Hi there. I have a really cool basement and a hot upstairs (summer). I use the recirculation fan on the hvac but it doesn't keep up. I actually have built in AC but it still doesn't keep up and is not really worth running for what i get out if it. I will be gutting the basement next winter and will get a quote on having my vents redesigned but I'm not looking to replace my furnace or AC so not sure if it will be the end all solution.
I got a couple project ideas.
One us I'm thinking of getting one of those bathroom fans that fit in a 2x4 wall and putting it in a down stairs wall high up and having it run up the wall to a low vent in the same wall upstairs.
I was also thinking maybe I should put an attic fan to blow out hot air from the attic that I think slowly heats my house through the old insulation.
I can run switches for both, or have wireless switches I can mount next to the thermostats to make a controll station.
In the winter it's fine because the furnace mostly heats upstairs and saves money on heating downstairs too much. I have a gas fireplace for guests that stay down there. This is why I don't want to just move the cold air return downstairs because I'm the winter ill be heating cold air instead of topping up the upstairs air.
Even almost a week later, Yegel was still soaring on the hope from that day. A weight on his eyes that he'd never even noticed had been lifted, leaving him more alert and awake, the whole world more vibrant and colorful.
Of course, the morning after had brought clarity- and an additional helping of stress. Having had the time to calm down and examine it, he was realizing that the fact he now saw humans as people was dangerous- especially with such an important and dangerous screening coming up. If he accidentally sympathized too much in one place, or had a reaction that he would never have had before...
...He still couldn't bring himself to regret it though. Even the fading of his emotional high hadn't erased what felt like an important revelation- that he no longer thought of humans as predators with interesting quirks, but as real, actual people, with true empathy and sapience. They were still predators, still alien in ways he couldn't understand- but now, that didn't feel like the same kind of impenetrable barrier that it used to be.
Still, now he had to be even more careful going forward- regardless of it being the truth, nobody else would believe him about a predator species being fully sapient and civilized. If anything, trying to convince anyone would get him institutionalized- and he was already fighting far too hard to keep himself out of those nightmare-makers for as long as he could manage. At least with humanity being extinct, the topic was unlikely to come up, but he hadn't made it this far in life without preparing for even the unlikely.
Caution was still warranted though, and so he'd been spending his time preparing and watching the manifests for incoming ships- so when he saw a group of scowling figures approaching him from behind at lunchtime, it was less of a shock and more the realization of inevitability. Exterminators. Just what he needed to deal with today.
Sighing quietly, he fought down the rising panic and instinctive urge to run, and instead pretended not to notice the approaching officers- running never did any good, and trying to fight back or protest would lead to... retaliation.
Their timing was just the worst though- he'd been looking forward to having lunch with his friends, and taking a chance to decompress and relax. He'd been meticulous so far this week at maintaining his stress- other than his newfound indulgence in forbidden predator media- so it wasn't like he was scrambling to calm down. However, he really could use every bit of patience and composure he could get.
The grasping hands roughly pulling him out of the lunch-line, however, clearly didn't care about that, immediately starting to goosestep him through the cafeteria, regardless of the whispers and stares now coming their way.
"Lieutenant Yegel," a vaguely-familiar voice barked harshly as he was shoved forward, "your presence is required immediately. You are coming with us."
A bit late to give him a warning, wasn't it? Especially since he wasn't resisting in the first place. It was just theater to them- reciting something because they were supposed to, despite the outcome having already been determined. It was better to just not antagonize them-
"You know," he couldn't stop himself from saying, "If you wanted a date, you could have just a-"
A massive fist slammed into him, burying itself beneath his ribcage. The words died in his throat as all his air was forcefully expelled, his talons leaving the ground as he bent double over the grey three-toed paw.
"Quiet, predator," the Takkan ground out, slowly removing his forelimb from where it had been buried in Yegel's gut. "you'll only talk if our boss deigns to let filth like you waste our air, got it?"
Wheezing in reply, Yegel fought to try and recover the air that had been forcefully driven out of him, the exterminators yanking him by his wings and dragging him onwards. Perhaps it was good that he hadn't eaten yet- nothing there to have upchucked other than the vile spittle now burning at his tongue.
Guess he must be a new transfer, Yegel thought offhandedly, glancing up to see them approaching a familiar eating area. That would be a useful distraction from the main threat. Fighting down the pain through bitter familiarity, Yegel did his best to relax his feathers and his mind- he'd need all of it for this next mental sparring match.
Ornate doors covered in intricate patterns were thoughtlessly slammed open as the Exterminators dragged him into the private eating area, the shift between industrial flooring and soft, luxurious padding making his dragging talons catch on the delicate textiles. Vibrantly detailed paintings hung amidst sprawling vines imported from Nishtal, cast in cool, fluorescent light that made their rich colorings shimmer as he was dragged by. Even the tables and chairs were carved in the old Krakotl fashions, padding clearly intended for nesting rather than the utilitarian perching of the seats in the mess-hall.
It wasn't perfect though- spots of dull gray industrial walls poked through gaps between the wood, and the carpet was peeling in places, revealing the dirty standard flooring beneath. Despite the valiant attempts, any further inspection made it clear that this was all inserted after this area had already been built- a veneer of elegance plastered over a crude, utilitarian base.
Unfortunately, he did not get the chance to indulge in the comfortable seating, instead receiving a sharp blow between his wings that pushed him to the ground, heavy feet planting themselves on his back and neck to pin him to the ground. Iron grips continued holding his wings, pulling them painfully above his back, where they felt moments away from getting dislocated. Dragging in a rasping breath, his eyes roved to the two exterminators now aiming their flamethrowers at him, a young krakotl female whose adult patterns hadn't even fully come in yet, and a grim-eyed Gojid with distinct scarring, who at least looked somewhat professional as opposed to his partner's obvious anger and twitching trigger.
"Oh, fer Intala's sake," a familiar wheezing voice groaned in exasperation. "Can't trust you Grucknut-heads with anything, can I?"
The Krakotl tottering into the room was puffing what rough, stringy feathers he had left in irritation, a walking cane thunking on the floor as he hobbled over to a table decorated in a carving of two krakotl in flight- though from this angle, it looked more like they were plummeting to the ground. The skin around the geezer's eyes was wrinkled and gathered into such heavy bags that he seemed to be squinting at all the world around him- though Yegel certainly didn't miss the cold, calculating glint buried deep within his eyes.
"Off!" He barked, clacking his way over to where Yegel was pinned, angrily thumping his cane against the very confused Exterminators pinning him down. "Off him, you nut-skulled lunks! Bad enough you can't remember simple instructions, now you make me correct your messes meself? Off I say!"
In the face of the irate elder, the befuddled Exterminator's grips on Yegel loosened, finally letting his wings fall slack enough to make his chest stop feeling like it was stuck in an industrial compressor. Gratefully sucking in air as his rapidly-bruising side twinged, he looked up to find the his crotchety savior kneeling next to him, one wing resting on his cane as he creakily settled into a crouch.
"Sorry about the fuss," he wheezed, flicking his tail angrily at the young krakotl who had been moving forward indignantly. "Ask them to invite somebody to mealtime, and they go and pull this." A shaking wing reached out, offering it's grip to Yegel. "Up you come, boy. I'll not have you eating off the floor like some animal."
Yegel eyed the shaking hand, before planting his wings on the ground, fighting through the pain until he'd pushed himself onto his talons through his own strength. A glimmer of something oily flashed behind the old man's squinting eyes as he watched the display, snorting in amusement when Yegel reached out and pulled the Elder to his feet instead.
"Wasn't much of a request," he commented, carefully ignoring the angry shuffling of the people he knew had flamethrowers trained on him. "I don't suppose you're just wanting to make another sales pitch, are you Geezil?"
"Hah!" the old man barked, toddling over to a cushioned seat, "Always so blunt, Yegel. Straight to business, every time!" The younger krakotl female stepped forward, gently helping the grumbling man into his seat, where he sighed and immediately settled back into the cushions. "Ah, don't worry, got more to say than the usual this time- but first, got a special something for our meal."
With a flick of his wing, he signaled several servers to quietly enter the room, carrying a wide array of dishes and platters that were quickly and efficiently distributed to the relevant tables- both for the old man and Yegel, and even for the other exterminators, who glanced warily between the food, Yegel, and the officer watching everything with a hawkish stare. None of them seemed brave enough to decide what to do- or to stop Yegel as he began moving forward.
Yegel carefully pulled out his own perch, keeping his own movements slow as he settled into the admittedly-luxurious seating. Commander Geezil, the one in charge of the base's Exterminators- and probably one of the oldest individuals still serving within that institution's ranks. He'd heard the rumors about this being an unofficial forced retirement- storing him someplace out of the way when they couldn't make him quit- but he'd come to know the old man too well to believe it. He'd chosen this post himself- and Yegel still couldn't figure out why.
"Sir," the young krakotl started, giving Yegel the stink-eye from across the table, "I must ask what you are doing- you are well aware that he's-"
"Accused, girl," the codger interrupted, frilling his feathers derisively, "by a bitter fleet commander with a record of incidents from his troops longer than his crew-lists- and a penchant for lashing out at those he thinks insulted him." Seeing her shrink back at his harsh tone, his tattered feathers smoothed back down, a shaking wing reaching out and gently patting her shoulder. "Ah, it's politics, grand-daughter- a vile game of inflated egos and pointless posturing. It's like a courtship dance with a Duerten- unpleasant, filled with angry words, with a result that's unpleasant regardless of success or failure- but if you try to skip out, you're liable to lose an eye or worse, hehe."
"Still," she insisted, though much more hesitantly now, her eyes not quite as harsh as they flicked over at him, "with a list of incidents this long, however justified, you must admit it is a clear sign of a violent, unstable nature. If he were to suddenly lash out..."
"I've personally reviewed each incident," the commander snorted, swirling an eating utensil through the bowl in front of him. "Didn't find a single one where he were in the wrong. Besides, were we really concerned about his mind, we got a perfectly good doctor right on-base." His gimlet eyes turned to Yegel, the corners of his beak turned up in a smirk. "You're familiar with her, of course?"
"Indeed," Yegel admitted, keeping his wings at his side despite the tightening of his stomach as the smells of the meal assaulted him. Everything the old man was saying was already known between them- and while it might be simply for the benefit of his new underling, Yegel knew better than to assume there wasn't a different, less obvious purpose. "I've been screened by her multiple times- just like the doctors back on Nishtal, got clear marks across the board."
Her expression was twisted, clearly unwilling to accept that but unable to think of an adequate rebuke for it. "All the same," she started, shifting her wings to roll the fuel tank for her flamethrower from side to side, "I'm uncomfortable with this- it's dangerous to be eating with a predator, especially alone. Just because we're in the room doesn't mean we'll be able to react in time."
The old man's features wrinkled as he scowled, beak half-open, when Yegel jumped on the opportunity. "Actually, I agree," he stated, taking a bit of mischievous glee in the way their expressions popped in shock. "I would feel much safer if someone was sitting with us, to keep me safe."
Beak dropping open, her gaping expression twisted between shock and indignation as she choked at such blatant disrespect- but whatever retribution she thought to unleash was cut short as the old krakotl burst into loud, wheezing laughter, his bony wings thumping against the table as he howled in glee, making the dishes rattle dangerously. His laughter echoed through the room, to the visible discomfort of every other exterminator, half of them sinking back down from where they'd half-risen from their seats.
"Cheeky to the last, you are!" he barked, clutching his chest as he giggled dry, crackling chortles. "Ah, you have a point- best you sit with us, my dear- get introduced with- with this handsome young fella. Yegel, this is Lialu, daughter of my firstborn, and as you can see, the unfortunate inheritor of the branch up his bum." Kalina squawked indignantly, raising a wing as if to smack his shoulder in retribution, but her eyes flicked to Yegel as she paused, slowly settling back into a tense at-ease stance. "You might be working together someday- and if things go well, maybe a little more than that, hehe!" The sour twisting of her cheeks showed exactly what she thought of that idea.
"I'm flattered," Yegel droned dryly, "but I think if she hasn't even gotten her adult patterns, then that's far too dangerous for me."
"As if I'd be interested in such a disgraceful troublemaker in the first place!" she snapped right back, wings half-raised in a gesture of disgust. "tarnishing my career so early would be pointless- and I have no interest in such distractions anyways!"
"Bah, you're fourteen already, better that you start looking for a partner now," the geezer griped, ignoring the way she rolled her eyes uncomfortably. "This work's dangerous, girl- you can't plan for the future as if it's guaranteed, or else you'll find you've missed out." His eyes went a bit glassy and unfocused, staring off into the walls in an melancholic reminiscence. "Regret's a heavy thing to bear, and the years are never kind..."
The two younger krakotl shifted uncomfortably as silence fell, glancing between each other uncomfortably as he lapsed into old memories only he could see. Yegel was silently thankful for the break- these gaps in the old man's train of thought were the only thing that made these conversations manageable.
Unfortunately, Yegel's stomach decided to interject by gurgling it's frustration at being empty, snapping the greying elder out of his thoughts as his gaze snapped across the table. Yegel fought back the urge to flinch, if only barely- and even that was enough for the old man's eye to sparkle with something that made Yegel's skin crawl beneath his feathers.
"Ah, I've been distracting you with my yammering, haven't I?" the Head Exterminator apologized, gesturing grandly towards the array of filled dishes. "Go on, eat up boy- you've got a busy day ahead of you after all!" His wrinkled wing-hand receded from gesturing, and patted the young female on the shoulder. "You too, grand-daughter- gotta keep your calorie intake up to maintain those muscles- gear's heavy, and always getting heavier!"
Whatever his tone and attitude might have suggested, Yegel already knew that it wasn't a request. Gritting his beak, he delicately scooped up a bowl of thick, viscous algae, and methodically poured some into his beak.
Silty and clinging to his tongue, Yegel knew intellectually that this was a high-quality blend- that the consistency and density of the meal spoke of great care taken in the growing, filtering, and preparation of this dish- completely unlike the usual clumpy, soil-tainted slop served in the cafeteria. It was the sort of dish that must be incredibly expensive, even ignoring how far they were from anywhere of any importance- a culinary treat most on the base would have fought fiercely for a chance to try.
Yet as he consciously swallowed it down and discreetly clinked the bowl down on the table, all his tongue could taste was ash and flamethrower-fuel.
"Good, isn't it?" Geezil prompted as his grand-daughter also set her own bowl back down. "Straight from Nishtal, that is, grown properly in the pools, instead of them techno-vats they got on this here base. Reminds me of when I met Laila, you know- or rather, when I first worked up the gumption to ask for her time..." The old man chuckled to himself, his eyes staring off into the distance once again. "Stars, she was beautiful- and me a strapping young lad, straight from academy- big-headed from training, yet a fumbling mess with the other sex. Took me far too long to even make a pass, and longer still to make it official- kept finding excuses, when I really was just scared she'd say no!"
Yegel suppressed the urge to sigh, and found himself sharing a commiserating look with the exterminator who clearly had been through this rambling story almost as often as he had. Maybe he'd entertain the idea of bonding with her over it, if only he wasn't painfully aware of how strongly she and her friends wanted to reduce him to a pile of charred carbon. At least he wasn't suffering alone.
"You know, we got some side-eyes because of our difference in age- I was a fresh recruit, and she had been in the service for twelve years," Geezil confided absentmindedly, a dreamy expression on his face even as his granddaughter blanched and leaned away. "Ah, but we made it fine, found our happiness- and you should too!" he shifted, refocusing on his two unwilling guests. "Ten years made no difference, and you've a difference of what, five years? Not even that!"
Yegel inhaled deeply, letting his chest fully expand as he held back the surge of emotion that would certainly have worn through the elder's patience if let loose. Releasing the air in a deep sigh, he wrangled himself back into a restrained, controlled frame of mind. "Is trying to play matchmaker with your grand-daughter the only reason you arranged this meeting, sir? Because I stand by my utter lack of interest in her."
"Ah, you know it's not, you stiffneck," the old man grumbled, shifting around in his seat as he picked through his own spread of food. "You're a perfect fit for the corps, and we both know it. You got enough fire in you to want to fix the rot in society when you see it, and a good head on your neck as well- just gotta give you the training to aim it right, if you know what I'm saying." His cane reached out and tapped Yegel on the side jovially- and Yegel winced as his bruised ribs ignited in fiery pain, unable to stop a strained hiss from escaping his beak as he bent in place from the automatic tightening of his muscles.
Immediately, the entire room fell deathly still. Where once the silence had been uncomfortable but tolerable and interspersed with the inane sounds of clinking dishes, now it was an oppressive, choking claw squeezing around everyone's neck, unbroken by even a single breath of air.
"Barum." Geezil's flat, quiet statement whipped out through the stillness, a single cracking note that made the Takkan flinch in his seat. There was no waver in the old bird's voice now, only a cold, hard surety that made Yegel's feathers itch. "I was very explicit in my instructions. Was I not?"
"The- the predator resisted!" Barum tried to protest- though the waver in his voice clearly made it more of a plea. "With how dangerous he's proved to be, I had to-"
"Dangerous?" the drawled interruption made the hulking, thick-skinned exterminator flinch back from the dull-feathered bird barely half his size. "I see no injuries on any of you. There has never been an injury from officers bringing him in to me. I... was quite clear about wanting him brought here unharrassed." A single beady eye bored into the towering gray alien, making him shrink into himself under it's heat. "Do I lie?"
"S-sir please!" Sweat glistened on the Takkan's thick grey hide as he cowered back, his seat clattering to the floor as he stumbled. "It- I apologize, I swear I thought it was necessary! It won't happen again, sir! Please!"
Yegel knew what was coming next- the tightening of Geezil's beak and raising of the feathers on his back were a sure sign of how furious the old man was. All he had to do was sit back quietly and let it play out, and it would be both a distraction that bought him time, and retribution for the unnecessary blow he had taken- and was probably going to need to see the doctor for after this- if he was in a position to visit her, of course. Geezil's eyes were hard and cold, focused on his subordinate- getting between him and the subject of his ire would only earn him trouble... and yet, as Geezil's beak opened, he simply couldn't stop himself.
"While this is all quite engaging," Yegel interjected, refusing to flinch back as every eye in the room snapped towards him, Kalina's expression one of open shock while Geezil's screwed up in barely-contained fury, "but you said there was more to this meeting than making another recruitment pitch to me, yet all you've actually given besides that was an attempt to get me to go out with your grand-daughter." His confidence faltered as wrinkled eyes tightened, glaring holes into him, but he rallied himself and carefully considered his next words. "While your... repeated offers are actually quite flattering, I am quite happy with what I have managed to make for myself, without accepting favors or handouts- from anyone."
Geezil hummed to himself, maintaining his glare as the silent room held it's breath, before his jaw twitched upwards into a satisfied smirk, his eyes glinting as the granite in them faded into a smug satisfaction of having found what he was looking for. The entire room relaxed as he leaned backwards in his perch, Barum falling to the floor and trying to muffle the sounds of his heaving for breath. The gentle clinking of dishes and silverware once more filled the room in a very deliberate attempt at making noise, covering up the previous tension with artificial ease. Kalina was giving Yegel a look- not the pure disgust from earlier, but something confused, as if he were a particularly perplexing puzzle-game, or a problem that had suddenly reached an unexpected solution.
"You really can't help yourself, can you," Geezil noted approvingly, glancing over at his grand-daughter's reaction before nodding at Yegel- and making a jerking motion at Barum, who gulped and pulled himself off the floor, quietly hurrying his way out of the room. "So, I uh..." the light in his eyes faded, his beak clacking shut as he rapped his talons against his perch. "I, uh, huh... hmmm. There was, actually something else... Bother me, where were we? I can't remember..."
"I believe," Yegel commented dryly, fighting to keep his own breathing even, "That I was once again saying how content I am with my current position, and that even this doctor being imported just for me isn't enough for me to leave everything behind and run into the Exterminator Corps."
"Ah, right, right," he nodded, snagging on to the lead Yegel had thrown him, before pausing and looking out over the room. "I do respect what you've managed on your own," he finally admitted, setting his bowl to the side, "But this time... this doctor, he's not exactly playing fair. This is politics, the nasty sort- where he's going to do everything he can to make you disappear. Unless, of course..." reaching into his own pouch, he shakily produces a holopad that he slides over to Yegel, displaying a series of documents- and a prominent line for signatures. "You take an alternative. Sign up, and it'll be our own docs who do your eval- and you'll clear their tests just fine, I think. Might not be your ideal career path- but I'm loathe to let such a promising young man get screwed by Old-Molts with thin egos and sharp talons."
Yegel's first instinct was to push the pad away, to reject it like he usually did- but now, he paused, expression screwed up in conflict. A part of him was tempted- severely tempted- to accept- the part of him that was still terrified of the looming threat, that wanted to run somewhere-anywhere- and hide until this whole twisted situation just went away.
Was he being selfish, rejecting an offer like this? Wouldn't the right thing to do be to accept and guarantee he stayed alive, like Jelliba and Kallik so desperately wanted? Why take the risk, when safety was right here, just a signature away- something that would guarantee him the chance to see what Jelliba's final design would look like, to see Kallik climb through the ranks like Yegel knew he someday would? Was it pride that stayed his talons, or was he simply afraid of change?
"Seriously?!" his granddaughter hissed, clearly taken aback, unaware of Yegel's silent internal debate as she rounded on her grandfather angrily. "That's why he's here? So we can just ignore his entire history of warning signs, just because you like him? With a record like his-"
"-He'd fit right in," he finished for her, eyes narrowed in a disappointed glare that had her beak snapping closed as she shrunk back into her perch. "I know you ain't seen most of it, Lialu, but most of our recruits aren't exactly got glistening feathers. Heck, lots of our older recruits got worse on their record! It's half the point of the training regimen, to file down the burrs in their talons, make something useful from them."
File down the burrs... Was he really willing to accept what that entailed? What parts of himself would he need to sacrifice, if he went down this road? What would he become, on the other side of whatever training they had in store for him?
Would he still be Yegel?
Inhaling deeply through his beak, Yegel grasped the pad, which felt far heavier than it should... and gently slid it back over to Geezil.
"If I accepted now, that would practically be an admission of being sick," Yegel breathed, his heart pounding heavily within his chest. "I... am going to see this through- I will pass this evaluation, no matter what he throws at me- and then!" Finally, he looked Geezil in the eye, firming his own resolve as he squared his shoulders. "Then, and only then, will I consider your offer."
Geezil watched on, the burning tongues of some dark flame flickering behind his ancient eyes. When Yegel stood strong, his feathers crinkled into an amused display, even as he shook his head in mock disappointment. "Ah, you really are a fine young lad," he sighed mournfully, rapping his cane against the table. "Are you sure? The doctor arrived only an hour ago in port- this is your last chance, before we have to take you to your evaluation. And without anyone having requested the extra security of one of my officers, why, this might be the last time we see each other!"
Ah. So that was the old geezer's game. Yegel pushed down the rising surge of fear, quivering in his perch as he forced himself to meet the elder's gaze. "Then I'll go ahead and invite you myself- I'm more than happy to have an audience to me proving my innocence."
The old bird's beak twisted into an ugly grin. "I am sure you do. Lialu, go ahead- consider this a learning experience for the future, hmn? Now, I won't waste any more of your time- so off you go!"
The scraping of seats being pushed out was all the warning Yegel got before he was grabbed and pulled from his seat. "Hey, hey, gentle with him, you hard-headed brutes!" Scoffing, Geezil pushed himself back in his seat, glaring at his Exterminators as Yegel was unceremoniously dropped.
"So, you planned this all out in advance, didn't you?" Yegel guessed, pushing himself to his feet- and wincing as his side twinged in pain, reminding him of the rapidly-swelling bruise.
"Dunno what you mean," Geezil denied in faux apology, as his granddaughter gaped between the two of them, clearly lost on what was happening. "Figured you needed a chance to make the right choice- or failing that, a decent last meal." Waving his wing in disappointment, he gestured towards the door- which Yegel found himself getting rapidly pushed towards. "Good luck, lad- I hope to see you again someday!"
"Don't worry, sir," Yegel snapped back, shouldering away from his escorts and refusing to look back. "I'll be back sooner than you think."
The doors slammed shut behind his escorts, reflecting the young female's confused, conflicted gaze as she strode alongside him- Yegel felt a moment of pity for the young girl, who the geezer had clearly thrown into the deep end on purpose. Hopefully she caught onto the game soon, otherwise she'd end up as somebody's tool- though maybe it was already too late for that.
Stomach roiling at the thought of what lay ahead, Yegel couldn't help the feeling of regret for not taking the escape offered to him- sure it wouldn't be ideal, but he owed it to the people most important to him to make sure he stuck around a little longer. Why he'd rejected it... he couldn't quite put it into words, only a feeling that it would have been... wrong, somehow.
The cafeteria murmured again as he was led through the mealtime crowd, catching the panicked gazes of his friends across the room. Kallik was halfway out of his seat before Yegel carefully gestured back, tapping his wing against his throat- and watching his friend slowly settle back down, Kallik's eyes growing focused as he turned and strode towards a different exit, vanishing into the distance as Yegel was dragged through a set of doors out into a cold, grey hallway.
Clenching his gullet, he carefully felt out around Kallik's gift- safely stored within his throat. The creeping tendrils of terror within his mind were growing stronger, but he chose to have faith in his friend- and resolved to make sure his efforts were not wasted.
He'd find a way through- he just had to keep moving forward.
/// one week earlier...
Once he'd had the chance to compose himself, Yegel returned to his viewing- he wanted to see what happened next, after such a massive shift in the struggle now that Eren had actually earned them a victory.
Despite that, Armin's narration pointed out that too many lives had been lost for any celebrations to be in order- a sentiment that Yegel understood, but... well, he wasn't as surprised to to see it from the humans anymore. Imagine, it wasn't long ago that he'd have been expecting them to revel in the carnage like other predators, uncaring of the toll in lives- yet here they were, deeply affected by the loss of so many friends and comrades, and instead of being baffled by it, Yegel completely understood their response.
Oh, and they'd taken advantage of their unique situation to even capture two of the smaller titans, presumably for study- which, given Eren's sudden new powers, was probably something that needed more study than initially presumed. Thankfully the restraints seems pretty extensive, so hopefully they could keep the monsters contained- but still, imagine being the poor soul tasked with keeping them locked down! Hopefully it wouldn't take long for them to get what they needed and dispose of the creatures.
Of course, with victory came the morbid task of cleaning up the aftermath- and not in the way anyone else in the Federation would believe if he told them. Gathering up bodies as respectfully as they could, instead of devouring them on the spot? He'd be hard-pressed to convince anyone he was telling the truth!
When did Marco die?! Yegel thought he'd gotten away after saving Jean! Maybe it was in the push to get Eren to the gate? Geez, and Jean was the one to find him- Marco had been so supportive of him, despite Jean's fear and self-doubts, always willing to give a word of encouragement and affirm Jean's place as leader... and now he was gone, with Jean being forced to help the cleanup crew's by giving Marco's details...
The female doctor brought up something Yegel hadn't considered- that the reason for the urgency of their cleanup was because of the risk of an epidemic breaking out. The dead had been left too long, and now there was a risk of a secondary disaster if the humans didn't hurry. Yegel had never really considered something like that- meat was meat to predators, wasn't it? The Arxur never seemed to mind eating bodies they stumbled across, so he'd somehow assumed that diseases like that weren't a concern for predators.
Just another area where the humans proved their difference from the greys, he supposed.
Thankfully, the camera hadn't focused on Marco's corpse for too long, so Yegel was able to contain his urge to gag, focusing in on Jean and his emotional response- and how expressive human faces were, even when covered by face-masks to protect themselves from germs and contamination. Of course that was when the scene shifted to Sasha and Connie, helping to clean up a massive ball of... flesh... that apparently titans upchuck when they're too full, since they don't actually have a digestive track... and a closeup showed a human mouth inside, still opened in a silent scream...
Yes, hello wastebin, been a moment since we last met, how have you been? Don't mind me, just emptying my stomach again!
...Yegel didn't like Sasha- she was clearly the most "predatory" of the humans- but at least here, the disgust and horror on her face showed that there were lines even she wouldn't cross.
Even Annie, the stoic female who never seemed to show emotion, was shaken- standing over a body, apologizing over and over again, before Reiner pointed out that contrition did the dead no good, and that they needed a proper burial. So the humans buried their dead? That was kind of similar to Gojid traditions for honoring the dead, burying them in vast family crypts.
But, why did the scene shift to a fire burning? What were they-
So that's what those grey flakes that had been falling everywhere were. Yegel had kind of been wondering about that.
So, they didn't even have time to give proper burials to everyone.
Yegel forced himself to take a deep breath, rubbing the sides of his head as he exhaled. He'd say it was similar to Krakotl death rites, purifying the body to drift through the divine winds of Nishtal, to be carried away to Intala's realm, but... in this context, it clearly must have been desperation and urgency rather than a matter of respect. ...Intala, please watch over them.
...Thankfully, the perspective then shifted back to Eren- who was now locked up in a cell deep underground, and chained to a bed. Understandable precautions- his powers were clearly still volatile, and the last thing the humans needed to deal with was a rogue titan wandering around.
Commander Erwin and Captain Levi were outside his cell, watching him. Erwin asked if he had any questions- which, well, Yegel obviously had several, but Eren was still disoriented from waking up. Which made sense, given how much using his power seemed to take out of him- he must have been exhausted after carrying that boulder for so long.
Erwin proceeded to ask about the key that had held such importance- and the secret that was apparently hidden beneath Eren's house. Eren confirmed, and Levi scoffed about how it must suck to have your dad and your memories MIA at the same time- unless it was just a cover story. Which- was a reasonable concern, but... was that what Yegel sounded like to other people?
At least Erwin confirmed that they knew Eren had no reason to lie- and proceeded to ask Eren what he wanted- what his intentions were. After all, to reach the cellar, they'd need to seal the breach in the other wall like they'd done in Trost- which required Eren's special power. Apparently they'd even conjectured that the Colossal and Armored titan must be like Eren- titans piloted by people?! Which did make sense- the Bad Humans probably had an easier time developing and using titan powers, since they weren't trying to fight or resist their predator instincts. That also would explain their motive- killing all the good humans would mean the bad humans would win, and be able to rule as dominant predators like the Arxur did.
...Was there a group of good Arxur once, that lost their own fight with the Arxur Yegel knew?
NO. No, that was impossible- there was no way the greys had ever had anything good within them- they were monsters through and through! Good Arxur? Ridiculous- just because humans were an insane enigma that broke every rule as if they were intentionally trying to didn't mean the same applied to other predators!
Unless of course, the good Arxur had all been killed-
No. NO. Yegel was not going down that path of madness! He was not!
...Erwin expanded on his statement, saying that was why he asked Eren's intentions- because Eren could save "us," presumably meaning the good humans. Eren initially said he didn't know- but then his past, his memories, all flooded through his head- his inner voice angrily declaring that he would stop this with his bare hands! When Levi pressed for an answer, Eren looked up with a downright deranged grin- and declared that he wanted to kill all the titans- every last one.
So that's how Eren turned out different- he'd aimed his instincts towards the monsters, and become obsessed with wiping out the titans, instead of wanting to consume humans like every other titan did. That said something about Eren's mental fortitude- and why he still had difficulties with his power. Actively twisting your instincts like that must cross a few wires, leaving him needing to actively learn things instead of simply doing what came naturally.
Levi seemed to like that answer, a gleam entering his eyes as he approached Eren's cell and announced that he'd take responsibility for him. Not that he implicitly trusted him, but that he trusted his abilities to kill Eren if necessary. He offered Eren congratulations, officially welcoming him as a new member of the Scouting Corps- and told Erwin to let the higher-ups know.
And then announced that, despite this meeting, Eren wasn't out of the woods yet- as he was going to stand trial, where they'd need to argue against him simply being killed.
Because of course it couldn't be that simple.
Moving into a new home shortly and I am not the most network savvy. I currently use Wyze cameras to keep an eye out on points of entrances in my apartment, 1 door and few windows with sensors on them. Wyze was ok but there are many times I was away from the apartment and there was a notice issue connecting with the cameras, lag , etc.
Looking to migrate to a system that has these features - cellular back up (lots of power outages in the area) - accessible remotely - good cameras / flood light cameras -door / window sensors -monitor sensors - wired door bells / can be wireless as well - an option for professional monitoring without contract
Looked into Abode, and they are leading the pack but I just wish they had some wired options in terms of door bells and flood lights as my new home backs up into the woods and is very dark. Having a wired in flood light seems like the best and easiest solution to have the front and back of the home covered which are extremely dark. Also - concerned on the quality of abode cameras - they seem a lot like the wyze cameras, at least design wise and from what I saw online.
Another option I am considering is Ring professional subscription. They have the wired doorbells, flood lights, sensors etc. Price wise they are t much more expensive compared to Abode. Concern here is how everyone mentions privacy concerns / “big brother” but I am not too well versed on.
The cameras would be mainly external cameras , and MAYBE , 1 or 2 inside if necessary facing the entrance points and sensors on the windows.
Would a combination of abode and ring products be ok? Get the security system from Abode(love automation aspect - need to get into this later- and the panic buttons etc) + the combination of ring flood lights and door bell
Open to any other options/advice. Since I am a total newb(ex. Previously using wyze for home security lol) I am ok with getting Ring or abode and using the managers service while I learn the ropes over the year and slowly learn the different automation capabilities, the home NAS storage options, learning to segment IoT devices on the network etc. Just want something a step above wyze, and that has decent professional monitoring to give my family peace of mind while I learn about a better system and how to properly implement local storage etc.
Sorry for the wall of text and thank you in advance
Part 2 of “The Exterminators RELOADED!”
A Fanfic of u/SpacePaladin15
’s work “The nature of Predators” Thank you for the story!
IMPORTANT NOTICE. I AM WRITING ABOUT 247 EPISODES OF THE EXTERMINATORS. ANY IDEAS WOULD BE GREATLY WELCOMED! AS DETAILED OR NOT AS YOU WANT, I WILL CREDIT YOU FOR ANY HELP GIVEN!
Memory transcription subject: Henry, Venlil Primary School Student
Sylvan’s dad gestured for us to get the show set up while he walked into the kitchen. I couldn’t bring myself to sit still as the sound of popcorn in the microwave bounced through the house. Sylvan threw himself next to me as the annoyingly long series of logos started to parade through the screen.
“C’mon Dad! It’s starting!” We both held our arms up and caught a bag of popcorn as Mr. Smith copied Sylvan and threw himself on the couch. As Sylvan started to juggle the burning hot bag I started to mockingly mimic him. “Oh shut up! You and your built-in oven mitts!”
I batted Sylvan in the face who didn’t hesitate to try and hold off my attacks by smooshing me down into the chair. We both stopped when the Deep heavy beat of the Exterminators RELOADED started to play. This time though the beat didn’t stop as the opening sequence ended. Instead it played dully in the background like we were hearing it through a wall.
Friotetzali stepped into the scene and sauntered his way through an alley. He stopped and looked at a poster hanging on the wall. It showed a picture of a carrot and tomato with forward facing eyes and silly little stick arms cowering in fear of a ravenous looking Venlil. Plastered above it was the episode's title! “THE HERBIVOROUS BEASTS FROM BEYOND THE STARS!!!”
Frio let out a light chuckle as his tail curled in delight. “Oh that looks hilarious. Gotta remember to go see that.” He gently shook his head as he continued to walk and drop into an indifferent attitude as he approached a lone Mazic by a door. The two stared at each other for a moment before the Mazic slowly turned and opened the door.
With a slow and droning voice he addressed our head investigator. “He’s waiting for you by the dance floor. Doubt you’ll miss him. Welcome back Frio. Try not to burn the place down.” As the door opened the tune picked back up and was almost deafening. Frio walked down the dark staircase and eventually into a room filled with neon signs decorating the walls, strobe lights, lasers, and dozens of people dancing everywhere.
Our Harchen Hero cut through the crowd and haze like a fish through water before finally sitting down at a table with a rather… sleazy looking Gojid. “FRIO! MY OLD PAL! Have a seat! Let me get ya a drink!” The greased back fur of the Gojid just looked out of place as he waved for the servers to bring colorful beverages with little umbrellas over.
I honestly couldn’t make out any words that came out of the Gojid’s mouth after that. The dude just seemed to talk and not say any words. But eventually Frio took a slow sip from his drink and turned his head to stare down the greasy porcupine who’s quills extended in a little bit of fear.
“Cut the crap Genseng. I want to know why by Inatala’s tits you’d think it's a good idea to smuggle terran animals here!” He slammed a pawfull of photos on the table. Each one showed the greasy Gojid buying and selling small animals like rabbits and chickens.
Genseng sputtered and pouted “COME ON! I haven’t done anything that puts anyone at risk! I just sell human’s xeno-safe pets! A bunny never ate a Dossur! Don’t you want humans to take care of the petting addiction on things that want to be pet?” Despite my body telling me this guy was bad news, I couldn’t help but agree. I’ve been ‘pet’ more times than I would like by strange humans… and a few Venlil… and one Kolshian… and I ran away from the Mazic.
Frio sat back in his chair and huffed. “Then WHY have I found NO civilians with one of your pets?” This time he slapped down a paper list of names and places that clearly documented each and every business he sold animals to.
The scumbag sat there with a look of shock on his face and started to sputter out several noncommittal and contradictory statements. ALl the while Frio stared at his “friend” with more and more disgust. Eventually Genseng just sighed, stood up, and shouted. "GUN! HES GOT A GUN! RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!” and bolted for the back door as screaming began to fill the room
Frio just casually stood up and watched that douchebag flee! He pulled out his badge and announced to the crowd. “FALSE ALARM! FALSE ALARM! OFFICER FRIOTETZALI, HERE ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS OF THE AVALON CITY POLICE! REMAIN CALM YOU ARE IN NO DANGER!”
I couldn’t understand why he was just standing there as the bad guy ran away! The camera cut to Genseng who was sprinting full force down a narrow hall dodging all manner of obstacles like it was an action movie only for it to cut back to Frio slowly taking a sip of his drink!
Again it cut back Genseng huffing and wheezing as he sprinted through his own shipping operation. The only pauses he took were to open up cages causing a small whirlwind of feathers and bunnies to start in the warehouse. Yet Frio started to casually talk to the people in the room. He just slowly went around reassuring everyone that everything was fine and why he was here.
As I sat there in disbelief that he’d just let the bastard run away Genseng rounded a corner to see his getaway truck. Only to step around the corner and get punched squarely in the gut by Iloralia who was hiding there.
“Come on Genseng? Couldn’t you do something original? This is starting to get boring!” Ilo extended a cattle prod and let the end buzz with electricity as an Extermination Officer van pulled up behind her.
The Gojid let out raspy breaths. “Should have- … figured- … he’d send his- … BITCH! To wait in the alley!” The sleazy man sucked that insult back in when Ilo pressed the business end of her cattle prod to his throat.
“Shut the fuck up. You have the right to remain silent, but for your sake… I hope you’re smart enough to use it!” Ilo’s tail waved behind her with delight as Sephon climbed out of the van with a Gojid arrestor vest to cover Genseng’s quills and bind his arms.
I jumped as the video smash-cut to Sephon slamming down piece after piece of evidence on an interrogation room table in front of a nervous Gojid and his exhausted human lawyer. The angelic Tasamine sat on her perch gently drinking some tea as our perturbed Venlil explained each and every paper and photo that he threw on the table.
“Finally we have you on felony tax evasion. You do know you have to declare ALL sources of income right?” Genseng sheepishly looked to his lawyer, who just sat there with a defeated look on his face. “You are looking at forty years behind bars for this Genseng! FORTY!”
Tasamine let her voice coo out over her cup of tea. “We aren’t going to do you any favours over the tax stuff. The IRS is over our jurisdiction on that, BUT we are prepared to drop the rest of the charges.”
Genseng’s lawyer appeared to wake up in an instant and elbowed his client before he could open his filthy mouth. “So what do you want from my client in return for dropping the charges you have against him?”
Tas let out a little smile that set butterflies to flight in my stomach. “We want everyone that Tas sold animals to. And we do mean EVERYONE.”
Sephon started to pace back and forth as the Gojid and lawyer talked amongst themselves. Eventually Genseng relented and turned to our heroes. “Ok… SO I technically never really sold to a person per say… BUT I kept really good papers on all the businesses I did sell to!”
The conversation started to dull out as the camera began to pan back and into the observation room with Frio, Ilo, and a rather small Mazic. Frio stood stoically silent, his paw held gently under his jaw, lost in thought. Ilo was typing away on the computer crosschecking every business Genseng sold out.
The Mazic took a step forward. His badge now clearly showing that he was the Chief of the Avalon City Police. “I know those businesses… Why would he be selling pets to…” The Chief huffed and stormed out of the observation room leaving Frio and Ilo slightly confused only to watch with an ounce of shock as the Police Chief walked into the interrogation room.
“YOU FUCKING IDIOT! DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA WHAT YOU HAVE DONE?” Genseng recoiled away from the angry Chief as his lawyer was trying to figure out what was happening. “YOU HAVE BEEN SELLING HUMAN PETS AS FOOD TO HUMANS! YOU KNOW LESS THAN ONE PERCENT OF HUMANS EVEN EAT ONCE-LIVE MEAT! EVERYONE KNOWS THAT! MOST HUMANS GET VIOLENTLY ILL AT THE THOUGHT OF IT AND STRAIGHT VIOLENT IF TRICKED INTO IT! IF THIS GETS OUT THERE WILL BE RIOTS!”
Genseng’s lawyer slowly looked to his client with a look of anger and despair plastered on his face. The sleazy man just kinda shrugged. “I didn’t make them buy it!”
“BUT YOU DIDN’T TELL THEM WHERE YOU GOT THE MEAT FROM DID YOU?”
“OF COURSE YOU DIDN’T ‘CAUSE, HOW THEN, WOULD YOU GET RID OF YOUR UNWANTED ANIMALS?”
“HEY! I’VE GOT A GUY WHO TAKES THEM IN! I MAKE SURE EVERYTHING IS HUMANE AND SAFE FOR CONSUMPTION AND ANYTHING UNWANTED GO TO THAT GUY! OK? NO MONEY TRANSACTION! … I think he ships them back to Earth or something. No unethical stuff… except maybe selling Once-live as Cloned… but that isn’t that bad! Humans only just considered Rabbits to be on par with dogs!”
The Chief of Police just stood there menacingly as the ever beautiful Tas asked a question. “Who is this man you give the animals to?”
Genseng slowly walked back to his seat. “I don’t have a name. Just some dude wearing the old face hiding masks and a Pleather trench coat. Kinda creepy and usually lets the fat Venlil do the talking, but they scratch my back I scratch thier’s.”
The screen faded to black before coming back to their conference room and joined by the Chief of Police. “So you think this individual is the same one behind the Sheep Operation?”
Ilo sat up in her chair. “It seems to meet up with his M.O. of undermining food production.”
Tas brought a pair of population maps up on their projector. “Just looking at the before and after, the invasive rabbit population was miniscule at best. We had been doing a great job of catching them faster than they could repopulate. At least until their population unpredictably exploded into the hundreds of thousands.”
She swapped out the maps for a single one that showed several areas circled in red. “DNA testing on the rabbits has shown that they aren’t spreading naturally. One population has no genetic relation to the others even though their areas overlap. It has to be someone introducing rabbits in waves to different locals.”
The Chief slowly shook his head. “Do we have any clues as to where the masked man is?”
Frio’s tail curled in delight. “Why yes! Yes we do! He has a meetup with my good buddy Genseng who desperately doesn’t want to spend the next forty years in jail.”
The small Mazic let out a low and insidious laugh “OH! I think I know where you are going with this. You have my support. Let's get this sting operation set up!”
In an instant the day flew by and night rose over the docks of Avalon City. Genseng drove down the roads and pulled around the corner of a large warehouse situated nearby. The sleazy man looked oddly calm. I wouldn’t be surprised if this isn’t his first time ratting.
Overlooking the docks from the warehouse was our team of heroes. Tas had set up a network of monitors and was observing the operation. Several disguised vans were parked nearby filled with Extermination Officers all biting to get a hold of their quarry.
Frio walked over and placed a paw on Tasamine’s wing, before speaking into a recorder. “Looking good Gen. Looks like I misplaced the paperwork on those charges. Get through this and I won’t have time to go looking for it!”
Gen let out a small chuckle. “Hey Frio… Do you miss when we were kids? Getting into trouble. Scraping enough money together to buy lunch when our parents couldn’t afford to feed us?”
Frio took a step back from the monitors. “You said that in a really weird way… but yeah. Just the two of us. Sometimes we were delinquents scamming someone out of five credits and sometimes we were the heroes helping people out. Guess we took different paths…”
The greasy Gojid leaned back in the driver seat of his van. “I- … I am kinda tired of living Frio… It’s just… One deal after another with barely enough money to get from one job to the next… Do- … Do you think I could get a job working with you guys?”
It almost looked like Frio was going to cry as his eyes watered up. “Well… we are a man down at the moment, but my team only hires experienced individuals. It would be hard work, but if you joined as an apprentice and applied yourself… I think you could make it.”
Genseng sat and fiddled with his paws for a few moments. “Even with my arrest record?”
“We are the Exterminators not the City Police. I doubt there isn’t a single one of us that hasn't done something that would get us blacklisted by them!”
Gen let out a light laugh. “Ah good point! They hired you! Well I’d- Wait. He's here.”
A long black limousine pulled up around the corner. Slowly and silently stopping beside them. Frio took a step back. “Alright everyone. It's go time. Gen, get ready to duck down if they open fire.”
With almost perfect unison every unmarked van and cruiser lit up with Yellow and Orange lights and started to race towards the Limo. But with a heart stopping ‘BWOOOOOM’ the Limo exploded into an inferno, sending metal flying through the docks at high speeds.
Gen’s voice screamed over the radio for a brief moment before falling silent.
The next sounds we heard were of a heart monitor. Frio sat at the bedside of what I assumed to be Genseng. His body was covered entirely in bandages, with tubes running into his head and arms. Wires tracked his vital signs and, while steady, didn’t look like they broadcasted good news.
Frio looked up to see Ilo leaning in the doorway. “The limo was automated. No one on board. Mask either knew it was a setup or intended to end Genseng one way or the other.” She slowly walked over to Frio and nuzzled the side of his head. “I talked with the Doctors. They think he’ll make it. Might be a few years, and he will have to learn how to do most things, but he will live.”
Ilo forced her way into awkwardly cuddling Frio. After a small moment of resisting he accepted the embrace and leaned back. “How are we on tracking down the leads?”
She somehow managed to wrap herself around Frio as she quietly responded. “The limo was a dead end. Everything was bought from scrap and assembled off-grid. Camera networks were wiped clean enough that even Tas couldn’t scrape something off of the hard drives. DNA results on the rabbits gave us enough to work with Earth and track down the suppliers on that side, but they were using Genseng as a scapegoat and intermediary for all of it. I don’t think he even realized that the man he was ‘giving’ rabbits to was the man that arranged for him to be able to buy them in the first place.”
Frio wrapped his arms around her. “So this whole operation was basically a money laundering scam with rabbits. They scarred him for life just to- to-” Tears ran down his cheeks as the pair embraced each other. The credits started to roll over the sounds of a heart monitor slowly pinging on. Gentle sobbing slowly faded away as the sound of claws on tile echoed through the speakers.
A rather portly Venlil was flanked on both sides by massive looking dogs. Sylvan’s Dad pointed out those where Karelian Bear Dogs. Bred to actually hunt one of Earth’s apex predators. The Fat Venlil, or Chublil as Sylvan said, walked into an immaculate office, where a man with a silvered mask and brown trench coat sat.
“Sir? Operation Clean House is over. The results are one Gojid launderer hospitalized. He is expected to recover in a few years. When the exterminators watching him clear out an agent will enter with an air-filled syringe and fake death by heart-attack. As you expected the last meetup was a sting operation. Police remain slightly aware of your presence.”
A robotic voice came from the man. “Good work Gavreg. Did you enjoy your trip to Earth?”
“Yessir. You were right. Bear meat is simply divine when prepared correctly.”
WHAT THE FUCK. WHY WOULD HE KNOW WHAT THAT TASTES LIKE?!?
“Glad to hear it. As for the Gojid, I think he’s gotten the message on what happens to people who cross us. Send him a normal fruit basket when he regains consciousness. Have it say… Sorry you got fired! Take a siesta!”
“Very well sir. Just to be clear, hold off on permanently silencing him?”
“Hrm… Yes. He was always amusing to work with.”
“Very well sir. If there is nothing else, I shall take my leave.”
The Fat Venlil turned and walked out of the room. Ending the episode and leaving the three of us sitting on the couch.
“You know Loural is going to throw a fit if she finds out we let both Sylvan and Henry watch this!”
I wasn’t proud but at least the humans screamed louder than I did.
Special thanks to u/Dinomannick
for the prompt
"I got a few ideas for the show. How about a few episodes have them dealing with invasive earth species on alien worlds, brought there for zoos, rich blokes pet, criminals, whatever. They have either catch or kill all of them before their establishing breeding populations and have the cane toad/rabbit problem like down-under. Think it might be interesting enough for future space TV?"
I hope this lived up to your expectations, and the bunny boom won't be relegated to just this episode either.
Links are still broken cause reddit is more like brokeit... Will get around to fixing them soon, real life has been kinda hectic
[WP] 1920s Speakeasy owner notices his clients are going missing and finds out his club is bing used as vampier hunting grounds. After getting over the shock undead are real, he has to take matters into his own hands to save his business.
"MISSING!" I read the poster asking for information on the whereabouts of Joseph Smith. I felt bad but I wouldn't put my other patrons or myself at risk. I wasn't going to walk to the police station and tell them last time I saw him he was leaving my speakeasy with an elegant looking woman who was definitely not his wife. Hopefully the police find something but as best I could reason its not my problem.
Looking at my watch I realize it was much later in the evening than expected. I knew I had to hurry as it was almost time to open up. When prohibition first came around I figured my bartending days were over but luck smiled on me. After closing my bar down and selling it I found the perfect location for a speakeasy. It was a small shop, just one narrow wooden windowless door at the end of a dark and sleazy downtown alley. Most people don't even know the exists there. But the little shop had a big secret. After carefully navigating the tight corridor there was a rickety spiraling staircase to a basement that stretched under the adjacent building. I wasn't sure of its original purpose but after a lot of work it was an almost perfect spot to sit and drink. I had a solid oak and brass bar rail, cozy stools, some elegant booths and a nice hardwood floor installed. The atmosphere was well lit and made it easy to forget the troubles outside. That said, being a speakeasy was dangerous business for most folks but with its elegent interior and hard to find location it was easy to grease the palms of city officials to ensure it was kept private and profitable.
About mid way through the normal hours I caught a glimpse of that woman. She had the same light skin, dark red hair, and stunning low cut red dress. The dress was how I knew it was definitely her. It was the same woman that left with Joseph a few nights prior. Tonight she was the arm candy of Jackson Clarke. She looked completely enthralled by whatever he was saying. If his wife ever found out there would be trouble, but everyone here knew better than to say anything. It must not have been another 10 minutes before they were grabbing their jackets and heading out the door together. She was hanging off him like a scarf and his grin was almost wider than his head. I could only imagine where they were going. I hoped they would at least be discret as I didn't want any extra attention brought this way. Once they were out the door I realized I had been staring so i snapped back to reality. I went back to serving the rest of the regulars before closing up shop and heading home.
"MISSING!" I stared at the poster surely it had to be a coincidence that now Jackson was also missing after leaving with the same woman. Either way I knew I had to do something. Two disappearances would bring a lot more police into town and make things a lot more dangerous for me. The sooner things went back to normal the better. I decided I should confront her the next time I saw her in my bar.
A week went by with no signs of the woman or any leads on the disappearances. With so little for the police to work with the frustration was mounting and they were getting aggressive. There were police everywhere at almost all hours of the day. My business was suffering because with the increased police presence the risk was much higher that they may get caught. I was getting stressed out. I needed answers but for that I needed that woman. I had asked the doorman about her but he said he didn't know too much. Said she was from out of town but passed all the needed checks required for entry. He even had a friend at city hall pull her records to see if she might be using an alias or be a cop, but they found nothing out of the ordinary.
10 days after she left with Jackson I finally saw her again. I decided to get the doorman to take her to the storage room before she became somebody's arm candy. I had to ask her some questions just to confirm that it was just a coincidence that she was seen with both Joseph and Jackson just before they disappeared. I watched her get grabbed and roughly led out back. I excused myself for a second from the bar and made my way to the storage room as well.
I got to the door and gathered my thoughts before entering. A few deep breaths and I was ready. I opened the door and quickly ducked in closing it quickly behind me. It made a loud thud as it slammed closed a little harder than I expected.
"OK I have a few questions for you. Depending how you answer your night could be really good or bad," I said to her.
She was seated in what was probably the most uncomfortable wooden chair I'd ever seen. She wore the same dress as before but now I was noticing something I hadn't seen before. She glared at me with piercing blue eyes.
"What do you want to know" she snapped back with so much venom in her it made the hairs on the back of my neck standing up.
"What happened after you left her with Joseph and Jackson? You were the last person anybody has seen them with. After leaving here with you they just simply vanished. It might be a coincidence but I can't take that chance; especially since its messing with my business."
"Oh sweetheart do I look like the type of woman who kisses and tells." Her voice mocking me, " but maybe if you're a good little boy I can show you just what we did."
"Don't make this difficult!" I quickly moved closer to her and grabbed her shoulders giving her a quick shake. "Tell me what I want to know!"
As soon as I touched her she completely changed. Gone from her face was a playful smile. I could only describe the expression I saw now as a wolf baring its teeth as a warning.
"Get your hands off me now!"
She stood up so fast the chair flew backwards before slamming into the ground. Before I knew it she had wrapper her hand around my throat and began lifting me up. I couldn't believe the strength she had. She stood there choking me with her icy grip. I could feel her nails digging into my neck from how tight she gripped me. Now lifted off the floor by my neck, my legs dangled helplessly. I tried to look around to see the doorman. Surely he would help but once I caught sight of him I saw he was just standing there casually watching me.
I could feel the darkness creeping in from the corners of my eyes. I wondered if this was how I would die. I tried to free myself by grabbing her arm and trying to pry her hand open but to no avail. Just when I thought it was all over she effortlessly tossed me into the wall. I hit it hard with the back of my head snapping forward and back. I slumped down on the floor. My lungs now burning as the air returned to them. My head and back throbbed from the impact. I tried to stand but I was too disoriented and my legs buckled below me.
"Let me tell you exactly what's going to happen." Her voice now completely different. Firm and powerful sounding she was in charge and she knew it. "If you want to live you're going to continue to run your little club and I'm going to keep coming and hunting here as I please."
My head still fuzzy I wasn't sure if I heard her correctly, "hunting? What do you mean hunting?"
"My god; I don't understand how you've survived this long. You're slower than a snail in molasses so let me spell it out for you. My friend here," she pointed to the doorman," and I are vampires. We're not the only ones in town but we're the only ones you'll be dealing with. As vampires we require human blood from time to time. This cute little bar has become the perfect place to find meals. Nobody talks about them being here so even if questions are asked they never lead back to us. We do have a slight issue with you losing business as that would make things more difficult. Are you still listening, nod if you're following."
My head still reeling I made the effort to look up at her and for the first time i noticed them. Sharp fierce looking fangs sticking out past her lips. I nodded as best I could. I would do anything to stay alive.
"Good you're still following. In the morning you're going into the police department and file a tip that both Joseph and Jackson were last leaving town. Pitch the idea that they abandoned their families and changed their names. With that tip the police should leave here to search elsewhere and business will resume as normal."
"Say I help you; what do I get out of it?"
"Oh you mean other than getting to live and not be todays lunch? My associates and I are willing to pay you handsomely for your discretion."
"Well staying alive and making money are my two favorite things so it looks like we have a deal," I said. I knew my fate was already sealed regardless so I might as well take the money while I could.
"Good we believe this will be a bloody good opportunity for you."
With that her and the doorman disappeared back into the bar. I dragged myself off the floor and to the bathroom to clean myself up. I'd made a deal with the devil. If there was a hell I was surely destined for it.
This was requested by a friend to be made into a series but I'm not sure how to continue so this is it for now.
[WP] You and your group of friends always thought life was boring you wanted an adventure like in the books. But now in the apocalypse with monsters crawling you wish for those old days back.
Tried something different for this story and wrote the first little bit in tandem with another writer. I don't feel like our styles meshed well but I kept the results anyways.
It was Friday night and the house smelled like mom's meatloaf had just taken a dump. Ugh, the stench was so strong that I could practically taste it through my nose. I was in dire need of a shower and like, pronto! As I yanked out my scrunchie, I strutted towards the door, glancing at my reflection in the mirror. Damn, I looked good! But wait, what was I doing again? Oh yeah, I needed to make sure my obnoxious, gross pungent brother didn't try to invade my space - not that it would be anything new. I triple checked the deadbolt. It was definitely locked. Thankfully when choosing bedrooms in the new house I chose first. I obviously chose the bedroom with the attached bathroom so I wouldn't have to share with my brother. Gross!
I made my way over to the bathroom dropping a trail of meatloaf clothes along the way and into the shower. The cool air made goosebumps run over by entire body.
"This sucks, hurry up water!"
I quickly adjusted the temperature to the molten Lava setting and stepped in. A tingling sensation went from my toes all the way up until the back of my head was tingly. If my boyfriend was here he'd say I liked it hot as hell, almost hot enough to melt skin off. But he wasn't here and I enjoyed the extra clean feel I had when it was hot. I scrubbed the stench off my body, then rinsed off tilting my head back in the hot steady stream. I loved the way the steam filled the shower like a soothing hug; a blanket of extra warmth and protection. I took a deep inhale and the meatloaf was gone. The rose scented bubbles swirl down the drain and infuse the entire bathroom. I was just starting to feel relaxed and accustomed to the water. My peace and serenity was suddenly interrupted by a loud and strange noise.
"Earth to Jude. Hello? You still in there?" Ezra was shaking me roughly.
"Dude what the fuck?! I was having the best dream of a shower and you know how long it's been since we could actually have one!" I was pissed. I was in my happy place and now I'd been brought back to reality.
Reality was harsh and unforgiving. Huddled in what used to be a subway station; dark, damp and smelly. We were part of as best as we could tell a small pockets of survivors; the last of humanity. To say the rest had died would be somewhat inaccurate. They had died at some point but due to some weird illicit drug usage and vaccine reactions of patient zero they didn't stay dead long. At first the zombies moved fast and swift spreading to all but the most isolated places within a few weeks. As the supply of humans for food ran out and the zombies bodies decayed, the zombies moved much slower. This allowed the last remnants to build shelters and try to survive. It was a sad and pitiful existence. Crammed together for hours on end in almost constant darkness. Days, weeks, months, they were all meaningless now. Nobody wanted to leave the safety of the shelter and this lead to mandatoy rotating foraging excuraions. I was lucky enough to have been able to pick my best friend, her boyfriend and my boyfriend as my excursion squad. Every seven days we would scramble out of the shelter armed with makeshift weapons to defend ourselves and shoddy body armour if you could call it that. It was just old sports padding that was way too big in all the wrong places and too small where it mattered. The only entertainment was teasing each other about how ridiculous we all looked. It helped lighten the mood and kept us from thinking about what could actually happen to us.
It was ironic that back in elementary school we dreamed of dystopian futures, the collapse of civilization and a zombie apocalypse as a way to escape our mundane and boring lives. We never thought about how terrifying and sad it could actually be. It wasn't anything like the movies, people we knew. Our friends and our families we had all lost those closest to us. Living in constant fear of death from not jusy zombies but lawless humans, starvation or illness. You were as likely to die from a cut as a zombie with the lack of medical supplies and clean water. Food was scarce so you ate what you could. Before this I wondered what dog and cat food tasted like; now I not only knew the taste but its texture and how hard it was to swallow. Of course some flavors were better than others but at the end of the day it wasn't really meant for human consumption. The upside was the protein content which was hard to find, but sometimes even that wasn't enough to make it go down. Sometimes it even made me miss the terrible cafeteria food but only sometimes.
"Its time to go. Were up again for an excursion," Ezra said.
"You've got to be kidding me?! Didn't we just go on one?!" I was annoyed. The only thing worse than being brought to reality from my dream was also getting bad news at the same time.
"I know and we did but unfortunately since Denver's party never came back we're really short on supplies. This means they're sending out 3 parties instead of just one." He said quietly.
I immediately understood how bad things were. The only time multiple parties were sent out was because supplies were at critical levels. Best case scenario they would all return with some extra provisions or worst case none of them return but the reduced number of people would require less supplies. Its was win-win for those in the shelter as it put survival first and as long as you focused on that the guilty feelings would leave.
We headed to the armoury and began grabbing supplies. There we met up with best friend and best friends BF. We began suiting up: Knee pads, helmets, some oversized former football shoulder pads and elbow pads. Today I got a baseball bat with nails driven through the head to make a mace like weapon. Ezra got a dull looking pitchfork, Jessie got a bent up tire iron and Owen got a crowbar. All of the weapons looked well used already and barely hanging on. They were covered in dried blood and duct tape. Whether the blood was zombie or survivior nobody seemed to know or care. We were just grateful to have some sort of protection from the dangers outside.
Once armed we gathered near the main gate. It was a wall of iron bars, wooden planks and barbed wire with a small reinforced steel door in the middle. It was located at the bottom of the old subway stairs. I rememberes when the escalators still worked and the tiled walls were clean. The stainless steel handrails still had their shine. We would often take the subway after class to go for coffee, a movie or concert or sometimes just to get a little out of the city to star gaze. Those days were long past. Now the escalators were long dead and powerless. The walls covered in thick soot, dried blood and dirt. The handrails were bent and dinged every which way now more of a hazard than helpful. The stairs were littered with random trash and loose debris. The most obvious change was the gate at which they stood at the bottom and the matching one at the top. Only one was opened at a time like an airlock to reduce the chance of a breach.
The gate opened and slammed behind the three parties as they made their way up the stairs. Although familiar with the other two groups the climb was pretty quiet. The only sound was the soft shuffle of their feet on the stairs. As they reached the top the guards removed the large steel brace behind the solid door. Although muscular and well over six feet tall they struggled to lift it reminding us just how heavy the bar was and how serious they were on keeping everything outside on the outside.
As we left through the gate the bright sunshine in our eyes; I craved the little things I missed like sun glasses and sunscreen. Summer days spent bored and laying in the grass wishing for some apocalypse to break up the monotonous life we lived. I laughed at how ridiculous it seemed wish for this to be real and now wishing for the past. I guess life never really turns out how you expect.