Vesper might be massing an army to move on the soulless army that’s massing in Richmond but that doesn’t stop the normal day to day trade between the cities. Caravans and traders still have to find their way back and forth and most are paying well for escorts.
No, not that type of escorts. The military, armed type.
This caravan is destined for Dogwood and is somewhere between Vesper and Richmond. Vesper city proper gave way some miles ago and now the skeletons of buildings from long ago line the road. Brigands, and possibly worse, prey out here.
There’s also been rumours of unusual activity, where people have gone missing. It might all sound a little familiar to some and they might take advantage of the caravan and its protection to check it out.
+MEET: Elpida has arrived via +meet.
For a moment Maddy was disappointed it wasn’t /that/ kind of escort…until she realised she was the one being hired as an escort. She’s a good girl, she is! Tits strides alongside the caravan, sensors alert to any danger. After some constant ‘suggestions’ and at least one loud argument, Maddy has switched off the music and instead hums tunelessly through the speakers mounted on ther Titan’s shoulders. She needs /some/ noise.The thylacines are out.
Old Richmond, these days, is too dangerous for Clancy Drover to //not// avail himself of the extra sets of eyes… and ears. Noses too. The ears at least are a little happier, with the music was turned off — Grasper and Keeper were both ‘singing’ along.
Drover could only take so much of that.
Riding astride his giant Ooroo, he hops up alongside Maddy’s Titan and says into the radio: “Anythin’ on the scanners, luv?”
Devan isn’t quiiiiiite clinging to Kaji but he’s close. Very close. Timing his little hopping steps to keep right at his friend’s side. The Striigian Monk can be kind of hard to spot despite his alien appearance since he’s dressed in a drab brown robe only a bit lighter than his russet feathers and is making himself rather small either at Kaji’s side or back depending on the ground they cover and space around them. He isn’t invisible though but likely appears nonthreatening.
He’s doing his best to blend in but probably isn’t entirely successful.. for one the hood of his robe has fallen down and is not hiding the movement as Devan turns his feathered head nearly all the way round in both directions, peering all about intently. He’s also sort of noisy. Lots of birdly noises of excitement and alarm. …False alarm because nearly everything is startling or surprising to the poor guy but alarm nonetheless. Also those things keep looking at him. The ones with the four legs. He’s not edible! Okay maybe he is but he doesn’t want to be. “Hoohoohoohooo. Are you sure we should be out, out here?” And that giant thing. Oh what is that giant thing!? And why is someone riding it??
It’s an all too familiar tune that can’t be overwith soon enough, so far as Kaji is concerned. People going missing in such numbers nowadays only brings one possibility to mind. Hope as he can that it’s not for the same reason, he can’t quite convince himself to think otherwise.
He’d been riding in the back of one of the caravan’s trucks, keeping an eye on the passing surroundings. It’s been pretty uneventful, and more than once he’s had to stifle a yawn. Now he’s walking alongside his fluffy owlmonk friend, hoping that it’ll help him wake up a bit. At least Devan’s false starts and exclamations aid in that. Poor jumpy guy.
“Something or someone must be out here,” he says, pausing as he realizes it’s probably not the most reassuring thing to say, even as he pats Devan’s shoulder. “So if there is, we need to find out what’s going on.”
Having spent the previous night far too close to a lady who turns into a GIANT FRIGGING SPIDER for her liking, Elpida is eager to get away from Vesper on the offchance Ingerhast would like to try to say thank you to any of her rescuers by inviting them to be tea. For. For tea. Not to be her tea. No, she’d en ver do that. Right? Right? Please let that be true.
Thse thoughts might as well be written on Elpida’s face at the moment as the gorgon absently scratches the head of one of the snakes that’s hanging down by her hand. She’s here. ANd going right along with hte others. Happily. Becasue Not In Vesper.
GAME: Komodo has set the pose order to Devan, Elpida, Clancy, Maddy, Kaji
Devan see’s it first, then Elpida, the black snake like bolts that hit the cabins of the trucks. The front truck stops, the second one slowing but not quick enough – rear ending the front one as it does.
There’s a deafening silence. Well, it would be deafening if Maddy’s speakers weren’t blaring. Then the cabin doors open and the drivers and passengers tumble out. They’re movements are disjointed and they look dazed.
A turret on the front truck turns towards Tits, winding up, getting ready to fire.
Devan screeches in alarm and attempts to extend his wings, which are tucked beneath his robe at the moment instead of outside it. All he manages to do aside from make noise is jostle the cloth so it falls open in the front. He’s worried about the snake shadows but his head turns to the east of the caravan and his eyes attempt to focus on the shadows there.
The Monk is sure he saw something moving around those buildings but isn’t sure what and he’s trying to find it again while attempting to close his robe (his feathers are exposed!!) and not hop-trip over the belt or his own feet or something in the road he isn’t looking at. He’s also listening but the Whispers have all fallen silent, yet Devan has a feeling that’s due to alarm. What can alarm spirits?? He’s rather sure he doesn’t want to know and rather afraid he’s about to find out.
“WAUGH,” yell Elpida in surprise. Her snakes had sort of sensed something first so she’s turning just in time to see the bolts that strike the cabin doors and such.
“Ah! Ah! What was that?! They came from…” She gesticulates wildly as she tries to get her senses sorted out.
“…that way!” North east is the direction she is pointing, now…after she pointed at a bunch o others.“Ugh, what’s with the ripper?” Clancy exclaims with a wrinkled nose, his hand held in front of it. “Who let one — oh.” It is not //his// nostrils picking something up; it is the thylacines. After seeing the black-serpent things attack the convoy, Clancy points north-east and yells:
“Oy! Mates, over that way! I’m gonna check on the folks in the trucks… bloody hell. Bridge is gonna kill me if I get killed out — wait. Ah, whatever. Go huntin’, mates.” That last sentence is a command to Grasper and Keeper — seek, kill, fetch back anything interesting. No demon-penises please.
With that, Clancy steers Apanie to the trucks and leaps toward them, already reaching for his medicine bag.
Maddy was tapping her monitors to reply to Clancy when all Hell broke loose…and that wasn’t just the six inch long cockroach that crawled out of the screen. It looks like she needs to get her sensors fixed. “Can’t see any…oh…shoot. Snake bolts! Hairnet, friends of yours?!”
There may be a lot of shouting from her friends about something north-east but she’s more concerned about the truck turret that is turning towards her and arming up its weapons. “Umm…guys…do we have traitors among us?” A slam of a switch and her railgun stirs into life as she lifts the Titan’s arm to aim at the truck.
It’s Devan’s sudden movement that startles Kaji. If the monk’s wings had been outside of his robe then the boy would have surely been hit with them that time. With the yelling that follows, Kaji looks ahead as he hears the crunch of the trucks at the head of their caravan, catching the last of the slithering black bolts as they vanish into the cab. If he hadn’t been fully awake earlier, he most definitely is now.
“Oh no…” he gasps, staring in horror as people begin to unload from the truck. Hearing Elpida and Clancy give a direction, Kaji throws his attention that way. He’s sensed one out before….or something. If there’s a necromancer, or no…!
“Be careful!” he shouts to the others. “There must be a soul harvester!” Glancing towards Maddy’s bot, he follows the position of her railgun back to the trucks ahead. Crap… “They’re probably being controlled. Maddy, if you can disarm it without harming anyone-” He realizes it might not be easy, but they can’t just senselessly slaughter everyone! Which means…best to deal with the source.
“North, El? You sure?” Kaji asks, but he’s already starting after Clancy and his creature brigade.
The bodies that have fallen from the trucks look around and their eyes fix on Kaji. The youth isn’t going to make it far as they form a semi circle around him. They’re not in touching, yet, but it won’t be long before they are.
As Kaji reaches out with his senses, he can feel it, the power that’s calling to these bodies. It feels familiar and whilst it’s not targetting him, he still might feel the temptation to … do something.
The Whispers begin to mutter in Devans ears. “Empty. So Empty. Must find more.” That’s … unsettling. It’s not long before the movement he’s seen resolves into five more soulless. Likely freshly harvested from around here, by the looks of them.
The Thylacines have certainly got the scent of something, but Clancy and Elpida might find themselves preoccupied the soulless descending on them. And the one still in the front truck that opens fire on Tits…
Devan had been far to uncertain of himself to point out the direction he saw something. Also afraid no one would listen. He’d been the youngest, newest and least important monk and often in trouble because a good Monklet is “Seen and not heard!” and he’s always been rather excitable even for one of his kind, thus noisy. He’s relieved when the terrorbeasts leap to check it out and other people start focusing in that direction.
Devan himself looks to Kaji but his friend’s words only bring greater alarm! The Monk is entirely panic stricken for a moment but he wills himself back under control. He’s glad he didn’t bowl Kaji over with his wings. Having them bound is a risk but apparently so is having them unbound if he’s going to run around like a bird with it’s head chopped off. His Elders would be so ashamed! That thought serves to focus the Striigii even more and he murmurs a plea towards the whispers, asking for their help, hoping they’ll break their silence.
Later he won’t be sure if they answer in response to his own desperate questioning or at the realization that something harvesting souls might turn its focus on them that prompts them but.. the effect is the same. He can hear- Oh. Well. That’s not mindnumbingly, bowel looseningly frightening at all. It does not help him know what to do and the desire to flee is nearly overwhelming. Devan stays next to Kaji though, his head turning everywhich way, attempting to spot the one in control. He’ll die of embarrasment if he messes himself. Truly. Just die. On the spot. It’s a greater fear than losing his soul, even. Okay maybe not quite greater than. Almost equal to certainly.
“Yeah, yeah! I think so!” Elpida yells back to Kaji, though given that they’re being caught off from each other from the approaching soulless, she readies herself, pistol drawn, and prepares to take a shot. Possibly several shots. She really doesn’t want to this but there’s no chance for any other way, no choice.
“Oi. Why’d you have to make your damn Champion, anyway?”
Haven’t the Gods butted hinto her life enough as it is?Clancy had… not been expecting undead to come climbing out of the trucks — the bodies of those slain in the opening salvo from their elusive enemy. Between them… and those nearer to the thylacines, he is cut off from at least some of his friends. He could summon the spirit-beasts back to himself… but that would give their quarry a chance to escape.
The man hastily reaches for something in his medicine bag, and chants something under his breath. Withdrawing his hand, he hurls a phial at the zombies, which then shatters into a quickly-spreading gaseous mass.
“Kinda like powdered holy water!” he calls over his shoulder to no one in particular. “Won’t stop ’em but’ll piss the buggers off fer a bit! Take yer shots, mates!”
Maddy really would love to bestow hugs and kisses on the soulless abominations but…um…they’re about to shoot her. The railgun whirrs into life before spitting out molten metal at the slowly rotating turret. At least she can’t see anyone operating it. Maybe it is completely automatic and she hasn’t hurt a fly? Well…except that fly that was sitting on the barrel. Serves it right for choosing a poor place to stop.
“Powdered holy water?” Maddy inquires of Clancy through her speakers. “So you have to add water to make it work?” Clancy obviously didn’t think that through but thankfully she is here to help out.
The turret is hit but why does it look like it’s about to fire back. “Tits brace for impact!” she calls out as she prepares to do some ridiculously outlandish moves to get out of the way.
Kaji skids to a halt, not having gotten far from Devan at all as he looks frustratedly at the people who have cut him off. Why did their attention always go to him? Because he’s the closest necromancer? Or is that what the harvester told them to do? He takes a step back, glaring.
It’s close, whoever’s doing it. He can sense it. But what can he do?? He hears the gunshots and the shouts as the others begin to react. And really, how could he have expected anything less? Still…
“No…” It’s not said all that loudly, easily lost in the din of noise that’s erupted around him. There’s got to be another way! But with so many, what else can they do? Out of the corner of his eye he sees clouds arise, some concoction of Clancy’s, judging from the shouts of the man. They’ve been outflanked. Someone’s definitely been busy out here.
His fists balled at his side, Kaji steps towards the soulless that have tried to block him off. “Take me to the harvester.” He’s not sure if they’re open to orders or can even understand anything past what they might be made to do, but he /won’t/ fight them. They’re not the enemy.
The Thylacines track the Harvester, but soon come to a stop. It seems to have just disappeared though. Those who know might remember that they’ve tremendous range on their power – they don’t need to be anywhere near.
Clancy’s powered holy water forms a vapour over the area. Slowing the soulless just a little bit. Unfortunately for Kaji and Devan, the ones closing on them don’t seem to be open to discourse or orders and pull their weapons from their holsters, aiming them at the hapless two.
Elpida manages to get two shots off, missing both times, she might need to think about that blessing bestowed on her before she becomes soulless ground beef.
Maddy’s shooting hits the truck turret, causing it to shudder but not quite stop it.
Devan moves to Kaji’s side automatically. He’s a Monk of the dead. Not a Necromancer like his friend. The people surrounding them aren’t really dead. Devan can’t do anything to them with his power. Not help them, not control them, or command them or anything really. Maybe he could try to fight them physically but he’s going to be rather terrible at that because he doesn’t know how to fight… he’s just a tiny little nervous ball of wings and- Inspiration strikes the Monk.
As the soulless reach for their weapons Devan quickly tears his precicous and ill-gotten (okay not really but he still feels so naughty for cleaning in that place! even if its a totally normal place here) robe free of his body and whips it out towards the faces of the people in front of him and his friend, letting the cloth go he jumps and whirls, landing in front of Kaji and extending his wings in a fast rush of feathers, air and muscle. He’s uncertain if he’s going knock them over, be horribly maimed, die painfully, or crap and embarrass himself beyond all recovery but hopefully he manages to save his friend! On the bright side if he does join the spirits he’s gonna spend all of his time relentlessly haunting back that one asshole voice that always gives him the worst advice possible while making it sound like a grand idea. Probably the same one who suggested this plan.
The gorgon turns inwards for a moment as her shots miss. Too vivid in her mind, perhaps, is the memory of the other time she took a life an the way they collasped, cheset seared apart as the bolt of energy from her laser gun ripped through it. Perhaps too fresh, given her hesitation with the trigger and its cost in accuracy.
Centering herself, and her squaring her feet on the ground, the frust rated gorgon utters a single word.
And then she begins to shoot again.Once the thylacines know that their quarry, the Harvester, is not where they had thought — Clancy instantly knows. Closing his eyes briefly, the Australian Clever Man summons his spirit-animals back into the tatoos — like swirls of sand-paint flying through the air. As soon as they are ‘home’ again, the eyes on each tattoo glow — followed by Clancy’s.
“Alroight, mates,” he murmurs. “‘Elp me out ‘ere bit.” Jerking as if suddenly (actually literally) possessed, Clancy thrusts his arms out to either side, and the image of the thylacine appears around his body — like a werebeast.
He roars, and charges into the Soulless nearest Kaji, magical claws slashing.
Thank goodness it didn’t fire back; soulless folk have really poor reflexes. She fires the railgun once more and this time the turret is reduced to a sludge of hot metal like what she fired at it. “Everyone okay?” she calls out over her speakers before realising that maybe things aren’t going well at all. Her railgun swings down to aim at those crowding around Kaji. This’ll end well. “Knucklehead and Bird Brain! You should move!”
That…hadn’t necessarily been the reaction he’d hoped for. Being attacked was certainly within the reasonable parameters of expectation, and yet when it /does/ happen and he finds multiple weapons being reached for, Kaji blanks.
It’s like the ground opens up under him for the sensation that swallows him then. It’s a terrible, terrible feeling of helplessness. And then suddenly, his vision blacks out, only not really.
The soulless beings nearly vanish in a flurry of robes and feathers, and it’s with a gasp that Kaji’s focus snaps back, staring at the Strigiian monk that’s landed in front of him. “Dev-” Something else goes plowing past them at the bodies, and suddenly he’s glad all he can see are feathers.
Maddy’s shouts over her loudspeaker are just noise added to the noise, but it gets Kaji’s attention as he glances back, feeling for all the world like everything’s moving in slow motion. At this point it’s not even something he can even frame to argue. His eyes widening, he tries to pull-tackle Devan down before they can be shot full of holes.
The Turret on the truck just crumples under Maddy’s fire. Why didn’t it shoot it back? That’s probably a good question.
Clancy’s weretiger, Devan’s flailing and Elpida’s shots all have an effect. One by one the soulless go down.
There might be some living yet, but they’ll need to be contained until this over … whether their souls can be returned no one knows.
And there’s a caravan that needs to be moved on.
The Soulless are attacking convoys between Vesper and Dogwood, and this one is no exception. Kaji gets a strange idea with some of them...
April 29, 2410