RP As The Gloom Smiles Wide


Staff member
[googlefont=Syne Mono][googlefont=Noto Serif][div style="font-family:'Syne Mono', monospace;background-color:#d9d6d0;color:#14110b;margin:auto;padding:25px;max-width:600px;font-size:14px"]The Huntress ~ IV

The hounds were desire; their fangs snarling ambition, their eyes the fervent willpower oft sought by those they tear apart. They were ash and the flesh that bore it. Soot. Tar. Shadows. And, worst of all, they were quick.

Colette didn’t know how far she had managed to run, only how long she had spent running. Every step shot a sharp reminder up her fibia; her own dwindling fate-clock, tick-tick-ticking with the click of the fracture. She wasn’t sure which would give way first- her body, or the daylight. There wasn’t enough left of either.[/div]

[div style="font-family:noto serif, serif;padding:25px;background-color:#0A090C;color:#D1C6AD;font-size:13px"][div style="max-width:900px;margin:auto"]He seemed impressed by the way you came in- tell us a story, I know you're not boring. I was afraid that you would not insist- you sound so sleepy, just take this, now leave me. I said, ple-

“-aaase don’t slow me down, if we’re going toooo faaaast- you’re in a straaaaange part of our town. Ba-ba, ba-ba-ba, ba-ba-ba, ba-ba-ba…”

Wait, didn’t they record these trucks now? Shit, he better keep his mouth shut. Can’t have the bastards in corporate hearing him enjoy himself on the job, they’ll probably take it out of his wages. Or tear him a new one when he gets back. He could just hear it now- “Hey, Dale, you ever considered American Idol, huh? You fucking piece of shit?”.

Assholes. The lot of ‘em. What did it matter that he had a little fun on the journey- wasn’t it the destination that mattered? He already had their stupid package, and he already had their stupid proprietary in-house navigation system- him singing a little wouldn’t drown out that shrill bitch inside the monitor, anyway, He scowled at his reflection in the rear-view mirror, practicing his best look of joylessness- hat tilted down over his eyes, nose wrinkled in vague disgust, mouth pulled into a frown so exaggerated, it- fuck, it made him laugh. He flipped off the dashcam for good measure. Then, he turned his focus to the radio.

----re changing lanes, you ran me off the road. The wait is over, I'm now taking over- you're no longer laughing, I'm not dr----

----ld you believe it? There he was, right where he told me he wouldn’t be caught dea----

----ext is a new song by… I can’t read this shit on air, man, they’ll tear me apar----

----cloudy, with highs of 98 and low----

----Addaway has been cast in the upcoming television adaptation of Valentine, the supernatura----

He really should’ve bought that bluetooth player when he had the chance. This was dire. Irony of fucking ironies- his attention was now actually, properly torn from the road, focused entirely on twiddling with the dial until something–anything–caught his ear.

----ssibly a record-breakin----

----pretty bare-bone----

----w how I even surviv----

----ple are warned----


[font size="4"]----SCREEEEEEEEEECH!!![/font]


It took Dale a moment to compose himself, and a moment longer to realise what had happened. Thank god for driver’s intuition- it was like he had been jolted awake in the ditch, completely unaware of whoever had steered the truck off the road in the first place, let alone the reason why that might have happened. No… no, it was him. He was the only one in the vehicle, and the vehicle was shit- corporate may have had the budget for a spy-cam, but auto-steer? Please. Fucking please. He’d be out of a job, if that were the case.

He flicked on the hazards- the first act he was conscious of making, intuitive though it was.


What… what was that? Some weird fucking animal; long limbs, black fur. Was it a deer? Seemed about the right height for one, from what little he saw–about fifty inches, ear-to-hoof–but… I dunno, its posture was wrong. Hunched over and tense, like it was preparing to either attack or scream out in horrible pain. Yeah, that was it. It looked like it was in pain. Had someone else hit it? Fucking stupid pests, they were- he wouldn’t be surprised if the last truck that passed through fucking clipped its horn, or something, but- wait, did it even have horns?

He peered over the steering wheel, craning his neck to get a better view of the road. Empty- completely fucking empty. Dark, too, but that was probably from the canopy of trees overhead. His headlights were off, that was probably why he swerved so hard. Can’t be too careful on a road like this, eh? Dale allowed himself to laugh, and forced himself to relax. He’d know for next time- lights on, in a tree-tunnel like this. His fucking life was worth more than the extra drain on the gas that keeping them lit would cause. He reached down the side of the wheel and flicked the lights on- but nothing happened.


That fucking- that fucking deer had kicked his goddamn lights out! That must’ve been it- god, if only he actually had hit the fucker, then maybe seeing its gore spread thin across the tarmac would’ve provided some fucking catharsis- okay, Dale, calm down- calm the fuck down. He sighed heavily, unlocking the door with his spare hand and clambering out of the truck to assess the damage.

Right. Uh-huh. Well, the lights seemed fine, aside from the dimness. Turns out, they had actually turned on, but the output was so piss-poor, he had hardly noticed. Well, thank fuck it was just trees he was driving through, and not an actual tunnel, then. Or, actually- thank fuck it was 3pm, and not, like, basically any other time out here. He’d be a dead man if he-


That… wasn’t a deer.

Dale could only hope that his realisation hadn’t come too late.

“Alright- easy, now…” He muttered to himself, “I’m just gonna… just gonna get back in my truck, okay?”

You weren’t meant to look these things in the eye, were you? Like- that goes for any wild animal, right? Including this? It was hard to look anywhere else- and harder still to actually find the damn thing you weren’t meant to be looking at. All he saw were eyes, staring at him pinpoint through the doom-shaped shadows. It was impossible to tell where the creature started and ended, blending almost seamlessly into its surroundings. He backed away as slowly and as carefully as he could.

But, every step he made, it made one as well. One. Two. Three. Getting closer and silently closer with every passing moment, like the spectre of death itself. His gun was in the truck. Why did he leave his gun in the truck? Dale cursed under his breath, slowly raising his arms, as if the gesture of surrender could be comprehended by this creature. As if the concept of surrender could.

Then, without warning, it leapt; howling like a dying child, its voice ripping through his ears as deeply and as painfully as its claws ripped through his skin. He stumbled back, expecting the cold embrace of tarmac to at least put some distance between them, but instead found himself impaled on another set of claws. And another. And another. If he had the faculties to count, he would’ve lost it by now- there were too many of these things. But… there was just one, right? Two, at a stretch- three, maybe? Nothing more. There couldn’t have been any more.

Their teeth came next, now that their prey had been immobilised; tearing chunks of flesh from bone like he was already cooked, already prepared for consumption. They found no resistance when they met his skin. Impossibly sharp, impossbly numerous, impossibly- god, impossibly fucking painful.

Dale opened his mouth to scream, but all he managed to bring up was chunks of gore.[/div][/div]

[div style="font-family:'Syne Mono', monospace;background-color:#d9d6d0;color:#14110b;margin:auto;padding:25px;max-width:600px;font-size:14px"]The Huntress ~ IV

She saw, at last, a figure upon the horizon; a shadow, darker than even that of the hounds, looming over the hill up in the middle-distance. Through her blood-blurred eyes, she tried to stare her down, raising a torn limb to beckon, but there wasnt't much point. The figure was approaching regardless- and the steady pace at which she made said approach was all the proof she needed that this woman was not here to help her.

"Heel.", said the stranger.

And she said nothing more.[/div]

[div style="font-family:noto serif, serif;padding:25px;background-color:#0A090C;color:#D1C6AD;font-size:13px"][div style="max-width:900px;margin:auto"]A woman stepped into the parking garage that masked L-14, and the lights on that level started to dim. She wandered for a moment, the mundane expanse of concrete stretching out labrynthine before her.

Then, she whistled.

And an intern showed up dead.[/div]
[div style="border-top:4px #bb6448 solid;border-bottom:4px #bb6448 solid;border-left:4px #000000 solid;border-right:4px #000000 solid;"][div style="border-right:4px #bb6448 solid;border-left:4px #bb6448 solid;border-bottom:4px #000000 solid;border-top:4px #000000 solid;padding:8px;background-color:white;color:black;font-family:courier new;"][font color="forestgreen"]DATE: 7.28.23
LOCATION: L-14 parking garage
ASSET: FCRT-14-1-07 "Aesop", FCRT-14-1-04 "Moth"
PURPOSE: Smoke break[/font]

[font color="#E14711"]"Right?"[/font] Vanya said, as the door slid open. Roz was already lighting a cigarette. [font color="#E14711"]"Like, yeah, you seem like a great guy, but I've said, six times, I'm not looking for a relationship right now, thanks!"[/font]

The two women stepped off the elevator, side by side. Neither was in their armor; Roz was dressed in cargo shorts and a white t-shirt that made Skippy stand out, while Vanya had a bright pink T-shirt that said "F*CK OFF" in cursive yellow letters with little hearts around them. The shirt was a Christmas present from an ex, and she wore it at every opportunity, because it wasn't an expletive with a letter redacted, and if someone did try to call her out on it, maybe it'd never've been an expletive in the first place. TS, as she'd called the tortoiseshell butterfly since forever, fluttered her wings in vague agreement with Vanya's sentiments from where she sat on the agent's blonde ponytail.

[font color="#D88505"]"I would've dumped my drink on him at that point."[/font] Roz's voice was a weird collision between the softly muffled Polish accent and the hard grate of someone who'd smoked her whole adult life, yet was perfectly comprehensible in plain English. [font color="#D88505"]"I mean, you tried letting him down easy, right? And you had places to be."[/font]

[font color="#E14711"]"Yeah, but I felt bad for him, you know? He was trying so hard..."[/font]

[font color="#D88505"]"Nah. That's how they getcha. First it's the sob story, then it's the pity drinking, then you're waking up next to them and it's the-"[/font]

[font color="#E14711"]"Body,"[/font] Vanya interrupted, as she stopped walking, her eyes catching something just past one of the armored vehicles in the subterranean garage.

[font color="#D88505"]"No, the body technically comes before the waking up part."[/font]

Vanya rolled her eyes. [font color="#E14711"]"No, Moth, body."[/font] She pointed to the spot - or blotch, because wasn't actually a body, just a dark smear and bits of meat in the tattered remains of a labcoat.

Both women were now in their armor, and always had been, as far as most onlookers could tell. Vanya's was a clean white, interrupted only by the image of a tortoiseshell butterfly on her left bicep and the orange-red of her helmet's visor; Roz's was not Foundation colored at all, but a dull desert brown, without any butterfly insignia and a clear visor. Roz also had her personal sidearm, because she'd had it even without the armor (if she'd ever been without the armor), and she drew it while moving to stand back-to-back with Vanya. Her cigarette might've been tossed to the ground, or it might've always been there. It reached a point with those things that how they happened was less important than the fact that they were like that now.

Aesop touched the side of her helmet, her voice dropping. [font color="#E14711"]"Aesop to Checkers. Human remains, parking level. Looks researcher-y."[/font]

Checkers responded with both a feeling of understanding, and a crackle of internal comms. [font color="#bb6404"]"~Copy that, Aesop. Peacock's informing security. Keep an eye open, Brimstone and I will be right up.~"[/font]

Isaac thought he was alone in his office, which was why he was playing Breath of the Wild. He'd caught up on paperwork, and had been hoping for a second of downtime. He saw the movement out of the corner of his eye, and recognized the migraine armor before he recognized its wearer.

[font color="#568156"]“Gilroy,”[/font] he acknowledged, in his best stop-trying-to-sneak-up-on-me tone as he saved his progress.

She didn't bother with any more theatrics, which was a relief. [font color="#59E8D6"]"Security breach. Aesop and Moth found a body in the garage."[/font]

He looked up. It'd been a while since they had an internal breach, but there wasn't any sign of surprise or even confusion in his eyes as they studied her for a second. He nodded, a slow, security sort of nod. [font color="#568156"]“Copy. I'll send out word.”[/font]

[font color="#59E8D6"]"Copy copy."[/font] And with a tiny salute, she'd never been there at all - probably always in the garage, where the rest of her team had converged at a literal moment's notice.

[font size="3"]"Attention L-14 personnel. Garage level perimeter breached. Please be advised for non-standard anomalous activity."[/font]

The station-wide announcement didn't reach the garage, but it could save lives, which was why it was made whenever something like this happened. Certain security measures would be initiated by maintenance security, or remotely by surveillance teams, for the safety of anomalies that had to remain within their containment units; and combat personnel made their way to the armory to suit up. Researchers were usually advised to evacuate the main halls and confine themselves to a locked space, to be out from underfoot should security need to be more convincing with whatever intruder was trying to get in.

Even for new personnel, there'd already been drills for this. Everyone knew their security points, and if they didn't, Snow and Grayling were helping location security to get everyone where they needed to be. There wasn't cause for full evac yet, and if it did come up as necessary, then there would be ways of going about it - several anomalies, including the non-Lepidopterist aspects of ACF-707, would happily help. For now it was just a matter of securing the location until whatever this was blew over, as most security breaches did before they even reached the elevator.

[div style="font-family:noto serif, serif;padding:25px;background-color:#0A090C;color:#D1C6AD;font-size:13px"][div style="max-width:900px;margin:auto"]There were shadows gathered around the body when it first became a body, but they were starting to dissipate; heavy and smoke-like, drifting limply across the garage floor before receding into the places shadows are expected to be- in corners, underneath cars, surrounding a figure beneath a runway of shattered bulbs. And, as they fled the scene, they left evidence in their wake.

A thin film of blood was spread across the floor, like silt washed off from the walls. It had no clear path, but it did have a general direction; outwards. Outwards to the walls, to the corners, to the darkness.

The lights began to flicker and fail, their initial dimness stretching out like virulent spores until it became clear that, in due time, no light would remain. It seemed sentient, almost. Observant. Searching. For another body, perhaps- but it seemed content to ignore those which were already there.

A meagre feast.

The hounds deserved more.
[div style="border-top:4px #bb6448 solid;border-bottom:4px #bb6448 solid;border-left:4px #ffffff solid;border-right:4px #ffffff solid;"][div style="border-right:4px #bb6448 solid;border-left:4px #bb6448 solid;border-bottom:4px #ffffff solid;border-top:4px #ffffff solid;padding:8px;background-color:black;color:white;font-family:courier new;"]One by one, more specimens joined the sample. First Checkers and Brimstone, forming a square around the initial scene with Moth and Aesop. Then, with a nod from the team-lead, Moth was back inside, joining the other researchers in corralling personnel, leaving only the agency members of the team behind – and as she had never been there, Widow and Peacock always had.

And as Peacock came to be in the room, everyone’s armor shifted. Even as the darkness grew, the faint traces of light caught in Brimstone’s armor as the design became reflective. In that moment of exaggerated light, most human minds would have their attention drawn to the blues and greens of Peacock’s armor, the featherlike strokes that seemed to move on their own the longer they were watched. Aesop went still, and to the average human eye, she seemed to vanish entirely. When Checkers did move, there was an afterimage, almost like a delay or a visual double. And anyone who turned to Widow would typically find themselves with a foggy mind and weary body.

The five agents circled up, stepping – or maybe just moving – away from the spray of blood and searching the corners with weapons drawn. After a second, it was Widow who growled through is thick accent, [font color="#5476BD"]"Eyes up."[/font]

Everyone turned, and everyone saw a figure at the center of the fading lights. Bailey and Kim exchanged a sidelong glance, and then a slight shift moved between the team members. Widow and Brimstone took the flanks, Checkers and Peacock stepped to the forefront together, and Aesop stayed back, in the middle and perfectly still. A last resort ambush, if that was possible with whatever this was.

Checkers was the one who addressed the figure, as the light continued to fade.

[font color="#bb6404"]"Identify yourself. Who are you and why are you here."[/font]

Like any good agent, he didn’t actually expect the anomaly to respond. Instead, he waited to see what it did, to establish parameters. Even if it just stood there, menacingly, that would be a parameter in itself.

They’d just have to wait and see.
[div style="font-family:noto serif, serif;padding:25px;background-color:#0A090C;color:#D1C6AD;font-size:13px;"][div style="max-width:900px;margin:auto;"]The figure, as expected, did not respond. She simply stood there, stone-still, as the shadows slipped towards her, surrounded her, consumed her. There was silence. The darkness where she stood was so heavy now that it was impossible to tell if she was there- if she was ever there.

For a moment, a whisper could be heard, but not parsed.

Then, a scream- an agonised merge of human and inhuman, a demonic cry that would make a demon shiver. A shape fell from the darkness, lunging forwards, all teeth and fury, towards the one who dared address them.