A Strange Meeting

<Jaito> The door slams louder than Annabell thinks it would…and…well. The storage room is certainly that - boxes are stacked high into a veritable labyrinth. She could try to climb three 5-foot stacks high if she dared, but…she can FEEL eyes on here. She knows, down to her bones, that she's not alone here…
PM <Jaito> And it's not just the almost-glowing blue eyes watching through the window. There's the faint hiss of an intercom. "Do you think you're ready, Dr. Nolan?"
PM <Annabell> "Nobody is completely ready for anything." Annabell replied but she straightened her shoulders and glanced at Danu to see if _she_ was ready, "But I think that we'll need to start somewhere."
PM <Jaito> Danu…nods, but doesn't seem entirely convinced. Her wings are buzzing faster than usual, giving her a slight bob in the air. The intercom static starts again. "Begin the Medicine Hunt…" Annabell's eyes flicker and flash…and she gets a buzz across her COMP. A private call.
PM Annabell resists the urge to say something about this, there is likely a young girl listening after all, and tried to quickly check her COMP to see who is trying to contact her. For all she knew it could be something about the suddenly announced Hunt.
PM <Jaito> The message source is marked Anonymous/Urgent. (Lore?)
PM <Annabell> ( 7. )
PM <Jaito> (Ah. It's an IG message. Possibly pre-recorded to respond to basic questions.)
PM Annabell started to check it, murmuring to Danu as she did so, "I think this is about what we're starting on, but keep an eye out for things…"
PM <Jaito> Danu nods, a spark crossing between her wings. Static-y voices start to file into Annabell's ears, setting on one. "H-Hello? Are you out there? Are…are you human?"
PM <Annabell> "As far as I know, I am." Annabell replied, perhaps not grasping the importance of the question and thus being a little more sarcastic than might be appreciated, "Who are you?"
PM <Jaito> "I'm Emi, with the Longnoses-er, the Medical Brigade. We're a neutral tribe, so don't worry, but…I…I need your help. I'll even pay you - whaddya say?"
PM <Annabell> "That depends on what you want me to do." Annabell replied, but she wasn't really that skilled in hiding her interest. Glancing around again for any hint of whoever is watching, she then added, "Tell me and I'll see about it though…"
PM <Jaito> "There's a medical stash here…raw chemicals, nothing street useful, but if I can get it back to our base…we could start distributing nano-intensive medicines to anyone in need. We could go OUT and help, instead of hiding…so…bring me the stash, and I'll make it worth your while. So?"
PM <Jaito> There's a hope, a courage…but a lot of fear in the voice. Emi seems so real.
PM Annabell let out a quiet breath and simply ignored the idea that Emi wasn't real as she replied, "Assuming it's not suicidal then I'll help. Although I'm not exactly the most experienced in scavenging…"
PM <Jaito> "Great! Based on your GPS, it looks like you're in a sub-level of the old hospital…if you made it there, you're plenty strong. Just clear any resistance along the way. The stash should be in a fridge in the southwest corner. Good luck!"
PM <Annabell> "Thanks. Should I call you back for where to take them once I've found them?" Annabell asked, starting to think about the logistics of carrying boxes around.
PM <Jaito> "Yeah. I'll be in touch…but be careful. You're not alone down there." The comm fades out and Danu mutters. "…humans and their trash. Why do they keep rummaging around, when it's never going to last…" She seems agitated. "Forget it, let's go.
PM <Annabell> "Lead on, shining one." Annabel said with a little amusement, trying to keep her own paranoia from getting to her even as she gave another glance around, "I am, after all, in your hands and can but advise and assiste…"
PM <Jaito> "…you'd get pretty heavy-" She starts to buzz ahead, but then a great, phlegmy cry comes from somewhere above…and flecks of red-stained drool start to drip down some of the boxes…followed by a human hand. They are NOT alone.
PM Annabell moves to the side, her recent experience and still injured arm indicated that getting dropped on by either an attacker or a body would not be good, and pressed against a nearby wall, "What the…?!"
PM <Jaito> Two shadows leap and crash to the ground, one on either side…and when they step under the flickering, fluorescent light, the stink and horrible noise is met with a form. Grey, wrinkled skin, horrible pot bellies like the starving mad…and an open maw tilting to and fro, eager for meat. Human meat.
PM <Jaito> (What is Annabell's Alertness?)
PM <Annabell> ( Base is 2. )
PM Jaito changed the topic to INITIATIVE ORDER: Annabell, Danu, Preta1, Preta2!!! CURRENT ASPECTS: ???, ????, ????
PM <Jaito> Each of the Pretas picks their target and starts to knuckle-crawl closer. Running doesn't look like an option - it's time for Annabell to act.
PM <Annabell> Despite there being nowhere to run Annabell was still a little reluctant to attack so simply clutched the scalpel in front of her ready to slash if either of the things got closer. Suddenly recalling something from before, she called, "Danu? Could you use Zio on one of those?"
PM <Jaito> (I'll mark that as a held action. Danu, however, is next up.)
PM <Jaito> "You got it, boss!"
PM <Jaito> !roll_Fudge
PM <Jaito> (…I am an idiot.)
PM <Jaito> Danu extends her wings, floating anyway, and snaps her fingers. An arc of electricity bursts from one of the lights, towards the Preta closest to Annabel!
PM <Jaito> ATTACK: 3 vs. DEFENSE: 1 - HIT!!!! POWER: 3 vs. ARMOR: 0 = 5!!!
PM <Jaito> A Preta bursts into black smoke a few scattered gems of pale purple.
PM <Jaito> The other Preta, however, is rearing back to lunge at Danu…
PM <Jaito> (Michael. Mark off a Mental stress!)
PM <Jaito> (…wrong room.)
PM Annabell could tolerate creepy things. She could understand being attacked. But when someone -else- was attacked that tripped beyond the tolerable and thus, despite her lack of skill, she slashed at the Preta while yelling, "Hey, leave her alone!"
PM <Jaito> ATTACK: -2 vs. DEFENSE: 2 - SPIN!!!
PM <Jaito> Annabell feels a slight vertigo as the Preta slips around her and HOWLS, lashing out with its claws at HER instead.
PM <Jaito> ATTACK: 3 vs….
PM <Jaito> (Athletics for evasion, or a relevant skill to block.)
PM Annabell tried to desperately throw herself out of the way, but the vertigo impeded her efforts.
PM <Annabell> ( Evasion with Athletics = 1. )
PM <Jaito> DEFENSE: 1 - HIT! POWER: 1 vs. ARMOR: 0 = 3 stress! (Mark your third physical stress box if you've got one…otherwise, consequences may be good…)
PM <Jaito> (Annabell's action, as well.)
PM <Annabell> ( Marked off the box. )
PM <Annabell> What Annabell said was definitely not fit for the ears of children as she felt the claws hit into the cast on her arm, causing a surge of pain but not penetrating the toughened material. In response she lashed out again, trying for a good hit with the scalpel and having completely lost track of Danu.
PM <Annabell> ( 0. )
PM <Jaito> ATTACK: 0 vs. DEFENSE: 2 - Miss! The Preta rolls around under the blow, hissing and howling with glee. "YoU aRe FoOoOoOoOoDDDDD!!!!"
PM <Jaito> (Danu's action!)
PM <Annabell> "Hey, ugly!" Danu called out as electricity flickered at the tips of her wings then surged outwards towards the Preta, "Leave her alone!"
PM <Jaito> ATTACK: 2 vs. DEFENSE:1 - HIT! = 4 stress!
PM <Jaito> The Preta evaporates, leaving more of the crystals and black paper - Macca…on the ground.
PM <Jaito> (Alertness?)
PM <Jaito> Danu sighs. "Whew…I'm gettin' a headache. Maybe I need more CONVICTION…."
PM <Annabell> ( 1. )
PM <Jaito> ….on a box, perched just above Danu….is another, quieter Preta. Ready to strike…
PM Annabell managed not to clutch at her cast while holding the scalpel but just held it as she replied, "Well, you… ABOVE YOU!"
PM <Jaito> (Annabell's faster. Go!)
PM <Jaito> "Huh-?!" Danu looks up, terrified.
PM <Annabell> Offense wasn't the first thing on Annabell's mind, but getting Danu out of danger was as the doctor tried to push/grab the Pixie away from the Preta which was likely about to pounce.
PM <Annabell> ( 6. )
PM <Jaito> She slams them into a box, sending the Preta tumbling over them and onto its face. The text appears SPIN!!! (+1 to next action!)
PM <Jaito> Danu…looks less than pleased.
PM <Jaito> "ZIO!!!"
PM <Jaito> She eradicates the last one with little effort.
PM <Jaito> "…you weigh at least 30 pounds…getoffame!"
PM <Annabell> "…sure, comment on my weight." Annabell muttered then slowly got up and looked over Danu more carefully, "Are you okay? I spotted that other one and you hadn't seen it and…"
PM <Jaito> Danu grins. "You were awesome!"
PM <Jaito> And…through the hole in the boxes, she can see a medical cooler…albeit one with more lights and flashing bits than any real one.
PM Annabell looked startled at that as if unused to praise, her babble cutting off, then she swallowed and replied, "Thank you."
PM <Jaito> Danu buzzes over to give her a peck on the cheek, before starting to flit around and gather Macca.
PM Annabell managed not to redden too badly and, as Danu worried about the money, she tried to get the cooler clear of the pieces of box.
PM <Jaito> It moves with her easily….and as she turns, a figure fades into view. Wearing black leathers, a white lab-coat, and a long-nosed plague mask. "You did it! I never could've taken those guys in a fight. Well done." Emi.
PM <Annabell> "That was a quick arrival." Annabell said bluntly, looking unhappily at Emi, "It's almost as if you were watching for some nefarious purpose."
PM <Jaito> "…retrieving the box would have dropped my cloak. I really can't fight. I'm sorry for deceiving you." Over the hook-nosed mask, her eyes look genuinely sad. "But the part about payment is true…do you want medical supplies…or maybe a cool lab coat?"
PM <Annabell> "Well, didn't you say that you were short on the medical supplies and needed them to help people?" Annabell asked, keeping in mind what she had heard before, "Although if the only use of a labcoat was to purely -look- cool…"
PM <Jaito> She snorts. "This world's too rough for that." She opens own coat…and there's kevlar sewn into it.
PM Annabell nodded, "If you have one to spare then it'd be good. I'm used to wearing something like that anyway. Although… Well, you said you're neutral?"
PM <Jaito> She nods. "The sides…they all hurt people. All of them hurt. So why should I care? I….I used to be a veterinarian. I can't stand the idea of hurting anything, even demons." She pulls another coat from her pack, emblazoned with the symbol of that same plague mask. "You don't have to join up, but hey- maybe someone will leave you alone if they see our mark."
PM Greenling joined the channel
PM Annabell looked a little tempted but held back from taking the coat as of yet, "I was wondering more if you'd mind showing me a few things. About treating people like Danu there or any others who are a bit… different from normal people."
PM <Jaito> The boxes. Emi. The scaplep. Everything flickers in static, disappears, and then returns. Annabell hears the sound of broken glass.
PM <Jaito> "I've really got to get back, but here's my comm address. I can give you helpful advice on healing and recovery!"
PM <Jaito> NEW FRIEND: EMI (Recovery Tutor)
PM <Annabell> "Thanks…"
PM Annabell blinked then asked, "Um, Danu? Did something break? Everything seemed to go weird for a second."
PM <Jaito> Danu hovers without moving, glowing faintly…a dark glow, violet….sparkles like snow exude from her. "Manufaction active. Manufaction active. Grid recognized - construction along predetermined formatting. Complete in…74 hours."
PM <Annabell> In terms of 'things going wrong', strange voices, weird glows, and odd words weren't a good thing to hear in AR. Annabell walked slowly around Danu, looking at the Pixie for any hint as to what had happened, "…toxic Macca?"
PM <Jaito> The pixie's eyes are a horrible violet…"Confirming activation code: "And it was then that Nyarlathotep came out of Egypt…And lo, he spake with another's voice, "For it is better to Reign in Hell". The voice in unfamiliar, a man's voice, rich and dark. "Recognized by cognition and manufaction servers. Active. Active. Shanti. Shanti." And then…Danu falls to the floor, no longer glowing at all.
PM Annabell tried to catch the pixie, but her decent was sudden and quite unexpected. Worried now about how things were going she muttered, "I'm finding an expert, or an admin, and having someone take a look at you."
PM <Jaito> The intercom buzzes awake. The girl speaks, but sounds very tired. "Dr. Nolan…you can go upstairs now. And don't forget your coat. You'll need armor if you're going to survive in this game."
PM Annabell picked up the coat then tried to cradle Danu as well while standing up. Glancing at the intercom she said, her expression somber, "Thank you for that."
PM <Jaito> "You have to survive. We're friends, are we not? You promised."
PM <Annabell> "I keep my promises," Annabell said as she made her way back to the way she had come, "You seem like you might be in trouble though. Do you need help?"
PM <Jaito> There's a faint laugh. "I am trouble. But so long as you never betray that promise, you have nothing to fear from me. Shanti, shanti, shanti…we all have our parts to play." As Annabell opens the door…there's no one there.
PM <Annabell> "…and yet I don't even know her birthday to send her a gift." Annabell muttered, distracting herself with random details so as not to let her mind dwell on the more problematic things.
PM <Jaito> There's a lot of noise and yelling coming from upstairs. And…the intercom goes on, displaying a calm message, asking people to stay in their rooms for a white-level drill.
PM <Jaito> White - confirmed suicide on grounds.
PM Annabell struggled with coat, scalpel, pixie, and cast to hurry more than she had before, but part of her slowed her steps as a confirmed suicide was already something beyond help from a doctor.
PM <Jaito> …that's when she notices. THere is no staff down here in the pediatric ward.
PM Greenling is now known as Shousei_Yamazaki
PM <Jaito> The children are all sleeping calmly in their beds…no, some few are up and are very calmly walking into their rooms and sleeping.
PM <Jaito> All at once.
PM Annabell stopped dead and looked around more slowly, seeking any sign of anything else out of place. There should always be someone around, a nurse of some kind if nothing else, in case of emergency. And quiet, well behaved children? That was definitely unusual.
PM <Jaito> The rotation show that a couple of doctors and nurses should be here…five in all.
PM <Jaito> And that's when the director runs down the stairs. "Dr. Nolan - are the children all right?!"
PM <Annabell> "Creepily well behaved or sleeping without complaint, but I was about to check on them." She replied, looking tired and stressed, "I was deep in AR then heard the code and… Well…"
PM <Jaito> "…you were playing a GAME?! Huonxing, Parker, and Wells…Nina and Patrick….they're DEAD, Dr. Nolan."
PM <Jaito> …those names…the same as the rotation for peds.
PM <Jaito> …the white code?
PM <Annabell> "I'm not on shift, sir." Annabell said, pushing away the details of the names for now until she could deal with the attached emotions somewhere privately, and her face was somewhat stony, "I had thought to try playing with the children here. Some of them could use company after all."
PM <Jaito> He just…shakes his head. "…then, I have to ask you. Can you stay here? Someone has to be responsible here, until we can get more people in to cover this. It's already a fiasco."
PM Annabell considered this then gave him a tired look, "I will. I'll need some help if I'm here too long though. You obviously need to try and see what happened or something." She paused then added, "If there's anything else I can do to help… I mean…"
PM <Jaito> "Just…keep the children safe. It…it was horrible. Five of our staff, just jumping off the damned roof. And those /mirrors/…." He shakes his head, already turning to leave.
PM Annabell looked around the small ward, looking at the children in their beds, then moved to see the director out into the rest of the hospital, "I'm not sure what I missed, but if they… Should I look around to see if something might have been breathed in? The children are almost -all- asleep suddenly and I haven't heard any complaining."
PM <Jaito> He gets a horrified look. "Just…quietly check a few vitals. Make sure things are in order. Report ONLY to me." He taps his designer glasses…which are just a little thick in the arms. "Private messages over AR only."
PM Annabell gave a cautious nod then looked worriedly over at the sleeping children, "I'll send a message only if there's something wrong. So if you get one then it'll need a response."
PM <Jaito> "Understood. I'm just glad Anthony isn't involved in this…" He rushes away, where he's met by very curious police officers.
PM Annabell turned back to the children and, before starting, put down the labcoat she still held and lay Danu upon it. If she was going to be checking someone's condition then doing so with Danu wouldn't eat up much time…
PM <Jaito> (Lower of Medicine or Lore?)
PM <Annabell> ( 5. 6 if Doctor can be made to apply. )
PM <Jaito> Danu…has a body. Little bones, a little heart…she's fully formed and realized and impossible….the alien fibers she's seen before…she's a complete construct of them…and she is…EXUDING them like a dissolving tablet.
PM <Jaito> …it's in the air. As her view pans out….the air is thick with it. Even she's breathing it out…the children, too. No…they're GENERATING it in their lungs…
PM Annabell breathed slowly, resisting the urge to hold her breath, then left Danu where she was after recording some basic imagery. Having seen that, having seen these fibres before, she now had a reason to check over the children. First the basics of life and then, once the ward had checked out, perhaps something more… careful.
PM <Jaito> ….each and everyone of them has alien fibers, just like the test case.
PM <Jaito> …but these are stable. Integrated. They're….are they even really human?
PM Annabell simply finished the examinations, saved the images of the fibres, and -stopped- dead in place. There was, after all, a terms for a condition which had previously not been seen in patient and then appeared after a smaller number of such had been seen to show symptoms.
PM <Annabell> But 'infectious' was not a friendly word.
PM <Annabell> Her hands shook faintly as she tried to run a few comparisons on the results, checking them against each other, normal tissue, and the… previous example.
PM <Jaito> …each one has slight variations…different points of focus….but each child has a blotch or lesion on their skin…darkening and forming….occasionally glowing with a bioluminescence.
PM <Jaito> They appear to be in some sort of…transition.
PM <Jaito> ….and every. Single. One. appears to show early sighs of muscle consumption from early starvation, despite reasonable lipid levels and nutrition.
PM <Jaito> Step. Step. Step. "There is no call for alarm." The strange woman from room 404 is down here. looking warm and healthy in a new dress and shawl.
PM <Jaito> "…so long as they are not awoken."
PM Annabell looked at the woman with hooded eyes, her attitude not that of a happy doctor as she wordlessly walked over to the main doors to the ward then closed them and put her back against their solidity. With that done she replied, "An interesting claim. But, as a doctor, I have responsibilities."
PM <Jaito> "Yes. To the lives of those in this hospital…if you cause a scene, it will only magnify the chaos. What if I promised that what you are now seeing…will not cause harm to anyone?"
PM <Jaito> (Empathy?)
PM <Annabell> ( 0. )
PM <Jaito> She seems very sure. And more than that, calmly concerned.
PM <Annabell> "And something which seems to have spread so vigorously needs to be watched." Annabell said, feeling very tired of mysterious people, "You're someone I don't know, making claims about medical matters, and who has not yet produced evidence to back things up."
PM <Jaito> "Relying on evidence that has thus been disproven by current circumstances is proof of a weak character. You must adapt to new facts - facts I am happy to provide. These children - my children - are sae. Raising the alarm, however…."
PM <Jaito> She smiles, and it is not a smile. "Would endanger /many/,"
PM <Jaito> …one by one, heartrate monitors start to quicken across the ward.
PM Michael_Lin is now known as Plushiemancer
PM Night_Misaki is now known as Kaji
PM <Annabell> For a tired woman with a broken arm it was amazing how fas that Annabell could move when motivated by something. Something like, say, the sudden change in rhythms which should have been steady.
PM Annabell checked the first child, diving straight into the evidence of what may or may not have gone wrong.
PM <Jaito> The fibers are expanding….hardening…taking on a bioluminscence more severe…and then…Emily sings a single, perfect C-sharp note.
PM <Jaito> …they all fall back to nominal. Still changed, still 'starving', but stable.
PM <Jaito> "So…now you have a choice. To cause me problems…or to help me. Only one will ensure a minimal loss of life. So what will it be, Doctor of the Heart? Obedience or pain?"
PM <Jaito> She smiles, sweet and as warm as a girl in love.