Logs:Bless the Fall

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Bless the Fall

Characters: Rafael, James, Samantha. Saulot
Date: 2020-05-06
Summary: It's a bird! No! It's a plane! Wait, not the way that thing is falling. It's on its way somewhere outside the city, eastbound and going down fast.

It takes a bit to get out of the city at midday. Traffic from people rushing to and from stores along with the few souls trying to leave the city one way or another. When just outside the city and into the more natural spaces it where it looked like it landed. Somewhere out in the woods, and seemingly out of sight when any of the group reach the treeline.

The old pick-up truck that Rafael drives around is parked back by the road, since driving it into the middle of the woods seems like it would be a poor life choice. He's dressed a bit up today, although in the heat he's rolled the sleeves of his grey button-up shirt to his elbows, and the tie is absolutely back in the truck. A small duffle was acquired from the back of the truck and he's carrying it with him as he walks out towards the treeline.

"I wonder if it was a meteor," he muses, "I didn't see an explosion or anything, but..."

It took no more than a brief phonecall for Sam to confirm she was free for some work and yes, he should drive. She didn't trust her car on much more than a milk run some days. So, she's piled into the truck with Rafael and an unfamiliar face, introducing herself briefly as Sam. She's dressed a bit more to work, easy to move dark clothing and jacket over an armored vest, her messy, graying curly hair pulled back into a tie at the nape of her neck to keep it out of her face. "Would be nice if it was... an easy peek and done for the night. It... probably wasn't." She states flatly as she swings out with him, lighting a Newport as they walk. She's got a messenger bag fitted across her body with a few things in it, but doesn't have near so much as Raf.

James is in her usual attire of low-rise jeans and a thin white tee, though she's thrown a tailored black suit jacket over it, unbuttoned now, like she was caught halfway between work attire and casual. Her scuffed cowboy boots have seen quite a few miles of road, and the knife tucked into the top of her right one isn't exactly hidden from Sam, who sat to her right. Yep, the blonde shifted over to the middle of the seat, introducing herself as 'James', and spent the ride nestled between two Black Constables (who wouldn't?). Now, she tromps along beside Sam and Raf, pulling her long hair up into a messy knot atop her head. "Could have burned all up." She crinkles a bag of licorice and tucks a cherry-flavored twist into the corner of her mouth.

The way there was hard to discern. Maybe a more north. Maybe a bit more south. It takes them a bit longer than expected, though. Initially, they look like they'll be wandering around forever. That they even might be lost. Eventually, they can smell something in the air as the wind goes still.

"Could be, but I think it hit... I mean, best case scenario, we get some money selling a meteor to a museum," is Rafael's casual observation as he picks his way through the treeline, brushing hanging branches aside and being careful not to get tangled in underbrush, "Worse case, we've been invaded by martians."

That's only half a joke. You can't rule anything out in this business.

"Did we... wait, have we passed that tree before?" Uh oh. "Wait, what's that smell?"

"This is what you get for putting three city rats on a job." Sam mutters huskily over her second cigarette of the night. Of course, the smell of the pungent menthol was probably not exactly helping, but she didn't plan to really track by scent. That means when there is something stronger on the air, she blinks and lets her hand holding the tobacco fall to the side, taking in a deeper breath. "...Yeah, that's... something. I swear it's not me." She's mostly joking. She drops her cigarette, killing it with her heel so she doesn't pollute their trail any more.

"I do like money," James murmurs, craning her neck to peer between a few trees. The wooded areas all look the same when you're not from around here. At least it's not a swampier area full of hungry death lizards. "Hm. Death lizards," she murmurs, amused by her own thought process. Probably not the thing to mutter in the company of Black Constables, but there you go. She's not in the biz, as it were. "I think that smell's called 'nature'," James chimes in, much more audibly. Surreptitiously, she sniffs an underwing and then shrugs, and slides her hands into her pockets. The woman is a mortician, after all.

Things are looking a lot a like. Far too samey. Except Samantha is able to eventually spot some of the differences. There wasn't as many trees that were all the same, but she's able to spot that they are going in circles. Even when they turn around and walk in a straight line it's the same sights over and over.

Almost an hour passes until the PI can spot a difference. One tree, a birch, is the most obvious change. It appears to age, and time seems to stand still. The wind isn't blowing and there isn't a sound to be heard from a hint of a creature or critter.

After another quarter of an hour they find something. The moaning of a man, and it doesn't sound the slightest bit pleasurable. He's leaning against a tree, clutching something close to his chest. Despite the weather he's wearing a leather jacket, black skull cap, jeans, and work boots that look to be drenched.

Are we going in circles? I swear that..." Rafael trails off as he hears that sound, head twisting in the direction of the man's voice. Catching sight of him, he picks up the pace in a brisk walk towards the tree and the man, calling out to the man, "Hey! Hey, are you all right there...? Are you hurt or anything?"

Hopefully it's not an alien.

Okay, I'm shit at this nature tracking thing, but... I'm good at patterns. We can do this." Sam mutters, her gray eyes narrowing into the night. She's completely forgotten about her cigarettes, hyperfocus taking over as she starts tracing the trees in the dim light, and a few other circles they are going in. She's like a bloodhound on a scent. And she looks five years younger for it. Not the washed up, half drunk, ragged PI she was these days. A glimmer of the cop she was in her youth, the fact that she is actually an expert in her field, it charges her with a different energy. It's when she's set them on a further path, that man comes up. She blinks, tossing a look over to James to see if maybe the other woman is any better at first aid than she is, but Rafael is already leading the charge. "...Sharp eyes I have. Medical training, not so much." She murmurs quietly, but moves to quickly follow Raf.

James has gone through most of her bag of sweets by now, seeming unconcerned with the hike. She slows when the other two perk up, and at the sight of the figure leaned against the tree, she steps closer, though doesn't close the full distance. "Are you ok, man?" She tips forward a littler, her hands resting on her thighs. "You sound like you're in pain. Will you let me help?" Seems like one of them has some first aid training, anyway. A beat later, she does start to reach out one tattooed hand like she's going to touch his shoulder. "Sir?"

The man scoots back as best he can at the sight of the three strangers. There isn't much room, though, and he just sits up a bit more. He clutches that thing to his chest, and as close as they get it's a bit easier to make it out. A wodden black box he's holding like it holds whatever he needs to live.

They can smell it as they near him. That sweet coppery scent all too familiar to some of them. Even the box has a bit of the man on it too. The green turtleneck he's wearing has been openedu p, and they can see some of the viscera slowly hanging out. He breathes, the act laborious and painful. "Vashrek?" he asks of them, his eyes narrowing in on them. However, Rafael gets much of his attention and he keeps his gaze on the man.

"Oh, shit." The words are barely breathed out as Rafael stops dead in his tracks when he gets closer, the scent of blood overwhelming, and as he sees how badly the man's hurt he grimaces-- glancing back to Samantha. "Do you have cell service? We might need an ambulance for this guy..."

His deep brown eyes sweep back to the man, his brow furrowing at his words. "Vashrek? What-- is that your name? Shit, please tell me you speak English."

"Fuck, uh... I hope. Just say the word and I'll make the call." Sam's a team player and while she's been with the Constables longer that Rafael, he's got lead on this mission. She digs into her pocket, pulling out her cell and waiting for the orders, but not dialing yet. When she looks down at her screen, she curses softly, "Dead. No signal. We're way too far out..." She's letting the others who might have more training get up close and personal, but meanwhile keeps her eyes on the surrounding area too. Last thing she needs is them to be attacked while they're being good samartians.

"Well, shit." The scent is familiar enough that she draws just short of touching the man, pausing, and then taking a very slow half step back. Her gaze skims the wound and she considers a variety of things in rapid succession. It's there in her posture, the path of her gaze, the stillness in her body. "I hope the path out is faster than the path in, because if it's not, homie's gonna be hanging out in my back room later, if you know what I mean." She steps closer and crouches, but the look she flicks to Rafael suggests perhaps this ship has already sailed into a serious storm.

The man grunts when he doesn't get the response he was looking for, or it could just be the gaping wound where his chest used to be. His gaze flits around to each of them, and then he mutters something under his breath. "You'll have to do," he growls.

They were standing in the woods. At least a moment ago they were. Then the world around them changes. What was once idyllic forest has given way to a dank, dark cave. The only sounds to be heard around was a drip drop drip somewhere unseen. A man and a much younger woman were running. The man looked to be the one standing before them, although the woman was clearly nowhere to be seen when they were in the forest.

Something howled, screamed behind them. They ran and ran, and it almost looked like they would make daylight. However, that awful noise was getting closer. The woman was pushed into the light, somewhere unseen. The man, however, stood his ground. Tall and squaring his shoulders as he slowly stepped back into the light.

The man was gone, and the group were around. As if out of their bodies and watching themselves. That young woman was in front of them again, and she looked no older than a teenager. They were handing her something, shiny and golden and new. Too bright to be seen, and as they forced to focus in on it the light of it blinds them. Then they're back in the woods in front of the dying man where he sits, holding out that bloodied black box for one of them to take.

There's a lingering silent moment as the vision passes, and then Rafael steps slowly forward as if pulled by some unknown force - reaching down to accept the box being offered while James examines his wounds. "I... think I understand," he says haltingly, looking down at the box and then at the bloodied man's face, "Where is she?"

"Wait... that's not right. There should be a tower like... not even half a mile from here. We should have...service..." And then the man growls something and Sam's about to warn her compatriots to step back, but it's too late. They are somewhere else. Seeing something else. Sam takes in a slightly ragged gasp, heart catching in her throat, but she pushes back the anxiety, keeping her breath forcibly low and even as she stares around, taking in the entire scene. Before she can even process how to escape, they are back in the forest again. Rafael is already moving to take the box. She curses quietly, rubbing one hand down across her face. "Anything you can tell us about her will help..." She murmurs to the dying man, but it's probably too late. She presses her eyes tightly shut, trying to burn that woman's likeness into her memory.

James was already a little off-balance crouching in the woods while in the middle of deciding if she should touch a stranger's blood volume, most of which is probably outside of him by now. She teeters and smacks a hand into the tree trunk closest, going down on one knee. A shiver shakes through her body and she swallows audibly. She slowly, deliberately shrugs out of her suit jacket and folds it over itself a couple of times, into a neat, long bundle. She says nothing, but takes a short, sharp breath.

The man tenses up, but does let go of the box when Rafael takes it. The box itself looks like it should be fairly lightweight, but it's nothing but. The thing weighs at least a solid 25-something kilos despite that small size. With that coveted container out of the way James has a clearer view of the man's wounds.

Whatever did this clearly wasn't human or man-made. If it was it was sure as shit goddamned messy. It's as if something sharp and serrated dug into his chest, and just ripped his chest clean off in one bloody go.

The man's breathing is labored, and he's fading faster by the second. "Good luck," he answers. He laughs and coughs up a good bit of blood. More crimson coughing is in order until he can finally speak. "Look for the petunias. Melody always loved them."

As the box is accepted, Rafael drops back a step... weighing it in his hands for a moment, gaze on the wood. "Petunias? Christ, that's not much of a lead..."

An abrupt turn away from the gory sight of the man, and he holds it out towards Samantha, "Here, I-- I probably shouldn't be handling this, just in case." Whatever //that// means

"Melody have a last name? She local? Job? Anything you can give us?" Sam knows someone else is doing the work to maybe keep him alive, even if her instincts don't give him many chances. So, her cop has kicked in. Get as many answers from the person while you have them. And then Rafael is handing her that box. She's a bit stronger than she has stamina, smoking a pack a day will do that, but she grunts as she takes it. "Fuck. What the... hell..." She breathes out, shifting the thing onto her hip, but she seems to understand why he's not holding it. "James...what's the prognosis? We can pick him up and start running but cell signal is still dead..."

James considers the man for a long moment, her gaze on his torso. She holds her jacket, one hand over, one under, like she was going to use it for something. She reconsiders and sets it aside, leans forward and touches the man's shoulder. Her fingers spider over to press against the side of his throat, and she leans in to say something quietly to him. She doesn't directly answer Samantha, but then she kind of does, if she's listening closely, "... let him discover your peace. Let him receive your comfort..." Her voice is too soft to make out all the words, but the man who gave over the box can surely hear her. "... eternity with you; may he live forever in your presence." She touches his face and sits back, her hand dropping back to his throat, chin tipped down, her fingers on his pulse point.

The man can only stutter. A blubbering sound that doesn't have much bearing in sense or reality. His breathing eventually stops, although he does keep his eyes on the box. However, that goes to and his eyes begin to glaze over. As he slips off the mortal coil he lifts a bloody hand to James' cheek. It's only a ghost of a touch as his hand drops, and eventually he goes on to the afterlife.

Once the box is handed over, Rafael turns back towards the man... only to hear the last rites being recited, and his chin drops a bit. One hand comes up to rub at the back of his neck, gaze sweeping to the skies blocked by towering tree-trunks. "Fuck," he breathes out, "Alright. Alright, so we've got to try and find this... Melody person, by looking for flowers, to give this mysterious box to. When did we end up in a young adult fantasy novel?"

"Oh, and also there's a monster."

Sam shifts her cellphone back into her pocket, it's been useless anyway, and uses both arms to carry that box against her hip. She'll be out of breath by the time they get it back to the truck, but she's not letting it get the best of her. She watches James quietly, a line of sadness crossing through her eyes. Not surprise, but she murmurs a faint half prayer beneath her voice. "... least you gave him some... peace. Thanks." She murmurs to the other woman, the emotional labor of even helping the dead like that isn't lost on her. Then she's back to Raf, frowning a bit more. "We got an image of her. I can get a good visual down while it's fresh in our heads and start running what databases I still have contact with... I know a lot of people still in the city. If she's anywhere local, I can find her... But first, we gotta get this lead cannon ball back to your truck."

James crouches there for a moment, watching the man breathe his last. She draws her hand back sometime later, perhaps with a little smear of blood on her own cheek from the barest contact. She glances back to Raf, then Sam, whose gaze she meets for a silent moment, a little nod follows. Shortly after, she reaches over to check our dead friend's pockets.

As the man finds whatever peace comes after the world around them settles. The paths around them forming into what they should have been. However, something else is coming. The world pulling back on itself as something forces its way out. They hear a scream. Soemthing painful and nearly deafening. A growl follows it and something begins to take shape. About as tall as house, and as long as a bus. Reality has inverted and grown teeth, and whatever is coming is pointed at the direction of the now dead man.

Rafael steps over closer, reaching a hand out for James' shoulder; a gentle squeeze there as if to try and reassure her after the man's death, and then he turns his head to reply to Samantha's words, lips parting to speak... before the world itself begins to distort in a very unpleasant manner.

"Oh, hell," he breathes out, seeing the shape beginning to form and dropping back a step, "Ah-- run? Run. Let's run."

Running is *not* her forte, especially not with the box in hand, but adrenaline does help. "Fuck." Sam has no clue what it is but she also doesn't want to stick around long enough TO figure it out. She turns on her foot and begins to book it after Rafael, fighting with the weight of the box the whole way. She grunts as they go, breath ragged, "...James... if you... feel like... weight lifting..." The box is getting heavier as they book it. Or, maybe, she's just out of shape.

James touches Rafael's hand with her other one, the clean one. She rises at the heaving growl from the deeper wood. She doesn't have to look at it. She doesn't have to see it to know. Her hands drop to her sides and she takes a breath. She doesn't need the urging to run. "Yeah." She's right behind the other two. If Samantha hands off the box, she'll take it, but she doesn't reach for it first. "Done with the woods." She doesn't even pull her jacket back on, just runs with it gripped in one hand, along with something she took off the body. Buuut we can look at that later.

It hasn't formed yet. Not fully. There is shape enough now that they can make it out. Some of it. Big as sin and twice as maddening. It bends the light around it, and that howl growls louder. As the other two run away Samantha isn't as lucky. She is fortunate enough that it isn't there, but it still sinks its teeth into her. There's no blood and not a single mark on her, but she can feel its presence. The pain of something tearing at her mind and soul.

"Cole!" An alarmed call from Rafael as he glances back just enough to see the horror that defies their sight lunging for her - skidding to a ahlt briefly as he twists to turn around, though he's still backing up, "Get away from that thing!" As if she wasn't trying.

Sam should have passed the box to James. Passed the box to anyone with some better internal function than she had and without a pack a day habit. But stubbornness is shitty, and they were all running without a second thought, so there wasn't exactly a moment for her to talk herself into playing relay race. She dashes after them, breath coming in ragged pants shortly into the journey and then the thing is on her. "...BOX..." She screams. Growls, maybe? Gasps? It's pained and ragged, stumbling as she tries to toss the boss to her colleagues ahead. At least they could get it out, even if she ends up being left behind. She can't find other words. The world is half blind with pain which isn't just physical. She does, however, keep trying to run.

James slows to scramble back for the box, ostensibly to help Samantha as she fumbles with relaying it on. She takes two steps closer to that thing, sweeps a hand down to try to grab the other woman's arm. It isn't pretty, but it's a try to help. A try to drag Samantha to any safety that can be had in the woods with a monster you can't even fully understand.

The other Constable is there on her other side, reaching out an arm across her back to assist her in running. Maybe she doesn't have the endurance for it, but the three of them together can assuredly three-legged-race their way out of the woods and away from that eldritch monstrosity, surely.

At least that's Rafael's hope.

"We got it," he growls under his breath, "Just move, keep moving, don't look back, don't think about anything else--"

After that last, strangled cry, Sam's gone quiet. Dead quiet. She's still alive, because she's breathing, the short, ragged pants of someone who really needs to do more cardio, but there's not words. Whatever hit her, she's not bleeding, at least not visibly. She's not doing... anything. She's just running along with them, half collapsing into the truck. It's good someone else took the box because she's got no mental focus on it now. Her gray eyes are a bit too wide, pupils gone... Shock is a strange, calm looking thing, even with her galloping heart and ragged breath.

James doesn't have time to process or worry. She focuses on keep hands on Samantha, helping her to the truck with Raf, and doing their best GTFO in a high pressure situation. She weathers the chase well enough, pulse jumping in her throat, pale cheeks flushed. "Go, go, go," is muttered under her breath, though she scarcely seems aware of it. And on to the escape, that heavy, strange box cuddled to her body in a football carry.