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Ari

Ants among the Flowers(IC)

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GM

Red Benny's was a mere common dive.

Or so 'everyone' knew.

It was a bright, cheerful place, with a manager who had a smile for everyone who came through his door and payed. It wasn't a place of secrets.

Or so 'everyone' said.

What everyone had little idea of was that down the worn steps of the basement, and behind the wall on your right cluttered with precisely-placed detritus, lay a door that led to a metal world of secrets and savagery with a smile.

Two people had recently discovered this, by very different means. One was the diligent and pragmatic clone of a terrible monster born of Egypt and Germany, the other a subtle agent from Wales dedicated to defeating mystical threats. They had come, they were prepared, and they would show everyone what had slunk below them for so long.

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Between a few other investigations Blodeuwedd managed to spend time in Red Benny. Whilst she could make herself to obvious, even a place like Red Benny’s would panic if they found out how young she really was. She could still skulk around the place and get to know the regular and learn all that was going at the bar. All she had to do was play and little pool and be good enough to beat people. As she’d been taught sometime the best way to hide was to be obvious and it wasn’t long before she was learned all she could about the place and the existence of the mysterious door.

So tonight she’d waited until the place had closed, changed into her costume and snuck down into the basement so she could discover what was behind the door.

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It had started with an overheard conversation between a pair of FCPD officers mentioning the increased number of missing persons reports, currently he was bypassing the lock on the back door to a bar on the boardwalk. When he had taken the time to look into said reports, coincidentally some of them had been seen here before their disappearances. Of course their was a minor police investigation that found nothing, but the clone hero was sure that it was not thorough enough. The lock clicked, and he quietly slid inside before closing and locking the door behind him.

His suspicions were confirmed when he found the door a few minutes later, carefully hidden, but not well enough to fool him and apparently not enough to fool the female trespasser that was down here too. Well, she could be in on it. Better judge her reaction. He cleared his throat. "Ahem."

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It had been a little while since she’d done any lock picking and so intent was she on getting it right she wasn’t checking for other visitors to the basement. Cursing inwardly she slowly stood and turned, casually drawing a throwing knife behind her back. Just in case things went bad.

“I don’t suppose you’d believed I’d that lost my key’s?†as she spoke she remember her distinctive accent, but it was too late to hide the fact.

She scanned the room looking for the owner of the voice, the lame humour was just there to earn a few moments.

“Could I ask why exactly you’re down here?â€

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The helmet canted to the side slightly as Myrmidon parsed her questions. "In order then. No to your first query, and my reasons for being here are more than likely in line with your own." The voice was coolly modulated, extinguishing almost any modicum of identification. "Otherwise my actions would be a reciprocation over the blade instead of parley."

He nodded at the door. "I am currently investigating multiple missing persons reports, which has lead me to this location."

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“Missing person as well, I was also investigating rumours about this place. Something strange is going on here, and it’s all behind this door.†She pushed the door which open slightly “And seeing as I’ve gone to all the trouble of opening this perhaps we should team up to unravel it secrets.â€

“If you don’t mind taking the lead, I promise I’ll protect the rear.†She slipped the knife back into its holster “In some way it’s a shame we never exchanged blows, I’m a fairly accomplished swordswoman myself. Oh well perhaps another time…â€

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"Indeed. One moment, please." Myrmidon replied as he knelt next to the door and placed his hand over his chest which was followed by a azure arcs of energy flowing into his armor. The armor itself became sleeker and what little highlights it had disappeared completely. By the time he removed his hand, the armor itself was causing the helmeted hero nearly fade into the background much like his new acquaintances set did.

Turning his attention back to her he shook his head at the mention of the heroine being a swordswoman. "I am not much of a swordsman. My skills are more focused on utility rather than any sort of specialization." He reached to open to the door but paused for a second. "I am known as Myrmidon."

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GM

In contrast to the rather dirty and unkempt basement, all wood and strips of metal with a few old stout columns keeping the roof from collapsing, the area the opening(slowly, and with reluctance) door revealed was a 10ft. wide, 6ft. high, pristine and sterile corridor of smooth plates of steel, with a thick rubber walkway down the exact center leading to what could only be the sliding doors of an elevator. A single button on the right side of the door was transparent and emitted a soft green glow. A line of fluorescent lights ran down the ceiling and the corners of the walls. It was crisp, cold, and totally unfriendly. The whole place was done to a mirror-finish, and reflected itself into eternity.

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Myrmidon weighed the options in his mind before signaling his compatriot. He pointed two fingers at his faceplate then indicated each of the locations of the security cameras. The reflections present in the room would highlight most anything out of place, drawing the eyes (and therefore whoever was watching the cameras) attention. But there was no such thing as perfect security. Myrmidon carefully straddled the rubber walkway, carefully creeping just above the black walkway. With any luck the cameras would not be able to distinguish movement against the black floor, and by not stepping on it directly he would avoid setting off pressure sensors if they were present.

When he reached the end of the hall he ever so slowly reached for the call button, and summoned the elevator. He slipped inside as soon as the doors opened, looking for more cameras in the elevator. More importantly, he looked for the escape access hatch. Easiest way to infiltrate hardened location such as this was to literally get behind the walls.

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GM

At the press of the button a soft thudding noise sounded far below, growing in volume and intensity as it approached until it seemed impossible for it to not alert everyone still in the bar above before abruptly ceasing. With a faint *ting* the doors slid open, revealing a spartan metal box, its floor cushioned with a heavy carpet that looked freshly cleaned, and a bar on each wall, with a single colorless light source on its ceiling. Not a single camera could be seen, and any hatches leading to the roof were utterly invisible. A panel next to the door held three buttons: one marked "G", the one above it "1", and above that "DSA" in a gothic script. A slightly dimmed yellowish light shone behind the "G".

The faint hum of electricity was all around them, and unceasing. That and their breath were the only sounds they could detect.

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She watched as Myrmidon pointed out the camera, she’d already seen them herself but she had asked him to take the lead. She pulled her cloak around her and faded completely from view.

“Blodeuwedd. Don’t worry you don’t get rid of me so easy. Please lead on.â€

She followed on behind him watching how he dealt with the challenge of the corridor. She wasn’t a slouch herself in this department, and her footfalls made no sound, and she reckoned they were similar in skill. She stepped into the lift a seeing no apparent camera removed her hood, though she kept to the corner of the room just in case.

“This look suspicious, shall we carry on downwards?â€

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"I would prefer to use the shaft as opposed to the elevator itself to reconnoiter this facility." He laced his fingers together to form strong foot hold. "I can lift you so you can attempt to locate the escape hatch, if there is one. If not we can proceed on a floor to floor sweep."

Myrmidon nodded at the panel. "Judging by the travel time for the elevator to arrive, not to mention the security and accommodations we are not dealing with common criminals. In addition, I am unable to elucidate the meaning behind the initials. Do you have any theories?"

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Blodeuwedd accepted Myrmidon offer with a nod and used his lift to examine the ceiling of the lift. Now she put into effect the skill she learned for less than legal purposes.

“This probably the most prudent cause of actions, and should hopefully keep the element of surprise. Ah here we are.â€

Having found the cunningly disguised trapdoor she proceeded to check it for a method of opening, and any form of alarms it may contain.

“This could take a little while, are you going to be okay? As for what the initial stand for I’m not sure, but the script they’ve used might be significant.â€

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The reply to her question almost sounded amused. "It is no problem." A slight shift of his feet, and it was as if the heroine was perched on a marble statue rather than a person.

The helmeted hero racked his brain over the script for a few moments before conceding. "I must confess I will not be able to provide much insight on the majority of issues that we will run across. I am a soldier first, not a scholar."

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Blodeuwedd spent a couple of minutes checking the trapdoor for triggers, before releasing the catch with a satisfying click. It was quite satisfying to be able to put these skills into practice after all these months and hopefully for a good purpose.

The hatched open she lifted herself up, holding herself vertically until she was absolutely sure that the roof of the lift was safe. Only then did she pop her head back into the lift to talk to Myrmidon.

“Everything looks fine up here. Do you need a hand up?â€

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Myrmidon waited stoically while his new found compatriot went to work and cleared the hatch. When she popped her head back in, he nodded in affirmation to her question and seconds later he was up top as well.

"Reseal the hatch, if you would. I will attempt to locate a maintenance ladder and entry point if I can." No sense leaving clues of their presence.

The helmeted hero scanned the interior of the elevator shaft by leaning over the side of the elevator, trying to identify any main air vents, ladders, or the like below them.

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GM

The sight that awaited them outside the elevator was profoundly underwhelming. Even, bright lighting from numerous fixtures kept any kind of mood besides a tired blandness from arising, and the scrupulously clean walls and machinery of the shaft gave no glamor to the place. It was easily the least-exciting elevator shaft either of them had ever seen. The ceiling held a series of cushioned rams, for some reason.

What it lacked in romance and mystique, it more than made up for in helpful footholds, handholds and means of traversing it besides the very obvious elevator, with a broad-runged ladder running down the wall on their right hands, on the left upper corner of the lift. Three vent ducts were in view at twenty feet intervals, covered by a barred grate with a convenient sliding lock on the inside and outside. They were evidently for internal maintenance purposes, as each of them were large enough to hold a full-grown human. If they were laying down.

A faint thrumming was coming from below, insistent and monotonous through the warming air, which carried the smell of oil.

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"Odd. Three accessible vents. Only two floors indicated on elevator panel." Myrmidon turned his attention back to his companion.

"Basic search pattern is floor by floor, working from top to bottom." While he was talking he opened and extracted a few items from his belt, followed by a muted flash of blue from his hands as he handed the item over to Blodeuwedd.

"Here. Encrypted whisper commlink. We can talk while investigating without being overheard. I will need it back after we are done here, however."

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“Thanks that should come in handy.â€

Accepting the commlink she put it into her ear, making sure to keep the hood low to hide her features. As she did this she considered the options open to them.

“It seems to me that there are two options. Either we take the ladder down to this mysterious area, but the area is probably as protected as before. Or we use these handy air vents to explore the area. I'd choose the vents personally even though the corridor would be more of a challenge. It might even be prudent to split up, that would allow us to cover more ground. What do you think?â€

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The answer came over her new acquisition.

<< Safer togther. We are facing an unknown amounts of guards and security systems with limited intel on whatever is down here that is causing people to disappear. >>

Myrmidon used a few handhold and the nearby ladder to easily make his way over to the topmost vent, estimating its size in comparison to himself.

<< I belive the vents are the best option as well. Would you mind taking the lead? >>

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<>

It was quite pleasant to deal with someone who was so professional, compared to some of the free spirits she’d dealt with in the past.

She spent a few minutes checking the vent for any security measures before carefully removing the grill and placing it to one side. She scanned the darkness for a few moments before indicating that it was safe and plunging into the darkness. Her goggles provided her with perfect night vision as well as filling the vent with a soft eerie green glow.

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GM

In the vivid green light of the night-vision goggles, the vent was an unexceptional metal chute, with the occasional deviation around a structural obstacle keeping it from being perfectly straight, and a grated floor that peered into a narrow, long room instantly recognizable as a checkpoint area of some kind, with a heavy concentration of turrets mounted on the walls and ceiling pointing short muzzles at the doors of the elevator shaft. At barricades interspersed along the hall, armored soldiers with the insignia of SHADOW, the angular "S", on their chests pointed smaller arms at the sliding doors, while two silent men wearing lighter versions of the armor stood at either side, angled so they could both see into the doors if they opened, and step away from the line of fire if need be.

"No-one is coming" the one on the left said.

"A false alarm?" asked the other.

"No, intruders"

"Bring the lift down" called the rightward officer to a soldier wearing heavy belts hung with tools beside a blinking control panel, who nodded and tapped two buttons on it.

The sound of the elevator moving grew once more, and with a soft *thunk* it landed on a platform of some kind. The officers looked at each other through their concealing faceplates.

"No DSA input, and it is late. It could just be Hasufel" commented the rightwardward one evenly, with an air like this was re-opening an old issue.

"Arod would have entered it regardless of Hasufel's foolishness" snapped the leftward officer, sounding like this was a more personal matter than it seemed.

"True, but work in the dive above seems to encourage displeasing behavior" pointed out the rightward officer, obviously pleased at getting such a tone out of his comrade.

"Lift opening, arms ready!" shouted the one on the left, cutting short further conversation by stepping sharply backwards, in perfect sync with his counterpart.

The doors opened to a chorus of clicks as safeties were disengaged.

Seeing the empty elevator, the officers looked at each other.

"I will tell the commanders" they said to the soldiers "you remain, watch the elevator for signs of movement, sound the alert for the others" In perfect unison they turned, gave the 'cut' sign to the technician, and walked quickly through the door at the far end into a sterile, brightly-lit hallway filled with branching paths and patroling squads of soldiers identical to the ones they had seen in the reception area, the two marching towards a door barely perceivable from the grate marked with sign saying "NO ENTRY W/OUT DSA INPUT", where one began to quietly tap at a numberpad on the wall beside it while the other kept watch. Only at floor-level, though.

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Blodeuwedd couldn't help but hear the faint growl that came over her headset when her compatriart noticed the SHADOW troopers, but remained quiet until they had passed.

<< They will commence a floor by floor sweep, at the very least. Their commander is likely on this floor, which will allow us to hear the secuirty plans and pass easily through the patrols. >>

there was few moments of silence that followed. << If there are any prisoners, I ask you to handle them. My priority is now the destruction and disabling of this facility and its personell after gaining further intel. >>

He needed to find out what type of bse this was before commening an assault. Luckily for them they had an unwitting guide. They just needed to follow the troopers via the vents to their commander.

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The Order had never considered human threats, only those of a supernatural nature, so Blodeuwedd’s knowledge of SHADOW what was publically know about this evil organization. That said there was a strange overtone to the way that Myrmidon had declared that they had to destroy everything.

She turned round to look at him, drawing her hood down to block the light from her goggles so not to ruin his night vision.

<<â€That a bit extreme even for people like this. There got to be something else going on here for you to put many people at risk. I’m not asking you to tell me everything…â€>> it wasn’t like she was an open book herself <<â€But give me a reason why we need to go to such extremes? I won’t let you harm people without a very good reason.â€>>

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Myrmidon cocked his head to the side in the vent, honestly baffled by his compatriots' tone. Does she not comprehend who they were dealing with?

<< Genocide. Deployment of weapons of mass destruction against civilian populations. Flagrant violation of every law under the Geneva Conventions. Human experimentation and cloning. Sponsored terrorism. Weapons trafficking. Use of the occult and various magics for dark rituals and other unspeakable applications. All for the purpose of putting the world to heel. They are not people, by any definition of the word. >>

The clone hero paused for a moment to let his response sink in. << I have my own reasons for wanting their downfall, and I will make myself perfectly clear on this point: you have no idea what horrors they are capable of. The missing people are likely either dead and discarded like so much unwanted trash. If they were not so lucky, they would be used for experimentation or even tortured and re-educated as sleeper agents. Do you really want to know more? >>

Myrmidon pointed ahead. << We need to keep moving. >> His tone was world weary and tired, tangible even across the masking effects and light static of the commlink.

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