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It's dark and the roads are empty.

That's not surprising. The clouds that had gathered all day broke at sunset, and the road surface is covered in a sheet of moving water.  It's not the sort of weather anyone in their right might wants to go out in, for fun or profit. Burglars stay home. Muggers go to bed early.

More importantly, the petrol shortage doesn't seem to be letting up. The Mayor had promised more was on the way, but nothing has showed up. They haven't had access to fuel for over a week, and it's beginning to show. Not that it does anyone in town any harm to walk- but he knows that the ambulance and fire services are getting nervous. 

Despite that, James Norrington was expecting a relatively quiet night, aside from the rumble of thunder and the whine of bored colleagues.  But plans are always subject to change, and a call from one of the houses on the edge of town means braving the downpour. The message was garbled, panicked, something about intruders and although there's less information than he'd like, he can not ignore it.

The car stops, and the tall man steps out.  The place feels wrong, somehow. The light dancing in the wet tarmac is just from the streetlights, but it's on the wrong spot in the road.  The wind howls, but it sounds more like an animal than a storm. He resists the urge to shudder, and instead slams the car door behind him. He is not going to let a little bad weather and the strange heaviness in the air get the better of him. It's probably just some sort of change in pressure because of the rain.

Even so, he'd like to have Teddy Groves with him, but James would rather have his second-in-command back at HQ, with the only other car that still had fuel in the tank. Instead he has Hornblower- by all accounts capable, even if James knows next to nothing about him.  There is, at least, a reassuring weight of a gun at his hip, although against the rain and flickering lights it's more than useless. You can't fight shadows with bullets. 

Shadows aren't the problem, anyway. It's the house they've stopped outside, dark and quiet. There's not a light on, not even one in the porch. If it weren't for the street lights, James could have driven straight past the place. It's just another thing to add to the list of things that don't feel right. 

"We should get this over with." He says, the words meant for himself more than his colleague, and he squares his shoulders as he walks to the door, a hand reaching towards the holster at his hip. The place seems quiet, horribly still, and he doesn't want to take any chances. Not when, once they're at the front door, it's clearly swinging open on it's hinges. 

Date: 2017-06-18 12:09 am (UTC)
midship: (hms justinian)
From: [personal profile] midship
Maybe it's just the rain. It's probably just the rain.

Horatio Hornblower isn't a nervous man, professionally. Of all the unfortunate situations he's found himself stumbling into (and there had been so many more, lately), none of them had left his hand any less steady or his wits any less about him. Nerves had never played a genuinely hampering role.

Riding along with the captain isn't such a nerve-wracking thing either. Really, there hasn't been much energy left in anyone's tank to be truly nervous after good impressions and making promotions. Every hour takes too much from a body and mind. Every day ends with too much uncertainty and begins with too little clarity.

So it's probably just the rain.

There isn't much other explanation for the horripilation running up his arms and the back of his neck. It's a quiet sort of night, after all. It's a routine sort of call, if missing some of the most useful bits and pieces. It's something that the captain could likely handle on his own, but for the general dislike of sending anyone out alone anymore.

It must just be the rush of cold air as he pulls himself up out of the car that sends a shiver up his spine.

"--shall I, sir?"

Date: 2017-06-18 07:28 pm (UTC)
midship: (le reve)
From: [personal profile] midship
It must just be the rain. It just must be the strange discomfort of the last weeks. There had been so much more simply reassuring people that the struggle would be over soon; that someone was looking out and had gotten things under control.

More than ever, Horatio had been grateful for a steady hand at the metaphorical tiller. It was easy to trust that a man like Norrington was keeping thing in hand. It was easy to throw himself into work knowing that someone mindful was going to make use of him.

Following the captain into the house is easy as breathing. Keeping his hand at his hip is even easier.

To his credit, Horatio doesn't jump as the door slams behind them. His breath doesn't come in more than a firm exhale. His fingers barely tremble around his own flashlight, swung quickly around to the door.

It's just the rain. It's just the wind of a quiet storm.

"--most likely, sir."

It isn't panicky to simply pull the door open again, surely.

Date: 2017-06-19 12:47 am (UTC)
midship: (marie galante)
From: [personal profile] midship
Time is an odd thing. It comes in such strange, terrifying snags and slips.

The door takes an infinity to push open again under his hand. The man across from him turns in the semi-darkness like the snap of fingers. Time slows as something reaches from the darkness; time snaps as the captain vanishes from the quiet little hall.

Horatio's mind can't be bothered with words or calling out. It needs too much of itself to catch up with the instant movement of his body. His hands are up in a Harries hold before he's had the chance to think. His flashlight is on and body moving toward the farther archway before he's even processed the fact his captain's been--

Taken isn't quite the word. There isn't properly a better one.

The word doesn't particularly matter as he goes plunging into the darkness.

no worries at all!

Date: 2017-07-03 03:34 am (UTC)
midship: (le reve)
From: [personal profile] midship
If Horatio Hornblower knew how to avoid a dangerous situation, he would be back in his own hometown, practicing medicine at his father's side. Alas, from a young age, he had been infinitely unable to stop himself from charging into much worse.

There's no time to respond in the negative. There's little time to get a clean shot at the whatever it is (which can't be human, can't be close to human; can't be real, almost, but for the fact it's dragging James away). The beam of the flashlight remains steady where he aims it, but the object to be aimed at feels impossible to follow all the same.

The plan will come. The plan usually comes. The plan for now can simply be barreling in properly to make a grab at his captain. Where a shot didn't work, maybe simple dragging will.

Date: 2017-07-03 07:52 pm (UTC)
midship: (lieutenant bush)
From: [personal profile] midship
The sensation defies the laws of physics. Horatio feels himself run into what should be two bodies, but then the captain's falls as if nothing had held him at all. The air of what might have been a startled shout drags icy cold into his lungs, something like a panic shooting up his spine before he finds his center again.

There will be time for terror later. There will be time to let his hands shake and his breath come short once they're out of this odd little hell. There will be time to consider exactly what they're up against once the civilians who had made the call.

"Are you injured, sir?"

The flashlight has to be sacrificed so he can offer James a hand back to his feet. Movement is clearly going to be key.

Date: 2017-07-03 11:06 pm (UTC)
midship: (hms justinian)
From: [personal profile] midship
"All right, sir."

At the very least, there was more than enough adrenaline racing through Horatio now to keep the flashlight steady as he took it up again. There was little physical sensation of hurt, for all he was certain he would have nightmares for a week (or several).

"The-- call, sir. Did--?"

He can feel his voice nearly crackle. Better, surely, to take a sharp breath and form the question properly.

"--did they say how-- many were in the house?"

Most of him means people; terrified human beings, most likely. A piece of him can't help wondering about whether there were more of... whatever had just grabbed the older man.

Date: 2017-07-04 01:06 pm (UTC)
midship: (le reve)
From: [personal profile] midship
Following is easy. Moving at the sound of a scream is even easier.

Perhaps it's the folly of being a young man. Perhaps it's something more deeply ingrained in Horatio's thoughts and methods. Whatever it is, the scream kicks his mind back into overdrive.

"--sir."

He has to push past the captain to the stairs. He has to take them two at a time toward danger.

He honestly doesn't know any other way to be.

Date: 2017-07-08 02:53 am (UTC)
midship: (hm transport caroline)
From: [personal profile] midship
Holding back at a door is easy. Stopping for the 'go' command is instinct.

But going in first feels important. Horatio had no doubt at all that his commanding officer was a courageous man--even simply staying to look after the town was a constant act of valor. He had no doubt that the heart-pounding terror of a few moments ago has already left the captain's system well enough for clear thinking and fast action.

It just seems wrong not to be faintly defensive. Men in their position ought to give one another a moment to breathe.

Horatio's breath comes sharp as he throws his weight into the bedroom door. It stays out of his chest for the half second it takes to scan the room. The same instinct from the stairs has him almost tripping forward again, soft tsking nonsense falling from his lips as he moves to crouch by the crumpled girl. Always better to be soothing when reaching to check for a pulse, on the off chance there is one.

Date: 2017-07-29 12:00 pm (UTC)
midship: (horry)
From: [personal profile] midship
She feels wrong.

Horatio can't quite put his finger on how, but the crumpled child doesn't feel quite right. There's a clamminess in her skin as his fingers rest on her neck. There's a stutter in the faint sensation of what must be her pulse. There's something like breath lingering in her that doesn't quite seem to be natural.

Someone who believed in the occult might have a name for it. Horatio doesn't.

"Sir, we-- need to move her."

They truly, properly need to keep sweeping the house. They need to find whatever it is that nearly took Norrington and contain it. They need to follow the protocol they've had drilled into them for years.

But Horatio is already shifting to lift the girl from the floor. Abandoning a child with something monsterous in the house doesn't feel like following his duty either.

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commodore james norrington

August 2016

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