The mountain range determinedly stands its ground against the whirling sirens, forcing the bitter cold through crevices and valleys; their detour seemingly intensifying their impact against the lone Fox's fur. Every gust makes him want to collapse and curl close to the snow, hoping the winds may shift their assault to some other unlucky soul. Of course, he knows better than to do that. If he decided to curl up against the wind he'd surely be buried under the snow, ruining any chances he might still have to be rescued. Though he doesn't know where he is, or how he got there, the determined Fox knows a search crew should be along soon. After all, who would charter aircraft through mountain ranges and not have some kind of contingency plan, right?
"Come on, Hound," he mutters to himself, through chattering teeth and tear filled eyes. "You can make it to the top. You can do this!" At some point, he fell asleep on his flight back home from holiday in the Keys: thinking on that, he wonders exactly how he wound up where he is. The flight was only scheduled to be a few hours, so he should have been woken up by landing at his destination. Glancing down at his broken watch, the hands reading nine hours from take off, he continues to ponder his situation: the mystery providing him the fortitude to continue in the cold winds. "What flight path... did that fucking... ah, pilot take," he screams to the desolate mountain side, fighting through the stinging winds pelting him with snow.
Hound had awoken to the searing whistles of his plane's cabin being torn apart, as it skid across a mountain face. Thrown into what had to be a nightmare, Hound crouched his head down from the debris of luggage compartments and hugged his chair's frame. Clasping down for all his life, he surprisingly rode out the terror of the crash; as the tremendous bumps subsided, and suitcases stopped roiling about, he unclenched himself from the chair, looking across the cabin's aisle in awe. The left half of the cabin was all but gone - nothing but a giant gap, with snow covering what remained of the chair rows and reaching to the middle row. For all intents, the crash had been relatively soft, leaving the majority of the plane intact, but still far from safe. Knowing he should get out soon as possible, Hound unbuckled from the chair, his gut bruised from the belt pressing into him. The emergency hatch shot off as he pulled the lever: the siren going off for a second before dying completely. Peering back down the cabin, wondering if he should do a quick search for any supplies, Hound noticed that there were no other passengers. The cabin had been packed on take off. 'What happened to everybody?' There wasn't any time to contemplate further though, as the plane's frame groaned under the shifting weight of snow and the trembling Fox. "Well, into the void," Hound said aloud, sliding down the plane's wing and onto the white mountain.
That whole thing, Hound figured, must have been about four hours ago. Glancing back at the dead hands of his wristwatch, he tried to piece together where he could be. These days airliners could fly suborbital, so if that were the case, he could be on the other side of the world. He hoped he was only imagining the worst case scenario, and that he had actually crashed in a protected range, in country. If he did then there should be a lookout post at the top of this mountain, or the next.
Holding onto the prospect of shelter, Hound pressed on through the knee deep snow, soaking his fur and weighing him down. Determined to at least make it above the storm's clouds, the Fox digs deep and focuses all his efforts to his shaking legs, keeping his snout pointed down from the cutting winds. Some time later, feeling fewer bitter stings to his flesh, Hound raises his head to see the edge of the mountain's peak, and just above that a structure. Wasting no time to admire how far he traveled, the grateful Fox pushes himself upward, refocusing every last bit of his strength to his legs. Eyes full of tears - some pain and some of joy - he wipes off his eyes and suddenly slams against the wall of the prospective shelter. Sliding down to all fours, nearly collapsed in exhaustion, Hound trails a paw over the wall for a door handle, or windowsill. Strangely the wall feels uneven, as if beaten by the elements for centuries, but none of the dips in the surface are deep enough to be actual holes. Finally catching his paw on something, the door flings open and the tired Fox falls down, slamming on his side to a much warmer surface.
Taking some time to purge the sting of the cold air from his lungs, he rolls onto his back to kick the door shut, but it appears to already have closed. Rolling back to his side, Hound curls up tightly, rubbing his paws deep into his chest to warm himself. After a few minutes he finally pushes himself to sit up and wipe the tears completely from his eyes. Lowering his paws from his eyes, a deep chill returns to his spine as he realizes he is not inside a lookout post. The floor seems familiar enough - as some kind of stone - though he can't place the material. It isn't concrete, nor tile; there also appears to be no weathering effect on any part of it. The walls however, are a different story entirely. Each wall is a woven mess of pipe and thick cables, coiled together so tightly to enclose the space from the outside. Ever stranger, wrapping along all four surfaces are monitors, loosely resembling Owl eyes with their shape and arrangement, and all of them playing the same footage: Hound's plane.
Turning quickly about the room, looking to each screen, Hound rubs his eyes and tries to shake himself awake. There are around 30 or so monitors, each with their own angle; some even inside the cabin! Had Hound not seen himself, asleep as he had been, he might have dismissed the images as hallucinations - brought on from exhaustion - but there he was. Feeling dizzy Hound lurches forward, fighting down the urge to vomit from the sudden stress. Riding out the bitter taste of bile in his throat, he returns to his sitting position. Standing up, he keeps a keen eye on the monitors in front of him: as he slowly rises, so do the monitors. Taken by surprise, he instinctively moves back before realizing the monitor isn't doing anything more. Watching the monitors' movement, he inches forward, lowering his head to test if it follows: it always does, making sure to keep level with his eyes. "What the hell is this," he wonders aloud, stopping directly in front of one monitor, studying the plane flying under clear skies.
Walking down the line of monitors, Hound carefully inspects each image, trying to pinpoint where the cabin cameras were placed, based on their capture angle. He could imagine a few placements, though there never appeared to be a physical camera in any frame. The footage from outside is even more perplexing, as the plane almost seems fixed in place: what could have been following so closely, and why? Some angles are so extreme it didn't seem possible for there to be something flying there, recording so diligently. Though the Fox carefully studied every angle, looking for the minutest details, he couldn't find anything out of the ordinary (outside of the flight somehow being recorded by a fleet of omniscient cameras).
Suddenly the video feeds darken as a mass of clouds spill onto every screen. 'That must be the snow storm,' Hound thought to himself, continuing his search for the camera crew. A second or so later, the video switches to some sort of IR mode, illuminating the plane, now flying directly into a mountain range. "This is it! I can figure out what happened," Hound excitedly exclaims, his eyes shooting across from screen to screen. The plane has quite a few near misses, maneuvering with great precision around various peaks. More than a few times Hound prepared to witness the crash, but the plane continues to pull out, as if the pilot knew exactly where each obstacle was. 'Damn, he was good,' Hound thinks, silently admiring the pilot's prowess. Moving over to an angle captured in front of the left wing, Hound notices some 'things' running along the mountain face, keeping speed with the plane. "Who are you," he whispers, moving closer to the screen.
The new presence appear to be some kind of bipeds, though they couldn't be normal: after all, what could keep up with a plane? Sliding over to another screen - this one a top down view - Hound sees an enormous amount of the creatures following the plane. Out of nowhere, the plane moves from its cool maneuver and slams directly against the peak. "Holy shit," Hound exclaims, watching as the left wing is cleaved clean off. The herd of creatures, just glowing blips on the video, suddenly leap onto the hull of the plane. Running to an internal angle, Hound watches as the things breach the hull, using hook-like claws with serrated ends to gash through the plane. Their bodies are very muscular, and covered in some sort of armor. The plating looks primitive - closely resembling slabs of petrified wood - though tiny lights flash across them, suggesting it has something electronic to it. As they invade the cabin, the video overlays red squares over several passengers, some info graphics blipping near each. Hound tries to catch what the characters are, but they only appear for a half second, and seem to be in some sort of code. In unison, the creatures use their tall legs to pounce on every passenger tagged with a red square; their precision is alarming. A few don't even bother to look where they might land, but instead leap blindly atop their target, working in one perfectly synchronized effort.
"How did I not see any of this," Hound whispers to the screen, as he watches the tagged passengers be carried out of the breached cabin. The plane slams into its final resting place; as it does, the rest of the passengers get their own box overlays, some blue and some green. As the plane skids across the lower mountain peak all of the blue tagged passengers get pounced by the creatures, but instead of capture they meet a very different fate. The monstrous things use their hooked claws to shred all of the blue passengers to bits, leaving no part unscathed. Hound only watches two or three swipes from the wretched beasts before finally hurling at the sight, kneeling down with the pain it brings his stomach. Recovering from the burn of bile, he looks back up to the screen, now rather inactive, to see himself and four others move about the lifeless plane. Thinking how good it is for him that he was tagged green, he reaches up to the monitor, using it to pull himself up.
As Hound uses the monitor's round frame to pull himself up the screen freezes. Retracting his paw, he leans in and looks to see if he hit a button somewhere. Remembering this technology isn't typical, he taps the screen and the playback continues. Thinking quickly, Hound taps the screen again and freezes the playback. Moving himself to a different vantage point, he studies one of the other chosen survivors: a seagull, dressed in khaki slacks and a light blue polo. 'Okay,' Hound thinks to himself, mentally logging his appearance in case he runs across him. Repeating the process, Hound commits the other three to memory: a Sugar Glider, in her best business professional; a Cougar wearing a short leather coat he picked up from the wreckage; lastly, a Raccoon stewardess. "They have to be out there," Hound murmurs, tapping the screen to resume playback.
Before the monitors show Hound get up to open the hatch, the playback starts over with the plane under clear skies. Pulling away from his screen, the Fox looks over the room for anything useful. There aren't any cabinets or desks inside: it's all just a long room of monitors. Knowing he won't last very long in the cold he sits down in a corner and tries to think of what he should do next. He doesn't have the first clue about tracking in the snow, or under any condition really, so how would he find the others? Thinking back to the plane crash, he realizes they couldn't see each other to begin with, for some reason. It is possible that he would never be able to find them, and vice versa. Of course, Hound was lucky enough to find this monitoring station, so he knows slightly more of what happened. "Where do I even begin," he asks himself, drifting off to sleep as the full weight of the day comes crashing against him.