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[Side Story] Slowly Dead

Discussion in 'Convergence In-Character Forums' started by Atomic Knight, Nov 5, 2017.

  1. Atomic Knight

    Atomic Knight Bear With Me The Convergence Series GM

    The Coalition was in shambles, and yet the multiverse moved on like nothing had happened. One of its greatest defenders put out of commission for the time, and yet the status quo stayed the same. There was always a darkness lurking in some corner of universes, slowly encroaching on the rest of existence. One such threat took the notice of the Coalition, and yet they had no one to investigate. All resources were dedicated to the Coalition's reestablishment, much to the horror of Ellis, who caught wind of this particular threat.

    Something from outside the world's usual threats was causing anomalies in Ellis' backyard. All Coalition agents had their world monitored to some degree, and an agent in the field dedicated to looking after Ellis' friends had recently lost contact after reporting unusual activity. Ellis had been desperate for something to be done about it, but the Coalition new leader, Kyoko, could only tell him they didn't have the resources for the time being.

    The only thing Ellis could do, Kyoko said, was for him to amass a group of people on his own. Thankfully, Ellis had the help of his canine friend, Cosmo. The pair thought briefly about who they wanted for this mission and decided to make a couple of trips.



    "There she is. So, how do I do this?"

    "Talk? You askink Cosmo how to talk to someone?"

    "Nah, like, um, do I just call her name? Or, ah say somethin' like 'Hi, Carol, umm, long time no see?'"


    The duo, Ellis and Cosmo, members of the Coalition, stood in the shadow of the buildings of the reminisces of D.C. Well, Ellis stood, Cosmo laid on the floor, nudging his head against the ground, rather enjoying his time out of the sunlight.

    "Just go."

    Ellis scratched his head. The path was clear as Ellis walked slowly towards Carol, shotgun and sword on his back.

    "Umm, hey Carol! It's me, umm... It's Ellis. Hi."

    [​IMG]

    Carol didn't even bother to pretend to look surprised. She turned to him as he approached, hands on her hips as she fixed him a steady gaze. "Was wondering when you'd work up the nerve to come out of hiding," she said, leaning to the side to wave to the dog still in the shadows. "That your talking dog, Ellis?" she asked with some level of sarcasm.

    That Ellis was here at all didn't strike Carol as terribly out of the ordinary. Considering the experience they had shared together, Carol was aware the world was much larger than she or the others back in Alexandria could have ever imagined. Whether Ellis was here for just a visit or something more, Carol found the timing of their encounter a little too convenient.

    Still, despite the nagging unease at the back of her mind (and really, when was she ever fully at ease these days?), Carol found herself happy to see Ellis. Not happy enough to hug him or anything, no... but enough to offer a simple nod and a smile.

    "Yeah, that's Cosmo."

    Ellis eyes stared at the ground like a child caught doing something wrong. Knowing Carol already was ready for him slightly embarrassed the young man, but he quickly bounced back.

    Seeing the look on his face, Carol shook her head. "Out here, you need to be able to spot anything coming your way. I'm just good at it now, Ellis, so don't worry. Now, uh..."

    Cosmo's head lifted as he got up. Moving toward Carol, Cosmo did something most dogs couldn't: speak.

    "Post-canine. Not dog. Not for longk time."

    Putting his paw out, he gave Carol a look.

    "Shake?"

    As it turned out, imagining something and actually seeing it made for very different experiences. Looking at Cosmo while actual words came out of his mouth made Carol feel like she was once again watching an actual cartoon taking form before her. The ridiculous situation made Carol break out into a grin, though she was just trying to keep from laughing hysterically. As a result, she looked far more happy to reach out and shake Cosmo's paw than she felt inside.

    "... Very nice to meet you then, Cosmo," she said, sounding almost giddy. She looked up from the canine to look at Ellis. More exasperated now, she said, "Mind telling me what you're doing here?"

    Recoiling his paw after the shake, Cosmo waged his tail.

    "Good human."

    As Carol's eye met Ellis', he scratched his neck and looked around.

    "I need your help, Carol. My friends are in danger. It's not just them though. A whole bunch, we think. But mostly my friends. That bunch part is more of a hunch."

    Shaking his head with approval, Cosmo added on, "Da. The Coalition is in a transition phase, we're recovering from recent events. Normally we would keep this to ourselves, but we're stretched thin. This is where you come in."

    Carol didn't respond right away, deciding instead to give Ellis an exasperated stare. She even gave it to Cosmo once he spoke, for how did these two expect her to react to such news? "And I guess you two expect me to drop what I have going on here?" she asked, bringing a hand up to rub her forehead. "Just like that?"

    She couldn't have imagined what they thought she could do for them. They really must have been desperate to reach out to her. Either that or Ellis wanted her there as they knew each other. If that was the case, the boy was nothing less than stupid, because Carol knew well there were far more capable people when it came to dealing with whatever problems were out there.

    [​IMG]

    "... And besides," she continued, nodding back behind her. "What's in it for me? Could your Coalition do something for me? For the people I care about? I have a group of people struggling every day of their lives, and you ask this of me?"

    The dog's eyes glowed slightly after hearing the woman's words. Taking his time, he responded, "Coalition has policy against interfering in people's lives. Of course, we have exceptions. If you're under attack by, let's say, the Brood... They're creatures from my world. Very nasty bug-like creatures. Nothingk but an evil hive mind."

    "I fought one once at Knowhere. Cosmo had to shut down half a wing. Big ole' suckers. Like a cow, but more spidery. Lucky we only had one. Shit, if it wasn't for Miss Mantis, I'd be dead."

    "... As Cosmo was sayink, if Brood attacked you? We could help. However, these dead rising? That's natural to this world, just like Ellis' world has his own threat. However, if you did help us, we'd owe you. Cosmo would owe your people. Even if you weren't there."

    Cosmo's last words lingered as the dog scratched his neck with his back leg.

    Carol nodded, understanding the situation to some degree. She didn't have to like it, but it made sense at least. Not much surrounding Ellis seemed to otherwise. Ellis' friends were in danger from some outside problem, which sounded bigger than Carol. She still didn't get why they were asking her of all people, but maybe she did owe Ellis something.

    Of course, considering her situation, she had already agreed to leave with them as soon as they had asked. Cosmo seemed to understand that, but she needed to put on some level of wariness for the sake of leverage, at least.

    Ellis was probably asking her to kill for him, which Carol would deal with when the time came.

    "Well, then, lead the way," she said, gesturing off into the distance. "I'm in, Ellis." She had to smile at the grin he offered in response.



    For once in a very long time, Claire could say that she was happy.

    Well, maybe happy was certainly pushing it. Maybe content was the better word to use. Claire, at the very least, was content, and that certainly was good enough for now. The life she had lived could be forgotten, at least as long as she could continue to live her new life alongside Aqua.

    The keyblade wielder was nothing less than an angel who somehow put up with Claire even in her worst moments. The months following Claire's last Murder Game incident were nothing short of a struggle, filled with nightmares and an inability move on from what had happened. She had been barely functional enough to be anyone's friend, and yet Aqua never left her side. She just wanted Claire to be happy, something Claire had forgotten how to be.

    But now, with her nightmares finally fading into memory, Claire could be the friend Aqua deserved. Could be a lot more than that, even. She could be content, and that's all that mattered for now.

    "... You got everything?"

    Claire tried not to sound disappointed as she spoke, but really, there was no silver lining in ending a weekend spent at a beach resort. A lot of Claire and Aqua's time spent together had been shared between looking for her friends and trying to make new experiences together, but this weekend had been about nothing more than relaxation. They had found a world, not unlike Claire's own, setting down in the Bahamas, somewhere Claire had never gotten the chance to visit before. It had been beautiful, and it made Claire happy that Aqua might have even found it more beautiful than she did.

    The pair had a minor hiccup considering their lack of any kind of identification, but they had managed to figure something out, at least.

    [​IMG]

    "Not that I would blame you for wanting to stay longer," Claire said, putting on a smile. Somehow, it was hard to look at Aqua and not smile. "But it's probably best we don't get too comfortable. You know how it is."

    Much like her traveling companion, Aqua felt a lot better these days. While she carried a small feeling of emptiness in her heart due to the fact her friends were still missing, it helped fill the void knowing she had another loyal friend by her side, a friend whom she greatly cared about. Even though she missed Terra and Ven, the keyblade master was honestly having the time of her life with Claire on their carefree adventures. And it made the young woman even happier knowing Claire was enjoying herself just as much.

    Aqua worried, for after all her partner had been through, Claire would never be able to heal her broken parts. Unsure how she could help, Aqua did the only thing she knew how to do: she remained at Claire's side and continued to be her friend. She smiled for Claire and tried to help her see the good in life. Even though her actions were small, they seemed to be working little by little. Claire seemed to smile a bit more each day. And that was more than enough to bring Aqua joy.

    "Yeah, that's everything. It's a good thing we travel light," Aqua replied, hesitantly dropping a single suitcase near the door of their room at the resort. The keyblade master honestly didn't own many things. She had only brought one suitcase along to carry a swimsuit and change of clothes. Possessions had never really been that important to her. The people she cared about were more important.

    Aqua sighed dreamily, recalling their time spent by the beach. The Bahamas were so tranquil, so serene, that she almost wondered if they were real. The resort reminded her of Destiny Islands, one of her most favorite of places.

    [​IMG]

    "I'm glad you wouldn't blame me for wanting to stay longer because I almost do want to stay longer," she admitted, offering Claire a sheepish smile. "I mean, it's really a shame we have to leave now. I was just getting used to my new name. I don't think I look much like a Willa, but it was fun pretending to be one," she said with a laugh before moving to walk behind Claire and take another good look at their room.

    "Don't think I look much like an Elza either. Maybe if my hair was blonde..."

    Claire stopped and stared at Aqua for a moment, almost admiring. Not her looks or anything, just her state of being, so to speak. Claire wanted to be like her in a lot of ways. She was a powerful woman, but also kind... And even then, so easygoing when it truly counted.

    Although they ran into a slight problem due to lack of identification, it was quickly solved thanks to Aqua's magical talents. While she never often used her talents for such mischievous things, the young woman felt she had a good reason to make the two of them some fake IDs. She wanted Claire to enjoy their trip and not end up booted early from the resort.

    "But I guess if we have to go... you should let me braid your hair so we at least look like we've been somewhere tropical," she said, reaching out to playfully twirl a lock of Claire's hair around one of her fingers. "By the way, any ideas as to where we should go next?"

    Claire giggled when Aqua reached out to touch her hair, pulling back casually. "I think you said you wanted to do that before," she said, smiling at her friend. "You know? I think you should. I've wanted to do something different with my hair for a while."

    "Maybe, but I'm glad your hair isn't blonde. I think it looks pretty just the way it is." Aqua gently fingered Claire's hair, instantly releasing her hold when her friend would casually pull back. While she knew the woman was comfortable around her, Aqua never pressed or overstepped any boundaries.

    She giggled back at Claire's comment, and nodded in agreement. "I did, didn't I? I'll admit, I'd love to play with your hair. I've never had a sister or girl friend, and my own hair always had to stay short because of my training." Aqua clasped her hands together lightly, perking up when Claire would give in to the idea. Before she could say anything else, however, they would be interrupted.

    Claire was going to say more as well, to linger in the room for just a bit longer, but a knock at the door made her go silent. She looked toward it warily, suspicious of anyone who may be intruding upon them. It was still not so easy for Claire to be around people who weren't Aqua. Though the paranoia had been unfounded so far, Claire could not help but assume people were out to get her.

    "Umm, hello? Shoot, is this the right number? Was it room 202? Or 302? Shit, was it 203?"

    The voice seemed slightly uneasy as it faded away. Soon, however, a voice Claire knew could be heard.

    "Clair, Aqua? Is Cosmo. Can he come in?"

    "... You're kidding."

    She hadn't heard that voice in so long now, and only recalled it simply because it belonged to such a strange source. That talking dog who had worked with the Coalition. For him to be here only sent shivers up Claire's spine. "Be ready," she said to Aqua, Claire assuming she knew what she meant, as she went to open the door.

    With the door only open a few inches, Claire peered out to see both the dog and someone else. "... Why? What is this about? I haven't spoken with the Coalition in a long time now."

    Seeing Claire tense up, Aqua gave her a pat on the shoulder and tried to remind her that danger wasn't waiting around every corner in a place like this. "We don't really have any enemies. It could be housekeeping," the master suggested, walking up behind Claire when she would peek out the door. She frowned, hearing who was out there, moving to open the door even a bit wider.

    [​IMG]

    "Yes, what would bring the Coalition here on a day like this?" Aqua questioned, verbally echoing Claire's own thoughts. While Aqua considered the organization to be her allies, seeing them again made her feel a bit unsettled.

    "Cosmo did not mean to upset Claire. Cosmo aware of Claire's mistrust of Coalition. It was wrong what we did. However, don't take it out on Cosmo. He was out of loop. That doesn't mean Cosmo is not sorry."

    The dog's eyes turned and stared into Claire's eyes with purpose as he took a moment to find the right words.

    "... What bring the Coalition here? Simple, we need help. Recently Umbrella has suffered a crippling blow. Not at one hundred percent. However, rumors have been heard that they are planning something. Not sure why, they're not in good shape as of recently. Like Cosmo said, it is rumor. Still needs vetting."

    Peering over Cosmo, the young man in the hall spoke to Claire.

    "Also, my friends might be in some deep shit. I know we're askin' a lot, but I need help, ya know? Oh, I'm Ellis by the way if you didn't know. I assume you didn't. Still shouldn't assume though."

    Claire stared at the dog for a long, almost awkward moment. She was broken out of her daze when she noticed people milling about in the hall outside and she moved to open the door wider. "We'll talk in here," she said curtly, eager to avoid unwanted attention.

    Once both Ellis and Cosmo were inside, Claire crossed her arms and eyed the pair of them suspiciously. "I told the Coalition I was done with them, and that wasn't because of what they did. I was done fighting... I paid for what I did, and then some. So, okay? Besides, I'm nothing special. Why would you come to me? Unless..." Claire looked over at Aqua, a frown settling on her face. "Unless it's Aqua you want? Either way... we stick together."

    She then looked to Ellis in particular. "Say it then. What kind of danger are your friends in? What are you asking of me exactly?"

    Taking a few steps back, Aqua allowed the others to settle into the room before she would voice her opinion about the things they had asked of Claire. "I worked for the Coalition too, but I figured both Claire and I were done with them now. But other than the questions Claire asked, I have one more. Out of anyone, why come to Claire?" She paused, however, rephrasing her question when Claire would call them a team. "Why come to... us?"

    The young woman quieted after asking her own question, mulling over her thoughts with a serious expression on her face. Instilled in Aqua, her duty as a keyblade wielder was to help and protect anyone if they needed her. After hearing Cosmo and Ellis ask for help, whether it was on behalf of the Coalition or not, Aqua knew it would be difficult for herself to turn them down in good conscience. In any ordinary situation, Aqua would've said yes instantly, without even hearing the details.

    There was only one reason why she even hesitated: Claire. Her traveling companion had been through more than enough and finally started to seem as if she were getting back on her feet, even smiling and laughing again. If they jumped into something dangerous, Aqua feared that her friend might regress. More than anything, Aqua didn't want to hinder her friend's progress.

    The only option Aqua may have been slightly pleased with was if she went to help them and Claire remained behind. But, then again, after hearing Claire so boldly state that they were a team, she wasn't sure this was a good idea either. She didn't want to break Claire's trust or hurt her feelings by even suggesting such an arrangement. They really were a team, and at the end of the day Aqua knew she wouldn't feel right if they separated.

    So, Aqua remained quiet for a moment, her expression turning worried and frustrated. There seemed to be no win-win option in her mind, unless for some reason the mission presented to them wasn't a very dangerous one that would have an effect on Claire. However, knowing the Coalition Aqua highly doubted danger wouldn't be waiting for them around the corner if they agreed. She side-glanced to Claire, a frown on her face.

    I don't know if I want to risk your happiness. It means so much to me, but I-- Those people could really need help...

    "We trust both of you. Simple. You're both people Cosmo trusts. Cosmo will be honest, this could be giant of time. But we need to be sure."

    Ellis seemed to be going a mile a minute in the background. Moving to the mini fridge, Ellis opened it up. "You don't mind if I help myself to water, right you two? I'm just thirsty. Anywho, we don't know what kind of danger. I mean, besides the zombies where I came from? Can't reckon to tell you. I mean, you got spitters, boomers, hunters, chargers, smokers, tanks. Oh, and witches. Yeah, they're the worst. I got stab in the back by one once. I can show you the scar, if you want."

    Claire sighed deeply and rubbed at the back of her neck. Seemed obvious now why they were here. Some other world ravaged by disease and mutation, and who better to ask for help than Claire Redfield, one of the few survivors of the Raccoon City Incident? Or, more accurately now, the only survivor.

    "Don't mind laying it on thick, do you?" she asked slowly in response to Ellis in particular, her mind reeling in thought. No part of Claire wanted anything to do with this, for she had felt she had simply done enough already. Doing favors for others was something another Claire did, one who hadn't made the mistakes she had. Going out into the thick of things, in an environment that would only remind her of the worst of times would only see to upset her.

    But Claire wasn't operating alone, not anymore. She had made the conscious decision to be with Aqua for as long as possible, and so any decisions made about what they were to do had to be between them. For someone as kind and selfless as Aqua, Claire had a good feeling what her thoughts on this would be. She didn't have to like it much, but her dedication to Aqua came before anything else.

    "Here's my decision on this," she said after a moment. "Aqua and I didn't have any solid plans after this trip. I can't say we don't have the time. But, I don't want to agree to anything. Instead, I'm going to let Aqua make the decision, and whatever she chooses, I will follow." She smiled sadly toward Aqua. "I'm not trying to put you into an uncomfortable position, and whatever you decide, you won't be making me do anything. I will always follow you."

    [​IMG]

    "..."

    After hearing Claire's words, and while their guests made themselves at home, Aqua quieted for a moment. Despite the fact her friend didn't want to put her into an uncomfortable position, the keyblade master still felt unsettled. If she decided they should help and it was harmful to Claire or if she decided not to help and Ellis' friends died, Aqua would feel guilty. She already felt guilty she hadn't been able to save Ven and Terra.

    Despite her struggles with providing them an answer, however, Aqua new exactly what she wanted to do. "I think you know what I want, no, have to do. I-- I can't turn down people who need my help," she finally said, placing a hand over her heart before turning to look at Claire. "I've pledged my life to help people. It's what a keyblade wielder has to do; we must protect what matters."

    Aqua gently dropped her hand down onto Claire's and gave it a small squeeze, before looking into her eyes. "But I don't want my duty to put you into a rough spot. I know you want to leave this up to me, but if you're not ready for something like this I understand. Just as you said, I'd never make you do anything. And I don't want you to make yourself do anything either. Your well-being matters to me. So please look me in the eyes and say you can handle something like this."

    Watching Aqua, Claire knew what was going threw her head. Or at least, she had a good idea. Aqua always worried about her, which Claire appreciated, but it didn't mean she was naive. She had enough memories inside her head to last two or three lifetimes, and while it made her feel suffocated most of the time, it also made her very unlike a child who couldn't look after herself.

    When Aqua finally spoke, she said what Claire had already figure, and so the other woman just nodded her head. She let Aqua finish, giving Aqua's hand a gentle squeeze in return. "It's fine," she said, her voice a bit lower than before. She did as requested and looked Aqua in her blue eyes.

    [​IMG]

    "Your decision is my decision... and I will be fine, especially with you by my side. I mean, I've survived worse... I can't promise there won't be some bad moments, but I'll deal with them as I've always have." She broke the glance to shoot Ellis and Cosmo a look. "... Besides, I'm sure these two will be very grateful, right?"

    Ellis aloofly nodded his head, not noticing or caring as he dripped water from the bottle he was drinking on to his shirt. "Why wouldn't I be? Shoot, I'm more than thankful."

    Ellis was a lot of things and sincere was one of them. Cosmo nodded his head, turning after to look into Claire's eyes once again.

    "You have Cosmo's word you both will be paid back."

    When Claire did her best to assure Aqua she would be okay, the keyblade master softened her gaze and nodded. She trusted Claire and would take the woman's word for it. "Alright, Claire, but I want you to know you won't have to deal with things the way you always have. Things will be different this time," Aqua told her, gently skimming her thumb over the top of Claire's hand. "You have me now, and I have you. We'll keep each other strong."

    Aqua turned and offered a smile to Cosmo and Ellis. "I'm just glad we'll be able to help you two. But there's no need for payment, unless Claire has something in mind. Knowing I've helped someone who needs me is payment enough in my eyes." Aqua paused before deciding to ask another question. "Um, so where is it that we'll be going exactly? And are Claire and I the only ones you've asked for help?"

    Claire opened her mouth to speak up about payment, but she wasn't sure what she wanted to say in response to that exactly. She needed some time to mull it over. Instead, she gave Aqua's hand a thankful touch and listened to Ellis and Cosmo speak of other people they had recruited for this operation. Claire didn't know any of them, but apparently they were all survivors of multiversal incidents as well. Three more, which Claire had to wonder if they would be enough for the apparent danger Ellis spoke of...



    Before long, Ellis and Cosmo's recruitment had been a success, and five individuals had been gathered. By their own admission, the danger here was vague and possibly nothing at all. Still, it didn't mean the group could relax, for Ellis' world housed its own unique dangers. An infection ravaged the world, creating rage-filled infected human beings and mutated ones who fought with special abilities. Though the group had been briefed on these monsters, nothing could compare to actually facing the threat.

    A Coalition transporter brought the group from their various locations, landing them at the same location at the same time.

    [​IMG]

    "Guess I shouldn't be surprised," lamented Carol, recognizing the city as Savannah, Georgia. She sighed deeply, turning to Ellis and the others as the glow of the transporter that got them here disappeared from around them. She recognized the man Ellis had brought, but the others were a mystery to her. Carol wasn't sure how she felt about that. "Are we supposed to be here?"

    "And do you have any idea what we should be doing from here?" Claire asked, feeling a little unsteady in the company of new people. She'd traveled alone with Aqua for so long now, that this was going to be a harsh adjustment. At least Ellis seemed nice and safe, which was someone Claire could see herself trusting.

    The two women waited eagerly for Ellis to speak.​
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2017
  2. CrunchyCHEEZIT

    CrunchyCHEEZIT The Strugglers

    "Give him a breath."

    Much to his own surprise since the beginning of the trip, 76 wasn't a complete stranger here.

    Carol and Ellis' would be the few to recognize the croaking, ragged baritone voice coming from the figure in the corner. The heavy taps of military combat boots falling upon concrete approached the group as the lights from the vanishing transporters illuminated his tall, lanky figure and the massive rifle heaved over his shoulder, before the red glow from the tactical visor masking his face came to full fruition.

    [​IMG]

    "Hm, can't say I was expecting another underwater city...but, are we in Georgia?"

    Soldier: 76 raised his head, staring at the group mustered before him. The story on how the old soldier had gotten himself all the way from tearing apart shady bases and headquarters to getting wrapped up in the affairs of the greater multiverse once more since the Rapture incident is...complicated, to say the least. The curse of aging makes remembering the pre-mission details much harder, all 76 cared to remember was Ellis and a talking dog showing up...

    ...and, it was all history from there. How 76 got here isn't a priority, however, what is important to him is the new and old comrades standing before him, some of which he didn't take for fighters, but judging a book by its cover was his folly in Rapture. The soldier turned towards Ellis, the scrawny mechanic he first encountered back in Rapture along with Carol. They both seemed to be survivors from some kind of incident back in their world, but Ellis seemed less concerned about it then Carol.

    Right, never judge a book by its cover.
     
    Atomic Knight likes this.
  3. Atomic Knight

    Atomic Knight Bear With Me The Convergence Series GM

    [​IMG]

    After their arrival, and while waiting for further instruction, Aqua gazed down at her wayfinder. She lost herself in thought while looking at the trinket, reflecting on her missing friends as she looked at it. While not meaning it to be, it had become a habit for Aqua to look at it every time she came to a new world. Deep down, she held hope in her heart that there was a chance she could find them on each world she explored. But like a flickering flame with water being dripped on it, her hope was starting to feel defeated.

    Their faces are starting to look blurry in my mind. It's been almost 12 years since I've seen them. I wonder if they remember what I look like? I wonder... if we'll ever be together again?

    Realizing she was distracted, Aqua quickly put away her wayfinder and looked to the group. She wanted to think about her friends, but knew she needed to help Cosmo and Ellis focus on their mission first. Even though the group they would be working with was small, Aqua could tell Claire seemed a bit tense. Even though she didn't like seeing her friend uncomfortable, Aqua had to admit it was probably good for Claire to get used to other people too.

    "I imagine this is where we're supposed to be," Aqua said, half-responding to Carol's question. At least, it sort of looked like the place Ellis had debriefed them on before arriving. The keyblade master said nothing in reply to Soldier: 76's question, however, because she actually wasn't entirely sure where they are. Instead, she addressed the whole group. "I don't think I know most of you, so maybe introductions are in order? I'm Aqua, and my friend over here is Claire," she said, gesturing to her traveling companion. "Who might all of you be?"
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2017
  4. Atomic Knight

    Atomic Knight Bear With Me The Convergence Series GM

    "Yeah, this is Savannah, my home town. Well, I was born in a small town outside the city, still, home is home, right? Been awhile, huh? I really should check on the garage. Damn."

    Crouching, Ellis touched the ground slightly as he stared into the city. Different thoughts were racing in the young man's head. Ellis Standing up, Ellis turned to the group.

    "Look, I ain't sure what we're suppose to be looking, but I have a feelin' we'll know when we found it. So, how about we stock up, take a few minutes to met each other, and move out soon? The zombies, the ain't like your normal kind. Just heads up. Also, if you hear a woman cryin'? Run."
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2017
  5. Atomic Knight

    Atomic Knight Bear With Me The Convergence Series GM

    [​IMG]

    For Claire, the idea that they would be wandering into an area infected with zombies was strangely alluring. She hadn't mentioned this to Aqua on their way here for fear it would sound weird, but while Claire didn't exactly want to be doing this, she couldn't deny she had more experience than most when it came to this sort of situation. She knew she was a competent person, and going into this with that thought in mind was easing her discomfort.

    As for their company, the old guy decked out with the visor seemed pretty intense, enough so that Claire couldn't imagine she'd ever want to get in his way for fear of him making an example of her. She'd let him do his thing if he wanted to be the big guy in charge here. The older woman, Carol, on the other hand, seemed just about the opposite. The way she looked at Claire suggested a sort of weariness about her, but Claire couldn't really imagine why she was here. She was carrying a weapon, however, and Ellis must have brought her for a reason, after all.

    Claire decided she'd just worry about Aqua and herself, first and foremost.

    "Yeah, Claire Redfield," she said, adding on to Aqua's introduction. She sounded confident, at least. Ready to take on this world.

    [​IMG]

    Carol might have given Aqua or Soldier: 76 a confused second glance at their get-ups if she hadn't become somewhat accustomed to such odd clothing from those outside her world. The old soldier didn't seem changed from when she had last seen him in particular, which Carol was internally content with. He'd proven himself a capable ally back in the underwater city, so there was no need to worry about him here. The others, however...

    "... I'm Carol," she said, looking at Aqua and Claire. Ellis trusted them to work together, so she was going to give the boy the benefit of the doubt and assume these two knew what they were doing. No need for her to put on an act here, but no need to be difficult either. "Grew up in Georgia myself... small world, huh?"

    She then looked back to Ellis and asked, "Stock up where, exactly? I mean, it's a good idea... you said we couldn't bring much." She reached toward her belt, lifting up a pistol she had tucked into the waist of her pants to show that was the only weapon she had on her.​
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2017
  6. Atomic Knight

    Atomic Knight Bear With Me The Convergence Series GM

    The last member of the party had been rather quiet, but there was a reason for it. Save for his contact with Wanda Maximoff through letters, Edmond Honda had been cut off from the Multiverse ever since his trip (for lack of a better word) to Bright Falls ended in everyone-well...almost everyone, getting out alive and in one piece. He'd wanted to help more, really, but at the same time he had been more than happy to return to Tokyo to get back to his daily life. But it seemed as if the Multiverse was going to be a part of his life now, whether he liked it or not. To be going back into dangers it held, willingly this time...it was overwhelming for even him.

    It was nice to be here on his own accord, though, unlike being unceremoniously dropped on a bus with a bunch of strangers. At least these strangers all knew what they were getting into. And to an extent, so did he. They were up against, what, zombies here? Honda himself wasn't too familiar with the genre, but he was sure his sumo skills could take any of these things down...as long as they weren't like that Jason fellow.

    Unconsciously touching his shoulder, where a scar from his first zombie encounter remained a permanent memento of Bright Falls, Honda finally spoke up.

    [​IMG]

    "The name's Edmond Honda, pleasure to meet you all!"

    The location surprised him a bit. Judging by the people here, he guessed they meant Georgia the state and not Georgia the country. Neither one he'd been to before, so either way it was unfamiliar territory. ​
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2017
  7. Atomic Knight

    Atomic Knight Bear With Me The Convergence Series GM

    Soldier: 76 peered around the circle of individuals he would eventually call his 'squad' for this mission. In a mission like this, it was a good habit to understand your comrades and have them understand you, so no one is left out and no pointless drama gets in the way of the objective.

    [​IMG]

    "Soldier: 76," he muttered, wanting to get past this part as soon as possible, but he still had some minor catch-up to do with those he learned to trust. He turned towards Carol and Ellis in particular and waved, "Good to see you still on your feet, Carol. Same to you, Ellis." Carol proved to be a resourceful kind of person, a trait Soldier: 76 himself picked up after he took on his new life. Ellis came from that same walk of life, and 76 wasn't surprised that they'd end up going hand-in-hand with something like this.

    As for everyone else, the red glare of his visor was on them for only a couple seconds, and the old man already made his judgement. The two women looked like they were partners of some kind, the one in blue looked like she was trying her best to give up right off the bat, and the one in red looked like she hated everyone here. He sniffed and looked towards--

    Oh, boy.

    76 took pause at Honda, taking a moment to visualize his entire mass. A sumo wrestler was evidently accompanying the squad for this mission, with no armor, weapons, equipment or really any kind of equipment beyond his bare skin and his shorts. Honda couldn't tell what face the old man was making towards him, but it wasn't good.

    Don't judge a book by its cover...

    "Right," the soldier suddenly spoke, turning away from Honda and gripping his heavy pulse rifle in both hands, "Ellis is right, we're low on equipment right now and finding some place to resupply is the first priority. We move as a single unit and survey the territory, we keep our guns out and ready to shoot and kill at any time, we don't stop for drama and useless shit, and if no one moves off to get themselves killed, we finish this quick."

    The old man ceased his pacing and turned towards Ellis and the rest, "Does that sound good to everyone?"



    The keyblade master nodded when the others introduced themselves, glancing around at the new group she would likely be spending a decent amount of time with. While she didn't know much about any of them, other than Claire, they looked to be capable individuals. Even if they hadn't looked the part, however, Aqua was wise enough to know not to underestimate anyone. They may have looked different to her, but she realized that she probably looked different to them. They all came from different worlds, united by Cosmo, Ellis, and the Coalition.

    While she had seemed somewhat melancholy while looking at her charm, once Aqua had put it away she straightened her back and looked sharp, more like an equal member of the group. Even if she was losing hope when it came to finding her own friends, she hadn't lost hope when it came to helping others. She looked forward to locating the missing individuals and bringing them to safety. She only hoped they wouldn't run into too many problems along the way, not like the last time she had worked with the Coalition and their affairs.

    [​IMG]

    "Is Georgia located on... Earth?" Aqua questioned, shifting her gaze from those around her to the environment itself. The area seemed oddly dead and quiet at the moment, almost as if they were experiencing a calm before the storm. Aqua just couldn't picture it would be this quiet for the entire mission. If it was, Cosmo and Ellis wouldn't have taken the time to recruit skilled individuals. "I've been to Earth before, but I don't know a lot about it."

    "Anyhow, I do think it would be good if we stocked up on supplies," Aqua began in reply to Soldier 76. She was a bit surprised by how stern he was, but maybe the attitude was somewhat fitting. It wasn't as if they had come here to play around. "I find myself asking the same question Carol just asked, though. Where can we stock up? I know Soldier 76 suggested we survey the area, but before we do that... do any of you know a place? Ellis, maybe?" she questioned. If anyone knew a place Ellis might. If he did, it would cut down time. There was a good chance he didn't, but checking before they made another move wouldn't hurt.



    "Shit, Miss Aqua, this is my home town! I know where everythang is. We're 'bout a good five minute from the garage I ran with few of my buddies. This area seems safe, we can start there, look round, I know we got bunch of random shit just sitting there We got bunch first aid kits there on the fact that my buddy Keith always hurts? Did I ever tell all buddy, Keith? Like this one time, Keith and I were working, and sometimes we do detail work, this was one of those times, Anyway, I'm giving it a basic clean up. Keith? He's got his hand stuck in the trunk! So for, like, ten minutes, he just starts pull on it! son of a bitch pulled on it so hard, he pulls out his back! Hits the floor like a lead balloon, I tell you. Should have known he could pop it open from a button on the inside. Anyway, we just go there first, and we'll figure it out from there."

    Turning to Honda, Ellis's jaw drops. With child like joy, the young man grinned from ear to ear.

    "Dear god, you a damn sumo, ain't ya!? Or are you just big? Cuz that's also freakin' cool!"



    As the rest of the group studied each other, Honda did the same-and as he did, he could tell he was probably not giving anyone a good first impression by comparison. Sure, everyone here was human, but only three of their group looked to be in everyday clothes. Aqua, she was dressed like some character from one of those fantasy video games, and Soldier 76 looked like a general from some sort of futuristic army movie. And then, of course, there was Honda himself, towering over everyone here lengthwise and widthwise, no weapon on him but his bare hands. Not someone you'd want to ally with in a zombie setting, probably-but Honda was sure he could prove his worth.

    ...of course, having a backup weapon couldn't hurt, you know. Probably not a sword or gun or anything; Honda needed something that could do some damage that didn't require skill to weild it. If they were going to a garage, maybe there was a baseball bat or something along those lines.

    Turning to Ellis when addressed, Honda's thoughts of weapons were ignored. Instead, his heart swelled with pride, seeing the joyful reaction he got from this talkative young man. Kids like him were why he tried so hard to spread sumo all over the world!! "That's right!" Honda laughed. "You're looking at one of Japan's finest sumo wrestlers!! Always happy to meet a fan of the sport!"



    Ellis laughed.

    "Now, I wouldn't call myself a fan of sumo. I mean, I never seen a match before. However, the way ya'll shove each other 'round like ragdolls? What's not to like? Now here's a question, you're a big guy, right? Now, how strong are you? Like, could you tip a cow by yourself? One time, Keith, me, and bunch of other people got super drunk on the fourth of July. So we're all shootin' shit, and I'm tryin' to this cute girl that caught. Now did I mention we're on somebody's farm? Anyway, I'm talkin' to this girl, and Keith starts shoutin' for me. See, Keith got the great idea to go cow tippin'. Now when I look at him, he's pushin' the poor cow full force, and she don't budge! Keith keeps goin' for a bit and quits. However, apparently the cow's name was "Sourfoot" cuz Keith gently knocked her hoof, and she went nanners! Like, she punted Keith's ass like a star football kicker! Ended up with hoof marks on ninety percent of his body. Moral of the story? You can push on some people all you went and they don't care. Just don't step on their foot."



    [​IMG]

    Finding his words almost endearing, Aqua smiled at Ellis story. "Your friend sounds like he got himself into a lot of trouble. My friend Terra is sort of like that. He's strong, but careless. I could picture him doing something silly like you mentioned in your stories. He's always getting into--" Aqua cut herself off, frowning. "I mean, he was always getting himself into trouble..." I don't really know where he is or what he's doing now. Either he's gone, or is out there somewhere and doesn't want me to find him.

    "Anyhow, I've never met a sumo wrestler myself. You must be really strong," the young woman commented. "Do you have to train a lot?" Aqua almost always had to train in order to keep her skills sharp. A keyblade could be a fickle weapon at times. If she didn't work to stay worthy of it there was a good chance it would leave her one day. She doubted the others had a weapon like hers, but training was still essential for any warrior.

    "Oh, one more thing I should mention," Aqua began. "Ellis, you mentioned first aide kits, but I wouldn't make them a top priority. I have healing magic. So if any of you are ever injured, please be sure to see me straight away," she suggested. Aqua honestly hadn't used her magic for healing in a long time, not since the great Arch Demon battle, but in a dangerous place such as this she wouldn't have been surprised if it was necessary.



    Now, Honda was starting to feel more at home with the conversation topic. Getting to talk about his passion put him at ease a little, and he puffed out his chest with pride.

    "Certainly! Cows are no match for me! I've been up against fellows twice my size and weight, some little heifer is nothing! Gahahaha!" He laughed at Ellis' story, amused. "That Keith of yours sounds like a lightweight if he could get knocked so easy! If you ask me he should build up those muscles of his, get centered!"

    To Aqua, he would proudly nod. "You bet! I've trained since I was a boy, and I certainly haven't let up since then. Of course, fighting elsewhere has helped with all that, but sumo wrestling ain't easy!"

    Interested by the comment about magic, Honda asked her, "Healing magic, huh? Do you know other spells too?" His knowledge of magic was limited to what he'd seen Wanda do, but he was certainly intrigued by the subject!

    ...granted Aqua didn't have to bite him for it to work.



    "Come on now, man! We all ain't built like a brick wall, ya know?"

    Smirking and Honda, Ellis stopped as Aqua's words reached him. Listening close, the man cracked a smile.

    "Woah, you some sorta magic user? I know a few of those back in the coalition. Like, I know, Miss Wynne, she's a mage and she's good at, umm, she called her type of magic "Spirit healing." Not as interesting as you think. All I did was glow lil' bit. I like her though, she knits the best socks. I got mine on right now. Breaths good and everthin'. Oh! And Miss Wanda can use magic too, but she told me healing isn't a natural use in her type. She gotta "weave the magic in through the outdoor," whatever that means. I thought that was just a Led Zeppelin album. Anywho, we gotta move soon. The shop is close."



    [​IMG]

    Unlike the rest of the group, Soldier: 76 didn't find the Sumo conversation as endearing. "Enough. We have a job to get done here, people, stay focused!" 76 barked his order, glaring at Ellis and Honda. Knowing that the old man took time out of his own mission to help out old friends, he wasn't going to waste any time on non-priorities. Time is a resource that Jack doesn't have enough of these days, but for some reason he decided to follow Ellis here anyway. Maybe he's getting senile already? "I didn't have time to get any medical equipment from my place, I was...'busy'. You mentioned there were medkits in that shop, Ellis?"

    76 turned to face Aqua, noting her comment about healing magic. Jack imagined it'd be something Dr. Ziegler would've used, so he wasn't immediately going to question how it works, but...then again, Dr. Ziegler may or may not actually be a witch. "I don't know shit about magic, but I know how a medical kit works. In case that magic ever backfires, we should have a good stock on medkits."

    76 wasn't hesitant on moving forward, as he already began walking ahead, checking his rifle and adjust his glaring visor whilst talking, "Ellis, take point and lead us towards the shop. We'll all follow close behind in a tight unit. Everyone, keep your eyes peeled and no one gets themselves killed, shot, stabbed, whatever the hell."

    "Is that clear? I hope so. Let's move."




    [​IMG]

    Aqua continued to hold a smile, actually glad she had a moment to speak with the new group. "You must be very strong!" Aqua complimented Honda, sounding impressed by his words. "I'm the same way. I've trained ever since I was a young girl, and it made me strong. I became who I am today because of all the training I received. I wouldn't trade it for the world."

    She nodded toward Honda and Ellis when they would mention her magic. "I do know spells other than healing related ones. I've always been pretty good at magic," she told them, actually being modest about her skills. Truthfully, she was more than just pretty good at magic. She was a master, and magic was her specialty. She could use high-leveled spells with ease, and her magic was more powerful even in comparison to others who could use the same high-leveled spells.

    "Oh, I know of Wynne and Wanda. I heard about them when I worked for the Coalition, even if I never met them in person. They sound very powerful with their magical abilities. They could probably teach me a thing or two," she said with a chuckle.

    Aqua cut off her laugh, however, when Soldier 76 spoke up. He didn't exactly sound pleased they were chatting instead of moving along. "My magic doesn't backfire, but I understand your concern," Aqua replied. "Don't take our conversation as neglecting our mission. I often find it's good to speak with people I work alongside. Learning more about them can be helpful. Anyhow, I have no problems with moving along. I'm ready."



    [​IMG]

    "Georgia. In America. It's on most Earths I'm familiar with," Claire said to Aqua, finding herself almost laughing at the seemingly absurd statement. After all, she and Aqua had just come from an alternate Earth themselves, which would have been almost a dizzying concept if she were not already familiar with such things. "Can't say I've ever been here before. Magic, though... Aqua's taught me a bit about it. With her help, I might be able to do those kinds of things, but otherwise, I only have my natural skills to rely on."

    Carol, at the very least, offered Honda a nod. Wasn't her call here to determine who was right for the task at hand, not until she saw how they worked. For all she knew, she was the least notable member of the team, which made her wonder all over again what benefit Ellis thought she brought to it. Moral support? Yeah, she would have to question that decision...

    "No complaints here," Carol said, agreeing with Soldier: 76's outburst. "He's right." Ellis had a habit of going off on tangents and focusing on matters that were far from helpful at the worst of times. His latest story, even, had placed them further away from the task he was trying to lay out. "Ellis knows the way, so we'll follow his lead, but 76 knows what he's talking about. Ellis, you would be good to listen to what he has to say." With that, she gestured for them to go.

    "Can do..." Claire said, falling in line next to Aqua. She wasn't sure what to make of Carol, but she was looking to be a no-nonsense sort like the soldier. It wasn't lost on her that the woman had the least to offer about herself.

    The streets were barren, for the most part, occupied only by abandoned cars and littered trash. Dried patches of blood stood out here and there, a grim reminder that the unassuming city was the site of an ongoing battle against the dead. It was a few blocks down from where they began that they found another person, though Ellis was quick to note that this was no healthy individual.

    [​IMG]

    The woman was staggering on her feet, writhing in place as if she was in pain. Her head was primarily turned upward as she looked up into the sky, mouth agape as it uttered soft moans. It was a gross sound, almost unnatural for a human.

    It wasn't a sight that caused either Carol or Claire any alarm. The pair of them had both seen similarly infected in their own lives, though the woman standing before them was certainly unique. She seemed to have the full range of her limbs, with her legs twitching at a rate that suggested she could use them to run if needed. It was Carol's first instinct to sneak up on the woman to take her out, but she made an effort to wait so they could observe the infected.

    "Is she fast?" Claire asked in a low whisper. She'd dealt with monsters capable of speedy assaults in the past, but it felt unnerving to think the common zombie could chase her down. Raccoon City would have been a very different experience if that had been the case.

    [​IMG]

    "It's not their sight they rely on the most... it's sound," Carol said, more speaking to herself as she affirmed the similarities to the infected she was familiar with. Ellis had informed them of that much, at least. "Smell too."



    Aqua almost wanted to say something in reply to the statement Claire struggled not to laugh through, but instead just smiled sheepishly. The young woman could easily have protested by saying she had visited so many places it was hard to remember which worlds had what locations. Especially considering her one-track mind often became so fixated on locating her friends she occasionally lost track of details. However, she didn't bother explaining herself. After all, hearing Claire make a lighthearted statement--almost to the point of laughing--was comforting to her. In fact, she would've been more than happy to say over a thousand absurd things if it made Claire's day a little brighter.

    "Oh! Right, silly me. I should've known. We were just on Earth. You'll have to give me another geography lesson later, huh?"

    Following suit, Aqua walked after Ellis with the others. She quieted in order to better focus on their surroundings, frowning at the sights before them. Although the location was different, it reminded her of the Badlands she had visited long ago and saw yet again during their conflict with the archdemon. This place was a graveyard for lost lives, just as the Badlands were a graveyard for many, many fallen keyblade wielders. The thoughts in comparison caused a shiver to run down the master's spine. This place may have been horrible, but that's exactly why she had come. There were people here who needed her help.

    As they approached the ill woman, much like Carol and Claire, Aqua didn't react. Having dealt with the crossed before, the sight of a person in this state wasn't much different. She did, however, narrow her eyes sadly for a moment, feeling bad for the poor woman who had succumbed to such a cruel fate.

    [​IMG]

    That poor woman. I hope we find Ellis' friends before this happens to them too...

    "Is she anything like the crossed?" Aqua whispered to the others as she continued to observe the infected woman. She expected Claire would answer her if none of the others knew about the crossed, but seeing how experienced some of these people were she wouldn't have doubted they might have some knowledge on the subject as well.



    "The Crossed?" Ellis said, look at Aqua. "Nah. These thangs can't use weapons." He smirked at her for a moment, before turning and moving to approach the infected woman. Surprisingly quick, Ellis slashed at her head with a knife, a part of the scalp popping off as she tumbled to the ground. Finishing her off, Ellis' boot stomped into the woman's face. His jeans now covered in blood, Ellis aimed his smile at the group.

    "Good job, Ellis," Carol praised, making him feel a bit giddy.

    "Now, we ain't too far. I can just about see it from here. Come on."

    Just a few blocks down, Ellis brought the group to a fenced-off parking lot that was shaded from taller buildings nearby blocking the sun. He hopped the fence and brought the group over toward what looked to be once a local business. Two big garage doors were currently shuttered, and all the windows appeared boarded up. To get inside, Ellis brought the group to the side of the building, where he pulled off a couple of boards that only appeared to be bolted over it.

    Once inside, Ellis walked across the room and hit some kind of device that turned on the overhead lights. "Got a generator," he said in explanation.

    [​IMG]

    "Y'all can make yourselves at home if you like... got weapons, ammo. Food and water too. Those first aid kits are in the lockers if you need 'em."

    Claire looked around a bit sheepishly, her mind still locked in on that infected woman from before. Aqua had asked if she had been like the Crossed, and it occurred to Claire just how many different kinds of infected people she had encountered in her life. It was nothing less than disheartening to imagine how many worlds were like her own or Ellis'.

    "Some... water would be nice," Claire said.



    Soldier wasn't expecting any resistance towards his order, since he knew the people he was working with. These were reliable, sensible people that have proved themselves as valuable allies in Rapture. The old soldier always considered himself a lone wolf ever since he came back from the dead, and those that followed behind him did nothing but harm towards himself and others. The events that went down in the Tomb of Kings, and Rapture; catching up with McCree, meeting people like Carol, Ellis, Jesse-- hell, even that little Gwen monster-- did something to change that.

    The question is if that change still carries weight.

    Soldier creeped along with the rest of the party, his eyes darting around the barren streets behind his visor. It wasn't a surprise for anyone that his rifle sights immediately trained on the only other figure in the park-- a sickly-looking woman, shambling mindlessly like a puppet. Carol spoke quick enough to prevent the old man from opening fire, as he noted the shadowy figures shambling off in the foggy distance. It reminded him of that stupid "Dr. Junkenstein" story Reinhardt told every Halloween, about the zombie omnics-- zomnics, if you will.

    It also reminds him of the first Splicer he killed in Rapture, which isn't as whimsical as the former. Nothing is, these days.

    [​IMG]

    "Hmph, can't be too different from a Splicer," he muttered to Carol and Claire, starting to move clos--

    Soldier: 76 loosened his aim as the woman's face quickly became one with the concrete, giving Ellis a silent nod of approval. It was a quiet take-down that didn't attract any attention; nice and clean, for the most part. The old man walked past the infected corpse with no regard. He isn't in the mood to be sad right now.

    76 was the first to begin rummaging through the supplies the mechanics shop had to offer, resting the massive, futuristic rifle he was holding on the metal table as he stockpiled. The old man paused in the middle of his rummaging, however, turning towards the rest of the group with what appeared to be a pistol in his hand.

    "What year is it? In this 'world', I mean."
     
  8. Atomic Knight

    Atomic Knight Bear With Me The Convergence Series GM

    "Here you go, miss."

    Handing Claire a bottle of water, Ellis turned to the soldier.

    "Last time I checked? 2008."



    [​IMG]

    "That's a relief," Aqua replied to Ellis, sounding genuinely relieved. The crossed were probably the worst of creatures the keyblade master had ever scene. They were not only foul, but smart enough to use weapons and do terrible things. She was glad to hear these creatures were less intelligent on the scale of things. Aqua then watched as Ellis took down the infected woman, before continuing to follow after him as he led them further along.

    When they approached the fence, Aqua jumped it with ease--her doubleflight jumping ability making it appear almost as if she flew a short distance over it. When she dropped to the ground she followed after Ellis, entering into the building he would escort them inside of. Once inside, she walked around for a moment to explore, finding herself standing in front of an old chalkboard. After she grew bored of looking at it, Aqua seated herself on a stack of tires.

    "I don't need anything, thanks, but it's good to know we have a decent amount of supplies here," Aqua replied to Ellis, her blue eyes continuing to wander the area. It wasn't often that Aqua took the time to eat or drink anything, especially during missions. Ever since her ten-year entrapment in the dark realm, it just felt strange for her to eat or drink often. She did take care of herself when necessary so she could stay strong though, and so she wouldn't worry Claire.

    "After we're done here, what is the next location in mind?" She questioned, glancing down for a moment at the tire she was sitting on. She ran her fingers across the bumpy surface, quietly thinking about this place. How long would they be here, she wondered? She didn't mind if it took them a while, so long as everyone remained safe.



    As 76 wanted, Honda shut up, following along with the group. Not much for small talk, was he? War veterans weren't the most chipper of folks-76 was a war vet, right? Seemed like one. Either way, the guy knew what he was doing, and Honda was perfectly fine following his, or anyone else's, lead here. After all, he'd only encountered one zombie compared to however many the others did.

    Ellis, for example, talkative as he was, was able to dispose of a zombie quite easily. It was still...unnerving, seeing a human, even deformed as she was, taken down so coldly. But, then again, these weren't people anymore, were they? He didn't know what zombies felt, and he didn't really want to think about it too much. That's what always got someone killed in those movies, right?

    Whatever! Right now, he needed to get prepared for this mission. Honda looked at the weapons available, trying to figure out which would be best suited for him. "Say, Ellis, any ideas for a proper, uh, melee weapon?" That's what they were called, right? Or was it close-range? Eh, Ellis would know.



    Carol joined Soldier: 76 in rummaging with the supplies, though her attention was more on the weapons that Ellis had stashed away. She examined each one intently, pausing on a rifle to hold it in her hands to see how it felt. Ellis' collection was impressive, a reminder that he was as incompetent as he sometimes came off. He wasn't much different than herself when she thought about it, for it might have been an odd sight for someone who looked like she did to be holding firearms as if she actually knew what she was doing.

    People naturally wanted to think the least of you, she had come to realize.

    [​IMG]

    Still holding the rifle, she found herself giving Soldier: 76 a sideways glance, her eyes looking particularly on the weapon he had rested against the table. "And what year was it for you?" she asked casually, feigning almost indifference. "Must be far from 2008 for you to have a gun like that."



    Claire thanked Ellis when he led her to the water supply and she took a bottle gratefully. She popped off the cap and started to drink, her eyes scanning the room as she did so. The others were busy looking through Ellis' supplies, but Claire noticed that Aqua didn't seem too interested in any of it. It only made sense, considering that she was the most equipped of them all.

    Bottling her water, she took a breath and sat down next to Aqua, brushing up against her so that they both fit on one side of the tire. "You okay?" she asked, knowing that Aqua was probably going to throw that same question back at her a few times on this mission. She took her hand and lightly touched the back of Aqua's hand, just as a reminder that they were both here for each other. "There's no rush. We can take it slow for now."

    [​IMG]

    She looked over at Carol and Soldier: 76, nodding in their direction. "Those two might not like it, but Ellis says there's not much to go off of anyway. Just make sure there's nothing here you might want..."



    [​IMG]

    "70 years."

    The old man didn't react as shocked as one would expect, after all, the things in Rapture were much older. The time period doesn't affect him at all, but he asked because of the gun he held in his hand. A standard 9mm pistol, the one Ellis and his survivor buddies almost always have on them. An extremely common sidearm that (considering they're in Georgia) almost everyone found somewhere.

    For the old man, this gun brought him way back, back when he was a lanky farm boy just starting to learn about the military. In Jacks youth, this specific model of gun was something out of a history book, the dusty vintage that cranky, old weapon specialists whipped out when they wanted to show the youngsters a thing or two about real guns back in their prime-- back when the only danger to American people was...other people. Before everything got complicated. Jack could laugh about it now; he's become the thing he hated most back then.

    Though, for Soldier: 76, it isn't a joke anymore.

    "2008 was over 70 years ago; this gun is 70 years old," 76 commented, examining the meaningless pistol further. "70 years from...2080-ish. Hell, I don't even know what year it is, I don't even know if I was born back in '08."

    Although Carol spoke casually, the old soldiers ragged voice sounded in awe. As much as he thinks he has this multiversal business figured out, he keeps reminding himself of where he actually is.



    Aqua's eyes drifted from the tires she sat on toward Claire when she approached. She then casually scooted over to allow the other young woman a bit more room to sit down. Aqua showed her usual brave smile, but was grateful Claire could see through it enough to question whether or not she was okay. It was nice to have a constant reminder someone was always looking out for her, and she knew Claire felt the same.

    [​IMG]

    "I'm okay," Aqua replied, glancing down at their hands when Claire touched the back of her hand. She momentarily became distracted by the warmth from the red-head's palm before continuing her reply. "I'm... sorry if I seemed in a hurry. I really am okay, but Ellis' friends might not be. Seeing that infected woman made me realize just how dangerous this world is. I guess I'm just anxious to find them. I don't want to see anyone else lose their friends..."

    ...like how I lost mine.

    "But we'll find them. I have to be hopeful we will."

    The master's concern for others, at times, was an overpowering thing. Aqua spent a lot of her mind power thinking about other people and how she could help them. Such thoughts were ingrained in her heart, just a part of who she was. It was normal for her to worry like a mother hen.



    "Melee weapons? Hmm... Follow me, big guy."

    Moving away slightly from the group, Ellis opened the closet. In there were pipes, bat, rackets, a milk crate of objects sat on the floor. Small handguns, jewelry, CDs, and bottles of pills sat in there.

    "We do a lot of detailing. We always warn them, if you leave, we'll take. You'll be shocked how many people ain't give a shit there stuff is taken. If they come back lookin' for it, we'd give it back."

    Hearing Aqua's worrying, Ellis smirked, trying to give her reassurance.

    "Now don't worry, I know they're alright. Gotta have faith, you know? Ain't a doubt in my mind."

    Ellis smiled, however, he stopped as something caught his mind on a nearby shelf. Walking to it, it was a map and a letter.

    "Think I found something,"



    Claire drew back her hand and clasped them in her lap. She could hear the pain behind Aqua's words before the other woman even brought up the connection to her own lost friends. So many of them who had crossed paths between worlds had lost people dear to them, and all knew the pain that accompanied such a tragedy. Perhaps that was why they were all here helping Ellis, wasn't it? Claire didn't know the stories of anyone else here, but Ellis' predicament likely tugged at a few hearts as it had for Aqua.

    For Claire, she knew she wasn't going to find anyone she had lost, so maybe that was why this felt different. She just wanted to support Aqua, and by extension, Ellis, in case the worst occurred.

    [​IMG]

    "They're used to this world," Claire said, not sure what else to really say. She was silent for a moment. "... And, so, they're probably strong people. Ellis thinks they're alive, so that's enough to believe in for now."

    Carol found the idea that Soldier: 76 was from a world so far in the future than her own to be a bit dizzying. She thought she was becoming used to this, but she had expected a lower number from him, truthfully. The possibilities for the kinds of reality out there were truly beyond her ability to comprehend. It was probably best not to think about it at all.

    Wanting to focus on something else, Carol looped the rifle she had been examining around her shoulder and moved to join Ellis. "You sound surprised," she said, standing next to him to look over the letter. She read it out loud, for it was a bit unsettling to see.

    [​IMG]

    "If you don't come to the shopping mall, I will die."

    She looked up at Ellis. "Was this here before? Did someone leave this for you, Ellis?" She was going to say more, but a dull thud around the back of the garage turned her around quickly. She listened intently for the sound, hearing it again a moment later.

    "Something's outside," Claire said, standing up. She sounded more serious now, understanding the possibility of a threat. She had said something and not someone, after all.

    "Are they any points of observation, Ellis? When you barricaded the windows, did you leave holes in the boards?"



    [​IMG]

    The keyblade master closed her eyes and smiled a rather generic, soft smile. When she replied to both Claire and Ellis it was a short response, utilizing her best confident tone. "Mhmm, you're both right." She then folded her hands together and paused for a moment. While she was probably one of the least insensitive individuals around, Aqua couldn't help but feel her comment may have come off that way to the others. "I didn't mean to sound as if I wasn't hopeful. I hope all of you understand that," she said, sincere in her words.

    Shifting her focus onto the others, Aqua listened when Carol read the letter Ellis found. "That could be a lead," she commented, standing up from where she had been sitting. Unless the letter was old, there was a chance it could lead them to someone who really needed their help. She began to walk over to Carol in order to look at the letter herself, but stopped when she also heard the sound Claire spoke of. "An enemy?" she questioned, tensing her shoulders.



    [​IMG]

    The masked vigilante let out a muffled sigh as he gave the ancient pistol a couple twirls before holstering it on his belt (he's always had a pistol holster, but never a pistol, for some reason). It didn't matter what time period he's in; if there was a job to get done, then it gets done. The world doesn't wait for anyone, and of all people, 76 should know that already. He turned his attention towards Ellis, specifically the map and letter he just found. "Is that some kind of m--"

    The soldier instantly turned his head towards the source of the thud, staring at the ruined wall as if he could see through it. His visor didn't actually have that kind of capability, but it looked like it did. Without hesitation, the old man grabbed his pulse rifle and creeped ahead, aiming towards the windows.

    "Keep your voices down," he said in a harsh whisper, his finger just a few centimeters away from the trigger. 76 edged himself in a way where, if someone were to aim through the windows from the outside, he'd be out of their sights-- and in turn, they'd be in his sights.

    "Weapons out, everyone away from the doors and the windows!"



    Honda listened into the time period, in awe. So, that Soldier was from the future? Maybe he could ask him how famous sumo was-or...no. Soldier 76 was the last person he would want to ask about that. Someone else he knew could answer...but from what Wanda had told the sumo wrestler, the poor guy may not be talking anytime soon.

    But sadness turned to incredulousness as Ellis revealed the melee weapons available for the taking. Honda looked them over, before deciding on a metal pipe.

    [​IMG]

    Sturdy, strong, harder to break than a baseball bat...now here was something he could use! Moving to a far corner of the room, Honda gave some practice swings, and he had to admit, he liked the way it felt. He could clear out tons of zombies with this thing!

    [​IMG]

    "...!" It sounded as if he'd need to start using his weapon very soon. Shuffling towards the center of the room quietly as he possibly could, Honda watched the entranceways to the garage, wanting to make sure every area was covered in case of an attack.



    "Huh, well this ain't Keith's writin'. It's too fancy-like. Guess we know where we're goin' now, huh?"

    Hearing then noise, Ellis grabbed his rifle and opened a window.

    "Hold on."

    Climbing to the to, a loud "Shit!" could be heard from above before would call back to the group, still on top of the roof, but could be heard clearly.

    "So, umm, yeah they're comin'. So here's what I'm thinkin', let them in. I know, I know. It's crazy. I see a lot, but enough ya'll can push back. Most likely they'll follow each other, makin' the window's safe. Meanwhile, I see a big ol' pick up. I can get it started, and we move out the mall. Sound good?"



    [​IMG]

    More focused on their approaching enemies now than anything else, the blue-eyed woman materialized her master's weapon into her hand. "We have to do something so I think your plan is as good as any!" Aqua cried back to Ellis, feeling tense yet ready for a fight.

    She swooshed her keyblade against the air a couple times, trying to remember the last time she had come across any trouble such as this. It honestly had been quite a while since she had been in a proper fight or had even used any of her magic. After her dealings with the Archdemon, she had spent most of her time enjoying a good long rest with Claire. A little exercise would do her some good. She didn't want to become rusty, after all.



    Claire sat frozen for a moment longer than one might have expected from her, her head dumbly moving about the room to catch those who were talking one at a time. She was sitting up, in between standing and sitting with her fingers tingling with a feeling Claire couldn't quite define. She watched as Carol moved closer to the window Ellis had used to climb on to the roof, pausing anxiously for a moment and looking as if she was quickly assessing what Ellis had said. One usually had time to prepare for hordes of the slowly moving undead, but the creatures outside could run just as fast as any of them.

    Claire felt like a computer, processing for a moment while her brain caught up with the rapidly moving events around her. She used to be better than this. She had been alert and light on her feet, able to take action before even having to really think about it. But something in her had radically changed, and who could say what it was that truly did it. Maybe Silent Hill, or maybe it was in the battle with the Arch Demon. Maybe it just had to do with all the fluff inside her head, the memories of lives she didn't live. Either way, there was no way to deny it-- Claire was scared. Scared and no longer fearless, for every move she ever made nowadays carried with it a deliberate air of caution.

    For better or for worse.

    It seemed like ages had passed for Claire while she thought all this over, but it couldn't have been very long at all, considering that Carol had still yet to even respond to Ellis. Feeling as if she had her bearings now, Claire stood to her feet. "That could work," she said, speaking to everyone in the room. "These things are drawn by sound, right? Keep them funneled through the door, shoot any who come through-- they'll all crowd around the door!"

    "There's just one problem," Carol said, sounding a bit grim as if she didn't really want to be speaking. "Who goes last? It's going to be harder for every person in line after the first leaves."

    [​IMG]

    "I'll do it," Claire quickly volunteered. She stared at Carol, not looking to Aqua, for she knew the other woman would protest. Carol only stared back, not agreeing or disagreeing with this.



    Soldier: 76 remained still as Ellis climbed up to the rooftop, focusing his sights down at the window. The sound emanating from outside of the shop became crystal clear, even for an old codger like him; a chorus of inhuman moaning and gurgling drew closer to the small shit-shack the group found themselves in. "Thought I could go a few more minutes..." the old man grumbled under his breath as he stepped away from the window, turning around to face Ellis just as he finished describing his plan.

    The feeling of oncoming danger was regular for Soldier: 76, it's what fuels him in his late days. The last thing he wanted to do in his twilight years was rot away in some old folks home (a sentiment Jack held long before he became Soldier: 76), and it turned out all the damn chemicals the army pumped into him helped keep him in tip-top shape, even as a jaded old bastard. Being a hero wasn't everything it's cracked up to be, but Rapture gave 76 a taste of the good old action days. Occasionally, he thinks that Rapture was a "test," and that this whole mission Ellis wrapped him up in is just another "test" that he has to overcome. Is he just validating his effectiveness as a soldier after all these years, or perhaps he has some kind of subconscious death wish?

    Can't be the latter; he's a hard man to kill, after all.

    "Normally, that wouldn't fly with me, but we can't afford to be picky right now," he scowled at Ellis under his mask and took point near the door where the zombies would funnel through, based on what Claire said. "Honda, take point near the door and clear out any that get through, I'll cover you," 76 shot an order to his large squad-mate. He caught a glimpse of the sumo wrestler swinging around the pipe, and he can't help but think of Reinhardt.

    However, before 76 could get wrapped up in memories again, Carol brought up the issue of who goes last, to which he turned his head slightly.

    A thin, glowing red visor stared back at Claire.

    [​IMG]

    "Don't."

    "You don't have a weapon that can hold off that many targets. If you go last, you'll get torn apart."




    All plans that the group agreed upon were absolutely fine with the keyblade master. They were a strong bunch and she intended to trust them. However, things changed when she heard what Claire had to say to Carol. She flinched and looked over her shoulder at Claire, her blue eyes wide with surprise. She knew the red head well enough to see immediately that the woman was putting on a brave face. She was scared. Why would she volunteer to do something that put herself in the midst of danger, the midst of her own fear? Without thinking, Aqua spoke out.

    [​IMG]

    "Claire listen, that's not a good--"

    Aqua cut herself off, trying to rein in her first reaction. It was one of pure emotional panic rather than rational thought. Of course she didn't want Claire to put herself in the midst of danger! The very thought made her heart jump into her throat and left a sour feeing in her stomach. It wasn't as if she would be leaving just any person behind, after all. Claire was precious to Aqua, more so than anyone knew.

    But still, Claire was strong and had a mind of her own. Aqua wanted to respect that; she had to respect the wishes of the people she cared for. It would be selfish of her to do otherwise.

    After quieting herself, it was then 76 voiced his opinion. He didn't want Claire to stay behind either, but for a different reason than Aqua. Suddenly, the blue haired woman changed her tune, finding herself sticking up for Claire. "She won't get torn apart. She's strong. I know she can do it. Besides, she'll have me by her side," Aqua said side-glancing to Claire for a moment before returning her gaze to the soldier. "We're a team. Whatever we do, we do it together. I'll have her back and she'll make it out."

    Part of Aqua worried about what might happen, but she was still ready to see through her words. She only hoped nobody else would protest. They didn't have much time; arguing would be pointless.



    So, there was a big group of zombies coming for them, huh? Honda had to admit-he was a little apprehensive. It probably wouldn't be all that bad, they had a good team here, but...zombies weren't a joke. Those things could infect you with the tiniest bite, rip your stomach open like you were a juicy peach...he didn't know much on the creatures, but the stuff he did know made this encounter more frightening.

    76 wanted him up front? Made sense. He was big, had a wide swinging range...and if he got overpowered zombies would get too full to go for anyone else! Honda almost laughed at that little joke, but the cold chill he got from the thought of being zombie chow took the humor right out. Instead, Honda carefully made his way to the door, wincing at the way the floor creaked under his weight-one of the few times his girth was a negative.

    As the sumo took his place at the front, he heard the debate from the back and turned to the others. "Hey now, we're all getting out of here safe and sound. Once I'm through with these guys there won't be any left to reach whoever comes in last!" He gave the group a thumbs up and a smile, hoping to boost everyone's confidence-including his own; his other hand, holding the pipe, was trembling ever so slightly.



    [​IMG]

    "Okay, now listen here, ain't nobody gonna die. Ain't lost one person yet, don' t plan to start. Well, Mulan died on me once, but that didn't count. She was a ghost for a bit afterward, then she got normal. Anyway, I'm gonna make my move. Ya'll just get ready. Don't worry if any of ya'll get bit or scratched, it's not like that. I know I'll be fine, ya'll just gotta be quick."

    Elli's words could be heard from the roof as the banging on the door got louder. Soon, the footsteps stopped, and a climbing down noise could be heard. Ellis was off.



    "He does have a point," Claire said, moving over to Ellis' stash. She was a damn good shot with a pistol, but that alone wasn't going to stand up to a horde of runners. No, what she needed was something bigger, so she hefted an M-16 Assault Rifle into her hands and took a moment to get a feel for it.

    [​IMG]

    Moving with purpose, Claire moved to stand next to Aqua and pointed her gun at the garage door. Maybe it was just a feeling of bravado, but Claire was suddenly so sure of herself in this moment. It was something she had to do, if only to prove to herself she still had what it took. "I'm a survivor, so don't worry about me."

    Carol looked around the room with a weary expression. "Once Ellis gets the truck running, we go. We don't know how big the horde is and thinking we can outgun it is a waste of ammunition at best. At worst..." Well, it was obvious, wasn't it?

    Claire had no complaints. "Honda, open that door up."



    Honda took a deep breath. Time to get this all going. He would do his best to listen for Ellis up here in front, but he would also need to make sure no one got hurt-even if it meant using himself as a shield.

    No matter, it was now or never. "COME AND GET SOME, YA ZOMBIE PUNKS!" The sumo wrestler yanked the door open with one hand, and with the other, he made a wide swing of his pipe to knock back whatever zombies came forward.
     
  9. Atomic Knight

    Atomic Knight Bear With Me The Convergence Series GM

    Honda was the first to hear loud steps from the cobblestone street outside. Loud, guttural screams that got louder, and suddenly Honda felt pulls on his body.

    [​IMG]

    In a flash, the thirty infected rushed in. A small group, five, went right the sumo. He was the closest to the door, and seemingly separated from the group. To the others, it looked like Honda was swallowed by the wave of the dead. Their hands were already on him and moving quickly to push the big man away from the group. Honda had the most space, however, as he had just been moved far from the group. He could try to take them all on at once, or lead his five off as he tried to take them down. Also, he could hide!

    The twenty-five others went towards the group in the back, rushing faster than they would think. Soldier: 76 and Carol could feel they were going to get pushed back. Where the two were standing now, the infected could easily pin them. However, a nearby stack of tires and a work desk could be stood on if they needed space. Meanwhile, Claire and Aqua had more ground to fall back on, but more infected were coming at them.

    ***

    Ellis in the meantime was ducking behind a dumpster as he looked his way to the truck. It was bright red and four-doored from what Ellis could see. It could seat three in the front, three in the back. Well, Ellis hoped Honda would fit. Right now, Ellis just had to wait. In a few minutes, he'd go for the truck.



    [​IMG]

    "Gah!!" Honda didn't like being separated from the group, especially when so many more zombies were going inside. He needed to get back in there, and fast!

    Not wasting any time, Honda would grab the zombie closest to him and throw it at the others. Any of the five not knocked down he'd then attempt to smash with his pipe.



    [​IMG]


    76 had his doubts about Claire being able to hold off the horde until the rest of the squad evacuates, but he wasn't one to judge a man's (or woman's) skill in battle until he sees them in action. She had a gun, she had Aqua covering her, and she had that youthful spark. Good enough for him. And now that the horde arrived, he'd see how she would hold up.

    *BRRATATATATATATA!*

    [​IMG]


    The old soldier gritted his teeth, wincing as a swarm of undead burst through the doors. As soon as he saw a blur of rotten flesh enter his sights, he was already firing, spreading controlled bursts of pulse fire between each of the targets, with impeccable accuracy. Carol and Ellis would recognize the noise of his Heavy Pulse Rifle roaring, bright blue lasers piercing the rotted skulls of the Infected with a force greater than that of a modern-age bullet. Being from the future has its benefits, after all.

    It didn't take long for him to spot his large ally struggling out of the corner of his eye.

    "Not too much like Wilhelm, huh?"

    76 fired a few more bursts at the approaching horde before sprinting backwards, leaping up on top of the rubber tires behind him and twirling around, taking aim at the horde swarming Honda. A few milliseconds passed, and he squeezed the secondary trigger on his pulse rifle. A trio of twirling Helix Rockets suddenly shot out from underneath of the rifle's barrel! They smashed into the undead, detonating with a small explosion and clearing out some of the zombies on Honda! It might've hurt Honda slightly, depending on where he was standing when the rockets hit, but 76 had calculated it; he'd be fine.

    "FALL BACK, HONDA!"

    76 smashed the butt of his rifle into the face of one of the undead, rattling it and a few more with pulse munitions.

    "Undead punks."



    When their enemies began to pour into the room, Aqua took a step back narrowing her eyes as she watched them. Suddenly, she realized fighting in this small area could pose a bit of a problem for her. Most of her spells were rather large and extravagant. If she wasn't careful, they could end up hurting her comrades. With these thoughts in mind, Aqua decided to go back to her most basic spells and let most of the others take down the enemies. Claire wanted some time to shine, after all. Aqua didn't mind giving it to her.

    [​IMG]

    "Thunder!" Aqua exclaimed, lifting her keyblade to cast the small electric spell, hitting the enemies closest to her with a few small bolts. Afterwards, she raised her blade once more and cast a slow spell on another small group of the enemies. This would make the movements of the dead more sluggish, allowing for the gunners to have an even better chance of hitting their targets.



    As the thunder ravaged the dead, the side of the two ladies seemed to be clear. There was one or two left, but it seemed it wouldn't be hard.

    On 76 and Carol's side, they mowed the dead down like it was a lawn. Three of the dead still stood, but it wasn't anything they couldn't deal with.

    As Honda tossed one of the infected and gave another a good helping of lead to the head, Honda was pretty much in the clear. The two who got knocked back got helix rocketed to nothingness. Everything seemed to be coming up Honda. However, Honda would be the first to see, and the only to know at first, what going to happen and was happening.

    The sumo would see through the window. It was Ellis. He was now away from the dumpster, hiding now behind a car. He was close the truck, but not enough. Things didn't look good outside. The noise the rockets and thunder made drew more of the dead. It seemed they were marching to the group. At least seventy, maybe eighty bodies rushed towards the garage where our heroes were making their stand.

    Five infected were still in the room, seventy of the infected were coming, and Ellis was alone on the street with a lot.

    Honda had two choices:

    1. He stays where he is, and he plays doorman. If the first wave gave Honda anything, it was confidence. He killed one of them by throwing it, and another with a "love tap" to the head. He was strong, and he was tough. Ellis seemed like he could take care of himself, but it was an ocean out there. If Ellis died, they were all pretty much are up shit creek without a paddle.

    2. When they rushed in, he could push past them, and go out and play bodyguard for Ellis. The four of them inside were natural survivors and tough as nails. If he was outside with Ellis, he could make sure got to Ellis the truck. Plus, where he stood at the moment were two bags supplies. Maybe there was something in those bags could be of use later on. However, was it right to leave? Even to help Ellis? Was he dooming everyone but Ellis and himself to death?

    When the choice was made, he could act. The dead would rush into the building like a wave. They would rush the four, like starved animals seeming more desperate than the ones before.



    That actually went really well! Honda couldn't help but grin as the infected zombies fell like flies, but that grin faded the second he saw an army of zombies on the horizon. Crap!! If they weren't careful, they'd be toast before they even left this damn garage!

    Honda was a man of action. He could easily keep zombies at bay, but for how long? And what if someone died because of him? He couldn't let that happen! If he'd learned anything from Bright Falls, it was that teamwork could make or break any endeavor. Which was why he had an idea.

    "Ellis needs cover!" He yelled to the group inside. "There's a whole army of zombies on the way! We gotta get to them before they get to us!!!"



    Soldier: 76 took heavy breaths between each volley of pulse-fire, keeping his breathing under control. Years of experience and his encounters with the Splicers in Rapture made him quite the brick shithouse, but there was still a human soldier inside of him that could feel stress. Nevertheless, he popped off a few more shots to the remaining dead, blasting the first two with direct head-shots and smashing the butt of his rifle into the face of the last, unloading the now-empty power cell from his rifle. Detecting another sea of undead approaching their position, the old man let out a graveled cough, smashing a fresh power cell into his rifle and readjusting position, diving behind the stack of rubber tires he was standing on.

    One hand was lifted into the air, and he roared out a command to his allies within the Garage.

    "HONDA, PUSH AHEAD AND COVER ELLIS! EVERYONE ELSE STAYS IN HERE AND DIVERTS THEIR ATTENTION UNTIL THAT DAMN TRUCK WORKS!"

    Soldier: 76 placed his full trust in the individuals that stood alongside him in battle, and he hoped no questions needed to be asked. Staring ahead, the soldier watched as a second wave of the restless dead poured into the Garage. As soon as the first zombie entered his field of view, his hand immediately flew towards the controls on the side of his Tactical Visor, cranking the lever to maximum power.

    "I'VE GOT YOU IN MY SIGHTS."

    [​IMG]

    The visor responded to the officer's command, letting out a cacophonous electrical cry as a bright red holographic display materialized before Soldier: 76, highlighting the undead targets as they approached his position. A tide of pulse munitions would burst from the muzzle of his prized weapon, instantly killing each individual zombie with precise head-shots that, as far as his allies could tell, never missed the mark. His rifle naturally moved with the enemy, leaving no room for error in his accuracy.

    Feels good, every time.



    Upon hearing 76's orders, Honda started out of the garage, but not before picking up the two bags and slinging them over his shoulder. Despite his limited knowledge of zombies, he did recall hearing that they relied on smell. And a thought occurred to him that was absolutely disgusting, but considering his body mass he was a target, and could draw more zombies to Ellis.

    So, with one hand on his pipe, Honda picked up one of the zombies he took down and rubbed it on his stomach and face while he ran to Ellis, wanting to gag at the stench. But hey, desperate times and all that.

    Once done he tossed the zombie back on the ground and took his place near Ellis. "Don't worry kid-I got ya covered!"



    If Carol felt an affinity for anyone here, it was Ellis first and foremost. With the knowledge that the boy was in danger, she felt the urge to leave quickly. With 76 mopping up the infected, Carol looked toward Claire and Aqua. "Next moment of calm, I'm going. If Ellis needs cover, he'll need more than one of us." It went against 76's orders, but Carol's concern was with Ellis and that truck.

    Claire stared back at her, trying to think of an answer for that, but eventually, she just nodded. She couldn't disagree with the woman's assessment, and it was Claire who offered to stay last anyway. "Be safe," Claire said, as Carol made her exit through the side window. She looked momentarily at Soldier: 76 to see if he would follow, but quickly focused her attention back on the door. Until the truck was finished, it was still her job to kill whatever funneled into the garage. She didn't even bother asking Aqua what she would do, for they both knew the answer to that.

    [​IMG]



    [​IMG]

    Outside, Carol made a run for the parking lot, stopping at its edge to lift her rifle and shoot down the infected making a run for Honda and Ellis. One. Two Three.

    She had to move now.

    Carol made a run for the pair, confident she could reach them before more infected was on them. "Keep at it!" she shouted, continuing to run until she was at least passed the sumo. Carol then turned around to aim at the incoming masses. "Ellis honey, you better get that going soon."



    Mopping the floor with the dead, 76 cleared the area with ease. Only a few more infected came in as both Honda and Carol went to check Ellis.

    Ellis moved towards Honda, aiming his shotgun to clearing a few nearby. Patting on the back, Ellis kicked away one of the dead who was right on Honda's heels. Taking one of the bags, Ellis smirked.

    "Thanks for that, buddy. Okay, um. I ain't normally one to give orders, but, um I need a solid. I need you to open your bag, there should be a flare gun. The mall is in the south of here, I need you to run a block, and find a place to shoot this flare in the opposite dictation. The area as to be clear. so any dead will see it. With all the noise solder's makin', we need this."

    Moving away, Ellis entered the truck, looking at the panel as soon as the door shut.

    Rolling down the window, Eliis called to Carol. She was always one to worry, however, Ellis seemed like he was in the zone. Taking charge of the plan. This was a new side of Ellis.

    "Carol, I'm a car guy. This is my bread n' butter. Shit, if I can't baby purrin', I deserve to die. Just keep an eye on Honda. Trust me."

    Turning his attention to the Truck, Ellis fooled around with the wires. Carol could hear the motor shake, as Ellis' face donned a smirk that was so bright, it was hard to miss.

    "Almost there! Just need one moment..."



    [​IMG]

    Retaining a defensive stance, Aqua would merely gasp upon learning of the extra help Ellis required. She didn't budge from her spot, however, seeing that a couple other individuals from their group were willing to rush to his aid and provide him with assistance. "Good luck," she called out to Carol before focusing herself on their flesh-eating enemies once more. She took her self-assigned task of staying near Claire seriously, intending not to leave her unless he absolutely had to.

    The master produced magical shields of protective energy to help push back the zombies, occasionally striking down the nearest beast with her keyblade. She continued to refrain from taking too much action, leaving the vast majority of their foes to Claire. It was clear to see Aqua was holding back. She continued to observe the scene with her sharp, blue eyes, however, ready to release her full strength in an instant if Claire became overwhelmed.



    Honda nodded at Ellis' request, taking the flare gun out of the bag and depositing the bag and his pipe in the car, before making a mad dash down the street. One of the things the sumo wrestler prided himself on was that he was pretty nimble for a man his size. Back home, it was always amusing to see smaller opponents taken by surprise when they expected him to get winded easy. You didn't become an Ozeki by taking it slow, no sir!

    Okay...the next block...aha! A nice little clearing in someone's backyard. Taking his place there, Honda shot a flare North, towards what looked to be a used car lot in the distance. That done, Honda took off back to the group, ready to use the flare gun as a melee weapon if any zombies took him on.



    "Get in, get in, get in!"

    Ellis shouted at Honda, motioning the Sumo to hop in the bed, while Carol hopped into the passenger's side. Driving in the front of the garage, Ellis saw the other three members of the group. As they ran to the truck, Ellis covered them, firing his shotgun as one of the infected reached for Claire. Adjusting his seat slightly, Ellis checked his mirror to see if they were clear before driving off.

    As everyone seemed to be recovering, Ellis was all smiles. He was really good at two things. One was firing guns, the other was driving. Showing off his skills, the group ride was rather uneventful.

    Making to the mall, Ellis parallel parked the truck with haste and ease. Grabbing a bag, he took control of the situation.

    "Alright! I'll be forward, I don't know what we're lookin' for. However, we got ground to cover. Shoot, I've been here in a while. Last time I was here, I fell in love. His name was Jimmy Gibbs Jr. He was the greatest car I ever drove.... "

    Ellis stopped waxing poetic about a car, taking a deep breath, Ellis got back on point.

    "Honda, you and Soldier will go with me to check the right side of the mall. With, like, the lobby and stuff Carol, you go with Aqua and Clair, check the left, which goes up a floor or two. It's crazy in there so you don't have to be too thorough."

    Carol fixed Ellis a look like she wanted to argue, but she eventually nodded. "If you say so."

    As the two sides sprinted off, Ellis, Soldier, and Honda quickly made it inside the front entrance of the mall. They made a break for the stairway to get a higher look, but on the second level, they could hear the sound of the infected. A lot, and it was coming from below them. A loud hiss could also be heard nearby, quickly followed by a guttural rumble...



    Meanwhile, Carol, Aqua and Claire's area seemed a bit too quiet. Their section of the mall was dark, with only natural light from the skylights above illuminating their way. The area was littered with corpses as if others had been through here at some point to clear out the infected.

    "You think Ellis know what he's talking about?" Claire asked, intending it as a general question to both of the women with her. "I mean, splitting up..."

    "I don't know," Carol responded honestly. She had her rifle aimed up at the balcony above them. "But we're here to help him and he gave us a job to do. Have to see it through." Claire nodded, at least understanding that.

    "And I know nothing will hurt us, not with Aqua here." Claire turned and smiled at the blue-haired woman. "She's the strongest woman I know."



    Hastening for the truck when the time came, Aqua kept her guard up even after they had safely climbed into the back of it. She relaxed, however, when Ellis drove off--eased by the sight of his smile. His smile wasn't the only thing that brought her comfort either. Their entire group had managed to make it out of the predicament unharmed. Thankfully, their plan had gone off without a hitch. Although she knew her comrades were skilled based on what Ellis had told them, it made the keyblade master feel more at ease now that she had witnessed them in action.

    Their drive to the mall ended up going smoothly as well. When they arrived, Aqua piled out of the truck with the others and gazed upon the mall they would be entering. Before traveling with Claire, Aqua hadn't really visited such places. She spent so little time involved in recreational activities like shopping that she almost felt out of place the first time she went into a store with Claire. In fact, almost any location where she didn't find herself constantly engaged in combat felt odd to her. But she wouldn't feel odd at this mall, not while danger was lurking around every corner.

    [​IMG]

    After listening to Ellis' instructions, Aqua gave the male a nod. "Okay. Good luck, and be careful." Moving along with her two companions, Aqua was careful to analyze their area, not seeming to have a problem seeing even in the darker areas. Having spent ten years in a place only made of darkness almost made the woman used to it.

    Walking in silence at first, Aqua found her eyes drawn to a craft store. She was nearly mesmerized by its somewhat girly display, squinting to try and see through the dusty windows as they moved along to no avail. She couldn't even help herself from even twisting her head back around to look at it as they passed it, wanting nothing more than to explore the inside of it. As unselfish and responsible as she was, however, Aqua wouldn't even think of doing something she wanted at a time like this.

    At some point, Aqua snapped back to reality when she heard Claire's question.

    "Splitting up can be dangerous, but it may be necessary. It would take us much longer to search this building if we had remained all together, and we can't afford to waste too much time. We need to find Ellis' friends soon, before something happens to-- Oh, I wouldn't say that," Aqua said, cutting off her answer to the question with a modest sentiment when Claire would compliment her strength. Regardless, she couldn't help but beam with joy when Claire would say such a thing.

    "What I mean is, your own strength isn't anything to sneeze at either. The dead don't stand a chance with a sharpshooter like you on our side," Aqua complimented in return with admiration in her voice.



    If there was any place to be crawling with zombies, a mall was definitely one of them. Probably also amusement parks, but definitely malls. Himself, Honda never really went to malls, unless trying out some new restaurant, so he was a bit out of his element here. But no matter, they had a job they needed to do.

    Honda looked around, that growling noise unnerving and a bit more distracting than the zombies above. "Should we check this floor out, do you think? Something doesn't seem right up here..."



    [​IMG]

    The continuous roaring of 76's pulse rifle had finally died down after only a few seconds of the Tactical Visor being active. The visor let out a powered-down wirr, indicating its charge was empty-- and that the soldier's rifle was also completely devoid of ammunition after that stunt. Soldier didn't have any time to bask in the sea of corpses in front of him, as he noticed Carol bolting towards the parking lot. Soldier followed up with her, breaking into a full sprint towards the truck and diving into the backseat. "MOVE, MOVE, MOVE!" he barked to Ellis as the last person hopped into the truck.

    And, they were off.

    "... Haah, didn't go as bad as I expected," 76 muttered in between heavy breaths, still recovering from the action. As the team made it to the mall, Soldier was about to naturally issue an order out, but Ellis took hold of that opportunity. The old man turned towards him, his expression hidden under the mask. Never mind how he felt about Ellis personally, Soldier wasn't a fan of split-up operations when he's forced to working as a team; which is an opinion that spans way back to his youthful days as the Watch Commander, because it never goes right.

    ...however, on the other hand, it's not like these 'zombies' put up much a fight. No excuse for being mowed down by an old man, as if he was cutting the goddamn grass.

    His head turned towards Carol for a moment, before looking back to Ellis and nodding, "Roger."

    With that, he followed Ellis and Honda up the stairway. All was well for a little bit, as they began to explore the second level. "We got contacts just below us, don't make any..."

    Hissss...

    "Noise."

    The old soldier suddenly held up a hand, motioning Ellis and Honda to stop as he looked around the massive auditorium for a source of a distinct noise. Certain enhancements from his past helped Soldier be able to make out the sound clearly, even if it's trying to remain hidden underneath the droning groans of the Infected. "... Yeah, that didn't sound like any goddamn zombie I ever heard of. We'll check this level out as soon as I find out what that noise was. Keep moving, and watch your flanks." he said to Honda and Ellis, loading a new magazine into his rifle and slowly moving forward, scanning the area closely.



    Ellis nodded, however, a shadow could be seen passing his face. As they moved, another primal scream could be heard. More shadow could be seen and, suddenly, Soldier felt Ellis grabbing him forcefully. Pulling away, Honda and 76 would both see a creature landing where Solider just stood.

    [​IMG]

    This zombie looked different, seemed different. As Ellis quickly shot it point blank with his shotgun. Quickly following up with a few stomps, Ellis turned to the two men.

    "Shoot, you're lucky I saw that. That was hunter. It woulda pin ya down hard. I told ya'll 'bout the special kinda zombies, right? These are the types ya gotta worry 'bout. The other thing we heard? Ya know, the one that sounded like somebody' pukin'? That's a boomer. Big, fat, and nasty. Just remember, don't shoot it up close, an don't let it puke on you? If you get boomer goo on ya, it's like bees to honey. It'll lure more infected. These thangs? The special ones? I think they're the smart ones."

    As the three kept walking they saw a large crowd. Maybe thirty, maybe fifty infected. Some of the crowd saw the men and started moving towards the stairways to meet them. Surprisingly not worried, Ellis pointed out that the group was surrounding something.

    "You two see that! Laying on that stand? That's a person! Shit, they're rocking it like crazy? Don't worry 'bout covering me, you two got company. We'll meet in the lower level. I've been to this mall before. There is a security room 'bout not too far. Just take the stairs, it's a left, and a right to a small room. We'll meet there. Got it? Good."

    Seemingly in the blink of an eye, Ellis jumped off the railing, and on to floor below. Shockingly, Ellis seemed to land well. Getting up however, the men would notice Ellis' right knee seemingly was giving out. Ellis pulled up his jeans, and the men noticed something clear as day...

    Ellis had a brace on his knee. He was already hurt, and he jumped a floor without even thinking.

    Getting up, Ellis gave the two the thumbs up as he ran into the crowd, Ellis ducked and dodged, pushing his way the person surrounded by infected. The crowd was splintering. As for Honda and 76, more infected were coming towards them, though some were also just wandering away due to the noise from Ellis' fall.

    Clearing a slight path, Ellis would call to the person on the stand.

    "Hey you! We gotta go! You dead? Shit, please don't be dead."



    It's a wonder to think that an entire man's life can end in under a second. 76 knew this well, though it was always said that he was a tough man to kill. Moments like this is where that statement is challenged, when he makes one misstep and almost gets himself killed. Hearing the Hunter howl in a split-second, Soldier spun around and was just a moment away from an eviscerating death had Ellis not yanked him out of the way. Stumbling and trying to quickly wipe away the image of the Hunter's gangly form approaching him like a speeding motorcycle, he huffed and glanced over at the corpse and then back at Ellis.

    "Hmph, too goddamn old to see these things comin' that fast anyway," he grunted in his graveled tone, wiping the sweat off his wrinkled brow while he partly listened to Ellis explain. The blur between a zombie and a raging omnic seemed to blur, since the idea of specialized units brought the old coot way back. Back when he fought more than shit-eating goons and...splicers.

    Well, a mall is no different from a beach in this case.

    Zombies don't shop.

    The soldier sighed and mustered some humility for a moment. "...but, thanks, Ellis. Almost lost my head. Let's keep moving."

    As the group moved forward, Soldier was the second to spot a non-infected body laying atop of the stand. "Civilian? Or one of the survivors...?" he questioned. When Ellis proposed heading down to retrieve the wounded (or dead), Soldier shook his head and stepped forward.

    [​IMG]

    "Boy, are you out of your goddamned mind? I appreciate the save, but I didn't let you drag me out all the way out here to watch you get yourself killed like an idiot. We got the height advantage, and we're not risking a casualty for someone who might not even be alive!" But, the words of the elder were lost on Ellis, because he was already done talking and was getting up on the railing. Whatever happened to 'respect your elders' anyway? It seemed like it was more than the accent that made Ellis remind 76 of McCree. Throw the tendency to do stupid shit that almost get themselves killed, and you got yourself a proper jackass. Desperation was calling, however, and the soldier groaned and loaded his rifle. "Fine, go, we'll meet you on the second level. But, kid, be caref--"

    *crack!*

    Soldier didn't even finish his sentence before he heard Ellis wound himself from the jump. Looking over the railing, he saw the brace shining as bright as day. So, that explains the noticeable limp the kid was having since they got here. Shaking his head, Soldier waved his hand and turned his attention over to the approaching undead.

    He gave the order to Honda, without even looking at him:

    [​IMG]

    "HONDA, PUSH AHEAD TO THE STAIRCASE! GET THESE PUNKS OUTTA MY WAY!"

    Letting his large ally charge in front of him, Soldier would sprint behind with blinding speed, cracking off bursts with his rifle that rung throughout the mall auditorium with distinct, percussive thumping sound.



    Honda scrambled back from the place where 76 had been, watching in silent horror as the Hunter made it's brief appearance. Fortunately it was taken down easily thanks to Ellis, but even so, that could've been so much worse! 76 getting eaten alive, right next to them...Honda shuddered. That kind of thinking could make you lose your lunch, if you weren't careful.

    Of course, seeing all the dead out there didn't help matters. You had to wonder how many of those special ones were in this mall alone...let alone in that crowd. How that poor soul down there survived till now had to be a miracle. They needed to get down there, fast-and Ellis already had the idea to go.

    "ELLIS!!" Honda leaned over the railing, watching the young man land. As he seemed steady Honda let out a sigh of relief...until he saw that knee brace. Ellis was injured. That was not a good sign, not at all! They needed to help him, just because he could dole out orders and plans didn't mean he could handle himself!

    But, naturally, he couldn't even worry about Ellis for very long, as now he and 76 were face to face with a zombie hoard their very own. The sumo wrestler gulped, gripped his pipe, and charged into the crowd, whacking at undead left and right as if cutting down wheat with a sickle. Large as he was, he was bound to create a big enough path for the duo to get through.



    "I'm not dead."

    The girl on top of the stand stuck her head out over the edge, appearing more hair than human. She looked squarely at Ellis, allowing him to see she had been crying.

    [​IMG]

    "I'm not dead but I might as well be at this rate! Why is the multiverse filled with so many fucking zombies?!"

    The girl stood up shakily as she surveyed the scene before her. Three living people was a hell of a lot better than the none who had been crowding her a moment ago. One of them seemed totally decked out for zombie slaying, but who the heck was this guy running up to her like this? She was almost expecting him to get killed right then and there, but he seemed to have some idea how to keep out of reach of the infected.

    It was, like, kind of cool, but seriously dumb.

    "J-Just help me, okay? Can you, uh, woah--!!" The girl couldn't stop herself before she went toppling over the edge of the stand in no position to land on her feet.



    Claire's cheeks went slightly red at the compliment, and she immediately felt a little silly for feeling so gratified. It wasn't like Aqua hadn't complimented her plenty of times before. She cleared her throat slightly, sounding on the edge of nervous laughter when she spoke back. "It's all about practice. My brother drilled it into me long before I experienced anything like this. Thankfully, I don't think we can expect anything here I haven't seen before."

    Carol only seemed to be halfway listening to both Claire and Aqua as she stared down the barrel of her rifle. She eyed the shadows of the mall like each contained an imminent threat. "You're right," she said, a bit suddenly. "We're really going in blind, so any time saved is good for us. Ellis' friends, well..."

    Carol didn't feel like finishing her thought.

    She led the pair up a dead escalator, taking each step slowly and carefully. The area was eerily quiet, which seemed startlingly odd considering the amount of dead that lingered in the mall. Though the lights were off and the mall was buried in darkness, light spilled in from windows on the second floor that looked out onto the parking lot outside. Carol stopped at one of these, peering into the distance. Carious infected squatted and wandered around abandoned vehicles, but one sight caught Carol's attention.

    [​IMG]

    "You see that?" she asked, pointing outside. Across the road from the mall was an idle recreational vehicle. "That'd be good for getting around the city. Could also be a shelter. Better than Ellis' truck, anyway--"

    Carol was suddenly cut off as something long and slimy wrapped around her neck and pulled her harshly away from the window. Claire cried out and turned toward the source of whatever was grabbing her, but couldn't see the other end of the slimy appendage lurking in the darkness. She took a quick shot in the dark before reaching out for Carol, but the older woman was pulled away faster than Claire could reach.

    [​IMG]

    "Damn it! No!"
     
  10. Atomic Knight

    Atomic Knight Bear With Me The Convergence Series GM

    [​IMG]

    Catching Junko, Ellis looked at the young lady, obviously concerned. It was soon followed by a reassuring smile that appeared on the young man's face.

    "Hey now! You ain't got nothin' to worry 'bout no more. I gotcha your back, err, all of you. Name's Ellis, you can..."

    Before he could finish, a large surge of pain erupted in Ellis' leg. Ellis's bad knee almost gave out. Ellis pushed through the pain as he hosted Junko over his should with ease. Seeing the Honda and Soldier, Elise pointed to a large metal door.

    "Follow me!"

    Running with Junko over his shoulder, Ellis opened the door, knocking over the two infected that were on the other side. Ignoring them, Ellis pointed silently to a hidden door that was against the left wall of the hallway. It looked like a very strong door, almost like it was built for safety purposes. Ellis knew what it was. Surprisingly, the door was unlocked, and Ellis ushered everyone in. The room they were in was a holding room. "Mall jail," so to speak. There were a few cabinets, holding confiscated objects and who knows what. However, Ellis ignored this room, he kept moving to another room, this one with an even heavier door.

    [​IMG]

    Placing Junko down, Ellis locked the door behind the four. They were safe, for now. Taking a deep breath, Ellis smirked.

    "Everybody cool? Cool."

    Looking back at Junko, Ellis turned back to her, planting himself next to the girl as he talked to the other men,

    "Okay fellas, welcome to the mall security room. We should try to figure out where the girls are at. The cameras still work. So here's the plan; one of you check out what kinda things the mall cops took. I'm guessing it's mostly guns. It is Georgia after all, Meanwhile one of you can comb them camera feeds. Find out where dem girls are, and what else is waitin' on us. I'll take care of Miss...."

    Ellis looked at the girl.

    "Umm, I don't know your name. Like your bow tie, by the way. It's mighty stylish."



    The zombies fell left and right, and luckily Ellis showed up before any more could rise up in their place. Running after Ellis and the civilian, Honda made sure not to leave 76 behind as they all got to safety.

    The sumo didn't look Ellis' way as he looked at the area they were in, noticing the cameras still working. Good! They needed what little technology they could find. "I can take care of the cameras," Honda said. "Ellis, why didn't you tell us about your-........."

    As he turned to face the guy, Honda's blood ran cold the second he laid eyes on the girl. No. It...couldn't be! What the Hell was she doing here?! He was getting flashbacks now, back to Bright Falls. Daughter stabbing Shane again and again...revealing herself to be the mastermind behind everything...getting away with it all...and now, here she was, playing victim?!

    "ELLIS, GET AWAY FROM HER!!!!" Honda got his pipe ready to attack. "THAT GIRL IS PURE EVIL!!!!"



    The combined effort between Honda and Soldier did wonders in clearing out the waves of undead separating them and Ellis. The old man slammed another pulse-mag into his rifle, scanning the auditorium for any other approaching Infected as Ellis got the civvie on her feet-- or, rather, swept the girl right off her feet.

    Damn kids.

    The old man who appeared to be 'decked out for zombie killing' turned his head, giving Junko a brief look-over through his visor before glancing back to Ellis. "Hope you've gotten friendly. We gotta move, now!"

    The kid had the same idea 76 had, as he was already bolting off towards the nearest door. Soldier followed right behind, whipping out the sidearm that he acquired at the garage earlier and putting the two knocked-over infected to peace whilst checking back for any stragglers. Thankfully, the undead have a smaller attention span than the omnics and splicers Soldier was used to.

    The veteran shambled into the room after Honda, resting his rifle against the wall near the door and shaking his head, immediately turning to Ellis and raising a finger to him. "I wouldn't have been so quick to agree to your idea if you told me you had a BUSTED LEG! If you were just a little bit slower-- or, hell, if Honda and I didn't make it in time-- you could've..."

    The old man paused for a moment, staring down at the boy. They both know what he was talking about, and before Ellis could defend himself, Soldier simply turned and moved towards the lockers, waving his head. "Just...don't do it again."

    "I don't take causalities lightly."

    His graveled voice carried some tones of regret, but that was commonplace considering how long Ellis has been acquainted with Soldier. Everything he said was something he's said to someone else, and each time the 'angry old man' has to repeat himself, everyone acts like he's being unreasonable or he's underestimating the capabilities of his squadmates. It's one of the chief reasons why he has to work alone.

    Even in Rapture, it sometimes felt like that.

    The veteran didn't make any more of it however, rubbing the sweat off of his cracked forehead and letting out a few graveled coughs as he surveyed the lockers for any remnants of the guards that worked here. That is, before Honda suddenly rose his voice. Soldier's hand was already moving towards his gun. He would've had the sidearm in his hand, pointed at Honda if he didn't stop to see what exactly the sumo was yelling about.

    "The hell are you talking about, Honda?! We just found her!"



    Honda glanced at 76 out of the corner of his eye, but then quickly kept his glare on Junko. "You two may have just met her, but I didn't! I met her back in Bright Falls, and she went by the name of Daughter! She was the one behind us all being there, and was the reason for all those murders happening! Trust me, this girl is bad news!!"



    [​IMG]

    When their little group reached the escalator, Aqua ran her hand up the railing of it as they proceeded along. She picked her hand up and rubbed her fingers afterwards, feeling a thick coating of dust covering them. "This place... hasn't been populated by anyone living for a long time," she absentmindedly commented. "I wonder what this mall was like before its world fell to ruin?" Aqua questioned, speaking to nobody in particular. While dead worlds were a sad sight, they were one she was all too familiar with.

    Upon arriving to the second floor, Aqua would stop alongside Carol and Claire, peering out the window when the older woman would point out a vehicle she noticed outside. Not only did it appear to be roomy, but also appeared to be in halfway decent condition. "We'll have to keep that one in the back of our minds for later. All of us could fit in it well, as opposed to Ellis' truck which some of us had to ride in the back of. I'd be a lot safer."

    Distracted by the RV, Aqua wouldn't notice Carol being snatched away until Claire would cry out. Immediately on guard, the keyblade master whirled around and shouted Carol's name before darting after the woman. "Hurry! We have to save her!" Aqua called back to Claire before taking a shot in the dark just as her companion had done, but with blizzard magic. It was her hope that she could somehow freeze this unknown creature, even for a moment, so they could make it closer to Carol before it was too late.



    "Isn't Ellis a girl's name?" asked Junko, of all things she could have been focusing on. Not that she minded if a boy with a girl's name was nice enough to be her knight in shining armor here. He was kind of young, but at least he was cute, and that was really the best scenario when it came to a boy holding her in their arms. She couldn't help but think of Shiki, distantly wondering where he was in the multiverse these days.

    When they arrived at the security room, Junko delicately stepped out of Ellis' arms, checking herself for dirt while the others busied themselves. Ever since the incident with those other zombies, Junko sort of had a thing when it came to keeping clean.

    She idly smoothed at her skirt until one of the men was roaring at her as if she was some kind of monster. She looked him square in the face, unable to recognize him at all. Gee, was it something she hadn't done yet, or did he just know a version of her that was mean like her Makoto?

    Junko decided to just give Honda a peace sign. "Aren't I a little too cute to be evil?" she said with a giggle.

    [​IMG]

    She pointed to the bow in her hair. "See? Ellis gets it. I'm no Ultimate Evil, I'm just Junko Enoshima, the Ultimate Fashionista!"



    The shot of ice magic disappeared into the darkness, eliciting the sound of breaking glass soon after. Claire thought of taking a gamble on firing another shot but realized she was just as likely to hit Carol at this point. She let out an annoyed sound as she seethed through her teeth. She heard the sound of coughing, but her mind was unable to focus on the sound considering the situation.

    [​IMG]

    "Try fire," Claire said, looking to Aqua. "I'll take aim while you light it up!"



    "A girl's name? Well, I can assure you I'm not a girl."

    Smiling like a goofball, Ellis could stop smiling. Junko was mighty cute. Girl's like that don't normally pay attention to guys like Ellis.

    "I also like your tie."

    Ellis kept his goofy smiles on his face for some time. It was quickly ended as Honda spoke. Ellis had never seen Honda angry. It was startling.

    "Woah! Now come on! That's a heavy claim, Honda! Now, I ain't calling a liar, but look at miss Junko. Are you sure? They're ways to explain this. What if she has an evil twin or something? They are a lotta weird things I've seen in this world. Talkin' dogs, ghost girls, a spider woman with no arms who was shirtless. Gotta keep an open mind."



    [​IMG]

    The keyblade master huffed when her icy attack would do nothing, quietly calculating her next move before Claire would make a suggestion. "Alright, good call. I'll light it up in here. Memorize the area and take as many shots as you can. I won't be able to keep this going for long." Aqua took a deep breath. "Ready on my count; three, two, one..." In a swift action, Aqua thrust her blade into the air while simultaneously calling out, "Go!" She would then release a steady stream of flames high into the air, doing her best to avoid hitting Carol and the beast. Her intent was not to hit anything at all, but to simply light the area so Claire could take a shot.



    Honda brought his pipe down slowly as Ellis talked him down, but he kept his glare on Junko. He refused to take any chances, especially with the things he'd seen before. "All right. I'll give you a shot, Junko. But if I even see that damn bear once, I'll...uh...well I'll do something!"

    He needed to get his mind of this. Honda would go to the computers and watch the feeds to find the girls.



    Junko crossed her arms, her expression shifting to one of far more seriousness. Maybe it was the way Ellis was looking at her or the fact that the big sumo wrestler thought she was evil as hell, but her mood dropped fast. The mention of a bear didn't help matters at all.

    [​IMG]

    "Um, yeah, I know you're not a girl, dude. I mean, girls can be totally fucking cute and all, but I can tell the difference. And it's natural to like my tie because it's pretty fashionable. Not that it's been washed recently, but when you hop around different universes, you kind of don't have time for a few conveniences."

    She paused then, her gaze drifting down to the floor. Junko became lost in thought for a moment, wondering if her meeting here was some kind of divine providence. She had to admit, her powers seemed to put her in situations that demanded she got involved with some crazy ass event of the week where she would have guys running to her aide and absolutely no tea in sight. Where in the hell was that pretty lady and her tea right now?

    "Look, I'm sure you guys are caught up in something important, but do you mind telling me what's going on? Like, why are you here? Please don't tell me it involves murder or global conflict. I'm kind of tired of those."



    The fire penetrated the darkness, illuminating the area enough to show Carol and some kind of monster looming over her. From its mouth extended a long and slimy appendage that curled around Carol's neck, choking her. Claire could only wish it was anywhere near the worst things she had seen before.

    On Aqua's command, Claire had aimed intently, ready to take a shot. In the brief moment she could see, it was clear the monster was taller than Carol. In theory, this was a shot Claire knew she could make, but the threat of possibly shooting Carol in the head was always there, no matter how good she was. It wasn't enough to make her hesitate, however. Instead, what made Claire pause was the look on Carol's face. It was not the look of someone scared or frightened. The woman didn't even look tense.

    If anything, Claire could swear Carol just look resigned to her fate.

    [​IMG]

    "... Not today," was all Claire could mutter. The fire had gone out in the second it took to process everything, but she knew exactly where to shoot. The pistol fired in her hand, Claire knowing her aim was true before it even hit. Claire could hear Carol coughing a moment later and soon the air all around them was filled with smoke.

    Claire groaned and covered her mouth with her arm. "Is that smoke from the fire?"

    Carol appeared from the shadows a moment later, rubbing at her neck. She only looked a bit weary to Claire, but that wasn't very different from her usual expression. She offered a small thank you as she moved to grab her fallen weapon. After a moment of silence, she spoke once again.

    [​IMG]

    "It was the infected... it exploded into smoke when you shot it in the head."

    Claire snorted. "I seriously have no idea how that works, but sure." She looked at Aqua with a smile. "Good job. Where would we be without you, huh?"



    Aqua ended up making the stream of fire last a lot longer than she thought possible. For a little over a minute she would be able to keep it going, which was more than enough time for Claire to take a shot. Once the single shot had taken down the beast and Aqua knew Carol was safe, the keyblade master limply dropped her arm against her side and let out a sigh of relief. She would then follow Claire into the shadows, approaching Carol with a smile.

    [​IMG]

    "Oh, that wasn't all just me. You should give yourself more credit, Claire. It only took you firing a single shot to stop it. It was... good teamwork. But, that was a close one, huh? It's a good thing we know how to deal with situations like these or we might've been in more trouble. I wonder what kind of mutation might've caused that thing to produce smoke..."

    "Anyhow, Carol, let me know if you have any wounds. I can heal them if you need me to. Also, I think it would be best if we left this area as quickly as possible. Now that we've made noise, there could be more creatures heading here and I'm sure we don't want to deal with anymore unnecessary conflict."




    Ellis smiled as Honda backed off, however, he had important words to say to 76 and Honda.

    "Let's just keep this between us four. We can't tell Carol."

    Ellis's eyes would meet with the old soldier. He knew what Ellis meant. If Carol found out, there was a chance Carol would kill her on general principle.

    When Honda looked at the camera screens, he'd noticed out of the fifteen feeds, all but two worked, those two feeds being numbered six and eleven. That being said, It seemed luck was on there side. He just had to pick a camera between one through fifteen and take a look.

    Still slightly looking at Junko with a goofy grin, Ellis reached into his pocket, pulling out a paper

    "Well you see miss Junko, My group, we're lookin' my friends. Anyway, while we tried lookin' for a trail, we found this."

    Ellis handed the young lady the note.



    Honda nodded. He wasn't sure why Carol needed to be kept in the dark-maybe she'd had a run-in with his Junko? Meh, no matter! They had business to take care of! The sumo looked over the feeds, taking note of the two out of commission, before deciding to try feed 5 first.



    "Ultimate Evil...?" 76 muttered to himself behind the the heated situation, doing his best to make sense of something that he had no way to make sense out of -- in fact, that sentence alone describes the old man's life for the past five months. He had many words in his head that were synonymous with 'ultimate evil', some of them more belligerent then others, but his mind couldn't process the girl as being outwardly 'evil'. The way she talked, it looked more like she'd start bawling if she broke a nail, not really the type to let others rot in hell during an apocalypse.

    Jack knows what that looks like. If anything could remain clear in that fading mind of his, it was that distinction. Clear as night. Nothing in this world or the next would make him forget what true 'evil' looks like.

    However, Soldier 76 is nothing if not skeptical. In particular, the mention of other universes prompted the rugged figure to move from his position and stand before the fashionista, overshadowing Ellis' dumb smile.

    [​IMG]

    "No one's too cute to be anything, as far I'm concerned. I don't care where you're from or how you got here, but we're taking a risk having you around here," Soldier spoke just as Ellis mentioned Carol. He briefly turned his head towards the boy, and continued, "If you're following us, then you keep your head down, and do as we do. If not, then I won't be pleased."

    His voice certainly carried a force that Junko might be familiar with. A gruff, jaded tone that would explode into a howl if pushed over the edge. There was no guarantee that Junko would listen, but there was no guarantee Soldier would tolerate incompetency from a random stranger either.

    Old habits die hard, after all. His other hand moved from his belt, carrying a small security pistol looted from one of the nearby lockers. Spinning the side-arm around to have the handle face the girl, he seemed pretty calm about offering the stranger a firearm.

    "Hope you know how to shoot a gun."



    Claire was thankful for Aqua's words and gave her a content smile. She was happy to have saved Carol, even if the woman didn't seem too happy about it herself at the moment.

    "I'm fine," Carol said, not even letting Aqua take a look at her. She pointed back toward the windows and drew a line in the air toward the front of the mall. "We'll have to double back a bit, but the path we took should be clear. Ellis said that if we have nowhere else to go, we should gather back at the mall's front entrance." Carol didn't wait for confirmation as she moved on ahead, leading the trio back toward the dead escalators.

    Claire exchanged a look with Aqua. She still wasn't sure what to make of Carol, but she couldn't help but feel a bit sorry for the woman. There was something about her that reminded Claire of herself, in a way. Loss and trauma did that to people.



    [​IMG]

    "Gee, some friendly rescuers you guys are..."

    Junko huffed and avoided looking Honda or Soldier: 76's way, for clearly neither of them really wanted her here. She'd be out of their hair once her powers started acting up again, so it really wasn't a big deal for now. They'd just have to deal.

    She took Ellis' note with some level of suspicion, but when she saw it in full, she knew all too well what had gone on. "Man, that's totally my handwriting... You need to stop messing with time, future me." The girl cleared her throat. "Well! Call that the Ultimate Coincidence, huh? I guess if you've searched the mall, the person it really meant can't be here any longer!"

    Junko grinned innocently.

    "Oh, by the way, I'm totally a wiz at computer stuff. I hit keys and... it works! Usually." As a demonstration, Junko casually slammed a palm down on the keyboard, opening up one specific feed that showed Claire, Carol, and Aqua moving back toward the mall's front entrance. "Hmm... I think two of those women look kind of familiar..."

    Junko shrugged. "Oh, well. I've learned not to think about it too much."



    When Carol would refuse any help, Aqua chose not to say anything. The keyblade master had a feeling that even if Carol needed the help, there was a chance she had denied it anyhow. Aqua didn't know the older woman very well, but she hadn't seemed very excited they had succeeded in rescuing her. It was a behavior she had sensed in Claire some time ago, which lead her to believe Carol had been through a lot in her life. Still, she had no way of knowing for sure, and didn't exactly have the time to get to know Carol right now. They had to move on.

    [​IMG]

    "Right, let's go," Aqua replied when Carol suggested they return to the mall's entrance. "I hope Ellis' group has had more luck than ours," she added, exchanging a look with Claire before moving to walk after Carol. They had all survived, and that was a good thing, but Aqua wasn't pleased that their search hadn't produced any results. They still didn't know where Ellis' friends were at.



    "You have to excuse my friends, Miss Junko. Usually, people in the south are a lot friendlier."

    Ellis smiled again goofily, trying to defuse the situation Junko went on, Ellis picked up the groups bag. Handing her a gun, Ellis smiled again.

    "So here. It's a Glock. Ain't a lot of kickback, so even if you ain't no good with guns, you should hit somethin'."


    Looking at the screen, Ellis turned to the group.

    "Hey! It's Carol and the girls! We better meet dem at the entrances."

    ***

    Opening the door, the four would leave. Sometime later, Ellis and the boys and Junko would meet up with the other group.

    "There you guys are! You all good? We didn't have that bad of a time. I don't know if we found the right person, but we did find someone. "


    Ellis turned to Junko. Smirking.

    "This is Junko. So what's next?"



    Junko took the gun but shared stared at it in her hand like it was something offensive. "I don't know if you've seen these nails, but they're hardly made for--" Junko stopped herself with a sigh. What was the point, really? It's not as if she hadn't broken a nail just tumbling about the multiverse like a load of laundry in the dryer. She supposed she would have been better off learning how to use a gun a while ago, but better late than never.

    So, kind of exciting to hold a gun and all. It was just too bad that Junko's excitement dampened a little when they found the rest of Ellis' group.

    [​IMG]

    "Gee, this is awkward..."

    Claire's brow furrowed, and she looked to Ellis as if he'd just delivered them a very strange package. "I think we met this girl during the assault on the Arch Demon. I guess it's a small bunch of worlds out there, huh?"

    "Yeah, well... a lot's happened since then. For me, anyway. Like, uh... well, it's a lot to get into!"

    Carol, of course, recognized the girl's voice from some of the audio recordings she had found in Rapture, but she couldn't say for sure if this girl was the same as that one. Whatever the case, Carol wasn't too impressed with Ellis picking up a stray, no matter who she was. Was this not supposed to be a lead toward his friends?

    "So. I assume you're going to say she's coming with us?" Carol asked.

    Junko giggled and flashed the older woman a smile. "I can keep up morale! Call me the Ultimate Hype Girl!"

    "..."

    Well, it wasn't like Carol was in any mood to just leave someone behind in a place like this. She wasn't going to argue, but she wished they had something better to go off of from here. "It's getting late, and I think moving at night is going to be worse on us that it is on the infected. We found an RV that should be big enough for all of us. We can figure out something in the morning., if that's alright with you, Ellis."

    She figured he might have wanted to keep looking throughout the night, but Carol didn't want to risk it. Claire was quick to give her assent, while Junko just seemed happy to have a place to rest. Carol led the group around the parking lot, moving at a careful pace to avoid infected, and eventually brought them to the very edge.

    [​IMG]

    "I'll secure the area," Carol said, moving off. Junko clapped excitedly.

    "I've never slept in one of these! It's just like in those American movies!"



    Big enough for all of them? Honda wasn't so sure about that, but he could cross that bridge later. "Make sure everyone else can fit in there first. If anything I can rest somewhere else so I don't make things too airtight! Gahahaha!" His usual jolliness was back, as he chose to trust Junko for now. Speaking of, though...he approached the fashionista, giving her a bow. "Sorry for blowing up at you back there. The Junko I met back in Bright Falls, well...she wasn't too nice. If you give me the honor of a second chance, I'd like to introduce myself-Edmond Honda, Ultimate Sumo-well, just a Sumo Wrestler now, I guess."



    When they reunited with the other group and saw Junko, Aqua felt a bit uneasy. The girl was an odd one, and it was bizarre that they had run into her, but finding more living people was better than finding dead ones. "The more the merrier," Aqua commented half-heartedly. If their group grew larger there was always a chance they could draw more attention to themselves, but that probably wasn't something they needed to worry about right now.

    After their group arrived at the parking lot, Aqua felt herself relax a little. They could take a break and rest here, hopefully without running into any more trouble for a while. Still, it wasn't as if they were entirely safe from running into any trouble. In a foreign world, Aqua never knew what to expect.

    Hearing Honda speak up about offering to rest somewhere else if the van became too crowded, Aqua was quick to chime in as well. "Oh, allow me to be the next to sleep outside the van if it's crowded inside. I don't need a lot of sleep anyhow, so it won't bother me if I don't rest somewhere comfortable." Although she said it, Aqua was well aware that comfort wasn't their main priority. It could be more dangerous if she slept somewhere else. Still, the warrior was certain she could handle herself.
     
  11. Atomic Knight

    Atomic Knight Bear With Me The Convergence Series GM

    Soldier: 76 didn't have much in the way of words as Ellis took the reigns on dealing with this 'Junko'. His gaze fell upon the camera monitor, spotting the rest of the group making their way back, seemingly safe. A sigh of relief would've been muffled behind the mask, so the old man only reacted with a silent nod to himself.

    As four became seven, Soldier nodded in agreement to Carol's plan. "Good idea, we'll take a rest there and plan out our moves in the morning. Someone'll have to stay up for the night watch. Guess that'll have to be me," the old man sighed, lumbering through the ruined parking lot and arriving at the RV. The soldier wordlessly assisted Carol in her securing of the area, scanning the opposite side of the parking lot and sealing any potential openings or issues in the area. It wasn't a base-camp up to military standards, but it was something.

    "We'll be cycling through sleep, so I don't want to hear complaints over who sleeps where. Ellis, check to see if the RV has any heating. I didn't come out in the middle of the damn apocalypse just to die from the cold," 76 growled, waving to Ellis as he admitted his order. He stalked past the rest of the group and sat up on the hood of a nearby ruined car (of course, not before checking to make sure the car wouldn't trigger an alarm), bringing his pulse rifle up upon his knees and silently maintaining it.



    Ellis couldn't help but feel bad for Junko. The way his group had been treating her, and looking at her. Like she was a burden. It saddened him. Keeping an eye on Junko, Ellis smiled at 76.

    "Sure thing, umm. I just realized I don't know your real name. Shoot, I just know you as Soldier: 76. That's a pretty baby name. I mean, I've heard worse. Like Neveah. Shoot, it's just heaven spelled backwards. Just name the kid Heaven. Or naming a girl Ladasha, and using the dash symbol thing as part of the kid's name. It's really dumb, but also kinda clever, you know? Anywho, I'll take a look. Care to, um, join me, Miss Junko?"

    Motioning Junko to follow. The two entered the RV. As they entered, it was noticeable how wide the inside was, and how modern it was.

    "Shit, this is nice. I bet ever Honda could fit in here. We get some clean water, I bet this baby could heat it up, and we get some hot showers!"


    Moving inside, Ellis' tools banged against his hip. Remembering something, Ellis reached for it, pulling out a surprise.

    "That reminds me... Umm, you need a nail file, right? I keep some with my tools. Ya never know when you need a good nail file to get the job done."



    "It's okay," Junko said to Honda with a wink. "I get it. The multiverse is a big and scary place. There's probably evil versions of all of us out there, somewhere." She then allowed Ellis to escort her inside the RV, not noticing as Claire shuddered at what she said.

    "I agree about sleeping in shifts," Claire said, thankful that Carol and Soldier: 76 were not just insisting on doing it all by themselves. Claire would have just felt bad about that, even if it meant she got more sleep out of it. She nodded her head for Aqua and Honda to join her just outside the RV while Ellis and Junko checked out the interior.

    [​IMG]

    Resting her back against the side of the RV, Claire sighed. "You usually don't get a quiet moment in times like this. We're lucky it's now, during dusk, so it's pretty beautiful out."

    Claire then went silent, not sure what else to say. She wanted to lose herself in the moment, at least for a minute.



    The RV was spacious, certainly, albeit a bit messy.

    [​IMG]

    Despite the conditions, Junko was excited anyway. Sleeping in a vehicle like this seemed a totally authentic American experience, and she was totally down for it. Sleeping on some futuristic ship just didn't seem as cool by comparison.

    [​IMG]

    "What's that?" she asked, not realizing at first what Ellis was doing. The last thing she expected him to pull out of that belt was a nail file, nor had she expected him to offer it to her. At least it wasn't some kind of weird fruit. "Oh... well, yeah, that'd be useful. These days, my nails tend to break on me and I get pretty depressed about that. So, uh--"

    Junko took the nail file delicately, finding her cheeks growing a bit warm. It wasn't for any special reason, she just felt embarrassed. It sucked having people be nice to her when she knew she'd never get the chance to know them for long.

    "I don't have anything to give you in return. Sorry about that..."



    "You enjoying yourself?" Carol asked Soldier: 76. She had moved to stand next to the car he was perched on and was surveying the distant end of the parking lot, her rifle in her hands and ready for action. Both she and the soldier had made it through the horrors of Rapture, but even then she didn't feel like she shared any kind of bond with him. She knew that was more her fault than his. After all, getting close to another naturally led to a desire to protect them, and in this kind of world, protecting who you care about meant killing those who would do them harm.

    Carol had to admit, she was pretty tired.

    [​IMG]

    "You mind if I ask why you're here?" She turned and looked at him. "I mean, helping Ellis like this. Don't you have your own business to tend to?"



    Soldier looked up from his position atop the hood of the car, the visor meeting Ellis' goofy smile when the young man questioned his real name. It was a funny thing, because a couple months ago Jack would've done everything he could to avoid someone asking that specific question. He would've done something rash, or maybe he'd just leave and act like it never happened. Now it just feels like he could tell the world his life story, and he wouldn't give a damn. Is that a sign of something? Or is he just getting that senile?

    76 opened his mouth to speak, but a hacking cough escaped his throat instead of words, muffled by the thick mask. In response, he coughed out a raspy "Oh, fuck it," under his rumbling coughs. He gripped the shell of his mask and removed it, revealing a man underneath.

    [​IMG]

    A crumbling man, but a man nonetheless.

    "It's Jack, Ellis. My real name is Jack Morrison," he muttered, still recovering from his coughing fit. "I don't know if it makes any difference, but-- ah, what the hell." Jack didn't seem to fazed by dropping his name, now. It's not like Ellis, of all people, is going to use that information against him. He doesn't know the story behind either identity. None of these people need to know the story behind any of it.

    It doesn't make the identity of Soldier: 76 any less threatening.

    Watching Ellis move off into the RV with Junko, Jack glanced back down at his mask. He stared at it with some contempt, before shoving it off the car and glaring back down at his rifle. He continued doing so, even as Carol sidled up next to him. Carol was partially right about what she thought about the nonexistent bond between the two. Jack wouldn't be lying if he said he couldn't remember the names of every person he tried to protect in Rapture. It was a turning point in his life, and a turning point in how he looked at life. The consequences of that change haven't caught up to Jack entirely, but he can feel the difference.

    He couldn't feel tired, as much as he wanted to.

    "It wasn't my idea, he came to me first. When we got out of Rapture, I thought I wouldn't have to deal with this kind of...'business' anymore; different worlds, different people, you know. But, hey, there he was; right on my doorstep, asking for help," he glanced up and looked at her. "A part of it is the same reason you're here."

    "If he came to me, of all people, then how many did he have to choose from in the first place?"

    "I would've shot myself in damn knee instead of saying 'no' right to his face."




    [​IMG]

    "That sounds fair to me," Aqua replied, agreeing with the group's plan to sleep in shifts. The keyblade master didn't really sleep well these days and would've been more than happy to stay up the entire time herself, it was the most logical move for her to at least try and get some sleep while they were here. They all needed their rest while on a dangerous mission.

    Standing straight while Claire would lean against the RV, Aqua glanced over the area. She took a deep breath in, exhaling through her mouth as she would attempt to relax. "It is beautiful. We've been lucky to have a lot of nice nights since we started our travels. Even here." Aqua paused for a moment, taking in the sounds of nature around them. "I'm glad we came here, all of us. We're out here looking for people who need our help. And, personally, that is my duty as a keyblade master." Aqua glanced down for a moment. Now if only she could locate her friends, the boys who she feared needed her help most of all.



    An evil version of everyone...Honda didn't like that, to tell the truth. He was the only Edmond Honda he knew, and hopefully the only Edmond Honda out there! Just imagining multiple versions of himself running around...though maybe it wasn't all a bad thing. Maybe there was a version of himself who managed to get sumo introduced to the Olympics! That would be something!

    Honda took a place by near the RV door in case someone needed to burst in there to assist Junko and Ellis. From the way Claire and Aqua talked, he knew he had the potential of being a third wheel, but that wouldn't keep him from talking. "It's good, to help people out. Gives you a good feeling." His mind flickered back to the letter Wanda sent him about coming here. He was worried about her; Wanda had been going through so much. There was some big trouble down at the Coalition she worked at, and a lot of people ended up hurt-including Genji. "Hey now, if he's in a coma, there's always a chance of him waking up! Plus that robotic gear of his could keep him alive better!" Did that comfort her, give her hope? He didn't know. All Honda knew was that he didn't like being pessimistic at all. No matter how bleak things could be, he always believed hope could win out.

    Not wanting to leave the conversation hanging awkwardly, to Claire and Aqua he said, "The world-well, Multiverse, I guess-can be a really cruel place. You always gotta make sure you give hope and kindness whenever you can."



    "Give me somethin' in return?"

    Ellis raised an eyebrow, look at Junko like she was speaking nonsense.

    "You needed a nail file, and I had one. I'm just helpin', ya know? I'll I need is from you is to use it."

    A wordsmith Ellis wasn't, but it was the thought that counted. Looking around rather awkwardly, Ellis spoke, his question, to some, would be endearing or dumb.

    "So this your first time in the south? How you liking it?"



    "We'll find them," Claire offered, looking at Aqua. These were Ellis' friends and all, but Claire knew the pride Aqua took in her duty of helping others and was more than happy to assist her in achieving those goals. Aqua maintained the kind of attitude that Claire thought she had lost years ago when the last time she had truly felt good about herself was when she helped little Sherry survive Raccoon City.

    Well, that wasn't true. Claire felt pretty good being with Aqua. They'd saved each other in so many ways now that it was hard to think of herself or Aqua as a single entity. Their lives were forever entwined now, with this latest mission just one of many chapters in their time together.

    [​IMG]

    "Then we'll find a way to save so many others." Claire reached out delicately and clasped Aqua's hand. "That's what we'll do." She stared at Aqua, being reminded just how beautiful the other woman was in the setting sun.

    Claire then turned slightly, catching Honda at the edge of her gaze. A blush broke out on her face, but she didn't let go of Aqua's hand. "You think it'll be a peaceful night?" she asked. "Seems like Ellis decided to get comfortable in there."



    "In the South?" Junko questioned, a little confused by the phrase. "You mean, the American South? I figured that's where we were, but I wasn't really sure..." She looked down at the nail file and rubbed it with her finger. It was a weird thought to have at this point, but she regretted not gathering more souvenirs from her travels. You know, besides the mental trauma.

    [​IMG]

    "I guess it's okay here," she eventually said. She looked back up and smiled at Ellis. "I've been around much worse zombies. Ones that talk and like to eat brains. I hope you don't have any of those here in America. Oh... you know what? I wonder if this world is like mine at all. I'm originally from Japan, which I know is probably obvious, and things got really weird. Like, really fucked up? I don't know for sure, but my world was looking pretty post-apocalyptic, so maybe these zombies are a part of all that."

    She then paused, eyes squinting at Ellis. "You didn't have any nukes going off, did you?"



    Carol stared at the soldier for a moment, before letting out an amused scoff. She turned away from him with a smile on her face. "Same reason? That's more noble than me."

    Carol had come to care about Ellis, but she didn't know if she would have agreed to come had circumstances been any different. His timing had been convenient, giving Carol an escape the exact moment she needed it. The thing was, the lives of her family mattered more to her than Ellis' friends, but Carol couldn't say if being around the people back home was right for her. Maybe not now, and maybe not ever again.

    "I come from a world not much different than this one," she eventually said. She was still looking away from Soldier: 76, not desiring to glance anywhere but the sunset. "It's all gone. Or at least most of it. There's so few of us left. Every day is a fight for survival, and you either change who you are, or you die. Or, worse, you lose the people that matter." She looked down for a moment. Carol wasn't sure if this made her a coward, or worse.

    [​IMG]

    "I am not that kind of person. I play that part every day, but it's-- it's a lot. It's too much. We kill to survive, but killing grinds out a piece of your soul every time you do it, and I'm afraid mine's all gone. So... I'm here. I ran here to get away from it all."



    Jack silently stared as Carol explained her reasoning. It wasn't any surprise to him that she wasn't from any world that was like Jack's. He wouldn't expect a woman like Carol to be able to do the things she does-- and he doesn't think anyone else would. He was still just grasping at the idea of other worlds existing out there. It's something that he didn't want to talk to anyone from his...'world' about. It makes Jack look like a coward when he talks about pain, because he's from a place that didn't have to face anything like this.

    Omnics, that's one thing. But this-- the apocalypse -- is another. Carol and Ellis will never live to see the future Jack lives in.

    Well, enough thinking about that.

    "I didn't think I'd be able to relate," Jack looked down, staring at the 76 mask. "It's something that only a few people can deal with-- killing, you know. There was a time where I'd look at that differently, but...If I was still like I was back then, I wouldn't have the gut to do the things I do now -- the things I do to protect what really matters."

    "It's not something I can run away from, or something I ever tried to run away from; it's just apart of me now."

    "Maybe, you could see it the same way."




    [​IMG]

    "You're both right," Aqua chimed in, giving a slight nod of her head. "Hope... kindness... they're both so important. And if we can bring those feelings to people," the woman paused to place a hand over her heart. "We'll make lives better." She then turned her head, offering a gentle smile to Claire. "Of course we'll find them, and I'll be glad when we do."

    When the other woman would clasp her hand, Aqua naturally clasped it back. She gave Claire an endearing smile afterwards, her chest tingling with warmth from the touch. After how long they had been together and all they had been through, it was safe to say that Aqua loved Claire just as much as she loved Ven and Terra. Maybe more. It was something she already came to terms with some time ago, but was never something she spoke to Claire about. Why? At first, it was due to looking out for Claire's feelings, not wanting to make her uncomfortable. They were far past the point of being uncomfortable with one another though. So her reason now? Really, it was just because she hadn't gotten around to it yet. She had gotten comfortable with the way things were and was happy so long as Claire was at her side.

    Mirroring Claire's own expression, a blush would appear on Aqua's cheeks too, mostly because Claire had held onto her hand a lot longer than she expected. She didn't let go either, but glanced to Honda when he was addressed. "If only it were entirely peaceful around here. If that were the case, I'd take a walk back to the mall. That crafts store looked like it would've been fun to explore." It wasn't as if they were on this trip to have fun, but it was still a nice thought.



    "Crafts, huh?" Honda chuckled. "Me, I'd love to look at the food court. I hear Americans process everything-a lot of their food may still be good, gahaha!"

    Oh. Um...he coughed. Boy, this was awkward. "Y'know girls, I'm gonna, uh, go to the other side of the RV. Good to have all our bases covered!" And to give two lovebirds some alone time without a 300 pound third wheel around.
     
  12. Josh

    Josh Active Member

    "Nukes? Um, Nah. I mean, the way it all went down, shoot I doubt anyone had time to think about nukes. One day everyone's okay, the next thing you know, bam! You being attacked by the dead. To be honest, it's kinda cool, ya know? I mean it's dangerous, but I feel like I'mma freakin' action star out there. Anywho, I just need to take a look at this baby. First I'll check the engine, then I'll see if the shower works."

    Ellis chuckled as he looked out the window of the RV. Turning back to Junko, he noticed a portable DVD player and a small pile of movies.

    "Neat! Look at this! A bet we could get the thing to work later and well all can have movie night! Look at these movies! You ever seen Hot Fuzz? I heard it was good, my buddy Keith saw it. Have I ever told you 'bout my buddy Keith?"

    Stopping, Ellis suddenly became shy, and slightly pulled back, which was normally not like himself.

    "I, um, I ain't over talking you, am I? You don't need hang out here with me, if you don't want."


    @Atomic Knight
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2017
  13. Atomic Knight

    Atomic Knight Bear With Me The Convergence Series GM

    Carol didn't respond to Jack right away. She spent a long time with the afternoon sun washing over her, enjoying this oddly peaceful moment in time. She and the soldier seemed to have a lot in common despite their completely opposite backgrounds. A few years ago, her life couldn't have been any more different than it was in this moment. With that in mind, it seemed almost silly to resist a complete and utter change in oneself.

    Yet, Carol still resisted.

    [​IMG]

    She watched as one of the infected started to wander into the parking lot, not accompanied by any others. She started to move toward it, knowing it to be dangerous to fire off a gun. "I don't want it to be a part of me," Carol said over her shoulder. "But maybe it already is."

    As the infected ran for her, Carol managed to sink her knife into the side of its head before it could get a hand on her.

    ***

    [​IMG]

    Claire smiled and continued holding Aqua's hand. She could tell why Honda had left, and with Aqua staring at her like she was... Claire soon found something twist in the pit of her stomach. She felt warm, knowing that her face was starting mirror Aqua's flushed expression. She and Aqua had shared moments like these before; silent moments in time where they both seemed to get lost in each other's presence. It had gone entirely unsaid between them what these moments meant, for the two woman always managed to distract themselves with their travels.

    The idea of loving anyone had not been a concept Claire had entertained for a number of years. Man or woman... but especially a woman, which was a factor not even considered since Claire's first year of college. Is that what this was? Was it fair of Claire to assume she had the situation right in her head?

    "I..." Claire cleared her throat. "I'm glad there's moments like these."

    Claire pulled Aqua toward her, embracing her in a way so that Aqua's head rested on her shoulder and they could both stare at the setting sun. It just didn't seem like the right time to go beyond that, not in the middle of their mission.

    ***

    "Then next thing you know, everything is not okay... Guess I can relate."

    Junko clasped her hands and watch as Ellis moved about the RV. He talked and talked, which normally Junko wasn't too big a fan of, but there was something about the boy that made it endearing when he did it. It also helped he was cute, for a young American.

    "No, I don't know who Keith is, and... I've never seen that movie." She sighed but eventually smiled. "Look, it's okay, dude. Talk as much as you want. I kind of wouldn't mind having some distraction from all the shit going on, you know? A movie sounds like a perfect way to do it!"

    Junko was happy to let Ellis ramble on until the sun set.

    ***

    When night had come, Ellis had gathered the group into the RV. The vehicle turned out to have a working generator, but Carol spoke against turning the lights out of danger of attracting unwanted attention. Ellis agreed but pushed for the group to sit down and watch a movie with him before the night was over.

    "Hot Fuzz...?" Claire spoke quizzically.

    Carol didn't look impressed, but Junko decided to echo a comment Ellis had made to her earlier.

    [​IMG]

    "We can all go to bed as soon as the movie is over. It's still early enough that we'll be alert and ready for tomorrow!"

    @Neko Shogun @Josh @CrunchyCHEEZIT @Yun Lee
     
  14. Yun Lee

    Yun Lee Luminary of the Stars The Convergence Series GM

    In the closest thing to an inside voice Edmond Honda had, he expressed support for Ellis' idea. "Hot dog! Nothing like a little bit of group bonding to keep our spirits up!" Of course, Honda would have preferred bonding over a good meal, but this worked too! Though he wasn't much for movies that weren't Japanese, it was always important to broaden your horizons. Plus, one of the leads was a big guy, so Hot Fuzz had that going for it.

    The sumo would stay in the back, so the others would be able to see the movie, but it also gave him the chance to block the door in case some zombie tried to cause trouble. He could multitask, no problem!

    @Atomic Knight @Josh @Neko Shogun @CrunchyCHEEZIT
     
  15. Neko Shogun

    Neko Shogun A floofy kitteh The Convergence Series GM

    While it had never been Aqua’s intent to make Honda feel like a third wheel, it appeared as though it had happened anyhow. Like Claire, Aqua was also sharp enough to realize why Honda had slipped away. Ordinarily, Aqua may have encouraged him to stay, to continue joining in on their conversation. But, to be honest, there were times when the keyblade master enjoyed being alone with Claire and, as swept up in the moment as she presently was, now was one of those times. Whenever she had the chance to, even in a dangerous, unknown location, Aqua liked to take a quiet moment to absorb the feeling of comfort the other woman provided to her.

    [​IMG]

    “So am I,” Aqua softly replied, more than content to rest her head against Claire’s shoulder when the other woman would pull her close. As she sat there, gazing into the sunset with Claire and filled with a joyful warmth in her chest, words danced upon the tip of her tongue. I love you. You mean so much to me. I cherish you more than I can express. There were so many things Aqua still wanted to say, but she knew as well as Claire did that now wasn’t the time. But maybe, someday, she would find the right moment to make some time. So, instead, Aqua would quietly utter something else, her words still meaningful. “I hope we can always stay together like this.”

    While her wish was a genuine one, Aqua was well aware just how unpredictable life could be. At some point, one of them could be separated from the other or even killed. God forbid that ever happened, but the keyblade had already been separated from her friends and her master had been killed. She knew just how dangerous and wild life could become. She could only hope things would be different now and that Claire would be the one precious person in her life that she would actually be able to protect.

    As the night marched onward, Aqua would find herself in the RV with the rest of their group—who was now being roped into watching a movie of all things. Being a person who was not raised around such things, Aqua usually wasn’t interested in movies unless someone really wanted her to watch with them. However, sine she was a polite individual, she simply smiled and chuckled at Ellis’ enthusiasm for them to watch it.

    [​IMG]

    “That sounds nice, but I was thinking maybe I could help keep watch outside,” Aqua suggested, glancing back to the door of the RV. “That way, all of you can relax and enjoy the movie. I really wouldn’t mind. I don’t really watch very many movies anyhow.”

    @Atomic Knight @CrunchyCHEEZIT @Yun Lee @Josh
     
  16. Josh

    Josh Active Member

    As the group gathered to watch the movie, Ellis's eyes glanced at Carol. He knew she wasn't happy, or maybe she didn't afford to be happy. In Ellis's eyes, happiness is a choice. Taking a seat by Junko, Ellis smirked at the girl as the movie started and the group watched it. During the excitement of the movie, Ellis was sucked in, not noticing at one his hand touched hand for a bit. During a lull, his noticed it. He froze for a bit as he causal moved his hand. That was a close one.

    ...................................................
    After the movie, Ellis clapped loudly, turning to his group
    [B][/B]
    "Shoot, that great movie. Nothin' bring a group together movie than a movie, right. Well, maybe sneakin' into a movie. Here's a fact, it aint as easy you think, sneakin' into a movie I mean. My Keith tried that once and shoot! The security guard checkin' around the building, he found Keith tryin' to sneak in and pulled gun in him! Now Keith? Shit, Keith just booked it. He zigged and zigged, and got a way. He ran so fast and hard, he ran into movin' car! He was good thought, better than bein' shot?"
    [B][/B]

    Stretching his bad knee, He stood up.

    "So ya'll better get some sleep. I don't mind takin' first shift. I mean, we're pretty safe here, one of us should be up. I'm gonna look 'round. If any of ya need me, I'll be 'round"

    Leaving the Rv, Ellis slightly tripped as he left.


    @Atomic Knight @Yun Lee @Neko Shogun @CrunchyCHEEZIT
     
  17. Yun Lee

    Yun Lee Luminary of the Stars The Convergence Series GM

    Man, that Keith fellow was quite the character, huh? Honda wondered if they'd end up meeting him somewhere down the road. Unless...he wasn't around anymore. Considering the shape this place was in, that wouldn't surprise him in the least.

    As Ellis left, Honda yawned and looked outside. Hmm...y'know, maybe it wasn't the best thing, to let him go out there on his own with a bum leg. Two heads are better than one and all that. Plus, with everyone else kind of pairing off, it'd be nice to not be a third wheel for once. "I'll head out with him," Honda said, getting up and stretching a bit. He was tired, but he could rest later. Honda left the RV, waving to the young man walking off. "Hey, Ellis! Wait up!"

    @Josh @Atomic Knight @Neko Shogun @CrunchyCHEEZIT

     
  18. Atomic Knight

    Atomic Knight Bear With Me The Convergence Series GM

    For the most part, the night had passed peacefully for the group. The movie and lighthearted commentary from Ellis had kept everyone largely in good spirits. Claire and Aqua had taken the first shift as promised, missing most of the movie as a result. The two girls didn't care, however, for spending time together alone was better than just about any movie. Claire had only wished they could have talked more, but they had needed to be vigilant on their watch, so there was not much to be done. Ellis and Honda had followed after, with Carol and Soldier: 76 alternating afterward. It was not until the sun first started to rise that something broke the group's extended break.

    A female scream echoed from somewhere off in the distance, loud and clear to the entire group.

    Junko rushed out of the camper, rubbing the sleep from her eyes. "The hell was that?!" she exclaimed.

    The others had already been waiting outside, having gotten up early and prepared for their continued search. Carol and Claire exchanged wary glances. "We don't know," Carol said.

    "Um..." Realizing how serious everyone looked, Junko couldn't help but frown. "Could that be one of Ellis' friends?"

    Carol shook her head. "It sounds dangerous."

    "Hey." Claire pointed in the direction of the scream. "Ellis' friend or not, we really going to leave that person? We have to go check it out. There's no choice in the matter." Junko found herself enraptured by Claire's intensity and couldn't help but nod.

    Carol seemed reluctant, but also didn't look ready to disagree. "Okay then," she said. "Good thing we're ready to go. Let's head out. Ellis, watch the girl, will you?"

    @Neko Shogun @Josh @CrunchyCHEEZIT @Yun Lee
     
  19. Yun Lee

    Yun Lee Luminary of the Stars The Convergence Series GM

    "Claire's right! No way am I gonna leave anyone in a place like this!" Holding his pipe against his shoulder, it was clear Honda had made up his mind the second that scream rang out. Dangerous or not, that girl needed help!

    @Atomic Knight @Josh @CrunchyCHEEZIT @Neko Shogun
     
  20. CrunchyCHEEZIT

    CrunchyCHEEZIT The Strugglers

    Jack was already standing outside of the camper with Carol and Claire when Junko burst out of the van slamming a fresh clip into the pulse rifle and staring in the direction from which the scream echoed, lost in some calculating trance. It's anybody's guess if the old man made any effort to get some sleep, but perhaps it wouldn't have made much of a difference, as he didn't look anymore enthusiastic as he did yesterday.

    "Dangerous. That's one way to describe it. Stupid, too," 76 grumbled, irritated but focused. It's always a thorn in his decrepit side whenever a situation like this comes up, but it's not worth getting into a fight with himself about. At least, not until something goes wrong. 76 turned to look at Junko and Ellis. "Not like we have any other options, so we're moving out now. Get everything you think is useful and no more. Honda'll take point, Ellis, watch our flanks and. . ."

    76 said no more, staring at Ellis and making a silent 'what she said' gesture before moving off to the exit of the group's little makeshift camp alongside Honda. "Let's not keep them waiting."

    @Atomic Knight @Josh @Yun Lee @Neko Shogun
     

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