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Aberrant: Dead Rising - Chapter 13: All Soul's Night - Fox's Refuge

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Myfwany came back from her rounds through the people, her face set in a stoic expression she wore all too often these days.

"There was power involved in this," she said shortly. "But...it was unusual. The ghosts themselves were not made with power, but...there was a kind of power holding them, I think. To be honest, I'm not sure how to interpret what I saw. I could see black threads of power that is typical of Super-zombies, but they weren't being used in a way I'd regard as typical. It's why I had so much trouble dispelling them. In the end, lightning worked better."

"So to add on to your theory, Fox...there was a power at work here that has not been seen before, but it's not entirely new. What concerns me most is the size of the effect. On the other hand, it gives us some information too. Some insight, maybe, into the mind behind it."

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Sarah was heartened by Myf's comment and smiled. Good. Power meant another metahuman in some way. A metahuman meant something they could shut down through words or brute force. And all this talk of arbitary superstition and churches having any value beyond that of bolstering human goodwill or some flaw of the originator's psychology would die with the creature when they stopped the source.

"Okay. So, we try St. Paul's then and look for survivors there. Didn't all of you go to Hawaii also? Check the oppisite direction?" the blonde megamorph offered sincerely, expanding the search again.

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“I’m game,” Fox said, sitting up a little more and nodding. “Dr. Varro – would you like to go now?”

“Yes,” Dr. Varro said, rising to his feet. “We can go now.”

“Great.” Fox turned to the others. “We’ll all be in London in about five minutes.” This was working out well for him. “Then we’ll go to Hawaii.”

Dr. Varro offered him his hand, and Fox took it. He let the man fill him with power and then they were somewhere else. Fox blinked at the oddness of the place they were in, only to have it fade. Then they were in London, in front of St. Paul’s. For a moment, Fox stared at the ruins of the once-great church, feeling sadness in his heart. Like so many other great human accomplishments, the old place was a shell.

Fox opened a warp for anyone who wanted to come; once they were all through, he asked, “Anyone have a thought about where they want to go? Thoughts on where to start looking for people?” As if to punctuate his words, they heard a low, undead moan from somewhere nearby.

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"The edges of the city. Enclaves usually set themselves up close enough to raid for supplies but far enough out to avoid the Zeds that trickle out of the places victims dragged themselves off to die. At least when they don't have access to teleportation," Sarah answered from experience, drawing her sword and eyeing the surrounding rubble fields. Her expression was sympathetic for Varro's plight, but focused on the matter at hand and feeling a hint of rebelious nausea after stepping through Fox's warp.

"You've been here before, Varro. Which way is it to the nearest defendable location with access to clean water?"

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Varro had been in awe of the place as a kid, and even now - in ruin - it was magnificent but tore at his heart. Damn, damn DAMN this world. Damn!

In his mind the visit to this place was clear. They had come very early to avoid the lines, and only some of the shops and restaurants had been open. He had been quite hungry, and hadn't been able to get a breakfast he liked that early.

"I was a kid ... but I can scout the area. I do remember that there are shops and restaraunts with strong flexible security gates about six minutes walk in that direction, just left around the corner there with the big red sign. Those will be defensible, and at least one of them will have cans or bottled drinks. Its all concrete post war construction in that direction ... fire won't have taken too much of it."

Wasting no time - he spoke as he was transforming into his alloy eagle form - dull gunmetal grey-blue, wicked looking talons, and outsized blue-glass eyes. By then end, his voice was shrill but still quite audible - as if the vocal cords of this beats form were intended for yelling long distances. He could have been much louder, but was 'whispering' to avoid drawing in walkers.

He then duplicated himself as quickly and neatly as possible, a plan to scout the place having already formed in his mind would carry to each of the eagle form clones. In moments, they had all taken flight.

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Benedict was happy to be back in London again, but found himself gripped by the sadness and and loneliness of the silent, grey city. He took off his chef's hat, and held it in front of his chest as he said a quick prayer for all those poor sods who must now be dead or worse. He turned away from the group as the low, undead moan arose nearby, and took the opportunity to use the momentary distraction of the sound and the others' occupation to reach down into his gullet and draw forth two identical but miniature-sized copies of himself - complete with hat and apron.

The two looked warped and twisted, something more like would be doing the eating, rather than the cooking, and they stood no higher than a grown man's knee. He slapped a hand on each of the shoulders of the two copies. "All right you little gits - time to earn your keep. I want you to go around in a circle or two and see if you can find someone alive. That's alive, not moaning and zombie-like, okay?" The two little runts rushed off into the shadows. "And make sure you're not seen!"

With that, the big chef slapped his hands together. Looking at Varro, he whistled appreciatively between his lips. "That's a mighty fine shapeshift, there!"

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Gabrielle took a deep breath and slowly unclenched her fingers, still firmly stateside and fighting down a surge of annoyance and anger at Fox's rather flip attitude towards her concerns and the untenable position he'd left her - and his own people! - in. Half her enclave was still in Columbia because "there wasn't time" while they were there to move the rest of the enclave to the island and now he was gallivanting off to London to satisfy his curiosity! He'd made no preperation with his own people about what to do if the ghosts returned or any other similar emergency occurred and her people were probably permanently split if he got himself killed by running off to the center of major city. He'd have no problem just levitating over the simple demons, the mindless drone zombies, but there could be greater corrupters - and probably were given the large number of lesser zombies to command there. She couldn't fly like that, which meant she'd have to try to make her way to the coastline and then up through Mexico and to Missouri. Not a quick trip and her people in Missouri were left wondering what was going on her people on the island were left to whatever haphazard leadership Fox might remember to give or having to push against him to establish their own coherent, dependable leadership in spite of him.

She repeated the Lord's Prayer for a number of minutes, trying to stay calm. At the Refuge she'd been too grateful and to new to everything to be truly aware and angry about his utter lack of aptitude at leadership. At his arrogance and need for unearned praise, yes, but only now was she really seeing his utter bungling of providing the guidance and care for his people that made an actual leader. He was like a little boy with toys, pushing them around when he felt like paying attention to them and then running off when something new or shiny caught his interest. From what she'd seen, he's either lost all touch with what it meant to be merely human in this world or he simply didn't care and either way his people and her own were now at the mercy of his capriciousness.

Jack sidled up next to her, braver than Caleb who was several feet away and making sure no one else came too close to his angel while she was fuming. "So - not the brightest captain on the sea, is he?" the Sparrow-twin asked nonchalantly.

An harsh laugh rasped out from her; she was pretty sure that Jack wasn't like her but he did have an almost supernatural way with words. "Yeah. Someone aught to bust him down to deck-swabber or cabin-boy." She closed her eyes again, saying her last internal Amen; she looked out to where the sky and ocean met on the horizon. "Lord on High, Jack, what are we going to do? If he makes it back, we've got to decide if we're going to move here and put ourselves at his mercy or the mercy of rickety boats if we ever want to leave; but I do believe there's greater safety and survival in greater numbers. I can fly to the mainland, but I couldn't even take another person with me let alone move all of us if we need to leave again. And...." she looked down, looking almost ashamed of herself. Her voice dropped to an angry whisper, her brows knit together teenage confusion and anger, "I don't trust him Jack. Before I thought....I thought maybe I just didn't understand or that he was just learning like I was. But he hasn't changed at all! Good Lord, what are we going to do? I don't even know how to get us all back together unless he comes back and I can hold his attention long enough for us to make the jump one way or another."

Her hands had balled into frustrated fists again, nails biting into her palms and tears of fear mixed with fury threatening to tear loose of her eyes and fall on the ground at her feet. Her head stayed down, her entire body quivering with rage and shame. She'd failed her people, the ones that looked to her, that trusted her - all because she'd been a fool and trusted someone she'd already had to walk away from before because he couldn't let go of nuclear warheads in a world overrun with the walking dead and the few huddled pockets of humanity clinging on through the Tribulation. Men! And their stupid weapons! And pride! And magpie attention spans!

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"Everything all right?" Myfwany asked. Her fatigue was showing in the darker skin under her eyes, but she was bearing it well. Doctors had no shortage of long hours, in their schooling and in their day to day jobs. Her smile was weary, but genuine. "You looked ready to dispense some smiting for a second there."

It had been a long time since they'd talked. It felt to Myf like it had been years since she'd somehow served as a catalyst for Gabrielle at the moment of her death. She'd always wondered afterwards if Gabrielle would have changed without her intervention though...as so many others who were exposed to 'Z' did. Even so, she couldn't deny a lingering trace of discomfort. Gabrielle still represented to her something closer to an actual miracle than a coincidental awakening to inexplicable power...and it bothered her that she might have been involved.

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"'Vengeance is my sayeth the Lord.'" She sighed and tried to force some of the tension out of her and into the ground. At Myf's look she shrugged, "In other words, keep your cool and let Him sort it out." She flexed her hands and let out a breath, "Which I am doing my best to do right now."

Her muscles were starting to relax a little, but her wings were quivering in the still air. "How...How are you doing, Dr. Shattuck?" After everything that happened, all the good and the very very bad and just the time, she wasn't quite sure how to speak with Myfwany herself. They'd never really spoken since Gabrielle's rebirth, not deeply, and after the split at the refuge they hadn't had the opportunity. She opted for the "adult polite" out of ingrained habit and wondered for a moment if she was actually 17 yet.

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Dan remained on the ground, his energy field flickering to life, as he readied his battle rifle. Varro had the sky covered, he'd remain on the ground for now.

FF activation

[Long6] 9:43 pm: last 2 mega

Long6 *rolls* 9d10: 9+5+5+9+6+3+2+7+6: 52 4 success grants +11/11 B/L soak

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Fox rose into the air, spinning in a slow circle as he surveyed the area. He hovered over those still on the ground, feeling that familiar thrill as he courted danger. All he could see immediately were zombies around them.

Benedict’s little runts scurried off through the debris, their tiny bodies picking their way through the rubble and ruin. They found bodies, both undead and dead, but they didn’t pause, their orders were explicit. Their focus was also complete and they didn’t get distracted as they searched.

Varro swung over the shop-area, disappointed to see that the gates of the shops were torn out. One of his clones swung lower and saw clear signs that the gates had been ripped out by a vehicle. There was even a broken length of chain still wrapped around one of the gates. There was no sign of life here and only a few of death.

Dan bunched near Benedict and Sarah, his eyes scanning constantly for danger. His rifle swung around at noises his ears deemed dangerous. Once a marine, always a marine.

Varro was the first to see; a shadow that snaked around one of the upper levels of a building. He barely saw it against the gloom of twilight. It moved through the air without wings, sliding through the air like a snake through water. But it had hands, and a head, though the body tapered off into nothing. It looked like the Ring Wraithes. And there was another and another, gathering like crows before a battle, pausing on the edge of buildings to stare down at the walkers trapped on the ground. They felt like they were waiting and watching for something.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

On the island, it was still the afternoon. People were slowly gathering themselves, feeling more and more normal as the sun soaked into them and the nightmares of last night lost their grip. Jack noted this quietly as he added to Gabrielle, “There’s a boat in the harbor. I bet we could get our people to the mainland.”

“Then what?” Gabrielle asked, her voice quaking. “We don’t have the ability to protect people for a long cross-country travel.”

“We would find a way.” Jack’s insistence was firm as he pressed a hand to her shoulder.

Whatever she would have said to that died as gouts of black flame dropped from the heavens. The source of that was a form that hovered high in the air, sweeping in an arc around the town. Fire poured from above as people began to react; even at the distances they had from the fire, it took only a second of horrified imagination to understand that the form was surrounding the town in the dark flames.

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"It never rains but it pours," Myfwany muttered...grateful that she'd been conserving her power for some time now. She wasn't as rested as she'd like...but she wasn't as exhausted as she'd been after spitting lightning at ghosts all night.

"Looks like we'll have a chance for some smiting after all. Been wanting to try this out in the field anyway..."

She concentrated, and the earth at her feet burst into bloom. Grass and flowers and vines exploded out of the trampled dirt and twisted around her. It looked for a moment that she was tying herself down, but the plants kept growing; climbing up her body like she was a trellis until only her face was uncovered. The sheath of vegetation then changed, grew a woody, cellulose outer covering.

Despite her professed desire to 'test' this armor, Myf's face was anything but eager as she looked up at the figure overhead. "I haven't got all my power back yet," she said under her breath to Gabrielle. "Catch me if I fall."

Then the wind gusted, contorted into a vortex around and under Myfwany...and bore her upwards into the sky towards the intruder!

(activating bodymorph and Flight effect of Weather Control)

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Sarah's response to the gathering shadows was as reflexive as it was borderline counterproductive, suddenly looming far over Dan and Benedict's heads, dwarfed only by the near-by cathedral and gargantuan blade poised to defend or attack. The blonde sizeshifter shifted her feet carefully as she placed herself between the two men and the wraiths, hearing the strain of concrete cracking under her feet, on the verge of droping her into sewer space or subway line if she applied her weight too forcefully. Her increasing powers were going to be a problem if her warform kept getting larger at the rate it was lately.

But worry about that later. Save lives, including her own and the baby's, now. She 'squeezed' for lack of a better word, pushing her energy out to see if these were Super Zeds, and getting no result back. "These things don't seem to be Metahumans or Super Zeds, Dan. Or at least don't feel like it. Be careful," she rumbled downward, blue eyes alert for anything.

Trigger Sizemorph (Grow), foes get +1 dice to hit her, Full health, 15 Quantum, and 16B/16L soak

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Benedict hated fighting - with a passion. Probably of all supers - well, maybe not all, he'd probably have the least raw power. But any power he had, he'd use to survive. He didn't have many options or some strong set of ethics or a dream to pull him through, but he'd live to find one some day. As if the tension of the fight to come had its effect, his jaw tightened...and eventually started to come undone at the stitches. He didn't open his mouth yet, but he wanted to be ready for anything.

Activating Consume to make Benedict's bite available for combat; full health, -3 Quantum

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"Let's see if I can get them to back off then, give us an opening to get out of here," the blonde megamorph answered bluntly before bringing her blade down on one of watching wraiths, 24-foot blade screaming downward after two long strides towards it, ready to cleave her target, and a good chunk of the building below in twain with the strike. These things better not be like the ghosts from earlier or else she was *really* going to need to learn how Dan made those electrical claws of his.

[envoy] 12:01 pm: okay, time to roll some dice for DR.

[envoy] 12:01 pm: rolling to hit.

envoy *rolls* 10d10: 5+5+6+6+6+1+2+5+7+6: 49

[envoy] 12:02 pm: jeez. One success.

[envoy] 12:02 pm: okay, potential damage roll.

[Jeremy] 12:02 pm: heh

envoy *rolls* 12d10: 2+2+5+2+4+10+3+1+3+1+10+7: 50

[envoy] 12:04 pm: so, three successes plus 25 for m-str 5 minus whatever soak the ringwraith has.

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Before Gabrielle could reply, Myf was rocketing up into the sky. The angelic nova was left staring as the doctor rose to fight the attacker after having changed into some kind of inhuman creature. Myf enjoyed the power of flight, but she wasn’t a fighter and this wasn’t her thing. She had a moment to wonder what she was doing when the figure spotted her, spun and shot a jet of black flame at her.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

Sarah’s attack was slow but vicious. The creature dodged it with ease, snaking around the building and hissing at her. The sound was a low growl of noise that cut through Sarah’s nerves. It made her hair stand on end as her hindbrain informed her that the sound wasn’t at all natural. A low keening wail cut through the air, ringing over the streets and ruins of London. With an answering shriek, the shadowy forms turned and dashed away, heading west-southwest into London.

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Benedict watched the amazing Megamorph perform her attack - and while it missed he could not help but gasp in awe at the sheer magnitude and power. And Myf's taking flight was no less spectacular. When he tried to move aside for a flanking attack, the wailing echoed across the ceilings and alleyways - and the monsters answered and regrouped! Intelligence, tactics, an order of command!

The big chef was flabbergasted - not only cunning and feral, but now with brains as well? This was bad news...

"Either big momma's calling back her brood - meaning trouble's coming - or something bigger's coming that scared away these 'little' ones. We'd better find a place to be fortified - we seem to be a tad short on ranged weaponry..."

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"Do not go off chasing after them. It's a trap. Everyone stay Alert, and pray it's not a Banshee."

He didn't believe in all that superstitious hokum but now it seemed the world itself certainly did. It added yet another truly ugly dimension to whatever was going on, one Dan wasnt totally sure how to best combat.

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"What's a banshee except another word for a Super Zed with the ability to fire death rays from it's mouth?" countered Sarah gamely as she extracted her blade from the wreckage of the building she had struck after the wraith dodged, gratified by the fact it had dodged. If it needed to dodge, she could kill it. And she would if more of those things came back. They may not have been Supers, but they were powered by something.

She straightened up again and strode back to the two male Supers, looming over them protectively, "We wait for Captain Fox, Varro, or one of Anatoly's helpers to come back with signs of people. They're what we're here for, not more fights."

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Looking upon the place she had come to call home - the Refuge in Oklahoma - Kristin squared her thickly muscled shoulders, though her jade eyes were shadowed from the previous night. The ghosts had risen here too, though - it was obvious from the subdued conversation and the resigned trudging of those who had decided to remain at the Refuge or were taking a stint on the skeleton crew. Kristin sighed, but rolled up her sleeves - there was work to do.

On the brawny blonde's left, Ashley echoed her sigh, though her lips tightened angrily. Seeing the ghosts of her and Kristin's family on the Island had been bad enough. Knowing that their home wasn't safe either was scary and infuriating. But if nothing else, her time in Paradise had instilled in her a stubborn quality to carry one despite all the shitty world could throw at them.

"Well, let's see how Violet's is doing, and see what we can do to help, Kristy," Ashley said, leading the way to the entertainment-house-that-never-was they had taken charge of. "We might have to donate some of our stock in our supply shed..."

Kristin glared down at her protruding belly then followed her cousin. "That's okay, Ash. I'm almost done with... this thing. I'll be able to scavenge more easily enough."

"Sorry 'bout this, Kristin, y'know, 'bout the ghosts being here too," Mark said, striding along on Kristin's right, a rucksack over his shoulder. While Kristin had been eating after she had woken up, Mark had tentatively asked if he could visit their home. Kristin had stiffened in instinctive denial, but a sharp look from Ashley made her nod in awkward acquiescence.

"Yeah, totally sucks," agreed Joey on Ashley's left. His coming had been a last minute thing, uneasiness in his eyes as he had looked around the Island. They hadn't seen him once the ghosts had appeared and he had steadfastly refused to say anything about that night. He shivered. "Guess it wasn't one of these Super-Zeds you guys mentioned. World really is all fucked to hell."

"Not your fault, guys. Nobody's fault, I guess." Kristin shrugged, then paused for a moment, lips twisting as the baby gave a furious kick. "Dammit! Little monster. Guess we'll have to wait 'til tomorrow to check on the farm." She straightened up once more - though the shortest of them and more than seven months pregnant to boot, she still radiated a palpable strength, more than human - her strides strong and sure... if a bit waddling. "We have a Refuge to put back to rights. We've been dealing with the zombs, we'll deal with ghosts too, and anything else the world decides to puke up."

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Fox returned quickly, his eyes concerned. “What the hell was that noise?” His green eyes almost blazed with worry, but he relaxed a bit when he saw that everyone appeared to be in good health.

“Some ghost thing.” Envoy elaborated, telling him more about the thing.

When she was done, Fox shook his head. “Let’s see if Varro or the little cooks have more luck finding people. I wasn’t able to see any signs of life. I hope our luck holds out in the suburbs.”

It wasn’t long before the little cooks returned. “Lots of dead,” one of them chirped.

“But no living.” The other was very sad as it spoke, its tiny-Benedict face adopting a moue of sadness.

“Shit.” Fox looked concerned as he glanced up at the darkening sky, then pulled out a piece of chalk. He wrote Varro on the ground, then an arrow pointing to the east. “Let’s move on. Varro can find us easily from the air, and I don’t want to be in the middle of the city like this.”

Varro, I’m moving on without you. Assume you can find the group again when you get back into the swing of Dead Rising.

Violet’s building was unscathed by the terrors of the night. No one had used it for a hiding place, so it had been largely ignored by the ghosts. The only sign that any of the dead had visited was a few things out of place. The group easily cleaned up the place. When they were done, Mark said, “You know, we could probably get one of the vehicles and check on your farm. We have time left today, and I’ve been wanting to see it since you guys told me about it. You guys feel up to that?” His question was asked in general, but he was glancing at Kristin as he asked.

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"Alright little runts, good work. Sorry to hear there's not much of use out there, but those are the dice. Better get to safety, we might have to scamper, if you catch my drift."

With a deft scoop Benedict picked up the tiny chefs and hoisted them up, dropping them into his quickly distending maw and gullet. A noise remeniscent of children going down a pool chute ensued, after which Benedict closed his maw again and he seemed to shrink back to his usual, normally large self.

The whole scene was a tad unwholesome, or perhaps disturbing, and Benedict seemed to be aware of the fact. "Ready to go...we'd better put some mileage between us and whatever made that cry."

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Sarah shrunk down at Dan's indication, and he looked to benedict as Sarah took firm hold of his hand and forearm as he did the same. "Benedict, I can fly and carry you and Sarah, it will be considerably faster. If you cantrust me, I'll be able to get us wherever we're going."

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Kristin took one last look around the converted boarding house and community center, then shrugged one broad shoulder and gave Mark a nod. "Yeah, I... guess we can. It really isn't that bad here. Let just see if anyone else needs help, 'kay?"

"Of course," Mark readily agreed, trying not to be obvious in his admiration of her formidable build and curves, not at all diminished by her advanced state of pregnancy. The dichotomy between her youthful face and mature figure was still uncanny, but no less appealing in its own way. And he was heartened to find that despite some unsettling comments he had heard about the girl, she still seemed to be trying to be good and helpful.

But as they small group headed back out and around the Refuge, they found it had largely passed the night unscathed. With much fewer people here compared to the island, there had been far fewer ghosts as well, and one newly arrived Super had helped dispel them with some sort of magic gun. So, while her offer had been appreciated - though some men eyed Kristin askance - she had been assured they were unnecessary.

Kristin led the group to her and Ashley's supply shed, showing it to Mark and Joey before climbing into the monstrous, white Ford Super-Duty parked right next to it, somehow making it look easy and not silly despite the vast disparity in her size and its. She gave Mark a wry grin

"We don't need to get one of the vehicles, me and Ash have on of our own. Climb in y'all."

"You and Mark go ahead, Kristy," Ashley said, hiding a small grin from her cousin behind a yawn that wasn't all faked. "I'm still kinda tired from last night, so I'm just gonna stay here, cuz, and maybe show Joey 'round a bit more. You okay with that?"

Kristin pouted slightly, eyes narrowing with mild skepticism, though she had no idea why, then shook her head, gleaming, golden hair flashing under the sunlight. "No... no, it's fine."

"It's fine with me too," Mark said with a grin, climbing up into the passenger seat. He didn't miss the encouraging smile Ashley flashed him, not the warning glint in her eyes of what she'd do to him is he messed with her cousin.

"You two have fun," Ashley said as Kristin started up the truck and shifted it into gear.

The drive was silent at first - and there was no radio stations broadcasting within range - until Kristin began tp find it wearying and started pointed out some of the landmarks and other farms around the Refuge then were passing. Fortunately, it wasn't a long drive and soon they were coming up to the farm house at the end of road that Kristin had claimed as her own.

Mark for his own part found the drive pleasant, not at all discomfited sitting next to a girl with a surly attitude and who could break him in half with one hand. She was hot, buff, and actually pretty nice underneath the mental scarring her trials had inflicted on her. Still, he noticed the closer the came to the farm house, the quieter Kristin became and the tenser her arms grew, biceps bulging. When she jumped out of the pick-up, she unconsciously touched the hilt of the thick-bladed sword rising up over one shoulder. Mark began looking around too.

"Kristin, are you alright? Is anything wrong?"

"Huh?"

"Are you alright? You look sca- you look pale. Is it the baby?"

"The ba- No! Not the baby... Just... Well, there was someone here when I found the place and he wasn't a good man." She frowned, a furious and shadowed darkness in her jade-green eyes. "I had to kill him and with the ghosts and all last night, I thought.... It doesn't matter, I buried what was left of him out back a ways. He's dead and if he ain't, I'll kill him again. Come on, I'll sure you around. No power, but there's a well and a pump for water."

Though Kristin seemed to have shrugged off her concern, Mark noted a hand never strayed far from her sword. Though pleased to be spending some time alone with the buff and beautiful blonde while ghosts weren't trying to kill them, Mark kept his eyes alert as well as Kristin showed him the farm house she had largely repaired and cleaned up herself.

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Gabrielle gaped at the changes Dr. Shattuck, her face paling as the doctor shot off towards the source of the black fire. "Dr-!"

Biting back words her parents never wanted her to learn, the angel did a quick frantic search for something to climb to get herself into the air. She scrambled up the side of a building with only a few grunts of effort; the past few months had taught her many tricks for getting high enough to find an updraft. The winds off the ocean helped considerably, and she was soon flying as quickly as she could after the other....woman? Whatever she was now. The Lord provides and He gave dominion over all the plants and animals of the world to man.

She didn't know what she could do against that hellish flame; her shotgun was strapped to her back and getting it off at this point would probably plummet her to the ground. Her machete she could reach, but what could metal do against that black fire? But she couldn't just abandon the doctor to fighting this demon by herself.

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Clouds gathered overhead as Myfwany rose. She was no warrior, not like Dan or Fox. The protection offered by this outer covering was new, and untested...against a powerful, experienced and warlike individual. She had no illusion of her chances. She just hoped she could do something to him too. Enough, perhaps, to convince him to leave.

It was also possible that she might be provoking him, of course. He might attack even more because of this. As a doctor though, she believed in action over inaction, when the status quo was unsatisfactory.

Lightning flickered and thunder rumbled among the thickening clouds. Wind gusted, blowing eddies and curls of vapor around the two as Myfwany drew closer. The figure paused in its barrage. Though he was still distant, Myf's eyes had become far more sensitive since her awakening to power. She saw his features clearly...and shock caued her to stop in midair, agog.

She knew him.

"It's...you," she said aloud. And though no human could have heard her over the wind and distace, the attacker frowned...and a roiling burst of black flame burst from his hands and shot across the sky with horrifying speed. Myfwany started to move, but her agility in the air was still not the best. She didn't fly often, and flying by essentially just blowing herself around with wind wasn't the easiest or more responsive way to go.

She lucked out. The flame did not strike her head, where it had been going. Instead it impacted lower on her abdomen, and clung to her. The force of the impact knocked her out of her jetstream and sent her flipping end over end on a ballistic trajectory downward.

Because of the protective layer she'd given herself, Myfwany was given a precious few seconds to slow her fall before the fire had consumed her 'armor' and started in on flesh. She was mercifully unconscious when she thudded into the ground, trailing a thick black contrail like a downed fighter jet.

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Benedecit looked at Dan - his confidence at being able to carry them both wasn't lost on him. "Sure thing - if I didn't trust you I wouldn't have been going on a mission like this. Better not lose too much time then - just as long as we have the gentleman's agreement that in case of mid-flight turbulence, engine faillure and demonic zombie attacks the old rule of 'chuck the cook first' goes, alright?"

He hoped to sound flippant, but he'd been caught blindsided by everything so far. He'd definitely be taking a page from the book of the girls back at the Refuge and get himself some proper armaments...

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Dan agreed with a chuckle before picking up the smaller-sized Sarah and Benedict. “Let's go.”

Fox led the way to the suburbs of London, following instinct more than anything else as he choose a path over the city. He tried not to think about the ruined buildings below them; all the loss of life and cultural things would just eat at him if he let it. He wondered if anyone had rescued some of the great artwork from the Louvre, and resolved to check on that later.

The city flowed under them as Fox and Dan ferried the other two east, away from the creatures’ heading. When the buildings became less urbanized, the two novas set down and considered their options. “Let’s try the old-fashioned way.” Fox pulled out a flare and shot it into the twilight.

After five minutes, an answering flare rose into the air. “Works every time.” It only took a moment to ferry the cook and the swordswoman over to where the flare had originated. An old woman was standing there, her expression vaguely troubled.

“Who are you?” she asked, her voice taking on the perfect ‘angry little old lady’ tone. “What do you want?”

“We just want to talk to you, nothing else.” Fox’s voice was soothing.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

Screams rose as Dr. Shattuck came smoking back to earth. Gabrielle had just taken to the sky herself, having finally gained enough attitude to get airborne. Below her, people were hurrying to assist her; above, the form was tearing through the sky again, those impossible black flames pouring from his hands.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

There was someone else here. Kristin didn’t realize it until they got up to the bedrooms and found a couple of duffel bags on the floor. Mark tensed, his small pistol coming out of it’s holster. Silently, he looked to her, to see what she’d do.

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Dan smiled and lowered the two of them down. "He looked to the woman. "You're pretty nonplussed at seeing two men fly unassisted. I take it you're somewhat used to seeing such things?"

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Mark was surprised to see Kristin actually looked relieved, thick, knotted muscles relaxing, her hand straying away from the hilt of her sword. Whatever Kristin had been expecting, it wasn't something as obvious as a pair of duffel bags indicating a pair of intruders in a house she had claimed as hers. Then again, by all accounts, Kristin was stupidly and awesomely strong and bullet-proof, so the common run of home invader hardly posed a thread.

On the other, he wasn't. While his manhood would be taking a blow, Mark was turned on the mighty-mini-amazon, and wasn't too proud to hide behind her a little.

Kristin nudge one of the duffel bags open with her foot, then grunted when she glanced down and all she could see was breast and belly. She shifted a bit, glancing down and to the side, but there was nothing really incrimination she noticed. She shrugged, then picked up the bags in one hand.

"I guess we'll just have to go find these guys and set them straight about whose house this is and who planted the crops. Maybe they thought the place was abandoned or the owners were dead or something," Kristin suggested, but her fair brows crinkled with annoyance. "Which isn't really fair, I've been gone hardly more'n a day. But if they don't start nothing, I won't, but stay sharp, Mark."

With that, Kristin started walking back through the house, peeking out each window to see if she could see them outside, making no effort to be stealthy, boots clomping firmly on the hardwood. "Hello? I just want to tell ya that this place has already been claimed," Kristin called out, cocking her head to the side, straining to hear any movement. "I don't blame you thinking this is a good place to settle in, it's why I chose it, but I got here first. If you come out, we can, uh, come to some sorta 'rangement before things get... unpleasant, 'kay?"

Kristin glanced up and back at Mark, a hand balling into a tight fist. Glad at first that it didn't seem to be Josh who came back, Kristin was still feeling a rising sense of violation, finding trespassers on her farm. She had worked hard fixing the place up and getting the crops started, and she was proud of the results, modest as they were. But she also wanted to show Mark she was something more than a brute, even if her first instinct was to lash out. She'd even let them go, if they hadn't taken too much or broken anything she had just fixed.

"I hope they didn't pick all the crops..." she muttered as they continued through the house and out the back door and onto the veranda, towards the field.

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Dan smiled and lowered the two of them down. "He looked to the woman. "You're pretty nonplussed at seeing two men fly unassisted. I take it you're somewhat used to seeing such things?"

Sarah eyed their surroundings, the urban landscape, the open bus stop, the fact their contact was alone and seemingly unarmed... Something was off, but, again this didn't mean much since she was so bad a detecting other Metahumans by their power alone, the older woman didn't *seem* to have powers. She didn't say anything, not yet, but she did keep alert, a smile on her face, and ready to step in to back up Dan and Fox, a blonde amazon ready to fight or talk as the situation required.

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“After those flying black-cloaked demons? I’m just happy to see a man flying around instead of those things.” The woman had crotchety stamped all over her as she scowled at them.

“Do you know what those things are?” Fox asked quickly.

“No. All I know is that they’re infestin’ the palace.” The woman spat on the ground. “Bloody monsters. God only knows what they’ve done with the Queen.”

“Are you alone?” Fox glanced around. “That doesn’t seem very safe.”

“No, I ain’t alone. I’m just the only one out in the open because I’m old and expendable.” She might have been old, but her blue eyes were still sharp as she glared at them. “Less of a loss if you guys kill me.”

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

Out back, in the make-shift barn, two horses were tied up inside, munching on hay. A donkey was inside as well; it wasn’t tethered and wondered over with ears pricked and eyes curious. The gray beast politely jammed her head against Kristin until the girl scratched her between her ears.

Back outside, Kristin headed for the back of the barn. She and Mark moved quietly, and were able to sneak up on two young people. The boy was tall for his age and sun-tanned; the girl was younger and slimmer. They were picking through crops that they’d picked, carefully selecting the food that was good and discarding the rest. They were so intent that Kristin and Mark were able to sneak up on them.

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"The palace you say?" Benedict offered. "That seems more than a bit inconstitutional. Even if you don't know what they are, did you manage to learn what they do? Things you see them do to people that we'd rather avoid?" The big chef looked around suspiciously.

Expendable she may be, but she might as well be a decoy. And aside of being snuck upon by cloaked dangers, he didn't relish the idea of being knocked unconscious with a guiness bottle any more than that.

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Dan remained quiet and contemplated. He knew Fox was not far from offering to explore the castle, and he sighed. "Ma'am, have you had any recent occurrences of the dead coming back to life, in spiritual form? I don't mean the zombies, but actual ghosts."

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Kristin was a bit surprised, and mildly relieved to find out her erstwhile guests appeared to be about her age. Thick shoulders untensing, she tossed their duffel bags to land between them with a soft thump. They almost looked like they could have been in her class in school, back before Z-Day. Both the girl and the boy stared at the sight of a girl about their own age with a dramatic body that was completely adult, who was still prettier than any girl they had seen before.

Kristin shifted her weight awkwardly - the sight of the slim girl did reinforce just how she had changed since being in school, beyond being pregnant. She'd been slim then too, and cute at most. As she was now - and after Ash had pointed it out - she would've been the prettiest girl, the bustiest, and more muscular than any guy on the football team. She tried to fold her arms casually across her chest, but gave up after finding it uncomfortable with her swollen breasts and belly.

"Um, hey, someone still lives here, y'know," Kristin said after clearing her throat, trying to not sound accusatory. It could've been an honest mistake. "Well, sorta. I live at Fox's Refuge, but I'm the one who planted and tended all these crops." Kristin chewed on a lip, then shrugged a shoulder. "If you need a place to stay, for a while or longer, I can show you to the Refuge. You can get food and water there."

She nodded at the field and vegetables in their hands. "Things haven't been growing right, so we have to keep most of these heritage crops for the next growing season to increase our yield. We think it has something with the genetic modifications to most commercial seeds interacting with virus making the zombs and supers."

"I hope you didn't take anything else - I worked hard fixing this place up," Kristin warned with a faint frown before essaying a cautious smile. "I'm Kristin, and this is Mark."

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“They fly. They kill. They steal. That seems to be it. Bloody nightmares they are.” The woman spat on the ground, her face twisted in disgust. At Dan’s question, she nodded. “Another bloody nightmare. The ghosts were everywhere. All the dead gone before us, even some that were zombies. I had to kill my daughter once, I didn’t fancy havin’ her ghost getting up my face screaming about it. Slag.”

“Wait, what do those cloaked things steal?” Fox looked curious.

“Same as anyone else. Food, supplies.” She snorted. “Guess they gotta eat too.”

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

“We were just trying to hide from the ghosts!” The girl blurted that before the guy quickly shushed her with a concerned look.

“Don’t worry, we saw them too.” Mark gave them a reassuring smile.

“So you… believe us?” The boy didn’t seem to quite believe that was possible, even as he flipped long brown hair out of his eyes.

“Sure do.” Mark shrugged. “I saw the ghosts of my family last night. Say, what are your names?”

“I’m Angie,” the girl volunteered, “and this is Logan. You’re really not going to try to make us pay for the food? We didn’t mean to steal, we just didn’t see anyone and thought the ghosts had gotten you!”

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

The form spitting green fire stopped doing so. Even as Gabrielle flew toward it, she got the feeling that it was unsure about attacking her. She was never so grateful for the wings, if they were what was giving the attacker pause. Then the attacker spun and flew away from the group. Perhaps he or she stopped because of an angel’s protection?

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Gabrielle hesitated, but only for the briefest part of a moment, then banked and began as quick as a descent as she could without just dropping - that had been a couple of painful lessons on the physics of flying with wings instead of simply levitating like every other "flier" seemed capable of. She landed a few feet from Myf and made her way quickly to the smoking woman....plant.....to Myf.

Warmth like sunlight spread from the angel's hands through the doctor, doing what she could to heal her friend. She kept an eye on the sky, but so far it seemed that the fire-spewing demon had left. "Dr. Shattuck? Can you hear me? Are you okay?"

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“They fly. They kill. They steal. That seems to be it. Bloody nightmares they are.” The woman spat on the ground, her face twisted in disgust. At Dan’s question, she nodded. “Another bloody nightmare. The ghosts were everywhere. All the dead gone before us, even some that were zombies. I had to kill my daughter once, I didn’t fancy havin’ her ghost getting up my face screaming about it. Slag.”

“Wait, what do those cloaked things steal?” Fox looked curious.

“Same as anyone else. Food, supplies.” She snorted. “Guess they gotta eat too.”

The blonde megamorph frowned, furrowing her brow as she considered these two double twists. So the cloaked creatures were not only solid but alive. Or thought they were. Or were feeding something that was along the lines of John in that fallen lab they had reclaimed for Doctor Myf. It was distressing how many potential horror movie cliches fit their lives now, determined as she was to alievate some of those problems.

More importantly...

"We got ghosts, too, over on the other side of the Atlantic. Utterly unwelcome and arriving with the night and vanishing with the dawn. We're here to track how far they appeared and when, get an idea of what's behind them," she volunteered softly, still keeping an eye on their surroundings, "But once we check out if they got them over in Hawaii, I'm sure we can arrange some joint project clearing out your monster problem. All we have is each other after all."

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When Gabrielle reaches the spot Myf fell to, she finds that the doctor is still human, just encased in a shell of wood and plant fiber...now cracked, burned and crushed to the point that it had split open wide enough to reveal her within. She's breathing though, almost certainly saved from instant death by that exoskeleton.

She stirs under the angel's healing hands, and opens her eyes.

"Gabrielle...what are you doing here..." The doctor blinks, focusing a bit better, and looks around. "What happened?"

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