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War IS The Answer!

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On 1/10/2021 at 1:47 PM, Tyler said:

"Right!" she pulled it off her belt, "We gotta, wait... where's the blowtorch...!?"

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.

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Mara hadn't even gotten a flame to flicker when the creature attacked again, forcing Zack to dive away and also causing the building to begin to collapse. Mara had to quickly grab the jacket and roll aside, as beams and chunks of ceiling came crashing down on the spot she had just been occupying. She had to move even further to avoid more collapsing debris, but for some reason one of the outer walls, perpendicular to the one Zack was now exiting through, was holding sturdy for a moment, and the fallen beams created a triangular shelter she could use for temporary cover. She could still hear Zack shouting back at her, trying to relay his plan and instruct her on what to do. She didn't quite understand the necessity of tossing the slack of rope to him, as they were not too far separated in physical strength (they probably needed to arm wrestle after this to see who was the stronger) and there was a lot of risk in attempting to transfer the rope.

But first thing was first, she had to get the darn jacket on fire, and that proved far more difficult than one would think. After wrapping it around the hooks and tearing some of the barbs through the jacket, so it wouldn't easily come loose, she began messing with her lighter again. But even once it finally came to life, the jacket did not seem to want to burn. The humid atmosphere was no doubt part of the problem, and to top it off, the jacket itself was rather damp.

"Ugh, why'd that pilot have to be such a sweaty bastard!?" Mara growled, trying again and again to get any part of it to ignite.

She could hear Zack struggling outside, likely growing more and more impatient by the second as she repeatedly failed to complete her end of the deal.

"THE DAMN JACKET IS TOO WET!" she yelled back to him, "I CAN'T GET IT TO LIGHT!"



Meanwhile, not far away...

For several seconds after finally rolling to a stop, Tessa just lie still at the bottom of the caved-in basement, wincing in pain and trying to catch her breath. The glass from the window had stuck into her in several places, including her arms that were now exposed thanks to sacrificing her army tunic earlier. Nonetheless, she was alive, and the monster seemed to busy chasing Zack and Mara to bother with her. If it killed them though, it would probably come hunting for her, and she didn't have any means left with which to fight it.

"Uggh..." she groaned, finally sitting up after what simultaneously felt like far too short and far too long of a time.

To her right was the sloping pile of rubble, which would allow for her to ascend back to the surface if she needed to. But to her left was the gaping maw of the open basement, just beckoning her to enter if she dared. Unfortunately, it was pitch-black beyond the dim light that shined down through the hole in the ceiling above, and so entering it meant groping blindly in the dark. That was a big NOPE, especially knowing what lurked in this hellish landscape. But just when she was about to make a poor choice and try to ascend back to the surface, her foot bumped something that caused her to double-take. It looked like some sort of glow-rod, not quite a flashlight but rather a kind of elongated lantern. It was banged-up and covered with gunk, but upon snatching it from the floor and flicking the obvious power switch, it showed itself to somehow be still functional.


Not questioning the boon, Tessa now realized she could enter the unseen depths of the basement. Not just could, but she probably should, because maybe there was a back way out to escape, or maybe some sort of weapon or tool she could use against the monsters. Gathering her courage, and what was left of her strength, she slowly crept into the blackness, the ancient glow-rod bathing the room in a cool, bluish light.

Much of the level looked unremarkable, though much more intact than any of the buildings above. There were some piles of rotten wood and unidentifiable artifacts of rusted iron, but much of the material was built of plastic or some type of metal alloy that seemed resistant to corrosion. But curious as that was, what Tessa did not expect to find amidst the disordered ruin was a table, two chairs, a cooler and several piles of deliberately organized salvage. A non-functional lantern sat in the middle of the table, and it was joined by some alloy tools that looked like they'd been in semi-recent use.

"The hell is all this?" she uttered aloud, staking-out the odd little site.

It was almost as if someone had been living there after whatever the occurrence of whatever disaster befell this town. But they weren't here now, whoever they had been, and it was likely they'd been dead for some time. Or at least, Tessa only hoped it had been a normal human who could die, and not some sort of abomination that somehow developed enough intelligence to organize a miniature salvage camp like this.

Regardless, she examined the site for anything of use, noting that many of the old tools were actually remarkably advanced in design, despite their appearance of years of wear and tear. One of them looked to be a small, hand-held soldering tool, which Tessa quickly snatched up and shoved into her belt. She wasn't even sure if it worked, but something else caught her eye that she wanted to investigate; a vertical slit in the wall that appeared to be some sort of recess. Upon closer inspection, Tessa found it to be a heavy sliding door that led into what had been a sealed, walk-in cooler. Of course, it had been left slightly ajar, so the seal no longer applied, but it probably had been sealed at one time. As she shined the light around the interior of the cooler, she found it was full of something that would have put Clive McTeague into a fit of joy.

Alcohol. Loads of it.

There was everything from beer, to wine, to vodka and various other concoctions that Tessa didn't even recognize. Most were no longer labeled, as any label made of anything but plastic or vinyl had long ago disintegrated. Many of the corks had also rotted away, leaving more than half the bottles open and filled only with puddles of putrid moisture that was more water by now than the original contents. Luckily, many were sealed with metal foil, plastic and even some sort of synthetic wax, and these appeared to be perfectly preserved. Without much regard to what could be (and in fact, were) millennia-old artifacts, Tessa grabbed a big, wide, bottle of whiskey and wrenched the synthetic cork free. She then took a long swig, finding the whisky had a poor flavor, but was nonetheless refreshing to someone who'd been hiking none-stop without water for a day and a half. It also was comfortably warming to someone who was down to their muscle shirt in a damp, cool climate that chilled the bone of even the well-dressed.

"Thanks up there, if anyone," Tessa saluted the sky with the bottle, before taking another swig.

She then stepped back out of the cooler, only to hear the sound of Zack and Mara's screams echoing into the basement. It was a reminder that her momentary safety was still very temporary, and that her companions were battling to the death to stay alive. If she only had some way to help them, maybe she could turn the tide...

Tessa looked down at the whiskey bottle in her hand, then back at the cooler filled with prime, undisturbed, hard liquor.

"Well, I've always wanted to do this..." she muttered, before getting to work.

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On 1/13/2021 at 12:40 PM, Tyler said:

"THE DAMN JACKET IS TOO WET!" she yelled back to him, "I CAN'T GET IT TO LIGHT!"

"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.

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Mara wasn't able to see Zack real well through the surrounding wreckage of the fallen house, but she didn't need to see him to know what he was talking about. There was only one thing he could be talking about, and Mara at least knew the general direction that it was in. Gathering up the items, she propelled herself forward and blasted her way through the wreckage, sending splinters of wood, chunks of brick, and shards of glass exploding out behind her. The flesh wounds to her body didn't feel pleasant, but luckily most of the wreckage was frail from the years of decay and rot, so the actual damage was minimal.

As she sprinted across the street, she caught sight of Zack hurling the beam and concrete out of the corner of her eye. It was an impressive feat of strength, only further motivation to test her own against his, if they both survived to be able to afford time for such a luxury. Either way, she had resolved to trust Zack and whatever plan he had concocted. He'd trusted her, and a team only worked if that trust went both ways.

Upon reaching the puddle, which was slowly burning down at this point, she lowered the jacket into contact with the flames in hopes it would ignite. But it was still slow, as the moisture needed to be boiled out of the fabric before the coat itself could truly burn.

13 hours ago, zackrobbman said:


Right, the lighter fluid would help get the fire going far quicker. Mara pulled out the lighter and smashed between her metal fingers, allowing the fluid to pour out of the cracks and onto the jacket. She then shoved it back into the fire, which went up in a bit of a whoosh upon contacting the small patch of fluid. It wasn't much, but it did its job. Now came the second part of the plan, which was to get the darn thing hooked into the entity.

Speaking of which, the monster was starting to recover from the blow that Zack had dealt to it, which meant she needed to move quickly if she wanted to reduce the risk of it dodging or something else happening to screw things up. It was down right now, and this was the best and easiest shot she was going to get at hooking the darn thing. Once again taking off into a sprint, she readied the burning end of the grappling hook and let it fly once she was in close. It sailed slightly over the top of the beast, which was what she wanted, as it gave the hooks more real-estate to drag across and dig into. With a tug, the hooks began to dig in, and the burning coat was already starting to spread flame onto the surface of the oozy blob. Now Mara just had to try and hold it tight while getting the slack over to Zack somehow.

But throwing a rope, or a cord, was not exactly the easiest thing. She had to be closer to him, and had to make the toss precise to avoid the thing getting tangled, batted out of the air, or just falling short of the mark. Thus, keeping it tight as possible, she began running around the beast. Naturally though, it did not appreciate her presence, nor presence of flaming jacket being pressed against its body. Several tentacles shot outward, trying to skewer Mara as she ran, while at the same time the thing did its best to try and eject hooks from its surface...

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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?!"


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 Mara wasn't even aware that she screwed up, or frankly that it wasn't part of the plan for Zack to grab the steel beam and drive it into the creature to secure the grappling hook more solidly. Communication in the heat of battle was never perfect, and it was fortunate that Zack was able to improvise despite what had gone wrong. The entity's efforts to protect itself by ejecting the flaming debris were fully thwarted thanks to the beam, and the flames themselves were forced deep into the midst of a giant fuel source. While being smothered in liquid, even flammable liquid, might normally smother a flame by cutting it off from oxygen, nothing of the sort happened here. In fact, something seemed to be building-up inside the creature instead.

"Well, that's one way to do it," Mara remarked, before realizing the creature was starting to become violently unstable, "Oh..."

In a flash, she dove for the nearest wreckage, as the Zack was already retreating away from the creature in the opposite direction, fast as he was able. Mara didn't start as soon, and didn't get a full head of steam, but she was just fast enough to dive through doorway and roll around the corner before the blob erupted. A surprisingly strong blast-wave shattered much of the building Mara was hiding in, while burning black grease went splattering in every direction, painting the street and ruins with burning goo. The wall Mara was taking cover behind collapsed, burying her in a mound of brick and petrified wood.

On 1/18/2021 at 8:15 PM, zackrobbman said:

"METAL LADY!" Zack called, unable to see her passed all the tall flames. "SILVER LADY! WHERE YA'LL AT?!"

Dinged-up and coated in dust, but ultimately uninjured, Mara powered her way through the debris and back to the surface. Bits of fire were everywhere, forcing her to watch her step carefully as she moved to exit the building.

"I'M FINE, KID!" she shouted over the fire and distance, "IS THE THING DEAD? THERE AIN'T ANYTHING LEFT OF IT, RIGHT?"

Where she came out was much closer to Jerry than to Zack, and she was able to wave over to him to indicate her location. They'd have to take a detour around the flames to join up with Zack, but that seemed a minor inconvenience considering everything they'd had happen to this point.



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