Welcome To London

Cast: Cedric, Porter (emits by Chimera)
Date: 21 January 2013

Porter's arrival in London is not without incident.

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 a relatively rare bright and mostly clear evening in the East End. Of course, bright and clear in a London winter usually means cold, and the driving west wind makes sure of that, reaching clawed fingers through the thickest of jackets and jumpers to chill the skin beneath. As the Tube train lets out, the few who are getting off here stream up the escalators and onto the streets, shoving hands into pockets and bending their heads against the chill and driving wind. Let's hope it's not too long of a walk home for the girl in a short skirt.

At the top of the escalator, there's a twenty-something young man leaning against the concrete wall where he's got a good view of the top of the escalator, wearing a knit cap and muffler under a thick black jacket, jeans, and Doc Martens. His hands are gloved, and one of them holds a cigarette in one hand, from which he takes the occasional drag. One foot is crossed over the other, and that foot is tapping incessantly as if driven by a motor.

Porter emerges first from the train, looking about quickly and nervously, scurrying as fast as he can to the wall. He's wearing a dark gray, fitted suit with a pale gray shirt. The skinny tie he wears is a matching pale gray with paisleys. He carries a single suitcase, and leans his back against the wall as he watches everyone else disembark and move past him. He breathes quick and heavy, closing his eyes a moment as he lifts his chin, sighing. His lips move very slightly as he counts to himself. After about a minute, he opens his eyes again, hesitantly, looking around thankfully as the station is much more empty. He sighs, adjusts his tie a bit, and then begins to walk towards the stairs.

The station itself isn't all that busy, but there are people around. Porter's been told to look for a black jacket, a yellow muffler, and a cigarette, but smoking in Tube stations is apparently prohibited, so it's a safe bet there won't be anyone down here.

Porter waits until everyone has made their way up the escalator, and then he approaches. Stepping on, he begins rising, and he once more takes stock of the area. He notices the man at the top of the escalator, and fidgets a bit. He reaches into his pocket and removes a pair of black leather gloves. He slips them on his hands, and then pushes an awkward smile onto his face. "Hello?" he offers to the man at the top as he steps off.

Yep. Cedric definitely fits the description - black jacket, yellow muffler, and cigarette in one hand. He looks almost bored, but the fag in one hand is down nearly to the filter, and he with an oddly abrupt motion turns and crushes the thing against the wall to put it out, then palms the butt. He definitely smells like cigarette smoke. "Evening." He straightens up, then, and almost manages to look something other than bored. "What can I do for you?"

Porter will have been told that the man should be addressed as Mr. Moseley.

Porter nods, "Hello. I am um…" He furrows his brow, and removes a piece of paper from his pocket, looking at it. "I am looking for Mr. Moseley." He looks back at the man, dropping the paper back in his pocket. "You are wearing an outfit that matches the description which I was told to look for." He lifts his brow just a bit. "Would you be he?"

That gets the young man's attention. "Yeah, I'm he." Cedric straightens up more fully, and his demeanor shifts abruptly, from bored to businesslike. "Mr. Larue?" He flashes an open smile and pulls one gloved hand from his pocket to offer a handshake. "Glad you made it."

The flow of people from the latest tube arrival have ebbed, leaving a quiet moment. A chill wind whips up and rattles through bare branches of a nearby tree. Bits of branches break and fall to the cold ground.

Porter shakes the hand, though his handshake lasts a bit longer than it should. He smile genuinely then, "You can call me Porter, Mr. Moseley." And then he just hugs Cedric, wrapping his arms around the man, patting his back, unless he's stopped. He releases the hug, and looks over at the tree losing the branches. "It is much colder here than I expected."

Cedric blinks in surprise at the close contact; while he says nothing, his tensing indicates uncertainty. Beneath the jacket, the man isn't exceptionally large, but he's hard and solid as a brick. "Chilly night," he observes. His voice is a deep baritone, almost a basso, rough around the edges and with a crisp, distinct London accent. "The wind's bad, is all." When the hug is released, he chuckles quietly. "At least it's not raining. Let's be off and get somewhere warm, eh?"

There must be strange eddies around street-level, because the bits of broken tree are still moving, still shifting. They're blown to a shadow at the edge of the street.

Porter doesn't seem to react at all to the hug, as if it's perfectly normal. "I think warm would be good." He hefts his bag a bit, and glances at the tree branches once more. "I should have brought a warmer coat." He makes a thinking face, then looks at Cedric. "Are we far from headquarters?"

"Not too far," Cedric answers, glancing briefly at the broken tree branches. "Some wind." His tone is quietly dismissive. "Make a pot of coffee and catch you up. Let's go." He turns to lead Porter down a suburban street that, while run down, is relatively buttoned up at this hour.

A few minutes of walking leads them into a quieter neighborhood still, and one that clearly isn't the best of places. Still, Cedric seems more cold than uncomfortable, shoving his hands deep in his pockets. "Mind if I smoke when we get there?"

The wind whips up more fiercely now, but oddly - it's slightly warm, like air blown from a heater. The trees rattle and shake and more branches fall. And then the wind stops, but the rattling remains. Dark shapes follow in the two men's footsteps. Something moves like spiders. Tikka tikka tikka. Something moves beneath Cedric's collar and on the top of Porter's head.

Porter furrows his brow, "No, if it makes—" And then he swipes at his head, jerking around, "What the…?" He looks around, quickly, "Did you hear that? There was something behind us…"

Cedric's movements are unnaturally fast and abrupt, one hand reaching towards the back of his collar as he whirls to face whatever is hounding them. His heart suddenly pounds in his chest, his expression closing into something wary as he moves, eyeing the space behind them.

Cedric manages to catch something in his hand. Something that wriggles and pokes against his glove. It's the twig. It's…moving and struggling. As both men turn, they do so in time to see a swarm of…things. Twigs gathered together in the shape of insects. Like spiders, only more ethereal. Tikka tikka tikka. They surge forward, closing on the men. Overhead, the trees dip down, they creak and swipe out with sharp, whiplike branches. The whole street is lined with trees. The hot breeze grows hotter.

Porter instinctively reaches for his underarm holster to retrieve his gun… And then realizes he had to leave it with the Watch in Paris to get through security at the border. "Uh oh…" He looks at Cedric as he takes a step back, away from the moving branches. "Please tell me you are armed…?"

Clutching the twig with a single hand, hard enough to break it, Cedric takes a step backwards, then glances back at the trees. "Yes and no." The rough edge around his voice has become a snarl, an almost evil sound, but he casts one more glance behind him before shouting suddenly, "RUN! This way!" He lets Porter go first, placing himself between the twigs and his charge, shielding his face from the whip-like branches and swearing as one catches him across the back of the head.

You wouldn't think a little pile of branches would be very dangerous. Apparently they are, when they're propelled by the energy of the Gloom. Once the spider-swarm gets within reach, they leap at the men, and scratch at their back and at any exposed skin. When a few of them manage to attach, there's a wave of nausea and weakness that starts to overcome them - a sensation that has come up before in Watch files. They're /feeding/. The trees overhead swipe and snap at them, but if they stick to the middle of the street, they're out of reach.

Porter furrows his brow a little, "Run? I… um… okay," and he runs the direction he was pointed. He lets out a bit of a growly whelp as his back his slashed. He stumbles, tumbling to his knees and rolling back to his feet. He scrambles to stay ahead of Cedric.

Cedric stumbles himself as another branch catches him across one shoulder, slashing open the shoulder of his jacket to reveal the sweat beneath - and partly tearing it as well, reaching to the skin beneath … then staggers again as the wave of dizziness and nausea reach him. This time, the snarl in his voice is so thick he's barely understandable. "Fucking MacNamara. Turn left!" One more branch hits him, leaving a sharp red mark across the left hand that shields his face, and he wrenches himself away. "Into the cemetery!"

The hot wind ripples through the trees and after the men. It bounces off them like an oppressive summer wave of heat. But once they're off the tree-lined street and into the more open area of the cemetary, the cold starts to leak back. The spider creatures are still hot on their heels, but they dodge around the graves, sticking to paths instead of walking directly over where the bodies are buried.

Porter runs quickly into the cemetery, his path wavering as the nausea hits him a bit more. He glances behind him, watching Cedric and the tree spiders right on his heels. He glances around, "Where are we going?" he shouts. Then he notices the pattern happening, "They are not touching the burial grounds!"

"Straight through that arch!" Sweat now beads Cedric brow, but he's panting only a little — apparently his conditioning is pretty good. He's difficult to understand, though, so thick and evil is that snarl, and fear laces the tone as well. At the mention of the burial grounds, Cedric diverts across the graves, taking a shortcut to a brown stone arch, on the other side of which can be seen a small office building. "This way!"

The graves, the spots over which humans are buried and the spider-twig's avoidance of them slows them down considerably. Any creatures that were clinging to either man, fall off and become twigs again once they step on any of the graves. Suddenly, there's the sound of charging hooves. From the brush rushes a creature made of twigs in the shape of a stag, with branches for antlers. It paws at the ground, then lowers its head and charges dead out towards the men.

Porter shifts his running so he's mostly crossing graves, going as fast as he can for the arch, trying his best to cross over as many graves as he can along the way. "Is that a horse tree!?!?" he shouts, his tone indicating he'd be rolling his eyes if they weren't being chased.

Cedric's eyes widen as the stag-creature charges at them from one side, and he makes sure Porter goes first. Curiously, though, the snarl is starting to fade, to be replaced by something entirely cold. "Run through the arch," he tells Porter. "I'm right behind you." Now his breath comes hard as he positions himself between his charge and the stag, hurdling gravestones here and there in the shortest possible path.

Ra-da-thump, ra-da-thump. Twiggy hooves sound disturbingly like a real, 600 lb animal charging. It leaps the gravestones, deftly missing the ground directly above where bodies are buried. It mis-steps once, or there are bones otuside the normal marking, because it loses a chunk of its back foot. That buys the two men some time to pass through the arch.

Porter runs hard for the arch, not looking back this time. "Now where?" he shouts, a little frustration in his voice as he races out of the cemetery.

"Depends on whether that arch stops this fucker." Cedric's voice is now eerily cold, coming hard between breaths, and the sound is a little evil. "If not, get down." What that means is unclear, but one thing is clear - the Londoner's target is that arch, and he pelts through it as fast as his legs will carry him.

The thing gallops full-keel at the arch, head low, a strange bellow coming from the lungless creature. It hits full-tilt, and…explodes, well, like so many twigs, at the archway. A branch goes flying forward and smacks against Porter, but when it does, it's just a branch. The spiders have caught up, but they can't make it past the arch either. A few try and explode into piles of inert twigs.

When the twig hits Porter, he topples to the ground, rolling, looking back at the destruction happening at the arch. He laughs, and claps his hands together once, "Brilliant!" he shouts. "How did you do that, Mr. Moseley?" He begins to pick himself up.

There's no answer from behind Porter, at least not at first. The run complete, Cedric's dropped to all fours on the other side of the arch, breathing hard. His head is lowered as the wave of weakness that adrenaline had briefly postponed subsumes him, along with the nausea. He's shaking with the effort to control both his mind and his stomach, and it proves impossible for him to battle both, as he loses his lunch by the side of the path just inside the arch.

The twiglets (not the delicious kind) skitter around, but then, either the spell wears off or they give up. They all fall to pieces, and are inert twigs once more.

Porter hurries over to Cedric. "Are you okay?" he asks, quickly sizing the other man's wounds up. "You took a lot more hits than I did…" He lays his hand on Cedric's shoulder. "Can you make it? I can help you if you think you cannot…?"

Cedric doesn't appear to be all that seriously hurt - while the jacket is slashed through , he had enough layers on that all it's likely to do is bruise. There's a strawberry-colored mark across his left hand, but until he's done emptying the contents of his stomach, he doesn't answer. "I'm … I'm fine." There's the snarl. It's back again. "Give me a minute." Again, he tenses at the touch.

At length, he relaxes, breathing deeply, and finally manages to look up. "Sorry. Glad that worked." He straightens until he's on his knees, and slowly and with an effort, gets to his feet. "Bloody MacNamara," he mutters, fishing around in his now-torn jacket for something.

Porter nods, "If you are sure then." He gives a little smile, and then, with little warning, once more, hugs the man. "Thank you for getting me through that safely, Mr. Moseley." This hug doesn't last long, however, and he looks around. He walks over and picks up a twig, examining it. As he looks at it, he asks, "What is the arch, and why did it have that affect?"

The hug barely registers, and Cedric pauses in surprise at the embrace, eyeing the man oddly. He does, however, find what he was looking for - a pack of cigarettes and a lighter. With quick hands, he taps one out and lights it up, looking at the weal on the back of his hand as he does so. Only after he's taken a drag and breathed out smoke does he answer, "It's warded, but it doesn't always work. If it didn't work, I'd have had to stand and fight." Clearly, from his tone, he doesn't want to have to do that. "It did, though, so no worries." He turns and walks towards the office building, gesturing that Porter should follow him. "I'll have to make a report anyroad. Welcome to London, Mr Larue."

Porter lifts his brow a bit, exhales quickly, and then smiles. "Yeah. The Big Smoke." He chuckles to himself, and then tosses the twig off to the ground. He picks up his bag, and then hurries to catch up to Cedric."

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