Kotal and TASK for that matter are never one to leave jobs half done. Though the Xenomorph queen had been felled, her head made part of the Director's chair, and the hive itself been utterly obliterated by Kotal's incinerating sun rays.. the Xenomorphs are notoriously resilient, they did infest the city for quite a while after all. TASK doesn't want to take any risks and has sent a few scouts to ensure that all traces of the aliens have been vanquished.
Rayne, being the Second in Kommand, has been appointed to take care of this mission, with D'vorah given to her to serve as back up in case they find unexpected resistance to what should otherwise be a tranquil scouting expedition.
Rayne arrives on the scene and takes a deep breath in, then out. After a quick glance to D'vorah, she steps up to the edge of the crater and takes that first step over the edge. She slides down the side, carefully keeping her balance as she makes her way to a point low enough that she's better off just walking the way to the center, where it opens up into the deeper part of the aliens' cavern system. She walks along the rim of this hole until she reaches a point where she can climb down the rubble, into the xenomorph constructed area.
She casts a light spell and looks around before motioning for D'Vorah to follow her. Her pupils are dilated, her breath is slightly uneasy, the hairs on the back of her neck are standing, and her heart is beating loudly in her ears in the silence of the place. She's clearly uncomfortable in the place, but even if she wasn't appointed to this... she would have volunteered. She knows what's been bothering her the past month or so, and she knows that without seeing this for herself, it would likely have continued to do so for some time.
D'vorah follows as she's motioned to do. The bug woman rarely displays fear or any other emotions whatsoever and not only does she not quiver when she descends into the looming remains of the now desolate hive, she also doesn't seem to be overly concerned for Rayne. Though perhaps almost a cruel attitude from the bee woman, it is exactly what Rayne needs due to her issues with social anxiety. Rayne won't have to worry much from D'vorah trying to offer any comforting contact.
That being said, D'vorah is very perceptive to the feelings of others despite her very apathetic looking attitude, it is what always made her the perfect intermediary between the crew. As the two women descend into the hive, D'vorah glances at Rayne and buzzes her wings softly. "You seem troubled, Second." She buzzes in her strange insect like voice. "It is unlike you to be showing fear."
Rayne draws a sword with her free hand and starts walking through the caverns. "Yeah, well... call me brave, then. After all, you can't be brave if you're not afraid first..." After a few moments of silence as the two look through caverns, seeking out any movement, Rayne speaks up again. "Apparently I'm just good at hiding it... because every other time that little vampire shows up, she says she can smell my fear." She stabs her sword through a membrane and cautiously looks through it. "And you didn't have one of these things try to forcibly mate with your face." She physically shudders as she mentions that.
D'vorah lowers her hood and lets her antenna sprout from the top of her forehead to better let her feel out for any nearby threats. As she does, she keeps those black, pupil less, bug eyes of her on Rayne while she's stabbing about at empty membranes which used to store the victims of the Xenomorphs. "You are good at hiding it." Agrees the insect woman. "Whenever we are in Kombat this one can also sense your inner doubts and fears. However, you rarely, if ever, let it surface."
"This is not the case here. The doubt that you show is worrisome. Will you all right, Second?" As they continue and Rayne explains her exact problem with the Xenomorph spawns, D'vorah hmms thoughtfully once she starts figuring out what is it that is making Rayne afraid. "The creatures were simply trying to propagate their species. Though it may feel horrifying to the victim, it is all quite the natural process."
"It is not unlike what this one does to her foes. And what most Earthrealm insects do as well. Laying eggs inside a host with the ovipositor is normal. "
Rayne sighs as she finds another victim, but shakes her head. "Well, it's... different when intelligent species get involved. If they were using cattle or sheep or varks, in the end it would be a nuscence but not a dire threat... not pleasant, but not something that gets me afraid." She does not, however, elaborate on whatever the heck a 'vark' is. "Even if it killed the victim before injecting the eggs, it wouldn't be as... terrifying. Or jabbed a hole in my stomach to do it."
She shakes her head as she continues down another corridor. She doesn't know why she's opening up so much to D'Vorah, especially considering she's aware D'Vorah doesn't particularly like her. Maybe that's even why, because she'd rather not bother her friends with this kind of talk. "It was much worse... Knowing what it was doing... Shoving it down my throat like that... it was horrible." There's a word she wants to use to describe the experience, but even she doesn't want to bring that one up. "I'd never felt so violated in my life." Coming to an intersection in the corridors, she flicks a fireball down each direction to see further down the caverns.
Its no so much that D'vorah particularly dislikes Rayne. To be fair, it doesn't look like D'vorah particularly likes anyone, not even Kotal himself, all her groveling and submission towards him always come off as being very insincere. What she does see Rayne as though is a rival, especially because D'vorah used to Kotal's Second. Though no outright dislike had ever been shown by the bee woman, it is clear that she does harbor a fair amount of jealousy.
Those feelings may be soothed somewhat as Rayne opens up and starts to reveal more of her feelings to D'vorah. The bee woman begins to see Rayne not so much as this invincible rival that stole Kotal away from her but more like a person and a co-worker. The insectoid woman clicks her antenna and glances at the rainbow haired girl. "Have you ever..?" She asks sounding concerned. "Been.." She trails off, not wanting to stir problematic memories from Rayne.
So far though there hasn't been any sign of Xenomorphs or their spawn. The fireballs that light up the tunnels only show dissected corpses from the defeated aliens. Though they have just entered the Hive though, there is considerable more depth to be explored. "That way lays the inner chamber." D'vorah points to the left tunnel.
Rayne glances down the indicated corridor and shakes her head. "No... I've not... but that was... far too close to it." She shudders again. "Same biological imperative on the attacker's part, so to speak." She takes a deep breath in to calm her nerves... not a good idea with how bad it smells down here, and it sounds like she might be about to lose her lunch for a second, but she manages to hold on. "I'll be fine," she answers to D'Vorah's earlier question before she starts heading down the corridor towards the inner chamber.
Along the way, she continues throwing fireballs down side corridors, keeping an eye out. She's clearly still being very careful, but doesn't seem intent on being stealthy. The light alone would be a dead giveaway. "Is it really uncommon to have so many doubts and fears? I figured it was a part of being mortal... There's always regrets. Or should I stop worrying in combat? Because that's when doubts and fears are at their strongest, in my experience." Talking seems to calm her, at least somewhat, so she's continuing to speak as she searches for any signs of... anything.
D'vorah watches Rayne when she looks and sounds like she's about to lose her lunch. She doesn't offer any help as usual though, just watches to see if she'll need to adapt for the mission. If Rayne were to vomit and become nauseated because of it she could compromise the mission. Once Rayne states that she is able to handle it however, the bug woman nods and follows along to the dark corridors.
She makes no mention of how liberal Rayne is being with the fireballs. If anything, she thinks that it might draw attention to them which would be good in this case, since they are trying to find any stragglers. Its not until Rayne asks for suggestions that D'vorah decides to show any sign of humanity that may linger within her ruthless insectoid instinct to kill and survive. "It is surprising you'd ask this one for advice." She confesses. "This one knows she has been less than supportive."
The bee woman closes a moment and pauses to think, antenna wiggling slightly, ever vigilant for movement that may approach them. "This one is not very good with emotions, yes? She feels as others but cannot convey them as well. This one's people, the kytin, are not known for their elaborate way with words. We are simple; live, grow stronger, survive."
"This one can offer you this much, however. There is no way to escape fear and regret, it is part of life. As long as you live you will know fear."
"But you do have choices, you can let it control your existence forever, or you can learn to overcome it and not let it dictate your life. That much is the simplest way of life."
D'vorah clicks with her antenna again and looks ahead. "This one senses life up ahead. We'll be arriving to the main hive shortly."
Rayne nods to D'vorah as she offers what advice she can. "I ask you because you're more experienced with the combat and war side of life than I am. I may have lived over four hundred years, but I might as well be the age I look for my combat experience. Now, if you want help with mechanics, then maybe I'm the person to ask. Being open about emotions... not so much." She insets the light spell into her armor, just above the TASK badge, to free her other hand. "I know... I've had points where I was too afraid to strike out on my own, to do something other than what my mother wanted of me. Dealing with fear is why I would have volunteered for this assignment anyway. I suspect it's why Kotal threw it at me before I had the opportunity to volunteer for it."
She nods again at the warning to life ahead, drawing her second sword. Rayne considers combining her swords into a bow, but decides that's probably not going to have the stopping power for one of these creatures. She glances down at the blaster on her thigh, for once wishing she hadn't welded the selector to the stun setting. "I guess it's blades and fire today..." she says quietly.
"The Kahn must have indeed known." Agrees D'vorah whilst he walks into the darkness, being able to see better thanks to Rayne's magical light. "He wishes all to become stronger, and there is no faster way for this than confronting that which we fear. It is how he managed to assemble and keep together our motley krew." Rayne may be surprised to learn that not all of Kotal's Krew were the indomitable fighters that they are now.
"You have kept yourself from experiencing a lot of things despite your long life. Perhaps, said fears have played a part in this. This one can feel such. You can live as much as time itself, and yet you will learn very little if you do not come out of your comfort zone."
"Most mortals can live in fear for the entirety of their short lives. You will get no such chance, Second. Certainly not here, and certainly not with so many depending on you."
"You have no choice but to become stronger."
When they continue walking and Rayne readies herself for battle, D'vorah continues to look around with her antenna flicking about a bit more wildly. "Hm, perhaps not. This one senses spawn."
Sure enough, as they enter a large chamber with the remains of a four armed Xenomorph, both Rayne and D'vorah get to see what once was the laying chamber. With hundreds upon hundreds of eggs.
Most of them are busted and broken, but is possible there are some that remain dormant.
Rayne looks about at the hundreds of cabbage-like eggs. "...You'd think someone dedicated so much to cabbages would know the difference," she comments about the Cabbage Guy as she looks about. She doesn't spot anything amiss amongst the dozens upon dozens of smashed, sliced, perforated, and downright desiccated eggs... but that doesn't stop her from sheathing both swords to focus her energies on a larger fire spell. "...Well, no point in taking a chance... Is this being fearful, or is this more just being sensible?" she asks of D'vorah before she lets out a small wave of fire in front of her, then walks forward into the field of eggs. She's constantly glancing to her sides, however, as she can't spread fire on all sides of her.
"I wasn't... avoiding experiencing things. I just wasn't fighting. I've had dozens of careers, D'vorah. I've tried just about everything out there. I just didn't... really consider myself a fighter before I ran away to Cevernal." She then wince slightly as she realizes something. "Yeah... I guess that was running away in fear. Not from any physical threat, though. Running away from the embarrassment of a horrible impulsive descision. I'm guessing in your world, combat is everywhere, but in mine, most people simply don't need to fight, so there's no reason to become a warrior unless that's what you want to do."
"If you live, you fight." D'vorah says in her ever bug simplicity. "Even if you do not need fighting to survive there is always the choice to improve yourself physically. Earthrealmers are notorious for this. Their world is not plagued by conflict as most of the worlds that Outworld consumed were. And yet, Earthrealm generated some of the best warriors of our universe. Indeed, it was they who finally put an end to Shao Kahn's reign. They, who did not make war a living like the rest of us under the ex Emperor's yoke."
"You could have explored the fighting venues, Second. Yet you chose not to, not even for the mere curiosity of exploring your lineage. This one knows, Second, we have listened when you make mention of your father being a great warrior and your mother a mighty general. War runs in your veins. You are not a warrior simply because you do not choose to be."
Once Rayne goes into a burning frenzy, D'vorah looks on ahead as the remains of the eggs burst and melt into piles of goop. "It is both fearful and sensible to destroy them like this." She says, "Sensible, because we do not go to each one to destroy it, but fearful, because you are avoiding the spawn."
She walks up to a part of the hive where the fire has yet to reach and finds a few untouched eggs. "There, Second. There are the beasts that you fear. Will you burn them as they sleep or awaken them and confront them?"
Rayne sighs and shakes her head. "I guess you could put it that way... But I wanted to experience as much as I could. I wanted to do... all the things! There's so much more out there to living than just fighting, just being a warrior. That's just a tiny part of what's out there to do!" She sounds actually a bit wistful at this... There doesn't seem to be fear involved at all, but a desire to do more... But then D'vorah has to go and find the whole, unhatched eggs and challenge Rayne to destroy them as a warrior instead of as an exterminator. She lets the flamethrower effect end as she looks to the insectile woman with a predictable look of horror on her face... But then she shakes her head, clearing it as she walks over, drawing her swords once again. "I guess I have to do this... don't I? For time's sake, I'm not doing this for every batch, but... yeah. I have to do this." She's clearly not enjoying this prospect, but she also seems determined to try to put this fear behind her. That said, she's not foolish enough to go an put her head right over them. There's facing your fears, and then there's just being stupid. Instead, she finds a piece of rock and rolls it on top of her foot to lob the thing at the eggs.
D'vorah stands aside for Rayne to approach the eggs unperturbed. This is the Second's test and not hers. Though it would be very easy for D'vorah to assist and destroy the eggs quickly, Rayne is right in her assumptions.
She has to do this on her own.
The rock hits the cabbage looking egg and blooms slowly like a twisted mockery of a flower.
Perturbed by motion, long, thin legs slide out from the core of the egg and a spider like tiny horror peeks out. The facehugger's face looks curiously at Rayne and then it rears up, preparing itself to pounce her.
Sure. Rayne could easily pick the thing off with a fire bolt right there. But what would the point of that be? No, she sets herself for the thing's eventual leap... And as it does, she clearly looks like she's about to panic. The fear is gripping her as she remembers what has happened before... She can't help herself. She lets out a scream.
But she's still prepared, she's still now a trained warrior. She still cuts the thing in half before it can reach her, then ducks down to avoid the acid spray. She's breathing heavily, much more heavily than she should be for such a small exertion. But she continues on. She kicks another piece of rubble at the next egg, waiting for it to awake, waiting for it to sense her, waiting for it to leap... And she manages to do so this time without screaming at it.
She is more prepared this time, and ducks to the side while it's mid-air, slicing at it there to not be in the way of its acidic blood from the start. Still breathing more heavily than she should, she looks to the next egg, ready to do it again.
She continues this process. She makes it routine. Kick a rock, wait for it to jump, slice it. Eventually, she starts setting her blade on fire in the process, but that's just to try to cauterize the cuts in an attempt to reduce the amount of acid spray. She knows exactly what she's doing, however. By making this a mechanical process, making a series of actions, she's reducing what these creatures are. They stop being frightening to her, and start just being pests.
Finishing the last of this batch of intact eggs, she looks around at the hundreds of destroyed ones around. "Okay... I'll do this again if we find one or two again, but if we find another batch like this, I'm just gonna roast them." She glances back over to D'Vorah. "It's just not worth the time."