Man's Best Friend, Part III


gillian_icon.gif raith_icon.gif jenny2_icon.gif

Also featuring:

wu-long_icon.gif gabriel_icon.gif

Scene Title Man's Best Friend Part III
Synopsis Gillian is surprised by two members of the man-eating dog pack, and help comes in an unexpected form.
Date May 14, 2010

The Greenbelt

It would figure that today would be the day that things decide to go horrifically wrong. Again.

Bad enough that a pack of dangerous, man-eating wild dogs is roaming around Staten Island, this time made all the worse by the disappearance of another one of the kids from the Lighthouse: It's Hailey, slipped off for any number of reasons, all of them equally stupid and ill-advised. The ground is still covered with foot after foot of snow and inches of ice, the sun is choked out by clouds, and the temperature has dipped down to Antarctic levels. It's the kind of weather than a kid living in New York cannot begin to comprehend the dangers of. And it's the kind of weather Gillian Childs is all to familiar with: She's ready for it in full winter gear, along with a few extra pieces of equipment for 'emergencies.'

Being ready for it, of course, is not the same as confronting it. It's better than the South Pole if only because there are still landmarks to navigate by. But just as bad because even with those landmarks, so much of everything looks exactly like everything else. This way or that way? Some way. Any way. One of her kids is missing in a place where it seems like everything wants you dead, and the situation can nosedive towards hopelessness in a New York minute.

Even with all the bundling, the cold seeps through, chilling her to the bones and making each step a little more difficult than the last. Hopelessness seems like it may settle in more and more quickly, but at least she has the landmarks to guide her. The white snow makes everything look alike, even the dead or dying trees that peek out of the drifts she walks on, with the assistance of the snow boots. It's so thick Gillian doesn't even sink far, most of the time. The wind makes the snow move too much to follow by tracks, so she's using the knowledge of the girl.

The walks that Hailey used to take with her, the places that they'd known. The Great Kills Park is fairly large, though… And she's not sure if she passed this tree before. Resting her gloved hand on it, she pats around on the bark, and then pulls out one of her many tools— a handgun. It was brought for protection, and now she uses it to hammer in a small indent in the frozen bark, making something similar to an arrow, before she starts to trudge that direction.

"Hailey!" she yells hoarsely into the cold air, but isn't sure how far her voice carries.

Sometimes, the echoing of one's own voice can bring a small comfort, if only in the reassurance that however alone they might be, the empty space they occupy is not infinite. Gillian has no such luck: The expanse is certainly not infinite, but it may well seem that way with wind-blown snow and scraping of metal against tree bark being all that is carrying on a conversation with her. Lonely and cold, the vastness of Staten Island perhaps not so different from the vastness of outer space: Lonely, cold, and empty. It's a terrible time to be out in a place where everything wants to kill her, and the situation can nosedive in a New York minute.

By the time Gillian trudges through the snow a scant twenty feet- which might as well be a mile with all the cold and snow- a New York minute flies by, its silent, sudden passing marked by the sudden eruption of dog barks, not nearly distant enough to be comfortable and growing louder much too quickly to be safe. Around a dune made from snow, two dark shapes appear and come exploding towards the woman. The good news is that the dogs haven't found Hailey. The bad news….
The pockets of her coat aren't the best place to store a handgun, but she didn't have the proper belts. The first barks startled her, forced her to shift her eyes quickly and look in that direction, and while the dark shakes explode toward her, she's reaching for that too small handgun once again. The gloves make her grip difficult, and she fumbles to find the safety as one of her fingers jams onto the trigger. Click, click.

Safety's still on. Fine manipulations aren't made for fingers already numbed by the cold, and fattened by the bulky gloves. "Fuck," she mutters as she stumbles back, working at it as quickly as she can. Which isn't quickly enough… a New York minute made much shorter by something one would only expect in a place like Siberia.

But then, New York is beginning to look an awful lot like Siberia. The safety may be off the pistol now, but that's not soon enough to stop the animals from leaping to the attack. One set of canine teeth wraps around Gillian's padded forearm, while the other fails to find purchase on her body. Whatever good this might do is largely mitigated as the weight of two animals barreling across the snow is enough to knock her onto her back. One pair of jaws tears at her arm, shredding the shell of the jacket and spilling the insulation out. In seconds, teeth start tearing into flesh.

The other dog ostensibly dives at her throat and fortunately misses, instead tearing at her shoulder and flank. Dogs are impressively strong when hungry, and impressively vicious when feral. Vicious, hungry dogs can be a part of anyone's nightmare. Here, they are Gillian Child's reality.

Cold is supposed to be numbing, but it doesn't work in this case. Not in the least. As the teeth tears into her flesh, digging past what armor does little to protect her, Gillian can't help but scream hoarsely, on her back in the snow, legs kicking to try and get them back. A kick to one of the dog's shoulders frees her arm, but the gun has long since been dropped, falling from pained fingers that fail to keep the grasp as the nerves face damage and warm blood flows out onto her clothes. That's about the warmest thing out here… Her blood.

And it's coming from more than her arm. Teeth dig into her body, elliciting more pained cries, coughs, scared breaths. Somewhere in the struggling, the goggles her knocked off. Teeth might have caught them, they might have snapped under pressure as she tries to scoot against the thick snow and ice. Tears freeze almost as soon as they hit the air, hanging off her eyelashes like snowflakes. This is when she knows for sure— she should have waited. Her damaged arm gets in the way of the dogs, so that her other arm can reach toward the only hope she has— the last thing she remembered to bring.

This weapon doesn't need a safety turned off, but she doesn't even attempt to point it at the dogs. Instead, she points it upwards, into the dark cloudy sky that looks nothing like afternoon, and fires the flare.

Gillian is rewarded with a yelp for her kick, but it only makes the beast angrier it may seem, for it leaps back on her and attacks twice as viciously, this time diving into her stomach while its partner continues to savage her arm. The sky lights up bright red as the flare soars upwards, sending out a call for help just as teeth begin slicing into the woman's midsection and more blood mixes in with the mess made of shredded down, Gortex, polyester, fur, ice and Gillian. The snow on the ground is marked, ready to tell anyone who happens by before new snow falls that something terrible happened here, and the air is filled with screams and shouts. And yet, there may be no answer. There was no answer when they killed Denisa. Not until it was too late.

They won't hear it until it's on them. The improbable shape of someone sprinting along the snow forest tundra, boots sinking nearly shin deep upon every heavy step down — pale skin, a flash of red hair, a flash of steel from the knife in one knotted fist, black clothing that seems to abruptly consume the slender figure when she's sent rolling into the snow as if tripping over. Except this mass of black keeps moving, keeps rolling in the form of smoke quickly devouring distance between Gillian and the two biting dogs.

The inky, amorphous shape returns to solidity a split second before collision, Zhang Wu-Long's lithe shape ramming hard into the larger dog of the two, sending both himself and beast into a tumble, a shred of Gillian's arctic jacket caught in the beast's white teeth.

The dogs won't hear it til it's on them, and Gillian may not even see it even then. In flashes all, blurred images, eyesight giving out under the pain, as blood flows freely from multiple torn wounds, some deep, some shallow. As soon as the larger of the two dogs gets taken off of her, she's suddenly able to move again, dropping the spent flare gun and scrambling back into the snow. It flies up around her, caught in the wind and her struggles, sprinkling her body, covering the wounds. Melting and freezing again as it mixes with blood and debris from her clothes.

Despite all the pain, she doesn't stop kicking or thrashing, trying to get the smaller one off her, even if it ends up causing the teeth to rip more skin than it might.

The shadowy form registers in part, but it doesn't seem to make sense. The piece of her sister that shared a form with a man who attacked her had left the Lighthouse, and hadn't returned. Maybe the pain, the loss of blood, the bitter cold. Maybe it's causing her to hallucinate.

A yelp and the sudden removal of one of the animals leaves one less assailant for Gillian to worry about. The dog that has been suddenly removed isn't sure what to make of the situation, although it maintains enough sense to thrash and bite at whatever it is that has attacked it, even if it isn't sure what it is fighting against.

The dog that remains attached to Gillian, however, is suffering from tunnel vision and continues to focus on her. Even when it has her jacket in its teeth, and the material tears and momentarily frees her completely, it keeps coming at her, although now, at least, she has a much better, if still slim, chance of fending it off by herself.

The first dog is fighting with a man. Supposedly. A demon, maybe. The last of tendriling shadow catches up and sinks into the black wool of Wu-Long's coat and the inky throw of his hair and the black circles of his eyes, and his teeth are a pure white of the snow getting turned up like sea-froth in a scuffle of four paws and two hands, one of which grips a handle of ivory, with rune shapes carved into its curve, and when the blade goes to sink into dog flesh, it comes almost up to the hilt.

But the two scrabbling beasts break apart again, because when fangs go to snap down on flesh, Wu-Long disappears again, into the same writhing shadow that had raced its way into the fight. Breaks off, leaps towards the tangle of Gillian and dog, only to recorporealise with boots sinking into snow. Bare hands go to grip the scruff of the wild dog's neck, bravely so, and Jenny Childs— in boots and coat that swamp her smaller frame— goes to throw herself and dog back to pull it off her sister with a terrible, angered screech.

There's a reason damage to the hands is called defensive scarring, because that's what ended up happening in the few seconds she had to defend herself against the bitting teeth of the dog. Gillian's gloves got bitten into, her hands pushing against the hungry mouth, as she scoots along in the snow, going deeper and deeper into it with a smear of blood following her. Only when the dog is pulled off does she stop, blinking through the icicles frozen on her eyelashes, through the snow caught there.

To see her red haired sister wrestling the dog. "J— Jenn," she manages to avoid chattering, but her voice is much softer than usual, hoarse, barely a whisper. Rolling in the snow, she ends up on her stomach, leaving an even thicker trail of blood as she starts to crawl in the direction she'd been when the attack first started, the fight or flight mechanism kicked in, and reminding her of her one small protection— that she dropped on the first charge.

Torn gloves and bleeding hands reach through the snow, trying to blindly find a needle in a haystack. Or a gun in a snow drift. Even through all that pain, she wants to somehow help, to try to help, as she bleeds from nearly as many places as she has tattoos.

Dogs feel pain just as people do. They feel anger as well. Perhaps these are things that the larger of the dogs feels when it clambers back to its feet for another attack. Surprise is something else dogs can feel, and the larger of the two dogs almost certainly feels surprise, however momentary, when it is pinned down onto the snow again an instant before a pair of arms engulf its head and, accompanied by a strangled 'pop!', hyperrotate its neck. Jenny Childs, the late arrival to the battle, did not arrive alone. And while Jensen Raith cannot roil and roll like a living shadow as he charges into the fight, he is no less deadly than his compatriot, reaching to grab not the smaller dog's head, but a hind leg. Here comes the night train!

"Gillian!" is cried right back, possibly the most sense Jenny has made in the few weeks since she's been missing from the Lighthouse. But there's no real time to talk, as the dog turns its attack on the thing that has stood up to it in turn.

The blood-spattered knife casts a ruby spray where it hasn't already frozen to the blade, as Jenny brings it up in an attempt to plunge it back down into the squirming dog's flank. A strong maw clasps tight over her wrist, however, getting an almost guttural growl from the girl before she transforms back into smoke that swarms around the dog as if it would do it harm. The dog growls, shakes its fur as if to lose the cling of smokey shadow, until it seems to realise that said smokey shadow isn't actually hurting it.

It turns blazing eyes to Gillian, steam pouring from its maw it rot-smelling breaths as its muscles go to coil, go to leap.

The attack is stymied as suddenly, the shadow gains weight and mass, and the dog lets out a startled whine as however much Gabriel Gray weighs comes down on top of it, crushing legs into the snow and a forearm pressing its large head down as it thrashes and kicks. The knife comes into view, glittering a few feet away.

Each grab into the drift comes out with handfuls of snow, some smeared and stained with blood, some clean. Gillian wuold have better luck throwing a snowball at the dogs, than finding that gun, but she kept reaching anyway, coming up with handfulls of snow— snow— more snow than anyone ever imagined falling on Staten Island. Perhaps since the last ice age. The poping sound, signaling the second of her rescuers, draws her eyes and stops her search, even as the twirling black shadow turns into a man, and rescues her that way. Jenny— Gabriel—

Gillian's not sure which one she's happier to see, especially when in this case, they're the same person. Her eyes slide shut and she lets her hand relax, her quick breathing continues, visible puffs of air surrounding her lips, which have started to lose all their color. Which seems to be going from her face as well, even if, under these circumstances, her nose and cheeks should be quite red…

The last of the dogs is pinned to the ground, and as Raith rushes in (no longer needing to grab at its leg) he unsheathes his own knife, an Army issue KA-BAR that would look plain next to the blade that Jenny brought into the fight. Sliding into a crouch next to the heap in the snow, there is no fancy show of skill in what happens next. No filleting, no geometric designs, no nothing. Raith makes three simple, straight thrusts into the right side of the animal's body- once each into a kidney, the lung and finally into the throat. It's not a painless death by any means, but it's thorough in its brutality: The dog will not get back up. And still, Raith pauses for just a moment to make sure before he pronounces it, "Dead."

On occasion, Gabriel works well in a team — even his clones. Lips pulled back and teeth bared, he keeps his weight bearing down on the animal as Raith closes in and makes the kill. Steam lifts up where hot blood runs, soaking as rich as syrup into the snow and staining the sleeve off his arm, the animal quickly cooling beneath his own tense, still body. Letting out a shuddery breath, Gabriel levers himself away from dog and Raith both, crabwalking in the snow almost with a near fearful look cast up at the man, before he switches his attention to Gillian.

There's static silence before things change — Gabriel's body depletes within his clothing, face shifting under skin which pulls tighter to accommodate angular features, and long strands of red hair pushing through black, which transforms and conforms to spill in loose, rusty tangles. "She's hurt," the shifting creature reports, voice rasping and two-toned as the change is labouriously made.

"Hailey," is a name that Gillian says, voice hoarse and weak, but not trembling quite as much as it could be, especially in this cold, with her lost goggles to protect the upper part of her face. Even the hood doesn't do much right now. Pieces of her coat have been torn and ripped out, the blood trail enough to be worrysome, as her gloves move down, to touch at some of the wounds, gloves and insulation turning red where it's not already dyed that color. "Had to… to find her."

One of her kids. What if there were more dogs? What if the dogs had found her?

As the shifting form gets close again, there's that tinge of energy off of her, but it's weak. A hand reaches out closer, and the energy grows. "You came back…"

"No kidding." Raith doesn't even bother cleaning off his knife before he resheathes it: No time. He'll worry about it later. Right now, his mind is more immediately occupied with moving to and inspecting Gillian's injuries. He doesn't need to see much more beyond her bloodied and shredded arm. "This is bad," he states as he looks around, as if to ascertain their location. "Surgeon bad. You got anything in your bad of tricks?" Already, Raith is pulling his scarf off and out from inside of his own arctic coat and wrapping it around Gillian's hand. It's not blood loss he's worried about so much as it is the subzero temperature. "It's a long way home from here…."

"I'm n-not a doctor," Jenny says, voice reverting to her usual tones at the same time as her shape fully resolves, faster now, thanks to Gillian's power sharing. Teeth chattering, she huddles on the snow beneath her oversized coat, inching closer to her fallen sister, though she adds, in a duh tone, "I'm an-nn actress." Shouldering up to where Raith is inspecting Gillian's wounds, Jenny puts forward her bared hands to cup her sister's face, smoothing hair back from her forehead. "Is she going to be okay?" is her querulous query, voice rising up in shaky, pitchy fear that sounds nothing like the man she'd briefly turned into.

The face that Jenny's hands cup might be about the only thing about her that isn't cut up or bleeding, but a few smears of blood still found there way there, from the other wounds, from her hand. Gillian doesn't try to fight Raith off at all, and grasps at her sister with the gloved hand not being examined, squeezing with cold fingers. "Still you… You came back…" she whispers again, softer than before, barely audible over the wind.

The surge of energy falters and fades, and with it, her awareness of what's going on.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License