Least, he was... giving his best effort to.
But that was... I'm getting ahead of myself. My apologies. As I've said repeatedly, keeping my mind sorted can be a bit of a chore. I sometimes take a... wrong turn in the maze in my head. Things can... come out in the wrong order...
Morningstar, Crouching Tiger, and I arrived in a small town that stood as a ghost town in a dense forest. It was difficult to believe that, not that long ago, the entire area had been rather... bustling. A hive of activity. A Nest Cult Town, busy keeping a predator's eye on their pet project - The Glutton. Studying him. Watching him. Keeping him under control... that is until The Glutton woke them to the realization of how easy they just... became Prey. With Redlight's encouragement, no doubt...
Everything was so... very still. Impossibly still.
That was until Morningstar suddenly perked and... took off running. Into the densest part of the forest, no less. Tiger and I went to follow, but I... something caught my eye. A movement. From the corner, but behind. I hesitated. For only a split second, but I hesitated... and then I was hit hard on the side. The jolt of the ground hit me next before everything was just a mess of... of movement and cloth and long nails that resembled more claws and... black teeth. An entire mouth of crooked, gnashing teeth. Jaw and neck straining down to reach my neck, saliva dripping, even as I fought to keep him away. To keep him... from doing remodeling work on my jugular and all I could THINK of was how much my arms were shaking and what would happen if... they gave out...
It was like trying to fight off a corpse.
I gritted my teeth... and raked the blades of my gauntlet up and across. Aiming to slash out his neck. To RIP it right off from his fucking SPINAL CORD.
I only sliced across his collar bone.
The result... was an explosion of talons and beaks and feathers clawing and ripping and swirling everything everywhere and I could still see those teeth straining for my neck and...
I vaguely remember yelling... and then he was suddenly off.
The mammoth that is Crouching Tiger was standing over me. Yanking me up even as that... thing scrambled back to its feet. The tattered remains of a straitjacket - messily painted red - hanging from its thin frame beneath a torn jacket. Wild eyes whipping around, peering out from beneath its hood. Saliva dripping down its ash grey chin...
Then it took off.
We ran after. Following the mess of movement through the undergrowth... until a large building pulled out from it in front of us. The Glutton disappearing inside. The very same building that his fellow Nests used to observe him from. A building that stood as empty and broken as the rest of town...
We saw Morningstar off in the trees. Not too far off. Fighting a figure in... what I can only describe as Renaissance Fair style Merry Man type clothes. Cloth a deep purple that... stood out amongst all the shadows and green, but it wasn't the clothes that had my attention as Shooter and he exchanged blows back and forth and around and around...
The "man's" eyes... the Piper's Eyes... burned a bright blue... as did the light that came from deep inside his mouth as he seemed to try to... pin Star down.
But Tiger and I had our own work.
Inside the building, half of it was collapsed on itself. Everything thrown about in disarray - the last stilled image of chaos that had erupted in there not that long ago. Tiger and I slowly made our way through. The wreckage around us perfect camouflage as The Glutton stole the higher ground. Never stopping even once. Circling us. Stalking us. A shadow amongst shadows, that only ended in a SCREAM of talons and beaks and claws and gnashing teeth. It felt like it took hours. A deadly game of hide and seek and pounce. All involving an entire murder... a living cloud... of crows. A swarm that circled and dove and TORE from every direction. No matter what Tiger and I tried, we could never... get close enough. Could never get past those damn BIRDS...
Of course, sometimes he abandoned the high ground altogether. When it was more convenient for him to snap a boney hand around one's ankle from below. From beneath the boards as you passed by and drag your feet out from under you with strength that his bones and scarred skin shouldn't be able to produce. Clawing straight through the fabric of my pants and DRAGGING me into the dark hole he'd nested for himself even as I struggled to find something to grab hold of something to stop the SLIDE as I kicked and kicked and hit something that earned a shriek from beneath that rubble... followed by a swarm of birds. I slashed at the flock. Trying to protect my neck and stomach as more and more surrounded me and all I could do was roll. Roll and hope for distance hope for a chance of getting back to my feet...
Of course, that's where the STAIRS would be.
Or, rather, where the stairs were MEANT to be. Collapsed. Like so much else. I landed on my shoulder in their remains. Breathing hard and leaving a splatter of blood.
I saw movement again.
Finding my feet, I drew my Glock and fired. And fired. And fired. All into the blackness that surrounded me. Any noise. Any movement.
Until I heard my weapon answer with a TICK.
End of the clip.
Exactly what the fucker had been waiting for to Start up again. Rushing in. Ducking beneath the swing of my gauntlet and slamming me back into the wall... and biting down hard on the side of my neck. A twist at the last moment saving my arteries, landing the bite closer to the back... but I still had to bite back the scream as I felt teeth sink in. Tear. RIP. Blood soaking my neck and chest...
That would be when a beam - literally a wooden BEAM - collided into The Glutton with a force that made me very THANKFUL for Tiger's aim. Driving The Nest to the same collapsed stairs that were stained with my own blood. Adding to it, his own. A flurry of more feathers. More beaks. More talons. As that thing THRASHED like a wild animal to get out from under the beam that now pinned it. Its flock attacking. Swirling and tearing at us both until I heard a crack that was Tiger's foot breaking through the floorboards up above. Catching hold of him. And part of the murder that had been set on me... swept up and turned on him. I heard screaming.
Somehow, within the swarm of my own tormenters... I managed to get a new clip into the Glock. Hearing it snap in place, I ignored the blood and pain and aimed... at only the beam. There was movement in the darkness again...
i saw that son of bitch
a sillouette in the dark
the shadow OF a shadow, with but a sliver of light from the cracked floorboards above to bring him to life
I saw it.
And I Took The Shot.
Seconds later, the entire murder dissipated into nothing. Every single bloody crow drawn back from wince they came. I called up to Tiger, and he answered back. Badly hurt, but alive. Eventually, he joined me. Jumping down. Before we slowly made our way over to the remains of The Glutton.
A skeleton of a man.
With a hole blasted right between his wide, crazed eyes.
Morningstar regrouped with us later. Gleeman handled injuries once we got back. I got a bit of a ribbing for needing saving. Twice. But the job is done, we have time to recoup. Which is exactly what we've all been doing the past couple of days.
Wasn't all that hard, hm?