"Detained," John said "And hobbled."
"Oh," Blake said as he nodded approvingly "Good enough."
"You would approve of unwarranted violence," Whitey snapped.
"If it makes my job easier, you'd be surprised at what I approve of," Blake said "Now how in the world did you even get here?"
"That coat of yours isn't exactly subtle. It's a beacon of energy that's just calling out for me to smite it."
"Whatever," Blake dismissed her "You do realize it sends mixed signals when you show up randomly like this when I'm working, right?" Whitey scoffed as she turned to continue praying over a body. "Don't bother praying for whoever that was. In case it isn't obvious, we're at ground zero for all this chaos, and these guys were responsible."
"No one is above prayer," Whitey said.
Blake rolled his eyes and turned away from Whitey as she prayed softly to herself. "What now?" John asked "I know he's mostly harmless and all, but I'm not too sure about being in the same building as the fading guy."
"We plan more accordingly," Blake said, contemplating a cigarette "We know the limitations of Vitaearnus, we know there were seven of those creatures (now six) and we know those things are extremely fragile so long as none of them get the drop on you."
"So...optimism?" John asked.
"I know, right?" Blake said "This feels a little weird. Usually we're-" Blake cut himself off as he snapped his attention to the hallway heading to the stairs. "Something's here," he said.
"Bryant?" John asked as he readied his gun. "Nah," Blake said as he pulled Kimberly behind him. "I don't hear anything," Whitey said. "Whispers...Clicking," Blake said as John's eyes went wide and he trained his gun at the door. "Only one way in here," John said as he aimed "Even those things can't be that foolish, right?"
"They're not," Blake said "But they're out there."
"Well there's only one way in here," John said "So let's hope they're as suicidal as we hope."
"Sounds like they're more likely to wait for us to foolishly try to escape," Whitey said "Only way in is also the only way out."
"Wait," Kimberly said "More of those things? Like what you had me look at before? They catch fire in sunlight or whatever. How did any of them come here?"
"Weather was about to get pretty bad when I was last out there," John said "Pretty dark looking."
"Convenient," Blake mumbled.
"How did they even know to come here?" Kimberly asked.
"They were created here," Whitey spat as she readied herself "They most likely live here."
"You don't murder your way to freedom just to live next to your old cage," Blake said.
"Well then they probably were drawn to your evil energy," Whitey replied "Same way I found you."
Blake rolled his eyes, then spun his head around in realization. "That's why he was here!" he cried out.
"Who?" John asked without looking over, eyes trained on the only exit.
"Vitaearnus," Blake said "Called his children home to do his dirty work."
"I knew finding you was a bad idea," Whitey said as she pressed her hands together and began whispering a prayer into them.
"You kidding me?" Blake asked "For once you're actually involved in the case!"
"Guys," Kimberly interrupted "Nothing is coming."
"Hmmm," John said "Maybe camouflage?"
"We'd still hear them, and they're not getting closer," Blake said
"Maybe they're using stealth," Whitey said condescendingly "Or do you not know why camouflage is a thing?"
"They can't camouflage like that you tit, they're night dwelling creatures by nature," Kimberly shouted "How do you not know this?"
"Stay out of this," Whitey said "This doesn't concern you. Blake was foolish to risk your life by involving you."
"Are you serious?" Kimberly said "I just got here while you've been looking into this for way longer. And I still know more about these things than you." Whitey flashed a shocked look which soon turned to anger. She was about to respond when John interjected. "Can we focus, please?" he yelled.
"Relax," Kimberly said "They're waiting for us to make a move."
"How are you sure?" Blake asked.
"We're in a bit of an entrenched position," Kimberly said "And with your ghost buddy calling out orders, he know it'd be suicide to charge in after us. So they obviously need to get us out of here first."
"And how would they do that?" Blake asked.
"Obviously burn us out, duh. Set fire to everything and wait for us to evacuate."
"How would you think a fire?" John asked.
Kimberly was silent for a moment while eyeing everyone. "Does no one else smell the smoke?" she asked. Blake and John looked at each other quickly before smelling the air. "It's faint," John said "But something is burning, yeah."
"When were you going to say something!" Blake shouted.
"I thought you knew!" Kimberly shouted back "How could you not smell that right away! I thought you just had some big James-Blake-style plan to get the upper hand and that's why we were waiting around in a burning building."
"Seriously?!" Blake shouted "Even if I did have a plan, step one would still be get out of the freakin fire!"
"Well do you have a plan now, or what?" Kimberly asked
Blake sighed before looking to the others. "John, take point. Whitey, hang back and watch our six," he said before turning back to Kimberly "You, stay behind me."
John nodded and slowly walked into the hallway, gun drawn. Blake followed with Kimberly right behind. Whitey checked back to where the fading man had been before she followed, ready to strike at anything approaching. They made it to the stairwell, the smell of smoke building as they made their way.
The sounds of crackling flames from above enveloped the stairwell as they entered and a bright red light shone from the opening at the top. "That's not a good sign," John commented as he began up, gun raised "I'll scout ahead quick and make sure it's safe. "Hold up," Blake said as he heard a strong and angry whisper behind him. John ignored him and continued up.
Blake still had enough remnants of the blue chalk on his hand, so he dug his lighter back out and casted the shadow trick and checked back the way they came. Walking passed Whitey and heading for Blake was the fading man again. The shadow he was casting suggested him raising his arms towards Blake's head. "What's going on back th-" was all Blake heard John say before darkness overtook him and he collapsed.
"Oh you've got to be kidding me," Whitey said as she quickly backed up. Kimberly sprinted through the hall, foolishly passed where Blake just fell, and hid behind Whitey as John came barreling down the stairs. Whitey prepped her hands with glowing light and held them in front of herself, set to hold off the invisible adversary somewhere in front of her.
"What the hell happened?" John asked as he ran over to Blake. "Don't go near there!" Whitey called. "Why?" John questioned. "Invisible man!" Kimberly yelled. "And how do you expect to escape?" John asked "You're on the wrong side of the hall to be afraid of something invisible in it."
Neither girl answered him as he reached Blake and crouched down. He was alive, but out cold. "This is where you'd say something dumb and snarky," John whispered as he pulled Blake's arm up and grabbed his lighter "You'd mock everyone and say something about how if something was going to happen it would've already happened."
John hoped that Blake's shadow casting trick didn't require the user to be conscious. He ignited the lighter and held Blake's chalked hand out behind it, careful to avoid setting the man's hand on fire. The blue hue flashed out towards the girls to reveal nothing unseen near them. John then adjusted to show the other end of the hallway. The faded man was nowhere to be seen or unseen.
"Where did he go?" Whitey asked as she calmed her hands down. "Maybe he stole James' soul and escaped with it!" Kimberly threw out there. "Are you two really gonna question this now? With a burning building over us?" John yelled as he grabbed Blake's body and threw it over his shoulder.
"Wait!" Whitey cried out "Those creatures may still be up there!"
"Your point?" John asked as he held out his handgun with his free arm.
"Can you fight them while carrying Blake?"
"Not really sure, but it's not like either of you can carry a grown ass man out of a burning building."
"No, but....is this really the safest option for everyone?"
"Are you suggesting we leave Blake behind?"
Whitey bit her lip, unsure of what to say before she finally answered "...No, but..."
"Learn the pecking order," John said as he started for the stairs.