Jump to content

Aberrant: Dead Rising - Chapter 12a: Former Family

Dawn OOC

Recommended Posts

The road continued rolling south. They planned to stop in Carlsbad – avoiding Roswell – to stock up, but as they drew closer, they met a disturbing sign: a long streak of blackened earth. Bond called a halt to investigate. They parked a safe distance away and he advanced. Before he reached the black scar, he turned and waved them forward. “Grass fire!” he shouted when they got closer.

“Is it still hot?” Mrigesh asked.

“No, this is several days old,” Bond said, reaching down to touch a thin green shoot. It was smaller than his pinky nail, but a sign of new growth. “Maybe weeks.”

It only took the adults a moment to realize the possibilities. With a heavy heart, they got started again. Before they’d gone more than two miles, they found the edge of the main burn. From horizon to horizon, the scrubs of southern New Mexico were ash wastelands. “There was nothing to stop them,” Mrigesh murmured.

“Let’s see how far,” Bond said simply to get them rolling again. They’d just stocked up on water and food; they had enough gas to get well into Mexico. This couldn’t be that big. Hopefully, they’d find Carlsbad unscathed.

Such was not their luck. When the town came into view, it was a black skeleton of abandoned buildings and gutted cars. A large crater marked a former above-ground propane tank. Worse were the actual skeletons; animals trapped by the fire – and the jumble of charred bones that were human. “I don’t think we’re shopping here,” Bond said casually, but his voice was tight.

They did find a gas station with part of the pump left and were able to get some of the fuel out. It was clear that someone else had been using it; they only extracted five gallons or so before it ran dry. Then it was back to the road, heading south.

Pecos was the same way, and Sanderson, and then they rolled across the Rio Grande. Once, the river might have stopped the fire, but the river will hadn’t recovered from man’s alteration to it, and the shadow of its former glory couldn’t even stop their trucks, much less a raging fire. Onward toward Mexico City they traveled, until even the most optimistic of them was privately sure they’d find it gutted and ruined too.

The black gave way to green as they entered the upper reaches of the Sierra Madre Oriental, one of Mexico’s more eastern mountain ranges. The occupants of the two cars relaxed as they found proof that the fire hadn’t wiped out any chance they had of finding something.

“It’ll be dark soon,” Bond said, looking up from his map. “Monclova is just ahead. I think that would be a good place to assess the local climate. Plus they might have goods for trade or acquistition there.”

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 140
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Jas nodded, flipping shut the copy of "Spanish for Dummies" that she had salvaged from one of the boxes of books in the back. She had a headache, probably due to the tension she'd been carrying for the last couple of days as they made their way across the blackened ruin of several towns, combined with the cramming she'd been doing to try and take her mind off the landscape and what it might portend.

"Yeah, that sounds good. I'm dying to get out and stretch."

She sighed, leaning her head back against the seat and muttering quietly.

"Hopefully I've learned enough Spanish to keep us from getting shot at."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"No dispare." Hana spoke up from the back of the Hummer. She was slouched into her seat, wearing her little white shorts and a faded sky blue tee shirt with black trimmed arm bands and collar that she'd inherited from Kristin. Pumpkin was sprawled across her lap, breathing noisily in sleep. Both girls were flushed, their skin shiny with perspiration. They knew better than to try to plead with Bond for air-conditioning--that had been outlawed many miles ago in the interest of saving gas.

"It means, 'don't shoot.'" Hana explained when Jasmine glanced back at her. "I saw it on this TV show with my dad. These guys were like robbing a bank." Hana shifted as best she could with Pumpkin's bulk pinning her to the hot seat cushion. Pumpkin barely stirred. "And one of them kept saying that when the cops came. No dispare, no dispare." The young teen gently swept the sweat stuck hair away from her cousin's brow. "Dad said it means don't shoot."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"A useful phrase in any language." Bond remarked as he glanced over his shoulder at the two wilting flowers in the back seat, his usually-wry expression tinged with sympathy under the sunglasses he was wearing. "You two better have some more water."

"It's warm." Hana said with a small moue of distaste, but the teen was savvy enough to know that Bond was right. The water wasn't to cool them down - it was to replace what they were sweating out. She obediently drank from her canteen, then gently stirred Pumpkin to get her to do the same. Bond nodded, then smiled at Jasmine before he keyed his headset, his shaded eyes resuming their scanning of their surroundings as he drove.

"Mrigesh? Simon? Letting you fellows know we're going to be stopping soon. Place called Monclova. I'm going to switch on the channel scanner here and see if there's any chatter." Suiting action to words as he got an acknowledgement, the merc reached out and switched on the Hummvee's more powerful long-range radio set, setting the auto-scan to home in on the most powerful local signals.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Roger." Simon's voice brought back the simple reply - and the only one necessary.

There was silence after that, save for the radio drifting back and forth over the waves. The static screechs became almost soothing in their regularity and emptiness. If anyone was broadcasting, they weren't doing it in the area.

They rolled into Monclova proper, finding it a ghost town. Bond called for a halt and they went through a couple of stores, finding them picked clean. "Someone's been raiding this place systematically for a while," Mrigesh noted.

"There's a settlement nearby," Bond surmised.

"Guys?" Simon had remained outside to keep an eye out while they 'shopped'. They went back outside, where he handed Jasmine the binoculars and pointed. When she looked, she saw the wisp of smoke, too.

"I think we know where to start looking," Jasmine said, handing the binoculars to Bond.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hana picked her way out of the Monclova Mercado, a blocky stucco building. The windows had been shattered, the shelves overturned and destroyed. Dirt lay over everything and cobwebs stretched across the inside of the store like gossamer curtains. Rust colored stains were streaked across the cheap cracked linoleum floors. The place was gutted and hollow. Sunlight pierced through the walls, illuminating rays of dust motes drifting through the air like schools of tiny fish. As she stepped into the street, Hana raised her hand to shield her eyes from the glare and approached Simon’s side.

“I found this stupid glove.” Hana murmured to Simon, squinting and turning her face away. She held a filthy mess of torn black lace that dangled from her hand like a dead rat by its tail.

“I want it! Bana what is it!? I want it!” Pumpkin yelled, bounding out of the store behind Hana. The little girl scrunched her nose up, taking the battered glove from her cousin and holding it up by two long disintegrating fingers. “It’s gross! It looks like a spider!” Pumpkin announced, flapping the glove.

“Oh, Hon...” The maternal instinct in Jasmine recoiled at the sight of Pumpkin’s grimy new plaything. “Don’t—“ Jasmine started to protest, but Pumpkin had already wormed her arm into the glove and stretched it down past her elbow. With a little shake of her head, Jasmine turned back toward the Humvee.

“Squirt, that’s nasty. Take it off.” Hana said superciliously.

“No.” Pumpkin got a flushed defiant look. “I’m gonna touch you withit!”

“You better not, Squirt. I’m seri—ahhh!!” Hana shrieked, abandoning her pose of haughty disdain to a panicked dodge as Pumpkin lunged at her, glove out-stretched, the fingers droopy and misaligned on Pumpkin’s little hand.

“Girls, girls.” Bond chided with mild amusement. Hana had raced around his back, using him as a shield, while Pumpkin tried to reach around his legs to get at her cousin. Now they circled him in a frantic dance between hunter and hunted.

“I’m gonna get you!” Pumpkin yelled, stubbornly determined to find her mark no matter how many times Hana’s fast footwork thwarted her efforts.

“May I see as well?” Mrigesh asked. He approached carefully, avoiding the warring cousins, and accepted the binoculars from Bond with a small nod of thanks. “Ah.” The doctor lowered the binoculars and rubbed his eyes and then raised the lenses again. There it was, a plume of smoke curling gray against the sky. It could mean hope. It could mean despair. It could mean anything.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Jasmine crossed her arms, leaning back against a wall and chewing thoughtfully on her lower lip - a habit that her "family" of traveling companions had begun to identify as her 'thinking pose'. She waited until Mrigesh passed the binoculars over to Simon courteously, so that the former police officer had a look too.

"Perhaps we should check it out first."

The guys turned and glanced at her, Pumpkin and Hana still temporary locked in battle, though Pumpkin had almost gained the edge by grabbing for Hana's ankle from between Bond's calves. Hana jumped back and ran off, Pumpkin chasing after her, as Jasmine shook her head slightly in amusement.

"I mean, how far do you think it is? Too far to scout ahead by foot without bringing the Hummers close enough to be spotted? We could radio if it looks clear, and then we could all drive in. But if it looks like a situation best avoided, then we still have that option."

She shrugged slightly, acknowledging that she was more the group's tool than the group's strategist, and glanced at the three of them to see what they thought.

"Then again, it might be best just to drive up and see what happens, I don't know."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Something banged not far away; for Jasmine, she knew immediately that it was a plastic lid bouncing off of something hard. She also knew it was to their right and between some buildings, and a solid guess as to two which buildings. The rest of them had a general idea of direction.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

“Squirt, knock it off. Something’s going on.” Hana had her arm straight out, palm planted against Pumpkin’s forehead, keeping her cousin’s wildly waving arms from scoring a touch with the icky glove.

“Nnngh.” Pumpkin leaned into Hana’s hand, her head pushing back. “What?”

“I dunno. Didn’t you hear that?”

“Yeah, so?”

“So...it might be something.” Or someone. Together the two girls approached Jasmine, their struggle momentarily set aside. Hana looked up at the young woman expectantly, then glanced around, her darkening blue eyes seeking out the source of the sound.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"It sounds like a trash can lid, maybe."

Jasmine motioned Hana and Pumpkin towards the Hummer as she spoke.

"It's probably a zombie. But just in case.. Hana, you get in the front and keep an eye out for me - Pumpkin, pass Hana the binoculars please. I think it's between those two buildings over there, but I might be wrong. Jim, Simon.. will you guys cover me - and that area - while I check it out?"

They nodded, pulling out their weapons and taking cover, each one covering a different angle. Jasmine grabbed her machete, strapping the sheathed weapon to her back as she skirted her way towards the building on the left - once that was calling itself an "Almacén de hardware". The building was painted a bright orange color that was now somewhat sun-faded and dust-coated from abandonment. Or maybe it was just always like that.

The side of the building was rough in texture, but lacked any practical handholds for climbing up. So instead, Jasmine made her way quietly over to the rather sparse-looking tree next to it. With a measured jump, she grabbed onto one of the lower branches, and swung herself up effortlessly into the tree and pulled herself up a couple branches until she head reached one that overhung the building's flat roof. Then she dropped down and began to creep across the roof towards the space separating the buildings, hand on the machete's handle, doing her best to remain silent at the same time.

Click to reveal..
Str + Ath roll for tree-climbing: 4d10 → [1,8,2,3] = 1 suxx + 5 auto-suxx for M-Str = 6 suxx.


Dex + Stealth for Staying Quiet, 1st two die are Mega: 6d10 → [10,3,4,5,2,7] = 3 suxx.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Pumpkin dutifully passed Hana the binoculars and then clambered into the Hummer, but she spoke up in protest, her voice pitched high with indignation, when Hana shut the car door instead of climbing in as Jasmine had instructed. “Hey! Azzy said to get in!”

“She told me to keep an eye out, Squirt...” Hana hung the binoculars around her neck and scrambled up the Hummer’s grill onto the hood.

Rolling the window down, Pumpkin continued to berate her older cousin as Hana hauled herself up onto the roof. “She said you was supposed to get in with me and you didn’t and I’m gonna tell on you and you’re gonna get in trouble!”

“I can see better from up here.” The little teen answered. Crossing her legs butterfly style she lifted the binoculars to peer through them into the alley between the buildings that Jasmine was stalking toward. The spot was wreathed in the shadow cast by the side of the building Jasmine had scaled, but Hana’s eyes were now inky black and they saw through the darkness as clearly as if the alley were bathed in light.

“You can’t even see nothin’ in there!” Pumpkin said, sulking.

“Yeah I can.”

“Nuh uh!” Pumpkin insisted. When Hana failed to answer, her face reddened into a childish pout. “Well, I’m gonna make some friends to see way better than you and tell Azzy and then you’re gonna wish you could make friends too, but you can’t so there!” Pumpkin pressed her hands together and squeezed her eyes tightly shut, like she was making a wish. When she opened her hands a trio of shimmering blue dragonflies flew forth, looping lazily past Hana and buzzing into the alley. Each of the enormous dragonflies was pigeon-sized and their heads were all identical: They bore the gaunt face of a woman with high cheekbones, wicked eyes, and too sharp teeth.

Click to reveal..
Hana’s perception roll: 6d10.hits(7)=3

No idea what Pumpkin gets to roll for her friends—I hope that I’m not taking too much of a liberty with her—let me know if you’d like anything edited, Dawn

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Jasmine went left, so Bond went right, with one pistol drawn and held low as he stepped softly through the detritus. Like Jasmine, he skirted a short, circular path to the side of the right-hand building which claimed to be 'Mannys Auto Shop' in bold red letters on a billboard style sign. A cartoonish burro winked bawdily from the faded paintwork, and the smell of old, old engine oil was in the air.

With the ease of practice boosted with superhuman reflexes, Bond went up the side of the squat building like a squirrel. A jump, a planted foot on a window ledge only a couple inches wide, another jump to wallbounce off the adjoining building and he was on the roof without even having to use his hands and with scarcely more noise than a cat might make.

He crouched low, catching Jasmine's eye and smiling as together they stalked to the edges of their respective high ground.

Click to reveal..

Moving quietly = 9 dice, (First two are Mega)

1d10=1, 1d10=6, 1d10=6, 1d10=8, 1d10=4, 1d10=3, 1d10=8, 1d10=9, 1d10=4

3 succs

Athletics to get up the side of the building. 11 (10 + 1 for Freerunning spec) First 2 Mega

1d10=3, 1d10=10, 1d10=6, 1d10=5, 1d10=10, 1d10=8, 1d10=8, 1d10=8, 1d10=1, 1d10=5, 1d10=9

8 succs + 3 succs from Physical Prodigy

11 succs

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It was indeed a trash can lid. Thrown with such a velocity that even though it was plastic, it shattered a ribcage just fine before bouncing/falling to the ground, broken and split nearly in two from the impact. What came next was a monstrous, steel toed boot that finished the job, flattening the viral creature's chest with ease.

An audible growl rose up, reverberating off the narrow walls of the alleyway. Two more were shambling up, and while they could stand shoulder to shoulder, the massive behemoth that Hana saw clear as day was wide enough that a second person would've had to stand behind him to move comfortably. 'He' was about seven and a half feet tall, with long sandy blonde hair, and built like he was nothing but a thin layer skin wrapped around tightly corded muscles and draped in nothing but rags to preserve modesty. As they approached he hunched down, a posture that told Hana he was ready for a battle.

The first one ran up and was flattened against the wall in a grisly mess by a powerful back hand that shattered a small area of the wall of the "Almacén de hardware" building. Jasmine and Bond both easily heard the ruckus now and indeed Jasmine's hiding place shook slightly from the impact. The second zombie didn't seem to fare any better, but certainly lasted longer. The man simply grasped the creatures head and lifted it into the air. With nothing but bestial instincts to drive it the zombie flailed about and hissed, kicking and raking at the large man who just stood there holding his prey aloft.

Something distracted him, Hana knew. He sniffed the air and narrowed his eyes. It was faint, but it was there... the lip of the mutant curled slightly and another growl echoed up from the alleyway.

Click to reveal..
Bloodhound, Mega-Perception + Perception + Survival: Roll(8d10): 6,9,1,1,3,9,6,2 (3 Successes vs. Difficulty 2, Success)

Primal has Bond's scent. He's still standing there holding the zombie too.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Bond's eyes widened fractionally at the sound of the pissed off growl, then he smiled and moved forward more boldly to the roof's edge, squatting there and peering down into the alley.

"You going to finish that?" the familiar accented voice came from overhead. Bond grinned down at the feline giant as he indicated the suspended zombie with a wave of his pistol. "Only we saw some smoke not far away, which might mean a settlement." he went on conversationally. "Was wondering if you'd like to come with us. If you're not too busy, that is." He smiled again, more genuinely.

"Good to see you again, Primal."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The zombie was tossed up a few feet then Primal reared back one leg and kicked the former human being square in the crotch, sending it soaring hundreds of feet in an inhumane arc. He stood there silent for a moment, watching the zombie tumble and roll like a cat at play.

He looked down at his tissue covered forearm. "Yeah, sure."

Bond certainly noticed his lack of returning the 'hello' as he stomped off and exited the alley, now in full view of the two young ones. With a twist on a hydrant water dribbled out, there wasn't much pressure but there was enough to wash away zombie left overs.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Holy shit. Hana’s binoculars fell around her neck as she scrambled to the edge of the Hummer’s roof and leaned her head over the side. “Squirt, hurry! Give me the little headset thingy!”

“What headset thingy?” Pumpkin asked, looking at Hana’s upside down face hanging in front of her window.

“The headset thingy! It’s black. It’s in the backseat, in the seat pocket, hurry!”

“Alright, I am!” Pumpkin dug her arm into the webbing of the backseat pocket and came up with Hana’s headset. She passed it to her cousin and then poked her head out as Hana disappeared back over the lip of the roof. “What’s wrong? Where’d that noise come from?”

“Nothing, get back inside the car and lock all the doors. Don’t open the window unless I tell you to!” Hana hastily adjusted the headset, rising up on her knees and keeping a careful watch on the street in front of the alley. She hadn’t heard the exchange between Bond and Primal. She had only heard the monster’s growl, and seen it through the dark of the alley battling the zombies. She had to try to warn her friends.

Hana took a deep breath, “There’s a big fucking monster in the ally right beneath you guys and it was fighting some zombies and I just saw it crush one and it’s really huge and you guys should get out of there and get back to the car right now especially Simon and Dr. Mrigesh you guys need to—oh fuck!” Hana exclaimed, her rushed narrative interrupted by the zombie that came sailing out of the alley and up into the sky. She followed its trajectory as it soared across low building tops and landed somewhere out of sight with the faint sound of an exploding water balloon. “Did you see that!? It just punted a zombie so hard it flew—hurry, get out of there before it...oh shit, it sees us! It’s gonna...wash its hands...”

Hana’s voice had been pitched high with excitement and fear. Now she just watched mutely as the beast stood before a fire hydrant and rinsed its arm clean of gore and giblets. “Um. What should I do?” she finally asked in a low tense whisper.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Come over and say 'Hello'." Bond's voice came over the radio net, his smile clearly audible in the tone of his voice. "He doesn't bite. Much." The merc dropped from his rooftop perch, hopping off a signpost and then landing easily in the street and following the clawed giant over to the hydrant. "Just relax, everyone. He smells fear. And Oreo cookies. His name's Primal, and he was my partner back before I came to the Refuge. I wouldn't say he's harmless by any stretch, but generally you'll have to give him a reason for him to be a direct threat."

Turning of his mic, Bond stopped a few feet from Primal as he washed himself clean. China-blue eyes studied the large man carefully, trying to discern if there was any hostility or bad temper - well, worse temper than usual - about his friend.

"I understand why you didn't come back to the Refuge." he said quietly. "You probably knew it already, but you didn't miss much except a fair bit of drama."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"The Refuge was no place for an animal," Primal growled out, his voice deep and thick it seemed to carry far farther than normal. Indeed his time alone had made him a bit more feral but Bond knew that if there was no humanity left, then they would not be having this conversation. Being alone takes it's toll on everyone eventually and the more he was alone, the more primal he became. "We both know that. It was just a matter of time before one of those fops, boot licks, or toadies pissed me off and did em' in."

He cleaned his arm off, showing a particular obsessiveness for cleanliness found common in felines, even large ones. He glanced up and saw Jasmine joining them and the kids in the hummer still debating on whether or not to meet him. Bond saw the math being worked in his head. He looked up as his old friend. "Damn, you work fast. I thought I smelled the lingering scent of rabbit close by."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Jasmine hopped down off the other building behind bond, landing in a smooth crouch. As Hana's panicked voice trailed off, her lips flickered into a wry smile and she stepped out with Bond and Primal and gestured towards the girls, as well as Simon and Mrigesh, to come closer. It was then that Pumpkin's little fairies found them, poking lightly at Primal with pointed, talon-like fingers and letting out high-pitched giggles from wicked-looking fanged mouths. He swatted at them impatiently, nostrils flaring in irritation, until Jasmine stepped in and tried to shoo them away, speaking into the microphone she hadn't shut off yet.

"Pumpkin, sweetheart, call your pixies back, or they're going to get hurt. "

She managed to shoo them away from the feral man before he knocked any of them out or something - that was a fast way to upset Pumpkin, and something told her an angry four year old wasn't the best way to introduce themselves to Jim's old partner.

"Primal, it's good to see you again. Still dealing with the undead masses as effectively as the last time we met."

She smiled wryly, stepping close to Bond and re-sheathing the machete she'd been holding. It was a bit of an upgraded model from the worn-out one she'd had the last time he'd seen her using it - standing not far from him as they hacked and slashed their way through a bunch of undead surrounding an enclave of fanatics. Other than that she looked much the same, if a bit.. curvier. Jasmine's pregnancy was starting to show, but it was still subtle enough where it took even the perceptive Primal a second look to realize the source of the difference. If he hadn't seen how sleek-looking she'd been three months ago, he might not have picked up on it at all.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hana shifted onto her stomach and eased herself off the Hummer’s roof. Her shirt bunched up around her ribs and she tugged it back down self-consciously, pushing off with one hand and landing with a little thump. “Hey, Squirt.” Hana rapped lightly on Pumpkin’s window. “Jasmine wants you to call off your blood-sucking fairy vampires.”

“How come!?” Pumpkin demanded.

“Cuz. I dunno. The Manimal might eat them or something.”

“He better not!” Pumpkin scrunched her face into a scowl.

“Well, then make them stop bugging him.” Hana whispered back. She glanced sidelong at Jasmine and Bond and their massive mutant friend. It was like a cruel joke. The Z Virus had made Jasmine beautiful and strong, but it had made Daniel Craig go crazy and it had turned whoever the beast once was into the hulking monstrosity that now stood in the middle of the street. Hana felt a twinge of pity. At least she could hide what she was.

Hesitantly, with her thumbs stuck through the belt loops of her little shorts, Hana strayed closer to Primal. She stopped half-way between the Hummer and the monster, regarding him warily. Pumpkin came charging into Hana’s side a moment later. She pulled Hana’s hand away from the teen’s hip and clutched it tightly, shyly hiding herself behind her cousin. “You didn’t wait for me.” Pumpkin said reproachfully.

The fanged fairies withdrew from Primal and pulled back into a lazy circle over the girls’ heads. They bumped into one another and buzzed about playfully, but there was something deliberate about their movement, something calculating in the way they shifted and swirled. In moments they formed a defensive pattern, the circle giving way to a V that gleamed with the sharpness of tooth and claw.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Jasmine you already know." Bond said easily, putting an arm around the young woman's shoulder and hugging her close for a moment. When communicating with Primal, a few bits of body-language were worth a thousand words - especially since the large man didn't really have the patience for longwinded introductions. He gestured towards the younger girls, giving them a reassuring smile and motioning for them to come closer. Taking a somewhat circular path they came to his and Jasmine's side, keeping as much distance between themselves and Primal as they could. The vicious little fairy things buzzed overhead as Pumpkin took advantage of the additional cover, trying to make sure she was between Hana, Jasmine and Bond before she peeked out at Primal, somewhere between fear and awe.

"These two young ladies are Hana and Pumpkin." Bond said by way of introduction, resting a hand on Hana's shoulder and then Pumpkin's head as he said their names. "Hana's gifts help scare off some raiders a few days back, and you've met some of Pumpkin's friends." He released Jasmine and crouched, turning to speak to both girls, his voice reassuringly calm.

"Girls, this is Primal, a friend. He's saved my life more times than I've had hot baths since the world went bad. We were partners before I came to stay at the Refuge, riding around in the Falcon."

"He's kinda scary-looking." Pumpkin whispered, peering around Bond's shoulder at the huge lion-man. Bond considered the response to that, deciding on truth after a nanosecond. He couldn't exactly maintain credibility if he tried to claim that the giant, clawed man who punted a zombie halfway to the next county was a big teddy-bear.

"He is scary. And he's big, and he's very strong. And if he gets angry, watch out. But he isn't bad, okay? I've never seen him hurt anyone that wasn't bad, or trying to hurt him or me. Or, you know, a zombie. He likes to kill zombies." Bond smiled, looking both girls in the eye. "Primal's a good man."

"I'm right fuckin' here, y'know." Primal's voice rumbled like distant thunder. Bond grinned over his shoulder at the man, then winked at Pumpkin.

"He's a good man, but good doesn't always mean nice." he stage-whispered, getting a small answering smile from the girl before standing up and turning back to his friend, noting that Simon and, more reluctantly, Mrigesh were approaching the pow-wow. "This is Simon, and Mrigesh. They drive the other truck. Simon's an ex-cop, and Mrigesh is a doctor. Simon, Mrigesh, this is Primal, my old partner."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Simon looked at Primal for one hard moment before walking forward and extending his hand. "Good to meet you," he offered. His movement jarred Mrigesh into motion who echoed him and also offered his hand. The difference between the two men was apparent: Mrigesh was hesitant and unsure, while Simon was confident, relaxed, even.

Pumpkin peered wide-eyed from behind her human shield; after a second look at Primal's teeth and claws, she ducked further back behind people.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Primal offered Simon nothing more than a polite (relatively so for Primal anyway) nod. He didn't even acknowledge Mrigresh, having no time for patience for cowards. To Hana and Pumpkin the man-beast offered them a close lipped grin that delivered with honest sincerity. They were cute, and while he'd more than likely never admit that aloud, the two children struck a tender, warm chord within him.

The sight of children made him miss his own son and worse reminded him of that fateful night when he held his zombie son tightly in his arms and squeezed him neck until it snapped. He wasn't Primal then, just a father who felt that putting his son out his misery was his responsibility. Leon deserved that much.

He stood up to his full height now, confident that his arm was clean enough. He gave the hydrant a twist and it stopped dribbling water. He was a mammoth of a man, thick arms, wide body, and a permanent scowl. He looked to Bond, then to Jas, then to her stomach and rolled his eyes. "So what are doing out here to begin with? Got plans?"

He looked to Pumpkin finally, and knelt down on one knee. He was still almost taller than anyone present. He held out a hand to the young girl. With his claws retracted he appeared to possess thick, sharp, black finger nails that could still serve as claws in their right. "Come out little one," He beckoned. "I'm not going to hurt you."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"We're heading down to Mexico City. We've been tracking what's left of my family - the last evidence we found suggests they headed there. There's supposed to be some sort of enclave down there, which hopefully means some trading, too. After that, it just depends."

As Primal knelt down and spoke to Pumpkin, Jasmine watched the little girl. At first she didn't say anything, just ducked a little more behind her and Jim's legs. Jas smiled reassuringly at her and motioned towards the intimidating-looking man/beast.

"It's okay, Pumpkin. I wouldn't have you meet him if I didn't trust him around you."

"But 'Azzy, you said he might hurt my friends."

"Just cause he didn't know they were your friends, baby. In fact, I'll bet if you introduce them to him nicely, he just might like them."

Her lips twisted wryly at Jim, for she could think of no one as likely to not be intimidated - who might in fact be impressed with little blue demonic-looking fairies, with mouths full of sharp teeth and fingers curved in miniature pointed talons - as Primal. So long as they weren't buzzing around him, poking at him like insects.

Pumpkin's eyes widened slightly in surprise, for Jasmine was almost constantly suggesting that she not bring her friends out around new people right away. After all, most people were scared of them. It was a drastic enough change of pace to tip the scales from fear to curiosity, at least a little bit. She stayed close to Jasmine's leg, but stepped out a little bit so that she was no longer hiding behind the pregnant super's faded Levi's. Several of the little blue things flew between her and the feral super, flittering around and examining him as keenly as Pumpkin's big blue eyes were, the one with a slightly bent wing tip offering him an annoyed hiss, but keeping it's distance.

"These are my friends. They helped protect me before 'Azzy founded me. They scare people - even Bana! Do.. do you like them?"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Their glow will attract attention and the constant fluttering will give our position." He wasn't overly impressed with them. Given what he'd seen of 'mutants' this kid was borderline 'normal'. "Pretty as they are little one, keep them away as we hunt."

He did manage a warm grin, Primal wasn't much for real smiles. "But yes, I do like them"

He stood back up and towered over Jasmine as looked at her. "I'll join you until the Enclave. I do not belong in settlements. After that, it just depends."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Pretty? They look like evil little bug monsters...because they are evil little bug monsters. Hana thought as she glanced at the buzzy blue fairies. Maybe that’s how we end up. A bunch of freaks and monsters and zombies. she reflected, looking over Primal where he stood beside Jasmine. He had been a person once. Hana doubted he even remembered what that felt like. He was even bigger than that giant meat-head with the metal pipe and that obnoxious horn—the one who’d made a scene at Violet’s. I wonder who would win in a fight...
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Pumpkin grinned happily - the criticism regarding their impracticality in combat passing over her completely in favor of pleasure at his apparent acceptance of her friends.

"Sure! I have other friends, maybe you'd want one of them to hunt with you, I can show you if you want--"

Jasmine cut in, scooping Pumpkin up into her arms and holding her at something closer to eye-level for the tall, feline predator.

"Maybe later, sweetheart. I'm sure there will be plenty of chances for Primal to meet your friends now that he's traveling with us."

She smiled at Primal, looking pleased that he was going to be joining them. Men like Primal - or whatever he considered himself now - were at least upfront about who and what they were. After dealing with people like Violet and Fox, she knew an attractive (or docile, or seductive) appearance weren't all they seemed. What Jasmine knew was that Jim had trusted him enough to travel with him before. And she knew there was strength in numbers. For now, that was enough. She glanced back at Jim, tilting her head slightly.

"So, are we still heading to check out that smoke nearby?"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"We are." Bond confirmed as he turned and started towards the Falcon. "We'll do it carefully, though: no charging in with engines rumbling, just in case the source of that smoke isn't friendly." He glanced at Primal as they moved. "I don't know if you'd heard, but someone high-tech and low-conscience has been taking out entire enclaves. Des Moines got hit a little while ago. Wiped off the map."

"No shit?" Primal sounded intrigued. Des Moines had been a well-defended, well-organised enclave. "That's a shame: it weren't a bad town."

"Whoever did it, did it from the air. Helicopters maybe, though the few survivors were pretty shaken up and couldn't give me a solid answer. Looked like they used explosives and napalm from the air." Bond glanced around at everyone. "That's why I want us to get in the habit of being careful." He took in the serious faces of Mrigesh and Simon, the slightly apprehensive expression on Hana's face, and the solemn nod Pumpkin gave him. Bond turned and looked at the drift of smoke, pale eyes judging the distance.

"It's not much more than a mile away, I'm guessing. Primal? You up for going ahead with me and scouting?" Bond pulled the encoded headsets out of the Falcon and began passing them around. "The basic plan is we scout out, then give the all clear if it is. It might be that simple. If not, then Primal and me can get clear quickly, and we haven't left the vehicles and youngsters unguarded." He looked at Jasmine. "The all-clear signal will include the words 'We're just dandy, come on in'. If Primal or me, or someone pretending to be us says anything else, then you know something's up." He looked around at them all questioningly.

"I know it might seem like overkill on the caution, but like I said before I want people getting into the right habits. Anyone got anything to add?"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

“I can do it.” Hana appeared at Bond’s side by his elbow. In answer to the good-humored smirk that played at Bond’s lip, the slight teen crossed her arms over her chest and tilted her chin up in proud defiance. “I want to help.” she added. “I can go over and take a look from way up and I wouldn’t even have to risk getting spotted or caught or anything like that.” The words seemed to surprise Hana as she spoke them. She held herself a little tighter and glanced from Bond to Primal. She had to crane her head back to see the monstrous mutant’s leonine face.

If she had been asked, Hana would have been hard pressed to explain the impulse that caused her to volunteer. Volunteers got killed. Volunteers were dumb. Why risk yourself when someone else was willing to do it? Hana blinked and licked her lip. The words ‘never mind’ were on the tip of her tongue.

“If you want me to, I mean.” She said awkwardly, turning back to Bond. “I could come back real fast too.“

“Hana, I don’t think that’s such a great idea right now.” Jasmine spoke up, placing her hand gently on Hana’s shoulder. “It’s very brave of you to offer, but you still don’t know what you can do...and what you can’t do. Remember what happened the last time you flew?”

“I can do it.” Hana insisted, blushing. I can do anything I want to. A darkness had drifted into the deep blue of Hana’s eyes, as if her pupils had cracked open and begun to bleed black into her irises.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Bond's smirk altered fractionally as he considered the cute teen's posture and attitude, his eyes tightening with cool appraisal and quiet approval. He flicked a glance at the others: Primal, Jasmine Simon and Mrigesh, then looked back steadily at Hana.

The girl felt distantly that all-too familiar sensation around Bond - the sense that not only did he know what hand you were holding in the card game, but he'd given you that hand to begin with and didn't care that it might be better than his. She dimly started to picture every tic, every verbal cue or idle piece of small talk that the crazy super/merc/trader guy made being actually a calculated move towards some Grand Plan. Had he known she was going to volunteer? Or did she just think he did? She gazed deep into those eyes, looking for some clue, but got nothing except a flickering wink that was gone as soon as she spotted it.

"Why not?" he asked rhetorically, nodding as he saw Hana already had the headset on that she'd used earlier. "Take some binoculars, get nice and high with the sun above you so they'll be less likely to spot you." He unfastened a pouch containing some compact, shock resistant binocs from his webbing and handed them to her, then clapped her gently on one shoulder.

"Simple scouting run. Keep it cool, keep it quiet, and keep it fast." he affirmed one last time before stepping back, giving Hana some room to do her thing.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Concern flickered across Jasmine's face for a moment, a maternal feeling of hesitancy that was only recently starting to become familiar to the young woman. She looked as if she were about to protest again, but she saw Hana's expression respond to her unwritten objection by hardening stubbornly.

Her gaze flickered to Jim, who gave her a reassuring wink. She nodded slightly, swallowing her doubts. Then she turned back to Hana, drawing in a slight breath before offering the young teenager an encouraging smile.

"Good luck, and be careful."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

“I’ll be real careful.” Hana promised. A cold feeling in her stomach spread. Darkness roiled inside of her, surged and rose up. The inky black that had begun to swim in Hana’s eyes now spilled forth like water from a burst dam. Liquid though it was, the darkness hung in the air, coiling out of the bottomless pits of Hana’s eyes and reaching out in hungry tendrils. Hana curled her little fists and those wicked shadow snakes twisted away from Bond, Jasmine, and Primal. They doubled back upon themselves and wrapped around Hana’s face and neck. They slithered over her arms and legs while the girl gasped and took a halting step back. Her eyes were like geysers of oil, spitting out more and more sinister strands of dark.

Not too much, not too much, Hana strove to contain it. It had taken only a second. Her body was covered, swallowed whole. She could sense it wanted more. It wanted everything. No. Concentrate. And then the thing that had been Hana rocketed up into the sky. A stream of gloom trailed behind her and swept across the group below with an icy touch before evaporating into nothingness. Soon Hana was nothing more than a speck in the sky.

The exhilaration made Hana want to scream, but darkness filled her mouth and throat and stole her breath away. The wind was rushing past her and Hana could only barely feel it over the slippery cold of the darkness. Everything seemed small and insignificant below her. Specks against a disappearing landscape. I wonder how high I can go? Hana thought. It felt like being underwater, even as she ripped across the sky. The darkness was cloying and heavy. She had to remind herself to use the binoculars, pulling them away from the grasping black wisps that clung to her, and lifting them to her eyes so she could look down at the source of the smoke below.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Primal smirked and let out a sigh that echoed a low growl. "The kids got balls, I'll give her that."

Impatiently he paced back and forth, ten steps in either direction, as he waited for the child to return. Every footfall seemed to 'thump' against the ground.

"What's it been, five, ten minutes? She's been gone too long." He finally huffed with the tell tale layer of a growl in his throat. "We should go after her."

Bond smirks and shook his head. "It's been a minute-thirty."

"Oh. Okay then." He conceded with a shrug and simply went back to pacing.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hana hovered high in the air, encased in her black cocoon. It didn’t take long to find the source of the smoke. Inside a fenced perimeter, a small group of people worked on slaughtering hogs. They had already killed one or two, Hana guessed and the dozen or so people were working on the remaining five. One team was slicing throats, the next was skinning the freshly killed pig and the last group – and the largest – was butchering the animals, cutting their bodies into tasty meat products. There were a couple of sheds that look like smokers, but most of the smoke was coming from a fire that they were using to cook some of the meat.

Hana could see another pen nearby, which held more pigs, probably the lucky ones not selected to be butchered. Here the animals were running in nervous starts and stops, probably upset by the sounds and scents of their dying brethren.

But even more interesting was the warehouse complex behind the slaughter-yard. The four buildings were surrounded by a low concrete wall. Inside, children played or ran around doing chores; adults seemed to be mostly working or guarding the wall from atop ladders. It was definitely an enclave, one of only fifty or so people.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Primal was still pacing back and forth when Jasmine’s sharp eyes spotted Hana’s eerie silhouette against a thread of cloud. She touched Bond’s shoulder and pointed. And then they could all see it, a mass of black twisting shapes that came rocketing ever closer.

“She’s coming in too fast.” Jasmine said tightly.

“I got it.” Primal grunted, stepping out and bracing himself to catch the flying, falling girl. But at the last moment Hana twisted away from him, wraith-like, slipping through the huge mutant’s out-stretched arms. Just before striking the ground the darkness around Hana vanished, sucking itself back in through her eyes. Hana’s speed vanished with it, leaving her briefly suspended in the air before gravity took over and dumped her into a tumbling sprawl that ended with the lithe little teen on her ass and nursing a scraped knee.

Jasmine started toward her, but Hana held her palm out sharply. “I’m alright, I’m okay!” she blurted hoarsely. “Just...” Hana took a short sharp breath as the black wisps still swimming in her eyes faded to a deep blue. “...gimme a sec.”

Hana winced as she pulled herself back up and brushed herself off. She took her hand away from her bloodied knee and took three quick steps to the side of the Hummer, where she bent to peer carefully into the side mirror, studying her reflection. Finally satisfied, she straightened up and announced, “There’s a camp. It’s not real big, not like the refuge. But they’ve got some pigs and I saw kids. They were cooking the pigs.” Hana’s stomach grumbled audibly. “There’s some guards too. It’s maybe like forty or fifty people, I think.”

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Jasmine watched Hana as she picked herself up, suppressing the urge to suggest she should clean the scrape. She doubted that the young teen would appreciate it, and it was unlikely that she would get an infection from a little knee scrape anyway - they should probably save the medical supplies for more important situations, even the minor ones.

"That doesn't sound too bad. We should go check it out. Is there anyone who doesn't want to come?"

She anticipated most of the rest of them were up for a small visit with people, and she knew Mrigesh would want to see if anyone needed medical assistance - that was, after all, why he'd joined them in the first place. Mostly her eyes lingered on Primal - he was, after all, the one who had just been voicing the opinion that he didn't belong in settlements. She wasn't sure if that meant "at all", or just "not for very long".

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Primal looked down at Jasmine, whose eyes lingered on him long enough to tell him her unspoken thoughts. He arched a single eye brow and shrugged lazily. "What?" He asked in a gravely growl. "I'm the very model of sociable."

He grinned and his fangs glistened in the sun. "You'll see."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Her lips twitched slightly in nervous amusement as she did her best to quell the mild sense of dread in the pit of her stomach. The closest she'd seen of Primal's idea of "sociable" was back at the Kansas refuge of crazies, after all. But she forced a casual cheerfulness into her voice, and motioned towards the vehicles.

"Come on then.. we should get going."

They piled back up into the vehicles, and after a moment or two of debate, it was decided that a simple white flag would be a good indicator of their peaceful intentions while still allowing them to approach in the military-style Hummers. Jasmine dug through and managed to locate a white t-shirt from their stockpile of clothes, and attached it to the antenna of the lead Hummer. Then she motioned the girls into Simon and Mrigesh's Hummer, while she climbed in behind Primal, who had so casually readopted his old seat next to Bond, therefore stealing her normal spot. Bond and Simon started up the vehicles, and the small crew of traders and scavengers started towards the little town, with it's small children and roasted pigs.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The approach was easy enough. The first people who spotted them raised a shout in Spanish, their voices rising in alarm. The groups in the Hummers remained calm as people armed themselves and gathered to meet a possible threat.

After some back and forth, a woman stepped forward and greeted them in English. "What are your intentions?"

"Friendly," Simon murmured under his breath, even as Bond leaned out his window, his charming smile on his face.

In English, Bond said, "We're just some travelers, looking to trade on our way. I have medicine, clothing, all sorts of things."

The woman paused, clearly thinking. "Alright," she said. "You can come inside, show us what you have and even stay for the night, if you need. Vehicles outside, though. We don't have room in the walls for them."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Primal opened the door and stepped out, standing slowly to his full height. Several of the on lookers slowly raised their heads as he stood, wondering if the slouching giant was ever going to stop growing. He rolled his shoulders and stepped aside so someone could get out behind him (he even offered a hand to hold for balance, such a gentleman). Still dirty and sweaty and wreaking of the animal that he was he certainly cast an intimidating shadow to those new to him. Seven and a half feel of hardened killing machine. A mountain of muscle in nothing but rags to preserve his modesty.

He looked around to all the people with weaponry and growled. Like the lion he favored his growl traveled far, being heard easily even by those several feet away. Bond knew, if the others didn't, that that was the only warning these people were going to get from him. He declared, easily, that he wasn't human, so if they had a problem with him, now was their chance to say so. A slip of the tongue later could be fatal.

"I'll grab the wares." He said, slipping easily back into old habits.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

This topic is now closed to further replies.

  • Create New...