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The Price You Pay
It hadn't taken long to tell Yun his plan.  He wasn't surprised when she agreed to let him off her leash.  In a way she really hadn't, Dorian had a tail almost a mile long.  He'd agreed to a chip for tracking purposes.  He wasn't planning on keeping it forever, if at the very least Sage would be able to disable it.  That was thing the girl seemed to not know about him, was his house full of misfits.  Dorian regretted not allowing Sage into his wallet while they were still under the same roof.  It might have saved a lot of aggravation having his son's bodyguard coming flaming the house.  Might even show Yun that she might be barking up the wrong tree.

But he hadn't, and he had made a deal.  A Deal that gave him and his family some freedom from the Atharim, once they put a stop to IA's investigation on his part though.  Yun saw to the precinct side of it.  But it was Dorian who was going to end that particular Atharim threat.  And sick Domovoi on Nox's little crowd below the city.  A dead police officer would do just that.  The trick was to only get Abt to follow him.

Which really wasn't hard.  Yun and company had left Dorian's car unattended where they found him.  Dorian got into it and drove into the Red Light District.  He and Ivan had done through chasing Sebastian.  And that's when his world changed.  He'd met a boy and a girl Atharim, god and sentient.  He'd covered for Martin for the last time.  And now his friend was dead, and Dorian had betrayed everything he'd ever done or stood for - except the sacrifice was to save his family.  A family he hadn't loved enough before but the thought of losing Cruz to the Atharim deaded his resolve.  Abt would not threaten his family.

Eventually someone would come looking for him.  Dorian just hoped it was not Nox.  He hoped the boy was still asleep after the big gala.  He'd be home soon.  And Cruz would be safe and Nox could do what he did best - fight monsters  - keeping the rest of the world safe.  Dorian knew that he'd never stop fighting that fight, it was in his blood.  Though the Atharim would hunt him forever - he didn't care.  It was a strength Dorian envied.  But it would likely get the boy killed.  

Dorian headed into the tunnels below the Red Light District and he made sure he was seen by ever security camera he could.  Sage would find him at the very least, he was counting on the boys stalker tendencies.
The little dot moved. It alert Jens the moment it had. His car moved. What the fuck, after three days of just sitting there it moved. The alert scared him as it went off inside his coat breast pocket.

Vega was on the move. Where had he gone? What was he doing now. Jens watched on the holo screen as the dot moved through the city into the Red Light District and then it sat there. Abt could send a car out to check it out, it could have been stolen. But...

He didn't. He needed to stretch his legs anyway. The search for Vega was on going - Abt wished he'd found him first, but such was life. Now he only had to follow him. He didn't need to tell anyone. And he didn't as he slipped out of his office and into his car and proceeded to the Red Light District.
Dorian waited near the edge of the entrance to the tunnels he'd come out of once before. He saw Abt pull up in his own personal vehicle. He wandered around Dorian's car looking for him he was sure, or any traps or indication where Dorian had went. This time Dorian had a pair of land warriors and he'd had one of Yun's own hackers get into his house. It probably alerted Sage but that was kinda the point of everything. Sage had to find him, there was no way Dorian was going to make it out alive if Nox wasn't around. He wasn't sure if this was a good plan, but at least IA would be off him for good. Yun would see to that, but Abt was Atharim and he wanted Dorian dead - his family too.

Dorian tossed a stone far from where he was but in the general direction of the tunnel so Abt would look and see a shadow running down the tunnel. Dorian wasn't dressed like a cop. Today he was dressed like an Atharim. Or a regular no body who'd be down in the tunnels. Getting lost in a crowd wasn't going to happen. But getting lost in the tunnels - that was cake. But thankfully Nox had a map. Dorian didn't know how far it went or how much of the underground the boy had mapped, but he was diligent with marking where oni and every other creature he found was. It was a no brainer to get where he was going with the land warriors on. Abt only had to follow Dorian to his death. Dorian only hoped it wasn't his own too.
Jens found Vega's car easily enough.  And it was empty.  Completely expected.  He searched the detectives car but found nothing.  No evidence that he had driven the car, no evidence that he was still alive or injured or even if his men had found him.  The car was in perfect condition.  Whatever had happened to him remained a mystery.

A sound outside the vehicle brought his attention to the tunnel entrance.  Long since abandoned pipes lead deeper into the bowels of the city.  No real cop actually went down there.  The rookies might to prove themselves, or the older ones to hid whatever illicit things they were doing.

Jens caught sight of a man running into the tunnel and wondered if he should follow.  If it were Vega, he wondered what the man was up to.  If it was a thug, well Jens didn't want to go after him.  But he was almost certain he caught sight of the detectives profile before he darted further into the darkness.

Jens drew his gun and followed cautiously.  This wasn't his first rodeo.  And he should radio for back up but not that kind.  Jens stopped in the tunnels and sent a text to his own handler.

Vega sighted.  Going after him. Coordinates attached.  

The Atharim would send back up.  They wanted Vega dead.
The land warriors lead Dorian deeper into the tunnels. He'd been down here a time or two to hunt, but never had he gone as deep as Nox and Aria had. There were levels upon levels that Dorian was afraid to go, but he had to go deeper and he couldn't let Jens catch up nor could he lose him in the tunnels. Thankfully Dorian knew where he was going and could easily slow and lead Jens deeper into the depths just out of sight. The man was arrogant enough to chase him alone. Idiot!

The darkness was crushing. The air was thin and damp and the deeper they went the worse the crushing feeling got. How the fuck did those kids handle this feeling. And he was alone in the darkness, the only light was the one he held in his hand. The land warriors allowed him to see without it but the feeling of that and the gun in his other hand made it feel more like he was doing something normal.

One thing kept pushing Dorian through tunnels, the fact that Jens Abt and the rest of the Atharim were hunting his son. And that meant they had to die. Dorian was still a man of the law, he couldn't do it himself. But he didn't need to. Arrogance was a mighty drug and there were monsters in these tunnels. Scratches started to appear on the wall. Dorian didn't look but he felt them when he ran his fingers across them. He knew whatever was down here was dangerous. Even the Little Song hadn't know what these things were - and she was a walking encyclopedia of knowledge concerning monsters. Why Martin never used her was beyond him, but he hated all things different. Dorian tipped an imaginary hat to his friend. And he had been a friend right up till the end.
No it wasn’t entirely plausible she was in the tunnels right at that very moment.  No sane person ventured into the underground what with all the criminals, monsters and other nasty things lurking beneath the city.  All of that made for the perfect honing ground though.  She was a native after all.  Well, a dual native.  Was that a thing?  Regardless, she couldn’t spend all her time training in VR.  As an Atherim Asset (III) she was used exclusively for delicate, off-the-books tasks, not, monster hunting of the non-channeler variety.  Nika though was of the school of thought where preparation and practice were what kept you alive.  She’d never stop one kind of training just because the current job was specialized.  As it was wrong to just murder a bunch of humans in the name of practice, the same could not be said of monsters.  The Underground was perfect for that.

She had happened upon a small pack of Rougarou about an hour prior.  They were feeding on the last member of a ghost tour gone horribly wrong.  No kidding.  There was some wicked-hilarity in that.  Nika had seriously nearly lost it when she found the dumbass tour leader with the pamphlets.  Well what was left of him.  The rest of the party had fled the wrong way down and down and even further down to their doom.  Naturally.  Well rather unnaturally.  She’d picked off a straggler who really liked bone marrow and spent some time after trying to locate the screaming.  Tunnels were echoey and by the time she’d found the right location, it had been too late.  Oh well, she’d tried.   

Being the cautious sort and having been ambushed down here before, Nika had carefully circled the pack in the surrounding tunnels.  Just to make sure she had them all.  With her answer in the affirmative, the assassin found a vantage point and picked them off with her highly modified SDFNp90.  The young Atharim preferred caseless telescoped ammunition in that she didn’t have to expose herself to the folly of looking for her spent shells.  Her weapons were suppressed as the rapport of a gunshot tended to draw attention.  All that to say when the Rougarou were done, so was she.

Or so she thought.

Nika was not a moron.  This place was a maze she’d nearly been lost in before and had also nearly died as a result.  Now it was her SOP to leave breadcrumbs in the form of drones.  She carried a burner wallet on missions, never the Atherim wallet, but Big Brother could get emergency signals from on high and relay them to each successive micro drone as the signal down here wasn’t that great sometimes.  The micro drones telephone-gamed her some coordinates and a coded message.  53k5hun8.  Really.  She chewed on that a moment as it was a general call and not her problem.  Still, her forearm tac display said she was close.

Despite the darkness she activated her quantum camouflage and made her way as quickly as was possible to still remain silent in the damp tunnels.  Her tunnel intersected a larger one and a figure passed by, gun drawn.  Was this the message sender?  One way to find out.  She drew her sidearms quietly.

Scouts were sent to cover the rear in case he was being followed. She came up behind him.  The assassin was clad head to toe in dark gray tactical gear, no part of her skin exposed for identification.  The vest she wore could cause reasonable doubt as to gender as well...aperture headwear would further confuse the matter.  Protect your Assets.  A silent command turned off the camouflage and she withdrew her eyeports.  The SDFNp90 was on her back.  She was in full war-mode.  Cold, soulless demon-blue eyes regarded his head.  Almost a whisper.  “You rang?”
Deeper and deeper they went. It was clausterphobic to say the least. The amount of dirt that had to be above them, how anything lived down here was beyond him. The darkness was damp and the sounds of scratching started to grow louder. The dark was darker some how with the noises sending a shirver up his spine.

Jens wasn't a hunter, he was a cop. This was getting to him. They said some hunters went insane because of it. And then out of no where a whisper. "You rang?" Jens jumped out of his skin with a pair of blue eyes staring at him he could only expect that this was his back up. What the fuck!

"Don't do that ever again." He hissed at his new assistant. Jens nodded ahead. "Vega is ahead. I don't know where he's going." And just as he started to doubt himself there was a rock that skittered across the way making an echoing sound. Unlike the times before this was followed up by scratching something was coming in their direction. And from the sounds of it it was more than one...
Scratching noises began as the groves in the walls got deeper. Dorian's heart was in his throat, pounding and threatening to escape. This was worse that a raid. This was his life on the line. Now he only had to move slowly and quietly. He was gratful for the night vision on his goggles as he rounded a corner and stopped.

In front of him was a writhing mass of darkness and inside the center was a single spot white. A man in a lab coat. Much like the rest of them Dorian wanted to turn away. But they slumbered and Dorian found his way around the corner. Nox's maps were valid but yet this whole hadn't been on it. Dorian thanked the heavens it wasn't but he had to lure the mass of bodies towards Jens.

Dorian flicked his flash light on and then threw his flashlight as far as he could down the long corridor the way he'd come. It bounced and clattered across the floor and the light shone down in their direction. With stealth of practice Dorian slide back around the opening and waited and prayed. He pulled his gun and waited for the next thing to come around the corner at him. The only thing Dorian heard was the scratching on the walls as the mass of things advanced and the sound of his own heart.
He remembered his name - barely. Alistair. It was all he could remember and Doctor. The words were fleeting. But he knew them just the same. Now the only thing he cared about was finding food. The young and dying were nice, but the pack wanted fresh meat. The blood and the hunt was all that they thought about until Alistair came. Now the sought heat too. And light. Every day Alistair took them higher and higher. They slept when tired. The white among the black. The fire among the cold. The light among the darkness - that was Doctor Alistair.

Dreams of home. The light, the sun. family. Who needed the family before now he had pack. Now he had everything he needed.

A noise brought Alistair from his sleep. And the rest of the pack too. They rushed and charged and they left him to wonder what made the light, but the pack didn't care. Food. They smelled food. Alistair too. He heard the hearts of prey in front of them. One was alone, the rest went after the two in front. Alistair smiled as he headed into the shadows for the one...

Alistair Pavlo - former scientist
Nika chuckled to herself at the man’s reaction and closed her eye ports to take advantage of the Thermal Imaging.  What you couldn’t see down here would gladly kill you.  She had no idea who Vega was and frankly did not care but “I don’t know where he’s going,” sounded an awful lot like ‘I’ve never been down here before and I just ran us headlong into an ambush.’  Did this guy only have a light on his gun?  How many magazines was he carrying?  She wasn’t sure she wanted to ask.

There were noises ahead that sounded like trouble.  A lot of trouble.  The assassin stopped moving forward.  It was stupid to run into whatever it was coming toward them when that same trouble would do the work for them in short order.  Better to pick your point of engagement.  She sent two micro drones ahead.  

Nika holstered her sidearms and flipped her submachine gun around.  She crouched down and braced herself into a comfortable firing position, using the wall to provide further support.  The tunnel curved up ahead.  The assassin wasn’t about to go shouting orders but she did offer a suggestion.  “Might want to make yourself small.”  Genius.  She wasn’t going to insult him aloud before they were attacked though.  Best to have his psyche intact so he could be as useful as possible.  Even if he was just bait.  Hopefully he would be better than just a distraction though.  Her jaw indicated the opposite wall.  Maybe there, Napoleon?

The drones were feeding back imagery of...something.  She described it to her...partner... as best she could without knowing what the fuck they were.  A pack of somethings running at them on all-fours.  Rats?  Dogs?  Grotesque to put it mildly and drooling nasty black goo from their fanged maws.  Hope that's not acid...  Crazed, mange infected ratdogs.  They looked hungry and rather reminded her of Rougarou.  Then naturally a Rougarou appeared on screen but it looked...sick.  Maybe she'd start calling herself 'Lucky.'  Hey! my name's Lucky, what's yours?  What was going on?  The cameras showed the pack nearing the curve.  “Incoming.”  

“See?  This is why you don’t have pets,” she said and ratcheted the slide back.      

The first of the things rounded the corner and she fired unrepentant.  The round tore through flesh and skull to blow the thing’s brains and black goo all over the far wall.  It looked rather like a coconut blackberry parfait. Yum.  Headless Nick’s front legs tucked backward and momentum saw the carcass slide forward into the tunnel wall.  Another beast, fire...repeat.  Breath controlled, practiced movements precise so as not to throw off her aim.  Suppressed for both sound and flash, the weapon sounded as if someone were whispering rolling Rs. 

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