Hemma Innan Mörkret


carver_icon.gif chris_icon.gif cooper_icon.gif corbin_icon.gif dumortier_icon.gif

finn_icon.gif jim_icon.gif bf_kara_icon.gif nicole3_icon.gif robyn6_icon.gif yi-min_icon.gif

Scene Title Hemma Innan Mörkret
Synopsis Accidental time travelers have to race against time and fight against strange creatures in order to get back to the future.
Date September 8, 2020

Near Providence

The woods on the far side of Lilleskalla Village seem darker and deeper than they had coming in. They are darker — the sun is already low in the sky, the sunshine cast from that westwardly angle rather than high above the trees, so less of it makes its way through the pines.

The strange play of light on what’s now been dubbed the lime bubble, courtesy of Cooper, is harder to make out as well — which adds to the anxiousness felt by the travelers as they head through the wood in the direction they had come from. They know their snow globe of time is shrinking, but it’s harder to see just by how much, how fast.

“These are delicious,” says Finn around a mouthful of the lingonberry-jam sandwich he’s eating, one of the dozen or so in the basket she had given the group on their way out. He’s not worried about catching some 18th century germ from the thing, though that sentiment is probably not shared by all of the group. Despite his nonchalance, he does carry his gun at the ready, and keeps a steadying hand on Jim’s shoulder as they make their way into the dim woods.

"If you get colonial-era food poisoning from those," Kara inputs gruffly, "I'm going to laugh."

No guesses as to who it is that's concerned about the health risk strange food from other centuries— that was also made in a sickhouse— poses, but Kara Prince is nothing but a wet blanket when it comes to most things fun. Or so the story goes.

She looks over her shoulder back at Cooper, realizing extremely belatedly he's still without his jacket. "You're not about to lose your wallet out here, are you?" she asks while they walk. One arm is looped around Yi-Min's side in a gesture of support the woman likely doesn't need, but maybe comforts her instead. Her pace lags for a moment as she steps over a fallen branch.

In this wild, beguiling darkness covering over the shapes of the trees they pass, it's almost possible for Yi-Min to forget that these are not in fact their woods. There is a glint in her eye quite unrelated to the way that she carefully scans out the path in front of them, wary of treacherous ground-level snags that might catch them underfoot or otherwise aggravate their progress.

Kara's presence at her side is a source of comfort for her indeed, though all of her own passive focus is given to being a small, faintly cheery font of reassurance in turn. In the gloom, she gives Kara's palm an encouraging squeeze between her fingers.

In her other hand, Yi-Min is holding her shotgun again, lofted downwards but ready. Still no telling what else they might run into out here.

"If you are going to get colonial-era runs, Finn, let us make it home, first. Please."

Chris had already had the punch when he'd visited with Hedda, so why not a snack to go with it? After all, he's had all his shots, and so far there hasn't been any unpleasant turn of his stomach from the tea. So he's helped himself to one of the sandwiches as well. It's grasped in one hand, still wrapped for the time being. The other carries a stick he'd gathered when the group first set off for home, a decent length and width of some ancient (to his thinking) birch suitable for hiking.

“Only runs Finn’s going to get are the ones from his lady’s temper for disappearing,” he points out. “Runs out of excuses, runs out of apologies, runs out of dodge…”

Cooper’s actually without his tie, too. He looks like a guy who’s just gotten off of work for the night, even having rolled up his sleeves to the elbows. Maybe it’s to keep the jam of his sandwich - the last bite of which is popped into his mouth - from staining his shirt.

Kara’s question gets an amused look from Cooper. He scoffs at the thought that he’d be so careless. “As if… it’s…” He reaches for a back pocket and freezes. “Oh no!” He stops briefly and pats hands all over himself. His shoulders slump and his head hangs. “It was in my jacket.”

Thomas looks dejected for a moment, moving to lumber after, before whipping out his wallet from the first pocket he checked. “Kidding,” he offers oh so brightly. But then shakes a head at her. “What am I, stupid?” But then quickly points a warning finger at her, “Don’t answer that. Seriously, though… Relax. I took it out of my jacket before using it to cover that thing's head.”

Tucking the wallet back in his pocket, he jerks his chin at the basket, “Hey, Finn. Can I get another one of those things.”

Nicole is also firmly on Team No Sandwiches, in spite of the fact that she’d really like something as sweet as bread and jam right about now. Her main concern for the moment is getting the hell out of these woods and back to their own time in one piece.

When Cooper makes a big production of trying to find his wallet, Nicole is sloooowly turning her head to look at him out of the corner of her eye with a growing sort of concern. When he produces it finally, she exhales the breath she didn’t realize she’d been holding, relieved. That would be awkward to explain to the brass. The fact that he’s still able to crack jokes in the face of all this weirdness is a comfort.

There isn’t anyone gathered she doesn’t trust to handle themselves, save for, perhaps, the wounded (although woe betide anything that tries to mess with Yi-Min now or ever, she will fuck up man and cryptid alike). All the same, Nicole’s taken up a position at Carver’s side, her camera left to dangle from the neck strap while she holds her sidearm in a two-hand grip, pointed at the ground as they make their way.

"Jam is safe from botulism. Eat away, guys." Dumortier's addition to the rambling of his group comes from the front, where he stays on a path through needles and scrub. His mood has been leveling out to something more sober, mildly lost in thoughts as they go.

A pause here and there, to touch palms against pine bark and reassess the shrinking barrier. No telling what will happen, but once it gets below the canopy he is sure things will change.

Carver has efficiently polished off a sandwich; he's had Army Shots, he's pretty sure he'll be alright. And if he's not… well, if he dies, he dies, otherwise he's got work to get done tonight. Rene's contribution is met with a grunt of affirmation. "Botulism doesn't grow well in high-sugar environments," he rasps, before falling silent again.

Neither of his hands are occupied, at this point — he's finished his sandwich, and his pistol and knife are still at his side, his rifle on his back. He's laid out the treatment regimen for Elsef — with the suggestion she pass it on to Fru Nilsson, as well — and warned about fleas spreading the sickness; hopefully it's enough… because one way or another, his time here is over.

All that's left now is getting back home, and he aims to see to it that that happens. His gray eyes sweep from side to side, alert for any sign of hostiles. He still has a question or two for Mrs. Miller, but that can wait until they're out of Brigadoon.

It's clear that Robyn wanted to take part in the sandwiches, but once Nicole decides not to partake, Robyn seems to step in line with her on the matter. Reluctantly. Very, very reluctantly. Maybe it's how tired she visibly is, but something seems to be weighing on her as they press ahead. "Good to know botulism is the least of our worries," is a sarcastic mumble, almost lost in the shuffling of her own feet as she keeps one hand at her hip.

For her gun.

Just in case.

A part of her wishes she had her cane for this. She doesn't need it, but it's become a security blanket of sorts for her over the last few months. Being out this long - and in definite trouble - with out it left her feeling a bit uncomfortable. Maybe she could talk to Richard about making her some sort of spy cane, as if the sword it hides wasn't enough.

“I’ll eat when we’re home,” Corbin says quietly, ignoring the grumbling of his stomach. It wouldn’t be the first time he hadn’t been able to eat all day because of an assignment. He can manage. There were energy bars and all protein drinks and all kinds of things in his house at home that he could get into his stomach before crashing into his comfortable bed. After making sure Hokuto was okay.

And Daphne. And—

Had it really only been a day since they entered that bubble?

“I wonder if this is like jet lag. Time travel lag,” he laughs, talking to himself, really. But at least they headed back, with weapons ready and in a group. And while most of them didn’t have abilities, that never meant much to Corbin. Lack of abilities had never stopped Bennet and Ryans, after all. They would have just shot the monster and moved on.

“See?” Finn says, gesturing to both Rene and Carver, before fishing out another sandwich and reaching to hand it to Cooper. “You’re missing out. Besides, it’s probably more likely to be ergot poisoning, right? We’ll suddenly think everyone else is a witch-“

He stops short. About ten yards away and nearly invisible in the dappled sunlight of the afternoon forest, they can see the back end of a stately looking stag with its head down, hidden by brush and shadow as it seems to graze. The branchy outline of his antlers is tall enough that it peeks up over its broad shoulders.

The sudden screech of an owl high above their heads breaks the brief idyllic moment, and the deer lifts its head to look around.

Only it’s not the face of a deer that looks back at them at all.

Beneath the antlers and the wide brow of what should be a white-tailed deer is instead the wise-looking face of a gray wolf, golden eyes glinting in the dim light. When it realizes it’s not alone, that stoic mask becomes a ferocious snarl as the beast launches itself at the group, lupine front legs powering its forward momentum and its head lowering to use the weapon atop its head to gore its prey.

Finn drops the sandwich to fire his gun — without concentrating on his luck, the shot goes wide — the beast’s antlers, wide as they are, crash into Corbin and Chris, even as the other gun toters take aim for the creature. Razor-sharp claws and fangs slash and snap at its would-be victims: anyone within reach of either weapon.

Bennet and Ryans probably wouldn’t have been gored by the creature— which is pretty much what just happens to Corbin Ayers. Thankfully, not impaled, but still knocked up into the air, clothing torn, arm ripped bloody, and various other levels of damage that will probably have him in casts for a few days as he hits the ground, kicking himself away. All the damage is to his upper body, giving him enough movement to push away with his legs, but he’s definitely not liking life right now.

His sidearm falls to the ground. He might have gotten his hands on it, but not long enough to make much of a difference.

Chris Ayers' smart ass reacts to the surprise deer-wolf by swinging that stick. He'd grabbed it as a just in case since he'd otherwise made the trip unarmed — which he's never doing again. The stick clatters and tangles with antlers, doing little more to the beast besides probably just pissing it off more. That's not to say he doesn't try to impose a little control over Blitzen. It also doesn't seem to save Corbin from being thrown to the ground like an angry toddler's doll. But at least his uncle isn't going to get trampled.

Chris still might.

He holds onto that stick like his life depends on it. And let's be honest, it does. The thrashing and head bucking wrenches and torments shoulders and elbows, ripping more than just clothes. His sandwich becomes a streak on the ground. A claw tears through the lower half of one leg and takes his feet out from under him. But Chris holds on. That stick is the one thing keeping him from being turned into a smear that matches his fallen sandwich.

Carver tenses as he spots the deer. White-tailed deer are generally flighty sorts; here, where they are presumably hunted for food, they should not be cavalier about the presence of people. His hand drifts towards his gun… and then as the thing turns, his eyes widen, that slow drift turning into a quick draw.

There's no window for a shot, though, not with this many people between him and the thing; he doesn't waste the time or breath to give voice to the curse going through his mind, instead translating that energy into slipping to the side, trying to get a clear line of sight to shoot the damn thing. By the time he gets one, though, the thing's got ahold of their local smartass and is doing its damned best impression of a rodeo bull trying to throw a rider in its efforts to mangle him; Carver's a good shot, but landing a headshot would, again, be risky under these circumstances.

Instead, he waits a split second to try and catch the thing between jumps, then fires off three quick shots, one two three. The first two are aimed for the thing's hip, the third is aimed at its spine — a tricky shot, even for Carver, but he doesn't have a lot to lose by trying.

His free hand drifts towards his knife. Getting up close and personal with a rabid wolfdeer thing isn't something even he's looking forward to, but if it wants to try and take a bite out of him it's not going to catch him offguard.

The buck doesn't phase Rene at first— it's rutting season, and the boys are out in force— but its attention changes that tune mighty quickly. Being in the front affords him just a split second to launch himself out of the way, hitting dirt as antlers heft up at the Ayers pair. Dumortier cannot hear the teeth snapping, but that snarling is what he focuses on as he climbs out of sticky fallen pine needles, boots searching for a solid footing. Carver's rapport in an effort to hit it jolts his adrenaline up just enough.

There is no move made to distract it, no shout— just a silvery glimmer of feral eyes and the stick in Chris' grasp comes alive in his hands— and in the brace of the beast's antlers. It cracks and pops with a burst of new woody growth up into those majestic antlers and over that canine face as if it were fire, constricting and spreading with a fanatical purpose.

Cooper will mourn the loss of the sandwich later, right now he’s too busy staring at this fresh hell. “Oh my god!” He says, stumbling back as it surges towards them. Unfortunately, he didn’t really bring a gun, so he can only stay out of the way of those with them.

Though… “Hey! A rock!” Cooper bends down and scoops up a rock to throw at it. It’s not much, but it might distract it enough so that those with guns can get a good shot in.

Kara stops her forward pace when the deer doesn't run from them, eyes narrowing in suspicion. When it turns around, its blended form something terrible to behold, her arm falls from Yi-Min's side. "Live rounds," she warns her partner as she brings her rifle round forward.

Carver's firing on it already, but Kara waits a second longer to take advantage of how it presents its side to her while pressing on Chris. She fires a burst low on its torso, just above its legs. If this thing's anything like a normal deer, she hopes to pierce its lungs or heart.

Yi-Min's slender fingers have already come unfurled from Kara's, taking their consoling warmth away with them. But she remains right there, a small, stout figure at her partner's side — meeting the look halfway, nodding curtly, and swiveling her attention full onto the beast.

Then she is firing too, aiming for the exact same area on the deer-beast, filling any holes of silence in the air left behind by the other firearms with the thunderous blasts of her shotgun.

There's no pause to ask for permission this time. Now that they aren't in the presence of the village dweller, Robyn is quick to pull her gun from her hip and squeeze off two shots in rapid succession. Again, she finds herself wishing she had her cane, but a different sort of distraction will have to do for this moment. Shadow trails her for just a moment, as she focuses on the- whatever the fuck it is.

Pivoting on her heel, she turns and starts off in another direction - as another, identical copy of her suddenly bolts off in the other direction. Only one of her has a gun, though, and immediately she tracks it into her sights.

Jesus Christ,” Nicole staggers back a half step when she, like Carver and Kara, realizes that a deer shouldn’t be so blasé about the presence of humans. She raises her gun to fire, but her colleague goes down after being charged by the chimera. “Corbin!” Holstering her pistol, she breaks into a run, keeping outside of the line of fire with her head ducked as she races toward him with the intent of getting him a safer distance away.

One arm scoops under his shoulders. “I’m sorry about this!” She grabs his weapon with her other hand, then dragging him back away from the scuffle before she starts to help haul him to his feet. The others will have them covered, or so Nicole hopes.

Something whizzes through the air. A sharp sound accompanied with a bright orange light, streaking through the air until it lands with a thud in the ground not too far from the chimera. A flaming arrow.


"Tyr, välsigna våra blad!" The voice is a deep one and a figure moves out from the pines, her cloak flying in the wind. Blue eyes narrowed in anger at the beast's attack on those of House Ayers. "Freyja, vägleda våra händer!" Hedda dips her notched arrow in a bucket of oil and lights it before setting it loose to which it does indeed fly but sputters out.

The hood of her dark brown cloak flies off and she grimaces before the same motions are followed and another arrow is shot towards the monster. "Away beasts! They cannot die here! Bort!" Hedda screams.

The seer had arrived to ensure their safe passage, destiny told her so.

The first of many shots grazes the beast, and it growls and snarls all the louder for it, claws coming up to bat away the branch it finds tangled in its briar-like antlers. That’s when the thing seems to explode with new growth, and the great beast shakes its head to and fro to try to throw off the foliage that obstructs its vision and even its very breath.

Unable to disentangle itself, it’s thrown off kilter, allowing for the shooters — and surprise archer — to make quick work of it; at the end of the melee, it slumps in a bloody heap, fur singed and smoke rising off of it in an acrid stench.

Finn’s green eyes are wide, and he stares for a moment before he looks to the injured men. Nicole has Corbin, so he heads to Chris, offering a hand to the younger man to help him up as he appraises the damage. “Can you walk?” he asks, looking from Chris to Carver. “I’d say patch ’em up but I notice our new friend here used the plural and we might want to get the fuck out of the forest of Dr. Moreau before the time bubble sets,” he suggests.

“Thanks for the help,” he tells Hedda. “How many more are there?”

Before she has time to reply, the answer becomes apparent: at least two more.

Above, the sound of an owl screeches again, and when the travelers peer up, they see two shapes, silhouetted by the backlight of the western sky, careening toward them — birds?

The first comes into sharper detail — a snowy white owl face and wings, its descent too fast to track and hit before it swipes not talons but claws at Kara, the screeching sound overlaid with the demonic-sounding growl and hiss of a feline. Close up, those who don’t have a faceful of claws and screeching owl can see the back end is the shape of a small bobcat.

If it weren’t attacking them, it might even be cute.

Not as much can be said for the second creature, which is larger but somehow more wary, using the denseness of foliage and trees to protect it from any bullets or arrows. When at last it comes into view, it is the devilish face of a black goat, yellowish eyes narrowing as it swoops down to butt its horns into Nicole’s shoulder from the side. Hawk wings melded into the goat’s body by Mats Ahlgren’s hands have somehow grown as large as the goat, miraculously able to carry it aloft, where the bat wings had not been able to lift the bear.

When the arrows fly and the beast is felled, Nicole heaves a sigh of relief. Then the screeching overhead draws her eyes up. “Oh no.” But she doesn’t freeze. “Go!” she shouts, both pushing Corbin forward and reaching out toward Cooper to encourage him to receive him. “Coop! Help Corbin!” She still has a weapon, after all. Two, in fact now.

But she doesn’t whirl in time to get a shot off before she’s being rushed by the goat-headed creature. She lets out a grunt of surprise as she slams into the ground. Quickly, she rolls onto her back and raises Corbin’s gun to fire up at the thing diving down on her.

It feels safe to say they've pissed off these animals— possibly their creator. This can't be coincidence that they're being set upon like this.

Kara has barely enough time to take a step back, avoiding taking a hit straight to the face, and instead across her collar and shoulder.

She lets out a cry of pain when the claws of the beast rip right through the dark clothing she wears. Without a vest worn underneath her shirt to act as an additional barrier, sharp tears through pliable skin and digs in. The gun she's holding is dropped unceremoniously to the ground, both hands raised to haul the beast attacking her around before it has the chance to get her better than it already is.

"Keep moving!" Kara snarls, meant for the group at large. She's well-aware at least one of them will be too invested in her to let her wrestle this thing along, but god help them if more of these things came along and they were all sitting ducks waiting to be pounced upon. "Head for—"

She'd really love to finish that thought, but she reaches out to grab the wing of the bobcat chimera, letting out a yell instead as she goes hurling the beast hopefully down to the ground beside her.

Eyes dark and narrow, Yi-Min stiffens as she witnesses the first of two new unbelievable creatures bearing down on Nicole, and she's already advancing forward again with shotgun bared. But it's the damage inflicted on her partner by its consort nearly in tandem with the first that rips a devastated cry out of her throat.


She isn't arrested in this manner for long; if anything, it's a reaction that touches off a surge of immediate and icy fluidity in her next one. As Kara seeks to fling her attacker downwards, Yi-Min is right there to drive the flat of her boot down into the rippling fur and feathers surrounding its nape, all the better to increase the odds that it might stay pinned for a few seconds under that mass of ghastly, rolling momentum.

One heartbeat later, another series of deafening blasts signals that Yi-Min is emptying her next full round of reloaded shotgun shells into the head of the owlcat from point-blank.

There is no need to tell Cooper twice to help Corbin, since he seems to have been the only one without a sidearm - he never expected to need it… then again he didn’t expect to be having a time travel adventure either. “Yeah… I’d say we pissed someone off.” Cause it had to be the creator whoever the heck they are. Funny how your day works out… even if it isn’t a Monday.

“Come on, Ayers,” Cooper grunts out, working to help the man to his feet and drape an arm across his shoulder for leverage. “Thank god I work out. You've clearly been eating too many of my donuts.” Thomas tends to joke when he’s nervous or scared. As the women cry out, he casts a look over his shoulder, “Let's get back to the real world, buddy, and find us a therapist.”

Corbin doesn’t need therapy. Well, not the emotional or psychological kind, at least. In comparison the monsters are not even among the most horrific things he’s witnessed. Even if they are definitely not pleasant. “Where’s Chris?” he asks, once he gets up against Cooper. Thankfully his legs are fine, so he doesn’t actually need much weight support really (and he’s not been getting in those donuts!!) but there’s still some needed cause of stumbling and light-headedness.

It was quite a blow and he’s still dazed, but he has enough mind to be concerned about his nephew, even as they stumble in the direction of the— future? Present?


Chris is not far from the deer that Santa should have rejected — hashtag let Rudolph play reindeer games. At some point during that brief scuffle, or frantic ungulate head thrashing, he'd lost his grip on the branch and managed to get himself just out of claws’ reach so he could bleed and hurt in peace. The bottom half of one pant leg is dark and damp looking, and the hand that he chooses to take Finn’s help up with is discolored at the wrist.

He makes some pained faces and one very sharp inhale, nothing like his usual complaints given to mild discomfort, as the older man helps pull him to his feet. The younger Ayers even leans on Finn more than he'd normally allow of himself, with his weight kept mostly off the one leg. More characteristic is the mumbled string of swears that begins once he's upright.

While the branch does exactly as intended, Dumortier's attention is torn by the approach of a hedge witch with flaming arrows, and soon after, the cries and physical presence of two more. It's easy to see that Hedda, however, is there to help, at least in some capacity, even if it's to make him even more confused.

The sounds of wings from the ram and the shriek of the owl's vocal chords cue a blur of activity. The instinct to fight is stronger than flight; Rene doesn't move into the fray— the flora does this for him. Felled on the ground, those twining, digging branches on the head of the stag have now woven roots down into its throat and ears; up above, the canopy thickens, Rene's eyes flicker upwards long enough to tangle and thatch it, hands twisting at his sides.

As if called, Dumortier looks back to the forest floor—

—when roots and whip-thin branches pop the ribs of the stag wide open and scatter like a carpet of slick red snakes seeking the other chimeras. No need to tell the others to go, they're already on it.

"Merde," Robyn hisses, ejecting the clip out of her gun so she can glance at how many bullets she has left. Not enough, resulting in the decision to commit to a tactical reload, sliding the clip into a holder at her belt and replacing it with her only other full clip. "I want to burn whatever fucked up book of fables and fairy tales—" Her attention rises on Kara, and then sweeps around the area, gun raised.

Her duplicate does much of the same, with one creature felled, turning her attention around her as she prepares herself to either be a distraction or a warning call — whatever will help keep everyone alive.

The flurry of combat and survival has Hedda lifting her bow to fire more arrows and once the beasts are downed she looks to the sky before looking around to everyone, "Tack." She looks as if she wants to say more but stops herself.

"Come now, it is time for you to take your leave. Take all that is yours back." Whether these people seemed like capable individuals or not mattered very little to the seer. She had destiny to preserve.

The young woman hustles forward with her bow slung over her shoulder, passing Chris and Finn she lifts her hand and tugs on Chris' ear as she swiftly passes, "Do well to remember my words young sir, you survived to right your name." It would seem to appear that Chris has a tenseish relationship with the seer which is like saying the sky is blue when it comes to the young man's temperament.

All is not ice though and Hedda flashes the man a rogue grin and runs ahead. "Quickly!"

The wolfdeer had been bad enough, but now they've got aerial mix-and-match Moreaus… and where there's three, there's bound to be more. A fighting retreat, then.

It's going decently, at least. Most of their little group — or groups, he supposes — are shuffling on ahead. Good. Kara's being beset by an owlcat, but looks to have it handled… and if she doesn't, it looks like Yi-Min's ready to rectify that. Well and good.

Which just leaves the goatbird — a goddamn goatbird! — after Miller. She's gone low to try to get the thing off of her — good. Carver pivots and snaps off a shot or two at it; if he hits the thing and can slow or lame it, good; if he doesn't, maybe the shots will startle it. Either way, that should buy Miller a second to breathe… and to shoot, hopefully.

He takes a step back, towards the others, but he's not about to take off until she's clear; be damned if he leaves anyone behind.

Hedda’s look skyward is mirrored by Finn squinting up and then in the direction of their destination; the strange dome seems smaller yet, and after a few moments of watching it, the inward progress it makes is perceptible — like a cloud inching across the sky.

“Shit. Yeah, thanks. Watch our six?” he asks, glancing back at the young seer. “Er, I mean, can you shoot anything that chases us?”

He doesn’t really wait to see if she says yes; he keeps an arm around Chris’ side, then finds Chris’ wrist where it hangs over his shoulder to keep a good hold on the younger man as he begins to move with renewed urgency in the direction of Providence. “Buddy system!” he calls out, turning to look at the others — Cooper’s got Corbin, Yi-Min and Kara, Carver and Nicole, Robyn and Dumortier.

“Help Jim?” he requests of Dumortier, though Jim’s legs are uninjured and he’s making good progress on his own.

Roots bury the bodies of those chimeras as they fall, twisting and binding to the earth. Tree food now, a few mounds of frayed branches and dirt.

Sweat lines his hairline, but Dumortier seems to run on that adrenaline nonetheless. His head whirls around as Finn delegates to everyone, then him. He can do that. A few of the bloodied roots trail after his heels as he goes to make sure Jim is able to keep up.

Dumortier doesn't look as the plants wind up his leg and splays over his back and shoulders, disconnecting from the earth as its master moves on, a shoulder open to Jim should he need it.

Nicole scrambles out from beneath the creature, where it collapsed against one of her legs, breathing hard. With a hand from Carver, she climbs back to her feet and nods quickly her gratitude to him. No words now, just an urgency to continue forward. Finn’s called the shot she would have, so once she’s taken stock of everyone following up on it, she briefly loops an arm behind Carver to rest a hand on the middle of his back, to reassure her just as much as him.

The shotgun blast to the bobcat dispatches it, or at least keeps it down. Kara doesn't bother to verify which, picking up her gun by the stock and stumbling off in the direction of everyone else. As they get closer to the encroaching bubble, she nudges Yi-Min ahead first, taking one last look over her shoulder.

Would Hedda be all right were she suddenly on her own?

"Take this," Kara calls out to her. The clip is switched out, made fresh, and then the rifle is shoved into the seer's hands. "Aim either for the head or heart. Godspeed. And— thank you."

Then she follows after the last of them.

As the group rushes for the exit, they hear the eerie, baying howl of wolves accompanied by the dull tattoo of horse hooves on the mossy forest floor. Is it from huntsmen chasing wolves, or is it yet another hybrid, wolf-headed and horse-footed?

Finn for one doesn’t want to find out.

Looking forward, they can see the taller tree line of “their” time just yards away. As they rush for that demarcation line between old and new, they can see the trees suddenly change: one second some loom thirty, forty feet tall, the next eighty, before their very eyes. Shrub, trees, or rocks suddenly appear in front of them where there were none before.

Finn jerks Chris to the side before the younger man rams into one of those sudden trees, and then the luckster concentrates on extending his field to those nearest to him. Carver stumbles on a root, forcing him forward a few steps and Nicole to one side; a tree suddenly appears in the spot they would have been.

Yi-Min and Kara, a few feet outside that ring of fortune, aren’t so lucky. A tree suddenly sprouts in their path; a branch jutting outward pierces the flesh of Kara’s shoulder. Her momentum breaks it as the group stumbles into what seems to be the “normal” Pine Barrens of 2020 — given the two people in modern clothing who stare at the travelers.

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“Well, this is awkward,” Bright says, pushing his glasses up his nose with one hand, waving with some sort of tablet in his other. “We’re just investigating this anomaly. What was inside?”

With the white haired older gentleman is a younger masculine looking figure that’s not nearly as well put together. It looks as if someone might have pulled them out of bed fully clothed for this “investigation” by the rumpled appearance of their curly hair and mismatched attire. Castle had, perhaps, tried to fix the appearance of their suit at one point, but, well, it’s a suit, even if half of it doesn’t really go with the other half and the fabrics don’t match and that belt’s definitely from what should have been the women’s side of the store. It’s colorful, certainly. And at least one of those stumbling back into this timeline would recognize them.

“That looks painful,” they say with a grimace, looking at those who were suddenly just appearing and looking like they had gone through a blender. “Really glad you didn’t make me go inside. I already bruise like a peach.” The voice is the same as Yi-Min remembers from the car— a whole few days ago. Even if it probably felt like even longer with all the travelling through time. Though there’s definitely more of that American tone to it. They don’t pile on more questions for those stumbling out of the woods injured, at least.

Corbin, on the other hand, looks at them with a frown for a moment. He never liked when strange Investigators showed up at the site of incidents. Did SESA send someone else? He’s pretty sure they would have waited a little longer, and he definitely doesn’t know these two. He doesn’t like it. But he also lived through the Institute tearing down the Company, so excuse his concern.

Instead of answering their questions, letting Nicole take point since, well, she should, really, and he’s got a bit of tunnel vision now that he sees his nephew. He moves toward Chris, despite the injuries on his upper body. He can at least walk just fine. “Sorry, I dragged you into this,” he apologizes, a grimace on his face— accented by some blood smeared there too.

“Hey, modern people!” Cooper jovially says to the others, acting like they were coming back from some long stay on Gilligan’s Island. “Guys! People!”

To the two standing there, unlike Corbin, he is all too happy to answer. “In there? What’s in there?” He jerks his head to the shrinking woods, “Oh.. you know the typical anymore…. Nightmare fuel,” he offers like it is nothing, glancing over his shoulder at a tree trunk he almost barreled into with Corbin on the way through.

Nicole emerges from the bubble with Carver, catching her breath and taking stock of the situation. “Cooper…”

“I honestly suggest you do not go in there,” is Cooper’s helpful suggestion once Corbin’s been released to do what he will. “Someone got all… I dunno… Sir Mix-a-Lot on a bunch of animals… It’s not pretty. Pig faces on bear bodies with bird wings.” His hands are moving to emphasize where these parts were on this creature… He might sound a bit crazy on top of it, but he doesn’t care.

“Cooper,” Nicole repeats, voice still low and calm.

Stepping a bit further away from the bubble, Cooper also suggests with equal helpfulness, “In fact, I recommend pointing guns that way in case Bambi with a case of fangs –” Did… did he just make fangs with his index fingers?

Cooper.” Nicole passes Corbin’s service weapon back as she moves by him.

“– comes after us in revenge for his daddy Werebuck, ‘cause they all popped a cap in his ass.”

What is Cooper even going on about?

Chris grunts when his direction is abruptly changed, his face going from the fixed concentration of maintaining movement to drawn tightly with pain. He sags and sinks out of Finn’s grasp to sit on the ground once they're no longer running — he doesn't care if it's present day ground or past tense ground, he's sitting now thanks — and only becomes aware of the strangers when they speak. And then it's just to give them a sour look.

“Only those babies don't got back,” the younger Ayres tags onto Cooper’s description of Sir Mix-a-Lot’s creations, as he shakes his head at Corbin. They both know he'd have blown the whole adventure off if he'd wanted to. “Next time I'm bringing my gun,” he says more quietly, as if there's definitely going to be a next time.

Nicole draws in a deep breath, steepling her fingers in front of her face, index fingers together and lined up with the bridge of her nose, the knuckle of her thumb just beneath her lower lip.

“Dunno… you see the back on that owl…. thing? It wasn’t an Oakland booty, but there were a lot of claws. Pretty sure it was a lynx… cougar or something,” Cooper says with a widening of his pale green eyes.

The sigh is exhaled, and blue eyes close. “Cooper!” Nicole looks up to the sky when the exchange finally comes to an end. Another deep breath puffs her cheeks when she lets it out. Blink. Blink, blink. Forcing a smile, Nicole makes her way to the front of the group to meet with the agents from A Vague, Yet Menacing, Government Agency.

Her eyes get a little bit wider as if to express what the fuck? when she takes in the mis-matched sight of the as yet unknown-to-her Castle. “Davis,” Nicole greets pleasantly, holding out her hand. “Please tell me you brought butterscotch.”

Please, oh, please.

Did the branch have to spear her right in her already-injured shoulder? Did Finn's ring of fortune have an area of particular misfortune surrounding it? Kara honestly couldn't say, and they're not thoughts she'll have until much later. Presently, there's just pain outweighing her relief they've made it to the other side.

Back where they belong. (Sort of, in her case.)

Once her momentum finally slows, she takes the opportunity to lean against the side of one of the trees, looking down at her left shoulder and the knuckle-thick snap of wood that's sticking from her already-bloodied shirt. Her hand comes up, hovering over the combination wound she's sporting on her shoulder, chest, and neck. For just a moment, she glances in the direction of the agents talking about investigating anomalies, and then decides to shift just which side of the tree she's against, shifting to angle herself in her lean so her face is less visible to them.

"Doc," Kara asides in a gruff to Carver. "You tell me. This come out now or when we get back to town?"

"What the actual fuck…" The words are muttered, likely barely loud enough for Rene to hear as Robyn breaks away from then. Her brow stitches sceptically as she follows Cooper and Nicole with her eyes, stopping as she land son the newly arriving Agents she doesn't recognise. "Funny coincidence," is spoken in a flat, quiet tone, even as the other Robyn steps up next to her. A perk of being made out of light is that at least she wasn't in any immediate sort of danger. For whatever reason, Robyn hasn't dismissed the duplicate yet, and doesn't seem terribly inclined to in that moment.

The two look at each other, and one of them starts forward to join Nicole and make her way towards Castle and Bright, while the other remains on alert, looking around with a certain edge to her glare. She says nothing. It doesn't look like she's inclined to do much besides scowl, really.

Carver snarls as he puts a foot wrong, righting himself as quickly as he can — and then his eyes widen as a branch comes within a half step of spearing him. But if nothing else, they're clear…

…and they have company.

Carver squints at the newcomers. The junior investigator definitely fails dress inspection, the senior looks presentable but fails at instilling that into his junior… though he supposes that this is field work. Also, more importantly, this isn't the Army anymore, much as Carver might occasionally wish otherwise; if it were, Private Motormouth over there would also get a failing grade.

"Dangerous animals," he rasps, holstering his pistol. He regards the two a moment longer. "Aggressive. Better make sure you're loaded for bear," he rasps. That's all the attention he gives to the two investigators, though; there are more pressing matters to pay attention to at the moment. Carver grunts and turns his attention to examining Kara's wound, grimacing. "The clinic, if you can stand it. I want to get a better look at that injury."

Dumortier brings up the back end with Jim; he manages not to fumble his way out, hair loosened and features in a small, irritated wrinkle of nose and mouth, brows knit hard in the middle. He's splattered in blood, though none of it looks to be his— rather the growth on his back which crawls like a dozen fingers over his shoulders, some still stuck poised to the air.

Cooper can happily spew all the fun details he wants to. Rene seems instantly distrustful of the pair they've run into, tongue raking over the front of his teeth as his tension rises. Though he certainly gives Castle a longer examination than Bright, it's the latter he narrows a look at— Rene briefly angles a look up at Nicole, taking only a portion of his cues from her and easing into the look of a tomcat. The rest, though—

"Ta mère." They can stick their fucking anomaly.

When Kara is impaled right in front of Yi-Min's horrified eyes, what leaves her mouth this time isn't another interjection of her partner's name, but a string of extremely foul Taiwanese words.

This is fucking ridiculous.

"I swear," she murmurs in English to Kara afterwards in the tone of an immediate reassurance, which as such bears an incredible, private gentleness. But concern doesn't hold reign alone over the look that she wears. Nope. That's real estate shared by a livid disbelief so pure it nearly turns the air around her cold — and that's what's visible in the gaze she swivels up to the foliage around them, as though just daring anything else in this accursed forest to have the gall to strike at her partner. Her lips are pressed together thinly. "…I swear. We will get you back home in one piece yet."

A smaller, grateful glance is slipped to Carver again for his presence, and then a longer one to the investigators from the DoE as they make their approach. On the matter of the second, Yi-Min now finds herself not totally ungrateful to be traveling in a group of unrepentant clowns.

The slight form of the Taiwanese woman stays standing silent and passively protective in front of Kara, her arms crossed, as though giving her partner some much-needed privacy while Carver takes that first look. Several of these others have mouths loud enough for ten SESAs. They should be fine.

Behind them, they can see the nearly invisible sphere retracting before their very eyes due to the way the treetops in the ever-lengthening distance are suddenly taller than they were a second before. Bright watches it for a moment until the changes to the landscape are too far away to see. He shakes his head after a moment, and turns to Nicole.

Reaching into his pocket to pull out a handful of butterscotch disks, Bright holds them out to the woman. “We came to investigate whatever…that was,” he says with a wave toward the forest they just crashed out of. “We didn’t know anyone was in there.”

He surveys the group through his black-framed spectacles. “Let’s call you an ambulance, and maybe we can get a statement from the less injured among your party to help back up our research?” He holds two fingers up to his temple, rubbing the thin skin there in a circle, before glancing at Castle. “I’ll call for an ambulance. We’ll probably have to get to the access road.”

“Right, right,” Castle says with a soft voice, at least looking a little more serious this time around than when Yi-Min met them before. Even if their attire is still haphazard, they actually are attempting not to sound like a total ass. And they didn’t break in anywhere this time. That’s a plus? “Need any assistance with your partner, Ms. Yeh?” is asked, looking from the small Asian woman to the much taller and now injured woman, who they perhaps rightly guess is their partner. But of course they were, with that look of love and concern being given to her?

Castle might be skinny, but they were tall and perhaps stronger than they looked, and they’re moving closer to offer physical assistance, if the two women wish it.

Grimacing, Corbin holstered his side arm and looked at the two agents again, still frowning at them. “Some of us are with SESA. We were sent to investigate it this morning, since it could be the effect of an ability. We did not find any evidence that … that was caused by an active Expressive ability, however.” He glanced back toward it again. In fact, he had no idea what the fuck was causing it, but— well— he didn’t bother saying that exactly. “The rest are civilians who lived in the general area,” he nods towards the others, because, well, in most cases that seemed to be true? As far as he knew, anyway.

Eyes roll upward and Cooper sighs heavily like a kid that’s been yelled at by a parent - except it’s Nicole. Though, the fact she knows one is interesting, that gets a lift of brows. He doesn’t ask about that…. only points both fingers at Corbin and say, “What he said… Agent Thomas Cooper, SESA…” Cause that is only polite.

Of course, from all that happened, Cooper doesn’t look very agent-ly anymore, so he falls quiet and works on straightening his shirt… His jacket and tie long gone into the past.

The moment that it becomes clear the unfamiliar agents' eyes are being drawn toward her direction anyway, Kara shoots Yi-Min a silent, panicked plea. Get them out of here.

"If they're calling ambulances, go with them. Get your own wounds tended to," she urges tensely, quietly. "What I've got's more… urgent. The clinic is closer. Carver can take care of me there." It's a better option for her, right? She tries to rationalize this aloud for the sake of gathering consensus. It sounds logical— less obviously mired in paranoia that someone will take a harder look at Providence and the militia that stand watch over it.

"Let Doc Carver handle it," Kara pleads of her partner in a voice that smacks of a fear she's not demonstrated once today— not demonstrated publicly, ever. "Go do what you need to with them. Okay? Get yourself looked after."

"Clara. It's going to be alright." Yi-Min soothes a touch more solemnly, turning to give Kara a tiny but ironclad smile of reassurance. The tenderness in those few words of hers is once again a quiet, exclusive matter, even if the name is obviously meant for the ears of others.

"She is right. Carver will treat her in Providence. It is close by; all the medicine and supplies he needs are right there. It only makes sense. As for me, I will go with them." Yi-Min flicks her gaze over to Castle to address them directly with that last statement, backing it up with a slight, firm nod.

Now that they're closer, they can see that while Kara is clearly injured in more places, Yi-Min hadn't escaped unscathed either. She is still wearing her tattered, blood-soaked shirt from the encounter with the bat-boar; when she twists to give Kara that glance, both her shorn hair and the bandages Carver had applied onto her naked back become briefly visible through the rent fabric.

Aside from his initial quip at Cooper and vague grump at Corbin, Chris has been quiet. Unusual for him who's normal is to complain about every inconvenience no matter how mild. Ask him about the rain some time, and you'll know his very strong opinion about that piss shit from the sky and it's too cold even in the summer months, makes everything stink too — never mind that it's the animals being referenced in that comment. He hasn't said a word.

He has eased himself from the discomfort of sitting to the discomfort of laying on his back while the agents talk to the agents. One arm cradles the other, eyes angled off to the woods that morph from past land to present land.

Carver is about to object to the notion of an ambulance, this far out — it'll take how long to get anywhere? When he's got a clinic in Providence that Carver's actually professionally proud of, in terms of being able to punch above its weight class? But between Kara and Yi-Min's reactions…

Carver makes an irritable sounding grunt, finishing his appraisal of Kara's wound and moving on. He's basically ignoring the agents — he's given them his report, and that's about all he plans to give them — in favor of focusing on the wounded… and the next on his list, now that he's got a second to breathe and focus on triage, is Chris Ayers.

Carver moves to stand over him, squinting for a moment, then kneels beside him. "Your leg still bleeding? Anything feel broken?" he asks quietly, grey eyes narrow and intent.

Between Corbin and Nicole, Rene's stray-hackles lay flat, finally, even if his frown doesn't. Two SESA agents who aren't really so bad does a lot to fizzle out the more obvious hostility. Strangers are still strangers, though.

With Yi-Min accepting the offer to go, despite Kara staying, Dumortier studies the two of them from afar without vocalizing a response; he can tell when there's more. 'Clara' doesn't hurt either. So, he stays quiet about that. If Min's sure, she's sure. Casting one look over his shoulder as he moves, Dumortier makes his way past Agent Bright.

"Well, I'm going to get the horses— Finn, you should probably get the quad over here— " More to the other locals, then a sharper look at the spectacled agent, eyes chips of aquamarine. "There's reception there. Barely. Carver's what we have." Rene doesn't wait for a response, just turns heel. He'll be back.

There's suspicion in the eyes of both of the Robyns as the one next to Nicole frowns and looks over at her, then to Bright. "What do you think?" It's a simple question, but it's how it's asked that's more notable - with an artificial edge and plume of fading, almost smokey light from Robyn's mouth - Nicole knows well enough now to know that this isn't the real Robyn Roux.

The real one still stalks towards the back, watching where the anomaly recedes as she keeps her other self in the corner of her vision, lips pressed thin. "God, I hate time stuff," she mutters as she turns back and looks at the others, hands slipping into her pockets as she starts forward again with empty eyes focused on nothing in particular.

Well, she had meant to shake hands cordially, but she also asked for candy after extending her hand, so that it’s candy she receives is entirely on her. Nicole wastes no time unwrapping one and popping it into her mouth as though it will relieve the stress of this situation.

While Yi-Min and Kara work out how they’re going to keep the latter from having to go to the nearest medical facility, Nicole does her level best to keep the attention of the agents from the Exterior. She trusts Carver to look after Kara. “I’m senior agent on the scene,” she offers. “I’ll be happy to give you both a full briefing while my agents assist the civilians.”

The butterscotch disc clicks against her teeth quietly as she pushes it from one side of her mouth to the other, lifting her brows. “Hope you like your truth stranger than fiction, Davis. This one’s a doozy.”

Finn’s already turned to tell Kara he’s going for the Mule, then turns back to the new agents, and jerks his chin in the direction he left the vehicle while pulling out a card from inside his jacket. “I’m happy to give you a statement, but I’m going to run and get the vehicle for the doc and his patients, if I’m free to go?”

Bright nods to him and Rene as well. “Go, go,” he says, before looking at the rest of the motley crew of SESA agents and those who choose to live on the fringes of society out here in Providence. Finn breaks into a run — he’s faster than he looks — in the direction of the Mule.

“Mrs. Miller’s word is good with me, though we might need to ask follow ups at some time. Not,” Bright lifts a hand up in a sort of gentling gesture, like one might to a rearing horse, “because we think you caused this, but just to get a handle on what did. It’s not the first anomaly in this area, which is why we were keeping an eye on things out here. We might not have picked up otherwise.”

He looks to those who’ve identified themselves as Providence folks either implicitly or directly, his head tipping slightly at the intensity in the looks exchanged between Kara and Yi-Min. A grandfatherly smile follows. “Just let us know if we can help in any way. Travel safe.”

Castle and Bright watch those leaving move in the direction of Providence, before they look to Nicole and any who’ve stayed to give their statements. Bright pulls out a slim cell phone and pokes at it until his younger partner takes it and selects the recording app then hands it back. “Thank you. I have fat fingers,” Bright says, before slipping it into his pocket while the app runs to record the tale.

“Tell me a story, then.”

In any other time, it would be stranger than fiction — but in the world the SESA agents and Providence denizens live in, their day — while strange — is just another Tuesday.

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