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Hunt the Hunter
Like all the most brazen ideas, Michael's formed in the shower.

His discharge was finalized with extreme efficiency. He hoped the man had not actually run, but was grateful to be up and moving around. The wounds were already healing well and the residual pain was bearable.

His wounds required re-bandaging after showering and a nurse gave him one last check-over before she were satisfied.

"Everything seems to be going well. You will find a new uniform in the side draw, then you are free to go."

Michael nodded but did not move. "Thank you, but I don't need a uniform at the moment. Could you have something unassuming - something local - prepared?"

The woman looked doubtful but minutes later he was dressed in a brown shirt with long billowing sleeves and a pair of baggy cotton pants. Hardly practical but fortunately he had no need to be practical.

If he was being practical, he would have been on the first plane out of Mecca away from this mess. As it was, he contented himself with the prospect of hunting a mist monster he was not sure could be killed.

His heart dreaded the thought but his mind revelled in the challenge.

And what was a greater challenge than defeating an unbeatable opponent?

"Please inform Dr. Weston that I am ready to speak to her when she is available."

Edited by Michael Vellas, Mar 1 2014, 10:31 PM.
"She saw a flaring halo around his head, radiant in gold and blue. It shouted of glory and power to come"
"No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first, and is waiting for it."
Torri hadn't slept well the night before. Or, more technically, the morning of. Monsters wisping out of the fog haunted her dreams. When she escaped one, she was caught by fire in another. The alarm was almost a relief. She was tired, literally, of dealing with the hassle of nightmares. She rolled off the cot and found a change of clothes. She showered and pulled her hair back in a bun that dried in that shape, tight across her scalp.

Inquiries and paperwork were not unusual nor unexpected. However she was surprised by the general lack of interest in their superiors following up on what happened in Michael's office. It seemed Mecca was as he described, on the verge of exploding, and the army had more important things to investigate than an attack on a civilian contractor - even if it was on base.

As such, she was actually grateful when her Med-Wallet buzzed an interruption to the work. When she was finally reunited with her patient, she was mildly taken aback by his attire. Her brows furrowed down with thoughtful consideration, but if she disapproved of the implications of such garb, she didn't voice it.

"How are you feeling today?"
She asked, closing the door behind her. "I take it you have a plan in mind?"
When Dr. Weston arrived, she scrutinized him with the eye of a hawk.

"How are you feeling today?"
She asked, closing the door behind her. "I take it you have a plan in mind?"

"Well enough,"
he replied to the first question. The second took him a moment longer to consider. It wasn't exactly something she would jump at the chance to do. Nonetheless, it was necessary so he decided on the forward approach. "Yes, you are going to help me kill that thing."

He paused a moment for the words to sink in before resuming before she could object. "I can't do it myself. At least, not without great difficulty and I would rather not take any chances."

His gaze was steel provoking no thoughts of doubt or danger, although he was far from certain and more than anxious. The emotions slid from a bubble of calm like water on a window. "It will be extremely dangerous. However, most of the danger will be mine. I am the target - bait, the anvil. You will be the hammer."
It occured to him she might not know what he was talking about, but he could explain on the way.

"Of course, I can't order you to come nor would I. It must be your choice,"
he explained although his tone suggested she had already accepted. He was confident in that at least. Dr. Weston was not one to hide from danger.

"I shall explain further if you accept, but you may want to put something less conspicuous on."
He paused glancing at the woman with a sharp eye. "We will also need nitrogen."
"She saw a flaring halo around his head, radiant in gold and blue. It shouted of glory and power to come"
"No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first, and is waiting for it."
Michael's admission to a stable state of health was met with a flat reaction. He was far from the first soldier she'd treated, and while they all tended to be babies, they also all liked to lie about the reality of their health. It was her job to guard it.

She may not quite buy Michael's devil may care attitude, but she wouldn't stop him doing something rash unless it were a serious danger to his recovery. Even then, she questioned whether or not she had the ability to make the call between one man and a city of civilians. Michael was strong though. Of mind and of body. He could potentially survive on will-power alone.

She crossed her arms as he described the plan. And her role in it. She was more doctor than anything else, but deep down there was a little bit of a soldier too. This was her family. More than just herself called the CCD home, and if there were creatures out there willing to prey on innocents, she wouldn't hesitate to help protect them. No more than if the creature were an invading army.

She was, however, unimpressed by the idea of donning a "less conspicuous" outfit. If she had to wear a veil, she was not going to be pleased. Nitrogen was less of a problem for her. But if he wanted a bomb, it might just be easier to get artillery from the armoury.

"Liquid? Or compounded nitrogen?"
She asked, and tacked on another question after a thoughtful pause. "And what do you suggest I wear?"
If he needed her in traditional garb, she might actually go along with it, but she had no idea where to go about getting that kind of attire.
Dr. Weston did not seem at all pleased. With what, he could only guess. Probably the entire venture; but she did not hesitate and merely asked what he needed.

he replied to the first. "At least 5 litres."

As to the other, he had already taken care of that. He pointed to the bed - made and neat as if nobody had been in it hours before.

Folded and ready to be worn was another outfit similar to Michael's own in a slightly darker shade with the addition of the traditional Arab headdress of white cloth.

"You don't have a problem as dressing as a man?"
he asked as an afterthought. If she was going to help him hunt down that thing he would think that a disguise would be the least of her problems.

"I will make my own preparations,"
he continued, moving to leave. "I will return in twenty minutes and we can end this."
"She saw a flaring halo around his head, radiant in gold and blue. It shouted of glory and power to come"
"No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first, and is waiting for it."
Torri grumbled to herself after Michael left and turned to regard the clothing with both hands planted firmly on her hips. This was rife with all kinds of complications. Not simply what could happen to her if the people in the city discovered her masquerade. Was she breaking any rules, here? Not particularly. The details of her orders were largely left up to her's and Michael's discretion. So answering to superiors regarding the excursion probably was not an issue. But as she pulled the drape-like clothing over her head, that sense of unease remained. Maybe it was just nerves. She hoped it was just nerves. She wasn't even sure if smuggling a firearm would help. Probably not. That would only lead to more of a paper trail than she was already comfortable discarding.

The liquid nitrogen was an easy enough order to process with her Med Wallet. Facilities should have it ready and waiting for pick-up on their way out. It wouldn't be easy to hide from view if they walked around with a 5 L steel dewer on them. What in the world did Michael want it for, anyway? She figured she'd find out soon enough.

The headdress hid the lump of her bun, and the feminine arch of her brows from view. She routinely went without makeup, so she might be able to pull off the disguise as a plainly shaven Arab. She was of a height and build to be a young man, but her skin was certainly anglo-saxon. Hopefully nobody looked too close.

She was as ready as she'd ever be by the time Michael returned. Hidden deep in the pockets of the clothing was her Med Wallet, which had additional technologies to measure or scan biomarkers in the event of illness or injury. If she kept her hands in her pockets and head down, she might otherwise go overlooked, but she still didn't know what exactly she'd be doing on this crusade.
It did not take long to secure his leave for the day. In fact, it was suspiciously easy. He had informed the general staff that he would be absent for the day - on leave due to a 'slight malady' - and he heard nothing in the way of protests. Perhaps they had grown used to his command - as unlikely as that seemed going by the unanimous resolution of intrepid reluctance that the Custody military had greeted him with.

It was nothing more than a passing thought thrown away by the more pressing concern of possible death. Tony would have called him an idiot and perhaps he would be right to do so. Nonetheless, it was a challenge he had embraced. Fear was overwhelmed by the thrill of the impending battle.

It was not the drunken stupor of blood-lust - the power inside him had purged that long ago. It was much more significant and would not leave him empty and lifeless like so many soldiers had been throughout history.

Could he outmatch the instinct of a born predator?

Only time would tell.

When he returned, Dr. Weston was ready and waiting for him with the nitrogen. The disguise would not fool the intelligent observer, but it was only an expedient to smooth their path.

As for himself, he pushed a steel cart full of sacks of grain he had obtained with the help of Shakir. That man was truly useful, if only the Custody staff could see past his Arabian ancestry.

Not a few of the soldiers gave him confused looks but he ignored them and ordered them back to their duties. They would wonder, but it was no concern of his. He would do what was necessary; if they dismissed him, so be it. If they wanted his head - they could try.

He acknowledged Dr. Weston with a grave nod. "Thank you for your co-operation. I will explain my plan."
He gestured at the cart in front of him. "We will be merchants delivering grain to a storehouse a few kilometres from the base. The business is legitimate thanks to a contact of mine, so there should be no concern there. Of course, this will also serve to transport the nitrogen."

The image of two conspicuously pale and shaved men hauling 5 litres of nitrogen through the city would not inspire trust.

Now, the most critical part. He wondered at the apprehension that rose in him. Why should he be anxious at revealing his strategy?

"As I said, I will be the bait. That creature was after me, so I will give it what it wants. I am not entirely sure how it hunts, but I think it may be because of my...abilities. If so, I shall draw it out by casting a net it cannot miss over the city and lure it to the storehouse. I am convinced it will not attack in the open - it seemed to want to avoid the notice of others."

"Once in the warehouse, I shall occupy it's attention giving you the opportunity to attack from the rear. As you may remember,"
he knew he remembered all too well, "it can become...mist to avoid direct assault. When this happens, you will use the nitrogen to freeze it."

He studied her face for a long moment.

"I can't guarantee it will work. It may prove ineffective. In that case, return here."
He held up a hand before she berrated him for trying to be a hero. "I have no intention of sacrificing myself for you or anyone else, Dr Weston. I will not be caught off-guard again, I assure you."
His gaze was cool as ice, his confidence chill and unwavering.

The power welled up inside him spreading through his bones, his very marrow. He spun nets of Wardings that stretched into the camp and beyond.

I will be ready this time, creature.
"She saw a flaring halo around his head, radiant in gold and blue. It shouted of glory and power to come"
"No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first, and is waiting for it."
They met up, and what the pair they made. Torri felt ridiculous beside Michael, but every lingering gaze she caught was met with a sharp glare in return. She and Michael knew what they were about, and that was good enough for her, but she never thought she'd miss scrubs.

Merchants delivering grain a few kilometres away? She inwardly groaned. Let there be a transport involved beyond her own two legs. She'd definitely not slept enough last night for unplanned marches under the desert sun.

She looked to him when Michael hesitated. If he sensed her inner monologue, he was better at reading people than she thought. Torri could keep a straight face watching Peter Pan fly in with the news Neverland was real. The talent was earned by years of getting her ass chewed for one reason or another. Her smooth apathy was honed a little further every time she called a time of death. Bend or break were the only options, and she would never break.

His plan spurned her to glance at the case of liquid nitrogen. It was sealed safely away, but she could still sense the bubbling hiss that was released when the lid was removed from the canister. Tossing a jug of the stuff on a cloud of mist actually sounded pretty cool, but if that thing was any closer to Michael than she'd witnessed previously, there was a serious chance that the nitrogen would douse him too, and that simply would not go well for him.

She was about to voice the concern when he shut her off with a raised palm. She blinked. Suddenly taking orders from you? Am I?

It was a 'nice' sentiment he shared. After she'd saved his life. Twice. And she was risking her neck to do it again. But it was her job. He may not intend on sacrificing himself for her, but that didn't mean the opposite was untrue. She'd not leave him at the mercy of that thing. Not if she had a choice. Damn if she were telling him that, though.


She swiped her wrist with the implanted chip at the base's final security check, and together, they greeted the open desert of Mecca.

In the shade of her headdress, she almost broke a grim smile. "Lead on."

Nets of power crept through the city of Mecca like webs across a forest's floor. His perimeter had yet to exceed much more than four hundred metres but it was enough for his purpose. His tendrils waded through the crowds of humanity in search of his target.

He held the power almost at his limit, baiting the creature. At least, he hoped that was what it would do. It seemed a reasonable conclusion to make, but who knew what monsters would do? Humans were unpredictable enough.

"We are almost there,"
he said with an absent voice, still straining to catch any sign that the thing was following.

Michael sat at the front of the electronically powered towing system that the people of Mecca used. It reminded him of an old fashioned Tram that he had seen on display back home, guided along a path without any real need for human support. Of course, there were no rails or wires involved. In fact, he had no idea how they did it. Magnetically? An auto-pilot system?

He shook himself from idle contemplation as he felt another whisper of unusual life brush against his Warding. It was strange to think of it as a 'whisper' but it felt right in a way that could not be explained even in his own mind.

He did not turn to face Dr. Weston, seated beside him as they drifted past the busy crowds at a sedate pace. He showed nothing in his expression, even if his heart beat faster and his palms grew slick.

He knew the essence of the creature - the abnormality he had felt just before the attack had given him enough time to react against a fatal blow - but the contact that was made was fleeting so it was impossible to be certain.

Even so, he was sure that it stalked them. It knew. Somehow, it knew what he was doing; and it toyed with him. Showing itself for an instant before fading away to mist - possibly literally.

It was a fine line that he walked, and it terrified him, even if he would not show it to anyone. Surely it had no idea what they had planned, but the feeling of it's arrogant malevolence felt like pin-pricks against his neck.

The feeling intensified along with the contact it made with his Nets of power. As they drew closer to their destination, it grew bolder.

By the time they arrived at the steel warehouse he could almost feel it's predatory eyes watching him, smiling in anticipation. It no longer hid and Michael felt the presence clearly. It moved slowly, as if it savoured the thrill of the hunt and the terror it knew must be in his heart.

Michael's eyes grew hard and cold. It sought to toy with him?

"Let's go inside. It is coming."

He would show it the meaning of fear.

Edited by Michael Vellas, Mar 13 2014, 08:53 AM.
"She saw a flaring halo around his head, radiant in gold and blue. It shouted of glory and power to come"
"No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first, and is waiting for it."
This whole charade made Torri's skin crawl. Every single person she saw she was sure was going to see right through their disguise, and the city was worse off than she expected. Nothing outrageous happened, but she was trained to read people. Anxiety hit her like a slap in the face every where she looked. People walked swiftly from destination to destination. They kept their head down almost as strictly as she kept hers down. Mothers hustled children. Men herded dogs and animals to move more swiftly to their destination. Over all, a bright sun blazed rivers of sweat down Torri's neck. If it weren't for the headdress, she knew she would have a sunburn in minutes.

Michael's voice, tight and cold, broke her train of thought. A person, even a doctor, couldn't be in the army long without learning patience, but even she was grateful when Michael said they were nearing their destination. She was ready to get out of the line of fire, she thought bitterly. Part of her thought the symbolism might turn real all too soon.

As they neared the structure, Torri took over the responsibility of steering the cart that hid the liquid nitrogen. Michael seemed preoccupied. As well he should be. Torri shivered every time his gaze accidentally - or purposefully - swept across her. She was already regretting this ridiculous plan, but after ducking inside she kept her regrets to her self and peeled off the headdress. Her scalp was soaking wet.

She gave herself a moment to gain her bearings, but as soon she did, she clamped her jaw shut and began to unload the sacks of grain without so much as a cringe for their weight. She chucked one and then another aside. The third split at the seam, and kernels spilled across the floor. They crunched like marbles underfoot as Torri plucked the canister of liquid nitrogen from its niche, and carried it a few steps away from the possibly slipping hazard.

Quick fingers screwed on a pour spout and cap in place of the traditional lid. The hiss of liquid nitrogen bubbled in those few moments. At this temperature it looked like boiling water. She snapped her neck around her every few moments, waiting for their surroundings to change into something she could recognize as dangerous, but until it did, she continued to work at transforming the vessel into a weapon.

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