2019-09-14 - Hunter's Aerie


Hank is warned by Hunter to avoid Mutant Town, being Hank… he immediately seeks her out

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Sat Sep 14 21:10:53 2019
Location: RP1 - Mutant Town

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Theme Song



The monitoring algorithms that keep a digital eye on the signals and operations of Dr. Henry McCoy's musical library and private network alert the good doctor to an anomaly in network communications. A bit of checking and a bit more analysis finally derives that a rough secondary signal has been embedded in the digital traffic between the network and one of its satellite devices; specifically the wristband give to Amur Khatun's human self, the homeless woman known as Hunter.

With his intellect, it is mere child's play for Henry to determine that the code is an encrypted minimal code known the world 'round, comprised simply of long and short sounds and pauses; Morse Code. Decoding then becomes literally a matter of only another minute or two:

"Disabling this after message STOP Warning STOP Warning STOP Danger coming to Mutant Town STOP Must stay away STOP Keep children safe STOP Do not contact STOP Beware the black armor STOP"

The message is repeated three times. Two minutes later, all signal from the wristband ended.

The first thing Hank does once he's deciphered the message is head out to the wooded area he met Amur Khatun in some time back. If she's that nervous about this 'Black Armor', well, she might take cover out here a time. Then he -thinks- again, she has the Pride and her organization of the mutants in Mutant Town…nope. She wouldn't, this was a waste of time. ~Well, that was not your brightest moment.~

He heads back to the Institute at speed, running at his top speed and bounding to get a little extra into the mix. Once there, he dresses very carefully, he's in an old costume, the material lightly armored and then wears a sweat shirt over it. Thank GOD for his heat-sink watch!

90 minutes later he's parking his blue '78 Grenada in a pay lot near Mutant Town, and starts his search. If he doesn't find Diya first, he'll look for anyone from Pride.

Finding Diya is incredibly difficult, if not impossible. However, finding members of the Pride is much, much easier. They are still around, present in the alleyways they have claimed within Mutant Town. And given how much time he spends in the area doing various helpful things, there are those of them who recognize Hank when he gets close enough. Those that do acknowledge him without actually drawing much attention to themselves, or Hank.

What the observant and bright mutant doctor can spot after his first pass through Mutant Town is that there are fewer of the Pride about. Some of the oldest, the youngest, the least healthy seem to be missing from the alleys. And there are quite a few of them that he can spot here and there on the rooftops, visibly on watch.

The Pride are going through with their lives, just like they always have, and likely always will. But they are on edge; they have been led to believe danger is coming, and they are doing what they can to be ready for it.

During his second pass, Hank will be approached by an older member of the Pride, a black man who has not been a part of Hank's clean-up projects and the like previously, but one he has seen around; one his instincts about people would say is one of their elders, if not one of their secondary leaders outside of Hunter herself.

"Good day to you, Brother McCoy." the older black man offers. He keeps his hands to himself, but the greeting is warm and welcoming despite the tensions that about. "What brings you here this day, brother?" Weather is well behaved, but he's clearly getting to the point.

Hank does indeed help out fairly frequently, truly he wishes he could be here more often, these people NEED help and very few pay them any heed at all. Hank keeps his acknowledgements of the greetings as low key as he searches. The obvious siege mentality here is something that has him worried, it makes sense, evac the old and young, they're at the greatest risk and least able to protect themselves.

Which is very concerning for the man.

Hank offers the black man a smile. "Hello brother…?" He doesn't know the man, though he's seen him about. "..actually, I was hoping I might speak with Hunter, you wouldn't by any chance be able to guide me to her, or at least to let her know I'd like to meet, would you?"

Hank genuinely doesn't know what sort of protocols are in place, but he DOES know he wants very much to speak to her.

"I am called Weather, Brother McCoy." the older man offers, nodding. There is a sad twinge to his expression when Hank explains what he wants, but no shock or surprise; one might assume that he was actually expecting that answer, for all that it is clearly not what he wanted to hear.

"The Hunter is being very cautious, brother. The Hunter believes she and others are now hunted." He lowers his gaze a bit, as if a real weight lies upon him. "She has not withdrawn from us like this since the earliest days. And her trauma is somehow worse, now. I fear she tortures herself with guilt for us."

Weather eventually gathers up Hank and leads him off the street, into one of the alleyways. They go deep, and stop near an aged fire escape. "She will not be glad to see you, Brother." Weather offers, forlornly, with the tone of a man who has tried to tread the path now before Hank, and failed at its end. "I expect she has moved her hide. But she always prefers the higher places for them. If you still seek the Hunter, knowing the risks, go up, younger man. And go with God."

"Brother Weather." Hank smiles. "That your power?" Hey, not like he has any reason to think Weather /isn't/ a mutant, right?

"I know, Brother, but…she sent me a message, and I have to see what I can do to help. It is the only right thing."

He moves along with the older man, and when they get to the hiding spot tucked away, he nods his thanks. "Hopefully she won't shoot me, brother." And then he bows very respectfully. "And god be with you as well, always." He says respectfully. Granted - Hank's not part of any particular faith, but he respects them, and more importantly he respects when someone has a true faith in one, he'd never disrespect it.

A glance upwards, and then Hank will spring up about a story high from a leap, and then continue upwards at a good, but not super fast pace. No desire to trigger a fight response!

"After a fashion." Weather answers honestly. "I am no goddess, to wield the winds and rain. But it gets the point across." He doesn't explain further, probably because this isn't about him. But clearly those he lives with every day consider 'Weather' a good name for him, so that should be a clue, at least.

Once Hank leaps up, Weather watches him climb to the top of the first building, another two stories up. Once he bounds onto the roof, Weather turns away and resumes his post amongst the others of the Pride in the alley; this is no longer his to do. He does hope Hunter doesn't kill McCoy; he rather likes the effervescent young man.

Up on the rooftop, another of the Pride glances at Hank, nods slightly, and goes back to watching the streets … and apparently the sky. These people really are hunkered down in a bunker mentality, and they are trying their best to be ready for anything.

With his sense of smell, Hank has an advantage over most who might try to find Hunter up here. She knows how to hide her tracks, how even to leave none at all, especially on harder surfaces like stone, brick and concrete. But while she can dilute her scent - and one would estimate she has done that - she cannot eliminate it.

The other advantage is the cats. If one knows what to look for, checking the skyline for evidence of a wide-ranging, milling colony of agitated felines will help narrow the search radius tremendously.

The most unnerving thing is that when Hank gets close his instincts start to go a bit haywire. A tension balls up inside the back of his mind, as if silently clamoring for him to run and hide; that he is being hunted; that death is nearly upon him. It isn't just Hunter's predatory aura, though that is something he has felt before and is a part of this. This is something … colder. Something of true murderous intent. That itch at the back of the neck that tells one … they are being aimed at. Right now.

"Weather, not Storm, got it." Hank says with a bright smile. He likes Weather right back, he's calm, and he's smart. Good combo in Hank's estimation.

It will take a bit of time, but Hank is nothing if not patient, persistent and actually a pretty good tracker even without super senses. That he HAS them though, that does simplify his search efforts considerably.

He can't help but be affected by the nerves and the tension up here, the siege feeling is strong, and despite being no empath, he is very empathetic.

It is the clowder that gets his attention, the cats are the final clue until he feels that sense of menace.

Yup, found her!

He raises his shields, they won't stop the assault, but they'll help with it. That his combat experience is telling him he's being sighted upon right now he slows, hands raised, and moves slowly towards the hiding spot. "Hunter, please do not shoot me." His voice is normally pitched, he is pretty sure she'll hear him anyway.

The other clue that will finally slot everything into place is when Hank spots literally several dozen different-colored streamers hanging from poles, antennae and the like all over the area. That's when his nerves and the rest of the evidences paints a final picture: Hunter … is a sniper. And apparently a damned good one.

The sort that patiently waits, possibly for days, for the right moment. Unseen, unnoticed, doing nothing.

And then kills from improbable distances with impeccable skill. And disappears.

The lethality of the menace dies down, but only slightly. After a minute, closer to two, a cat strops against Hank's ankle. And taped lightly to its back is a tiny scroll.

The note is simple: Moron. Told you stay away.

A sniper.

Hank just quietly files that away, nope, no exclamation of surprise or sudden movement. He is rather fond of the whole 'not getting shot' thing, he's been shot. It is never fun. Not even in a Danger Room scenario - he runs those with the safeties at minimum levels, so even though he can't be killed, he DOES take real injuries.

It goes without saying that Hank stops his advance at the moment he realizes what he's dealing with, what Hunter's skill set is.

She's not dumb, she can likely see the play of emotions across his features as he does the math.

And then the note delivered Kitty Express, well — more like an amble, but hey, it gets there. He reaches down to pick the kitty up and take the note, a soft laugh. "You're a friend." And that's all the argument he offers. The rest is bone deep for him - you HELP friends, no matter what. That's the price you pay for having them. And you know what? For Hank, that price is well worth it.

It takes a good two minutes before another cat arrives with a tiny scroll taped to its back. This one, unrolled, has a small map. Orienting to the cross sign - a steeple over yonder - and a few other landmarks, it depicts a spot that is still almost a mile away with a small stick figure lying horizontal on a rooftop.

And Hank is represented by a scope's sight picture.

The menace does die down more, as Hank starts moving in that direction. It never entirely goes away, and he can be absolutely certain that he is under her scope the entire way. But she is clearly also watching everything and everyone around her.

When Hank arrives at the right rooftop, it's still almost impossible at first to make out Hunter. She's covered by a blanket that has strips of concrete-dusted cloth attached, breaking up her outline to look like just uneven gravel on the gravel rooftop. It isn't until he's within twenty feet that she rolls some of the blanket away and glares at him, pulling her head away from the stock of a lethally impressive sniper's rifle.

"Down." she hisses. Then she digs for something, and throws another tarp at him. "Friends die. Or get killed."

Yeah, Hank is perfectly willing to wait for the second message, and snorts at the sniper-view image of him, well, that's pretty clear!

He moves with fair stealth to find the sniper's nest, a mile way. He is pretty fair at keeping out of sight for a very large man, he also moves without going to fast, or adjusting course suddenly, such things draw the eye after all.

It will not take all that long for him to find the nest, now that he has a map to it.

When given that hissed warning, he does as she says, and covers up once prone. "Sometimes, yes." Hank has lost friends, clearly he understands that. "But…you have my aid all the same, wanted or not, moron me or not. So…tell me about the Black Armor."

"A ty govorish' po Russki?" the woman hisses softly at him. "< Do you speak Russian? >" What makes it most striking, perhaps, is not so much that she just asked a question in perfect Russian as that she used more words in that brief question than she has ever used at once in any of their meetings or encounters.

"Da…" A nod. "…ya govoryu po Russki, drug." His Russian is native speaker grade, very little accent, however. "< Yes, I speak Russian, friend. >" Hank just waits patiently after that for what he hopes will be educational.

And finally, the woman of few words breaks her silence. "< I don't know who they are. I've heard another call them the Black Razors. What I know is that they came to me, to my unit, with orders releasing me into their custody. I knew I'd changed. Not how, not why. But they didn't come looking for a talented soldier, or a sniper. They were there to 'collect' me. My unit said nothing. They let it go. I ran. My instincts said … they intended to make me a lab specimen. >"

It is probably the most Hunter has spoken in years. She definitely seems deflated, somehow, after all of that. She narrows her eyes and sweeps the horizon, checking everything quickly but very efficiently. Hank doesn't yet realize fully just how much she can see without sights or binoculars, but he likely has an idea it's far better than before she was changed.

"< I landed here. Place to hide. Of grid. Away. Amongst others who are different. >" A long pause. "< And I found those who needed me. Now, they've found us. Too many of us in one place. And all these people will pay. >"

Hank is silent, he -listens-, bright blue eyes intent, thoughts churning away in that spicy brain of his. "<'Black Razors', okay, that's something I can work with.>" Hank ponders a moment. "<You were Spetsnaz.>" Statement, not a question, not a big reach though based on her obvious skillset and military bearing. "<You were changed…you are not a mutant, so this was not a natural occurrence, it was done to you.>"

He stays very still, unusual discipline in a civilian, though, he's obviously no stranger to conflict and surely has seen battle. "<Your brothers did not risk these people's ire, so they must have been very dangerous, and if your instincts said they were a risk, I'm inclined to believe it. The 'collect' part certainly supports it wasn't something you'd enjoy.>"

No, he can't be sure of how advanced her senses are in human form, but he is sure they're keener than normal, she knew he was waiting outside when she shifted in the woods.

"<And you built a defensive coalition, organized and helped them. You protect them.>" He smiles then. "<WE protect them.>" That smile? Most definitely not the 'happy fun' sort, more the 'feral chew on enemies' type.

Only the tiniest of nods acknowledges Hank's point. Spetznaz? Yes, she was, one of the elite of the elite of Russian military service. And a sniper amongst them. She nods again, tiny, to acknowledge the next point: changed, done to her. But she says nothing. She has said so much, after so long. More, likely, than ever she should.

Finally, after a very long pause, Hunter speaks again. "< Better, perhaps, I should have died on that Siberian hilltop, than survived the medivac, and healed as I did. >"

<"< Goddamned bastard. >"

"< Now, after years. They all depend upon me. And now the Razors come, and I've put them all in danger. Running won't help. They'll still come. >" And so her best chance for her Pride is to stay here, and try to defend them in spite of the odds.

Hunter's double nods, faint and fainter still confirm his comments. It also gives him a better idea of her capabilities, though not nearly a full one since he has no idea how much her condition augments her in the human form, based on the leaps he's seen her make, he'll go with a lot. Probably she's one of the deadliest people on the planet, bar none. That she's confiding in him at all is an incredible extension of trust.

His smile turns to a frown, not quite a scowl, but definitely a sign of disapproval. "<No, you survived, you recovered. That's no mistake, that you have suffered is not good, but your survival /is/.>" Hank's very firm on this. "<You have built a great thing here, you have helped these people to help themselves, you have taught them to be a community, to have pride in themselves, to be a brotherhood. If nothing else your Pride is more than justification for my point - the world is a better place for your being in it, Hunter. You have value. You are needed.>"

A nod. "<What was done was no kindness, but we move on. I am not Russian, but I have many very close friends who are, they are -my- extended family, and they have taught me that the cardinal trait for the people who are Rus is perseverance. They endure. They fight through."> His smile this time is one of promise. <"So…if they come, we will face them together. When they come they will find they have bitten off more than they can chew.>"

"< Not a better place, if innocent people die because they come here, for me. >" Hunter offers at last, her final words on the subject. She sweeps the area again, and pauses as she spots a signal from one of the Pride watchers on another rooftop. She sends no acknowledgement; they'd never see it anyway.

"< I've done all I could. But recent months, near half a dozen more Russians have come. More than one hunted, or hiding. >" Or hunting. Hunter sighs.

Hank hears the finality of the statement, he knows better than to argue. His expression shows his disagreement quite clearly, however - to the better place part. He can't argue the part about innocent lives, he'd feel the exact same way in that regard. Hell, he doesn't even like it when people are HURT around him, having them killed would absolutely wreck, Hank.

"<Can you tell me any of their names? Perhaps I can see what they're running from, or seeking.>" 'Can you', he doesn't want to have her betray any trusts. HE wouldn't, he'd expect no less from, Hunter.

Hunter looks on for a while, into the distance. She stays silent, of course, as usual. Apparently she's done being all loquacious. After a few minutes, Hunter does glance back, those amber-backed green eyes making contact with Hank's gaze for a moment. "Nyet." "< No. >" As he said, she couldn't just violate their confidences.

Hunter switches back to her usual laconic, mushy-mouthed English. It's easy now to understand that she affects this to shave off the razor-sharp edges of what must be a strong Russian accent, to avoid detection. So much care taken. "Come." She visibly rolls her eyes up slightly, thinking. "Tomorrow. Weather." She grimaces, and then takes her left hand off the rifle, reaching into a pocket, extracting something and then extending that hand over the top of the rifle towards Hank, dropping it in his hand when he finally is ready to catch it. A flat stone arrowhead, with the Pride mark etched firmly into its surface. "Ask."

A nod, he expected the denial, it is plain there's no surprise in bright blue eyes.

With the switch to the other speech pattern, the other language, Hank is clued that the sharing is at an end for now. Still, it is a hopeful sign that she did it at all. Further, she hasn't shot him, or told him to get the hell out of Dodge, so that's also positive. There's a lot he can do to help, but he won't force things.

A curious twist of his head, and then one very large hand is extended to receive the arrow-head. "Thank you." Thick fingers close over the item, and he draws it back under the tarp Hunter provided him with earlier.

Hunter merely meets Hanks gaze briefly, and rolls a shoulder. A little tiny nod of acknowledgement. "Go." she answers; she's apparently done with today's discussion. "Careful."

Hank nods, gaze intent as blue eyes meet amber-backed green. A smile as he worms out from under the tarp and then wriggles briefly closer, to set a small object on the ground, looks like a ball point pen, of all things. "One use, click three times in succession and it will send a burst transmission to me, encrypted, should be untraceable." And it even writes, bonus!

He takes care as he exits Hunter's Aerie. He moves with decent stealth, and takes a very convoluted path back to his car. Once home he fashions a simple necklace for the arrowhead, and wears it always, though the Pride symbol is against his chest, closer to his heart, hidden from accidental discovery.

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