Date • 2020-06-17
Summary • Mages on their way to investigation the local Gulmoth are instead rerouted to a tidy zombie horde.
There was a plan to go investigate the Gulmoth. You know; that bleeding pinprick on the map of Portland that all Awakened souls are warned away from over and over again on their first arrival. Hopefully. St Johns has become synonymous with 'Place that Mages don't come back from.' They're all loaded up and ready to go poke at the edge of that very dangerous disturbance and see what they can find out about a suspected cult of intentional Gulmoth-growers when--not five minutes into the fifteen minute drive--Pagan's CB starts screaming.
Pagan looks at the thing and scoffs. "No one was even talk-"
The radio interrupts him; loud enough by default for all to hear easily, but grating on the ears due to how the man on the other side of it is screaming the receiver. "Sierra Papa, Whisky Lima! Sierra Papa, Whisky Lima!" There's a very unhappy look on Pagan's face as he picks up the radio--only having one hand on the wheel now as he drives--and toggles down the push-to-talk. "Go for Sierra Papa." The sigh in his voice at that. He just died inside a little. The reason may not be clear, but the resignation is.
"Sierra Papa! Stable South is drained!"
Pagan says, "Drained?" Into the radio, he depresses and asks, "Say again?"
They're past callsigns now. "Drained! Gone! Dry! Dead! Get down here!"
"Sierra Papa Oscar Mike." He slaps the radio back on its holder--pauses to turn the knob down so its volume isn't so high--and projects to address all the passengers. "You guys follow that? One of the four Sentinel Posts is in trouble. Let's go check it out?" He glances at the passenger seat then up into the rear view mirror.
Avi's response is eloquent in its silence: he reaches to the small of his back beneath his suitcoat and draws an ugly black pistol, all Swiss engineering perfection and absolutely zero aesthetic qualities besides being vaguely Eurotrash. He does a quick brass check, then returns the sidearm to the holster. Only then does he answer Pagan: "Do you want to gossip, or do you want to shoot someone?"
Nine's slow blink to the group probably describes how fast his brain is moving right about now. That, or he's just processing. Of course there's going to be something that would interrupt what could be a happy night staring out a window at something. He breathes in deeply, pulling the air through his lungs before exhailing out slow and heavy. This process repeats a few times before he lets himself drop into a small meditative trance.
Tick, tock. He raises his right arm, drawing his sleeve and coat sleeve down past his wrist to look at the two watches on the inside of his wrist. He takes the pin out of one, leaving it locked at that specific time, and starts the other. He reaches into his coat and takes out a pair of gloves, which he begins to pull on. Then his hair is tidied backwards, then he produces a small revolver. He opens it, inspects it, confirms that it's loaded and closes it again before slipping it back into his coat. "We're in agreement."
Grace looks over at Pagan, the pencil she wields pausing mid-word. "What? How? That's not even an actual question, is it? Go, of course." She jams the tiny pencil into the spirals in her notebook and then places it carefully into a pocket in the liner of her suit jacket. No need to rush it. She reaches to the other side, and pauses. Her hand slides out of her jacket empty. Her sidearm is not on her, and neither is her holster. This causes her to frown slightly, but she shakes it off.
Gin Joint's head lifts as the radio abrasively announces something that doesn't fully track at first. This is clear by the vague expression of confusion colouring her features, one brow raised further than the other, a bit of a curl to her upper lip, a squint to that eye. Okay, so her confusion isn't really 'vague' after all. It's pretty apparent, and equally as consuming to her thoughts. It does, however, fade quickly. "Shouldn't even be a question, really, should it?" She quips. Apparently the confusion wasn't over the information after all, but rather the idea that there should be any debating the next actions that should be taken. One gloved hand moves toward where her holster rests then, so that she might go over the typical checklist that the others are engaged in. Only to find that it is not there. Icy eyes go saucer wide, very deer-in-the-headlights moment. Her mouth goes suddenly dry. ... where the fuck did she leave her gun? Her mouth opens as though she'd say something, then closes again. This repeats at least thrice. It's like watching a goldfish slowly die, but with less struggle in her momentarily frozen form. Casually, she leans toward what is, by now, Overtime. "... ... tell me Nine didn't use my bloody gun as a bloody spoon in his -bloody-," She snarls through her teeth, venomous, likely heard, but clearly trying to keep things civil. "Icecream _again_."
Avi -- Cavalier -- whoever he is, good luck figuring out the brain of a Silver Ladder educated by Guardians -- looks over his shoulder at the others. "Before we show up to the party, anyone want to stay below the radar?" he asks as he flashes a kerambit, a short wickedly-curved knife -- one of the standard Mastigos tools of magic. "I plan on people not paying me much attention. I'm happy to include others."
"Fuckin... rush hour bullshi- Hold on!" Pagan pulls the brand-lacking SUV into a gas station not to fill up, but to drive through like an asshole and take a right onto a road he should have had to wait at a light for. They hit a dead end after a forced right, but he just slows down and uses the anti-zombie grill on the front of the vehicle to pop the shitty little fence gate open and then drives through into an alley, warns with two quick honks before pulling out blind from the alley; needing to exit it before he can turn. Someone brakes for him, he waves as cutting across four lanes of traffic aaaand- They're on Mrtin Luther King Jr Blvd heading straight towards their destination. Just shaved off like four minutes.
Pagan glances at Gin Joint in the mirror after activating his cruise control and autobraking. "You're too small for my gun, I think, but-" He snaps and points at his glove box. "Can you pass her back my snubnose? Careful; it's loaded and I've disabled the safety." What could go wrong? As soon as Avi passes back that, he reaches into his pocket and and pulls out a handgun that is much larger than his pocket. "I think you're big enough to use mine, man. Careful; it'll fuck a new asshole into a brick building."
What's he handing over? Wrath. His personal handcannon. The thing is about eight pounds loaded, and its metal surface fails to reflect light in any hard manner. "Two hands, though," he warns as if it has a kick. "Okay, we got about three minutes to contact."
Cavalier frowns as he looks down at the Big Thing. "Am I supposed to shoot people with it or use it for hand to hand combat? It's been at least a year since I last beat someone to death with a piece of parkerized truck axle." Then, looking back over his shoulder, "Anyone else want in on the Not Being Seen schtick? Last call for alcohol."
Grace doesn't seem too phased by all the firearms being passed around, but her eyes do widen when she sees Avi take that huge gun from Pagan. She's seen, at least a few dozen times, what something like that can do to a person. What's left of them. But this is Pagan's gun... As she considers that, she takes in a breath and gives that gun a look of respect as she watches Avi take it rom Pagan. Her blue eyes dart over to Avi, after he asks about staying incognito. "I forgot a crucial detail in my personal effects. I think I should keep myself as hidden as possible."
Overtime purses his lips for a moment as Gin stares at him. It's apparent that he's attempting to root through his memories. He pauses, "He isn't speaking. We're on our own. There is probably a high possibility that He did." There's a shrug, even though the man responds to Nine, he's talking about him in the third. He pauses for a moment as he tilts his head forwards and begins muttering in the High Speech.
As he does, his left hand casually begins to make a series of gestures, while his right hand comes open fist over his left as the gestures seemingly continue beneath, all the while his other hand clutching and generating more pressure. Obviously, he's casting magic. But everything about it is quietly subdued.
Gin Joint's gunna go right ahead and pretend like nobody knows she lost her gun. She's just gunna go on and take what was offered. She's then going to sit back down, and nonchalantly begin checking over the weapon, whilst simultaneously muttering something in High Speech at it like a crazy person that believes items understand intentions. She side-eyes Overtime, "Pure. Fuckin'. Steamin', mate." She informs him, politely, demurely pointing a finger at his face, "You tell that grotty wee shitgibbon I'll be comin' fer him once this's all done'n dusted, and I'll put my foot that far up his ass that he'll be coughin' oot ma fuckin' laces--" What was once a posh british accent is rather quickly devolving into...
... something ... Something -awful-. She snoots out a breathy 'hmph', icy eyes wide and wild, nostrils flared. It's not a pretty look. Someone's in trouble.
Cavalier begins to move the knife blade back and forth as if he were doing some fighting drill there in the front seat: but, as is immediately clear, his attention is somewhere else. As he looks in the SUV's side mirror he begins to whisper a doggerel, something dark and vicious and twisted --
"Oh, the Devil said, 'Cain, I think this will fly I want this bastard deep and high From the guts of the earth to the clear blue sky It's time to rape, scald, scar up, and petrify.'"
Cavalier repeats this paean to the founding of Enoch, the City At The Base Of The Tower, and something very strange happens in the side mirror: his reflection -changes-. It's still him, of course, but he's ... not in the front seat any more: the backdrop is pure Pandemonium, the place where the winds of Limbo roar.
At the end of the invocation his reflection *scowls* at him, and on some level a voice can be heard even though it's not there at all, some idea that's so perfect it doesn't need to be audible to be heard.
"I will catch you and I will trap you and you will spend a very long life as my servant, you son of a bitch," his own Goetic reflection tells him --
-- before the moment vanishes, and the Goetic reflection calls down Hell itself on Cavalier's behalf.
When it's all over ... who was Cavalier, anyway? Really?
Grace closes her eyes and focuses, despite the ruckus inside the black SUV that is hurling them ever closer to their destination. Even if she is about as settled as a monk seated inside a children's bouncy house, her lips barely move as the barely audible High Speech leaves her lips in a whisper. Her brow, knit in concentration, finally comes to a rest as she opens her eyes. She wipes the tips of her fingers on a silk, black square that she plucks from her suit pocket.
The trip there is a hasty one, but Pagan doesn't fucks with any magic right now. He just stays focused on the wheel, the road, going exactly 11 MPH over the speed limit, and merging around as many cars as he can to shave down the seconds. The only thing that's drawing his eyes, right now, is the radio. He glances at it a few times as if hoping the channel is going to light back up with activity a split second before a voice would be heard. Silence, however, but for the road noise, the sounding of horns (Portland traffic gets tense), and the murmuring of High Speech all around them as they're flying down the road while casting.
The switch to a normal street, then a back road, and finally onto a private drive has them south of Portland proper and to the old WWII listening post on the hill south of town. It's a park now; the bunker filled with cement. That's not true, of course. It's Sentinel South; one of the four poles of the Consilium. It's pretty secluded--a couple miles from the nearest residential area, at least. It should be empty, especially as the shit weather has no one seeking out the parks; the rains driving everyone indoors or under bridges. There are people milling about outside, however. In fact, there are quite a few people milling about right up around that cemented-in bunker. Anyone with Mage sight active might see what's wrong with these people, but the word spills from Grace's lips--somehow--before the speeding SUV is within range enough to really focus on those Patterns.
Those dead patterns.
Pagan is driving very fast when a child--quite intentionally--jumps out from the bush at the last moment and throws their undead body into the front of the SUV; sending him spinning the wheel in vain efforts to not re-kill a child before his mind (especially his mind) can possibly have a chance to know what the fuck is happening.
One second the SUV full of Diamond Mages is speeding towards a horde. The next it's rolling. Fast.
Blue eyes scanning out the window, Grace is as ready as ever to get out and on the scene. She finishes patting her brow with the scarf and repockets it, and as her eyes lift, she can't help but catch a glance of Avi looking in the side mirror. There's a puzzling look that begins to pass over her, and then she begins to pale. As the color drains, her eyes begin to widen as the backdrop changes in the mirror. Coming from Avi's reflection, but clearly not /him/ speaking, that hissing in vehemence before the sudden disappearing act. Grace shifts her legs uncomfortably beneath her skirt, wringing her hands together.
As if the freakish reflection in the mirror weren't enough, another strange scene unfolds. Why anyone was here at all was a mystery, but the huge crowd is making her uneasy. And when the child throws itself in front of the SUV, she is doubly horrified. "Oh my fucking God!" Grace screams, unable to contain her terror. "They are dead! Fucking zombies!" Her hands move to her mouth as she watches the child, and feels the spin of the SUV as it loses control. She covers her head with her arms and pulls it down, expecting glass and every other thing to go flying along with them as they begin rolling.
The vehicle is rolling and there is a moment where it seems as if it has stopped. It's a weightless moment, and it's also an upside down one; an upside-down moment that ends with the SUV slamming sideways into a cement bunker wall. Airbags explode as what's left of crumpled glass shoots through the interior.
"FU-!" Pagan's curse is murdered by airbag.
Avi is equally airbagged.
Gin Joint cracked her head off of something, has taken 2L, and is out (for the moment).
9-to-5 took the shotgun's butt to the side of his head and has explosive pain in his ear; 3L and -2 to hearing for the scene.
Lastly, Grace finds herself in the grass watching the SUV impact; no idea how she got on her ass.
"OCHAWEEWEEWAEN!" What the fuck was that meant to be? Gin Joint manages to get it out just before the SUV begins its artful spin through the air. She's sure it's in slow motion. She hopes it is. Because this is about to hurt a-real bad, and when something's going this terribly, the only hope can be that it's also looking really, really cool. One gloved hand still clutches her revolver, finger thankfully away from the trigger, the other gripping hard to the head of Pagan's seat, what with her having been seated behind him. She takes in a gasped breath to call something out, but before she can really find her voice her head (and shoulders) goes slamming into the window beside her. She snaps back from it, but it's rather clear to anyone with any sort of awareness to them that she is no longer 'there'.
Here's the thing. Pagan? He didn't think he'd be getting out of the vehicle. At least not right away. Not before shots are fired. When he rips his seatbelt off and falls out of his window, he's understandably out of it. Which is why he goes to pull a gun that's not even in his leg. He reaches for it, feels nothing, and in that moment of hesitation is the first to succumb to a zombie that charges him with a surge of haste; mouth finding his neck instantly even though the undead hipster has to jump to get there.
Except Grace immediately steps back to before the accident. A mere moment before. They're all in the SUV. The accident? It hasn't happened yet. Grace shouts out a warning before anyone sees anything, Pagan doesn't argue, slows and swerves (and doesn't flinch this time) so that when the ambush zombie-child hits the front bumper? He just comes to an abrupt but non-eventful stop. "HOLY FUCK!" He puts the vehicle in reverse as the horde is turning to look towards them; slow to observe, but quick to move. "What's the fucking battle plan?! I was expecting fucking Ephies or some shit!"
"If you ever have to ask what the battle plan is, it's 'fall back and give us time to think'," Cavalier answers flatly. "Get us out of here. There's no possible good that comes from us going forward."
Gin Joint pages: So. This was planned. Would there be a possibility of getting a quick glimpse at the Strings to see if I can try to find some direction toward what or whom is directly anchored to this event, in this telling of reality? Y'know, before we have to run for our lives and miss out on informations? :P
Grace shakes her head, trying to stand up from the patch of grass where she somehow had the good luck and grace to land. No! Her partner, and her new associates were almost all injured, with zombies lumbering toward them. She watches Avi gather Gin Joint, and she moves to help 9, who doesn't need the help after all, but she feels so helpless. Her heart races in her chest as the Querent thinks. Of all the ideas, she comes up with a single thing. They just needed one clear moment...
And when the scene changes before her eyes, her eyes are full of gratitude. "Thank God. Holy fuck." She's the only one that knows, and she's fine with that. Her attention snaps to Pagan in the front seat suddenly. "I think Avi's right. We're not ready for this. We're trying to bring a knife to a gunfight. And I'm not convinced a knife or a gun are going to be effective here." In a perhaps more startling manner, she mutters, "You can't fix this. I would napalm the hell out of them, or something," under her breath.
Suddenly what is isn't even what was. The crash? Never happened. Whatever made it happen? Not today, Satan! Gin's gun? ... still on the counter at home. Great. As things begin to unfold and opinions are shared, Gin takes a moment to take a page from Overtime's book. She stops. Her eyes close. Her breath deepends, then shallows in a pattern most wouldn't perceive in this moment where attentions are so direly needed elsewhere. There's a stillness for scant seconds, and then a heaviness, a shuddering across the sinful soul. You know who you are. Time passes, seconds, minutes, whatever lies between, until suddenly her eyes pop open. Vacant. Dead. Pale lips move as though to speak, but no sound comes out at first. Then some strangled, breathless whisper: "Planned..." That singular word, it doesn't sound like Gin. "... Designed ..." It rasps, so soft. "... Drained!" It howls, suddenly. The moments that pass between each word stretch longer each time she speaks, "So tasty, so sweet..." It reverts, though the voice is beginning to shift back to the white haired frost midget more familiar to the others in the SUV, "Drained, hollow, hollow, -hollow-..." The urgency in her speech grows with each repetition. "Holl--..." She jerks, "Hallows!" This is where it starts making sense, right? "Ah! Eeuughh..." A gloved hand snaps upward to cradle the side of her head, eyes screwing shut, then prying open again. "Wh--oof," She breathes out sharply, clearly shaken, "Who knows something about Liches? ... Portland just got a whole lot snackier." How anticlimactic.
"Retreat is an option. The other option is to go around. Test the limitations. If something like this spreads outwards, there is a possibility that it becomes worse. I've seen zombie movies." Overtime/9 states - lurching forwards at the impact. He winces as he rubs his shoulder, grunting. Then Gin is talking about Liches, and Nine's lips thin a little bit in disdain. In distaste. He glances over towards Grace, Avi, and then Pagan. "I do not like the sound of that, Gin. We're rather concerned about this." He states as he begins to swing his head back towards Gin again.
Then back to Pagan. Overtime lets his brain run for a bit, before he exhales sharply. "I'd agree with leaving. That was Lich, with an ee-ss to it.."
"Fuck! Fuck, fuck, fuck!" Pagan looks from over his shoulder to the back-up cam and back. "We can't drop a napalm here, man. It's a park." Is he taking Grace serious. "We might have a Sentinel in there. We're going to drive by, shoot, lead them off and-" He listens to Gin Joint, and as he does so he gets very still. The last time he swears has no volume to it. Just expression and resignation before he starts to flip around to get them out of there.
Something about that? Sucks the fight right out of him and makes him realize that, maybe, this isn't the evening this is destined to go down. "Okay, okay. You're right, Nine. We'll call it in. ...Whole Consilium's gone to shit. A couple proper Moros could make quick work of them, though. It's better to get out and let more suited people handle this." He spends the next few minutes on the radio reporting as they head back to where they started; not a scratch on the SUV expect for the two it got punching open the fence on the way there. He recollects his firearms once they've arrived. "Lucy!"
He jogs over her before everyone can part, "Let's go hit St. Johns in a few days, alright? Promise. Just... few more days."
Grace nods at Pagan, looking up at his face. It's as serious as her own. "That's fine, don't worry. I'm just glad everyone here is in one piece. I think we could all use a break after that." She checks her inner pocket for her notepad, pulling it out just before adding, "I wasn't serious about the napalm, not really. But I'm not sure I have a better idea right now. I'll keep thinking on it." She offers him a smile and a brief nod before flipping a page and jotting some things down. Always taking notes.