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Metro: Beyond

Concrete Caves


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Derek adjusted his mask as he looked up toward dark, swelling clouds on the horizon. They were moving in fast, seeming to darken with each passing minute. A steady breeze whispered between decrepit buildings, accompanied by increasingly frequent gusts of powerful wind. It was growing increasingly difficult to tell the difference between howling winds and howling watchmen. 

He was still some eight kilometers from any accessible station entries. Bad luck combined with an admittedly poor decision made under duress had taken him off course. He still had his bearings, but he wasn't in the best of positions in the moment. 

He shifted on his knee as he hunched behind the burned out shell of an old car, peering out across the street to determine whether or not it was safe to cross. There was no more sign of the demon he had been observing previously. Hopefully it had retreated to its roost to weather out the encroaching storm. 

Derek knew he needed to take shelter himself. Finding somewhere secure was always a problem here on the surface. It was one made even worse now that he was in a less familiar area. Before, he had always done his stalking near Oberon. He was rarely in the vicinity of Polis. 

Still, there was a shop front across the square that seemed to have potention. Once he had determined it was safe to move, Derek tucked his rifle in against his chest and started briskly for the next object of cover. 

By the time he reached the store front the winds had increased to a steady howl as they lashed between buildings, throwing debris all around. Derek ducked inside and switched on his headlamp, peering around as he crept deeper to clear the building. 

@HalesTheComet

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Had Serafina listened to anyone before heading out, she might have found herself more prepared for the storm that was bearing down on the area. But, then again, predicting the weather wasn't what it used to be. That didn't change the fact that she was now stuck alone in the face of nature. Of course, she knew the risks that came with coming to the surface, but they had never deterred her. She was resourceful, and that was what would save her now. 

As she crept along a wall, moving as quickly as she dared, she watched out carefully for the demons that were in the area. She just hoped they were looking for shelter, same as her, or had already done so. The last thing she needed was one of those damned creatures on her ass. She was running low on the ammunition she dared to spare, and she had her pistol holstered. In her hand she held her fixed blade, on she had forged herself. It wouldn't do her any good if she ran into one... but hell, she had other concerns.

She peeked around a corner in the alley she was in, seeing where it split off. Just across from her was the back entrance of a shop, and the back door was slamming open against the wall as the wind picked up. Ordinarily she wouldn't have gone straight in, but she was running out of options. Rushing across, she grabbed ahold of the door handle, grunting from the effort of pulling it shut behind her.

Darkness fell around her and it took several moments for her eyes to adjust, but she took advantage of this time to drop into a crouch, straining to hear anything besides her breathing and the now muffled howling of the wind. She reached to her belt and fumbled for a moment before she pulled her flashlight free, clicking it on to illuminate the room she was in. It seemed like it was used as a storage area, but she couldn't be certain. But it didn't matter what room she was in. The only thing she needed to worry about was whether or not she was alone.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Stray shards of glass crunched underfoot as Derek first made his way inside. The sound subsided once he got to the back, pushing open a door that led into a dim corridor. There was less movement from the wind here. As Derek looked around he also saw minimal signs of water damage. That meant it would be a good place to stay dry. 

So far it seemed safe enough. All the same, he started to clear the rooms. Surprisingly, the first door he tried was still locked. Derek jiggled the handle curiously, then pressed his ear against it to listen. Nothing inside stood out. After about a minute he decided to return later and force it open. 

In the meantime he went to the next door, this one askew, and nudged it open. It was empty as he shone his light around. He continued this pattern around the hall until he caught a flash of light in his periphery. Derek stiffened as his gaze swung towards the area. It had been fleeting, just briefly showing under a doorframe. Now that he was eyeing the area he saw nothing. 

At least, not at first. After watching intently for a brief time he saw another flash, then another. There was someone in there. 

He hovered back, adjusting his rifle in hand. Meeting others on the surface was always an iffy prospect. That said, putting differences aside during surface storms was something of an unspoken rule. Derek kept his rifle ready just in case, but with the barrel pointed to the ground as he cautiously started for the doorway, "Hey! Come on out of there," he called once he was just shy of the door. 

 

@HalesTheComet

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To say Sera almost shit herself was putting it lightly. When she heard a man's voice shouting out to her she felt her heart leap into her throat, and her hand flew to the holster on her hip instinctively. But, she knew going out there with it would be a risk. There were plenty of people desperate enough to forgo that unspoken rule of watching out for each other, and you could never be too careful.

 

She steeled herself and stood slowly, her eyes and flashlight locked onto the door. Taking in a breath, she started to walk forward, her hand still resting on her hip.

"And if I do how do I know you won't shoot me?"

She called back to him, her eyes narrowing in suspicion. There was no way in hell that she would just open up the door without some kind of reassurance that either she not be harmed, or that she wouldn't have to put a bullet in his skull.

"If you have a gun... set it down." She unholstered her pistol and looked down at it for a moment, hesitating before she set it on the ground next to her feet. "My pistol is on the ground."

'But my knife is at my back.' She thought grimly, not wanting to use it if she didn't have to.

"Once you've put it down you can open the door, it isn't locked."

This all felt like it could be a very bad idea, but what else could she do? If she didn't comply and he did have a gun he could easily mow her down, maybe even just shoot straight through the door. She couldn't risk it.

 

@Dragon

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Derek was relieved to hear a human voice answering, but he still cocked a brow at what was said. 

"I'd have shot through the walls before you knew I was here if I wanted to shoot you," Derek answered. He didn't lower his rifle any further, and he had no intention of putting the weapon down. But he did keep the muzzle pointed to the ground as he took a couple of cautious steps closer. 

"I'm not looking for trouble. Just a place to weather out the-" 

He was cut off by a loud crashing sound from somewhere behind him. Derek turned on heel, pulling the rifle up as his gaze swept for the source. He couldn't see anything, but what he heard was enough to start him backing up to get closer to the door. There was a watchman in the building. 

@HalesTheComet

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Serafina might have been ready to argue, as was her nature, when she heard the muffled crashing noise cut him off. She could hear the shuffle of boots in the hall before there was a pause. Taking this opportunity, she leaned over and snatched up her pistol before straightening and pulling the door open. What she saw was the back of a soldier, his weapon trained on the darkness in front of him.

"Well don't let the trouble in with you." She hissed in a whisper, stepping to the side quickly and nodding for him to enter, but she wasn't looking at him, she was watching the shadows.

The watchman was probably looking for shelter, same as them. As far as she could tell, this room was a safe space to hole up in.

@Dragon

Edited by HalesTheComet
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Derek glanced back toward the sound of the voice. Without waiting for further encouragement, he quietly retreated into the room. 

"Thanks," he muttered, shifting the rifle to his shoulder as she closed the door. Once the door clicked shut he reached to switch on his head lamp. They were in a small room that seemed to have once been an office. 

After a quick glance around, he turned his attention back to the stranger. At first glance he didn't notice any faction insignias that might have made him wary. 

@HalesTheComet

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After she made sure the door was locked she turned to look at the man, squinting against the glaring light of his headlamp, and she brought a hand up to shield her eyes as she returned her pistol to it's holster. If things were to get hairy now things would be different. They were in close quarters, and he'd have a harder time getting a shot off on her with the rifle than she would with her knife.

She stopped herself at these thoughts, though, because it didn't seem like it would escalate to that point. But she was always prepared, her brain always working out possible scenarios.

She now shined her own flashlight on him, getting a good look at him for the first time. The light revealed what she had already assumed, and it was that he was a solider of sorts. She could hear it in the way he talked.

"Weird to see one of you on your own."

She commented, raising an eyebrow.

@Dragon

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It seemed they had an uneasy truce for the moment. Derek backed away until he was leaning against the desk in the corner, letting some weight off his feet after so many miles in one day, "What do you mean?" he asked as he reached to pull his canteen off his waist. 

@Morrigan

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She rolled her eyes and shook her head, giving a little shrug of her shoulders. 

"I always thought of you like ants. Where there's one there's more, and when there's more there's trouble."

Taking up her own spot in an old folding chair, she dropped her bag down beside her, grunting softly from the relief of the weight coming off of her shoulders which took the strain off of her lower back. She looked back over at him, a thoughtful expression on her face.

"And don't take that the wrong way. Gotta cause a little trouble to survive nowadays. And you... aren't the trouble, the trouble followed you."

She nodded towards the door, referencing the watchman that was now prowling the building.

"So, little ant, where's your troop?"

Her question was purely out of curiosity, the answer was of no real benefit to her.

@Dragon

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At first he wasn't certain what she was talking about. His left brow rose slowly, forming an inquisitive arch while he uncapped his canteen. 

When he caught onto her meaning Derek scoffed and shook his head, "I'm not a soldier," he clarified, "I'm from Oberon... was from Oberon, anyway," he corrected, heaving a breath before seeming to shake himself, "I was part of the guard there, but it was hardly an army." 

He took a few brief sips of the water in hand and offered it to the stranger. 

@HalesTheComet

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"Was?" She asked curiously, accepting the canteen before taking a sip. "I wouldn't imagine that it's easy to get out of the guard easily."

'That must be why he's here.' She thought to herself.

Sera passed back his water, murmuring a quiet thank you. Without her flashlight trained on him it wasn't too easy to see his features, but she had gotten a good look a few moments before. They certainly bred them well in Oberon, it seemed. This notion almost made her chuckle out loud, and she smiled in her effort to hold it back. Now wasn't the time to be joking around.

"I'm Serafina, from Hanza." 

She offered him her hand, her gaze steady.

@Dragon

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Derek nodded grimly as she emphasized the word, "Was," he repeated, "station was attacked by the Reich, couple weeks ago now. In the end we couldn't do much but hold them off while our people fled," he explained briefly. Memories of the assault were still fresh and sore. Friends and mentors of his hadn't made it out. 

But his oddly assorted family had all made it to Polis unscathed, at least. He was grateful for that much as the Reich likely would have had them all executed, between being foreign born and harboring Reich deserters. 

He smiled faintly when he heard she was from Hanza. That made trusting her less of a risk - assuming she was telling the truth, at any rate. 

"Derek," he answered, shaking her hand briefly, "good to meet you, Serafina." 

@HalesTheComet

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This news made her frown, and her brow creased as she lowered her gaze to her hands. Had she known she would have been more sensitive to his situation. After all, she could only imagine that happening to her, but clearly others around her were feeling the effects. Several moments passed before she lifted her eyes back up to look at him.

"And you, Derek. Glad you made it out." She said with a small, firm nod.

There was a moment of silence before she spoke again.

"How long have you been on your own out here?"

@Dragon

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 "Oh, just a few days," he answered, realizing what she meant and swiftly moving to correct her, "I'm doing a little Stalking to bring in bullets. By some miracle my family all got out alright," he clarified. 

Although it wasn't a miracle so much as his brother-in-law had been a Reich trooper for many years. The man's knowledge of their tactics had saved a lot of lives. Derek had shed much of his thinly veiled animosity toward the man since then. 

That wasn't information one shared freely, though. 

He shifted in place and took another sip from the canteen, "We got lucky. Right now my folks are in Polis trying to convince them to do something but... I don't think anyone has high hopes about that," Derek grimaced and shook his head once, "anyway, what about you? If I had to guess you look like a Stalker yourself." 

@HalesTheComet

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