6122/The Scouring Rush-1

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The Scouring Rush-1
Date of Scene: 28 October 2018
Location: --
Synopsis: --
Cast of Characters: 6316, Arthur Lowell, Zero Kiryu, 518, 571

Rurufon (6316) has posed:
    As far as their choice of hellhole this time, they'd done an excellent job picking the one with a tone just as dreary and oppressive as the one before. Granted, any Realm here is guaranteed to be dangerous, but the dim, claustrophobic halls, the sterile grey dust coating the floor, the bleak and decrepit industrial walls and doors, and the perverse twisting roots, or perhaps veins, of living metal that cancerously wind their way through deep shadows and dingy tunnels, reek all too much of the same kind of smothering desolation.

    How favourably a mysterious and unnerving aquatic abyss must compare right now. How wonderful imagining anything with the word 'Cliff' in its name, with the rough metal ceilings, stained and streaked with unknown, ancient fluids, hanging so low overhead as to distantly provoke the urge to hunch.

    Mysteriously, the 'killbox' room, with its piles of spent brass and larger piles of unidentifiable monster corpses, is clean this time. Wandering through, it appears to have been swept clean of all evidence of battle, with bullet divots and dried bodily fluids essentially invisible against a hundred year tapestry of the same, fading into the mottled brown and rust corrosion and deformity. The footprints are gone too, as the shallow dust looks as thick and undisturbed as if nobody had been through in decades, even though it is unmistakably the same intersection; given how close in it is, it'd be impossible to miss it, even if all the rooms look very similar.

    Wandering squared, cramped, angular and mazelike halls, seeming as if they should creak and ping like the hull of a wartime wreck, yet silent enough to be begging for the sound of ominous scraping and plodding footsteps to be following them, the first thing of eventual note, after room after room of seemingly no purpose, is the way opening up into a massive vertical shaft with a top and bottom so distant that one is left eventually looking into pitch black even with the ability to see in the dark. Scores of identical doors ring its circumference, but not in regular levels, rather arranged in a gradual corkscrew that was once serviced by a spiral walkway which has since fallen almost completely to pieces. Most of the heavy, iron shod, asylum-esque doors now simply lead into thin air, waiting for someone to take a single step out and abruptly fall to their death. No more than three at a time are connected by the crumbling remnants of a catwalk, just as often blocked by rubble from somewhere far above.

    The center of the shaft is occupied, not by any kind of elevator or chain, but by a great trunk of braided metal tendrils, winding tightly around one another until their ribbed and segmented exteriors give the impression of a twisted and irregular spinal column. It's thick enough to occlude most of the view from any angle, meaning one can only see a few doors down either way at a time, and faintly slick with something wet. The faint sound of banging tin can be heard echoing from below, whereas sifting gravel and bits of iron shavings constantly drift from above like snow. That, and the thick stench of oil and old pennies, makes for the impression one should be wearing a face mask.

Arthur Lowell has posed:
    "Got some hella thorough JANITORIAL WORK up in this bitch." Arthur says, rubbing one finger against the faded bloodstain and then examining it. "Motherfuckers straight SCOURING this motherfucker." He says, then stops and says, "OHHHHH. Haaaah." He snaps his fingers and grins. "I get it." Then he moves through, drifting off his feet weightlessly into the air. "Damn, dog, this shit be hella CREEPS." He mutters, emerging into the massive vertical shaft.

    He drifts up and onto the wall of the shaft, starting to pace it circularly instead of taking the damaged and rubble-blocked catwalk. "Gotta be something UP or something DOWN, or BOTH." He scratches his chin a little and sets on the latter path, heading downwards. "Whatever's DOWN sounds less NATURAL PROCESS and more ACTIVE DUDES DOING STUFF, I'mma get eyes on the noise." He heads down, a look of subtle concern occasionally flickering through his face, and his broom casually slung over one shoulder.

Zero Kiryu has posed:
Zero likes this place better than the last one. The smell of oil and metal is a lot more tolerable to him than the scent of sewage and death, and the garbage drifting through the air... won't be a problem for him, not for long anyway. Besides that, there are qualities to this place that are -- after a fashion -- familiar. The gun that rests in its harness might call a place like this kin, it too being a living thing cast into metal and taking on a different shape altogether.

Since he was one of the people to enter this place during their scouting, he's taken point. The first thing that gives him pause is the clean-up job. Zero stops in the room where all the brass casings were, sweeping the surroundings with a slightly agitated expression. The first thing that occurs to him is the possibility that this place might consume metal.

The second is that it's merely what it appears to be -- somebody having come through to clean up. It is a place that is tended to after a fashion, after all.

He is quick to -- carefully -- explore, opening several doors on a meandering route and stopping short because he's plenty sharp and attentive enough to catch that it's just a fall into an endless pit.

He wonders if there's anything actually down there, or if it just sort of stops.

"Arthur." His voice is warning, when the Mage indicates his intent to go check below.

"All the brass was gone, and this place has a lot of strange metal running through it. Pitfalls are going to be rich in inattentive casualties. The pits are probably..." He glances down, "... some of the first places to get cleaned of goods, if the physical state of this place is unnatural."

The last one was, so he can only assume this one is too.

Yuuki Kuran (518) has posed:

But at least it's not wet. These small blessings are what percolate in the mind of Useless, aka Yuuki Kuran, aka the Concord Director who had made it her Shoujo Crusade to FINISH THE FIGHT within the Shadow tower.

First it had been for the adventure, the sheer novelty of it. It had evolved, like her tastes, to be a challenge she was rising to.

Finally, she had settled, like all immortals eventually do, on the grudging understanding that she was here to consume and dominate the tower, because it had offended her. It offended her because she had come to it, but that wasn't relevant to a predatory grudge. It had the gall to be difficult before her, and it had to be crushed.

Truly, the Catch-22 of Stupid Crusades For No Point And Little Gain.

"It seems like whatever sweeps up finally got to the area..." Yuuki observed, scuffing the toe of her shoe into the now almost-clean by dint of averaging floor.

"I know we're here to correct the tower, but it seems to correct itself, for the most part. Just..."

Zero gets to the warning before her. "Yeah... Be careful, Arthur! If you'd like, I can come with you, though you are the death tower adventure expert." She offers, with a bit of forced cheer.

As she speaks, she draws out Artemis, leaving the small baton in its collapsed form, and tapping it to the weird metal wall.

"I don't think the walls EAT metal, that'd be..."

Alexis Maaka (571) has posed:
    At this point Maaka's more disturbed by the lack of corpses and telltale signs of battle. Her flashlight, attached to a rather heavily kitted out AR-15 pattern carbine. It's a BCM if you must know, with the holographic sight, angled grip, tac-light, and a cybernetic targeting system affixed as well as a sound suppressor you'd expect Tier-1 guys to be using. Like them, she clearly has practice using the gun as she clears corridors and checks her corners.

    In any case, she keeps wary of the doors Zero opens, expecting each and every one of them to either have terrified survivors with guns or monsters hungry for spleens to attack. She eyes Zero through her death-mask of a helmet, as she stops short of accidentally putting her foot on thin air and falling down one of these pits. "You're assuming there's a bottom to these. I don't think anything about this place has an obligation to reality." She muses, voice filtered through a vocoder but still recognizable. No need to intimidate people you already worked with on several occasions. "If they ate metal you'd think we'd know by now." Maaka says to Yuuki, before she does the same as the Second and begins to follow Arthur. He's basically an authority on navigating bizarre hellhole dungeons full of danger and despair.

    Knowing him, he might've been asked to do a TED talk on it by now.

Zero Kiryu has posed:
Zero reaches casually to one side and intercepts the tip of Artemis with the palm of his hand. There is an immediate reaction-- a crackling of light that runs from the collapsed rod to the man's hand. It doesn't deter him, but it does sear a pattern into the palm of his hand for the time being. He pushes it back lightly towards Yuuki, angling its tip down and away from the wall. Then he lets go.

"Don't poke things with important equipment to test them. Use this." He reaches in towards Yuuki and once again immediately locates and unsheathes her CONCEALED DAGGER.

He offers her the weapon for WALL TESTING.

He replies to Alexis, "I am assuming that the physical parameters I can perceive are correct, because I have yet to encounter a scenario in this locale where that is not the case. The locale is often bizarre and dangerous, and sometimes it preys on inattentiveness."

"However, if there is a 'fall' and a 'sound coming from the direction of the fall', I do not yet have a reason to assume that there is nothing there but smoke and mirrors. In fact..."

"In this place, it is usually a clue of some kind." He concludes, dully.

Rurufon (6316) has posed:
    The walls do not in fact eat metal. They are metal, even if they have the look and texture of industrial equipment plating recast into an iron pan and used to poorly cook raw and bloody meat black for years. At least they don't smell that way. They don't smell much of anything, really. There's a certain sense that much sensory information has been scoured somehow, like everything has been sprayed and scrubbed with some kind of bleach or acid undetectable to the nose. The dust itself almost looks brushed, like some kind of zen sand garden, save with the thick coats of bleak grey one finds on the banisters of a forlorn and long-forgotten mansion.

    Arthur goes down. It is a long way down. A very long way down. Spiral after spiral of doors only differentiated by their patterns of stained and streaked decrepitude pass him by, the walkways growing more and more fragmented as he descends, and the strange metal 'spine' spreading outwards more and more as it goes, like the branching ends of an artery as much as they are like the roots of a plant. The shaft is, however, not bottomless. He eventually reaches a floor that is almost a beach of dry, choking dust, apt to puff and swirl with each step. The slick, metallic trunk pierces even further down through it, but he is left at a nexus of open corridors instead of shut gates.

    The clanging is loud and harsh. It is the obnoxious, tinny bang and scrape of dismantling a corrugated roof on an abandoned, rain-rusted shack, like the audible version of tetanus. Rather than hammers or saws however, he catches sight of shovels and picks. The dark shapes of the cylopean slaves of the Place With White Walls and the tribal aliens from the Shrine Beneath the Forest drag tools along with them in zombie-like strides, finding spots in the dust to perplexingly 'dig'. As if laboriously tilling a solid metal garden, they bizarrely act out the incredibly slow, grueling process of excavating layers and layers of decrepit machinery, peeling away flooring and pipes. Skittering Deformed Insects, wiggle into the exposed crawlspaces, filling them with sickle and pale brands of their strange green structural webbing, creating little pits of sticky, mildly acidic spit and thread.

    Of all things, they're planting something. 'Seeds' like rough cannonballs, lugged over and buried in their plots of sticky green silk, and then filled with with shovelfuls of bolts and springs, broken gear teeth and bullet cases, shattered slivers of swords and and fragments of helms.

Yuuki Kuran (518) has posed:
Yuuki is about to prod the potentially metal-eating wall with her metal artifact weapon when Zero Kiryu i-INVADES HER PerSONAL spaaaaAAAAAaCE


Oh wait no this is entirely normal. He rummages around in her coat for a fraction of a second before producing her concealed knife, which she makes a surprised face at.

"Oh, I had totally forgotten. You're right!"

She takes the knife and pokes the wall. Nothing. Nothing at all!
Thaaaat's... odd.
She scrapes the wall with the hilt of the knife, and then like a book for two-year-olds, runs her hand along the wall, and sniffs it. A full scratch-and-sniff with textures experience, which reveals...

Nothing! Aggressively nothing.

"When we came here before, it was so full of scents, like gunpowder and ichor and death and blood. Now... It's empty. I can so distantly feel things but it's... Empty. Like it was scoured. Is that what the area means? The 'scouring rush'?"

Yuuki engages in Normal Girl philosoraptoring, before holstering Artemis and her CONCEALED KNIFE back in her coat. "Zero, your senses are better than mine - maybe try picking out the strongest presence you can feel, and we'll go towards it - together?"

Zero Kiryu has posed:
Zero watches Alexis wander off to join Arthur's expedition into digging too greedily and too deep. His attention turns back towards Yuuki for a moment, and then back out one of the pitfall doors and towards the endless chasm below.


"Maybe." He says to Yuuki.

Arthur and Maaka can handle the situation below. If he /really/ needs to return to them, or if he needs back-up, Zero is sure that Arthur will open a portal to facilitate that. Accordingly, he's not in a hurry to go group up.

Fortunately, Yuuki gives him some direction on what to do. He nods at her and shuts his eyes, concentrating on the radar that exists in his mind. Her blip, standing next to him, would be pronounced even if she was far away. Another two distant blips represent Arthur and Alexis -- they're fainter, their natures being much separated from what he tracks.

Not so separated that he /can't/, but they're still dimmer.

Based on what they were encountering last time, some sort of parasitic entities probably live down here. It follows then that, probably, there is something that Zero can locate down here.

So, he feels his way around for something that feels especially predatory and familiar.

Alexis Maaka (571) has posed:
    "Fuck it." Maaka cedes the point, before she follows Arthur down the hole. She'll use her grappling hook to slow the fall, rappelling downwards to the bottom of the line. She takes her chances, dropping the rest of the way before using her booster-rig to slow her fall just short of hitting the bottom.

    "And THERE'S the welcoming committee!" She calls out, taking aim with the carbine. And then notices they're just planting for all she knows. "...okay, nevermind." She lowers her rifle, and switches to night-vision as she scans amid the room.

Arthur Lowell has posed:
    Arthur notes the strange labor. He drifts over quickly, looking at the cannonballs, observing the strange garden together... He's looking for something in particular. That yellow and purple growth. Do any of these things have that cordycep-style growth on them? Is this like what they encountered before? Are they being driven by something, like some sort of fungus? Hmmmm. Arthur needs to look for the seeds. Where are they being brought from?

    Arthur tries to focus on who's carrying carrying the seeds, and from where. This base level has open corridors, which means the seeds must come from somewhere. And wherever they're coming from, Arthur might get a good idea of what they're intended for, because whoever the Lord of this realm is, they probably are dictating this crucial process! "Nah homie," Arthur rambles to Maaka. "This ain't WELCOME, it's like DOORMAT, we gotta get all up in this motherfucker, get to SOURCES not DESTINATIONS."

Rurufon (6316) has posed:
    Arthur's intuition is correct. Maaka's gunlight reveals all of the worker drones are tinted in strange hues of putrid green, as if their skin and/or exoskeletons were inelegantly pumped full of off-brand chlorophyl. Each of them has some pulsating purplish bulb on them in some state of maturity or another, some resembling some kind of bloom, with faintly wiggling tendrils of yellow like flower stamens. They're fully hosts to the parasites, invading the neural clusters that must be in those respective parts of their anatomy, as every growth is attached to the same place for the same species.

    The cannonball-sized seeds are thick, rough, silvery, and also faintly wet, as if just pulled from a bucket of thin gelatin. Their lifesigns are very much similar to that of the massive 'roots' that permeate the whole complex. As far as Arthur can tell, they've just been carried here, one at a time, without any kind of efficient supply line. Impressions in the dust indicates the tools have been lying here for a long time.

    Zero can very, very dimly feel the presences of the subverted 'drones', or rather, that of the growths having fused with what passes for their nervous systems, as if the infection itself is very faintly sentient. He feels much more intense presences further into the corridors just a corner around Arthur and Maaka however, as well as further up, and one presence that is especially large but also quite dim and faint at the same time, like a 'predatory field'.

    Just as before, Arthur and Maaka are immediately aggressed by the monsters, stronger, tougher, and immune to pain, yet dumb and flammable compared to their previous selves. These ones are entirely capable of using their tools as improvised weapons, and properly aiming their acidic, sticky thread. One of the mono-eyed creatures even manages a blue flame.

Zero Kiryu has posed:
<< "Arthur. You have company ahead of you. Judging by the elevation and relative position, they're probably around a bend. They're much more pronounced than the other things I'm feeling, so they're probably something more serious than the average... thing... here." >> Zero talks into his earpiece, opening his eyes and looking at Yuuki. He pauses a moment to consider what he's feeling.

<< "There's probably some sort of fixed intelligence out there, as well. Uncertain if it's the landscape or just something large in it. It's sort of... saturated out." >> He describes.

He looks at Yuuki, and inclines his head towards the open pitfall door.

Drawing Bloody Rose from its holster, he utilizes the subsequent mass of vines and brambles to descend in the direction that Arthur and Maaka are at. Along the way he makes sure to open the doors that line the spiral, to mark the descent path /and/ to give them some obvious structures to grapple towards where necessary.

Sometimes, he can't help but envy Yuuki's ability to fly a little-- a thought that catches him a little too much by surprise, so that when he reaches the bottom Zero is looking a little unsettled with himself.

But perhaps there will be no cause for anyone to take notice.

Alexis Maaka (571) has posed:
    Maaka approaches some of the seeds. "Think they're brainwashed by some kinda plant." She mutters, before suddenly she and Arthur are attacked by them. She lifts her rifle, and NOW opens fire with .300 Blackout rounds barking loudly in semi-auto. << "Well aware of that!" >> She interjects over comms, as the creatures round the bend and suddenly they're under fire.

    Literally in this case, too! Maaka dives behind cover to evade enemy projectiles of sticky thread, after she fires her rifle into one of the drones point-blank before it can bring its axe down on her.

Arthur Lowell has posed:
    "Gahhhh, FUCK!" Arthur calls out, queuing up a rushing blaze of stellar fire along his broom. He can't get normal fire, but atomic fusion fire? That's something well on his menu. He leaps into battle! "COME OOOON!" He screams, battering through acid and fire, and surging through the impacts and wounds that accumulate along his body from the bruises and impacts of tools. Chunks of Health Vial fly away as he gets into the swing of things, intent on blasting heavy impacts and brutal AoE waves of fusion fire through the surrounding space. "LET'S GO YOU FUNGAL FREAKSHOWS, TIME TO MOTHERFUCKIN' BURN THE MOLD OUT! LET'S SEE THOSE SPORES LAST THROUGH THE HEEEEAAAAAT!"

    His goal is to at least get some space to grab one of those SEEDS and thereby ANALYZE it with concentric columns of spirographic spellcircles that hopefully can find either an origin point or some hint on things. He's theorizing that it's likely something to fuel the strange metal growth, or interact with it in some way. He's gotta know how!

    Is there some chance that this titanic metal fungal mass /is/ the Lord of this realm itself?!

Rurufon (6316) has posed:
    Arthur and Maaka know roughly what to expect from last time. There are more of them and they are better armed (and 'armed') than last time, so it is understandably more difficult. Bulelt wounds, even to the head and chest, don't faze them much, needing to dump entire magazines into one target to finally drop them. The horrid purple blooms are relatively tough, and much smaller targets, but easier to just completely destroy with gunfire.

    The creatures have zero self-preservation instinct /except/ to protect those growths. They defend those with their limbs rather than their own eyes or hearts, as it seems direct damage to them quickly causes them to burst into purple fluid, and drop the hosts on the spot, puppets with strings cut. They can't really bodyblock fire, and so hitting them with that atomic furnace results in a 100->0 DoT effect that turns them to crumbling ash in twenty seconds flat. It's unfortunately just obnoxiously hard to drop them instantaneously without massive force. Most of them just get to take a swing or two before going down.

    The seeds are very much the same material as the veins/roots/spine/vines that permeate this strange, run-down silo of incompresible reason d'etre. They've budded off somehow, either like a plant or like a dividing cell, and are being planted in fertile soil of broken tools divorced from cold, dead hands. Presumably, they will also grow into more vines, or else something that produces those infectious spores.

    Zero finds those. He finds those in abundance. Going any further from where Arthur and Maaka are, at the leading edge of the 'plantation', he finds where the infected slaves have already been. The walls are shot through with smaller growths of wet, silvery metal, but more importantly, the floor is rife with organic mass sprouting straight from the metal, dust, and ash. They're something like tentacles or vines, thick, coppery green, hard, and yet flexible, like worms of heavily verdigrised bronze. Where their blunt 'heads' are, instead of opening up into something so benign and relieving as snapping jaws or leech-like teeth, they bloom into hideous many-layered flowers, at the center of which is some sort of colourless, glassy, dark grey, pulsing 'eye'.

    They fire lasers at him. Honest to god lasers of red hot energy course up their stems and blast at him. Dozens of them. They rake across the metal in wild sketches, leaving deep, glowing welds where they pass, like living torches. A couple of them spit globs of viscous, gluey green tar, no doubt packed with fungal spores.

Zero Kiryu has posed:
The fact that he finds "plants" isn't really all that surprising. This place has been broadcasting fungal infections since they got here. But when Zero descends from above into the vicinity of an area that has already been tended to-- he finds plants out on their own. Plants that have long since taken root. Suspended amidst his own tangle of metallic vines, the hunter tilts his head slightly and begins to angle his gun towards one of the blooms.

Which is when they start shooting lasers. What the /hell/?

Both arms are drawn up defensively as streaks of light pour into his silhouette, scorching through his suit and the flesh underneath in places unprotected by Bloody Rose's vines. The only thing he really gets away from scott-free entirely is the globs of tar-- the whole mass of Bloody Rose's vines adjusts itself, vines shooting out to re-anchor themselves along the wall and reposition entirely to allow the obvious infection bait to pass unimpeded.

Only once this first volley nears its end does Zero level his gun in the general direction of the plants-- a momentary illumination growing in the barrel, before a burst of energy emerges that splits into dozens of individual beams of energy crisscrossing through the air to separately target an enormous number of the pulsing "eyes".

Alexis Maaka (571) has posed:
    Maaka opens fire on the spores themselves, while she keeps a hatchet on standby. It's got a monomolecular edge and an HF engine, both mean business in combat, and she puts it to good use when the creatures are too close for comfort. Slinging her AR, the cyborg draws her Kama 10mm, and opens fire point-blank with caseless hollow point ammo. Her hatchet cleaves and slashes at limbs and necks, trying to cut the plant-golems into chunks with her hatchet. "We can't get bogged down here, gotta move!" She calls out, feeling scratches bury deep in her armor.

Yuuki Kuran (518) has posed:
Zero's 'presence' sensor, as a Hunter, is very finely tuned to the detection of monsters and other 'power-presences'. A finely cultured sixth (or seventh, if we're really numbering them) sense is key for a monster slayer like Zero Kiryu.

Yuuki's own are more focused on predatory enhancement, so while she has a keen nose and pair of large eyes, she doesn't pick up on the fact that they're dealing with a hive of fungal 'entities'. They're just bugs and plants to her.

Bugs and plants with lasers.

When Zero falls, she floats, alighting on the ground with an extended toe of her shoes, to land gently on the ground.

About a half-second before the air fills with goddamn lasers.

Zero is the one who takes the brunt, as he took point, but Yuuki is not spared, a few sizzling past the hasty initial barrier of Bloody Rose and searing holes in her coat and skin.

Holes that rapidly fix themselves, but the energy is spent, and the pain accrued.

Hissing, she sends her had horizontally through the air in a chopping motion, and following her sweep, through the flower, is a string of hyperpressure implosive 'pops' that crunch through metal and flower-fungus alike like a wave of explosives without any heat or boom.

"I think we found the enemies, Zero!" Yuuki notes, drawing out Artemis with an electric ker-shunk as it extends into a scythe. "Don't let the tendrils touch you!"

Yes, yuuki. Your advice is good and also PAINFULLY OBVIOUS.

Arthur Lowell has posed:
    Arthur brings up his Pesterchum and chatters back with Zero about what he said earlier. << "Yeah homeboy, got MAD CHUMS up in this. Homies going WILD on the REGULAR." >> He fires back. << "Thinking our BIG PROBLEM here's the LORD'S probably a FUNGAL HIVEMIND. We gotta get SURGICAL on this BRAIN, homie." >> He contemplates how to approach this. He can't really sense anything about its structure, that's more of Zero's business.

    "Hmmm. I'm no good at getting SURGICAL." Arthur mutters. "Shit's a big ECOSYSTEM and ORGANISM, maybe I can RIP this motherfucker to get some HINTS." Arthur turns to the spine. "These things don't like HEAT. And they're METAL. Shit's MAD THERMALLY CONDUCTIVE. Maybe if I try TURNING IT UP in this bitch, might WAKE motherfucker." While the others divert to handle the plants and such around the corner, Arthur holds for a minute. He thinks he's MOSTLY got a bead on the idea of this area, and so... He claps his hands together, rubs them eagerly, and begins a rising scream of effort.

tHis body begins to burn as it conducts the heat of stars. His eyes flicker black and white. Gushing shockwaves of force pour out of him. He drains a lot of what remains of his Aspect. There's a whine like a flywheel spinning up. And then he slams his hands against the massive spine, intent on burning into it and heating the thing up to dangerous temperatures. This is the sort of thing that provokes the Mother Brain to scream and sicc the immune system response on them, right? It's the sort of thing that makes the Hive Mother get up and start doing something he can trace, isn't it? Or so Arthur's guesses here, at least.