seem to catch and hold open in place. Beyond them is another corridor, semi regular spaced doors to left or right, the carnage from before seems to start about three doors into the hall. Beyond the first three doors the hallway seems pristine, but there are staines and remains litering the hall all the way to the third door, which is slightly ajar as it was unable to close all the way due to the severed arm in the opening. “Accurate though.” he admits freely. “You two ready? I vote we not go into the third door.” he adds belatedly.
Slowly, very slowly, a dazed and thoroughly disturbed Ser Mercier lifts a gauntleted finger toward Leo and murmurs: “Don’ ever… speak ta Slaine like that. Son.” A pause. He takes a breath. “An’ mind yo’ language. Shit.”
That makes the knight smile ruefully to himself. Then he shifts his attention to Slaine, walking toward her and lifting a hand as though to rest it upon her shoulder.
“Saw it, girl. Saw it all… You awlright? God help us… that thing looked like some sort o’… golem maybe. A construct made to kill… Weren’t nothin’ natural about it.”
Slaine just stares at Leo blankly for the moment. Everything hurts from that vision, her head worst of all. “I can’ help when they come …” she mutters, kneeling on the ground, head bowing and she struggles to breath and keep her lunch down.
As Teddy’s hand touches her shoulder, the small redhead looks up, barely able to shake her head “No’ really but we got to move…” she says, using his arm to keep herself steady as she rises. “Ready when ye are, Leo… Maybe not door three, but maybe we should …”
The instant they cross the threshhold the building begins to speak to them again, <On your left you will find Stormbridge’s bioengineering labs. Any access requires strict decontamination proceedures and further clearence, but there is an observers balcony should you wish it. Inside you will find the origins of our patented stem-genetics and designer gene therapies, where we supply everything from a child built to your specifications to our famously successful line of enhanced soldiers!> she really does sound proud of that one. Continuing down the hall the tour moves on, <On your right our Psy-ops and reconditioning facilities, where top of the line research is developed in the realms of cognitive repathing. It’s here that we can instill Stormbridge’s trademarked training into the mind of your newly purchased enhanced soldier, complete with over ride commands. Here at Stormbridge we know that loyalty is all well and good, but complete obedience is paramount.> this time her tone is more self knowing, and one can just imagine her nodding her head sagely. Door three, <To your left once more is where our scientists have made their most recent and starteling discoveries into cybernetics! Having finally broken through the bio-rejection problems of previous models, our new nanite bonding systems are flawless, allowing us to evolve anyone, at the speed of technology!> That has the ear marks of corporate jargon that sounds nice but means nothing. <From military grade weapons systems to hyper-speed wetware connectivity to the web, Stormbridge is making leaps and strides in this, our most profitable division.>
Leo stops here, eyeing the door and the boney arm that’s jutting from inside. He clears his throat and flicks his tongue, sending a wad of phlem to slap wetly against the door. He glares at it with an almost animalistic hate before turning and continuing down the hall without another word, “According to my research, what I want it as the end of the hall, we get that, we can chase down whatever treasures you guys want to take home with you.” he picks up his pace a bit, <To your right, our societal algorythmics, allowing us to predict the public reaction to-> and so on and so forth. If ever there were a company or place that was built to churn out thing more morally questionable then this building is, one would be hard pressed to find it.
At the end of the hall, the green lights have stopped, the final door on the right, <And finally, to the right, Stormbridge’s archives and storage facility. Inside you will have access to everything from our patented publicly available technologies to projects whos profitability or viability was questionable. Also paperclips!> is it creepy when a building giggles? Yes. Yes it is. <Please use the terminal inside to search for anything you may wish to review shareholder, and ask aloud should you have any questions.>
Following along between Leo and Slaine, he shakes his head repeatedly at the voice of the building. It’s unnatural, and gives him the screaming willies, as it were.
“Kinda wish Meg were here…” he mutters. “Got a cravin’ for a portal out…”
Slaine blinks as they move through the building, moving gingerly – her head still hurts and it will for a while. Visions leave her disoriented and in pain. “I don’ understan’ half of what she’s sayin’ but this was a biotech lab?” she’s half questioning, half stating as they stop by the third door. “Leo, I wish ye wouldn'” she protests as he spits “Nanites…” she at least knows what they are. “That might explain what I saw at least…”
The rest of the ‘tour’ is conducted in silence, the redhead doesn’t talk much when on mission and now she’s even more quiet. That is until they reach that door and the terminal “Well, Leo. What is it ye want? We can’ enter or ask anythin’, ’cause we know nothin'” She might be a little short (ahem pardon the pun) thanks to the headache.
Leo opens the door and steps inside without answering. There is a room on the otherside, oddly unassuming as it’s only about fourty feet to a side, and in it there are some dusty but comfy looking office chairs and a table, tilted a bit like a drafters table, who’s surface is currently flickering to life. Perhaps the console in question. As it does, it brings up a big logo, STORMBRIDGE INTERNATIONAL, and then opens into a menu. Leo moves over and flops down into a chair, his fingers, the gloved ones, run over the surface of the screen, causing it to ripple. In doing so, the wall in front of them, once blank, suddenly goes transparent showing a group of hovering robotic arms, which are just powering up. Leo sloooowly grins and once more looks at the console, “I think it’s an interface. I think… I think it’s a list. We can just find something we want, and they sort of … fetch it for us.”
<<That is correct.>> says a voice. This one is NOT like the happy giggly girly voice that’s led them down to this point in the building. This voice has… gravitas. It’s male and improbably deep, not quite rumbly, but somehow conveying a sense of confidence and power, as if it were a born leader. <<So the question becomes, what are you looking for?>>
“Leo…” remarks Teddy as he begins scouting around the room. “Did the creepy buildin’ from a bygone age just call ya by name…??” Of course it did. He still had to ask it out loud. “Look… let’s jus’ do our searchin’ through whatever this vault has… an’ get out o’ here with our skins intact — no dismemberments or perforations, y’know?”
He still has his psi-sabre out, and has not let his guard down, not for a second. Leaving Leo to do his thing, Ted just keeps watch.
He does not like this place.
Not one bit.
“Awful deep fo’ a tomb…” he mutters.
Slaine sighs as Leo does what Leo does, not talk to them just … acts, and follows him in. As Teddy goes one way, she goes the other only to stop as the wall clears and the robot arms become visible. “Wow…” she murmurs, still standing there as the male voice intones it words, causing her to turn slowly towards the Techno Wizard.
“It knows ye …” Despite the headache, her eyes start to glow and blue energy fitful appears at her fingertips “… why does this buildin’ know ye, Leo?”
She’ll agree with Teddy. Awful deep for a tomb….
Continuing the exploration of the bunker, some nasty surprises are found
February 20, 2410