[01-04] Among Us on the Ark

Karl Jak

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He imagined that he was supposed to feel something … anything given the situation.

Try as he might, Karl Jak struggled to will himself out of the numbness he felt as he poked at what was once a complicated array of switches, controls, and LED screens. In the aftermath of what had transpired, the control consoles had been shredded, and while a cursory glance may have led someone to believe that they had simply been damaged amid all the jostling, Karl always prided himself on seeing the little details.

Like the fact that parts of the paneling had been shredded with some type of metal implement. Whether it was a handheld weapon or someone with concealed blades tucked in their forearms, Karl couldn’t ascertain. Truth be told, he’d absorbed a few too many shots to the skull in recent history, and his once masterful recollection of memories was not as prescient as it once was. When paired with the reality that whatever had made many of the survivors (himself included) of the ship ‘unique’ was as dead as the last place, the unfolding nature of the situation was nearly too much for even Karl to handle.

“Mister Jak?” The voice was a soft, and for a moment, Karl imagined that he was simply hearing things. He ignored the question as he traced a thumb along the jagged metal. The deliberate damage had been done low enough to be concealed by the more natural wreckage, but whoever had done this, they had taken out a substantial amount of the wiring and underlying structure. “Mister Jak? Can you hear me?”

Realizing that the voice wasn’t in his head, Karl craned his neck away from the damaged back of the console and found himself staring at a grim- and blood-stained young man with unkempt red hair and a clipboard.

“Can I help you, …” Karl’s words fell away as he stared at the face of the youth, who tweaked with his twisted silver spectacles until the information finally coalesced in the brain of his supervisor. “Kevin. Kevin from Human Resources.”

“The one and only,” the pallid youth muttered before taking a moment to push some of his red hair back off his shoulders. “I…”

Karl had hoisted a finger—his eyes suddenly narrowing as his pupils began to slowly sweep the room around them.

When the executive’s finger dropped, Kevin waited a few more moments before speaking once more. “Are you quite all right, Mr. Jak? I’ve prepared some reports for you, if you’d like,” he said as he lifted the clipboard.

“I don’t think any of us are all right, Kevin,” Karl spoke softly as he took the clipboard and skimmed the handful of pages worth of information that the young man had collected. The sheets of legal pad included a list of all the survivors, their origins, and also a list of those who had died aboard the ship. After that, Kevin had compiled ‘reports’ from a variety of technicians working on different areas of the ark as they attempted to salvage the crippled vessel.

“Solid work, Kevin,” Karl muttered as he handed the clipboard back to its owner. “You did that all in…”

“About an hour or so, Mr. Jak.”

Karl nodded his head. “Well, congratulations, Kevin.”

“On what?”

“Well, if your information is correct, you’re now the head of your department.”

Kevin’s shoulders sank a little, but the ginger youth nevertheless nodded his head. “They were having a party in the office when the… when the thing happened. It was so sudden, Mr. Jak. It was almost like someone just nuked the whole place from orbit! We were enjoying the martinis one moment, and the next, there was just this terrible flash and people were screaming. Then everything started to shake and fall to pieces.”

“But you got out alive?”

The young man once again nodded his head. “Not everyone died in the initial blast. About nine others, myself included, survived to make the trek to the evacuation point. Three of us made it in time to escape aboard this vessel.”

“The other two?” Karl asked.

“One of them had been hurt badly,” Kevin muttered. “The other…”

Karl waved a hand. He was many things, but he already knew where this story was headed. “I understand.”

There was a faint moment of silence before the ground beneath them jostled, throwing Kevin to the ground and nearly toppling Karl over a nearby console. Within the bridge and across the entire ark, the wail of klaxons once more resonated throughout the vessel.

“What’s going on, Mr. Jak?” Kevin groaned as he clasped his hands around what seemed to be a fresh scrape on his ankle.

With none of the terminals in the bridge responsive, Karl already knew the answer, but he didn’t want to just instill more panic in the young man. “We may have struck something… debris, maybe.”

Just like that, the emergency lights went out across the ship.

***
Bulletins
*This begins the ‘first round’, which will run for five days (to February 17th)
*The ark is now pitch black, although you’ll be able to scrounge for various means to light your way (flashlights, lanterns, …fucking oil and a t-shirt, you can be creative).
*Internal ship comms are down. Life support works still. Gravity mostly works, although you can have it flicker if you feel like it.
*As you traverse the ship, you might start to hear strange noises that don’t necessarily sound like normal creaks and groans. People who may have been acting normal a few hours ago might seem to be... stranger (even given the situation).
*I’ll keep the exact number of survivors a little vague, but it’s likely north of 100; they are varied and most will be harmless Syntech employees but some of the non-Syntech people may be getting hardcore cabin fever

Round Objective – You have a variety of objectives you can do for this Round. I don't care what option you take nor am I dictating that you all have to go somewhere together.
1. Head to electrical to see what’s up (it would help if you had someone who is equipment savvy)
2. Help scrounge up panicked survivors.
3. Fuck those people, I’m going to bunker down with my supplies!
 

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Della Duck was nearly to the bridge when the lights shut off.

“Aw, fooey,” she muttered, positioning her hands on her hips and letting out a frustrated breath. The ship plunging into complete darkness meant that any trip to the bridge was going to be fruitless without first discerning the source of the outage. The lights were always one of the last things to go, so she knew if they’d gone out, it was super likely none of the Ark’s navigational inputs would be working, either.

So she turned on the heel of her webbed foot and started marching the other direction. A little ways back, she thought she might’ve heard a light scurrying noise, but… she didn’t want to confront the idea that this ship could be filled with creepy crawlies and with survivors of questionable morals, so she ignored it.

Not that she could’ve done any real investigating even if she wanted to. The Ark was pitch black. Della mumbled angry thoughts to herself, mostly about how the heck a ship this large could be commissioned without somebody putting emergency lights or a backup generator in the work order. Certainly she hadn’t been in charge, because she would’ve known — thanks to her copious experience as a pilot and engineer of flying crafts of many kinds — that even in the worst sitches, you definitely needed light.

For now, then, her trek to electrical would have to be conducted purely on touch and memory. She ran a feathered hand along the wall as she made her way through the bowels of the ship, trying her best to remember the different corridors and hallways she’d need to traverse in order to get to her destination. She’d made it quite a ways when suddenly the wall disappeared from beneath her hand and she found herself standing in the large archway that opened into a similarly pitch-black mess hall.

It wasn’t completely dark, though -- one table seemed to be pretty illuminated by a wood burning stove that had been… rolled out into the center of the mess hall?

Why the heck does a fancy space age ship like this have a wood-burning stove?!

“No way, Mr. Misha, sir,” a squirrelly voice was saying. It emanated from one of the scrawnier silhouettes near the fireplace. “There’s no way any of us could beat you in an eating contest.”

“Merely three sandviches!” the hulking monstrosity of a man sitting across the table laughed, slamming a fist down. “Your bodies are small and qvick! Surely you can compete.”

Della’s feathers bristled. The ship was in disrepair, most people feeling some shade of either despondent or manic, and these mofos were trying to have… a sandwich eating contest? The priorities seemed, to her, quite skewed.

And yet… Della Duck can’t resist a challenge.

“I bet I can!” she called from the doorway, limping her way as carefully as she could over to the table where Misha and his much smaller compatriots had gathered around, she guessed, the only reliable large source of light in the entire ship. She slid into a seat across the table from the heavy weapons expert, who looked down on her with intense, but not unkind, curiosity. His facial features weren’t fully visible, but she could tell the quizzical expression on his face thanks to the orange glow of the fire lapping against the hills and valleys of his gargantuan face.

“Tiny duck girl?” he chuckled. “You think you can out eat Misha?”

Della scowled. “Yeah,” she mustered, “yeah, I think I can!”

Misha lifted his hands in the air and clapped one single round of applause. “Okay then, little baby! Exciting! Let us go! Bring the sandviches!”

One of the scrawnier figures around them scurried off to the kitchen to prepare six sandwiches of unknown type for the competition, and Della Duck extended a feathered hand. “I’m Della,” she introduced herself, “pleased to meet ya.”

Misha took her tiny hand in his own huge one. “Pleasure is mine,” he said, “I am Misha.”

“Well, Misha, prepare to get your tuccus kicked,” Della smirked.

***

It was a matter of minutes before Della was licking her fingers victoriously.

Misha, meanwhile, did not seem put out by the defeat. “Impressive eating, tiny duck girl,” he nodded.

“That’s not the only thing I’m impressive at!” Della smiled, leaping up onto the bench. As she did, she forgot the relative newness of her robotic leg; it trembled beneath her and she lost her balance, tumbling down onto the cold linoleum floor of the mess hall. Not a moment passed before Misha, kinder than he seemed, had leapt across the table and knelt next to her to see if he could help any.

“Tiny duck girl,” he said, “are you alright? Can I help?”

“I’m fine, I’m fine,” she waved him away, “nothing can stop Della Duck.” She reached out and placed a hand on his shoulder, using his weight -- but refusing his help -- to get herself up and on her feet again. “Anyway, I’ve got places to be. I’m on my way to electrical to try and figure out why the heck the power’s out.”

“Smart and impressive eating,” Misha nodded.

Della shrugged as casually as she could muster, but she was feeling the confidence flowing in from her victory, even after taking a tumble. She knew that continuing her trek to electrical would be pretty tough without the lights, though… it was a wonder she’d been able to limp this far without stepping on an uneven spot in some corridor and making a complete fool out of herself. She supposed no one would’ve been around to see it, but she also couldn’t shake that feeling that there was a creepy crawlie somewhere nearby, scurrying around her. She glanced over at the wood-burning stove sitting nearby.

The kitchen crew had explained that, for some nostalgic reason about how ‘everything’s better when cooked over a fire’ or whatever, Karl had decided to install the more classic stove in the Ark’s kitchens. Sure, it needed logs to keep alight, but back when the purple-suited man was under the impression he’d just be able to make things out of thin air whenever they needed it, that hadn’t seemed to be a problem. They had just enough logs left to keep it running for a few more hours, so with Misha’s helped, they’d lifted it onto a dolly and rolled it out into the mess hall. Della’s mind raced -- she hated to take away their only source of light, and certainly she was in no position to push the big old thing all the way to electrical, but…

“Misha,” she said, “Maybe you can help me.”

The heavy weapons expert perked up, then followed Della’s eyes. “Ooooh,” he nodded. He marched over and pushed the stove towards the duck woman, but the scrawny, squirrelly-voiced chef from earlier stepped in between them.

“Hey!” he squealed. “That’s the only way we’re able to see!”

“It’s for the greater good, small fry,” Della barked, shoving him out of the way. Misha smiled down at her.

“Shall we go, tiny duck girl?”

“We shall go, large... Russian... man.”
 

Godzilla

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As he trudged along at a pace only set by himself, things were not going well.

This entire mess was already a clusterfuck of epic proportions. When everything suddenly decided to turn sideways on top of all that, though? That was almost enough to make Diamonds Droog lose his temper.

To his credit, he only sword viciously and planted his fist into the nearby wall when the entire vessel lurched and jolted. Pushing himself off the wall, the dersite scowled at the wall as if it was to blame, baring his teeth in a snarl so violent it crunched his cigarette completely in two. And then, because of course they did, the unbearably screeching wail of klaxon alarms ripped apart any semblance of peace.

Shortly before everything turned pitch black as even the emergency lights went out.

Droog swore angrily, grasping his hat and lifting it over his head as if to angrily throw it down to the floor....but stopped himself mid-motion. With a disgruntled mutter, he just brushed it off and carefully placed it back on his head. This situation might have been awful, but there was no need to be so uncivilized.

Fishing inside his suit in the darkness, the disgruntled mobster brought out his trusty lighter. With a light, well-practiced flick of the wrist, the tiny flame sparked to life and shed at least a small amount of illumination through the darkened corridor. He squinted his eyes, trying to peer through the darkness with the aid of his diminutive light source. Even all his time spent in classy, dimly lit establishments and royal chambers couldn't compete with a complete and total lack of light like this. He could see, certainly, but not particularly far.

"Well this is just fantastic..."

He stepped away from the wall a pace or two, just far enough that he could still see it, and then slowly started on his way again. He slid one hand into his jacket, taking hold of the grip of one of his many trusty pistols. Normally, he would have had at least a dozen more like it and all the ammunition he could ever need. He was just thoroughly prepared like that. But since this entire mess had happened....his Brawlsoleum had been reduced to just a plain deck of cards. He could still tell that everything was stored in it as it always was, but he couldn't get at it. It was frustrating, disconcerting, worrying, unnatural and unexpected.

He didn't necessarily get scared or weirded out by things like this. He hadn't always had tricks like that anyway. But suddenly having it unceremoniously ripped away like this? It was just rude, and left him ever so slightly extremely mind-bogglingly irate.

The sound of the ship around him was a constant, made somehow even more prevalent in the pitch blackness. Somehow, even out here in space, the sounds were the same as an old vessel on the ocean. In its damaged state, though...not really surprising. But every creak and groan was another worry that brought to mind a sudden flash image of some unexpected rupture in the hull, or sudden blowout and loss of pressure and life support.

He wasn't an engineer or scientist, but he was pretty sure both of those things would be bad.

The sudden sound of something scuttling around immediately alerted him. In a flash, the dersite gangster drew his pistol and whirled around, pointing it with a hand and eye as steady and sure as solid iron and a laser sight. He swept it to and fro, back down the hall he'd just come from...but of course he couldn't see anything in this darkness beyond the dozen feet or so of dim illumination from his lighter.

Another skittering noise and crackling of metal drew his attention around again. Up toward the ceiling overhead, down toward the floor, the wall...and then the sudden frantic pounding of footsteps from the hall ahead of him.

He spun about and with the deafening report of gunfire, sent a single bullet toward the approaching figure. A panicked "Jesus christ!" and a sharp crashing thud were his response, and then only heavy panting and no further sounds of movement.

Quirking an eyebrow, Droog raised his arm to point the pistol ceiling-ward and slowly crept forward one pace at a time until the flickering glow of his lantern came upon the prone form of a man clad in Syntech colors, and two more individuals who had flattened themselves against the nearby wall. "....why the hell are you wandering around out here?!" the now extremely displeased dersite barked.

"We were trying to go help fix things or something!" the man on the floor wailed. "Then the lights went out and we got all turned around!"

"We saw your light, and...and we thought maybe it would be better if we stuck with someone who could see!" one of the two on the wall added, with shaking words.

"....ggghhh." Something between a growl of pure unfettered frustration and a deep, resigned sigh hissed out through Droog's clenched teeth. This exact thing was why he couldn't stand people most of the time. They were so fidgety and anxious and prone to being scared and irrational. "Fine, whatever. Do what you want." He lowered his gun down to his side, but kept hold of it in a vice-like grip. "Just don't get in my way and make me waste another bullet for no good reason."

"Th-Thank you!" Just the prospect of being near even such a miniscule light source seemed a major relief for these people. "Where...where are you going?"

"No clue." The dersite sucked in a steadying breath, willing his steadily rising temper to level off for at least another few minutes. "Maybe electrical, help with the lights at least. Or the bridge, see if anyone knows what the hell we just hit."

"Do you think we could, uh...try and find anyone else who got lost when the lights went out?" one of them ventured. "O-Or at least...get back to the others?"

"I ain't your damn babysitter," Droog spat. "If we find anyone else and they want to tag along, then fine! They fucking can! But I'm not going out of my way to find anyone else who looks like they need a damn diaper change!" And without further words, he stomped onward down the hall, leaving the three hapless fools in his wake to scramble along after him.
 

Arthur Morgan

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Harold had been walking down the hallway, proud of a job well done in fixing up some of the wiring in another section of the Ark, when the entire ship had given a horrific lurch, throwing him into the nearest wall. Then, just as he’d managed to regain his bearings, the lights had chosen that moment to up and go kaput.

The senior electrician knew it had nothing to do with his wiring job—that wouldn’t have killed the lights, and he’d been at this job for a good few years, besides—but it still came as quite a shock, all the same.

There wasn’t much for it, unfortunately. He needed to continue on, find some of his coworkers and figure out what the hell had gone wrong now. Getting to electrical was definitely a little trickier in the dark, that was for sure. Thankfully, the trek was made slightly easier since he’d happened to have a nice little lantern on him, but it was still less than ideal.

His boots clunked steadily across the floor, though he paused at times to glance over his shoulder, the white glare of his lantern casting eerie shadows over the walls as he turned. He wasn’t entirely certain but he thought he could... hear things, little scratching noises scuttling in the dark. The glow of his lantern didn’t reveal anything, though, not quite managing to completely breach the darkness as the cascading sheen of light swung across the steely gray walls.

It was unsettling, really, and wouldn’t it just figure that they’d have an infestation of SPACE RATS on top of everything else. Even worse, Harold felt like he was being followed— were the space rats chasing him? Did space rats do that? Whatever the case, it did bother Harold a fair bit. So much so that he even scooped Perry up into his arms, hugging his semi-aquatic companion close to his chest with one shaking hand, the other maintaining a white-knuckled grip on his toolbox.

His own breathing sounded near deafening to his ears in the pitch black of the ship’s halls, his heartbeat thudding against his ribs in an ominous sort of way. It only got worse when, rounding a corner, a metallic hatch door slammed shut in his face, halting his steady progression across the Ark. Damn near decapitated him in the process, too.

Something overcame Harold in that moment, he was sure. Something primal, fearful. Things were bad before, but this… this was just wrong. Like, w-r-o-n-g wrong. Abruptly, Harold was sure that he needed to get those doors open, not just to do his job, but for his own safety. He wasn’t sure if those things tracking him in the dark were actually space rats, after all...

He set Perry gently down on the ground, watching as the little green fellow turned to dutifully watch his six (not that a platypus could do much, though it was a comfort all the same), and then turned back to face the sealed doors. Cracking his knuckles, he got right to work.

Minutes later, Harold had managed to just barely pry the vacuum-sealed doors apart, a wrench stuck between them, leaning with his full weight on the tool to try and pry them apart. Though not a fan of bisection or fatal injury, Harold was determined to get past that door even if it killed him. There was something back there in the dark, and by god, he didn’t want to set eyes upon it.

The old man shoved with a near herculean effort, the old bones of his arms creaking and his feeble muscles flexing with every hard push, and suddenly he was toppling backward onto his rump as the doors flew open with a sharp hiss.

Huzzah! Barking a laugh, Harold struggled up and onto his feet, settling his hardhat back atop his head.

“There,” he said with no small amount of satisfaction, rubbing his fingers together to try and chase some of the soreness out of them. “And all it took was a little elbow grease, eh Perry?”

The platypus said nothing in response, of course, and casually trotted through the open doors. Harold followed right behind him, noting that the darkness persisted even in this area of the Ark.

“Blackout must be shipwide,” he remarked, glancing around at the deserted corridor ahead of them. He shifted uneasily as the light cast by his lantern blinked and flickered, inky shadows writhing across the walls as the bright glow faltered.

Damn thing. It just figured that his equipment would act up now of all times, right? Just his luck. Always sparing no expense, that Syntech… Harold thought this all rather petulantly, with the air of a man who had been put upon one too many times in the past few hours. Getting angry about it didn’t quite stifle the shaking of his hands, though it did wonders for his morale.

Perry stopped in the middle of the shadowed hallway, not doing much, and Harold wished he had that same kind of stupid bravery. As it was, he took a nervous step forward, pausing beside Perry, and lifted his hardhat to dab at his brow with an oily scrap of fabric he’d retrieved from his back pocket.

If his mental layout of the ship was correct, then electrical was located just down the hall. Wouldn’t be much longer, now, and he’d bet anything that one of his cohorts was already there, lamenting their impossible situation the same as he was.

That thought bolstered his spirits a little, misery loves company and all that, and soon enough Harold was striding quickly down the corridor once more, Perry hot on his heels.

Sure enough, there was someone outside of electrical. Though the figure’s visage was hidden half in shadow, Harold could almost recognize them… a new hire, Harold thought he remembered the young man’s name, something like…. Claus? Clyde?

“Claude,” Harold greeted, settling upon a name at random. Judging by the way the other man whirled to face him, he’d… possibly been at least partly right. “What’s the situation?”

Claude shook his head, a regretful frown on his face. Looking at him, Harold supposed he was fairly handsome, in an early twenties boy band sort of way, what with his curly brown hair and suntanned skin— even the ugly standard issue electrician’s uniform couldn’t damage those natural good looks.

From what Harold could recall of him before this disaster, Claude was always cracking jokes, always laughing, and had an unfortunate habit of clowning around while on the job. A frown just didn’t seem right on a face like that. In fact, Claude appeared downright… sullen. Understandable given their circumstances, but disturbing to see in such a cheerful soul.

“I’m sorry sir, but it’s all hopeless,” the young man murmured softly, almost as if he were speaking in a dream, still shaking his head. “There’s just not much we can do.”

The senior electrician boggled at him, downright ruffled by Claude’s lack of faith. It was almost offensive, really, and the older man was quick to dismiss his concerns with a flap of his hand. “What d’you mean, not much we can do? Of course there is! Come on, kiddo, let’s go take a look—”

Harold moved toward the open doorway to electrical, but drew up short as Claude smoothly drifted into his path, forming a physical barrier with his body. But it wasn’t just Claude’s actions that gave Harold pause. No, no… there was something else there, something that set off little warning bells in the back of Harold’s brain, the hairs at the nape of his neck lifting.

“What’s gotten into you?” Harold gruffed at him, a little afraid despite himself. He took a step backward.

Instead of answering Harold’s direct (and perfectly reasonable) question, Claude merely tilted his head, looking at something over the old electrician’s shoulder. “Who’s your friend, Harold?”

Although every instinct told him not to take his eyes off Claude, Harold turned his head to look— and blinked in surprise. Rather than the normal quadrupedal, semi-aquatic egg-laying mammal he’d grown accustomed to, there was a bipedal semi-aquatic egg-laying mammal standing there, dropped into some kind of… backward-weighted defensive stance. Wearing a hat... a brown fedora, to be exact!

“What the fuck,” said Harold.

Perry, for that was indubitably who this upright platypus was, gave him a scolding look, before promptly turning a much stronger glare on poor Claude. His little platypus hands did some martial arts move that was complex, frightening, and obviously aggressive.

“Now wait just a moment!” Harold spluttered, stepping in front of Claude. “There’s no need for violence, now. What the hell are you, and why were you… like… that?” he finished lamely, still quite embarrassed for mindlessly doting on a clearly intelligent and capable creature. God, he’d toted the little guy around like a teddy bear…

The platypus just Looked at him. Harold had never felt more judged in his life, much less by a goddamn duck-billed pretender.

“Well?!” he demanded, hands on his hips. “Do you have anything to say for yourself, you big phony?”

Perry the Platypus seemed to consider this, his defensive stance relaxing a little, though he still seemed mighty offended by Claude’s very existence. His eyes tracked to the floor, obviously sheepish, before he focused again on Harold. He shrugged.

“Hmph,” said Harold. He hadn’t expected much. Platypuses couldn’t very well talk, now could they? Then again, he’d never imagined that they’d stand up on their little webbed feet and don fancy headgear, either...

So distracted was he by the absurdity of the platypus situation, that Harold almost didn’t notice when a light flickered from somewhere down the corridor, steadily growing in brightness as it drew closer. It was only when Perry turned his head in that direction that he bothered to look, and rather suddenly he was reminded of Claude’s presence behind him when the young man spoke up, causing Harold to nearly leap out of his skin in fright.

“Oh, good,” Claude said, staring at the approaching glow in a rather disconcerting way. “Here comes the cavalry.”

Well, at least his sense of humor was back. Everyone reacts to trauma in different ways, Harold supposed.
 

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The trained woman meant for hacking and sniping off various soldiers that were VSA or Helghast trained and was in a bit of a frenzy. Even though she had been trained for dangerous situations like this back on New Helghan past the wall, nothing could have prepared her for what was to come.

The ship seemed average at most and there was not much anyone could do at the moment as Echo made her way toward the controls. It was then there was a shaky crash and at first the electric grid began to flicker before shutting off completely.

“Just her luck” she mumbled, out of the darkness.

She looked around in the dark, now feeling the walls for a way back when she almost tripped on what seemed like an old relic of time gone by, a Helghast soldier helmet with its ever menacing red eyes. Why a relic like this sat on this ship at this moment was completely confusing. But she would use it to see.

She slipped the helmet on her head, and flipped on the red glow. Not only did the helmet provide her with a piercing glare, it gave her a source of light to see with.

The eyes were actually a very advanced light system the Helghast years past had used.

The narrow eye beams gave a small light needed to see.

A panicked employee literally almost tripped on her and almost screamed seeing the strange red light coming from the helmet. She slipped the helmet off and the eyes were still red but at least it would help at the moment.

“Hey easy, it’s me , Maya. I just found a strange light source.”

The almost scared woman seemed easily spooked from the power grid going down.

“D.. did you find an electric source, Maya?” Bellena asked.

Maya nodded “ perhaps if there’s a chance in hell, I can help Karl retain contact with the others with my hacking skill.

“Y...you know hacking?”

Maya nodded “come on, let’s go find Karl before more things happen.”

Every so often, she felt like she was feeling around the walls and for what the little light Maya could keep on, the woman with her started to panic. “S..shit I’m going to die out he..re”

Maya fought to help her up and gave her a hand. “ Please. Get us out of here, please.”

Maya sighed, trying to reassure bellena that the lights would come back on.
 
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Ronny gasped as he bumped into a wall, the meager illumination of his lighter barely letting him see a foot in front of him. He bit back a curse as he rounded the corner and looked into a small side room, finding himself facing an odd sight. A pair of frightened employees were backed against the far wall, clutching an electrical lantern between themselves as a wild-eyed merc brandished a makeshift shank at a third salaryman.

“You can’t fool me, you’re not fucking one of us, you’re a goddamn imposter.” The mercenary growled, jabbing his short length of twisted steel at the impassive corporate worker.

“Please, just calm down.” One of the terrified employees begged. “There’s no way there’s an imposter among u-“

“DON’T SAY IT!” The hostage-holder growled, whipping around for a moment before panicking and turning back to his first victim. “Fucking amogus! This guy is sus!”

Ron was ready to just let the scenario play itself out, but he realised that if one of Syntech’s employees was assaulted by the hired help, the legal ground was shaky at best.

“Ok, Ok, buddy.” The lawyer said, gesturing for the mercenary to lower his weapon. “We can talk this out. What seems to be the problem?”

“This guy is a fucking imposter! The imposter is fucking sus!” He growled, turning towards Ronny for a split-second before violently turning back towards his hostage. “SEE? See the face he just made at me?”

Not only had the threatened man not made a face, he hadn’t moved at all since Ronny had entered the scene. In fact, he was so unmoved that the attorney would have thought that he was dead had he not been taking wet, noisy breaths every minute or so.

“I… see what you mean.” Ron said, gently pulling a waiver and a pen from his pocket. “But the ark is very secure, I doubt that there would be an imposter amo- I mean, in our midst.”

The mercenary didn’t seem convinced by the lawyer’s words, but he also didn’t stop Ronny when he approached the stoic worker with the waiver.

“Heya pal, you mind signing this for me?” He asked, giving the office drone his best smile. In response, the attorney received a blank look and another slurping breath. Disconcerted, Ron glanced at the others, slowly understanding the mercenary’s wild response to the man’s behaviour. “Hmm… Ok…”

Gingerly, the lawyer took the man’s hand and placed the pen in it, raising it to the paper. The man didn’t react at all, not even turning his eyes to look at the paper. Ronny readjusted his grip on the man’s hand as he searched for a seemingly nonexistent name tag, suddenly realising how much the stranger’s behaviour was making him sweat, before scrawling “Mr. John Doe” on the waiver.

“Well, thank you for your cooperation…” Ronny said, releasing the breath that he just realised he had been holding and moving to get as far from the suspicious man as possible. Before he got too far, he remembered the far superior light source that the cowering employees were holding. “Erm… as part of Syntech’s legal board, I’m going to need to confiscate that piece of equipment.”

“Don’t leave us in the dark!” One of the employees gasped.

“Yeah! Especially not with… him.” The other wailed. Ronny wasn’t sure whether they were talking about the mercenary or his strange hostage, but it didn’t really matter to him.

“Ok, Ok, you can come with me until the situation is under control.” The lawyer said, gesturing for the two to follow him. The pair gave him breathless thanks as they followed him out of the room. The mercenary didn’t even give them a second glance as they left, too occupied with his new obsession. As they continued down the hall, however, Ronny could have sworn he heard the violent man utter a single word.

“Sus.”
 

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Tommy Oliver was a ghost.

Long gone were his days of being a green clad superhero that could just jumpkick his problems into oblivion. Now he was just a man haunted by the memories of what he’d done, and what he’d been forced to do. Running from his old life had removed him from his old universe and dropped him into a strange new land, but he’d made due by using his impressive close quarters combat and weapon handling skills to get work and what had passed for money. When the going got to be too tough, he utilized his other go-to move: he would just leave. With his penchant to wear the color green it had earned him the nickname “The Green Stranger” in some parts. He had to admit he found plenty of humor in that, so he let it slide.

Unfortunately, retreat wasn’t an option on a blacked out ship in the middle space that wasn’t supposed to exist in the first place. Still, as soon as the lights cut out he had quickly moved down a hallway to figure out just what was going on. Where they ended up wasn’t much of a concern, as he was mostly just a vagabond at this point, but actually getting there was his main worry for the moment.

His journey took him through a supply room, where he was able to obtain a small flashlight. It wasn’t too bright and the battery seemed weak but it was serviceable for now. It almost made the corridors seem even more terrifying, but he had to put out of his mind that he felt like he was living through some horror movie. Instead he moved through the darkness, looking for anything that could be the source of their problems. He didn’t know what he’d do when he found it, or if he could fix the damage, but that thing from his youth about jumpkicking problems did tend to resurface when he was out of other options.

There was a sudden thud, and Tommy could have sworn he heard the shuffling like a body being dragged. He jumped around the corner to see two armed Syntech employees looking down the hallway. They were predictably jumpy, so Tommy wasn’t too surprised when they aimed their firearms at him. It wasn’t the first time he’d been blinded by flashlights on the end of rifle barrels.

“Hey, hey! Friendly!” Tommy shouted to pacify them.

“Did you see what that was?” the male Syntech employee asked, as they shifted their aim back into the darkness. The fact that they could communicate with the newcomer was enough for them.

“I only heard it, I didn’t see it,” Tommy said as he stepped between the man and the woman. “Did you?”

“Just a glimpse, not much,” the man admitted.

Tommy shook his head. “Then why didn’t you try and stop it?”

The man looked incredulously at the robed mercenary for a moment before unleashing his answer with dripping sarcasm.

“Because I forgot my bazooka at home, alright?” the man scowled. “Sheesh, give me a break here.”

“Alright, okay, Trent,” the girl interjected, before looking to Tommy again. “Look we aren’t exactly hunters or warriors or whatever. We’ve seen a little more than the average Syntech employee but we’re not exactly equipped to deal with… whatever that is.”

Tommy drew his own pistol as he tapped Trent’s rifle with his flashlight. “You have everything you need. Let’s go.”

The stranger disappeared into the darkness, leaving his backup behind for a moment. They had a choice to make, here. Did they help him and maybe get this ship running again, or did they flee back to Karl Jak and pray this would be taken care of for them? They could only remember the last time they had to roll up their sleeves. Trent let out a heavy sigh.

“Here we go again, Kristen.”
 

Aku

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With every movement, The dolly's wheels squeak while a giant man that can wrestle vicious bears or a group of BLU mercs pushes the cart down the corridor along with his new duck pal. Their comradery formed quickly back at the mess hall with Misha's little game that eased everyone's fear that they were sitting ducks on a sinking ship in the vacuum of space. The duo marched toward the ship's electrical sector that is responsible for the Ark's leading power. Their light source illuminated the darkened corridors wherever they pass. Upon arriving at their destination, they can hear someone's voice talking while they enter electrical.

The two Syntech technicians, plus the wearing fedora bipedal platypus, now can see what the source of glow was coming towards them. It is funny enough to call them the cavalry since it only consists of two bodies. An adventurous space pilot duck and the other is a mercenary's appearance similar to a giant Russian bear. Well, if Misha had Sasha, he could have been the whole cavalry itself.

"Looks like we've lost to be the first ones to come here, huh, tough guy?" Della remarks as they encounter the others upon their arrival. "Da, more tiny men to help with this ship's power." Misha, the heavy weapons mercenary, replies in his usual manner when coming across other men that aren't his size. The duo stood at the electrical system's main entrance and their primary light source: a burning old school stove sitting on top of a dolly. Their not-so-shy announcement catches the two technicians' attention along with their little furry platypus friend.

Harold and Claude weren't sure how to act after a hulking bald man called them "tiny," but they sure know that it would be smart enough not to get on this guy's grumpy side. Perry just observed their conversation to see how all of this will go down.

"You folks here to help? It would be easier if we had more hands and protection as well in case things go south." Harold speaks up anxiously to the new duo that arrived.

The fire within the stove is crackling and popping between their conversation.

"You bet!" Della cheerfully replies, cracking her knuckles in the motion that she's ready to get more work done. "I guaranteed with my kind of help; we'll get the power back on before big guy here finishes a sandwich" she chuckles at her joke, and the Russian heavy weapons expert thought her joke was funny too, making a little bellow laugh.

"Hahaha! Comrade duck here good, yah! She reminds me of past comrades that I fought alongside." Misha assures the other strangers, adjusting his bandolier of heavy caliber bullets.

"Well, if we're going to be working together, we should introduce ourselves. The name is Harold. I'm one of the senior techs here that fix electrical problems." The oldest tech reveals his identity, talking in a calm mood that they have help now. "This here is Claude. He's a technician too certified in working on anything that involves power the Ark." Harold gestures his hand to Claude standing right next to him. "And that little guy is Perry. Pardon his manners right now. He's a little on edge for some odd reason." The senior tech's eyes shifted to see where Perry the platypus stood at with him leaning against the wall and giving off that same look toward the newcomers.

"I'm Della, and this big guy here is Misha." Della introduces herself and her colleague, leaning against the cart in a relaxed style while heavy still grasped his giant hands around the dolly's handles that were small compared to his hand size.

"Pleasure to meet the both of you. Now, Della, you know a whole lot about electrical or at least know the basics?" Harold questions, raising his brow in curiosity if she has any knowledge on the topic. "Heck yeah! I can do the basics in my sleep or with one hand tied to my back." Della proudly boasts about her skills while examining her nails in a smooth and calm attitude.

"Excellent! How about you, Misha?" Harold shifts his focus on the brute that exceeds significantly above his height. "Net, I am heavy weapons guy. I do not waste my time with tiny wires that can almost kill me." The RED mercenary replies, letting go of the handlebar belonging to the dolly and crossing them in a tough-guy style.

"That settles it then, Della, you follow us. Misha and Perry, you both stand guard and protect us in case something goes wrong." The senior tech lays out a small plan for everyone to follow. Not a single soul rejected Harold's idea, and everybody agreed. Both the giant Russian mercenary and little bipedal platypus stood guard next to the dolly that lit the electrical sector entrance. The others headed to an equipment storage room with all the necessary tools and safety to service anything that involved electricity. Della, Harold, and Claude grabbed hard hats equipped with head lanterns for blackout situations. They put the caps on and pressed the buttons to activate their light sources.

Three toolboxes were packed full of tools, extra wires, zip ties, and sawdering kits. The trio grabbed their boxes and proceeded to the servicing electrical area filled with panels packing many circuits and wiring systems. They begin to work quickly for everyone on board the Ark to get the main power back online without hesitation. Meanwhile, Misha throws more firewood into the burning stove, and Perry stares into the corridor filled with darkness that led away from electrical. "So, you talk tiny platypus or net?" the heavy weapons guy breaks silence to make their job less boring, but all Misha received from Perry was that serious look in his eyes that he had before with no word coming out his mouth.

"Is ok if you don't speak. Silence is the calming Russian way." Misha replies, staying on guard still to see if anyone or anything approaches them.
 

Sandro

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The jostling set Liberty on a swearfest the likes of which he'd never given since Antiga. It took a few seconds after collecting himself to remember where he was headed. Electrical. Liberty was no egghead, but he'd learned a few things on the frontlines over the years - it helped that he was never using new equipment. There was no harm trying to lend a hand, and if he was no use, well, that was fine, too. He'd at least be at the heart of the story in Electrical, meet some of the folks who actually knew a bit more than him about what was going on.

The bump still made Liberty edgy, though. a simple, paranoid thought of a passing overlord bumping the hull struck liberty's mind, but a quiet voice in the back of his head reminded him that the swarm was never quite this loud...

The thought didn't really set Liberty at ease, since he had no idea what could be out here in space. Strange alien species he didn't know as well - some worse than the ones he'd met in the old universe, worse than the ones he knew from the Koprulu sector - or just a meteor that took out life support. Michael didn't know if it was both or neither or something else entirely, and the thought made him feel an uncomfortable kinship to the sailors of old earth who told the tales of the Kraken out at sea.

Michael took a moment to adjust his coat, checking his compartment for the P-250 he kept on concealed carry. He wasn't convinced this was a Kraken yet, but he didn't fancy ending his story as turtle-food. He held a flashlight in his off-hand - one he had never seriously expected to need at a syntech event but was happy he'd kept on hand - and shone it into the darkness in front of him. Luckily, the Ark was fairly easy to navigate- the area was well-labelled to keep someone from getting lost in the confusion of the scramble.

Unfortunately, it seemed these tunnels were very inter-connected, and everyone else was just as paranoid.

"Freeze!" a voice yelled from behind, and Michael gave out a long sigh. putting his hands up slowly, the Reporter waited for a signal to actually turn.

"Syntech security?"

"mostly." Another voice rang out, sounding a little more tired.

"My name's Michael Liberty. I'm a reporter for the Coruscant News Network." The guy added.

"We don't... really watch that much of the news-" a female voice added, but the man was quick to cut across.

"-Are you the one that did the expose on Palpatine's secret drug problem?"

"No no no, that was... definitely not me. Do I actually look round enough to be Michael Fritter?"

"uhhh... fair enough. Oh! Right, you're the one that did the piece on the corruption in Enies Lobby! I remember, you wrote about the cover-up of the guy with the green armor blasting his way through!"

"Yeah, that was me."

"That one was okay."

"Okay, so I think we've figured out he's not the monster, guys."

The woman next to him sighed. "...yeah. Seems like he's fine. alright, man, have you seen anything creeping through the halls?"

Michael turned around now, finally, and relaxed as he saw the three looked like fairly normal people - the kind you'd have a drink with after a long work-shift.

"Nope. But if there's something weird in the halls, I think I'll stick with you three for now. I've had enough surprise alien encounters to last a lifetime."

"Got a piece?"

Michael's p-250 was flat in his palm in half a second. Something about living through a war makes it pretty easy to get your gun out in a flash, and if his mythical sea monster really had made it's way on the boat, Liberty wasn't about to waste a second.

"yeah, I got a piece. any of you got a spare cig?"
 
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Hisoka

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When the lights went out,
Morty didn't want to die.
So he hunkered down.

Against the bulkhead,
Eyes straining to see in dark.
Crouched down and fearful.

He had lost the duck,
And very much out of luck.
And so Mort kept still.

He could only hope,
That the others would fix it.
And nothing ate him.​
 
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Karl Jak

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Round 1 End

Karl sat in the tattered, tilted remnants of what was likely some sort of operational chair. How long had he remained here?

"Sir?" A voice spoke from the darkness.

"Hey, Kevin," Karl murmured as he stared into the void. "Have they managed to restore power?"

His employee, guided by a flashlight, wove his way through the wreckage of the ancillary bridge room to make his way to Karl. The beam of light hurt the producer's eyes, which had grown accustomed to the darkness over the last number of hours. "I think you need to come up to the conning tower, Mr. Jak, we've noticed something."

Karl furrowed his brow as he turned to glance at his employee. Even just a few hours removed from their last conversation, Kevin seemed far worse for wear. Stains of dirt and grease dotted his face and clothes, and he had a distinct coppery smell about him.

"What have you been doing?" Karl murmured as he slowly stood up out of the broken chair.

The younger man shuddered. "I was with a group of technicians, and one of them was working on opening these big doors... he succeeded, only for the mechanism to fail the moment he tried to step through." Kevin, with a flashlight in one hand and his clipboard in the other, pantomimed a crushing motion with the two objects.

"I'm sorry you had to witness that," Karl replied as he was led out into the dark corridor.

The producer saw Kevin shrug up ahead of him. "I mean, it's the job, right? It's just a little more... jarring when the violence is unplanned and unfolds two feet from where you're standing."

Karl's mind drifted to faraway memories of Central City under siege by alien invaders. Memories in which he was one of the only Syntech employees to survive the initial attacks. What had Kevin's original position been?

Try as hard as he could, Karl Jak struggled to make the correct memories manifest in his head.

Elsewhere on the ship, the various assortment of survivors struggled to make the best out of the situation. Some found solace in eating sandwiches, and others located a momentary peace in the company of others. Those who were alone huddled in the darkness and hoped that the whole nightmare would conclude.

In a distant portion of the ship, someone had wandered their way into what seemed to have been a functioning kitchen at some point. Crash, guided by a flickering flashlight, smelled something strange as he wove around a steel countertop, but the air was also thick with the stench of death and smoldering bits. As he was reaching the end of the counter, the beam of light died, casting him in the darkness.

"Always bring a backup," he muttered as he reached into a pocket for the lighter he had liberated from a dead body a few rooms back. After fumbling with the device, he got it to spark, and the last thing he saw before the explosion was the set of broken gas pipes above the nearby oven.

The ark shuddered violently as Kevin led Karl up the stairs to the conning tower.

"That felt bad," Kevin whispered as he looked back at his boss. "An engine, maybe?"

"Whatever it was," Karl replied. "It wasn't good."

The pair went up through the hatch into a wide room that was illuminated by the glow of fluorescent lights fueled by a few hand-cranked generators. About half a dozen Syntech employees were gathered in the pale light, and while all of them looked terrible, there seemed to be a general sense of relief on their faces.

"What's the news?" Karl asked as he stepped around the various cords that blanketed the steel floors.

"Just look," someone mentioned as they pointed through one of the reinforced view screens. "We might be saved!"

Karl joined the employees and couldn't help but smile faintly at the sight. An unknown distance ahead of them, there was a large purple planetoid. Nestled in nearby orbit around the gas giant was a planet roughly half the size of Earth, Karl's original homeworld.

"Here," someone mentioned as they stepped up next to Karl and handed him a large set of binoculars hooked into one of the generators. "If you use the zoom, you can see that there are big ships in the orbit of the planet... this is good, right?"

The executive toggled binoculars and noted that there were a variety of smaller vessels and a large space station in orbit of the smaller planetoid. Even so, there was something off-putting about the glow of the gas giant and the moon that seemed to orbit a little too close to its atmosphere.

Yet, there was genuine relief on the face of the collected employees. Was Karl simply being a bit too cynical?

"How far away? Do you have an estimate? Are we drifted in that direction?" Karl inquired as he handed the binoculars back to one of the staffers, a technician called Steve Nesbit.

"From the math that I've done," the tech muttered as he glanced back at their apparent destination. "We have been being pulled in this direction for a while... I'm not good with space math," the technician chuckled. "That planetoid must have a massive gravitational pull to drag us in from so deep in space."

"Does that not raise any red flags?" Karl asked as he looked at the other technicians. Most of them shrugged, although one of them nodded his head and pointed.

"It looks like some of the recent impacts on the ark have been from debris stuck in the planet's expanded orbit. They don't want to listen, but I'd like to quarantine some of the lower decks, which have lost hull integrity in some places."

"Don't listen to Stevens," Nesbit groaned. "He's paranoid... thinks we're not alone."

"We're not alone," Kevin replied as he glanced up from his clipboard. "There are plenty of survivors aboard the ark."

"I'm talking of the others," Stevens replied cooly as he handed some sort of short-range communication device to Karl. "I got these reports sent to me from someone down on the lower decks... they had a power set up like this one running down there for a while."

Karl frowned as he took the device and hit play.

***​

Down on the lower decks, Mortimer Mouse had passed the hours clinging in the darkness. He'd made his way down here after the initial fracturing of the group of survivors, and while he was afraid, he didn't risk trying to navigate his way through the dark passages.

That is until he heard someone shuffling toward him in that very same darkness.

"Hello?" Mortimer whispered as he peeled himself away from the bulkhead and slowly turned to look down the hallway. After so long in the black, his eyes had adjusted enough that he could make out the humanoid shape stumbling toward him. "Hello?" He repeated, which only seemed to cause the figure to quicken its pace. "Talk to me!" He screamed as the shrouded figure suddenly shuddered as a pair of extra limbs tore wetly from its sides.

A gibbering scream erupted from the very non-human entity that sent Mortimer scrambling into the blackness.

Crash is dead.
Della Duck will have her eyes drawn to a sliver of something that shimmers just a bit too much to be left behind.

The ark is drifting toward an unknown planet.

Something is rumbling in the lower decks, and as time goes on, some other survivors will eventually become completely feral.

Mortimer Mouse can do with his information as he pleases.

This Round will conclude on Thursday, February 25th at 6 PM CST.
 

Mickey Mouse

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“Della?” Harold called into the murky blackness. “Della, you still there?”

“Yea,” she called back, unsure if her compatriots could hear her, “I’m here.”

She grumbled under her breath, super frustrated that she had agreed to participate in this escapade. She’d felt some sort of compulsion to help, but what had she really been thinking? Yes, she was a pilot, and yes, she knew a thing or two about the anatomy of flying vessel, but was she an electrician? You’re darn tootin’ that she was not. She knew basically what she’d seen in the movies and the guess work that she accomplished on adventures with her wealthy uncle, like how cutting the red wire was by far the most dangerous option, but that was about it. Nevertheless, she’d been the smallest of their engineering trio, so when the time had come to send someone into the breach, she’d been the obvious -- and, really, only -- choice.

Della Duck grunted as she crawled through the small opening between the Ark’s two biggest generators. The huge, hulking, cubic structures were completely darkened thanks to the wide-reaching power outage on the ship. That made navigating the space between them extra difficult -- and navigating the many sets of crossed wires linking them next to impossible. After two or three minutes of clambering through, the duck pilot found herself hopelessly trapped, tangled up in a flurry of multicolored wires.

What colors were those? Well, she couldn’t tell. Ducks didn’t have night vision like some other species, and the huge wood-burning stove hadn’t exactly fit in the deeper recesses of the ship’s electrical room. The place was unreasonably dark, and so when she closed her eyes and took a deep breath to try and center herself after getting stuck, nothing had changed. And that unnerved her.

“Aw, fooey,” she muttered, then let out a quick, frustrated sigh. Things on this escape trip were already not going quite as planned -- she was certain that Karl Jak hadn’t meant to get them hopelessly lost in space with nary a working space ship in sight -- but somehow, things had gotten even worse than she would have imagined.

When it dawned on her that she was… well, stuck, she screamed.

Back outside the bowels of the generator, Harold and Claude looked up from whatever they were doing. “Della? Y’alright?”

“I’m fiiiine,” Della sighed, glancing around her. Would ripping herself out of these wires hopelessly darn the ship to be in the dark… forever? Or would tearing these freaking generators apart suffice to kick whatever backup Karl Jak must have installed into gear and make the lights finally kick back on?

Out of the corner of her eye, Della saw a glint of something, and blinked. Truly, there shouldn’t be any source of light in here, right?

And then… it freakin’ moved.

“No way,” she breathed, watching as the little glowy thingy scurried up the side of one of the generators. Without considering it for too long -- or really even thinking about it at all -- Della burst from the wires holding her, snapping reds and blues and greens and yellows every which way. “Haaaaa!” she yelled, leaping over towards one of the gigantic cubic generators and latching on with her feathered fingers. She clambered up after the mysterious glowy force, eventually reaching the top and scrambling to her feet. The great expanse of the top of the generator stretched out before her, but she couldn’t see a dang thing.

“Come here, you little…” she said, starting to chase after the little glowy thing. It scurried away, but on even turf, Della matched it in speed. She chased after it across the top of the generator and then finally leapt after it, reaching out and snatching it up in her palm before crashing into the metallic structure. It buckled underneath her, the metal splitting under her weight -- not because she weighed particularly much, but simply because it hadn’t really been built to bear a load.

She plummeted into the generator, wailing as she did, until finally, another net of cords caught her and held her aloft just above the ground.

Her eyes darted to the thing squirming in her hand, and to her surprise, she saw a shiny, glowing piece of… crystal? Rock? What was it? Looking back at her. Along with the creature that had been carrying it: a tiny, hairy little rat. Her eyes went wide and she almost screamed again, but the rat’s voice leapt out and interrupted her.

“Pourriez-vous me laisser tomber?”

“Holy heck.”
 

Arthur Morgan

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Perry the platypus glanced up and down the shadowy corridor as he waited, his eyes narrowed under the brim of his spiffy fedora. After a moment of utter stillness in which absolutely nothing emerged from the pervasive darkness to threaten his position, though, he turned that same scrutinizing gaze on his current companion.

The large Russian man was certainly formidable, if a bit top-heavy. His shoulders seemed wide enough to hoist entire cannons, and it likely wouldn’t have been impossible for a pair of Clydesdale horses to sit comfortably astride their muscled bulk. The man’s strength was made even more obvious from the way he’d hefted that wood-burning stove without breaking a sweat, and his confident, hulking stature meant he cut a rather beastly figure in the half-dark. It was obvious why he’d been hired, much like Perry himself, to secure the well-being of Syntech’s staff.

Still, although Perry was impressed, he was not overly intimidated. Despite being a tiny semi-aquatic mammal, he was no stranger to tackling opponents much larger than himself— be they oversized humanoid robots or scrawny mad scientists, they were all the same to him. He didn’t believe the self-proclaimed Heavy Weapons Guy would become a problem, but if he did, he would be dealt with in much the same way as Perry dealt with all his problems: efficiently and with the utmost professionalism.

Misha noticed Perry’s stare, returning it with one of his own. The two had mutually agreed to hang about in silence while the electrical trio did their thing, but nothing was ever decided about epic stare downs. And Perry the platypus, being an animal incapable of speaking human language, could stare with the best of them. It was what most O.W.C.A. agents did when faced with any kind of scrutiny that might threaten their undercover status— stare. And humans were almost always the first to blink.

After several long minutes of uninterrupted staring, Misha’s heavy eyebrows drew together, a thick knot of frustration building there. “Is there problem?”

In answer, Perry merely shook his head, his broad beaver tail whapping against the floor in disagreement with a hearty smack! He faced forward again, giving the dark entrance to electrical a long, hard look, before stepping forward to peer through it. Not a single person was visible from his position, though he could see lights further inside the cluttered room, glancing off the walls in thick yellow beams.

From behind, the bulky Russian man gave a hearty laugh. “Ah! The guarding bores you. Is boring job; my old job was not so boring. More shooting of cowards, yes?”

Turning back around, Perry shrugged. Yes, it was boring. But shooting people? He preferred nonlethal methods, himself. Hand to hand combat, preferably.

As if he perfectly comprehended what Perry’s simple nonverbal gesture meant, the Heavy nodded in understanding. “But of course. I see it. You are no coward. Small like baby, but strong!”

Leaning against the doorjamb, Perry considered this a moment. Well, he was indeed about the size of a human infant. Though he didn’t much like being compared to one—

A scream ripped through the air, nearly startling the platypus out of his furry little skin. Almost as one unit, Perry and Misha lurched into action, darting inside of electrical. It was a tight fit for both of them at once—especially considering that the Heavy’s shoulders scarcely fit through the doorway without him ducking low and twisting his body sideways—but seeing as Perry was much smaller, he merely leapt up and scurried over the larger man’s head in his haste to investigate the trouble, vaulting down onto the cold steel floor.

Once inside, the two froze in place, quite unsure of what to do. After all, it was pitch black in there. Thankfully, up ahead and around the sound of their desperate scuffling, the merc and agent heard Harold’s voice call in the dark: “Della? Y’alright?”

A distant, much fainter voice responded, confirming that the young duck lady was, in fact, alright. With an almost physical air of relief (and, admittedly, some disappointment at the lack of action), Perry and Misha squeezed back out of electrical and, dejectedly, returned to their posts outside.

“Yes,” said the Heavy, with a weighty sigh. “Very boring.”
 
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Aku

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Fifteen minutes pass since the rest went deeper into electrical to complete maintenance on the Ark's leading power. Thankfully no one was endangered after the two heard Della's vocally scream. No stranger has come into contact yet at the entrance of this sector where Heavy and Perry guarded. For the time being, it was boring with others not around. Perry still didn't utter a single word, the only kind of language that the heavy weapons mercenary got of him was his eyes. The fire is dying within the stove, slowly glowing with embers resting on the bottom. Misha grabs more cut wood and shoves it inside the furnace to keep their light source alive. Hopefully, the power will come back on before they run out of wood.

Afterward, the brute RED merc remains at his post, fully aware if anyone crosses them. A yawn escapes his mouth from how much boredom has overcome him. Misha looks back on his other small furry comrade to see if the bipedal fedora-wearing platypus was in the same positions as him. Nope, he still has that same serious expression from before with his duckbill snapped closed. Perry's eyes shifted back at the heavy weapons expert, realizing the hulking bald Russian man was staring at him. The mercenary looked away quickly to not make things awkward between them.

Suddenly the silence breaks between the two, of course coming from Misha's mouth. "Tiny platypus, you move like comrade I remember long ago that used to be part of team. He quite annoying, but I'm not saying your annoying, hehe" the large behemoth of a man chuckles awkwardly to not make his comment offensive toward the small yet agile and kung-fu ready secret agent. Agent P. raises one concerning eyebrow at that remark the RED merc just made. Misha knows best to shut up now and don't make their situation even more awkward to sit through. The stove between them crackles and pops loudly while the fresh wood burns.

Faint footsteps could be heard further down the darkened tight corridor that led to electrical. Both Misha and Perry listened to the footsteps' motions happening further away from where the two stood. The movement sounds off someone running frantically, making the Syntech hired guards of Electrical stand at attention and ready to face whoever this is, either turning out to be a friendly or foe. The footsteps gain louder as the running stranger can see a dimly lit light source at the electrical entrance. A young human female Syntech employee is scrambling closer to the light source, touching and feeling her way in the pitch darkness.

Her appearance appears after she gets close enough to the stove to reveal her. The Syntech uniform she wears is saturating in a red dried bloody mess. She wore big rounded clear glasses that had tiny speckles of blood, staining the surface of the lens. Her brunette hair was tied in a big bun behind her head, partly messy due to the partly life-threatening situation everyone experienced on board. Trembling in fear, she accidentally falls onto her knees and starts weeping with tears running down her cheeks.

Agent P. and Misha hurried to rush toward where the horrific lady knelt upon aiding her. They are both concerned about whatever happened to this poor Syntech employee that is defenseless. The heavy weapons guy lays his giant hand softly on her shoulder, facing the woman. "There, there. Your safe now; tell us what went wrong?" Misha is extremely curious about what happened to this Syntech Employee who experienced severe horror trauma that will be a part of her for the rest of her life. Attempting to gain her composure back, she uttered words between her uncontrollable sobbing.

"S-something h-h-h-horrible h-happened in t-t-the l-lower levels of t-the s-s-ship! M-my colleagues a-a-a-are a-all d-d-d-d-d-dead!" the poor Syntech employee sobbed nonstop over the immense sorrow of losing her close friends she worked with a long time. "Please, tell us what happened?" the RED Merc demanded, but calmly, already knowing the horrible traumatic state she's unable to escape. "A-a monster!" she cries, covering her face up with her hands in shock of the previous event. Before the Russian behemoth of a man could speak, she continues with her shock-state words.

"I-I-I heard s-s-someone else s-screaming w-w-when I was t-trying to e-e-escape the l-l-lower d-deck." The bloodied Syntech employee slowly tries to stop crying and attempting to forget the horror she witnessed.

The RED Syntech mercenary looks back at Perry the platypus in a serious expression, ready to crush wherever this monster dwelled. Misha knows now is not the time to hunt for this creature that is terrorizing innocents in the lower levels. He must remain at the post to protect the others that try to get the ship's power back online. Agent P., on the other hand, is known better too and is willing to stand guard still to let no threats get to their technicians.

"Stay here, little one. You will be safe." Misha calmly says, wiping away her tears gently on her cheeks. "Y-you sure?" She questions, slowly gaining her composure back, no longer crying. "I promise, Misha here will not let anything hurt you. I kill tiny monsters in my sleep." The RED merc assures her safety in a secure Russian way.

She looks into Misha's eyes then Perry's, too, still with no words; Agent P. responds in a simple nod to protect her also from any danger. She instantly hugs both for security, squeezing the giantly-built Russain man and the bipedal fedora-wearing platypus together.

"T-thank you!" She responds, filling with joy, knowing that she finally found lightness in this darkened, terrifying journey she is facing. The two gasps for air as her grasp surprisingly combined them. The Syntech employee let them out of her hug, knowing she was making them feel uncomfortable.

"What are your names?" she finally calmly talks out of her pitiful sorrow as the two brush readjust their firm protecting postures.

"I am Misha, heavy weapons guy. Tiny here is Perry" the RED merc crosses his arms in a tough-guy stance while Perry leans against a close wall keeping his eyes on the damsel. The Syntech employee stood up, finally grasping the reality of her situation. Both her hands clasp together, lowering toward her legs, and she introduces herself.

"My name is Joy. I'm thankful I finally found protection!"
 

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As the disgruntled gangster slowly made his way along one darkened passage after another — seriously, they all looked the god damn same in this pitch blackness, it was all he could do to keep from getting himself turned around entirely and pointed in the right direction of this roundabout trip he'd taken — the entire ship shuddered again. Droog stumbled a pace, bracing himself against one wall with his gun-toting hand, holding the lighter aloft in his other.

Behind him, he could tell without even looking from the frantic shuffling and whispered groaning that his unwanted followers had taken a tumble. "Wh-what was that?" one of them managed to finally form some words, and that was what they came up with.

"Did we hit something?"

"I hope not..."

"If we did hit something, then it was one hell of a collision," Droog growled. "I know an explosion when I hear one. Even if that 'hearing' comes through damn reverberations through a ship this size." He straightened up and turned to peer back at the group of hapless fools. All four of them. "Something, somewhere, just blew up." His empty, milky-white eyes glittered in the flickering orange light of his lighter as he passed it to his gun-hand and fished out his smokes with the freed appendage. "If we're lucky, it wasn't anything majorly important." The cigarette he placed between his chompers caught, turning cherry red, as he stowed the pack containing its future cancer-causing brethren away back in his coat.

"But today's a horrible day for Vegas." He took the lighter back into his empty hand and with a soft click he flicked it shut.

The suffocating shroud of darkness returned once again, accompanied by a chorus of nervous gasps and whimpers from the gathering of useless drek. "H-hey, what's the big idea? Why'd you turn out the light?!" one demanded in a voice suddenly several octaves higher than before.

"Yeah, it's fuckin completely dark now! How're we supposed to get anywhere?!" another demanded.

The third simply breathed deeply, raspy rattling noises echoing from its unseen throat down the hallway.

"This ain't funny, man! My shoulder's against the wall and I still can't see it!" the fourth wailed.

"Shut your damn noise-holes!" the mobster roared. His breath hissed between angrily clenched teeth, gleaming and sparkling in the impossibly dim glow of his lit cigarette. The same cherry-red glow grew intense for a moment with each angered breath, shining and reflecting off of his eyes before fading. "I already said I ain't your damn daddy. Lookin' out for you is a waste of time, if you're this thick." He turned his head to one side, rolling the smoke-stick in his maw to one side and spitting in disgust. "You ain't even noticed we have extra company." He turned away from them, hunching his shoulders to hide the glowing ember of his smoke, and stalked away the way he had been going.

Behind him, there was a panicked outburst of confused words between the three who had been with him originally. It was overlaid by the increasingly eerie, ever-steady, breathing of the fourth thing with them. Only after a dozen paces, when one of the three's voices rose into a sharp "Hey, what the—?!" did that steady, wet breathing change. It changed into a sharp, piercing noise somewhere between a screeching battle-cry of an angered big cat and a vacuum hose trying to wrestle with a golf ball.

Droog didn't look back, merely quickened his pace into a dignified retreat in the 'away' direction. At full sprint, of course. One hand clutched his trusty sidearm, the other rose to lightly take hold of his hat to hold it in place as he tore down the hallway. Well-polished shoes clicked and clacked, and clicked and clacked, and clicked and splatted, and...

"Fuck."

Instinctively, the former agent hit the deck (rather literally, in this instance) and rolled to his left. Something rushed through the air where his torso had been just a moment prior, before the skittering dance of footsteps scritched and slithered through the whatever-it-was turning the floor slick and wet.

Droog knew better than to question it, and simply rolled over into his knee, facing the way he had dove from and fired three times in a sweeping arc. Each gunshot lit up the corridor in a brief freeze-frame, giving him a clear picture of which way to go, as well as what he was now very firmly sure he should be running from. Humanoid, in a very generous example of the world, but also decidedly not]. The tattered remains of cloth hanging from it were worrying; in that split-second he couldn't' tell if they were the remains of a uniform it had been wearing, or from something it had torn apart. Food for thought later, when he wasn't about to be food.

He sprang back up to his feet and lurched into a dead sprint again. Down the hall, and around a corner at such a pace he almost full-on ran into someone before the glare of a flashlight blinded him. "Fuck!"

"Whoa, wha--" someone sputtered.

"Freeze, and--" another voice started up, before being cut off by a clawed hand closing over their face and shoving them aside.

"Shut up; move!" Droog barked as he shoved through the group and continued his mad dash. "We got company, and not the good kind!"

The flashlight swung around after him, before pointing back the other way. Landing on the sight of whatever that horrid thing was pursuing the gangster was enough to quash any further disagreement. A quick few gunshots rang out, staggering the alien monstrosity, before they too turned to run in the 'away from that mess' direction "Okay, yeah, time to move!"
 

Sigmund Vrell

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“We’re all fucked.” A Syntech employee groaned, his face buried in his hands as the ship rocked. Various personnel had found themselves holed up together in what was normally an employee lounge. In the face of the ark’s rapidly deteriorating state, it had been repurposed into an emergency shelter. Among the passengers who had taken refuge in the lounge was a fidgeting lawyer fresh out of liability waivers.

“It’s fine, it’s fine.” Ron murmured to himself over and over, trying desperately to tune out the faint rumbling that seemed to be coming from the lower decks. As long as no one went down there, they would probably be alright. And if they didn’t get hurt, then they wouldn’t be suing for damages!

“Has anyone seen Josh?” Someone asked from the back of the room.

“He said he was going to investigate the lower decks.” Another voice called back.

Karl damn it.

The attorney let out a dejected sigh as he picked up an electric lantern and slowly left the employee lounge, dragging his feet on the way out. There were people down there that needed their rights waived and if someone was going to waive them, he knew it would have to be him, no matter how badly he felt like he was about to hurl at the thought of going to the lower decks. Ron made a mental note to stop by one of the offices on the way down and create some new waivers, silently cursing the fact that the copying machine was definitely not functioning.

The shadows flickering in the lamplight almost seemed as they would peel off the wall and attack the lawyer, sending chills down his spine as he made his way down through the ship. After what seemed like an eternity he arrived at the nearest office, peering through the slightly ajar door. Nothing. The lawyer let out a sigh of relief as he pushed the door open and stepped inside. Sure enough, a stack of papers lay waiting for him across the room, a pen right besides them, ready to spread Ron’s beautiful legalese.

The lawyer wasted no time getting to work, pumping out around a dozen waivers before he noticed an odd sound in the corner of the room. Jumping to his feet, Ron spun around to face the source of the noise, clutching his waivers tightly to his chest. Whatever it was, the source was hidden behind an upturned desk.

Gingerly, Ronny raised his lantern and slowly approached the desk, holding his breath as he peered over the edge. Behind the overturned furniture was a figure in the foetal position, their hands on their face and something dripping to the floor. However, it wasn’t sobbing coming from the stranger, but rather an odd, wet slurping sound.

“H-Hey there buddy.” The attorney said nervously, wondering just what the hell he was doing. “Y-You ok there?”

At the sound of Ron’s voice, the figure whipped around to face him. A pair of eyes, white and hollow, stared at him above a blood-stained mouth hanging far too open. A low gurgling came from the man- no, the thing’s- throat as it gazed unblinking at the stranger.

“O-oh, Ok, I better get going then.” Ronny said, panic barely contained in his voice as he began to backpedal, making sure he didn’t lose sight of the creature. The gurgle began to rise in pitch and volume as it attempted to scramble to its feet. Fortunately for the lawyer, the beast’s fingers were all missing, presumably gnawed off, and with no way to get purchase it went head over heels in a puddle of its own blood.

The attorney almost would have laughed at the surreal situation had the creature’s face not been locked towards him throughout the entire ordeal, as if on a gyroscope. One look at the soulless eyes and the mouth open wide enough to fit a whole stack of fresh invoices in was enough to convince the salaryman to turn tail and run, his lantern in one hand and his waivers in the other.

It took seconds to reach the door, but the sound of something slopping behind him made it feel as if it were an eternity. When he finally reached it, he was presented with a dilemma: he had one too few hands to slam the door shut behind him. Faced with the need to cast aside either his light source or his documents, the choice was obvious.

The door slammed shut just as something thumped heavily against it, thankfully unable to work the doorknob on both a mental and physical level. However, the lawyer had no way of knowing that he was safe yet, so he desperately crouched down to retrieve his now-flickering lantern before turning and sprinting into the darkness.

Once he was sure that nothing was on his tail, Ron doubled over, panting hard. He didn’t know what in Karl’s name that thing was, all he knew was that it was a lawsuit waiting to happen, and that if there were more of them on the ship then he needed to get those waivers downstairs before anyone realised that they could get a fat pay check out of the situation.
 

Hisoka

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"Jeremiah Christopher in a handbasket, what WAS that?" Mort murmured to himself, body pressed against the cold, steel bulkhead of the ship and breathing ragged from his escape. His mind worked furiously, replaying his recent encounter and trying to come up with a mundane explanation. Another passenger? While it'd certainly be far from the strangest thing he'd come across since arriving in that world, something about it struck the mouse as… off.

Of course, it could have just been the darkness playing tricks on Mort's mind. The emergency lighting was dim, after all. He'd barely gotten more than a silhouette before fear caused him to flee. Yeah… that must have been it. Between the stress of the situation, his solitude, the lack of lighting, and the thing's silence, Mortimer just thought he saw it… grow extra arms…

With a sigh, the mouse slumped heavily against the wall, rear-end sliding down until it contacted the floor beneath him. Taking his, extraordinarily handsome, face in his hands, he closes his eyes and tried to think of what to do next. He sure as hackles wasn't going back THAT way, but he wasn't really confident that going forward would lead him to salvation either. And his plan to just wait until someone fixed the lights is what got him into his mess in the first place.

Seconds turned to minutes as Mortimer's mind struggled against itself, before a loud, metallic clang brought him back to reality with a start. Jumping back to his feet, his rodent eyes darted to and from, straining to gather as much light as possible and provide him with some source for the sound. In the end, he found nothing.

It started slow and low, but rose in tempo and volume over a few moments, the echoes caused by the vast, empty hallways turning it into a chorus. Laughter. The slim mouse held his sides, nearly doubled over as a strange sense of extacy took him over. Something about his situation just seemed so gosh-darned funny to him, and he couldn't help himself.

With a suddenness that was even stranger than the laughter itself, Mortimer went calm. Close-by lay a length of steel pipe, barely perceptible in the oppressive shadow. Slowly and deliberately, he took it in hand, allowing the end of it to drag behind him and he unsteadily plodded off down the hallway.

Sorry. Couldn't keep up with the poetry theme.
 

Jason Lee Scott

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The journey through the dark had added one too many people. First they’d found a lost reporter, and then another wanderer they hadn’t been able to make proper introductions with. That had been because of the third newcomer, some sort of horrifying monster they didn’t feel the need to exchange pleasantries with. Tommy had been more than happy to take point on the spontaneous plan to get the hell out of there.

They fled down the deserted hallway, past stacked boxes and cases that were hurled at their backs not long after passing. Tommy finally saw a set of automatic doors on the left, stopping to slam his fist into the button that opened them. Mercifully they opened in a flash, and Tommy held his pistol ready as he stood in the hallway.

“Into the door, now!” Tommy ordered his new allies as he raised the sights and looked into the darkness.

No one seemed to have an issue with that, and the other four poured into the room. Tommy fired two rounds into the dark before following them into the room, and one of the others hit the button from the other side to slam the doors shut. At soon as they were closed there was a loud thud. Whatever was chasing them wasn’t intending to give up.

Fortunately, Trent had an idea of his own. The Syntech employee aimed his rifle at the control panel and opened fire, intending to destroy the panels and prevent it from opening like he’d heard in plenty of stories and seen in countless movies. Unfortunately the ballistic round ricocheted as soon as it made contact with the metal, bouncing into the room and causing everyone to duck for cover.

“That only works with laser guns!” Tommy shouted at the young employee as he stood back up.

“Put that thing away before you kill us all!” Droog roared just as quickly while recovering.

Trent’s face turned red as he lowered the weapon, sheepishly looking around before noticing Kristen holding the back of her head, with blood soaking her hand. He was quick to rush to her side.

“What happened?” Trent asked hurriedly.

“One of those flying boxes hit me when… whatever that was ran into them,” she answered. “What the hell was that?”

“I don’t know, but you need medical attention and we need to make sure Karl Jak knows what’s on his ship,” Tommy said, shining his light to see they were in another hallway.

There was another thud, this time from the roof above them. Everyone looked up anxiously.

“You know, most people use something called a ‘door’ to go in and out…” Micheal had to comment.

“Keep moving,” Tommy ordered, and once again no one felt the need to argue with the obvious plan.

It still felt weird for the perpetual loner to take anything slightly resembling a leadership role, but this was certainly one of the more trying times of his life. He had to admit it was familiar in an eerie way to be dealing with monsters from the dark once again, but it sure would be nice to be able to fight it as the Green Ranger instead of as a regular civilian. He put the thoughts aside though, aiming his light upwards and looking for air vents as the thumping continued. There were a few, so he was on guard as another one of them illuminated the hallway as they began to flee towards the main group.
 

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Echo was silent most of the way through,feeling walls, using the red light coming from the old times Helghast helmet.

Her partner's following name was Nio and she kept going until there was a loud screeching echoing through said ship. Nio jumped almost through the roof after hearing such a heart-wrenching scream.

Nio stammered in her voice “aM..Maya .. what was that?”

The ex- half Helghast spy tried to reassure the woman. But it didn’t seem to help much.

Whatever the hell it was, it was playing tricks on the woman’s trained eyes.

She swore she could hear a screech but she wanted to grip at her sniper rifle.

“Don’t worry, stay calm.” Maya said in an almost too serious voice. She always tended to work alone but this could get bad fast.
 

Sandro

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Michael was happy to find out that his legs hadn't completely lost the energy for running after a few years of quiet reporting for Coruscant. He might not have been as fit as he was, but the sheer terror was happy to give him a little boost to ignore that. Still, this wasn't Michael's first time being chased by an alien horror, so while everyone was running forward in a panicked pile, Michael kept his eyes open, checking every corner.

The sound of heavy panting and the constant running footfalls were evidence of their pace, but it meant it was hard to hear much else in the dim, so Liberty had to strain both eyes and ears, watching every side passage, every hallway.

"See somethin'?" One of his compatriots asked.

Black skin like a beetle, and eyes that shone in the dark. He thought he might have heard of this guy back when, but Michael had seen a lot of gangsters before, so they honestly blended together.

Michael shook his head to indicate no, taking a second to catch his breath a little before responding.

"But that doesn't mean nothing's there. Intelligent predators like to trap their prey. For all we know, it could be pushing us to a deadend. or somewhere it has a shortcut. Maybe it's not even the only one of it's kind. We can't count on it being behind us."

"Whats the odds on it being intelligent?" Kristen asked, hand-grips tight on the gun.

"...If this were poker, I'd have walked away from the table." Michael responded.

"We don't have that option." Tommy added, his resolute voice shining through. "But it doesn't know our hand either. We need to use that."

Michael gave a nod. "True. Hopefully-"

A loud crash and bang echoed as a metal Grate ricocheted out in front of the group. Michael's legs kicked into overdrive, and he tried to put every single muscle he had into high gear. It was a panicked mistake, and it caused him to lose his grip on the flashlight when something grabbed onto his leg and pulled.

He couldn't hear any chittering or screeching, but there was a gurgling, an unearthly sound like a man's last drowning gurgles, and Michael knew he'd been caught. He tried to turn, to pull out his pistol, but he could hear it beneath him, pulling him to the vent, and he couldn't turn to bring the P-250 to bear.

There was nothing to claw on, nothing to grab onto, and michael felt his clothes rip as the Creature's arm pulled him down. His mind went back to finding the zerg on Chau Sara, to finding what was Left of Lieutenant Emily Swallow, when he'd pulled what was left of her out of the zerg hole she'd been trapped in, and in that moment, the white-faced reporter found a new level of terror

"Not like this!" He screamed.

Luckily, he was answered by a smash of steel and a watery scream. His leg was suddenly free and he twisted like a fish trying to get his bearings. Tommy had smashed the thing's arm with the very grate it had sent flying, hard enough to at least startle the thing, and Liberty sprang back up to his feet. Adrenaline flowed through his veins and he snapped up his pistol before letting loose a trio of shots into the darkness. He wasn't alone as the rest of the group sprayed pepper, with the carapacian bringing out a pistol he swore he wasn't carrying before.

A scream echoed, but no one really heard anything connect - only the sounds of clawed footfalls, leading further into the vents.

"Do you think we got him?" Trent asked.

Liberty was already on his feet and moving. "Don't wanna stick around and find out! Thanks for the save!"
 
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