Springfield, population 627. Or at least, that's what it looked like it said under the spray paint. Someone had decided to increase the population by thirty-nine. Taylor rolled her eyes. Never seen that before, the young woman thought sarcastically. In the time she'd been traveling, some genius always thought it was funny to change the population signs to "666". It was tacky and cliche, and by now she was half-convinced that the person was one step ahead of her and doing it to screw with her.
But regardless, the odds of there being even one human here were slim. Nobody alive stayed in one place for long. The only exception she'd come across was a village with a thirty-foot high wall under the control of some weird cult who had enough firepower to take down an armored convoy. Taylor had left that place as soon as the leader had opened his mouth and called the raptors "God's divine wrath for man's wickedness".
Taylor had been moving since six this morning, with breaks every two hours. The thunderstorm had started around an hour ago, and she'd been hating every second of it. The noise made it difficult to detect if she was being followed. But now she could hopefully find shelter. The two most promising buildings she could see immediately were a diner and a gas station.
She slung her rifle over her shoulder and drew her revolver as she opened the door to the diner. The building didn't have the typical scent of a raptor nest, and as her eyes adjusted, she couldn't see any droppings, feathers, or remains of a kill. No raptors, but that didn't rule out the possibility of other dangers.
Taylor moved into the kitchen. The shelves were picked clean, save for inedible things like books and empty containers. She could possibly find something useful. But at the very least, I'm out of the rain. She moved towards what looked like the manager's office, but stopped short. Was it her imagination, or was there some light coming from under the door?
There was some light pressure between her shoulder blades. "Don't move," came a quiet voice. "Unless you'd like some bullets in your back, I highly recommend you put your guns down and start talking."
It was overcast, raining hard with low visibility, but RJ and his friends were under a new modified shelter called “Burger King”. RJ had been sleeping earlier and was awoke to the noise of a motorcycle, which meant one thing more dangerous than the raptors... humans. In his short time, humans continue to #$% each other over for just about anything. At least with the raptor, you knew that they didn’t lie, cheat or steal, they just killed and ate people... For whatever reason. Grabbing his binoculars he attempted to see what was going on down the street, at this flat level it was difficult, time to get higher.
RJ moved his way from the inside of the Burger King to the access to roof hatch near the backdoor and the old manager’s office, climbing up the ladder was still difficult as he opened the door and placed the yellow safety bar to hold it up and open the elements. Keeping close to the air handling units, RJ attempted to break up his form, so that it wouldn’t or shouldn’t attract attention. Most people wouldn’t be looking up, they would or should be looking for threats on their level. Once seated in an overwatch position he was trying to observe what scavenging rights and items this person was recovering. Earlier he checked several buildings in the area and decided to take shelter in the restaurant versus being out in the open. The animals could rest and sleep, even thou the horse most likely wouldn’t but three hours for the old gal was good enough.
Car motor?... No.. it’s an RV lumbering in the rain that came to a rest at the gas station. His high beams weren’t cutting through the rain. The RV came to rest at the gas station. RJ disliked Gas stations, some humans liked to lay in wait for others, to take things from them or even the vehicle itself. Even thou RJ was lightly wet, he would still prefer 4 legs instead of 4 wheels. RJ thought about using a vehicle himself but felt that it was like running a dinner belt for the raptors that associated it with a food scouse. It just wasn’t RJ’s choice. Maybe this person was a better-skilled driver and would find ways past abandon vehicles, roadblocks and knows how to deal with mechanical breakdowns. RJ felt that we had made the best choice for himself as well but did he?. Even thou his beast of burden didn’t consume a dwindling resource but the beasts had their own many faults if not more.
Turning his attention back to scanning the area in the rain, the motorcycle rider hadn’t come out yet, that was normal, probably picking up things inside, Well I guess it time to see the new neighbors, RJ smiled to himself at the joke as he made his way down the ladder well and closed it off once again. Once down he gathered a few of his things, like his Body Armor, Helmet, pistol, gloves, and a taser. RJ wanted to find a riot shield but hadn’t come across one and he wasn’t wanting to risk going deeper into certain parts of any town or city, without help. But that would mean that he would have to work with someone that he didn’t know and that was just as scary as those beasts, maybe more so.
After doing a PCI (Pre Combat Inspection) and looking to see that both the motorcycle and the RV still in the same position, He made a slight detour and not a straight shot to the diner when he last saw the motorcycle. From the cover of the burned-out rusting hulk of what was left of a car, the motorcycle was just a few meters away. As he made his approach he grabbed some debris and tossed it into the foyer, then announced himself. “ Hey, Survivor...I’m not here to fight with you, I just would like some news, if you have any”. He watches for a reaction, the low-level broken glass seemed to give him a great field of fire if that person turned out to be hostile as well as having the rusty hulk obscure some but not all line of sight so if he chooses to, he could disengage and break line of sight to tactfully withdraw. RJ secretly hoped that the other person would have a backpack or something to slow them down because he was ready to “pop smoke”. He wouldn’t be bothered with trying to take or keep anything if things went south, He just hoped that they would communicate and come outside, because he wasn’t going to walk right into an ambush.
The young woman once found rainstorms to be a relaxing backdrop. There would be days that she'd take a mug of tea onto the porch and watch lightning strike in the distance. She lived with her boyfriend at the time and life was a bit more normal then. Comparatively speaking anyway. The threat of raptors were replaced by looming deadlines and procrastination. Not that she could ever be truly bogged down by such a menial weakness. It was amusing to reminisce on it now though. Nostalgia was a funny thing to her. Almost as funny as the absurdity of a dinosaur apocalypse, but she digressed. They were easy enough to shoot in the leg when they were passive. Most were hesitant about turning on their former pets at first, but not her. And now she blamed those soft-hearted fools for what became of civilization.
These musing and much more filled her mind as she positioned herself on the outskirts of a shoddy southern town. It looked like some craphole that she would have traveled through while heading to Miami or Orlando for Spring Break. She did that once or twice before things got too bad. Such luxuries had been cast aside long ago, however, along with hot showers, fresh food, and a good night of sleep. Things were limited and people were hard to come by now. It had been months since she had traveled with another human that could watch her back. An eccentric trio that had likely been trampled and devoured by a horde of hungry raptors were her last mark. Such a shame too as all of them were excellent shots. There were times when they had even come close to her level in the past. She went by Sarah Linville then. A cutesy name that fit a southern belle and the accent that she tried so hard to keep at the time. It didn't matter now though. They were long gone and probably to be never to be seen again.
That was unusual to say the least. It kept you safe from the weather, sure, but its noise could draw any idiot towards it, whether they be human or raptor. It was like painting a target directly on your back and it was like having another hungry mouth to feed. Vehicles required supplies to run after all. They were helpful in theory, but a pain in the ass in concept. She had one herself back when it started though that, too, was long cast away. If she could siphon some gasoline off of it though. . Gasoline meant fire which equated to explosions and then to even more toys to play with. A devious smirk crossed her face as she found herself inching closer to the parked RV directly adjacent to one of the abandoned pumps. The odds of gas being left in any of them was unlikely, but worth a shot. And, besides, it wouldn't be hard for her to charm her way into another survivor's life anyway.
Taylor's body stiffened. The voice was female, and someone quite young from the sound of it. She tried her best to keep her tone calm and even. "Alright, I'm putting the guns down," she said. "I'm gonna move slowly and set them on the floor in front of me." First the revolver, then the rifle. She hated not having one in her hand.
"Alright, let's start with why you're here."
"I just wanted out of the rain," Taylor answered. "Been walking for hours, and I wanted to wait out the storm."
"Ever since I noped the hell out of that weird cult-town a few weeks ago."
"Were you being followed?"
"Hell if I know." Taylor turned slowly. The person who had her at gunpoint was a teenage girl. Her expression was blank and cold, as if she were numb to the world. Her voice had a flat affect to it as well. "It's coming down so hard, the only way I'd know if anything was following me is if it was close enough for me to touch." As if to punctuate the statement, a peal of thunder rumbled outside. The girl lowered her weapon slightly.
"Fine," she said. "But on three conditions: first and foremost, I'll be holding on to your guns until I feel you won't attack me; secondly, if you try to take something of mine without an equivalent exchange, I'll put a hole through your hand; and, finally, don't go anywhere in here without me."
Kay frowned. "And why that last one?"
"Well, you wouldn't want to wind up in a snare or noose, would you?" The girl pointed at a door leading to the main dining area. In the murk, Taylor could make out what looked like several wires. Likely piano wire, or maybe heavy-duty fishing wire. Strong enough to restrain a human, or any raptor smaller than a Brute.
"Alright, fine. But do I have any reason to believe you won't just shoot me and take my stuff?"
"Simple," the girl answered. "If I kill you, that will attract raptors. The thunderstorm might cover the gunshot, but they'll smell your blood and come running for a free meal."
Sam watched the situation unfold from his perch, having camped here for a few days, the weather wasn't a surprise. The anvil clouds had been brewing up in the heavens. Watching the events unfold, an interesting turn, he was straining to get a better view of the events in the diner, appeared to be a confrontation. No benefits to him, none of his business, but a funny situation nonetheless. The chance of a fight wouldn't be good news, for them, but from this high, a Raptor wouldn't even know he was there, let alone get to him. He had to keep out of sight of other people though if he was seen doing something that didn't keep to his persona, he'd have to craft a completely new person, and he was running out of ideas on that front. A few months back a guy he was camping with found his stash, he didn't live to see daylight.
Some might call him a killer, a monster, but he wasn't doing this for fun, confrontations consume too many resources. Too many risks. He'd rather just stick to the cutesy nurse that couldn't hurt a fly. Much easier, fewer questions, less consoling, faster traveling. All the better for him. For now, he would sit back, enjoy the show, and maybe filch something of the survivor. He wasn't a killer or a monster, no he was a wolf in sheep clothing. And he had no qualms using that, or anything else. He didn't enjoy hurting people he just enjoyed the benefits of there fates. Be it positive or negative to him. If someone used or took advantage of him, sure he'd be angry, but not at them, at himself for not securing himself first.
a knock came in the form of a slight rap on the front of the hood of the Rv. Then it came again, the knocking noise, followed by " Hey, Survivor...I’m not here to fight with you, I just would like some news, if you have any”. Randy hoped that he didn't startle the person inside too much, heck... everyone was jumpy and they had a good reason to be as well. " I'm civil and hope that you are of the same mind, if not... heck, I'll go back the way I came from. so you want to parley a bit or should I kick rocks, your call"? @BenG85
"I'm civil and hope that you are of the same mind. ."
That was all the young woman needed to hear before a smirk burst across her face. What a foolish claim. Any idiot would be suspicious of those words and that was doubly true in times like these. It was no wonder that she was among the last remnants of humanity when others were so easily persuaded. She wasn't like that, however. Only the blind allowed themselves to be led by the blind and so she kept to herself for the most part. And for now, all she could do was remained poised behind a nearby dumpster with her rifle in hand and a crouch that left her closer to the ground. Any ordinary survivor would be vulnerable to a surprise attack right now, but the woman hadn't considered herself to fall into that category. She did not fall to the same traps that idiots did anyway.
The scope on her rifle was pulled closer to one of her eyes and she took a quick glance through it. It was difficult to make out definitive features on the other survivor in this rain, but she could tell that he was male and a bit on the older side. Probably easy enough to take down in a firefight or with wits if it came down to it. She had no interest in wasting her ammunition or time, however. Not on a human anyway. Her traps were entirely meant for cowardly raptors and hardly ever used against fellow survivors. She had other games to play with them instead. This thought crossed her mind as she slowly lowered her weapon towards the ground. For now, there wasn't much to do aside from seeing how the confrontation between these two survivors played out. A rare form of entertainment in these ghastly times at least.
There was a part of her that glanced towards the distance, towards a rooftop, with the belief that someone may have been watching them. Perhaps someone was and perhaps someone wasn't. She, however, could find no proof that there was someone there after all. There was no body there or at least from the angle that she was crouched at anyway. Even still, she couldn't shake the feeling that someone was there. . And the thought of a raptor hiding there amused her even further.
@BenG85 Randy moves from the front of the vehicle after hearing the door swing open and sees that no one is present. He stays near the engine block so that it provides cover. Randy's thoughts turned back to the military and how to approach COBs ( Civilians ) and hopefully prevent anyone shooting or worst. "so from which direction did you come from and how bad is it?" The voice asks.
(ooc - sorry this is short but when dealing with people in conflict areas, you're required to wait and listen a lot. So that is what my character is trying to do. Just listen and gather information)
Hmmm. He's not taking the bait. Not a complete fool, than. Still on the fence as to whether or not this was a trap of some sort, he decided to take a further risk. Something had to give, or they just weren't going to get anywhere.
He slowly came out of his hiding place, and stepped out of the camper, a hand on his knife and a finger held to his lips as his good eye locked on this stranger. He cautiously walked close enough to talk without shouting.
"Alright, you want to talk? Permission to come aboard; you keep your hands where I can see 'em, and we'll talk, just, not out here. Something goes wrong, I'd rather nothing bein' between me and my boat, when it does, you understand? You got 5 seconds to make up your mind or walk away."
"Ay-Ay, Captain" When the stranger raised his hands, he gestured to enter the camper, and followed close behind him.
Once inside, and the stranger was seated (again, where his hands could remain seen at all times), Monty leaned against surface, produced a hip flask, and took a nip from it. "-ah, so, what sort of news are you expecting, exactly? I don't imagine we can switch on the tube and get a laugh out of Chevy Chase telling a live audience that 'the world still belongs to the raptors, now'. AS to your question, well, if you lean forward enough, you can see the coordinates on my map, here; that's where I came from. Today, anyway. Won't be long before I came from here. It's bad everywhere, as you and any other stragglers out from under their rocks will find, soon enough. Most of us that've survived this long, well, we've done it by not leavin' our anchors dropped for too long, if you catch my drift."
The stranger smiled at his references to Saturday night live and he was able to think back to a better time in his life... " Yeah, I miss Saturday night live and your right... no T.V." The stranger smirked as he leaned in " The roads are passable?. I thought with all the death and destruction when people were getting away that alot of the streets were blocked or closed, well... I'm glad at least you made it as well". The stranger lean upwards from the map "Did you make any contact with any raptors and if so, how many in the pack or just a few loners?".
He took another nip from his flask, and then held it out to the stranger, "Call me 'Monty'; hair-o-the-dog, if you got a name."
"Nice to meet you Monty, I'm RJ from LA...I'm picking up what your Putin down with the naval terminology, so... your heading to the coast then, right. After that a small island like Catalina, maybe they still will have buffaloes."
"I came from over...here and came this way by draft animal, for me it was safer because of these points here and this one has a few Raptors over here and then here as well, if I recall correctly. RJ points on the map and take a nip of the flask, turns it back over with a cough. " Sorry, its been a while since I had any alcoholic beverages".
"Its just me right now... but as you can see that motorcycle got my attention at a quarter of a mile back and I don't hear that good. I tried to talk to whomever it is with two legs but they didn't reply, I was going to just go back and push through during this rain, because its the best time to move for someone like me. As everyone knows raptors can smell just Like dogs, raptors have a harder time in the rain just like anything that can smell, making us humans harder to track. when it gets dry, it will call trouble that neither one of us wants to see."
"Well it's getting late, maybe we can meet up later on the road, since we travel at different times, maybe I can help you find a boat, who knows. You just might need an able-bodied seaman or deck ape to cast lines, tack, and jib with you. Besides... I come from LA and in New Orleans, we KNOW how to cook seafood, just saying" RJ smiles as he checks his watch, I want to be sheltering in place just in case a herd comes through. Are you going to be okay in this RV?
He witnessed one of the guys he had been watching out of the corner of his eye enter the car guy's van, probably unwise. His attention drawn to another woman, an attractive yet albeit fierce lady, creep up to the gas station. Suddenly as he looked at her she glanced his way. A quick save, he ducked under the low brick wall, saving himself from being exposed by this "femme fatale," a misglance his way could be his undoing, this rather comfy town a largely unpopulated area from what he had seen. He would keep one eye glued to the area, a commotion happening at two establishments, both very close, was rather rare, and depending on whether things went south or not, he might join one of them, all the more resources, all the more arms.
He began to quietly stash his belongings on the rooftop, except for the basics and explainable, he would make himself out the be nonviolent, so their suspicions would be quelled, he was rather glad for the apocalypse, he had no opinions on the missing unneeded luxuries, but it was only positive feeling towards the lack of weak people. The men in the RV seemed like good targets, trusting, but able.
Vincent gave Cody the instruction to stay alert when he saw the outskirts of the town. No lights, no fires. Neither were good or bad signs. They were just things of note. he still made sure they walked the perimeter of the town with his rifle at the ready. It meant staying low, creeping from cover to cover until he got close to the first building. He preferred nice weather to approach a town, or even a building, to make sure he could send Cody out and wait for the dog to come back before approaching. It meant conditions he could control a bit better, could utilize his senses better. He wasn't going to lose his best travel companion at this point.
He figured he'd sweep the buildings to see if there were any survivors holed up here before actually looking for supplies. Survivors were a better commodity right now than anything left behind. The odds of finding goods remaining was slim at this point, but survivors? That wasn't wasn't as much of a long shot as it should have been. Individuals held up in towns like this all the time. Band enough together, and you had a community. Keep that safe and going, you had a chance at cultivating society all over again. None of the others were good for it. Some had the bad taste of cults popping up, others just...weren't meant to survive despite his best efforts. There'd be others. Raptors couldn't kill everyone. He'd avoid the zealots as long as he could, until he'd run out of cities to search and gave up his last ounce of hope.
Cody stopped, ears twitching as they crept closer to the diner. Vincent knelt low, signaling the dog back to him with a quiet command. Someone was in there from what Cody indicated. There were some others near the gas station that he could see, but that was too exposed for his liking. He'd take the ones in a bigger space, some place at least dry for at least Cody's sake, before figuring things out with the men.
The man and his dog redirected, going around the back of the building to give the gas station a wide berth and tried the back door to the kitchen. Locked, though he wasn't terribly surprised. He just didn't relish the idea passing so many windows right that moment. Always best safe than sorry right now. But the front door was the only option, so he slunk in with Cody and made sure to stick to the shadows and as close to the windows as the deserted establishment could allow given the dining space. Slinging his rifle onto his back and drawing a pistol, he slipped into the kitchen with Cody between his legs.
He moved in until he could see, just barely anyway, that there were two others in here. When he stopped, Cody did as well. The dog remained shielded from view by the counters, but Vincent was still exposed. He cleared his throat and flipped his grip on his gun so he held the barrel instead of the grip, and made sure to hold up both hands. See, trying to be nonthreatening. "I am making my presence known, and I'm going to be honest up front and say I am armed beyond this pistol. I'm not here for your stuff or to take over your space. I'm looking to talk, and if that's not something you're interested in, I'll move out. No need to exchange bullets, threaten, or draw unwanted attention. Sound good?"
Taylor blinked in surprise. "I thought you said you weren't being followed?" the girl asked her. Her facial expression barely changed, though her tone carried a hint of irritation.
"I wasn't," Taylor said. "But this thunderstorm makes it hard to tell if that's true or not." She suddenly felt uneasy, and spoke to the man next. "I'm not wanting trouble either. I just wanted out of the rain. Had no idea there was anyone here."
"I forget to set up a tripwire once..." the girl muttered, and shook her head. "Look, I just want to be left alone. So stay until the rain stops, but--" She froze mid sentence. Taylor almost asked why, but she heard it through the rain after straining her ears: bells. Simple jingle bells, like one would hang on a Christmas tree, coming from where Taylor assumed was the back door. The girl quickly handed Taylor her weapons. "They're here." How long had it been since the pack had had a decent meal? Weeks? Months? Living only off of small game like rodents had left them famished. The hatchlings had been devoured once things had gotten desperate. It was an act that had torn at their maternal and paternal instincts like a dagger to the gut, but it had been necessary for survival. More babies could be born, but only as long as the pack was healthy enough to lay eggs and rear the young.
Then came a new sensation to all but the oldest member of the pack: an overwhelming urge, as if drawn by a siren's song, to come and join the hunt. Overwhelming hunger made them throw all caution to the wind. Scents of raptors that would have normally made them wary barely triggered anything in their fight-or-flight response. The eldest member of the pack, an old female who was blind in one eye, knew this sensation. She had felt this before. She had answered this siren's call in the past.
Unlike the others in the pack, the old female knew what was in store, and who was calling them. She knew the dangers that waited, even after the one calling them was satiated. If it were possible, she would have taken her pack and led them in the opposite direction. Unfortunately, between how they were biologically wired and the pack's hunger, she knew that was physically impossible to do that now.
The old female could smell the humans now, as well as one of their vehicles. She started salivating. She may die, but her pack might very well survive and finally be able to eat. However, she also knew that the odds were against her pack making it to the end of the day.
"Whoever holed up here before me welded the back door shut," the girl went on, her tone quieting. "However, they didn't do anything about the doorknob. So I set it up so that if anything fiddled with it, I'd know." Taylor slung her rifle over her shoulder and readied her revolver. "They're going to go around to the front. They smelled us, they heard the bells."
"Any way out?" Taylor asked.
"There's rooftop access through the walk-in freezer. Up the ladder, then there's a fire escape."
"Not much good. Bigger breeds can jump up without much problem, and smaller ones can climb or fly to the roof." She glanced at the man. "Looks like you're holing up with us for a while." She heard a deep, barking call from outside. It was one of the larger breeds.
Shit. It was the first thought to pop into Vincent's head when the girl with her back to him grumbled about following. He didn't want this to turn into a bad situation. The last thing they needed was gunfire or bodies. He wanted survivors, at least one of them wanted to be alone. That was fair enough.
He was about to respond when he heard the jingle of the bells. Cody's ears twitched against the cloth of his pants. His breathing stayed even while his pulse picked up its pace. It took a quick flick of his wrist to be holding his gun correctly again, finger on the frame but at the ready. As much as he'd hoped it wasn't that way, the facts were before them. Cody hadn't smelt the pack. It wasn't surprising, but he'd hoped that wouldn't be the case. Having his handgun ready wasn't much good if it was a bigger breed. Smaller ones, it wouldn't be too bad because they weren't exactly breed for surviving in combat. Even some of the larger ones could be stopped with a handgun, but the surest way was choice shots.
Vincent nodded when attention turned his way. "Yes, ma'am." The words came out without a second thought. It wasn't about the tone of her voice or the fact it was an order. It was just concise acknowledgement over the idea, and the politest way to acknowledge the girl. There'd be time for exchanging names after everyone was secure - if they didn't bolt as soon as they could. This wasn't exactly the ideal spot to make a stand, or the way he'd play out taking down a pack. No telling how many were out there, or what they were until they caught sight of the creatures.
A muttered phrase in German, and Cody skulked around the corner to join the girls as Vincent (trusting the situation was dire enough to not waste time killing him) turned his back on the girls to make sure he kept an eye on the door to the kitchen from the dining room. He retreated backwards with his gun aimed at the ready, just in case. He'd deal with getting Cody up if they went to the roof if they had to. For now, the freezer seemed like a great place to hole up.