Hunter is in his bot, which is generally where he can be found during these outings. Partly this is because it’s nice and safe encased behind several tons of armor. Partly this is because someone needs to man the heavy weapons in case something truly massive and dangerous shows up. And partly this is because it’s air conditioned inside. Lucky Hunter.
The location is a mostly intact L shaped building in what looks like a former industrial district down in one of the city’s sub levels. There’s little natural light that comes in here but plenty of working illumination along the level’s ceiling. The scale of the city as always boggles the mind. Millions, possibly tens of millions, of people worked and lived here.
And they all vanished without a trace.
“How’s the interior?” A bored but mostly comfortable Hunter says into the radio.
Jesana is walking along in the same clothes she was in when they met her though with a bandolier of throwing knives added. She seems completely fascinated by the city. “It’s incredible. I remember this. Or something.. something similar I think. It’s vague, but I lived in a big city once. With millions of people and huge buildings everywhere.” She grins and shakes her head. “I think anyway. It was long ago.”
The heat doesn’t seem to bother her and she also doesn’t seem worried about attack though her senses are extended and she is listening and looking and scenting for danger. That’s just common sense in a place like this and for her, something she does naturally. “I wonder where this came from and what happened to them.”
At least Yaren does not seem to ever be concerned about temperatures, whether comfortable or not. That’s likely because he has no body to speak of that can be affected by either extreme of the thermometer. He also doesn’t seem to tire no matter how long they walk. The first time he’d ever been out in these ruins is a distant memory to him now, but he remembers some things of it. Like how these buildings aren’t necessarily built to accommodate something of Hunter’s bot’s size.
“This one does not see anything out of the ordinary…” It’s strange speaking to Hunter from a distance through a little box, but it’s quite convenient. And at least this way they will know if something happens that will require them back outside.
Ardul stands guard as the other two look around. Along with Hunter she’s the other ‘heavy’ on the job. At 6ft tall, encased in gleaming silver armour, the winged blonde looks every bit the soldier as she follows the other two around the building. “It looks clear at the moment, Hunter.” she radio’s back to the Wolfen. “There’s sign of recent occupation though, I’m keeping my eyes open.”
And her senses about her.
Jes’ comments get a look from the Iyesgarthian. “I’m led to believe that the city originated here and disappeared at some point when the Rifts came. It reappeared about two years ago – in the condition we see it, without any inhabitants.” It’s a mystery that no one has been able to solve or even come up with a remotely satisfactory answer yet.
The blonde glances over at Yaren and offers the slightest of smiles that softens the harsh planes of her face a little. The smile is arrested though and she frowns into the darkness just beyond the strange being. “I think there’s something moving over there, Hunter. Are you reading anything?”
“Nothing out here. There’s a power spike at the far end of your building though. Looks like you might have tripped something coming in.” That could just be systems coming online. Systems like the climate control. Or it could be something else.
The building in question looks a lot like an automated factory. There are production lines laid out in long rows and packaging machines. A lot of it looks really delicate though. Whatever was once being made here, it was being made with a great deal of precision.
There is something at the far end. Something flickering like a fire, though Hunter would have said if he detected the kind of heat spike associated with that. No, something just came online in back and in the half light and the distance it’s hard to say what.
But there’s a sort of… buzzing sound in the distance.
So far Jesana’s comments have just been about their surroundings. Ordinarily she’d be trying to flirt and tease everyone but she has a feeling Ardul wouldn’t be interested and might take offense at her messing with Hunter. For reasons she doesn’t want to examine to closely Jesana doesn’t want to make enemies of them. Yaren is.. well, she isn’t sure he has a body. Or if he’d understand. So it’d probably just be…awkward.
“Oooh. That..yes. There would have been cities like this then.” A mystery. Even more interesting. “Where they’re corpses or skeletons at least? It could have gone somewhere with a bad atmosphere. Or perhaps somewhere where they just.. took the people.” Who or what would take the people and leave the city standing though, she has no idea and stops musing when things start happening. “Ooh. What’s this?” Does she sound delighted? Yes. Yes she does. Jesana bounces on her feet and darts up ahead a short distances, eyes and ears focused in the direction of the noise and flickering.
Yaren pauses, squinting towards the dark area ahead of them. If there’s something there, he can’t quite make it out. He’s not sure what Hunter means when the Wolfen comes back on the radio, but even these buildings are something beyond his understanding, let alone their workings.
While he sees nothing outright, the hatted one does lift his head at the sound. He glances over his shoulder at Ardul as if to ask if she’d heard it before looking quickly over at Jesana as she suddenly begins to move in its direction.
“Ah- this one does not think it is safe to…” He trails off, letting his hand drop, violet eyes blinking. Perhaps they should catch up before she gets too far ahead.
“Clearly…” Ardul says dryly to Jesana “Who says there were any corpses or skeletons to be had? The inhabitants might have been taken by whatever denizens of the realm the city ended up in.” That’s a belief she’s held since she saw the city that the inhabitants had been taken elsewhere.
“Acknowledged Hunter.” The blonde frowns and puts her hand on the cylinder at her hip “It would seem that systems in this building are coming online. Be careful. Although Hunters systems don’t detect anything, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing here.” She raises her chin in the direction of the buzzing “Yaren, we might your … unique … abilities here to scout ahead.” The hatted one or Iinya would be appropriate for that.
“Systems have come online, Hunter. Investigating.” The blonde moves slowly in the direction of the glow and the buzzing. If she seems cautious, she is – with good reason.
“The city hadn’t aged at all when it arrived back. Not long anyway. A few days at most? Whatever happened here it was quick, and it only cared about the people.” Did they leave? Were they taken? Killed? The truth may never be known.
The buzzing grows louder and about a hundred feet ahead the sudden tell tale blue glow of a rift starting to open fills the room. From the looks of it this one is going to be quite the big one. As it starts to open an alien fungal-scape is revealed on the other side.
This is a dangerous moment, though, as very often things come through. And that is the case here. A creature that looks remarkably like a terran lion only ten feet tall at the shoulder with large bat wings and a massive scorpions tail prowls through, growling.
Jesana clearly has no caution but there are reasons for that she hasn’t seen fit to share with her new companions and she’s interested and curious about what is going on ahead of them. Patience does not seem to be a strong suit with the strange woman. At least not at the moment. She does however seem to be keeping herself slightly ahead and in the way of anything that might suddenly fly out at her companions. So there is that.
“No bodies huh? and no aging despite the time it was gone..” She can still hear them well apparently. She is ever so interested in knowing what befell these people. Jesana suddenly draws to a stop as the rift becomes clear to her.
“Heelllooo.” Okay. Lionbatposionbug. That is.. a thing now apparently. “Hehehe. Nice kitty. Niiiice kitty.” Jes tries. It’d be funny if it actually listened and sat down or something but she doubts it. It’s almost never that easy. Can it really fly? If it can it definitely has one advantage she doesn’t. Maybe the wings aren’t functional…
Yaren nods slowly at Ardul, finger nudging Iinya to wakefulness on his shoulder as they begin to start ahead. They don’t get very far when the light erupts and the very atmosphere before them begins to tear open. He’s seen it before, so it’s no unusual phenomenon. It’s how he’d gotten to this world, after all. Even from this distance, he can see the completely contrasting scenery on the other side of the rift. Just what sort of things live in such a place?
…oh. Things like that, clearly.
Glowing eyes widen, perhaps looking a little too eager than should be with something so big and growly coming through. “Some sort of feline hybrid,” he notes, with just a bit of awe in his tone. “The tail might be something to avoid- oh, Jesana…”
He recalls only then that their newest companion had gone ahead and so is first in line to greet the alien creature. “This one does not think that communicating in such a way will be very effective,” he calls towards her. He’s helping! Really!
The Manticore – for so a more learned human might call it though they have other names – bares its teeth which drip with green venom. Its tail rocks back and raises. It does not look pleased to see Jesana and it’s very likely that this is the kind of creature that can weather rail gun fire if it must.
So it looks to be a fight. And then that damn buzzing gets louder and a swarming cloud of something comes from behind it. In a horrifying half minute the creature is stripped of its flesh and meat, rendered down to a skeleton which is itself rendered into nothing by the buzzing, swarming whatever they ares.
“I’ve got a lot of micro-network activity near you.” Hunter says over the radio. “What’s going on in there?!”
“A rift, Hunter.” Ardul confirms, unclipping that cylinder and igniting her sword. That she expects trouble, that much is clear. How much, is the only question.
Strangely, she doesn’t caution Jesana to be careful. Just watches the young woman with cold grey eyes.
“Be wary, Yaren. This might go bad.” It probably will. There’s few things she’s encountered that do. “This thing is huge, Hunter. Have you seen anything like it…” the blonde takes a moment to describe it, circling warily as the creature paces. “I’m sure there are tales from the time that was about these types of creatures. I heard a woman in the bazaar telling one to a child recently.”
Jesana had been perfectly willing to fight the manticore and actually eager..the ..things that eat it.. not so much. She starts walking backwards. “Uh. Look. Getting eaten by a swarm of little whatsits is a very awful way to die. Like, seriously. One of the worst. We should maybe…. well, run like hell.” She’ll come back if they do eat her. Her companions..probably not so much. Also, it really suuuuucks. SHe’d rather avoid it. It’s remotely possible that they can’t bite her, she has tough skin but.. it isn’t something Jesana really wants to test. Though maybe she should try to distract them so the others can run? Hm.
Ardul’s words of caution are received with a nod, Yaren’s eyes trained upon the manticore that prowls towards Jesana. But then something else comes, and even before he can completely register its movement, they’ve literally torn through the creature as though it were nothing. A horrified gasp escapes the violet-eyed wanderer as the magnificent creature is left nothing but a pile of bones. So much for studying that.
“…that’s…” he grasps for words, for his voice, shaking his head. “Something else just ate the huge one,” he relays to Hunter. “Jesana, move away.” On his shoulder, Iinya tenses, tiny fanged mouth opened with a hiss, wings slightly raised in a defensive posture.
“Nanites.” Hunter says through the radio. “That’s a hunter-killer swarm. They’re supposed to be theoretical. I’ve only ever read of them. They’ll strip you down to your component molecules in about thirty seconds flat. Run. Now.”
Hunter’s bot is in trouble if it gets caught by these but he has options that they don’t. Right now they need to not get eaten away molecule by molecule.
The swarm surges forward, buzzing like a saw.
“Do not hesitate, Yaren. Move.” The winged blonde urges the hatted being, waiting just long enough fo the others to move. “Hunter evacuate, don’t get caught.” She’ll get the others out, but the Bot can’t be caught.
As the others begin moving, the blondes wings flare wide and instead running behind she launches herself above them, providing cover and shelter and hopefully distraction. Fortunately, they weren’t too far in. “Make for the exit and don’t look back…”
Jesana makes up her mind. She’ll run with them for now but if it looks like the things are getting to close she’ll fall back and let them have her. Give the otehrs a chance. It is not the course of action she would normally take for people she just met but… ‘Always a but ins’t there..‘ The wolfen is kinda cute. Yaren is someone she wants to know more about and Ardul.. Ardul is.. she doesn’t know. Just thinks Ardul reminds her of something. Most of the time she’s pretty sure that her lack of clarity and remembrance of her first life is more of a good thing than a bad thing. Sometimes however, it’s incredibly frustrating. “Cmon cmon.” She urgers the other two. Making shooing motions and keeping herself right behind them. Hey, if she saves them she’ll be a hero. She loves being the hero. When she isn’t being the villain… heh. At least now she understands why she did not recognize the sound. “Uh. Lady..” Jesana curses in blackfoot. “Look run! Let them get me. I’ll be fine and see you tomorrow!” She could be wrong but does not think Ardul can say the same if they catch her. ‘Damn. I wish I could.. eh. I’d look really stupid with wings especially on all fours. Maybe not.‘
“What are component molecules?” Yaren can’t quite help but ask even as he turns. He’s pretty sure that out of all of them, he’s the least endangered. “Iinya, go to Hunter,” he murmurs to his little winged serpent, and with a chiming cry, she slithers down along his arm as he casts it outwards to give her momentum to take flight, and she glides sharply back the way they’d come.
“Jesana, what sort of insanity do you speak of? This one will not let anyone fall to these.”
His violet eyes brighten in emphasis with these words as he reaches out to grab for the woman’s hand to haul her along with if not ahead of him. “Hunter, can nothing slow them down?” He’s not even sure what they are, if they’d be affected like normal creatures by anything they could throw at them.
“Large electrical shocks.” Hunter says. “Or small nuclear detonations. Beyond that, no, unless you can conjure up a really stiff wind.” From the sound of it, Hunter is moving. Where to is a good question. If they can make it out of the building they still need to make it to safety and there’s more than just hostile nanoswarms around here though that is certainly the most pressing thing present.
The swarm splits up behind them, turning from a wall into a Y shape. Jes may be able to delay them but how much? They’ll slice her apart and then keep going and as it stands they’re angling to cut everyone off from the exits.
And these suckers are fast.
“The things you are made of.” Jesana answers Yaren. After a moment she decides to answer the other question. “It’s like this. I’m not human. Not really. My mother was. My father is a god. I can die but it’s not permanent for me like it is for most others. I’ll be back. Not madness, immortality.” Of a sort. Definitely suits her and the Father she inherited it from.
If something can slow them down Jesana doesn’t know of or remember it. Just a vague feeling the things aren’t alive, beyond that or even if it’s right she doesn’t know. It does not seem like it’d be a good thing if they reached that roboticwolf thing though. Electrical shocks? Not really in her arsenal. Jesana sighs. If there was time perhaps she could come up with something but.. there is not. Wind? Her magic is not suited to being ont he run. It takes some time.
A glance behind her and her ears picking up the direction the things are moving cause Jesana to curse again. She’s starting to think she won’t be able to delay or distract these things enough. “Well shit. These things suck.” Her eyes start searching the buildings looking for something, anything that might help. A source of electricity or.. another way out.. a room they can lock themselves in.. there has to be something..
“Don’t be a fool.” The tone Ardul uses has made soldiers quake and quail and she’s not taking any nonsense from the group. She’ll answer Yaren, another time – right now, they need to be out of here. Fast.
“Electric shocks?” she glances around at the factory they’ve found themselves in “We can do that … ” She can do that really, but she’s going need some help from the other two. “Get to that equipment over there ….” She gestures in the direction of two to the left “… and open the panels up. Expose the electronics. Hunter, can you find mains supply in?” Hopefully he hasn’t pulled back too far just yet.
The blonde herself, lands on another piece of equipment and wrenches the cover off. It won’t take her long to jury rig it.
“Unfortunately there are no storms within this place,” Yaren notes. Lightning would have been ideal, but even then, they had no method of directing it. Yaren and Iinya rode the storms and the winds, not controlled them.
Jesana speaks of humans and gods and dying and immortality and it only vaguely makes sense, but on the whole, it does not. Not to him. He can’t pick out the particulars of it, not right now, not when they’re threatened.
When Ardul directs them, Yaren looks towards the panels. He’s learned just enough technical jargon to understand what the winged woman wants of them, and he seems to be pulled in that direction for how his feet no longer really seem to propel him so much as some internal force. But then that’s just it. His gloved, long-fingered hands grasp at one of the panels to pry it open for Ardul.
Jesana puts on a burst of speed once Ardul gives instructions. She is able and willing to follow someone else’s direction if it suits her. This definitely does. It’s not going to do her a lot of good to die only to come back and find her new companions were eaten. This gives them all a chance.
“Open sesame.” The demigod grabs the panel and tears it off, tossing it aside and reaches for the next. She doesn’t remember how to rig this stuff up if she ever knew. She is not so big on technology. A lot of the People back west aren’t, but there certainly are many who are too. Tearing things open though? She can do that. It is not very heroic though and Jesana sighs. Ah well.
Iinya has found Hunter by now. His bot is circling back behind the building. Opposite end of where they are but probably closer to something he needs to be closer to.
“Yeah, I can. Power mains are back here. Buried but I can probably get to them if I cause enough damage. What are you thinking?”
It’s only going to be moments before they’re encircled and once that happens the nanites will start to close in. They either need to make good their escape now or hope that Ardul has a damn good plan.
“There’s looms of cables ….” Ardul shakes her head as she realizes that Yaren probably won’t understand what she’s saying. Instead she pulls out the loom that is coiled inside the unit and shows them, throwing it out onto the ground.
“Do the same. We just need to conduct the electricity …” she tells them. “Then get up high and don’t touch metal …” There’s enough plastic on the cabinets they should be insulated although, the static in the air will be something else.
“Overload the supply, Hunter. Just shorting it will do. It will conduct through the equipment in here and … blow.” Of course, that might start a fire and the equipment will be no good. But better than being flayed alive, right?
Iinya chirrups, circling Hunter’s bot as it in turn moves behind the building. Not like Hunter’s difficult to miss in that thing.
Yaren is glad that Jesana’s not throwing herself to the nanites, and as she opens another panel up, he looks for… Oh. Well, he looks to Ardul to see what she’s pulling before doing the same once he locates the cables within the open box. Opening another panel, he does the same before checking on the two women. He’s adamant about making sure they’re safely (or as safe as can be) in position before he’ll do so himself. He’s also just as relieved that he’s set Iinya out ahead.
Jesana starts pulling the cables out as quickly as she can. It’s really the only plan, she hasn’t been able to come up with anything else and these things are strangely determined. “What is controlling them? Or do they think on their own??”
If this doesn’t work Jesana is at a loss as to how to save them. That happens sometimes but it never stops stinging when you want to save someone and can’t. It might have something to do with how she never stays more than a few years in a place.. people die, from crap like this or from old age or illness. Getting close never ends well. Yet.. here she is. Instead of sticking to the wilds. Jesana laughs at herself. “Well if it catches on fire, it’s still better than that..” She gestures at the swarm. Part of her is amused at Yaren waiting for her to get to safety first and she considers attempting to grab and toss him up onto the cabinet but decides to simply hurry and leap up herself. No time for attempts at gallantry that might fail. It’d be rather embarrassing if she couldn’t lift him anyway.
“Oh I can overload it. Hold on to your hats.” Only Yaren has a hat, of course. Hunter opens up on the mains with his ion blasters. The stream of energized particles swarms into the conductive mains. It’s going to short the system out but before it does there’s going to be one hell of a light show.
Just in time too. The swarm has formed a ‘wall’. Hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of buzzing nanites are circling ever tighter. They’ll be on them in a moment. It’s a very tight formation. Tight enough perhaps for it to arc.
Ardul perches atop one of the cabinets, watching the nanites as they circle. She doesn’t say anything to the others, harrying them now won’t help – they know what’s at stake. She just prays that they’ll get this done in time.
As the equipment explodes into a shower of arcs and sparks, the smell of ozone fills the air and the blonde shields her eyes. It’s that bright. The electricity arcs out, hitting the swarm and conducting through it. And then one of the cabinets starts to flame.
Ardul had forgotten about Hunters armaments, so focused on the on the task she’d been. “I knew you’d deliver…” she murmurs into the comms. “We’re not clear yet, there’s a fire starting but the nanites seem to be dealt with.”
To Jesana “They’re nanites. They could have their own intelligence in a way. Pre-programmed to seek out and flay.” Then generally “Is everyone ok?”
As sparks literally start to fly, Yaren stares openly at the display, his violet eyes narrowing to near slits against the explosion of electricity that dances wildly throughout the room. And of course, with Hunter’s warning, he’s literally rested a hand upon his head to keep his hat in place.
“…programmed… They are not organic?” He looks for signs of the things that had chased them, now that they’ve been caught in the shocking onslaught. “…this one is all right. Are both of you..?”
Jesana doesn’t shield her eyes. Advantages of super healing and she wants to see as much as possible. This is a new foe. She needs to learn. Hm..pre-programmed? So probably from the city originally? Why did they feel the need for such a thing? So many questions without answers.
The demigod jumps down and heads toward the fire, shrugging out of her bandolier and then jacket and attempting to put the flames out by beating them with her denim duster. She may be using her nose and ears more at the moment and the heat put off by the fire than her eyes but.. “I’m good. I’d like to meet whoever made those damned things though.” She said meet and not eat, right? Yeah, yeah she thinks so. “They are tiny tiny machines. I think.”
The spark arcs all around them. For a moment it seems like they’re inside a cage of lighting. Then the clattering of machines all around them tells them that it worked. They fried them. Or stunned them. Or something. They should probably leave now since there might be more and they’re fresh out of lightning storms in a box.
“This is Hunter. Get out here. Now.”
“Move.” That’s all Ardul says as she takes to her wings her again. She’s not going to be touching anything as they leave – electrical shocks really aren’t worth it.
She’ll wait till the other two move, but she won’t be slow. “On our way out Hunter. Where shall we meet up?”
Yaren hardly makes a sound when he hops down from the cabinets. He casts only brief look at the remnants, but he’s not going to make Hunter wait, not under the circumstances. There may be more of those things, after all. At the very least, he doesn’t seem to be very bothered by any of the lingering static-charged air as they make way for the exit.
Meanwhile Hunter’s bot gains an Iinya-shaped ear bangle.
Hoping she got enough of the fire that it doesn’t spread through the city unchecked, Jesana grabs her knives and starts running. More of them? Nooo thank you. “We’re coming!” She turns back to make sure the others are indeed with her.
Grateful that there isn’t any metal in her boots and that her knives are bone and obsidian Jesana hustles her way through the factory exits, glancing around and up to check the progress of Ardul and Yaren and to keep an eye out for anything else. Nanites. Definitely not the fight she was hoping for. No one has died yet though and she considers the trip worth it, having gotten to see the city more. Maybe they’ll be able to grab some the medical supplies still on the way out. “Ugh. My hair…” It’s better than the fur though she supposes.
A Vanished Point scavenging trip takes a bad turn as the group runs into a swarm of trouble.
October 30, 2410