2020-03-25 - Hellcat Out of the Bag


Posse calls Hank to confirm an infernal secret while humblebees search for their wayward albino.

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Weds Mar 2 5 00:21:55 2020
Location: Disaster Zone

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Theme Song



While her REACT squads finish their work around the ruin site, Posse moves off to the side and keys her radio. "<Hank this is Posse. Are you there?>"

Hank's phone vibrates so he dons his Reading Glasses. Because that makes sense! Not. "<Copy Posse, Hank here. How can I be of service?>" He's presently fresh from the shower and getting about a metric fuckton of fur sorted. This is not a swift process. At all.

There's only a brief pause on Posse's side of the coms once the scientist finishes speaking. Despite being out of doors the connection passes almost nothing but her own voice through the mic inside her helmet. She doesn't even have to yell. "<We're finishing up inspection of the site. Found the corpses we're expecting but Spot's not here. There's a clean sphere of missing matter where she was standing - looks like some kind of teleport. I want to get super-sniffers on this as well as drone visuals. What's Neena smell like to you?>"

A brief pause…he's not used to someone asking him about the super senses he has. He grins a bit, continuing with his efforts to brush and dry his thick pelt. It is actually different from before, more layers. "<No sign of Neena, mm? That's…actually encouraging.>" A brief pause as he sorts out her scent in his mind. "<Mostly she smells like trouble.>" Yes, he took time to joke, either as stress released, or a stress *reliever*. "<Well, her base scent is that of a female albino, yes, there's a sort of a scent to albinism…hints of mutant, but it is threaded through with several traces of feline layered on, the feline smells /off/, however. Brimstone trace…sort of…sour?>"

Judging by Ava's lack of response the joke might not have landed. Then again, how often does the sergeant laugh on a normal day? "<Anything else in there?>"

Either that or she can't argue irrefutable fact: Domino /is/ trouble. Still, Hank's a little disappointed that the sally didn't get at least a chuckle, but…not surprised, really. Not considering the circumstances. "<Minor vitamin deficiency, C&D vitamins I'd say…she often smells of fatigue and alcohol, needs to take better care of herself. No signs of cigarettes though, so that's good. I would posit that her feline aspects came later, and were not a secondary mutation.>"

"<So there's something else out there that makes her smell like a cat besides being a mutant?>" the chief of security asks, just to be clear. Super-scent isn't an area she's well-versed in. More than usual, Hank is the conversation's resident expert. "<Related to the shiny eyes and pointy teeth, you figure?>"

"<That would be consistent with what my senses tell me, yes.>" Hank is treading on thin ice here, careful not to reveal too much — and hating the need, but he gave Domino his word. This is, barely, within the parameters. It also gives others more and much needed information, which soothes his conscience a bit too. "<From what I have observed her behavior markedly changes when the eyes do, the fangs are not anything I can speak to with authority other than they are feline in structure, not hominid, or canine. When the eyes are sheened she is very much a predator.>"

At the mention of changing sheen Ava thinks back to any times she's noticed a difference in the albino's eyes… The cyborg's lips seal firmly and she doesn't offer any examples. "<Is it anything dangerous? You think that might have teleported her?>"

"<Domino is always dangerous, Posse.>" Hank says immediately. "<That said, she is less restrained and far more aggressive when the eyes sheen like hematite. In this state she shows a preference for her blades over other weapons from what I have observed on several occasions.>" And yeah, his memory is good enough that it is pretty plausible when he says it.

"<She's a /lucky woman/, Hank. I know how dangerous one of those really is on her own,>" Ava counters flatly. "</This/ sounds like something completely different, so normal human rules are off. What are we dealing with here, magic?>"

"<I would not rule it out, but I know very little of such things, dammit Posse I'm a Doctor, not a sorcerer.>" Yes, he even sounds like Bones McCoy, not the forensic anthropologist, he just doesn't have the voice chops to mimic her. "<In all seriousness, I am out of my depth regarding that, but…I can say with confidence that without further study I can't offer any sort of scientific explanation. Oh, one other thing, her blood has a sort of extra 'coppery' scent to it, more than normal, not sure what that signifies.>"

"<Good to know,>" Ava offers in a token acknowledgement of the doctor's help. Then it's back to more questions. "<What triggered her change the times you saw it happen?>"

"<And let me be clear, Hank,>" the cyborg adds as her voice adopts a new sternness that even has a noticeable edge. "<I'd /love/ to hear, later, when you were planning to tell me the woman we've been allowing into our base and around our personnel is the joy-ride for a literal cat out of hell, but right now my priorities are finding her and coordinating a rescue op where no one dies saving her or /by/ her. So I need everything you've got.>"

A beep sounds within Ava's helmet, and her AR systems show the identity of RESCUE CnC on a private channel reaching out for her attention … and waiting patiently to be acknowledged.

"'Scuse me, Ma'am. We have a message delivered for you. The caller, a woman whose voice is not in our databases, identified herself not at all. But she mentioned a name that is on your priority notice list. I'm playing that call now, Ma'am." comes the voice of the Command and Control operator for Communications. A few seconds later, and a recording begins playing.

"This is a message from Hunter. She said to call here and leave a message for someone called 'Posse'? Anyway, you tell her Hunter found another spot. But not the Spot, you understand? Gave me a bunch of numbers." The recording finishes with the woman's voice reading off the numbers, twice, very carefully. "OK. That's it. You get that message to 'Posse', got it?"

The operator comes back on. "We have plotted the coordinates, and passed that location to the Bearcat and your systems."

"<Yeessss. Yes. Information is good.>" And then the next question. "<Most of the 'events' were triggered by hunting, and/or violence done up close and personal…>" A sigh then, and a pause. "<I am sorry, Posse. Perhaps /I/ should have an orange badge too. Or be banished.>" Hank gathers his thoughts, and then he forges on. "<The entity inside her feeds on metahumans and apparently prime apex predators, like the hounds. I was not given proof of this however until we were buried alive with the matron hound. At that time I witnessed her…eating the matron, but not her body or flesh, something else.>" Hank's misery is plain. "<She begged me to keep silence, then swore me to secrecy, and I agreed so long as she let me research a cure for her condition and that she confined her predation to the latter not the former. She can be quite persuasive. I am violating that trust by revealing this, but you're right…the threat is bigger than my word, and I accept any censure you'd care to levy.>"

He actually sounds relieved, the secret was /eating/ at him.

"<Just give me 110% on seeing this through. I don't give a damn about the rest until we're all sitting quietly back at base,>" Ava answers simply, tersely, and so much is the reprimand Beast receives. The chief of security has bigger fish to fry. "<-Hold on I've got another RESCUE hail,>" she interjects, and then the line is placed on hold.

"<Posse here, go ahead,>" she permits quick and clean to the radio operator, and then it's her turn to listen. As the message plays, a hot sigh of annoyance momentarily fogs the inside of her facemask. "Always cryptic," she mutters before keying her radio. "<Roger, thanks for the intel. Reroute a flight of humblebees out there but keep 'em stealthy.>"

And then it's a click back to Hank's frequency. "<Back. What counts as a 'prime apex predator' for her?>"

"Re-routing flock three, ma'am. Maintaining stealth, estimate time on target eighteen minutes." One of the drone operators reports for Posse.

"<I can't say as I know how to give less than that, Posse. Not my nature to stint.>" And…that's why he drives himself into the ground with great frequency, and needed Catseye to program a /nag/ program to make sure he did minor things like /eat/, and that would actually shut down his lab at the Institute if he went too long without proper food or rest. She was INSIDIOUS about it too, buried the code all over the network, hardware that would rewrite it, ROMs that would lie in wait and restore it. Hank /could/ have, eventually, -Maybe- gotten rid of it…but the effort would have been massive, and really…he's smart enough to know he needed it.

Hank holds, and finally has his fur sorted enough to put on some shorts. That done, he settles down to wait. When Ava returns with another question, he sighs gustily. "<I have little idea, we'd have to test it, so far the only example we've found was the matron hound, I'm not sure the younger ones were strong enough, but I can't be sure. Too many variables I cannot and could not assess under the elevated circumstances of the fights.>"

"<Understood, that's enough to start with,>" Posse radios back to the scientist. "<Anything else to report about her?>"

"<Yes…she's terrified of losing her position at RESCUE, that's one of the arguments used to sway me. She's afraid of messing up her burgeoning connections here and that sparked her to react as she always does…by hiding her perceived weaknesses. In her old world I can only posit that weakness is death, and so that's /all/ she knows.>" And the way he stated that is subtle, but definite, acknowledgement of Ava and Neena's relationship. "<This is new ground for her, I believe. Genuinely good people, people who against all her prior experience will back her up, who care about her, and who she has come to truly value.>" A nod, not that Ava can see it. "<Even to love…regardless, other than that, I have no other insights or data to offer.>"

"<That I can work through,>" Ava assures without seeming to acknowledge the implied message. The task was going to fall on her no matter what. "<I already know she's a good-hearted idiot, she knows she's a good-hearted idiot. I have /assumed/ the wrong level of idiots involved.>"

Fifteen minutes later, footage and telemetry from the drone flock comes in, and Ava is called once again. "Ma'am, we have a visual on the site. Feeding to your augmented reality subsystem now."

What is revealed is a location under cover, with no overhead exposure, which shows not just one spherical teleport, but a ragged series of imperfectly concentric radii indicating repeated teleportations, and radiation and atmospheric readings that back up that conclusion.

The flock also found, along one wall of the structure, a series of chalk-drawn notes:

8 trips back and forth
heavy loads
combination of cyborg and human wokers
eighteen different scents
most recent still six hours old
no scent trails leaving

Posse leans herself back against a wall as her HUD switches over and the holograms projections of drone footage illuminate her face with splashes of colors. It always makes for a disorienting journey.

As the video concludes and reflected light fades from the cyborg's visor, she lifts her rifle and absent-mindedly checks the safety, then taps the battery pack to ensure it's fully seated. "Well that settles it then. Robo-Rambo know where to find our stray cat."

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