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RCM Fanfic - Agents of ARACHNOS, Ep. 22
Episode 22 - The Calm Before The Storm

*****

Bio was trying to rub some warmth back into Baroness's hands when the others finally arrived back at the suite. The room had been painfully quiet after Vampy left, so much so that Bio could hear the tapping of what he assumed must be heavy rain outside. Baroness's breathing was still labored, but it seemed to have evened somewhat from before. Still, he couldn't tell if her trembling was from cold or if the spider's toxins were affecting her nervous system. The storm outside seemed to be blocking his cellular signal as well, so he couldn't even pull up a Google search to see what kind of spider it was.

When he heard his friends enter through Killer's suite, Bio wasn't sure whether to feel relief or apprehension and Parker Bennett strode into the room with Vampy at his heels . While he didn't know Hax's personal reasons for disliking the man, there was something about him that Bio didn't trust from the onset - the fact Baroness felt the need to actually punch him just gave that feeling some validation. Still, Bennett had more information on what they were dealing with than Bio did, and he needed that information if he wanted to bring Baroness back to safety.

Bennett gave a quick glance about the scene. "I trust you didn't move too much around in the room?"

"No. I moved her a little farther from the spider carcass and got a blanket around her, but aside from that, this is how we found things."

The Brit harrumphed a little. "The blanket could have waited. We don't know how much of what venom she took, or whether the sac was still there. I would have preferred you'd left things alone."

Bio bristled a little, but kept his voice calm. "Keeping the person warm is basic first aid..."

Before he could say anything else, Hax appeared in the doorway. "Is she alright?"

"We should hopefully know soon," Bio responded as Bennett carefully scooped the dead spider from the sheets and brought it under the light of the bedside table. "She isn't shaking as much, but I'm still worried that she's breathing so hard."

Hax turned to Bennett, who was peering carefully at the arachnid. "Well?"

"It's a redback spider, a species native to New Zealand," he said after a moment. "I know, because our friend left one in my room as well."

Bio and Vampy exchanged a glance before looking over at Hax quizzically. "Friend?"

"Not...erm..." Hax felt his face flush slightly. "So this was no accident, then."

"Perhaps not," Bennett replied. "Mrs. Soultaker, might I trouble you for a pair of tweezers? And the light, Mr. Alchemist."

When the instruments had been brought, Bennett looked, then brushed at something on her bruise. He jumped back as she jerked violently. It was hard for Hax not to crack a little smile as he watched Her Majesty's top agent on edge over the tiny woman shivering in her sleep.

Bennett asked Hax to hold the Baroness in place, then held his breath as he very carefully plucked something off of her shoulder. He peered at the tiny sliver for a moment before cracking a very smug grin. "Your friend is incredibly lucky. She's got some of the neurotoxin in her system - that's what's causing the elevated pulse and the breathing issues. She must have rolled over on the creature just as it was taking its bite, but it appears quite a bit of the venom is still in the sac. She'll be incapacitated for a while, but she'll be fine. Just keep checking her airflow." Bennett shook his head as he looked at the Baroness's dark head resting fitfully on the pillow. "Incredibly lucky. If she had rolled a little nudge either direction...well, it's not worth thinking about."

*****
Baron was a little concerned about eating anything from the canteen set up for the film crew, but the gnawing in his stomach reminded him it had been almost thirty-six hours since his last meal. On the bright side, Sven's creepy obsession meant he knew all of Baron's favorite foods - the spread included chicken fingers, club sandwiches, pizza, potato chips, and Cheez-Its. On the dessert table were cinnamon rolls, chocolate cupcakes, and peanut butter cookies. At the other end of the line, Baron saw the girl he'd come to think of as Scarlett turning her nose up at most of the offerings, instead picking at a tray of steamed vegetables.

"So tell me more about your podcast," Alex reminded him, bringing Baron back to their conversation.

"Right." Baron looked down at his food as he spoke. Alex seemed to be a nice guy, but his resemblance to a certain Bostonian actor made it difficult for Baron to not punch him. "So I do a bunch of things at Rivalcast. Thursday and Friday nights I do Let's Plays of various horror-themed games. Throughout the week, I work on videos and skits for our YouTube channel. My main show, however, is a horror-themed news and talk show I do each week called The Ghost in the Podcast. Baroness and I..." He trailed off.

Alex took a bite of his club sandwich. "That's your wife, right?"

"Yeah."

"Yeah, I heard Sven and his assistant talking about that earlier. It's a shame she was too ill to travel with you. Those spider bites can be nasty sometimes."

Baron dropped his chicken tender. "Wait, what?"

*****
In the suite next door, Dee was staring in amazement at the arsenal that took up half of Killer's hotel room. "Holy shit, dude. How many guns did you bring?"

"And how'd you get them all upstairs?" Bubba asked.

Killer shrugged. "I tipped the porter very well. And I had my own vehicle this time instead of Lyserg's Mini, so...all of them." He grinned, chambering a round into Scarlett with a reassuring click.

Out on the balcony, Varyar took a last drag of his cigarette and slipped back inside. "Speaking of Lyserg, where the fuck is he? I don't remember seeing him at all this trip."

"I saw him," Bubba said quietly. "He was going into Mysti's seminar on why everything that's good in the world is not okay."

Varyar stopped mid-stride. "What? Why didn't you stop him? Why did he go in there?"

"Because I told him to go in there." Bubba's eyes narrowed.

Killer looked up in surprise. "Wait, is this because of that Steam thing?"

"I DID NOT AUTHORIZE THAT PURCHASE!" Bubba snapped, crossing his arms over his chest as his friends looked on in horror.

Nobody knew what to say for a moment, before Dee quietly mumbled, "Should...should we go to rescue Lyserg first?"

Varyar frowned. His blue eyes took on a mist as he clapped a hand onto Dee's shoulder. "He's already gone, son," he said sadly, "he's already gone."

"Alright," Killer said, "there's enough that everyone has their preferred primary weapon and sidearm, plus a few extra, because why not? It's not safe for Val to use his flamethrower, so for him I have...a cheap pump-action shotgun."

"What?" Val was indignant. "What the hell did I do to you?"

Killer smiled. "No, no, wait a minute. These come with it."

He handed a shell to Dee, who squinted at the words. "Dragon's Breath?"

"OH NICE!" Varyar was obviously excited.

Killer continued, "Dee gets the P-90 and a riot shield, so he can be the tank we always knew he could be."

"YES! LET'S DO THIS!" Dee yelled.

"And Bennett, I assumed you brought your own..."

The Brit grinned. "Always."

"...which leaves Bio and Bubba left to outfit." Killer frowned again. "Though I'm a little concerned about arming Bubba right now."

Bubba was still scowling. "Just appease me during the Steam sale."

"Alright then, you get a 300 AAC Blackout with a supressor. Now for Bio..."

Bio poked his head in from the other room. "I'll be here with the Baroness."

"Yeah, but you still need a gun," Varyar replied. "If what these guys saw is accurate, you do not want to have to fight these things up close and personal."

"The ear thing..." Killer thought out loud, peering over his collection. "So something with a silencer...got it." He loaded a .22 pistol and screwed the suppressor in before handing it to his friend. "Safety, off and on," he pointed with one hand while he flicked the latch with his other thumb. "Sights are here, and be careful not to let your fingers rest on the slide. Magazine release is here; you're fully loaded now, but I'll leave you three more just in case."

Bio looked dubiously at the gun, then back up at Killer. "Earphones?"

"Bio, I put a suppress...ARGH!" Killer pulled his glasses off and rubbed at his temples. "Look, you're not going to have time to put on earphones if this spider monster pops out at you. I already put a suppressor on to dampen the sound. You shoot to kill. Empty the mag into that mother. I'm more concerned with the two of you not having your lives sucked out by some over-sized insects."

"You should buy some earphones," Bubba suggested.

"God damn it..." Killer sighed.

"I meant," Bio continued, "earphones for the Baroness. Think about it, when's the last time she really slept? I don't want some spider coming by and causing a ruckus. That's messed up."

"Bio makes a good point," Varyar agreed. "She's been more than a little cranky lately, so getting her to sleep isn't a bad thing. I mean, I'd have preferred it not have been induced by a deadly spider venom, but if that's what it takes..."

Vampy grabbed Killer's good earphones and gently slipped them on Baroness's head before shouldering her own weapon. "We probably shoulda done that before y'all started yelling."

"Alright," Varyar announced. "Everybody sticks with their group. We don't know how strong these creatures are, but we know they're big and gross and...God damn it, did Other British Guy already wander off?"

"It would appear so," Bio replied.

"Eh, fuck it. I didn't like him anyway. Alright, Bio's staying with Baroness, so there are nine of us left... let's do three teams of three. Val, Dee, and Bubba, you sweep the south wing and work your way downstairs. Vampy, B, and Miggnor, you take north wing. The rest will start checking the service areas. We rendezvous in the main ballroom. Killer and Hax, you're with me."

The team moved out, and once again Bio was left in the quiet. The tapping on the windowpane seemed louder than before, but he reasoned it was either the storm worsening outside or just the difference between having a room full of people and not. He checked on his friend and pulled another blanket over her. Even in sleep, Baroness's face was scrunched in thought, and Bio wondered what she was dreaming about. He stifled a yawn, easing into an armchair and starting to read an Asian politics article he saw in the Star-Telegram.

On the other side of the curtained window, Arachnos's queen tapped her spindly limbs against the glass.


Crap, what happened last time?
On to the next episode
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