Description: Ace Detective Daniel "Jack" Little, having gotten his hand back, was ready to seek down the true killer of the White Angel of Death. Hot on the trail of the Scarlet Dahlia, it would take a restraining order to stop him. And why would she need one? She already took the kids and the dog. A man needs to be with his dog. Sometimes there are needs that only a dog can fill. Why would she do that? Why would she take everything? Was the heart not enough? These are crimes against humanity. And crimes against humanity carry a capital sentence. Will she be able to keep him away? Or will she be another member to... the Gallery of Murder? (The cover shows The Scarlet Dahlia embracing Zach Glenn in the midst of a graveyard. The Scarlet Dahlia, true to her name sake, is clad in a strapless red gown. Zach is leaning her against a tombstone of the White Angel of Death, ready to give her the kiss of kisses. Behind them, at the gate of the graveyard, a car is parked. Daniel Jack is staring at her from the driver's window of the car, holding a snubnose revolver) (45 cents)
The Scarlet Dahlia really should have learned something by now -- saving men out of nothing but the kindness of her heart just makes her angry. Save a police officer from a demon... get half her soul wrenched away. Save the lives of two men... get weaker as a result. No, for the moment, she needed to get out of that damned palace. Away from the mountain. Away from reminders of the times in which selfishness would have been perfectly justified -- perhaps even expected.
Walking through the forest was easier now, at any rate. Her legs were finally restored to proper working order -- the only sign of the debilitating damage some slightly discolored skin. She could walk -- she could flip -- she could run.
She just chose not to. Anger tightens the muscles of her face as she walks through the Living Forest. Twice, she was harassed. Twice, she vented her frustrations on the would-be hunters -- no longer fettered by notions of playing fair.
Not even the Living Forest is willing to deal with the Dahlia's temper for long.
After a long walk, she was just starting to grow less angry. She was not yet calm, just... getting there.
Walking through the wasteland tends to have a sobering effect. The graveyard... moreso.
The Ainu woman stops by a tall grave marker, amidst a field of the other markers indicative of those of Japanese origin. The wood of the spear is pitted, showing some signs of rot, but it stands nonetheless, triumphant against the forces of change. Not far away are more spears, easily as tall as the Dahlia herself. The Ainu is careful to avoid stepping on the graves themselves -- not only out of respect, but out of the need to keep from placing her low-heeled shoes in undue danger of slipping.
For now -- now, she finally decides to rest for a moment, near the markers of her Ainu brothers and sisters. She takes a slight breath -- the scent of death is something she's gotten sadly used to.
It starts as a whisper. A sensation, a feeling. Not words, not real words. But the sensation of someone calling your name, her name. She's here. Somebody just identified that she, Honoka, was here. Not a mask, not a title, not a role that she played. Her, the penetrating sense of her. It falls quiet a moment, before it happens again.
She's here. She's here. She is waiting for you at the graveyard.
Whispers on the island weren't unusual, they couldn't be unusual. The place was haunted by the likes of spiritual energy unseen. Especially this graveyard, especially where the dead laid. A mist curls around the stones and trees, a concealing mist, a dark mist. Thankfully not green like sometimes in the forest but... something sinister was rising. How many were waiting for her to come, how many souls were waiting for her. Words aren't words, but the emotional weight was slithering around. She was here. Whatever felt that, also believed that it was -her- fault, that she was waiting for it. The faintest of sounds, the faintest of emotions, the distance away could be so far-
She's ripe with souls, she's ripe with souls and waiting for you. Find her. Find her now, she's close, and she cannot escape.
That was no whisper. That was a moan, a psionic groan that was echoing now. Hunger, purest hunger. It was hunger for her, a specific her. A familiar hunger, a very familiar hunger. Like the police officer she protected, like that demon. Hunger, hunger, hunger. And it was finding her, it was tracking her down. The hunger doesn't end, it fills the graveyard. A monster was coming. A demon. They had to be coming. A shadow of a figure approaches into the graveyard, moving at a brisk pace through the mists. The sensation was growing stronger, the whispers forming articulation in the empathic aura. The mists suddenly shudder, ripping away as the figure breaks out from it. And in a moment, it was clear. There was no monster emerging.
It was just Daniel Little.
The detective emerges from the mists across the graveyard from the opposite end, coming from where the Scarlet Dahlia was going towards. He was clad in an outrageous silk shirt and slacks. His top was orange, his bottom was purple, and they mingle with motifs of moths fluttering upwards in opposite colors. He was scarred where-ever you could see, streaks of white against pale flesh. And yet, he did not seem injured. The detective wiggles the fingers on one hand as he walks, wriggling them every few steps. The other hand? Glows with a crimson light. His expression seemed... distracted. Unfocused. As if something was disturbing him deeply-
His murderer is here. Find her. FIND HER.
The presence was growing louder, heavier. Stronger.
TAKE HER. TAKE HER AND CLAIM HER SOULS. TEAR THEM FROM HER.
Stronger as Daniel approaches.
CONSUME THEM CONSUME HER KILL HER FOR HER CRIMES.
Stronger as the detective transfixes his eyes upon the Scarlet Dahlia.
The Scarlet Dahlia is, indeed, here. But she's in an unusual state of mind -- unfocused. Raw. And full of anger.
Daniel Little is not the last person in the world she would have wanted to talk to, right now, but he's pretty damn close.
The sensation is murky at first. But as the garish orange and purple approaches, one thought goes through the Dahlia's mind.
"Has anyone ever told you you look like a fucking pumpkin?"
The Ainu woman chides herself -- she should have stayed quiet. She should have stayed... out of reach. But then again, letting the detective track her down instead of confronting him directly is probably -worse-.
"If you pray to the Great Pumpkin, maybe he can hook you up with a new wardrobe..."
A thought occurs to her. She appends another word to her prior observation.
The Dahlia looks towards the tower -- the place where she had coerced the notable Sergei Dragunov into placing the barrel of his service pistol to his head and pulling the trigger. Daniel came... from there? She passes her eyes over his form. The gemstone at her hip begins flaring yellow, its resonance matching the pulsing of the red gem in his left palm. His right hand, though...
No. It's the presence. The presence is the most damning thing about him. It pulses, it glows. And it threatens to overtake her.
Eyes narrow. The Ainu woman in a slender cheongsam may not seem like much, but her lean form is raw muscle. Her left hand reaches for the weapon upon her waist sash. Her legs -- healed, save for the light discoloration of skin upon her knees. "I'll save you the trouble of asking, Agent -- I'm just here to talk to some of my folks. I'd like some privacy if you don't mind."
Her tone may come across as... quite hostile. But that may be because the psion is responding -directly- to the malevolence of his presence, more than anything else.
That mealy mouthed whore of a bitch
How dare she? What kind of SHIFTY BITCH mocks you? Let the crimson energy flow around, let it boil out across tombstone. Watch as it crawls through the graves, seeming into the earth. Stare into her eyes, and see it. Her anger is fear, her strength is hollow. Make her submit, make her draw her tongue across your feet as she yields to your strength. Make her yield, make her yours, make her REGRET ever insulting you
"I'm here to talk to you, Dahlia."
Daniel Jack rubs his eyes with his index and thumb fingers. The presence of hostility was intensifying, the red light was burning, flickers of the light stretching up his arms. He didn't really enjoy coming out into the middle of a graveyard and being insulted snap her neck by a young lady. A young lady that, as all he knows, was strong enough to fight Sergei toe to toe. "The name's Daniel Jack, I'm a detective of Interpol, yada yada. Sounds like you know me well enough. I don't need to know why you're here though" Releasing his face, he wiggles his fingers. "I figured I'd meet you here. I-" She reaches for her waist. The detective brings both palms up. One palm has a rose-colored gem embedded in it deeply, dug into the flesh. "Whoa, hey, I'm not looking for a-"
FIGHT HER. CHALLENGE HER. MAKE HER A COWARD. The waves of the presence pours in, overt hostility. Mockery. Hatred.
But Daniel's body language read differently. Palms up, he blinks hard, wiggling the fingers in his ungemmed hands. "I have good reference that... you can use these gems to revive people." The wiggling hand points at the gemmed hand. "And that's what I'm looking at here. I figured that since you kill-"
SHE KILLED HIM
"- That you defeated your opponent, Sergei, and got some of his shard charges, that you had his soul. I have a duty to revive him, he's part of my team. So I just wanted to talk to you, see if we can work out getting that soul, and bringing him back to life?" Daniel Jack smiles a bit, lowering his head. His face looked sincere enough.
Wait until she drops her guard, and then you can kill her fast.
But the presence said something else.
The Dahlia keeps her eyes narrowed. She knows this is, quite obviously, Daniel Little. But the presence -- or is it /presences?/ -- that accompanies him is clearly in a position to assume control of the Interpol Agent should the tides change.
She makes no secret of keeping her arm behind her back, her hand on the three sections of the sanjiegun stored there. He knows her name -- that's a good sign. Even better that he's not calling her Dragon Lady, but she won't be taking any particular steps to draw those conclusions for him.
When his palms raise, her eyebrows arch. She can sense the waves of anger rippling the air around him -- a dramatic difference from the investigative Daniel she knows and detests.
But when she is accused of killing -- and then asked for -help?-
She breaks into peals of laughter, raising her right hand to her mouth in a shallow show of modesty. "So, wait, first off... Sergei killed himself, when I demonstrated just how -badly- he was fucking Earthrealm over by even harboring thoughts of killing me. Kind of, you know, how -you- doomed us by not living up to your namesake of 'Lady Killer' when the Princess of Outworld was splayed out on the floor."
Rumors... may not be her preferred source of information, but they give her enough to work with.
"Second, ha! You accuse me of killing him, and then you expect me to work with you in -reviving- him? That's rich, Agent Little. Hilarity itself. Let's just say I want him to -stay- dead, so that the Sorceror can't use him against us, hm?"
She shifts her weight onto her opposite hip, resting her right hand upon the honey-yellow gemstone. "Thirdly, yes, they can bring people back to life. And just did. But I don't associate with the souls of murderers. You'll have to venture into the Netherrealm to find your poor Sergei's soul. I would've figured you'd like him better dead, but apparently there's something -else- going on between you two..."
She purses her lips, mocking him further. "...Lady Killer. Guess you just want him to bust a few more of your ribs, mm?"
Each voice holds its own tone, its own tenor, it's own SCREAM. A cacophony merged into harmony. Daniel Jack was deaf to them, but they were running through him deep. They compelled him against Zabel, against Kitana, against... against Fio. And they were compelling him again, against this stranger of a woman. She was hostile, Daniel could see it, but he couldn't see why. Her laughter comes, and Daniel didn't understand. Why was this stranger just... dismissing him so much? Her words comes insulting, cutting into the detective. His smile fades, as he tries to stay stoic against the harsh accusations.
But why should you, Daniel.
Enough. She has no respect, the smug little bitch. You know who she is. You should BREAK HER. Grind her into DIRT. Make her respect you. Tell her how you really feel about being insulted by such a small, worthless person. Honoka. She's Honoka, hiding herself. You know it, you know she and her boy toy are playing pretend on the island. You know it, you know it. RUB IT IN HER, AND RUB HER OUT. Tell her to-
"Hold your tongue before I rip it out, Honoka"
Daniel lunges dangerously forward, crimson energy burning in his eyes as orange energy flares around him. Stark shadows cast across the Graveyard as Daniel weaves towards her, bellowing sharply. "I don't care what your shit of a knight Zach does. I'll kill him, and scatter his ashes over your grave. You =worthless= woman, I will-." Daniel Jack cuts off suddenly, pulling away into a gravestone, lurching aside.
He nearly falls off his feet, before righting himself.
Daniel blinks, as the light dies out, as he continues to steady his balance. "Uh, ugh, sorry, I'm still... recovering from my last fight." Daniel wriggles his fingers. "Dahlia, I understand that you have no reason to help the creep. But if that sorcerer can revive him... then it's better we do that before he does, right? Now, I don't know if... you've signed your death warrant you smart mouthed bitch..." Daniel Jack trails off again. The crimson energy floods across him again. New words were running inside him, but these ones he was not deaf to. He could hear them, and they spoke volumes to him. The red eyes lock on her yellow gem again, as the detective licks his lips. "... You have soul shards, don't you, Dahlia?" The eyes snap up at Honoka's owns, as he quickly asks.
"What are you fighting for, scuzzy?"
While Daniel may not hear the voices distinctly, the Scarlet Dahlia hears enough to make out the general ideas.
She does not like them one bit.
Chains jingle as the sanjiegun is withdrawn. The vortex within the gemstone on her hip begins to swirl more rapidly, as she takes a few steps away from the grave markers of the Ainu who battled in Mortal Kombats past.
When Daniel lunges, she hops backwards, the three sections of the sanjiegun snapping taut as she draws it in front of herself, defensively.
And then she hears the name of the circus performer. The lines are being drawn right before Daniel's eyes, by the spirits who are not misled by her deceptive words.
"Stand down, Agent." Her voice is no longer the voice of a snippy dog who yearns for the respect its larger cousins receive -- no, it is the voice of authority, barking back at Daniel, booming over the discordance. "The Sorceror has your ear! If you kill me, it will be on -his- behalf..."
And then, more words very unlike Daniel's spill out, intermixed with words that no one else -but- Daniel would ever speak.
The Dahlia grits her teeth.
The sanjiegun begins to spin.
"I have soul shards. And I fought long and hard to use them on behalf of Earthrealm. To save those I care for. And to preserve the cultures of Earth, that they might escape being crushed beneath the heel of Outworld. Does that even matter to you... now?"
The sanjiegun whistles past.
"Agent Little... I can show you how to control them. Agent Little... you need to stand down. Agent Little... you need to listen to me."
The yellow gem flares with light. She will not ask again.
Daniel could barely hear Honoka right now.
The words of Stand Down are given, but why should he listen? The raw power of Daniel Jack is here before her. Should Daniel just reach out, he could snuff her out. Her secrets were bare. She couldn't conceal what she was. Everything that Daniel knew, they knew, and they could see what she was. Cutting the knife, consuming her souls, taking her power back. She was so weak now. Already, the heavy steps of Daniel Jack come as her words blow by blow. Nothing can get through, all comes as deaf as the voices within.
With one exception.
Preserve the cultures of Earth.
The cultural dominance of Earth will come like a boot upon the head of all who come across the lines of the Earthrealm. They think they are strong? They think they are powerful? Even the most powerful are nothing but parasites or barbarians. These inbred, idiot vagrants from across worlds come to pillage and plunder, as countless hordes in the past have done. They are at the gates of mankind, beating on them.
But they will be driven out.
The tyrants will trembles. The monsters will yield. Let their oppressed, their victims, their children, and especially their women, soft in flesh and hard in heart, come into the open embrace of the Earthrealm. The Outworld has too long hungered after the Earth. They will learn to fear the Earthrealm, and the dominant culture of the Earth. War begins when diplomacy ends, and they will learn to crave diplomacy. And who will be at this vanguard of Humanity? Daniel himself. He has stared into the abyss, and has had the abyss stare back. And he knows that past the shadows... there is weakness in the darkness. The detective's eyes swivel in their sockets, as the vision of Daniel once more transfixes upon Dahlia. And she fights for this dominant culture. She is not a source of souls.
She is an ally.
The voices falls silent in the subconscious. The heat of the light dies down, and with it, the chaotic, aggressive presence. In its place is... a different aura. A different presence. A light. A light as Daniel's posture straightens out, a new clarity overcoming him. This wasn't Honoka. This was the Scarlet Dahlia, who was Sergei's opponent. A source of information, a source of help, a source of friendship and unity and companionship at the bulwarks against oblivion. "Listen, lady. I'm sorry if I'm coming across a little curt. I've just had a nasty fight with a zombie guy, who nearly killed me. This is stressful for everyone. I know Sergei's an asshole, hell, I don't blame you for killing him. The guy's a sociopath, I figured that if he didn't kill someone, someone would kill him. I get it." Daniel Jack smiles again, stepping back. "We're all chasing shadows right now, I feel like someone's always after me, Scarlet. Can I call you Scarlet?" He gives a sheepish grin, unaware of... of what just happened.
"Or do you prefer Dahlia?"
The sanjiegun whistles. Whoosh, whoosh, whoosh, as regular as the ticking of a clock. The motion feels... right to Dahlia, the one thing in the hellscape that makes any sense at all to her. The laws of kombat may be difficult to parse, but the laws of momentum and gravity -- those are constant, unchanging.
And guided by that steady beat, the psion was able to craft the words she needed. Rhythm, repetition, as clear as a bell rung three times in sequence, her words pierce through the dissonant voices clouding Daniel's mind.
She listens, even as the sanjiegun arcs through its orbit on her left, occasionally transiting across for a modicum of variety.
"I apologize as well. It has been a frustrating day."
Daniel may be smiling, but right now, the Shadow Advisor does not. To smile is to lose that edge of authority that brought him back from the brink of insanity.
"Scarlet is fine. Dahlia is fine as well."
The sanjiegun's whistle does not falter.
She does, however, draw in another breath of air before continuing.
"Good. Good. I know you care a lot about Earthrealm. You were fighting to ensure that all those on it -- human and Darkstalker alike... would be able to live in harmony. That even the... zombie guy who fought you would be able to hold his head high." She nods in slow approval.
One finger raises into the air, as the sanjiegun continues to whistle past. "It is possible to resurrect a soul with the power of the shards. But you won't manage it unless you are in control of yourself first, and your shards second. They must obey your will. You cannot let them -shape- your will, for they are tainted by exposure to the fel energies of this realm -- this waypoint on the path to Outworld. To fall prey to their whims is to lose yourself to the will of the Sorceror."
The sanjiegun crosses sides once more. And with a clank of metal, the Dahlia catches the loose end, ceasing the movement with minimal effort.
"Sergei Dragunov fell prey to the siren song of murder. He would not listen to reason. And it led to his demise." She arches an eyebrow. "If you have the fortitude to bring him back, you assume -all- responsibility for curbing that siren song -- which means that you must assert control over both yourself, your soul, =and= those belonging to him. Fail in that responsibility, and Earthrealm loses another of its strongest assets."
The implication should be clear to the investigator: that the criminal mastermind will have no compunction against taking Daniel's life if he loses control again.
The Scarlet Dahlia lets the two sections fall once more, gripping the third loosely in her left hand.
"Tell me, Agent Little... Tell me about... Princess Kitana. Tell me... did she mention anything about Outworld? Did it entice you in any way?"
Daniel felt something oddly familiar about her movements.
The spirits might know her. But Daniel? Only shadows. While she wasn't smiling, he could feel that diffusion. "Believe me, I'm half surprised you didn't attack me. Everyone's on edge." Including you, Little? As Dahlia explains about the Netherrealm, Daniel does roll his eyes. Oh, of course. He had to go to hell and back for him, didn't he? Ho boy, this was gonna be a basket of suck. Still, Dahlia seemed to be on the know. "Thanks for the tip." He said, sniffing the air a bit. A glimmer comes, that toxic presence, before it is drowned in the radiant at the next question.
Daniel intensifies, stepping back. "Listen, lady, I don't know what you've heard about me, especially with that Lady Killer crack, but let me get something straight. What happened between me and the Princess was violence, sheer violence." He shakes his head. "I didn't kill her because I didn't have to kill her. Her people are... sick and wrong. Dieseased-minded barbarians, that want to come in and stamp out what we are. I don't want to bow down to their ways. I have my code to kill, and I'm not going to follow their code because they run this show. And don't get high and mighty about killed or be killed on these guys."
"Cause I know your record."
Daniel had to know her record, to have any idea of how to find her. "Sergei and Aranha. Both Earth people, one's dead, the other's alive. That's not a knock against you, but this is a warning. These Outworlders... want to kill you. They need to kill you. There is a moral imperative to kill them. She told me that she expected me to die, and expected me to kill her. And oh, 9 out of 10. Cause if we lose this tournament, they will find it fit to invade us, because we got favors on the other side or something keeping them from invading us right now. Oh, and don't worry about me getting swayed over by the dark side or any jazz like this. I'm in complete control of myself right now." DAniel Jack nods firmly, tracing his mustache.
"I'm not getting won over by any Fu Manchu Mustache Man, you dig?"
The young Ainu woman stares back at Daniel. She can tell he's reasserted control -- that his investigative brain is able to discriminate between the whispers of shadows and the facts in front of her. Ever the consummate investigator, he's picking apart every one of her affectations and stylistic considerations -- which underscores even more the need to keep from getting -too- emotional. Too ... Honoka.
The Scarlet Dahlia draws in her breath, nodding slowly in agreement with the assertion that everyone's on edge.
She'd be fine if he called her Dragon Lady -- really. Just not that other form.
She offers by way of explanation: "Your fight history is public record, Agent Little, and the island has eyes and ears. Many of them work in my employ."
But when it comes back to -her- record... to killing...
Her eyes widen in mock alarm. "They want to kill me? Well, damn, that explains everything." Her eyes narrow to mere slits as she raises a hand of splayed fingers -- an aid in speaking, nothing more hostile than that. "If they plan to kill us, then =why not= visit the same fate upon them? This isn't some kind of game, where there's bonus achievements if we decide to let them attack us -again- and -again- and -again.- That's not the game I play, Agent Little."
The fingers fold into a fist. "If someone plans to kill me, game on. Outworlder, or Earthrealmer. It's the simple animal logic the Outworlders play by. And it's what's necessary to beat them. The way I see it, the Elder Kamui knew humanity was soft. They =knew= we would try to play nice. They gave us -ten chances- and a -thousand years- to figure this out. And not once, not =once= has the lesson set in."
The Akatsuki Advisor folds her arms before her. "Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it. If you kill an Outworlder, you rob resources from them, you make them struggle. It's not about moral superiority, it's about who survives. I don't care if you agree with me or not, but just know this -- even if we win this battle, we -still- have nine more to win -- but at least we get to place a roadmap for our descendants to show them the right way to win."
The Ainu woman does not address the idea of Daniel's control over his bloodlust -- or the apparent lack thereof. Her expression remains tight-lipped.
Was it the Empress?
Daniel didn't know why; the clues were there. But this was not a simple Dragon Lady. No, this was just Ainu. Just an ally on an island of death. She gives her statement, and Daniel just repeats back. "Elder Makui.... " Daniel had no idea what that was. But no, he shakes his head. "We can't be so cold-blooded. Mercy is our strength" Mercy is our weakness. The rumbles were coming again. Mercy is our weakness in the face of absolute destruction. These aren't people, you know. These are monsters. Real monsters, real death. They will destroy the world, unless you destroy them first. Kill those who stand in the earth's way. Kill all who stand in our way.
To kill all those who stand in your way.
Daniel Jack responds to forces her can't even precieve, choosing the Dahlia to be the source of them. Those eyes stares into the woman."Lieutenant Lita, my partner, the sane one on the team, she knew to hold back. She worked hard to hold back. We can win this with our honor intact. Interpol can make it through this holding back. Zabel was... an extreme case. And I knew he would recover from it. We can hold on to our principles." No you shouldn't. You can't Daniel.
She's dead, Daniel.
Daniel gets a far away look in his eyes. She's dead, she was killed by a holder of souls. AN enemy of the world. Daniel, you need to go someplace. Hostility flares, but not here, aimed away "I... thank you... I need to... go...." Daniel was turning, striding like a zombie towards the recoiled mists again. The presence was back, that oppressive aura. But through the psionic haze, words don't come out of his mouth. But it is a singular, resounding statement. A message.
My enemies will fall when I find them.
The words might be too familiar to Honoka.
The Dahlia arches an eyebrow at the mispronounced repetition of the Ainu word. She does not correct him, though -- for the thought which follows is one that demands a rejoinder. The Dahlia smiles pointedly, and without knowing it, the first of her words are timed to be perfectly in sync with those of the spirits.
"Mercy is our weakness -- that is what I have been trying to tell you."
After she speaks, however, the Akatsuki Advisor tenses up. She can hear the cacophonous voices raising in volume once again, though this time, she can sense that she doesn't seem to be the target this time. Her heartbeat begins pumping faster, and the calm which had fallen over her begins to ebb away.
"It is amusing that you can take away a completely different story from witnessing the same facts as I have. Lita Luwanda's 'holding back' ejected a fighter from the open window of the tower over there. Munin Arshes 'holding back' resulted in her getting executed by an Outworld assassin's gunfire. Aya Hazuki's 'holding back' left her prone to the claws of an Outworld-aligned darkstalker. And let's not forget, Zach Glenn 'holding back' resulted in his death by the fans of the assassin you failed to eliminate."
The Dahlia finds herself increasingly agitated by the rising ire of the spirits. She watches Daniel turn his back. And she holds her ground, tinting her words with the tone of authority she adopted before.
"All I am saying is, death and dismemberment are temporary setbacks in this strange crossroad between worlds. You insist on raising Dragunov from the dead, while sparing our enemies the same minor inconvenience. Misplaced priorities, as far as I am concerned."
The palm of her hand rests upon the gemstone at her hips, cradling it protectively. The spirits within resonate with her touch -- ready to spring forward to her defense should Daniel change his mind on walking away.
Her head cants to a slight angle, as she begins to pace back to the graves of her ancestral cousins. With Daniel's departure, she may again have the time to glean some knowledge from their fatal experiences.
"Just take care that your principles do not spell the doom of our planet's entire way of life. Do what =must= be done, without hesitation and we may have a chance at winning this tournament."
Not all would spring to her defense.
Do you know how frail you are? You do. Your spirits aren't even your own, Honoka. You're compensating your weaknesses, steal and subtle. A priestess without faith is what you are. Aspirations are no substitute or spirituality. Just because you have the ambitions of a hero, of a priestess, of a gangster, of everything you ever wanted to be, doesn't mean you are. You're an imposter. And your only prayer is that you are both the first and last person to realize it. Prayer, or the same aspirations of everything else, imposter. He'll learn soon enough what you are, without our help.
And then, you will only have your faith as your shield.
The thoughts pass without even a glimmer. The mind is not his own. Daniel Jack was only listening to her words, running through through. Ejected a fighter from the window. Executed by gunfire. Killed by a Darkstalker. And Zach... he was killed... he was killed by Kitana? The Princess? Death, and death, and death, Daniel. Didn't you once say that you wanted to control the lead? People are dying all around you... you only managed to avoid it. Daniel stares hard into his mistakes. They were his mistakes. They were his responsibility. And if he let them die...
Then he would have to do something about it.
And you will be doing something. You will be the hammer, you will be the sword, you will be the knife at the throat. You will be their every scream, their every tear, their every fear. You will shatter the plates and the bones and the skin and the teeth, because you will know who they are. The imposter is not yours now, she is a false friend, but she is not yours now. Your enemy is the murderer of your friends. The clawed freak that has consumed too many souls. Who needed to be ended. And her name is-
Daniel Jack blinks. You need to escape. She fears you, and she will kill you. "Her name is Lotus. I need to find Lotus. And... she killed Lita. She killed her, oh my god, I- oh my god." A crimson energy floods around Daniel, as he turns away from the woman, two figures meeting in the mist. "Lotus. I need to find her, maybe, maybe we don't-" But you do Daniel. You do. "... Maybe I need to..." Daniel begins, as a red light comes over his eyes. "BUt I need to. I can't... I need to protect the world." The detective throws himself into the mists, which envelope his form with cool, clinging force. This was a cursed mist. But it was accepting of equal. From the depths of the cloud, his voice rises one last time, before the empathic presence fades.
"One life at a time."
The Dahlia bristles -- she may not be able to discriminate the cacophony of voices surrounding Daniel, but she registers the doubts that are cast in her direction. The insecurities. The accusations.
And for a brief moment, the thoughts align. The idea of her being an 'impostor' hits her point-blank, like a knife to the heart. She takes a step backward, her skin growing pale, clammy.
Rationally, realistically, she knows the thoughts are intended to harm her, to whittle down her defenses. Which is -- in truth -- the only reason the Ainu woman is able to remain standing. Her jaw is set as she stares back at Daniel, seeing the effect her words are having.
She senses the shift of tides. The bitter emotions shift away from her -- they are redirected to another.
The Akatsuki Advisor draws in her breath, nodding slowly.
... And then, she gets a tidbit of news she hadn't heard from her own spy network yet. That Lita Luwanda... is no more.
Calm. The Scarlet Dahlia grinds her heels into the ground, the dry dirt crumbling beneath her intensity. She squares her stance, steadies her pace. She may have faltered, but she transmits the presence of authority now.
"Yes. Protect the world you love, Daniel Little. Save the people you care for most."
She may be nodding her head, as she stands by the gravestone, but she is not showing the smile of victory, not showing her pride at using words to forestall a fight she had not wanted to partake. And Daniel's words echo out once more, in her own voice.
"One life at a time."
Log created on 15:35:37 10/14/2016 by Daniel, and last modified on 14:31:59 10/17/2016.