The Den Games Network Forum RPG
virtualoctopus, CKW, Wesforce, Nyerguds
"Say what? We donīt need to wander around anymore. Let's go to the dock inmediatly!"
Mist Lotus shouted. Everyone agreed.
"Now I want to drive..." Overmind replied.
And everyone crossed the city in a blaze, running, not showing tiredness, not being seen, like ninjas. They eventually reached the airport.
"Give me three seconds to start up the ship and weīll leave."
Overmind gasped. Instead of saluting, he was already saying what to do. It was not felt right for both the shaman dwarf Hammerwing and Eva.
"Feh. Staring at NeonWraith Gardens palace makes me think... of my past... of my future moves." Slayer whispered. A gentle wind blew across his face. There was no acid rain today.
Would the disgraces end? Slayer thought for a while. It seemed that everywhere he went, destruction followed him.
And so, without even knowing it... he headed for the palace.
"Damn Slayer, now I found you..." Cy said to himself. Tracking him down had not been an easy job, and Illidia didn't want to cooperate. She was hiding something, really sad. Although she followed him, she had muttered... like a ghost.
Two London cops were taking a break from their duties. It had been a long, gard night, the first rays of dawn just beginning to break the horizon. Cop 1 lit a narco stick, taking a long, satisfying pull.
"Gimme a drag of that mate." Said cop 2, sighting his IWS SMG at a pen of shokk-wire where up to 500 rioters were sat, hands tied with thermocuffs, plastic bonds that were actually heat-seled to the skins. They were extremely painful to remove without the special solvent, so riot police used them in large numbers.
Cop 1 passed him the cigarette, and he gratefully lowered his weapon for the luxury. Both men leaned back against their APC.
"Thank frag for that. I thought this bloody comet night would never end."
"Comet's still there, man." Reminded his comrade.
Cop one raised a one-finger salute to the cosmic drifter.
"You and your mum!" He shouted, attracting some odd stares from passers by. He turned to speak to cop 2 again, stripping off his sweat-dripping armour jacket.
"What have we got? 500? 600 dead?"
"Something like that. Killed quite a few of those fraggin' Troggs though."
"Can't say that mate. Its racist."
Both police looked at each other, then burst out laughing. It was well-known what the Royal Police Force thought of Orks, Trolls and Goblins, like most Police and Private Security Organisations in human-majority areas.
"See what happened to Gryffyn in F division?"
"Yeah. Looked pretty nasty. Looked like some kind of... Limbs... Growing out of his back..."
"Maybe the rumours are true..."
"Don't say that. You want to incite another fraggin' anti-magic riot?"
There was no reply. The cop turned around, and noticed his friend's ashen face, his dropped weapon, the narco stick smouldering on the ground, unwanted.
Then he saw THEM.
300 of them, at least.
Swarming, staggering, down Oxford street, down from the main plaza the Cops had used as a temporary morgue during a lull in the rioting.
The walking dead.
Lying on his vantage point on the back of the horribly expensive-looking aircraft in the half-light of dawn, BadJimmy saw the orange blobs sprinting towards the abandoned airfield. By now guards and thers should be milling around. So far, nothing.
Must have hangovers. Like me. BadJimmy grimaced, feeling the onset of a headache the size of Terganon, and worse - sobriety. Damn zat Raven!
Badjimmy somehow knew the figures must be the real owners of the aircraft. He made as if to jump down.
BadJimmy spotted another figure. This orange heat signature moved in a strange, loping run, feral somehow, as if he didn't know whether or not to be animal or man.
Kind of how I feel every Friday night. Ai, my head!
This newcomer seemed, in turn, to be shadowing the larger characters.
Badjimmy turned to slide down from the aircraft.
He was startled to see he was not alone after all.
A group of twenty or so figures were walking down the line of parked light aircraft in a kind of mob formation.
All were blue - cold. No body heat.
Putain, what is zis NOW? The Elf thought, shifting to light-vision.
The mob walked, slowly but steadily, mostly. Some of the crowd seemed to be limping. Badjimmy used his magifying cybereyes for a close up. Many of the crowd were wounded, some quite severly. They should be screaming with pain, yet all were eerily silent.
They all stopped, ten metres from the Wraith, surrounding it. Badjimmy had sat, transfixed. Now, they all started at him, or through him, with their un-seeing eyes.
BadJimmy screamed, scrabbling for his gun.
Again, it wasn't there...
Cylinder Head made himself seen to Slayer. He was tired - It was early morning, he'd been walking around the city all night, trying to find him, trying to find Crystal, and keep an eye on Illidia.
He didn't even know where his Land Rover was.
"Damn you slayer! What's going on!?!" He demanded. His hand tightened around the grip of the Browning Ultra-Power in the pocket of his Armour Jacket.
Behind Cy, in the dead-brown, burnt undergrowth that had once lined this Royal avenue, a body of a young female goblin who'd been hit by a speeding riot vehicle during the rioting, came to life once more.
It was under new management, and went looking for customers.
And now Undead? What kind of joke was that? Had Nīzar conquered London? Slayer thought for a while. Cylinder was trying to aim at him, but Slayer was worried with other matters.
Zombies werenīt Nīzarīs style. He used lichs and Bone Soldiers rather than smelly, rotten flesh corpses. They were more silent than zombies.
"Cy, back off." Slayer said coldly, putting his Blazer gun out. The Browning of cylinder seemed a toy compared to the other gun.
"I am tired of lies, fragger. I am not following your play."
"Why donīt you explain it to that zombie behind you?"
"Zombie? What the frag..." he turned and he saw the corpse moving towards him. He was petrified with fear. But Slayer was still calmed. He obviously had faced more perils than living dead.
The brains spilt all over the place when the gun was fired.
"Ack!" Cylinder let out a shout when he saw the mess.
Illidia could not handle it. She screamed.
Immediately, Cylinder was at her side.
Slayer walked towards them and kneeled down.
"I'm sure there are more of these.. a SWARM. So save your ammo. Use this instead."
He handed the two, two knifes.
"Cut a Zombieīs head, and they will return to the tomb." He cheered.
"And what we do, Mr. Zombie Slayer?" Cylinder ranted cynically.
"Do you have something in mind?"
"Er... Find and retrieve Crystal?"
"That is a beginning... Letīs go, people."
The three left the park, searching for Crystal, and aware of the perils.
"Frag! We canīt get out with our plan!"
"What are you saying, Nick?" Crystal looked puzzled.
"The security had been called to hold off the reporters. If I start to do the the terrorist thing, I either get killed or do a mess."
He pointed at three bulky trolls pushing the crowd towards the exit, and guarding it.
"Is there another way to get out?" Crystal asked, still hypnotized with the tail.
Wolf thought for a while.
"Hmm...yes... But I donīt think you would like it."
"Nothing is worse than to stay in a zoo" She replied.
"Are you sure? Really sure of that?" Wolf insisted. Crystal nodded.
He pulled out a phone and dialed up a number.
"Jason, I have found your daughter. Come here, and bring the goons. We have some rioters who donīt want to cooperate."
Crystal gasped. "Fragging liar. You never told me you were about to call HIM!"
Getting out of the park was not going to be as easy as Cy or Slayer hoped. Evidently, many of the wounded and dead from the rioting had been brought here during the night.
Now: Utter chaos. Man and women stood around, others chased each other hungrily. Immobile wounded were easy prey for the zombies, and small groups of armed Royal Police (with some men in various Corp security uniforms) vainly tried to defend themselves with submachineguns.
In the far corner of the park were a group of parked hover-ambulances and wheeled APCs, with two helicopters, on the verge of being overrun.
Over a hundred of the undead stood between Cy and Slayer and the park exit.
"Stay close to me Illidia!" Cy told her, thinking perhaps she was standing a little close to Slayer for his liking.
"We've got to get to those vehicles!" Cy shouted. He might be able to run, dodge around the Zombies preoccupied with the coppers... But he'd need a distraction. He was armed only wuth his Browning.
That thought died suddenly - A group of ten undead, men and women, some in uniform, some Orks - burst from the undergrowth, bare metres away.
"Jeez frag OMG get away!" Cy blasted off five shots quicky, ripping into the nearest Zombie, sending the creature to the floor. The others weren't interested, and continued after Cy.
Crystal flew into a panic as soon as she heard the bastard Fiennes' name.
Fragging scumbag's sold me out! I'll never let him near me again! EVER!
Wolf was on his wristphone for mere seconds.
Better make this quick...
She jumped out of the bed - Almost falling over.
Fragging tail... Feels so weird....
She kept her footing, like the tail was aiding her balance some. She staggered to the tray on on the far side of the room, grabbed what she needed.
Just as she reached Wolf, he clicked off the 'phone.
The air-syringe huffed once. Wolf collapsed with a comical look on his face, unconsious.
Crystal didn't know what had been in the air-syringe, but it had worked. She rummaged around in the medical supply cupboard, and found some hyper. She injected herself.
FRAG! Powerful stuff... Just gotta keep it together...
In record time, buoyed by the pain-killing performance drug, she dressed herself. She had to slice a chunk from her combat trousers for the tail to go through. Feeling incredibly ridiculous, she threw on Wolf's long coat to cover it.
Next, straining, she dragged wolf up into the bed, and taped a drip-feed to his arm.
Finally, she pulled the security alarm cord on the monitors, and hid in the cupboard.
Seconds later, two heavily armed and armoured Cop-guards stormed in, crasing through the door and wondering why the patient was unattended. A sure security breach.
"Frag!" One said. "We better get the special patient outta her!"
"But-" Said the other. The first guard pointed his autoshotgun at him.
A safety catch clicked.
Seconds later, Wolf was being carted off down the corridor, being chased by crazed reporters, hoping for a glimpse of the covered 'patient's supposed tail.
"What the frag...?" Wirecat whispered when he saw the group of people. They had no aura's, or at least none of the aura's he could identify.
No wait... there's something... Frag, what are these things?!
A quick scan of the astral space around him revealed even weirder things. Spirits. Unknown spirits, with signatures as weird as those of these people.
They're possessed! But then there should still be something left of their own...
Oh no! Possessed corpses. Fragging zombies!
He shivered. That was one of the things he definitely didn't want to meet. He remembered the shamans telling him something about possessions and zombies, but that was all theoretical; there were little or no spirits on earth that could do that.
But then where did they come from? The Comet maybe? Wouldn't surprise me... that fragging ice cube messed up everything.
He looked around, and saw more figures appear.
Oh my god... they're everywhere! I have to warn Mary and the others!
He ran back to the house, as fast as he could.
Body felt so... stunned. Blank spots in front of his eyes. He was getting awake. Fortunately, Crystal had no idea of doses.
"Damn It!" Wolf thought for a while. The damn Crystal would not conceive he was about to use Jason Fiennes for his own purpose.
The nurse stood at his face.
She let out a scream.
"Doctor Alexeiv! What the?"
"The patient has escaped. Now Let me get out of here. NOW!"
The other doctors almost went pale. The reporters stepped back.
After they stepped back, Wolf arose, and started to run.
"You can run whenever you can, Wendy. But I had always won hide and seek. I am a wolf hunting his prey." he said to himself.
The reporters mumbled about the tail. A few seconds later they realised it was the wrong person and faded out.
The bouncers humbly asked for forgiveness.
Wolf pulled out the Revolver. He was really furious.
"For God's sake, doctor, do not harm anyone in there!"
"I won't." He coldly replied.
And he ran towards the corridor.
"Dear We, you can be smart enough to fool security, but not the heat sensors..."
He stared at the heat sensor that was triggered in the room where he was found. That heat method was used to distinguish which room was empty and which wasn't. And to find dead persons...
"Undead. Behind you." Hammerwing gasped through the intercom. He could sense them through the astral plane
The elf and the ork reacted to the warning and turned back. The goblin ran even faster.
"GRIIIARRRRRRRRRG!!!!!!!!! SPAWN OF HELL!!!"
Behemoth shouted. For a moment, he looked way too orcish, swinging his sword in a berserk way. At a safe distance, Mist Lotus made accurate shots in the heads of the Zombies. An easy trial.
"hmm... Guess I have to use my real abilities, then."
Slayer said to Cylinder head. Illidia was still mute.
At sight of Cy and the zombies, Slayer started to levitate. A mage. Nothing could say that about him, but he was a mage.
"I am afraid I am restricted to my greater spells, and basic healing, due to the mana disturbances, but Iīll do my best"
Illidia and Cy stared confused. Werenīt the greater spells the ones who were disabled?
"Sword of the glacier, forged with the flames of Bahamuth, the Glorious King of Dragons, damage of Leviathan, hear my call and perform my duties."
The sword on his hand started to glow. The energy flowed through him.
"Evil spirits that possess bodies who donīt belong to your own, shatter with fear, with the coldness of the Death, and suffer with the heated flames of Revenge!"
just another word, and the zombies would meet his end...
The word finally came. And the sword was thrown against the zombies.
What happened after broke many laws of physics.
All zombies seemed to be trapped in somehow violet ice, and their bodies inside the frozen prison, were vanishing much like if they were burnt...
And, the spirits, freed of the bodies, also began to vanish, still trapped in that unnatural ice that burnt.
Slayer kneeled over the ground, exhausted.
Illidia finally spoke.
"I... I... Thank you."
Cylinder was still staring at the mob, slowly volatilized by the spell.
"This should give us time. I have killed the evil beings that possesed the corpses, so we had bought some time. But we still have to reach a safe place." Slayer finally said. Spatting some blood, that dropped down from the mouth of his mask.
Charlie dragged on a coat over his britguard uniform, which he had been sleeping in. Mary pulled on her raincoat, and boots, relieved to find the weight of the old Colt in her pocket. She took the torch, and Charlie grabbed his gun, opening the door, and looking out.
"I'll go first, if you don't mind avoiding 'Ladies first' for this one time. It could be dangerous out there"
Mary smiled, and let him go through. It was cold outside, for the time of year. She drew her coat around her, and kept one hand on the gun in her pocket.
"What's that noise?"
A low drone, like an aircraft engine, could be heard.
"It's coming from the abandoned airfield..."
"Abandoned airfield? You live near an abandoned airfield?"
"Hey.. I didn't have much choice. You won't believe how much it costs to rent round here."
It was almost pitch black outside, and Mary turned off the torch so they wouldn't be noticed. The blackout across Orkessa was still in action, obviously. Mary put one hand on Charlie's arm, and the ex-soldier flipped on the heat-vision goggles that he had around his neck.
"Ok. I can make out a blur - looks like some people out there - and some kind of aircraft - it's not military - or at least not a kind I recognise from the heat signiture. And wait - something's coming towards us. Get ready with the torch"
Mary could see the human-like figure emerge from the blackness. It was running, and looking straight at them.
It had seen them. Shit.
Charlie brought up his gun, and Mary flashed the torch on, the man ready to fire on identification.
The light illuminated a furry face.
"Aargh! Get that light out of my eyes! Back to the house, RUN!"
"Wha...?" Charlie started
"Come on! Every minute counts! We gotta get there before they do!"
They started running back to the house.
"The spies? They're attacking us?!" Mary asked Wirecat.
"Worse... much worse. Zombies. Possessed corpses. We gotta leave this place, and FAST!"
"B... but there's no way we can all fit in the van!"
"Then we have no choice but to fight..."
They reached the house. The zombies were getting closer, but none had reached the house yet.
"Faster! Come on!"
David nearly panicked, and used his shaman meditation to try to get his nerves under control. He could handle the idea of Zombies, but his cat half was completely going crazy...
"Wirecat! Get inside!" Charlie yelled at him.
No... can't control it... can't...
"Leave me... I'll... handle... them." He felt desperate. He had to stay away from them, or he would surely hurt them. He had to hunt... the dead.
Like a wild animal he ran away, into the shadows, with only one thing in mind. Killing the alien threat.
The engine started up. Overmind used his riggered responses to quickly take off.
"Where are they?" Eva asked
"Near here" answered Overmind, still plugged in. Unlike many riggers and hackers, he had consciousness of the surrounds.
Behemoth moaned. That was pretty interesting.
He thought for a while
"Tank! And the others! They must have been harassed as well."
"But Behemoth, we canīt save them. Those crowds of zombies will really hinder our advance. We would need aerial support."
"Did someone call?"
The VTOL aircraft speaker. Overmind.
"Okay... pick us up, now!" Lotus demanded. A trap slided open revealing a ladder. Effortlessly, the two ninjas climbed up, while still struggling with the Zombies.
"I have some... ahem...people I want to talk to. We need to pick em up!" Behemoth shouted, now in there.
"No prob, green brother! I need something like this to test out the weaponry!"
Inside the house, they felt an increasing huming sound from an VTOL aircraft.
"No, not again..." Mary said to herself, still remembering the road incident.
The engines stopped.
"What happened, Overmind?"
"Err... we got something on the wing..."
As the first Zombie lunged, Badjimmy fell back, avoiding the not-quite-decayed-yet hand and backing up the curve of the craft's fuselage.
Voices, footsteps running toward it. Badjimmy hunkered down, keeping out of sight, but the Zombies were coming closer.
The sound of a hatch being shut. But now the Zombies, surrounding the aircraft, were clambering up onto the wing.
Badjimmy got to his feet, ran and jumped over the central ridge of the plane, over onto the other wing.
More zombies. They were swarming over the whole craft now.
Badjimmy's yell was drowned out as the engines entered warmup, rapidly rising in pitch to a deafening crescendo.
One over-wing vector-thrust port opened, facing away from Badjimmy. A female zombie caght the super-heated blast of air full in the face and was blown far away, smouldering.
Something hit Badjimmy in the back, hands tightening around his throat. He had long since ceased being able to hear anything. A zombie had gotten him from behind.
Deafened and blinded by the jet wash, smothered by the arms stiff with rigor mortis, Badjimmy fell to the ground, desperatlely trying to get the zombie off his back.
Both fell to the floor with a bump.
Then a horrific, unnatural screaming like the end of the Earth. Badjimmy's nostrils filled with the stench of cooking flesh. The zombie had fallen directly onto the port over-wing vectrothrust port. It's flesh bubbled and ran, melting with the heat. The engine was flooded with burnt and melting material. Blood and bone got into the ducts.
In the cockpit, the red overheat alarms flashed on, menacingly, anf the engines shut down automatically. The engine was badly damaged, and would need a lot of worl to get running again.
Suddeny freed from the zombie, Badjimmy recovered quickly, running to the front of the plane, throwing himself on the cockpit transparency.
He screamed "HELP ME!!! HELP!!!" But couldn't hear - maybe his sensitive elven ears had been permanently deafened?
He slapped the cockpit panels, staring at the stunned pilot and leaving smears of blood.
Zombies were tearing at the side hatch, trying to get into the aircraft...
As soon as Wolf had been wheeled out, Crystal had left the room, running the opposite direction, Wolf's coat drawn around her and hood-up to cover her hair. She pushed her way through the crowd of reporters going the opposite way.
She had to use one hand to keep her tail hidden from view. The damn thing was already proving a pain. She had some odd glances from nurses in the ward corridor, and smiled to try and put them at ease.
She looked at a map of the hospital she passed: She was on the 17th floor. Ever one for the direct approach, she chose to go straight for the ground level, and the exit. She slammed the call button for the small, patients-only elevator, and it arrived with commendable speed.
Nervously waiting, the bleep elevator music putting her on edge, she headed down.
Wolf had seen the heat trace leave the room, but lost it when it mingled with the crowd of reporters. Snarling, he pushed his way around the corridor...
What - fragging bit- Shit, my jacket!
Wolf spotted the receding, oddly-walking figure at a distance down the corridor. He ran, but couldn't reach his target before she stepped into a small elevator. He glanced at the elevator panel.
Heading for ground floor, eh? People have no imagination these days.
He collared a security guard, and put in a radio message to the security rigger.
The rigger, who controlled the building's security measures in much the same way a rigger controls a vehicle - ie he was the building - Effortlessly overrode Crystal's elevator, moving it to a secluded, isolated area from which there would be no escape.
When the guard nodded back after hearing back from the security rigger, Wolf went back to the elevator.
The door opened, but not at the ground floor.
Ah frag, what now? And these drugs are wearing off too. Ah frag... Frag frag fragitty fraggin' frag, why did I leave that nice warm bed?
Wherever Crystal was, it was dark. And cold. She stepped out of the lift.
It closed immediately, called from upstairs.
Crap, they must be onto me.
Pulling on her therm-goggles, Crystal ran on into the dark labyrinth.
"Damn, it. It is the second time we lose an aircraft. That engine wonīt work again. It is badly damaged." Behemoth thought.
Overmind had plugged himself off the cockpit, and he was still looking at that bastards.
"I have an idea." He replied.
"Explain it quickly." Mist Lotus demanded.
"I can turn on the Afterburner to cremate all the stuff that is in the ducts... but I will need coolant... Otherwise weīll blow up."
Everyone stared at Hammerwing.
The dwarf grinned.
"I am not going to waste one of my Ice spells in your stinky jet, Gobbo."
"We need to do that... Please..." Eva tried to be as charming as she could. The dwarf didnīt seem bothered. Mist Lotus stepped forwards.
"Listen up, stuntie. You are going to do that. Otherwise we will be zombie-meat..." She said.
The dwarf finally gasped and agreed.
"Will the engine be okay..."
"It wonīt fail... but it will need you to continue to cast ice spells on it. We need to get into a safe airport to repair it." Overmind replied.
Eva notice something.
Thereīs someone alive out of here!
She pointed at the elf who was claiming their attention.
Eva thought for a while. Wasnīt that guy with the half-dragon and company?
The hatch gate opened and burst of automatic fire made Zombies retreat. BadJimmy was dragged inside.
"... Okay. We need to do what we planned." Mist Lotus said.
Badjimmy stared anxiously to the team members while Overmind activated the Electro Field he had installed in the jet, to avoid these kind of situations. Soon Zombies shattered and were blown back of the jet.
"Alright, we have little time now! Hammerwing, Do IT!"
There was no escape. The elevator door closed. Crystal was trapped.
And Wolf smiled.
"You canīt put up with your relatives? Is it the problem?"
He said to himself.
And he pressed the button of the elevator. The tranquilizer effects have worn off. He withdrew the revolver, spinned it again, and putted in its case.
"Whatever. Hope that your Thermal googles are working properly... Otherwise you are screwed, We."
He thought to himself. The girl wasnīt cooperating. She had to drag her... by the force, to the hideout, where he could heal her properly.
"She must have misunderstood my mision..."
He said, breathing deeply, and getting into the Basement.
The stand-off between Ery, nature-spirit and the shark shaman was suddenly broken with the rattling rasp of a light machine-gun.
All three reacted in different ways... Ery yelled a curse and leaped aside, a wall of vines spiking up around him in a protective circle. The shark shaman bared his teeth and whipped around, searching for the source of the threat. And the nature spirit... did nothing.
But nobody was aiming at them... as it soon became apparent.
Evans leaned over his weapon as it rasped out another long burst, the two zombies closest to them disintegrating as rounds lashed them across the shoulders and head.
"The fraggers are crawling up on us!" The aussie yelled as his partner Winston began dispensing single-shot justice to the zombies closing on his sector. More MUNDI commandos around them joined in, gunfire bringing up a protective curtain around the force.
Chance realized what had happened... Hiding among the ruins of smashed Geneva, the corpses had lain buried and inert, invisible to the infrared devices of the commandos until they had come alive... en masse and all around them.
Rotting fingers exploded out of the ground beside him and grabbed a leg.
Shouting incoherently in disgust, Chance brought the bayonet of his rifle down in a furious sweep, cleaving off the arm. The rest of the zombie emerged, only to receive a fierce butt-smash to the chin that popped off its head. Ash beside him was beset with two zombies... but one appeared to lack most of its brain... for it confusedly tried to swipe at the woman with a armless stump and missed again and again.
The other was smarter, wielding a kitchen knife that was constantly scoring on the redhead's armour... until Ash shoved the flamethrower into its mouth and squeezed off a half-second burn, blowing up its head in a burst of flame and rotten bone. Another gout of flame put paid to its stupider partner.
MUNDI and AET left and right were spewing out gunfire, dropping zombies as they formed up a perimeter. One MUNDI man dropped screaming to a lucky zombie's blow, his faceplate shattered, skull fractured and an eye ripped out. Five more zombies leaped on him and went into a frenzy on the downed commando, heedless of the damage that they were doing to their own limbs as they clawed and battered the armour to get at the dying man within.
Without hesistation, the MUNDI medic gave him a mercy shot to the head and lobbed a timed frag onto him and his attackers so that he would not reawaken as one of them, fighting back tears that were hidden behind her mirrored visor as she continued dealing out destruction with her carbine. Split zombie-blood spattered the dull red cross that was emblazoned across her shoulder armour plates and helmet.
Chance knew that this was one incident when he would have to drop his irrational skepticalism and distrust of magic and get to the mages... fast
"Move to the plane... NOW!"
Ery apparently had the same idea, urging the men and women on as he unleashed magical energies upon their attackers. Plant spikes punched through two of the zombies nearest to him and dropped them... another pair of roots caught a third by the legs and yanked the thing apart, spilling rotting organs as the zombie performed an impromtu ballet split. Ery would have laughed at the creature's look of terminal surprise had it not been for the grim circumstances everyone was in.
Both the strange shaman and the old man had disappeared... whether already downed by zombies or simply fighting their own war in the wild melee unknown to anyone.
The eight remaining MUNDI and three AET troops started their movement with the methodical steadiness of crack troops... half laying down fire while the other half moved. Slowly, they closed the distance towards the mages in the aircraft.
Flashes of light and strange animal-battlecries resounded from the vicinity of the downed plane. A mage appeared in the press of bodies... Chance momentarily too preoccupied with bashing the head of a zombie in with his rifle-butt to notice the wizard's gender.
"I don't know who the hell you are... But if we don't get out of here FAST, we're screwed!" he yelled.
The WESForce mages had unanimously realised their only hope of survival - and coincidentally, the survival of the Shamans and the MUNDI men who were tactically making their way in the direction of the plane - lay in contacting MUNDI.
With no radio and no telephones, they had but one option - Astral Projection.
A well-trained magic-user - Shaman or mage - could leave their bodies temporarily, allowing their spirits to travel on the astral plane for a time being, effectively becoming a spirit. An astral magician couldn't affect the physical plane from there, like a spirit, but could manifest on the physical plane temporarily, again like a spirit.
As soon as the zombies appeared, their sheer numbers and the desperate looks on the MUNDI men's faces told them time as almost up.
Immediately two young WESForce mages volunteered to make the astral trip: Their names were Jen Ballantine and Heiko Kreuse.
"Godspeed, you two." The chief WESMage told them bith. "I'll put you both up for commendations."
The two figures slumped to the floor, caught by their comrades, as their spirits departed.
Only once on the astral did the two realise their mistake.
Astral space around here was literally swarming with astral lifeforms - darting, swirling, amorphous type spirits the type of which the two university-trained mages had never even theorised before; Spirits that by all they knew shouldn't exist on the astral plane.
Ever pragmatic, the two quickly decided that the abhorrent spirits must have been to do with all the alerts and dangers MUNDI had advised them off.
Two of the spirits immediately moved towards the two bodies, surrounded by the oblivious, other WESMages.
"Frag! They were waiting for us Jen! Get 'em!"
It was too late. Heiko flew forward, jabbing manabolts at the daemons. He got one, striking it full-on and smashing it's mana to oblivion. The spirit abruptly ceased to exist.
An instant later, a full dozen of the daemons were upon him. He struck out left and right, causing damage, but to no avail. He was devoured by the daemons in an instant. Eaten.
Choking back a tear, Jen had felt her comrades final explosion of emotion full-on, being in the astral.
Then her training took over.
Even if we both die, we have a mission. These people depend on us.
At the speed of thought, WESMage 2nd class Jen Ballantine made her way to MUNDI HQ, leaving behind not one, but two bodies.
Heiko Kreuse and Jen Ballantine's body both bolted upright, suddeny alive again.
"Damn, even for the astral, that was quick!" said the head WESMage. "You give them out position?"
The two younger mages looked at each other stiffly, smiled.
An instant later, the chief and his adjutant exploded into magical fireball, incinerating in seconds. All the Shamans whirled in stunned silence...
Jen Ballantine's body, fully under control of it's new owner, readied another flame-bomb spell.
A MUNDI commando leapt in front of the stunned mages and shamans, arms spread to block the shot just as the possessed mage unleashed a gout of pure flame...
It was the ultimate act of sacrifice....
Light flared as the fiery bolt boiled and ripped into the commando, and she disappeared in the flame-bomb, fellow commandos around her momentarily dazzled despite their mirrored visors...
The flame cleared, only to reveal the commando still standing there.
"Nice try, asshole..." Ash snarled as the remaining flames flickered and hesitated upon her body... before her innate fire-elf subconsciousness overwhelmed the magical energies that had possessed the element and forced it to comply against its will.
Elemental strength prevailed over Magical force... Freed from the magical straitjacket that had summoned them from the elemental plane, the fire said its unspoken thanks and switched sides with a vengence... going over to ally themselves with their kin present in Ash's soul and genetic makeup.
Light brighter than the sun momentarily dazzled the two possessed mages, one which was already reeling from the sudden loss of command over her fiery spell.
The other lesser daemon, shocked and confused, tried to summon a non-fire spell, suddenly terrified as it became aware that fire-spells were useless, even beneficial to this particular fire-elf half-breed.
But it was too late... Ash was too fast, her chainmail gloves fastening across the throats of both undead as she pumped a pulse of fiery energy into them. Heads melted like taffy... both former WESforce mages slumping as their daemons were ejected from the wrecked bodies, astral screams resounding across the plains of mind and thought.
One of the male WESforce junior mages, shocked by the loss of both his chief and second-in-command, made a rash decision to move towards Ash... trying to stop her as she murdered two more mages. A rifle butt crashed across his chest and left him choking, a enraged Chance tightening his trigger as he readied to shoot ALL the mages...
"Bastards!!! Fragging treacherous magical bastards!!! They are betraying us!!!"
The SAR-125 refused to shoot, astonishing the soldier before he realised that a vine that locked the bolt in place, preventing it from firing. Similarly, more vines had erupted in front of him to block off any fire from the surviving WESforce mages.
The sudden shocked silence was broken by normally-quiet Ery, who was angrily berating everyone involved in the almost-fight.
"Gruddamned it! They were fragging possessed! We're on the same side, for heaven's sake! Why the frag are you guys attacking each other! We're supposed to be gruddamned allies, you morons!"
Chance lowered his rifle, the occasional snaps of gunfire from MUNDI men around him reminding the officer that his men were still in danger. Ery's vine withered and crumpled into dust as the AET officer dropped his spell. Still, he shot Ery a dirty look and swept another cold glare across the various mages... There was no love lost between him and them now.
With a spitting motion, the officer turned his back on them and began to order his men into a defensive perimeter around the crashed aircraft, Ash joining him as the WESforce mages exchanged glares with her.
Always knew that we could not trust those magical vermin. Chance thought as he checked and reloaded his rifle. The officer had already deliberately ignored the notion that the two WESforce mages had died to save them... not when he had seen them attack Ash.
The mirrored faceplate of the MUNDI battle armour served well in concealing his eyes, as he kept watch over both the occasional attacks by zombie stragglers and the mages, settling in for a long wait.
Astral projection, huh? More like astral bullcrap.
Meanwhile, back in a deserted industrial warehouse in Britsprawl.
Deadeye lumbered into the centre of the warehouse. Quiet. He unwrapped his Sa-126 and hooked it into his smartlink port. With vision renewed he scanned the surronding area. 'Lots of cover, perfect for an ambush... ' He thought. he switched over to thermal vision, he instantly began to pick up heat signatures behind various pieces of cover. Peter counted five of them and noted their various positions. One of the people behind cover lobbed a small plastic object towards Peter. It chirped at him, it was a mobile comms unit. Peter picked it up cautiously. The voice that spoke to him was that of a mans distorted by a computer to prevent a voice being recognised. Clever.
"I knew you'd come Mr Stevenson. I have a job for you, an assassination in fact. I understand that assassinations are a favourite means of income for you. You'll enjoy this job I assure you."
The robotic voice paused a moment to chuckle. It continued.
"Of course Mr Stevenson, successful completion of this job will net you a tasty sum of nuyen. I'm afraid, however, that I cannot accept failure. So, you can see why I need to ensure that you are the right man for the job...-"
Peter had, by that time, put two and two together. he threw the comms unit over towards where it had come from and initiated his SA-126s close combat program while bringing it to bear on his first target. The man was in the process of stepping out of cover when the comms unit hit the ground in front of him. This distracted him long enough for his chest to be ripped apart by the first 12.5mm discarding Sabot round fired from Peter's SA-126. In a death reflex the man pulled his SMGs trigger, emptying the magazine across the warehouse. The second man to reveal himself had his throat blown open by DeadEye's second shot. Blood was thrown across the wall behind him as he made a last blood choked, gurgling sound as he hit the ground.
The third man, having witnessed his comrades violently die, decided to stay behind cover. Revealing only his SMG and the hand holding it as he sprayed bullets randomly. Peter switched his rifle to Over-Penetrator firing mode with a single thought. He used heat emissions to approximate where the man's head was and pulled the trigger...
As the primary charge was triggered so was a special secondary charge (used only in conjunction with Over-Penetrator mode), the discarding Sabot round was given additional velocity and rotational speed. Such that it created a massive vacuum in the barrel of the SA-126. As the round left the barrel the vacuum was broken, Peter wrestled with the jumping rifle as the recoil hit him. As the bullet tore through the air it left a tiny contrail of turbulence in its wake. The bottom half of the Sabot round disengaged from the rest as the remaining fraction struck the garbage hiding the man behind it. As the super velocity round burrowed through the trash it was knocked off course by each individual piece of discarded waste it hit. Some collisions would knock it towards its intended trajectory again but mostly it deviated from its planned course. However, over the fraction of a millisecond it took to reach the man the bullet had not deviated far enough of course to avoid hitting the man in the face. The bullet completely dismembered the targets face and brain as it bore through his skull. The exit wound exploded outward as the bullet left the soft flesh and hard bone and struck the warehouse behind it. Chips of bone ricocheted off the wall in short, sharp pings.
The fourth man lost his nerve and began to run for the exit. Peter picked him up and fired a normal shot into the back of his head. Peter smiled grimly as he thought.'Another hole in the head! Eyes, ears, nose, mouth and.....emergency cranium ventilation duct!' The dead man's body flailed its limbs impotently as it crashed headlong into the door and flopped onto the ground comically. Never to move again, to be eaten days later by rats. Had Peter known that the man never knew he was dead he would have been proud of himself. A sniper's ultimate aim to have the victim die without ever knowing they were being shot at or feel pain.
Peter span around, scanning for the final target. Nothing. Obviously, while he contended with the fleeing man the fifth had made good their escape. After a few moments of relative silence the comms unit began to buzz with noise. Peter began to stroll over to it. As he was approaching the unit he never noticed the fifth person sneaking up on him. The person was wearing a crude stealth suit. It minimised their heat and visual signatures long enough for them to produce a dart gun from their cloak and fire a needle into Peter's neck before he even noticed they were there. As DeadEye slumped onto the ground, face to face with the comms unit, he heard mocking laughter coming from it. Once he was comelptely unconscious the fifth person took off their mask and she grinned and said.
"Welcome to the glorious employment of Captain Samuel Parker!"
A reedy, tetchy voice rose up behind Ery and Chance.
"See, fragger's everywhere. allaplace allatime, can' git nowhere fo' those fraggers, eh?"
The ghostly apparition of the nature spirit had suddenly appeared again, as if from nowhere. Last time they had seen him, he'd been some distance off, talking with Mako. Now, Mako was running to catch up.
"What are you on about, old man?" Ery questioned. "Something to do with these daemons? The zombies?"
Chance scowled, and pointedly ignored the converstaion.
Chasing at the speed of thought, Jen Ballantine flashed through the ruins of Geneva in a second that seemed like hours, eventually moving out to a safer area. Stil the daemons chased her, though they didn't seem to want to stray too far from the portal.
Using this to her benefit, she was able to keep up with them.
But she knew she could never go back.
Although seperated from her physical body, she still retained a subconsious link to it - A beacon to return to.
Now that beacon was gone.
She was a ghost.
All that remained was duty.
From memory she found the building that served as a MUNDI staging post - she could tell by the glowing green astral lattice of a ward over it to keep spirits and astral intruders out, and by the lesser daemons - like the ones that had stolen her body - tha massed, trying to break though the ward.
Mages on the inside desperately tried to shore the ward up, occasionally sending out summoned spirits to try and fight the invaders.
Jen plunged into them, furiously. Her kicks, punches and bolts of mana caused real damage to the spirits - her astral being reflected the strength of her will and discipline.
Catching the daemons from behind, she was able to disrupt several of them, driving them off momentarily.
Enough time for the MUNDI mages to lower the ward for an instant. She ghosted though the walls of the building, ward reappearing behind her.
Concentrating the power of her ailing astral form, she manifested on the physical plane, a mental self-portrait of her shimmering into life beside the MUNDI men.
They were tired, especially the mages, and jumpy, but she sought out the head Mage of the garrison.
"We have people trapped in a downed transport. Please send a rescue mission to these coordinates."
The officer noted them down, blushing at Jen's nudity. Astral forms left their clothes behind with their bodies.
"Thank you." The man said."It must have been hell getting here through the astral. Will you go back to your body?"
"Its not an option." Jen said, simply. She was just a ghost now, fading with every hour. Soon, she would be but one with the astral plane, ceasing to exist as a person.
She resolved to take as many of the daemons with her when she went.
Within half an hour, the unconsious body of Stephenson had been tilt-winged across London's increasingly more frantic skies, and was now firmly ensconced in the Grexon part of Angel Towers, the largets and tallest building in Britsprawl.
"He put up much of a fight?" Parker asked his employee.
The woman took the helmet of her form-fitting black kevlarIII suit, shaking out her equally black hair."
"Nada, Parker-san. Might need to hire a few more mercenaries though. My organisation has an offer on, I believe."
"You crack me up." He told his mercenary, a heart-achingly cute physical adept known as Dark Blossom. She'd come recommended to him, a veteran of the Imperial Japanese wars in SE Asia, though as a merc, not in the IJ army or Marines, which sugeested issues.
She also struck daggers of heartache into Parker's chest, though she didn't know it.
She looks so much like... So much like... Her... May God.
Naturally, Pharis had been the one to recommend her.
Glad you like her, Parker.
"Thank you, Dark Blossom. Take Stephenson to the rooftop. Our HSCT leaves in two hours for Switzerland."
When she was gone, he addressed Pharis.
"Thats not fair."
Life's not fair, Parker.
"You're using her to tug my heartstrings."
"Is that all you're gonna say?"
A pause, then Yes.
Parker knew better than to push it. Instead, he went on:
"Stephenson. He was so close. I could have just put my hands around his throat and-"
You get to do that later, human. Get with the program Parker.
"Yes. I'm with the program. We're going to Geneva, right?"
Yes. I forsee MUNDI having a need for operatives of your calibre.
Grexon will do what they can to increase their influence. Don't worry your pathetic human head, my colleaugues are at play.
"Thanks for the reassurance." Parker snarled, stomping off to get a drink.
In the streets, the violence flared up once more...
"Approaching Geneva! Please fasten your safety harnesses for rapid descent!"
Matthew Cairns, who had been conversing with Rayi, reached back, and pressed the button for the mag-lock on his suit to fix to their aircraft seat. Apposite him, Inquisitor Rayi Shah did the same. The various employees of the church ceased their conversations, and took their senior's example.
The LEO transport shuddered, as it began to re-enter the atmosphere. By now, it was pointing almost directly downwards, the grav-simulators had kicked in. In merely 10 minutes, they would be in Geneva, having levelled out, and landed with the stabiliser-jets on any suitable space.
Outside, the heat-transfer systems would be rapidly cooling the nose of the craft, which, on the outside, would be glowing red-hot.
The spacecraft shot downwards like a dagger, into the blue sky. Far below, it could now be seen as a tiny point of light, moving almost as fast as the eye could track it.
"Levelling out. Please prepare for grav-shock"
Cairns gritted his teeth. Although the hardy scotsman could cope with most things, Gravshock always made him almost feel like puking. This was caused by the grav-simulators switching off just before levelling, giving him a few moments of feeling as if he was being torn apart in seventeen different directions at once.
Rayi Shah looked at him, her teeth gritted in a smile, despite the discomfort of Grav-shock. Although the Indian woman didn't like aircraft, her discomfort was nothing compared to Cairn's hatred of grav-shock. She handed him a plastic bag, to throw up in.
Suddenly, the grav-shock stopped, and normal gravity returned.
"Slowing to cruising speed", came the pilot's voice.
"Phew", muttered Cairns. "Now where's that blasted city."
"Down there, Matt".
"Aye. Blasted all right", whispered the Inquisitor, looking down at the ruins, now lit up with occasional flashes of energy. Hopefully this won't take long down there..."
Behind Crystal, the door of the elevator opened - It had come down with surprising speed. Glancing back through the darkness she spotted the orange heat-signature of her pursuer.
She quietly ran forward, travelling around the corner of the corridor.
With the thermal goggles on, she could only make out the cool blue of the cold walls against the black of the floor. It was very chilly down here, effectively as dark in heat terms as it was dark in light terms.
If I'd been home I could have gotten some glow-tubes or something. Well, frag it, I better just wait down here and see if I could double back and get the elevator before that fool...
She passed a raised plate in the wall, like a name panel - After it was a double door. She pushed it open.
The creak was shockingly loud in the silence down here. The sound must have carried all over the basement.
Instinctively she stepped back - There was another door behind her, a kind of broom cupbaord where a cleaning drone was stowed. She got in, standing on top of the drone, listening to the pursuer's footsteps.
There was something else, a kind of shuffling.
"Uuughhh..." Someone said, from the direction of the opened door...
Wold had no trouble tracking Crystal from the elevator. he padded after her quietly, patiently. He came across the open door, and lifted up his therm goggles. He had a penlight - and used it to read the name panel on the door.
Why'd she go in here? Wolf thought. His penlight wavered - He saw a glimpse inside the pitch-black mortuary room.
Something glistened on the floor. He moved the pen-light.
In a mortuary? No big deal... Wait-
The light caught something else. Two pinpricks of light. Reflecting off someone's eyes. They vanished.
Who could that be? Wolf couldn't hear a thing...
Cy grabbed Illidia.
"COME ON! Lets get to those vehicles before the fragging zombies recover!" He began running.
"But... What about him?" Illidia jerked a thumb back at slayer.
"We're thankful, aren't we?"
Slayer wasn't moving, he was exhausted.
"Look," Cy continued. "He's knackered. We can't carry him. Our best bet is to go for one of those fraggin' APCs and try and come back for him."
He didn't give her time to reply, grabbed and ran across the park. A dazed zombie lurched at him. He jabbed in the knife slayer had given him - It went in the zombie's eye up to the hilt.
They carried on running, passing screaming cops as their guns clicked dry. Illidia fired wildly with her Blazer - The hugely powerful gun rocked her whole body back with recoil. A zombie lost both of it's legs.
Cy caught a last glimpse of Slayer as a mob of zombies broke free and closed in on him.
... It was him or me. He thought, and carried on running.
PC Welbert Grajzky, a Troll, stood around in confusion as the dead umiez began walking around.
"Why fo' dey walkin'? Should be ded. Stoopid umiez."
Zombies mobbed together, sending armed cops and paramedics running for cover.
"Grajzky! HELP!" Said his sergeant. Welbert coudln't remember the umiez' name, but he was a friend. Zombies were within a hair's breadth from him. Welbert aimed his autoshotgun one handed, prepearing to blow away the mob threatening his friend.
"Ja, Welbert help umie sarge."
But then, something caught Welbert's eye. A skinny Umie in a big jacket running across the park, between the zombies. He had a pretty female umie with him.
"Pretty." Welbert said.
"GRAJZKY!" Screamed the sarge. His IWS SMG ran out of ammo. He desperately searched for a new clip.
Welbert spotted an odd-looking, tall umie in fancy armour and a mask. A group of ten zombies were swarming over to him.
"Shiny." Welbert said.
His Daisaka Autoshotgun opened up, spraying buckets of shot at the Zombies. Three were decapitataed, one blown fully into chunks. Welbert carged them, roaring.
"Waiting over. DESE GUYS GONNA DIE!"
He smashed into the zombies, throwing them boldly off Slayer. He punched one, driving his fist all the way through into the ground underneath.
Behind him, the Sarge got ripped to pieces, screaming.
Slayer saw the zombies. What could he do? He was fragging exhausted. But he wonīt die. Not this way. Too many things to do. Too many objectives to achieve. He would not die.
The zombies lunged towards him. They were so close that he could sense the breath.Now it was the moment.
Cries. Illidia turned his head back. There he was. Right in the middle of the half-sliced corpses, almost fainting, but still with enough strength to struggle. Slayer was still there. Despite the intense fight. Despite their so called "friends" had left him. Despite the magic feedback. Despite the blood dripping out of several wounds. He was going to fight again, and again. Without showing pain, nor tears. The true nature under the mysterious mask was arising once again...
The troll could swear that the man behind the zombies looked more frightening... until the words came out of his mouth.
"Thanks for your support."
The Troll only raised his shoulders, despite Sarge being ripped off.
"Um... Joo arth a zurprize box, umie!"
"Okay. But I am really tired by now. Mind if we try to get to the nearest hospital?"
The troll scratched his head, in confusion.
"Damn it... Iīve got a bad feeling." Wolf said. His expert runner instinct tipped him off the peril. He pulled both his revolvers, and attached the penlight in one of them.
He continued with the exploration, walking slowly.
Then he saw them. If it werenīt for his quick response...
The corridor was tight. Enough to use a split jump technique.
When he heard the noise, Wolf jumped as high as he could, and placed his legs in the walls, thus keeping himself higher than average.
"Zombies... What the...?"
Several undead hissed along, searching for something.
Luckily, Wolf had no wounds, nor he were in their sense reach. His limited stealth techniques, learnt in the Black Dragons had saved him a fight.
"Now, what to do... I can either wait in ambush or help her... Hmm... I canīt decide."
Hanging halfway from the cellar make Wolf almost undetectable, and able to think about the situation.
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