Jedah - The Cruise To Nowhere

Description: A long ocean cruise. A big, expensive cruise liner. Lots of people. And LOTS of blood. ALL THE BLOODS.

Moonlight reflects off of lightly rippling waves, just off the bow of the Conquest asit continues its languid voyage. Earlier today it left the port of Los Angeles with just over a thousand passengers. While friends and family in the United States shiver from the effects of a bitter cold snap, passengers aboard this cruise liner would find themselves in the lap of luxury for five days and nights, where even at this late hour it's a balmy 70 degrees outside.

One passenger in particular is seated at the forward observation deck, leaning on the frontmost railing as he watches the cruiser plow slice through the ocean, gentle waves cresting across its bow. He closes his eyes, exulting in the sensation of the crisp night air, the heady, humid aroma of salt and sea filling his nostrils, the terrifyingly sharp blades at his back glistening in the moonlight, the screams of the passengers a sharp contrast to the rhythmic thrumming of the ship's engines.

Jedah Dohma had not come aboard the ship alone. Several dozen passengers were also listed on the passenger manifest -- passengers the cruise lines should have questioned, but could not afford to turn away. Their clothing rode the line between 'unkempt' and whatever 'kempt' is -- but it's a moot point now, for the clothes have long been torn into tatters by the supernatural forms barely contained within. Darkstalkers, they were called in curses by the passengers, scant moments before claws ripped through flesh and bone alike. Fresh blood spatters the halls of the ship, spotless white just an hour prior, as the creatures of the night stalk through the halls, searching for the next victim... the last victims.

Two lifeboats had been launched, one of which containing the cowardly captain who'd considered himself much too young to die. The noble just shakes his head, smiling. "This modern technological marvel will float just fine for his purposes without anyone at the rudder..." he muses aloud to no one in particular, as the bloodbath continues, room by room, deck by deck.

The high-pitched whine of an outboard motor fills the air around Sol as the small speed boat he'd 'borrowed' from Zack's marina tears across the the open waters with reckless abandon. The sea churns up around the tiny cutter in a frothy white mist like foam on one of those damnable newfangled coffees the kids drink these days, neither one striking him as particularly enjoyable. If he'd had any other options for work, he wouldn't be out here, but after getting burned on the last mission any source of income will do. Also he made sure to get paid in advance this time.

The small personal boat runs completely blind in the gentle sea, no lights or reflector strips present to give away its approach, save for the tiny glowing ember of the cigarette in his mouth and the faint luminescence of the tracking device on the dashboard. Sol pilots the craft for several hours, stopping only to refuel the engines once or twice, but even at the breakneck speeds that he dares the sun has long since vanished from the horizon by the time the massive cruise liner comes into view.

Sol cuts the engines down to almost nothing and coasts silently up from behind the gargantuan pleasure ship until the speeder's hull taps gently against its side. Tilting his head back to peer up at the railing some twenty feet above, Sol inhales deeply and the cigarette blazes into orange embers until it hits the filter. Casting it aside, the mercenary blows twin jets of dark smoke into the warm tropical from his nostrils and smiles grimly.

"Sounds like the party started with out me. That's just rude."

Grunting with effort, Sol crouches and then simply leaps into the air, easily clearing the height to the promenade in a single bound. His hand snatches the railing using it for leverage to swing his legs up and over onto the deck. A rather gruesome mess is waiting for him.

"Eeugh..." Sol grimaces and looks down when the floor squishes underneath his boots, lifting a foot to nonchalantly shake bits of gore off the heel. "Clean up, aisle 2."

The small army of night walkers is still relatively new to the killing game. This particular exercise was to give them time to learn what Dohma expects of them in a relatively safe environment. The cruise liner is meant for people to relax -- the people who party hard, those who would have given the most resistance, were likely already up on the promenade deck -- and they were killed first.

The distinctive whine of the boat engine did not go unnoticed. The bump, naturally, did -- the Conquest is much too tall to be affected by any such trifling motion. But despite taking careful note of the sounds, the highborn in indigo makes no immediate motin to greet the new arrival, not even as the remnants of a dismembered arm clonk across the deck.

Five heartbeats later, he looks over his shoulder. One red iris widens, allowing the moonlight to reflect off the new arrival's form.

"It may be quite some time before the cleaning crew has cleared the below decks. Please forgive my lack of hospitality..."

Jedah turns, squaring his shoulders with Sol Badguy, but otherwise quite content at the fore of the deck. The scythe-shaped wings at his back glisten, hitching slightly with each breath from the highborn. "I wasn't expecting company at this late an hour. Especially not from one with a history as illustrious as yours."

Cradling his chin in one hand, and his elbow in the other, he smiles languidly back at Sol. "I would offer you a drink, but my bartender is currently indisposed."

Jedah steps away from the railing, his razor-sharp wings stretching wide -- as he lifts off, hovering a good foot off the deck. The mild breeze lifts his long blonde sidelocks, batters them about. His smile is insufferably arrogant, his demeanor even moreso. And the keening screams of the passengers below continue unabated.

"Though I would assume you're here on business, not pleasure? A shame. We'd have so much to talk about."

Sol spends another half dozen seconds scraping his shoe against a clean section of the floor, which makes it decidedly less clean afterwards, before he turns to even acknowledge the presence of the creature sharing the deck with him. One hand goes to rest on his hip, thumb slipping into the wide belt at his waist in a nonchalant fashion. The mercenary gives Jedah a quick once-over, noting his obviously inhuman features and snappy fashion sense.

"Hrm, nice suit you got there. A bit on the gloomy side for my tastes, though. Kinda like this party. It's a little dead."

Sol's foot snaps out to kick a severed hand from a pool of blood out into the space between them. The dismembered appendage flops a few times and then lands with a wet smack on the deck, a grim bit of flotsam to represent what is likely to be found throughout the rest of the ship.

"I dunno, there's just something off about the whole thing. It's got no life, no beat, no... pulse."

The muscular man's expression twists into a cocky grin and he leans the massive square of metal that serves as his blade against one shoulder, shifting his pose casually.

"Oh, wait, I know what the problem is! Music! What you guys need is some good old American rock and roll to get this thing moving. Have you considered Queen?"

Lord Dohma is not particularly used to individuals sassing him for quite this long. Usually they are cowed by his presence. Sol is not a typical human being, he can see.

"Dead -- as in, to bore to death? If you're here to lecture me, I'm afraid I'm going to have to ask you to leave, as I'm already beginning to fall behind on my moongazing." Lazily, he tilts his head to the side, glancing over his shoulder to the moon once again. "Did you know that certain creatures are the most powerful at this time of month? And for the skies to be clear like this... it's quite the rare occasion."

He waits a beat. "... I don't believe I'm acquainted with... 'Queen.' Or... 'rock and roll,' for that matter. I don't suppose you've brought a copy?"

Covering his mouth with a free hand, he gives a long, languid yawn, razor-sharp canines glistening in the night. "... Dear... Mister Badguy... " He frowns, at how that rolls across the tongue. Or rather, flops across it, limply thrashing about like the bloody limb across the deck just now. He tries again: "Sol..."

Frowning, he arches one eyebrow. "It's dreadfully difficult to take you seriously with a name like that, you must know."

He chuckles once more, extending his palm out to Sol. The long red talons upon his fingernails elongate to razor-tipped spears. The wings at his back tense, strain... and grow more spiny projections. His coat stretches to its limit. The blood at Sol's feet begins to bubble -- slowly at first, rising into a more urgent intensity.

"How much did they offer, anyway? I'm deathly curious," he says, his silk-smooth voice a marked contrast to the subtle shifts into a more assertive posture.

COMBATSYS: Jedah has started a fight here.

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Jedah            0/-------/------=|

Sol grunts and shrugs his meaty shoulders, lifting his empty hand up to complete the gesture.

"Hey, don't look at me. That brilliant moniker is courtesy of the world's finest minds over at the U.N.. They like their code names. Makes em feel /special/... like they're part of a big important conspiracy or something."

Jedah's transformation causes the mercenary to pause for a few moments as he takes in the various sharp and unpleasant bits that grow out of the vampire lord's body. Shit, why do monsters always gotta have the crazy spikes and stuff? Just once it'd be nice if his targets were smooth and soft. Hmph, might as well wish they bled scotch while he's at it.

Unfortunately," Sol continues, remaining decidedly unimpressed and uncowed by the monstrous alterations. "I left my cassettes back on the island. See, there's this really amazing party going on right now. Flashing lights, pretty girls, free booze..." He makes a face. "/Techno/ music. Anyways, point is it's a lot more happening place to be than a hundred miles from nowhere on a ship full of demons and monsters."

Fireseal thumps hard into the deck at Sol's feet, the heavy blade biting cleanly through the wood as easily as a chisel. Loud obnoxious cracking sounds echo through the empty night as the merc grinds his knuckles into the opposite palm, one hand at a time, followed by equally annoying pops from his shoulder as he limbers up in open mockery of Jedah's serious tone.

"What I'm trying to say is, as interesting as it might be to spend all night making small talk, what say we skip to the part where I set your pants on fire and send every one of your little pets on an express trip back to Hell?"

His grin becomes positively mocking, one corner of his mouth twisting upwards to flash perfectly normal non-pointy teeth at the vampire.

"All expenses paid."

Mercenaries aren't employed for small talk. Mercenaries are employed to kill -- a fact of which a patient Jedah Dohma has been mindful of. As he and Sol have been speaking, he's been making minute observations of the promenade, taking careful mental notes of the various features of the promenade -- the railings, the wooden deck, the rectangular pool of crystal-clear water. His eyes flit across Sol's unimpressed features, his popping joints, his impressive collection of belts, and of course the weapon now embedded into the wooden deck flooring. Each minute observation takes only an instant, the gestalt paining the very picture of a competent, if somewhat uncouth, mercenary.

Dohma chuckles softly. "Bold words, from a bold young man. However... you seem to misunderstand your role in the grand order of things. You seem to think yourself the hunter," he says with cold precision.

One beat of his razor-sharp wings later, Jedah is airborne. And on the second beat, those wings at his back twist about with the sickening sound of shearing metal, glistening with the reflection of moonlight upon the crimson flow of blood at the tear -- blood that dissolves into the color and texture of iron in another heartbeat. "When in all actuality, it is the reverse." In one moment, he had wings, and in the next, he's effectively transformed into a circular saw, the bony projections upon his wings turning into an set of angry, jagged protrusions. As the noble hovers aloft in midair, the blade beginning to spin rapidly around his left wrist, he doesn't seem to present much immediate danger to Sol. "I do hope you've not entered into any long-term commitments on this island paradise of which you speak."

Then Jedah flicks his right hand backwards. Blood erupts from his palm, spurting out in a shower of crimson, the violent flow propelling him forwards at ludicrous speed. The noble leans into the motion, bringing his furiously-spinning sawblade forward with every intention of slicing into the mercenary's toughened flesh. Failing that, Jedah likely has the momentum to knock him backwards into the railings, and possibly over them, to the deck below!

COMBATSYS: Sol Badguy has joined the fight here.

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Jedah            0/-------/------=|-------\-------\0       Sol Badguy

COMBATSYS: Sol Badguy blocks Jedah's Ira - Piano.

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Jedah            0/-------/-----==|-------\-------\0       Sol Badguy

Jedah's ascent into the air is followed by the mercenary's hard gaze beneath the shadow of the heavy band on his forehead. The rather gruesome method of transformation earns the vampire lord a quirk of his brow but other than that Sol doesn't react much to the formation of the saw-bladed wings other than to bend down and take up his own weapon once again but even this is a relaxed and casual gesture without a hint of urgency behind it.

"Heh. There's one thing I really like about you ancient horrors. No matter how old I get I can just show up and compare myself to you and suddenly I feel young again. You're like Walmart shoppers but for time instead of weight and attractiveness."

The eruption of blood that sends the vampire hurdling at him like some kind of hellbat elicits a sudden and dramatic change from Sol's posture. His feet slide apart into a firm stance against the wooden deck, shoulders squaring as he brings the bulky surface of Fireseal up across his body like a shield to intercept the buzzing blades. The two weapons collide in a shower of hot sparks and the impact skids the muscular merc back several inches; and then several more inches when his boots leave the clean part of the floor and begin to slide across the blood where he first climbed aboard.

"Whoops, forgot about th-hrngh!"

Sol's back hits the railing and he runs out of time for witty commentary. However, rather than flying out into the ocean, the mercenary pivots on his hips and twists his upper body, shunting the momentum of the attack away from him long enough to scoot sideways and put his back towards the interior of the ship. He continues the motion without stopping, spinning one leg around in a small hop even as Jedah moves past him, attempting to drive his heel into the vampire's backside to give him a little extra nudge towards the ocean.

COMBATSYS: Jedah blocks Sol Badguy's Bandit Revolver.

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Jedah            0/-------/-----==|-------\-------\0       Sol Badguy

Queen. Techno. Walmart. Prior to this conversation, all of these terms referred to things completely beneath the demon lord's notice. Sol may be speaking in tongues, as far as he's concerned.

But... challenge is a universal language. Sol declared the start of the battle, and Jedah brought it to him. His predatory smile grows larger as he brings the spinning blade to bear against Fireseal. The mercenary, forced backwards, is able to shift about, redirecting the spinning sawblade away and leveraging the overcommitted bloodweaver to his side.

"If the rest of your people are as enamored with clumsy cultural references as you are..."

Were this an exchange between simple men with simple tactics, the victor would be clear. Jedah Dohma is no simple man, however. His deflected sawblade is knocked askew, more sparks flying as it scrapes obliquely across the railing. It would be impossible for a man to catch the double-bladed crescent without cutting himself in the process -- and indeed, the blade carves a deep canyon across his palm as he wraps his hand across the blade. Blood sprays out from the wound -- though the arterial spray only flows in one direction: downward. With a sick groan, the blade's lower edge melts away; the lower half of the blood-soaked crescent saw snaps into three asymmetrical pieces, only to be yoked together by the rapidly-congealing blood flow, tugged into place as if they were simply a collapsible tent pole.

The entire process takes a fraction of a second -- the blink of an eye, or more appropriately, the time it takes for Sol's kick to drive towards him. The heel of the mercenary's boot would find purchase not on Jedah's backside, but instead upon the slightly flexible shaft of the long reaper's scythe, newly forged in a mere instant by the blood of the demon lord. The scythe gives a bit under the mercenary's considerable might, even though the lower tip is pinned against the deck. The highborn is forced backwards, wedged into the railing from the mercenary's notable strength. It takes but another heartbeat for Jedah to recover, wrapping his other hand around the scythe and lifting it up sharply. Whereas the blade was soaked with blood a moment prior, now it seems to have adopted the same indigo shade of his clothing, the texture of supple leather. The upper half of the weapon has grown, streamlined into a single fearsome blade.

"... Then I consider my work here to be time well spent." The blade glistens in the light for one merciful instant, the calm before the storm as Jedah shifts his two-handed grip to a lower position upon the scythe's haft. The blade lifts again -- and he brings his force to bear upon the mercenary's waist, in a fierce swing that would easily cleave a lesser man in half.

COMBATSYS: Sol Badguy barely endures Jedah's Power Strike.

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Jedah            0/-------/-----==|==-----\-------\0       Sol Badguy

The effort of holding his ground against the powerful force of the unorthodox attack leaves Sol's arms stinging briefing. That's the problem with monsters they always have weird shit to deal with. Fortunately, he managed to avoid getting a quick trip into ocean where he would no doubt have a very annoying time of getting /back/ on the boat with Jedah apparently able to flip gravity the bird. However, the speed at which the vampire lord is able to control his bizarre weaponry makes it difficult for the mercenary to adjust.

When the scythe is brough to bear against him, Sol is forced to make a decision. It's a decision he makes quite often but it's never a fun one. Gritting his teeth, he takes a step forward, clearly intending to just bully his way past the monstrous blade with sheer bulk and toughness. It works, mostly. The scythe tears into his flesh but not as cleanly as it could have if he'd simply stood there, carving a deep laceration against his thigh rather than carving him clean in half.

Sol doesn't waste his chance. Continuing to advance even as he's slashed up, the mercenary snaps his own blade up in an underhanded swing, dragging the square tip of the weapon along the bloody surface of the deck. Fire magic bursts to life around the sword filling the space between the two figures with searing heat that washes towards the vampire in a tsunami of red-hot explosions.

"Gun Flame!"

COMBATSYS: Sol Badguy successfully hit Jedah with Gun Flame.

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Jedah            0/-------/---====|====---\-------\0       Sol Badguy

Jedah chuckles darkly as he whirls his scythe into Sol, baring his teeth in a wide grin as the blade gains purchase. It's a moment later when his eyes widen in the realization that his scythe did not bite down exactly where he'd placed it -- and further, that Sol's square-tipped blade is whipping up towards him. Expecting the blade itself to be the threat, the noble raises the long fingers of one hand up to shield his face. However, in doing so, he leaves himself defenseless for the gout of flame that blossoms from the sword. The wave of explosive flames crashes into his unguarded middle, the highborn's form jacknifing from the blow -- the air is filled with the voice of not just the arrogant Dohma, but tje echoes of what could be a dozen other voices keening out in agony.

When Jedah jerks the point of the scythe out of the deck, the curved blade's edge spattering blood across the wood planking, the damage becomes clear: ugly, amorphous shapes are scorched into the front of the noble's longcoat, the straps that hold the coat together falling as scorched tatters to the deck. The rings of smoldering flame spread across his longcoat, flickering one last time before fading out to reveal charred fabric and reddened, flame-broiled flesh.

The noble's pointed teeth are still visible, though his face is distorted into more of a sneer now. "Your reputation is well-deserved, hunter." The dry, ashen edges of the fabric begin to darken, taking on the slick sheen of moisture. As the noble drags the scythe back to his shoulder, taking long, purposeful strides towards the center of the deck, it becomes clear that bleeding is far from a bad sign for the bloodweaver -- the wound is already sealing up, the fabric beginning to weave itself anew; even the detached tattered straps upon the deck begin to sweat with crimson droplets as well.

"I -had- hoped that history would not have forsaken me. But it seems a reminder is in order."

With only the slightest warning, the noble surges into motion again. He swings the blunt edge of the scythe towards Sol's chin -- a severe angle intended to discourage retaliation. Once the head of the blade is close to the mercenary's shoulder, Jedah throws his shoulder into the strike, sharply reversing direction of the cut to drag it down across Sol's shoulder. All the while, the bloodweaver keeps his crimson eyes fixed upon Sol, eager to take advantage of any opening he might find.

COMBATSYS: Jedah successfully hits Sol Badguy with Random Strike.

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Jedah            0/-------/----===|=====--\-------\0       Sol Badguy

The terrible flames burn with an unnatural heat and strike as if a solid physical mass, concussive force and eldritch fire combining into a wrecking ball of magic. The deck sizzles with lingering droplets of molten red but it does not burn the way that it should leaving it relatively untouched by the Fireseal's wrath.

Sol takes a moment to double-check the injury on his leg while the vampire lord reels, ignoring the the stains of blood that makes it look worse than it is. Just a flesh wound. He grunts and turns back to face Jedah in time to catch the last of his words before the scythe comes tearing towards him. The first blow is easy to read and the mercenary takes a step back, bobbing his head to the side to avoid the strike without much difficulty. However, the second blow comes down in an unexpected shift and the wickedly curved blood-blade tears into his shoulder.

Sol bites off a curse midstream, clenching his jaws against the screaming lances of pain that sear into his flesh. He's far too used to injury for something like that to stop him but it certainly isn't pleasant. Reaching up to grip the haft of Jedah's polearm, he sneers openly at the monstrous creature.

"Only the winners get to write the history books, pal. You're just a footnote."

With a sharp sudden surge of his incredible strength, Sol tugs on the scythe, attempting to pull the vampire into a closer range. The deadly blade leaves a dark red gash in its wake that immediately begins to splatter the deck with thick crimson fluid but he ignores the wound and brings his own blade to bear. Fireseal sweeps out on a collision course for the charred torso of his foe in an attempt to cleave him as deeply as possible.

COMBATSYS: Sol Badguy successfully hit Jedah with Random Strike.

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Jedah            0/-------/--=====|======-\-------\0       Sol Badguy

It's getting tougher to hear the screams from the lower decks, as the marauding pack of nightwalkers proceeds on their course of wholesale slaughter. The wails of terror had provided Jedah with some measure of satisfaction, but if the malicious grin peeling up the corners of his lips is any indication, the thrill of a worthy challenger is much more palatable. In the moment, the scythe landing across Sol's shoulder is not that deep a cut; nor is the wound to his hip. But Jedah is patient, enjoying the finer things in life: each injury is a necessary, crucial ingredient to the main course.

Only winners get to write the history books, quoth the mercenary, as he grabs onto the scythe. The noble is confused by this, his grin turning into a disdainful sneer -- why would the hunter wish to use a weapon that's obviously cursed, bound only to the bloodweaver himself? But that moment of petulant hesitation is all that Sol needs to unleash Fireseal into his midsection.

Blood, flesh, and sinew erupt outwards in a spray of crimson, sliced apart by the squared-off blade. The multiple echoing voices make themselves heard again as the noble roars in agony, releasing his scythe as he staggers backward, doubling over. Pale blue hands clasp at the gaping void formed within his torso, large enough to fit a fist into. While it would not be enough to kill a mortal instantly, the loss of a liver, stomach, and crucial lengths of intestines would mean an uncomfortable, agonizing death -- in Jedah's case, such vital organs are missing, and only undifferentiated masses of muscle and flesh are removed from the supernatural being, vermilion-hued blobs splattering onto the deck.

Throughout the exchange, Dohma neglects to exercise the mental acuity needed to maintain the form of the scythe -- as blood leaks from the bottom of the scythe, the core of the weapon desiccates, transforming into little more than brittle, dried blood, easily shattered with the tightening of a fist or the twist of a wrist. The mercenary will get no use from the obtained weapon today as a miniature ocean of the bloodlord's ichor pools at his feet.

Revenge, however, comes swiftly. The Black Messiah may have been struck offguard by not one, but two attacks from the mercenary, but he plays a long game, thinking of the end even from the beginning. "There will be no need for history books in my utopia, dear Sol..." he utters, his head still drawn low in a mockery of a bow.

Then his hand leaves the sucking wound in his torso, cerise fingernails suddenly snapping upward towards his opponent's shoulder. Blood, as Sol can likely tell, is kind of his thing.

"... only the hymns of the eternal gospel." The lanky bloodlord swerves off to the side, curling his other hand around his wound as he rises into an arrogant, high-shouldered stance -- gutsy overconfidence in the face of grievous gut wounds. Should Jedah's long nails be allowed to bite into the mercenary's shoulder, he would lift him upwards by the joint, snapping his own median and ulna in two so that his severed hand may haul Sol four feet into the air, over the edge of the boat. And then the transfusion would begin, as Jedah turns his baleful glare up into the eyes of his opponent, the spectral chorus echoing his laughter as he begins injecting his own accursed blood into the exposed veins of the wound. Each injury... a crucial ingredient.

COMBATSYS: Sol Badguy interrupts San - Passare EX from Jedah with Volcanic Viper.
- Power hit! -

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Jedah            0/-------/=======|======-\-------\0       Sol Badguy

Sol grunts as he snaps his blade up, falling into a casual stance once again. Already the wounds upon his body are quickly beginning to fade into the annals of memory, little more than vague blood-smeared lines across his leg and shoulder. The latter, being only a few moments old, continues to weep gooey blood but even that has already begun to clot and mend itself together. Tiny tendrils of freshly grown flesh stretch out across the miniature canyons of the viscious wounds like gruesome stitches sewn by an erratic and unsteady hand like something out of a horror movie. Send a monster to kill a monster.

"What, monsters go to church now? Haven't you heard?" His fist tightens around the dessicated husk of the disgusting weapon, fingers squeezing together with an audible crunch, and it crumbles into so much crimson dust on the ship's deck. "You guys don't have a very good reputation in those circles."

Fireseal blazes to life as the mercenary stares without fear into the face of the oncoming train. Death has come for him many times and in many shapes and never once has it managed to lay claim to his soul. After about the dozenth time brushing up against certain doom, one tends to grow a little blase about the whole affair. Sol's cocky grin springs forth anew in the flickering glow of the fire magic at his side and when Jedah reaches out to grasp at his flesh he finds nothing but searing cleansing flames instead.

"Volcanic Viper!"

The enchanted sword swings out as Sol's voice calls forth its power, carving a bold line directly up into the path of the grasping bloody claws. An umbrella of crimson heat blossoms to life just as the vampire lord reaches the point of no return and he finds himself swept up in the explosion of magic as the mercenary rises from the ground, propelled into the air by the force of his own terrible wrath.

The dragon's breath carries both figures some dozen feet into the air or so before it finally dies out, vanishing back into the recesses and invisible nooks of the world around them until called upon again. Sol lingers at the apex of his attack for a few moments while gravity reasserts itself, slowly falling back towards the deck, but perhaps vulnerable for those few moments.

The hunter's regenerative capabilities do not go unnoticed by the bloodlord -- indeed, the wound that was so swiftly re-sealed proved a bit problematic to his goals. But it proves to be a moot point, as Firesoul cleaves the hand into two, roughly equivalent halves of the hand falling off to either side of the deck. This draws a pained gasp from the noble -- though, as the limb is already detached, it can't hurt -that- much, can it? Carpal bones rain down onto Sol, trifling wounds that do little more than smear the Black Messiah's blood across his face -- the acidic ichor could probably sting, but not much else.

The shattering of several thousand panes of broken glass can be heard from below deck. Alone, the aural cue may make little sense, at the moment, as the much more significant event is the gout of flames exploding forth, the conflagration swallowing both combatants up in its sheer, blinding intensity. What's left of Jedah's arm is obliterated to the shoulder, his cries of agony lost in the outward rush of combusting air.

Only as the heat and haze fades would the earlier sound of shattering glass hold any significant, as rising pillars of blood can now be seen, surrounding the promenade deck from all directions. The blood of the defeated -- old blood, new blood, it's all the same vermilion as it rushes upwards, each trickle of blood forming a curtain around the ocean liner, joining into thicker streams as they ascend. The streams merge a half-dozen more times, coalescing into a single sphere, pulsing, and growing from the contributions of the individual tributaries to form a sphere, hovering a dozen feet above the promenade deck as Jedah's broken, wraithlike form is tossed unceremoniously to the deck.

That awful, terrible giggle, echoed by the funereal dirge of a disembodied chorus, proves to be part of the answer to Sol's question: The church is not earthly, but beyond the grave. Having fallen into an ungraceful position, he manages to push him up to one elbow -- and then his chest flies upwards, propelled by an unseen force.

The sphere reaches critical mass, and ruptures, drenching the bulk of the promenade in a sea of blood. Surely Sol knows how to swim. Surely he knows to hold onto something, before the sea washes him overboard. Surely he can keep his eyes open through the viscous, obscuring fluid as it coats his face, threatens to coat his lungs from the inside.

As Jedah's feet fall to the deck once again, he steps through the curtain of blood, his tattered body reborn anew, his stomach whole, his scythelike wings intact once more.

And it is through this curtain that he strides with a confident, arrogant swagger, spreading his arms wide. Fingernails sprout upwards into razor-sharp stilettos as he bares his dagger-like fangs.

He steps forward to take four long, diagonal slashes, aiming to raze canyons into Sol's chest as the last of the blood tumbles forth, sloshing about onto the deck.

The howl of werewolves and the undead can be heard below deck -- cries that question what the hell is going on above them.

COMBATSYS: Sol Badguy barely endures Jedah's Santuario.

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Jedah            0/-------/-------|======-\-------\0       Sol Badguy

Sol finds himself adrift on the seas on a dying ship bound for the nearest port to Hell. It's not the ideal situation; definately not on his top ten list of places he'd be if he had the choice, but certainly not an unusual venue for someone in his line of work. The ocean of blood, however, is something new.

The grizzled old mercenary takes a moment to appreciate that fact. It's so rare that he gets to see something that hasn't been thrown at him a hundred times atleast. It grows rather dull, quite frankly. Even the gaggle of werewolves running amok below decks isn't anything particularly harrowing though monsters of that sort are a bit more rare than the kind engineered in labs these days.

Unfortunately, there isn't much chance for him to enjoy watching the spectacle as the orb melts into a literal tsunami of crimson vitae. Sol is bowled over by the sudden outpouring of disgusting liquid, swept clean off his feet and carried along the churning angry surface of the blood tide towards the nearest edge of the deck.

At the last second, Fireseal rises above the surface of the ichor and buries its heavy edge into the wall of the upper cabin. Sol grunts with effort as he clings to the well-worn handle of the weapon using it to anchor himself aboard the ship and get his feet back under him. As Jedah approaches with murder on his mind, the man can't help but to shoot him a defiant grin even as the blood parts before the vampire like he were some kind of Lovecraftian Moses.

"You know, I'm starting to think you want me to leave."

Sol's unoccupied arm snaps up as the claws come for him and he manages to deflect the rending blows away from his chest, atleast for the first couple of swings. His meaty arm takes the worst of the initial attack but with the blood still pouring out around him the brutality brought to bear eventually works past his shoddy defense and thin ragged lines of fresh wounds erupt across his rippling abdomen.

It's not a pleasant sensation, being eviscerated. Sol has several clean advantages over any normal man but even his incredible phsiology has to pay homage to his mortal limits from time to time. The mercenary bellows in pain but he does not withdraw. The vampire is cocky, pompous, over confident. After landing such a blow he'll be expecting to have Sol on his heels. But the proto-type Gear is not the kind of man who withdraws from a brawl.

Redoubling his grip on the hilt of his sword, Sol grinds his teeth, pushing the distraction of the weakness in his body aside. His open right hand clenches into a fist and the familiar fire surges through and around his body as ancient magic swirls to life at his command. That fist swings around and blazes into a ball of scarlet fire as if it were a meteor punching through the atmosphere.

Ground zero is going to be Jedah's stupid smug face.

COMBATSYS: Jedah fails to counter Bandit Bringer from Sol Badguy with Nero - Fatica.

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Jedah            0/-------/-======|=======\==-----\1       Sol Badguy

As blood runneth over the rails of the ship, coating the hull in the half-runny, half-sticky ichor, Jedah cocks his head to one side to peer back at his foe. Impressive, he considers, that Sol has defied all odds to emerge... well, if not triumphant, at least he'll be presenting an interesting challenge. That's well more than most manage.

And not only is he -not- bowled off the ship by the flash flood, he's still offering his trademark sarcasm, which Jedah acknowledges with a careful bow of his head. But when Sol withstands even the eviscerating slashes... yes. Jedah is sufficiently overconfident. "You fascinate me, Sol Badguy..." he notes, clucking his tongue as he withdraws his deadly talons, folding his arms in a most ostentatious gesture, as his opponent curls up in what he can only assume is a swan song of failure. "Humor me... Is it bravery or foolishness that causes you to deny the inevitable?"

Sol Badguy delivers his answer.

And the Black Messiah is undone. Eyes widen as Sol does the unthinkable -- not only standing up. But planting a blazing fist right into his face. The noble, only moments ago born anew in the downpour of blood... has a new concavity to deal with: a scorched, fist-shaped impression made into the thin bone structure of his face. Wings fold back from the impact, their iron points snapping neatly at their weakest point, no longer proving of value in keeping Jedah from teetering over backward, collapsing into a battered heap.

Blood drips from his broken nose, stains his lips. Long-taloned hands press to his face, snuffing the still-smouldering flames left behind from his opponent's attack. Crimson irises stare up at Sol, from between his fingertips. For one delirious moment, there is fear in the noble's face.

With a flex of his long, if broken wings, Jedah skates backwards, rising again to his feet... as blood from the saturated deck begins to flow more freely into his feet.

"You will want to leave, if you know what is best," he chides, as if speaking to a child.

Somehow, he doubts that Sol will take him up on that generous offer.

As with most of his responses to vainglorious questions posed by self-important assholes, Sol's answer is quick, sarcastic, and to the point. He doesn't need to say a word this time, however, as the language of violence allows him to express his sentiments in a far more poignant fashion than any words he could think up likely would. He's really quite eloquent when using this method of communication which is probably why it tends to be his first response.

That and Sol is kind of a dick. The powerful impact of his fist against Jedah's face sends a surge of triumph through his bones that renews the smile on his face with youthful vigor. The mercenary weathers the final few surges of blood without any further difficulty and he promptly yanks Fireseal free from its hold in the ship's side, stalking towards the vampire lord with enough swagger to make anyone who might be watching wonder which one of them is the bigger windbag.

"Much as I'd love to be pretty much anywhere else but here... except maybe Detroit... I've got a job to finish. You and those furballs down below shoulda stayed in whatever slimehole you crawled out of."

The large man stops a few feet away from Jedah and lifts a hand up towards him, proudly displaying his raised middle finger. And if that gesture is too new for the ancient lord to be familiar with it, he drives the point home in another way.

"In otherwords, go to Hell."

The attack that follows is swift and without mercy for the flagging spirit of the dark creature that stands before him. Sol lurches forward and brings his blade up as he has done several times before, driving the heavy weight of its bulk into the vampire like an axe. This time the blow comes from above, a massive sweeping chop that adds the force of gravity to the already deadly power seething through his muscles.

COMBATSYS: Jedah blocks Sol Badguy's Fierce Strike.

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Jedah            0/-------/=======|=======\===----\1       Sol Badguy

Jedah is impressed by Sol Badguy's vocabulary -- both of the spoken variety and the physical. Crossing his arms in a haughty gesture, he tilts his neck from left to right, clearing the trapped air pockets in the spinal bones within. His scythe wings stretch out to either side, as a light breeze stirs his flame-broiled forelocks into motion. His face slowly becomes less concave, by degrees at first, with a sudden 'pop' as the nose returns to normal. If it were televised, there would undoubtedly be a laugh track.

Go to Hell? "I spent a hundred years in Hell, Mister Badguy..." he states, raising his long finger to rest along the bridge of his nose, re-seating it into its correct position. "Why, where do you think I learned--"

This time, the noble seems to have correctly gauged Sol's propensity for violent reaction. And, without moving his feet -- he -had- stopped hovering, really -- one wing sweeps overhead, metal blade groaning as it absorbs the full impact of the massive chop, stopping it inches from impacting the noble right into the face once again.

"--this?" concludes Dohma, barirng his teeth for another grin as the blade shoves Sol back

He shakes his head dismissively. "You see, human... or U.N. guinea pig, I suppose I should say... I've been simply toying with you." Unlikely though that may be, Jedah has shown himself to have the skill, and strength, to back up his words. His feet remaining planted on the blood-slickened deck, he simply twists his shoulders, beginning the thrust of a straightforward knifehand at the mercenary. But it's not as simple as that -- the thrust is powerful enough to detach the hand, his forearm bones splaying out to either side as they forcibly disconnect from the elbow, blood and sinew stretching taut and shearing, as the noble aims to bypass Firesoul entirely and plunge directly into the heart of his hunter. Perhaps his regeneration may be stifled by such a blow, muses the Black Messiah.

COMBATSYS: Sol Badguy blocks Jedah's Medium Strike.

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Jedah            0/-------/=======|=======\====---\1       Sol Badguy


Sol's cocky grin waivers for a moment as the vampire displays more of that freaky blood magic of his. The disembodied appendage shoots out like some kind of gruesome giant robot rocket fist and weaves to the side in an attempt to bypass his defenses. Fortunately, his reflexes are a little faster than his conscious thought.

Whipping to the side on impulse, the hand fails to strike its intended target, instead burrowing into the meaty flesh of Sol's right arm. It stings like hell but he quickly flicks his wrist and dislodges the offending digits with a short spray of blood that begins to clot immediately.

"That a fact?"

The Gear sighs a mental breath of relief but quickly lapses back into outwards calm and casual arrogance. The both of them are bruised and bleeding from several injuries, clearly beginning to wear themselves out against the powerful regenerative abilities of the other. Fireseal hovers at his side still clenched tightly in his grip but he lazily begins to tap the flat of the blade against his legs and grins as if finding something funny all of the sudden.

"What a coincidence, I've been keeping something a secret too."

A surge of seething light erupts around the muscular figure, raw red flames engulfing him entirely in an aura of power. Sol becomes little more than a silhouette of black shapes for a few moments and in that brief instant his body appears to shift and become something more, something not entirely human. The outline of black leathery wings erupts from his back and the dark smudges of his hands and feet become enlongated talons of shadow. Then the moment passes and Sol stands before him once more, human in form.

"I'm not left handed."

Okay, he totally is but that opportunity was too good to pass up and Sol is nothing if not a sucker for great one liners. And then he's moving and suddenly Sol is no longer a lumbering ponderous wall of meat. His sword lashes out in a flash that is almost too quick to catch, dancing through the air between the two monsters as flames trail in its wake. He slashes not once but twice carving a V shape into the space that Jedah currently occupies and then falls into a crouch, already preparing to unleash the next strike.

COMBATSYS: Jedah counters Fireseal from Sol Badguy with Spregio EX.

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Jedah            1/------=/=======|=======\=======\1       Sol Badguy

Robots, rocket fists... these are definitely not the inspirations for Jedah's unusual attacks. He pulls his knifehand back to him, the bones collapsing back to their proper orientations, the fissured wound sealing in mere moments as he smirks back at Sol. His response is simple acknowledgement: "Why, of course..." Small talk -- enough to engage the mind while the two monsters' attacks engage the spirit.

Nor is the Princess Bride a source of fodder for the bloodweaver's words --even if Sol -does- become a creature of unusual size for one awe-inspiring moment.

Well, that's different.

One of Jedah's shuts, as he draws his hand up to cradle his chin for a moment. "Interesting," he says -- though it might be clear that he's responding to Sol's brief transformation rather than the unusual cultural reference. Jedah's already decided to discard nonsensical statements from Sol, after all: a category into which claims of left-handedness fall.

He does not move much when Sol flickers into action: there's really only time for the wings and his shoulders to show the start of a slow retreat.

Firesoul cleaves his head twice -- first into halves, then into quarters. The demon lord's eyeballs fly out, his jaw falls from its hinge to the deck. His skull gives almost no resistance at all, the bone cracking like hollow driftwood, the bloody pulp within as runny as a mass of soggy tomatoes.

It is a diversion -- bait. The demon lord sacrifices what passed for his head in order to draw Sol close.

In a human, the arteries going to the brain are practically as thick as the arteries going to the entire rest of the body -- the flow is so crucial that even a mild interruption can cause irreversible brain damage. Jedah's anatomy is far from that of a human's in most respects -- but this aspect carries over. The flow of blood from before is a trifle compared to this -- steaming-hot blood erupts from the vacant hole of the noble's neck, as he pitches his shoulders to turn the firehose back on Sol. The earlier deluge was simply raindrops in comparison to the blast of demonic vitae fired back into Sol now.

But at what cost?! The headless demon steps back, as the blood continues to spurt out. Wings flap, and the decapitated one flies into the sky. But as the dense arterial flow fades, a form can be seen beneath it.

Jedah Dohma stands anew, hovering a good six feet over the deck, stroking his chin as blood drips away to reveal the same pale blue skin as before, a low chuckle carrying across the moonlit sky. The wounds throughout the rest of his body are practically sealed shut, as well...

"Suppose you succeed in this battle, Mister Badguy. What is the most you could really stand to gain? /Money/? Is it worth risking your life to live in opulence?"

Well, shit, how's he supposed to deal with this crap?!

Sol most certainly was not expecting to land such a decisive blow despite his sudden burst of speed. Infact the ease at which he decapitates the vampire lord leaves him stunned momentarily until he realizes what is really going on. Already crouched in preparation for the next attack that was to come, the mercenary is left in no position to avoid the sudden deluge of fel blood and it pours into him wholesale with naught that he can do but bellow in pain.

Sputtering a string of curses that are likely to sound as nonsensical to Jedah as his cultural references, Sol covers his face from the worst of the attack but when the tides finally stem he's left covered in sticky goop that smoulders as if boiling hot.


The mercenary's wit fails him for once in the face of such a bizzare assault. He shakes himself a few times trying to dislodge the excess gunk but the damn stuff is like napalm and refuses to be cast off so easily. Frowning, Sol turns his gaze upwards where his foe has resumed being a smug asshat without so much as missing a beat.

"Some days I have to wonder," he grumbles.

Alas, he has reputations to keep and obligations to fulfill so no slacking today. Sol steels himself for another attack and thrusts his feet into the deck, blasting himself into the sky like a missile on a collison course for the vampire. His foot leads the assault this time, blood-slick boots driving towards Jedah with that same unnatural speed, but he quickly follows it up with a slash from his blade should the first strike connect.

COMBATSYS: Sol Badguy successfully hit Jedah with Power Strike.

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Jedah            1/----===/=======|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2       Sol Badguy

Jedah's smug grin refuses to stay away for long. The sight of the mercenary coated with blood yet again is enough to keep him in good spirits... at least until his opponent rockets upwards to meet him. The wind is enough to blow most of Jedah's foul ichor off of him -- but that's completely secondary to what actually follows.

That is to say, the demon lord takes a kick to the chest, buffeting him backwards into the air. His eyes widen -- yes, he knows full well this is no ordinary -mortal- now, but how is this even possible?

And then Sol completes the exchange by bringing his sword down, cracking it right between the noble's shoulder blades. The collarbone bone yields under the attack, fracturing with a sickening crunch -- but Sol won't have to hear what -else- gives way, as Jedah's body shudders upwards, the blade of Firesoul embedding into his chest.

It's doubtful that this wound will be particularly more grievous than the others, naturally -- but the fatigue is beginning to show in Jedah's weary, gaunt facial features, the skin thinner than it ought to be.

But Jedah's also a master of improvisation, his manifold arsenal full of tricks with which to employ on his foes. In this case, with his torso buckling back from the strike, he reaches his hands to Sol's shoulders. Collarbone snapping the rest of the way off from the extended effort, the real problem here is those wings... and the sudden force they would then apply to the entangled pair, as Jedah aims to steer Sol straight down into the blood-soaked promenade deck. The blade wings shift yet again, flattening into a pair of rectangular blades not unlike Firesoul. The blades would be driven down by gravity, but twisted about within Sol's core like an auger by the Black Messiah's foul energy, testing the limits of his regenerative abilities to their maximum to the sound of the noble's jeering laughter.

COMBATSYS: Sol Badguy just-defends Jedah's Ira - Spinta!

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Jedah            1/-----==/=======|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2       Sol Badguy

Once more Sol finds himself cleaving flesh and bone as if it were tissue paper and once more the foul monstrosity that he has been sent to destroy appears to be able to simply shrug such 'trivial' injuries aside as if they were no more bothersome than a scraped knee. It's enough to drive one mad. The mercenary grinds his teeth but pushes onwards having little choice but to keep hacking away until something takes.

Sol withdraws his sword from the gruesome injury moments before he finds himself being hurdled back at the ship in a death grip like two birds of prey plummeting to their doom as they struggle for supremacy. With only moments to react to this sudden shift, he heaves Jedah to one side before he can be pinned beneath those deadly wings slipping the noose at the last second and sending the vampire plowing into the wooden deck instead.

The mercenary hits the ground in a roll and comes up without a pause, his magic sparking to life even as the super charged power of his Gear nature hits the limits of his endurance. Any more and he'll risk succumbing to further mutation. And that is Bad(tm).

Fireseal sweeps forward but this time the blade is not the threat merely a conduit for the magic. Blazing crimson power explodes into a immense conflagration the likes of which make his previous displays look like roman candles. Jedah's entire world becomes a miniature sun that blossoms out from the hunter's blade, drifting slowly forward with seething unbridled power before it fading away just as quickly.

Sol collapses to one knee, breathing hard, his energy spent. He's not completely out of the game yet but it will take a moment to shake the aftershocks of spending so much power off - a moment he may not have.

COMBATSYS: Sol Badguy successfully hit Jedah with Tyrant Rave ver.Beta.

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Jedah            1/=======/=======|>>>>>>>\-------\0       Sol Badguy

The deck... it's still coated with blood. Not all of it ran off the sides, and the boards are slick. But even still, Sol is able to break out of the bloodweaver's grasp, able to pry himself free mere instants before the twin blades sink into the deck, carving a grand canyon through the center of the wooden deck. The cruise liner itself groans as the angular blades sink down to half their eight-foot length, the entire boat shuddering from the strike.

Lupine howls can be heard echoing from the lower decks, the windows having been blasted out just a minute prior. What the hell is going on up there?!

It will have to remain a mystery for now, though, as the Black Messiah springs away from Sol, free of his blades. But when he lands in a low crouch, doubled over like his lupine companions below deck, he looks around.

Where the hell did Sol go? He turns his head --

And a moment too late, raises his forearm. The bone splinters, weakened from the overexhaustion of his unholy reserves. The bloodweaver is consumed by the explosion.

Consumed is probably the wrong word. Stripped clean to the bones? That's probably a more accurate description, as the flesh and meat are scoured away by the explosion, roughly half of the demon's form purified in flames, the rest clinging dearly to bones.

Sadly, the noble's skull is intact, as are most of his facial features. The muscles left wouldn't be able to move the bones they're attached to if he were a zombie, but animated by foul magic... he's able to step back, stagger -- and cough up blood. The blood that he -should- be keeping for himself.

And as he collapses to the deck, the skeletal fingers press to the blood left behind.

And the blood begins to flow into his fingertips once more, flesh beginning to reconstitute himself.

He does not expect Sol to wait for this process to continue -- he does this only to demonstrate the durability of his -eternal- soul, if not the physical confines he chooses to clad himself with.

No. He expects Sol to stay. Exactly where he is.

Sol would learn that Jedah is also a master of spatial manipulation, as the deck opens up beneath him, the slick blood no longer holding its form -- the entire promenade deck falling into an ocean of blood, a physical impossibility in Euclidean space.

COMBATSYS: Jedah can no longer fight.

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Sol Badguy       0/-------/<<<<<<<|

COMBATSYS: Jedah successfully hits Sol Badguy with Finale - Rosso.

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Sol Badguy       1/---<<<</<<<<<<<|

Bloody hands reach up to grab at Sol's legs, torso, face. The grasping measure is not the true terror -- =drowning= in the fel blood is the terror, as the foul ichor threatens to fill his lungs.

Jedah's body sinks into the alternate space as well. But here... here, he is whole, no longer subject to the rules of the living realm.

"So what did you expect, exactly...? That I would follow your rules? That I would submit to be confined in some coffin, for your employers' benefit? Think beyond the rational world, Mister Badguy. Broaden your horizons..." Jedah's mouth moves, but his voice cannot be heard through the viscous blood -- instead it is -felt-, resonating throughout the body of his opponent as the wailing spirits of the dead slam their palms, fists, and teeth into Sol repeatedly -- an eternity of torment.

It would feel like an eternity.

But unlike eternity, it would end -- Sol purged from the alternate space as it shrinks in upon itself, as the limit of Jedah's foul energy is reached.

Jedah Dohma's body is nowhere to be found aboard the ship. But the darkstalkers downstairs know better than to come any higher than the level of the lifeboats.

COMBATSYS: Sol Badguy takes no action.

COMBATSYS: Sol Badguy can no longer fight.

Sol has little means of defense against such an attack. While he has strength, speed, and incredible regenerative abilities even his magic isn't enough to protect him from such reality bending sorcery. As the floor literally melts out from underneath him, the Gear just looks down into the swirling void of blood and darkness with a grimace.

"Knew I should have brought my floaties."

The grim sarcasm does little to alleivate the agonizing experience of being drawn into Jedah's personal little corner of Hell. The viscous fluid sucks him down into the depths of cloying suffering existence. The dark magic attempts to invade his body, seeking out his nose and mouth, ears and eyes, any way to violate the sanctity of his being.

The innumerable tiny wounds that he has suffered in the last few minutes rend themselves open anew along with countless others as the angry restless dead lash out in mindless but directed frenzy against his mortal flesh. Even if he wanted to scream, if he had the breath to try, it wouldn't have been heard in this prison of the damned.

But all he has to do is endure. Such powerful magics require vast amounts of enegy and even an ancient being such as the vampire noble cannot sustain them forever. His skin is shredded and bitten, twisted Gear blood mingling with the dark fluid of the abyss around him, but when the nightmare recedes once more into the void Sol is still alive.

Spat out like some nasty vegetable, the mercenar flops onto the deck with a wet splat and immediately begins coughing up mouthfuls of foul ichor. It takes a few moments to completely empty out his lungs and in general is a pretty sucky experience but he eventually slumps against the nearby cabin wall and sighs.

No sign of his quarry which means he must have scared the guy off or that last attempt to finish him left the old hemomancer too drained to stick around and risk another confrontation. Whatever, either result is irrelevant, the contract is fulfilled. The threat has been dealt with and the ship secured.

The sound of breaking glass and claws scraping against the deck some distance below brings a groan to Sol's lips. "...oh, right." Still a few more loose ends to tie up. But first he'll just need to relax here for a bit and... catch his breath.

Log created on 21:29:17 02/02/2015 by Jedah, and last modified on 23:46:15 02/07/2015.