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Nika slid against the wall making herself less of a target, hopefully, before regaining her feet. She didn’t think she was any more injured than she’d been when started out but it was dark and the adrenaline pumping through her veins at the moment could have masked anything. Her suit didn’t look compromised from under the shredded remains of her shirt and jacket. She did however taste blood and her tongue found the cut in her lip from where her cast had been smashed into her face. Her eyes swept left, right and left again from her place under the footbridge. The thing she’d dispatched was still a dark island in the pool. Unmoving.

Where Rune had ended up was anyone’s guess.  The most likely answer? As sushi in the stomach of whatever these beasty things were.  Runeshi.  Pity.  Nika hadn't disliked her.  That left some quandaries.  Find the  GTF out of Dodge?  Yeah, she was about done with this random encounter shit.  Lesson learned. 


Or not.  Well, wonders never ceased.  Nika pulled her dislodged goggles into place and found the other woman.  Only one side was working properly.  She tapped at the defective lense and her finger found a bisecting gash.  Lucky.  Too much luck used tonight for her taste.  She didn’t even question how the other woman came to be where she was, on the ledge above.  Flying, teethy, clawy creatures, oh my!

Of course Nika had been about to head in the complete opposite direction.  Away from where the two ambushes had occurred.  Because no.  Rune alive though meant safety in numbers.  Or a gruesome death together.  Whatever.  

She sloshed as stealthily as was prudent to the end of her cover, the bridge, and cast a cautious gaze about the night.  Looks clear.  That line brought to mind one of the old movies she watched from her parent’s collection.  She snickered to herself.  Bioraptors.  That’s what she’d call the creatures even if it didn’t exactly fit.  These things that had attacked them were humanoid, almost like vampires or something.  Bioraptors were...oh who cared.

“Cover me,” she whispered back as loudly as she dared.  “I’m coming to you.”  There really wasn’t an optimal choice here as far as which position was safer.  Rune was certainly exposed where she was but they’d both been attacked down where Nika was too.  Damned if you do…  If she could get out of the culvert, that would kind of make it easier to leave.  Right?  As opposed to their one option in the runoff; the ominous open pipe.  How about no to that?

The assassin stepped down into the pool where they’d both been taken but this time kept to the cement wall to the left, trying to cut down on at least two angles of attack.  The bioraptor floated nearby and was creepy as all get-out.  She kept an eye on it too.  The cement runoff sloped downward and soon she was up to her chin in water with the pipe she was aiming for still ten feet away.  Tip toes then she was swimming.  Not a good feeling in the dark.  It was deathly silent except for the water’s gentle ebb and flow.  She could hear dripping from the pipe as she neared.
Nika switched her gun to her left hand.  The cast actually made a perfect-sized clamp around the grip.  She didn’t even have to hold on with her non-bound digits.  Nice.  She cast a glance about the pool before turning her back.  Looked clear…Rune still looked alive too.  She kicked once for some extra vertical mobility out of the water and reached over her head for a handhold on the big metal pipe.  Slime-not-accounted-for denied purchase and her hand slipped, sending the girl back downward and underwater as physics required.  On the way back up her face nearly parascoped straight into the fangs of bioraptor.  Again.  

There was a saying thrown around in racing, ‘your asshole chewed a hole in the seat.’  It was extremely versatile in that it could be a statement, question or exclamation and was wholly applicable in this instance.  That damn thing, mouth agape...eyes bugged out and glassy...looking like a cross between Venom and Pennywise the Clown had just scared the shit out of her.  Her.  Nika the world-class assassin.  How embarrassing.       

Like Bambi on ice the damn thing starfished its way above her in the current.  She felt like a proper idiot.  She’d nearly emptied the mag into it’s dead face too after back-flapping her way clear and deeper underwater faster than the speed of light.  Ugh.  To think that was almost her first kiss.  Nika surfaced with a cough and pushed the body away in annoyance.  No means no, fucker.  

She eyed her target.  The grate was in a little bit from the lip of the pipe but she figured she could push off from the bottom of the culvert and gain enough lift.  So that’s what she did.  Only on the way down she caught sight of a familiar shape; Baby.  Yoink.  Why hadn’t she ever thought to name her guns?  The drones all had names because it had grown tedious remembering their serial numbers.  Hmm.  Food for thought.  Not really her style though.

Nika tucked the gun-child securely away and proceeded with Plan B.  Kicking off and well, kicking upward did the trick nicely.  Propelled upward enough, she managed an iron grip on the grate.  Stronger than she looked, the assassin pulled herself over the lip one-handed, until her feet too found purchase.  Then it was simply a matter of climbing using her legs mostly, as was proper.  Step, step, a new handhold and repeat.  She kept her weapon and casted arm tucked in close to her chest, just in case.  

The summit of the pipe was a momentary hangup as she had to scrunch herself toward the top and reach blindly upward to find a handhold.  Thankfully there was an outer lip and with the two free fingers on her left hand holding on to the grate-ladder, she was able to get arm and shoulder up and over.  Only slight three-limbed awkwardness saw the small assassin just rising from jackknifing clear before the next awful thing happened.  Was it the 13th?

Bio-Venom-Pennywise’s bigger, uglier sister’s face peeped from the bushes just before rocketing the both of them rudely into the air with the squeak of wet hightop losing traction.  What the hell was in the water here?  Somehow one of her light-up shoes turned on.  Blink-blink-blink in the night sky.     

Since momentum swung her toward her assailant like a pendulum, the little Athari wrapped her legs around the beast’s waist and held on.  The thing’s hands and claws were all over her like it was prom.  Nika. Was. Pissed.  The two killers fought pressed together in the air as their flight path shot toward the open pipe.  Beastie ultimately settled her grip between Nika’s upper arm and torso, the other claws tangled in the tattered remains of her jacket and flapping shirt.  

Nearly-black eyes murderous, the assassin dug her thumb into the thing’s eye socket.  The Harpy screamed a shrill cry and clawed blindly at the assassin’s head, succeeding only in tangling a green wig and beanie in her talons.  Nika laughed aloud and pushed her thumb deeper, squelching an eyeball and spurting god-knows-what.  I’m going to kill you.  Then I’m going to kill your family and all of your friends.  After that I’ll kill your dog and your cat; then I’m going to take your goldfish out of the bowl and fling it against the wall…  

The clawed hand wrenched free with more tearing of cloth.  It closed around Nika’s throat and squeezed.  Fangs snapped an inch from her nose and the thing screamed again, nasty iron-breath hot in her nose.  She nearly gagged.  The assassin’s thumb wasn’t near long enough to push through to brain but that didn’t mean she didn’t try.  And leverage the beastie’s head around.  She-thing squeezed harder.  Nika tightened her neck muscles and grit her teeth.  Obstinate.  Red framed her vision.  Choices were sparse.  Kill the beast and chance the fall?  The young woman couldn’t turn her head to see where they were.  It had been a blink of an eye, really, so they should be over the pool still.  Shadows joined in with the red.  Well this was unfortunate.  Time’s up.  Geronimo!

Nika fired three times.  Midsection first, even spacing, rising like buttons on a shirt...or poofy things on a creepy clown onesie.  Measure it with a ruler, motherfucker.  Dead.  The thing didn’t loosen its grip on her neck though.  White splotches now joined the rest of the lightshow.  Damn it.  Her newly mended broken wrist went numb.     

She’d seen her mom bullseye a partridge once that died instantly and then glided peacefully back to Earth.  It had been quite a thing to behold and not something she ever would have believed had she not witnessed it firsthand.  That was pretty much the plan.  She made herself as compact as possible.  Nika didn’t have long to hang on before they crashed rather spectacularly.  Nothing peaceful about it.

Bioraptor’s wings folded rudely with a loud and hollow crunch as they snapped upon impacting the pipe’s rim before both forms shot inside like a hole-in-one.  Nika heard that distinctly and could all of a sudden breathe again.  She tried to flip the carcass over her head and could recall unhooking her legs and balling up, not having any idea what was inside the drain pipe.  Then she hydroplaned much for breathing, twice...somehow poured a lot of water up her nose. She impacted something squishy and careened into an explosion of light before...nothing
The ditch wound deeper and it wasn't long before she was knee deep in the water. Excitement for the hunt was slowly being replaced with irritation. They could be at the concert venue already, finding their seats. Maybe flirt with a few people. Well maybe not Tenzin. Girl had a smile on her, when she showed it, toothy and filled with mischief. And a sense of humor to boot. And of course attractive. But for all of that, the woman wasn't the outgoing type. As in, Ten wouldn't be her wing-woman as they saw what was about. Still, they'd find some fun, she was sure.

But nooooo. Not Jacinda. Of course she had notice the gun fire and the small figure. Had to decide to go check it out. It wasn't like they were cops or anything. Not like they had time to stop every crime that occurred- if it occurred. It was only luck- bad luck rather- that they realized this was firmly Atharim jurisdiction.

So now Jacinda is slogging through swampy water and leaves and garbage and dead leaves and old branches, mucking up her awesome boots and her hot jeans. This is stupid. It was gonna get deeper and neither of them were gonna just go swimming in muck- at least not if they had to.

She eyed the bank of the ditch, on one side, the nice and shiny- by that I mean dry, you know. Dry and not ruining leather- walkway on the other. She could see in the dim light the ditch angled so it passed under the walkway. Made sense the run-off ditch became a pool. Yeah. Swimming was not a go.

"Let's get up to the walk way. Higher ground and all that." The words were barely out her mouth when the pop-pop-pop of gunfire went off. Her eyes went wide as they swung first to Ten and then to the walkway. Yeah, time to get the hell out of this ditch. Before they were funneled into someplace real bad. No fishin a barrel here.

She scrambled up the the rise to the walkway as fast as she could, feet and hands finding purchase in rocks and exposed bushes. She was sure he took a few spines or stings in her palms but that would have to wait for later. She peeked over the walkway to make sure they were alone before pulling herself up all the way.

Carefully they crept along the walk, parallel to the ditch. Up ahead she saw a pool to the right. Just as she turned to Tenzin, something swept up into the air. A big something. No. Two somethings. The light wasn't all that great here, but it looked like a big bird carrying someone. Quetzals here? Couldn't be. They were not that big. Last time she faced one had been in Mexico with Ricky right outside a cartel brothel. That had been a bad night. And a good one. El Diablo....that dick got what he deserved.

Course she also still had that scar along her arm from the one that came at her. Yeah, that hadn't been fun.

Something else. Harpy came to mind. Suddenly, one of the shadows dropped to the ground, the grass near the ditch. The thing swung around back into the pool. The person on the grass got up quickly- well as quickly as being dropped from 10 feet high would allow- swaying and keeping one knee on the ground. And she had a gun, looking about.

Quickly, Jacinda made a decision. "Go to the girl. I'll track the Harpy" With my staves! Damn concert security! She wanted her guns. Well, at least she'd see what happened when 50,000 volts lit it up. She'd had a guy tinker with hers a while back, upping the amps.

Let's just say that these weren't standard stun-guns. Damage was definitely gonna be done. If I don't get tore up in the process. The electrodes could detach, if they needed to, but that meant she only got one shot.

She ran toward the pool just as she saw the harpy shoot into the air with a smaller bundle. It flew high and there was definitely a struggle. More pops, the thing dropping until it hit the lip of the pipe even as the small bundle hit the water.

She ran down the side of the walkway leading to the pool, staves in hand eyes looking into the blackness of the large pipe the small form had disappeared into. Just as she neared the culvert opening, something jumped out, slamming into her.

Where were all these people coming from?! Before she knew it, the splashes sloshed fresh splatters and Rune was about ready to shoot the thing that stalked up the waterway. Shoot first, ask forgiveness later. Until the person in the water was dumb enough to shout out to some kind of friend. 

She wasn't even sure she heard right. Maybe she'd hit her head harder than she thought. It wouldn't be the first time, but she was certain of the word. That meant one thing. Either someone was way more into Dungeons & Dragons then they should be, or the people stalking them were also Atharim?

This wasn't the kind of situation that Rune found herself in often. Stateside, she and Uncle Seth worked solo duo - a team that was almost as wary of other Atharim than of the monsters they hunted. In some cases, more so! People were fucked up. Monsters at least made sense. They were driven by the basics: food, dominance, mating. People were just nut jobs. But given that there was a girl (with a gun!) probably floating face down in the runoff and more harpies than Rune cared to imagine, it seemed the right time to pair up. If they had a chance to exterminate a harpy nest, then now was the time! 

She was about to call for a lifeline when a new grunt and string of curses erupted from the ditch. But it was so dark, there was no way Rune could shoot something and even come close to aiming. She couldn't see in the dark!

"Drag that saggy-boobed bitch into the light somehow! I can't get a shot!" She cried out, hoping the atharim in the ditch could even hear her.
The world welcomed her back wanting to play her least favorite game.  Where am I?  She was curled up on her left side in a puddle.  That wasn’t saying much because she was soaking wet from her playdate underneath the bridge and her dip in the pond anyway.  Despite liquid generally occurring in either a vertical or horizontal state, it took a minute to reorient to the proper order of things.  It was as if she was in space and couldn’t quite shift to the proper perspective of where down should be.  Wasn’t something like that in a novel she’d read?  The one infernal blinking shoe didn’t help.

It was darker in the pipe which made sense.  Pipe?  Was that what this was?  Not that it really mattered.  Nika faced the entrance, or exit depending on your perspective, where she’d meteored in an unknown amount of time ago.  The beastie’s corpse was plainly visible and nearer to the mouth of the big drain, a darker shadow against a dark night beyond.  It hung impaled on an unfortunate twisting net of rebar and chunks of broken cement that looked like a giant clawed hand throwing dice.  Nika had not escaped lady luck either.

She got as far as scraping her shoe off by the heel to flick across the way.  Let the blinking lights draw prying eyes elsewhere.  Something was terribly wrong though and without pinpointing what she tagged her drone, Big Brother.  “Hey buddy,” she whispered.  “Send Tennant in with the medkit.”  Nika didn’t have to stretch at all for her shoe but she levered herself upward on her elbow and pitched it across the pipe all in one motion.  Her abdomen responded with a too-brief warning spike before her brain shut down for a reboot.  She passed out just as long as it took for her cheek to fall back to the rough cement.  

Nika blinked herself awake.  A dull, tearing pain had asserted itself in her middle.  She licked her lips and tasted blood for the second time that night.  “BB, send Tennant.”      

The goggles had fallen around her neck again and she slid them up into place slowly over several new and sharply-protesting cuts and scrapes.  A persistent nick at her hairline beaded thickly before leaking a line of red to drip from her temple onto the damp cement her face rest against.  The green, spider-tendril wig was gone, still tangled in the stiffening hand of the she-beast.  A quality piece, it was already starting to dry out and re-fluff in the slight breeze.   

Her weapon was firmly clamped in her left hand still, thanks to the honeycomb cast.  Wouldn’t that be the best odd review on the manufacturer’s web page?  The thought was too amusing for the circumstances but she smirked regardless.  Nika propped her weaponized cast on the inside of her thigh facing the outside.  Facing the...scarecrow.  Just in case there were visitors.  If something came up behind her, well, she might become food.         

Nika couldn’t afford to waste time not looking for the problem, as much as she didn’t really want to go poking around.  It didn’t take long to find.  The gash just above her hip was a garish affair; her armored shirt must have snagged in passing and left her abdomen exposed.  It did not look good; her palm didn’t even cover it all.  Fuck me. 

Despite years upon years spent carefully mastering discipline, Nika could feel anxiety building on the periphery.  Her nose beaded sweat just thinking about it.  The thing she would have to use in the medkit was both a triumph of modern medicine and undoubtedly the second and third most horrible thing she’d ever experienced.  It was the medical equivalent of the atomic bomb; horrifyingly effective.  She’d used it twice before; once of her own free will and once...not.  She just had to make it until the drone showed up is all.  Easy peasy.  Except a glance at the puddle with her goggles revealed something problematic.  The water she was laying in was not water at all; it was blood.  Sweet cheese and crackers.  “BB, I will sell you to Papa John’s for a dollar.  You must go faster.”  I swear, I’ll do it.  This time, I swear.           

Nika pulled her shirt down over the wound, hand shaking ever so slightly and applied heavy pressure with a grimace.  Hurt was wholly inaccurate.  She passed out again. 

A persistent red strobe in her face woke her.  Still here.  Ha.  The little drone hovered over the medpack.  Nika reached for the box, knowing she had to act quickly.  Purpose helped push away the hovering cloud of anxious dread.  She popped the mouthpiece in immediately as cracked teeth were a common occurrence with this thing.  Nika bunched the armored baselayer up and away from the laceration.  A purified liquid mixture made her hiss in application.  A thick, shimmering moist sheet was extracted one-handed and unrolled from the cylinder housing it.  Properly set, it nearly covered her whole left side.  She palmed the control unit like a detonator, synched it, then activated it.  The light under her thumb turned from red to blue to green.  Then it shut off.  Hidden by a dark grey flap, this was a military device after all, a screen would read in German, “Unit active.  Removal will result in death.”  Subtle.

The pad warmed uncomfortably; that was the initial scan.  Nanofibers peeled off the sheet and wormed their way into the gash.  Nika fought the inclination to vomit her guts all over the place.  This wasn’t even the worst part.  She bit off a groan as the things moved deeper, probing.  Breathing was an alternating affair of holding her breath to keep from crying out and desperately sucking air through her nose when she could.  Nika could hear herself gasping.  In the tube’s relative silence the sound seemed like a massive ‘come and kill me’ invitation.  However minute it actually was.    

The process felt like it was taking forever.  Nika was getting used to the pain.  Then Satan’s nanosnakes began to knit her back together, showing all the delicate finesse of a lioness gorging on a live kill.  That is, none at all.          

It dulled her senses to a haze. The system was not equipped with anesthetic, you just had to endure and survive until you inevitably passed out from shock and pain.  It was easier, no it helped, to find something to focus on.  Nika put everything into maintaining a vigilant watch on the entrance.  If something came to finish the job, she was ready.  Until Black Hour, that is.  Then she was screwed.
She clawed nimbly up onto the bank, ignorant of the damp mud that slicked her clothes in the process. It wasn’t like she’d dressed up for the concert anyway, a destination mostly forgotten. The stink of the fetid water wasn’t a pleasant smell, but by now her focus had shifted and wolfish instincts took over. Her ears pricked forward, content to let Jacinda take the lead. That was normal for them; a natural evolution of the time they had spent together.

There was a familiar scent amongst the chaos, though no time to process it. Her eyes scanned the horizon for shadows against the moonlight, the tang of blood like a siren call in the back of her throat. A dangerous song, sometimes. But no voices called. The silence was deafening. 

By now the one who had been dropped had regained her feet, clearly aware of her company in the dark. Jacinda appeared to suspect a civilian, but Tenzin quickly found disagreement with the assumption; her scent was calm, focused, soldier-like. Which did not necessarily mean an Athari sister, but certainly meant someone quite able to take care of themselves.

And Tenzin certainly didn’t want to get shot in the process of trying to help.

Her mouth twitched a frown. Even in this light, she knew she could see better than any of the others. She could take that shot into the ditch. But asking for the weapon was unlikely to go down well, and explaining that uncanny marksmanship would only invite awkward questions.

For now she placed her trust in Jacinda and the stranger with their only gun, eyes vigilantly skyward, alert.
Jacinda slammed into the wall, propelled by the harpy. Snapping snarling teeth- seriously, this thing needed a dentist, what with the scraps of flesh and some stank nasty breath- in her face. She dropped to the shallow side of along the shallow side of the pool, thing on her, one stave pressed at the neck, keeping its teeth from adding her to its collection of nastiness.

Jacinda's back spasmed at the hit. Great. Just great. She did not want to spend anymore time trapped in the house recovering. One of its razor claws slashed at her side while the other tried to push away the stave blocking its meal. Damn, but it hurt and Jacinda's shoulder- the place Ten had patched up, scraped and tore.

This was getting old. She fumbled with her hand, trying to pull the other stave that was trapped by the writhing creature. She shoved off slightly, just enough to free it, thumb already pressing the trigger.

The harpies eyes went wide at the sound but before it could turn to stop it, Jacinda had jabbed the arcing fork to its head. It spasmed, kicking and bouncing on Jacinda, for what seemed an eternity before knocking its head against hers.

And then her own head spasmed at the touch, feeling the arcing electricity like a blow. Thankfully her arm dropped, breaking the connection.

Jacinda lay there, head spinning. Well that was a new one, she thought through the fog. She had been mildly aware of the current throught their touchingg bodies, before their heads connected. It made her body tingle slightly. But the upped amps and volts had felt like a kick to the head when direct contact of their heads happened.

She couldn't move for a bit, the stink of burned hair and flesh filling her nose, the surprisingly heavy weight across her body trapping her. God she hoped it was dead. Had to be. It'd had at least 5 or 10 seconds of tazing at those levels.

At last she had enough strength to move her arm, still shaking, to push the thing off. Carefully she slid back, mindless of the cold went beneath her, arm quivering as she tried to hold the stave up just in case.

No movement. She sat up slowly, ready, and tilted the head of the thing warily. Something had begun to drip from its nose, red and grey.

Yep. Thing was dead alright, leaking brains an all.

Leaning against a wall she stood up, swaying on her feet, stumbling as she followed it, she called out to Ten above, "I got it! You see any more?"

The large open pipe was ahead. Warily, getting closer she added without stopping her scan of the night sky, "Hey! You in there? Dead yet?"
WHERE WERE ALL THESE PEOPLE COMING FROM?!?!? Rune’s attempt to track the blur that was her mark was all for naught, but in case she couldn’t be any more distracted, people basically jumped out of the darkness and threw themselves onto the buffet for harpies to eat their fill! One harpie snatched some old lady and they wrestled along the ditch wall, another leered over the edge. Rune was suddenly grateful for the distraction, since the extra food must be like laying out a fresh pie at Thanksgiving. Not that Rune ever ate at a real Thanksgiving unless you included Denny’s special T-Day Plate. Ummm… pie. And mashed potatoes. Gravy sloshing over the sides.. No! Focus!

So the extra people were useful in that, and Rune was able to follow the path of the one that snatched up Amy. The girl sank like a rock, though, and that bang of bone on the culvert gonged in a way that made a black-heart like Rune cringe. It was all over swiftly, and Rune was relatively unscatched except the bitch of a headache she’d have later. But it was nothing a good root beer and fries wouldn’t fix. She didn’t care if she had to mug the first civvie on the street they saw, she was getting some gawd durn French fries after this.

The old lady struggled up and hobbled toward the pipe opening, calling in for Amy. Rune did the same except she ran over, crawled on top of the thing, leaned her head over upside down and peered into the darkness.

A cold air wafted out like ancient waters were disturbed. But on those winds rode the stench of filth that made Rune yank up her skull-bandana and wish for cotton to shove up her nostrils. “AMY!” She called but only an echo answered: Amy, amy, amy.

There was buzzing and red blinky lights, and while she liked Amy, like hell was she going to go in there and poke around for a very likely dead girl… She needed a light!

Rune’s heart was in her throat, and while she wasn’t exactly afraid to delve into hell’s drain-pipe, she wasn’t suicidal either. Three harpies were obscenely dangerous. It was a wonder any of them were alive. Except Amy. Amy was probably toast.

She looked up, face all scrunched behind the skull bandana. She really diidn’t want to go in there. For one thing, it STANK, but was she really going to be able to enjoy those French fries without knowing?

Nope. Dammit.

So she flung herself down over the pipe, landing in nasty water with a splash, and slithered into the tube. The mound of the impaled harpy snagged at her feet like some kind of pirate-ship warning. Heart pounding, she labored farther until the blinky red lights were close enough to touch. Finally, beneath one of them, she found Amy.

Rune toed at the body to see if it was alive. "Pst, Amy?"

Amy didn't react. Except for the flicker of her light-up shoes flashing their little pulses. D-E-A-D. Bummer. Rune squat down to pat the body goodbye like the gesture might give her some stupid sense of closure when she heard a noise farther in the darkness. She thought she might choke on her own breath she was so frozen in place. As swiftly as she could, she padded around on Amy's body. The girl had weapons on her, and she kicked some ass out of those bitches, she hopefully she had one more.. Then she felt cold metal. Palm slipped around the grip... Rune gasped silently.  Amy had BABY!

The red flicker of her shoes illuminated the ghost of a smile touching her eyes for a moment. Weapon in hand, she stood to her feet and fell short of the top of her head even coming close to the upper side of the pipe. Another noise down farther. The last harpy. Rune didn't even care that the splashes of her feet on metal gave away her approach. In fact, she started splashing louder as a tune came to her lips.
"DUUUU your boobs hang low?
Do they wobble to and fro'?
Can you tie 'em in a knot?
Can you tie 'em in a bow?"

She cocked the gun, guessing only by the sheer weight of the weapon how many rounds remained. Two. No more mags. Two would have to do it. The red flicker of Amy's shoes flashed the tube. 

How far underground did this stupid pipe delve?

"Can you throw 'em over your shoulder
Like a continental soldier?"

Flash. Dark. Flash. Dark. Scraping of claws on metal. A growl...

"Duuuuu your boobs-"
She stopped.

And fired.


Her eyes were likely bleeding from the noise sure to echo in her brain till she died. She didn't even hear the screams of the grandma harpy's agonizingly slow death. It had been dark, after all, and Rune aimed and fired by the light of a flashing shoe. She might have been a little lackadaisical with her aim on purpose. 

She crawled over Amy and emerged from the pipe utterly deaf except for the ringing in her ears that might make her blow out her own brains if it didn't fade soon...

((OOC: Nika and Jacinda moded with permission))
Nika shivered which didn’t help matters any but it was uncontrollable.  Her line of sight to the outside had blurred to tunnel vision.  Or maybe her eyes weren’t even open at that point, she couldn’t really tell.  The whole world had become a sensation of being ripped in half, dismembered by little malfunctioning nano tendrils with excruciating care...capillary by muscle fiber by blood cell.  This couldn’t possibly be making things better; there was something wrong.  She knew it.  The mind was a terrible thing.

She was acutely aware of her heart rate slowing.  The sound was loud in her head as though it was some sort of system wide announcement.  Attention!  Brace yourself, you’re about to experience brief discomfort and then, death.  It was rather alarming.  Nika fought it desperately.  Like she’d always fought.  Thump.  Always would fight.  Thump.  She tried to coax her body onward.  Thump.  Like blowing gently on a smoking ember.  Thump.  Come on!  Thump.  Keep going.  Thump.  You can do it you fucking sissy!  Thu…  Lids, open after all, shuttered closed and her cheek settled a little further into the puddle.

A light breeze carried a thick metallic scent down the length of the pipe.  A beast stirred in her lair, called forth by the promise of food.  The creature’s upper lip peeled from her fangs as she scented the eddy.  Blood of Life.  Her children’s hunt successful, the gray she-thing dragged her bulk upward and onward.  Long, blackened claws scraped along the floor sending shards of chipped cement, bone and other debris skittering away.  She wheezed with the exertion.  

The floor sloped downward.  There was a little thing.  A snack.  The beast, too big to escape the pipe’s collapsed entrance and hunt for herself, hissed in anticipation.  Her massive bulk melded down to regard her appetizer.  Salivating in near ecstasy, she was too overcome to notice the corpse of her own kind hanging nearby.

Lights flashed angrily, suspended in midair.  Something without life swooped at her, retreated and darted in again.  The grandbeast swatted and connected, sending the small first aid drone crashing into the wall with an expensive clatter.  The two unmangled props buzzed in attempts to regain the air.  Futilely.    

Beastie regarded her gift.  It was curled up like a cat.  Dead but still warm.  She turned the little thing on its back with a gnarled hand, claws very long now from sedentary life.  Long but impossibly sharp.  Her claw moved the head to expose the neck.  She salivated.  Warm meal so sweet.  She bent over and folded her great bulk next to her meal, draping herself like a blanket.  It helped keep the meal warm; blood flowing.  A tongue emerged.  Sickeningly long.  Thin.  Alien.  Her hand pressed a shallow breath from the chest.  Grandbeast hissed in excitement.  Alive!  Still alive.  Yes.  Her palm felt the heartbeat now.  Eyes glittered in the darkness.  She’d keep it then, draw out the meal.  Take it back to her lair.  A magnificent gift!  A taste!  She could nearly taste it already from the life already pooled beneath them.  But a taste!  

The beast settled further atop her quarry.  A cage of nails like a mask turned the little thing’s face delicately.  The nasty tongue bore down, a hole opened at the end.  It licked.  Jawline.  Traced upward and swirled over a soft cheek.  Temple.  There was the pulse.  Yes.  Brow.  Treat’s cut leaked sweet metallic essence at the hairline.  She suckled.  Tasted.  Beast’s saliva kept the nectar flowing.  Just a little more…

"Hey! You in there? Dead yet?"

Intrusion!  She hissed and broke free.  Hers!  The gift was hers!  Grandbeast heaved herself upright, claws gathered a handful of Treat’s shirt and pulled it around.  Dragged a little more.  The pipe was now sloping upward.  Grandbeast’s breath whistled from the effort.  Treat was slight but dead weight.  


Another!  Closer!  Nearly inside!  The Harpy dropped her prize with another hiss and it slid bonelessly, slowly down and away to fold facedown in the sweet puddle.  

Still lightning-quick, the beast scrambled upward and deeper into her prison.  She would wait and attack.  Patient for her meal.

The intruder came after a time.  Loudly.  Making an awful, wretched noise.  The grandbeast coiled to attack.  The bulk of her stomach exploded.  Gutshot.  Terrible way to die.  The screams.  The Harpy tore at her own middle, gore and ichor flowed downward into the stink.  Screams.  Madness.  Death.  Justice.
After all the screams and shouts and shots the quiet was loud. Which was about right. Adrenaline pouring through your veins, every thought and feeling and sensation combined with everything else going on, amplified even...well, it wasn't like Jacinda didn't know she was an adrenaline junky.

It was that thing she'd told Regus that time they'd met. The one true thing she'd culled from all her years with Regan. Life was struggle. Survival. Weren't no pansy ass entitled pricks gonna get a participation trophy from mother nature.

Live or die. Live or kill. The long and the short of it.

And she wasn't dead yet. One day, sure. And she wasn't sure she wanted it in a bed breathing through a tube. No. Second thought. Definitely didn't want that. What was the saying? Surrender when you're dead.

So the quiet was loud. Ten was nearby watching. Jacinda wondered where'd she'd got off to. The other girl was scrambling out of the tunnels. No sounds of any more harpies.

That left one.

The girl had not stopped fighting.

It was dark and Jacinda couldn't make out any faces or expressions. Not that she cared. Permission was not a thing a grown ass woman asked for. Or needed.

She couldn't deny the twinges of pain and she climbed up into the tunnel. Her staves were free and it was dark, though she made out a flashing in the distance so tiny she thought it might be her imagination.

At the ready, she made her way down, one careful step at a time. Not imagination after all. It got a bit brighter. Two flashings,  not in sync.

The nearest to her was a discarded sneaker. Despite herself she smiled. Dumb kids. It wasn't a cruel thought. The girl had put up a brave fight. She stuffed down her heartbeat and kept going.

Just as she was approaching, a light went on. Blinding. Something on the ground struggling weakly. A drone. She rolled her eyes.

But that was not what drew her attention. She saw a small body. The girl, face down. In the shadowed distance she saw a large saggy harpy all gross with her boobs on the ground, somehow entwined in rebar, blood everywhere. Dead.

That was good.

Still alert she crouched and felt for a pulse from the girl. Weak. But enough. Gingerly she rolled her over and concentrated on positioning arms and legs and then, with a breath- yeah, her back was not gonna like this right now- she pulled her over in a fireman's carry.

And she was right. Dead weight was dead weight. And off balance strained what should not be strained. But she got her and once her weight was draped like a fur across both shoulders it was cake to stand and start walking back. 

She emerged from the tunnel and the let her eyes adjust. "Yeah, so maybe one of you could stop standing there checkin me out and help me get her down without me straining anymore of my back?"
<<ooc: Are you carrying away Nika or Tenzin? I thought we were suppose to leave Nika behind in the culvert>>

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