Author Topic: CDDA: Adventures in Cataclysm  (Read 22192 times)

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Re: CDDA: Adventures in Cataclysm
« Reply #5130 on: March 21, 2019, 11:15:21 pm »
(( Written with Mrno, Wilson, Vulnus, and Wilson. ))

Solomon gave a little sigh as he set aside the tools finally, going to get a washbasin and a couple towels. He'd ended up spending most of the afternoon helping Cardin actually do the task that the avian was supposed to be doing on his own, mostly due to the difficulty those tools had posed, despite seemingly getting the hang of handling a blacksmith's hammer and chisel halfway through it. What was likely meant mostly to leave Cardin worn out and left with the mental image of a properly-made scale burnt into his mind mostly just left them both with sore hands and leftover rust to wash off.

Cardin's issues had largely come from how unwieldy his talons made holding a hammer and chisel properly, scraping his wrist whenever he tried to grip them.   Although, he didn't seem to mind whenever Solomon would help, sometimes helping the avian mutant adjust his grip, something that kept earning surprised little chirps from Cardin.   He rubs at his arms, trying to work out the aches from hammering.

Solomon set the newly-filled basket of feather-like metal scales aside, wincing a bit at the sharp ache left along both arms before helping get them both cleaned up, looking back to Cardin for a moment. "Still have to prepare dinner too...she said to help out with that, but er...can you cook?"

The mutant shakes his head, making a can opener gesture with his hands and then shrugging. Shuffling his wings a bit, he inches a bit closer to Solomon, before shyly chirping and shaking his head again.

Solomon sighed a bit at that. "How about, er...stew maybe. Simple and easy to make, it's mostly just pick good ingredients and the actually cooking isn't much more complex than heating a can would be." he said, trying to make it seem as simple as possible, to reassure the avian as he set a hand on his shoulder.

Cardin chirps quietly, nodding, eyes looking at the hand resting on him for a second before he returns his gaze to the cooking room, looking for something probably suitable to put in a stew and finding...  Canned beans, at first.  He holds the can out, tilting his head to the side and chirping inquisitively at Solomon.

Solomon gave a shrug at that, thinking they had dried ingredients that'd be a better fit, but soon enough the two got to work...

Helen had been just about done with getting things cleaned up after dinner, about to further talk to Solomon and Cardin regarding the tasks of the day, and to check up on them. Not to mention give them some reassurance that she suspected Cardin now needed, only for someone to practically throw the door to the main hall open. Branches. She was starting to get a bad feeling about this already.

Branches was very careful not to break the door, but that was about as careful as she got. She'd vaulted the wall and hid behind a small house that smelled of straw and dog for half an hour before she could work up the courage to move. As 'nice' as Helen had been that morning, Branches was still afraid of her. To her, it was like fleeing from wolves by ducking into the den of a sleeping bear.

She heard Helen say something, heard the sounds of surprise at her sudden noisy entrance, heard a clatter of arms being taken up. Before an arrow or spear could find her though or before a hammer could find her head, Branches flung open a large trunk and climbed in.

"There are mean people looking for me, I'm not here." Branches said through the thick wood. That wasn't much of an explanation, but at that moment detailed explanations were beyond her.

Helen blinked a bit at that, taken by surprise and likely annoyed not just by Branches' sudden intrusion, but now by the confusion of the others, most of which had no idea who this was nor any of the events that Helen already knew of. "Who?" she said, before quickly gathering cloak, mask, hammer, and that symbol of judgement.

She directed the others to get ready, handing over her wraithslayer to Solomon as well. As for others, her intended conversation with Victor was sidelined when, partway through trying to talk Green out of volunteering to join in, a sudden realization hit her. It stopped her dead in her tracks, as she realized the full gravity of the situation.

"'re staying in my quarters, keep Thomas safe." she said firmly, activating her mask and scanning the area outside, through the walls of The Hall itself. She then looked over to Cardin, shushing his excited chirps with a glare from under that mask. "No. We're already risking Solomon and Green, and they seem to be armed." she said, pointing in a couple directions, at what to an observer without a mask of insight on was merely a few different parts of the carved mural on the wall.

Branches sat curled up in the trunk and tried to focus. A tricky proposition from inside the cramped space, but doable. Why hadn't her scavengers warned her that someone was at her shack? Why hadn't they warned her that someone was wrecking her shack? She knew the answer already though. The truth was, they had. She'd been too wrapped up in Catnip and Kathrine's hospitality to notice, not to mention Hector. She wondered if he would come to rescue her and lost her concentration.

"C'mon, focus..." She growled at herself, and that seemed to work. The dark of the trunk seemed to take on a certain incorporeality and then was replaced by the somewhat brighter dark outside. She could see. From the eye of the one scout she had left, the fortunate construct that she'd sent along to follow the bandit earlier that day. It could see the bandits still, a group of them organizing vehicles and setting up tents around Branches clearing.  Scouts departing and returning the camp  to give updates on what was going on over here. Branches didn't know if she'd actually been followed or not, but Helen did. Helen knew and had seen. Scouts coming and going, checking the walls and trying to peek over. "Pssst. Helen. Anybody..."

Liam for his part had been outside with the wolf pup when he’d heard Branches storm into the Hall. Perhaps if he’d been paying attention he might have spotted one of the people observing the place, as is he started humming to himself a bit he walked over to the door and stepped inside. “What’s goin-” He was interrupted Helen mentioning someone being armed.

Sighing to himself he lowered a hand to his hatchet and looked back to the door. “Visitors..this’ll be fun.”

Helen was ready soon enough, catching glimpses of the scouts lurking outside, at the ready as Steinar and Liam followed close behind, Solomon and Green behind them in turn. "Alright. I'll want Solomon and Green to take places at the palisade, stay low and don't expose yourselves from unless things get heated." she said, picking up her handset and gave a sigh.

She hoped that breaking radio silence wouldn't prove to be a bad idea. "This is Helen. We have a situation here."

With most of the prep being carried out, there was one thing left to deal with. Helen gave the trunk a knock and from inside Branches gave a startled mewling noise that made Helen smirk. The trunk lid came up a few inches and the mage hunter expected to see the homunculus's eye peeking out, but it seemed that there wasn't enough room to allow Branches to look out without getting up on her knees.

"W-what?" she said in a hushed tone, "I'm cogitating."

"Hopefully about the consequences of your actions." Helen said, "Get out of there, you can't leave the rest of us to deal with this ourselves." The trunk lid settled back for a moment, then came back up again to disgorge a very unhappy looking homunculus.

"I don't want to hurt anybody..." She huffed, dusting herself off. Helen gave the perimeter another look. The scouts were thinning, but they'd be back. The real question was whether to bring the fight to these thugs, or let them besiege the Hall.

Helen grumbled a bit at that. "We may have to if they won't listen to reason. Moreover, you brought them here, where there are children." she said. Technically one child, one teenager, and two that were just barely adults, but she was still irritated at enemies being brought to her doorstep. At the same time, she realized there would be even more innocents potentially in harm's way had they been led to Walkerville.

Rather soon however, the handset perked up a bit belatedly. "Corporal Ford here. On it." There was the very beginning of Nathaniel's attempts to knock on the farmhouse door to wake Hector up overheard, a moment before he let go of the receiver.

Branches stuck close to Helen, silent. She really couldn't argue with her, since she was right. Branches had been surprised and panicked and fled to the closest "safe" place she could think of. The farm was further than the hall, and the hall had been hidden. Branches just didn't figure on the bandits following her, which was very dumb on her part.

Her scout caught sight of something on it's own short trip back to the hall. A single bandit settling in close to the river gate, tucked into the crook of a large swamp flanked willow. He said something into a small radio, before getting out a small pair of binoculars and peering around the tree to watch the gate.

"Settling in YJ, got the back gate on lock until morning." Crackled the radio in the hall, and that startled the operator. They'd heard his transmission, but it seemed they hadn't heard theirs.

"What do you want us to do Helen?" Someone asked. The mage hunter looked to the back gate and was disturbed by the lack of aura there.

"It could be a bluff, I wouldn't-" She began. Branches tugged at her arm and stopped her with a look. Not a bluff. Helen looked again. There was something there, but her mask couldn't see it. It was just a void. Then it hit her. A void. "What is she doing here? She's in no condition to-"

Branches flinched like she'd been jabbed in the eye and shivered violently, skipping and juttering like she'd got a serious case of the heebie jeebies. If she'd been able to see the man, Helen surmised, then she'd just witnessed what had almost certainly just happened to him and who had done it.

Floyd had been awake, as he often was these days. Slept on and off, short naps through the day. He could see Nathaniel practically hammering on the door to the house Hector and Roxanne now lived in, trying to wake the knight up. Roxanne was awake too it seems, she seemed to never even sleep anymore. He calmly sauntered over, giving a little wave. "Everythin' alright?"

Nathaniel looked back over to Floyd. "Helen radioed in. Said they have a situation or something, not much other than that. Hector's sleepin' like a log and Roxanne is staying here, so..." Almost immediately he grimaced a bit, suspecting the worst. They hadn't heard gunfire at least. "Radio silence, I reckon. Hold up a moment..."

He had an idea though, leaning into the doorway and speaking up. "Wake up, boy! There's a battle t'win!" he called out, and practically the instant he said "battle" the knight quite literally rolled out of bed and hit the floor. Actually does sleep in that damn chainmail, he thought with amusement.

Meanwhile, Helen grimaced a bit at the sight of another aura rather abruptly being cut short, then picked up her handset again. She tried to tune it to ensure that whoever was on the other end would hear them, this time.

"We're aware that you're here. For what reason have you come to this place?" she said into it, Solomon and Green taking their positions crouched at the walkway built into the palisade. She could see that they hadn't breached the gates, but she could see they were surrounded. The presence of a certain "void" complicated things further, as now they had until she either started stalking the other bandits or they discovered what was left of the bandit before they'd be forced into a fight.

There was no pause before the radio crackled back, "I want the one eyed bitch and the amethyst pyramids. Was gonna wait til dawn to start us off, but since you've decided to kick this lynching off already we can just get started now. Bring me that shit in half an hour or we can start shelling your little tree fort."

Helen smirked grimly at that. The woman on the other end sounded tired but ready to go. She also sounded completely unaware of what she was dealing with. She was cocky and pissed, whoever "she" was. Helen scooped up her own radio again and prepared to shoot back some bit of biting wit along with a refusal, when the feed was drowned out by a single pistol shit followed by a womanly screech the likes of which could only have come from the vocal cords of a man. They even heard it from inside the Hall, as it wasn't that far off. Helen knew from the way Branches covered her mouth, and from the sickened look of her, that Mica had taken another victim in rather spectacular fashion. Hopefully the shot hadn't hit the girl.

Remi's trance was broken by that loud screech as he looked back towards the hall. He turned off the electric lamp he was using, turning around and squinting towards the large group surrounding the Hall. "Oh." Remi said rather unceremoniously as he set aside the portrait of Walkerville and took out two smaller canvases, a vial of the magical ink, and his Gunto. He drew a campfire on one, with a smaller drawing with an altar under it, while drawing a larger version of the altar on the other canvas. Remi framed the small mob with his fingers for a moment, before stalking closer and chucking the canvas containing the campfire like a frisbee. He would settle a hand against the 'Altar' canvas, and the ink would glow on both of them.

Helen grumbled a bit and shook her head, giving a hand signal that Green just barely saw in the darkness, though it was Solomon she intended to signal, before again pointing out the closest scouts through the walls. With that she readied to open the gate, right as peculiar flickering firelight seemed to waver into existence, seemingly engulfing the scouts in their immediate vicinity.

Nearly the instant the gate started to open, from the top of the palisade a bolt of green light lanced through the air, leaving an expanding plume and a spray of thin streaks of light after ripping through a tree trunk, burning holes through the person on the other side. And as fire seemed to illuminate the treeline,  this gave Green targets to take potshots at as well, while the others remained behind cover. She'd only need to expose enough to stick that hammer out from behind cover, to cover their advance.

Elsewhere at the farm, there was the faint whine of an electric engine spinning to life, three men piled into the old light tank. Hector flicked a switch, the surrounding darkness perceived through camera displays fading to a slightly-brighter monochrome, the heat of a running generator and a few signatures standing out in the dim view offered.

"We won't be able to get positive ID from just thermals..." Hector pointed out over the crew radio, Nathaniel grumbling as he switched it to radioing out. "Ford here. Keep your men on overwatch, and away from the bridge." he said, before addressing Floyd, having manned the turret. "Gunner, load canister." One of those makeshift shells, Catnip's clever idea from those several years ago. Certainly more useful than AP shells were for 90% of things they ran into.

Though the tank's radio reply to The Hall would've barely been picked up even by the handset tuned to it, Helen's response was still, intentionally in fact, left so that all would overhear it. "Acknowledged. Try to leave two alive." she said, her tone rather cold compared to when she initially attempted to reason with their attackers.

The answer had come back, as far as Yellow Jacket was concerned. The people at that fort in the swamp weren't going to just hand the stuff over. Unfortunately, from her standpoint, that meant they'd called her bluff. Yellow Jacket no more had mortars or shells or anything else to hammer The Hall with than she had confidence in being able to coerce the woman over the radio now that they'd decided to fight back. They couldn't even hold off until morning like Yellow Jacket had wanted.

"Green light in the area around the fort ma'am." A scout reported, "Three men dead cuz a' some fuckin' monster outside the fort too. We should retreat boss."

"Retreat? You fuckin' pussy, just a bunch of survivors in a wooden fort." Yellow Jacket growled, "Get the men organized, we're fighting in the dark. Get-"

"EATER! EATER!" Someone screamed, then, "Holy shit, holy shit." A scream, excited gibbering, and fire leapt up from nothing. The camp didn't see the fires, but they saw the light and heard the screams. Yellow Jackets camp would have descended into confused turmoil then were it not for herself. She wasn't going to have another "Apis" situation on her hands, not again. This was threatening to turn into exactly that, and by the gods that were, Yellow Jacket would not put up with such a total failure again.

As soon as the gate was open, there was a brilliant flash of light cutting the darkness momentarily, alongside a thundering boom. Enough for the woman in her cloak of scales to rush out, Liam and Steinar close behind. The firelight that engulfed the few scouts surrounding the camp had left the two on the ramparts with little left to fire on, Helen checking for any more nearby foes before breaking away from the other two. She had to ensure the perimeter was secure, and find Mica before she either got hurt or attacked the wrong person.

"SKREEE!" came a familiar shriek from the newly erupting firelight as Helen emerged from the gate, and the silhouette of a wraithlike four armed creature scuttled, smoking, towards her. Clutched in one web covered hand was the bloody remains of an arm. "SssSSssS..." Mica hissed, "Stupid fires, stupid stupid..."

"Whatcha got there Mica?" Helen asked, stopping momentarily to make sure Mica was unharmed. The only wound she could find was a fresh crack in the chitin of her left leg. It was already filling in with hardening resin, and Mica didn't seem to be paying it much mind. The strange fire had bothered her more than the bullet being pushed out of her leg.

"Eh? Two-faces Hel-on! My-ka just gettin' snacks before going to see Hel-on's squishy! My-ka wants to see Squishy!" She waved the arm at Helen before tossing it aside. It left the spiders hand tailing a tail red stained silk, and Helen noticed the state of Mica. Still covered in silk, but now it had all been colored a grizzly red with what she'd been eating. Across the river, they could hear shouting.

Branches came up then, tugging on Helen's cloak. "They're organizing over there..." She informed the mage hunter.

Helen gave a nod as she turned towards Branches. "With me, Mica. Steinar and Liam are here too, so careful not to hurt them. Understand?" she said firmly.

"Ssss... but My-ka is hong-ree... sssss." Mica hissed petulantly. Branches shied away from the spider, turning a bit green again thinking about what she'd seen through the eye of her remaining watcher. "Ssss..."

"There's a whole day's catch of smoked salmon in it for you if you don't hurt any friendlies, okay?" she said, before making her way back towards where Branches indicated. They'd need to drive them back and take the road, and she hoped that the other two were doing well enough without her.

The sudden explosion of magical flame erupting among the treeline ahead answered that question soon enough, along the flicker of a magical aura darting across to embed itself in somebody, only to vanish and reappear back in Steinar's grasp.

Steinar led the way as he and Liam split away from Helen. Running full tilt the pair heard the gunfire from the tank a moment before Liam shouted to Steinar “On your left!”

Raising his shield Steinar blocked a handfull of pistol rounds as he charged another of the enemy. Bringing his hand back Liam focused for a moment as he said “Brand!” and brought his hand forward. The fireball that emerged from his hand flew through the air and caught the gunman in the chest.

As he started screaming due to his flesh and clothes burning Steinar swung the shield in his hand. The enemy he’d been charging found the makeshift club he’d been holding flying away from him as his hand shattered from the blow. He was about to scream when Steinar brought his axe into the side of the man’s head.

Rushing past Steinar Liam readied another fireball as Steinar followed close behind after removing his axe from the man’s skull. “Good eye lad, that one nearly got me.”

Elsewhere, the tank sped up, hurrying towards the bridge as they peered out at the woodlands and saw movement, people filtering into the woods and wetlands from a clearing, just across the river. "Gunner, canister, troops, north of road." Nathaniel directed through the radio, a calm drawl answering him. Almost like the old days, the both of them thought. "Identified." he answered, Nathaniel grinning a bit as the tank neared the bridge. "Index four hundred. Fire."

"On the way." The boom of a homemade canister shell announced their presence, fired into the very edge of the clearing as they pushed forward. They could take the bridge and hammer the clearing all they liked, but sooner or later Helen and the others were likely to drive their enemies across the road, and that'd require them to dismount.

The canister in the chamber fired with what Floyd would later call "a hell of a punch" and Hector would call "Way too much punch" as he carefully examined the cannon of his machine for damage later. The primer was struck, and the volatile cocktail of powders exploded violently, shredding the cannister at the tip of the shell and sending it's payload towards the point of the compass that had displeased the tanks operators that day. A cloud of pellets, BBs, gravel, ball bearings, nails, screws, bolts, nuts, and assorted small hard objects flew forth from the cannon and through the tanks viewfinder, the men inside the tank watched as what they estimated to be between fifteen and twenty men and women simply collapsed in on themselves amidst a red mist.

"Jesus fuck Nip..." Hector breathed, "I hope to Christ none of ours were in that." The explosion of the round resounded out across the area as such shots always did, startling up birds and knocking a few bats out of the night sky as well as scaring the living hell out of a certain homunculus who had never heard anything like it before.

"What was that!?" She cried, "Are they using their shells!?"

"No." Helen said, pushing on in the wake of Steinar and Liam. "If they had any, they would have started by now. No, that was probably Hector in his tank. I'm not sure what he'd use against people on foot though. Maybe it was a signaling shot or something to try and spook our foes?" The few scouts who were left hit the road ahead of the men and turned to fire, just in time to see some kind of ragged woman with four arms dart in front and take a comrades head off with a well aimed bite. There were a few left still trying to fight, a man with some kind of blade ran at Helen thinking her an easy enough target only to find himself being rolled over a pale white figure with one eye. This same figure gave a little twist as she flipped him and the move that was simply meant to make him cry uncle instead pulled the bone from it's socket in his shoulder.

"Fuck you!" Someone shouted, spraying bullets from some toy-like automatic pistol. The bullets embedded themselves in Steinars shield and only stopped coming when Mica vaulted over the viking and landed square on top of the shooter.

"My-ka's gotta feed her squishy, gonna be such a good squishy. My-ka's gonna be better than Lil-eth!" She hissed.

"What the f-" He began. No one dared to watch what happened next. They all heard the sound of the bite though. Tooth through bone, and the gurgle of a scream through something that wasn't quite a mouth anymore.

Meanwhile, Yellow Jacket was running. Running as fast as she could. First had been the cataclysm, taking all of her hard work and ambition away just as it took away the rest of the world as she'd known it. Then, that little chit with the black and yellow stripes and a horde of oversized bees. Now it was this. One little one eyed bitch who'd brought ruination upon Yellow Jacket once again. One. Single. Girl. The worst part was, this could have been prevented. She could have just backed down. Turned away. Said "fuck it, I'm not playing this song and dance again." No. It had taken seeing most of her gang turned to a screaming bloody mess in one fell swoop to get her to back down. Would she ever learn?

"Not fucking likely." She babbled madly to herself as she fled, "No, cuz you don't ever fucking learn your lesson do you old girl? No fucking way, not fucking likely."

As if all this wasn't enough, the road cleared for their advance, two more figures made their way down the road. A knight, and following close behind a gunslinger. They'd dismounted from the tank, though at this point there wasn't much left to mop up.

It didn't take long to sort through the dead and dying. For the most part, the bandits were dead. Catnip's canister had done the work Catnip knew it would and it was easy to see why she hadn't made more. Branches little clearing on the edge of the lake was now an abattoir and the homunculus looked at it with a sense of relief, but also a growing feeling of unhappiness. Her house was destroyed and her borrowed possessions scattered to hell and back. Helen put a hand on her shoulder in commiseration. She'd be invited to stay at The Hall until the 'mess' could be cleaned up and everything set to rights again.

The doings weren't such of a mess to Mica though. She watched, languidly relaxing at the edge of the clearing and waiting for the others to leave. The others picked through the wounded, taking any who were well enough to treat and putting down those with enough piss left in them to offer a fight or too far gone to recover. Mica would wait. She was a-hongry, needed to feed her squishy with more than nasty fruits and somewhat less nasty vegetables. Hector and Floyd gave their condolences to Branches as well, the little pale girl Mica thought of as "turnip," then mounted up and headed back to the farm. Likewise, Helen and Branches and the others from the hall squared away their business and made their way home. Leaving Mica in the dark by the waters edge. She waited for some time, then moved from the tree line to the waiting feast.

Helen, for her part, made certain that the others were unharmed, the whole lot rattled from the thunder of cannon fire earlier and the adrenaline of fighting, all too soon it seemed that what was supposed to be a grim affair was increasingly less morbid, between Hector and Steinar trying to one-up each other comparing the dents and other marks in their equipment, and Mica regarding the carnage in the clearing like a buffet just waiting to be sampled.

Helen however did have one very clear objective regarding the men they captured, retreiving the sword Steinar had given her, those years ago. They would have their weapons confiscated, and be sent back unharmed. All except one. She made it very clear to them. She had family here, and would not tolerate an attack on this place. Her thoughts turned to the fact that what she ended up doing was essentially human sacrifice, an offering to Odin. A thought she quickly banished from her mind, as this was a matter of making an example of one of the remaining survivors, not religion.

The blade bit deep into the man's back, separating ribs from the spine, several at a time with each strike, until it was sufficient to draw the lungs out through the twin cuts. What was left of the others would be for Mica to sort out, but the one chosen for the blood eagle was returned to the survivors to be carried back, to be buried or otherwise dealt with as they saw fit.

That just left cleaning up.