Here is an unremarkable stretch of prairie plants, a tiny island of life among the sea of manicured grass, steel, and pavement. The bushes and tall grass and stringy wildflowers are isolated by roads on all sides, a splash of life placed like a diorama. It sits just between a huge rectangle of a building, a data center, and a massive raised highway with its near mile long on-ramp. It's early afternoon, but the world is far more silent than it would usually be. No road noise and car engines. No hum of the massive climate control units. No distant sirens or music. Only the occasional shuffling or animal noises of the native life, and the looping grunts or cries or chitters of Monsters steadily spawning in and growing stronger.
The familiars' instincts do lead to them clawing at the vines as they try to make their way into the tunnel and out of the area, though not in a systemic way; when Denice notices that it's unexpectedly effective she backs out of her tunnel and tries taking out the vines that they've left behind them.
The vine tendrils die quickly as they dig through them, though they suffer a few more sharp stings, and the hurts start to linger slightly. After a good few seconds of this, the remaining tendrils retreat out the opening of the hole, and a rattling pained noise can be heard from above, outside the tunnel. Whatever it was seems to be running away.
Better than it sticking around, that's for sure.
Her familiars are still panicked, and flee for the shrubbery aboveground; she tries to keep up with them - she's not going to be able to coax them back underground for a bit, but maybe she can get them to stay put for healing, if nothing else spooks them up there.
The shrubbery flees from them! Looks like it was an ambush predator.
They will flee in the other direction then!
The other direction is nice open grass leading to an electrical box and a road, without anything that looks like an active threat. It's late evening, and the shadows are long.
Open grass and an electrical box doesn't sound like a hiding place at all; they won't stop there.
Deice tries to encourage them to stay off the road and ideally near the building.
Well, there's a bunch of less mobile shrubbery, some abandoned cars and trucks, and a Wendy's with two of the windows smashed open, all nearby.
Immobile shrubbery is good! They'll take the immobile shrubbery!
Denice wants to have a look at the stings, see if they need healing.
Cat (female): 38/50 HP
Cat (male): 55/70 HP
The stings don't look like much. Their skin is a bit sore near them, but there aren't any actual wounds or damage, just... Sore and pain, like an old bump that didn't leave a mark.
She snuggles up and makes with the healing, then. It's not fast, but these injuries look minor; she expects it to take a few minutes for each of them to get back to perfect health.
They take to healing about the same as she's used to. The HP boxes that appear whenever she looks closely enough at them steadily tick upwards, back to full.
There's more shooting coming from somewhere. It's echoing strangely off the big building, but probably from the south again. There's another mudbeast trudging along the middle of the road, visible from here. They can see spider webs strung up across the street.
Denice will start exploring the perimeter of the building, then, trying to stay near cover as she makes her way around. Her fluffy black familiar opts to join her, while the grey one stays behind where she feels safer.
The big building is... Not inhabited by humans.
She can hear strange noises from inside. Metallic whirring and clanging. Rhythmic clicking, metal on metal, but just natural-sounding enough to seem like claws or insects or something. Strange scents, of burning plastic and lightning. And a floating sphere with red and blue lights on antennae dotted around it floating in a slow circuit around the big, glass-window entrance to the place in the south corner.
She's curious, but doesn't have time to explore the mystery right now; she's still looking for a group of humans to join up with - safety in numbers and all that.
What other buildings are around?
There's another huge box building just south of the first one. And yet another, under construction, off to the right a bit.
If you keep going south, there's a big electrical substation with barbed wire chain link fence closing it off, and then an elevated footbridge over the road, and then a big grass field with a barn and a farmhouse. There's a high school a bit further away, a landscape supply store, a movers' company, every one of them with large open parking lots...
...The high school is kind of far from her current location, but it has the blurry figures or what look like humans standing guard on the roof.
Humans, keeping watch! That looks like where she wants to be, then. Probably if she and her familiars are alert and keep moving they'll make it there all right? ...she'll take another point of Natural Armor first, just to be on the safe side. And maybe swing by the barn, if it doesn't seem too dangerous on closer inspection, to see whether it sounds like it's good hunting grounds or full of monsters.
The grey familiar is unamused with all this unnecessary running around, and can't be coaxed into coming along; that's probably fine, she's in a reasonably sheltered spot with good sight-lines and can follow them at her own pace.
She can smell lots and lots of... Weird chemicals and metal all around the school. And what looks like dug-up spots where things were buried. The lookouts seem to notice her but don't take particular alarm or do anything about it.
Of course they won't, she's just a kitten, there's nothing alarming about a kitten.
Is there an obvious way to get into the building?
The first floor windows are all boarded up, but the doors - while reinforced - seem to still be operable. There's people hanging out in the sort of concrete plaza by the school's front entrance, she can walk right up to them. People are going over maps and schedules, talking about expeditions and their Levels - they sound very tense but not hopeless, overall. A current of worry and despair mixed with the manic energy of a crisis.
Getting brought in by the humans seems like the way to go, here, if she can manage it. Many of them are busy but hopefully some are taking a break and might want to play with a passing cat? She'll ask her familiar to hang out on the outskirts, too, and she can get his impressions of everyone later.