The Mark: Part One (Vote Your Adventure)

gargoyle This is the first part of an adventure series where YOU determine the next step in the story. Vote in the comments below or on Twitter at #TheMark.

You approach from the south. The decimated airfield is deathly silent. Nothing moves. Heavy clouds block the starlight, blanketing the area in pitch. Conditions are optimal — your special ops team has practiced this scenario so many times that you don’t need light. Besides, you didn’t travel 250 miles to sightsee.

You came to kill.

Your team has taken up positions 30 yards from a large bunker rising out of the ground, circled by razor wire: the entrance to New Milwaukee, an underground city that was once your ally. Tall poles topped with glass globes are stationed every ten feet along the fence. You remember the fence from the photographs provided by intelligence. No one was sure what the globes were for.

You glance at your stopwatch just as the sound of a rough diesel engine reaches your ears. Dim, yellow headlights sweep over you and continue on, unaware of your presence. A flatbed truck turns away and slowly circles around the fence. It’s supposed to be a patrol, though your night vision goggles give you a clear view of two people inside and neither of them appear to be looking for anything.

Before the truck pulls around the fence and out of sight, its engine stalls. Brake lights flash and the truck comes to a halt. After a few failed attempts to restart the engine, the driver lays on the horn. You grab your binoculars for a better look.

The gate swings open. Two soldiers step out of the fenced enclosure and walk to the back of the truck. One peels back the tarp that’s strapped across the back while the other lowers the truck’s tailgate. Now the truck driver and passenger get out. All four soldiers are dressed the same, in fatigues and heavy boots. Surprisingly, each has only a simple firearm at their side. You can hardly believe how weakly armed they are.

The four gather at the truck’s tailgate and strain to drag out a hulking object. It’s hard to see between them to know what the cargo is. When leathery wings flop on the ground, you almost drop your binoculars: the cargo is a demon that’s been captured and sedated.

One of the soldiers disappears into the bunker and emerges again with a rolling cart bearing a mechanical device. They attach a cable to the sleeping demon, then to two posts on the fence. A soldier stands by each post. The device is turned on.

Static races across your skin and the globes atop the two posts pulse with a soft purple light. The static intensifies and the glow deepens to crimson. The two soldiers below are bathed in the bloody aura. As you watch, the soldiers’ bodies transform.

You notice it first in their legs — they squat like animals. Their thighs bulge, tearing long gashes in their trousers. Their shoulders broaden and sag forward, causing their arms to hang between their knees. Their boots tear in the front, giving way to elongated toes and razor-sharp talons. The transformed soldiers expand leathery wings and take to the air. They circle around the fence twice and take up positions atop the bunker on opposite sides.

The rumors are true: New Milwaukee is creating human-demon hybrids. No wonder the brass sent you. You’re here to take out the man responsible for these abominations.

The light fades and the globes return to their dormant state. The demon on the ground has been drained of all unlife and is left an indiscernible husk. The two remaining soldiers kick at the demon’s remains, scattering its ashes to the wind. They disappear inside the fence and close the gate.

You check your infrared. The soldiers have gone underground. The half-human, half-demon gargoyles aren’t visible on infrared. If the truck hadn’t broken down, you wouldn’t have known about the gargoyles until it was too late.

You weren’t prepared for this. Regardless, you have a job to do. You have to make a decision.

What do you do?

A. Attack the gargoyles
B. Look for another way inside the underground city

We want your vote! Vote in the comments below or on Twitter at #TheMark. Voting ends Tuesday night. The highest vote will be the next step in the story, posted on Fridays.

Don’t forget to subscribe to my website via the RSS links on the toolbar and on Twitter.

Image courtesy of RayBanBro66.

Voting for part one is now closed.

26 thoughts on “The Mark: Part One (Vote Your Adventure)

  1. Wow. First off: hell yes, I’m a commando strike force bad-mamma-jamma. Second off, I want to turn around and go back and say “Send someone else.”

    But I’m already there, so here goes. I don’t know how many other non-visible gargoyles there are, so I think some recon is in order. I’ll go with Option B and look for another way. Then it’s all KILL KILL KILL.

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  2. As much as I want to engage those gargoyles — I hate those pasty-faced, horn-headed, “I’m so awesome cuz I can stand still all day even when I need to scratch my crotch oh did I mention my wings kick ass” bastards — engaging them would just alert the place much earlier than we’d like. The smart thing to do, tactically, is to try to avoid detection and find another way in.

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  3. B – and feeling very alone….

    Great to be back and reading your stories again Jen, great stuff… can’t wait till next week!

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  4. As much add I want to start the adventure with guns blazing, killing gargoyles isn’t the primary objective of the mission. Better to sneak in, kill the person responsible, destroy their research and devices, THEN start killing gargoyles. So, option B.

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  5. Whoo! It’s back!

    B – As stated, this wasn’t expected. We don’t know how strong those things are, so we might want to try and find another way in before alerting the whole base to our presence.

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  6. B. As Peace Frog said, the gargoyles aren’t the target. Not yet, anyway. So yeah, find another way in. If you announce your presence by attacking the gargoyles, you can bet the guy behind everything will slip out his secret passage after ordering all his minions to die in his stead, and then he’ll go set up shop in another fort.

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  7. I want some gargoyle blood! But if the mission says we’re supposed to take out the guy responsible, I guess it’s best to gather more info before rushing in. I reluctantly choose option B. Damn it.

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  8. A demon-human hybrid? Yeesh. The “guns blazing” approach would have been plausible five minutes ago.

    We’re here to take out the one responsible for this abomination. Business before pleasure, option B.

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  9. While a part of me would love to take on the Gargoyles, stealth is needed until the primary target is dead.

    So, I vote B. Look for another way and hope for a chance to blaze the Gargoyles later.

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  10. ah, possible genetics / eugenics tampering is afoot… attempting to distill the devil from our dna (?); all very lovely; so ‘isle of dr. moreau’. the gargoyle’s entomology is french in tradition, typically associated with water (downward flow) or swallowing; it wasn’t until later generations that a mystical, protective trait was imbued upon the beast. i’m generally a fairly reserved scout of strict protocol: the who, the what, the where, the how and the why; an inordinate percentage of cases being solved based studying the latter two in the micro. this case should be no different; discerning how this present endeavor manifested initially, and… why bother, whos stands to gain? Post these answers, it’s elementary. There is always time to beat whole-sale ass when the rubber meets the road, not just yet though, maybe next week… I want to see the bone we are thrown.

    bring it, Jen; ((( B )))

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  11. I’m not prepared. I’M NOT PREPARED!!!!

    ::smacks own face::

    If I just start digging where I stand, I can find an underground escape, right? RIGHT?!?!?

    WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO ME?!

    ::falls over::

    Ahem. I choose B.

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  12. Definitely A. These options disappear if we don’t take them, meaning we won’t get a chance to attack the gargoyles later until they’ve prepared and the situation is different…

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  13. I have to agree with the marjority. I don’t want to risk getting some of my team killed on a couple of door monkey’s. Option B – try to find another way in and lay waste to this sh*thole city. MUAHAHAHAA

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