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Cabin buried deep within Wharton Forest
Wharton Forest, New Jersey

Sunday, November 15th, 2015

3:20 AM


Living in a national forest was to be a nomadic affair.  It was prohibited by law to build permanent structures for the use of residence within.  Of course, that didn't mean it was impossible to grease the wheels a little here and there.  Especially for a cabin buried so deep within that no reasonable person should be able to find it.  But, the Woodsman was far from reasonable.  Following the general direction he had threatened out of a lackey, he easily combed every inch of the forest until he found Brasswell's cabin.


The cabin itself had a very rustic appearance.  The inside full of modern amenities and comforts, but lacking anything that could even be written off as threatening.  Even looking inside it hardly looked like the sort of place a drug kingpin would hide out in.  It was put simply nothing more than a home, at a glance


The Woodsman skulked about the perimeter waiting for an opportunity to sneak inside unseen.  After ensuring there were no traps waiting for him outside the youth did just that.  Once inside a quick visual scan revealed that there was a man in his mid fifties sitting in a living room, his back turned to the Woodsman, having fallen asleep watching television.


Just outside of the cabin.  A few inches away from the door was Grim.  His directions from the young man he helped passed on where more direct.  But, that still left him as the second teen hero to arrive on the scene.  Taking just long enough that he had missed Riley sneaking inside.

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Woodsman went into action fast, taking control of the situation quickly to avoid giving his target even the thought of resisting. "Hey, jerkass," he hissed from behind the sleeping man, arrow aimed loosely at the top of the man's head protruding above the top of his chair. At this range, even a half-cocked bolt could stun or kill, but Riley's hand was perfectly steady hovering over the trigger. "No sudden moves. Yer covered. Here to ask you some questions." He was invisible himself, having taken shelter behind a corner of the room's plaid cloth couch to act as an ersatz sniper's nest. "You give me answers, we're good. If not..." He let his voice trail off, letting his target fill in the blanks as he liked. 

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  • 1 year later...



The man stirred awake and responded to his would be assailant with anger rather than fear  "Now who in the blue hell are you, son?"  He didn't even bother to turn to face the crossbow aimed at him.  "Half cocked or not, if you were going to kill me you would've taken the shot already."  He stated with confidence.  On close inspection Brasswell looked quite physically fit for his age.  It wasn't clear if he had been dipping into his own supply of MAX, but if he was it wasn't to the degree of the musclebound goon the Huntsman had taken out earlier in the night."


On the other side of the front door stood Grim.  The lights were off inside the cabin, which presented a pretty obscured view.  Not so obscured that he couldn't barely make out the sight of a crossbow aimed at someone.   A sight just distracting enough to almost completely mask why it felt as if there was a familiar scent in the area.


"Whatever, mind if I get a smoke?  Waking me up at three in the $%$6 morning for this %$##$&*."

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"Oh, for - hey! Nobody's dying today."


There were eyes at the door. There were, in fact, entirely too many eyes at the door; two were white, barely luminescent against the darkness, while the rest were smoldering red, perfectly round, and entirely too low to the floor to be human. Whatever made the red eyes were nearly impossible to see against the blackness, shadows made flesh milling about the cabin's entryway, but at least Grim seemed real enough, human and young and having absolutely none of it. "I'm pretty sure one or both of you has been doing enough of that crap by now, so no smoking, no shooting, and no more killing."

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Woodsman closed his eyes and opened them again, his finger not so much as tensing on the trigger - about the only muscle that didn't go briefly rigid at Grim's intrusion as he fought the urge to spin around and put a bolt right into that darkened doorway. No, not intrusion - appearance. Matt's not your enemy. He was reasonably confident Matt hadn't actually been tailing him, he'd have picked up on the other boy before now. "I don't need to shoot you," said Woodsman, not terribly convincingly trying to cover for the fact that he'd been taken by surprise by Grim's arrival. "Grim here'll take care of you for me." He stepped back to one corner of the room, his back against something secure, his hands still gently cradling his bow. "Know ya been dealin'. We know people died'a'it. Whatcha gotta say about that?" 

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  • 2 weeks later...



"My, my, my.  That's an interesting take.  Lies, death, and drugs.  Reads like a bad reality tv episode.  One without any proof I might add.  But, let's say I was involved in what you're accusing me of.  What do you think is going to happen to the two louts dumb enough to get in my way?"  Brasswell's words were of that of someone in control of the situation.  But, his voice had begun to falter.  It was one thing to be threatened at gunpoint, or crossbow point in this case, it was an entirely different thing to look whatever that was in his hallway in the eyes.  Death quickly moved from concept to reality in the span of a few seconds.


Outside, a van could be seen silently pulling up in the distance.  If not for the fact that the headlights were the only source of visible light outside it may have.  "Friends of yours?  What next going to break in through the chimney?  Or maybe the garage?  Geez, I'm awake already."

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Grim turned to look at the van, his expression unreadable in the darkness. He'd been surprised to hear his name - his codename? - used, but at least that had prompted him to place the scent.


Or, at least, prompted Moon to place the scent. Moon had been more than willing to send the thought his way, with insufferable smugness, but if Woodsman was here then Matt was better inside than outside.


He closed the door behind him, darkness coalescing into a teenage hero and a set of animals that looked like someone had shaped thick black smoke into dog form. "You know someone's been killing people, right?" he asked, thumbing back over his shoulder. "You're killing people, but you're doing it slow, poisoning kids in alleys. I dunno what brought my friend here, but I followed the trail of a dead guy, and it sounds like there were a few more before that. Someone besides us is trying to shut you down, man, and they aren't as nice as we are." One of his dogs growled, smoky fur pulling back over too-white teeth. "....and, yeah, that's probably saying something."

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Without comment, Woodsman turned down the lights in the room, then ducked low to peer out the front window to study the van outside and its occupants. Maybe he didn't have Grim's powers, or this guy's MAX (or whatever he'd been taking), but he knew this situation all too well. A night ambush, with unknown threats in your rear and your front. He snapped out a crank from the side of his crossbow and quickly gave it a few hard pumps, the big muscles in his right shoulder bulging, then raised it to bear again. This way, he could shoot through the glass with a reasonable amount of stopping power if necessary. "Gonna shoot 'em if they got guns," he said quietly. "After that, 'sawn you." 

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  • 4 months later...



Brasswell stayed quiet.  His eyes traveling between the two youths and the fearsome canine.  The silence spoke wonders about the situation.  As the man went from mocking his would-be capturers.  To actively showing some sign of fear for how the situation turned.  


Three men exited the van.  They were each wearing body armor, camouflaged clothing and as the boys suspected were heavily armed.  Slowly they would begin to part as they circled the structure.  Clearly hoping to surround the house completely leaving no avenue of escape.  They were acting with an assumption that they had the element of surprise.  Moon was able to catch the scent of three more people moving in a similar manner from the rear of the cabin.  There was no second vehicle in the immediate area.  Which meant those men walked down from somewhere.


Finally the retired military officer spoke again.  "...If you get me out of here.  I'll consider talking.  Not a second before that. So tell Fido over there to stand down.  Though I'd rather be puppy chow than let those mutts out there get me.  So hurry up, Robin Hood try and impress me."

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Grim scowled, quietly cracking his knuckles as he tried to figure out how to get through this without creating more work for himself. "Yeah, no offense," he said, side-eyeing the man, "'fido' is gonna stand down when you're in custody. You're in a bad spot but we're still gonna trust you about as far as we can throw you. If it was up to me-"


His dog got his attention by stepping on his foot; Grim cocked his head, and then turned his attention toward the back of the cabin. ".....six," he said, quieter. "Three in front, three out back. Must've hiked."


The young hero crooked a finger at a dark corner, and it coalesced into a third dog, as intimidating and ephemeral as the rest. "You must've pissed someone off real bad."

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