The Black Dragon - Black Dragon R2 - Behind Enemy Lines

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Description: Despite his desire to leave, Zach finds himself swept up in the chaos that has engulfed the city. Following a heroic intervention against a pack of wolves, the NOL took him in for a quick questioning but it's clear that they have more to deal with than a potential looter and the strange collar that he provided them earned the man a hint of goodwill. Halfway out the door, however, alarms start to sound as a sneaky group of snake-like dark stalkers launch a surprise raid on the complex. Once more the merc finds himself caught in the middle of the conflict with nowhere to go but through the enemy.

It had already been something of a week for Zach Glenn, being back in Southtown. Too many memories, too many conflicting feelings, not to mention his own past in this town. Someone had, a bit metaphorically and a bit literally, released the hounds on the city while he was here on other business. The somewhat former moster hunter had rescued a couple of shoplifters from some looting werewolves before the NOL could arrive. They were just a bit too late, as was Zach's experience with the group, but not too late to bring the psion into custody for questioning.

Things had proceedly far more smoothly than Zach had anticipated. Video evidence had backed up his side of the story, and the Librarium had more pressing matters than someone doing their job for them. They had taken the collar he had removed from one of the darkstalkers as more evidence, and sent him on his way. Ther person escorting Zach out of the building was another pleasant surprise for him.

"So how'd you end up here, anyway," Zach asked his escort.

"Well, after Metro City, I did some more digging about the kind of things we ran into there," former MCPD Officer McElhinney, now a Lance Corporal in the NOL's enlisted ranks. "It wasn't hard once you know where to look." He chuckled, "You imagine these big, sweeping conspirancies or something, but they don't go too far out of their way to hide anything."

Zach laughed at that, "Not really, no."

"So, Captain," McElhinney said.

"Just Zach," the psion interrupts, "Resigned my commission after Metro City."

"Ah. Zach, then," the Lance Corporal continued, "What's up with the hair?"

There is little in the world of monsters and magic that the NOL doesn't have first hand experience dealing with. The indoctrination process has a number of classes on how to deal with anything from a rogue Hag laying a curse on your fellow soldier to the instinctive predator behaviors shared by most species of werebeast. In a similar vein, their bases tend to be protected in more than the traditional way. Layered fences and tall guard towers backed up by anti-magic wards to keep mass spells from being cast over the area, and detection wards to help augment the formidable series of cameras and motion detecting devices that guard all points of ingress. Bastions of defense both mundane and magical, that one would have to be incredibly brave, or incredibly stupid to assault.
Or, exceedingly clever.
For Zach and Lance Corporal McElhinney, the first sign of trouble comes in the form of a heavy thudding vibration that can be felt through the souls of their feet. However, soon after the base's alarm jolts to life, a physical wave of sound that rings out loud and painfully insistent. Extra floodlights scattered around the cement lots blaze to life with a series of mechanical 'chnk' noises, while radios on belts and in ears crackle to life with sudden, staticky urgency.
'Four simultaneous detonations beneath the complex. Two in Command, 1 Detention sub level, 1 West Garage sub level. Naga are flooding up from below in large numbers. Hard to make out in the smoke...maybe, thirty from each point.'
'Be advised, sewer cameras are down, possible reinforcements could be lurking below.'
'West Garage, begin evacuation. We'll lock them in remotely once you're out. Command, avoid the eastern hallway. All first floor personnel evacuate up the west stairwell and regroup. Detention, stay in your offices, we're triggering remote lock down now.'

"That's another long-"

The building shudders, and both former Marine and former cop stumble into walls to keep their footing. Zach glances at his erstwhile partner as the radio starts chattering. "That's... a lot of naga," Zach says straightens up. "You might need some help."

McElhinney nods, his face white. "We're not exactly equipped for this *much* trouble," he admits. "We'll start with the garage," he says answering Zach's unasked question, "Should help the evacuation efforts."

Zach just nods, and gestures, "Lead on, Lance Corporal." Zach follows, wishing he had a gun, or a couple of extra knives. He'll just have to be enough, though, it isn't like Kisaragi or Mutsugi will show up in time.

It is a three minute jog from the front doors of the command center to the side entrance of the west garage, a steeply sloped decline leading to a heavy steel gate that can lower itself into the ground to allow vehicles in or out. At the moment the gate is tucked neatly out of sight, opening a path for a steady trickle of workers in dark blue coveralls.
Two men in light blue NOL uniforms stand to either side of the entrance, battle rifles slung across their chests and eyes scanning the dim interior beyond.
'Be advised. We have no log of the sub level wards being triggered. These things might have a mage.'
'Fucking fantastic.'
'Clear The Line! Essential chatter only.'
As the jogging duo come pounding down the ramp, the larger of the two guards lets out a curse and shoulders his rifle, sending a controlled burst of bullets hammering off into the gloom beyond. Across the way, the smaller guard reaches up to trigger her headset, speaking quickly but calmly as she takes a knee behind a large oil barrel and props her rifle atop it.
'West Garage, nagas are making a move on the side exit. We're not clear yet.
Even as she speaks there is a flicker of motion within the dark and several of the workers fleeing toward the light of day collapse, twisting and writhing on the ground with shrill screams of pain. Beyond them, large shapes slither between the rows of parked machinery, ducking out of sight as both guards respond with chattering bursts of gunfire.

Zach and McElhinney both duck as the shots go flying. The psion squints at the gloom and shoves McElhinney over to join his comrade by the oil barrel.

"We need some light," Zach mutters as he summons Dyrnwyn from its storage space back home. The broken claymore erupts into local reality, a shaft of light surging forth from the splinter remnants of its blade.

"Warriors," he somewhat sing-songs, "Come out and plaaa-yaaay."

He is making an excellent target of himself, and that is kind of the point.

COMBATSYS: Zach Glenn has started a fight here.

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Zach Glenn       0/-------/-------|

The arrival of McElhinney behind her barrel provokes a sidelong nod of greeting from the serious faced guard there, the fortunately petite woman scooting over to share the space without complaint. Across the way, her larger, louder companion is busy reloading, popping the half-spent magazine from his rifle and replacing it with a full while the snakes lurk behind cover, a steady stream of four letter words decorating the air around him. Neither guard bats an eye when the white-haired guy plants himself in the middle of the wide opening and summons a magic sword out of thin air, bright light washing over the grimy interior and chasing away the shadows.
Ahead of the psion, five figures in blue coveralls lye in various states of health. Two of them have managed to push themselves up to hand and knees, smoke rising from bloody holes in their coveralls that have peeled back to reveal blistered, inflamed skin. One of them reaches over to grab a fist full of cloth from a less fortunate worker, dragging their writhing body toward the exit while the other two lie still, face down in pools of liquefying flesh.
A soft rustling noise stirs behind the machinery as the crawling workers make their slow way forward, 15 meters out, then 14, 13.
A soft hiss rises, and several pale, skeletal faces poke around gaps in the machinery, mouths open and heads thrown back. The guards snap fire toward them, sparks jumping from the machines, and one of the heads is punched back in a spray of gore. The rest throw their heads forward as one, sending jets of sizzling liquid spraying across the distance toward the glowing figure that bars their path. All but one, who instead aims for the strongest of the crawling workers, attempting to hose him down in poison and bring his heroics to a squirming, screaming end.

COMBATSYS: Sewer Snakes has joined the fight here.

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Zach Glenn       0/-------/-------|======-\-------\0     Sewer Snakes

COMBATSYS: Zach Glenn just-defends Sewer Snakes' Poison Bolt!

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Zach Glenn       0/-------/-------|=======\-------\1     Sewer Snakes

Zach's empty left hand snaps forward and a barrier of psychic energy rips into existance just as the streams of acidic poison would strike him. The fluids sluice down into the floor of the garage, guided by the angle of the barrier.

"Right, then," Zach mutters as he simply charges the mass of nagas. The part-claymore-part-lightsaber whips around in two arcs around Zach, seeking the darkstalkers as he closes the gap!

COMBATSYS: Sewer Snakes blocks Zach Glenn's Sweeping Strike.

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Zach Glenn       0/-------/------=|=======\-------\1     Sewer Snakes

A storm of hissing, smoking liquid impacts the psychic barrier and crackles against it, cascading to the floor to steam and sizzle in stinking puddles. What isn't caught by the barrier splashes around the cover of the soldiers to either side, while the unfortunate victim of the one wrathful naga flops to the ground, his struggles growing weaker and screams choking off as the soft tissues around his throat are eaten away by the flesh dissolving toxins.
Despite this horrific display, when Zach breaks ranks and leaps forth over the puddles, the guards to either side follow suit. Letting him take the lead, they pound into the garage after him, falling upon the two living survivors and heaving one each to their feet, whirling them around and half dragging, half carrying them toward the exit while Zach faces the monsters alone.
For their part, the monsters shy back from the charging psychic, eyes wincing mostly shut against the glare of the energy sword. The nearest throws up one bony arm against the light, and promptly loses it as the blade slices cleanly through. Swaying back in pained surprise, the snake blinks passed a mop of filthy blond hair, then hurls itself at Zach, swiping filthy talons in a raking strike toward his face, venom sizzling along their hooked edges. Behind him comes a flood of one, two, four, six more naga, swirling over and around one another as they close on the lone defender.

COMBATSYS: Zach Glenn interrupts Infectious Swipe from Sewer Snakes with Soaring Dragon EX.

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Zach Glenn       1/-------/=======|=======\===----\1     Sewer Snakes

Zach spins the blade to a ready position as the nagas mass for a charge. Multiple incoming opponents are still not in his comfort zone. He is, however, learning fast.

The first incoming naga catches Zach's ribcage. The only reason Zach's face was not hit? He was already in a leap, the blade of the claymore flashing out and slashing at the naga as it closed. Zach takes several swings with blades and feet at the peak of his jump, each swing catching another darkstalker before gravity reasserts its control over the psion.

Zach lands in a low crouch, the family weapon held out to one side as Zach watches for more of these creatures.

In a flash the one-armed naga is cleaved clean in twain, bisected body flopping wetly to the floor. The same swing takes a second naga in the face, splitting them open from chin to forehead, and a follow up cleaves through the throat of a third. By the time Zach lands, two of the remaining three have slunk back into the shadows, and the third is turning to follow, human half lunging up and over a stack of heavy wooden crates while his tail whips out, slapping toward Zach's side like a scaly sledge hammer.
Meanwhile, the two guards have managed to drag the surviving workers across the dividing line and prop them against the walls behind cover. Both uniforms are hunched double and breathing hard, eyes straying back toward the fight while a third man in blue uniform pants and a long blue jacket paces into sight above them, heading down the ramp with a buzzing radio lifted to his lips and long black hair swept back behind his shoulders.

COMBATSYS: Zach Glenn dodges Sewer Snakes' Tail Whip.

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Zach Glenn       1/-------/=======|=======\===----\1     Sewer Snakes

Zach ducks the incoming tail, his emerald eyes glinting gold briefly as he surges toward the naga. His right hand opens, and the sword falls to the ground. The blade of light vanishes before the rest of the weapon hits the ground. The remains of the weapon scatter in thousands of motes of light.

Why would Zach disarm like that? To bring the fight closer.

Zach gets up close and personal with this naga, throwing a flurry of punches. Each one will strike with an added burst of psycho-kinetic force, an explosion of golden light!

COMBATSYS: Zach Glenn successfully hits Sewer Snakes with Detonation Combo.

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Zach Glenn       1/------=/=======|=======\===----\1     Sewer Snakes

The swiping naga is half way over the crates when the charging psychic impacts it from behind, psy-enhanced fists hammering into its back and blasting it first into the crates, then flopping bonelessly away over the top of them. That leaves only two remaining, one of which comes hurtling up over the side of the crates to try and blind side the psion, doing its utmost to plough into him and send him crashing sideways into a forklift only for its partner to slip up and over the roof of the vehicle, hooked talons swinging down to dig painfully into his chest before its body is used as a catapult, hurling him straight up toward the cement ceiling with incredible force.
Meanwhile, back at the entrance the booted steps of the newcomer clomp solidly against the smooth surface of the ramp, the lean figure descending to basement level at right about the same time the two guards slip back into positions. The larger of the two glances over at McElhinney to check on the sheltering man, which just so happens to aim his eyes directly toward the second guard kneeling across the way. So it is that he witnesses the newcomer's free hand lifting from his belt, a heavy, curved hunting knife coming free of its sheath with a whispering sigh. Dropping the still crackling radio carelessly to the ground, he reaches around the kneeling woman with one pale, scarred hand and clamps her mouth shut, the blade of the knife carving a clean slash across her throat. There is no scream, barely even a grunt. Skin, arteries, vocal cords and wind pipe are all rent asunder in one move, an explosive gush of blood fountaining down her front.
Releasing the girl to slump forward beside her rifle, the newcomer pivots on his right foot, torso swaying into a deep backbend as his entire body is leveraged into a single, stunning boot aimed squarely for the side of McElhinney's temple, the stranger attempting to kick the man staggering into the path of the other soldier's rifle before swinging back upright and leaping forward, using the unfortunate man's shoulders as a springboard to bound up and over the rifle-toting guard and come down on him like a hunting cat, slamming him to the ground and ending his struggles with a spike of his knife through his eye and into his brain.

COMBATSYS: Sewer Snakes successfully hits Zach Glenn with Domination.

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Zach Glenn       1/-======/=======|==-----\-------\0     Sewer Snakes

COMBATSYS: The Hunter has joined the fight here.

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

Zach *feels* it when the newcomer kills the guard. He turns to regard *that* situation... and turned his attention away from the proximate threat. The naga crashes into him, driving the air out of his lungs with the impact. Zach yells out in pain as the claws dig in, and he grunts again as he slams into the concrete cieling. He lands, barely managing to keep his feet, and sees the newcomer driving a knife at McElhinney.

Not on Zach's watch.

The psion reaches behind the small of his back, as if reaching for a knife that would be stored there but is not, before whipping the hand forward. A large blade, not *quite* large enough to be called a sword but not nearly small enough to be called a knife, composed of pure will flies right at the hand holding the knife that threatens his friend!

COMBATSYS: The Hunter dodges Zach Glenn's Caladbolg ES.

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

Behind Zach, the twin snakes loom up from behind the pile of boxes like pale, sunken skeletons, ghoulish and ragged with eyes that burn a hateful yellow. However, it is not him that they are now focused upon. Both sets of eyes have locked onto the uniformed attacker who is just now slinking back to his feet, knife coming free of the larger guard's face with a sickening slurp of suction. What had been twin looks of glares of hate widen, the snakes shying back out of sight while the figure wheels slowly about to face McElhinney, eyeing the man through the tangles of black hair that have swept forward to shadow his face.
The officer is down on one knee, hand half way to his pistol and blood streaming from his nose. Scrapes mar his face from where it was smashed into the cement after being used as a springboard, but his eyes stare up at the monster with defiance. They both know that the creature could kill him before he got anywhere close to drawing. But that doesn't mean he has to go out like a coward.
And then, Zach acts.
A fractional adjustment is all it takes for the newcomer to drop his wrist out of the path of the knife, allowing it to whirl a buzz saw path right around his arm without ever touching it. Seeing this as his moment, McElhinney goes for his gun, but he has only just drawn it when the monster's boot catches him in the face, sending him tumbling backward across the opening while his gun slips from senseless fingers and clatters to the ground.
Flicking a sidelong look toward the distant swordsman, the man-shaped beast slinks forward and stoops, picking up the gun with a long, wet sigh of satisfaction. Though the majority of his pale features are hidden behind his hair, his eyes glow a predatory gold in the dim light, alive and full of malicious intelligence.
"Aaaaah." the monster breathes, the voice that bubbles up from his throat whisper soft and raspy. "He remembers you. The noble hunter in search of sweet, innocent children. I wonder if they remember as well. If they have nightmares of it."
Stepping carefully around the still steaming puddles of acid, the blue-clad beast stalks closer, shoulders hunched and body moving with the lithe, slinking grace of a large cat on the hunt. as he comes he idly twirls the blade in his right hand, tip down, tip up, allowing it to drop through his fingers until it is caught only by the tips. Then, all at once, he pitches his body forward and hurls the weapon spinning through the air toward the monster hunter's chest, mimicking the psychic's own actions of moments ago.

COMBATSYS: Sewer Snakes takes no action.

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

COMBATSYS: Zach Glenn endures The Hunter's Thrown Object.

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Zach Glenn       2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|-------\-------\0       The Hunter
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Sewer Snakes     0/-------/-----==|

The nagas have backed off, and Zach has a knife flying right at him. The newcomer is both fresh and a threat. That makes him the next target. The psion brings a hand up, catching the blade in an open hand, spraying blood all over the place. The hand gets brought back behind him, the knife still embedded in it, slewing an arc of blood across the acid-pocked concrete.

Streamers of violet and golden light stream off of Zach's eyes as he soars across the gap between himself and the Hunter. Zach recognizes the man, but between the emotions surging around him and the power screaming through him, Zach's not in a place to banter anymore.

The unmarred hand reaches forward, and then energy surges out of the outstretched hand in the shape of a *larger* hand made of golden energy and flecked with purple that reaches for the Hunter to drive him into the far wall!

COMBATSYS: Zach Glenn successfully hits The Hunter with Shining Finger ES.

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Zach Glenn       2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|======-\-------\0       The Hunter
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Sewer Snakes     0/-------/-----==|

The hunched figure has closed half of the distance by the time the knife strikes Zach's hand, transitioning from a throw to a sprint like an eager dog going after a bone. As he accelerates forward his hair is blown back from his face, revealing pale, sharp features and a wide, hellish maw full of jagged fangs that jut through lips and cheeks, having torn and scarred the surrounding flesh into a ragged, pinkish grey mess. Jaw falling open, he pants eagerly at the scent of blood, rushing in to meet Zach as the psychic hurtles forward, hand outstretched.
At the last possible moment the beast plants his forward foot and leans, attempting to spring sideways out of the path of the blossoming hand of psy. He has only made it half way to safety when the outside two fingers catch his legs and thighs, however, dragging him back through the air and smashing him into the cement with a wall-shaking THUD.
Limber as a cat and with bones that flex like cartilage, the hunter rebounds out of the strike and lands lightly on his feet, taking two, swaying steps as his unnatural sense of balance struggles to re-assert itself. Left hand sweeping out, he grips the tall handle of a shop broom and uses it to steady himself, before lashing out with a short kick that snaps it off near the base, leaving him with a man-length shaft of wood tipped in jagged splinters. That in hand he whirls on the psion with sudden ferocity, swinging it horizontally toward the bridge of the man's nose before launching himself forward with a heavy shoulder tackle meant to smash him off his feet and carry him backward into the armored side of a parked military transport, both hands gripping the broom half way up the handle and ramming it up toward the monster hunter's guts in a vicious attempt at impalement.

COMBATSYS: Sewer Snakes has left the fight here.

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Zach Glenn       2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|====---\-------\0       The Hunter

COMBATSYS: Zach Glenn blocks The Hunter's Preeminence.

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Zach Glenn       2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|=====--\-------\0       The Hunter

Zach smackes the first thrust of the makeshift spear aside with the unwounded hand, and catches the kick on his shoulder. The psion twists away from the point of impact to dull the force of it, before spinning away from the third strike completely.

The former Marine turns to face the Hunter once more, before blasting in to charge the lean man with his shoulder to take him *back* to the wall before planting his feet and delivering a blistering salvo of psychically augmented punches to the darkstalkers upper body!

One might hear an "ORAORAORAORAORA" in the background somewhere as McElhinney starts pulling wounded NOL personnel away from the fight. He's seen Zach go all out before, and while the former cop does not know what all happened between then and now?

He recognizes someone fighting with a razor thin snapping point, and he sees it in Zach now. And he knows what Zach is *capable* of.

COMBATSYS: Zach Glenn successfully hits The Hunter with Rough and Tumble.

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Zach Glenn       2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|=======\====---\1       The Hunter

Shoulder strikes chest and the beast is taken off of his feet, broom handle clattering to the ground as the two men smash into the wall for the second time in as many seconds. Letting out a gurgling snarl of fury, the beast takes one punch to the chest, then another, psychic energy exploding around him and bits of chipped cement flying as the psychic marine does his level best to batter the monster through the wall and into the earth beyond. Beneath each pounding blow can be felt the flex of muscles and the slight give of bones designed to bend rather than break, though nothing in his defenses can shelter him from the barrage of psychic power that tears through his body to detonate against the warped remains of his soul.
Throwing his head back, the monster braces his shoulders against the wall and brings his knees up, finally managing to catch one of the punches between his shins. Relaxing his back he rolls sideways along the wall in an attempt to drag the psion after him, to roll him into a tumbling slam by the grip on his arm that ends with the monster kneeling atop him. A situation that will last for only a moment before his slavering maw descends to sink monstrous fangs into the man's right shoulder, ripping and tearing at him like a wolf while his hands hold the slightly taller man down. Unless he can be forced off, he will drink deeply of the monster hunter's blood before standing, heaving him up, and hurling him away to smash through the window of the forklift, the monstrous creature turning to bolt deeper into the garage.

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

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Zach Glenn       2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|==-----\-------\0       The Hunter

Zach steps in to meet the Hunter, seemingly ignoring the incoming jaws before bringing his already wounded arm in to intercept the bite. Bones grind under the assault as Zach pushes back at the pressing weight to try to contain the darkstalker, to keep him *here.* The psion growls as he brings his free hand back, psychic energy swirling around it in violets and ambers.

"Bad dog," he snarls. "No treat for you."

Zach then rips his bitten arm free before jamming the other towards his opponent's midsection. A half a second later sees the release of the energies contained there, resembling a barrage of bladed weapons that all but scream for the Hunter's blood!

COMBATSYS: Zach Glenn successfully hits The Hunter with Storm of Blades.

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

Rebounding away from Zach's blocking arm, the beast has just enough time to grunt, blood bubbling up between his fangs, before a storm of psychic blades are rushing toward him, guided by the enmity of the X marine. Whirling on the spot with a flare of blue coat, he dives out of sight beneath the parked APC and rolls to his feet on the other side, but the swarm of blades pass over and around it, following him as he sprints deeper into the garage.
Bounding over a stack of crates, he is caught in the back by a flying claymore, having to correct his flight in mid air so that he lands on one hand and foot, flipping forward and continuing his sprint. Two daggers dart in from either side to slam into his shoulders, but he barrels through them, blood spraying out behind, and smashes through a hanging door into the smoky, shattered interior of the facility's restroom.
Diving forward, the monster vanishes through the smoke and down into the darkness of the sewers, a wall of various swords curving to follow him out of sight, intent on finishing the job.
Zach can feel as each of the weapons makes contact. Feel as the resulting psychic signatures grow further and further away, the dogged nature of the beast spurring him on.

COMBATSYS: The Hunter takes no action.

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Zach Glenn       1/-------/<<<<<<<|

COMBATSYS: The Hunter can no longer fight.

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Zach Glenn       1/-------/<<<<<<<|

Zach lowers the outstretched hand, relaxing it as he does so. The blades of light scatter like the claymore did earlier in the fight. The psion lets out a breath he did not realize he was holding before glancing around. His eyes don't focus on any one thing, and it's almost like he is trying to see *through* every thing.

"Garage is clear," he says, his voice rough with fatigue and pain. "Call it in."

With that, he takes a seat, his back to the wall he held the Hunter to moments before as he brings himself off that fight energy. McElhinney coordinates the efforts; the former cop knows who to talk to and how to talk to them to get the job done. The lance corporal spares the psion a concerned glance.

"Thank you," he says after a moment. "You can leave whenever you're ready, but I hope you'll let us at least bandage you up." Zach's response is just a weary nod, as medics rush to the scene.

COMBATSYS: Zach Glenn has ended the fight here.

Log created on 13:23:18 04/10/2020 by The Hunter, and last modified on 21:42:29 04/10/2020.