Zach Glenn - On The Job: Hunting the Hunter

Description: Zach Glenn is on a job, looking for some missing teenagers. What he finds might prove to be a problem.

The Dark Forest is as fitting a name as any for the tangle of trees and underbrush that have claimed the land just outside of Southtown Japan. The area seems to gather darkness to it. Darkness of both a physical sense, and more.

It is hard to say what exactly is different about the place. Sure it is gloomy, but the trees and brush are as vibrant and healthy as any other forest, and the wildlife is active. But despite that, a sense of oppression seems caught beneath the branches. The feeling isn't unlike swimming through water.

The overall spooky mood has lead to the outskirts of this forest being a popular hangout for groups of moody dark-haired teenagers. Nobody knows what they do. Nobody cares. probably read poetry or drink each-other's blood. The vast majority of the population tends to ignore them.

Or they did, up until the teens started going missing. And now the outskirts of the forest are abandoned. Search parties have combed through the forest twice now and found no sign of the kids. But the teens that reported the kidnappings remain adamant in their story:

A man, dressed all in black, dropped from the trees and stole two of them. They tried to stop him, but he was strong. Too strong. And his eyes glowed like the fires of hell. He was surely a demon, and so they went as quickly as they could to fetch the police. But as of yet, nothing of the two missing teens has been found. Their friends are scared. Their parents distraught.

The police did not, exactly, buy into the stories told by the surviving teens. However, the case was still in the records, and word of this case in particular reached the ears of a private security company known as Torchlight Securities. This company had something of a standing arrangement with the local police departments in Japan, and other countries, to help handle the more... unusual cases. Torchlight's excellent rate of closure, and better than average record when it came to recovering missing persons, made the arrangement a palatable one.

Word about disappearing teenagers, near a forest that Zach was fairly familiar with, brought the monster hunting former Marine out fairly quickly. He does not make any effort to be stealthy; anything that uses a forest as a hunting ground will more than likely be better than he is at moving without detection regardless of any special forces training Zach has. The psion is wearing his trenchcoat, light body armor, and black fatigue pants with steel-toed combat boots. The way he is carrying himself all but advertises the multiple knives stowed on his person.

Zach's senses are finely tuned on his surroundings while his mental senses are ranging out, trying to find what doesn't belong here. He's somewhat surprised Nightwolf or that Raiden character have not responded to the situation, given that the Midnight Society used this forest as something of a waypoint.

Though this forest isn't a particularly dense one, Zach's progress is slowed somewhat by tangled brush and thorns, his presence broadcast into his surroundings as he crunches through the flimsy obstacles. However, the heavy gloom beneath the trees dampens the sound considerably, lending itself well to his search.

And for a man of Zach's talents, the trees of this forest might as well be transparent. It is easy to see how a normal search party might have trouble finding someone in a place like this, especially if said person doesn't want to be found. But for him, it is a simple task.

Only a short distance away, grouped closely together in what might be a clearing, three distinct entities register to his extra senses. Two of them are dim and weak. The owners might be asleep, dying, or else severely lacking in a sense of self.

The third, however, smolders like a bloody campfire. Feelings of exhausted frustration roll from the unknown entity. Beneath that is a low throbbing fury. There is something bestial and hungry about that masked emotion. It pounds against the being's mind, desperate to escape but kept temporarily in check. It is as if the being were at war with itself.

Having locked onto the mental signatures, the distance can be gauged. Not far. perhaps 800 meters or so deeper. Finding them wasn't difficult at all. But what Zach is going to do about this unknown creature is an altogether different issue.

Zach lets a long breath out through his nose when he picks up the patterns of three people. One of them is plain trouble. The other two, however, seem to be /in/ trouble. Zach forges forward, surging through the underbrush through trained athleticism and sheer force of will.

He's keyed up, aware, and already mentally reaching for both his birthright /and/ his inheritance as golden energy lightly plays around the fingers of his right hand.

COMBATSYS: The Hunter has started a fight here.

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The Hunter       0/-------/-------|

COMBATSYS: Zach Glenn has joined the fight here.

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Zach Glenn       0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0       The Hunter

As soon as Zach begins to hurtle through the brush, the smoldering fire of his quarry's mind flares with white hot rage. It blazes , burning and all consuming, as both halves of the split mind temporarily align with one brutal purpose.

(Fight, Kill, Rend, Bleed.)

The words aren't exact, but the purpose is clear. Brutally clear, and coming closer.

Rather than retreating, the mind bolts directly for Zach. But where he is smashing through the brush with all the subtlety of an enraged moose, the unknown figure moves up, his jerky path suggesting a hurtling run through the treetops.

A suggestion that is confirmed when a man-sized shape comes flying down through the tangled branches at Zach.

At first glance it appears it could indeed be some sort of horrible demon. All black and fluttering with eyes that burn a hateful gold. However, as it's right boot attempts to smash hard into Zach's chest, it resolves into the shape of an average-sized man in a billowing black greatcoat, hat pulled down low over his scarf-covered face and right forearm gleaming with silver.

The opening boot is followed by a downward slash of the wickedly curved hunting knife he clutches tightly in his gloved left hand, the blade glinting as first one, then two, then 5 lightning-fast slashes rain down on Zach before the black-clad stranger's boots have even touched the ground.

COMBATSYS: Zach Glenn blocks The Hunter's Power Strike.

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Zach Glenn       0/-------/------=|-------\-------\0       The Hunter

Zach knows where this... whatever he is, is coming from. Glenn pivots, and closes his right hand as if gripping something. A shaft of pure sunlight forms in Zach's hand before scattering into motes of more of that same golden light, leaving behind a claymore with a pure white hilt and gleaming silver blade. The occassional lick of golden flame slides along the blade, as if restrained by something.

The weapon is brought to bear, and catches the boot, before parrying the knife strikes. Zach's eyes narrow as he looks this person over. He had been learning, slowly, of the various groups and guilds of people who hunt the darkness in the last year. Some of them are far more distinct than others. His eyes lock on the silver chain, then the golden eyes.

"Silver Lash, right?" Zach asks tersely. Like most such groups, the Order of the Silver Lash was not any kind of friendly to Darkstalkers. Maybe this one stole the trademark chain? Zach watches the other man carefully. "What did you do to those kids?"

COMBATSYS: Zach Glenn focuses on his next action.

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Zach Glenn       0/-------/------=|-------\-------\0       The Hunter

Having rebounded to the ground after kicking the flat of Zach's blade, the mysterious figure tears his blade away from Zach's final parry, sparks flying as the metal weapons grind apart. Slouching backward into a low, predatory stance, the golden-eyed man begins to slink around Zach in a slow circle, maintaining about 6 feet of space between them as he slips through the gloomy underbrush.

"Blonde of hair. Green of eye. A power of soul not unlike the sun." The figure's reply is just louder than a whisper, voice soft and hoarse as flint on stone. "I know you."

The man's golden eyes burn in the dark even as he slides from dim to shadow, the black of his clothes breaking up his outline. Below those burning eyes the blade of his knife and the chain on his right arm gleam gently. Inside his mind there is nothing but frustration and rage, though his posture remains sleek and controlled.

He seems unwilling to say more.

COMBATSYS: The Hunter focuses on his next action.

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Zach Glenn       0/-------/------=|-------\-------\0       The Hunter

"Yeah," Zach asks. "What do you know?" His posture is tense, wary. He doesn't have /time/ for this posturing bullcrap; the two others that he can sense don't have the luxury of time. "You know what? We don't have time for this."

The man in front of him is clearly not human, and not a member of a group that operates literally on the other side of the world from here. He's also alone. Too much that is not right about the situation.

Zach charges in, swinging a wide arc, partly to test this person's reflexes a bit more. As the blade finishes its swing, the flames around the weapon intensify!

COMBATSYS: Zach Glenn successfully hits The Hunter with Sweeping Strike.
- Power hit! -

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Zach Glenn       0/-------/----===|===----\-------\0       The Hunter

The figure's reply comes in the form of a forward lunge, coat billowing out behind him as he charges forward to meet Zach blow for blow. As if on instinct, His right arm snaps up to try and catch the sweeping strike.

The mystical blade crashes into his chain-wrapped forearm , sliding along the links with a grinding series of metallic 'chinks'. Sparks fly from the meeting as brilliant psychic fire roars in around the links and burns up the man's arm, climbing past his shoulder before blasting out behind him. The limb shakes from the psychic feedback, but he keeps pressing against the flaming blade just long enough to dart his knife in beneath the clash in one, two, three, quick stabs aimed for Zach's gut. That done, he suddenly drops low beneath his opponent's blade and sweeps a hard kick around toward the man's left knee, attempting to drive the steel tip of his combat boot into the side of the joint, then pounce forward and rain down another series of violent cuts toward his chest and shoulders. His right arm tucks itself in close to his side, shielding it from further energy while he waits to regain full control of his fingers.

COMBATSYS: Zach Glenn blocks The Hunter's bleeding Hearts.

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Zach Glenn       0/-------/---====|===----\-------\0       The Hunter

The sword flashes back and forth as he parries the stabs before hoping the sweep. A quick flare of soul power at Zach's feet, manifesting as a burst of sparks, propels the psion clear of the knife-strikes from above.

Zach whirls before landing, swinging the claymore in a sharp arc aimed at the darkstalker's back. The psychic flames around the sword spring to life, adding to the ferocity to the strike!

COMBATSYS: Zach Glenn successfully hits The Hunter with Medium Strike.

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Zach Glenn       0/-------/--=====|======-\-------\0       The Hunter

Injured arm remaining tucked in close to his middle, the golden-eyed hunter attacks with silent savagery, knife meeting sword with quick, vicious impacts. Only once Zach launches himself up over his head does the man stop swinging, hand whipping in toward his own body as he slams the knife into a hidden sheath beneath his coat, head ducking as he begins a forward tumble away from Zach's descending blade.

He isn't quite fast enough.

The tip of the blade tears a long gash through the short leather cape built into the back of his greatcoat, parting it easily and sliding through wool and flesh alike. Psychic flames then roar up the blade and impact the figure with the force of a sledge hammer, causing him to lose control of his forward momentum.

The Hunter crashes through the brush in an ungainly heap, heavy crossbow coming loose from its severed strap to thud uselessly to the ground. His broad-brimmed hat flops to the dirt beside him, breaths beginning to come in quick, ragged gasps.

Slowly he digs his gloved fingers into the dirt, pushing himself up to his knees. his shoulders are slumped, chest rising and falling rapidly. He does not immediately rejoin the fight, however. Instead he kneels there, head bowed and tangled black hair falling across his scarf-covered face.

Inside the man's mind there is chaos. The once restrained force of rage and hunger has blasted free of his control and thrown his mind into disarray, his hold on his true self quickly fading... It seems that this much strife and pain are too much distraction. he can't simultaneously fight and control the beast.

COMBATSYS: The Hunter switches his Mindset.

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Zach Glenn       0/-------/--=====|======-\-------\0       The Hunter

Zach instinctively leaps away from the fallen man, sword low and ready. The golden flame of the sword throws light into the forest, causing the shadows to leap and dance as Zach's eyes narrow warily. The change in the man's bearing is... pronounced, to say the least. Perhaps he could have talked the man down before, but now?

Talking is done. Zach's options are to beat the man down so that he cannot fight anymore, and hope that the damage is enough to allow his opponent to reassert himself or...

Zach shakes his head once. There's still a chance as yet. Zach charges in, the blade of Drynwyn trailing low and behind him, trailing flames and sparks of gold on the approach. Zach plants his feet, and swings the weapon at the man's midsection, twisting his grip to apply the flat of the blade into the midsection. Should it connect, there is an explosion of force that will send the fallen hunter flying!

COMBATSYS: Zach Glenn successfully hits The Hunter with Explosive Strike.

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Zach Glenn       0/-------/=======|=======\===----\1       The Hunter

The beast's entire body shakes and trembles, head slowly rising as Zach charges toward it. Where once there was a burning, malevolent intelligence in its eyes, now there is only pain, hate, and hunger.

The left arm is lifted as if to try and block, boots scraping through the dirt as the monster begins to gather itself. However, the sheer concussive force behind the blow blasts right through the creature's guard, taking it in the ribs and launching it through the air.

Its brief flight ends abruptly when it hammers shoulder-first into a tree, the force of the impact splintering wood and causing the entire thing to list sharply to one side. The tree teeters there for a moment, balanced, until gravity takes over and the trunk snaps, the tree's great weight dragging it down to smash violently into the earth. The ground shakes, a large swath of brush explodes outward from the impact, and little bits of forest debris begin falling from the canopy.

With the sound of grinding joints and low, frantic panting, the black-clad shape brigs the stubby stump of the once tree and hauls itself slowly to its feet. Its golden eyes stare unblinkingly through the dust toward the faintly flickering form of Zach, mind slowly resolving fully into its new form.

The beast pauses.

And then it seems to explode forward. Joints crack as it sprints on all fours toward Zach, its stride lopsided and bounding. When it is still 10 feet away it launches itself toward the man, gloved hands extended and a building vibration starting in its chest. Unless he can stop it, the monster will drive into his chest and knock him off of his feet, its own booted feet touching down in a dead run as it attempts to slam him back-first into a tree...

COMBATSYS: The Hunter successfully hits Zach Glenn with The Frailty Of Man.

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Zach Glenn       1/---====/=======|==-----\-------\0       The Hunter

The entire tree shakes with the impact of Zach's body, the monster holding him suspended a foot off the ground as it glares up at him. Throwing its head back, it draws in a long, deep breath, before letting it out in a hoarse, pain-filled shriek. The awful sound rises ever higher, warping and distorting in ways no normal human voice could as the monster pours all of its agony and hunger into the ungodly howl.

Still howling, it whips Zach around and hammers him hard into the ground, then lifts him once more to hurl him away into the darkness. Only then does its monstrous shriek die down into angry panting, shoulders rising and falling with each breath.

Zach goes for a ride, and slams /through/ another tree before bouncing across the ground. Somewhere in the rumble and the tumble, Zach lost his grip on his sword. Drynwyn clatters to the ground, the golden flames surrounding the weapon guttering out as it tumbles across the floor of the forest. Zach stays down for a moment, shaking the cobwebs loose. He spits to one side, saliva and blood splattering on the roots of a nearby tree.

"H'okay, then," Zach mutters before charging in. Zach reaches for the fallen warrior, reaching for the back of his head to grapple.

COMBATSYS: The Hunter dodges Zach Glenn's Charged Combo.

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Zach Glenn       1/---====/=======|==-----\-------\0       The Hunter

Zach charges in, psi-infused hand lashing out for the monster's head. In response, the beast uncoils from its slightly slumped posture, dirty hair flying as it turns a neat summersault over the top of Zach's head. Coming down back to back with him, its boots impact the twig-strewn ground with a soft crunch.

A sharp, hissing gasp escapes the creature as One gloved hand spasms up to grab the scarf covering its face. Jerking violently on the garment, it manages to tear it partially away, letting it dangle messily from its shoulders as the creature's face comes into view.

That is, it would be in view for Zach if they weren't back to back.

Bloody wounds dot the monster's face, which seems completely human aside from the glowing yellow eyes. It is gaunt and haggard, and as it gasps out breaths, bloody froth bubbles up through its lips. Parting those lips, it bares a double row of wicked, spike-like fangs, then whirls about in a swirl of black coat to face the man that has been giving it so much trouble.

Reaching out to Zach, it tries to close powerful arms around his in a tight, rib-grinding bear hug. if it can get the grip, it will squeeze and squeeze, forcing the man's arms in against his sides as it bends its head down, opens its mouth, and attempts to sink rows of jagged teeth deep into the meat of his right shoulder.

COMBATSYS: Zach Glenn interrupts Bloody Banquit from The Hunter with Brog EX.

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Zach Glenn       0/-------/-----==|=======\-------\0       The Hunter

Zach's eyes go wide at the gaping double maw before narrowing. Time to end this. A ripple of purple washes over him, tousling his slightly longer than regulation hair and leaving it a deep violet in its wake as Zach flings his open right hand out.

"DRYNWYN!" Zach calls out as the sword comes flying hilt-first into the waiting grip. Violet flames and golden lightning surge up the length of mystically forged steel. Zach takes half a step back, and then as the monster goes for the bearhug, surges forward and drives the tip of the blade just below the Darkstalker's ribcage. Blood trickles fresh from Zach's nose as the psion reaches for more energy to simply blast the vampire clear of the weapon!

What this man has become is many things. A hate-filled beast. A blood hungry monster. An abomination of God. But it is no vampire.

The sword plunges into its stomach, tip erupting from its back in a spray of blood and energy. The beast convulses in pain, gloved hands continuing to reach for Zach even as the power builds. And when it is finally unleashed, the monster is blown backward in a spray of gore.

But it is not blown away.

Letting out a gargled snarl of rage, it tumbles backwards, blood hemorrhaging from its wound, and slams one gloved fist hard into the ground. Digging up a furrow of earth, it manages to stop its backward progress and force itself up to a kneel.

Then it stands.

Blood pours down its body, dripping from its knees and coat. But the monster regains its feet. Hunched forward unsteadily, it braces itself, then charges.

Hurtling toward Zach, the beast attempts to ram hard into his gut and carry him backward through the air before slamming him hard to the ground...

COMBATSYS: The Hunter can no longer fight.

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Zach Glenn       0/-------/-----==|

COMBATSYS: Zach Glenn blocks The Hunter's Holy Communion.

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Zach Glenn       0/-------/-----==|

Zach drops the sword and catches the hunter's shoulders with both hands and braces for impact. A moment passes before Zach twists and hurls the charging monster to the turf. Glenn flips the sword into the air with one foot and catches the hilt. That purple energy is still actively tousling his hair even as Zach points the tip of the blade at the monster's throat.

"One chance," Glenn states. "What did you do to those kids?"

AS the beast thuds to the ground, bleeding and angry, there is no look of comprehension in its hate-filled eyes. It glares up at Zach through tangled black hair, torn lips pulled back to reveal row upon row of jagged nightmarish fangs. The chain around its right forearm rattles as it slams its fist against the ground once, twice, three times, venting its pain and anger through violent motion.

Inside the beasts head is little better. There is nothing left of the man that Zach spoke to at the start of the fight. Its mind is awash with overpowering emotions. Layers of instincts have been super charged, ruling its every action, forcing it to fight, fight, flee, fight, struggle, hurt!

The beasts's mouth slops open to let out a gargling growl, fist impacting hard with a rock half buried in the earth.

its yellow eyes gleam, and it grabs the rock.

With inhuman strength, the monster tears the rock from the ground in a spray of soil, sending it spinning up toward Zach's face. it is sloppily aimed, but whizzes past the man's head with enough force to ruffle his hair. At the same time, the beast lurches from its back into an upward leap, dragging itself into the trees and rolling across a couple of branches. Managing to get its feet beneath it, it springs, a spray of blood forced out of its back as it hurtles a 15 foot gap and bounces clumsily off of another, thicker branch, throwing itself higher into the canopy.

The trail of blood the monster leaves is thick and dark. But a short distance away Zach can still feel the dim sparks of life that represent two lost teenagers, abandoned in a clearing not far from here.

Zach's eyes go wide even as he throws himself out of the way of the incoming rock. He gets back to his feet even as his hair falls around his face, the violet giving way to its usual reddish blonde. The former Marine's breathing is a bit ragged as he weighs his options. No way is he going to make good on a chase scene right now.

And there are still those two teens. Not dead yet, but still possibly in danger.

Zach's path is clear. Zach sweeps the sword to one side, even as the blade disappears in a spray of golden motes of light. The psion then runs as fast as he can towards the abandoned clearing.

In mere moments, Zach bursts into a small 15 by 15 foot clearing. The place is dark and gloomy, consisting of a brushlessh stretch between two large trees, their branches tangled together overhead.

In the clearing lie two kids of about 16. One a pale girl with long red hair and what appears to be some sort of black leather bondage outfit, and the other a pale boy with long bottle black hair in...well, basically the same clothes. Maybe it's just an ugly girl. hard to tell with kids these days. Both teens are sprawled uncomfortably across the tree roots, identical wraps of red-stained cotton wrapped around the inside curve of their right elbows.

A short distance away, a crude set of glass vials and tubes has been abandoned beside a low burning fire. A thick red mixture slowly slides through most of the tubes, while the others are currently empty.

Zach's heart all but stops in his chest as he takes this all in. He's not entirely sure what exactly he is looking at, but he knows that while he can help heal physical injuries that he cannot replace lost blood.

He reaches into a pocket on the body armor, pulling out a phone in a life-proof case. The case worked as advertised, and Zach hurried places a phone call to summon assistance by both trained operators and medical personnel. Hopefully he, and his back-up, have arrived in time.

Log created on 18:28:11 05/29/2016 by Zach Glenn, and last modified on 23:38:17 05/29/2016.