Logs:Putting Things in Their Place
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|Logs:Putting Things in Their Place|
A wolf in sheep’s clothing.
Andrew was just heading home after his shift was done for the evening. There was a sensation of being watched, but no matter where he looked, he could see anyone. A small nearly sing songing voice giggles on the wind, but... again, there's nothing there. No one is following him. There's only the city in the darkness and the wall that gives the occasional creak of metal or stone as things shift minutely. The sing songy feminine voice giggles again, barely audible and it seems it’s only there when the winds blow past his ears. But again there's no one near him.
The big man spins a complete loop, his right hand moving instinctively to the Glock 21 in the tactical drop-leg holster on his right thigh. A single click moves the thumb shroud aside, and his hand is on the grip of the weapon. He scans the area around him, lips taut, "Who's there?" he asks. His voice is deep and not sing-songy....in fact, there is a feral harshness to it, an edge of intensity. "OK Dan stop screwin' around.." He says to no one in particular. His hand still on his weapon, it's quite obvious that he doesn't believe it's anyone screwing around. He takes a long stride, then another, toward the house, his steps measured, pivoting every few to check behind and around him, searching for the source of the laughter.
The giggling persists. Every other step Andrew takes, there's a giggle, then a sigh, step...giggle...step...a breath past his ear...step...
Fog begins to swirl around his feet, at first lightly so that the ground is still visible, then thicker until the cracked pavement can't be seen, then it rises to his knees...step...giggle...step...whisper..."...mine..." step...step... the fog gets to waist high.
Andrew says, "Fuuuuuck.." He says, the Glock coming out to the low ready, "This shit isn't supposed to happen inside the city." He looks around, then down at the billowing fog. He makes a mental calculation, and then shakes his head, "I'll never make it...." Dismissing the thought of running, he looks up to see what sort of overhead room he has, glancing to the wall to see if he can move along it to stay out of the fog. He's certainly a little un-nerved, with all the creepy girl giggling going on.
The world spins for a moment, Andrew feels something touch him. It's cold. It's late summer, cold and fog doesn't happen around this region at this time of the year. It feels for a moment that hands are trying to grip his shoulders. Yet still he can't see anything or anyone. The whispers continue, "... mine... want you... come to me... you... mine..."
Andrew says, "Gah! Get the fuck away from me creepy..." He mutters, taking a huge step back. The Glock comes up, but again no target presents itself, "Show yourself, coward, and we'll see who is who. I will stomp a mudhole in your ass!"
The fog begins to shift and form. It takes a few minutes, but the form that emerges is a girl, she's pale, like the color was leaked out of her body. She's young. Her throat has been torn out, but the lack of color makes it almost seem unreal. It's not bleeding, in fact it looks like someone took a picture of her and put it through Photoshop and reanimated it. It takes a few more minutes before the voice comes from her, it is not the voice that's been tormenting him for the past few minutes, "Andrew... don't you remember?" She seems familiar. She young, high school aged... then it dawns on him... it's an old high school girlfriend.
Andrew takes a step back away from her, "Um..yeah. This isn't cool." The weapon locks onto her as the big man takes several steps away from her, putting some distance between them, "I remember you when you were alive and whole. That was ages ago in a different lifetime. Now? You're not human." His finger isn't on the trigger, but it's hovering very close to it, "What do you want from me?" He growls out forcefully.
The other voice responds rather than the apparition before him, "She wants to play with you... She wants you to come to her... She wants you to belong to us..." The voice hisses, the sing song tones are still present, but seems to have an edge to it that is... sinister.
Andrew takes another step back, "Well....I don't really want to belong to you, OK? So...feel free to go that way", he says, pointing toward the wall, "About ten miles or so will do. That, or there's a nice little village up to the north of us that would love to entertain you...."
The voice of the girl seems to have vanished. She's beginning to flicker in and out of vision, and she seems to fade a bit each time she becomes visible again. The other voice however giggles, "But we don't play like that." The giggle goes high pitched, but then suddenly is gone, as is the fog. There's a sensation of being pulled hard and fast through an extremely thick spider's web. Another voice, like that of a little girl whispers, "You're safe. Don't play with that. It will cause pain."
Andrew takes another step back, "Beggin' your pardon, ma'am, but I don't think I want to play with you, it, or anything else I can't lay my hands on to see if it's got a pulse. Pain or not." His eyes narrow at the flickering apparition in front of him, "And I'll be the judge of when I'm safe or not. I certainly don't feel safe now."
After his words, he begins to realize that he's not in Kansas anymore. The world is darker, somehow. The houses all around look both more vibrant and darker somehow. A good sized cloud is holding Andrew about a foot off the ground, but there's no pain as though a person were holding him... The animals, small birds, squirrels and such are talking, but they're not making sense... but every now and then... does he understand a word in that garbled mess? The plants move of their own accord when the winds aren't controlling them. The cloud that carries him starts to move, flying him toward the main gate of the wall, which looks nothing like he's used to seeing. It looks like a massive junk yard of crushed metal. The cloud speaks, "I am friend to people like you, sort of, if you let me. I'm Cloud Singer. I'm taking you to The Guardian. He knows you very well, and asked this from me. I didn't want you to get hurt, and that would have hurt you. It is called Ghost Eater. It's bad. Stay away or it will hurt you."
Andrew glances left, then right, "Fuck...." he mutters out, "Damn asshats slipped me some 'shrooms. I'll get them....double duty tomorrow." He puts the pistol down, lowering it to the low ready position. He reaches across his body with his left hand, touching his right arm. And then he pinches himself. HARD. "Mother of all that is holy!" he manages to sputter out before looking around. Not seeing any change, he shakes his head, "I...I...You...what the hell is going on? Where are you?" He looks to the birds, and the other animals, "It's all bad, man. Like one bad acid trip." He looks around, shaking his head once again. "Ghost Eater. Cloud Singer. I don't know who you are, what you are for that matter...I just need to get back to Safe Haven. I've got a job to do."
Cloud Singer laughs, sounding very much like a child laughing. She carefully sets Andrew down on his feet next to the gate, "I am Cloud Singer. I will send you back when it's time. The Guardian of The WALL wants to speak with you." She then soars upward to fly among the other clouds there. An oddly in tact mirror of an old rusted car twists so Andrew is visible in it, "You are not away from your Safe Haven. You are in another place we call The Hisil. Others call it The Shadow. I am the Guardian. I have watched you a long time, peace officer Andrew. You were being lured by a very dangerous spirit called Ghost Eater. It consumes the spirits of those who have died. Whomever you saw has been eaten by Ghost Eater. It would have tried to take you, leaving your spirit here to eat." The words resonate with him as truth, but it's so far out there, it's hard to believe, even though he knows it's truth.
Andrew thrusts his hands out to the sides to keep his balance, "Woooooah there high-speed. I'm going to fall....." He gives it a second to catch his balance, then looks to the mirror. He watches himself as he talks to the cloud, "Listen...Cloud Singer, is it? I'm not sure what the Hisil is, what the Shadow is..well...I know what a shadow is, but not THE shadow...and while I'm glad you've watched me for a long time, I can't say that I know you at all. Provided that you're even real...and no offense now, but I'm pretty sure my sanity is slipping away. And while Laura and I broke up..she was the little blond there with the missing throat..." he explains, continuing, "And it wasn't a good breakup, I still harbor no ill feelings toward her. It doesn't surprise me that she's dead, to be honest. Most everyone I know died in the End. I'm one of the unlucky ones...."
The mirror moves again, and he begins to see...something surrounding him, almost fighting against the flesh prison of his body. The Guardian's voice is deep and meaningful, "I am sorry. I did not know you were one of them, or I would never have brought you here to keep you safe." A thin wisp of fog begins to wrap around Andrew's ankles. The insane giggling from before his "hallucination" began can be heard in the distance, and sounds as though it's moving closer.
Andrew frowns as he hears the giggles, "OK..so the giggling girl is...Ghost Eater? I'm not sure what it is, but how do I kill it...to prevent it from hurting others? And don't think anything about it. Most of us left behind lost everyone that we loved, so it's still a bit of a...tender subject. So...how to stop Ghost Eater? And what do you mean..Cloud Singer....mentioned you were the Guardian of the Wall. Are you some sort of ghost yourself?"
"You might see me that way, pup. But I am not a ghost. A ghost is a creature that was once like you, living on the other side of the Veil. It has since died, and thus is a ghost. I am called The Guardian. I protect the city from danger by preventing it from entering along with my brood. I am a spirit, I believe is what your kind call me. What is your age in revolutions of your sun?" The door creaks a bit as if it were settling down in a more comfortable position...
Meanwhile, the shimmer of fog that has wrapped around Andrew's legs suddenly starts to tighten, and there is pain. A pain very similar to being stung by a wasp or yellow-jacket. He feels himself being...slowly pulled upon from the inside through the pain at his ankle. Several things happen at one time, rage fills Andrew's body at this intrusion... something inside him screams out in protest. The Guardian's voice bellows out something in that strange language and suddenly a few trees in the wall's vicinity actually move of their own accord. Branches swing down in a batting movement, and the attachment to Andrew's ankle tightens harder.
Andrew nods, "OK...not sure what the Veil is, and not sure what a brood is. But you defend the city..like me." He pauses for a moment, "I'm...Fuck!" He says, stamping his foot at the flash of pain, "What the hell is happening! Dammit....let....me...GO!" He screams at the tendril of cloud around his ankle, veins in his neck and forehead bulging. His fists ball up almost in a reflexive response to the pain, and he growls out long and hard, trying to push the pain out of his mind while trying to clear his foot free of the fog.
The growls coming from his throat begin to sound more feral, more canine or lupine. He feels his skin begin to get tight. His mouth begins to change shape as his teeth make room for canines. Nails slip his nail beds and claws grow in where human nails were before. The words and commands of the spirits around him begin to make sense. Orders from The Guardian to the spirits nearest to the wall, orders to stop Ghost Eater...
Primal emotions cause Andrew's heart to beat faster, the rage... the anger swells, and the invasion from the fog tendril attempting to consume him is wrong... Control is lost as he gives in to his battle form. He's larger, fur covered, his clothes in tatters to make room for enormous masses of muscle. His sense of smell is more powerful, his vision isn't better, but also not worse, and his sense of hearing becomes intense enough that he can hear crickets making their noises a block away.
The source of the insane giggling is visible, finally... A dark grey fog swirling with shapes and forms that might have once been people move around in her, if you can call it a her. The eyes on the thing are wide and silvery, like death boiled over. The fingers are more like an eagle's talons rather than hands, and the fog swirls and moves around her like serpents. The one at his ankle has jerked back as he changed forms. The maddening giggling voice hisses out at him, "Oh, you're going to make a wonderful addition..."
Red. Pain. Anger...Rage. All of these emotions and sensations flash before Andrew in the span of a few heartbeats. He doesn't know what is happening, he doesn't understand what he is changing into. What he does understand, however, is rage. And the need to kill Ghost Eater. As his growl elongates into a defiant challenge, he swats at the tendril from Ghost Eater. Muscles propel massive bone and claws, the strike clumsy. The spread of Andrew-things talons nick the smoke, sending it to swirl in little eddies without much visible damage. He snarls out once more and prepares to attack again, rage fuelling his relentless assault on the smoke-creature.
The first strike causes the giggling to stop, and the fog tentacles begin to shrink away from Andrew. The second strike at her causes her to advance again, but the third actually causes her pain. She shrieks out in pain. At the sound of it, understanding that if he can inflict pain, he can make her die. In a flash of movement, muscle moving almost of it's own volition, Andrew begins to wail on her, claws slashing through her body over and over again in a haze.
His mind has given in to rage, succumbing completely to the beast within. The memories of it will be foggy, but he won't forget everything. In the end, the screams of Ghost Eater fade to nothing as she tries to protect herself from the barrage, but in the end, her corpus falls to nothing, and she discorporates.
Winded, his rage spent, the form slowly draws back inside of his body, leaving no evidence that was there except tattered clothes and a sheen of sweat. He's tired, exhausted even... The Guardian calls for Cloud Singer, and the large cloud comes back down to the ground. The only words spoken are, "Send him home." And then she vanishes.
Andrew, spent, slumps to the surface of the cloud, tired. Infinitely tired. He wipes the sheen of sweat from his brow, still full of questions. Even more so now then before, but he's just too tired to ask. He swallows hard, nodding in response to the Guardian's words.
Suddenly, the sensation of being jerked through a too thick spider's web hits him again. The soft spirit arms settle him against the wall on the real side of things, at least in Andrew's mind. "She's coming. I hope she sees you." Then the cloud is gone again. Headlights shine on the road, and on Andrew for a moment. The smell of bio-diesel burning can be smelled, and it's repulsive at how sharp it is to him. The noisy truck stops in front of Andrew. A short, but very powerfully built female crouches in front of him, her fingers snapping annoyingly at first, "Hey! Are you okay?"
Andrew chokes back the cloying of the diesel from his nostrils, putting his hand up to shield his eyes from the lights of the vehicle. He's still trying to...focus, to clear the cobwebs from his mind. He doesn't register the finger snapping at first, and then turns to face the source of the noise. "Yeah....I'm fine...maybe." The giant of a man begins to put his right arm behind him, supporting himself as he attempts to stand. "Woah...not quite ready for that yet." With that, he sits back down, "Need just a minute."
She flashes a smile at him, "What happened to you? You look like you got fed through a chipper shredder?" She's very invasive as she moves the tattered bits of clothing checking for injuries that he doesn't have. "I'm Jazz. I can give you a ride, if you want?" There's a scent that comes from her, something wild and strong, but at the same time delicate? A sudden need to protect overwhelms him for a second before his rational mind pushes it away, still the memory of it lingers, like something inside him is trying to teach him something.
Andrew offers a smile in return, he thinks. Hell, it could have been a snarl, as he's fighting with trying to get his bearings. He closes his eyes for a moment, then opens then, "I'm Drew...Andrew. And a ride? Sure...where the hell am I? I need to get back to Safe Haven..." The lingering scent catches him, for a moment. Closing his eyes once more, he concentrates of the subtle scent of it, to remember it. Opening his eyes, he says, "Sorry...I think your chipper shredder analogy is pretty...accurate. Feel that way too." With that, he forces himself to his feet, his full 6'5" frame standing well over Jazz's. He holds out a hand to steady himself for a moment, then runs his hand down the length of his right thigh to feel for the Glock, to make sure it's there.
The weapon is there, but barely, it's hanging loose. Jazz helps Andrew get into the passenger side of the truck. She's seen this kind of thing before, so she knows what's going on, but she won't say anything. There's the smell of some nervousness that wafts off of her for a second, but then it fades. The girl has very good control. She shoves the gear shift into first and starts the slow crawl. With a laugh she says, “You’re in Safe Haven. Nice Glock, Drew? Is that what you prefer?" She continues without waiting for him to answer, "When you need bullets, please let me know. I've got the molds for them at my shop. In fact, do you mind if we stop somewhere first?"
Andrew resecures the weapon, "Well...it's one of many weapons. I use my rifle most of the time....I tend to work the Wall a lot...but when things get close and personal, I prefer the combat tomahawk." He turns to glance out the window, noting the location. He nods to himself silently before turning to look at Jazz, finally able to focus on her. "Hrm? Oh...where ever you need to go is fine with me. I..appreciate this. Don't know what the hell I got into, but I swear it was some screwy shit. I'm normally pretty resiliant to that sort of thing..."
Jazz's brows raise, but the hint of a smile is still there. She picks up speed as she passes through areas that are safer, "Resilience... I think that's a good word for all of us that survived that mess. It's been two years, and I still have a hard time with it sometimes. My entire family was killed in that mess." For a moment, she's somber, but she glances at him and smiles again, "Don't worry. Whatever happened to you didn't hurt you. It only hurt your clothes." She laughs heartily at her comment, slapping her thigh. She keeps the chit chat up as a distraction, but pulls up outside the KEG House in the university district. The smell of wildness assaults him again, but this time from the house. It's much more powerful than what he sensed off Jazz before. She comes around to the passenger side of the truck and pulls the door open, "Come with me, I think you should meet someone."
Andrew nods, "Yeah. Lost mine as well...not many people who didn't. I was fighting in the 10th Mountain at the time...spent most of the fight falling back from the cluster that was the Battle of Whiting." He shakes his head, breaking into a light smile at her words. He looks down at his clothes, "Yeah. Feeling a bit...indecent at the moment. Certainly draftier than I remember this outfit being." He glances down at his right ankle, looking at it before he looks to her, "So...Jazz...what do you do in Safe Haven? I'm with the government...." He continues the chit chat as well until KEG house, and when she opens the door for him he slides out, standing upright. He nods to her with a smile, "Sure...not sure I'm dressed for meeting someone, though. Really should have stopped by my place and changed. First impressions and all..." He then looks to the KEG house and prepares to follow her in.
Jazz smiles and guides him into the house, "I own The Smithy." She points to the shop nearby. She's taken his hand, and her other is on his arm attempting to keep him steady on his feet. "I don't think he'll care."