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Shhh.... We are Wabbits, eh Rougarou
continued from: Renovations

Aria felt like she was in school all over again. Here memorize this. She sighed and glanced at the paper and took the keys offered her. It wasn't uncommon to have to memorize things, but typically you had a little more time than rushing out the door. Aria tucked the keys in her jeans pocket and hoped that she'd remember the information on the paper.

It wasn't long before they were descending down into the tunnels below. Aria had paid very little attention to the getting out, it was only important to know how to get back in. Aria didn't hope to be tracking through these tunnels from this starting point again. While she had nothing against her two companions, she didn't want to be around two people with such open hostility towards one another. Sure they were behaving better now that things were getting underway, but who knew what would set one of them off again. The last thing Aria needed were two emotion filled roommates.

The three of them trudged through the muck of the tunnels following Rune and her coordinates. Aria was comfortable following. The air was stuffy and there were more smells that Aria didn't like not the least of which was bodily waste. The stench of things lingered far longer and Aria hated that everything always brought emotions her way. Aria focused on Rune, and on following her and the lamp she held. Aria didn't want on herself, as she preferred to have her night vision, but this place was probably far more dangerous with out a little bit of light.

Time passes slowly when you are keenly aware of your surroundings. Some say it passes faster, but Aria found the opposite true. She watched for things that would jump out at her. Nothing ever did, which was a good thing. In the distance you could hear the drip of water and the mummurs of someone in the shadows. But it was always at a distance.

They came to the place where the last Atharim hunter's signal had been found. It was not a place she ever wished to be. The sight, the smells and the lingering emotions were very powerful, things were not right here, that was certain. There was much to learn and Aria had a much harder time than she typically did in singling out one particular monster. There seemed to be more and they went in all sorts of directions. Aria leaned against the wall as she tried to regain some sense of balance. Too much at one time.

The candle and flame were all that Aria had time for. She leaned against the wall and waited for Rune to see what she had to say. Aria needed more time to make sense of things.

(OOC: Aria can't tell what's recent and what's not, old and new are mixing for her.)

Edited by Aria, Aug 12 2013, 12:30 PM.
It was surprisingly a rather uneventful walk. The fact that the three of them didn't talk much along the way was testament to just how tense it was. Rune certainly expected to find something horrible around every corner and down every ladder. The fact that they never crossed paths with another living being, well, it only made her more wary.

Like the streets around Hood's neighborhood, they eventually walked through clouds of stench: old violence or recent, it tickled the back of Rune's neck with the urge to run after them all. Somehow she managed to keep herself from doing so, even if she felt like a dog tugging on the end of its chain needing to chase after rabbits.

She heard the skattering of rats and the howling of dogs. Such sounds of motion always thrummed the cold shiver of caution down Rune's spine and several times she paused dead in her tracks and motioned that Hood and Aria stand perfectly still. She wanted to make sure those footsteps were from quadrupeds of normal size: chupakabra for instance lumbered about with long, lean strides with claws that clicked as they tapped on the hard surface. Their human counterparts were not much better.

There was a sudden echo of yells and noise once or twice, and Rune's flashlight whipped around to see if there was anything to see. Yet there never was. Sound simply echoed in these tunnels what with nothing soft or natural to diffuse it.

There was also evidence that people lived here. Sometimes there was disturbing evidence. Like of a dingy doll propped up against the wall like it were sitting around waiting for its bus stop; positioned way too precisely to have simply been discarded like that. An old blanket was thrown across a caved in beam and wedged into the shape of a tent by elevated cinder blocks like some creepy underground teepee.

When they came to the crossroads, Rune seemed to almost relax. She let the SMG go limp at her side. Her shoulders drooped and she went to the center of the two intersecting tunnels and turned in a slow circle, eyes closed. She even flipped off her flashlight to cut off the distraction of the extra sense, and breathed deeply. Very deeply. And as she did, her expression contorted more and more into that of disgust.

"Fear.." she said quietly, careful to keep her voice from carrying on the waves of echo. "Determination." She added with a small measure of pride. Then she went quiet for a while. It was like trying to decipher all the ingredients in a bowl of stew, when that stew was cooked three days ago and all you had left was the dirty pot it was boiled in.

"There were definitely more than one." She suddenly stopped her slow meandering around, flipped on the flashlight again and shone the beam downward, directly in front of her feet. Where she then squat and scooped up a palm full of empty shell casings. She showed them to Hood.

She glanced at Aria, finally noticing her distress and thought back to the girl's time on the street above. The girl practically freaked out over bumping paths with strung-out Moscovites late for work. From the potency of stench Rune was picking up, Aria must be due for a melt-down. She shared a glance at Hood, then repositioned her grip on the gun and motioned that they take the corridor to the left.

She quickly tapped a few commands into the screen on her glasses, and a streak of small blue lines suddenly filled the left lens. Of course, from far away it looked like a pale blue haze, but close to her eyeball, she saw a reconstruction of the streets overhead based on their signal.

She wasn't sure how long the GPS would be able to track them. Especially if their Atharim comrade had lost signal somewhere near here. Or maybe his tracking device was simply destroyed in the fight? Its possible, but Rune didn't care to take the time to canvas the dark floors any further to look for broken bits of tech and plastic.

For now, at least, she kept the glasses going.
Finally. Some peace and quiet. Aria wasn't an issue; the girl seemed to be wound a little tight, but at least she was quiet. That Candy had finally shut up was a bloody miracle. Hood moved with all the casual confidence of a man who had walked those tunnels a few times. The 'Dead Reckoning' module and auto-map program in his more advanced Land Warrior goggles already contained some maps of the tunnels, and when they wandered beyond the areas he had traversed, it began building onto what already existed.

The two Atharim would occasionally pause and study their surroundings, not unlike a pair of cats on the prowl, but each noise, or lack there of, that seemed to spark the attention of the two women were usually dismissed by Hood. He was no expert by far, but he had spent enough time in the tunnels to get a good idea of direction and distance for those sounds. And even if it were close by, he seemed pretty hard to spook, simply turning slightly in the direction of the source and studying the shadows before moving on.

Even in an area as run down as where Hood lived, some of the tunnels still had light. In places, at least. In others, they had been deliberately smashed or had simply burned out over the years and not yet been replaced. There were far higher priority areas in Moscow at the moment, and so long as water, gas, and electricity still flowed, the city couldn't be bothered with renovations.

He wasn't sure what to make of the two women; Candy seemed almost to be following a scent, and Aria, while still calm, seemed a bit off-put by something. Or everything. He couldn't quite decide. But she did seem to be calming down; the last thing he wanted was to have to deal with some over-eager gun bunny and a claustrophobic knife fanatic.

As Candy knelt to sift through the debris on the floor and round up some spent casings, Hood circled the larger chamber; partly to let his glasses map the area a bit more thuroughly, but also to scan the walls for where those fired rounds had ended up. Some he found, and he casually dug one projectile from the crumblnig concrete of the tunnel wall. There wasn't too much out of the ordinary; whatever the missing Hunter had been firing at had been at chest level; no crazy wall climbing monsters this time, it seemed.

Once they were ready to move on, both Rune and Aria's glasses would flash a brief update message as Hood wirelessly transferred an updated version of the map his goggles had assembled, then he resumed his place at the rear of the column and continued following. No comments, no remarks, no questions. He wasn't sure how exactly she planned to track these things straight to their hole, but that was what the Atharim were supposed to be good at, and he decided to just leave them to it. This was their show, after all.
Once Rune had chosen a direction Aria was able to focus more. Aria was frustrated, she'd never had this much trouble before. She chalked it up to the horridly long trip from Rome to Moscow and then the loss of control. Aria sighed and not to mention to duo she was currently with and their need to measure up better than the other. It was all so frustrating, but once they were moving again Aria could pick out the right emotions, the right or rather wrong things in this picture.

The maps flashed and flickered in front of her eyes, it was disorienting at times. But it was useful and would be useful in the future she was sure. They wound around the tunnels following the rougarou pack that lead the way. Their scent was mixed with fear and pain and many other emotions you'd expect from those who had been kidnapped by some unsuspecting man who smelled of death and decay.

The noises in the distance grew few and far between as they walked towards their destination. The pack seemed to have cleared out every living thing for miles around their hidey hole, or at least that's how it felt - like miles. They seemed to walk forever, Aria started to wonder if they were walking in circles. They had no choice but to follow where the scent lead them, but Aria wasn't sure these monsters weren't going to outsmart them. There were too many paths to take, and yet it seemed like they only went one way or the other. They had to be getting close.

Noises and the smell of fear started to permeate the air. Something or someone in front of them was afraid, but what were they afraid of. In this darkness there was no telling if they'd found their monster, or some other random one. Moscow was large and it's underbelly was even larger!
Suddenly, a rumble vibrated beneath their feet, low and long. Rune paused, having not felt its like the whole way here. Then the rumble shook again, and a far grate in the floor hissed with sudden steam. The metro? she wondered and looked downward. They had wound their way several times up then down again on this trip so far, but Rune thought they were relatively near the surface. That they hadn't encountered pure darkness yet confirmed her suspicion, but that vibration came from below.

Suppose it had nothing to do with them. Even with the update from Hood's glasses, she was unable to locate a tunnel nearby. Then again, maybe vibrations traveled a long ways. Like echoes of sound. She made herself focus on the scent of hungry violence and went on.

They came to a blunt ended crossing in the tunnels around which a voice could be heard. Rune motioned the team to halt, and called up the comm on the Land Warriors. "Unknown person, ahead left." she whispered and flattened herself along the edge of that left wall before proceeding and motioned for Hood to mirror her walk along the right side of the passageway. Together they could clear the view for one another before exposing their presence. A black ops spook outta know how to do at least that much.

She kept the comm feed live as they approached, and followed the standard chop and lateral step to round the corner simultaneously with him, clearing each other's view, weapon ready, and sights up.

There was nobody there. Well... No body.

The passage was clear left and right. Just exactly the same as behind them. Yet Rune walked to the center and stared down the left, gun lowered from aim, yet still tense. Her expression tight.

Someone was there, just no one with a body. It was a man-form, a ghost. He was muttering to himself in Russian, wearing a thick coat and a fur hat. He didn't seem to see Rune or any of the living. Yet Rune sighed and turned away as he disappeared ... Or perhaps was swallowed by darkness...or wherever ghosts fade into. Slightly somber, Rune glanced at her team with a heavy heart, assuming they hadn't been able to see him.

"Nevermind, I must have been wrong."

She gestured the opposite direction, toward the right, and followed the scent. It was getting stronger. They were close.

About 50 yards later, the composition of their tunnel seemed to change slightly. They suddenly came to a dead end... Dead except for hole which was little bigger than a culvert drain.

With all their gear, Rune wasn't sure they would fit. Well specifically she wasn't sure if Hood would fit. That guy was ... Broad. But the scent led that way, so that way they would go.

She secured the SMG and went to her hands and knees. There was room overhead enough to crawl but the spikes of her hair brushed the rimmed top of the drain. But thankfully it was mostly dry. Mostly. Her palms were damp.

The drain itself was only twenty feet long or so but Rune was not interested in crawling out vulnerable into who knew what.

She flattened to her belly near the end but kept her torso elevated enough to minimize scraping sound and used the glasses to heighten her visuals.

The tunnel angled upward slightly like whatever was meant to flow through this should drain out the way they came. The room it drained from was thankfully empty and Rune crawled out to study it.

The walls were clad with rotting, fallen down slats of wood.

There were old benches built in, some broken and set upon rusted iron stoves. A heavy metal door hung on one hinge opposite them and at first Rune thought they were in a closet but then she noticed the broken grate alongside the drain's entrance and she blinked like we recognized this.

"Are we in a sauna?"

Finally she pulled the flashlight to get a better look around. On the wall overhead suddenly shone a mosaic, tile and glass old and dingy, of the Soviet's old sickle and hammer symbol.

It was am old, abandoned bathhouse. Which explained how damp everyone felt, all the drains, and highly prevalent creep factor.

And the scent of violence led straight here.

"This is it."
Hood transitioned smoothly and without comment to Rune's warning, and mirrored her movements just as fluidly along the dark tunnel, but he frowned faintly when they cleared the next intersection and there was nothing there. He continued to cover his arch, weapon at the ready but not fully aimed, but he tossed a glance her way when he heard her move towards the left side tunnel. Just what had spooked her this time? He hadn't neard anything...but the underground city was full of odd echoes and forgotten grates and vents; perhaps she had caught an echo and assumed it's source was close by.

Hood nelt next to the culvert for a moment, studying it's dimenions with another vague frown. It would be a tight fit for him at best, but it seemed more likely he would just get stuck if he tried. He studied the wall for a moment, and glanced back the way they came, taking a long moment to study the map the computer for his glasses had plotted out so far. Then a street-level over-lay. There seemed to be few immediate options, asides backtracking and trying to find another way to catch up to them. Which judging by Rune's assessement of the other side, simply wasn't an option.

He would let Aria go next before following suit; he was forced to kit down, and tied his vest and armor into a tight bundle with the SMG in the center. This he wedged between his ankles and entered the tunnel on one shoulder, before slowly worming his way through on his side. It took him a few long minutes to pass through; longer by far then either of the women, but it was less due to the difficulty of it, and more in an effort to minimize the sound.

By the time he emerged, there was a thin sheen of sweat on his brow and soaking through his shirt, but his breathing was easily under control, and a few moments later he had his kit on again, nodding to the two to signal that he was ready.

He was surprised that they were still so close to the surface; he had expected something like these rougaruo to have burrowed deeper into the undercity to set up shop, but he had to suppose they had chosen convenient location over safety. So did that mean there were things farther down they were afraid of, or that they had some sort of understanding wtih the usual gangs and undercity dwellers that would usually have set up shop in such an area? Neither were terribly appealing concepts at face value.

"So whats the plan? Kick in the doors, yell 'Stay down, stay down, we're here to save you' Operation Entebbe style, and shoot anyone that stands up? Or we go in slow and quiet?"
He patted his knife as he offered option two, but had little trouble with either. Likely though, a few of these things would bolt rather then stand and fight, if they were properly spooked right off the bat.
Continued from: The Hunt

The two thoughts prominent in his mind was that it was cold and dark.

The rumble and clacking above confirmed his position. It seemed the monster hadn't thought enough to lie. At least, the directions so far had been accurate. What he would find at the end was a different matter.

He didn't risk any light, the sharpness that the Power brought was just enough for him to see through the dim underground passages. Besides, he did not want to use it unless necessary. What he had done...

Michael shivered. Don't think of that now.

He could deal with that problem later. For now, he had to keep an eye out for an old Soviet bathhouse.

Edited by Michael Vellas, Aug 14 2013, 03:35 AM.
Aria groaned as she saw where they were going next. She sincerely disliked crawling around on the ground like an animal. But it was part of the job and she sucked it up and would go through. Aria pulled off her gloves and tucked them in her back jeans pocket before she adjust her gear to crawl through the rather small hole. She fit just fine, but the hilts of the sword made an awful scraping sound as she started through the narrow tube. Aria hunkered lower to the ground. The muck and the grime clung to her shirt and Aria could only hope that she would get use to the horrid smell that would not be on her for the remainder of their hunt.

The other side of the tunnel was very interesting. An old bath-house. What an interesting place to take your food Aria thought to herself.

Mr White's question made Aria chuckle. "So whats the plan? Kick in the doors, yell 'Stay down, stay down, we're here to save you' Operation Entebbe style, and shoot anyone that stands up? Or we go in slow and quiet?"

Aria was all for the slow and quiet. Guns blazing wasn't her style, but then again she didn't typically hunt with commando's either. Aria pulled the gloves from her pocket and slipped them on. She quietly drew her swords from their sheaths on her back, the near silent ring of the blades sliding out was music to Aria's ears. If only it was all so sweet as that sound. The killing and the screaming were all part and parcel to the whole gig but it wasn't the best part.

Aria gripped the swords comfortable in her hands both down at her sides until they were ready to go. It was hardly a good gesture to stab someone before the hunt really began.

Aria took a moment to gather in their prey's scent, but there was more here than just the guts and glory of the rougarou. Fear permeated the air. Two distinct, but beyond the fact that they had been drug through this very room Aria couldn't determine anything more from that. Aria typed a few commands into the land warriors. "Vics over that way," the glasses would flash in the general direction of them, but they weren't here to necessarily save them, that wasn't the mission but surely they wouldn't let their own kind die to these monsters.

Rune felt like a compass standing on the North Pole. The scent they had tracked seemed to permeate everywhere and everything yet led to no where else but exactly where they were. All she knew was the roogies were there, and she had no more concept of what or who was waiting around them.

As the first person through, she cringed at every little scrape and echo to waft up behind. Of course she had to wonder how in the world anyone (even a rougarou) dragged a victim in here. For all the threat looming nearby, the question really bothered her. Maybe the victims were awake at the time of captivity and forced to crawl on threat of force? Maybe they were dragged with rope and pulley? Maybe they were kids? maybe they were body parts shoved into backpacks. Maybe she was tracking the wrong scent? Rune stood there thoughtfully, puzzling it out, while Hood and Aria arrived.

Like Hood's question, she guessed the answer didn't really matter. Aria pulled the swords, and Rune nodded, impressed. She knew nothing about how to use swords beyond rule number one: stab the other guy; but Aria sure looked like she did. Frankly, Rune wasn't interested in getting close enough to the bastards to stab one since she liked to keep her distance.

With that, she cocked the SMG, checked all her supplies and consulted the new update on the glasses from Aria, swinging her glance around in that direction. How did Aria know where they were??? And how many there were! Two. The puzzle expanded.

"Aria, we really need to have a chat over a good..." she flipped Hood a smirk, "beer when we get done with all this."

But they seemed to both be looking to her for guidance, and Rune was accepting of the responsibility. So she needed to make some sort of plan. Whatever the plan was, she was not willing to sacrifice anyone to rid the world of a monster.

"Aria, if you're sure of the location, we have to make sure to save them. And honestly, thats the priority. No matter what Tehya says." she scoffed.

"I'm all for cowboy style: kick down the door, guns blazing." Surprising, huh?

It had looked like they came in some sort of back way, so they probably had the element of surprise in their favor. But either way, they needed to make a decision and fast before that advantage was gone... Or worse yet, before the poor victims were dead.

"Lets start out low and slow and get an idea of what we are up against. Then lets make it rain!"
Rune seemed to be handling the responsibility of leadership well; the few times he had worked with pairs or more of Atharim, there always seemed to be a struggle between them. These two seemed more more cooperative then most. Although he had some small suspicion it was simply more so that Aria didn't want to put up with Rune in a conflict of leadership. The girl was bull-headed, after all.

He still wasn't sure what to make of the two Atharim. How had Rune decided where the Rougarou were hiding? She could no longer rely on the GPS from the dead hunter's Wallet, but she seemed certain the old bath house was the right place. And Aria's certainty on the direction of, apparently two, civilians, somewhere beyond the thick concrete walls? Had they been provided with more information then he had been made privy to? Perhaps it was some sort of trade secret, and they wanted to try and keep him in the dark.

"You don't trip over your schlong on this one, and there's a 20 year bottle of scotch waiting."
He jerked his head at Rune, the comment being a payback for the beer thing, then knelt next to the door. He pulled a cable from one of his pouches and thumbed the side of his Land Warriors, wirelessly synching it to the camera snake. From another pouch came a small cutting laser; a very hard to come by peice of kit. It made short work of putting a hole through the door with minimal smoke or scent, and after a few moments for it to cool, the snake was slipped through the hole.

He scanned the hallway beyond, and a few deft flicks of his eyes and a blink later, the image popped up on Rune and Aria's goggles, giving them a sense of what the next room looked like. A short hallway and another door, likely to a similar sauna, this one with the door wide open, but the angle was such that they couldn't see in. And beyond that was what was likely a larger bath chamber. With nothing in view, he retrieved the camera and put the kit away, and the clutter on their Land Warriors blinked out.

Next was a simple matter to study the door in question. There was little hope it would be entirely silent when it was opened, but he didn't have the tools needed to get around something like that. So, in the end, it was a curt nod to Rune and Aria, then he readied to open it. Slow and steady was their best hope, and he eased the lever and lifted the door slightly in the frame to take some of the weight off the rusty old hinges, then started to slowly ease it open. It took nearly two full minutes to open it enough for them all to pass through, but asides from a few alarming squeeks, it was relatively silent. Patience was a virtue he had in droves when it came to mission requirements. Patience with people was another matter.

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