December 22, 2018 at 12:14 am #13124
Sian accepts the bag from Al and fades off a bit farther into the treeline, readying her sacred knife as she moves. She will trust to the advanced camouflage capabilities of the suit she is wearing to assist in keeping her hidden.
260December 22, 2018 at 3:35 am #13126
I frowned a bit as Al volunteered me to come out of the woodwork with him. My FBA, cloak and the highly illegal full auto shotgun were exactly the kind of gear that these border patrols did not like to see. But then, there is nothing like the present – and I made a point of squelching their little PAN. At least for the next five minutes no-one would be able to call for help. My ammo select had switched to non-lethal gel, before I followed Al, weapon in the back holster.December 25, 2018 at 7:58 am #13203
Stepping into the open, Al shouted, “Now it’s y’all’s turn. Ol’ Joey don’t as a rule take orders from unidentified voices, but seein’ as we’d already eyeballed ya as the law, then we’s noturally an’ wholeheartedly compliant.
Al was already looking for the sniper – the position was hasty – up a tree at their one o’clock. Al grinned straight up into the Crockett’s scope as the other three men emerged – the squad leader with the shotgun at their twelve o’clock, the other two men at their two and ten, five meters between each man. Identifying themselves would be academic, as they sported non-reflective unit insignia of the Sioux miilitary on their SUPAT digital camouflage fatigues.
“Well that’s better. They’s simply all manner o’ misunderstandin’s arise from lack of identifyin’ oneself. An’ a misunderstandin’s the last thing we want. An’ by ‘we’ I mean any of us. So lemme meet ya half way. Joey Salesco. Work mostly outta Salish lands. This here’s my client. Now if this is about our permits, reckon we’ll have this sorted in a jif.”December 25, 2018 at 12:40 pm #13209
I nodded to myself as I heard Al’s story. It had the benefit of explaining why I was armed – litterally and figuratively – for bear. I was aware that sweet talking wasn’t my strong suit – but I pretty well knew what would intimidate a bunch of hard nosed Salish border guards, so I tried my luck.
I had opened the visor and smiled.
“Greetings. Maybe we shouldn’t be this loud out here. We’ve been following the trail of an Ursus Piasma Shardik for the last three hours. A speciment which happens to have in it’s digestive tract a certain piece of equipment which it acquired in conjuction with the lower arm of a colleague of mine.
I’m very sorry, but time was of the essence so we couldn’t get this squared with the authorities beforehand.”
Through my trodes I send a quick message to the little coven of highly skilled mages: <<If anyone of you is good with illussions, the roar of a very, very large bear would be nice. If these guys are clever they’ll take our money and let us go after the bear alone – and look a few days later if there is anything left of us. There should be soundfiles of the Shardik on the Matrix.>>
“Anyway, here’s my identification: Pier Ecorcheur, security consultant for Siemens NA.”December 25, 2018 at 1:48 pm #13210
Alessandra had pulled a fast, quiet fade the second they had started talking about evading the patrol and decided against flight or tunneling. She was just…gone, between one second and the next. No chanting, no gestures, just disappeared. A few seconds later, there was a bubble of silence around her as well, muffling her footsteps. She may not have been much for woodscraft- oh sure, she could move quietly, but she didn’t know how to step through twigs without breaking them or that other stereotypically elven drek- but that didn’t mean Art couldn’t compensate for what nature had not provided. She followed Sian, skirting around the patrol, keeping an eye on the confrontation as best she could through the foliage, in case things went south and she needed to atomize some poor slot.
When she got Shrike’s message, she smiled grimly. She could do a bear. She’d lived in the blood wood. Bears, she knew. Alessandra closed her eyes for a second, pulling her magic together, and created the illusion of the biggest bear she could imagine. It wasn’t quite a Shardik, but only because she didn’t know if those things occurred around her, but it was huge, and the roar was a deep, bass sound felt almost as much as heard. She added rustling and the snapping of twigs and branches to convey the illusion of movement. The illusion was a goodly ways off from the little meeting of minds happening out there, so it was doubtful they’d see it well, if at all, but as she strove for verisimilitude, she made the illusory foliage around it shift in response to its equally illusory movement.
December 25, 2018 at 7:34 pm #13214
- This reply was modified 5 months ago by BrickyardBabe. Reason: Bear!
Ilario had sauntered back over to Haydee, who was grinning wickedly, about to say something snappy in response to the ‘pig’ comment, when the new voice was heard. Immediately, the half-genuine offense disappeared, and a hand shot out to grasp the girl’s arm as he pulled them both down into a crouch behind the bushes.
They both listened for a moment before Haydee began readying a spell in her free hand. Ilario’s quickly covered it, interrupting the focus, giving the girl an exasperated look and a shake of his head. He then motioned over his face, his eyebrows raising expectantly.
Haydee responded with a glare at the interruption, but then rolled her eyes at the request. She acquiesced, however, linking her arm with his, and then they, too, were gone from sight as her concealment kicked in.
They were both ready and waiting, should they be needed, but it seemed like Al and Shrike and…whoever it was that made that horrible roar, had it covered for now.
December 25, 2018 at 8:15 pm #13217
- This reply was modified 5 months ago by Foxglove.
The squad leader had kept his eyes on Al and Shrike, but the two men flanking him had instinctively glanced around at the mention of the piasma. And then, despite half expecting it, had jumped (just a little) at the sudden roar.
“Thar she blows,” Al said, scratching his nose idly. “Now, this is business not pleasure fer us, so seein’ as how y’all are here, perhaps we jist leave ya to yer duties. Unless yer mission takes ya elsewhere, in which case I reckon we can do our bit inna public innerest. Now, if it’s a matter o’ huntin’ permits an’ the like, well, out Salish way the patrols is empowered ta take payment inna field…” He shrugged, one working man to another. “…It’s the corp’s dime, so…..”December 26, 2018 at 4:59 am #13224
I nodded and thanked whichever deity deigned to gift me with a teammate able to create illusions when necessary.
“I’d be happy to chat, but there are pressing concerns right now. So if you don’t mind, I’ll pay the permit right now. No idea what’s the going rate right now, so lets say just 10.000 for each of us.” I fished two of the emergency credsticks from my pocket and tossed them to the leader. “Keep the change. The beast is nearly on us.”
The leader gave a sign with his hand which I interpreted as: ‘The mad keeb is dying anyway, no need to make a fuss about this. Also, my cheekbones are by far the most expressive, thank you very much.’
Maybe I was interpreting a bit to much into the gesture, but at least the guy nodded and their team was pulling back – noticeably away from the roar.
Now all that was left was faking the scene for the spy drones.
Moving away from the border guards, I still noticed the icons of the drones hovering in place. I let myself go to ground taking a shooting stance, before going full VR. The timing would be critical, but luckily there was a handy trick to subvert multiple cameras at once.
<<I’ve got to do some video editing. Would be great if we could have some shapeshifting action, so I can work from a template.>>December 26, 2018 at 10:22 am #13235
Sian laughs. >>Shapeshifting I can do for you. One bear coming up. Please do not really shoot me, no matter how tempting.<<
She casts the spell and changes her form to something closely resembling the picture of the bear that she had downloaded from the matrix after Al had brought it up. Complete with roar, Sian moves through the underbrush.
261December 26, 2018 at 11:27 am #13238
Al thrust himself into the role with zeal. “Well alrighty, then, let’s git this show on the road,” he said. Al figured the better it looked in the first place, the less it would be down to Shrike’s editing – they guy did not strike Al as the artistic type.
Determined to be out of direct LOS of the squaddies and hopefully not on all the cameras at once, he charged into the underbrush toward the sound. Figuring he’d make this recording of his “death” the stuff of songs and legends, he emptied his rifle at Sian’s charging form (well, he actually fired only three shots, as the bullets he used were not cheap). Firing point blank, any observer aside from most cutting edge ballistics analysis programs would be convinced he hit the bear, while Sian herself felt the burn of the bullet skirting her pelt. With each successive shot, Al’s face went from confident, to serious, to angry. As the bear closed the distance completely, Al made a hopeless, defiant attack swinging his rifle like a club at the gigantic form before being bowled over by the monster. He doubted he’d have trusted Ilario or Alessandra yet to faux maul him, but the way Sian had had his back in Boston, his trust was absolute. Only as the beast’s right paw pinned his shoulder (gently) to the ground and the huge maw reared back to bite his face off did he have thoughts like, “What if changing into an animal unleashes her bloodlust?” and “What if her motor control in an unfamiliar form is less than perfect?” but by then it was too late. The transformed alien’s hot breath burned his face as the jaws closed lightly on his head and he let himself go limp as Sian shook his body.
All Shrike would need to do would be to add a bit of blood.December 26, 2018 at 4:51 pm #13245
It was a damn good show. All I had to do was enlarge Sian’s bear a bit, add copious amounts of blood and not move myself.
<<Al, tell Sian she has to carry you off into the undergrowth. I’ll be following you in a few seconds, like the fool I represent.>>
I smiled again. Shardiks were not only massively armored, extremely fast, super aggressive and could kill an armored man in one swipe, but they also had a paralysing howl, that can stun prey at really unopportune moments (for the prey).
Now the border guards had evidence that such a beast was around here – no way they’d go near here before they didn’t get air support.
All I had to do now was keep editing the feed until there was an opportune moment to let the drones lose us from sight.
<<We need to get under heavy tree cover so the drones have a plauslible reason to lose us.>>December 26, 2018 at 5:48 pm #13250
Getting Shrike’s stage direction in his ear bud as Sian shook his head from side to side, Al felt like Christiane taking his lines from Cyrano. Then, telling Sian to drag him into the woods, he felt like a pro wrestler deciding the next bit of choreography with his ‘opponent’ while locked in a clinch.
Either way, gentle as she tried to be, it was not without considerable bruising that Al’s horizontal journey across rock and root came to a blessed conclusion. <<At least pick up my rifle on the way after me, will ya?>>December 26, 2018 at 6:53 pm #13254
Sian is having a bit of fun, tempered by a real desire to not harm Al more than the little required to be realistic. The smell of his human blood is clearly a distraction, but she had fed only a couple of days earlier and is able to resist biting the man’s head off as she drags the limp body away into the underbrush. When she thinks she is far enough away, she gently places Al on the ground and lets out another great roar, hopefully convincing the border patrol guys that pursuit should be high on the list of Very Bad Things To Do.
She remains in her Shardik form and waits for the others to gather. After all, it is easier to sustain this spell than to have to cast it again if the other team decides to follow them. It crosses her mind that she will be quite naked when she does drop the spell and that she will need to return to collect her armor and pack unless someone else brings it along. She is far less concerned with the nudity than with the potential loss of the pack and its life-giving supplies.
262December 26, 2018 at 7:17 pm #13257
Al continued to play dead in case drones were still watching.
For his part, he was less concerned about the disposition of the bag of explosives he’d given to Sian than with making sure she was still in his line of sight when she dropped the spell.December 26, 2018 at 10:59 pm #13268
Shrike approaches the bear and Al and whispers that all is clear and that the watcher drones have disappeared in the direction that the patrol had gone. The huge bear gives Al an evil grin before Sian discards the spell, turning into a very naked vampire. She gives the prone man a short wave before her form dissipates into mist. She follows the path she took, returning to her armor. Regaining her natural form once again, she quickly dresses and slips into her armor before picking up her pack and Al’s bag. The trip back to the others is without incident and she carefully hands Al his explosives.
Looking about, she nods her head. “That was well done by all concerned. Now, how do we avoid that patrol as we move forward?”
263December 26, 2018 at 11:18 pm #13270
Alessandra rippled back into visibility a few steps away from Al as Sian walked off, stopping to admire the naked vampire’s backside as it disappeared back up the path before looking at Al. “Nicely done.” She complimented him. “You played mauling victim #1 from an old flatvid perfectly!” Her tone was amused, but it was gentle mirth, not meant as an insult, and she smiled as she said it.December 27, 2018 at 11:22 am #13293
“Yeah, we better hurry. There is an even chance that those guys will call in a chopper with a very big rifle to hunt down the Shardik before it goes to ground somewhere. That means we have to move through the thick underbrush and do it fast. I hope everyone has their facemasks ready. According to my maps, there is a small sulfuric hot water spring about 10 miles from here. Animals generally avoid those due to the smell and it’s well screened by trees and rocks. An ideal place to rest a bit and let the search go by.”
I replied while studying the AR map.December 27, 2018 at 11:33 am #13294
Al grinned at Alessandra’s well-justified homage. “All in a day’s work fer a master Thespian,” he acknowledged without a hint of false modesty.
Following after Shrike, he dug his mask out of the bottom of his satchel. He very rarely had any call for it, but waiting for a patrol to leave the area was something that could easily exhaust his internal air supply.December 27, 2018 at 11:53 am #13296
Sian nods to the others and brings her mask down over her face again. Truth be told, she has been traveling with it down for most of the trip in order to avoid exposure to tree branches. She winks at Alessandra and turns to follow Al.
264December 27, 2018 at 2:29 pm #13300
After all had gone quiet, and the all-clear had been given, Haydee released Ilario’s arm. She kept the concealment over herself, leaving her lover to his own damn devices. This, however, was expected, and Ilario shifted his perspective to rely on his ability to move quietly through the brush as they both made their way back to the rest of the group.
”Indeed! Well done, all!” He chipped, having come into the conversation about the time the compliments were being given out. ”Though, I must apologize for not being able to chip in. This sort of deception is not exactly by bag.”
Then, Shrike was suggesting their next move, and Ilario nodded in complete agreement, and then grinned, ”The Demon Springs, it is! Lead the way, Man of the Maps!’ he said, reaching into an inside pocket in his coat to bring out his own respirator.
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