2019-08-28 - The Element of Earth


The Black Panther and Vixen investigate the tunnel under the hidden lab space

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Wed Aug 28 04:30:11 2019
Location: The Disaster Zone

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Theme Song



The Black Panther had promised Vixen that they would try to follow the path taken by some presumed escapees of a secret lab in the middle of the disaster zone but as that path was forged by a tunneling vehicle of some kind it had been deemed wise to get things like… lights. Rope. Important sundries like that.

Though one might be forgiven for thinking that Panther doesn't have any. However on closer inspection his normally sleek and unadorned suit has a small pouch belt around it. Why not? Everything else about the man seems futuristic. Why not miniature caving gear?

The Panther is waiting at the hole in the ground that marks the entrance to that lab. It's deep enough in the Zone that it still hasn't been spotted by the civic authorities who - truth be told - don't venture in here much. All of the reconstruction efforts are focused at the edges and in wealthier neighborhoods. Naturally.

Vixen arrives almost at the same time as Panther, dressed in her yellow and black costume. It's perhaps telling that there's a blue spirit like crow circling and flying ahead of her. That's a Crow that The Panther will recognise.

Giving the bird a look, Mari focusses on the masked man "I did understand the message correctly, did I not? You were bringing the supplies?" She can see the pouch belt but there's no way that's big enough to house everything they need.

The technology for that … might exist but it's highly proprietary.

"I am and I have." The Panther says. He offers up a small bead. "This is a locator. It will enable us to find one another if we get separated and will work through rock. And this…" Another bead, this one the size of a small marble. "Is your light. It has a small engine in it and can float. I have already adjusted it to remain near you when you activate it, which you do by squeezing it. I have the rope and a rebreather for you… though I suppose you could just imitate a whale?"

Could she? The Panther doesn't know about the extent of her power.

He looks up. "Is that bird yours? I have never seen you manifest powers in that manner. Or is it some manner of… watcher? It seems rather interested in something down here, given how it is circling."

Mari has a small belt pouch herself. She doesn't use many 'tools' when she's working but it's handy at times. Like now. "Locator and Light. Got it." The beads are turned over in her fingers "I just squeeze it and let it go? The light, I mean? And I keep the locator with me?" In that pouch she's wearing, probably.

"It's not mine but it's similar to the one that manifested the other night." *Of course* it's not familiar to *Black Panther*. "My pendant got very hot, not hot enough to burn my skin, but hot. Then that crow, or one like it, appeared and headed in this direction. I didn't follow and T'Challa agreed that we shouldn't as well. But when I got near here today, it appeared. As you say, it looks interested in something doesn't it?"

"But … we're here for this today."

"Last night? What did the one last night want?" The Panther, of course, doesn't know about what T'Challa saw. It's a very fine line to walk but he pulls it off relatively well. "Ah, it came out of your pendant and you did not follow."

The cat suited hero looks up. "I wonder if it is a good omen or a bad one. But good or bad, we are indeed here for something. Shall we?"

It's a short walk to the beginning of the tunnel. The trail, such as it is, is still there. It angles down and seems to go deep. It's hard to say.

T'Challa squeezes his light and starts to walk. It doesn't take too long for things to get interesting. About ten minutes in the angle of descent increases sharply and the hole goes nearly straight down. Seventy degree angle at least.

"Well." The panther says as he opens one of his pouches and produces two thin, long cords. Those… surely can't be meant to take their weight. And the climbing spikes look so small as well… but they dig right in.

"How confident are you at rappelling? Or can you free hand?"

"It's an omen, that's for sure but it's not one I can give focus to at the moment. Now that I know it's here … I'll deal with it." beat "Lay on, MacDuff." the heroine gestures, following the Panther down that winding, angled path.

The look Mari gives the Black Panther when he hands her the rope and pitons is speaking "I'm honoured you don't think I'm that heavy but … are you sure these will hold us?"

Taking a moment to look into that hole, Mari chuffs "Maybe I should just a bird spirit or a flyer and fly down? Don't you think that would be easier?"

And indeed it's not long before the silhouette of a Bat sits on Mari's shoulder.

"Easier for you possibly. But while I always land on my feet my knees do not always appreciate the impact." T'Challa lets her refuse the rope and leans back onto his, free handing. Amazingly. It DOES take his weight.

And it's amazing all the way until they get to the bottom, where it's a dead end. The tunnel doesn't branch off. It just… ends.

"Well. That is anticlimactic…" He mutters looking around. "The vehicle cannot have simply vanished. See if they have hidden their egress somehow."

The Panther starts to examine the walls. Mari, however, may notice that the floor is a different kind of rock… and SHE can have digging claws.

"I wasn't suggesting *you* fly, but if you like maybe we could try it sometime." Mari's not sure she could lift a man but they could test that safely enough. The ropes and pitons get another raised brow "Well isn't that something. And just where did you get all that from?"

Turning around once their feet hit the ground, Vixen frowns. "Magic perhaps? Or some kind of mutant power?" Of course she'd go there. The scuff of her boots on the floor has her looking down, the bat disappearing soon to be replaced by a badger.

And she starts digging. Easily.

"Natrually not." The Panther says. When Mari starts to dig he backs up slightly. "What have you…"

The rock breaks and they fall. It was a relatively thin crust left behind to disguise the vehicles path. Magic? Tech? Mutant power? Hard to say.

They don't fall far though. Ten feet into a horizontal tunnel. There's a boring vehicle parked a dozen feet in front of them and the tunnel extends into the darkness in two directions.

"Impressive." The feline hero says. "As for my tech…" She can almost hear the smile. "State secret. Perhaps I invented it. Or perhaps a very clever engineer did so for me."

He glances, peering as far as he can in either direction. "You can be a bat. Can you hear anything?" Or echolocate anything?

"State secret from somewhere in Africa?" Mari smirks at The Panther. He hasn't said exactly where he was from. "Or did your friend T'Challa have something to do with it. It and that suit that you wear." Cheeky woman.

"I can. Let me …" She calls the bat again, leaving the badger perched on her shoulder and slowly turns as she uses the spirits radar. "That way … see how the tracks go in that direction? There's something reflecting back, like debris or clutter. Nothing seems to be moving though."

She starts moving in that direction, glancing at The Panther. "Coming? There has to be a way through, doesn't there?"

"Is it?" The Panther responds and she can almost hear the smile. "The suit is amazing I do agree." So helpful, the Panther. He does like to cultivate that air of mystery.

"Very likely. I do not think this tunnel was dug by that vehicle. They only used it to escape. But in so doing they exposed it to the people in the lab so I am not surprised that it seems abandoned. There would have been little other choice."

When they arrive there is indeed a camp. Tents and other make shift sleeping quarters. There's evidence of cooking facilities and portable lamps. There's some cans and other food wrappers. And there's a great deal of evidence that the place was evacuated in a hurry.

On one of the rocks there's some scratches. It's some kind of pictoral glyph, probably used by these people to leave messages.

And one of them Mari might recognize because the Glyph for one of the totems of Zambesi. The Earth Totem, specifically…

The Panthers helpful response gets a sidelong from the Vixen. Vixen by name and Vixen by nature. She doesn't push it though, just lets it be. Eventually, she'll find out what she wants.

"There certainly wasn't any choice for them. I don't know that I wouldn't have done the same thing." she falls silent as they enter the camp, taking her time to look around. "I'm not sure how long they've been gone. I'm sure the scents here are likely to be magnified due to be underground."

"What's this …" the dark skinned woman bends to look at the rock, peering at it closely. "Panther. Look. This is the same Glyph as the Earth Totem from the pendants in my collection… " Carefully she feels about the rock, trying to see what she can find.

"Is it?" The Panther comes closer to look. She can see him reach up and touch something on his head. "The rock is still warm. Warmer than anything around it."

It is too. Warm to the touch. The glyph's were not made cleanly. They were scratched and carved but the one with the Earth symbol is deeper than the rest. The rock is also vibrating or humming in some fashion. It's impossible to hear, at least with human ears, but very easy to feel when Mari touches it.

"Why would such a glyph be all the way down here?"

That is an excellent question for which Mari may not have an answer.

Her intuition on scent is correct. With less to disturb it, the scent trail made by the fleeing mutants is still quite clear. It goes deeper into the darkness. She can tell that there were eight. That two of them were wounded and one was ill. Five males, three females.

One of them has a hint of… something about them. An earthy scent that seems out of place.

Vixen touches the stone again, nodding slowly and touches her pendant "It's warm too. Not as warm as the other night, but still …" she murmurs, leaving her palm against the rock as it hums and vibrates. "It's scratched in, see. With claws maybe? Or another rock perhaps? It's responding to something … "

The scent catches her attention when she finally gets to it. "Let's follow it … there's something with them that I don't think is human."

"The trail is well over two weeks old at this point." T'Challa points out as they begin to move. They can move quickly, possibly more quickly than the people who made it. Presumably those people have completed their journey by this point. But on they go anyway.

Until they get to a solid cliff face and HERE there is some evidence of rocks being disturbed but in a very odd way. They look as though there were an earthquake. Some have shifted up, others down as if pushed or sunken. But there was no disturbance recorded so… whatever happened was extremely localized.

Mari… gets a gleam of something out of the corner of her eye. A green gem, glowing faintly.

"That does not look like it should have been left here on purpose." The Panther says. He doesn't move toward it, though. He can wait.

"It might be, yes." Mari agrees "But we should see where it leads and what we might find." They do move quickly. They're both fit and uninjured after all.

"At least two of the group were injured." Mari supplies, frowning as her pendant warms against her neck again "Panther, my pendant is doing it again…" It's doing more than that. It's acting like a divining pendant and swinging out from Maris neck.

In the direction of the green gem that catches their eye.

Casting the Panther a look, Vixen moves to the gem and crouches down. "Do you … think I should take it? And … do you hear that?" The Black Panther can't. Only Vixen can. "It's like someone whispering to me."

"I hear nothing." The Panther says. And he has very good hearing. He pauses to listen more carefully and shakes his head.

He approaches and looks down as Mari crouches over the pendant. "I think it would be more risky for me to take it. Do you have a safe place to put it? If not I may be able to think of something. But you are already handling one of the pendants and I am not so na%<239>ve as to think that my suit would necessarily protect me if it reacted to me in any way." She on the other hand MIGHT be insulated.

"Can you make out what they are saying?"

Mari concentrates trying to make out the whispers. "I can't. It's not very distinct and it's not persistent. But it's there. Are you sure you can't hear it?" Is she hearing things or going made? It's hard to tell.

"I'll take it. It will go in my pouch here and I have a safe in my apartment of course. " She has other places as well but that's a start.

Taking a pair of gloves from that pouch, Mari slides one onto her hand and picks up the stone. "Look at this, Black Panther. It looks like the Earth Pendant." The one that Mari has a replica of in her collection.

"I am quite sure. There's no sound in here but us and the air moving." He is QUITE sure. T'Challa glances back.

"Based on the airflow there has to be an exit somewhere behind us. Or we can leave the way we came but I do not think we should linger here. Wherever the escaped went they are long gone, and whatever caused them to drop this, I do not think we want to wait for someone else to show up for it."

The crow has him somewhat unsettled. Was it trying to lead them to this? And if not… why did it show up at this particular time and place?

"Alright then." Mari frowns, listening for those whispers again. It's like it's in her head and that's unsettling.

As Mari holds the gem it glows gently along with the foxheaded pendant. The light seems to merge, the two items becoming one for just a moment and then it's just the gem and the foxhead pendant again. "Huh… I think we head out that way, Black Panther. I want to get this away and do some research."

Sliding the gem into her pouch, Mari straightens and looks at the hero. "Let's go? I'd invite you back to my place for a hot tub but I suspect you're going to be mysterious and disappear again."

"I am indeed going to do that. After all, I have a reputation to uphold." Now she CAN hear the laugh in Panther's voice. He gestures. "Let us depart. I suspect when we get back to the surface we will both have more questions to answer before we meet again. Perhaps you should check in with Gabrielle and see if she knows of anyone who might have had… something like that."

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