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Justin OOC

Chapter 2: Marshland Madness

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Most of the questions had no answers, simply put they really didn't know what was going on,, how the zombies were made, and whether it was a controlled phenomenon, or just the effect of the zone.   Those who wished supplies, armaments and armor, got them from the armory and soon the teams were setting out for their targets.

 

Serena was given a small device no bigger than a matchbook by Aziz.  "This is a prototype warpgate generator.  it's likely got one use and a three second timer.  It's programmed to open into one of our secure rooms here in the tower.  Use it if you must, but tell no one you have it until you must."

 

He saw everyone off, they took a company jet, not a gate this time, flown by Argyle,  One of the the lower powered novas on payroll.  His gifts such as they were, were mostly low superhuman dexterity and response time.  He could drive, pilot, or navigate any manmade craft, on land, sea, or air.   "You guys have fun  I'll mind the ride home."    The jet was a special VTOL version, so if things got too hot he could just leave, though it might strand them there.

 

They arrived in New Orleans after about a two hour flight, landing at an empty and quiet airport, only the sounds of nature and the wind greeting them.    How they would proceed was up to them.

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"Okay, Dragonstorm." Magnum Opus tugged her cape into place, having recently changed into her newer-looking eufiber suit. "I'll follow your lead. Where to first?"

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Carter looked at herself in the planes bathroom mirror, the new Eufiber suit changed and conformed to the design of her new Speedster costume. And in her head Carol put on her Speedster persona as well, the one that could take risks, be a hero, do the things she couldn't allow herself to do when she wasn't the speedster. We all have baggage she thought then thrust them aside. It was time to be the hero time to live the thrill.

 

Coming off the plane she saw a few heads turn her way she was the only member of the team masked hiding her identity. She walked up to Dragonstorm. "Do you want me to take a look around?"

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Death Otter strolled off the plane, sunglasses on, looking more like a bored tourist than a super-anything. She looked around and stuffed her hands into the pockets of her windbreaker.

 

"Mardi gras, mardi gras," she chanted mockingly under her breath.

 

But she wasn't just goofing around. The moment she left the plane she was 'listening' to the airwaves, looking for any sign of a wireless signal. Radio, cellphone, wifi...whatever. Without that, she was just a sightseer on this little trip.

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Sonja ducked low through the plane's doorway and sauntered down the steps with a smooth grace that belied her great height and powerful physique, Amber trailing in her wake. While the interior of the plane had been adapted to accommodate Sonja, the doors were still smaller than she'd like. At the bottom of the steps, Sonja gave a big stretch, rolled her broad shoulders as she looked around at the thick, encroaching foliage. Across her back was strapped a massive, industrial-looking sword, made of a composite that made it too dense and heavy for anyone without superhuman to wield, but strong enough to bear the brunt of her incredible strength, and a bow made from a flexible alloy of high-tensile strength steel, precisely tailored to her strength and size.

 

With her tremendous height and remarkably curvaceous and muscular figure, a huge blade in one hand and a bow across her back, platinum blond hair blowing in a gust of wind, Sonja was the very image of a mighty amazon warrior. All she needed was the fur-trimmed bikini and boots, though instead, she had formed her eufiber into a black, utilitarian yet stylish, figure hugging bodysuit.

 

When Amber made it to her side, Sonja smiled down at her girlfriend and picked her up with one arm in a practiced motion, supporting her comfortably and securely against her chest. With the disparity in sizes, Sonja and Amber should have looked silly together, but they seemed to fit and complement each surprisingly well.

 

"We're ready, DS," Sonja informed Beth in her low, resonant voice. "We'll stick to the south bank of the Mississippi and travel west, looking for the primalgators and seeing if Ambrosia's gifts will work on them. If they don't, you want her to join Gamma Team, to see if she can the WitchQueen around?"

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Nathaniel exited the plane next, walking only a few steps away from the plane before dropping into a kneel and placing his hand upon the ground.  He'd become less comfortable of late when away from the ground, but not so uncomfortable that he had some kind of issue with flying.  Still every time he took a flight it seemed he'd need to spend a moment re-attuning himself to the earth, and "catching his breath" as it were.  This area of swampland with it's pockets of peat and bogs, seemed to shift and ebb of its own accord, making it feel strange to him, nevertheless he forced himself to become accustomed to the flow of quantum in this terrain.  It took only a moment, and then he rose to go stand with the rest of the alpha team.  For this mission he'd chosen a suit of combat armor, and left most of his scientific equipment back in the lab.  This was not, after all, a surveying mission.

 

"I'm ready here anytime."

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Holly got out after Nathaniel, dressed for the weather.   She looks to be trying to keep a jovial attitude, but anyone who knows her can tell she's ready to get serious at anytime.

 

"You ready Mag? "  She then looked at Sonja  "How about you, Jolly Green Giant?"  She said that last part playfully

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“Yes, Carol, first please verify your radio is operational. Do a quick survey and come back; don’t get too far away.†Beth smiled at her before the speedster disappeared. “Kait - be careful, okay?â€

 

Beth nodded at Sonja as the other woman. “Yes, there’s no point in risking Ambrosia in the swamps if she can’t help. Oh, and please, both of you get a Q-scanner and strap it to you. Let’s get some readings on the primalgators if nothing else.â€

 

“Alpha Team, sound off and let me know if you’re not ready to go.†Her heart was pounding in her chest as the excitement of the mission built. The only thing that tempered her enthusiasm was the knowledge that Tom was going to worry until she texted an all-done message to him. This is the price I wanted to pay for the gifts I’ve been given, she reminded herself. “Let’s get this done and get everyone home safe.â€

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The ride was 'comfortable', in that it didn't totally suck. Amber happily rested against Sonja, making small talk about pre-Zone New Orleans. It made Amber wish for those carefree days. Two hours is a long time, but time flies when you're remembering stuff. Sonja could hear the wistfulness in her girlfriend's voice. Amber appended that she would try to make the best of it, several times.

When they got there she was rested. The whole cuddling thing on the plane did a lot for her spirits. Now to deal with the 'real' world. Amber smiled as Sonja swayed off the plane. She couldn't help but stare as she followed her. It was magic almost. She placed her hands lightly on Sonja's hips, following with their movement.

Amber saw the pickup coming a mile away. Sonja maybe have been fast, but Amber was observant. She wrapped her arms around Sonja's neck to balance herself. Death Otter's call for Mardi Gras was met with a light grunt of disdain from Amber. Though there was a slight glimmer in her eye hoping against hope that this would fix the zone and everything would go back to normal.

"Yeah," Amber smiled at the directions DragonsStorm gave, "hoping those gators are real gators. Never really was a reptile fan. But hey first time for everything!"

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It was surprising, but there was a wifi signal, the towers at the airport were still working, and the Radar dome on the control tower still functioned.   Otter quickly got some sort of creepy feeling, like she wasn't the only entity on the network, that SHE was being watched suddenly, then it was gone.

Nathaniel's quiet communion with the ground such as it was, gave him a momentary surge, there was a very high level of quantum within the ground, though until he'd knelt down he'd not felt it at all.

After getting everyone sorted, the teams split off.   Carol was easily able to do her survey,  and spot at least a dozen "Zombies" in the vicinity of the airport.  None reacted to her, indeed, they seemed to just be groundskeepers, keeping the systems running, and the runway clear.   However they were made, they were still functional as people, in terms of dexterity.  Beyond that, there were no birds, no noises of nature, no other fauna nearby.

Passing this information on, and reading a large steady quantum surge roughly 15 miles away, left Dragonstorm the decision of pressing to the marshlands, as originally planned, or heading towards this surge.

For the team headed to the city, The only option was a walk through the balmy Louisiana afternoon.  There were no motor vehicles, no welcome wagon.   Aside the zombies, it was as though the city was dead.    After half an hour, they heard the most out of place noise in the empty city, It was a vehicle, By the looks of it, a SUV, with no driver.   It pulled to a stop in front of them, then began to flash its lights, and the doors opened.

 

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Humming to herself, Death Otter strolled absently along, letting the others search with eyes and ears. She was scanning and sorting the airwaves, a little surprised to see any activity at all, but pleasantly so. She sifted the signals for any meaningful data. The ATC radar was just a foghorn blaring into the sky, looking for returns it would never see, but the tower radios, the airport wifi...that could carry information.

 

"Hup."

 

She stopped in her tracks, abruptly giving this invisible world her full attention. That fluctuation...had it been a reaction to her handshake attempts? It stopped though, almost immediately.

 

Death Otter grinned to herself. "Hidey hidey, I'm comin' to getcha..."

 

And the hunt was on!

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It took mere moments for Carol to return from her scouting mission. “Um, Beth, there’s somethings you need to know,†she said a bit breathlessly. She told the brunette what she’s seen; Beth could feel her expression harden with the news.

 

“Alright, go join Beta team.†Beth waved to Kait, who stood nearby. “Attention here, guys.†Once everyone was looking at her, she said, “Here’s the new intel. The quantum surge fifteen miles from here is in the bayous. There are no longer people there but there are shamblers, about three dozen that Carol saw alone. That’s not all, of course. Every living thing is bigger, as an example, the mosquitos are the size of pigeons, so if you’re in the air, you’re going to have to deal with them.

 

“Interestingly, she said that they’re acting like they’re patrolling, moving in patterns, and could be guarding something.†Beth looked around at each of them. “We’re going to get close, I’m going to draw one or three off, and we’ll see how tough they are. Once we’ve tested them, we’ll reassess and move on.

 

“Amber, I want you especially to try your pheromones on them. I want to know if your powers have enough of an effect to risk you in the battlefield.†She glanced around. “Questions?â€

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"Since they seem gathered in groups, do you want me to run interference while you cut your tests subjects out. I can probably get their attention and draw them off, then double back."  Carol tilts her head looking at Beth. "It may give us some insight into how they operate with out fully engaging them as well."

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"I'll volunteer to go with Amber. I'll protect her in the event her pheromones don't work." She nodded to the other nova.

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"I think i shall attempt to surround the anomaly in a layer of quicksand.  It'll be less of an upheaval geologically-speaking than building cliff walls.  Perhaps I can hedge the creatures in while we deal with them?"

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