|Time & Date:||18:00 11th of October, 2020|
|Player Cast:||Chloe Tailor, Esperanza Pradrera-Santillan, Jackson Grey, Ray Martin, Vanya Winters|
|Content Rating:||NC-17 (Violence, Language, Nudity)|
In an Abandoned Funeral Home
The area is heavily overgrown.
It has expensive decor.
What was once an old and stately funeral home in Haven's otherworldly forest is now scarcely more than a pile of crumbling rocks. Some wall structure still remains, and even parts of the ceiling are intact, but would surely be unsafe for any cautiously minded individual to stand under for too long; the slightest impact or piercing root could send these tumbling down, soon to reclaim the forgotten structure into the earth.
A barbed wire fence has been drawn around the full perimeter of the structure, and is clean and recent. Despite the building's condition, someone has clearly still been making use of the place. The area is crawling with magic and the stench of death; all the werewolves can sense it.
It is dusk, about 55F(12C) degrees, In the distance behind you the setting sun sinks below the horizon.
1. No combat code on this plot.
2. Compete code is allowed only against the group you came in with.
3. If you would like to compete with or attack someone in the other team, please use the attempt command. (Help attempt.) The SR will probe stats, make additional plot-related calculations, and elucidate the outcome accordingly.
4. All characters on this plot have Sanctuary protection unless otherwise specified (NPCs included).
5. If your characters are normally red to each other, this still applies.
6. Imprints can't influence you to do anything that would normally be considered a Sanctuary violation, per Haven lore, even if your characters don't generally have Sanctuary protection to each other.
7. Teams are:
Ray, Jackson, Chloe (Liberators)
Esperanza, Vanya (Captives)
Liberators: please join ruins
Captives: please join mausoleum
Liberators can't initially see captives. Captives can't initially see liberators. Please use subtle emotes to interact with your fellow teammates until this changes.
8. For the duration of this plot, Captives can sense each other's feelings, but not anyone else's. Liberators cannot sense Captives' feelings, despite any existing pack-bond.
9. Have fun :)
Places: the ruins to be explored, a repurposed mausoleum
[ ] [ ]
Jackson is at the ruins to be explored
Ray is at the ruins to be explored
Chloe is at the ruins to be explored
Esperanza is at a repurposed mausoleum
Vanya is at a repurposed mausoleum
You cannot remember the last 24 hours.
You wrestle with your sanity as lunacy grips you.
The world is a kaleidoscope of nauseatingly bright lights. Consciousness kicks in all at once, a bright fire engulfing the mind for a rude awakening. How did they get here? What's happening? Mysteries to be solved at a later date, no doubt, when the rush of instincts has worn down. For now, all they feel is pain and hunger — a sharp, ravening hunger, to devour anything in sight.
Only two people are visible right now to each of them. Vanya sees Esperanza. Esperanza sees Vanya. And then there's someone else ... something else.
The only exit is a locked, heavy steel door. They're seated on a pair of hospital beds, with rudimentary equipment monitoring their vitals. The floor is old and cracked, roots protruding through. Whatever this place is, it doesn't look to be a secure facility, but the whole place reeks of magic.
Vanya groans. Lifting one hand to press it to her aching head, she sits for just a moment before suddenly her senses kick in enough for her to realise that she's not where she ought to be. Her eyes wild, her nostrils flaring, she twists herself around, immediately on the alert, perhaps more so due to the fact that she can't hear a thing. Her lips peel back into a snarl, and while she's not quick to go on the offensive, she pulls her legs up onto the table, crouched rather than sitting, with her hands gripping the edge. She's ready to spring into action. It takes time for one familiar figure to make itself known amongst the others — Esperanza. She stares.
Coming around, Esperanza takes in this strange place, strange sights and company. At least her company is familiar. The tubes-a-plenty that lead into Esperanza's body take the longest for Esperanza to work out and a frantically panicked, "Doctorrraaaa?" is called over to Vanya as consciousness swings and she looks over to the deaf woman, getting ready to wave, but relieved at the lack of need from her companion's pounce up onto the bed. Careful to keep her linguistics in the English realm, Esperanza extends her arms toward Vanya and asks, "Are these putting stuff in or taking it out?"
Those tubes are doing nothing good, whatever exactly that might be. It's a blood transfusion, but something is very, very wrong — the crimson serum flooding through their veins smells and feels unnatural, a foreign agent infiltrating their systems. One needn't be very in tune to the supernatural world to put two and two together, with how sharp they feel, how pale the woman behind the glass is, and how dilated their fellow werewolves' pupils are.
This is vampire blood.
She isn't yet to the answering questions part of coming awake. Perhaps it's only the fact that Esperanza has started tugging at the tubes that leaves Vanya looking away from the woman and down at her own arms. She snarls again. Fury filling her face, she starts to pull at them, tearing them from her arms without any real concern for what their purpose might be. Assuming she can rip them out, even if it leaves her own arms bleeding, she does so, without any of the usual care a physician would grant a patient in such a process. And then, she's leaping forward. Dizzy, half-blind still to the lights that flare, the raging beast within has her grey eyes glinting toward silver in the harsh lighting, and her teeth are bared as she aims to land on Esperanza's table, and begin tearing the things from her arms, as well. Still, no words. Who even knows if she's 'heard' Esperanza.
Stat Report: Vanya she has Super Jumping stat at 2.
It was acquired through a tattoo of small butterfly.
Her usually narrow eyes are wide and dilated, struggling to maintain her focus as she watches her medical advisor tearing at the foreign tubes, the sight doing nothing to settle the churning discombobulation and fraying senses provided by the infusion. Her features are twisted with the mental struggle for coherence and her chest is heaving in rapid breaths as she tries to follow suit, but she is jolted into a spring away from Vanya's leap onto Esperanza's bed. After the startling distraction, Esperanza cries out as the tubes and sensors tear from my flesh.
The woman behind the glass is awake.
She's pale and sickly, and she's watching them: her icy blue eyes are the only hint of colour in her ghostly visage, and even that seems off. There's a filmy translucence to them that Vanya might recognise as a sign of Pallor Mortis, and yet they seem sentient. A human would struggle to notice these details from so far away, through a pane of glass, but Vanya and Esperanza feel and see everything right now. They've never experienced such keen wakefulness before.
Blood spills onto the floor of the mausoleum when Vanya rips out the IV tubes. They're easy to tear out, but it's too late — there's already so much in their system. Are they still werewolves at all? Why does the light feel so very bright? It's blinding. And yet the feral Lunacy bubbling within them is all too familiar, compounded with so much else.
Vanya doesn't care when Esperanza cries out, if she even realises it through everything else going on. Her concern is getting those tubes out of both of them, and she does it with all the gentleness of the raging beast within her. She watches as the other woman stumbles and falls, then twists about to stare with a feral snarl at the being that Doesn't Belong. She's not shifting. Maybe she's trying to shift. Maybe she isn't, but she's most certainly not in her right mind. Her teeth remain bared. Her hands lift to her hair, the glossy white strands clutched and yanked in different directions as she rocks on her heels. "Dead ... Dead ..." the deaf woman snarls out, before she leaps off the table once again, landing on the blood-splashed floor on her feet.
(Internally) Born a wolf, lunacy has been something that Vanya has experienced from a very, very young age, and thus she's never really had to adjust to it like those turned later in their life do. It's natural and this, this is not. There's no moon, the light's all wrong and she's in a cage. Some part of her realises it's all wrong, and so she clings to her humanity as best she can, by fighting back the beast that rages to get free. But it's ... it's not good, right now.
(Internally) And Vanya's humanity is getting further and further repressed by the power she's embracing, anyway.
(Privately to Vanya:)
EEEEEEEEE. There's a scratching at the edge of Vanya's heightened senses, and she knows she's being watched. A high, unnatural frequency permeates the air, the kind she knows to recognise from hidden cameras.
She cants her head upward. Though she can't actually hear a thing, that prickling at her senses is, like fingernails on a chalkboard, enough to raise the hair on the back of her neck. She spins. While in her right mind she'd try to use one of her signal detecting apps to pinpoint its location, she's not in her right mind right now. And so, rather than resort to technology (if she's even been left with her phone), with her keener than keen vision, she tries to search the corners, the ceiling, pacing over to any vents she might find. She keeps on snarling. Pacing. Ignoring the door, the logical and obvious way out for this most unwelcome intrusion. Her partner-in-misery is still being mostly ignored, now that she's free from the invasive blood, but not entirely. Somewhere in her subconscious, Vanya recognises her even without bonds, enough to keep looking back and ensuring Esperanza is oka— alive.
With fewer years of familiarity to supernatural and inhumane urges than Vanya, Esperanza tucks away and rolls up into herself as the brief tickle of coherent sobriety is swiftly tugged into the undertow of lunacy and foreign blood. Her own blood spurts out from the IV ports, draining down her limbs as she clutches at her head and cries out in a largely incoherent string of Spanish for the addled mental anguish that wrenches her brow to a tight knit. With the strength provided, she managed to roll down onto her feet beside her table, shuffling backward through the blood-slicked floor until her hips hit a wall. She strains her eyes open when her rear find some support for her weight, finding Vanya as still her only companion — and a far more productive one so far. Perhaps influenced by the sight, Esperanza's eyes start crawling back over the walls and that window to the very-not-well blood donor: how strong does that glass look?
The dead, unnatural being behind the glass tilts her head to one side and smiles at Vanya, curving up only one corner of her lips. Whether or not she's here by choice, she appears to have accepted her fate, unlike the werewolves. She's making no attempt to get up out of that fancy dentist's chair she's strapped into, and even after they've yanked out the tubes feeding them her blood, she allows her own to purposelessly remain — calm, vacant, and dead inside.
The pane of glass looks surprisingly weak to the naked eye; it isn't even double-glazed. Surely a firm fist could shatter it?
Vanya finds the camera with ease. It even turns around to focus straight down on her eyes when she comes too near.
Again, she snarls. She's not strong unless she's shifted, but Vanya is not shifting. Not now. Not yet. Instead, she lowers into a crouch, tensing her thighs, and then she jumps, pushing into the air and off a wall, trying to catch her fingers on that camera. And if she manages that, she'll swing off of it, using the weight of her body to (hopefully) tear it out of the wall, before she lands back on the ground. It's the same sort of movement an animal might make to bring down prey larger than it, or prey that's above its head in some way. It's not logical, it's physical, which is assuredly not her strong suit.
Vanya attempts to tear out that camera with dexterity(1), fast reflexes(1) and super jumping(2)
The hidden camera that Vanya spotted is torn out with surprising force; she may not know her own strength, right now, but even in human form, her muscles feel more alive than ever before.
Chest billowing with rough, fast breaths, a hand drops from Esperanza's head, shoving herself roughly up from the wall when Vanya's leaping swing to tear the hidden camera free tugs Esperanza's hyper focus from the woman behind the glass. Not even hoping to piece together enough synapses to logic through her reaction, Esperanza's lips pull back in an inflamed snarl for the sight of the frayed electronics, and after pinning Vanya with sharp look, Esperanza tests her own reflexes and strength: channelling her weight into her legs and launching her frame into a fierce, running-jump toward the window with a cry of effort.
Esperanza attempts to break the window with strength(3), running(2) and stamina(2)
Even ripped out of the wall, Vanya is not satisfied. She puts that newfound strength to use, mangling what's left of the camera with sheer, driven purpose. Only once it's fully 'dead' and there's no part left of it that can be repurposed (perhaps her human's knowledge of devices like this helps in that), does she leave it to rest on the bloodied floor. She stares after Esperanza, but as the woman launches herself, Vanya chooses to join her. It's a pack hunt, now. She leaps from the ground and toward the Spanish girl and the glass window.
A single pane of glass ought to shatter beneath Esperanza's weight, let alone when Vanya joins her. And yet, it is a good deal sturdier than it looks, to a degree that can only be magical. Nevertheless, a crack does form. It'll take more than one strike, and maybe leverage, to get through.
The pale woman stands up abruptly when she sees that the werewolves are now attempting to break through. Her own pupils are likewise dilated, and she stares at them uncertainly, the tubes and needles still trailing from her forearms.
Vanya attempts to figure out how those tubes are getting from the woman behind the glass into this room and whether that's a route worth pursuing with perception(2) and acute sight(1)
Air is knocked from Esperanza's chest with a cry of discomforted surprise when she crashes against the window, the inertia rebounding to send her bouncing back and sprawling her to the ground with a scuffing grunt. Scrambling back to her feet, Esperanza tries to process the unsuccessful attempt, making a harried scan of the room, but the strung-out mix of afflictions on her mind latch onto the movement behind the screen and she tracks the pale woman like prey. She crawls up to her feet with her lips curling back and a few extra steps are taken backward before she starst renewing her previous effort with a fierce stare and snarl toward the woman on the other side of the glass: running and jumping time and again, trying to widen that crack with her elbow.
Vanya hits the window and drops. But some part of her is more than mindless beast, even in the madness that fills her. She snarls in fury at the defiance of the simple structure, then twists, her eyes scanning the room, searching for something. Anything. Back to pacing she goes, leaving Esperanza to continue with the window if she chooses. Her care for the vampire behind the glass is nothing; she's unable to reach her to kill her, after all. Her nostrils flare, but in her silent world, she hears nothing that goes on around her. Her focus turns back inward, to her own needs and, in that moment, she needs to take out her rage on something or someone, or find some way out of this cage. The latter is more likely, and so she prowls, looking for anything she might use from this room to help.
Vanya's search leads to grooves at the very bottom of the wall. The tubes are connected to the adjacent room there along the floor, but these are not the only tubes in the room. Some, which weren't presently hooked into the wolves, are tucked away into strange machines which the doctor would recognise as a hybrid of supernatural and medical advances, used to drain psychic energies, life force, and monitor one's vitals.
Esperanza likewise recognises some of this technology. The last she saw this kind of tech was at the Tyrell Corp. Headquarters, in Boston.
Vanya bends to pull on the tubes, but seeing that there's simply no way to use them to break through anywhere, she rises again. Breathing hard, growling low in her chest, she also watches for a moment as Esperanza goes back in for another lunge, and then she calls, "Es. These." She twists to grab at one of the portable machines, something that the more logical, money-wise side of her brain would probably scream against normally, and indicates that they use it to smash at the glass with.
Vanya's voice catches into Esperanza's tunnel-vision mind. The Spaniard swings back, noticing the suggested battering devices and grabs it from her fellow prisoner's arms, spinning back to the window and using the expensive equipment as a battering ram.
It takes Esperanza far more tries than the naked eye might assume it should. Again and again she launches herself at the glass, and the crack grows bigger with each attempt. She's made good headway, however, and finally ...
CRASH! goes the glass under the weight of that expensive machinery, sending a rain of see-through knives falling between the three of them.
The woman who was behind the glass looks at Esperanza, wide-eyed and startled. She starts to turn, clearly to flee, but the needles hooked into her forearms hold her in place. Her movements are sluggish, readying to detach from the chair, but as fast as Vanya and Esperanza are, they might have time to beat her to it.
She doesn't even wait for the shards of glass to be cleared from the window. Vanya throws herself through it. She doesn't seem to care at all, as glass shards slice and shred and dig into her skin. She may not even feel it as she starts bleeding, as everything else rushes at and through her. At first, the vampire isn't her target. It's those damned tubes inserted into her vein. "Dead..." she snarls out again, getting only the slightest portions of what she's actually thinking out of her mouth. She grabs and yanks, tearing the tubes free just like she'd done to her own arms and Esperanza's.
Someone's fucking with werewolves.
It started in New York. Every full moon, another disappearances, and sometimes more than one. The targets always fit the same profile: generally older and stronger wolves who should be more than capable of handling themselves, and usually either corrupt or careless, lunatics caught out on the prowl. The Redwood Pack have reported exactly what Jackson Grey is experiencing right now: an intense feeling of terror and agony from their packmates, and then suddenly nothing. Gone or dead? His pack-bond with Vanya and Esperanza can no longer be felt.
Whoever took them came this way, however. Those with acute senses can smell the tracks of multiple people who've passed recently through the woods. Vanya and Esperanza for sure, and additionally the scent of one man and one woman, both of them unfamiliar.
The crumbling ruins of an ancient structure in the woods is where their noses lead them, the building nearly fully reclaimed by invading roots and vines. Around it is a fence of barbed wire and several obvious booby traps. The whole area reek of magic, and is noticeably darker than the surrounding forest; a nighttime spell prevails the air.
Chloe has wandered in, supposedly on foot, to the ruins and is already sniffing her away around, metaphorically and literally. With a vague grumble, the waif sighs as she looks over the fence and its obvious traps. There's a sudden displacement of air pressure, a flurry of leaves from a forest that clearly doesn't belong here, and soon enough she's suddenly appeared on the other side, wandering off further.
Chloe mutters something about the place stinking.
(Privately to Jackson:)
Jackson's phone beeps or buzzes again with another message from Ray (or an unknown number, or under whatever name he might be stored as) I still haven't heard from Esperanza today. And I can't locate her phone. Have you heard from her?
(Privately to Ray:)
Zzt-zzt. [Oct 11 18:14] Jackson: Pep gone Doc too both in trouble I felt it going to fucking tEar this place apart even if its already rubble. Coords are [here] come back me up you fucked up letting her get snatched from your place fucks sake.
(Privately to Jackson:)
(a quick follow-up message from Ray OMW. She never came back to my place last night after going to get a change of clothes and a toothbrush. But that doesn't matter. BTIAB.
Stealth may not be Jackson's forte but he at least has common sense enough to ditch his bike a solid kilometre or so away from the site. Much like Chloe, he approaches on foot, though where she grumbles, he stalks into the area upon heavy boot-strides with a clear sense of agitation prickling about his broad frame. He halts on the perimeter of the ruins, where the taste of magic first assaults him and scrunches his brutish features up to make them no prettier. Fingers flex and uncoil at his sides; he wants to just go crashing on in there, but he's mercifully not quite that stupid.
Jackson espies Chloe just before she goes pathing off to the other side, and there's a flicker of curiosity behind his muddy eyes. Then he starts trudging along the boundary in a slow appraisal, stepping with care and scanning whatever can be seen. His phone comes up to illuminate his features in a dim white-blue techno-glow as one big callused thumb clumsily taps out a text.
(Privately to Ray:)
Zzt-zzt [Oct 11 18:14] Jackson: TOO FUCKING RIGHT DOESNT MATTER HURRY UP.
Jackson thinks: "That knucklehead know anything about magic? Me and Chloe don't got shit."
Though for a period of time it's only Jackson and Chloe at the ruins, beginning their investigation of the area, it isn't far too long off that, in the very distance, the rumble of a motorcycle reverberates beyond the thick and dense trees of forest. Barely heard by normal ears as Ray parks a good distance away from where the GPS has led him. From foot, he begins the slow and cautious strut through drying leaves and other forest debris.
(Privately to Ray:)
Ray senses hidden security cameras around the perimeter of the strange facility.
(Privately to Chloe:)
There's a scratching sound at the edges of her hearing that Chloe can't quite place. Something unnatural. Something very non-werewolfy. A high-frequency EEEEEEEEE.
(Privately to Jackson:)
There's a scratching sound at the edges of his hearing that Jackson can't quite place. Something unnatural. Something very non-werewolfy. A high-frequency EEEEEEEEE.
Chloe blinks, glancing over her shoulder before peering at Jackson as he arrives. "Eugh. I mean. Nice to have you here so I ain' all alone, but also, we got enough magic stink that we don't gotta add electricity to the err ... bouquet eh?" she huffs, puffing her cheeks out dramatically, semi obscured by the fence. "Why'd you decide to come anyways?" When Ray less subtly approaches, albeit only marginally, she gives the man a quiet squint over. "Nice to see you as well, I guess. Weird how all the wolves I never see come out when I go out for a proper figh—" But she's cut off as something distracts her. Something bad enough to cause her to wince and press a hand to one of her ears as if to cover it. "The fuck ... anyone else hear that shit?" she asks, glancing around.
(Internally) Chloe is very certain this stuff has to do with Grimar. It doesn't really have any of his fingerprints on it, but it's the theory she's currently going with because she doesn't know what else could capture any powerful wolves. Some part of her does wonder why she wasn't caught.
Ray is nowhere in earshot just yet to hear what Chloe has been saying. He switches from the GPS unit to another application that helps to determine where electronic devices are hidden or otherwise used. Something learned by Vanya. He squints at Chloe and Jackson, then to the ruins and toward the facility itself. If they are looking, he points toward it with two fingers, toward where cameras might be tracking, then to his eyes, and back. His feet make the minutest crunch as he remains light on his feet to continue his approach.
Jackson's circumnavigation of the ruins halts as he turns to wait for Ray, squinting off through the trees and then impatiently waving the other guy over when he comes in sight. He's barely listening to Chloe until she questions his presence, which immediately makes him round on her. "That's my fucken family in there, stupid," he cuts back through his teeth, a hot flare of anger in his eyes. But it's a dumb thing to get nettled about, and the ruffling doesn't last long. Far more evenly, he shares with Chloe, "They was suffering. Whoever's snatched them was making them hurt." He's squinting off towards Ray as he answers her query with a soft, "Yeah it's gonna be some kinda tech I'm guessing."
Chloe is apparently super dumb, since she was trying to talk to Ray from miles away, but is too distracted by whatever the annoying sound that's getting to her to realise her stupidity. Ray is given a confused squint as she stares at him, then where he points, then back again. Jackson's outburst provokes no retaliation or irritation back from the waif, she even looks pretty understanding. "Well, I got no clue who they'd taken. Glad to see you're here for your pack, even if it was kinda crazy you came alone," said the girl who came alone. "It like one of those anti teenager things except for wolves?" There's a pause, before she reluctantly adds, "Reminds me a lot of Grimar. He'd do this. Capture members of a pack to make sure the rest of the pack felt exactly what he'd do to them ..."
Jackson's jaw tightens as Chloe compares this situation to another he's only heard about, though more than enough to know that that's not a good thing. The brute bobs down onto his haunches in a readied crouch as he tracks Ray's progress toward the ruins. "He's just gonna walk in there ...?" he mutters to himself, brows gathered into a frown like stormclouds on the horizon. Still, for all his restless bristling, he remains in place and merely observes. If that guy over there is going to set off all the booby traps and bullshit, Jackson will be ready to rush on past his scattered body parts to fetch Vanya and Esperanza.
Ray places his finger to his lips as Chloe and Jackson's words reach him. And no, he's not heading toward the facility, he's walking toward them and the ruins. Slow, and steady, keeping to the trees nearby to avoid any tracking cameras. Crouching down when he is well near the two. "I was trying to tell you there are cameras. Jesus fuck."
It's midnight as soon as the trio approach the perimeter, and a good bit colder than it was in the surrounding forest. Even for the mysteriously shifting time of day, this kind of cold isn't normal, and can only be magical in nature.
Although all three of them can spot and navigate the booby traps, the barbed wire fence might take a tiny bit more finesse. It looks a stronger than one might expect — and may likewise be enchanted.
Stat Report: Ray he has Stealth stat at 4.
It was acquired naturally.
Jackson has very little chill to work with here, all tense and disturbed. As Ray joins the hapless duo already in place, he forewarns the pair of them, "I'm swiftly running out of fucks about whether they know I'm coming to crack they ribcage like an eggshell for touching my people." Then an uptick of his bristly chin accompanies the inquiry of, "What you want done about cameras?" Finally, something constructive.
(Internally) Jackson's guts are a twisted knot of very-not-calm, only growing tighter every time he reaches for that core connection and feels nothing in answer. That he's maintaining any level of composure only signals self-awareness and a determination not to let his own reckless nature bugger the whole thing up and put his Packmates to any further harm.
Chloe has already pathed her ass onto the other side of the fence. She does decide, however to wait on the other side so she can at least have some kind of semblance of a hushed conversation with the other two. "I mean. I could cause a big distraction but not all that sure if that jus' means I'm gonna get captured too. Either that or if you can tell me exactly where they are, I path onto the roof above them an' blow them up," she offers, shrugging lamely.
Ray motions to the barbed wire fence around the perimeter. "Got bigger issues here. That lines the entire facility. Didn't think to bring a blanket to the party to try to cut the sting of barbed wire. Pretty sure it's electrified too," he tells Jackson, in a lowly whisper. His attention focuses on the building and back to Chloe and Jackson with raised brows. "I wouldn't suggest just running through. But we might not have much of a choice, either." He reaches out to clasp Jackson's shoulder to give it a sympathetic squeeze.
"Well," Ray says, releasing Jackson's shoulder, "fuck me."
Chloe blinks softly, glancing between Ray and Jackson with clear ignorance of what transpired.
Vanya and Esperanza's familiar scent lingers in the air. Jackson and Chloe can both smell a path through the funeral home, leading the way past ruins where the missing wolves were taken. Ray, likewise, notices a groove amid the forest debris, which covers much of the overgrown funeral home. The pair must have been dragged, by two sets of booted footprints.
(Privately to Jackson:)
Jackson is supernaturally perceptive, more than an ordinary wolf with keen senses. He notices more than just footprints, and a set of grooves, where the missing wolves were dragged. He senses flecks of silver in the dirt, likely used to secure the captives.
Jackson feels burning affront.
(Internally) Ray expects for sirens to wail, or spotlights to turn on, always suspicious. A soldier's mind.
Jackson listens to Chloe's suggestion and puts a slight twist on it. "You and me make a big messy fucken nuisance - they'd expect wolves to come get wolves - Ray ducks in to get the girls?" He restlessly plucks at his lower lip while he considers that idea, tugging it away from his teeth with forefinger and thumb before releasing it to spring back into place. "I guess only when we get discovered though." When Ray brings up the perceived obstacle of the fence, Jackson just shakes his head and shoves back up onto his feet, a scattering of dirt and leaves falling as he rises. "I can just do what she done," he shares, wagging a finger towards Chloe. Then with a squint down to Ray, "Dunno how the fuck you're gonna get through though, mate."
Chloe sniffs in thought, scratching her cheek. "If you can see the cameras, can you see what the wall's made outta? I may be able to jus' knock it down, if not as a human then definitely as a wolf unless it's bunker shit, yunno? Then again, kidnappin' a wolf don't mean you can beat it in a fight. Grimar always got us in our sleep. Well, most of us. He took me by jus' threatenin' to kill my pack."
"If you can do that, you might as well, because I am sure they know we're here. You make the hubabaloo, I guess, and I can climb over the fence and try to hack into their security to open the doors," Ray says, with a shrug. "I thought you guys despised all this magic, though," he remarks as he continues to crouch but starts to take off his shirt to give some kind of protection to his hands against barbed wire.
Jackson's sense of loyalty to Esperanza's human boyfriend is perhaps a little lacklustre, for after that, he simply steps toward the fence and steps back into view on the other side, like the frames of his journey are just missing from the reel of film. "If they already know we here then fuck all this shit, I'm going in," he declares. And without further ado, off he trudges, following the drag-marks until he encounters whatever doors Ray is talking about. He squints down at his boots as he walks, each step sinking an imprint of his weight into the grooves. "They using silver ... 'Course they are ..." he mutters to himself.
"Or I could see if there's any weaknesses in the fence that I can wiggle through," Ray also considers, out loud. His gaze sweeps the area again. For anywhere an animal may have burrowed beneath that he could squeeze through.
Chloe sighs, clearly growing tired of this meagre fence. "You're gonna have to sacrifice some dignity dude," she mutters. She makes a short hop that ... takes her at least eight feet into the air, landing neatly on the other side, back where Ray is stood. She holds out her hands to Ray with a bemused expression. "Cummon. We're wastin' time."
Stat Report: Chloe she has Super Jumping stat at 2.
It was self mastered.
"Good shit, Chloe," Jackson calls back in appreciation as the woman problem-solves Ray's dilemma in a way the brute is physically incapable of.
Jackson thinks: "Now hurry the fuck up."
The unnatural cold gnaws at Ray's bare chest, sending goosebumps across his skin. But using it to protect himself isn't a bad move — it turns out not to have been electric, surprisingly, but it is a good deal sturdier than what one might expect for a simple wire. An occult expert would recognise this as a warding ritual, but the athletic soldier should be able to scale it.
Nevertheless, riding Chloe (platonically) may prove a much safer way across.
"I'm trying to figure out a way not to bring attention to at least one of us," Ray remarks to Chloe with a deep inhale and exhale with a long foggy breath. "I'm capable of scaling it, myself. I just use a little more calculation to my moves."
Chloe blinks quietly at Ray. "I literally jus' jumped over the fence, dude. You sure you don't jus' want me to jump back over carryin' you?" she asks, a little flummoxed.
From farther ahead, Jackson's agitation boils over into a white-hot lash that gets whipped across at Ray. He halts in his tracks and turns round to snap, "Isn't Pepsi your girl? You really gonna make her wait on your stupid calculations?? Quit being a bigman, let Chloe help you, and get the FUCK over here already." But that's about all the time and patience he has for that nonsense, and he just turns away and keeps following the tracks, A-OK with leaving Ray behind if it means getting to his Packmates sooner.
Jackson thinks: "Fucken. Stupid. Prick. Fuck."
"Chloe. I'm trying to figure a way to be far more stealthy than just barrelling through. We have no fucking clue what is behind those walls. Other that Esperanza and Vanya being hurt," Ray hisses, "but I will need my hands, I'm sure, for more than scaling a fucking fence. And I'm sure that with their cameras they've already tracked your movement. Twice. So what the fuck." He accepts the hand. "Jesus Christ. Clearly you guys have never actually been in the damned military."
Instincts call to Jackson as he starts pursuing the path through the ruins. He can hear footsteps now, further within the abandoned funeral home. Someone is moving about, but they're nowhere near where he can smell the werewolves. In that direction, it is oddly silent.
Chloe blinks once again at Ray, clearly utterly confused at what she was just told. With that, she sighs and hops over the fence yet again. Padding off towards the main building herself without a care in the world, she begins pulling off her clothing. "An' you clearly aren't in any hurry to save wolves you know have been tortured. Military is how humans fight, not us," she mutters. Naked now, she walks past Jackson (assuming he's still stopped), and just pads her way across towards the 'abandoned' funeral home, clearly hating every step she takes the closer she gets, almost wincing her way through all the shitty magic and stuff.
Chloe missed Ray accepting her hand. So, as a result, she does hop over with the man, dropping him on the ground nicely enough, even if it's not a mother's touch.
Jackson did keep on moving ahead, but it would only take Chloe and Ray a sec to catch up to him for his progress has slowed. To anyone still within view, Jackson can be seen tensing. One muddy boot slides out to widen his stance and lower his centre of gravity as he more stalks forward than anything else now. But his path has diverged from the tracks, off into another section of the dilapidated funeral home. His approach is far from stealthy, but it's certainly predatory.
Stat Report: Jackson he has Stealth stat at 0.
"Funny, I've managed to make it through world war two and that includes the massacre that was Normandy by being calculated," Ray say. Motherly or not motherly touch doesn't seem to bother him at all, all things considered. He slides his shirt back into place, over the vest that he was wearing. Regardless of the other two, he's far more stealthy about his movement, sticking to shadows cast and darkness.
Chloe shrugs blankly at Ray. "I've beaten enough literally immortal werewolves to kinda lose the respect for age I used to. Err ... No offence. Seems experience ain' all it was cracked up to be. Or maybe people jus' kinda forget stuff after a couple decades ..." she muses. While she's not all stompy like Jackson, or ninja-like like Ray, she just kind of traipses her own, shivering, naked way along the scent trail that the other two, absent wolves were dragged in, hating every second of the experience.
The abandoned funeral home is surprisingly large. In its heyday, it may have had many convoluted passages, rooms upon rooms for a myriad purposes. All that remains now are crumbling rocks and columns, half-torn walls wreathed in invading roots and vines.
Two paths emerge ahead: one leads to Vanya and Esperanza's familiar scent, and booted footprints that must have dragged them. The other, for reasons that may be unclear, is one that Jackson is following — away from the more observable trail.
(Privately to Chloe:)
Chloe knows why Jackson's heading that way, even if it may not be apparent to Ray's human ears. She can hear footsteps in that direction, while the observable tracks of Vanya and Esperanza lead to silence.
Chloe glances over her shoulder to see if Ray's within talking distance to her.
Unable to smell the scents that both Jackson and Chloe can, Ray can at leave visibly track things. He's in earshot of Chloe for her to speak, even if his attention is not on her.
Chloe clears her throat, not particularly subtly, then speaks at the closest she can get to whisper without having to actually try to be quiet. She points in one direction, murmuring, "Wolves that way," then points in the other, stating, "footsteps that way. Jackson gone after them."
Jackson's got no further commentary for the 'my way is better' debate going on behind him. His focus is elsewhere, zeroed in on a task for which he holds a profound familiarity: stalking prey. Crumbling walls and sagging doorframes are each stared through with distressing intensity as he passes, searching for the other presence he can sense within the ruins. No idea who it is, not a clue for why they're here, scarcely a thought for whether there's any point to confronting them. All he knows is he wants them. Wants them like a bull wants the matador's cape.
Jackson thinks: "... come out and play come out and play come out and play ..."
Ray attempts to determine the best path forward though the rubble, with the least resistance, in the direction Jack has taken using acrobatics(3) and stealth(4)
"As much as it is tempting to go directly where you smell the two of them, I would follow Jack," Ray offers. "We get one of them, we can use him or her as barter."
Chloe nods faintly at Ray, offering no argument or further discussion. She heads down the path that smelt of wolves, letting the other two head off in the other direction.
A tall, well-built white man is wandering the ruins, dressed in dark olive garb. It's perfect for blending in with the surrounding forest, but utterly useless for eluding werewolves and expert trackers like Ray. He's holding a clipboard, and for the moment hasn't yet noticed the stalking predators, despite all the ruckus they've made.
Ray reaches around for his army bag. Here, he slowly pulls out a rifle, but doesn't prepare to shoot. Its out, however, in case he has to. Though likely already spotted by Jackson, the man ticks his chin and rifle both in his direction.
The moment his gaze locks onto the wandering whiteboy, a subtle tremor shivers its way down through Jackson's frame like a lover just spoke a sweet-nothing into his ear. Where Ray arms himself with a gun, the brute slides a knife from his belt. He steps forward, the scuff of his dirty boot like a whisper of promise. And then there it is again -- or rather, isn't. Missing frames as distance is cleared in a blink.
Ray gets a sleek, well-maintained M1 Garand rifle from large army green duffel bag.
Ray gets a blunt butt end of an M1 Garand from large army green duffel bag.
Ray pulls a sleek, well-maintained M1 Garand rifle off his back.
Ray wields his blunt butt end of an M1 Garand.
Jackson unsheathes his small hunting knife.
Jackson attempts to path behind the clipboard guy and grab him with pathing(3) and strength(5)
A shout pierces the ruins as Jackson appears in front of the wandering, olive-garbed soldier, who tries to back up into a table. He stares at the Big Daddy Alpha with eyes wide with terror, then reaches behind him for a landline to try and press an emergency button. "It was the Court!" he shouts. "I had nothing to do with it!" Already coughing up information.
(Privately to Chloe:)
Chloe, in the meantime, pursues the trail of Esperanza and Vanya further towards what looks to be a mausoleum. It's much sturdier looking than any other room within the funeral home, bearing tall, solid walls of white marble, and a solid steel door.
Chloe wrinkles her nose as she glances around the place, her naked feet slapping quietly on the smooth, frigid flooring. After a peek under the door to make sure there is empty space on the other side, she attempts to open the door with whatever strength is needed, doing her best to remain ... vaguely quiet during her almighty heave.
The heavy steel door is sturdier than Chloe would expect; even with her innate, raw physical power in human form, she's unable to shatter it, but shifting should do the trick.
This doesn't bode well, to her keen werewolf senses. Even steel shouldn't be this heavy; the unnatural weight of it is magical in nature.
Before she can figure out what exactly she's going to do next, the sound of shattering glass comes tumbling from the other side, followed by a loud, horrified yell coming from the direction of Ray and Jackson. The voice doesn't belong to either of them — likely, their prey's.
Chloe is more than comfortable to shift if needed to break the door down. A couple of long, gruesome moments as the girl's body tears itself apart all the while knitting itself together again.
Not only because he can't, Ray keeps a distance from the duo, in the off chance that he has to actually use the rifle. Though he doesn't appear in any hurry to draw more attention the tense situation than already has been made. After a moments consideration, he creeps closer to them, preparing for, but not expecting a need to rush forward to bring the butt end into the tall man's shoulder or face. The man trying to sound more alarm, brings him to that action.
The Court? But on the olive-garbed soldier's wrist is a rather unusual looking watch, emblazoned with a stylised sun.
"I wouldn't do that," Ray warns the tall Temple-member in a low growl. Though he may not be a wolf, he plays the part well enough with the rumble from his chest. "Lower the phone back onto the hook."
Jackson's a little less polite with his requests than Ray is. It's the back of his hand that asks the fellow to kindly return the receiver to the hook. A punishing SMACK of his right hand is brought streaking up from the brute's hip towards the soldier's face, designed to send him careening aside and into the wall. That Jackson takes pleasure in the unleashed violence is unmistakable — it's right there in the hot yellow that gleams beneath the muddy waters of his gaze, like panning for gold.
Stat Report: Jackson he has Striking discipline at 25. Stat Report: Jackson he has Fast Reflexes stat at 2.
It was acquired naturally.
Jackson feels small gratification.
"Don't kill him," Ray suggests to Jackson, with a smirk. He eyes the phone as he picks up the fallen receiver for any names or extensions that may have lit up in the time the phone was picked up. Only then does he place it back onto the receiver. Being that he'd requested Jackson not kill the man, he does raise his rifle to aim it at the terrified man's forehead.
(Internally) Though Jackson's capacity for higher thought is a touch undermined by his wrathful hunger just now, the significance of the stylised sun isn't lost on him. The words "TEMPLE SCUM" swim past upon a buzzing stream of white noise.
The soldier had no intention of following Ray's suggestion, loyal to his cause until the bitter end. He didn't stop at the threat, but the backhand? Well, that sends him and the table staggering back, and he crumples against the floor.
And yet, someone does seem aware of the intrusion, because booted footsteps can be heard jogging through the halls. "It's too late," he protests, "you fools. You'll never make it out of here alive. We have an entire ARMY here. You think this is our first rodeo, punks?"
It's a nice try. But both Ray and Jackson are perceptive enough to call that bluff.
"What are you playing at here?" Ray asks, using the rifle end resting on the man's forehead as the medium for getting his, and Jackson's probably, answer. His head cocks to the side, trying to gauge how many footsteps there actually are. "What makes me stop from pulling this trigger right here and now? Jack, see if he has any badges or security cards on him?"
"I reckon we oughta let our friend here convince me of that," Jackson proposes to Ray in a surprisingly mild and level voice, maybe feeling a little better now that he's actually gotten to hit something. While the toppled soldier makes his bluff, the brute lowers himself into a straddling crouch over his knees. For all this talk of big armies and whatnot, Jackson just sneers a soft, "Good," into the fellow's face. To his companion, he calls, "Ray, mate, put bullets in anything that comes through the door there, yeah?"
Then Jackson secures a grasp around the soldier's throat. Not enough to constrict — just a looming threat. In a silken calm, he offers up his own terms of negotiation: "Thirty seconds to give me the full picture of what the hell this is all about. If it sounds like truth to me, I'll knock you out. If it smells like lies, I'll fuck your throat with my fist." A beat. Then, simply, "Go."
The soldier preemptively starts to choke at the sound of Jackson's threat. Even if he can tell he's heavily outgunned, he writhes under the grip of his hand, booted feet pushing against the dirt. "Court ... Court!" he keeps insisting. "The Vampire Court ... of New York! We're here to save you, fuck."
More boots can be heard on the ground. Maybe not an entire army, but at least two other people are running towards them now, quickly approaching down an unseen corridor. Even without supernaturally sharp ears, Ray can hear this, and so too can the Templar. Vindicated by some half-truth to his initial bluff coming to fruition, he angles his hazel eyes to give the pair a meaningful look.
(Privately to Jackson:)
Save you? Hrm. A dubious claim. The mighty perceptive Jackson smells some falsehood there, although they're getting closer to the truth.
(Internally) There's a niggling little worm of anxiety in Jackson's chest. Minutes are slipping by, and he still hasn't laid eyes on Vanya and Esperanza. "Waste of time," insists his impatience as he takes in the soldier's squirming.
Confident at Jackson's (man)handling of the situation, Ray removes the barrel of his rifle from the possible Templar's forehead and turns it toward the door and then to where the echoing footsteps come from, locking and loading. "Gladly," he remark to Jackson. "How is the Vampire Court going to 'save' them? What are you trying to do?" His stance takes something far more hostile than before, the butt of his rifle at his shoulder, and poised to shoot first and ask more questions later.
Jackson grazes the tip of his tongue along the blade of his teeth as he weighs the soldier's words and fate with sharp eyes. "Nah, he's not Court," he clarifies for Ray without looking away from the man within his mitt. "He's Temple scum." Meaningfully, the brute leans forward to murmur to his captive, "And Temple scum's only got one way of 'saving' wolves, and I'm not real keen on it myself." There was a lie in there, but also enough truth to take the throat-fucking off the table, apparently. For Jackson instead yanks the soldier forward before slamming him back again to crack his skull on the wall behind. When he rises, it's to leave a very limp Templar on the floor and hypothesise with Ray, "More likely them leech fucks are up to something big, and Temple are here to stop them. That it happens to involve wolves don't mean shit to them."
And then Jackson starts doing what Chloe did, shedding clothing to leave it all in a puddle around his boots among the rubble. "I'm done with talking now," he tells Ray, giving him the heads-up on what's about to go down. "I want Pep and Vanya back. Let's go get them."
The brute arcs his body back, turning his face up towards the ceiling. He shudders. And then throws himself forward. When he lands on the floor, it's on four paws; the transformation is swift and violent, all crackling bones, popping joints, and rearranging musculature. Then it's Jackson who bristles and turns to face the doorway and those incoming soldiers side-by-side with Ray.
Jackson feels hungry hungry.
While the Templar's skull remains intact, it doesn't take much for Jackson to knock him out cold against the wall, and a dash of blood leaves a mark where he's been struck. He does indeed fall limp, likely saved only by the grace of Sanctuary protection.
He was unable to answer Ray's question, but the booted footsteps draw nearer to the doors. They may still have time to escape before they're caught, if they're quick.
Ray nods to Jackson, but long before he has actually starting going through the nerve-wracking, bone-cracking transformation. "You two are natural enemies," he agrees, "but Temple is not really a friend of mine." He glances to the door and backs up. "Your call. Let's go. I'll shoot if they get in, but if we're going, we're going now. There's likely two or three out there. We can take them, but they'll alert more." He kneels and searches the pockets of the fallen false-Court Templar. Seeking any kind of badge for access into more secure areas, given Temple would certainly have it.
Jackson conducts a full-body shake like he's still trying to shed the last of his humanity while Ray speaks. The wolf's ears pivot like satellite dishes towards the encroaching boot-steps, and there's a flash of hunger in those savage eyes of his. But Esperanza and Vanya are a greater priority even in this form, so he makes the call Ray requests and goes zipping out to follow the original dragging trail that leads the way to his stolen Packmates.
Jackson feels need for Pack.
Ray finds more than just a security card in the Templar's pockets; he finds silver bullets, if he cares to take them, and a mechanical device that his trained eye is able to identify — though to Jackson it'd just look like car-keys. There's a very strange looking gun in there too, with a sharp needle where a barrel should be. The canister is made of glass, and within is ... blood.
That's about all he has time to take (or leave, in a split second decision) before the doors burst open, revealing a pair of soldiers clad in riot-gear. It's unlikely he could take them without Jackson's help, but there's a column he could use for cover mid-pursuit.
Ray takes the items he can, shoving them into his bag, bullets included, knowing full well that Templars also have wolves in their command. Some fall out as smaller items are scrambled for. The gun is definitely taken, clattering at the bottom of his bag. But he kisses the badge before he stands as the door cracks, jumping and rolling with the quickness of his heartbeat toward that column to attempt to hide himself from their scanning eyes. There is odd grace in his ability, more inhuman than human.
Ray attempts to slink away as the guards, if they do, check out their fallen comrade with stealth(4) and dexterity(2)
Jackson isn't so much running from the soldiers as he is running *to* his Packmates, dashing ahead with long, leaping lopes that stretch his big shaggy body out. Not so much as a backward glance is spared for Ray, either trusting that the dude with military training will be just fine, or not really caring at this point. Talk about your fair-weather friends.
A bullet nearly knocks that column in half just as Ray manages to roll and tumble behind it. The entire structure of this abandoned funeral home looks close to falling apart. It holds, luckily, but the way it chips and cracks, it won't survive for long.
The bastard Jackson appears ready to leave him behind, but Ray is much quicker than meets the eye, and although not with ease, should be able to catch up. He's in hot pursuit, however — they're now both leading the Temple to the mausoleum, if they're headed that way.
Roll. Tumble. Creep. Ray sticks the the rubble, using the Usher-esque cement blocks to protect him from further bullets if they are shot. Though he lacks the pace that Jackson has, he attempts to use his cunning to keep him from being wounded, ducking where structures stand taller, two feet still swift and, though perhaps less capable especially with pathing, still capable enough.
By the time Jackson, Ray and the two Templars in riot gear arrive at the mausoleum, the heavy steel door has been battered down and the wall around it has crumbled. Sounds of an altercation emanate from within, and the pair of them can see two enormous, lupine silhouettes.
The huge magical, metallic doors suddenly reverberate with a deafening bang from the other side, buckling in on themselves. Hot, heavy breath can be heard on the other side, before a massive, looming shadow disappears from where it was pressed against the metal slabs. Then, another screeching, metal rending impact, and black, angular fur can be seen pressing between the widening gap, flanked by heavy muscle. A third, bone crunching impact is heard and one of the doors is flung clean off its hinges, shattering the stone of the mausoleum floor beneath it. When the dust settles, Chloe is picking itself off the ground, the bone of its broken shoulder cracking like crushed meringue as it heals itself.
(Privately to Chloe:)
Vanya and Esperanza smell wrong.
It's awful, almost unbearable. Everything about them seems unnatural and weird to Chloe right now. They don't smell like wolves, they smell like alien monsters. It's worse than anything – worse than technology, worse than vampires, somehow, because of the uncanny valley of them seeming so familiar, so natural, and yet so not.
The floor of the mausoleum is sprayed with blood, but not of the human variety. This blood is both magical and dead, dripping from torn tubes and needles.
Vanya isn't in the Mausoleum when Chloe bursts in, but Esperanza still is. There appears to be an adjacent room, separated by an audibly shattered pane of glass. There, Vanya is currently in the process of ripping tubes from a pale woman's arms, next to what looks to be a dentist's chair.
(Privately to Esperanza and Vanya:)
You need to eliminate Chloe by any means necessary.
Vanya doesn't hear the banging, but the way the whole room seems to shake can't be hidden from her. She whirls again, those tubes held in a bunch in her fists, and the half-dead vampire is long forgotten. Bigger prey. Bigger predators. Bigger. She snarls, throwing back her head with a strangled, choking sort of sound that might've been meant to be a human-skin howl, but falls far short, and starts a slow, absolutely maddened prowl toward the being that's far, far bigger than the short woman will ever be as the door between she and Chloe comes crashing down.
Covered in spurts of blood with feet planted firmly into the ground, Esperanza's face turns away from the shattering window, holding place as Vanya leaps through the shattering glass. While the smaller woman is tearing at the vampire's tubes, Esperanza lunges in through the busted window with a far less medicinal ambition, lurching to grapple the vampire's pale neck in her blood-slicked palm, trying to pin this unfamiliar woman to the table with just a bit more coherence than Vanya to growl out, "WHAT ARE WHERE WE WHY!?" But as the heated demand snarls from her lips, Vanya's turn toward Chloe's entry yanks her focus up: where it snaps and holds fiercely.
(Internally) Vanya really, really wants to tear things apart. Sure, she'd like answers, but mostly she doesn't like the way she's feeling and it's a good time to take it out on someone else. She doesn't recognise Chloe and thus, red flags go up. DANGER. But along with those comes another, more sinister desire. To prove the strength people keep denying that she has. To embrace the rage deep inside and come out on TOP.
Chloe peers down amongst the tombs and the ... attached laboratory with a quiet, hungry indifference of a top chain predatory that doesn't sense any competition. however, it spots Vanya and Esperanza and ... does not seem to like what it sees. Stepping over the now ruined door, the over half ton beast causes it to sink another foot into the solid stone beneath its paws as the monstrous creature approaches the two humanoid werewolves, eyes narrowing with a mixture of disgust, mistrust but ... lurking underneath it all, some kind of empathy, somewhere.
(Internally) Chloe knows it's not the same thing, but the level of wrongness she feels here brings her right on back to how her pack were treated during Grimar times. She'll protect these abominations so long as there's still wolf in them worth protecting.
The woman whose neck Esperanza's gripping is startlingly white: pale, ashy blonde hair that looks damaged by sun or simply lifeless; skin the colour of bleached bone; and filmy, translucent blue eyes. She's weak, and easy for the Spanish Lunatic to pin by the neck. Her hands uselessly start to claw herself to freedom, but to no avail. And that's when both her and Vanya see it – a wooden ring bearing a crown of thorns shaped into a stylised sun. It's a deeply cruel instrument for a vampire, not worn by choice. The skin around emanates a spiderweb of blackened capillaries, and they can smell her blood trickling from under the band. The ring isn't just worn, it's impaled – driven through her trembling hand with a wooden spike in the middle. "I don't know ..." she whispers, "Let me go ... You'll kill me."
Vanya stares up at Chloe when it lowers down, and she snarls again. Shaking herself as if she was, indeed, wearing fur, she lets go of those last vestiges of her control and that slow prowl becomes an open stalk. She doesn't seem to sense empathy from the beast. Her eyes blaze with fury, hunger, and a fierce defensiveness, as if she's somehow cast all the blame for their predicament on the beast. She lunges forward. Probably she only reaches up to Chloe's knee, but the part of her brain that reasons through these things doesn't seem to be doing so right now.
Esperanza stares back at Chloe as the towering wolf forces her way into the room, the Spaniard's focus distracted between the whispering vampire in Esperanza's grip; but as her fingers tighten with bruising force, she finds herself pulling up short and her gaze jerks back to the pale, frail thing with a threatening snarl that drips saliva into the woman's pallid face despite her human form. The sounds of Vanya's lurching start of a scuffle with Chloe split Esperanza's focus from notice of the ring, and she wreathes a grip around the woman's wrist to tugs it up towards her face. Esperanza takes only a few seconds to process the painful implement before her mouth lunges in to tear the wooden implement free with her teeth.
Chloe watches Vanya with indifference as it more or less just is ... violently bumped into, at least from its perspective. A jaw rivalling the size the woman's torso reaches down, lazily plucking her up like a ripe fruit, and tossing her back towards the table she ran from. With all its eggs in the same basket, so to speak, it thuds back over, staring at the three. Processing what Esperanza does with savage, yet keen eyes, it makes a low rumble in the back of its throat. Some of the shattered panes of glass rattle from the noise of it, like a train passing by outside a house with too much loose china. With that, it jerks its head towards the messy entrance it made, as if to gesture in that direction, and begins to turn to stomp off that way.
The vampire starts to scream. Esperanza's teeth rip through that wooden ring, removing the miniature, branded stake. She tries to raise her trembling, injured hand up to her face to defend herself from further torment. "They'll kill us all, you stupid dog!" she yells. "Let me go, let me go right now! I never wanted this!"
Vanya twists as she's thrown, but it's not the sort of twist designed to land a woman on two feet. It's the sort of twist that comes with a savage howl and the tearing of clothing, bones, and skin. She rips apart, far more furiously than is her usual, and as bones reform and skin seals over with hair, she lands on four legs, snarling hatefully at Chloe. Fierce, furious anger rips through her, and she lunges in again, spittle flying as she snaps, snarls and attempts to savage.
As her teeth clamp tighter than they need, a fresh spurt of the unnatural blood sprays across Esperanza's tongue where some of the frail flesh rends free along with the spiked ring. Doctora's shifting tumble towards the bed dominates Esperanza's focus from the vampire's claim of innocence, for a raging roar of annoyed, "CALLATE!" The ring drops from Esperanza's teeth, snagged in Esperanza's left hand and brought along a powerful, full-palmed bitch-slap across the fellow captive's face.
(Internally) Vanya isn't a creature that demands to be dominant. She's quite content being fairly low on the pecking order, usually. Her so-called Alpha is weaker than she is, though she's never fought him to find this out. She doesn't care. She's not a leader. But right now, all she wants to do is rip and tear and make this stranger bleed. Would she care more if it were Jack? Probably not, right now. Fury laces through her.
The fight, now Vanya is a wolf, is a much closer one, but being five times the mass of Vanya does offer its inherent natural advantages. The silver furred wolf has much, much more speed over Chloe, but the wounds the dark, matted animal suffers are comparatively smaller and each sweeping blow from it threatens to snap its opponent in two through sheer momentum alone, if it weren't for how she can dodge so well. This isn't a fight so easily won, though, and the monster's roars echo through the room, the battle eerily even.
The pale, ghostly woman is knocked unconscious with a single crack of Esperanza's hand.
Her blood is ancient, and powerful. Both Esperanza and Vanya can feel it coursing through their veins, filling them with vigour. Given that, it's almost heart-wrenching how easily the vampire crumples, being both weak and drained, and facing off against a supernaturally empowered foe. The Spaniard feels much, much stronger than she's ever felt before, driven by a combination of Lunacy and whatever the hell it is her captors have done to her.
She can see more doors nearby, leading to darker rooms and laboratories. But Vanya is in danger, unable to quite overpower Chloe, who remains an obvious threat nearby.
Her ears lay flat on her head, useless. Chloe's roars don't intimidate in the slightest, since she really can't hear them, though the air reverberates around her. Her nose works overtime, as do her eyes, every lunge as calculated as a feral, lunacy-ridden wolf can make it. She aims not for the throat, but for ligaments, tendons, and arteries, trying to wound the massive beast from down below. She twists and skids, darting beneath Chloe's belly to avoid the crushing blow of paws, but each time a hit lands, it slows Vanya, stunning her, weakening her, leaving her silver fur blood-streaked and matted. But this looks like a fight the much littler wolf is willing to take down to the ground, for breathing hard, bleeding, and exhausted, she keeps throwing herself back in.
(Privately to Esperanza and Vanya:)
You need to eliminate Jackson by any means necessary.
As wolves are precisely what Jackson came here to find, the signs of them within the mausoleum only serve to drive him onward. He comes practically flying in through the smashed doorway with Ray right behind him and a pair of soldiers hot in pursuit.
Ray and Jackson come across Chloe and Vanya fighting each other to what looks like almost to the death. Both parties are bleeding profusely, and some wounds are large enough to catch glimpses of bone beneath the shifting, raw animalistic muscle of the larger beast. Truly if there has ever been a contest of agility versus power, this'd be it, even if Chloe has enough speed to still be blinding, and Vanya enough strength to crush anyone without sanctuary into a fine pulp without a second thought. The arrival of the two males and their pursuers distracts the larger one, however, and priorities seem to reshuffle. Even amongst all the raw, lunatic rage the beast exhibits, it seems to be matched by pure paranoia, or perhaps just being overtly observant. Its form trembles, and then it disappears into thin air, sucking shards of glass and other detritus into the vacuum left where it was. The air wobbles, before collapsing outwards as Chloe appears in front of the two soldiers, snarling blood and spittle in equal measure.
Jackson feels confusion.
Vanya feels insanity.
Vanya feels pain.
Vanya feels bloodlust.
Steeling their resolve, the well-coordinated Temple soldiers lower their rifles at the sight of the chaos up ahead. They move as if on telepathic instinct, needing very little communication to know what it is they're about to do. In unison, they each draw a polymer handgun, aiming them into the mausoleum and steadying their shots.
The mausoleum appears to have been repurposed into a makeshift laboratory of some kind, though it has been utterly trashed by its occupants. There are two hospital beds and various expensive medical machinery scattered about. Two enormous cages laced with silver chains have been pushed against the wall, large enough to hold a horse in each. There's blood all over the cracked stone floor, staining the invading roots and vines. There's a second room adjacent, though Ray and Jackson can't quite see it yet.
She's already simply outsized, as she rages against Chloe, teeth snapping and attempting to shred the lower, less protected regions of the massive beast's body, but when Jackson also rushes in, that rage seems to quadruple. The bloodied, silver wolf whips around with a snarl, putting her back to the larger enemy in a way she would never do if she were in her right mind. She can't hear. Thus, she doesn't realise that the wolf's pathing ability has moved her out of Vanya's reach. It doesn't matter though. She roars out in fury again, spraying bloody slaver as she lunges for the dark beast's throat, her own packmate this time. Ray and the soldiers? In that moment, they may as well not even exist.
(Privately to Jackson:)
The spattered blood smells WRONG. It smells like death. It smells like magic. It's powerful and old, and in no way human — nor wolf.
Satisfied by the collapse of the vampire in the strange exam table behind the broken window, the call to find freedom claws at the back of Esperanza's mind, scraping for attention in her lunatic state, but the sounds of Vanya and Chloe's scrape are too strong. Dilated eyes lock tight, drawing long, strong steps out from the side room, careless of a snare that catches her stocking as sinew begins shifting and the split, weeping flesh of her arms stretches with sickening definition over cracking bones. The sight of undulating musculature over an increasingly inhumane skeleton becomes quickly obscured by thick chestnut fur that begins growing down her back as her face contorts and snarls.
The excessive dose of intoxicants help numb the usual pain of transformation, but do nothing to help Esperanza's proprioception or balance; she stumbles down onto all fours where her form lurches, clawing at her blood-soaked white dress and feminine stockings to free herself of the confining attire until she can launch herself at Chloe's back legs: not likely noticing Ray or Jackson in her frenzied rush.
Amidst the chaos ensuing in front of him, Ray utters two little, obvious words, "... the fuck ..." His gun raised, he does not fire, but uses the scope to bring closer anything more out of place than the wolves in a Battle Royale. Reluctance tears through him as he watches Esperanza transform into wolf form and he lowers the gun. "Fuck ..." he says again, reaching into his bag to find a single electronic collar. He, unlike the Templars, does not have a polymer gun, but is equipped at least with the collar. And silver bullets, if absolutely required.
Jackson has about three seconds to take in and process as much of this unfolding scene as he can before Vanya's whirling round to confront him. Challenge him. And then attack him. Her Alpha experiences a split-second of true and genuine disorientation, his senses as assaulted by things unseen as by the smaller silver wolf now lunging at him with an aggression she's never displayed before. Then it's instinct more than anything else that propels him forward to meet her in a head-on collision, jaws snapping and saliva spraying as it's her forelegs that he attempts to barge out from under her. Whatever madness has gripped her and Esperanza doesn't touch him, and he seeks only to subdue, not to injure.
Jackson feels reluctant.
Jackson feels resolved.
Chloe bunches up as it begins to pounce at the two Temple agents, the way its eyes narrow all but giving away that it knows exactly what trick they're about to pull. Just as it's about to lunge forwards, Esperanza tackles it from behind, even a smaller wolf being able to knock it off balance with enough anger, speed and of course, lunacy. Stumbling to one side, the larger of the two snarls its indignation, perhaps even ... panic as the two Temple soldiers remain unfettered, A bit of violent wriggling ensues as the huge, olive eyed creature attempts to roll onto its side, trying to bat Esperanza off its hind leg.
BZZZT. One naturaliser fires, finding its mark in Chloe's enormous shoulder; her size makes her an easy target to hit, and that's when she starts to shrink, fur receding to skin. The Templar who just shot her lowers his gun towards her forehead in an empty threat, as there are no bullets in there, but he's panting as he takes a wide step back, now needing to recuperate.
The other soldier is less lucky. The gun he was aiming at Jackson finds its mark in Vanya instead, who will likewise feel rude, involuntary contortions of her lupine form as she's forced back into human shape.
Jackson manages to sink his teeth into Vanya just as she starts to collapse beneath him. Her blood fills his maw, and that blood is wrong.
(Privately to Jackson:)
Jackson manages to retain his sanity, for the most part, but he does feel sharper and energised for that bite. The taste of magic and death fills his gullet; the taste of vampire blood.
With flesh ripped clear to bone in places, Vanya should already be subdued and willing to submit. But she's not. She shouldn't be moving as well as she is. But she is. And when Jackson's bulky form hits her, she lashes out with vicious, heartless teeth to try and shred his shoulder on her way down, because she goes down. She hasn't got the strength in those injured limbs to resist the force used on her. But it doesn't stop her from continuing that onslaught. Friend? Alpha? Not right now. Her eyes are wild, insane. There's no sign of any recognition of Jackson within her, at all. Her lips are peeled back, exposing every gleaming tooth, even as she's forced back into her human shape. Now, the injuries she's suffered are all the more notable; her bare body's slick with blood, the tears through skin and muscle showing off white bone. Still, she snarls yet again as she reaches up to wrap her arms around Jackson's throat, trying to push him back, maybe even throttle him. She's as lost as she is rabid and she's clearly not willingly giving up while there's still breath in her lungs.
Chloe is now completely and utterly not a match for the rabid wolf that completely outsizes her. Her screams sound far more, well, human. Not just in literal tone of voice, but also in the emotion behind them. Still, the naked, exceedingly bloody waif is far from done, and Esperanza finds the tomboy disappearing from beneath it with a small gust of wind. The sound of her screaming suddenly turns from beneath the wolf, to above one of the Temple soldiers, but sadly pathing doesn't allow her to change her orientation, and the grimy girl finds herself flat ass landing on top of the man. She's already into action, her fighting very much frenzied, rabid clawing, scraping, punching, biting, as if every second might be her last. A violent, too-strong kick smacks into the operative's gun-arm, attempting to disarm the man before she goes to tear the man's neck out with her regular human teeth, screaming all the while.
Even in human form, Chloe is a mighty terror, raining blood and fists down on the well-geared Templar's head and neck. He struggles with her, and he's strong for a human, but not strong enough. Down he goes, the naturaliser spinning across the floor outside the mausoleum. His ally priorities his safety first, which is why instead of focusing on any of the other wolves, he now throws himself fully into trying to tear her off. A silver blade flicks from his wrist and cuts her thigh — an injury that feels worse when it finds skin instead of fur, but still isn't enough to put a stop to her.
Jackson gets a latch onto Vanya's shoulder and refuses to let go even as her lupine form is ripped away to leave the naked woman behind, riding the reversal out with her as the pair go to the ground together. And as her blood oozes into his mouth, his pupils dilate and his puffing wolf-stink breaths grow just that touch fuller and heavier. But his wildness remains with focus, not unrestrained and frenzied, but bent towards a singular purpose. He tries to smother Vanya's smaller, blood-slicked body beneath his own uninjured mass and keep her pinned and contained there as she grabs onto him in answer, hackles bristling and big chest rumbling like an idling chainsaw. Everywhere in his quivering body is the command: submit. Though the she-wolf is far too gone to heed it.
Jackson feels dominant.
Jackson feels ... all wrong.
Jackson feels stronger.
Jackson feels fraying.
With Chloe back to her human form, and seeking to pummel the Templar, Ray is torn between the action of tearing her off of their supposed backup or to venture into the chaos and try to study the laboratory, now splattered with oil-slick blood. He looks to the Templar, at the man's face, then away, figuring no real alliance can be made, given their purpose and his beliefs. The flung naturaliser is given a thought, and then the collar. He leaves the naturaliser where it lays, chancing, recklessly, to enter the insane fold. His rifle is lifted again, but not at any of the faces, furry and not, he knows, but at walls, windows, mirrors. Anything that poses a weakness to bullets. "If I had to guess, we're all being watched."
Bloodied teeth gnash at the air that was so recently Chloe, sending Esperanza sprawling over the newly empty floor below her. But she's too far-gone to stay down, her muzzle flipping up in a new scan of the room: catching sight of Vanya and Chloe's human forms, pins on Ray for a long second that might suggest some distracted recognition, but the movement of Jackson onto Vanya tears her attention away. Her snarl starts in her lips as Esperanza lurches up into a predatory, offensive stalk that holds low to the ground for all of three steps before her paws catch the ground with speed, sending her on a teeth-snapping lunge toward Jackson's neck, her weight seeming determined to bowl him over and off of Vanya.
Chloe's face screws up in agony as the silver knife sticks into her back, arm twitching as her body, despite all the anger and hunger she feels, fails to follow the instructions her brain sends to it. Hissing fills the air as her skin boils against the pale metal.
It's too much.
A fight with Vanya, followed by Esperanza, naturalisation and then silver weaponry on her is, well ... too much for a comparatively young thing like her. It's clear in the way she clenches her teeth and shivers that she wants to keep fighting, that she needs to. But, her body has given up, and with a gurgle, she no longer has the strength to fight the soldier she was clinging to before.
Vanya howls out in pain, and starts to beat her fists against Jackson when simply choking him out proves an impossibility. She makes the tears worse as his teeth lodge in her shoulder, but that's not a priority right now. The searing pain makes the madness worse, not better, and so soon her blood-soaked, nude body begins to writhe beneath him; if she can't push him off, maybe she can simply slip away — if only those teeth didn't have so firm a hold on her. She shrieks again. They're animalistic cries, not humanoid ones. The vague sense of logic she'd held onto before to do things like tear out cameras? So very gone now, thanks to the pain. But! With Esperanza to her rescue, the white-haired woman takes advantage of distractions to rip herself away, even if it means tearing more flesh to do so. But she's bleeding heavily, and merely scrambles backward on all fours, dizziness taking its toll on her.
There's a dead body in the room Ray enters. A pale, sickly figure lying sprawled on a table, her throat bruised by Esperanza's might. Her bone-white arms bear needle tracks, and torn tubes of blood lie scattered on the floor. She has ashy blonde hair, and if he checks: no pulse.
He's right about his suspicion. The tech here looks efficient, but not all of it is expensive. Temple has cut corners with this place, a clue perhaps prior given by their choice to build a makeshift base in an abandoned funeral home rather than a sturdier bunker. The place is guarded with spells, but the walls don't look sturdy at all, and would surely be susceptible to a bullet or even a fist. There are numerous doors around, leading into darker rooms. Someone with his technological skills, however, could find plenty to raid right here, though the ensuing combat may be a very loud distraction for him. At least the soldiers aren't currently interfering.
Vanya feels agony.
Vanya feels rage.
Under normal circumstances, Chloe would have overpowered the soldiers, but haggard as she is, they're able to precariously secure her. One of them she damn near chokes with her thighs, and he topples to the ground. With just one strike, she nearly knocks him unconscious, until the silver knife is drawn from her leg and driven with yet more force into her shoulder.
The world is dark. It fades, for Chloe, who slips unconscious. The soldier can't quite believe what he just did, and he stays there, stooped, for a while longer, to ensure she really is down for the count.
Jackson's nonstop growling cuts off into a jagged yelp as Esperanza barrels into his side and sends him sprawling, Vanya given ample opportunity to scramble away as the vice of his jaws is knocked loose. Magic in his nose, blood on his tongue, and heartache in his chest, the Alpha clutches at the remainder of his sanity like water leaking through cupped palms and pushes himself into the rolling tumble instead of fighting against it, trying to utilise that momentum to throw Esperanza off him and into the wall.
Jackson feels untrue betrayal.
Jackson feels determined!
Jackson attempts to knock Esperanza out by throwing her big dumb wolf face into the wall with strength(3) and primal combat(2)
Vanya pulls herself up onto all fours. She may not have it in her to go through what would surely be an excruciating shift at this point, even if the neutraliser has worn off. Her footing is unsure, her legs weak, and she slips on her own blood as she backs away from the fight for a moment. Wild eyes fill with exhaustion, but that rage that fills her blood drives her on, forcing adrenaline through her system in waves that have her snarling again soon enough. Bare fingers dig into the ground, probably bloodying themselves as she seeks some sort of grip. Her eyes narrow on Jackson with undeniable intent, even as he goes tumbling with Esperanza.
With a glance toward Esperanza, Ray seems distracted for a moment, resisting the urge to try to calm her from hurting herself, or Jackson hurting her in her rage. His finger grip on the collar as if he's ready to do something about it. But the tech, and the video playing upon them, though some are just static, get his attention. While looking between these screens, he pulls out the strange device he'd pulled off the first Templar downed, running his fingers across it as he squints. He utters, in a low, unbelievable whisper, "What are they up to?"
(Privately to Vanya:)
Blood loss, strangely, makes Vanya feel jut a little more like herself right now. She might be dizzy and weak and on the verge of collapse, but the more that vampire blood leaves her system, the saner and clearer-headed she feels. Lunacy remains, but it's a werewolf lunacy. Who's that grimy black wolf she's fighting? Is that ... Jackson? It is. He's pack! HER pack.
Ray pulls out his phone to check for connection, then pulls out a separate cord that allows him to plug into one of the crummy computers. In the few years he has been part of the current timeline, he's managed to gather enough skill to at least attempt hacking into the more sophisticated computers of the time. His day, such things were dreams — big blocks of computers using nearly indecipherable punchcards. Digitally, the code isn't much different. Right?
(Privately to Ray:)
The web of deceit becomes increasingly complex the deeper Ray digs. He finds files on the CIA; files on the Vampire Court of New York; files on the Tyrell Corp.; files on the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union? Hey, that's from his timeline. Very weird. There's a picture of the dead woman behind him, whose name, according to these files, is simply 'Ghost'.
It turns out this rescue was more of a one-off. Most of the other werewolves weren't successfully retrieved, perhaps having been kept in better facilities, and by soldiers trained to shoot to kill outside the confines of Sanctuary protection. There are labs exactly like the one Vanya and Esperanza were being kept in, where werewolves have been overdosed on Vampire blood. Doctors in labcoats monitor the results, negotiating with the Temple Demolishers on how to best proceed.
They're making supersoldiers.
Esperanza's smaller form goes pitching off toward the wall, catching air and landing hard, leaving a dent in the wall where her snarling muzzle crunches under the inertia of her large frame. Blood and spit smear down the wall where she hit, and a boneless heap of chestnut fur collapses to the floor, tongue lolling out and heavy breaths pumping in her chest although the lights are off and nobody is home.
For a moment, Vanya continues that feral, furious stare. But slowly, as she sways on her knees, some of that rage seems to fade. Not all of it, perhaps, but enough that she's soon clawing at her hair again, twisting her body in on itself. It refuses; the wolf simply does not come. She's too exhausted, to hurt. She screams in the pain of it, arching and shaking as if she's going into some sort of seizure, before she falls back onto her hands. Panting, gasping, she pushes herself forward but this time, she's not aiming for Jackson. She's trying to put herself between the two wolves, her bloodied hands reaching out to pull Esperanza in toward her. She's still growling, but that anger's aimed outward now, and not at the two wolves with her. The humans? A totally different story.
To say that Jackson manages to get his feet back under himself with any kind of grace would be too generous; the wolf scrabbles and staggers his way up after Esperanza jarred his shoulder hard to the floor. But now that she's been subdued, it's back onto Vanya that his half-mad attention snaps, ready to pick up right where he left off before Esperanza came crashing in to intervene. He snarls as she moves forward, thick lines of saliva stretching from his lower jaw to dot the floor, ready to atta— but wait. She goes to unconscious she-wolf, and not with aggression. The great big bellows of his chest remain hard at work, but the rest of him goes still, his tail tall and stiff behind him as he observes.
Jackson feels ready to act.
Jackson feels painful hope.
Jackson feels Vanya...?
And speaking of humans:
An exemplary hero of a Temple soldier appears to have successfully taken almighty Chloe out. He checks several times, and is in the midst of fastening her wrists behind her back with a pair of silver handcuffs, a boot pinning her stomach to the ground by way of her back. He's confident Vanya is about to handle Jackson for him, which is why he doesn't bother harming her, and draws his pistol to now shoot at her Alpha. The movement is very casual; he's confident he's got this.
(Privately to Esperanza, Jackson and Vanya:)
Jackson and Vanya can finally feel each other's pack bond once again. Esperanza still senses a tie to Vanya (even if she didn't have one before) — but not to Jackson.
Ray's eyes scan over the multitude of data that streams as he clicks on more and more folders to open them and their files. "Holy ... fuck," he whispers. There's probably too much data for his little phone, as up to date and powerful that it is. But he tries to collect what he can. Including the names and locations of some of the other facilities. Perhaps it is to his own detriment that he is busy trying to glean what he can off the data stored. His attention goes to the room beyond the shattered glass, and his eyes narrow on an over-confident Templar. There is an audible click as he pulls back on the hammer of his rifle, and lifts it to rest on his shoulder. He sends out a shrill whistle to the man, and calls to him, "Hey, fucker ..."
Ray attempts to hit the Templar in the shoulder of the hand holding the naturaliser when he turns around with rifles(66) and ranged attack(3)
Dark fur matting with the blood slicking the floor, Esperanza's large lupine form heaves for each breath, but there are no new, overtly dangerous injuries visible to Vanya's eyes, should the smaller woman look her over when she pulls her in.
Vanya is absolutely ready to handle Jackson. Just, not in the way that the Templar expects. When he lifts his gun, the raging, half-mad, half-dead, very naked woman drops Esperanza and twists. She quite literally throws herself at the man with bloody fingers extended and teeth bared. What force of a jump she could normally make is significantly lessened by her weakened state and all of those torn muscles. She grapples at him, nails clawing, teeth snapping at any skin she can reach, as if she were indeed still her far more powerful wolf. The only ones in her entire world that her addled mind recognises are behind her. This man with the gun is all threat and she's intent on taking him down.
Two guns fire at once.
If Vanya hadn't intervened, that silver would've kissed her Alpha, but she eats it on his behalf. It goes slightly wide, grazing the side of her chest and arm, before he goes toppling into the ground next to his fallen comrade. (Chloe's handiwork.) Ray's bullet misses the Templar's shoulder, but ends up hitting his shin, which has gone flying through the air to end up where his torso was moments prior.
Jackson gets just a tiny taste of relief, a sweet tease of normalcy in this fucked-up chaos of everything falling apart. He has no idea there's a gun aimed at him until Vanya starts reacting to it, and he jolts round to sight the threat just as she drops Esperanza to throw herself at the Temple soldier. The wolf is right behind her, a flash of grimy black fur that with the intent to do the job that squared-off human teeth can't manage: rip his throat out.
Fortunately, Sanctuary prevents any such thing, and Jackson is forced to content himself with helping Vanya to shake the living daylights out of the Templar instead.
Vanya releases the Templar, not particularly to Jackson's more dominant self, but particularly because she hasn't got a shred of strength left in her. The sear of silver across her skin BURNS, and it draws another twisted shriek from her raw throat. It's one pain too many, and as she tumbles her body just goes slack. Broken, bleeding, and very, very unconscious.
With the Templar down and considering others haven't come running amidst all this fighting and general noise, Ray returns to his phone and the computer as data leaks from the latter to the former. He turns that mechanical device over in his hand, the one that looks like keys, giving it a far more scrutinised observation. He pulls the jacks out from the phone and computer and coils them up before pocketing his phone into his cargo pants.
Sanctuary or not, that Templar won't be see straight in the morning. His helmet and visor are cracked by the force of Jackson's strike, and his shredded armour becomes stained with far more human-smelling blood.
It looks like, for now, the wolves (and Ray) are in the clear. If there was any doubt left in anyone's mind about the first soldier they encountered having been bluffing, that's put to rest by the silence that now overtakes the funeral home. There's no one else here but them, as far as they can tell.
Ray, for his part, can even verify this on the security footage, at the computer he's inspecting.
It'll be about twenty minutes before Esperanza finally shifts back into her human form, still unconscious for now.
(Privately to Jackson:)
The unconscious Esperanza still smells off, more than Vanya does. It probably wouldn't be safe to wake her unless she were firmly secured — she reeks of death magic coursing through her battered form.
And once that stillness settles, Jackson finally sags and gives himself a minute just to breathe. A convulsion ripples up through him and the stitches of his wolf form are unpicked, and soon it's a big naked guy panting over the unconscious Templar. He nearly slips on a blood splatter to fall flat onto his backside when he attempts to straighten up onto his feet, but recovers just enough to make his shaky way over to Vanya, the nearest of his Packmates. Hands trembling with adrenaline and shock and something a little less natural tug the woman up into his lap. "Fckfckfckfckfckkk ..." he cusses on repeat, vowels throttled into obscurity behind the tight clamp of his teeth as he sweeps hair from Vanya's face and ... doesn't know what more to do for her and all these injuries. She's the doctor, not him.
Jackson feels gnawing concern.
Jackson feels threatening panic.
Jackson feels straight up addled.
Lashes flutter, nostrils flare, and though there's blood around her mouth, it isn't hers. Vanya isn't bleeding internally. She's definitely hurt, and she's definitely unconscious, but there's enough life in her that Jackson can probably rest at least a little more easily. But, for all her insistence that she's not weak, she probably looks a frail, broken little thing in this moment.
Leaving the observation room behind, with his data in hand, and a dead body behind him, Ray walks into the battlefield. While Jackson cradles Vanya, he is first to check on Esperanza. He kneels down to her, brushing his fingers across her wild, matted, blood covered hair from her face, taking a breath in and back out as he begins to draw her up so he can ensure her wounds are superficial. "Jack. I know a bit about dressing wounds. If you let me see." But he's still tending with careful, if not a little rough, hands, to Esperanza. His lips press to her hot, perspiration dotted forehead.
(Privately to Vanya:)
All is well that ends well. Or is it?
For now, Vanya still feels uncomfortably strong, her senses heightened, her muscles tense. There's an itch, still, to kill and hurt, but it's no longer overtaking her sanity to the point of wanting to turn on her own pack.
And yet something gnaws at the edge of her consciousness. A craving, a hunger ... for blood. Not just that of prey, but vampire blood. The physical addiction calls to her, a need that she may either choose to fight through agonising withdrawal shakes ... or potentially cave to.
Jackson visibly bristles with tension all over again as Ray, who for right now might not seem all that different to Templar soldiers, goes over to lay hands on Esperanza. It takes a few long moments of hard staring and slow breathing for him to wrestle it down. But these protective (and borderline possessive) instincts are repressed, higher thinking only barely managing to prevail over the instinct-driven mind of a threatened and territorial Alpha. "Let's just get them outta this fucken place," he whispers in a voice much smaller than what is usual for the brute, hoarse with simmering distress. There's urgency in it; he needs Esperanza and Vanya as far from all this nightmarish crap as possible.
Jackson feels like killing Ray.
Jackson feels grappling.
Jackson feels tentative control.
(Privately to Esperanza:)
Vampire blood still courses through Esperanza's system. When she wakes up, it won't be pretty — she'll be fierce, and may still need to be restrained until the incredibly high wears off. A deep well of hunger lingers long after, even once the magically induced Lunacy wears off. It's a craving for more V. She needs it, she needs it bad. She can either choose to fight the cravings through shakes and withdrawal symptoms ... or give in. But at least her pack bond returns to what it was.
Now seems like a good time to escape. Jackson and Ray are able to make it clear, taking Chloe, Vanya and Esperanza with them. As for what to do with the unconscious Templars? That's up to them.
There's a lot more in this facility they could take with them, however. Military-grade weapons, armour and silver blades, and even some magical artefacts.
Ray nods to Jackson, and, after slinging his rifle unto his shoulder, completely scoops Esperanza into his strong arms, holding her at her back and under her legs. "We should go. It looks like it's clear. But I don't trust that there aren't some others hiding. We'll have to talk after this. I —— There's some data I managed to gleam." To Jackson, his words may still come off Temple, given his body type, and skill both bodily and electronically, but his actions hopefully prove otherwise. "I want to get Esper to my place to rest."
Jackson hauls himself to his feet more smoothly now that he's had a second to recover. Vanya gets pulled up with him, and then a brief search of the space is conducted to retrieve her belongings. Ray is fixed with a hard, unrelenting stare when he expresses with as much clarity and firmness as he can muster right now, "You and me are gonna have all kinds of issues if you reckon she's going anywhere but home with me and her family where she belongs." And that's that. Considering his say to be the final word on the matter, the brute then leads the way out of the ruins, grabbing his discarded belongings as he goes.
Vanya does groan a little as she's lifted, but she remains unconscious, almost comatose in ways poor Jackson has had a bit too much familiarity with, lately. Still, she's not likely to remain this way all that long.
"Jack. We are going to have words then in some time or another. Because she is her own fucking woman, and my girlfriend. She might be your pack, but you don't fucking own her in any other way," Ray tells Jackson, not backing down from his own damn stance, despite him being some kind of Alpha. He's not his. "However, we do still need to talk about tonight, and I'll be damned if I'm not fucking coming with Esperanza and keeping an eye on her. Deal with it, man."
Jackson feels outrage.
"You can come, you fucken moron," Jackson snaps at Ray as he hauls Vanya out through the trees. With a flash of murderous warning in his eyes, he looks over his shoulder and assures Ray in no uncertain terms, "But you try telling me about my business again and I'll put your head through the next tree we pass."
Jackson succeeds in his adventure.
Ray succeeds in his adventure.
Esperanza fails in her adventure.
Vanya fails in her adventure.