The Hunter Files

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Tamlin, Apr 8, 2014.

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  1. “What do you MEAN I’m going to Hungary?” To say that this had come as a surprise would be a lie; she’d heard the whispers around the water cooler and had gotten more than a nudge of two in her direction about picking up the story but…

    “You avoid me for damn near a week and THEN drop this on me? I’ve got four articles I’m pushing as is and two of my best people are out of commission with the flu, Jack, how am I supposed to just up and go to Hungary?” She would ALSO be lying if she were to say that she wasn’t dying to go. But jumping at opportunities and acting as though she were excited about such a thing would be the surest way for Jack, her slightly overweight and always red-cheeked boss, to pull her from the assignment. Having worked with the man for nearly three years she knew just the buttons to push and how hard to push them.

    “Come on, Robin, you know you’re the only one qualified. Hell, you’re the only one with any sort of self-defense course under their belt and combined with your in the field experience you’re the only one who could handle something like this.” Not QUITE begging, but close enough. She sighed, pushing her glasses up from the bridge of her nose and hiding her smirk with the same hand. Like a violin.

    “You know you’re paying me overtime the ENTIRE time I’m there, right?” He sighed. “AND for all my expenses?” Be difficult; add far too much to the deal and he’s more willing to give you more.

    “Done.” She’d blinked, of course she’d blinked; it was unusual for him to take her offers to easily. Then again, he wasn’t kidding when he’d mentioned the self defense courses. The part of Hungary she was to be sent to was not normally considered a dangerous place. However, between the string of murders which had garnered the attention of the US underground and the fact that Jack was beginning to smell a cover-up about to occur, it would be far more dangerous than a simple vacation for her.

    “And someone will need to feed Bitsy.”


    “My cat.”

    “…Robin you don’t have a cat.”

    “I do as of two days ago.” She shrugged and began gathering up her articles; she would not get any more work finished with her blood boiling the way it was now. But Jack was nodding and gently taking the files from her hands.

    “Listen I know it’s short notice but…we managed to book you a flight for two days from now, 4 AM. We’ll have someone drive you.” He offered a grim smile and Robin paused for only a moment before relinquishing her files and nodding along with him. In the end, she served the lady Justice, just as Jack did. Which was why, in the end, he had finally chosen her. She would not give up, would not be scared off, before she blew the lid off of whatever the hell was happening in that Hungarian city.

    This was, long story short, how Robin Landers found herself mimicking the actions of those around her as she prepared for landing. She was, at the moment, at a severe disadvantage without the understanding of their language but had been assured by Jack just before leaving her office the previous day, that she would be met at the airport by an interpreter. Feeling anxious and exhausted, she braced for impact and accepted the smooth rumblings of the plane as it landed in Borgond, just on the outskirts of Budapest. She was somewhat embarrassed to admit that Budapest was the only place in the entire damn country she’d ever paid attention to. As her chatty neighbors made to stand, Robin’s eyebrows knit together as she attempted to remember the exact spelling and pronunciation of Szekesfehervar and found, with increasing frustration, that she could not without the help of her notepad. She hoped, rather, that her guide would be able to make up for her severe inability to pronounce…well...anything. This was not the first time Robin had been forced to rely on the assistance of a native and she was certain that Jack would not pair her with someone he did not trust...nevertheless she was prepared for the young woman whose picture Jack had given her upon her departure.
  2. To say that Robin was frustrated, now, would have been quite the stretch.

    Because pissed right the fuck off would have been a better choice of words. She’d wandered around the airport for nearly three hours, holding her photograph and attempting (through the use of a phrase translation book she’d purchased just before leaving) to brokenly ask if anyone had seen the woman, but alas, to no avail. It seemed that no one, not a single damn person, had seen anyone even resembling her guide. Robin was further frustrated when, after attempting to contact Jack, she'd reached his voicemail. Multiple times. And left multiple messages, of course, but these were not things which helped her now. Now that the airport was closing for the evening and she had only just procured a rough map of the immediate area after an equally broken conversation with one of the Help Desk clerks shortly before being escorted from the airport.

    Now, standing outside with her enormous backpack and duffel bag, the sun just beginning to fall below the horizon, Robin peered blearily at the map. She had looked up all possible words for hotel and motel and hostel and was currently doing her best to spot one on the map. While many people might be frustrated, pulling at their hair or upset, crying over being lost and left alone, Robin was fueled by a fairly consistent wave of fury which seemed to ebb and flow with some unknowable tide. This was not the first time Jack had fucked up over her years working with him but it WAS the first time he'd fucked things up so severely. No guide, no answer from her publisher and a near constant growling in her belly which was threatening to begin cramping if she didn't find some food soon. Still, this anger kept herself steady, aware and focused unlike allowing her frustration or any sort of sadness to take hold.

    After nearly ten minutes she spotted something which looked the closest to the word "hotel" in her traveler's guide on the map and, after folding the map so that the path was more clearly defined and repositioning her bags, she set off, ignoring the stares of the men nearby. She'd already tried asking for help and, since she was apparently incapable of this as well, Robin was left to hope that she had chosen the right marker on the map.

    By the time she had reached the halfway point the sun had set and a chill had settled in the air. Though outfitted with a thick jumper and heavy coat, the chill managed to seep past all the barriers to begin soaking into her very bones. It was growing more and more difficult to read the street signs and she could feel her frustration beginning to fuel her anger.

    And it was at that point that Robin realized she was being followed. Whether it was the nearly silent sound of footsteps behind her, the hairs raising on the back of her neck, or the sudden awareness that she was being stared at, the woman knew better than to turn around. She did not increase her pace so much so that it would be noticed as she turned a corner, but she was certainly making better time than she had moments prior. The footsteps, too, increased, matching her speed yet staying far enough back that an unobservant person might have missed them. Again she sped up and again they matched her. A quick glance down at her map and she was making another turn-

    Into a dead-ended alley.

    Robin's blood ran cold and the first bolt of fear raced through her heart as she cursed herself for her stupidity. Whether she'd read the map incorrectly due to her carelessness or the map was outdated, or worst of all, whether she'd been led there, Robin had made a wrong turn and the sudden sound of feet against stone told her that this was expected. She whirled then, dropping both her duffel and backpack as she took a defensive stance-

    Three of them. There were three of them standing there; they couldn't have been more than 22, young and wild-eyed with the prospect of a catch. Though she did not pay particular attention to her own appearance she was aware that the world thought her attractive enough and as their eyes roved over her body she realized that this was a particularly bad time to be a young woman. Standing there, now, unable to hide the shaking in her hands as she attempted to figure in two more attackers to the scenarios she'd begun to go through in her mind, Robin realized that she was in more than a spot of trouble. One of them, the one in the middle, opened his mouth and said something in their native tongue which set the other two off in a fit of near psychotic giggles. The one of his right responded and the middle one grinned as they simultaneously began to advance.

    "Listen, fuckers, just because I don't speak your language doesn't mean I don't know how to scream." Which she immediately began to do, calling FIRE and HELP and other wordless cries for assistance. This seemed to take them by surprise for a moment and she used this opportunity to knee the closest one, the one who had yet to speak, in the groin. Amidst his strangled cries of pain she laced her hands together and brought them down on the sensitive spot where the neck connects to the torso. Fast but...not fast enough. A blow seemed to come from nowhere, winding her as it landed directly on her stomach. She hunched over, shuffling away as she covered her abdomen with her forearms, head raised as far as she could. A foot this time, kicking her jaw and sending her flying backwards to land, head and shoulders first, against the stoney ground. She flipped herself over, gasping as pain jolted through her wounded body. She seen it in their eyes; beating her would not be enough. Murder would, in all probability, not be enough. Had to get away, had to find a weapon, before they-

    And that was when she was winded, aware that one of them had just dropped heavily onto her back; she was seeing stars, unable to draw breath even to scream as the other two closed in.

    Fucking Jack.
  3. It was the screams that drew them, always the screams. Pleas and curses, attempts to find someone, anyone that could help allay the suffering that they were about to be subjected to. Only this time it was different, the sounds as alien as the being with which he shared his existence. Dimly the aggregate provided translation, soundlessly mimicking, pouring context directly into his mind as they moved across the rooftops. Moving with animal swiftness they passed over what streets lay between them and the terrible sounds, slowing as they drew near. A shimmer was all that heralded them, a bending of the light as if the very air had turned to liquid.

    The scene that unfolded below was just as the others, a sharp streak of anger running through them as the woman was struck. Dull, the sound of impact carried on crisp air cooled all the more by coming dark. Shadows had turned to swallow the alley and its contents piecemeal. Into one of these blackened streaks they dropped in predatory silence. Glimpsed by one of the three who turned, cautious words were cast over one shoulder to be ignored by the others. Too intent were they on conquest to see the silhouette that rose between them, rippling like water as the darkness rolled away to reveal the hunter's form.

    A strangled cry finally caught their attention as the aggregate lashed out, a single arm-thick tendril wrapping tightly about his neck to lift him kicking. The others stood paralyzed, staring at the writhing back of what they knew not, dim rumors trickling through their brainmeats. Sounds of asphyxia were loud in sudden silence, all sense of animal enjoyment broken as as life ebbed from their companion. Urged by their leader the other sprang forth with a trembling yell, as if in some way he knew it would be in vain. Just as quickly he was dropped as the hunter turned, leaving a fist-shaped dent in his skull.

    Time had come to a crawl at the moment of impact, the stalker turned prey backing slowly away as the bodies of his companions fell to earth. In a flash he was tackled into the deepest shadows, his killer's efforts carrying them past the woman they were to ravish. Screams of terror turned to liquid as they thrashed unseen, reaching a fevered pitch and falling silent. Then the sounds of feeding began. Caught by a fortuitous placement of polished metal, cast in a stream of dying sunlight the hunter was revealed as they hunched over the body of their meal.

    Writhing motions dominated the scene, nearly overshadowing the unfortunate soul beneath them. Gripping him by his shirt they lifted his head, cradling it in their free hand as, with supple motions his face was lathed by a tongue thick as a lizard's tail. Visibly the flesh so touched began to sag, saliva thick and ichorous hissing as it dripped to stone below. So softened it vanished as needle teeth set within carmine gums cranked slowly shut. The sunbeam passed and in an instant the scene was lost.
  4. Robin was….confused. She lay where she had fallen, the rough stone cutting into her palms and a stinging on her chin indicating that she had scraped it when she’d landed, unable to register or understand what was happening. The weight of the boy was gone, off her back, as was the presence of the others. Gone. It was, perhaps, the simplest way to describe where they were now, what had happened to them over the course of, perhaps, two minutes. She ached, limbs and torso and head and skin, but that was for another time, another moment when her brain could fully comprehend it all. Adrenaline continued to rush through her, heart pounding erratically as her every instinct screamed at her to run.

    Somewhere, amidst all of her mental confusion, the journalist in her forced details of the murders here, the murders she had been sent to investigate, to the forefront of her mind. Images of deformed bodies and mangled faces jumped to the forefront of her mind. Memos, circled and highlighted and underlined, surfaced next; darkness. The murders always took place at night or, to the best of any alleged witness, in the darkest depths of a shadowed place. Evidence…there would be no evidence, as there had never BEEN any evidence. The woman’s hands curled into loose, shaky fists as she pushed herself to her feet, gasping in shock as she attempted to acclimate to the light ripping in her belly, the aching in her head and jaw.

    Standing, now, Robin turned her gaze to where she’d last heard the noises, trying desperately to ignore the sounds coming from that dark corner and the fluttering of her heart in her chest. Whatever vestiges of sanity remaining in her begged her to run, to escape while whatever was making those horrific noises just out of sight was preoccupied with its’…meal. Robin felt her gorge rise, queasy empty stomach heaving as the sounds intensified. But she would not run. Could not run. Not now. Not so close to a breakthrough that everyone else had skirted, had run from or missed throughout the whole affair. But then…what was she to do? For the first time in what felt like ages, nothing came to mind. Words appeared to have escaped her and it was as though she were struck mute. Her throat constricted, fear silencing her…but then that was alright, wasn’t it? Fear was acceptable, after what had just occurred? What had ALMOST occurred?

    “Hello?” Even she was surprised when, a single, simple word slipped free from trembling lips, eyes wide and staring unblinking into the darkness.
  5. The sound of a voice was surprising, a thing that made as much sense as the act which currently held their attention. Gobbets of gray matter streaked with red and mixed with the remnants of softened skull fragments colored the whole of their shared perspective, scent and texture clouding all perception. But when the voice spoke the human half reacted, stiffening even as the aggregate continued to feed until at last what had once been a delinquent's head was now little more than a hollowed bowl of gore. Grunting in satisfaction they began to clean, licking stray flecks from chin and claws until at last their minds rejoined in realization that they were being watched.

    As the last rays of a dying sun slanted down the alleyway the creature slowly emerged. What could be called skin rippled continuously, catching light and casting it away, squirming pseudopodia extending only to wriggle about before resolving back into the rest. Gray overall was the color it held, broken only by brief transparency and the dripping, tooth-lined wound that was its mouth. Above this twin lenses of unbroken black served as slanting eyes which observed her with unreadable intensity. Moving almost bonelessly they traced a half-circle around the woman that had not had the good sense to flee, her scent palpable in the still-warm air. Unease mixed with deodorant or perfume, the artificial smell standing in sharp contrast to rotting garbage and human excreta. When at last they stopped the alley lay clear in either direction, its intention apparently to allow her easy access to the street beyond or the bodies already forgotten.

    They spoke not a word, merely watched and waited for further action, both halves curious as to why out of all the others their need had inadvertently saved this one did not run.
  6. Robin felt her gorge rise, bile stinging the back of her throat as the creature entered her line of sight, moving into the remaining vestiges of sunlight with a grace that was both ethereal and terrifying. And yes, it WAS a creature, wasn’t it? Her eyes, sharp and aware despite the sick feeling deep in her gut, understood that she was looking at something with a human shape. Something which walked on two legs, had to arms, a head and two alien looking peepers to boot. But nothing human could do what it had just done, right? She watched it, nevertheless, as acutely as it seemed to be watching her. His gaze burned holes in the back of her skull, setting her skin aflame with the fuzzy tingles she’d come to associate with being observed. Intelligent. Whatever this thing was, it was no mindless killer. She waited, unable to hide the shaking in her limbs and only just able to control her urge to run as it circled around behind her and stopped-


    Yes, it had stopped seemingly mid-stride. Robin’s gaze slide to the left, then to the right, confirming what her intuition had told her. It had left the way out clear and was watching her now, waiting to see… What? If she would bolt? If she would stay? Some more miserable part of her subconscious had already acknowledged that she would not run, could not run, so long as this opportunity presented itself. Her throat clicked as she tried working saliva back into her mouth, mind stuttering to a start as she tried to think of what an almost victim might say to the unusually inhuman creature which had just saved her from her demise by ingesting the people almost responsible? Her stomach flip-flopped again and she was sure she would start heaving, mouth parting, only to surprise only herself by speaking.

    “You…saved me.” She swallowed a few times, realizing how utterly stupid she sounded, assuming it could even understand her. Hysteria bubbled up in her thoughts stamped down by what little rational thought she had managed to maintain; this thing would probably not like to be laughed at, no matter how insane the circumstances.

    “You stopped them… I…” She paused. ‘Gentle now, Robin. Gentle with the creature…’

    “Thank you.” It was weak; so simple a phrase could not explain the horror and terror and utter surety that her life was ending that she’d just felt. Still, she held her breath, body still tense, as she awaited its reaction.
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