Extracurricular Extraterrestrial - The Truth Of What Happened to Cassandra Hunter! - A 6 Part Story.

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Extracurricular Extraterrestrial - The Truth Of What Happened to Cassandra Hunter! - A 6 Part Story.

Post by Eri on Wed Oct 26, 2016 12:36 pm

"Handle: Dahlia. Password: seven-one-eight-nine-octothorpe-specter." Eridana droned into her wrist communicator. Voice recognition activated and the screen lit up with a scan-lined screen. Green text glared out at her. Eri yawned as the device attempted to make a connection through its many proxies and VPNs. The AOL dial-up tone was almost inaudible in the back of her mind, and brought her a tired smile. The screen glowed with the words, 'Welcome to Underhell'. Before she could blink, the main page displayed in all its black background, green text glory. She rubbed her finger along the edge of the screen. The icon for her inbox was blinking, the number 3 at its corner. She was never that popular. Only one message at a time usually, and that was AFTER a job. She hadn't even taken any jobs in recent memory. She tapped the screen and waited as the firmware processed.

//Accessing messages.

The sight of what was waiting in her message bank surprised her. The first message loaded up and displayed on the screen.

>>>>[My family is forever in your debt, kind wanderer. I am in your debt. Please accept this meager offering, and my eternal gratitude.]<<<<
    - 'Hajime-san'

Eridana's eyebrows rose as the attached transaction notice flashed past. A sum deposit made direct to her account. "A little dramatic, Hajime-san, but not unwelcomed." Eridana remembered her detour through the small Japanese town. Wonderfully lush rice fields, snowy mountains in the distance. A martial arts dojo under threat from gang thugs. Seemed a lovely place by the time she left. "Perhaps a nice holiday destination for the future." She mused as she opened the next message.

>>>>[Okay you need to tell me how you pulled the Hong Kong job. In and out, no witnesses? Not even camera feeds? Bullshit! Contact me.]<<<<
    - 'Ripcord'

She covered her chuckling mouth with a hand and tapped out a quick reply before moving on to the next message. Her chuckles stopped and the contents of the message made her tilt her head. It wasn't text and it wasn't payment. It was a single file. The wrist communicator stopped processing for a moment. Just a moment and it flicked from black screen to video player. The name of the file flashed in the top-left hand corner.

'supplyanddemand.mp4'

"I have something you're looking for, Dahlia," said a hunched silhouette. The background was a dark void, a lamp above its head acting as the only light source. The light threw dark shadows over the figure's hooded face and concealed their identity. The voice was vocoded. "Or rather, I have something of a delivery for you. It pertains to the request you put out not long ago." Eridana screwed up her mouth as the figure pulled an object from out of frame. The object in the video was a small, battered box, held up to the camera. It was black and a cable trailed from it like the tail of a rat. The box itself wasn't notable, given its condition and the situation. Just a small black box, but that made her all the more curious.

She moved to close the video and dismiss it as just another failed blackmail attempt. But the light flashed over the box and her hand stopped. The light gave her a glimpse of the embossed 'X' logo stamped into its surface. The figure continued, waving the small rectangle and speaking with content tone. "In my hands right now, as you can see, is a recording blackbox. Few see the light of day. Hell, most people don't even know they exist! But this one... this one is a bit special." They looked to the battered blackbox and waved it again, as if coaxing her. "If you were here, you would be able to see what I mean. The camera won't show it, but right here," Their finger tapped at the corner of the device, "It has a date. Its not exactly common knowledge, but I did a little digging. Apparently, this little guy was used to store the recordings and data from a Yugenex lab. The day of a catastrophic accident."

The figure turned to the camera again and Eridana could feel that they were smiling. She could tell by the way that they were making her grind her teeth and the way her skin was crawling. The figure's voice grew cockier. It chuckled in her face, "Sounds a lot like the kind of hardware you put out an APB for, doesn't it?" Her teeth were beginning to hurt as they cracked under the pressure of her jaw. What blackmail was this? Did they know more than they were letting on? There were at least 7 proxies and VPN programs in place between them, so at least she was secure. The figure put the blackbox down and sighed, "Okay, I'll get to the point. I have something I assume you want. And you have skills I need to make use of."

Her fingers punched small holes through her mattress. "Here's the pitch. I need someone who can get in and out of a place without drawing attention. Ever. I need this job done so well that even ghosts won't know you've been in. You've got a good rep for blackout work, so I think we can help each other." The computerized voice hummed, and the figure tapped the blackbox on their forehead. "If you're interested, get to the Noble Institute and over to the bleachers by the football field. The 7th row up, leftmost edge seats. Look underneath and there'll be a drop waiting for you. More information there." The figure leaned forward and turned the camera off, ending the message.


Last edited by Eri on Wed Oct 26, 2016 2:10 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Extracurricular Extraterrestrial - The Truth Of What Happened to Cassandra Hunter! - A 6 Part Story.

Post by Eri on Wed Oct 26, 2016 12:45 pm

Eridana's trip to the Noble Institute was not delayed, she rushed to the field and up to the bleachers. Sure enough, there it was. A small taped up newspaper package stuck beneath the metal seat. She picked it up and examined it. The football field had no security. No monitoring. No patrol detail besides the occasional janitor. It was just a university, after all. She sat down on the bleachers and set to unwrapping the package with legs crossed and eyes hungry. Like a schoolgirl opening her lunch. Beneath the tape and paper was a cardboard box. Inside that was a cassette player, and a pair of cheap earphones. In the deck was a cassette titled 'Play Me, Dahlia'. She scoffed, but put the earphones on and pressed play with a chunky click.

The cassette player whirred into life and that familiar vocoded voice returned. "Hello Dahlia." It said, teasing. Eridana grit her teeth as the voice continued. "By listening, I take it that you're interested in my stock and you've decided to take the job. Sorry about the archaic tech but I needed something analog. Anonymity, you understand." The sounds of papers shuffling was just audible beneath the electronic chuckling. Eridana felt sick in her throat, angered at her own curiosity. "I said I had a job, and I do. Lucky for you, you won't have to rack up any frequent flier miles. You're already here. The job is right here in the city. Won't even need to meet with me."

"The job is simple." The voice said, clearing their throat. "Recently I've been observing the operations of a small splinter group of anti-metahuman radicals. They call themselves 'Purity'." Eridana furrowed her brow. She had not heard of such a group, but then again she hadn't been keeping up with any word on the street. The voice continued, "They came in from outside the city. Probably crossed state lines. Recently, they bought out an empty lot of land near the docks under the guise of a storage and packing company. Seems legit on the surface, but I did some digging. Been monitoring them for weeks. I've noticed they've been moving too many cargo-loaded transports both in and out of the lot. Just carting heavy-duty freight about as if no one would notice." It chuckled. "Idiots!"

There was a sound of fingers rapping on a tabletop, or was that the clicking of machinery? Eridana could hear the sound of static in the background. Her ears folded over themselves and held the earphones in as she stood up. With a slow stride she began to make her way into the middle of the football field. The floodlights were off. "Anyway, the job. Long story short, Purity isn't moving brick and mortar but they ARE moving a more lucrative cargo. Get this. This crap that Purity is moving? Its people." Eridana's lip turned up as the voice buzzed at her. "Troops or something maybe, but I've got reason to believe they are planning some sort of attack. Now this is why we can't have anyone run in there guns blazing. It'd be far too easy to pull a martyr. Rally up support and attention. We don't want that to happen."

Eridana frowned. She trying to judge what kind of job she had on her hands. She stretched her back, feeling the skin and bone shift. Thick, muscled fingers peeled out from the roiling skin of her back. Leathery membrane spun like spiderweb between each finger. She could hear the skin pull taut as the hands flexed. With a few beats of her gargantuan wings she took to the air, and heard as the recording picked up again. "Get in, get me evidence of just what the hell they are doing down there and then get out without raising any alarms. Last thing we need is them going on alert and then pulling a Hoffa on us. Or worse, some sort of Secret Police deal."

"There is a storm coming, but I'm hoping we can turn the winds away and redirect it." The voice chuckled. "I can't get you floor plans or keycards. The place is new, but I can tell you that the security is watch shifts. Commercial grade cameras and PMC weaponry." The man's voice was cocksure, but the tone was fading. "Although, its not all smooth sailing. I saw something get hucked off some flatbeds by the grunts. Slightly bigger concern than a goon with a gun. Biometric analyzers. Older models, sure, but they still might be a problem. I'll re-transmit all the details once I get a reply."

Eridana growled, the beating of her wings sounding out over the moonlit city. She had reconnaissance work to do.
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Re: Extracurricular Extraterrestrial - The Truth Of What Happened to Cassandra Hunter! - A 6 Part Story.

Post by Eri on Wed Oct 26, 2016 1:04 pm

Peter Anderson's day was going alright for the most part. The long trip over the ocean went far smoother than the higher ups projected. He finally got his land legs back. The transport trucks were comfortable enough and their accommodation was prepared when they arrived. It was military and sparse but Peter preferred a clean and tidy environment. The purpose was looking brighter than ever in the Purity compound. His research may not have exactly been making leaps and bounds in the past few days but it was something! Better than rotting in a foxhole in the middle of Mother Russia. Or wherever their last site was. He never got told, none of them did. Too busy researching and working to see the sights, but it was alright with him. He had work to do, and as far as he was concerned it was the most important thing in the world.

The eatery within the compound was quiet, but that was the territory that came with being on the night team. Just him, Dumfries, Sanders and Ivanov. Well, and the guards, but they just stood around and looked mean. It was a small team, but a tight operation. Peter spied Ivanov sitting at one of the tables and gazing at the doorway with a blank expression. He was eating with a knife as his only utensil. Anderson swept up his own shrink-wrapped tv dinner and nuked it in the microwave. He slid it onto Ivanov's table sheepishly and took a seat. The guards at the door were silent, watching them with their rifles slung at their stomachs. Their visors were dark. No faces. They made Peter's hands tremble as he put picked up his fork and looked to Ivanov with doe-like eyes.

"Not exactly smiles and sunshine in here, is it?" Anderson said with a shaky smile. Ivanov's mask of indifference didn't move as he stabbed another piece of reheated meatloaf. He plucked it from the blade with his teeth. The man was gaunt, ragged and dirty. His beard was like straw and his blotchy skin had a pallor about it. It made Peter feel like the man needed to doctor himself more than he doctored the crew. His health had faded in recent days, but still he managed to put Anderson on edge in the worst way. "So uh, did you think over what we talked about yesterday? About Sanders and I?" He spoke in a hushed tone, giving a sidelong glance to the guards on duty every few seconds. Ivanov's half-lidded eyes rolled in their sockets. He finished chewing and looked back down at his food. "You are knowing the rules for fraternizing. Why you are asking me for permission if breaking rules is what you already are doing?"

Anderson was ever so surprised at that. If Sanders hadn't just then walked through and then walked out just as quick, he would have had a few choice words for Ivanov to consider. But then, Sanders had moved rather fast toward the storage cells. In her full hazardous materials suit. What ever could have been the matter? The guards looked to each other, and then to Anderson before following along at a jog. Ivanov wore a face of shock as he brought another piece of meatloaf to his lips. The hallway echoed with grunts, a soft knocking and then silence. The two men at the table shared a look before Anderson pushed himself up and moved toward the door to the hallway. Faint sounds from beyond the threshold came into earshot.

"...codes? A keycard? Anything, darling! For me~? Just open up! " A female voice whispered, svelte and playful before it took on a spiteful hiss. "Or I'll open you up."

"T-three eighty-six," the voice choked out, coughing and sputtering, "Zero fifteen. Guard ack-access."

Anderson rounded the corner and peeked in on the hall to find Sanders with her arm out. She was pinning the guard against the wall by his neck. His legs were struggling to touch the ground, as the black visor of her hazmat suit shined in the low lighting. The other guard lay on the ground, twisted as if he had tripped and fallen. He wasn't moving and a dark red was beginning to pool at his stomach. There was a soft crack, and a tearing of fabric as Sanders brought her other arm up. A bone was protruding through her suit's sleeve. She buried in the guard's ribs as she hushed and tutted to him softly.

"Shhhhh sleep now, dear. I'm sorry I haven't the time to take you back to your bunk."

The bone came back out painted red, and the guard fell into a heap at Sanders' feet. Anderson took a step into the hall and looked on in horror.

"Sanders?" His voice quavered, "Why are you in your suit? What happened to your arm, are you hurt?" He took another step, and Sanders turned to him. The visor shone as she turned, and in the next instant she had closed the distance between them. The arm with the protruding bone came up slow. Anderson could see the crimson gleam on its smooth surface. It didn't look broken. It looked shaped. Like a needle, it was slender. Sharp. Sanders cooed at him, in a voice not her own, as she ran a few fingers beneath his chin.

"Mmmm, another fly wanders into my parlor." The bone needle drew soft scratches across his skin as he tried his hardest not to tremble.

"What happened to you, Holly? Did you get into the storage? Did you make contact with the materials?" Sweat had begun to bead on his upper lip. Sanders ran a hand down his chest and he felt a few of his buttons coming undone. It was so soft that the breeze might as well have been undressing him. "Mmhmhm, darling. Don't complicate this with questions. There's fun to be had." Her tone was playful, heavy with lust. The hand had drifted dangerously low before he looked down. The needle had shifted to become a curved blade of pearly white. And it was sitting right beneath his gentleman's area.

"Sorry to CUT and run, lover." Her voice grew vicious, and Anderson screwed his eyes shut. Pain never came. Gunfire did instead. He kept his eyes closed. A volley of gunfire sounded off from right beside him, followed by an inhuman shriek. There was rapid scrabbling like a rat on the steel flooring. The shrieking continued as the gunfire did. It was getting further down the hall and around the corner until it had faded completely. Deeper into the complex. Anderson opened his eyes to see Ivanov moving to shake him to his senses. He was holding one of the guard's rifles. His usual tired frown replaced with a look of quiet determination.

"Anderson, hurt?" Ivanov asked as he pat him down for injuries. Anderson struggled for words. His hands pulled at his already fading hair, but he managed to speak.

"WHAT THE FUCK JUST HAPPENED." Anderson shrieked. Ivanov pointed the rifle down the hall and spoke.

"That, whatever, was not being Sanders. Or... it WAS being Sanders, yes?" Ivanov almost smiled as Anderson shook his head, still struggling to comprehend. Peter could see over Ivanov's shoulder. All the way down the hall, a trail of bright blue liquid lingered on the floor. Ivanov rolled his eyes and waved him on down the hall. He was about to speak before the alarms began blaring. The facility's emergency lighting bathed the hallway in an eerie red. Ivanov looked around, aiming the rifle before looking to Anderson. "Come, we must get to storage cells and go through procedures!"

Anderson followed, but yelled at him, "But Sanders just nearly killed me! She mutated! Are you just going to let that slide!?" Looking back as he moved and checked corners, Ivanov cracked a smile for once. "Trust me, back in home of Russia, I see much worse." Anderson paused his stride for a moment, "Aren't you from Ukraine?" Anderson said with a tilt of his head, Ivanov stopped jogging just as quickly to turn and shrug at him. "Home of Ukraine. Since when are you of caring? Now is not time, come!"
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Re: Extracurricular Extraterrestrial - The Truth Of What Happened to Cassandra Hunter! - A 6 Part Story.

Post by Eri on Wed Oct 26, 2016 1:18 pm

Ivanov huffed as Anderson slipped just outside the entrance to the storage cells. Peter looked down at his hands, and Ivanov saw that they were covered in the same blue from before. He shook his head, rifle at his shoulder.

"Whatever was being here, she is gone longs time ago." He pointed to the biometric handprint scanner with the rifle, looking down the hall. "You make access and open of the storage lockdown, I will make overwatch. Go." Anderson nodded and placed his hand on the scanner. A blue line scrolled over his palm and confirmed his fingerprints and palmlines. Next, he crouched to look into the retinal scanner. The light burnt his eyes but the confirmation beep sounded. The console next to the sliding steel door lit up with options. Peter's finger hovered above the 'door unlock' option. Ivanov stepped in and jabbed his bony finger at the 'release lockdown' option.

Anderson turned to him, and received a shrug in reply. "You were, how you say, making song and dance of it. Too long, we need get goings." Anderson was about to complain but the sound of the hallway door opening drowned him out. The storage cells all unlocked and opened with similar noise.

"I don't understand, Ivanov. Protocol states that in the case of station compromise, storage is to be purged. Why the change in procedure?" But Ivanov was already within, inspecting the cells. The hall was long, with doors even spaced until the end of the hallway. Ivanov walked past each cell slow, as if he didn't know what he was looking for. At his feet, the trail of blue liquid seemed to continue down from a vent, across the floor and then up to another vent. Ivanov looked up to see that the ceiling also had the same blue stains on it, bright even in the red lights of the complex.

"She make of crawling on ceiling. Blood drip down to floor from up there."

"That stuff is blood?" Peter quailed, wiping his hands on his clothing in a panic. Ivanov paused for a moment and then looked back at him with a ghost of a smile on his face.

"Well, if it is not being blood, then what come out when I shoot her?" He pulled the lever on the rifle to eject a shell, before dipping it in a pool of the blue 'blood'. It stuck to the bullet, and came up in strings. Ivanov groaned in disgust and dropped the bullet to resume his search of the cells. "Yes. Is being blood." Ivanov groaned.

Anderson shivered, and followed him. He knew the layout of the storage cells well. He had plenty of time to examine the organization diagrams. During his and Holly's many visits to the furnishings cell. Perishables, non-perishables. Furnishings, spare parts. Chemical reagents, miscellaneous research equipment and the final cell. Sealed by a second lever-operated door with tinted viewports. Ivanov looked back, and reached out to open the cell after walking past all the others. It opened slow. Lights within were flickering, struggling to stay lit.

In the room were several malnourished people. Some laying on the floor, some standing in corners. The room had a door marked 'restroom', a couch, a television and a table with four chairs. Everything shared the same bland grey and white palette. The occupants recoiled at the sight of Ivanov and his rifle, as he looked back at Anderson. In the ceiling, a vent was broken. Pushed open. A trail of blue blood trailed from it down onto the floor. Ivanov frowned and spoke slow.

"What are these peoples doing here?" Ivanov turned to ask.

Anderson shook his head, incredulous. "Uhm, duh Ivanov. Materials. We've been running tests on them for weeks now, ever since before the move. Ring any bells? Where did you think we stored them all, in the vents?" Peter squeezed out a chuckle before his eyes locked on the blood trailing from the open vent. Ivanov looked back to the shivering people and shook his head before stomping in anger. He moved to help one of the younger people up.

Anderson interjected, moving forward with a cry of, "Hey, what are you doing!? You don't know what sickness they have!" He moved to grab Ivanov's shoulder, but Ivanov shook him off. A second later he had his rifle pointing Anderson in the face.

"I am helping these peoples to get out. This is no ways for a persons to live. Is not safe here." Anderson raised his hands, and opened his mouth to speak but Ivanov cut him off. "No speech. Either you are being helping me, or you are not. Does not matter which, because these peoples leave this place. Tonight." The look in the angry Ukrainian man's eyes made Anderson feel like a small child. His life had been threatened twice in one day.

"What's the matter with you, Ivanov? I thought you were with me about these things? What happened to you seeing worse in Ukraine?" Anderson whimpered, staring down the barrel of the rifle. "They're sick. Diseased. They need our help, but if the station is going down why should we stick our necks out? Right?" Anderson turned to the open door. The droplets of blood reminded him of just what had caused the emergency.

The last thing Anderson saw was the butt of the rifle. A pain roared through his head before everything went black.
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Re: Extracurricular Extraterrestrial - The Truth Of What Happened to Cassandra Hunter! - A 6 Part Story.

Post by Eri on Wed Oct 26, 2016 1:41 pm

Ivanov pulled the rifle back with a tut. He looked for a second before he bent down to throw the skinny balding Anderson over his shoulder. He was light, almost no effort for Ivanov's lean frame to bear. Anderson's dangling hand bumped his behind as he spun to look back at the prisoners. They were shaking and scared but those on the floor were rising to their feet and looking to him. There was confusion on their faces. He sighed, and then cleared his throat before speaking in a louder voice.

"We are going to be getting you out of this terribles place. There is a trucks outside that we can use to get you all to safeties. Gather belongings and following me, I will guide you."

One of the older men of the group stepped forward.

"How are we supposed to believe that? Didn't he just say you were 'helping' us? What about that other freak that bounded in here? Was she 'helping' when she took that young lady?"

Ivanov's expression darkened at the mention of Sanders. If only he was a better shot. And had a bigger gun. He snapped to the present and looked to the man speaking. He was angry, but weak. Ivanov shook his head with a chuckle and tilted his head toward the unconscious Peter.

"I just hit him in face with gun, do I look like I am being 'with him'?" He punctuated the question by setting Peter down and pointing to him. "You are welcoming to carry. Think of as insurance, yes? Come, we need to be leaving and leaving now. Is not safe here."

The man was about to protest. Before a deep rumbling emanated from elsewhere in the complex. The foundations shook for a moment. He was much more willing to move after that, as were the rest of the group.

The prisoners moved quick, shambling together as the angry man picked up Peter with a grunt of effort. Ivanov made a quick headcount and spotted one young girl still on the floor. She was nursing her knee as he came over and dropped to a crouch beside her. She was pale, paler than he was. Her hair was platinum blonde in the spots that it wasn't dirtied by sweat and grime, and her eyes were a crystal blue. It almost matched the blue smeared on her clothing and the floor beside her.

"You are wanting to stay?" Ivanov jested, but the girl did not chuckle as he did. She pressed on her knee and grit her teeth.

"I am hurt. That... thing kick me and my knee crack bad." The girl's accent was a Russian derivative. She looked up at him, on the verge of tears. "It take my friend, Justine. Have you seen her? She have curly brown hairs."

Ivanov sighed, putting the rifle strap over his head. "I am sorrys. I no have seen this friend." The girl's head fell, and she pressed harder on her knee. Ivanov bit at his lip, and then kneeled down to her level. "But, maybes we are seeing her on way out of this place. Come, we get you out." The girl sniffled, and nodded after a second of staring at him. He grabbed for her arm and shifted her weight to his shoulder. "Just be keeping off leg and I will be helping you. Okay?" She put her arm over his shoulder and with a pained grunt, they both stood.

"Okay." She grunted, limping as Ivanov toted the rifle in his free hand and looked back to the rest of the group.

"Okay everyones, we are moving. Come." Ivanov flashed a smiled and pointed onward with the rifle.

Outside the storage cells, the way to the surface looked like a warzone. Small fires raged as the sprinkler systems sputtered water into the complex. Doors lay bent inward and outward. Warped all ways beyond use. Sections of the roof had given way to the earth above, outright blocking off most of the hallways. Every few minutes they would glimpse the body of a guard, or at least, pieces of it. All along the way, that same blue trail of blood lay spattered on the floor and walls. A prisoner from the back of the group retched. The girl at Ivanov's shoulder grimaced and hid her face in his shoulder. He tried not to look upon the grisly aftermath 'Sanders' had left behind. The surface was too close and he already knew that what had caused it was long gone.

The doors to the elevator looked like someone had gone at them with a bulldozer. Wrenched open by force. But, the elevator had not left. Instead, whatever got out did it through a hole punched clean through the top. It took a few shaky elevator trips to get the prisoners to the surface, but soon they were all top-side and on the move. They began piling into an emptied freight truck, taking care to get the injured in first. The girl sat in the front with Ivanov, her knee braced with a torn shirt and some rebar. 'Sanders' shattered it with that kick. She was going to need medical attention soon. Ivanov checked that the prisoners were onboard, hopped in and hotwired the truck. The vehicle coughed to a start, and they pulled off towards the exit dock. Ivanov was quiet as the truck rumbled away from the collapsing Purity complex. With a glazed expression, Ivanov turned the truck into the empty land near the docks district. Transitioning from gravel to paved road let everyone breathe a sigh of relief.

"My name is Zoya." The girl in the passenger seat said. Her face twisted with pain as she tried to find a comfortable position. In the strong moonlight and the dim interior lights of the truck, Ivanov could see the black around her eye. Her face was beginning to bloom all over with bruises. The red from her split lip and bloodied nose stood out in the passing lights. And she was wearing green medical gloves, banded at the wrists. Ivanov nodded at her, eyes wandering to her braced knee. She smiled. It was a sweet expression, honest. She looked out as they began passing beneath street lights. "Most of the peoples in that place do not have home. They steal us away from them, from families. Where you will take us, Mister?"

Ivanov smiled at her accent. "There is outreach center not far from here. Owner is nice man, he will being glad to take all these peoples in."

Zoya nodded slow, watching him as he spoke. "That man." She looked into the back of the truck, at the unconscious Peter Anderson. "He say you come from Ukraine." Ivanov kept his eyes on the road, nodding slow as Zoya turned her head to lay it on the window.

"I am from Ukraine. You sound like fool." Ivanov laughed. Strained, and weak. Zoya stared at him, before joining in the laughing.

"No, I am not from Ukraine. Good ear, darling." Ivanov commended her, speech and accent sounding more traditionally English. Zoya hummed happily in reply. "This was easy. Your accent is being terrible. Wrong in my... ears, yes?"

Her grip of English was solid enough but it was easy for him to hear that she was still learning its nuances. He looked over to her and smiled. "I've never been good at this identity game. Especially accents." Zoya gave no reply. For a long stretch of time as they drove into Neon City proper, the cab of the truck was silent. Ivanov's gaze flickered from road to Zoya and he could not help but give a warm laugh. She was looking out at the lights of the city, mesmerized. Blue eyes shining with wonder.

"This village! It is bright! So bright and tall! How is it so big?!"

Ivanov chuckled, as did some of the folk stuck in the back. They seemed to be easing up now that they knew freedom was in their grasp. "You've never seen a big city before?" Ivanov asked with a smile.

Zoya shook her head with excitement, "City. City." She rolled the word around, eyes taking in every inch of the Neon City skyline. Then she slumped back in the seat, face dropping.

"We did not see Justine. Is she alright do you think?"

Ivanov's grip on the wheel tightened but he didn't reply. He couldn't bring himself to say that he didn't know. He also couldn't tell her what she already knew to be true. Zoya sniffled, head making soft bumps on the as the truck went over potholes. Her brushed platinum hair shivered with every whimper she made.

"That thing steal her," She sobbed, "What was it? A demon? Spirits?"

He did not reply, instead watching as he opened and closed his hand, the bones beginning to shift within. A cacophony of cracking, clicking and hissing filled the cab of the truck. The man known as Ivanov was no more, and a lean woman wearing his clothing sat in the driver's seat. Her skin was grey, and her eyes white on black like stars in the void. Zoya looked on not in horror, but in abstract wonder. She gasped as the man who saved her shifted shapes to become something different. As if she were more entertained than afraid. From the back of the truck, a few murmurs of worry moved back and forth between the passengers.

Eridana breathed a sigh of relaxation, and sat back in her seat with a tired smile on her face. Zoya gazed on, speechless. She seemed to be the only one not either disgusted or terrified.

"You are... like us, yes?" She asked, turning to face Eridana and bursting with excitement. Her weight shifted onto her injured leg and she recoiled with a cry of pain. A few faces of worry from the other passengers fixed on her. Eridana held out a hand, grabbing her shoulder to steady her, and a sudden feeling of dread gripped her. Her heart and lungs stopped for a moment. Quick and painful. She drew back her hand with a sharp gasp and brought it back to the wheel. Her gaze stayed on Zoya as the road stretched on in a straight line.

Zoya looked downtrodden as she spoke. "I am apologies. It is my... gift. All us people, from that place. We all are having... gift." Her hair shielded her face from Eridana's gaze. She brushed it aside with one gloved hand and smiled. "You are having gift too, yes?" The truck went over a large hump and Eridana nodded with the upward jolt.

"Yes," She stumbled, hand still tingling and heart working after touching her. "Yes, you could say that. I've a strange... gift. Just like you." She tried to dismiss her sudden feeling of anxiety with a chuckle. Zoya reclined and the other passengers seemed to calm. The more at ease, the better. Another long silence followed before Zoya piped up again.

"That creature... it was not having gift. It was curse. Do you know what was?" She said with a slow rubbing of her bruised nose.

Eridana stared off down the road as a sign came into view. 'Helios Outreach Station' printed on it in big, cheery yellow letters. A picture of the owner, a well-built African-American man, was standing beside it. He was giving a big thumbs up. Eridana shook her head, face turning down into a blank expression. "No." Her eyes drifted to her fingers upon the steering wheel. The veins wiggled as a small cut unhealed upon the back of her hand. A bright blue fluid began to ooze out. Her blood.

"I've never encountered anything like it."
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Re: Extracurricular Extraterrestrial - The Truth Of What Happened to Cassandra Hunter! - A 6 Part Story.

Post by Eri on Wed Oct 26, 2016 2:08 pm

Back in her dark apartment Eridana sat at her desk. The light from the computer screen burned into her vision. The second package, her reward, lay on the table before her. Straight from dead-drop at Noble Institute Football Field once again. Same location, different drop. This time at the complete opposite side of the field, in the crook of a tree. The package was heavier and bulkier, and as she opened it her heart hitched for a moment. She saw the black cable like a rat's tail, trailing from the black box printed with the embossed 'X'. The date was hard to make out but it didn't matter. It was what was on the disc that she needed to see.

She carefully plugged the cord into the back of her machine and waited for it to connect. The file system popped up and the drive's inbuilt security system prompted her. For credentials. 'This is the part I could never get past,' she heard the computerized voice replaying in her head. The message that accompanied the blackbox drop was useless except for that part. Her fingers crawled over the keys to type.

//Username: CassandraHunter
//Password: ************

The system hung for a moment, before a dialog box popped up and told her that the credentials were incorrect. A moment of silent anger passed, before she began to type again.

//Username: IsaacLloyd
//Password: ************************

Again the system blared at her, saying her credentials were incorrect. It attempted to contact a system administrator. Eri had already made sure the machine was secure, severed from any network. She tapped at her chin as her brain turned over itself. Who would have access? She scratched at her chin before jolting to straighter posture. Her fingers danced over the keys.

//Username: SophiaLong
//Password: ***********

The system hung. And then froze. Eridana stared at the static window for an eternity before it resumed functioning. It popped up with a message verifying that the credentials had been correct. Her smile grew before disappearing. She saw that the drive contained a file directory full of corrupted and damaged files. She could attempt a recovery at another time, as her attentions turned to the only one that seemed to be intact. A video file labeled 'monarch.mp4'. With a deep breath, she opened the video file and put on her headphones.

Through a haze of digital snow, the trappings of a research laboratory were visible. All manner of scientific apparatus was laid on the stainless steel benches. The view flicked from camera to camera and revealed an empty lab. No one was at the benches for the first four angles. But the fifth camera held a figure in its view. A slight woman sitting at a bench, meticulously making notes. Her hand flurried and flourished on the page. She flicked her view from computerized readouts to large mixing vats and back again. Looking at her lips, Eridana could tell that the woman was muttering to herself. She pushed up her cracked, bent glasses and took notes faster than a laser printer. The audio feed cut in with a crackle, startling Eridana.

"Results from G-322 have proven unsuccessful. Genetic rending present. Incomplete monozygotism leading to malignant growth. Presence of regulator genes still, as of yet..." The woman looked to the screens and sighed. She rubbed her forehead with her fingertips, pen in hand.

"Still undetected. Will hope for improvements in G-323. Doctor C. Hunter signing off." The woman lifted her glasses and rubbed at her eyelids before setting her pen down. She closed her notebook and shook her head. The video stopped for a moment, before resuming at a fast-forward. Half of the day went by before Eri's eyes. Half of HER day, and she couldn't remember living it.

The video resumed again. Cassandra was sitting at the bench once more and taking notes. Her brown skin glistened in the light of the lab. Her labcoat hung from her bony shoulders like it was wearing her instead of the other way around. The audio feed cut in again as she rose from her seat and tapped on a control console off-screen. "Resuming research with G-465. I've just received orders to use new growth tank algorithms. Supposedly, these results are guaranteed to 'exceed previous projections'. Dr. Long hopes it will produce interesting results. Even despite my... protests about standardized operating limitations." The light from the lab was beaten out by a sickly green glow from off-screen as a humming began to fill the room. "We've tried running the tank this high before. All it has produced was terribly ravaged product and eaten through the fuel cells. No matter the new generation algorithms Long has devised this time, she's grasping at straws now. Becoming desperate."

"Daft bitch." She growled.

Slowly, the green glow increased in intensity. The feed switched to a camera at the far side of the laboratory, but the audio feed remained. Alarms began to screech from the huge metallic cylinder in front of Cassandra. The green lights on its surface strobed with increasing intensity and brightness. It was filling the room green light more by the second. Cassandra froze completely still as she stared at the growth tank in awe. She stuttered as she struggled to analyze what was happening.

"This is... incredible! The foreign cells are replicating at a rate at which I've never seen! Combining and converting and..." She paused as she took a step closer, "Constructing! They're building tissue! I recognize these structures, nervous tissue, circulatory vessels, musculature!"

The light from the tank shifted from green to bright blue. Cassandra looked to the screens and fell into a feverish giggle. Her mewling, unstable tittering built into a triumphant cackle. "I've done it! The foreign tissue is completely bonding with the host tissue! There are no signs of rejection whatsoever! The organism is..."

She jumped up and down on the spot, practically screaming her shrill voice out.

"IT'S GROWING! I'VE DONE IT!" She threw her hands up and the tank grew even brighter. Her arms drooped as the tank began to hum and whine. "Wait. No. No no no. Nonononononono. This is too quick." An arc of electricity leapt from one of the power cells and into frame, detonating a rack of equipment. "No. Too much. The fuel cells are failing!" Cassandra moved out of frame to the front of the growth tank. "I have to halt the generation process. The machine is going into overdrive. If I don't stop it, the fuel cells wi-"

A flash of white and a deafening moment of sound erupted from the growth tank before the audio cut to static. A moment passed as the feed fast-forwarded. Debris and architecture fell in on itself at 10x speed. Eridana's hands were covering her mouth. Her skin was shifting and writhing as confusion and panic gripped her tight. The feed resumed hours later, the lone camera left hanging and focused on the crater that was once the lab. The ground lay scorched. The architecture scattered and blackened. And where the growth tank used to be, there was now a giant pit. The pit held a small pond of blue slime that swam with streaks of pink and gold. The feed fast-forwarded as the NCPD began arriving to close off the scene. Emergency Services arrived to survey the rubble. The sun set as they left with fires put out and debris searched to no avail. It rose again as teams of hazmat suited investigators arrived to comb the site. For... something.

Anything.

And then the blue slime bubbled. And bubbled. And broiled. After 10 minutes of constant, fast-forwarded activity, the slime finally became still again. Hazmat suited investigators gathered to see the spectacle. They began to cordon off the area as the activity began again. This time, Eri could see it. She could see activity beneath the surface. A bubble inflated, swelled to the size of a beach-ball and then popped. From it came an otherworldly creature, slick with blue gunk, trying to claw its way out of the pit. It seemed weak and sickly as it ceased its clawing and tumbled back into the pit. There it dissolved. The feed sped up again. Eri saw through unbelieving eyes that the slime was producing more than just sickly alien critters. Swarms of strange insects. Clawed crab-like creatures. Amphibious floundering beasts struggling to breathe and half-formed verminlike mammals. Each tried to escape the pit as the hazmat teams looked on in awe.

Eri watched on, completely enraptured by the spectacle. The pit of genetic matter underwent years of evolutionary adaptation to escape the pit. It took another hour for the pit to spew out a familiar product. A hand clawed out from the slime, followed by another hand. Then a whole arm. A smooth head slid out, followed by the torso. Soon an entire body had pulled itself together and clawed out of the pit, into the waiting arms of the hazmat team. The body was naked. Female. Shapely like a prized stage showgirl. Hair sprouted from the top of her head and fell to one side. Eyes like great discs of coal struggled to see the world around them. Eri felt sick in the back of her throat as she looked on at her rebirth.

The teams carried her away, putting in a group effort to lift her between them and away from the camera. Off to Xenon, to be rehabilitated. Eridana's throat was tight. Her heart hadn't beaten from the time she had seen her own face on the recording. Her body and mind were both frozen, unable to process any of what she had just saw. All of her organs felt like still stones weighing her down. She needed to get something to drink, something to eat. To breathe, to hear her heartbeat. Every inch of her body was tingling with nerves and fear. Her bones ground against themselves, and her skin crawled slowly as the veins beneath whipped and squirmed.

She stood up and moved to the bathroom, but stopped in her tracks as she saw that the feed was not finished. An inhuman shriek sounded out from the feed still focused on the slime. Eri forced herself to look back at it, and felt her stomach sink as she saw what else had emerged from the ooze.

There was no more slime. In its place stood a woman. Slight in build, with smooth skin the color of coconut shells. Her hair was shoulder length, and dark brown. Her eyes, colored hazel and bright with curiosity, scanned the ruins of the lab with slow sweeps. Cassandra Hunter smiled, naked from head to toe, as she moved to exit the pit. The camera shook and Cassandra looked up. A piece of the building's support crumbled and fell toward her. Large enough to crush her, it tumbled down at her and... stopped. In midair. Dust and small pieces of debris from the local area began to lift from the ground.

And with a casual show of effort, she raised her hand and the debris raised higher in return.

She flung her arm to the side and the debris collided with the camera's supports. It hurtled to the ground. The last few seconds of the footage showed that it had fallen into the pit. A cracked pair of glasses blocked the shot. The blurred silhouette of Cassandra stepped out of the remaining pink slime. She moved with a slow saunter. The sounds of crumbling and cracking earth grew louder. Cassandra extended her hand, and the glasses flew away from the camera to their owner's hand. The smaller rocks and motes of dust in the area dropped to the ground before the camera feed cut out.

Eridana was speechless. Then it all began to link together. The Purity complex. Sanders. The blue blood, and how the facility got so damaged so fast. Eridana looked to her wrist communicator in a panic and brought up her access records. A few minutes of searching and all her tech support skills were put to the test. Eventually she was able to bring up traces of deleted access records. No coordinates or device information, but the dates were enough. Dates stood in the records that didn't line up with when she accessed her files. Her recon notes, her transaction records and her recordings, all accessed without her knowledge.

And there. Deep within the directory for the access records, she found a record pointing to a hidden file. Saved to her personal documents recently. Very recently. After the Purity Compound. It was only named with blank spaces.

'   .txt'

Eri's finger almost refused to move, but she opened it with caution. Only 6 words were within.

"Nice to finally meet you, Sister."

There in the dark of her room, Eridana sat in silent shock. Her faceless contact was wrong. There WAS a storm brewing.

A storm that threatened to wash her from the face of the planet.
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