Trail of Tears: The Rescue Chapter 1
Rihko's absolutely certain her brother would have come directly to the meeting place if he was able, and that makes it quite clear that something between where they are, and Austin, stopped him. One main highway heads south directly to Austin, straight through Oklahoma City and Dallas, leaving three possible places he may have been held up.
Rihko has gotten herself back under control, and after the group's rest break and impromptu meeting was over and the others had made certain they wanted to come with her, she gets on their bus and takes it south. The kitsune is agitated at first, but she calms as she falls into something of a driving trance, stopping every hour or so to check road signs and nearby landmarks for signs her brother may have passed this way.
Darkwyrm does not at first seem to be comfortable heading into dangerous territory to search for a single person, but he remains quiet, sitting towards the back of the bus, and carefully watching what he can of the horizon through the window available to him.
Taggart sits in the seat flanking and behind Rihko, quiet, his eyes on the road outside of the front of the bus. The man looks at his mate every so often, obviously a bit worried, but confident she will speak if needed. Otherwise, he is quiet and flips through the pages of his journal, making a note here and there.
The vehicle takes a long route wide around the large city, avoiding the inner areas and the unknown of OKC's bubble. They eventually loop back to 35 and head south on the long route. There's a strange vine, looking like kudzu on the side of the highway when they creep closer to the city, and the smell that comes in is almost of the pungent jungle. The further they get south, the more distant the smell, and the more desolate it grows. Flat, boring, no hills, rare trees.
Cygnus shivers gently, the dark bunny leaning back in her seat, trying to get comfortable with the rumble of the engine. She takes a glance over at her mirrors as they pass the vines, her feet and arms poised to move to some creative driving if need be.
Haley looks fast asleep, but a sharper eye can tell the dragoness is constantly watching the road from the passenger seat next to her adoptive mother.
Solixis nervously watches from her post as the gunner of Cygnus's humvee, getting agitated at the overgrowth of OKC, and the subsequent desolation of southern OK. She keeps a steady eye on the horizon and other forms of cover. She's not used to anything heavier than a rifle, but she at least knows how to aim a gun. The drive south shows no sign of human activity as of recent, no sign of Rihko's brother. An hour and a half south, near the Texas border, the fading gold of the most hideously large casino structure is visible on the side of the road, still lit up and shining, advertising to all to come get away from the world.
"What? How can that place possibly still be powered?", Dark growls as he presses his snout against the window. "Don't s'pose your brother'd be daft enough to wander in there?", he calls up towards the front of the bus.
Taggart rests his arms out on the barrier between himself and the stairs out of the bus, a rolled cigarette hanging loosely between a pair of fingers. He takes a puff on it and then blows the smoke out an open window, tossing the rest of it out after the smoke. He frowns at Dark's suggestion, but looks to Rihko for her answer.
Rihko watches, then shrugs. "No. He's survived this long. But we may as well check the road signs, see if he came by this way and left any marks." Her ears twitch, and she pulls the bus off the road, eyes scanning for a good spot to park on the side of the road, and signs of anyone that might be waiting.
There's a cruddy green road sign announcing the only exit here being the casino, graffiti on it looking ancient, and then a big message scrawled over it in black spray-paint saying, "All welcome to the End of the World." And a big black splotch covering the bottom right corner, as if something had been painted over.
Solixis shakes her head, calling to Cygnus. "I think we're stopping. I'm honestly surprised this place still has power, but that's not important. Rihko's stopping. I hope she has some idea of where to go next. This whole drive has put me a little on edge."
"Whatta we lookin' for anyway?", Dark asks as he regards the sign, standing out of his seat slightly to get a good look at it. "Is your brother human, or mutated, or what? I've no idea what we're lookin' for other than 'Rihko's brother'."
Rihko shuts the bus off and gets out of the driver's seat, pausing a moment to stretch. She slips the keys into her pockets, zips up her jacket, and does a quick patdown of her pockets to check that she has everything. The kitsune gives Darkwyrm a little nod. "Still human. If you've seen me human around the pub, there's a definite family resemblance. Asian male, about five and a half feet tall, black hair, blue eyes." She slips off of the bus, and walks up to the sign, stopping to peer at it and the building behind it. "Huh. Mmmm.... shit."
Cygnus watches the bus in front of her, her eyes drifting to the casino every so often as they near it. She looks back at the others for a moment before she grabs the com, calling out to the others ahead "Any plans on checking that place out over there? It looks like it’s still running." She sends, turning an ear to Solixis "Yeah, I think we may be... I'll wait for their word.... and yeah, this is really starting to wear on me." She says, sucking on one of her fangs.
Taggart mumbles gently, glancing back at Darkwyrm. "'e's Japanese." The man stands as well and looks out the front of the bus, then the side and follows his mate out the side of the bus, his AUG coming along with. He slips in a free clip and lets the first round slide into the chamber, keeping the safety on before he lets it hang loosely off the front of his SWAT vest.
Darkwyrm pats his weapon at his side and winds his way out of the bus. He walks up towards the sign to inspect it closely and paces around a little bit, looking for footprints or any other sign of recent activity.
Darkwyrm's focused on too many things, hardly noticing he's left his own trail that's making it hard to distinguish between prior activity, not that there was much on the wind swept plains. A heavy wind and hot sun beat down, making it harder yet to see. But the sign itself, the black splotch in the corner is almost fresh, at most a few days old.
Taggart sucks on a tooth as he waits for the rest of the group to unload with them. He lifts his head and sniffs at the air, trying to catch the scents on the wind while peering over at the casino for signs of movement outside. Raising up his rifle, he peers down the scope, sighting and spotting ahead at the building.
Cygnus waits for a moment before shutting the truck down, all the while keeping her eyes on the others and her ears on a swivel. She clutches one of her many necklaces and shudders, muttering lightly as she climbs out of the humvee. Aside from all the obvious tension, Cyg looks surprisingly calm, the humid air and hot sun putting her at a bit of ease as she gathers with the others.
Both Rihko and Taggart can smell the overwhelming smell of pain from inside. Many people, crying out for death. It's hard not to feel it calling inside, touching at the Hunger.
Haley stretches as she gets out, following beside Cyg, an odd smile on her face, a tinge of deviousness to it, she seems almost the total opposite of the shy girl back at the pub.
Rihko snorts, then turns and waves to the others. "Right, someone was through here recently. Might have been him, might not have; I'm going to go up and knock on the door, take a look. If he's been on foot, he might have just been slow..." she says, although she doesn't sound too sure of it. "Keep your eyes open." She turns, then, and starts crossing the parking lot towards the casino; after a few steps her pace falters and her ears go stiff, folding back, but she gives herself a shake and continues on towards it. Her shoulders tense, and she keeps a wary eye on her destination.
Solixis collects her Bardiche from the side of the humvee before making sure the humvee's gun is locked up. She hops down and joins Cygnus and Haley, checking her senses for signs of life. She then notices Rihko's ears go flat. "Not good." She rushes to catch up with the group.
"That's all fine and good, but might I recommend we try to find a less conspicuous entrance?", Darkwyrm asks, casting a glowering glance to the building. "There should be some back entrances where they brought out the trash and whatnot."
Taggart shakes his head and skips a bit to catch up with his mate, then falters in his own step as well with a twitch of his eye. The Irishman shakes it off, scowling, "Rihko... slow up, then." Sucking on a tooth, his hands grip his AUG loosely, but keep it ready to bring up, if needed.
Rihko stops. Her tails writhe behind her, and she doesn't look away from the building, but this still lets her turn her head a little; there is a lot of building. "You think so too?" she asks. "I don't like this place. I do not like it at all... getting a pretty horrible feeling from it. Thought I'd still give them the chance to play along and not just start burning everything..." she trails off, and her nose wrinkles. "Wouldn't be surprised if the side entrances were sealed off. But we can check."
The place is definitely its own bubble, and it's strong, growing intensely so as they grow closer. Like point zero, the density one can almost taste. The place is in surprisingly good repair, full lighting, the front entrance more than welcoming to visitors. However, the sign has been altered from its old slogan of "The World Casino" to "The End of the World Casino." Much of the architecture once, little more than facade has been altered into full structures, the coliseum reproduced in fine detail, and the leaning tower very much leaning.
Cygnus shudders quite violently actually, her back giving an audible pop. She gazes back at the others for a moment and starts padding forward, stopping as soon as Taggart heads towards the kitsune, still seeming ready to spring at a moment’s notice "I really don't like the look of this... Something about it screams wrong." The bunny says, her nose twitching as her ears lay back.
Taggart nods just a bit, "Well... least we know it ain't a friendly place when we're knockin', then." The man sighs once and brings his fingers up to brush bangs back over his scalp. "Let's make a quick plan'n'get everyone up ta speed, luv. Flyin' by tha seat with this many people ain't smart." He looks back to the group outside of the bus, then back to his mate again.
"I would highly recommend it.", Dark says through gritted teeth as he follows closely behind. "Assumin' this place is a trap, they'd be expectin' their hapless victims to waltz through the front door." His hand grips the pommel of his dagger tightly.
Solixis blinks, surprised that the structures are full She catches up to Taggart and Rihko. "So, do we have a plan of action? This place is putting me on edge, much like last time I went outside the bubble with you guys." She shivers. "And I felt it. There's a bubble here."
Rihko lets her ears go flat a moment, then nods her head. "Aye. Right." She eyes the building a moment, then turns to Taggart. "I had kinda planned on walking up, kicking it, and seeing what fell out. Then when I was done beating people up, asking them if they've seen my brother." She gives the group a little grin. "But that's probably my mood making the decision for me. Feeling a tad belligerent. How about..." she trails off, then glances around at the small group. "This place is huge. So let's not get split up. We stick together, watch each other’s backs. We'll go down the service lane of the parking lot, find the side entrance, and sneak in from there. Don't try to force a fire door; if they've got power, they've got the fire alarms up and running."
There's three obvious ways in, two main entrances and a public exit, all wide open. Six different staff entrances, including two large truck loading bays dot the structures. Some of them are completely sealed over, almost as if the building healed itself, the metal doors having become a part of the structure. A few doors may be able to be broken down, or picked.
Rihko makes her way back to the bus and retrieves her satchel bag, along with the tools and parts and goodies it contains; she checks her knife and her pistol, then, baring objections, she leads the group towards one of the staff entrances that hasn't been healed over by the building. Her fur along her neck and shoulders rises with mounting dread, but she keeps it in check, and the rest of her demeanor is calm and in control.
Taggart scratches at the scruff on his cheek a bit as he mulls over the options, his observations being made to the group as a whole. "If tha place is a trap, then tha people inside know that anyone left alive at this point is gonna know it's a trap. So, tha idea of avoidin' tha front is jus' as moot as the idea of goin' in tha sides. If tha place is fixed up this well, every entrance is gonna be defended'er'watched, so no sense in tryin' that either. Best we can do, is jus' go in prepared."
Cygnus nods to the others a smirks as Rihko speaks, the bunny biting her bottom lip as she thinks, "Soli's right about the bubble... I feel it as well. It's probably best we check our weapons quick."
Haley takes out her pistol and tosses it to Cyg "Were you able to get my sword fixed before we left?"
Solixis nods at Taggart's comment, gripping the haft of her polearm a little tighter, glad to have the weapon in her hands. She's also a little thankful for the bubble, given that some of her functions are back online. She tenses, ready for action.
Darkwyrm starts looking over the various choices they have for possible entrances. "Hmm.. well, looks like our best bet is seeing if one of these staff doors are open.. unless we have a good way of -quietly- breaking open one of those cargo bays.. I doubt those'd be guarded."
Closer inspection shows one of the doors has been broken into before, and then fixed, the door handle sealed shut.
Rihko gives Darkwyrm a grin. "Depends on how well it's locked," she says. She wanders up to the door, and considers it for a moment; the kitsune puts her paws on it, gently pressing to get a feel for how solid it is, how it's connected to the building, setting her ear against it for a moment to listen at the other side.
Taggart clears his throat and points at the mended door, "I'd like ta point out me last ponderin's.... they know this buildin'. They know tha ways in and out. Stealth's moot at this point." The Irishman looks up and about, trying to look for the usual sort of hanging camera or large, black-glass dome hanging about that signals a 'hidden' one.
Cygnus nods, unstrapping the dragoness's sword as she catches the pistol, giving it a quick eval. She passes both the weapons back to Haley and flips her rifle up to her shoulder, charging a round into the breach. She steps up next to Rihko and swivels her ears about, her eyes flitting this way and that as Taggart speaks. The original locations of camera's are fairly easy to spot, all long since have been removed, only the base, and the occasional loose cables showing, many of them masonry having 'healed' over them, the wires embedded inside the concrete block.
Rihko finds the normally locked door, to be that, a simple metal door, lacking even a deadbolt, should be fairly easy to shoulder through.
Haley takes her sword "Oh how I've missed this," she puts her pistol back in her holster "thanks."
Solixis keeps an eye back towards the road and the cars, scared for what could happen. She's seen some freaky stuff and this place isn't giving her any reassurance.
Darkwyrm slides his dagger out of its sheath and holds it at his side. "Well, in the offchance they aren't alert to our presence, it will be worth catching a few of them off-guard or getting a good view of the interior before we end up fighting something."
Rihko steps back from the door, and stares at it, obviously doing some heavy, heavy pondering. She licks her teeth and her tails writhe, agitated, and she finally nods her head. "Right. If I were something nasty, though, I'd have the lobby fortified; a killing pit, or at best some place that was heavily in my advantage. As tempting as it is to just walk in the front door and pretend to dance to their tune until we get what we want... I think this way will work better." She pauses, and gives Taggart a serious look. "Watch my back, love. I'll go in first, Dark, you're next, we'll take the sentries fast and quiet if they're there. Then the rest of us. Cygnus, make sure nothing traps us inside; we want to be able to run if we have to." She slips her own knife out of its sheath, then walks up to the door, leans into it, and pushes.
Taggart smacks his tongue against the roof of his mouth a few times, as if tasting something unpleasant, then sucks on a canine tooth. He looks back to the door in front of them with a soft sigh, shaking his head. "Danno... don't like tha idea of a livin' buildin'. Bloody fuckin' nanites." He rolls his shoulders a bit and nods at the door. "Lessgo, then."
The door lock pops, and the door swings wide, the back areas of the food preparation area, kitchens that go wide. There's the potent smell of food wafting, fresh and warm. No people, at all, but food in mid preparation sits on the stoves.
Cygnus gives a firm nod and watches as Rihko pushes through, waiting for the others to move in before making her move inside the room, the smell of fresh food catching her slightly off guard but nothing too much to throw her off caution.
Darkwyrm nods an affirmative to Rihko and licks his lips in anticipation. "My dagger's gonna feast today.. I can just feel it.", he murmurs.
Solixis flicks a catch on Bardiche, the nanites humming as the temperature around the weapon noticeably drops. She approaches the doorway last, protecting the rear of the group.
Rihko slips into the kitchen, nose twitching at the smell; she doesn't let herself be distracted by the food, though, gaze sweeping the room for signs of life, for people. Her ears perk, twitching, and she moves a few steps further into the room, looking around. When it becomes apparent that there is nobody at all, she frowns, and does a second sweep of the room with her eyes; this time she's looking for dirty dishes, used knives, food on a counter... the normal detritus of a kitchen in use.
Haley starts to move forward, pistol in hand, sword strapped to her back, hanging back towards the rear with Sol and Cyg.
Taggart slips in behind Rihko, barrel of his rifle slanted just an inch down at the ground while the rest of it sets against his shoulder in tactical movement position. He peers about with his green eyes, sniffing about for the food akin to -his- appetite, than that of any hungry survivor. The man also frowns, though, at the lack of inhabitants.
Darkwyrm follows closely behind Rihko, his eyes as alert as hers. His tall ears perked straight up, listening for any signs of danger. His knuckles are white from clenching his weapon's pommel tightly. His steps make hardly a sound against the tiled floor, only his coat makes a slight rustle when he moves. The sounds of laughter and voices can be heard in the distance, a few rooms away. There's no signs of people, no... scents, beyond that of the Hunger. Further still, are the sounds of slot machines, and other friendly casino games.
Cygnus lets her gaze sweep around the room, her ears actively swinging. She doesn't want to let the thought cross her mind, but being the bunny with the over-active imagination, and things being as they are, she gives a moment, still watching the door "I don't like this... A seemingly living building with fresh food, and no one around... The building could be luring us." Her ears seem to perk higher at the sound of laughter and play, giving a bit of reinforcement to her idea, at least for her anyway "And that doesn’t help this place either..."
Rihko flicks her ears, and glances around. The place looked right... sounded right... but it certainly didn't feel right. She nods her head. "It is. Stay on your guard." The kitsune raises her paw and her fur shimmers for a moment, sparks raising off of her fur and coalescing above her paw as she calls a wisp of flame to her. She settles her shoulders, then, and moves up to the kitchen's doors, peeking through at the room beyond.
A service hallway beyond, leading to banquet hall, a restaurant, hotel rooms up an elevator, and to the main casino room. Signs pointing the way to each make it quite helpful.
Taggart growls gently and drops his rifle from the ready position, shaking his head. "Aaahhh... fuck it." He glances around a bit and frowns again, but takes up his rifle again as his mate heads to the door. His teeth clench tight and he shakes his head, looking into the hall with her through an opposing window.
Solixis follows the group inside the building, keeping an eye on the exit. She tries to find a way to lodge the door open so that they might have a manner of egress later. She shivers again.
Darkwyrm frowns at the seemingly helpful signs pointing the way. "Well, none of these places seem particularly appetizing to go to.", he whispers.
Still no people... still nobody to stop and question. Rihko looks over at Taggart, and her ears flick, before she pushes open the service door and slips into the hallway. Her ears twitch, tracking the sounds of people. "What are you thinking, hun?"
Solixis finds the door slightly sticky and warm to the touch, as she props it open with a broom from a nearby utility closet. The place still empty, the food continues to cook away, the scents potent. Truly a feast, expensive even before the outbreak.
Taggart clears his throat and shakes his head, "Danno, yet. Ya think yer brother might come in fer supplies er summat?" The man looks to his mate, then back around at the various ways to go. "Person'lly, I'd like ta avoid the place much as we can." He frowns, then, and moves to a wall, placing his hand on it carefully. Emerald eyes dart back and forth and then he closes his eyes and takes in a breath. The flesh of his hand pressed to the wall, a few centimeters worth of his hand becomes a deep red goo and seems to melt against the wall just a bit.
Rihko frowns. "He might have. Paint was fresh, and he was heading this way. He's survived this long, I don't think he'd fall for anything obvious..." she hrms, absently running the fingers of her empty paw across her stomach, "but I'd like to be sure." She watches her mate's experiment, and then raises her eyebrows.
"Well, any votes as to which door we take?", Dark asks, looking between the various destinations. He looks back over his shoulder and peers at Taggart, one of his brows raised. "Th' fuck is wrong with your hand?", he rasps at him.
The wall ripples in response, like it shivers at the touch. A hole opening, as if it's trying to get away. Blackness leeching out from Taggart into the structure itself. Like black veins moving, they shoot outward, and there's a deep painful cry, followed by a snap as the door closes shut around the broom, the broom still embedded in the new smooth surface.
Solixis spits on her hand to try to get rid of the stickiness. She quickly rejoins the group, keeping an eye on the way they came in. "What in the... FUCK. It knows we're here and is trying to trap us. We can't go back the way we came." Her tails glow visibly brighter in her stress.
Cygnus moves to put herself between Soli and the rest of the group as Haley raises her pistol back to attention. The dark bunny watches her mate closely, catching a glimpse of Taggart's experiment, cocking an eyebrow. Her nose goes back to the cooking food, eliciting a growl from her before the motion of the building catches her full attention, eyes flaring bright orange and small flames flickering along her arms.
Taggart twitches his head to the side at the painful cry, pulling his hand from the surface of the wall quickly with a hiss through clenched teeth. His emerald eyes shut tight and he groans, swallowing and breathing long and slow. "Lots... aye... alive. Like... tha mass we fought fer Selene."
"Someone care to fill me in?", Dark asks, looking curiously at the wall and poking at it with the tip of his blade. "Are you sayin' the building's alive?"
Solixis gives Darkwyrm a rolled-eye stare. "Alive? Certainly. The door is GONE." She emphasizes the broom sticking out of the wall. "Tried to keep it open." She nods to Taggart. "Just like Portland. Probably as malevolent."
The black veins continue to dig slowly outward into the building, the 'wound' closing shortly afterward but still looks black and rotten, the building itself sloughing off on occasion. The building wails again, and the stoves begin to rattle, as pots on them boil heavily, the flames on the stoves coming alive and hot.
"Seems so," Rihko says. She glances back at the place that used to be the door they had come through, then over the others, and then to Taggart. She watches her mate a moment, then sighs. "Bloody hell. Fuck. I swear, we're not going to find Tatsu at a kind elderly grandmother's house... going to be in some fucking hell pit." She sighs. "Let's move." She sets off down the hallway, heading towards the main floor.
Taggart straightens up and seems to gather his bearings as the kitchen starts to heat up and go ballistic. He grunts and waves everyone through and into the hallway after Rihko, following up behind with his rifle. "Well... place don't like me, that's fer sure. Sappose I jus'ave one of them personalities. Take it as a good thing. It'll try ta kill me first." He gives a gentle chuckle as he calls after the group.
The boiling pots splash out, fire bursting at the group like a flamethrower, while boiling water is thrown at them. The wall itself striking at Taggart directly. Hot water splashes against Darkwyrm, sizzling at his fur, while Solixis is singed by flames. Rihko's tails are singed as she dodges, prepared. Cygnus rumbles and ushers Solixis past her quickly, watching Haley push on ahead of her as she keeps up on the rear. "Mmmm... Today is /not/ a good day to piss me off." Cygnus utters, mostly towards the building itself.
"Ow! Fuckfuckfuck.", Dark snarls, recoiling from the burns and quickly shielding himself with his coat. He rolls away from the source, clutching his arm, which is scalded in several places, leaving nasty welts.
Foxheart's fur is set ablaze, rather severely, boiling hot water also hitting her in the face.
Rihko growls, her tails lashing as the flame licks at her; she quickly moves further down the hallway and towards the main casino floor, seeking a larger, open room. Her wisp moves ahead of her, hungry, hungry licks of flame occaisonally licking at the hallway ceiling as her cursed fox-fire tries to find something to eat while Rihko's attention is split. "Come on, let's move!"
Taggart is propelled backwards against the opposing wall, crunching against it. The Irishman simply "Ooofs!" and slumps against the ground, pulling himself up with a growl in his throat and chest. "Get movin'!" He flips the safety off on his rifle and lets a few rounds loose into the ceiling, trying to draw attention.
Foxheart flails around wildly, stumbling in the general direction of Taggart's rifle, a burning paw clasped to her eyes as she screams in agony. Barely able to walk, her tails fan out behind her and try to pat the fires out.
Cygnus flips a wing up to shield herself, grabbing Taggart's upper arm with a free hand before hoisting the Irishman back up to his feet, firing a few spurts back to the kitchen. Without missing a beat, she wraps around Foxheart and holds her close to herself, pressing forward with the wounded kitsune in her wings embrace.
Solixis yelps, putting out the fire quickly as she runs towards the bulk of the group. Her own tails are no longer glowing, and instead are on fire, as though the foxfire from her days as a kitsune has returned. "Fire. Why fire?" She shakes her head. "Got to keep moving."
Taggart growls and shakes his arm loose from Cygnus, "Git, ya daft fool. After Rihko!" The man seems content to staying where he is, firing a shot here and there until the rest of the group is past and down the hall.
Darkwyrm scrambles to his feet, snatching up his weapon and beats into a run after Rihko, eager to get away from hell's kitchen. However, he skids to a halt when he hears the scream and turns around to assist Cygnus. "'Ere, gimme Fox.", he earnestly insists, trying to ease some of Cyg's burden. He hoists Foxheart's arm over his shoulder and starts to drag her out.
The hallway walls twist and shimmer, almost like a throat closing around them. Rihko's direction taking them to the large casino area, where slots are playing themselves, loud and fantastical with a large stage. Music is playing like a live band, but nobody is there. And then the song stops, just long enough to hear a voice, a boy's voice. "Help, help me Mama." Quite young. Before it's bleed out by the tune again.
Cygnus passes Foxheart off, helping to hoist her over Dark's shoulder, the dragoness in front of her letting out a roar and firing a few shots at the walls as the group rushes onward.
Foxheart wills the flames to go out, replacing them with the burning intensity of her own purple flares before they die out, the kitsune wresting her arms free. "I'm fine, both of you. Just the shock of the pain." She still has one eye squeezed shut as the sensitive tissue starts to mend slowly. She looks around her new surroundings, ears twitching at the music.
Rihko comes to a stop inside the floor room, eyes darting as she scans for threats. Of course... the whole building is a damned threat... she shifts the grip of her knife, and then looks around at the others. "Right." She pauses, then calls out louder. "Right! Listen here, you! Give up anyone you've got captive, or things will get unpleasant!" She looks around then at the others. "Any of you have a good way of finding, say, the center of a bubble?"
Darkwyrm seems to get a glint in his eye as he looks at the writhing walls and Rihko's reaction to the building. ".... how exactly is this building powered?", he asks, suddenly very interested.
Solixis shakes her head at Rihko, frowning. "Not me. Got a few ways of surviving bubbles, but no tracking." She looks around for the source of the voice.
The walls of the hallway attempt again to get at Taggart, but flinch back as they come into contact with his flesh. The music turns into an ear splitting screach, high pitched and awful to sensitive ears. When it finally softens, the music does not return.
Taggart makes his way after the group as they all circle in the larger room. He's growling gently, eyes darting around constantly, shaking his head. "Not without bloody goin' swimmin' and I don't like that idea, in tha slightest." He glances to Darkwyrm darkly, shaking his head again. "Prolly tha same way Rihko'n'I are. Hence, tha swimmin'."
Cygnus shakes her head, "Wish I did, Rihko." She says, turning to Taggart before clentching her eyes shut and covering her ears "SON OF A FUCK!!" She roars out at the screach, her flames dancing higher.
Darkwyrm's ears lay flat from the awful noise and his whole body twiches. "Ugh. I'm gettin' sick of this shit. Th' thing's tryin' to scare us, and I ain't gonna let it get far enough to succeed. I'm tryin' something.", he snarls. He sheathes his weapon and cracking his neck and knuckles. He reaches out and slams both palms into one of the walls and focuses intently. He draws the power of his patron forth, calling for the reckoning of souls (if any) trapped inside the building.
Rihko winces, her ears folding protectively at the screech. She growls, then, and looks around the room. "Right. Team, decision time." She pauses and watches
Darkwyrm at work, then continues, tone a little lower to not disturb him. "I figure there are three things we can do. First, say fuck it and blast our way out the front door. Second, we find the radio powering this bubble and shut it off. Or third, we just lay waste to the whole damn thing; I'd rather not do that one, I'm not keen on having a building fall on me."
The wall itself practically melts, flooding into a puddle as the thing tears apart, screams of pain and joy mix and the entire air is filled with the chill of death. Above, a half door opens just enough in the air above and the wind and liquid flow upward into the open crack. The missing wall opening into inner offices, left naked and exposed, the desks twisting pulled away from the now removed wall.
Taggart glances to the side as Darkwyrm focuses on the wall, frowning and then raising his eyebrows at the result. "Well... that'll make a hole, then." The man sucks on his tooth and nods, looking at Rihko. "TnT in yer pack, ot'erwise Dark there kin' open tha door, looks like."
Solixis watches, currently trying to figure out how best to help. "I'm for shutting down the radio, if we can find it."
Foxheart looks at Rihko and frowns. "How do we know it's not another trap? I'd rather blast our way through and get a headstart on whatever it is that's trying to kill us. I'd rather not get scalded again." She opens her other eye now, her wounds almost fully healed.
Solixis frowns, a tingling sensation filling her nose and her mouth. "Something in the air..." She licks her lips following her senses.
Rihko whistles, definitely quite impressed. "If only we had a tanker truck of holy water and a shipment of candles; put down a circle around the place and exorcise the whole thing. Nicely done, Dark." Her ears twitch and flick, and she peers at the offices beyond; after a moment of contemplation, she moves forward to enter the office, looking around. "Hun? Want to kill this thing? Or just go?" she asks.
Taggart looks up to Rihko at the question, smacking his tongue against the roof of his mouth as he looks around again. "Bloody thing's'n'abomination. But it's yer brother were lookin' fer. Iffun ya think' takin' this place down'll'elp, then, aye... otherwise, we leave it and come back ta do Gods werk anot'er day'er summat."
Cygnus lets out a ragged breath and shakes off the smell of death, hear ears flatting back as she watches the walls, her glowing eyes darting about as whatever she sees explodes from the wall, "Uhmm... Don't know what you did, Dark, but it doesn't look too good to me." Cygnus shivers and blinks, watching.
Darkwyrm doesn't look impressed. "This thing is chock full of trapped souls..", he says. "I can't judge them again for several minutes.." He lowers his arms and pats his hands together, taking a breath. "Well, let's get a move on."
Solixis wanders ahead, not really watching those following behind, the scent potent on her mind. Down on all fours, and running ahead through the offices backdoors, toward the hotel area.
Taggart glances to the side, catching sight of Solixis breaking off. A stern growl and a shout, "Sol!" A mumble, "Bloody'ell..." The man takes off after her, calling over his shoulder, "Keep tha rest in line, luv!"
Foxheart watches Solixis leave the group and starts to chase after her, stopping to turn around at Taggart's instruction to Rihko. "Hey...we got a straddler. Don't let Solixis go alone!" She says worriedly.
Rihko blinks, her search interrupted; she mutters a quick curse under her breath, then motions for everyone else to follow. "Come on! We are NOT splitting up. Don't lose sight of them!" She quickly moves after Taggart, watching for falling debris, loose wires, and other problems.
Cygnus growls "Oh God dammit..." She grips Haley by the collar and bounds after her mate and the rest of the group, her adopted dragoness sticking to her rear like white on rice.
Solixis looks back to the group, a flash of worry crossing her features, "Found a trail. Following it. Best hope of finding source." She latches her polearm in place on her back, keeping to all fours for better movement.
"Oh, of all the stupid--", Dark growls. He breaks into a run, chasing after the group following Solixis.
The building seems to quake, doors shutting, trying to block the Nekomata's progress, but she finds her way through the maze, heading always in the proper direction. She busts through a bedroom, and then through a connecting door, and then back into the main hallway, up a flight, then back down. And then down, down into the basement, wait, a basement?
Taggart growls and keeps after Solixis, firing shots at the walls as they lurch out of him, even if they happen to draw back after connecting with his skin. The thought of shifting crosses his mind, better to keep with the Hunt, but he pushes it down and makes his way through and around and up and down and down.
The building around begins to act like the creatures within are no longer prey, and rather the infection they are. The walls grow more fluid by the passing moment, tendrils shooting out at random, trying to latch on.
Taggart gets the main brunt of the tendrils, two twisting around him, tripping him up. They only manage to hold on for a short bit before dark blackness attacks them. Rihko pauses to help Tag, and one reaches for her neck, which Taggart manages to grab out of the air. The rest grope and grasp, managing to only pull at people, except Haley ends up with one around her ankle, and Foxheart gets one wrapped around her tails and waist, which pulls her directly toward a wall.
Darkwyrm nearly bites his tongue as he's forced to do an emergency leap over one lashing tendril. "This is getting ridiculous!", he shouts. He attempts to quickly make his way through the gauntlet, dodging and rolling where he can, and letting his armor block the blows where he can't. His dagger is whipped out into his right hand once more, and he leaps at the tendrils which managed to take hold and slashes at them with his weapon. Another one of the tendrils, he grips in his left hand and chomps down on with his teeth.
Solixis keeps following her tongue and nose, reacting slightly faster than the tendrils are attacking. She keeps on the trail, worried that if she pauses, she will lose it.
Foxheart hesitates a little as she follows Solixis into the basement, the short sword drawn and glowing with a soft heat. "This doesn't feel right, RihkoOHH!" With a deft swing, she lops a tentacle cleanly, though one gets her from behind, the shock of the pull disarming her, sword clattering on the floor as she squirms to get free. "Oh by Inari's grace!" She yells, pulling against the tentacles to prevent herself from touching the wall, though she's sliding back slowly, going on all fours to try to get a better grip.
Cygnus is lucky enough to have her flames fend the tendrils off of her. Haley stumbles and cries out, Cyg quickly spinning around and taking aim with her rifle, taking a shot at the tendril around her daughter's ankle before flipping her aim to the ones on Foxheart and opens fire.
Rihko gives chase after Taggart and Solixis, the agile kitsune bounding through the hallways, around corners, through doors and over the bed as she keeps pace with Taggart and Solixis; when the building begins assaulting her friends, she does what she can to help. Her knife lashes out, quickly slashing at the tendril Taggart caught; her ears flick and she glances back at Foxheart, then shouts a wordless challenge and points, her wisp flinging itself at the wall that had attacked Foxheart. The unnaturally hungry soul-fire sets to work, gleefully trying to devour the wall, and then Rihko swears. "Fuck. Solixis! Come on, everyone!" She turns, again, and darts after Sol.
Taggart growls at tendrils and tentacles and living walls, shaking his head as he tries to wiggle free. The man shakes it off and starts to yank his SWAT vest free, "Rihko!" and his AUG is tossed through the air to her, hoping she'll catch it. More growling and bunching of muscles, shirt being yanked and torn away.
The ground underneath Taggart quakes, shivering and as his body changes, his sweat and blood that are shed attack the floor beneath, the black veins quickly growing. The building seems to have had enough, and the entire walls come down around the changing Taggart, from all sides swallowing him away from the group. Cyg's shot takes out the tendril, while Rihko's hunger tears into the heart of the wall itself, beginning to infect it much like Taggart, the wall dissolving and the building screeching loudly. Foxheart manages to avoid the fire, ducking out and keeping herself from touching the wall.
Solixis is alone ahead, but the group soon catches up, minus Taggart to whom nothing but silence follows, the masonry thick surrounding him, bubbling like they're digesting something. Sol's in the furnace room, somehow multiple stories high despite being a single floor below, high above big tanks work together keeping the place alive, pulsing with heat and energy.
Rihko catches Taggart's rifle, slipping her knife into its sheath. She sets the safety and sprints after Solixis, slinging the rifle over her shoulder. She looks worried, and is muttering and swearing under her breath, slowing momentarily as the building's heart comes into view. Then she's after Solixis again, making sure to keep up.
Cygnus doesn't take any time to celebrate, grabbing Haley and close to tosses the girl ahead, the pair sprinting after the others as best they can. Solixis blinks, able to see through the smokescreen that is larger tanks. She looks for a way down, trying to get close to the furnaces. "Small one. Of course. Nice try."
Foxheart scrambles to pick up her sword as she's freed, dashing after the rest of the group and stopping right behind Rihko, peeking at the source of the heat, panting heavily. "This is it then...we get rid of this and we're good?" She turns around to count the other entrants and frowns, trying to talk to Rihko while she runs. "Rihko...I was the last one out of the room...where's Taggart?"
Darkwyrm winces at not saving his big pew-pew power for a life-death situation like this. "This is not boding well.. and why the fuck is Solixis still going off by herself?", he curses as he nimbly skirts the remaining thrashing appendages and slips into the towering furnace room. "Th' damn walls are consuming him!", he growls in response to Fox.
Rihko keeps after Solixis, not letting the neko go it alone; her eyes scan the room, and she stays on the alert. "He'll be alright," Rihko says. "You saw what happened when the first wall tried to eat him... the building will come out the worse for it if it tries. The rest of you OK?"
Foxheart nods and sighs. "A little shaken, and sore from the freshly healed burns, but I'm fine." She tries to look through the smoke and squints. "If the building is...made of souls, then is this a giant forge? Sure you'd rather not destroy the damn thing?"
Cygnus does a quick reload on the fly, only stopping to catch her breath once she's able to "Peachy." The bunny responds, the dragoness next to her giving a nod in agreement.
"Jus' some scrapes and bruises.", the jackal pants, brushing himself off, "I would burn this entire damn thing down if I had the time.", Dark growls. "I don't give a damn personally, but m'damn patron's scratchin' at my thoughts, probably displeased by all the souls that are bein' kept from 'im."
"Kill the roots and the weed follows," Rihko says, patiently. "Shut it down and strangle it, carve out its heart, and it won't be able to fight back as effectively." She continues looking for the way down to the main boiler.
Cygnus shakes her head gently, squinting "HOLD ON!! Hold on hold on hold on... Can anyone else see... shadows... /pouring/ from here? I... can’t see where they're radiating from but they’re coming /from this room/... I saw almost the same thing when Dark melted that wall." The dark bunny says, breathing heavily, her gaze dancing around the room.
Foxheart lets her wisp flicker to life from behind her tails, the orb drifting and hovering over her raised paw as she grumbles. "More souls, maybe? If it's the same thing you saw then it’s likely Taggart. Rihko, do we pick up the pace?"
"If I can call it's heart to reckoning..", Dark murmurs as he scowls at the ghastly surroundings. "Then, perhaps, it'll bring the whole thing down. That is, of course, assumin' it's got such a core." He turns and looks at Cygnus and peers around again. "Uhhh.... not so much no. You're either seein' things we ain't or.. seein' things we aren't."
The first pipe Sol clears, and while she's on the second, she feels it going soft beneath her, and then with a gloop, she's pulled into the soft metal and dissapears. Rihko bowls into the first pipe, and the thing begins to shudder, black hunger eating away at the surface, and blood red liquid gushing out of the hole left behind.
Darkwyrm looks for a more sensible way down, seeing as he leans over the catwalk that the others are having some troubles. He looks around for a ladder or any other easier method of climbing down.
Rihko shudders for a moment, her body tensing as the pipe tries to suck her in; she staggers away with a startled yelp and stares at the not-really-metal as is dissolves. "Shit. Shit! That's not metal, that is like it's skin. Pure nanites. Be careful!" She looks to where Solixis was... wasn't. "Solixis?" she calls out. She swears, then pushes past the next pipe, shoving against it with a snarl.
Foxheart manages to rebound in the air off the wall, and softly lands on her paws past the second pipe. Ahead of her sits the central furnace, overpoweringly hot, it burns extremely hot, but is small, and lonely compared with the towering things around powering the building itself. The thing almost seems spiteful in its heat, and isn't in any way connected to the others physically.
Darkwyrm manages to find a place to cling to, and makes his way down, avoiding contact, dropping himself between the two large pipes. Rihko is clawing at the surface that Sol fell into.
Foxheart winces a bit from the heat, shielding her eyes with a paw. "Where's Balina when you need her?" She yells, trying to make some humor out of the whole situation. Taking unsteady steps towards the furnace, she coats a paw with her own fire as a sort of shield, reaching for the hot metal and growling at the pain.
Cygnus cries out as her mate is sucked into the pipe, a flash of rage glinting in her eyes, the rabbit glancing around for some way to make her way down. A few moments later, the sound of metal tearing echoes through the room. Soon, a well-soaked nekomata bites her way out of the pipe, consuming the metal in the process of escaping. She clings to the outside of the pipe, still looking to get down to the floor.
Cygnus takes to her wings to get down, landing just as Sol is crawling out of the pipe. Foxheart goes alone at the strange contraption, and the heat singes and her fur, setting the tips of her tails on fire. Three of her tails alight as her claws reach into the heart of the furnace and tear at something. And then with a blink, the furnace shuts off, gone. With it, a groan, a masculine voice, and then a death rattle.
Rihko finishes pushing her way past the pipe, to give the central boiler in the room a baleful glare. She stands there a moment, thinking about this, then grits her teeth and moves up next to Foxheart. "Fox, be-" she starts, reaching out towards the other kitsune; her warning dies half-spoken as the building groans, and she tenses.
Darkwyrm makes his way down to the floor and instantly needs to shield his face from the intense heat. "Shit.. I'm not getting anywhere close to that thing, judgment or not.", he hisses. "I value having fur, thank you very much." His expression changes drastically once Fox shuts the thing down, first a look of wincing pain, then serenity. "Well that's a relief.", he sighs. "Damned soul's passed on…whatever you did worked.
Haley flies down after Cyg, visibly relieved when she sees Sol is okay.
Cygnus catches her mate on the way down, pulling the kitty as FAR from the danger as she can manage, which really isnt possible, but at least she's trying. The bunny picks herself up and glares at the shadows she sees, a slight grin plastering her face as the building gives its death groan, "POP!" She mocks, "Welp... Saw a BIG one spawn then pop! All gone!"
Foxheart crumples onto the floor, her paw still hanging limp in the furnace as she sighs a deep breath, eyes closed. "Anubis...isn't the only god to dabble...with souls..." She smiles weakly. "Too...much work..." Then she crumples, flames dying out as a soft light envelops her, then her tails are gone.
All around, the building begins to shake, coming apart at its seams, with nothing to hold it together, the unstable structure no longer animated in quite the same way.
Rihko frowns. And then scowls. "Fuck. Alright. Everyone out." She bends down and picks up Foxheart, carefully slinging the winded kitsune over her shoulder as she starts heading back out of the room. "Taggart! Taggart!! Get out of here, love! Place is coming down!"
Solixis blinks, sputtering. "Gah, soaked again. At least it's mostly water this time... Ferals using bodily fluids as weapons is bad enough." She looks for a way out, hoping her own attempts at parkour are enough to mimic flight to get out of here.
"He'll be...fine...I felt him...heard him..." Foxheart mumbles, then her consciousness is gone.
Darkwyrm is right behind, jogging at an accelerated pace, not wanting to second guess Rihko's suggestion. In mid-run, he reaches into a pocket and pulls out a syringe and jabs it into his arm. Seconds later, a pair of black leathery wings unfolds from his back, pushing through a special seam in his coat. "Well, if we gotta get out of 'ere quickly, might as well use a few expenses.", he says. He starts to flap, and soon his run is a fast glide a few feet over the ground. "Ere, Rihko, grab on.", he calls as he catches up to her, reaching an arm down for her to grab.
Rihko blinks, and then grabs Darkwyrm, letting him deal with the weight of structurally-reinforced kitsune and the partially burnt almost-kitsune that she's carrying. Out of the room, she quickly heads for the nearest exit, kicking the fire door open and heading out of the building, helping others out as needed.
Cygnus tugs Haley as she spreads her wings, the bunny flying after Solixis and the others as she heads for the nearest escape route.
Haley spreads her wings and follows Cyg.
As the last person exits, the building rumbles, and begins to collapse, the various structures not meant to actually work in their jumbled form. The leaning tower, crumbles, the top coming down right behind them, while the coliseum walls slough downward under the pressure from within.
Taggart groans gently and moves debris about, slowly standing up in the settling dust and rubble. He's naked. And bleeding from various cuts and gashes, the drops dissolving a bit of the pieces of rubble before the blood turns to dark red goo. The Irishman sighs gently, bare feet slapping across the pavement, rolling a shoulder as he catches up to the group circled up outside.
Rihko patiently waits for her mate to join her. She gives him a little nod, and a small smirk. "Hey, love. You look a bit beat." She shifts Foxheart to her other shoulder, and pulls Taggart into a quick hug, kissing him on the cheek. She holds it long enough to offer a shoulder for Taggart to lean on if he needs it, and then starts making her way back to the bus.
Foxheart clings on tightly to Rihko as she stirs, spotting Taggart and coughing softly, though she's too weak to move much. "Good to see you're mostly fine. You can have Rihko back once I actually can walk." The woman sighs and lets herself hang limp again.
Taggart smiles and gives his mate a soft hug, looking around at the wear on the group. Foxheart gets raised eyebrows, shaking his head, "Softy..." The man just heads to the bus, wounds closing up with every step.
Cygnus stands near Soli for a moment before lulling her head back and unleashing a primal roar at the sky. She drops her gaze back down and slumps a little, before pointing at her mate and her daughter "I... have dibs on the radio. And I DARE you two to stop me!" The bunny seems to giggle slightly before pouncing at Solixis.[[Category:[REDACTED] Events]]