Sakura’s @Zoey Boey, Peach, Luka, Dexio, Sina, Raz
In a show of both inter-platoon cooperation and uncompromising strength, the ten Scarlet Guardians dispatched the Gunkin Fisher. It died with a final squeaky howl, its hoses flailing in every direction in a desperate bid to spread its all-important oil before its tank finally went dry and shattered to pieces as the rest of the Other turned to ash. Seto carefully collected the big monster’s spirit, then joined everyone else standing in a rough circle. “Good work, all of you,” he told them, the smile in his eyes making up for the battle mask that covered his mouth. “That was a Major Other, but you all handled in with finesse and, more importantly, teamwork.”
After sliding his batons into his belt, Shiden stood with his arms crossed. During the last part of the fight he’d found and broken a pipe in the area to flood part of it with water, then blasted the Gunkin Perry with a massive wave of amped-up chain-lightning. Striking the final blow seemed to have left him pretty chuffed. “You should expect nothing less.”
“Couldn’t have said it better myself,” Luka congratulated his own team. “We’re nearing the tail-end of the operation, I think. Let’s make sure to finish strong.”
Seto nodded. “We’ll head down the right-hand path then. Take care out there.”
“Knock ‘em dead!” Peach cheered the others on, waving to them as the teams parted ways.
The group proceeded down the left-hand path from the decrepit facility where they fought the Gunkin Perry. They encountered a handful of Pools and Pendus on their steady march through the underground, but nothing of particular note. Eventually, they entered a a mostly-empty tunnel that blazed with ethereal orange strings and floating fragments, slowly and even peacefully drifting through the open space. Though definitely psionic constructs, these couldn’t quite be called Visions without any sort of generator or source, other than maybe Psynet or perhaps even the collective consciousness itself. Disjointed snippets of information gathered here were the lingering traces hearts once collided, tantalizingly indistinct like half-forgotten memories. Hanging in the air were scattered thoughts, lost hopes, crushed dreams, hurt feelings, and so much more, all sanded down so fine that they might as well be dust. Were these, visualized by the ambient presence of Psynet, the treads that connected people? And were those shards then the tattered remnants of connections severed? Peach couldn’t stop herself looking closer as she passed them by, but it was difficult to get anything more than the vaguest idea of what sort of people left these traces here. Like footsteps in the sand nearly scrubbed clean by the relentless drudgery of the tide.
The princess wondered the people who left these psionic blips were even still alive. Would some piece of her remain here, adrift in this scarlet web, once she herself was gone? Just an echo, doomed to fade away? She took a deep breath and tried to clear her head. Thoughts like those weren’t going to get her anywhere. Surely, she reasoned, she’d leave a greater impact than this.
Luka Platoon emerged from the tunnel to find the train tracks stop suddenly at the edge of a large, open area. It appeared to be roughly square in shape, with a mostly flat floor and ceiling, both cracked and roughened up by dilapidation of the structure and shifts in the earth. “Some sort of underground parking garage, maybe,” Luka ventured. He noticed water leaking in through some of the larger fissures in the ceiling, and even felt a faint whiff of fresh air. He also noticed at least one other tunnel branching off from this area, lined with the distinctive gray of aged asphalt that indicated a former roadway. Fallen rubble seemed to be cleared off that path, however, and there were tire tracks in the disturbed dust. “Strange,” Luka murmured. “Have people been here recently? Why would anyone spend time in such an Other-infested area…?”
That aside, the mission of the Scarlet Guardians was to eradicate Others, and neither Peach nor Luka saw any Others here. By now Luk Platoon had spent quite a while underground, and given how long it had been since an encounter, the princess considered the possibility that the Psych-OSF had succeeded in making a clean sweep of the abandoned subway network. Unfortunately, that hypothesis turned out to be a little optimistic.
“Hold up, guys. I’m feeling something.” While the team lacked anyone with Clairvoyance or Precognition, Dexio’s Seismokinesis gave him a keener sense for any fluctuations in the earth’s surface, and after kneeling to put his palms on the ground he furrowed his brow in worry. “Something’s headed out way from one of the smaller tunnels. A lot of somethings, it feels like.”
Just a few moments later the others could hear the noise, a distant clamor of clacking and jingling that echoed through the tunnels. Luka gave the signal, and the team moved to surround the opening. Moments after that, the Others appeared. It turned out to be a massive pack of predatory Vase Paws, hungry and on the hunt for human brains. They swarmed out of the tunnel two or three at a time, forcing the Scarlet Guardians to back up or be overwhelmed. “Holy cow!” Dexio exclaimed, crouching down. “There’s no end to them! I’m gonna collapse the tunnel to keep ‘em from getting in!” He allowed his power to ripple through the earth, up the fractured walls and toward the fissured ceiling.
Luka’s eyes widened. “Dexio, wait…!”
With a calamitous shaking and a terrifying rumble ceiling began to come down. Though Dexio succeeded in his goal of blocking off the horde’s entryway, he also accidentally triggered a collapse. “You bonehead!” Sina yelled, running toward Dexio as a slab began to fall. Luka got there first, teleporting to grab the unlucky fellow and warp him back the way the team came in. As the roof caved in, massive chunks of rock and concrete piled up near the subway tunnel, trapping Luka, Raz, and Sina on one side, and Sakura, Sina, and Peach on the other.
Coughing, Peach fanned away the dust billowing in the air. Now a huge gap had opened in the ceiling to reveal the remains of a multi-level parking garage, mostly fallen to pieces, beneath a rainy sky. The muted daylight also revealed a massive rubble barricade blocking the subway tunnel, with no way through. “Raz! Luka! Are you okay?” There was no reply, but after a moment of critical thinking Peach switched to Brain Talk to repeat the question.
“We’re okay,” Luka’s voice replied in her mind. “But there’s no way through, and without a clear visual of the other side to see any obstruction, I can’t risk teleporting through. Can you see a way out on your end?”
Peach looked up, gauging the distance toward the new hole in the roof. ”Yeah.” While looking, however, she also noted the dozen-plus rising up from the dust nearby. ”I see a whole lot of those Others, too! We’re going to have to fight!”
”Hold on, we’ll try to find a way through to you!” Luca replied, his voice frantic. Peach took a deep breath and manifested her Scatterboom. This was going to be rough.