Fish or Cut Bait

Cast: date: 'October 25, 2012'
place: 'Islington Sewers'
participants: 'Levi, Nadya'
synopsis: 'Levi and Nadya go down into the sewers to try and deal with a mist-demon.'
log: "So, it's after Levi's daily detective shift of detecting, approaching evening. Under the cover of darkness had been Levi's intent, even though that often invites other Gloomyness. But, more shooting, so, bonus! He pulls up in his car to Nadya's flatnothing impressive. The car seems to be an interim something until he can save up for one he doesn't hate. Levi honks his horn. Beep. Nadya can presume all of his artillery is hidden in the trunk.\n\nNadya is quick to respond, at least, pausing to lock her door before scampering down to Levi's car. Gone is the businesswoman outfit, replaced instead with jeans, a hoodie, and a pair of sneakers, and she thumps down into the seat with a puff of herb-scent. Not like perfume, more like the sorts of things you'd get out of a spice-rack. \"Ready to go, driver,\" she grins at the American.\n\nLevi nods to the woman after a, \"Hey, stinky Lady,\" comment complete with grin, and then he turns to glance over his shoulder as he pulls out, and back onto the road. His dark, long-sleeve turtleneck pulls from his wrist to reveal… the edge of a wetsuit. Yes, that's somehow shoved on underneath his normal jeans and a noticeably different pair of boots, likely more work-suited. \"Hope you got all your warding mojo prepped. I got the shotguns and the wetvac in the back, yanno, in the event Others indulge a little suckysucky on occasion, too.\" They're on the road, then. Vroom! He taps on his radio to the tune of The Immigrant Song.\n\nNadya sticks her tongue out at the comment about the smell, \"Ne poymite nakhal'nyy so mnoy, mal'chik.\" The radio is given a somewhat amused look, but not commented on, the witch instead just settling back for the ride with her hands in the belly-pocket of her hoodie, \"You're smelling the ward, yes, there's some rather strong herbs in its recipe. You planning on swimming?\"\n\nThey're riding right along, Levi paying most of his attention to the road, given he seems to be taking all kinds of sideroads that only people who ground-pound every day would know about. \"Yeah, what you said.\" Damn Russian. \"You smell like mom's autumn spice rack. Just sayin'.\" Oh, and the wetsuit. \"Insurance in case I get bit. Skin's porous, this ain't. Might stop it, might not. In any event, I stay dry an' fancy free.\" They're nearing The Area.\n\nThe row of flats in Islington is a sad sight. You don't have to be Touched to know that something is wrong with the once-vibrant block of student flats. All of the windows are dark, despite the fact that the sun has gone down. Mailboxes overflow. It looks like an abandoned street in the middle of London. The sewer grate is at the end of the street, not far from the door of Eleanor's flat.\n\n\"Well, less free,\" smirks the witch, but then turns her attention out the windows to the surrounding neighborhood. \"Just in case, if I start losing it, do what you have to. The ward should hold, but…\" Things happen. She frowns thoughtfully at the signs of abandonment as they drive along, something clicking together within the pocket that hides her hands as she fiddles with it.\n\n\"I got you covered,\" says Levi, without elaboration. He's seen all of this before, so there's no stopping until they're at the grate proper, and he pulls to the side of the road. \"Alright.\" The car's put into park, and the trunk popped. Levi thumbs over his shoulder thattaway. \"Time to gear up. Check to make sure all your brain bolts are screwed in.\" He hops out of the car and moves to the rear, shouldering a very bulky looking gym bag, and then yanking the industrial wet-vac out with a grunt, complete with battery. \"You get the grate.\"\n\nNadya clambers out of the car and follows Levi back to the trunk, giving him a hand with the shopvac, though she's not nearly as strong as he is. Once he's got everything out and settled, she nods, pulls on a set of fingerless gloves, and scoots back over to the grate, crouching to haul it up onto the street surface with a grunt of her own and peering down into the hole. \"You did remember to bring a light, yes?\"\n\nThe sewer grate is, oddly, not perfectly flat when they go up to it. Like someone went down recently, and didn't cover it over completely behind them. \n\nThe sewer in this section of the city is thankfully, well-cared for. There's a ladder leading down into the dark and the sound of trickling water.\n\nIn response to her question, Levi first tosses the woman a surgical mask, and then a mag-light. \"Water vapor,\" he says with a shrug, and then proceeds to slide on his own gloves, surgical mask, and pull out a few caution cones, which he sets around the grate. He then closes the trunk with a slam, shoulders the gym-bag, and begins rolling the shopvac over with his foot. \"Lemme go down first an' get a gander. I'ma bring down the vac, and then you can carry down the gym bagcare-ful-ly,\" he says, enunciating each syllable. He points to the bag. \"Guns.\" And then sets it on the ground beside her. Time to go down.\n\nNadya gets whapped in the shoulder by the mask, which gets her to look up and catch the flashlight with a laugh, \"Good boy, knew there was a reason I kept you around.\" Once she's got her mask in place and her light on, she nods to the instructions, \"Da. Go on, I'll be right behind.\"\n\nWhen they climb down the ladder, they'll find themselves in about two inches of water. Thankfully, it doesn't smell bad, which suggests it's street runoff from recent rain rather than sewage. So far, so good. The wall behind them narrows into a tunnel too small for humans to pass, so there's only one way to go - along the sewer that follows beneath the block of flats.\n\nThe first order of business is to get their arms in order, so Levi instructs Nadya to open up the bag while he digs in. A handgun is stowed in his back waistband, hidden beneath the shirt. There's a bandoleer of rock-salt cartridges for the shotguns, which he then slides over his shoulders. Then, one of the actual shotguns. And a mag-lite. A shotgun and a handgun remain in the bag for Nadya. \"Alright chickadee,\" he says with a grunt, shopvac still in hand. \"Let's git.\" And so he walks.\n\nNadya takes care to hand the duffel down before clambering onto the ladder herself, pausing to haul the grate back into place before joining Levi at the bottom of the tunnel. The revolver brought for her is brought out and opened, the witch pulling a handful of oddly-decorated bullets out of her hoodie's pocket and slotting them into place before snapping the gun shut and tucking it into her waistband, much like her larger companion. Then, with a laugh, she hefts the shotgun and braces it over her shoulder as she aims her light down the tunnel after Levi, \"At your back. Ride on, cowboy.\"\n\nThe feeling starts almost immediately as their feet hit the water. It's a pervasive sense of something…/something/ watching them from the darkness. There are faint lights every few feet along the tunnel's roof, but for the most part, it's dark, and well, gloomy. Speaking of the Gloom - the entrance to it is supposedly a hundred or so feet ahead. At least, that's what was in the old Watch files. Nadya especially, can feel something pushing on the edges of her perception, like something scratching at her wards, searching for a crack to slither through.\n\nLevi splashes away, moving forward. \"There's a waterproof flare in the bag, should it come up,\" he says, glancing back. \"Tryin' to shoot a shotgun an' hold a flashlight has its troubles. But the thing's gonna be just up yonder… an' did you notice the grate? Hope some poor sod didn't meet his end down here.\" His eyes then snap forward. Alright… Entrance t'the Gloom. Where ye be?\n\n\"Saw it, yeah. Suppose we'll see,\" is the response from Nadya, and Levi can probably tell that she's feeling a bit off, just from that. No jokes, no grin. But she looks more cranky than distressed, one of those jaw-forward frowns that often go along with chasing someone off your lawn. \"Remember, I can't sense things like you can.\" She plays her light along the walls and ceiling of the tunnel more than the floor, checking to see how damp they are, how high the watermarks go, as well as searching for any odd marks.\n\nThe feeling intensifies as Nadya moves down the tunnel. It feels like there's something two inches from her face staring into her eyes, but it can't be seen. For Levi, the effect is less pronounced. There is still however, a sense that they are most certainly not alone. \n\nIn Nadya's searching, she will spot something snaking beneath the water, carried along by the current, but not mixing entirely. Then, dark blood hits the toe of her boot and swirls on by. \n\nUp ahead, just where Levi's torch sweeps, there's a slumped shape up against the side of the tunnel.\n\n\"See somethin'. Cover me.\" Levi splashes ahead, sweeping his light over the downed form. Taking a breath, he extends his senses towards the victim, to detect the level energy coming from the shape. Human? Alive or dead? Regardless, best to see if it's obvious how what happened. Bite marks? Bullets? Levi steps forward.\n\nNadya is about to speak up when Levi sees it as well, \"Blood in the water. Hasn't been here long. I think this thing knows we're down here.\" Her shotgun is slung across her back on its strap before she pulls her pistol, the cylinder clicking sharply in the tunnel as she pulls the hammer back with her thumb and braces it over her other wrist, aiming with her flashlight, trying to keep an eye on the area around Levi more than the man himself. He's a big boy, after all.\n\nHuman. Dark, curly hair. All around her is a very conspicuous dry spot. The water, when it hits the edge of a dry spot, turns to vapour like liquid on a piping hot frying pan. Alive, but very obviously hurt. The blood doesn't seem to be hers - or at least, there are no visible wounds. \n\nAnd from off in the darkness, something snarls and smacks. The air around them starts to get thick and heavy with mist. The thing is practically /clawing/ at the edges of Nadya's mind. Levi too, may be starting to hallucinate - seeing things in the shadows.\n\nThe specifics of the reports come flooding back to the fore of Levi's mindthe adrenaline enough to push back the hallucinations for the moment. \"Eleanor?\" The rest of the distance is closed, and the man set does the shopvac as he reaches a gloved hand forward to gently jostle the woman. \"Watch yourself, Nadya. We gotta cover the exits so it don't scoot off. If you've got somethin' fancy, now's the time.\"\n\nNadya may or may not have something fancy. Her initial response to Levi's words is an actual growl, and then she snarls something that sounds positively blistering in Russian before lowering the hammer on her pistol and stuffing it back into her waistband. \"Keep an eye out, I need to concentrate and this mudak is chewing on my brain.\" A vial is pulled from her pocket, the stopper quickly unscrewed, and then the witch starts smearing a black, oily liquid on the wall above the main water-line, drawing a complex symbol with her fingertip.\n\nCertainly looks like Eleanor. She matches the files. The jostle doesn't wake her, but her power is still active. Touching her is like touching a hot wood stove without the heat. Skin gets uncomfortably dry and will start to crack if it stays in contact for too long. She stirs only slightly and gives a soft moan. \n\nThe mist thickens in the air around them, clouding their view. Eleanor's circle of dryness remains though. The liquid in the air hisses when it reaches the edge of it.\n\nLevi is thankfully wearing gloves, though that likely doesn't protect him but so much. He doesn't risk jostling her again, instead setting the shopvac down beside her, and hooking the hose to his belt. \"Right, it's about t'get a bit loud, Nadya. An' I'm losin' a visual!\" Then, readying the shotgun, he gives a short kick to the shopvac, which promptly turns on. Vroom! If that doesn't wake poor Eleanor, it's doubtful much will.\n\n\"Can't help with the fog!\" is the distracted response from the witch as she frowns at the symbol she's drawing, making sure to get it right. If it works. There's always that bit of risk with these things, that you're warding against the wrong type of beasty. \"Done on this side. If I can get the other one drawn, we should have a safe wall.\" And yes, she scoots right across the tunnel to start on that other rune, either uncaring of danger or hoping Levi can keep her safe. Damn crazy Russians.\n\nEleanor stirs and gives a soft moan, but she doesn't regain full consciousness. The circle around her gets wider, spreads further around her and dries up the stone ground. \n\nThe mist forms into something more solid - something foggy white, but definitely physical. The eyes - well, there appears to be three of them. The thing turns its head slightly, and the third 'eye' turns out to be an angler with a glowing mist orb. It illuminates the horrible face beyond. Its actual eyes are large and lidless, and inky black. It has a mouth full of razor sharp, silver-glinting teeth. It is, in effect, a giant anglerfish - the size of a small car, that is /flying through the fog./ As it gets closer, the madness that radiates off of it intensifies. Voices off down the corridor whisper and cackle, like suddenly the entire sewer is an insane asylum. It is watching them for now, keeping its distance. And it is bleeding - weeping something inky and black from a sudden dry patch on one side. Eleanor got her shot in before it took her out, it seems. And the only thing that kept her alive was the fact that her drying power remained active.\n\nGritting his teeth against the voices and madness clawing at him, Levi's trigger-finger twitches. Not yet. Don't antagonize it. \"Got eyes on it,\" he yells over the sound of the shop-vac. And boy does he. The big man peers at those rather inconveniently sharp-looking teeth with a frown. \"It's hangin' out for nowdoubt it's gonna stay that way though.\" He chances a glance to Eleanor. Wake up, woman. But without knowing what kind of damage she's suffered, kicking her awake remains out of the question.\n\nNadya hesitates as she makes it to the far wall, leaning against the cement and gritting her teeth, using every bit of willpower she has to shove back that gibbering chorus clawing at the back of her mind, even through her wards. It's clear to see she's not taking the proximity of the Other well, but after that pause her hand lifts to start tracing out the second rune, shaky but determined. Be damned if she's letting some jumped up fish get the better of her…\n\nIt's like the thing is pulling out the glue that binds a sane mind together. In fact, it's possible to see threads being tugged out through the mist - blue-gray filaments that snake through the thick air and past those snicker-snack teeth. And the more it eats, the less the wound on its side weeps black blood. \n\nEleanor's circle grows and hits the back of Levi's heel. As it does, he will feel a sense of grounding, as if the circle of dryness is counteracting the thing's maddening effects.\n\nLevi's jaw suddenly relaxes as that grounding feeling sweeps up his leg. Heeello. The man promptly steps back into Eleanor's personal space, and then yells, \"Nadya, get your ass over here prontothis chick, she's like astringent on steroids. For your head, too.\" He levels his shotgun at the creature, and then eyes the shopvac. Perhaps something bigger next time.\n\n\"Almost done!\" is the answering yell from Nadya, her voice a bit ragged. But she's still drawing, and hasn't started gibbering in tongues… One last swipe of her finger against cement, and then the witch bolts over to Levi, actually smacking against the wall next to Eleanor and skidding down it into a sit as she gets a grip, panting raggedly through her teeth.\n\nUnfortunately for them, it doesn't undo the damage that has already been done - but what it does is stop the thing from feeding further. Which, may or may not have been a good idea. As they run, the sluagh slides forward, teeth gnashing, its cry like a thousand insane screams. It stops at the edge of the dry spot. \n\nAnd then it starts to circle them. \n\nThe good news? It seems to be avoiding Nadya's ward line. But that could just mean it's more interested in them.\n\nLevi hops a little to the side, to avoid Nadya's dash-and-tumble. \"Jesus, woman,\" he swears, promptly darting back into the circle of desiccation with an audible slide. He hands down the shopvac hose when in reach, and then readies his shotgun at Big'n'Misty. \"Gonna try somethin',\" he says. Takes aim. And sprays the thing with shotgunned rock-salt.\n\nNadya's initial response to Levi is a shaky tirade in Russian that is probably best left untranslated, though her eyes are locked on the circling sluagh, her flashlight aimed out into the fog. She accepts the vacuum's hose with a bit of a fumble, starting to get herself settled a bit, but certainly rattled. The roar of the shotgun, even with warning, makes her flinch her head down into her shoulders and raise her hands defensively. She'll worry about trying to fight the thing once she stops feeling like she's going to vomit from induced terror.\n\nThe thing lets loose a terrifying howl that chips away at sanity even within Eleanor's protective circle. The rock salt blows right through it, leaving eaten holes in its wake. The salt radiates out from the wounds, cauterizing them. The holes start to leak black blood, and soon the sewer water looks like it's running with ink. The blood of the thing starts to eat away at the edge of the protective circle.\n\n\"Hell, yeah!\" Shouts Levi, prepping a second shot with a quick pump of both fist and shotgun. That's about the time he chances a glance down at Nadya and revises his opinion. \"Aw, shit. Man, why didn't I think t'just illegally acquire a flamethrower or somethin'.\" He grunts his disapproval, and aims once again.\" Hey Nads, either vacuum some of that shit up, or get your other shotgun ready an' help me. Doubt we're gonna get a second chance at this.\" Likely from a bad case of Dead. \"That ichor prolly burns like sin.\" And Blam! He takes another shot.\n\n\"Maybe next time,\" is the snark from Nadya about the flamethrower, at which point she tosses the still-roaring shopvac tube down to the edge of the circle to just start hoovering whatever water gets close enough. And, with her newly-freed hand, pulls her pistol back out and fires off a shot at the sluagh, disdaining the shotgun for the moment in the hopes that her fancy bullets do more than just irritate the thing.\n\nThe good news is, Nadya's bullets /do/ seem to hurt it, but it's rather like firing a pistol at an elephant. The Shop Vac sputters, but does its job of keeping the black ink from eroding their circle. Probably won't get the deposit back on it, though. The shotgun and rock salt seems to be doing a fine job of injuring it. It howls again and thrashes about, gnashing its nasty teeth inches from the circle's edge. It spins around and makes a run for the end of the tunnel, but howls in frustration when it hits Nadya's ward. And then it turns around and charges the circle, full-fury, mouth with a double row of razor-sharp teeth, wide open. And staring into its belly is like staring into the Gloom itself. Maybe it is. They never did find the entrance.\n\nMercifully, the creature's running off gives Levi the chance to yank some of the shells from his bandoleer and reload the damn shotgun. Yes, damn. Among other invectives running through his head, a few of which are actually muttered. And in Spanish. \"Ready to empty your gun, Nads. Make those shots count.\" Jaw set and mind focused, he swiftly grabs up Nadya's unused shotgun and slings it over his shoulder as well, then taking a knee, \"Now!\" He yells, leveling shotgun alpha for a double-blast, and then quickly leveling shotgun beta for another double-blast if it's Really necessary. \"I am fucking Rambo, you goddamn sonnuvabitch!\"\n\nNadya's eyes go wide as the thing wheels around and moves to charge, and she doesn't even need Levi's encouragement to drop her flashlight, just hold the trigger down on her revolver and fan the hammer like something out of an Old West film. Five shots in a quick burst, perhaps not with the greatest accuracy, but when you've got a fang-filled maw roughly the size of a car headed towards you, pinpoint accuracy is secondary.\n\nOh, it's necessary. Absolutely everything they have is necessary to try and stop a stampeding sanity-sucking anglerfish from hell. At first, the thing's charge is barely slowed. Even though it's starting to look like swiss cheese that leaks black ooze, it keeps on coming, ready to swallow them both up and send them tumbling into the Gloom - if they're lucky. The thing might just have a digestive system that is more terrifying than the other side. One of Nadya's bullets hits it right in the eye, which actually /does/ slow it for a second, but then it's coming forward again. \n\nThe next time either of them fires off a shot, chunks of the sluagh will break off. Wait, what? And then another shot breaks it apart again. It's as if the thing is made of brittle plaster. \n\nIt would be easy to miss the fact that Eleanor got to her feet sometime in the last few seconds, what with the rampaging beastie. She looks like hell. Her face is scraped, one pupil is dilated, and her skin is cracked and dry. But the circle, that protective circle, now has the fish within it. It can't move. \"Keep firing!\" cries the desiccated woman. \"I don't know how long I can hold it.\"\n\nAnd then instead of being swallowed, Levi preparing to wince… Oh hey, the woman finally freaking woke up. \"Hell, you ain't gotta tell me twice, lady,\" says he, immediately yanking from the dwindling shells on his bandoleer and reloading one of the shotguns. Pump. But before shooting, he reaches out to briefly lay his hand's upon the woman's shoulder, concentrating for a half-second. \"Take it!\" he says, though exactly what probably won't be apparent until a wash of energy flows from him into her, using that physical connection as a bridge. It visibly weakens the big cowboy, but not so much that he can't continue to fire the shotgunwhich he does. Blam!\n\nNadya scoots back a bit, bracing her back against the wall of the tunnel and fumbling out another handful of her doctored bullets. \"Last load!\" And this is where there's the trouble of not having a speed-loader, the witch having to slot each bullet into the cylinder after dumping her spent brass to clatter onto the floor. Once she's loaded, though, she actually takes the time to aim, if given such a luxury. Let's try for that other eye…\n\nThat little surge of energy is enough for Eleanor to send out another drying wave. The other two will likely need some Lubriderm when this is over - but if that's all they'll need, then this can be called a success. Each of their shots does a lot more damage suddenly. The thing's falling apart in chunks, turning to ash as it hits the sewer floor. The shot through its eye turns out to be a kill shot. The black pupil shatters like shale and the thing slumps and falls groaning to the sewer floor. It lets out one more laboured, strained breath, howls like a mad thing, then goes still. The water rushing around it starts to break up chunks and carry its remains downstream.\n\nLevi rather does look like Rambo there for a moment, what with a mostly-used bandoleer, a shotgun over either shoulder, along with panting and sweating like he just had a hard workout. Although the sweat is likely evaporated before anyone can notice it. \"Jesus Christ,\" he says with a sharp exhale, kicking off the shopvac so they can all have peace of mind for a moment. \"You okay?\" This, directed towards Eleanor, towards whom he turns. Nadya can take care of herself for the moment.\n\nNadya empties another couple rounds into the creature as it gives its death-scream, lips pulled back from clenched teeth and scowling in pain. But then it's falling apart into the water, and she slumps against the wall, letting her arms drop and pointing her pistol at the floor with a mumbled \"Proklyatuyu…\" Levi's question has he looking back up, then over at Eleanor almost like she'd forgotten the other woman was there. Oh hey, they're not dead.\n\n\"Fucking fish,\" mutters Eleanor. Then she slumps to the ground. Even with Levi's transfusion of energy, it isn't quite enough. She drops back and falls unconscious again. \n\nThe fish is getting swept away quite quickly. As its sides fall off, something glints from within its stomach. Nadya would recognize it almost immediately as a magical artifact. If they want to examine it further, best to grab it quick before it gets swept downstream.\n\n\"Yeah, I—\" Levi is about to commiserate when Eleanor slumps, and he's forced to rush forward to grab her before she falls hard to the floor and causes any more damage. Which is about the time he notices the glinting. \"Shit, Nadya, can you grab that?\" He jerks his head towards the Shiny Thing. Meanwhile, he manages to get Eleanor up into a fireman's carry, with a bit of work and grunting, given his slightly weakened state.\n\nNadya starts to reach for Eleanor as she slumps to the ground, and then something catches the light out of the corner of her eye. What… Even as Levi spots it, the witch /lunges/ out into the water and jams her hands into the crumbling corpse, dropping her revolver in her hurry. She even goes so far as to simply plant herself down in the path of water-flow to keep it from getting washed away. Wet can be dealt with, she doesn't want to lose this!\n\nEuuugh. The fish innards are a bit like reconstituted dried mashed potatoes that haven't fully re-constituted. It smells of brimstone and bile and sewer. But Nadya's lack of squeamishness yields the prize at the bottom of the box - in the form of an oblong black stone, about the size of a palm. It has an irregular ring around it in gold, with a strange script etched into it. The power it once had died with the fish, but it's the only piece of evidence they have - considering the corpse is going to get swept into the Thames in bits and pieces.\n\n\"You might want to shopvac up a chunk or two for the lab squints,\" says Levi, who is in the process of adjusting Eleanor back onto his shoulders after having packed all the extant equipment into the gym bag and is in the process of carrying it over to the sewer exit. \"We need to get this lady back home, then I need t'get that shit back to HQ so we can have people smarter than me look at it. You included a' course.\"\n\nNadya chokes back bile as the smell of the thing hits her square in the face, but soon enough she's dripping back over to Levi with her prize clenched securely in one hand and a somewhat feral grin in place, \"We should do this more often, cowboy. Good exercise.\" Heh heh, whoo, she needs a drink. \"Right, yeah,\" is the somewhat less enthusiastic response as she eyes the vacuum and the corpse, then just sighs and grabs up the tube and makes sure to get a few of those floating bits of fishbeast before switching the machine off and dragging it along in Levi's wake. \"I need a bath.\""
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