Log:First Order: Tearing at the Seams
The journey began abruptly, with a terse order from Kylo to assemble in his ship immediately. As soon as the Vanguard and Knights were aboard, the vessel had launched into space, with the Supreme Leader piloting personally, the hatch to the cockpit sealing him off from the others.
Upon landing in the grasslands, he emerged into the troop area, wrapped in black robes, his battered helmet held in one gloved hand. "You remember the woman who tried to have us killed on Korriban." It wasn't a question, a flat statement of fact. "We're here to find out where she is." Without explaining any further, he'd pulled on his helmet and stomped down the landing ramp in a cloud of smoke, heading immediately for the forest.
Now, the party has just entered into the thick section of the trees, where the undergrowth is dense and difficult to traverse. Twigs grab fruitlessly at the slippery betaplast armor surfaces. Brambles bar the way forward, tripping up the unwary booted foot. The air is close and damp, bringing the scent of peat up through the sinuses. Despite the hour, under the canopy all is shrouded in a perpetual twilight, and here and there the red upper branches are swathed in gauzy white.
Erisi looks at Oran and slants him a look, mouthing some word with a raise of her eyebrows, her robes cinched at the waist and her hood drawn up as she heads off the ship down that ramp. Off into destiny. And bugs. And difficult terrain. And damp. The smell of the peat has her briefly rolling her eyes and making a face as her stomach rolls and the very flora about them threatens to drive her allergies completely off the wall. A cloaked hand comes up and down into a pocket, a small packet taken out and two blue pills taken out into her other palm, knocked back as she follows Kylo. Seasonal allergies will not get her down!
Karys is quick to reload and fit out her pistols with new cells each while they fly. But as they come into land she is waiting for the jostling to cease before she pushes up wordlessly to her feet, helmet in her hand own she sweeps gloved fingers over her dark hair to press it back and away before tipping her head forward and slamming the bucket into place. The HUD activates inside her helmet and she checks comms. <<"Eighteen reporting, check.">> A faint back and forth turn of her head and then she seals it into place. The dark armor gleaming to nearly match the chosen color of their supreme leader.
She is quick to fall into line, hands having pulled free her pistols. She was there the last time. She remembers.
While there are no spoken comments from Oran at the nature of this mission, the short Coruscanti Knight exchanged a LOOK with Erisi at the mention of a mysterious woman, a dangerous woman from Korriban. It's an attempt at a LOOK anyway; perhaps if missed by disdain or inattention from its recipient, it just travels forever though the galaxy like unseen light from some star too far away to see. Quiet, determined, he's proceeded to trudge through the forest underbrush not far from Ren, with occasional, judicious saber application when the foliage needs to be cut away. His demeanor is wary, alert, and perhaps more tense than usual.
Trudging through the woods on yet another Duke Funtime Hour, DK-4077 keeps his new sniper rifle held close to his body. Dathomir being the grayscale Felucia that it is, the man doesn't seem that far out of place. He is quiet, though.
Following without question, Drath is donned in his red plated armor, his E-11 held in one hand as the other keeps hold of the handle within the shuttle's passenger compartment. The Trooper is silent as they make their journey, occasionally adjusting the strap of his weapon over his shoulder and turning his slim visor to his fellows therein. As the cockpit opens, and the Supreme Leader stalks out, his rifle is gripped with both hands and he turns to fall into formation as the group makes their way outside. <<Ninety-One reporting.>> he announces over the comms, the usual soundoff being given as they make their way out into the forest.
Arkesh had the distinct honor of reporting to his new assignment not an hour before Kylo Ren had summoned the Vanguard. He had arrived at the shuttle with a crate in tow and assembled his new armor just in time to make the mission. He actually did -not- know who the hell the Supreme Leader was talking about or why that person was believed to be here. Despite the complete confusion, rank and file had come to accept and adapt to that facet of life in the military. The Scout begins to do what he had always done and search their surroundings, looking for any signs of...anything since he was not sure what they were looking for. Arkesh treks forward, his rifle readied though he does not dare get ahead of Kylo Ren. He had heard rumors before arriving.
Hefting his flamer, and checking his system info on the t-21 and e-11 mounted to his arms, Hadrix's head is enclosed by his helmet as it rises from his gorget, sealing with a hiss.
<<"904 reporting, check.">> he steps down alongside Karys. <<"Vanguard spread into standard flank escorts, keep an eye out and be ready to intercept assaults">> putting words to motion as he veers to the right hand side of where Kylo leads from, pilot light of his flamer puffing.
The newest rookie of the Vanguard walks quietly along at the rear of the group, stealing glances only occassionally at Kylo Ren as he leads them along. The young slicer can barely contain his excitement. Not only did Kylo personally choose him to join the team, now he's actually on a mission with him and the rest of the squad in a very short while after joining. All his dreams are coming true... now if only they can stamp out that pesky Resistance the world will be right as rain. He scans the darkness around them with careful emerald eyes, the sweep of his blaster rifle covering all that he views. <<Ten, reporting in... all quiet in the back... uh, Sir.>> Damnit, was the sir necessary, was it not? Avery grumbles to himself as he trapses along through the wilderness.
Saanvi is aways ready for trouble or for patients. WWith a lamenting sigh she did promptly abandon whateveer mad science hobby she'd been attending and was front and center as required ready with her medical kit, rolls of duct tape and duraplast, and of course her weapon and ammos. <<Medical present and accounted for>> her helmed head tilted up and swivelling side to side and occasionally tilted down there is so much NATURE here! Yet, she keeps up with the others resisting the urge to stop and get a closer look at any of the very interesting things here.
"Oran," Kylo's processed voice grates out harshly into the sounds of the forest, holding up a gloved hand to the other man and pointing at the lightsaber he's using to chop up bits of the flora. "No." His long black robes are more vulnerable to the briars and grasping plant life, but he plows on ahead, clambering over large roots and pulling past any snags, leaving them to whip back at anyone walking too closely behind him.
An ominous sensation looms over the forest, a pricking at the neck, a low ringing in the ears, barely there.
Erisi's eyes blink back sudden tears as she raises a hand up to sneeze mightily into her right hand, body rocking forwards as she perilously hovers on one foot, the other not yet having touched down. Her sleeve is drawn back and eyed, hazel eyes narrowing in disgust before the sleeve is swept against a nearby HOUSE SIZED tree.
Walking along beside Hadrix, Karys is trying to keep her footing light but her the tip of her boot catches on a log and instead of tripping forward she pause her foot down upon it save that is goes THROUGH it. As the rotten wood gives to her step she pauses and feels the squish of something after. Only for a second does she hesitate but as she turns her foot squishes and slides making a rather sickening sound that has her catching her breath in her helmet. That's going to fun to clean whatever it is. Finally she lift her foot out and drags it against the forest floor to git rid of what sticks to the bottom of her boot. A brief glance back and the inside of the log shows a mass of white puss, some still wriggling. She keeps moving, quickly turning away form the scene of carnage her boot had inflicted on the grubs.
Oran's progress along a game trail that is much like himself (twisted, narrow, unreliable) suddenly pauses, and the saber-blade disappears with Kylo's command. For a moment it's just stillness, blood rushing in ears, breathing that seems too loud, but something isn't right, something -- he starts looking around as though trying to spot something he knows is there but can't spot, and then he abruptly stops, gaze fixed in one direction at one thing. At one person. A primitive person, human or human-like, in what could be described as 'tribal' attire. Featuring prominently in this outfit is an article of jewelry half way between a chest-piece and a necklace, made entirely of diminutive bones. "....Someone's here," he warns the group. "Helpful or hostile, I don't know. All I know is we are not alone."
Grinning beneath his helmet as Oran gets scolded, Duke continues on. His thumb idly brushes the switch on his targetting computer, ready to kick it into action at a moment's notice. Sometimes, that's all you have in a place like this. Sometimes you have less.
Mouth shut and head on a swivel, ol' Scout trooper Duke does his job like the little goose-stepping true believer that he is. When he spots a figure that's nigh-indistinguishable from the knarled branches and fog that lies in front of them, Duke takes a few quick steps to end up near to the Supreme Leader's side. <<Contact,>> he whispers into the closed channel, a straight-fingered hand whipping it's way in the direction of a withered crone that may very well be as old as the forest they're surrounded by. He readies his rifle.
Forming up on the left side, Drath keeps his rifle at the ready, his gaze shifting out at the Dathomirian forests surrounding them as the Vanguard marches forward. Working his way through the undergrowth, red plastoid boots crunch leaves and slip over obstacles to keep up with the Supreme Leader's pace. The forest is hostile, however, and from the canopy above some of that gauzy white fabric drifts down, obscuring Drath's visor and causing the Trooper to reach up with his right hand to remove it from his line of sight with a soft noise of disapproval. The call of contact gets a quicker reaction, and as soon as that gauzy white substance is clear his hand returns to his carbine and the weapon is brought up in the direction of the call.
Arkesh trudges along, observing the odd landscape with interest. He had been sent in to many a planet yet had never come across something this.. exotic. Like the others he was starting to get that sense that something was wrong with their present situation. The scout scans the horizon until something catches his attention. In the bushes he notices something out of place. Once the radio chatter clears up he adds his report, "One more contact, woman thorn crowns, 2 o'clock off lead" He does not raise his rifle though he is prepared to fire quickly if needed. He did not want to be the Rookiee that botched the mission by firing on friendlies.
Dawud sees her, too: that figure worn by weather and time. His rifle snaps to aim at the figure, but even as he looks her over and hears over the radio that at least one other have, he shifts his head further to the left and over his shoulder. He doesn't want to have to say -clever girl- and fall to an ambush just because one decided to show herself.
Wariness pays off, this time, as he rotates his entire body to have his back to his squad and have his rifle facing the rear. He sees - something. "Possible contact behind us. Looked - like the first." He keeps it clipped, but those who can sense emotions might notice the upset. It disturbs him, that uncertainty. He saw her, he thought, but where is she now? Did he see her at all?
With a muttered word in a language other than Basic, Hadrix kicks through a gripping vine, resisting the urge to defoliate the underbrush. Keeping to comms as he goes, Hadrix bites a tab to lock reticules on his HUD, speaking softly into his comms,
<<"Contact. Spotted in the tree branches.">> The big man's attention is focused forwards, looking upon a woman festooned in bones and primitive garb through his visor only, as if he were trying to see where his next step should be. To give indication of where he is looking, the position of his plasma caster, and its pilot flame, slowly turn to and stop to point at the woman.
When Avery brings his rifle back to focus on one of the closest targets called, his eyes catch a woman in tribal gear sitting on a boulder nearby, long bony spear in hand, just watching. AV-1004 acquires his chosen target and calls out the acquisition, <<Additional contact on bolder, armed with spear. Current state: Not aggressive.>> The trooper continues along with the squad, booted feet attempting to find sure footing while his gaze flicks from side to side in case he missed any additional targets within range that may be posing more of a threat.... such as the one Dawud was sighting on behind him. Black gloved finger hovers near the rifle's trigger as he waits for orders to be issued.
Saanvi's slate eyes sweep around "I have always been curious when everything around us is alive-how can you tell?" a hand lowers to her side arm annd eases it from her holster but she does not lift it to bear just yet.
It doesn't take a connection to the Force to be able to tell that they're surrounded by nearly as many of the strange women as their own number. Kylo halts his forward travel when Duke points out the wizened crone standing at the base of the red tree, his masked face turning towards her and staring her down from the black pit where his eyes should be. He doesn't draw his weapon.
The skin around her eyes is black with bruise, not paint, the only artificial pigment the white that draws the rest of the skull on her face. Impossibly old, she steps forward with the certainty of the forest giant behind her, a red staff held in one hand not for support but authority.
"We know why you have come, broken child of darkness." The voice that issues forth is like wind in the meadows, rustling the branches. "She told us you would seek her here. She told us you would come in force." Hawk's eyes dart in Oran's direction. "Desecrating our lands. Seeking our knowledge. And so you have come."
"Yes." The voice is as unlike as it can be, artificial and manufactured, dead still when it ends. "Where is she?"
"I will tell you, lost child, but you must do something for me," the crone replies, with a sly, snaggletoothed grin. "Something she would not." The other women hedge closer, producing weapons of various size and shape, all sinister despite their primitive aspect.
Erisi brought no weapons, the woman in robes and street clothes, possessing nothing but her allergy pills and a snoot full of snot. Rubbing at watery eyes the Knight spots none of the women until they are quite upon the group, a surprise sniff-sneeze whipping out of her once more, "Told you to stop smashin' things with your new saber ..." The woman nosed in a congested manner, turning around slowly on booted feet to take in the old speaking crone, hands pushing back her hood as the others move in closer, Eri keeping a suspicious eye on them best she can.
Deals are being struck and Karys' boot is still slippery with dead grub goo. She frowns inside her helmet as she has been training her pistols from one to the next and finally settles one to the right of the crone. As she waits for Kylo to work through what is happenign she quickly glances from the corner of her eye towards Hadrix beside her. Her fingers flex her hold upon her weapons, watching as the women seem to just lean in closer and closer. She holds, there is no call to shoot but that slight brush of her finger from in front of the guard along the trigger is telling of how she feels about the situation. She's tense, her shoulders back and her stance ready to take her first shots.
Oran's brows draw together in evidence of disapproval. First of all - these people are unwashed, unclean, untidy. SECOND, they're referring to at least Kylo Ren, and probably everyone else, as Broken Children of Darkness, which may have been the name of his edgy-but-privileged musical group at age 13 but certainly does not suit Oran or the other Knights now. THIRD, they're making accusations of desecration, which, come on, they're not here to des.... well, maybe they are, he can let the witches have that one. But FOUR, they want something, and that's never good.
Oran sighs. "It was that or trip over the foliage, wasn't it?" he replies to Erisi, and then warns the others, "Be alert, but hold your fire until and unless we have reason to attack." Reason to attack. Not 'hostile action.' Sometimes reason to attack is this conversation is over, you know?
Squatting slightly, Duke's obviously getting ready to dart for the nearest cover, if it should come to that. Towards a similar goal, his finger tightens around the trigger and his thumb flicks the toggle that activates the hefty targetting computer mounted to his rifle and causes his HUD to flicker to life with all sorts of enemy activity. <<On your order, Supreme Leader,>> he remarks, ready to throw-down.
They're surrounded, Drath realizes, as the calls of contact come from the rest of the squad. The witches draw weapons, and so his own raises, keeping the thing trained on the one nearest him on the left side of the old crone. This conversation is interesting, if somewhat condescending in nature, but most of his attention is focused on whether those witches are going to become hostile. Which, as they approach with weapons drawn, he's somewhat sure they will. <<Remember to focus fire if this turns into a fight.>> he gives over the comms, only really heard as a gargled electronic noise outside that helmet.
Potential allies it is then. Arkesh keeps his rifle as it was before, pointed towards the ground but ready to be shouldered quickly should the need arise. There was little for the new Vanguard member to do except watch and learn as the Supreme Leader spoke with these women. Eyes hidden behind the helmet of the first order shift around the canopy above and the bushes below. Perhaps there were more in hiding or clever traps they had set up since they were expecting the group to arrive. He notices nothing out of the ordinary and continues to wait for direction from Kylo Ren. This was certainly more interesting than a random patrol
The turn of Hadrix's helmet towards Karys is almost imperceptible, a slight shift. Hand flexing on the grip of his flamer he waits, body shaking with slight tremors as adrenaline dumps into his system. In his head he is already reciting a dozen different phrases, by rote, the words turned over in his find him calming despite the natural chemical in his system, his eyes focus, breath slows. He's aware of things around him, the different contacts, the Supreme Leader, the Knights, his brothers and sisters.
His free left hand, held low, ready to steady his flamer or reach for another weapon grips into a thumbs up for Karys, and the shift of his shoulders practically telegraphs the grin. He clearly wants the locals to stir the pot.
<<"Ninety one has the measure of it. Focus, eliminate, move on, call your target so the rest can follow.">>
Avery continues to train his blaster rifle on the crone slipping down from the boulder, his eyes flicking from the target, to the witch that was at their back, and finally to the Supreme Commander. He's not the best shot and there's certainly no way he's going to engage without express permission, that or an erruption of gun fire from everyone all at once... at that point it'd be silly not to fire. The fresh faced trooper backs up a hair, wishing to have his back to a comrade in case this all goes sideways. <<Just make the call and we'll pull the triggers.>> He adjusts his grip on the blaster, waiting for the first move to be made.
Saanvi keeps her weapon angled down towards the ground and turns so her back is to her companions so amongst them all they have 360 fielld of view to prevent unwelcomed surprises. <<Was I the only one who understood the order to be prudence over hostility?>> Not at all sassy she does indeed seem to be conducting an on the spot survey.
"What is it?" Kylo demands, his own hand falling on the hilt of the lightsaber behind his waist as the menacing women begin to creep closer, not yet pulling the weapon free.
"Only a small task, a simple test to prove your worth, fractured one," the crone comments with the patient amusement of the elderly, a gnarled hand stroking the twisted head of her staff. "Your akk dogs strain at the leash. Soon enough they may sate their bloodlust; your test draws nigh."
It starts as a tapping, then a rapid thumping that grows louder and louder, like giant fingers drumming against the earth. The women ringing them in suddenly fade away, melting back into the cover of the trees, while the crone herself seems to meld into the tree behind her, becoming part of the trunk. Still, her voice remains: "Bring me their fangs!"
Bursting from the underbrush, four large arachnids with legs as tall as a human come crashing in on the Vanguard, their rows of eyes staring malignantly forward, venom dripping from chelicerae as thick as an arm.
REECH. Erisi, by some strange twist of fate, hates spiders. HATES. "YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME." She screams out, darting off towards one of those huge trees, robes jostling around her booted ankles, bangs swaying wildly. She attempts to run up the tree, but ends up doing naught but plonking into it with both hands, crushing her chest into it as she lets out a soft swear, ponytail swinging wildly a she snaps a look over her shoulder, spotting the nearest one, the purple effer, left hand raising up as her veins take on a barely, like, super barely noticeable hue, darkening like she's infected with something, red-flecked hazel eyes narrowing as she lets out another shriek, fingers flexin' to set the thing on fire, "LOOK AT THE LEGS."
They will not be shooting humanoids today but a request is made last minute. Fangs. Not promising. Sometimes beasts have far less sense than humans when it comes to surrendoring so chances go down. She turns her pistols towards the sounds of the incoming, hesitating when the group fades...just fades. "What the.." is said to herself in a hushed whisper. When Erisi goes down not far from her Karys lifts her pistols and watches the thing go up in flames. <<"Target acquired!">> The first shot misses and then she is off with the next two, managing to clip it while it shrieks from its current state. Just hope it does not rush them and take them down with it in flames. She moves closer to Erisi, putting herself slightly in front of her but not blocking her view to offer cover for injured Knight.
"Is there really call to be so insulting? Really?" Oran wonders as Ren fields Fractured One on top of Broken Child, and everyone else are Akk Dogs. If they are, though, then they are; cry havoc and let slip. As this is all now an appropriate circumstance for sabering, the weapon appears again, though his wary opponent evades the first strike. Oran draws back to try to keep the Blacker but not Black spider's attention on himself, while calling to Erisi what's either moral support and advice or a heartfelt agreement with her panicked dislike of these monsters. "KILL IT WITH FIRE!"
Oh, good. This is Duke's nightmare come to life. His HUD blinks rapidly as more enemies arrive. Rifle held aloft, Duke drops to a knee and squeezes the trigger, barrel pointed at the one that's easiest to draw a bead on. The trigger is pulled, but the gross, crawly nature of his target means it gets out of the way easy enough, so the shot flies ride, digging into the bark of a nearby tree and sending splinters showering over the battlefield.
Kriff! More creatures! It seems this is becoming something of the norm. Thankfully, Drath has been focusing on his melee combat lately. Which includes dodging it. The focused fire is set on the purple spider, and Drath follow suit, opening fire with his E-11 on the already scorched and heavily injured spider to finish the thing off. <<Contact down, changing targets!>> is announced over the comms, as the red shelled man slings his carbine towards the creature Oran and Duke had already opened fire on to send bolts flying into its side with searing efficiency.
"What the hell did I sign up for?", Arkesh mutters to himself without activating his commlink. Witches fading into and out of view and giant spiders that dwarf men. The scout was undecided if he absolutely loved Vanguard squad or if he had made a huge mistake. Despite any misgivings, years of conditioning causes the new member to instinctively take action when the shooting starts. A gloved hand grabs onto a log grips tightly to support the weight of Arkesh swinging himself over it. His rifle scope comes to bear center mass against the spider, sending a crimson red bolt tearing into the creature's abdomen when it rears up. A smirk when the good starts to pour out. "Focus fire!"
When the witches recede, Dawud twists to bring his aim back to the front. The spiders are close enough to some of the group. Rather than potentially shooting a dodging ally in the back, he aims for the edge of the darkest spider present- and misses the skittering legs altogether.
Spiders, kriffing spiders. Everywhere he goes there are giant flesh melting arachnids, it's the blasted story of his life. He'd love to do what Erisi just did, but conditioning keeps him in place. As one spider has weaponsfire blasted into it, he turns to another - agreeing with Oran and fighting his own panic with conditioning phrases in his mind, the spray of his plasma caster spreading light and heat in equal measure towards one of the beasts.
He doesn't speak... He'd probably be screaming. He knows he would be. Kriffing spiders.
If things about this place weren't weird enough now there are people fading away into nothingness and trees and stuff. Avery looks around wildly, the word 'fangs' hanging in the air before it's mingled with and destroyed by the sound of crushed foilage in the arachnids surprise appearance. He barely has time to wonder who we're returning the fangs to if we get them, do we toss them into the air, at tree, wish for the magical witch fairies to come back. He'll ponder that later when the task is done. The rook shifts to drop to a firing position, setting his sights on the focused target just in time to see it go down in a hail of blaster fire. <<We could use a very large bug zapper, right about now!>> 'Ten' quips, squeezing the trigger of the F-11D and sending his bolt wide like the few previous shots prior. A muffled curse crackles through the coms as the three remaining beasts close in on the group fast and he pushes to his feet, getting ready to dodge.
Saanvi has to stop herself from peering trying to get a better look. Of COURSE Saanvi finds the predatory stylings of this marvelous arachnids distracting even though her comrades and her are the prey in this nature special. She lifts her weapon and fires-and it's like she's not even TRYING to end these magnificent creatures!
The battle is joined!
With the strange women vanishing from the scene and the arrival of the spiders they apparently lured or summoned, the Vanguard are beset by the massive skittering creatures whose eight legs pound the ground, kicking up the dust in a circle around them. Overwhelming power of fire and firepower brings down one, and Kylo's unstable blade splits the head of another in two, leaving it to collapse in a tangle of limbs.
As the remaining pair whirl and chomp at the stormtroopers and Knights alike, another rumbling drumming can be heard, louder than before.
Her staring eyes are nearly as big as a head. Her legs are small trees. A stinger barb hangs low from her thorax, and a sibilant hiss issues from between her massive fangs.
Erisi is protected by Karys, at least somewhat, the robed woman fighting back tears while forcing herself to turn around and press back against the trunk of the tree to face the demons. She will watch then as the team and the two they bring down. She had done her own damage of course, like burning those gross leg hairs on the creature, but nothing fantastical. But it's enough. Snottily she will force back a sob, absolutely down to the bone terrified of spiders, those hazel eyes brimmed with tears as she raises her hand to take another burning shot at one of the spiders, the Very Dark Grey one, lighting one eye on fire which does like, you know, not much. At least in her estimation, "I-- I'm trying ..." She whisperingly putters to Oran, the big Queen coming in causing the woman's knees to buckle slightly, pure terror in her eyes, "Oh c-come o-o-n." She pales, which is hard because she's naturally ethnic colored, turning a sort of yellow shade, nostrils flaring as her breathing kicks up that much more. Hands both raise, shakily, and she'll ready to try and not die.
Karys does not leave Erisi, bodily offering her a shield as she watches two go down. A nod is made, <<"We have this, Knight. You have the Vanguard with you.">> It's said evenly, her mezzo tone garbled slightly through the helmet. She narrows her gaze and is about to switch her targets after flailing spider limbs missed most save for one of the new ones. She may be wincing inside her halmet but for now she is aiming down and then narrows her gaze only to hesitate when the queen arrives. Her shots go wide and she finally has enough time to focus her last one. She backs up a step, placing the back of her foot near the Knight, remaining there before her but allowing a sight line. <<"I have you.">> This said to Erisi as Eighteen takes her shielding responsibilites seriously.
Perhaps encouraged by the cheery light of the way Erisi's flames burn a shrieking, attacking, dangerous monster before their very eyes, Oran presses his attack into the same target, dodging a falling spider head, collapsing body, and waterfall of viscous, steaming spider-guts as he cuts the fiery, blaster burned thing apart. He dodges two out of three, and there's a sharp indrawn breath of stifled horror as, indeed, he finds himself covered with spider entrails. It smells like things that shouldn't be thought of alone at night. It's somehow both greasy and sticky. This is terrible.
But there's no time to worry about that; more spiders await. He wipes a hand across his face to clear his eyes as best he can, calling encouragement to Erisi. The Jedi probably say something like, you're doing great! or find peace and focus, you are a brave warrior! But they aren't Jedi, so what he actually tells her is, "USE YOUR HATRED! Burn your enmity against these horrors with the fire of ten thousand furious suns!" To the others, more of that special, dark-side morale boosting, "You do not know fear! You do not know pain! Focus fire!"
"AHHHHHHHHHHHH," shouts the equally terrified and angry Duke as he stands up and starts marching at the Spider Queen. The dude really doesn't like things that look like acklays, so...y'know...just scream your way through it until one or both of you are dead, right? His rifle is lifted and aimed at the big momma. A squeeze of the trigger and a heavy bolt squeals out of the barrel and crashes harshly into her big ol' gross spider body.
The battle is getting more and more hectic, and though they're making progress, the arrival of the spider queen catches Drath a little off guard. You expect reinforcements, of course, but not usually in the form of a /larger/ spider. <<Take that kriffing thing down!>> he calls over the comms, even as his own shots go wide in alarm around the massive creature approaching them. <<Keep the formation tight. They're just animals.>> Reminds one of Kashyyyk, or Dxun, or Korriban even!
When the giant spider advances upon him, legs moving in sinister concert, Dawud does not run. He's holding a spot in this formation, and unlike some of this party, had no particular arachnophobia prior to this encounter. As he the fangs strike out, his attempt to block with his rifle is fruitless, and as his arms are pushed wide, the fangs strike right into and through his torso armor.
He doesn't scream when the pain hits, oh no. He starts screaming when he watches the fangs pull back, and out of the hole just beneath his rib cage emerge hundreds of tiny black spiders. Only his skin kept them in before, but now he can feel them moving, inside and out, over his skin, under his armor, through his blood. The soft pinprick sensations of hairy spider legs, the angry hisses of the little spiders whenever they meet a blockage in their path. He flails wildly, falling to the ground, limbs spasming. He gasps for air and then continues screaming as one of them grows larger than the others and climbs onto his face, its chelicerae in never-ending motion. It looks into his eyes; it looks into his soul. The arachnophobes were right all along, Dawud realizes with the lucidity you only achieve through severe pain and neurotoxic venom: spiders are the heart of all evil. What only he knew was that the darkness was inside their fleshy sack of bone and organs. We are all spider eggs, waiting for the day to disgorge horrors.
Whether through chance or ingrained training, the comm specialist deactivates his transmission midway through the second scream, leaving the channel clear, and the scream coming out through his stormtrooper voice filter instead.
Even bigger spiders!? EVEN BIGGER SPIDERS!? Yeah! This is great! Hadrix stares a moment. He checks the sights of his flamer, draws a slide and adjusts the choke before extending his weapon again, sighting through his HUD as much as he does where he points - not by the barrel of his weapon.
When the small and wiry, smaller, knight moves in, Hadrix takes up his flank. <<"Oran, behind your right">> voice a choked rasp, speaking plainly in expectation that Oran wouldn't understand him saying he was at his four. But with the bigger KRIFFING spider the knightmay need his back watched.
He's pouring sweat into his suit, but he only feels cold within as his voice creeps onto comms, just over a whisper. <<"Hand of the First Order, Hammer of the Supreme Leader.">> he grunts and shakes his head to clear it before his arm sweeps in an arch, trying to bathe the smaller of the two remaining spiders in flame that flickers green then blue as it consumes jungle rot and melts the steam pouring from Oran's kill. He's ineffectual though.
It's a good thing Avery had anticipated the huge creature's attack, managing to dart to the side just as a the foul beast closed its fangs over the space the trooper very recently occupied. He stumbles to the side and turns to find his fellow slicer wasn't so lucky. He cries out in alarm and raises his blaster to put this spider down when the Supreme Leader's lightsaber splits its head in two. As the arachnid collpases heavily to the ground, AV-1004 is already pivoting to find a new target, the underbrush churning once again as the monstrous Spider Queen makes her presence known.
<<Dawud! Are you stable?>> 'Ten' calls over the comms, the screams from the fallen trooper almost shaking him to the core. His search for a target finding that a practical application of blaster fire, flame, and lightsaber cuts is an effective tool to destroy a spider, one of the final two going down in just such a manner. He decides to fire at the biggest target, therefore the easiest to hit right? The rookie sights down his barrel and squeezes the trigger. *CKHAAAOOOW* The bolt sails wide.
Saanvi holsters her weapon and darts and ducks through her comrades in arms <<MEedical Incoming! Fifty four, can you hear me?>> She kneels beside Dawud and in motions that she could do in her sleep thanks to this crowd pulls out items from her quick-draw medical apparatus. First Saline to rinse and flush the wound out then controollling the bleeding and finally an antihistamine for some reason.
The spiders continue to fall, or at least one of them does, dropping to the forest floor after the tender affections of the Vanguard are rained down upon it. Meanwhile, Kylo squares off against the Queen, whose many legs are sharp weapons in themselves, sharp fangs, a stinger, she has options. The dark warrior has a lightsaber, and closes the gap with the massive arachnid. His blade flies in towards the head again, looking to recreate his earlier success against one of the smaller spiders, but she's so much bigger. Two eyes are taken out, producing a bestial scream, and her fangs chomp down on his leg in retribution while her body scrambles this way and that, throwing him off the side and smashing a clawed foot into Hadrix's body.
A quarter blind and all mad, the creature whirls on the red-garbed figure, bowling him over in a rush before dropping that stinger down on him.
While this is going on, the smaller, but still massive, spider is giving out just as much punishment, eager to mow through these human invaders and bundle them in webs for later consumption.
"I ..I am a strong ...beau-bea-" Sob, "Strong woman, I kn-" Hiccup, "-Know ..know no h-i-hi-p-pain ..." Oddly enough Karys' reassurances help to calm down Erisi quite a bit, the Knight nodding her head as she sniffles back hard, Erisi NOT an attractive cried with cheeks splotched and red, nose bubbling a little, eyes bright red and swollen, "I-I am ...rage ..in-incarn-nate .." Whispered all to herself, trying to take Orans' words to heart, but c'mon, she's a borbling bubbling mess, and there is a small spark that erupts on one of the Queens' foot pads, but it's like a mis-struck match. She tries to rip her eyes away from the carnage, but she can't, transfixed and needing to know where the badies are so she can try to light them up from afar.
Karys would continue to bolster Erisi, she really would but as she turns to say something more and check on the Knight the smaller spider uses that mile wide advantage. She suddenly feels the wind leave her lungs and she is sprawling, sliding across the ground to land next to Erisi. The armor across her chest is cracked, the glove beneath torn as she finally gasps. The breath is so loud it triggers her comms as she struggles past the burning pain to breathe. Eyes watering in her helmet, she flits her pistols and fires towards the bigger target. In her state everything is flying wide. <<"Eighteen, hit..">> She feels the armor shift oddly as the black pieces now work against each other as she rolls to push herself up and step back into the past of the spider. But now there is something beneath her foot, looking down she seems more GRUBS! Everywhere, she she steps to the side only to see more. "The kriff..."
It all happens rather quickly. One moment, Oran was leaving the corpse of one spider; the next he's... in the air, in the jaws of the huge, HUGE spider, and then summarily crashing back to the ground in a tumble of blood, blood everywhere, and it's hard to breathe, and -- is it blood he's coughing up, or blood coming out of his torso from outside? Both? Okay. Both. Is it hot? What's that buzzing sound? It's not good. Nothing about it is good, but there's also nothing to be done about it but press on, so he swings the saber again to another spray of gore. "AAAHHHH!" Vwoom, slash! "I'm going to take your FANGS and TAKE them and ... and FANGS and... ....POSSIBLY A LOVELY SCRIMSHAW, and... and you're DEAD, this... DEAD... this......" Another slash, this one misses. "ENDANGERED FANGS, you're going EXTINCT, so help me. Bloody hell." Yeah, the poison's kicking in.
As one of the /very/ sharp spider feet comes sailing in his direction, Duke leaps out of the and comes crashing to the dirt with the sound of clattering duraplast. By this point, the scout is practically howling and barking as he climbs back up to his feet, readying his rifle, again. Then that HR conditioning kicks in and he's moving to stand very much in between the Supreme Leader and the big monster that's currently trying to eat the Supreme Leader like the meat shield he was trained to be. Another bolt is loosed, but it flies wide.
<<Protect the Supreme Leader!>> barks Duke to all and sundry, tossing his rifle to the forest floor and unslinging the F-11 from his back. "C'mon..." he says to himself as his shaking hands try to prime the rifle for firing.
The tide unfortunately begins to turn, and what was steady progress earlier evolves into further carnage against the Vanguard as those spiders go on a spree of destruction. Even the Supreme Leader gets hit! An event that rarely happens, in Drath's experience. With Karys, then Oran as well, it becomes clear that whatever berserk fury they've whipped these arachnids into is deadly to the extreme. "Kriff!" is called out inside that red helmet as the Spider Queen turns away from Kylo's saber and towards Drath, his E-11 not raising in time to attempt to head it off before the Trooper is bowled over and pinned to the forest floor beneath. Drath doesn't get time to call out anything else, no real warnings over the comms as to his state, before there's a large stinger embedding itself into his chest and shoulder once, twice, then three times, the E-11 tumbling from his fingers as Drath convulses beneath the bulk of the creature. At least his comms aren't set to broadcast throughout the gruesome process.
Arkesh was two for two so far with his shots yet the elation was short lived. The spiders were giving as good as they were getting. To make it worse, the Knights seemed dead set on facing off with the queen rather than quickly mowing down the last smaller spider. Of course, why would the Knights care to heed the advice of a Rookie? Fangs chopping down into the leg of Ren forces Arkesh to abandon his Recon tactics. The Supreme Leader dying to a spider would be unacceptable and the end of the Vanguard and perhaps the Order itself.
With a heavy grunt the soldier propels himself over the log, hurling obscenities at the Queen in another attempt to draw her attention his way which was a rather stupid idea since his training in melee combat was rather basic. Arkesh switches to thermal vision, scanning over the caraprace of the Queen, looking for any hit spots which might indicate a soft spot in the armor. He finds what he is looking for. An opening at the torso where the front left leg extends out. The Queen pivots just right and another crimson bolt pops out of Arkesh's barrel, striking the weak spot precisely where he had aimed. He taunts the Queen once more with a loud shout, "EAT ME!"
Dawud's vision of a spider atop his face shifts into seeing Saanvi in her armor, hearing her speak. He pants as her emergency medicine takes effect, suppressing the reaction to the venom. "Thank- you," he forces out, before ticking his transmitter back on. He reclaims his rifle, settles it across his chest, bracing it with his arms and trying not to move, lest he undo what the good medic just did for him. He sights at the largest spider, which doesn't dissipate like the rest of the horrific visions. "If we die," he mutters without transmitting, "So do you." He grits his teeth and takes the shot. This time the shot strikes true.
His fire had been on one of the smaller, trying to make sure it doesn't creep on Oran, he is suddenly not there. Beside or behind Oran. Hadrix is lifted by the chitinous limb crashing through the plates of his armor, their resistance keeping him from being torn clear in half - but they do also keep him attached to its leg for precious moments.
The ribs on the right side of his body crack, and several snap pressed against his lung, which is pressed against his back. He 'huks' and then finds himself airborn as an errant kick dislodges him like offal from a boot. He soars several meters before hitting and rolling, blood pouring from his chest, while he lifts his head back in his helmet, trying not to drown in the mucus and first craw full of blood and other fluids forced from his mouth by the kick.
He slaps at an emergency latch and his helmet opens, leaving his heaving for air, and clearly unable to get a full breath. He tries to reach with his rifle, pressing the firing stud and hosing liquid flame into the ground, creating an incandecent lake before him.
Suddenly it's chaos and his fellow teammates are getting beat upon left and right, the final spider wreaking havoc among the team that had been focusing the queen. The air around Avery comes alive with the sounds of the carnage, the visions in the minds of the group sounding very much like reality through his headset. Frantically he wheels and opens fire on the queen again, gritting his teeth to prevent from screaming in the terror of the moment. Unfortunately in his haste his blaster fire goes wide again, the rookie contributing absolutely nothing in the plight of saving his fellow First Order members from harm. Avery went to the 'New Hope' Stormtroopers school for precise shooting.
Saanvi closes the wound with bandages and duct-tape over Dawud's armor then hastily rolls, dodging a strike from the scary arachnid before army crawling hastily over to Drath <<Medical stablizing Ninty One, Then will be followed by The Supreme leader. Other injured hold pressure and standby for medical assessment.>> Draths wound is rinsed less for cleanliness and more for the need to see the details of the wound in all that blood-something that forces her to toss one canteen of saline and fish out another to keep at with one hand while she fast-draws and applies surgical clamps stop the catastrophic bleeding. This done she hastily stitches, applies chemical clotting agents, and some even just packing gauze into the wound and tapping it in place with as much pressure as multiple layers of ducttape can allow.
Stumbling back away from the queen, Kylo leaves a spattered trail of blood. His steps stagger towards the smaller spider, his free hand balling into a fist that smacks into his injured limb once, twice. The lightsaber in his other hand burns furiously. His bloody hand reaches up and rips off his helmet with a hiss, tossing it aside onto the forest floor where the pale clammy skin of his face can breathe. A wordless shot of rage tears from him, and the Supreme Leader throws himself at the spider, his blade outstretched, impaling the arachnid and riding it to the ground. The blade shudders and smokes inside the carapace while the pinned creature squirms briefly, and when the squirming stops, Kylo tugs it free to stand bleeding and panting over the thing's body, blinking over and over again, staring down at it.
Left to her own devices and badly injured, the queen sets to work, chomping down on Arkesh, appropriately, while lashing out at the others as well, using all eight legs to do so.
With anger and rage in his eyes the youngest trooper screams and rushes the queen, his blaster held in front, waiting until he gets close enough he can't possibly miss. However at that range it's easier for the Spider to hit too. The limp Stormtrooper flies over the heads of the squad, his body colliding heavily to the ground as the black armor ragdolls up against a tree and lies there, very still.
Erisi can't. She just can't. Watching the spider attack people she considers her friends (even while knowing they likely don't consider her the same), is just too crazy. She can't. Nope. The way the spider stabs and attacks and uses those fangs Erisi suddenly finds herself down in a crouch against her tree, arms around her knees and head dropped forwards as she rocks herself, some deep dark past event likely taking her down entirely. As she rocks she flicks a pinky to try anything, but nary even a small fire mote erupts around the Queen, Erisi paralyzed in pure fear in her little gnarled tree-root chair.
Pain is starting to become an ever present friend but she's in better shape then the rest and she continues to man her post now that she stands in front of Eiris. As Kylo sears through the smaller of the last two, she blinsk and focuses on the last large figure. She narrows her gaze and she bites her lip as she moves, trying to ignore the sensation that grubs are rising upwards around her, white wormy masses that move and writhe about. No she is not about to be swallowed by them but still two shots go wide due to her shaking from the image. One hits thuogh, the red line sinking into flesh instead of jungle. She catches her breath and moments later it falls, Oran taking up the last of what is it's life and ending it. <<"We have the day...or the moment, Knight">> This said to Erisi before she turns to look at her, breathing heavily, armor cracked to make sure all is well. GRUBS. She nearly lifts her hand, nearly starts to brush at the grubs falling atop of Erisi. She blinks. Sometimes they are there..sometimes not.
Oran spends a few moments swinging his lightsaber around at imaginary spiders that are not there -- imaginary spiders are surprisingly difficult to vanquish -- until eventually Karys's weapon fire refocuses his attention on the actual problem at hand - the spider queen, or... several spider queens... it's so hard to tell right now. Oran reels backwards and bleeds for a moment, getting his bearings and generally being incredibly unhelpful while the thing mangles Avery and Duke with a vengeance, and then at last, somewhere in his toxin-soaked brain, Oran finds focus enough to attack again. The saber disappears; this time it's the raw force of telekinesis. He makes a gesture as though he's snatching something up and then one as though he's throwing a javelin; the motion correspondingly rips off one of the Queen's lower legs and then drives it, spear-like, through the massive monster's head.
Everything is quiet for a moment, then he invites the witches to the spoils with a stumble and, "Take the fangs. Take it and like it, you ratchety flea-cowled backwater torture harpies."
<<For the Order! We don't fall today!>> barks Duke, trying his best to make sure that he stays more angry than terrified. It's really his only way to cope with everything that's going down. <<Pull the wounded b-HURK,>> DK-4077 is cut off preemptively as one of those sharp, skittering claws finds purchase in his abdomen before punching completely through him. The chitinous appendage thrashes about behind the scout as blood pours from his mouth and begins to pool within the confines of his sealed helmet. Duke grabs onto the leg, trying to get his shock gloves to activate, but the only spark impotently. A jerking motion and the leg rends itself out of Duke's gut, sending him spilling onto his back. In those precious few moments of conciousness that he has left, DK-4077 clutches at his belly as his other hand reaches up to pull free the clasp holding the seal around his neck in place.
An ever-heavier, gloved hand fumbles around with the contraption as his own blood begins to pour back into his mouth and nose. But, it's to no avail. His legs kick wildly and without purchase at the ground as shock begins to set in and his hand falls limply to his side, his own blood threatening to drown him as he lies there, incapable of movement.
It's then that the acklays descend.
Drath isn't exactly functional, what with the large holes that have been punctured through the chest of his armor, and the wheezing, coughing, horrible spasming going through his body. There's no poison, at least, but shock itself is a powerful thing for the body to experience. Reaching out with his left hand, a shaking grip meets a nearby root, anchoring the Trooper to this life as Saanvi does an excellent job of ensuring his survival in a more practical manner. It's not long before the suffering is lessened, at least, but the sweet bliss of darkness, as the sedatives kick in to send Drath into a quiet, if unnatural, slumber.
And so it was as expected... a terrible idea. Sharp pincers crack the stormtrooper armor which protects Arkesh. Inside, serrated edges tear at the flesh around his ribs while venom seeps inside. The soldier is already beginning to accept that this may be his death when a killing blow is landed against the Queen. She shudders violently, releasing her hold upon Arkesh as her head violently swings left and right. The injured trooper flies through the air towards some bushes. Before he crashes into them something amazing happens.
Wings spread out from the fresh holes in Arkesh's armor, steadying his spin out and providing enough lift to carry him up through the red and purple canopy above. The battle is forgotten, the perils of serving the First Order a distant. Euphoria sweeps over the body, ancient words to a song nobody has ever heard begin to sing forth from Arkesh. "I'm as freeee as a biird noooow" Flying up towards the sun he continues, "And this bird you cannot change!"
Back on the ground inside a bush, white armor covered in blood rests. The other Vanguard members hear the words "OH oh OH oh OH" repeated incessantly.
Dawud holds his ground. Well, he sits on it, anyway, slowly rising from his prone-on-his-back position, while holding the dressing on his torso in place. He winces - no need to act brave, no one can see his face - and holds his rifle. << Fifty-four, not mobile without assistance. >> He doesn't ask for that assistance right now, just holds his rifle and waits for the witches, breathing slowly.
Up on his hands and knees, head up, breaths half as effective as they should be. They're wet, and there are bubbles mixed with blood running from his mouth. "Lung hit..." he says aloud, forgetting without his helmet he has no comms.
He watches Kylo's movements, the assaults from his comrades, nodding at Karys - is he looking at Karys? Things are gray. The suit systems must have kicked in. He wants to sleep so badly now. Then the beast is felled by Oran's onslaught. He wretches and slumps to his elblows, the crown of his head thudding against forest loam, and blood. Eyes sliding in and out of focus, he frowns. "Moon..." a spinning circle, spinning beneath his torso. He doesn't notice how his reaction tightens his scalp against his skull, or think of how he will tumble as he does when he reaches for the spinning silver item. Catching it in his palm, he tries to bring it closer to his face, to inspect it, but a glittering umbilical connects it to somewhere in his armor.
He falls on his side, rattling his broken ribs and a wheezing groan is forced out. "Silver..." with a sharp tug he snaps the chain holding the disk, now bloodied, and he manages enough focus to shove it into a belt pouch and close the snap before he jerkily rolls to his back. Mouth open, a series of hitching gasps signify anyone who can't see his face that he's still alive, as his hands drop to the ground next to him.
Saanvi hits Drath with a LOW dose of sedatives given his already severe bloodloss and shucks her gloves and snaps new ones on and arrives to Duke's side in a Baseball style slide but on her knees stead of on her cleats. As before the first priority is inspection followed by bleeding control, closing of the wound with sutures, gauze, and duct tape before she scrambles to the next...and the Next. and the next. Only once everyone's intial wounds have beeen treated and everyone's been dosed with sedatives (everyone). She uses rope meant for unforseen climbing.spelunking and uses mounting clips to attach everyone and tries to lead them back to Shadow without anyone wandering off. Tries being the operative word.
When the last spider finally falls, the crone materializes from her hiding place against the treetrunk, dark beady eyes staring out with satisfaction at the spider corpses. "You have done well, dark one. The queen has long troubled my tribe. I will give you what you seek."
Kylo, bleeding heavily and experiencing his own private reality, continues to stare down at the smoking spider corpse for a few moments longer before his saber deactivates, retreating into the hilt followed by the sideblades. "She's not dead yet," he says with a hint of a question, which is obvious to everyone who hasn't just imagined they were skewering the target already.
"This will show you the way," the wizened matriarch (or withered hag, depending on your perspective) announces, holding out a small figurine carved from the red wood of the forest, "And guide you to the one you seek."
Kylo reaches out to take it. The figure is dwarfed in his black palm as he stares down at it, eyes blinking repeatedly as he struggles to focus. This is what they came for? His fingers close around it. "If it doesn't, the spiders won't be the last thing we kill here." It's not intimidating, the way he scoots one leg out to stoop and pick his helmet off the ground before he limps off back the way they came, but the mission is complete.