The Green Hunters

Cast: Cedric, Decker, Porter, Crispin
Date: 24 January 2013

Cedric takes a few Watch members and allies on a field assignment.

East End

The streets get smaller here; the buildings, closer together. While there's the stray Starbucks or the like, this is the working class end of London, certain parts of which still resist gentrification even with the upscaling efforts in portions like Canary Wharf.

There is some tourism here — Whitechapel and Aldgate house much of the Jack the Ripper spots — but you're more likely to find a local (pub) or a chip shop than you are a clothing store, and even in the twenty-first century, the area still has much of the same working-class feel that it had in the Victorian era.

Green space is less prominent here, and many of the side streets branch off into single-lane alleyways. Altogether, the East End is not explicitly dangerous in and of itself, but non-locals should keep an eye on their wallets and avoid talking with strangers.

It's late evening in the East End, and most of the houses in this quiet suburban street have buttoned up for the night against the cold and passersby. A damp chill hangs in the air, but that mercifully means it isn't as cold as it was the other night. The street itself is quite peaceful and would be undisturbed if there wasn't a young man walking up the middle of the road, heedless of auto traffic that might want to come through here. One of Cedric's gloved hands is shoved into its pocket as he follows a trail that only he can see, back up the middle of the street, eyes roving to the ancient trees that line the road. The other one holds a near-universal cigarette, from which he takes an occasional drag. Those who know him well would realize that he is dressed for trouble - black jeans, Docs, and a dark hoodie under his usual black jacket, now ripped at the right shoulder. Oddly, he's opted for black-rimmed glasses this evening that make him look something of a dork, and he's got a black backpack slung over both shoulders that is clearly purchased and designed for hard use.

A few feet behind Cedric is Decker, out on his first field assignment as a trainee of the Watch. He's here to see how things are done and to learn the ropes about what to expect and what not to do. His eyes scan the area around them as he moves down the street, keeping pace with Cedric as he listens to the sounds of the night for anything out of the ordinary. He remains silent for the most part, observing and keeping an eye out for the demons that might come after them. He's dressed in all black, while not exactly combat ready as Cedric's gear makes him out to be.

Porter is keeping pace with Cedric, but he's along the side of the road. Moving from tree to tree, he scurries along, avoiding people and keeping his head kind of low. "Are you sure that you are smelling something, Mr. Moseley?" he asks, loud enough for Cedric to hear him. Porter is wearing a black fitted suit, a skinny black tie and light gray shirt. He's carrying a bottle of water.

Crispin Oliver isn't a Watch member. He's not even a trainee. He is a friend to them, though, and his status as the custodian for the Hollow Tree gives him at least face recognition with most of the local Watchfolk. It doesn't give him access to patrols, though, or to information the Watch has. It's for some other reason, then, that he's using those long legs to catch up to Cedric and his cortege. He's dressed reasonably well in a wool peacoat, skinny jeans, and a black turtleneck, and as he draws level with the others he gives Cedric a quick nod: "Thought you could use an extra hand."

There is A Feeling in this neighbourhood. No strange warm breezes and living stick monsters, but a sense that something is in the air. That it can be felt so acutely is worrying, indeed. A sense of being watched, a sense of…unease.

"May as well call me Cedric, Mr Larue, if we're to be working together," Cedric answers Porter tightly, flicking ash off the end of his cigarette before taking another drag from it. He's paused in the middle of the street for a moment to consider the question, which allows Crispin to catch up. "Mr Oliver," he turns around at the greeting, "what in the bloody fuck are you doing out here?" His tone, however, doesn't suggest that he's sorry to see the man. "I've …." Suddenly he stops, the cigarette hand dropping to his side, his shoulders tensing as he looks around.

Decker continues to move along with Porter and Cedric, pausing as they do once Crispin makes his appearance. He glances the man over slightly, but soon returns his attention to the area around them as Cedric speaks to the man. His face starts to become slightly more uneasy as the feeling of eyes on him start to get to him. His eyes search over the area, trying to find the source of the uneasy feeling.

Porter lays his hand on his holstered weapon. He tilts his head a bit, "This man is a friendly, Mist— Cedric?" he asks as Crispin arrives. He rolls his shoulders, "Do you feel that?" he asks then, not waiting for an answer to the first question.

"Oh, I'm like a bad penny," Crispin replies with a crooked grin. "I always turn — " Quotes from Indiana Jones aside, the curly-haired man suddenly stops dead in his tracks. His face contorts as if he's been kicked in the gut and he takes a sharp, pained breath. "Beast," he breathes. "Black beast. Teeth. Great gaping…" Fingers curl as he drags them along his face, opening his eyes and looking around at the others with Cedric. His eyes focus on Decker, bright and shining, and he swallows hard: "What's your name, then?"

Something strange happens the further they all walk down the street. Something odd, sonically. Like they're in a large room instead of outside. Echoes are strange. Spatial sense feels…off. It's as if there are walls around them, but visually, nothing has changed. There are however, no lights on in any of the houses, and the light coming from the streetlights is oddly…flat.

"This is Decker Kincaid," Cedric nods to Decker, although his voice has become tight and tense, moreso than before, his words clipped. His shoulders tense as well, and he takes a long drag off of the cigarette, then finishes it and dashes it to the ground, putting it out with the heel of his shoe. He cuts off the explanation, though, and eyes Crispin closely. "Where?" He hasn't looked around him yet., and Porter gets the barest nod in response to his question.

Decker's attention turns to Crispin as he speaks about the beast, an eyebrow raising slightly as he looks towards where the man is looking, but not seeing anything. He keeps trying to find the source, but returns his attention back to Crispin as he speaks to him again. "Uhhh… Decker…" He offers as Cedric gives a full introduction of him, getting more of an uneasy feeling as the sounds around them start to feel more and more off. "Something doesn't feel right…" He says, mostly to himself.

Slowly walking out into the street, Porter makes his way to join the group not that things seem to be starting to get hairy. As he reaches them, he lays his hand gently on Cedric's shoulder for just a moment, and then nods to Crispin, extending his hand, "Porter," he introduces, though his eyes are glancing around them even as he offers his hand.

"I saw you, Decker Kincaid." Crispin's voice is low and careful, and though his volume is not high, he still manages to make himself heard. "I mean. I see you now, but I saw you. You're. I think. I think you're being hunted, and why do I have tunnel vision? Is anyone else…?" He looks at Porter's hand and looks suddenly wary; glancing around, he squeezes his eyes tight briefly before giving it a shake. "Crispin Oliver. Something here is very bad. And hungry, I think."

The smoke from Cedric's cigarette doesn't whisp away on the breeze like it should. Instead, the residual smoke floats directly up. No draft at all. It's still cold, but the kind of cold you get inside an unheated house.

Then, there are echoes. Echoes from all directions. Then, whispers, but they're not human-sounding. It's like there are creatures just out of sight, coordinating with each other in whispers.

Then, from the shadow of a garbage can, a black creature surges. It snaps its jaws - all jaws, no neck, with wild orange eyes. It's the size of a medium sized dog, and it's in a full-out run for Decker's heels.

Since when is Cedric leading one of these? He doesn't have a lot of time to wonder how that happened, though, or think too hard about it, or really to do or say anything at all in response as the rubbish bin sprouts an attacker that goes after Decker! A couple of paces away, he pauses only long enough to unzip his jacket and let it and the backpack fall to the ground, followed by jerking the muffler off with one hand and tossing it after the jacket. "Ware!" is all he has time to get out as the fun begins.

Decker's attention stays on Crispin at his words, a look of confusion coming over his face. "You saw me? What do you mean you saw me? The demons are hunting me. For escaping." He asks before he pauses as the sounds of the echoes and whispers become audible. Unsure of what it is, he instinctively uses his ability to shift himself to stone, the asphalt beneath him cracking slightly at the extra weight his new stone skin adds. He scans the area, trying to find the source, unaware of the creature coming after him until it is almost upon him. He swings around his arm, trying to hit the creature before it's on him.

Porter draws his pistol, answering Cedric's shout, "Right there! Can you not see it?" And with that, he begins firing at the creature.

That's the tricky thing. Crispin's unarmed, pretty much. and while he's quite a potent fellow, he's not so superb at blasting or hurting anything. His head whips left and right, though, and he jumps away from the fight — and the darkness. "The light! They're hiding in the shadows; more, more! They don't like the light! They never do!" He fumbles in his pockets for his keychain, pulling out… oh dear. Pulling out his keys. There's an LED flashlight on them. It's better than nothing? It's… possibly not useless?

The creature has jaws like a crocodile. It clamps down on Decker's stone arm. It can't bite through, but that doesn't seem to be its aim. A wave of nausea and a feeling of weakness radiates from the point of contact. The thing's body jolts as the bullets strike its hide, but it's not enough to make it disengage.

Cedric will remember what happens when a Touched is completely drained. He saw it with Vegeir.

And true to Crispin's warnings, more creatures take shape from the shadows. They're different sizes and they start to close in, circling around the cluster of Touched. Herding them close together.

Oh, Cedric sees where they're coming from well enough, and he doesn't bother replying to Porter. He snaps out orders, barely knowing where they're coming from, his voice more than rough around the edges - it's now a dark and evil-sounding snarl, but it's still recognizable English. "To the cemetery - RUN! Don't stand, they'll drain you dry! " With one hand, he grabs the backpack, jacket, and muffler, and takes off running, in the direction indicated. He uses the pack to knock creatures away from him as much as he can, swinging it this way and that. There isn't time for the other option…

Decker lets out a soft growl as the creature clamps onto his arm, starting to feel the wave of nausea and weakness immediately as the creature makes contact. He starts to use his other hand to punch at the creature a few times before he tries to pry it off of him as Cedric gives the order to run. Wither or not he's able to pry the creature off, he starts to run in the direction of the cemetery.

Porter rolls his eyes at the orders to run for the cemetery, "Really?" he asks, shaking his head as he turns and follows Cedric. He may find the order annoying, but he's making no hesitation to follow them.

Crispin is moving quickly, but not so quickly that he can't see where he's going before he goes there. He's keeping an eye on the others, shuddering and nodding his agreement to Decker. "Beat the thing off you! There's — there's something else out there… green. Big. Green. Lanky. Leave them alone! Beat off the dogs, but the…" He gulps a breath. "Hunters in the dark. Keep to the light. Keep the dogs at bay, but let the hunters hunt unmolested. Don't offend…"

Light does seem to do the trick. Wherever Crispin's pen light hits, the things shy away and skitter to where it's darker. The one attached to Decker's arm is bruised and broken enough to release its alligator grip. Some of the dogs are knocked back and they are able to put space between them and the dogs. But the street seems to never end. The turnoff for the cemetary never materializes. The same dozen or so houses repeat, as if they're enclosed in some frozen bit of time and space.

The creatures Crispin spoke of do emerge. They detach from the trees. There's four of them. They're eight feet tall with no visible legs, bodies covered in deep, earthy moss, faces hooded - or flaps of skin that look like hoods. Their hands each have four fingers, and each extend into long daggers.

The dogs seem to speak at the creatures, though their mouths don't move. The hunters click and hiss back at the dogs. Then, there's a sudden, sharp cold breeze where all was still before. The hunters launch themselves at the dogs. The dogs turn and charge. The claws of the hunters slice through the dogs like a hot knife through butter. The slicing through the dogs' flesh seems to cauterize as it does. A foul odour clings to the winds as the dogs are sliced down.

There's a clue in Crispin's words, but Cedric hasn't got the time to think too hard about it at the moment, all his attention focused on clearing a path to the light. He does in his path stay where it is lit, looking back to make sure the others followed, but as the dogs turn aside, he doesn't hesitate. "Let 'em go!" His breath comes hard as he pelts, but after a couple of repetitions, he slows, panting, and turns to look back at the dogs and the hunters.

Decker finally manages to get the dog off his arm and he turns his full attention on getting away from the creatures, running as fast as he's able to, but is slower with the added weight. He continues to run, noticing that they're not really getting anywhere, coming to a stop only when he catches up to Cedric and the others, dropping his stone skin ability in order to save his energy and trying to catch his breath. "Now what do we do?" He asks Cedric in between breaths, his eyes turning back to where they came from and to the hunters and the dogs.

Porter looks around, eyeing all of the creatures and the hunters. "I do not think we do anything. Those," he gestures at the hunters with his gun, "seem to be killing those." He glances at Crispin, "And you know about."

"Hunters of hunters," Crispin babbles, his eyes going bright and wide. He reaches for Porter, hoping to dissuade him from pointing that gun at the dagger-handed creatures. It might not be much of a weapon, his flashlight, but he shines it into dark places and in the direction they're running. "Just don't let them bite you and I think you'll be fine," he breathes. "We just neeed… an anomaly. A break. Someplace in this that isn't a perfect copy of — hah!" His arm swings around, throwing the light this way and that. "Find a crack. Something broken. A seam; that's what we need… light in the seam. Take it into dark places." And though he's babbling, it… might make sense?"

The battle rages on. One of the four creatures is surrounded by the hounds, being snapped at and bitten as it lashes out. The other hunters skulk about, making sushi out of the hounds. The humans seem forgotten in this battle for the moment.

The crack the seam that Crispin is searching for is a few feet ahead of Porter. A dark line in the pavement - too straight and too deep to be a naturally-occuring crack.

Even as tight and tense as Cedric is, it most certainly does make sense to him, and he tries not to watch the fight going on behind them, his eyes following Crispin's flashlight to … what? His eyes rove the streets, but all looks too perfect to him, and he turns back to the others, his expression a withdrawn mask, looking to see if they've seen anything.

Decker's attention is firmly fixed on the hunters and the dogs doing battle, not sure what's happening anymore. He's finally brought out of his trance as he hears Crispin's words and he starts looking for anything out of the ordinary, but with the nausea and weakness from the bite, he's not having a very easy time focusing.

Porter simply holds his ground, unsure of what the plan is. He looks from Crispin to Cedric and back again, waiting for command.

"Porter! Look down!" Crispin grabs the fellow's shoulder, pointing his flashlight with the other hand to show him the crack just a few feet ahead. "Light! Over here! Somehow, I don't think we want to deal with either the hunters or their quarry. Otherwise, like as not we'll be a part of it…"

When the light hits the crack, it seeems to pool along it as if it were liquid. Then, there's a sudden, blinding flash and the strange sonic sensation disappears. They're left on the street once again. The sensation of being watched is gone, and neither the hunters nor the hounds are anywhere to be seen. The exit to the cemetary is now easy to find.

Wildly, Cedric looks around him for the moment, still breathing heavily, but once he spots the exit to the cemetery, his expression withdraws into a cool, businesslike focus that reveals very little of his inner thoughts. "All right there?" he asks Decker, peering at him to see if he can see where the man was bitten and whether he needs to pay a visit downstairs. The snarl is barely audible - it sounds more like a ragged edge around an already rough, deep voice.

Decker closes his eyes at the appearance of the flash of light, trying to protect it. A few moments later, he opens them and scans his area. Everything seems to be in order and back to normal, his breathing still heavy. He looks to Cedric as he speaks to him, looking down at his arm, only seeing a few minor puncture wounds. He looks back up and nods his head. "Yeah. I'll be fine. Just feeling sick and tired. The bite isn't too bad. Nothing a bandage won't fix."

Porter follows the light with his eyes, seeing the crack, then looking back at the others as the bad guys seem to just vanish. He looks over at Decker's arm, assessing it with his eyes, before looking to Cedric. "We should get back to the office then, before anything comes back."

Back in proper reality. Crispin's gasping for breath when they get out there, whirling in circles to see that they really are safe after all. His hands clench and unclench and he nervously snaps off his flashlight. "So that brought up more questions than it answered," he said slowly. "On balance, though, I think I'm going to head there with you lot. I need something hot in me." He… he probably means coffee."

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