To Lie In Cold Obstruction and To Rot

Cast: date: '24th September, 2012'
place: 'The Underground, Wood Lane Station'
participants: 'Cedric, Huruma, Mattie, Rory'
synopsis: 'Investigation of a missing train carriage'
log: "\nSomeone in the Watch pulled some strings. The service station on central line has an old, but functional train that's waiting for the group to take them to their certain death. An offer was made to have a driver provided, but the Watch managed to wrangle in Steve; Steve usually pushes paper around but just so happens to have once worked on the Underground and can drive a train. He's a coward at heart and will likely sequester himself in the locked drivers area should there be trouble.\n\nThe officious fellow also hands off a bunch of high visibility jackets and suggests these be worn while in the tunnels for safety reasons. It's about ten minutes from this drop off point to the old tunnel section. The central line is old, deep. The air has that stale quality to it, even though the drafts and pull of trains on adjacent lines keep it moving. The lights here are basic and the darkness swallows the dim illumination in those round openings on either end of the small platform.\n\nThe jacket is looked at with much distaste by the girl who spends half of her time invisible, and all of it in blacks and grays, but safety first! as Jiminy Cricket says. She pulls on the illfitting thing meant for some large guy named Doug or Bruce likely. She's brought her heavy-duty maglight for those dark corners, along with all her usual blades tucked away in pockets and boots. Other than that, she's traveling light with just her cellphone, an ID, and a rarely-used Oyster card in her back pocket (why pay fare when you can ride invisibly, after all?) \n\n\"Thanks, Steve-o,\" she tells the cowardly driver, then looks to the group assembled. \"Stay within sight of one another. If we split up, buddy system is go. No one sets off apart, all right?\"\n\nCertain death on his first assignment, someone must have been reading Rory's Christmas list. He was even happy about putting on the jacket. It's all very exciting. On his back is a long, skinny bag, held on by a strap over the shoulder, which holds a pair of metal baseball bats. He hasn't brought a gun, but they'll do in a pinch. He's also got a pretty well put together emergency kit, in case of wounds. A flashlight is already in hand.\n\nStanding on the platform, he leans a bit over the tracks, just to have a look around, before he straightens and looks over to Mattie. \"But if we're split up, isn't it a bit too late for the buddy system?\" he asks, but with a smirk to let her know he's just being a smart ass.\n\nIt figures. Having /just/ dared to venture outside on his own, Cedric had /just/ returned to the Watch HQ for five minutes to get another pack of smokes and a fresh lighter and update his iPad, and this happens - he gets grabbed. No help for it, though; it takes him a bit to grab his things, substitute contacts for glasses, put on an extra layer in there, slip his hand back in the sling, and stuff a change of clothes, a torch, and a towel into a tatty backpack, slinging that over his shoulder - oh, and mustn't forget the cigarettes and lighter. The iPad gets left behind. \n\nHe is, as he often is on these, quiet and tense, trailing towards the back of the group, occasional eyes flicking towards the faces he doesn't know. He smells freshly of cigarette smoke, and his stomach rumbles audibly as he steps onto the train. \n\nIt figures. Having /just/ dared to venture outside on his own, Cedric had /just/ returned to the Watch HQ for five minutes to get another pack of smokes and a fresh lighter and update his iPad, and this happens - he gets grabbed. No help for it, though; it takes him a bit to grab his things, substitute contacts for glasses, put on an extra layer in there, slip his hand back in the sling, and stuff a change of clothes, a torch, and a towel into a tatty backpack, slinging that over his shoulder - oh, and mustn't forget the cigarettes and lighter. The iPad gets left behind. \n\nHe is, as he often is on these, quiet and tense, trailing towards the back of the group, occasional eyes flicking towards the faces he doesn't know. He smells freshly of cigarette smoke, and his stomach rumbles audibly as he steps onto the train. \"Right,\" he acknowledges to Mattie in a rough, low baritone, very likely the first time he's actually spoken.\n\nFor once, Huruma has the same idea as Mattie. The safety vest is strange to wear, but at least bright colors go deceptively well in the dark. She has it zipped halfway up, concealing her own short jacket, and everything under it. It fits her better than the younger woman's fits her, anyway. Huruma has a few knives similarly tucked away, though no maglight, no ID. The phone she has, has not seen much use as of yet, but is tucked in her inner jacket pocket nonetheless. \n\nHuruma, for lack of better things after she has pulled the coat on, watches Rory, almost rapt with his enthusiasm. Her stare is long, until it breaks away to find Mattie as they assemble. \n\n\"Even I've seen Scooby-Doo.\" Her eyelids lower, mouth pursing, voice low and rather like an idling engine.\n\nSteve locks the driver compartment, on edge. He's not a field agent. He should be at his desk, not driving toward danger. Away! Away is the direction you move relative to danger. He's the complete opposite of Rory; English, poor, unadventurous and craven.\n\nWith everyone on board, the old carriage shudders to life. There's the obnoxious beeping before the doors close. All that's missing is the posh bird calling out over the speakers with so much static that it's impossible to determine where the train is going, but hard to miss the all important PSA - Please mind the gap. Next stop; Wood Lane. Or thereabouts. There's a mile or two of tunnel being slated for reopening. At some point along there it's feasable that there are clues but the only landmark is the old station. The tiny windows, half open, keep the air circulating and the juddering noise loud within the carriage. Jah juh. Jah juh. Jah juh. There's no light outside the little rickety bubble of metal. No trains passing in the other direction. No stations whistled past at high speed. Just darkness. For miles.\n\n\"I meant if we split up in pairs when we're off the train,\" Mattie tosses over her shoulder at Rory; she holds onto the vertical bar closest to the door, green eyes narrowing in concentration as she peers out the open windows on the driver's left. \"Watch this side with me, Lovelace. Mosely, Huruma, you watch the other. Steve, let me know if you see anything in front.\" There's not a lot to see, of course, other than the walls of the tunnel. \"Take us to the next platform unless we see anything odd, all right?\"\n\nSaluting at the clarification, Rory hops on board with a crooked smile. And while he might have an urge to look around the train, specific orders from the boss lady do manage to curb that enthusiasm a little.\n\n\"Anything you like, Red,\" he says, coming over to settle in by her, \"I understand you wanting to keep me close.\" And instead of that being some sincere comment about his newness, it comes with a wink in her direction. \"More odd than the crazy homeless, aye?\"\n\nAs the train begins to move, Cedric takes an old, battered seat to steady himself against the motion of the carriage. Setting down his bag, he struggles with his safety jacket for a bit - his right hand is in a splint, thoroughly wrapped and just about immobilized within the sling. He doesn't ask for help immediately, instead focusing on looping it gently over the arm and around the other side. Being well-built, his is not too big for him, but a rip in the velcro fastener makes securing it more difficult. Again, he seems to be inclined to tense silence and focus, his thoughts his own until Mattie gives her orders. He grimaces but silently complies, moving to the right side of the train and grabbing a grab bar with his good hand, the better to see out the open window without contacting the side of the old carriage.\n\nHuruma's eyes glimmer in the light, her head canting about as she acquiesces, and slinks over to the windows to watch in the dark. She has somewhat of an advantage, even if it just walls- once her eyes become accustomed to the shift toward a cat's gaze, rather than human. She wrings one arm up to hold onto a bar, the other steadying her close to the window, nose taking in the stale air that flows in and past them. \n\n\"Hush.\" Huruma says this to Rory without looking entirely at him, tilting her face but keeping her eyes outside.\n\nThe shift in the track, from one line to the next is noticable. The slight but sudden turn as the vehicle moves from one branch to the older branch. It perhaps brings some anticipation although it's an anticlimax. There's no sudden death or massive hole into the gloom. Just more black. More dark. More nothingness. There's that temptation next to the windows to listen intently, as though expecting to hear something. The whipping of the wind and the screech of metal upon metal sometimes combine to make it sound like there's something ahead, voices or movement but it's almost certainly a trick of the mind.\n\n(Pemit to Rory) Just over Rory's shoulder, there's movement and then a small hand taps against his back. Polite, delicate. It comes with a voice, \"Excuse me, mister. Is this going to take long? I don't like it underground.\" The young girl sounds quite scared. She clutches a teddy bear to her chest. Wearing a simple dress that goes down almost to her feet and sitting next to a duffle bag that's full up. Pale, the blond girl has slighty dirty hair and eyes that look as though she's been crying recently.\n\nRory looks over to Huruma at the hush, and does exactly that, so at least somewhere in there he's able to be serious. He looks back to the outside, frowning a bit as the train jostles them a bit. When nothing at all crazy happens after the change to the other track, he even frowns a little.\n\nBut it's just a moment or two, looking out at the dark, before he whirls around suddenly. There's still a frown, but it's more worried than bored, and it deepens all the more as he looks back and forth down the train. He steps away from the door, then turns back around to Mattie, brow furrowed. \"Did you see that?\"\n\n(Pemit to Huruma) Shortly after Rory's outburst there's a feeling against Huruma's side. A tiny hand, slipping in close and holding onto her clothing, like a tiny child seeking comfort in his mother's skirts. \"I don't want to go.\" comes the blubbery voice, a young boy on the verge of tears. Should she turn to look however, there's nothing there.\n\nApparently Mattie didn't see that, whatever it was, since she turns around as Rory whirls, looking at him curiously, and then back down the train car's length. \"Something on the train itself?\" she says quietly and calmly, though she slowly pulls a blade from her pocket — fat lot of good it will do if she's got nothing to swing at. \n\n\"Be alert, folks. Huruma, can you sense anything?\" she asks the empath, though it's a long shot, though she doesn't look at the woman, angling instead to be able to watch the side she's claimed as well as the car itself. \"What did you see, Lovelace?\"\nYou paged Huruma with 'There's the sense of fearful emotions. A lot of them. But no sense of anything physically present.'\n\nAt the alert, Cedric's head snaps around to look where Rory is looking as well. One foot begins to tap on the metal floor, but he stills it with a frown, listening and watching in silence, studying the entire train and each person in it, looking for both the normal … and what lies beyond it, if anything. He seems to be content to allow Huruma's senses to handle looking outside the train.\n\nHuruma leans close to the window, cautious, though all the same confident in her ability to listen and look on her side. The ruckus behind her is half-noted, as if she is not quite ready to take him seriously. She can sense, however, that bubble of fear that comes as worry. So she stops to make sure they are the only ones in the car, pausing and sensing for the nearest few, head turning slightly to get Rory in the edge of her sight when he inquires aloud. If something physically living passes by her in these close quarters, she'll know it. Unfortunately, nothing alive- but the fear is there. Not just Rory's. \n\nHer eyes, however, do not reach his. They stop midway, finding a middle distance, lidding before turning to the air at her hip. Mattie's question would be answered if Huruma did not say something entirely unrelated, for that space past her thigh. \n\n\"Sisi hapa kwa ajili yenu…\" Her tone, despite her usual abrasiveness, is soothing. \n\n\"There is fear in this place. And a boy.\" Presumably- whoever she spoke to — sight and feel notwithstanding.\n\n\"What the fuck?\" That's Steve's voice. He doesn't sound happy. He sounds like he's on the verge of panic. Perhaps locking himself in the driver's cabin wasn't the best idea, since there's some bumbling sounds from within. There's also the feeling that maybe… hm. Yes. The train is most certainly picking up speed. Quite quickly.\n\nFor just a second, there's light outside the windows, or something like it. Solemn, sad faces, peering into the train in endless rows with a look of longing, as though the vehicle is taking away their hopes and dreams and they're left, in the half-light to watch it vanish along the tracks. The image is flickering and fleeting, almost like a strobe, before it's gone.\n\nThe lights are gone too. Darkness takes the train entirely but only for a second, helping to increase the sense of the rush towards the inevitable.\n\n(Pemit to Mattie) When the lights go out, there's a feeling of someone trying to move in close and wrap about Mattie's legs. Tiny hands pawing at her clothing, trying to find something to hold on to, desparate for succor. There's a quiet, urgent whisper, almost lost in the noise, \"The bad things come when it gets dark.\". When the lights come back on, there's nothing there.\n\n\"It was a… wee thing,\" Rory says, holding a hand out to indicate the approximate height of a child. \"She gave me a tap, said she was scared, but I turned and she was gone. Or never there in the first place. You weren't kidding about London, luv,\" he adds, looking back to Mattie there. He's not flirting this time.\n\nOf course, when the light shows up and the faces with it, he comes over to put a hand on the window just as the darkness sets in. \"Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Hogwarts anymore,\" he says to no one in particular.\n\n\"Fuck,\" Mattie hisses when she sees the children's faces, but suddenly, when the lights go out, the woman jumps, bumping backward into the front of the carriage and hissing with the pain. \n\n\"It's okay. It's okay,\" she tells — something, or herself, maybe. \n\nWhen the lights come back on, Mattie can be seen staring downward, as if searching for something. \"They're here,\" she whispers to the rest, then turns to yell more loudly, \"Steve! Stop the train!\" \n\n\"He said the bad things come when it gets dark,\" she says to the rest in the carriage, her torch flipping on in case the lights go out again. \"Are they Other or … are they trapped?\" she murmurs, turning to Huruma for the other woman's thoughts on the matter.\n\n\"Could be a trick,\" Cedric puts in quietly, although his attention is on the bumbling at the driver's door. Low, quiet, tense, and now just a little jittery. As Mattie speaks, though, he drops into silence, instead moving blindly and by feel, shielding his bad hand until he can find the bag he left on the other side. Thankfully, it isn't far, and a bit of one-handed digging locates his own torch and flips it on. He sits down, keeping the light moving and sweeping across the car; clearly he's content to let the others lead.\n\nThe faces flicker — and the lights, next. The African woman lets out a sound, irritated and feline. Huruma switches her hand from the above bar, to find one of the center vertical bars, looping her arm around it as she moves inward away from the windows. Her reaction, oddly enough, is to get there and brace her feet on the floor, apart, free arm half-tucked closer to her body. As if preparing to crash, yes. She is doing just that, regardless of if it is actually coming. The darkness flickering in and out again does not seem to bother her as much as it does some of them. \n\n\"I cannot say. Not yet.\" If she has a chance to actually come nose to nose again, so to speak, she can make a better estimate.\n\nThere's mumbling from the front of the train. Sounds like a string of expletives and requests for any deity here present to come down and bestow grace upon this humble driver. Bringing Steve probably wasn't the best idea, but it's hard to find Watch field agents who are familiar with driving trains. \"Oh Jesusfuckingchrist…\" Well. That doesn't sound good. There's a cry, and then a thump as of a body hitting something hard on the other side of the door.\n\nStop, you say? This appears to be the opposite. Maybe the noise made him misconstrue that as 'go faster'. But now there's no noise from poor Steve. Just scraping metal and increasing vibrations as the train goes faster and faster.\n\n(Pemit to Cedric) The lights come back on just after the torch comes into play, but for a moment or two, there in the beam of the light in the corner of the carriage there's a little girl in a raggedy black dress. She's holding a rather beat up dolly by the hand so it hangs limply down at her side and is facing the wall, as though unable to look. A whisper, as though next to Cedric. \"It's okay. We're almost there.\" The words, while being soothing in content have an exceptionally sad tone to them.\n\n\"Fuck,\" Mattie growls again when the noises come from the driver's compartment and the train seems to move faster. \"I'm going in,\" she says, and doesn't sound particularly happy about it, but suddenly where she was standing there's nothing, just a beam of light that seems to come from nowhere — and then, that too is gone as she presumably slips through the wall to check on their driver.\n\nFor the first time, Cedric's torch sweep of the carriage pauses, momentarily, on a corner. There's nothing there, but he doesn't appear to think so. A near-snarl tugs his lips into an ugly scowl as Steve cries out, and in one smooth, breakneck motion, he's up and headed for the front of the train. \n\nMattie beats him to it, though, disappearing through the wall before he can do anything. \"You haven't got a lot of time, Dahl!\" he shouts, the first time he's spoken anything less than quietly. \"Open the bloody door and stop this thing!\"\n\n\"Red, you said buddy sy— \" Of course, she slips out before Rory finishes his statement, which is for the better, since Cedric starts shouting a moment later anyway. He hangs back near Huruma, taking a few steps in her direction and grabbing onto a handle to steady himself against the speed.\n\n\"So,\" he says to Huruma, \"Come here often?\"\n\nSteve's body is a buddy, right? Huruma looks over her shoulder after Mattie, then to Cedric. She would keep watching if it weren't for Rory, who she fixes with a downward leer- all in her eyes- her mouth is a firm line. The edge twitches into a momentary smirk, as she wavers between listening, holding on, and watching the car's front door out of the corner of her eye. She continues to brace herself, rather than risk being loose if something hitches. \n\n\"Of course.\"\n\nSure enough, within the cabin Steve is passed out. There's some blood on his head as though he may have have hit his head when he perhaps fainted. He's slumped forward in the tiny space, jammed in against the throttle.\n\nAt the back section of the train there's an unsettling feeling in the air. The pricking of thumbs. Something wicked doesn't actually need to move, since the group is hurtling toward it at breakneck speed. The sensation grows, becoming near overwhelming. Bad. Something very bad. Whipped away by the wind are the tiny sobs of small children and a little girl trying to sing a comforting tune, fighting against the sound of metal and velocity. For Huruma, the fear is thick enough to cut with a spoon.\n\nMattie gets a birds eye view, being up front. Down the line, there's lights somewhere. TFL said there was some lighting at the platform, but it would need to be turned on. But there's nothing else down there. It's still a way off, but there's an odd quality to the light.\n\nAs though once it leaves the platform it's eaten.\n\nThe darkness, down the line is dense. Thick. Unreal. A tunnel that could lead anywhere.\n\nAnywhere.\n\nThankfully the train is heading right to this opening, so everyone can find out where exactly into the Gloom it goes.\n\nOh, spoiler.\n\n\"Oh, no no no no,\" whispers Mattie while growing solid again so that she can find the brake and throw it. She has to will herself to tear her eyes away from the view ahead and the way the light is suddenly blotted out. \n\nPushing Steve out of the way (sorry, pal, we'll patch you up later), she pulls the lever that will (hopefully) make the train slow and stop and keep from falling into that abyss up ahead, while looking for any other buttons, levers or other mechanisms that might work for backup if the first doesn't do what she hopes it well. She braces herself for the stop, and then reaches back to unlock the door.\n\nThat's not good. Rory, stationed at the back, hangs on and listens as those little voices whip by, and looks forward, watching avidly for Mattie to reappear. The thickness grows and he tries to take deep, calm breaths. Not much else for Rory to do but cross his fingers and hope.\n\n\"I change my mind about going on this particular mission, luv,\" he shouts, even though Mattie can't hear him, \"Maybe I could start with a nice haunted carousel or a bleeding statue sort of thing!\"\n\nAs Mattie unlocks the door, Cedric shouts back to the other two, \"Find the emergency stops, you lot, hit as many as you can! This fucker's headed straightaway for the Gloom!\" Now /that's/ a baritone shout, laced with a snarl beneath it as he projects it. Leaving Dahl to find the emergency stops, he turns and fairly /bolts/ for the emergency hand brake on the car, pausing only enough to read the instructions before following them, reaching in to fairly slam the levers down. \n\nThe moment it's engaged, he turns to run for the end doors to the car, grimacing in pain as the sharp impact of his footfalls jars his injured hand but the adrenaline blunting that - for now.\n\nAs Mattie unlocks the door, Cedric shouts back to the other two, \"Get out the back, you lot! This fucker's headed straightaway for the Gloom!\" Now /that's/ a baritone shout, laced with a snarl beneath it as he projects it. Leaving Dahl to find the emergency stops up front, he turns and fairly /bolts/ for the emergency hand brake on the car, pausing only enough to read the instructions before following them, reaching in to fairly slam the levers down. \n\nThe moment it's engaged, he grabs his pack and looks back towards the front and the unconscious driver. \"Dahl, get out of there!\"\n\nHuruma's teeth become sharp and long before anything else. She lets out a breathy snarl of air, tossing her head back a moment, breathing back in. The surface of her face and any other visible skin has a distinct sheen of perspiration, light enough to darken her features, lining the shadows of her face with deeper ones. Rory gets an angry hiss and bared fangs when he starts his babbling again. When Cedric signals the presence of what is ahead, Huruma's hissing turns to a grimace, and she lets go of the bar.\n\nLovelace gets a prompting to either open the door or get out of the way, when the darkness in the car shifts, and centers itself as the woman's shape changes; the giant black panther takes her place with a swift series of cracks and pops, limbs into claws, skin into fur. Her tail lashes, lips peeled back and ears pinned. She also weighs more than four times what she did just a moment ago, offering a bit of that gravity to the rear as she pads closer, eyes gleaming. The cat takes up quite a bit of space, considering- but at least she wants off at this stop.\n\nThere's the squeaaaaaaal of brakes; all the blocks slamming into place and the throttle pulled back so the train tries valiantly to come to a halt before reaching the opposite end of the platform. The old, run down station has seen far better days. It seems to be covered in grime and moss with an odd sheen to it that reflects the light. As if all the surfaces are wet. The tunnel curves around, with the platform having passages that lead off. Lights hang bare and bright overhead but where the line curves out of sight, there's darkness. It's not just that the light ends, but that there's a wall of such inviting darkness.\n\nIt calls out. As though the children who were haunting the journey here are now on the other side of that dividing line, pleading for rescue, begging for the Watchfolk to come and save them. Just step across and get them out so they can see their mums again.\n\nThe train is slowing, but despite the protest of metal screeching against metal, it's not actually stopping. There's an inexorable pull, as though something is dragging the train onwards in spite of efforts for it to slow its role. Moving at a running pace toward the teminal point.\n\nSteve moans on the floor, mumbling out some incoherent statement as he starts to come around a little.\n\nReverse! Mattie ignores the yells from the other side of the train and finds the direction lever to make the train go in the opposite direction, though whatever is pulling it will put up a fight. \"Come on, Steve-o, quit napping on the job. Falling asleep at the wheel and all,\" she teases the man, stooping to drape one of his arms over her slight shoulders and then wrapping an arm around his waist to pull him up. \n\n\"Let's go. Don't look that way. Just walk. One foot in front of the other. You can do it,\" she grunts under the weight of the man as she begins to move them out of the small compartment to exit the train.\n\nIt's okay, Rory's babbling cuts off with that key phrase. Straight for the Gloom. He stares ahead, eyes wide as if he might be able to see the moment when they cross over. He doesn't seem to hear Huruma or notice her shifting, or else her becoming a cat is not as big a shock as Gloom Dead Ahead, but he is standing off to the side as it is, white-knuckling the pole next to him.\n\nSeeing what Dahl is doing, Cedric bolts back at his usual breakneck pace. \"Dahl, I'll take him.\" There's a dark and dangerous snarl under his voice, and black pain is written across his features. With an effort and a heave, he squats down to take Steve in a fireman's carry, oblivious to any protesting. \"Run, I'm right behind you. And someone grab that git!\" It's a push, but he heaves Steve over his good shoulder and turns for the back door as fast as he can carry him. \"Get the fucking door!\" He means the one in the back.\n\nHuruma veers to the side, coming up alongside the pole at the rear to fix her teeth into the back of Rory's jacket, yanking hard to pry him off of the pole and into action. Accosting from a cat like that can't be ignored, despite any jaded reaction to the Touched. Rather than wait for him to move, however, she just keeps her grip and starts for the door, backing sideways to drag him along with. \n\nShe does have to let go at a point, however, and if Rory is really in love with that pole, there is not much she can do about it. The big cat leans back and lunges forward at the door, ramming it hard with one shoulder to push it from the hinges. Thumbs? Nope.\n\nSteve, manhandled, has no idea what's going on. He may have peed his pants. Hopefully, perhaps. Since otherwise that warm, wet feeling on Cedric's shoulder is blood. So lets just keep our fingers crossed that it's just piss.\n\nThe back door opens readily enough under Huruma's battering. The dull station lights cast some illumination on the track's four rails, stretching back into darkness. The train is still trying to slow, but it's not working. The noise gets louder and louder as the brakes strain against the force that's carrying the train onwards. Fighting against momentum now, it seems to be picking up the pace once more. The front of the train only twenty foot or so from that curtain of emptiness. The screaming and wailing gets louder, painfully so, the cries of the vehicle not wanting to go quietly into the gloomy night.\n\n\"Come save us.\" calls the chorus from across the divide, pleading. Sad. Those kids need you guys. Why are you all running away?\n\nOnce her burden is lifted, Mattie grows translucent, moving quickly through the carriage in the wake of the others exiting the runaway train. \"Watch the rails, they're electric,\" her disembodied voice warns — something she won't have to worry about while in this form, but the others will. \n\n\"Can you get to the platform? And don't follow those voices. They're not real. They're just apparitions, fucking with your mind.\" Her voice in this form is all whisper and hush, projecting eerily and yet quiet at the same time — it'd be creepy if they didn't know it was hers. It still might be creepy.\n\nIt takes a bit of tugging, but Rory turns to jump from the train. That part he's good at, at least. He can't quite seem not to look that way, although he feet take him away from the Gloom and off toward where the platform should be. Hopping over tracks along the way, of course. He'll volunteer to make sure the platform's safe, apparently.\n\nWith Rory making the first jump, Huruma is the one to take up the doorway next. She takes a quick look at Cedric's shouldered load, but seeing as Steve is not all there, he would probably roll off as she leapt from the train. Her senses are wired enough already, and they are only going to be more assaulted by the presence of things as they get further into the station area.\n\nHuruma huffs once, swiveling her head back around, hunkers down, and bounds out from the back of the train- she moves even faster when she puts paws to the ground below, as if something were attempting to crawl up her legs. Her next leap takes her up and after Rory, pulling up onto the platform behind him.\n\nFor answer, Cedric strides swiftly towards the back door. Between the noise of the train and the noise in his own head, and the focus required to stay coherent, he's not really listening to the voices - he can't hear or process much of anything else except /get off/. Once at the back door, he gauges the jump. Even for him, the jump to the platform with Steve slung over his shoulder is tough; he strains to make it, and gets Steve on but lands himself awkwardly, half on and half off the platform. An entirely inhuman roar escapes his lips, far louder than any such should be, and there's a sharp *thud* as he makes impact, but nothing else happens; he simply lies there motionless where he struck the platform, pack on the platform with Steve, dangerously close to falling on the rails. His torch goes clattering to the platform floor and goes out.\n\nWith everyone off the train, the brakes continue to cry out their agonizing protest against the continued forward momentum. The black curtain that fills the trackspace envelops the front of the carriage just as Cedric jumps off and then seems to flow and confirm to the battered metal, sliding along the surfaces as it moves onwards like something pushed through a thin membrane. Once it reaches the back end, the whole contusion of reality crumples on itself and there is just empty space and the echo of braking, which sounds uncannily like screams in the tunnel.\n\nThe lights flicker, as though about to die out entirely but somehow managing to maintain a tenuous hold on life. Silence falls again. Huruma's empathic sense for nearby physical lifeforms is going truly crazy. There's life here. Everywhere. Those who landed touching the platform notice that it feels just slightly damp and unpleasant. The platform is still and silent, not even the chitter of rats. Strangely, for the tube, the air is stagnant too. There are a couple of doors leading off from the platform to service areas, and tunnels leading through to the opposite direction landing and persumably to utility and stairs up to the demolished station above, likely blocked off.\n\\n\nOnce she's on the platform, Mattie re-materializes, taking a quick inventory of heads and limbs. Quick steps move her to where Cedric has fallen to pull him further onto the platform — if not very gracefully or gently — with a tug of the collar. \n\nHer eyes dart here and there and a knife is slid from her pocket. \"Anyone see or feel anything unusual?\" Her gaze slides to Huruma, apparently looking for the woman's empathic weather report. \"Whatever those kids say, ignore them. They're a trap,\" she repeats from earlier.\n\nRory wipes a hand on his shirt as he straightens up on the platform, watching the train disappear with a disturbed look on his face. \"Well, that's unsettling,\" he says, mostly to the echo of screaming brakes, but it applies to the situation as a whole.\n\nWhich is why Mattie gets an odd sort of look sent her way at the question. \"Is there anything //usual about all this, Red?\" He tries a smile, but unlike what seems to be his usual demeanor, he doesn't manage more than a twitch. \"Right, ignore the creepy children. Can do.\"\n\nCedric is well-built and mostly muscle, and heavier than he looks. Still, it's possible to move him enough that he's safely on the platform, although she won't get him more than about six inches before he stirs, and swears a blue streak, the deep baritone laced with a dangerous, guttural snarl beneath it. \"/Fuck/. Geroff. What happened? /AGH./\" He shifts himself and rolls over halfway, to get his weight off the splinted hand, breathing hard and clearly trying to sort himself out. He's not really paying attention to his surroundings at all.\n\nJaw hanging loose, air goes in through Huruma's nose and out the partially open mouth. She turns a swift circle when she expects Cedric to land, tail flicking behind her. The big cat stares hard into the dark off of the platform for a moment, nostrils flaring, whiskers bristling. Her lips peel back over teeth, and a throaty growl precedes a voice- rumbling, rasping, more forced from within- but it is hers, underneath of that. \n\n\"Everywhere.\" A loud hiss comes next, crazed eyes on the dark. Her black snake of a tail cuts angry swathes in the stale air, and Huruma finally chances to turn her face to look over her companions again.\nWith Steve only barely conscious, he kind of comes around with a start and starts a paniced scramble away. Away from everything. Steve never wanted to see this stuff. He's the sort that's blocked out most of the things he's previously encountered and just focused on being administrative and doing paperwork. Closer and closer to the edge as he tries to flee, get back to normalcy, find civilization and read a newspaper.\n\nAt either end of the platform, a light pops in a shower and tinkle sprinkle of glass.\n\n\"You're welcome,\" Mattie says dryly to Cedric, while giving Rory a withering sort of look in answer to his question. \n\n\"We've got live ones, then. Be prepared,\" she tells the crew, jumping slightly when that light explodes, despite her best effort to look calm. She turns to regard Steve, handing him her blade and pulling another. \"You're okay, Steve-o. Stay with us. It's safer. If you can't handle it, I'll make a puppet out of you, you hear? So stay with us.\" \n\nTo everyone else, she nods in the direction of the now broken light, then disappears from view. \"Stay here,\" comes the whispery hiss of her disembodied voice.\n\nThe withering look has Rory lifting his arms in surrender, just briefly, because the lights popping make him jump, too. He takes a step toward the middle, as if trying to be equidistant from either shattering light. \"I hate the suspense part. Can we just have something to throw punches at and skip this bit?\" It's asked to no one in particular.\n\nHe glances over as Mattie disappears again. He seems perfectly okay with staying put.\n\nCedric stiffens entirely as the light goes out, and there's a cold, angry flash in his eyes. It's the mention of \"live ones\", though, that has him slowly sitting up, pulling his hand tightly to him with a grimace and several more deep breaths. Getting to his knees appears to be a process, but he manages it, his whole demeanor silent and cold. He grabs for his pack with his good hand, pulling it to him and shoving several objects into it, including his glasses and, oddly, his shoes. \n\nThat done, he leaves the pack open and searches around for the torch that went out, flipping it back on and flashing it around the area. Only then does he get to his feet, gritting his teeth, his jaw set, eyes completely cold. Other than a couple of steps away from the edge of the platform, he doesn't move.\n\nHuruma sidesteps a couple of paces, towards Steve, and lingers there as Mattie passes him her extra knife. She blinks in silence at him, providing at least some measure of reassurance by the fact she is on his side. Her ears swivel towards Rory before her muzzle points the same direction. Perhaps she agrees with his assessment of the situation after all. \n\nWhen Mattie shifts away from them once more, the black cat is left to pace some on the platform with the others, ranging as if waiting for something to press out of the shadows at them.\n\nWith no one actually stopping him, Steve's been continuing to meander. He's not with it enough to accept the knife, or be reassured by Huruma's cat face. That's not even a little helpful. Catface is not normal. He freezes in terror for a moment, then as Huruma turns away and paces off toward the others he darts forward.\n\nSadly, forward is a limited commodity as far as the horizontal goes but he's quite desparate to get far far away. Through the air and down, sprawling across multiple rails. The violent shaking and sparks are accompanied by a new sound to rattle along the platform. That's a real scream. That may be the worst scream of all time. Stuck to the tracks, the current keeps him locked in place as he begins to fry and smoke. Poor Steve. The screaming goes on for far longer than seems possible, elongated wail of pure pain.\n\nToward the shattered lights, there's no sign of any people. The platform is bare. But darker still as another light bursts, turning the area where the little cluster of people are standing to shadow. There are no other sounds, besides Steve's agonizing demise. It's colder in the dark. Noticably so.\n\nThe far end of the platform is examined by the invisible girl, looking for anything that might be hiding in nooks and shadows where normal eyes can't see; hopefully whatever might lurk there can't see her, but there is always a chance. When the next set of lights pop out, Mattie moves silently toward the side her party stands; there's no hint of her in breath or voice. Whatever feelings she had to the man frying on the lines are kept quiet and to herself — likely for the best. \n\nEventually her voice comes in that eerie whisper. \"Let's move to the tunnels.\"\n\nIt only takes a moment or two of the screaming and smoking before it hits some sort of limit in Rory. The sound of bones cracking and the man's own pained moan is well overshadowed, but there as a piece of bone breaks through skin. He breaks it off, and uses the short spear-like bone to throw at Steve, to end that whole agonizing death thing. He only gets one out before Mattie's words come through, but he's an excellent aim.\n\n\"Tunnels it is.\" He may just be the first one to break in that direction, grim-faced.\n\nThat has to be without a doubt the single worst sound Cedric has ever heard in his life, and every single muscle in his body goes taut as Steve screams. It does seem to have one positive effect, though. It snaps him out of whatever closed world he's been locked in, and the cold eyes are replaced with life. Very angry life. \"Who the fuck let him wander off?\" he fairly snarls, though it's directed at where Mattie's voice was, and therefore no one in particular. The stricken look on his face speaks volumes, but he grabs his pack and shoulders it with his good hand, over the torch, which he keeps lit. \n\nHe seems about to say more, but firmly clamps his mouth shut on it and contents himself with a furious scowl in the direction of Mattie's voice, instead striding in the direction of the tunnels. His hand stays tucked close to his body, and his every muscle remains taut.\n\nHuruma does not hear Steve's break for it until it is too late, and she instantly sours; but then again, even if she had grabbed him back, he would still be a coward. Her nose wrinkles angrily, feet carrying her over to the edge to peer over, seeking out where he leapt to. Ears still pinned, she looks over at Rory as he moves forward to take matters into his own hands, so to speak. Her eyes bore into him before flicking away. \n\n\"His own choice.\" She rumbles in return. Die or be killed, one could suppose. Huruma is able to justify not being his babysitter more easily than someone with more concern for others. See: Cedric, it appears. \n\nPadding after the men, all she can do to not overtake their strides is to slow down, senses pricked to make certain Mattie is following close.\n\nRory's bone does shut Steve up, thankfully. The echo of the sound lingers a while longer, mixing with that snap, crackle and pop of burning flesh. The shadows are /definitely/ colder. There's a noticable increase in temperature moving into the light and heading for the tunnels. However, almost as soon as they enter the glow of the next bulb it pops, showering Rory with glass and that chill slinks back, biting at the bones. Similarly, at the opposite end another light dies. The darkness thickens at the ends, as though the platform itself is shrinking, only existing where the light reaches it like some philosophical conundrum about objects existing when they are not perceived.\n\nThere is, however, movement ahead. From out of the central tunnel inward strides a man. Dark hair, greasy in a way where it sticks to his cheeks, being just long enough to reach them. He wears an old school parka, with fur around the collar of the black nylon. A big, bushy black beard makes his face more severe but seeing the group he smiles widely with a show of teeth, standing facing them.\n\nThe lights flicker, all of them going off, just briefly then the unbroken ones return to life.\n\nMattie has a sense of recognition. There's the feeling that this man has been seen before. The Notting Hill Carnival. Same outfit. Same beard. Seen loitering around when everything kicked off with that same smile.\n\nHe's only in view a second before he turns and strides back from where he came, out of sight.\n\nThe sight of him, in the inconsistent light is unnerving on some instinctual level. There seems to be no need to even stare at him to realize that he's not Touched but the Gloom clings to him like a lover. Staring too long brings back memories, sharp jagged glimpses of stolen time on the other side. This guy is bad news. Seriously. Like. For real.\n\n\"Stay together, no matter what. If anyone else tries to run, grab them unless their life depends on running,\" whispers the ethereal voice that is all they can sense of Mattie. \n\n\"Not a friend,\" she thinks to add, just in case anyone was wondering, if anyone didn't get a long enough look to see that he's not one of them, which means he is one of Them — the Others. \n\nShe moves forward, invisible and silent, a blade in hand so that if she sees the bearded man again, she can materialize and attack.\n\nRory covers his head when the glass shatters, but he ends up with shards stuck precariously in his hair and clothes. He dashes for the light that's left, only to find a body standing there. He blinks, and looks back to find Mattie, only to remember belatedly that she's invisible. Ah well. He pulls out the baseball bat he brought with him before he starts after where the man strode off toward.\n\nCedric's lip curls in a snarl as he spots the man. Whether that snarl is anger or unease or something else is hard to tell, but it's there. It's cold down here, though, and he seems to be disinclined to lose any time either following the others or staying in the light, his own torch continuing to flash from side to side and up and down, watching the walls intently. \n\nOnce it is clear that the glimpse of a man that they see is not someone that they want in on their business, the big cat pushes her way forward. Huruma's size in the tunnel hall- practically so- serves to shove any bodies out of her way. She lunges forward into the central tunnel, bounding after the stranger- and Rory, by design- in the flickering light. Without so much as a warning, she lets out a roar of frustration from alongside Rory and his baseball bat. \n\nWith everyone running forward after the man, the group manage to stay ahead of the lights continuing to pop in their wake. As though they're being pushed toward these tunnels.\n\nStrangely, the bearded man doesn't look at all worried. His voice is deep, carrying disturbing undertones to it as though on some level it exists outside of the range of human hearing but the lost content is all screams, pain and suffering that's picked up as it grates upon the soul rather than the ears.\n\n\"Have your children feast upon them.\" he states dismissively, although clearly not to the chasing Watchfolk. \"With the blood we will try again.\" The words have a strange accent. Not like anything regional or even foreign. As though spoken by someone who hadn't actually learned it from anyone who /spoke/ it but simply developed a comprehension of how it /should/ be spoken.\n\nComing on the end of the tunnel, it's clear that it goes right through the wall to the platform on the opposite side, which is dark already. There are two further offshoots on each wall of the passage, heading up flights of stairs on one side and parallel to the platform on the other side.\n\nThe man doesn't even turn to face his purusers, as though they are entirely beneath his notice. A flick of his hand at the side, as though brushing something out of the air and all the remaining lights on the platform behind explode leaving this short expanse the only lit area.\n\nThe heavy darkness that the man moves towards looks as though it reaches for him, a welcoming embrace. Come back to us. We've missed you. \"I will come back for the remains.\" he says further, to the air as he begins to become lost in the black.\n\nOn the platform where the part came from, there's a wet, sickly sound, although quiet. Then another. And another. From all down the length of the station.\n\nSomeone was told earlier, they come when it's dark. It's fucking dark.\n\nAs he begins to fade into the black, Mattie suddenly appears, hurling a knife and then pulling another from her boot to throw at the man's back — but it doesn't seem he's the true threat. \n\n\"What's there? Can anyone see it?\" the American whispers now to her colleagues, the sound no longer ghostly and sibilant but simply all-too human, all-too fragile. All too mortal. \n\nAnother blade is drawn, along with her own torch to shine a light along the platform, looking for the source of the sound.\n\n\"If we get out of this, I'm buying those light sticks they use in emergency kits,\" Rory mutters to himself as he watches the man disappear. His eyes are wide again, staring at that thick darkness.\n\n\"I don't suppose we can just run out of here?\" That much is said to the others, as smaller- but still plenty sharp- bones grow out of his knuckles and elbows. \"I fancy a drink or six.\" He really just can't stop talking sometimes.\n\nIf Rory can't stop talking, Cedric remains silent and tense, a sure sign that he isn't happy. His jaw is set and his thoughts are his own, although there's a flash in his eyes that would seem to suggest that the fury hasn't subsided. His injured hand tucked up close to him, his flashlight darts out, flicking here and there, up and down the darkness in the station, searching along the platform for the source of that wet, slithering sound. He doesn't answer Mattie immediately, nor does he pay the cat any mind. \n\nA cat's eyes are a blessing and a curse, at times. Good to see with, in the dark- but they are also- well- good to see with in the dark. Huruma shifts in place as the man finally vanishes, mind racing on its own. Who, what, why, it all matters. But it will have to wait. The cat turns on its feet to scan the darkness around them. \n\n\"We need to get …above ground.\" While the tactic will not completely prevent anything from attacking them, getting to the surface will at least buy some time between incidents. That is, if they can weasel a way up. Huruma paces forward on her toes, edging on the outside of the group, her senses pricked.\n\nThat knife definitely hits the back of the parker. It even goes into the flesh. That might even be blood, although it's black against the shadows as they wrap around the figure. There's no reaction at all. Not even a flinch. The man vanishes entirely, followed by a clatter as the knife hits the ground.\n\nHuruma's senses still overwhelmingly indicate the presence of life in every and all direction. Turning the flashlights about towards the sounds, the source is easy to pinpoint.\n\nThe wet pops are the sounds of forms emerging from the stone; that damp bulging upwards in bubbles that fill with a thick pus like substance as they solidify into forms. Each one about three foot high, they are clearly recognizable as children although their 40s era clothes all appear to be made of mould and mildew. Those are not cherubic, childlike faces however. The eyes are pits of nothingness, giving a sense of hunger mixed with pain. There's no nose, instead just a mouth, distended and oval and at least six inches long so their chins hang down over their chest. Cute little hands universally tipped with thick, jagged nails. The children themselves make no noise, but for the soggy birthing plops.\n\nOver and over, although /hopefully/ the noise echoes rather than there being that many of them from all sides. At least ten are visible, but the noises continue in the crevasses of the train lines with small hands reaching up to the edge of the platforms on both sides.\n\nThe redhead takes a step back when the first of those demonic looking children pops out of those pods. \"We need to kill these things and torch this place so whatever that shit is doesn't grow back,\" she says, her tone much cooler than the fear in her eyes. \n\nShe carefully moves her knife to a pocket to free a hand, then pulls a small pistol she has tucked in her waistband. She levels the gun at the closest of the child Others and fires twice. She turns invisible after the second shot, with the hopes of gainging element of disguise and a better angle when she rematerializes somewhere else altogether.\n\nWatching the creepy children appear for a moment, Rory tightens his grip on the bat. It helps that they don't look like sweet, adorable things, but he rears back and swings— not at one of the fully formed kids, he'll work up to that, but at one of the bubbling growths out of the stonework.\n\n\"I don't suppose anyone actually brought a lighter along?\" He swings for a second gloom-baby, lacking entirely the element of surprise. \"Or a blow torch?\"\n\nHaving removed his glasses earlier, Cedric can't make out much in the way of details in this light and from this range, but he can see enough to get a good idea. Right. Company indeed. Suddenly, his anger goes ice-cold again, and he tosses the torch into the still open bag and zips it up. \"Can't stand and fight, too many. Run. In my pack, Lovelace.\" There's cold evil in those words, although they're still in his voice, directed at nobody in particular - good job he'd already prepared for this possibility! \n\nIt's a little easier than it was last time, he'll decide later, but no less painful, or disturbing and gruesome to watch. This time, he can release all his pain, all his anger, give it over into fusing with the monster.\n\nHe has to step a little to one side to make room for himself, placing him close to the edge of the cold and dark, but he folds the uninjured arm over the one already tucked up against him and takes a deep breath, if anything relaxing just a touch. Bones snap and twist, grow in length and thickness, skin tears aside as a second pair of knife-like arms pop out beneath the first, muscles stretch to impossible proportions before setting into their final form.\n\nWhere Agent Moseley stood a few moments ago now stands a monstrosity that is anything but normal or natural, and something not too many in the Watch have seen. Some eight feet tall and four feet wide, the creature is some sort of nightmarish cross between demon and insect. Black chitin covers its body, ending in four knife-like arms with serrated and barbed blades. One of those arms shows damage to the chitin, looking as if it's been smashed in. Grotesquely muscled legs support the creature's chitinous, humanoid body and oversized head, which is mostly a maw full of multiple rows of fangs. \n\nRory will indeed find a Bic lighter in Cedric's pack….for whatever good it will do him.\n\nJust as they popped into existence, the little child-thing seems to burst when hit with Mattie's bullet. The metal tears through the membrane, elongating out the back before the sac errupts with a splat of that same mucus mixed with the dry flakes of the clothing-analog.\n\nOh. My. God.\n\nThat is an awful smell. It assaults the senses, particularly Huruma's enhanced perceptions. Rotting flesh, gone-bad eggs, stinky feet; every disgusting inhalation experienced up to this point pales in comparison. The second bullet goes through and similarly bursts the child behind. This causes the stench to multiply.\n\nThere's a bubbling, almost like a fizz where the fluid splashes out across the concrete. Oddly, rather than spread and puddle it seems to shrink, being reabsorbed into the matter of the station as though reforming with the whole. The birthing noises had ceased somewhat, but almost immediately another two sound further into the darkness.\n\nEven if the pungent goop is taken back, the horrific smell remains. It burns the eyes, the nose, the back of the throat.\n\nThere are at least fifteen of these things on either side of the tunnel. Thankfully they seem to take some time in becoming cogniscent of their surroundings, yet the eldest of the grouping are now beginning to lope toward the party. Even with those huge, hideous mouths, they are completely silent.\n\n\"Fuck,\" is breathed out and it's a reaction to everything at once — Cedric's beast form and the children and the ooze and that smell. It's that noxious smell that has Mattie pulling her hoodie's collar upward to cover her mouth and nose; green eyes narrow and skim their surroundings, taking in the number of Others they face. The way the dead ones seem to be reabsorbed has her scowling and looking down for a moment, scuffing a boot against that strangely damp feeling ground. \n\n\"Right, this way,\" she decides. \"Lovelace, grab that bag, and move.\" She sweeps a hand to one of the tunnels on the left. Door number 1, 2, 3 or 4? She chooses 2, based on her memory of the map they'd looked at before. \"We'll go grab some petrol and torch this place with a bigger crew. Hear that, little Boxcar children? You are going fucking down.\" \n\nIt's very possible Dahl is losing it just a touch. \n\nShe waits to make sure everyone is moving before taking up the rear, going intangible but translucent, in case they look back for her on the way out of this hell.\n\nRory may be an easy going rich guy, but there are some things he is just not okay with. Like really bad smells. He doesn't have a lot of those in his life. There is some creative Scottish cursing as he covers his mouth and nose. His eyes blink, trying to clear the burning sensation with little success.\n\nHe does run over to grab the pack, giving Cedric's larger form a wide birth as he moves to follow Mattie. \"I'll follow you anywhere, Luv, especially opposite to the foe,\" he says, muffled, but still wry.\n\nAs hideous as the demon-thing is, it mercifully appears to be intelligent. Its mouth snaps shut at the stench, a low, grumbling roar escaping its lips. Whatever it had been about to do, it instead turns and /jumps/, launching itself at the creatures that stand between it and Mattie's chosen door, four scythe-like arms moving as if to slash open anything in their path. It appears to be trying to clear them a path to the exit, its movements those of an unrelenting predator, cutting down without mercy anything in its path. \n\nThe oldest of the children had reached the chosen tunnels, just in time to meet the death machine of Cedric. They are torn open by scything talons just as easily as they were by bullets; it's like hitting a carrier bag full of water with a sword. Plop. With two more down the God Awful Stench is getting almost unbearable. It makes eyes tear up, noses dribble constantly and the need to gag is rising. There's a light headed sensation, perhaps some kind of airbourne toxin? Either way, it's just a distraction now but is getting worse every second. Even without touching the goop, skin feels dirty and wants to be scratched.\n\nFor Cedric, it's another story. The fluid splatters along his arms and chest and it burns, the pain is quite excruciating, fizzling against the chitin but not actually catching fire.\n\nA canny listener would hear another two sticky pops as the dispatched children are reborn again. The ends of the tunnel are becoming thronged with the hungry blighters, moving in with ragged hands outstretched, wanting to grab whoever is nearest and attempt to claw them with nails that /must/ be infected with something. Even Jack's fridge isn't this bad.\n\nThe chosen exit is pitch black, no lights working, relying on whoever has a flashlight to provide direction. It goes straight, paralell with both platforms for a time, seemingly with a T-Junction at the end which by distance estimates must be past the end of the platform.\n\nThe creatures continue to press in. Perhaps running would be prudent, since the corridor while narrow is quite empty.\n\nThe translucent form of Mattie hisses, \"Leave them; they just regenerate. Just move. Run. Don't look back. I'm right behind you. Shoot any doors that are locked, look for manholes that lead up and out.\" There are no footfalls, but anyone glancing back to make sure the agent is still with them will catch sight of Mattie's faded ghost form on their heels, happily incorporeal and unable to smell the fumes of whatever has tainted this place. \n\n\"You're gonna have to be Lysol'd down and quarantined til the docs clears you when we get to headquarters, Moseley,\" the ghostly whisper adds, a touch of apology in the eerie voice.\n\nRory juggles the bat and a flashlight to get some light ahead of him. Luckily, it's a big light. He just charges ahead, unashamed to be running to look for those manhole covers and-slash-or doors that might lead them back to the regular world.\n\nThe demon-thing staggers and stumbles as the toxin splashes across it, another roar, this time louder and pain-filled, escapes its maw. It doesn't seem interested in doing anything except exactly what it first had in mind, which was making a path to and then going through the nearest exit as fast as those legs will carry it. Whatever that is that hit him, /hurt/, and is clearly taking its toll even as it sizzles against chitinous armor. Leave the locating the exit to others; his job right now is to clear a path to it. Mattie gets no response.\n\nOne path at the end of the tunnel is completely blocked off by a heavy door that is padlocked shut. The other side has a gate, although it's rusted off the hinges and been pulled open. It leads into another dark twisting maze, up some steps and seeming to double back on itself. All the while there's the sense of being followed, even if soundlessly, relentlessly without even the sound of footfalls from the tiny horde.\n\nAnother gate up ahead and a side door that's been left ajar. The rumbling noise and rush of wind is probably bad. Something big is approaching. Something fast.\n\nA train, causing the space to shudder as wind whips the faces of the group through the opening. It's a close call to someone actually running out into the path and getting splatted. This is about as near to civilization as these corridors are going to lead.\n\nThe children have stopped, about twenty feet behind in the corridor. As if there's an invisible wall and they're all pressed up against it and one another; a mass of mouldy bodies packing in like sardines.\n\nFreedom is somewhere in the tunnels. Following in the direction of the train, there's likely to be another station within a mile and the service footpath can be used to traverse the distance. Then it's just a case of explaining why no one has a ticket.\n"

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