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zackrobbman last won the day on June 20 2020

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About zackrobbman

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    With all the force of a great, typhoon! BE A MAN! Get it? No?....I'm a guy.
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    Nothing I'd fight too hard for, and that is very depressing.
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    Quality Control Auto Body Technician....I'm a detailer....I clean cars.

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  1. In Zack's head, the plan went as follows: Mara slings the grappling hook up and then down on the creature. With her strength, it would impact with more than enough force to embed itself within the things squishy hide. It would then target Mara, who would throw the rope under the beast to Zack while she was concentrating on not getting killed. Zack would grab the slack and yank down from behind it before it could push the hook out, giving the flames on the coat enough time to ignite with the tar while it was being yanked deeper into the creature. He'd hold on to the rope as long as he could before it would start to focus him, but hopefully it'd be too self-aware of it's own coming demise to do so. If not, he'd just let go and run, hoping that the flaming hook would react with the things insides as it would if it were thrusted into a vat of gasoline. He wasn't sure if it would explode, but he had a hunch that it would not survive being roasted from within. It was a risky plan, but if it worked, they'd be able to dispatch of the creature without the expense of any single-use equipment that he wanted save for a possible encounter with the Tin Man. The Tin Man never fought fair or honorably, necessitating forethought on their end. While victory wasn't impossible with him and Mara up against him, it was extremely unlikely unless they knew exactly how to dispatch of him. It could be a long, hard-fought victory, or a gruesome, three-second end to their lives. Unfortunately, his plan had of course, hit hiccup. She'd slung the burning grapple-hook up and then down on the creature as he'd planned, but she hadn't waited for it to get airborne. This meant three things. One, Zack or her would not be able to pull down on the hook to force it deeper into the creature. Two, she would not be able to throw the slack to him unless she slung it overhead, which would take too much time. Third, she was now the target of the creature and was still holding the slack while trying to run around it. The chances of her getting skewered were nerve racking for Zack. But he'd surmised all of this the moment she'd slung the grappling hook into the air and thought quick. Mikey often told him that forethought was the beginning of salvation and to get good at it. Zack took the advice religiously, mainly because he suffered greatly during training if he didn't think ahead while on the move. Mara deftly dodged the creatures tentacles while sludge built up where the hook had impaled itself into it, ready to pushed it out. But before it could, and before it could get float off the ground, the same steel-beam that had struck it before came down on the spot the hook was embedded like a hammer. The ground shook from the force, Zack having swung it down as quickly and desperately as he could. The hook was practically injected into the creature, the fires attached to it beginning to really catch with the rest of it. The blow apparently dazed it again, because a few of the tentacles it shot at Mara fell limp onto the ground. Zack was scurrying away in fear while they were sill falling, afraid that his attack may not have dazed it at all and not wanting to get punched through by a parasitic appendage. Behind him, the creature's shape began to morph. It looked like it was trying to expand to account for a sudden presence within, bubbles popping on it's surface to release puffs of smoke. In short, it looked like it was having indigestion. The tentacles still extended from it's body shook and writhed as if in pain, the bulging and bubbling mass they were connected to starting to have bright, fiery spots come into view just below its surface. When it exploded, it sounded oddly wet, and the blast wasn't that much larger than proportionately sized concussion grenade. Despite being over a hundred away, Zack was still blown off his feet and into an roll. Burning sludge was sent soaring in every direction, bathing the area in coat of sizzling fire. One glob of sludge smacked Zack square in the buttocks. "AAAHHHHHH!" he screamed, his eyes going wide in pain as he felt the sludge burning through his pants. Unable to reach behind him, he dropped to his keister and started dragging it across the ground in a desperate attempt to get the sludge off. His efforts resulted in success, but not before a gaping hole was burned through to reveal his now lightly seared buttocks. "Ow! Ow, damn!" he cried as he got to is feet, trying to turn twist his head and body to survey the damage. Once again, he felt foolish for not purchasing the fire resistant trousers Mikey and created. They were expensive, but now he wouldn't be able to sit without hating it. "I-Is it dead!?" shouted Jerry, slowly peeking out from behind an upright, stone slab that was now burning from where a bit of sludge had hit it. "Did ya'll die?! Are ya'll dead?! Please don't be dead! I'm too old to get through this kinda' stuff, eh'!" "Tss! Ah-Ow!" Zack grunted as he turned to look at Jerry. Most of the street was covered in fire and so were the ruins of a few of the homes closest to the blast. He saw Jerry, but couldn't see Mara. His expression shifted to worry. "METAL LADY!" Zack called, unable to see her passed all the tall flames. "SILVER LADY! WHERE YA'LL AT?!"
  2. "WHAT?!" Zack shouted, starting to throw things at his gelatinous attacker. Anything that wasn't too brittle to break on impact got stuck in the things gooey exterior before getting spat back out in a spray of slime. He knew there'd be a hiccup in his plan, but at the start? He narrowed his eyebrows in annoyance as he tried to look around. His eyes fell on the healthy fire Mara's makeshift spear had caused earlier. The sludge it had spat out was still burning, and he'd lured the creature away from the spot. Damp or not, it was their best shot at getting the coat lit up. "JUST LIGHT IT OVER THERE!" Zack yelled as he pointed to the open flame down the street. He flipped to the side to avoid another tentacle, but another one swung into him mi-air, knocking the air out of him and sending him flying. His body smacked up against a steel beam sticking out of the remains of a wrecked home, the back of his head slamming into it and sounding a dull clang. He fell to the ground atop the burned out remains of the house. His ears were ringing and his side was exploding with fresh, familiar pain. His liver had been ruptured for the second time that day. Tired of being literally smacked around, he growled angrily and got to his feet, eyeing the surreal beast with focused, beady eyes. The creature lashed out with another sweeping tentacle, Zack choosing to duck this one to avoid another mid-air smack. The tentacle slammed into the steel beam with enough force to rip it out of the ground, a slab of concrete still attached to it's base where it had been forced up. Zack spun to his right to avoid another volley of piercing tentacles, bending down to grab up steel beam mid-spin. Despite it being eight feet tall and weighing over five times his body weight, he slung the thing at the beast at the end of his spin with a mean-spirited growl not befitting a man of his temperament or size. The concrete end of the beam hit the creature with an alarming amount of force, the concrete busting apart and the beam bouncing off of it as if it had connected with the side of a van. The force caused the creature to be knocked backwards, apparently dazing it enough to forget how to float. It fell out of the air and landed on the street with a loud squelch, cracking the glassed asphalt and sending tremors through the ground. It appeared to be a little deflated now, black liquids pooling from it's carcass. "JUST BUST YOUR LIGHTER OPEN ON THE JACKET AND THROW IT IN THAT FIRE!" Zack shouted, knowing that the creature wouldn't stay down for long. He once again found himself wishing that he'd brought Charlie instead of Clive. It never really occurred to him just how convenient a walking flamethrower could be. Probably because of how inconvenient it usually was. Just as he'd predicted, the oozing mass began to stir. He heard muffled sloshing noises as it began to inflate again, the large dent Zack had made in it getting filled back in with groups of tiny, black, veins. Zack reached within his tattered (and borrowed) cloak, his hands closing on one of the grenades (also borrowed) clipped onto his utility belt. (Again, borrowed) He'd only managed to get two from the mercenaries he and Mara had beaten up on the ship, but he figured this was his best shot with the creature still on the ground. He didn't want to use it and preferred that they kill it some other way, but he was also eager to end this encounter as quickly as possible. If another one overheard the chaos and showed up, they were done for.
  3. Zack's eyes clenched shut in response, as if he were in pain. Kind of similar to what you might do when your boss says he wants you to stay a few hours over for the billionth time so that he can attend a 'company meeting', when the only person he's meeting with is the woman he's cheating on his wife with. One would think he'd found a rhythm with dodging the incoming tendrils, but he knew that there was never any real 'rhythm' in combat. There was no beat to dance to that could help anticipate the flow of battle. Just chaos. He could plan, he could execute, but neither he or anyone else he knew, (besides his boss maybe) could decide or even determine the outcome of an encounter. He was aware that a good chunk of the reason he was alive was because of luck. The creatures attacks were not a perfect, and it was these slightly off strikes that came the closest to killing him because they'd come at an unexpected and illogical angle. Predicting reason and logic was one thing, but mistakes were both the break and bane of his existence. It reminded him of something Mikey once told him. 'A skilled swordsman fears the fool, for he knows not what the fool will do.' At the time, the saying was used to explain to Zack and Charlie why encounters with the creatures irradiated by tear energy was always a bad idea. Course, Zack didn't need to be told that, since he was near-dead on the kitchen table as Mikey performed surgery to remove dozens of large, unnatural, quills from his body. Without any anesthesia or pain killers mind you, since Charlie had decided to sell them to a drug user for some extra cash the previous week. Have you ever had someone rummage around your open stomach and intestines to remove the broken up bits of the exceedingly poisonous quills of a wolf-porcupine-pterodactyl hybrid while being fully conscious? I'd like to say it's not so bad, but even through the massive amounts of blood-loss, shock, and organ failure, the poison in the quills was just potent enough to make every nerve in Zack's body ten-times as sensitive. I'm not even gonna talk about the quills in his testicles. That day, Mikey proved to be two things. One, that he was possibly the best surgeon on the planet, and two, he was also possibly the most expensive. Forty percent of Zack's debt accumulated in that one day, and Mikey didn't seem to have any intention of giving him a 'partners' discount. Quite the opposite actually, since Mike had planned to work on his ship that day. Anyway, such an experience made him very unwilling to factor the locating of the blow-torch into his plan. They'd have to find another way, and Zack saw that Mara was of the same mind. Amidst a pack of cigarettes' he doubtlessly make a snide remark on later, she pulled out a lighter and tried to ignite it. Even if the house didn't collapse on them in the ten or fifteen seconds she'd need to catch fire to the coat, it could take minutes for the coat to be fully engulfed in flames. The fire on the coat needed to be raging for this to work, but he didn't like the idea of going outside to look for the blow-torch. If only there were some flammable liquid that they could use to douse the coat. Had such an act not resulted in him whacking himself in the face with his cuffs, he would have face-palmed in response to his own stupidity. "Okay," he began. He did not like what he was about to say next, but it seemed to be unavoidable. He should've known better, since the hard-way was always unavoidable for him at some point. While it was technically possible for Mara to this on her own, it'd be difficult to do so without suddenly becoming very porous. "I'm...I'm gonna go distract it. I need ya' to get a flame goin' on that jacket, wrap it around the hook where the sharp points are pokin' through, and lob it at the thing. But make sure you-" A tentacle punched through the wall in between them and Zack jumped back. The tentacle retracted, but the house had taken all it could. All of the support beams now broken or damaged, the house collapsed. Not wanting the creature to see Mara before himself, he dashed out the front of the building, there no no longer being any standing walls to obstruct him. The floating behemoth was quick, sending a flurry of tentacles in Zack's direction the moment he was visible. It thankfully hadn't decided to float any closer to the house while it was assaulting it, putting it at a range where Zack could manage to evade it's strikes. It was floating towards him now, completely unaware of anything Mara might have been doing behind. "MAKE SURE YOU STICK IT ON THE SIDE FACING YOU! LIL' ON THE TOP!" Zack shouted, his voice clearly nervous. If she were able to nail it, it would try to force the burning hook back out to prevent it from setting fire inside. Zack didn't plan on letting that happen this time. "TRY TO MAKE IT DEEP! AND TOSS ME THE UAAAGH!" Zack leaned far back to avoid a swiping tendril as he ran, showing is limbo prowess. "IMMEDIATELY TOSS ME THE SLACK AND RUN WHEN YA' DO!!!" He hoped she knew what he was trying to do. If she didn't tick the hook deep enough and at just the right spot, the plan was sunk.
  4. Zack was trying his best to stay focused and void the tendrils, but Jerry's extra weight caused him to be a bit off with his movements. He was bleeding from several new cuts and lacerations, some of them deep and worrisome. Amidst all the fear and pain though, he couldn't help but be a little irked at his efforts to protect Jerry. The man had taken a job for a genocidal sociopath. He had half a mind to just drop him and let Jerry be the distraction he needed to get some breathing room. But he knew he'd never do it. And he hated that. The attacks were starting to force him up against the remains of a house when something like a flaming spear embedded itself in the side of the creature. The attacks stopped and Zack took the moment to glance over in the direction the spear had come from. He saw Mara. The makeshift burning spear she'd thrown wasn't effective though. Before it could ignite from inside the creature, it was quickly shot back out in a spurt of burning, black, ichor. The burning spear clattered and rolled across the ground, the flames on the end of it now intensifying as the monstrosity began to float towards Mara. "Shoot!" Zack spat before tossing Jerry's mumbling body into rubble of the fallen house, Jerry letting out a pained grunt when he landed. "Ow!" Jerry shouted as he shakily rose to a sitting position. "Hey!" "STAY THERE!" Zack shouted, something billowing in the small mercenary's hands. Jerry realized that it was his jacket, which Zack had stripped him of mid-throw. Zack made a bee-line for Mara, balling up Jerry's jacket under his arm as he watched the woman struggle to avoid getting skewered. He had a plan, but he needed time to relay it to her. Or enough of it, that is. "SORRY BOUT THIS!" Zack shouted. He slammed into her back at full sprint while she was focused on dodging the tentacles, figuring her sturdy frame would hold up and prevent any injury. The two of them went careening through the glassed wall of a nearby house, most of it still held up by quality steel work. Tentacles followed them all the way, but missed them now that they were out of sight within the house. It still tried though, blindly lashing out and cutting through the building in an attempt to bring it down on top of them. Zack threw Jerry's balled up coat to Mara, knowing they didn't have long. "We can set a fire on the ground and try to pin it down to it. Still got that grappling hook?! We could yank it outta' the air to a flame!" It wasn't a stellar plan, but getting close to the thing would be a foolish suicide. The grappling hook was the only thing they had to apply enough force without getting harpooned.
  5. Knowing she wanted to keep everyone safe in case her plan didn't pan out, Zack nodded and kept running ahead. He wouldn't be able to lend much aid while carrying Jerry, and he wasn't exactly jumping at the opportunity to tango with something that had no business being alive. Or existing. Besides, it wasn't like Mara wasn't used to situations like this. He figured she wasn't the kind of woman that required constant supervision. Still, he kept turning his head every now and then to make sure she wasn't being killed. He noticed that Tessa was there with her and began to worry about what they were really doing. They didn't seem like the type to risk their lives for few strangers, so he figured they were doing what a mouse does when backed into a corner. Most of his instincts were screaming at him to just keep running, but he found himself slowing up. He knew he'd never be able to live it down if he ran away and they wound up dead. Cowardice was something his mother taught him to be quite useful in a pinch, but selfish cowardice was not tolerated in her household. Thankfully, Mara and Tessa worked together to get the upper hand. It seemed close for a bit, especially when one of the tar men started to envelop her metal arm in the black substance within it's rotting body. But Mara thought quickly and torched the metal arm to get thing off of her. It also appeared that the black ooze was flammable, seeing as her attacker was a flailing, sizzling inferno after only a few seconds. The remain tar man met a similar fate shortly afterwards. Zack thankfully was just out of earshot and wasn't able to hear Mara's cheesy one-liner. "Can't believe I wish Charlie was here." Zack muttered as the Jerry flailed weakly over his shoulder. The old man apparently wasn't sure if he was upright and running or not. Their reluctant guide had almost slowed to a walk, just catching up now that Zack had stopped in his tracks. Zack waited up for Mara and Tessa, there no longer being a reason to move fast and loud. "So they're not just afraid of fire." said Zack as Mara reached them. "They're flammable." "Um'zurry bou' the fire pa'!" Jerry moaned deliriously. "I didn' know!" "Gonna have to move slow unless we wanna ditch these guys." said Zack, nodding to Jerry and their guide. "So I hope that thing still has a lotta fuel in it." "Can we just stop?" heaved their guide. His face was scrunched up in pain, and he seemed to be barely keeping up even though they were now at a walking pace. "Lemme catch...my breath." "Sure." nodded Zack. Then he held out his hand. "You can just give me that walki-talkie and we'll be on our way." "What?!" the guide said, giving Zack an uneasy look. "You're just gonna have to persevere, bud." said Zack as he took his hand away. Upon further inspection, it became clear that the buildings around them were not just made of the typical stone and wood found in Forthshaven. Some were, but most of the buildings looked to be surprisingly modern and extravagant. Metal seemed to be a common material used in the construction, although most of it was now a solidified, molten puddle. Beneath him he heard the cracking of glass. When he looked down, that's exactly what he saw beneath the ashes and rubble covering the ground. He got instant deja'vu and thought back to the time he was hired to investigate the lack of correspondence coming from an under-the-table Metanite trading establishment. When he got there, the formerly stone streets and buildings were covered in fragile layer of glass. Turns out that the Tin Man had paid the place a visit for some reason, and Mikey explained that whatever he did produced so much heat that the rock had turned into glass. Yet there was no radiation, according to Zack's watch. While he was typically prone to blaming the Tin Man for anything involving mass extermination, he doubted the heartless mercenary had anything to do with what they were currently seeing. The ruined city seemed old and dank, not fresh and crumbling. Then again, very little about the Tin Man made sense. He already had power, riches, and fame, yet he continued to be a strain on everything he came into contact with. As if he just enjoyed seeing people hurt. The way he carried himself was shameless and jolly, as if he honestly believed he were a necessary evil. Most times, anyone that told Zack they were a necessary evil very quickly met a fate hundreds of times worse than death. He hungered to destroy people like this, to make them suffer things incomprehensible to the human mind. He often wondered if that was why he kept doing mercenary work instead of quitting and getting a normal job. Did he put up with situations like this just to get a shot at people like the Tin Man? Or was he just far too afraid of Mikey to even mention the idea of setting out on his own? Mikey claimed to have other partners in the past, but they all met their ends in gruesome and nightmarish ways after leaving. Then again, a lot of the partners he employed died on the job just the same. "Hell's that?" said their guide as he pointed a shaking finger at a nearby house. It was easy to miss because it's black color blended in with the blackened remains of the house, but the wet and writhing ichor that covered the mass gave it away. It looked like a giant, black, tumor that had somehow adhered itself to the front of the house, about the size of a van. Veiny, pulsating, tendrils branched out from it and wrapped around the house , black ichor dripping down to the ground in unnaturally vibrating pools. "Nope!" Zack shook his head stubbornly as walked to the other side of the street. "That's 'Grade A' Nope is what that is!" "It's shakin'!" cried the guide as he started to Jog after Zack. The mass's writhing started to become more frequent and wild, its veins pulsating faster. The remaining infrastructure within the front of the house cracked and split in response, chunks of the wall breaking free and falling away as the mass began to detach itself. But instead of falling to the ground and landing with a thunderous boom, it gently floated away, leaving a massive hole in the now crumbling house. Black, wriggling, tentacles hung from the dripping, cancerous ball as it began to float towards the group, more tentacles protruding out of it all the while. "NOPE!" shouted Zack as he started to run. A blur of licorice cut him off, a large black tentacle piercing though a house to his left with a loud crash. Zack yelped before sliding under it, Jerry slumping off his shoulder and onto the ground. Zack rolled to his feet as the tentacle receded back into the floating black mass in an instant. Without thinking, he turned and lunged towards jerry, a tendril spearing through the ground where Zack once stood in an eruption of soot, stone, and glass. Using the momentum of his lunge, he grabbed Jerry's mumbling and limp form in a roll that allowed him to evade the coming tendril that would have pinned him and Jerry to the ground. He clumsily got to his feet again whilst slinging Jerry over his shoulder, jumping to avoid another tendril that would have shish-kebabbed his legs. Now facing towards them, he was able to catch a brief glimpse of the others struggling to avoid the shooting tendrils of the thing floating towards them. Their guide wasn't one of them, a tentacle suddenly piercing straight though the man's noggin from the back of the head when he chose turn away and run. Bits of skull and brain splattered Zack's weaving form before the tendril retracted with the dead mercenary in tow. Zack felt something upon seeing the man die. He wasn't sure what it could be given what he knew of the mercenary, but it was there. And it was disheartening. The walkie-talkie the mercenary had been holding fell from his limp hand right before his body could be yanked into the malignant ball of black. The device clattered across the ground in towards the floating things direction, and Zack caught this out of the corner of his eye. They needed that device, but dodging the tendrils was like dodging bullets. He wasn't confident in his abilities even closer, and he wasn't sure what other tricks the thing had up it's sleeve. For all he knew, it could just drop down and envelop him if he ventured underneath. He figured Mara wouldn't try to get close with the torch for the same reasons. He knew retrieving the walkie-talkie was out of the question while they were busy dodging razor sharp tentacles. Ones strong enough to tear through buildings. If they took cover, they needed to be sure that the creature was only attacking what it could see. Zack held onto Jerry's body tightly as he jumped, twisted, rolled, side-stepped, and ducked to avoid getting impaled. The creatures assault was relentless though, and he found himself eventually dodging two and three tentacles at a time. It wasn't long before he realized he couldn't see Mara or Tessa. He felt his body chill as he envisioned the both of their lifeless bodies getting yanked into their oozing graves while he was too busy trying not to die to notice. He shook the thoughts from his head. No, they'd probably just done the smart thing and broke off line of site. That was why he was the only person the thing was now focusing it's efforts on. Yes, because they were in hiding and planning something to help him out! They didn't just abandon him! Or at least this is what he kept telling himself as he continued to dodge the creatures attacks. Because it kept inadvertently destroying any cover he tried to move to, he had to just keep dodging. And the creature just kept getting more and more fervent in its attempts to kill him. Zack found himself twisting and arching his back mid-air because the thing wouldn't even let up when he was airborne. "MAAARRRRAAAAAAAAAAAA!" Zack shouted as he lunged to the street to dodge an entire grouping of tendrils that punched a hole though a house and caused it to collapse in on itself. He rolled to his feet and wanted to break off into a sprint, but he wasn't sure how good the things reach was. Also, he didn't want to be faced away from it when it attacked, lest he end up like the nameless mercenary. So he turned around to face the creature, narrowly avoiding a another tendril with a clumsy side-step before beginning to jog backwards. The black mass floated after him away from the houses on that side of the street, and it didn't seem like it was going to let up..... "THIS AIN'T FUNNY MAN!" Zack shouted fearfully as he ducked another tendril. "NO ONE'S FREAKIN' LAUGHING, LADY! YOU SUCK AT COMEDY!"
  6. The mercenary's eyes furrowed in horror and he flinched back. "Nonono!" he said quickly, swishing his hands in denial. "Forget it. I'm good." "You sure?" Zack asked. "Wouldn't want it gettin' infected. Maybe we could cauterize that eye too!" "I said I'm good!" the man repeated nervously. Desperate to change the subject in case his captors weren't joking around, he pulled out his walkie-talkie and looked at the screen. "Uh...this way!" So they continued their walk, the mercenary being their guide. He moved slowly and looked around like a scared animal every few seconds, but it was probably best this way. Zack wasn't much different, fingers twitching idly in unease. He didn't like surprises that caused agonizing deaths, and he had no idea what they'd be fighting. The landscape also continued to change. It wasn't long before they were climbing and jumping most of the way to circumvent impassable walls of obsidian rock. One slip up could spell certain death, the only thing available to cushion their fall being the jagged, menacing rocks waiting for them at the bottom. Zack had a lot of experience with rock climbing even before he arrived in this world, but we exactly a professional. He'd learned to climb out of necessity, frostbite and a starving pack of wolves being the motivation that tightened his grip and sharpened his eyes. He'd never climbed a mountain while cuffed, but his abnormal strength made up for it. He made sure to keep an eye on the others in case they were having any difficulties, but they seemed fine if just a bit winded. Not that he'd be able to save them if they slipped up somewhere. That task would have to fall to Mara. After an hour, they finally reached flat ground atop one of the many mountainous formations. In fact, the ground was smooth. And tiled. "Gonna have a got damned heart attack!" Jerry cried once he reached the landing, turning over on his back. His hands and knees ached from dozens of abrasions and cuts. "F*** you!" breathed the mercenary, who was also on his back and trying to catch his breath. "I got bullet in my shoulder!" "That's new." Zack muttered to himself as he stared ahead. Sitting atop the tiled ground before them was what appeared to be an old, brick and mortar street. Dilapidated and crumbling buildings lined either side, their charcoal color and texture reminiscent of the result of massive fire. Or a bombing. Debris and charred skeletons littered the street. Zack shook his head with a disapproving look. "You remember any of this?" Zack asked, turning to face their captive. He was still lying on the ground and trying to catch his breath, but he turned his head to face Zack. He swallowed to wet his throat before responding. "N-No." he breathed. Zack immediately donned an angry look. "So if you don't remember your ship being surrounded by buildings," Zack reasoned. "Why would it be now? We going the wrong way!?" Too out of breath to reply, the man merely held out his walkie-talkie for Zack to look at. Sure enough, the arrow was pointing in the direction of the street. Zack sighed and rubbed his hands down his face. "Your squad leader must've escaped." he said in an exasperated tone. "There's no way your ship is through all of that unless...I dunno. None of this makes any sense. Maybe we're too high?" "I'll die if we start climbin' again." moaned Jerry, shaking his head. "Please...no...more climbing. I'm too damned old, eh'!" "You sign a contract with the Tin Man, this is what happens." berated Zack with an accusatory point. His eyes then became suddenly distant and unfocused. He perked his head up in alarm before taking a count of the four people with him. None of them were moving. So why was he hearing something scraping up against rock? He jogged to the edge of landing, towards the source of the sound. When he looked down, he felt lightning strike down his sternum and simmer the fluid in his stomach. Climbing up the wall and staring back at him appeared to be four people wearing the Tin Man's uniform. But their faces were all kinds of wrong. The first thing he noticed were their eyes. They were wide open, in what appeared to be fear. but they were void and black. Black tar oozed out of them and every other orifice on their face, their heads shaking at sudden and random intervals. Their bodies were bloated, and Zack could see large, black, growths bursting through their pale skin. They should have been dead, but they were climbing as if they were very much alive. "WE GOT COMPANY!" Zack shouted, turning on a heel before yanking Jerry and he mercenary to their feet. "S***!" the mercenary shouted fearfully, struggling to start a run as he watched a twitching, tar covered hand reach up passed the ledge. Not wanting to find out if these jittering things were fast enough to catch anyone in their group, Zack looked around for something to throw and his eyes fell on a pile of debris next to the remains of stone-work saloon. One of the tar filled men pulled himself onto the landing and looked ahead with his mouth agape. Thick, wide, droplets of tar fell out of his open maw and splattered on the ground. A slab of blackened concrete came flying and slammed into it's head with a wet crunch. The already brittle concrete busted to pieces on contact, and so did part of the man's head. There was no blood though. Only tendril's of black ooze already starting to reshape the missing part of the man's head. "That is SO not fair!" said Zack, feeling disheartened and fearful at the sight of his failed attack. He turned to run after the others down the remains of the ancient street, looking behind him. The tar men were approaching quickly, their stuttered movements unnatural and surreal. It looked like they were shambling towards them in quick, instant, bursts. He'd see one freeze as it was going to make a step, then suddenly appear several steps ahead looking like he was about to take another. One of them seemed to be missing his right arm. Only a black, slithering, tendril extended out of his shoulder. He and Mara would be able to out run them due to their extended stamina, but the others wouldn't fare so well. Especially after their climb. Jerry was already starting to falter as if he were about fall and tumble across the ground at any moment. He remembered what Tessa had said about them not liking fire and considered shouting out to Mara to light the way with the blowtorch as they ran to cut off their pursuers, but the crunch of the brittle wood and stone beneath their feet showed that it wouldn't work. The debris and buildings had already burned more than they could burn. They needed something fresh, but it seemed like nothing around them had been spared by the fire that once blazed across this street. Jerry did eventually lose his footing, but before his face could hit the ground, Zack grabbed the man by the back of his shirt as he ran passed and hoisted him over his shoulder. He was sure Mara was thinking too, and a cowardly part of him wanted to ask if she'd be willing to stop and try her luck with just the small shoot of flame the blowtorch could produce, but he got the feeling she'd be killed immediately. Or worse. Turned into one of them. There had to be something they could- "Clothes!" Zack shouted. "We could use someone's clothes!"
  7. Zack seemed to snap out of it when Mara moved her head into view and gave him a stern look. She had a point, and although he was aware of that point, he'd been two or three seconds away from forgetting it entirely. And still wanted to, to a degree. His mind kept sifting through the logic for an excuse, a loop hole he could use to justify what he wanted to do. It made his head hurt to resist this, and he wasn't sure he had the strength to do so. He hated people like the man before them. Mainly because of the harm they caused the world and how their very existence dimmed the hopes of people all around, but also because people like him were too spineless and yellow to take a stand against the worlds wicked and selfish ways. Yet they acted tough to hide that, which is why Zack's face stunk of saliva. The thought of not forcefully removing the man's spit glands seemed impossible, so he remembered the steps Tracey had taught him about controlling his anger. The first step was the most important and obvious. Step back. Zack took a step backwards and turned around so that he was no longer looking at the source of his ire. He then looked up to the sky and focused on getting air to his lungs. Eventually, his breaths stopped coming out as animalistic growls and he could feel his blood pressure simmer down. His head still hurt from the rush, but he no longer wished to harm the man in any way that would jeopardize their chances of escape. He smiled, realizing that he could do what he wished after they were out of here. Maybe even cash the guy in as a bounty later. He certain a contract existed for a man that stole ears from his victims. He turned around to see Mara affirming the man's cooperation. She pulled him up to his feet by his collar. "Yeah, yeah." the man nodded quickly. His eyes flicked to Zack, who was now giving him a knowing smile. Zack's soulless eyes bored holes through his skin and seemed to take stock of his every muscle sinew and bone fragment with a sick sense of anticipation. Turning away from him and swallowing he met Mara's gaze and nodded again. "I'll take ya' to the ship." he said quickly. "B-But you guys gotta' protect me! T-there's...FREAKS out there! Like...ghosts or somethin'! And the land...it keeps f***in' changing! It flat a day ago, but then I started seein' alla' THIS!" He gestured to the rocky landscape around them. "I would'a gone back for the ship myself, but I got run away by those things out there! They took my f***in' eye!" "If the landscapes changing," said Zack with a hand to his chin in overexaggerated thought as he slowly walked towards the man. "How we know you ain't just bluffin'? If the land's changing, the way back to your ship would also change wouldn't it?" "I'm not bluffin'!" the man shook his head fearfully, stepping away from Zack as he approached. "My squad leader was a heavy, and I can track his comm's signal!" The man pulled a small, black, walkie-talkie out of his pocket. After pressing a button on the side, the glass display on the front of it lit up. The display now resembled a greenish radar, and there was a single, blinking arrow pointing backwards at the edge of the screen. "We follow dat' arrow, and we'll find my squad leader." said the man as he held the device out for Mara and Zack to see. "He was at the ship gettin' crowded by those freaks last I saw him, so I'm bettin' he's still there with the ship." "So you're assuming he's dead and hasn't wandered away?" said Zack. "He was screamin'." the man answered. "And I'm not talkin' about the angry screamin'. Those things got him." "Is the ship still in working order?" "I think so, yeah." the man shrugged. Zack glanced at Mara and then back to the man before responding. "...How'd you...get here?" Zack asked, his eyebrows furrowed in suspicion. "And why'd you land?" The man stared at Zack with a slightly confused expression. Then it slowly switched to one of unease and worry. "I-I dunno!" the man shook his head. He didn't break eye contact with Zack as he did so. "I-I'm just a gun for hire, man. I go where they go and I shoot where they tell me to shoot." "Hm." Zack nodded, his interrogative expression easing up. "W-why ya' ask?" the man pushed, looking bothered. "No reason." Zack shook his head before gesturing to the man. "Ready when you are." The man's eyes frantically darted between Zack and Mara as if looking for some form of reassurance. Apparently not getting what he wanted, he started to turn around. Then stopped. "Ya'll uh..." he said as he held his bleeding shoulder. "You guys got something for this?" "You...look little young to have greyin' hair, eh'." Jerry remarked. "How old are you?"
  8. Since they'd been walking together as a group, Mara and Tessa hadn't taken cover too far away to be out of earshot to Zack and Jerry. He exhaled in relief when he heard her plan. He was afraid she was going to tell him to run out of cover and draw the enemy's fire. Like most people did. He waited and prepared to move as he listened for the tell-tale signs indicating that the tide of battle was changing. The blast of Mara's handgun and the mercenary's near immediate shout seemed good enough. Zack peeked his head out of cover just to be sure, flinching back instinctively when the mercenary fired his gun again. When he realized he was just firing into the air out of what he hoped was shock and pain, he peeked his head out again. He took in a sharp breath when he saw Mara making a bee-line in the direction of the gunfire. Worried that their attacker would be fearful enough to reorient himself quickly and light her up, Zack dashed out of cover and sprinted after her. The now wounded mercenary was on his feet when Mara and Zack got in range, but before he could take aim, he was tackled to the ground. "NO! NOOOOOO!" the man shouted as he desperately and futilely fought to free himself of their grip. "GET THE F*** OFF ME!" "CALM DOWN!" Zack shouted angrily, trying not to think about what this man had likely been doing before everything got out of control. Zack's right eye flinched when he saw a neckless of human ears around the man's throat. They seemed to be a few days old, their fetid stench mixing with the man's own. Zack felt the urge to add the man's own ears to the necklace. But, he also knew that this psycho had likely gotten here by a ship like them. Tessa claimed to know it's location, but she seemed to be getting increasingly unsure as they walked. He wouldn't be of any use to them unconscious or dead, and he figured Mara was of the same mind. "F***IN' FREAKS!" the man shouted, dousing Mara and Zack with a little bit of spittle. One of his eyes looked to be missing, the orifice now just a days-old bloody gash. His remaining one was glazed over with fear, the man seemingly unable to take in the fact that neither Mara or Zack were tearing him apart. "What the hell ARE you f***ers!? LEMME' GO!" "Geez, man!" Zack griped irritably. "We're clearly not trying to kill you! Calm down!" The man's eye finally focused on Zack's face, analyzing it for the first time. He then looked at Mara's and did the same. Slowly, his thrashing stopped and his eyebrows furrowed a little in recognition. "...Y-You're that punk." he said through panicked breaths. "And you...you're that...cyborg b****!" "Where's your ship!?" Zack demanded, not wanting to waste anymore time talking to such a contemptible man. The mercenary looked back at him, his brow furrowing a little more in contempt. "You....you ruined my life..." the man muttered, more to himself than to Zack. "You...you got my brother sent to prison....and crippled him!" "You've gotta' be kidding me." Zack sighed exasperatedly. "And you..." he flicked his eyes to Mara, his expression now decisively resentful. "You...you kept killing everyone I worked for!" "So....you're not gonna tell us where you landed?" Zack asked. "Cause we were gonna escape and we could-" PTUGH! The spit glob landed right in the middle of Zack's face, and he barely managed to close his eyes before it hit. Zack moved his knee up to the man's arm so that he could let go and use the bandages on his cuffed hands to wipe away the spit. As he did so, one would be able to see his expression slowly fill with seething rage. His mouth opened to reveal his gritted teeth, and when Zack opened his eyes to looked down at the mercenary, it quickly became apparent that he'd messed up. The man swallowed and his angry expression subsided almost instantly. Suddenly, the mercenary felt like every bone in his body was as thin and brittle as a twig. "S-S-S-Sorry!" the man said quickly, his fearful, spineless countenance making a return. "I'll tell you! I'll show you where the ship is!" Zack's balled fists began to shake as his expression continued to become even more fierce, his vision flooding with red. "I said I'll tell you!" the man cried as he began to struggle again. "I'll f***in' tell you, man! I'm sorry!"" Zack's eye twitched in response and his breathing became an audible growl. The man needed to be conscious and physically able to take them to the ship, but Zack seemed like he was about to completely forget that...
  9. Zack took one last look back at the ship as he joined them. He couldn't help but wonder what had been on top of their ship earlier. He knew he'd likely never be able to narrow it down to something specific given all the weird things that had been going on, but not knowing where it was worried him. The four of them weren't in shape for any big fights, and it seemed like they'd have their hands full with the rock's native inhabitants as it was. He hoped that his luck wouldn't do it's usual thing and cause it to pop up somewhere along the way. As they walked, Zack noticed that the rain was not only getting quieter, but fainter. It became more and more opaque as they ventured forward, the feel of it's droplets seeming lighter than it had before. It made Zack nervous. It was impossible for rain to slowly fade out of existence even though it was clearly there, so that meant they were either getting closer to whatever was causing the oddity, or they were getting further away from reality. Neither of these were good. It was well known that some tears could be endless and maze-like. They changed the properties of the world around them, sometimes going as far as warping space-time itself. He could remember reading a newspaper about a fifteen year old boy that tried to venture into an area known to have high amounts of tear energy affecting the land. No team went in to find him because it was too risky, but the kid eventually made it out three weeks later. But he was no longer a kid. He looked to be in his seventies, and he claimed that it he had in fact spent dozens of years in the area. Others had the opposite happen. They get reported missing and turn up over a hundred years later, claiming they'd only been gone a week. Hard to say which was more depressing. In the first scenario, you're likely to die before your grandparents and might never gain the chance to love. In the second scenario, everyone you knew is probably dead and you'll have to start over from scratch, starting with learning the futures social norms and technology. Most people don't want to find out and stay away from tear-affected areas, but our motley crew here are not like most people. They'd been walking for about an hour when the terrain began to change. Up to that point, the floor had been mostly level and a little bumpy. Now it was becoming jagged and varied. The came across steep drops and slopes that one could almost miss if they didn't keep their eyes peeled in the thickening fog. Pebbles and broken bits of rock crunched beneath their feet as they ascended black, jacked hills jumped over bottomless chasms. Or so one might think they were bottomless. There'd seem to be nothing below but more fog. Zack noticed that despite the rain, the rockfaces they had to climb up weren't slick. In fact, he could no longer feel the drops on his head. When he held out his hand, he felt nothing splash onto them. In fact, it seemed like the now blurry rain droplets where going right through him. He shook his head and sighed. He wondered how much further they'd have to go to reach this ship. He worried that the deeper in they were, the higher the chances of their own bodies doing a disappearing act. He wanted to ask her, but silence was priority at the moment. They hadn't run into anything strange yet, and Zack figured it had something to do with none of them speaking. Unfortunately, they weren't quiet enough. A bang and a flash of light from somewhere in the fog ahead made Zack's body tense in preparation for pain. But he wasn't the one in front. The bullet grazed Tessa's elbow an impacted one of the stone spires behind her. "Here we go!" shouted Zack before grabbing Jerry and leaping behind cover. There was lots of it to go around thanks to all the large masses of rock jutting out of the ground. "STAY BACK YOU F***S!" shouted a man in a cracked, terrified voice. He went into a coughing fit shortly after, but fired a few more shots in their direction anyway. "You-you won't get ME!" "WE'RE NOT MONSTERS!" shouted Zack. A few bullets pounded his cover in response, chipping away the black rock in a cloud of dust. Zack didn't bother peeking out of cover to get a visual, because he hadn't seen anything before the shooting started. He figured their attacker likely had some form of assistance via thermal goggles and what not, which put them at a big disadvantage. Well, all except one of them. Mara's eyes would have no problem spotting their assailant. She just needed to make sure she didn't get domed upon peeking out of cover to take the shot. Had Zack been aware of her enhanced vision, he'd be able to make a dash for cover and draw the shooters fire. Being bait was practically his job in his boss's opinion.
  10. Zack never had problems with following orders as long as they weren't to do something wrong, questionable, or perverted, but he wondered if Mara was the type to enjoy giving them. They'd just met less than two hours ago, and she was already taking it upon herself to call the shots. Either she was a genuinely good leader, or she was obsessed with power and authority. Or maybe he was just overthinking it since she was currently tending to Tessa and likely knew more about how to doctor the woman up than either he or Jerry. He hoped it was just paranoia. He was beyond tired of power gluttons turning a gun on him when he didn't fit into their fantasy. Without a word, he and Jerry ran back to the ship and began the search. It wasn't long before Jerry found a blow-torch in the tool compartment. "G-got a blowtorch!" Jerry announced. "Alright." Nodded Zack before he and Jerry exited the dropship and made their way back over to Mara. The uneasy look in Tessa's eyes seemed to recede a bit when she saw them walking over with a blowtorch. From what he'd seen of her earlier, Tessa didn't seem like the type to scare easy, if at all. Zack didn't want to meet whatever had done this to her. As he and Jerry were arriving with the blowtorch, Tessa began her story to catch them up on what had happened. Is disheartened him to find out that she was the only survivor. Cordoza and Valerie were dead. He hadn't known them that long and they'd been a thorn in his side, but he never wanted them to die. Apparently, even on the verge of death, Cordoza's main concern was that of her people. This comforted him a little, since most people became sniveling animals at the advent of death. It was very seldom he got to meet someone who believed in upholding their integrity in the face of nigh impossible circumstances. Most people were only good until it was an inconvenience, at which point they'd switch teams to preserve their own lives. He'd pegged Cordoza as one of such people since she was of nobility, but he was wrong. Once again, it dawned on him just how prejudiced he was against people with money and power. The manner of Layla's death didn't surprise him. Spire agents were loyal to their superiors for a lot of reasons, but the main one dealt with the kill switch in their heads. All agents of the Spire needed to have one implanted as a form of initiation and a sign of devotion. Upon getting the kill-switch implanted, you were essentially selling your soul and giving them the right to decide whether or not you lived or died. The fact that so many agents were willing to accept the procedure was always a point of confusion and and anger to Zack whenever he thought about it. People often complicated the concept of morality to justify their own evils, claiming they didn't have a choice. As if giving up the right to make one was better. When she got to the part concerning the mercenaries, Zack realized just how lucky she was. He'd busted a few brothels and sex-slave rings over the years, and the offending parties were usually fine with sharing. Especially when they were hyped up on some drug. When she started talking about the very oddly behaving mercenaries that attacked them and the gelatinous hunter, he felt a rock form in his gut. The mutated creatures that were naturally native to this world were absolutely terrifying and often a force to be reckoned with. The unnatural creatures and entities that came in existence because of tear-related energy were on a different level entirely, and Zack usually tried his best to avoid any work that might bring him into contact with them. The last tear related incident he'd gotten involved with still plagued him with sleepless nights, mainly because the relic caused nightmares. Ones that caused a violent brain death if you didn't keep your wits about you. "Oh, I hope yer' makin' all this up!" shivered Jerry. "M-maybe ya' were jus' hallucinatin'!" "Shut up you idiot, you'll jinx us!" Zack shot back in response as he nervously looked around, expecting a threat to conveniently materialize in kind. "And give that blowtorch to Mara. I'm genuinely afraid of what you'll do with it." "...O-okay." nodded Jerry before quickly handing the blow-torch to Mara. "And can you walk?" Zack asked Tessa. "We need to get movin' before that thing chasing you catches up!" "O, geez!" Jerry cried as he rubbed his hands down his face. "I...I...this....this is NOT the job I thought I was gonna be takin'! I don't wanna get ripped apart by no black blob!" "Really?" Zack said sarcastically. "And here I thought it was your life's dream!" "This ain't funny, ya' little punk!" Jerry glared at Zack. "Can we please just start walkin'? If the chick can't keep up, then that's not our problem!" "Hm." Zack nodded thoughtfully before looking to Mara. "Such exemplary empathy! Boy, I sure hope he don't die first." "Shut uuuuup!" seethed Jerry. "Shut the hell up!"
  11. Zack slowly turned his head and raised an eyebrow at Mara scornfully. "Yeah, real funny." said Zack, wishing he knew enough about Mara to have a retort. He'd heard of her in conversations with other mercenary's and a few criminal circles, but nothing he could call incriminating. From what he'd heard, she was a actually pretty proficient in the field. Then again, not getting killed was ninety percent of a mercenary's necessary qualifications. He didn't like that she was being called up by powerful officials from powerful cities while he had to look for his clients in bars, dark-alley's, strip clubs, and bathroom stalls. One guy even had him come to the basement of his mother's home, and he had to make up an on the spot story about his shield being an intricate cosplay of a hero no one knew. Jerry looked over to Mara with a perplexed expression. Was she really just going to let him have a weapon? Wasn't she worried that he'd turn it on them the moment he got the chance? Or was she just smart enough to know that such an action would be incredibly stupid? Not only would he die brutally and quickly if he missed, but even if he managed to kill both of them, which was a long shot given his lack of experience with murder, he'd be stuck on this rock alone with whatever was native to it. With the both of them herding him on into the fog, he'd at least have someone to outrun if something strange turned up. "Uh...y-yes ma'am!" said Jerry as he watched Mara stalk over to the cockpit door. When his eyes met Zack's warning glare, he swallowed. For a laughing stock, Zack had a very unnerving gaze, as if his eyes were...screaming. It dawned on him that there might be a reason Taizuko's goons hadn't got to him over the passed few months. Upon opening the door, Mara wouldn't be greeted by anything resembling a large beast with razor-sharp claws and glistening, blood-stained canines. The bay area was empty, save for two gas masks that were dangling from a hook on the far wall. No bodies were on the floor, not even the two Zack had seen before. The only thing hinting at their previous existence were the bloodstains, a small pistol in a corner, and a vibro-blade that was still stuck in back wall from the initial fight. Zack listened for any noise above them or around the ship, swallowing and trying to think up a plan of action if their hitch hiker showed up. Upon doing so, he immediately noticed a few things. The sound of the rain was...faint. He could see the droplets pouring down just outside the open bay door, but it sounded like they were far away. He also couldn't hear any wind, which didn't add up with the direction and force that the rain was being blown. Even the sound of the drops that were hitting the ship were faint. Jerry pointed at the gun and looked at Zack and Mara. Zack shook his head at the knife and nodded at the gun. Pulling the knife out of the wall might make noise, and despite the lack of thumps from atop the dropship, Zack wasn't positive it was just the three of them on the ship. He wanted to go outside and take a look to calm his beating heart, but he feared that doing so would wind up accomplishing that goal in a permanent way. Quietly tip-toeing over to the pistol, Jerry bent down to pick it up. He figured the wetness he felt on the handle was just rainwater, but when he realized it was actually blood, he shuddered a little. He'd fired a gun before in the past, but only at the instruction and permission of a weapons expert. He didn't like the feel of it in his hand, and he worried that the blood was filled with some kind of highly infectious disease. He didn't know what drugged up psycho's did with their free time. Zack quietly grabbed the two gas masks off the hooks on the back wall, handing one to Mara. He had no idea what was going on, an he figured this was one of those 'better to have it and not need it' situations. But as he was handing it to her, his eyes locked onto some movement in the fog outside the open bay door. He took in a breath through gritted teeth as he felt needles in his chest. He expected the shape to come running at them with impossible speed, but it was approaching slowly. The figure was human. A woman by the look of it, and she seemed to have a limp. Jerry noticed that Zack, (and likely, Mara) were staring at something behind him. Shivering, he spun around and aimed his pistol in front of him. "AHH!" he shouted before clenching his eyes shut and squeezing the trigger. There was no gunshot. Just a clink signifying that the weapon was empty. Zack exhaled angrily before snatching the gun away from Jerry and giving him another glare. Zack didn't like itchy trigger fingers, and the figure was close enough for him to make out. The woman was wearing a Norkotian uniform, and Zack could just barely make out Tessa's silvery hair in the rain and fog. "Think she was with us earlier." said Zack as he squinted to make sure. "Her names'...Holt? I think?"
  12. Jerry didn't hesitate, pulling the control stick to the side as soon as he heard Mara's order. The dropship turned a full 180, causing Zack's feet to leave the floor and sling upwards towards the ceiling. He hung like that, still gripping the pipe and looking down at the broken cockpit window. He gazed down into the foggy oblivion, expecting to see something falling towards it. He expected to hear something feral let out a shrill roar as it fell to it's doom. He got neither of these. Knowing that this particular dropship wasn't designed to be upside down for long, Jerry pulled back on the throttle and did a second 180 to get them back upright. He did so just in time to veer left of a billboard advertising imported animal pelts. Zack's feet landed back on the floor, but he didn't let go of the pipe. "I didn't see anything drop." said Zack as he fervently shook his head. "I didn't hear anything drop. Do it again!" "What?" Jerry narrowed his eyes, still looking ahead. "Sonny, we almost died the first time! This aircraft can't maneuver while it's upside down!" "That thing is still on the ship!" said Zack, letting go of the pipe to gesture wildly. "...I don't hear nuthin'." said Jerry after a brief pause. "Ain't no way something could've held on with such short no-...when did it get so foggy?" "Hm?" grunted Zack, looking outside the window. It had gotten foggy. They could barely see anything in front of them passed a hundred feet. The fog had a strange, blueish tinge, likely caused by the anomaly below. "How far up are we?" Jerry responded by quickly tapping a finger on a rectangular piece of glass encasing the ships altitude meter. "Altitude ain't changed." said Jerry as he shook his head. "We're not in the clouds." "Maybe it's not workin' right." said Zack before stepping over next to Jerry to inspect the meter. "I've uh...also been flyin' for years." said Jerry, now nervous with Zack so close. "I-I'd know if I flew up higher." "So we just flew into some rapidly formed, localized, fog?" Zack deadpanned. "S-sir, there are buildings floatin' around in the sky." Jerry stated plainly. "Sudden fog ain't really-" "AHH!" Zack screamed, a mass of stone missing the dropship by a few feet. "Didn't even see that!" Jerry huffed, his heart having skipped a few beats. This entire day was filled with jump-scares one right after the other. The fear Jerry had accumulated in the last thirty minutes was almost as bad as he time he got call from a man that claimed to be his son. Well, his son and a mass murdering psychopath who blamed his actions on his fathers absence. One of the benefits of being a pilot was that you spent a lot of time in the air, where crazed children borne out of wedlock couldn't get to you. As easily. Figuring that he wasn't lucky enough to survive another close call, Jerry let up on the throttle until they were moving forwards at about ten miles an hour. "I-I think we should um..." Jerry began as he nervously massaged his nose. "I think we should land." "On what?" Zack asked as he gestured out the window with his head. "There's nothing-...oh." Zack's eyes narrowed on a large mass up ahead through the fog. It looked to be flat enough to land on, and through what little they'd be able to see, it seem to be occupied by any thing. No buildings. No street lamps. Nothing. But the top was flat, as if it had been purposefully leveled out for traversal. "I dunno'." Zack shook his head. "Somethin' don't feel right about this. It don't look like part of the city." "Well uhhh...we're almost outta' fuel." said Jerry as he briefly pointed at the dropships fuel gauge. The pointer was below E and small 'LOW FUEL' indicator was lit up right below it. "I think something might'a breached the fuel tank when we almost smashed inta' them buildings." "Well, when ya' put it that way..." After landing the dropship, Jerry switched off the power and let the thrusters die down until they could no longer hear them in the roaring rain. Through the cockpit window, the black, rocky slab they landed on just seemed to go on forever into the fog. It made Zack uneasy, and he couldn't put his finger on why. "...Soo....what now?" asked Jerry, turning to face Zack and Mara. "We just gonna...continue on foot?" "Well...." said Zack with a shrug. "I guess. Even if we were able to seal up the leak, I doubt we'd be able to find any fuel on this barren...rock." Zack looked over to Mara. "Any ideas?" he asked. "And don't ask me to pee in the fuel tank! A guy told me to do that in some rich guys car I was being paid to deliver, and it ruined his fuel injector! Didn't get paid, and the geezer put a bounty on me for it!" "Wait, wait, wait..." gestured Jerry. "You're the guy that pissed in THE Taizuko Seijin's Vector Z-12?!" "WHY DOES EVERYONE KNOW ABOUT THAT?!" Zack yelled angrily. "Gee Willikers!"Jerry guffawed. "You're like a celebrity, eh! Only instead'a people wantin' autographs and interviews, they're a bunch'a hitmen that want ta' cut'cher balls off, shove em' down yer' throat, an' hang ya' in town square by yer' entrails!" "That was very specific." said Zack with a worried expression. "Oh, boy!" said Jerry excitedly. "If I weren't so afraid'a bein' associated with ya', I'd ask for yer' autograph! Bet it took real balls ta' do that! And I'm not sayin' that ta' be funny or anything." "...." "You know...because you might get'cher balls cut off." "THANK YOU....for clarifying that." said Zack as he massaged his eyes.
  13. (Picture ain't showin' anymore for some reason. Will try to fix.) @Kingofgames12 -LEO ULT CHARGES AVAILABLE: ___ ___ ___ ABILITY UNLOCKED! NEON GRENADE (Good Karma) - Explodes and suspends enemies in the air for a short while. (Can currently only use five per day) STUN SHOT (Good Karma) - Charged Neon shot that briefly stuns enemies. When combo'd with the Neon Grenade, it's an instant take down on smaller enemies. "I am in agreement, Mista' Orange." Chris responded before turning and gesturing for them to follow. The goons Leo had subdued glared at them as they stepped over and around their satirically helpless, bond forms. A few even spoke to Leo as he passed. "Ain't no savin' this city!" said a bald man who had a glassy eye and several missing teeth. "Specially if you ain't got the balls to kill!" "Why's everybody gotta' be a sore loser?" muttered Chris as he opened the door to the truck and peered inside. Amongst all the beer bottles, empty cigarette cartons, and what appeared to be a mound of pornographic magazines in he passenger seat, he spotted what looked like a detonator on the dash. "Hm." he grunted before reaching out to grab it, being extra careful not to touch anything else. The detonator seemed like the type you'd pair with some C4, but there was a small piece of tape on the handle with the word 'Gate' written on it in faded black marker. "Alright!" said Chris as he held the detonator out for Leo and Eliza to see. "Open, says'a'me!" With that, he pushed down the button at the top of the device and flinched a little. Why? Because part of him suspected that the detonator has been labeled incorrectly. But nothing blew up. Instead the, large, barbed gate leading out of the gangs territory opened up with a loud, humbling screech. It was clear by the deafening sound that the door was poorly maintained and hadn't been opened in a long time. Some of the decaying corpses in the barbs at the top of the doors finally came loose and fell to the ground, making Chris wince a bit in poorly repressed sorrow. He wondered if they'd have been there at all if he'd done things differently. The sight they'd be greeted with once the way was open, wouldn't be too comforting. Instead of green pastures and happiness as far as the eye could see, they'd see more, dilapidated city. Even worse, there were about dozen thugs staring back in their direction. Their faces resembled horrified astonishment as their manic eyes perused Leo's handiwork. It wasn't difficult to figure out who'd done it, seeing as Chris and Leo were the only ones standing and didn't look at all like heartless criminals. "HE'S A BIO-TERRORIST!" shouted a subdued thug as he angrily wriggled his body. "HE'S A F***ING BIO-TERRORIST! SHOOT!" "Crap!" shouted Chris before he and Eliza immediately ducked behind the old truck, which Chris knew wasn't good cover. It's old, rusty frame would do almost nothing to stop the oncoming gunfire. But it was the only cover they had the time to reach. Chris's mind raced as he tried to think of something, but there was only so much he could do with nothing else to break the line of sight and get better cover. It was up to Leo. But as the thugs would raise their weapons, Leo would start to feel strange. Time would seem to slow and the world would suddenly become blurry. His body would feel like free-forming molasses as he felt something new unlock in his mind. Visions of a new ability. He saw himself engaging the group of armed men before them, using his neon-run to dodge the incoming fire and draw it away from Chris and Eliza. Then, when he was within range, he formed a bright neon ball in his hand and slung it out towards the thugs. The ball landed right in the midst of them and exploded in a flash of orange and blue neon, blowing the thugs away. But they didn't die. Instead, they just seemed to be suspended in the air, their flailing body's moving at a much slower speed than the rest of the world. Then, while they were still suspended, Leo shot a volley of charged neon blasts their way. Each suspended thug that the blast hit shuddered as if being electrocuted, convulsing as they felt the icy tendrils of the neon energy coursing through their veins. Then they fell to the ground, limp and unconscious. And then, as if with the snap of a finger, he was back. But he'd feel different, somehow knowing exactly what to do to generate the neon ball he saw in his vision. How he'd use it was up to him though. The blast radius of the ball didn't seem to be that big, so he'd need to be accurate and think ahead. And he had very little time to figure that out, seeing as the thugs at the gate were now less than a second away from firing.
  14. Zack looked around for anything he could grab onto, his frantic gaze fixating on a pipe by the far wall. He rushed over to it as quietly as he could and grabbed onto it. His rattled nerves caused his grip to be just tight enough to make the pipe creak ever so slightly. Something about being bitten into and ripped apart by some kind of animal just seemed far more mortifying than getting shot, blown up, or stabbed. His boss had made it a point to set Zack up on jobs that got him 'acquainted' with the wild-life native to the planet, and Zack learned really fast that there was a reason the Spire never tried to set up shop in lands uninhabited by humans. "O-okay!" Jerry nodded, his hands becoming even shakier. His eyes kept flicking up to the busted window Zack had come through, his ears listening hard in case the metallic thumps started heading it's way. He'd never been this scared in his life, which he felt was a big deal since he often flew injured combatants in and out of gunfights. He figured that the reason why had something to do with the fact that he could not see a way out of this. Below was death, inside the ship was death, and outside the ship was death. "Father always told me to avoid the number three." Jerry muttered as he heard more thumps echo throughout the cockpit. "Thought he was talkin' about women!" He waited nervously for Mara to say when, trying to resist the urge to make the maneuver early.
  15. "No!" Jerry answered quickly. "But I-I-I'm not sure what would make you do that! I uh...don't know what you guys want!" "N-no." Jerry shook his head. "And I don't think they belong ta' the Tin Man either. Least...not legally." Just then, the cockpit door opened and Zack stepped through, causing Jerry to lurch a bit in his seat. "Searched the place and didn't find anything game-changing." he said as he gestured behind him with his head. "Unless you consider a love letter to the Tin Man of any impo-" Before Zack could delve into what he'd found and make some kind of joke that would doubtlessly be in poor taste, the sight of two colliding buildings in the distance made his words catch in his throat. Two fairly large buildings that were quickly reduced into massive chunks of jagged brick that were falling towards them. "OH, BOY!" shouted Jerry as his eyes went wide with shock. He maneuvered the stiff controls the best he could to avoid the debris, causing Zack and Mara, who were apparently too cool for seatbelts, to get thrown around the cockpit like the 'fishy' in Darla's zip-loc bag in Finding Nemo. Zack collided with Mara few times during the fiasco, grunting irritably every time he smacked his head against the cyborgs unusually hardy body. Jerry let out little shrill cries as he struggled to avoid hitting one of the heavy slabs of stone, the smaller ones smacking into the ship and wrecking his flight pattern. Despite all of that and his constant ducking to avoid getting hit by either Mara or Zack's flailing bodies, Jerry was able to navigate through what could have easily been their sky-bound graves. The ordeal left his skin pale and his teeth gritted, his hand squeezing the control handle(?) as he tried not to think about how insanely lucky they'd been. The ship seemed to be in working order despite all the damage it'd sustained from smaller debris, but he guessed that it's durability was why the Tin Man chose to 'requisition' these dropships in particular. "I think my agoraphobia just got worse." Zack breathed as he shakily got to his feet. "I almost fell out that hole in the window like six times!" It was after saying this that Zack started to hear the familiar sound of rushing wind and pattering rainwater through the open cockpit door. He turned his head to see that one of the bay doors, likely due to the ships abrupt turns and twists and the fact that Zack had forgotten to lock them and the fact that he'd dented one of them with a goons head, was wide open. Only three of the men he and Mara had dealt with remained in the bay, the rest of them likely sliding out the open door. "There goes most of our equipment." said Zack as he quickly left the cockpit to shut the door. But he stopped as he neared the handle and looked outside. Shielding his eyes from the rain as best he could with nigh-indestructible hand-cuffs on his wrists, he narrowed his eyes to peer through the thick, damp, torrential fog. The other two drop-ships were no-where to be seen. "Hm. Unfortunate." he shrugged. He was about to reach for the handle when something on the interior edge of the door caught him off guard. At first, he'd though it was just a gouge in the metal where a rock had hit, but further inspection proved otherwise. The gouges were narrow, and there were four of them. All lined up right next to each other and curving around the edge of the door to the outside. Zack dawned a worried look as he continued to look around. On the floor just a foot away from him were more odd scratches, except these were surrounded by blood and what appeared to be fresh gore. "...What in SAM Hill?" he whispered to himself as he followed the claw marks off the edge of the bay. A small part of him wanted to investigate a little further, but the dull thumps he heard above him made that part nonexistent. Something was on the roof of the dropship. He resisted the urge to call out to Mara as he began to back up to the cockpit door. He did so very slowly, his blood running cold when he briefly saw what appeared to be a man's freshly severed foreleg get flung from the top of the drop-ship and passed the open door before disappearing in the fog of the rain. Once he was in the cockpit, he slowly, quietly, shut the door. He then turned to Mara with with a shell-shocked expression. "There's something on the roof of the ship." Zack whispered as calmly as he could. "Something big with claws." As if on queue, they'd hear thumping and scraping noises above them, as if something were moving around on the roof.
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