After collecting yourselves, you all walked on, slowly making your way from the tops of the bare mountains down into the valley below, the surrounding terrain still remaining just as bare as when you were higher up, but the smell – as you got into a deep valley – made you wrinkle your nose a little in disgust.
“What’s that smell?” you whispered to Migata, sniffing as you looked around.
“It smells like… yuck…” You pulled a face as you walked, with Migata by your right side and Butterfli3 and O/N on Ægir’s back, flanking your left, while Free and her cameramen followed behind.
“We’re almost there,” Butterfli3 said from a little behind you and you looked at him before Migata took your arm in his hand to get your attention.
“So….. the smell…” He pointed ahead to something that looked like a white cocoon hanging from a small tree.
“Is that what’s making that smell? What is it?” you asked, thinking it might have been a plant of some kind.
Migata shook his head and as you got closer you saw a little bit of red staining the cocoon and something poking through one of the wrap layers.
“What is th—.” You froze, close enough now to see what it was that was hanging from the tree.
It was indeed a cocoon, but a spider’s cocoon, made from it’s webbing- the kind that a spider does around its prey before eating it.
As your brain started to make heads and tails of what you were looking at you realized the thing hanging out of the cocoon was a limb- a human limb, with blood dripping down it and off the finger tips, and you gasped and stepped back.
“How… what… I—,”
“Don’t worry, I think it’s just an NPC that got caught,” Migata said, “actual players just evaporate when they die…”
“Well… that’s usually the case,” O/N said, “but remember Pants? She was carrying dead players as well… it could be relating to the glitch…”
“Ok we need to be extra careful now,” you said, still with eyes glued to the death cocoon.
“So now you know what that smell is…” Migata said softly.
You looked at him then it clicked.
“Rotting…” You couldn’t finish the sentence, it was too horrifying.
While you were standing there still looking at him, you all heard a shrill scream from somewhere in the mid distance and the hair on the back of your neck stood on end.
It was a very similar scream to the one that you had heard on level 19 and you almost had an anxiety attack from the trauma surrounding what had happened to you shortly after hearing a scream like that.
Everyone in the group was immediately on edge and looked around as the scream echoed off the high walls flanking the valley.
“We’re getting close…” Butterfli3 commented, “there are obviously other players about.”
Gathering all your courage, you clicked your tongue to get Ægir to walk forward and you all continued on down the valley, getting ever closer to where that noise had come from.
As you rounded a bend, you could see the mouth of a cave ahead, yawning open, and other scream sounded from within it.
“We’re here,” Migata said softly.
You all stopped a moment for Butterfli3 and O/N to hop off Ægir and for him to be recalled into your inventory.
Back in the lab, Hansu was furiously finishing up the coding for his USB ‘pokeball’.
He had noticed your stats on the computer say that you were experiencing a little bit of a spike in heart rate but this type of thing was somewhat normal now and he waited for it to go down before reacting- which it did.
Just then his phone rang and he picked it up.
“Hello Hansu,” the voice of the police super intendant said on the other end.
“Good afternoon, intendant, I assume that if you have called me then you have some good news?” he asked hopefully.
“Well, I’m not sure what type of news it is but we have managed to track down the physical address of the IP address you gave us the other day.”
Hansu sat up straighter in his chair.
“Yes? What is the address?” he asked.
The superintendent gave the address and Hansu wrote it down.
“That’s wonderful,” your assistant replied, “thank you for getting that.”
“Now, please, do not go and visit the address without back up. It could be a dead lead but it also could lead you right into danger. Are you intending to confront the person who lives at this address?”
“That was the plan, but it’s 5pm now so I won’t be visiting anyone until tomorrow,” Hansu lied.
“Very well. Please call me tomorrow morning then and I will arrange for a squadron to accompany you to the building.”
“Thank you, intendant, I will be in contact,” Hansu said, knowing full well that he was going to go alone.
“Very well. Have a good evening and we will talk tomorrow,” the intendant said before hanging up.
“Ha,” Hansu thought as he hung up the phone and checked the last of the coding over, “and risk the police taking Goha into custody… or scaring them off with wailing sirens? I don’t think so…”
He completed the task, then safely removed the USB device from the computer and put the little ear piece in and the USB in his pocket.
“Now to pay a little visit to this address…”
He left the lab and pulled his coat up around his neck as he walked to the bus stop and got on, pulling his phone out to figure out the best way to get to the address, and how to get into the room if no one answered the door.
It was a short bus ride as the address was in an apartment complex that was on the outskirts of town but it wasn’t too far away, and Hansu hesitated as he got to the gate. It was code protected and he waited for a minute, wondering if he should call Hawks in for back up- knowing that Hawks wouldn’t try and take Goha away.
Just then an elderly lady approached him from the inside of the gate and he gave her a polite smile as she punched in her number and pushed the gate open.
“Good evening, ma’am,” Hansu said politely, holding the gate open for her.
“Good evening, young sir,” she replied politely, “thank you for holding the gate for me.”
“It is no trouble,” Hansu replied with a warm smile.