The voice of Kara Louise comes over the radio, smooth and slow. "So let me tell you about a little town called Shadow Creek. It's a nice little town, about 50 people. Gina's Diner does some pretty tasty grub. But the odd thing is? There's been a lot of folks disappearing on the road nearby. Now, we all know things get a little odd around Mutton County, but I'm hearing people are really concerned about this one. The Police are looking into this one, but I think people should avoid the road between Shadow and the capitol. Well...most people. Maybe a couple of folks with some special interests can take a peek. But remember, don't interfere with a police investigation."
The little village of Shadow Creek has earned the name by being in the lee of the cliff nearby. The centre of town is the heart, including Gina's Diner, a small police station and a few other expensive looking shops. Even the diner seems to be surprisingly upscale. The houses are pretty nice. And yet the town is very quiet. The few people that you can see are moving quickly, looking nervous.
The town feels scared.
A stray black cat lounges in the bushes near the diner's door, tail lazily lashing behind him as he half-ignores the doings of the humans. Or, well, so Cheshire pretended. In truth he was watching very carefully for a particular breed of person, the kind of person that would be drawn to the strangeness and danger that could be found here of late. After all, it got a bit boring on his own, and he could use some friends to investigate this...
|Carlos Luis Garcia|
Carlos hops off the bus gripping his duffel. Putting his shades on and fixing up the generic sports jersey he's wearing, he looks like any other person traveling the nation and looking for a stop.
Gina's Diner she said, might as well take a look. Part of it is curiosity and the other part is a rumbling stomach. Walking over he notices that there are very few people milling about, Strange for such a nice day. The neon sign of the diner flashes, probably the only remaining part of its original build, it recently being renovated and updated to the 21st century.
The bell rings as he walks in, shocking the hostess into action.
"Table for... He looks around, "A few? You know how friends are."
The woman - it was difficult to determine her exact age, and of course no one would be impolite enough to ask - grinned. "Sure do. You invite one, then they bring a friend, and she brings her brother...and two hours later the police are at the house." She laughed and nodded across the street. "Not that it takes that long here. We got a monopoly on decent coffee and pastries here, after all."
The woman led Carlos over to the table and sat him down. It looked like one of the tables they used to seat families, with two tables of four that could be quickly pushed together for larger groups. "Hope that works for you. Can I get you anything while you wait?"
|Carlos Luis Garcia|
Taking a seat and resting his arms the table wobbles a little toward him as these tables are known to do, "Black coffee and your most popular pastry. Oh and one of those kids menus, the mazes and games take me back." He sets his glasses on the top of his head and gives a smile.
"There an event going on in town today? Such a nice day and I hardly see anyone outside enjoying it."
Sarah took in the sights, frowning a little as she saw the man entering the diner, he looked familiar. A lot of folks looked familiar from time to time, but there was usually a good reason for it. May as well head on over.
She walked right over and sat down by him, nodding, ... I know you right, were you with me with the zombies a couple of years back?" she spoke loudly enough to be confident, but quiet enough the waitress wasn't likely to overhear.
|Carlos Luis Garcia|
Carlos turns from the window, "Yeah, nasty things. I'm still shocked that we made it out of there after the animator showed up. You didn't lose your cool at all and what you did, it paid off that's for sure." He gives a chuckle, "You know, I never found out what was he doing with all those jujus anyway." He turns to her, "Sarah right? Carlos." Carlos offers his hand, "It's good to see a familiar face around here; I ordered myself a pastry you want some?"
He didn't know too much about her but she did get them out of a tight spot. Despite her disheveled appearance Carlos felt a kinship with her, he supposed that near death experiences tend to do that.
"Know anyone else in here?" He gives the diner a once over, "Not that I don't mind just working one on one senorita; but the more eyes the better in our line of work."
INT: GINA'S DINER
The camera frames Carlos and O'Callaghan sitting at their table. It zooms in on Carlos from Sarah's perspective, then pans to suddenly reveal a young, high-school aged girl sitting on the opposite side.
"Hello, Mr. Garcia," the girl says, not looking at him or the woman he had just seconds before been sitting with alone. "Sorry, I hate showing up like this, but I've never been here before. Otherwise, I would have used the door."
When she had heard the radio broadcast about this town, something primal stirred in Jessica and like a siren's call she couldn't resist coming. She had planned on going to Shadow Creek the usual way, via bus or maybe even Uber, but she sensed that Carlos Garcia was already there.
It was an unnerving power, to simply be someplace with someone she knows, but it was also incredibly useful. She couldn't use it as often as she liked, since most people weren't as accepting as Mr. Garcia was about her being an angel of vengeance.
And then there were times when he was with someone else. Darn.
She leans forward, being careful not to make eye contact, but looking in the woman's direction. "Um, hi."
Jessica leans back in her seat and considers going someplace else. The problem is, her crazy "be someplace else" power won't let her just go a few blocks away unless she'd been there before. Or someone she knew was there. And whatever's going on in this town is making it very difficult for her to leave.
Better to just say hello, she decides. "I'm Andr... >Ugh< I'm Jessica," she says with some effort.
Well, two interesting people, at least, Cheshire thought to himself. Time to make an appearance.
The cat lazily stood up and stretched, then sauntered off to an unobserved alley (or, well, the closest thing there was to an alley in this village). He looked both ways, making certain there was no one watching, then shifted to his human form.
He carefully made his way back to the street, doing his best not to draw attention to himself until he was somewhere it made sense for a stranger to be walking.
He was a bit surprised when he entered and there was a third person at the table with Carlos, but he smoothly hid the surprise and sauntered over to the table.
"Well, now, you seem to be having better luck than usual," he said as he came up behind the Hunter he knew. "Without my help, that is, of course."
Before all the talk that you're all totally too careful to say in front of a random waitress.
The hostess made a face. "Nope. People are just nervous at the moment. We've had a bunch of folks vanish recently. No one from town, yet, but some people travelling have gone missing. Just found there cars at the side of the road. Lotsa nasty stories about blood and body parts too." She caught herself. "Oh, but you don't want to hear about that right before you eat. I'll go grab you a slice of cherry cheesecake and that coffee."
After the zombies have eaten the conversation.
Returning with the cheesecake and the coffee, the lady smiles cheerfully. "Nice to see your friends are making it. Do any of you folks want something to eat or drink as well?" She laid the order in front of Garcia. It smelled pretty good.
|Carlos Luis Garcia|
"Dios mios!" Carlos jumps a little when he turns his head to see Jessica. Despite the way she looked, Jessica was hardly normal, but then again which of them really were in this crazy world. "Sorry. Hey there chav---" He cuts himself off, She's not a little girl, remember that. "Jessica." He never really got used to her ability to appear but she felt comfortable with him and he did his best to hide the shock when possible, though this town even had him on edge.
He remembers the first time he stumbled across the Fury with her eyes of fire in his woods, the possessive there still made him squirm a little, and he could still hear the rain pounding down. She just wanted to talk, about the world, herself, her duty, and against his better judgement he let the creature past his wards and into his house. He thinks that maybe that day was a turning point in her life, but he would never dare to ask what went through her head and if it was true.
Carlos watches the two chat for a bit until he feels a hand on his shoulder and he pops up a bit.
"Di---!" He hears a voice he hadn't heard in a while. Putting his voice down, "Can you all please stop sneaking up on me? Is anyone else around?" Exhaling a breath he gives the newcomer a grin, "Nice to see you too Chess, what luck to have you in this exact same place at this exact same time."
Carlos looks at the plate in front of him and the hungry newcomers, "Have a little if you want."
Kavax'Kaotl stood outside the diner for a few long minutes. He'd have to go in, meet whichever hunters were gathering here; there were certainly some in there. He could smell it. But he'd have to deal with the stares again.
At least it smelled like there was some good food in there. If there was one upside to his current form, it was being able to actually enjoy food. And collect things without wrecking them. Or he thought it was something like that. Couldn't remember having had such pleasures before, at least.
Kavax entered the diner. He loomed a little, before making his way over to the table where he could scent the supernatural. Maybe there'd be someone he recognized over there, maybe not. But they would be better company than normal people, probably.
He pulled up a chair and sat down with a heavy thud. Old arrowheads and other ancient baubles hanging from strings around his arms and neck jingling. He'd had the luck to get in just in time to order food, at least. Though as a late arrival he'd wait his turn.
He did give a nod to the others at the table, along with a terse "Hello."
The next person to arrive knew Carlos and Carlos knew him, so Jessica didn't react overmuch when she sensed that he was not human. That being said, she didn't feel any wrathful instincts with him either, so that was a relief.
When the cheesecake was brought out, she looked at it longingly but just glanced up at the waitress with a sad smile and shook her head no. Then a shudder went through Jessica as she got a sudden image in her head of a man who had sweet-talked this waitress and led her to believe he was going to take her to the big city and fulfill all her dreams. Then he took her life savings and was gone, forcing her to continue to wait tables here at the diner. Her blood boiled, but pulled her eyes away from the waitress before she noticed them shift.
Jessica focused on measured breaths and envisioning her old cheerleading routines, which helped her recall who she used to be -- who she still was, she had to insist.
It didn't help her focus when Kavax walked in. Her fingers twitch and she almost almost summons her sword. "What is he doing here?" she demands, looking at Carlos.
|Carlos Luis Garcia|
Carlos turns to Jessica, "What do you mean? You three know each other?" Gesturing to Sarah, Jessica and Kavax, "Carlos." He stands up to shake his hand but gets a sudden feeling of dread dropping in his stomach. Taking a seat he idly pulls the salt shaker closer to himself, Did someone just give me the evil eye or was it something else that gave me that shiver...?
Captain went through the standard protocol for securing the vehicle before checking the perimeter and the exterior of the exits. Once satisfied, she entered the dining establishment.
She gave an appraising look around as she walked in, arms at ease - behind her back in her immaculate suit. The rest of her expression was neutral as she approached the table. She gives Carlos the briefest of nods as she stops next to one of the tables for four by the family table. She requested a medium lemonade from the host staff.
There it was. The razor's edge and Jessica hovered along it, feeling whatever's left of her soul bleeding because of it. Ancient instincts demand that this abomination seated near her be destroyed -- it was an unholy harbinger of the doom of the worlds. Yet, her new nature is that of a fallen angel, and horrifically those instincts are merely vestigial, having atrophied in the Furies' gradual fall from grace. So as much as her remaining humanity wants to embrace that urge to battle evil, her true nature still calls out to find and smite the man who betrayed the waitress.
Jessica sits for a moment as her two warring natures clash. She shudders, then stands up. "Excuse me," she says as she steps away from the table and goes outside the diner, passing by a woman in an impeccable business suit. Jessica spares a quick glance at her. Nothing bad about her, thank G-G- >sigh< thankfully.
Jessica walks around the corner and hugs herself tightly, sinking down to her knees. She rocks silently as she tries to center herself.
"Hey, darlin', what's wrong?" comes a voice with a low Southern drawl.
Jessica looks up at the man who'd obviously noticed her, and glances at the truck idling in the lot. Her eyes become terrifying pits of condemnation and the man goes white when he sees them. "Pay your child support," Androleteira rasps.
The trucker, wide-eyed, nods frantically and flees back to his cab.
Somehow, that took the edge off, and Jessica stands. She goes back inside the diner and looks at Carlos, somewhat abashed at how she acted.
Cheshire couldn't help but chuckle at the assemblage meeting at the table. His instincts had been right once again--and if there was this big a group drawn here, chances were there'd be something... interesting to gain here.
"What say you we save the business talk for a bit later and just enjoy ourselves?" he suggests, hoping these Hunters would take the hint to not be so obvious about being/talking about the supernatural. "As for myself... I'll just have a glass of milk. I didn't decide to come in until I saw some friends here, so I ate before I came."
Sure, he'd eaten a rat, but hey, had to keep the hunting instincts sharp somehow.
"I'm sure the waitress here isn't really interested in the games we play." Sarah smiled, in her experience normal folk tended to just be relieved someone else was handling it. Still he was probably right. She looked over as the girl returns, she didn't seem human but some mostly dormant vaguely maternal instinct compelled her to speak "You okay darlin'? Looking a little peaky there. Kavax ain't as scary as he looks I can assure you."
That's not quite true... Kavax is plenty as scary as he looks, but he was on our side, so that was probably a good thing
Oh, just the souls of thousands, screaming for retribution, she thinks, but doesn't voice it.
Jessica forces a smile. "I understand. And I'll be fine," she says to Sarah.
"So, something's called me here," she tells the assembled group, "and it wasn't the deadbeat dad in the parking lot. Oh, hi," she says to the business woman she'd passed on the way out of the diner. "So you know Mr. Garcia too?"
Kavax'Kaotl broke the trend a bit by ordering a rack of barbeque ribs, or something similarly meaty. As far as he'd been able to determine, he was still an obligate carnivore, though he'd grown fond of cooked meat as opposed to raw.
He nodded to Carlos. "Kavax'Kaotl." His voice seemed a bit off, quietly booming, slightly hissing, and almost reverberating.
Kavax remained fairly quiet. He didn't want to stress his disguise too much indoors, and talking too much could strain it. Eventually people noticed that there was no way a human voicebox could do that. Often he wished his could not.
|Carlos Luis Garcia|
Carlos gives a nod to the Captain, he never knew her by any other name and she always seemed to answer with the same curt and quick responses. He hadn't seen her in what seemed like a lifetime ago, but he did remember doing an operation with her once. Noticing she's just observing, he decides to leave her be for the time being.
A few moments later he sees Jessica get up and for a moment considers going outside but determines it wouldn't be wise. I don't want to get in her way, not when she's like that. Maybe once things quiet down we can have a little heart to heart. When she returns he just gives her a knowing look, It will pass, it always passes.
"That waitress may not be interested but until we know who we're... playing tonight, we should probably keep wise." He looks down at the jersey, "We wouldn't want any of our special tactics to be heard by the enemy team." He flips the children's menu over and grabs a pen, "So has anyone heard anything about the team we're playing tonight?"
He considers what Chesire says but continues, "Though if you just want to relax for a bit who am I to say no to an early siesta."
Captain raised her eyebrows slightly in disapproval at Cheshire's remark about business waiting... Wasting time, more like.
She glanced over to Jessica at the personal question. Captain answered briefly, "We've worked together before.", hoping it would be the end of that sort of talk before returning her attention to Carlos. "My employer will be sending further information shortly." She obviously wouldn't be there if the Adalets didn't have intel. She would get it when they decided she needed it, after her arrival had been appropriately verified.
Dealing with Agency: Good intel: 2d6 + 1 ⇒ (1, 6) + 1 = 8 Might get chewed out by superiors and there’ll be fallout, but getting what is needed for the job. Yeah, Captain doesn't expect better than that...
"Oh, is that so?" Cheshire grins. "We'll all be waiting eagerly, since I, at least, haven't caught a sniff of the other team."
He sniffs. "Really, we should go look around the field before the game starts, get a feel for the terrain."
Jessica settles a bit more, as the talk turns into a coded discussion about whatever it is that's drawn them to this town. She knew a decent amount of sports terminology, having been a cheerleader for all four years of her high school career and having dated the football team's star wide receiver for most of her junior year.
It was odd, though, how everyone just instinctively shifted into talking about whatever was going on in town like some sort of sports game.
"Well, scouting the other team is, like, really important. If there's any chance to watch tape of the other team, we should, you know?"
Ugh, I sound like such a ditz. I should have kept my mouth shut.
Captain Rose's phone buzzed as a message came in.
The waitress brings your orders over and looks at you all again. "Don't think I've seen any of you folks around before. Are you in town for anything special?"
|Carlos Luis Garcia|
Carlos looks at the waitress and immediately says the first thing that comes to his mind, "Yeah, we're a traveling lacrosse team. We've been talking with some folks out around these parts online and they invited us to play some friendlies."
Please don't ask me about lacrosse...
"Rain or shine, there isn't much that can stop us!"
He turns to the others and gives them a big smile that looks extremely out of place on him, Right? I really need to work on this.
Cheshire almost choked on his milk. Lacrosse? Couldn't he have picked a sport people actually knew about? What if the waitress was actually a fan?
Once he had recovered a bit, he smiled up at the waitress and added, "Yes, we're just passing through on our way to the capitol. They mentioned this was a good place to stop for a meal on the way to the game."
Now, we fish for information... he thought to himself.
Kavax snorts. Lacrosse? Really? Why was that the first choice? At least he hadn't picked a sport that needed horses...
Otherwise, he refrains from comment and eats. Astute observers note that he doesn't leave bones behind on his plate.
The ladies face became as confused as some of you felt. "Isn't that the hockey people play with nets?" She paused, and laughed. "Well, that's the whole of my knowledge on it. Good luck with your game, guys. I'll let you plan. Shout over if you want anything."
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Jessica rolls her eyes. "Sort of. We're actually an Intercrosse team. Indoor, co-ed. Doesn't mean we don't take it any less serious," she tells the waitress. Then she looks at the others at the table. "What?? I tried out for my high school's lacrosse team, thinking I could get a college scholarship." She looks down at her empty place at the table. "Coach Frick said I didn't have that killer instinct."
|Carlos Luis Garcia|
He notices the looks on the tables faces At least I didn't say we're a secret organization built for hunting down the supernatural from a mysterious silky smooth voice on the radio.
Carlos smiles at the humourous comment, That's a breath of fresh air. He asks a question to the waitress, "You mentioned earlier some people have gone missing? Where?" He feigns a little nervousness.
"You never know in this day and age, and its better to be safe than sorry, especially when dealing with people on the internet."
The watiress nodded. "The roads between the capital and here, mostly. No one from town yet, but I've heard some rumblings there have been some bigger groups going missing too, not just lone women and the like if it was some sicko. You'll want to be careful. Keep your net thingies close."
She headed back to the counter.
Captain sat as her phone pinged, angling herself for the most privacy. Reading through the reprimand, she added a note to check those reports, trying not to let that stick in her mind too long, before she went back to looking through the intel and images. Hopefully, the armour on the car would be enough if there was contact.
She thanked the waitress for the lemonade, but didn't glance up from her phone until the conversation turned relevant. As the waitress left, Captain locked the images on her phone so they were visible but no one could scroll further. Captain moved to best privately show Carlos the police photos the damaged hatchback and caravan with long thin cuts through the metal from the outside and signs of struggle including a lot of blood, but no bodies on the inside. "I think a CMS 20x42mm will be more useful than any number of lacrosse sticks." she said quietly. Her tone made it hard to tell whether or not she was making a joke.
Holding the phone in one hand, she sipped her lemonade she held with the other. Captain didn't show any sign of caring that people were eating as she showed the grisly photos.
Jessica leans forward over the table to get a look at the images on Captain's phone. She frowns as she studies them. She puts an elbow on the table and props her head against the heel of her palm. Burrowing her brow at what the Captain said, she whispers back, "Is that, like, a kind of gun?"
|Carlos Luis Garcia|
Seeing the Captain move in with a phone was either a good sign that they had intel, or a bad sign that they had intel. With the agency he was never too sure. Upon taking a look at the images Carlos let out a whistle, "No kidding." Judging by the pictures it must have been big enough to destroy a car in one clean swipe, but more importantly it took the bodies.
He signaled to the others to take a look, but he didn't dare to grab the phone.
|Carlos Luis Garcia|
Investigate a Mystery: 2d6 + 2 ⇒ (5, 2) + 2 = 9 What sort of creature is it?
Carlos stares at the image a bit and thinks back. He had read about a case like this before but it involved missing carriages and horses. Some things change and yet they still stay the same.
"Captain do you mind?" He extends his hand out hoping to get a closer look, "Something about this picture strikes me as familiar."
It's difficult to say exactly what the creature is - there isn't enough here to be definitive - but you can narrow the options down a fair bit. It's clear that these are pack predators, armed with long claws and a taste for people.
There are a couple of monsters that match the description. Lycanthropes, of which there are several types, are an obvious one. Most of those don't hunt people, as they're not worth the hassle, but just like humanity occasionally some will go rogue and form a pack of there own. Normally such packs are written off as wolf sightings and their victims as lost hikers.
Another option is Ghouls. Carrion eaters who've fed on the flesh of humans, they turn into diseased creatures that would match the description. Once a Ghoul is created they can spread their disease to more of the living, and enough Ghouls are happy to make there own carrion. Normally they're spotted before that happens due to the disturbance of graveyards tipping off Hunters.
The final option is, oddly, giant insects. There have been rumours of such things in the past, although none of you have heard a confirmed report. But there swarm tactics and claws could account for the damage seen here.
"Yes, anti-material rifle." Captain answered Jessica, her tone still 95% neutral but there was hints of positivity - almost like an instructor who is glad a recruit is willing to ask questions.
At Carlos's request, she placed the phone on the table in front of, brief nod of recognition for remembering to ask first. It was locked on the photos so there should be no protocol-breaking. She sipped her lemonade, clearly not walking away from the phone either.
Kavax'Kaotl joined in looking at the pictures, trying to see if he could glean anything.
Investigate: 2d6 - 1 ⇒ (2, 2) - 1 = 3
To no real avail. He was too busy reminding himself that blood splatters were supposed to put people off their appetite, not make them hungry. Why did his unholy metabolism have to be so bottomless, anyway? Maybe it was the whole going centuries without eating anything in between summonings…
"Hrmph. Not being very subtle, whatever it is."
|Carlos Luis Garcia|
Carlos examines the picture for a bit and considers what he knows, "Could be a great many things, but I think judging by the image of the car roofs, it must be clawed. Ghouls are one option, though there hasn't been any reports of grave desecration recently, a fairly easy sign to miss." He puts some cheesecake in his mouth, "Another could be our favourite werewolves, I'm sure we've had some activity with them in the past." Just then he hears the annoying buzzing of a fly and slaps the air. For a second he looks into the distance at the sky and continues,
"My last guess could be something that flies, maybe even a giant bug of sorts. I don't see a lot of ground splatter but unless we can get more information I can only speculate."
He turns the phone back and sits back in his chair, "That's my professional opinion at the very least. Anyone have anything else to add? What could it suggest Chesire? I'm excited to hear what your wealth of knowledge has."
Cheshire sighs. "We're really talking about this right here? Without even lowering our voices? Fine. We need to go find the location of one of these attacks. There's just too many possibilities for 'claws strong enough to rip open a car'."