A Game of Spider and Mouse
Moira looked up from her throne as her handmaiden hurried into the grand subway terminal. “What is it, Kaede?” She asked, hearing a note of alarm in the Jorōgumo Paralogos’s normally serene voice.
“I’ve received a report of humans in the subway system!”
“What?” Moira hissed. “How is that possible? I haven’t foreseen this.”
Kaede shook her head. “These aren’t ordinary civilians. Military? They have equipment.... coated in void tint.”
Moira swore, feeling a cold pit open up inside her. Of course. Foolish, foolish, to think her sight so infallible. She composed herself, her mouth a tight frown. “How many?”
“At least three, maybe more. Too many to be an accident, but too few to be a full-on assault. A scouting team, perhaps.”
Rumors abounded in Sermos about the abandoned city district and what could lurk within its urban skeleton; occasionally, humans would try and put them to the test, but they rarely got far. “And how deep have they made it?” Moira asked.
“Enough,” Kaede said, head inclined. “From the report I received, they’ve made it as far as Terminal 5. It looks as if they’re setting up to launch a systematic sweep of the tunnels.”
Moira paused, tapping one slender finger on her chin as she considered the information, her expression inscrutable. “Send word to our friends at the city outskirts. I’m sure they’ll be very interested in this development. Then, have the colony withdraw to the area surrounding the maintenance rooms. Barricade the tunnel if you have to.”
“Yes, my queen,” Kaede said, inclining her head.
“I’ll take care of the rest.” Moira raised from her throne, spiders scurrying in all directions at the sudden disturbance.
“B-but, my queen, you can’t -” Kaede protested, before stopping herself. “I... I only mean to say, these are no lost residents of Sermos. They’re prepared.”
Moira laughed. “I’ve always told you to speak frankly around me, my dear. But that’s why it has to be me. I won’t put members of this colony at risk.” She stretched, and her giant spider legs stretched as well. “If it’s too late to simply redirect them, we’ll... find another way.”
Kaede nodded, eyes downcast. Moira placed a hand lightly on her shoulder. “Now, hurry. There’s no one I’d trust more for this.”
The handmaiden turned and rushed away, her kimono whispering over the polished concrete. For a moment, Moira stood alone in the empty throne room, eyes closed, watching as Kaede’s thread of fate faded into the distance. Then, she headed in the opposite direction.
The scout shook his comms unit again and swore. The screen had been nothing but a field of static for the past fifteen minutes, its signal utterly defeated by the deep twisting passageways of the old subway system. He resisted the urge to chuck it against the tunnel wall. Why was he always stuck with the second hand equipment?
He ran into another spiderweb and kicked at it, which, in spite of his steel-toed combat boots, was about as useful as trying to kick back a wave on the ocean. Fuck these spiders. Fuck this place. Fuck my boss. I should be guarding some cushy government science lab right now. Getting a bagel from the overpriced cafe. Fuck.
He had split up with his companions hours ago to cover more ground, and they still had miles of the subway system left to go. Miles of a whole lot of nothing, it seemed. Just too many damn spiders and old crisp wrappers and the incessant dripping of rainwater trickling slowly through the tunnels. They should have just torched the whole place and been done with it. Every so often, he’d hear a strange noise and jump a little, but it was only an echo from the surface or the scurrying of a rat.
Suddenly, garbled noises issued from the scout’s comms unit, and he frowned, pulling it out once more. “Hello? Is anyone there?” He asked into the static. The noises abruptly cut out, and he felt a small chill run down his spine. This place was giving him the creeps.
A short time later, he had nearly forgotten the noise when he heard a beeping from his radar unit. He brushed a stray web off of the device strapped to his chest and took a look. His eyes narrowed. It was his squadmate Dan’s tracker sending out a distress call, the red light beeping accusatory on the radar screen. The scout swore and set off down the tunnel at a run. What the hell was going on?
After a series of dizzying twists and turns, his boots echoing in the darkness, he saw that the distress signal was coming from inside the skeleton of a subway car. It lay crumpled, only half on the tracks, like the corpse of a giant snake, receding into the darkness of the tunnel beyond. The scout panted as he arrived, flashlight in one hand and other hand poised above the weapons at his belt. “Dan?” he called towards the train. No response. He could see a red flicker coming from within, and strode towards it without hesitation. The rusted door resisted as he pushed it open, boots crunching on broken shards of glass.
He peered cautiously into the train car, nose assaulted with the smell of dust and mouldering upholstery. The red light was huddled behind the seating at the far end of the car. The scout approached it, full of apprehension.
The tracker was there, a disc with a small red light blinking out S. O. S. Dan was not.
At the other end of the subway car, the door slammed shut.
The scout whipped around, tracker forgotten, then shouted as something dropped on top of him. His flashlight fell from his hands and went rolling across the car floor. It felt like a hundred arms were grasping at him at once, his vision become a tangle of spidery limbs. He flailed and fell back into the rows of rotted seating. Whatever it was was large and scrambling across his chest and shoulders, searching for purchase. He caught a pair of glistening black fangs silhouetted in the light of his cast off flashlight; then heard a shrill screech as something made contact with, and then recoiled from, his void-tint coated helmet.
The thing loosened its grip, and the scout took the opportunity to scramble for the net gun slung across his shoulder. The weapon could fire a weighted net of thin, strong cables coated in void tint. It was meant to be propped on the ground or operated by two individuals, and in the confined space the scout hauled it haphazardly, unable to get a stable shot. Luckily, it worked as a blunt object just fine, and he caught the creature across its body and flung it backwards. It was surprisingly light, and he didn’t stay to assess the damage, just made a beeline for the front of the car and the door.
He skidded and slammed into the subway car door with his whole weight. The rusted, ancient metal bent and screeched. Thud. Thud. THUD! With a last wail, the doors gave way, and he went sprawling out into the terminal.
There was a rushing, scuttling sound from within the traincar as whatever was in there came rushing to meet him.
Acting on a heady mix of instinct and adrenaline, the scout raised his net gun and fired. There was a screech and a heavy thud; the recoil of the gun bowled him over, and he landed, hard, on the concrete floor.
He rolled over and hauled himself onto his feet, stars swimming in his vision over the deep shadows of the subway system. Training kicking in, he took automatic stock of his condition... bruised - no, cracked - rib, minor lacerations - And then he caught sight of what was in the net, pinned near the door to the train car.
What the shit - he thought, not taking his eyes off of the thing writhing in the void tint net. Long, spidery legs twitched as if burning, and a bright white fire from within was flashing like a strobe light, recoiling from the thin ropes. The figure was shrinking, transforming, and he strained to make sense of it. In spite of the flurry of light, dark, and movement, the scene was eerily soundless, like he was watching a silent film.
He reached for his comms unit. He had to call for backup - for something - the code for a potential Wicked encounter was -
His comms unit wasn’t there. It had gotten loose during his hard fall to the concrete, skidding towards the deep shadows cast by support pillars at the other end of the terminal. The scout started towards its forlorn blue flicker when something stepped out of the shadows and crushed it with a black, three-clawed foot.
Lights began appearing in the shadows, first one set, then another, and then another, until the far end of the terminal was its own new galaxy of multicolored stars, crowding behind the prone creature in the net.
The scout stifled a scream as they advanced towards him as one.
Tier 6 magic submission for Moira! She turns into a giant spider. How large? Larger than you'd really want a spider to be, and this is coming from someone who really likes spiders.
What was learned?: Becomes the embodiment of fate in the form of a giant spider.
You must log in to post a comment.Log in