Kaji’s little sojourn to the Whispering Willow netted some information about where he might ‘someone to mentor him’. Whether it’s one of the two mages, or even the group, he’s after, he doesn’t know. What he does know is that someone ‘works’ out of a building at the Vesper end of Richmond.
A building with a logo that Ser Theodore Mercier would have shared with the youth.
It’s all good and well knowing that building but he still has to get there and then has to find it. Getting there means travelling the distance from Vesper where the Justicars and Guardsman authority reaches but is hard to enforce.
Joining one of the caravans that goes between Vesper and Dogwood, via Richmond, seemed like a good idea at the time. It’s just hit the border of Richmond, the derelict buildings rising tall on each side of the street, casting shadows as the sun traverses the sky and starting its descent towards the horizon
The building has to be around here somewhere…
Maddy has been keeping everyone’s spirits up by blaring music from her mech speakers and, as an added bonus, singing along with the songs. Loud enough to almost drown out the original singer. At the moment the music has no lyrics so there is some salvation to be had in that. Maddy’s Tits thuds alongside the caravan, the earth trembling with each step. She was here to protect the convoy but she can’t help spot friends among the throng. “So which one is it, Knucklehead!” she announces over the speakers. “Not sure why you’d want to live in any of these dumps. No offence to those who do.”
The only reference he has is a rough sketch he’s made from the Cyber-Knight’s description. It’s better than nothing, and more than what they had to start with. Whether it would even lead them to who’s responsible for all this demon business out in the Appalachians is another thing entirely, but angling for the necromancer seemed to make the most sense to Kaji. And he’s still rather glad that Ted and Devan had happened to be along with him, otherwise he’s not quite sure how he would have gotten the information he needed without putting himself at unnecessary risk.
Or maybe it was just risk. Everything around here is measured on a different scale although he still boggles at the idea that one’s essence is a common fare.
Tagging along with a group like this at least draws less attention. If people are headed out this way already, then there’s little to suspect by means of someone pointedly looking for a place a necromancer might hang out. Just being out here does make one suspicious. Old Richmond just seems like The Place to go when you don’t want to be found.
….of course, he could wish that some of their party were more subtle. Maddy’s exclamation might as well be something physical for how well it shatters his concentration. Kaji scowls- well, no, he’d already been scowling and making a number of annoyed faces as his thoughts circled about, but now he has someone to direct his look at. Sighing exasperatedly, he brings up a finger in the universal shushing gesture before shrugging as he resumes looking around again.
Keeping quick pace away to the side of the caravan (and often overshadowed by Maddy’s ‘Tits’) Ser Mercier’s mount — the cybernetic raptor, Stryker — wheels about, tail lashing, and makes for one of the vehicles.
“Ain’ nothin’ on scanners yet,” he tells folks over the radio, and ‘trots’ toward Kaji. “Hey, lighten up, son. You look like a beastman shat all over yo’ Christmas presents. It’ll all be fine, ya hear?” Ted grins.
Dalia’s taken to traveling with caravans, helping provide a bit of additional security and keeping the peace. Occasionally the Fennod Preacher enforces the law, tracking down escaped or wanted criminals for the Justicars and Armsmen who don’t have the time or abilities to go on a chase through the wilds.
The spindly grey skinned alien in the cowboy hat is strolling along the side of the Caravan with her loyal companion Krunch, singing softly as her eye stalks study the surrounding area with interest.
The leather clad alien seems to be in a good mood, grooving her way along the edges of the group to Krunch’s obvious amusement. The Whisker Coyote keeps making soft chortling sounds as he watches his mistress dance and the little hounds eyes go wide with delight when she starts to sing. “Oooh oooh Oooh oooh.” She pauses to kneel and scratches Krunch behind the ears. “You’re the cutest little thing I ever did see.” Dalia rises and makes her way along. “I really like your peaches, wanna shake your tree.” She hums content with the knowledge her favorite song isn’t likely to be overheard thanks to the music coming from the large mech thing. The alien is radiating peace and happiness to anyone open to feeling those two emotions though. After catching a look at Kaji’s face, Dalia sends a bigger dose of good will his way.
Elpida’s eyes light on the hat. A hat like that would be great for covering snakes!
She opens her mouth to say something but she stops herself at the last moment to stare at the spindly grey alien. She so wants a nice hat.
In any case, the gorgon has been walking along with Kaji, who invited her, and seeming mightily unfocused today. Easily distracted. Jumpy.
Sooooomebody hasn’t gotten enough sleep lately.
The convoy keeps going as Kaji and crew drop off. There might have been a look of relief on the caravan leaders face when he realised that Maddy was staying with this group and muttered something about not needing quite so many headache pills.
The robo jock is right though – who on earth would want to live here? The buildings are old, there’s vines and vegetation growing all over them and, in many cases, the walls are collapsing and crumbling. But what they do know is that Richmond is large and home to many unsavoury characters.
Given that Ted managed to pick the logo on the building from Cybillia’s mind, it’s a good bet that the one they’re looking for is still relatively in tact and not quite so overgrown. Like that one – over there.
That building, the sign writing faded till it’s almost not visible, has something that might resemble the drawing that Kaji made. It’s walls are still intact and the entrance rather large, certainly large enough for Tits to enter should Maddy want to. It might have been a warehouse or a factory at some point.
“I can be quiet!” Maddy replies to Kaji. “I can be quieter than…than…than something that is pretty quiet that you’d never expect me to be. Seriously, Knucklehead, all you have to do is ask and I can zip it up like a nun’s habit. Oooh…detour.” She raises the arm of her Tits in a wave to those in the caravan who continue on before turning her machine towards that building that so interests the others. The music is switched off before, “Is this it!!! Shit! Don’t need to yell anymore!!”
A couple of bangs of metal on metal before the cockpit lifts so that Maddy can squint down at the others in the flesh. “I can probably squeeze my Tits in there if you want, Knucklehead. Are you expected? Will they be happy to see you? Hey, Hair Net” A grin and a wave for Elpida. “Oh…and Ear-Mouth!”
“That…would probably be an entirely different expression, Ser Mercier,” Kaji informs him with a wry smirk. He sighs again, but at least it’s with less force, although more weariness. Maybe Dalia’s helping there. “Sorry, it’s just been…busy.” Well, more than that, but Ted for sure would know why, and Elpida’s at least aware of half of it since she’d been charged with the same task by the Justicars.
His head lifting, Kaji points at one of the buildings. “-that one. Yeah, that might be it. Does it look like what you saw, Ser Mercier?” he asks, glancing at Ted. There’s a brief look of relief as the music is turned off, although he winces just a little at the continued Maddy. Well, at least the mechpilot’s realized she doesn’t need to have her personal volume up anymore.
Ted zooms in with his helmet visor, and gives the lad a nod. “Aye, seems it. Now ah guess we found out if our ‘friend’ knew ah was fishin’ fo’ answers, an’ lied ta me about it…”
He hesitates; looks at Kaji.
“Ah’m sure it’s the right place.” The knight spins Stryker around and makes his way toward Elpida and Dalia. “Looks like this is the place. Ya’ll doin’ awlright? Hope ya went to the bathroom already — ain’ like we gon’ get much of a chance now. Look alive.” He frowns down at Krunch, the squid-faced little dog-ling in Dalia’s arms. “He, uh, awlright fo’ a venture like this, Preacher?”
Dalia waves at Maddy in an easy going manner. They’ve met before and the Fennod fortunately is rather hard to offend by nature. She even smiles as Krunch bounds up to nose around people’s feet. He’s learned they don’t always like being examined by his face tentacles. Poor little fellow can’t imagine why not though. The whisker coyote’s tail is wagging happily and he settles down next to Daila, snuffling til she picks him up.
Dalia looks Kaji over before resting a hand on the young human’s shoulder, silently offering strength and encouragement through the touch. The Fennod nods at Ted and smiles again. “He’ll be fine but thank you for asking Ser. He knows to mind himself in a place like this.”
On the other hand, Elpida has never seen a Fennod before. They look weird, even by the standards of a girl with snakes for hair. She takes a moment , rubs her eyes, yawns, and says to Kaji, “You know what I need? I need coffee.”
A nod is given towards the knight, though, “Right-o. SO, uh… now what?” she asks, a hand going to the back of her head.
The entrance to the building looms wide. It’s funny how it can seem almost inviting. Almost inviting – except for the way the shadows are being cast around.
As they look inside – the door to the building has long since been lost – it’s shadowy. The light from outside barely penetrates the area. What they think they can tell is that it’s one big area, no walls or separations. Certainly Kaji will think this was warehouse or storage facility at some time.
There’s no way of telling what else they might find without venturing in.
Maddy peers into the gloom and frowns. “This looks like a job for my sensors” she decides before pulling the cockpit closed with a loud ‘clang!’ and booting up her systems. A searchlight flickers on before boring into the darkness – hopefully. The light sweeping in a very limited arc. “So are we going in? I don’t think anyone’s home, Knucklehead. You sure you got the right address?”
“Hold on,” says Elpida, raising a hand.
Her snakes have alighted on something, several of them having lifted to stare in a particular direction. It’s the gorgon equivalent of the hairs on the back of one’s neck rising.
Her eyes dart towards the building and then she steps back, a hand going for the borrowed pistol at he r hip. “I… there’s three people in there, moving. Skulking! That’s the word. Skulking!”
Kaji wishes he had something more high tech than his phone, but even that he’s decided to leave back at Gran’s. The power’s too low to be any good that he’d rather save it while he can, at least until he gets an alternate charging source. Video recording hordes of zombies was a real drain.
He nods at Ted and then smiles briefly at Dalia, not quite sure what she’s done, but he knows she’s helped somehow. Then he starts towards the building in question. “Can’t be too sure. Besides, the last time we were looking for people you said your scanners had problems with concrete, right?” he says Maddy-wards as he stays off to the side. Walking directly into a building just sounds like a dumb idea, especially when you don’t know what’s in there. Kaji glances at Elpida. “Three? …if they’re skulking, then they know we’re here. …but then that wouldn’t have been that difficult to notice.”
Ted listens to Elpida and follows up with a nod of his head. Without gesturing, he replies: “Aye, picked up on the same movement. Just off to the right. Some’in goin’ on… Fan out. If you got stealth, use it — those of us used ta makin’ more noise (like the Mad One’s ‘Tits’)… we’ll manage.”
Ted looks back at Kaji then. “Hope you brought some… paper dolls or some’in, son…be careful.” After that, Ted’s mount braces on its powerful rear legs, snakes his head from side to side… and launches itself straight up. Stryker’s wings fan out at the apex of his leap, and he glides slowly down toward the building. Ted reaches for his Rune-rifle (courtesy of Sterling of course) and takes aim at the building’s windows below.
Dalia turns her concern from her companions mental state to their surroundings. She tries her best to only use her psychic gifts for healing, or during her Preacher’s duties and she’s hesitant to simply cast her awareness out through the forest for that reason as well as because this area is known to be frequented by demons. Such an action might just draw their attention.
As the Fennod’s eye stalks focus on the building however, she freezes in places for a moment before shifting Krunch to a one-armed hold, and reaching to stop Kaji for a moment. “Yes. I can see three heat signatures moving from the right side of the building to the left.” The Alien bends to set down Krunch. He knows what to do in the event of a fight. Also what not to do. It isn’t his first rodeo. Dalia herself decides to stay near Kaji as they move forward.
Heat signatures means ‘not dead’ right? But don’t necessarily mean ‘human’ or ‘people’ unless ‘people’ is used in a very loose way.
Stryker couldn’t have come at a better time. There’s an almighty screech and three creatures come at the group – fast, very fast. Maddy’s meagre light catches them – revealing things out of someones nightmare – they must be 9 feet tall at least, long arms and legs and wings, leathery wings… and they’re making a beeline for Kaji.
Is that all of them? Just … three?
“Umm…are these the people you want to meet, Knucklehead? I wouldn’t want to meet them” Maddy offers as her rail gun charges up and the flamethrower ticks into life. She doesn’t fire though. As far as she knows these are the things that Kaji came to meet. Maddy doesn’t pass judgement on what people look like…just gives them nicknames based on it.
Somehow…he doubts that paper dolls would do much against those. Kaji gasps as the things emerge, nearly stepping back into Dalia. Thrusting a hand into one of his coat pockets, he pulls out a pad of sticky notes.
“No! Nope, nope, nope!” he sputters, even as he tugs a few of the topmost slips from the rest of the pad. If someone’s sent these things as a welcoming committee, then he doubts the welcomes are meant to be warm. Which prompts an almost manic grin from him as he flings the sticky note’s he’s separated, and in turn they fly off individually to try finding purchase on whichever’s closest. He’ll just have to provide the ‘warm’ part…
Close look at the chartreuse sheets would reveal they have something scrawled in black marker, Kanji characters that while most here probably couldn’t read, they might at least look neat. Also, they catch fire. Or they’re meant to, once they attach themselves.
“Blessed minions o’ Tzob!” Ted exclaims over the radio — referencing a dimension he remembers dourly, but one that holds a special place in his ward’s heart. Not that Ted’s ever been there — he’s just seen what comes out of there.
Foregoing the chance to just take a shot at the three creatures, Ted reacts with something more instinctive — and extends a hand down at the ground below. Summoning his pyrokinetic abilities, he attempts to put a wall of flames in between the creatures and Kaji… so hopefully they’ll either give up (optimistic, to be sure) or scorch themselves in the attempt. “Up’n at ’em!” he tells the convoy.
One of Dalia’s eyestalks is focused on Maddy in disbelief, the other on the fast approaching creatures as she steps around Kaji, then ducks and rolls forward through Ted’s fire while managing to grab Krunch firmly with both hands. The Preacher comes up in a defensive stance, hurling the balled up whisker coyote with all her strength right into the face of the closest creature.
Without pausing Dalia darts forward making good use of her alien eyes to take in everything that is happening. She throws her arms up, hands open to catch her makeshift dog ball whether or not he distracts or does enough damage to the creature to send it crashing into a tree instead of one of her companions. Dalia doesn’t want him getting torn apart if he hangs on too long.
Those are definitely visions of monsters. The snakes go up in alarm and then in every direction, giving her an even more menacing appearance.. though probably not menacing at all compared to the horrifying creatures that’ve just began showing up.
On the other hand, she is immediately trying to put herself between them and Kaji, since they’re on their way to him.
And just like that, all hell breaks lose. Maddy’s flamethrower has a lick of flame emitting from the nozzle and the creatures scramble, walk their across to the budding necromancer.
Post-it notes paper the nearest creature and start to smoke … and that’s it. Maybe Kaji needs to practice that a little more because that’s less than impressive, really. Good thing, Ted and Dalia are on the job though! Krunch hits one of the three fair in the face causing it to spin and look at the Titan, screaming even more loudly as it decides Tits makes a better target.
A wall of flame flares to life, but not before the bepapered creature makes it through to be faced down by the Fennod and the Gorgon.
There’s a sound to the side of Kaji, Dalia won’t notice it given how she’s engaged at the moment. A scuff of feet – it’s all the notice he gets before a hand closes on his sleeve.
Okay, they’re definitely not Kaji’s friends. So that’s a tick for Kaji at least. The flamethrower roars to life. Billowing flame enveloping the creature as some of its flesh…does it have flesh…catches alight. “I don’t think you can stand the heat!” she yells at the creature. “You thought you were on fire before, well you are now!” Someone’s trying out catchphrases. “Umm…enjoy the barbecue, I guess you didn’t realise you were the main course.”
Note to self, stick to paper airplanes. Kaji stares as flames erupt in front of him, although not of his own conjuring. Well, someone’s provided the warm part of this welcome.
What surprises him more is when Dalia dives forward with her…pet? And uses it as a weapon. He hadn’t been quite sure of what sort of skills the Fennod was going to bring to the table, but he sure hadn’t expected the employment of the doglike creature.
With everything erupting practically all at once, he nearly doesn’t notice that someone’s gotten around him. Kaji barely hears the sound for all the noise before he turns, just when his sleeve gets grasped. “-?” He draws a sharp breath, tugging back out of reflex.
As the first of the creatures charges through the wall of fire, Ted brings Stryker around in a wide, downward spiral, and takes aim with his rune-rifle. “Ain’ never seen the like o’ these uglies before,” says he as he prepares his shot. “Ah’ma goin’ fo’ the injured one. Hell, Preacher — what’dja do with that… dog o’ yourn?”
Then he shoots.
A roar erupts from the wing-ed, nine-foot beast, only to be abruptly cut short as a mana-infused bullet penetrates the back of its skull, emerging from its maw. The creature skids to a halt, driving a gouge in the ground… and stops at the front of the convoy, smoldering.
Dalia catches Krunch and sets him down away from the wall of fire quickly before turning to grapple with her creature hoping to shove it directly into the flames but not quite managing. “He’ll be fine!” She calls out to the Cyberknight, unsure for the moment if she can say the same for herself. The creature is a bit stronger than she’d expected and it’s just not budging.
“Umm. Little help here?” The Preacher calls out in alarm. She will not use any of her psychic gifts in a fight like this. Its so abhorrent it doesn’t even occur to the alien. The Fennod is less of a pacifist than most of her kind but some lines even she won’t ever cross.
Hearing Dalia’s call for help, Elpida turns her attention towards the other very-strange-looking indiviual and dashes towards her. Kaji’s situation seems handled for the moment, so she moves to help. Her longer snakes hiss and rise up, floating about her head as she throws herself into the nine foot tall monster’s bulk with impressive strength. Her shoiulder hits its midsection and she sends it staggering back into the wall of flame that erupted.
“HA,” she says.
LOOK WHAT I DID, says that ‘ha’.
Then she remembers to draw her pistol.
That’s one down, thanks to Teddy and Maddy. And one in the wall of flame thanks to Elpida and Dalia, not that it’s staying there for long but it buys them a moment of time to … do something. They can see it starting to advance, admittedly its wings are alight and the rest of its body is smoldering.
The one that’s behind the wall of fire doesn’t stop either, launching itself in the air at Ted and Stryker. It gives both the Cyberknight and Maddy a line on it for a brief amount of time.
“Call your friends off my pets … ” comes a voice a cold as the grave in Kaji’s ear. His flinch letting his sleeve slip through the newcomers hand but he can feel them try again, fingers attempting to close tightly on his arm.
Kaji freezes when he hears someone speak to him then, causing enough of a hesitation that his hand is arm’s caught. He looks back at the woman standing behind him, brow furrowed. “Wh…your pets??” he blinks, glancing back towards the fray and the fire. He’s got such an awesome party and he’s not sorry. Wait.
“Maybe you should call them off first,” he says when he looks back at the woman, frowning.
Maddy scans the battlefield for only a moment before spotting the leaping creature. Her reflexes honed by years of combat that she can barely remember but thankfully her muscles do. The rail gun whirrs into life and fires molten shards of metal into the giant beast – shredding it. “Woo-hoo!!” she cries out over her speakers. “That one really fell to pieces.” A pause. “I don’t think it liked my cutting remarks.” The sound of fingers tapping on her mic. “Is this thing on?” Tits swings around at the waist to search out more targets.
Ted sees the creature winging its way toward him, and… whistles in response. Shouldering his rifle, he raises a hand and causes himself and his mount to burst into flame.
Then he charges straight at the beast, playing ‘chicken’… except one of them is a ball of flame. “Come ‘n get it, ugly…”
Dalia turns to check on Kaji and quickly moves to grab his free hand when she realizes he isn’t alone. Sensing her unease, Krunch bounds over from where he’d been gnawing at one of the creature’s feet and gives the stranger a whiskery growl. His tail is not wagging for once.
“Can I help you?” The Preacher asks in a polite voice. “I do not think my young friend here can, so please let him go.” Despite her sincere tone it doesn’t really sound like begging. More of a very very firm suggestion.
“Call them BACK or I swear to God I am going to turn them into BLOODY STATUES,” yells Elpida in a fit of pique. She’s not happy with being attacked herself, let alone with her friends and colleagues and random assortment of people she kinda only sorta knows being attacked.
“DO IT NOW.”
The grasp on Kaji’s arm doesn’t lessen, if anything as Maddy and Ted destroy the second one, it tightens painfully and she glares at the others balefully. She hisses something at the one on fire, the noise she makes should feel like nails down a chalk board and be extremely disconcerting for most there.
The smoldering creature stalks back towards the building, the woman hissing again and the fire on its wings extinguishing.
“There… ” her grip doesn’t loosen though “… now why are you looking for us?” That’s interesting… perhaps this is who Kaji’s come to find.
Whoops. Well, that would be one less to be called off, although the woman’s response isn’t completely unexpected as her grip tightens. Kaji winces, cringing at the noise that somehow comes out of her mouth. Whatever it was, it seems she’s taken his suggestion over her’s. But then thoroughly obliterating one of her so-called pets sure sends a message.
Swallowing, Kaji tries to maintain some control as he looks back at her. “Depends on who the ‘us’ is…” He clears his throat, trying experimentally to pull away from her grasp again, although not as roughly. “We hadn’t come looking for a fight, so I’m sorry about your pets. But I think the response is only to be expected when things looking like that come charging at you.”
Dalia considers her options. The Preacher stays right at Kaji’s side and even takes a half step in front of him. Krunch moves around to the other side of the young Necromancer and makes a rude noise up at the woman. Dalia frowns. “Krunch! Behave.” The whisker coyote sits obediently but conveniently on Kaji’s feet. To make it more difficult for someone trying to drag him away hopefully.
Also he’s trying to be reassuring! The poor little guy knows his appearance freaks people out sometimes and Kaji seems nice. The kinda nice that might sneak him treats under the table later if he plays his cards right. He deserves treats after being a dog ball.
It is a common misnomer that snakes are deaf. They have a manner of hearing, to be honest, though it’s mostly in sensing the vibrations that are produced by sound with their skulls. Needless to say, the awful sound makes them all hiss in turn. That is a lot — a LOT – of hissing. Elpida’s hands go up to her own ears instinctively, though.
Right now, she kinda WISHES she was deaf. Euuggh. That’s an awful sound.
“You were about to enter, they were only doing they’re job.” The hissing has stopped now as her ‘pet’ disappears into the building. She doesn’t look impressed at any of this.
“I believe you were looking for a mentor…” She’s … been talking to someone. “… if that’s true, come inside…” she looks around and “With your friends if you must. We can talk more readily there…”
Following up on the information Ted Mercier found out at the bar, Kaji and company head out to Old Richmond in search of the location of a potential necromancer suspect.
April 14, 2410