Friday morning. The sun has only just risen and is finding it hard to dispel the cool of the morning and the heavy fog that blankets the campus. There is a knock on Amanda's door. Two Huntresses have come to visit and they are prepared for war. Brigitte carries a large gym bag that clinks with metal inside when she walks - that will be full of weapons then. With her is Magda. "Do you think she's awake?" she asks the other woman. "Or alone?"
The door opens not too long afterwards, and Amanda is ready as well. "So, where're we of to?" she asks Brigitte. She's carrying her usual bag of anti-spooky stuff. It's basic stuff, but every little helps.
Striding alongside Brigitte, wearing her racing leathers and looking so deeply professional as she checks herself over, all that crisp professionalism is marred by that second question of Brigitte's. Still hopelessly naive in many ways, she signs out, 'Why wouldn't she be alone?' with the befuddled tilt of her head before Amanda is opening that door. She blinks, and despite not knowing quite the context of what Brigitte was asking, still manages to blush, offering Amanda a faint, tentative wave of her hand.
"Aurore will be meeting us downstairs" Brigitte informs the others before turning for the stairs. "Where we're going? What's the matter, Amanda, don't like surprises?" she teases. Brigitte is carrying a large gym bag that clinks with hidden metal weapons within. She is dressed in leathers, like Magda, so they probably brought their bikes with them and have then parked outside Amanda's dorm. They emerge into the foggy world of early Friday morning.
Aurore has her own leather-clad rump propped against the back of a bench close to the entrance, legs crossed at the ankle and arms folded across her chest as she awaits her companions. One hand comes up to finger-wave, as she flashes a swift grin. "Hi, folks."
Hands crossed daintily over her stomach, Magda hardly looks the type to be ready to go off on some dangerous mission. But, appearances can sometimes be deceiving. Sometimes. Even warned as she was, hearing Aurore's voice through the fog makes the girl jump -just- a bit in surprise, choking back a startled gasp. She clears her throat, too proud to acknowledge her surprise, and offers Aurore a slightly (-slightly-...) awkward wave, coupled with a small, friendly smile.
Amanda waves to Magda, and texts her several pizza emoji. "SO, what's the plan? We got somewhere we need to be?" she asks the others.
"Hey, Aurore, looking good" Brigitte smiles over to the native woman before smiling fondly at Magda's attempt to stay cool. "Okay" she says to the others, finding a place to stand where she can address them all. "We're heading into that storeroom where that kid and the professor 'killed each other'." She even does airquotes. "It sounds like there's a whole bunch of relics down there...and worse...so we need to go and check it out. You girls all know about this stuff, I'm just here to watch over you. Amanda, make sure we get everything recorded?"
"I can't claim to know anyone involved, really. Sorting of... 'nodding terms' with Professor Griffith. We knew each other about well enough to say hello in passing," Aurore says, rich voice sad and low. "It certainly sounds rather profoundly out of character for what I know of him. And I can see what I can do to help with assessing the place."
Amanda nods. "Will do!" she says, patting the video camera round her neck. "Is there anything we should know before we get in that?" she asks.
Seeing those lines of pizza emoji, Magda can't help but smile a little. She types back a line of hungry faces in response before her icy blue eyes lift up to Brigitte, her Game Face settling in. It fails to look dangerous, but she at least looks professional. Hearing the mission summarized, Magda nods her head once in the affirmative. And just prepares herself for whatever craziness may come, giving a nod in Amanda's direction at the girl's question before looking back Brigitte's way.
"The only thing I can tell you, Amanda, is this had nothing to do with a love triangle. Those people found...something...in there, and we need to see what it was" Brigitte explains before nodding to Aurore. "Yeah, I didn't think he was the type. Let's go." Brigitte leads the trio across the campus and to an old building that houses the Anthropology Faculty. Beneath the building are vast storerooms that haven't been cataloged in a long time. That was what was happening when the incident occurred.
Brigitte removes what is left of the police tape blocking their way and heads down the stairs to the hallway where all the rooms branch off. "It was the one at the end" she whispers to the others. "I can watch over you from the door while you explore if that's good with you. Take care of yourselves."
"Okay...." Aurore peers dubiously down the corridor. "An option is for me to sit here for a while, trying out some of my rites to see if I can discern anything useful. There's a good chance that I won't, and that you'll just get bored while I learn nothing of any use... but it *could* be worthwhile as a first step before we go in."
Amanda gets some footage of the corridor as they walk towards the storeroom door, then turns off the camera so they can talk. "So, who wants to go in first?" she asks the others.
At Brigitte's words, Magda blinks. She peers off towards that other end, and nods slowly, signing out, 'Be careful, too,' to the Frenchwoman, concern marking her features for a brief moment even though the woman is staying here. She considers Amanda's words, and then Aurore's, brows furrowing together before she types. 'I have something I can try as well if we wish to wait for Aurore before we head in, but it is not a guarantee.' The vague words written are coupled with an apologetic smile of a girl perhaps ashamed of her particular talents.
"If it helps, go for it Aurore" Brigitte says to the native before nodding to Magda. "You do your thing too then." A wry smile before she teases, "Not that other thing you're good at. Amanda, can you set up a camera in the hall while we wait? Maybe link it with your computer, or however you do it, so it can alert us if anything moves? We really need motion activated cameras."
Aurore unslings the small pack from her back, hefting it in one hand as she nods to Brigitte. "I'll - hopefully - only need a couple of minutes for these. Basic investigations tend to be a lot quicker than erecting a warding." She then sets about sorting out a rather basic ritual kit, starting with a groundmat decorated with assorted runes, onto which she folds herself amidst the protesting creaks of her leathers. A couple of white candles follow, to be set either side of a silvery bowl, into which she pours water from a wooden flask. An old-fashioned metal lighter applies flame to each of the two wicks... then she seems to start meditating...
Amanda nods, and starts setting up and jury-rigging something to monitor the hallway and the door they go into. "Means I can't film inside the room itself," she adds.
A furious little blush blooms across Magda's pale cheeks at Brigitte's quip, looking terribly embarrassed for a few, excruciating moments -- which really doesn't help her achieve the calm she needs. Eventually, though, she manages to settle down, closing her eyes and sucking in a breath. She settles down into a sitting position on the hard floor next to Aurore's mat, closes her eyes, and concentrates -- dredging into that infernal blood of hers to start to try to pull out those grim visions of the future to her sight.
"You only have one camera?" Brigitte asks Amanda - she seems surprised. "Then take it with you. I'll do all the watching out here." She watches Aurore do her thing, not sure if she should be quiet or not but deciding to stay that way. "Magda's going to join Cerberus" she notes to Amanda. "We have a huge storeroom under the junkyard if you ever need anything. It's open to all."
With a speed that might startle those accustomed to Aurore's defensive warding efforts, the ritualist seems to progress through her murmuring and meditating and gentle brushing of hands through the candle-flames at an actually-perceptible rate. After only a couple of minutes, she takes a long, slow breath, lifting her head.
"All right... hrrrm. One piece of good news is that the laws of physical reality are not breaking down here. This is not, at least yet, a site inherently prone to unusual happenings. There does not appear to be anything visibly awry in the physical side of things... which consists of a very large number of boxes, stacked in aisles. But there is one ghost, standing at the end of one aisle. Very old-fashioned safari suit, complete with Pith helmet. Extreme head trauma; a large part of his brain is spattered over his face. He's presently unaware of me, and seems docile."
Amanda chuckles and says, "Yeah, I only have so many shoulders sweetie," she teases to Brigitte. "Thanks," she adds, before taking the camera and getting ready to enter the room. "I'll go in first, get shots of what's there, in our plane of existence, then others can come in and try and communicate with him."
There's a small nod, a proud smile, as Brigitte remarks on Magda joining Cerberus; the young mute seems quite pleased with this fact, if her expression is any indication. But when Aurore finishes with a surprising amount of speed, the Lucifuge focuses in on the woman, listening to her speak with the faintest of frowns and the slightest of nods. Remarks on a ghost make her narrow her eyes. But, if he's docile... She gives a nod to Amanda, brows furrowing inward faintly. She pulls out her phone again to type, 'I will cover you if anything goes wrong.' Though she's not really sure what she could do to a ghost.
Brigitte could make a comment about all the other weight Amanda carries but restrains herself. A nod to Amanda heading into the room before she gestures to Magda to follow. "Remember, be careful" she says to the Lucifuge before opening up the bag and handing her a shotgun. "It may not work on ghosts but something made it a ghost." Brigitte takes out a shotgun for herself before looking over to Aurore. "You staying here to talk with it?"
"It's possible that he's simply an 'echo', of a sort. Many ghosts are just... reflections. Lacking appreciable consciousness. But there's a good chance that I'll be able to talk to him. And, depending on his talents and inclinations, he might be able to talk to the rest of you as well. I'm afraid that I can't extend my *own* perceptions to anyone else. Nor can I converse with him through the scrying: I'll need to head in." As Aurore talks, she deftly packs up her ritual kit, snuffing out the candles before tipping the water back into the flask, then furling the mat and returning it all to her pack. "I'm able to keep the ghost-sight running as I move around and talk, but not the scrying. And, ahh, yeah. Congratulations, Magda. The bunker there is astonishing. Been meaning to talk about getting permanent access, myself. But... I'll follow Amanda in, since I can actually see and hear how the ghost might respond to our arrival."
Amanda nods, then starts recording before heading into the room. She's careful to take it slow so she's not surprised by anything, hopefully.
As that shotgun is handed off, Magda wraps hands securely around it; for all her general awkwardness, this much she seems to handle with relative ease, holding the firearm like she was born to. She nods once to Brigitte, giving that little 'you too!!' stare before considering Aurore's words. There's a fascination there for the information that she offers, but Magda stows her curiosity in the interest of pursuing the mission, following after Amanda to cover her as she pushes into the room, icy blue eyes on the alert.
There is a chill to the room. The shelves, groaning under the weight of boxes and crates, are all the way up to the high ceiling. Each aisle is overstuffed with more boxes and papers. The light from one aisle not reaching another through the wall of paraphernalia, so on the corridors where the lights are out it is just darkness. The crates usually have some code number upon them - somewhere it probably tells where it came from - but for the most part there is no origin on them. And they are all old. Very old. The musty air thick to breathe but everything seems silent...at least for now.
Amanda makes sure to record as much as she can, and makes her way to where Aurore said the ghost was. She wishes she had some of that fancy ghost-hunting equipment right about now."
Aurore's quite willing to quietly collaborate, letting Amanda get some footage of the room, before directing her to the correct aisle once she requests it. She keeps ears and eyes open for any response from the ghost, and her otherworldly senses pricked for anything else that might join him or be drawn to their presence.
Sticking close behind Amanda as she records, Magda brings up the rear for now behind the other two girls, keeping that gun at the ready just in case. She has no supernatural senses -- but those icy blue eyes remain peeled for anything out of the ordinary the deeper they go, forcing herself not to cough at the thick, musty dust in the air as she peers at those crates and their code numbers with furrowed brows.
At the end of the ghost's aisle are large boxes propped up vertically against the wall...coffin size. Perhaps some sarcophagi of an ancient African empire? They are carved from ebony and are covered in dust. The ghost looks up as the trio approach. It stares at them before reaching out. It opens its mouth to 'speak' but the absence of a spectral version of a tongue seems to stop it.
Aurore winces, eyeing the ghost with sympathetic concern that's quite evident to her physical side companions. "Our dead companion is in front of those sarcophagi," she says softly. "He had his tongue removed, ante-mortem. A trauma that has carried over to his form now." Frowning worriedly, she offers a half-bow. "Can you understand me, sir? I can see and hear you, should you have means of communication. If not, then we can endeavour to make do with gestures, and simple queries answerable yes, no, or maybe."
Amanda stops recording, allowing Aurore and the others to speak and move without fearing being associated with Hunter activities. She stands besides Aurore, waiting to help if/when she can.
Blue eyes turn, towards the coffin-sized boxes, brows furrowing with curiosity at those ebony sights. It's such that she doesn't quite notice the ghost trying to speak before Aurore points it out; blinking, Magda looks at the specter... and her brows furrow in sympathy for the man's voicelessness. Shotgun lowered a bit to ensure him it is no threat, she steps forward and nods at Aurore's words, pointing to her own throat as if to indicate her lack of a voice, too. Sympathetic.
The ghost does indeed slowly come into the view of all. It stares at Magda's charade before holding up its hand in a gesture to 'stop'. And then it is trying to wave them away with some urgency.
One of the sarcophagi lids flies off and slams into the shelf opposite. Emerging from the darkness of the interior looms a tall, thin figure. Its black skin pale, covered with some kind of white dust. Its eyes blank, no pupils to disturb the white. In its right hand is a huge war club, the head dark and matted with hair.
Amanda quickly starts recording again to get footage of the figure. She takes a few steps back to keep a safe distance away.
Aurore lets out a quiet little squeak, backing up hurriedly. "That's neither spiritual nor ghostly," she says hurriedly, still moving towards the door. "Try not to blast anything except the critter. We don't know if there's anything bound into stuff in here. We could try drawing it out to the corridor?"
Instantly, that shotgun is back up. Eyes narrowed, Magda points her weapon at the black-skinned, dusted creature that slides free from its busted confines. She focuses inward -- but the surprise gets the better of her. Unable to call upon those powers of hers right now, she gives a firm not toward Aurore, gesturing for her and Amanda to get back -- to start to move out toward the corridor. She'll follow soon after, that gun trained on the creature the entire time she moves with narrowed, concentrating eyes.
The figure moves slowly but deliberately. It turns to face the retreating trio and walks forward. Its long legs stepping over crates and papers without even acknowledging their presence. It stares ahead...no pupils to look at one of the other...lifting its club upwards to slam down and crush the skull of any who is not quick enough.
Aurore has no intention of hanging around to find out just how dangerous this thing might be, instead planning on getting right out into the corridor - and indeed, to the far side of Brigitte. Two shotguns sounds like a better bet than one, to her.
Amanda's quick to stop recording and nope the fuck out of there. She has no intention of being in the way of the figure or the guns and her shoes can be heard striking the floor as she runs away and behind the gun carriers.
That club swings, and Magda is practically leaping backwards, stumbling across the aisle as she waves that gun threateningly at the creature, as if to try to draw its attention towards her rather than Aurore or Amanda. She fires a warning shot into the air, the deafening crack meant to not only grab the creature's attention, but hopefully Brigitte's as well before Magda scrambles back out toward the corridor behind her two companions, eyes widen and on the alert. That club is going to -hurt- if it manages to reach her.
Brigitte was quietly watching the corridor until suddenly there is gunfire and two Huntresses dashing past her. "This doesn't look good" she mutters before suddenly looking worried - where's Magda? Ah, there she is. "What..." she begins to ask before the cause of all the commotion appears at the doorway. "Okay...why am I reminded of Mali?" She raises her shotgun. "You getting all this, Amanda?"
Amanda can be heard saying "Nope nope nope nope nope nope," as she makes her way down the corridor with a brief, "Few seconds of it!" to Brigitte.
"You can tell us about Mali later... though the sarcophagus it came out of did look rather African," Aurore says from behind Brigitte. She's come to a halt a few paces back, so as not to get in the way of the more combatively-minded types, but isn't bailing out entirely - at least, not yet. She seems inclined to find out just what shotguns might do to the thing... while trying to come up with precisely what it might be.
It isn't too long before Magda is reaching that corridor where Brigitte is, looking relieved as Amanda rushes past to safety. She's instantly turning around and training that shotgun on the approaching creature, sparing Brigitte a questioning look as the woman mentions a Mali, her eyes are trained back on the creature. She waits exactly the amount of time it takes for that creature to get into the shotgun's firing range -- and then she's squeezing on that trigger without a second's thought, eyes looking more resolved in blasting a horrible thing with a giant club than she does about most mundane things.
Brigitte trains her shotgun on the tall figure and fires alongside Magda. Their shells taking chunks out of the 'man' but still it strides towards them...albeit a lot more holy than before.
The giant of a man raises his club and brings it down hard on Magda. The thick wooden club slamming into her shoulder, a cracking noise not a good sign for the Lucifuge.
There is a sickening crack -- Magda's eyes widen as pain surges through her entire body, feeling as if that shoulder has dislocated as the mighty blow sends her much smaller body down into the ground. Hitting earth in a kneel, the mute's teeth grit -- and she swings that shotgun up, ignoring the pain of the kickback as she fires off one round upwards into the creature with a fierce frown and a faint wince.
Aurore hovers anxiously behind the two active warriors, inwardly cursing herself for not bringing a shotgun herself... even as her ears ring and her head throbs in response to the swift succession of detonations in the confined space.
The man's head explodes in a fountain of brains and blood. His tall body crumpling to the floor and sending up a cloud of white dust on impact. Brigitte would admire Magda's shot if she wasn't too worried about the injury. "Let me have a look at it" she urges the Lucifuge before wincing as she pokes at it. "Okay, we need to get that set, mon amor...and popped back in. Are you okay, Aurore? Amanda?" A look down the hall with that second name but she is nowhere to be seen. "I'm going to get this body hidden...where did it come from?"
"Stack of sarcophagi at the back of the room. I *hope* it's the only one, erm, active. I'd guess that the catalogers broke a seal, or something," Aurore provides, anxiously trying to simultaneously study both Magda and the fallen monstrosity. "I can try checking with the ghost whether any others are active, before you start trying to stuff that thing back in its box."
Shotgun falling limply to her side, Magda rubs at her injured shoulder with a slight wince. At Brigitte's worrying, she smiles, signing that she's alright with one hand as best she can -- trying to assuage the other woman's concerns, before giving a simple, slow nod to that assessment. When Aurore explains, Magda nods once more, slowly drawing herself back up onto her feet with a slow grimace as she grabs hold of the shotgun once more. Other hand dangling just a bit limply, she gestures with that gun, as if to indicate she'll come with to help however she can.
Brigitte nods to Aurore. "Okay, have a chat to the ghost." She picks up the club, looking over the matted blood and hair upon it. "This is recent" she notes, "Not decades old." Leaning the club against the wall she takes the ankles of the body and starts to drag it towards the door.
"I'd guess this thing's responsible for the, ahh, 'love triangle killings'," Aurore suggests, moving ahead to peek inside, peering around before risking stepping in and moving to get a view of the ghost and the sarcophagi behind him. "Though how anyone was able to get in to the bodies... perhaps they fled a little way, and he only activates when someone gets near his sarcophagus...." Looking to the ghost, she offers him a rueful smile.
"Thank you for the warning. I hope that you can help us a little more. Are there more of these things waiting to, ahh, become active?" She pauses a moment to let the ghost respond. "And do you think it would be safe to hide this one's remains in the vessel he came out of?"
As Brigitte starts to drag the body, Magda looks down at it with furrowed brows. She looks towards Brigitte again, before signing out in simple, single-handed gestures a somewhat roundabout, 'Do you need help?' managing to look concerned about the body being too much for Brigitte to handle alone, even as she glances, briefly, in the direction of Aurore and the ghost.
The ghost looks relieved to see the returning huntresses. To her two questions it offers a shake of its head followed by a nod. But then it tries to mime being hit over the head and gesturing to the hand that deals the damage.
"You're hurt" Brigitte states simply to Magda. "I don't want you getting hurt even more. I can handle it." She drags the corpse through the crowded aisle and towards the empty sarcophagus.
Aurore nods to the ghost, frowning pensively... before looking back to the others. "If I'm reading that right, there might be power in the club - or perhaps tattooed onto that thing's hand, or the like. Either could make sense, for a vengeful striker-down of those the creator wanted to punish." She looks back to the ghost to check whether she's hopelessly misunderstanding.
Brigitte glances up at the ghost as she listens to Aurore's take - it seems to still be visible, barely, to all. "Unless that club is what killed him and it's an anchor" she suggests with a shrug. "But I don't really know this stuff." Then she is pushing the headless body into the sarcophagus and dragging over the lid to place back on. She jogs out into the hall, grabs the club and brings it back inside to present to the ghost. The happy spook grinning as it 'grabs' the club and slowly disappears from view - both in the real world and in the twilight.
"Well, that's certainly a form of power," Aurore says dryly... smiling as she watches the ghost fade. "He's gone from Twilight, too. And I can't sense *any* ghosts in the vicinity now. So congratulations. And that does very strongly imply that this thing" - she nods to the shotgunned corpse - "is rather definitively dealt with. C'mon. I'll give you a hand, getting it tucked away."