Description: Brought back from the dead, ace detective Daniel 'Jack' Little has found himself damned into a fell existence. Trapped between the border of life and death, he finds himself in a new demonic form. Cursed in a powerful, but uncontrolled state, the detective is more monster than man. Unable to face his former friends, allies, and lovers as the beloved Daniel Jack, he has forced himself to don the alias of 'The Ladykiller' to prevent countless hearts from breaking. And such power has a price: His Long Lost Lenore, Fio Tessitore, the gentle and beloved scientist, has finally escaped the clutches of the Dark Lord Dohma. And the Dark Lord can only entrust the damned detective to find her. Will The Ladykiller escape his fate? Or will there be... Hell To Pay? (The cover shows us looking over the vague outline of a man. His clothing is indistinct; and there is a hazy presence around him. He is facing away the reader, and focused on an alluring figure in the midst of a summoning circle, painted in blood. The figure is a grey-skinned woman dressed in a blue strapless gown. The blond-haired woman is laying on her side, her clawed, red-nailed hands resting on her curves top and bottom. The front of her dress is held together by several gold strings, around her luscious legs.) (55 cents)
You know, nothing turns out like you expect.
A man needs to have a vision, a goal. A plan, a purpose, a dream. A man needs to have a direction to drive himself. Friends to save, principles to uphold. A righteous man, yeah. A real righteous man could stand up to the worst that can be thrown at him, and endure. A man should be strong. A man needed to have strength.
Well, Daniel thought he had that.
He thought he had a vision, a goal, a dream, a purpose. He thought he had those things. He thought he was strong. He was righteous. He thought he could save his friends. Any moment, he would have saved them. Any second. He just needed a little more power. A little further. And suddenly, his friends didn't matter. His principles didn't matter. What mattered was more souls, more power. He could stop anytime. And he would. Once he had enough. Just a little more. Just a little more.
And then he died.
And then he didn't.
And then he did.
And then he didn't.
The border of life and death and self and selfless was gone. Daniel was broken, torn across mortality as a festering wound. The describe him as an abomination showed ignorance of the depths he was in. Abominations wanted to die. Daniel deserved it and denied it. The man was no longer anything worth considering a man. He was a traitor.
And you know why?
Because this is what you are now, Daniel.
You are a predator. A monster. A creature of the night. You are what honest men and women warn their children. You are death. You are a quick end on a short rope. You are a vessel for something greater and more terrible than what you could even be. You know what you are, Daniel? You know what you are?
And where were you now, -detective?-
Daniel Jack following the stench. The smell. He was... running. Fleeing. The bridge. He had to escape the bridge. He needed safety. He needed understanding. He wiggles his fingers. It was instincts. Pure instincts, without hunger. He wasn't hungry yet. He needed security. Safety. He needed support. And there was only one person he trusted. Someone who loved him through the worst. Someone who saved his life. Someone who cared. Someone who wouldn't kill him seeing what he had... what he had become.
He needed to find Fio.
He found her in the rock quarries, amongst the abandoned scaffolds and broken bones.
And there was only... blood.
Not human blood. Strange, alien blood. Daniel Jack himself was amongst the blood, on his hands and kness. His yellow eyes staring down at the stains, his clawed fingers tracing them. The scent filling him. His demeanor wasn't a predator. It was a dog on its master's grave. The forlorn presence of death that even the lowest of animals could understand. He was sniffing around, with staggering, stilted shuffles. The blood. The smell. He knew it. He knew it too well, as it enveloped him.
It was Fio's.
There was no body.
Vision is what separates a commoner from an elite, a follower from a leader. Any fool can wander through the mists of confusion, blunder helplessly into success. But chance favors the prepared mind -- success is a repeatable occurrence for those who plan for it. For those elite few, achievements are constrained only by time and resources.
Jedah Dohma is one such noble. He strokes his blonde hair, red-irised eyes half-lidded as he steeples his fingertips together in ardent concentration.
Blessed with the ability to transcend a mortal lifespan, time is no constraint for him. Even the most jarring of losses may prove to be inconsequential when placed upon a long enough timeline.
He reminds himself of this, through clenched teeth.
His shoulders wrack with frustration as he presses his fingertips together.
For a time, he appears lost in thought.
Before him lies the decapitated body of Fio Tessitore. A slick trail of crimson vitae trails from her neck stump -- flecked with faint, saturated traces of a white powdery substance. Not far from the body lies her head, positioned upright upon a raised platform of rickety wooden scaffolding. Its hollow, soulless eyes stare back at Jedah; one eye soaked in blood from a prior battle. Its mouth hangs open in a snarling rictus of pain -- the last thought going through her head before she was plucked from the mortal coil.
The blood begins to bubble.
It starts with the sanguine pool upon the rock floor before Jedah.
Within moments, the pathway which serves as Daniel's guiding path lights up with an unholy vermillion light. Matte, dried blood turns to glossy liquid -- and then begins to bubble, and flow.
The blood begins to flow towards the body, as if it were downhill rather than up. It pulses and undulates, a living snake of fluid...
But then the flow halts.
Jedah Dohma swivels his head, calmly and rationally, towards Daniel, his poise remaining constant otherwise. His eyes glisten with recognition, frustration simmering upon his features. And yet while his pale blue face is shuddering out of control, his voice is an icy chill piercing through the darkness.
"Regrettably, you are too late to save her."
A moment is spared. The bloody reaper, framed by twin razor-bladed wings, understands the environmental misery that could cause his precisely elocuted words to be misunderstood. He appreciates the gravity of the situation, and gives Daniel Jack ample time to process the message.
After a moment, the Reaper looks down at the path of blood. Only then does the glowing, fel-infused blood begin to flow towards the Black Messiah once more. Irrespective of Daniel's motivations, Jedah Dohma has work to do.
The blood begins to move.
Bubbles and flow, boil and trouble. The detective stares at the boiling blood. As it flows, he transfixes himself And instinctively, crawls with the flow, following it, goign with the trail to the source. The smell of blood fills him. Not any scent. But pure blood. The flow stops. And so does Daniel, as he lifts his head.
And he sees a god.
Daniel Jack slowly rises into a stand. His black mist pours around his body. He stares into the eyes of the reaper. This wasn't a surprise. No, it wasn't. Because Fio wasn't alone. She was here to bring the servants of Lord Dohma back together, back to life. People who were melted in the acid pits. Like the rock zombie. And if she was struck down, she would.... she were.... struck down... Daniel.... Daniel... she's dead Daniel. Turn those eyes past him, to the head of the woman you loved, a victim. A victim.
Too late to save her.
Daniel Jack's body trembles. The lips curl back, baring those razor sharp teeth. Orange energy surges around him, mingling with a heaving black mist. And you know it. He killed her. He murdered her. And now its too late. Feel the heaving breaths over your lips. Feel your steps as you approach him. Destroy him Daniel. Rip him apart. Dominate him. Consume him. Destroy destroy destroy-
The words come out as he swallows the force within. "No, no, no scuzzy, be reasonable, be... be reasonable." Daniel Jack rationlizes. He reasons. Look at him. He's a... he's a vampire lord, of some kind. Daniel Jack's body spasms and ripples, as he chokes back the blood lust. "You're with Lord Dohma, aren't you scuzzy?" The presence, the personality. It was someone who was high up in the hierarchy. Focus Daniel, focus on this. Be reasonable. Don't start picking fights on the island. Daniel walks towards a scaffolding, away from the stranger, looking away from him.
"I've seen a lot with Lord Dohma, with Fio Tessitore, with the whole Majigen crowd. Some of his people's on this island. You guys are a lot of something, let me tell you that. But Lord Dohma..." Daniel wiggles his fingers, staring at the ancient woodwork. He bites his lip, unconsciously drawing blood as the energy flickers around him. "... he takes good care of people loyal to him. Time and time again, I've seen that. And Fio Tessitore-"
He cuts off, as a spasm overtakes him.
The detective lashes out with a ripping tear of energy, tearing down a scaffolding with a full Kasane Ate. Another slash comes out, and another, and the fourth is cut short by Daniel Jack grabbing himself. The detective growls, his form shuddering and smoking at the edges. Kill him. Attack him. Avenge her. Tear him. Kill him. The murderous presence of Daniel Jack was boiling out of him, the killing intent roaring around him. A fury held in deference. Daniel doesn't speak out, but more accurately chokes out, as he transfixes those yellow eyes back upon the stranger. "Fio Tessitore was very loyal." He says. "
"She is coming back to life, right?"
Lord Dohma is not a god.
He believes himself greater than that.
And Daniel Jack is as low and feeble as an insect, his words treated as little more than buzzing to the Black Messiah.
The demon can sense the mist-draped Todoh disciple's conflict, both in his words and his fluctuating soul. He is able to watch the Interpol agent's face as his statement lands like the blow of a hammer. It is not an unfamiliar response, the rage invoked. Lord Dohma does not turn away -- he drinks in the rage as if it were a fine wine.
Does the agent know that Jedah did -not- kill her?
It was left ambiguous on purpose, of course.
Does the agent mean to insist that -Dohma- be reasonable?
Of course not -- he's babbling to himself, clearly struggling with the strange and unusual energy shrouding him like a cloud.
Does the agent know who Lord Dohma even -is?-
The vampire lord's lips part -- and a moment later, his throat looses a derisive snort. Still he keeps his eyes lowered, focused upon his task of drawing the trail of blood back towards the pool at Tessitore's feet. But he is taking great delight as chuckles continue to roll forth from his throat with each supposition from the Interpol agent.
She has been loyal.
She will be coming back to life.
He may have declined to answer the other queries. But Jedah Dohma does not hesitate to answer the last question.
"I fear that the rules governing the passage of souls are different on this island. If it were Earth, or Majigen, her soul would be child's play to find, to reunite with this hollow shell."
The blood bubbles at his feet. No longer content to contain itself within the pool, the growing mass of blood begins to swirl in a vortex around his feet.
"Tessitore was loyal, to a point."
Dohma casually steps sideways, swiveling his shoulders and hips to face Daniel more directly. His formal attire, predominantly purple and red, and his languid, graceful motions communicate his stately grace. He had not shuddered with fear, even as Daniel let loose his fiery Kasane Ate waves upon the helpless scaffolding. If anything, the demon lord was amused -- enough to take the edge off his icy intensity.
He continues, calmly: "But she has not returned to me, Daniel Jack. I can only assume she has sought to secret herself away from me within the camouflage of this accursed island. As she has not answered my summons... I can only assume she no longer wants to serve me."
The blood lifts upwards -- six vortices of sanguine beauty swirl around the demon lord.
"You were mostly correct. I -am- Lord Dohma."
Another chuckle, punctuated by the bloodlord's cruel, condescending glare.
"If I am to track her down, her penance will be her horrified screams as I reave her soul into shreds, only to stitch her back together and begin the process anew. Perhaps... you wish her to avoid this fate."
The vortices of felblood each collapse upwards. Where before there were spirals, now there are perfect spheres, glistening with their own illumination, bathing the shattered scaffolding in their crimson glow. And the Black Messiah no longer appears to be as amused as before, as his intense gaze.is levelled onto the mist-cloaked Agent.
Daniel didn't know who he was speaking to.
%He only knew that it was powerful, and associated with Lord Dohma. The detective kept himself fixed; his negative energy pouring out and around him as he forced himself in shape. And he listens, as the strange rules and laws of the afterlife are explained to him. She... was more vulnerable than he was. Daniel... Daniel would have kept her safe if he knew that. Yeah. No. No he wouldn't, no Daniel you wouldn't, you would have killed her. Yo ucan't stop it. But Daniel slowly realized... slowly realized what this meant. What all this meant. Because the stranger made very clear that he knew his name.
And then, Daniel knew his.
Daniel felt cold. Very, very cold. The withering gaze. The crawling madness, the desires, the rage, the consumption was rattling inside him. He knew what his death tasted like. What it felt like. And the raging spirit within had no sensation of hesitation. Within, Daniel wanted to fight. It churned and writhed in him, struggled to his arms, his eyes, his teeth. Keep stable.
"You would be right, Lord Dohma." Daniel says, forcing his eyes to avert downward in deference. "You know about us." He doesn't add anymore. It was breathless words. "And you allowed it." Kill him. Defend her. And then kill her. Reap and rend pieces into pieces kill and kill and avenge and devour. The raging font of the killing intent was unceasing. "And you know exactly what I would need to do, to keep her safe." By betraying her, Daniel. You realize this, right? She's hiding. And you're gonna sniff her out.
And force her back into the enslavement you would have done anything to stop.
You know that, don't you?
Depending on where the Interpol Agent had been focusing, he may or may not have realized the changes to Tessitore's remains. It would be difficult to see that her skin coloration was a bit more pale -- to be expected, really, considering her condition. But something else is different: her spider legs are missing.
"Yes, I know about you." Jedah is quick to capitalize on the brief and momentary pauses -- eager to continue engaging the Interpol agent in his chosen form of wordplay. "The whole of Majigen has been unable to gossip about anything else but the bubbly scientist and her pet project. Which, by the way, appears to be a complete success from a scientific standpoint... "
He pointedly inclines his head to the side, making clear his ability to sense things on a level that goes beyond simple observation. Lips curling into a mild frown. "Even if there still seems to be some... difficulty in acclimating. There is some dissonance for now, but worry not: you will come to embrace the new sensations, in time."
The Black Messiah's fingers twist about, orchestrating the spinning blood-spheres into a geometric symphony as an idle pastime. A faint, disaffected smile slips back upon the bloodlord's face.
"So yes -- of course I allowed it. Our integration into society has been slow in coming. We, the so-called 'darkstalkers,' benefit greatly from having an advocate like you in a position of influence. If allowed, we will join society peacefully -- and perhaps, there will be no need for the widespread and brutal 'culling' that these foolish Outworlders plan to partake in. Humanity will benefit from the amiable exposure to their descendants, and we may find ways to evolve together, as a unified family rather than as bitter adversaries."
All the while, Jedah Dohma is in control, paying close attention to the minute shifts of mood that suggest the very dissonance he identified. He can sense the malice, the bitter rage festering within Daniel. He can see through the black mist -- and it is with that perspective that he reads a second meaning into his words.
On the one hand, keeping Tessitore safe means doing as Jedah asked: convincing her to rejoin his side.
But on the other hand, the bloodlust lurking within Daniel suggests an attempt at murder, at vengeance. A latent threat that he might be content to see Jedah Dohma facedown in a pool of his own blood -- as if it were so easy.
The razor wings at Jedah's back spread outwards. A subtle gesture -- a reminder that Daniel is speaking not with a human, but with a being of incredible power and broad, but limited, patience. His fingertips splay outward, reordering the six pulsating orbs of felblood into a rough hexagonal formation. Shadows shift across the scaffolding in accordance with the glowing orbs.
The six crimson globes begin to shrink, as their mass is redistributed into hollow spindly limbs -- a form which should be quite familiar to Daniel Jack. The blood hardens, adopting a darker shade. Four of the globes were transformed into spider appendages, suspended in midair -- adopting the exact formation she might have carried in supernatural life. The remaining two globes were transformed into sheets of webbing, rolled into a lattice which approximates the orientation and dimensions of Fio Tessitore's lower body -- the same body that lies headless just a few feet away.
"Miss Tessitore's enhancements were a condition of employment. Her instrumentation of my blood was a gift -- the Doctor called it "Type J Blood" as it bears so little resemblance to the blood of humanity. It obeys my will -- and it obeyed hers as well. Her unique physiology..."
It is here that Jedah pauses to brush a fingertip along his blue-tinged cheek, flattening his lips into a thin line. "... That too was a gift. A reward for her remarkable advancements in the field of Majigen science. A reminder that her work was not yet complete."
The demon lord arches a blonde eyebrow at the Interpol Agent, taking a step backwards as the macabre, skeletal limbs hover, transfixed in midair before him. "Her pet project is complete. I would prefer to keep her on payroll, so to speak. And if she comes back to me, willingly... I will accept her with open arms."
An Italian at heart, he spreads his arms wide in a reflection of his words.
"But she has a tremendous opportunity here, Agent. Not only can I not locate her, but on this island, I am not the only person who can reverse death -- not the only person who can infuse a soul into a lifeless husk. The Elder Gods, in their infinite folly, appear to have democratized the process."
The bloodweaver frowns a bit more, at this. "The soulstones might even allow her to be human again. Three steps backwards, if you ask me."
A complete success.
For a moment, Daniel feels a rush of release. He grins, the charm coming out. A rush if sensations come over him. And he buries it. He has to bury it, because the world around him swims. Daniel falls into mist, the clinging black smoke sifting amongst the remains of the scaffolding, between the shadows and the light. He forces himself into shape opposite of the vampire, forcing the esctasy back down. No spider legs. None of them. It was almost like she was.
And he listens to the tyrant as he continues to speak, his mind rattling inside his head. Before Tessitore saved his life, there would be nothing. But something was... awe-inspiring about him now. Something charismatic. Some kind of deeper yearning towards the Dark Messiah. He needed to keep his vision. The voice inside kept the murmuring bloodlust. But the tone was softening. The tone was changing. It was becoming obvious to the detective that... she wasn't killed by this man. Someone else killed her. And this man was... no enemy.
He was power.
Daniel Jack gnashes his teeth, gripping himself. His tone was... his tone manages to be even. "It's in everyone's best interest for... for peace. Your people, your kind, Fio. The vampires especially. You're all more human than you are. But..." What is it Daniel? Go ahead and speak to the nice man. The charming man. The powerful man. He in an incredible specimen, isn't he? He didn't kill her, so what is he? What is he Daniel?
"You're not human."
The constrasting balance between bloodlusting Darkstalker and detective was ripping through him. Daniel was a human who was still, for all purposes, still in the midsts of his transformation. He could control it. But really, Daniel. You think you were in control? I can take control any time. Oh, you are listening. Why wouldn't you listen to a demi-god? A true leader? Take him in, Daniel. Let his words run through you, his presence, his blood. And what do you do when he describes the Type J Blood?
Daniel wiggles his fingers.
"The... the soulstones could...." Daniel Jack stares at the red gem in his hand. He is sinking, as the hunger overtakes him. I take over him. Daniel feels himself becoming buried, as the memory of the souls flood him. The rich cacophony, the power. The corrupting presence was drowning him. The Ladykiller presence rises over Daniel, as his lurches forward, a terrible grin stretched across his lips, as he keeps his head lowered, submissive to Jedah. And words leave his lips, as he chuckles darkly.
"So if I bring her back to you, what would it be worth to you, Lord Dohma?"
The Black Messiah observes the mist-shrouded Interpol Agent, taking careful note of his vacillating temperaments, and his tendency to fall into mist form. He had his doubts before... but having seen Tessitore's work blossom in such a fashion gives him an inordinate sense of pride.
He is, however, careful to keep from -displaying- said pride. Every conversation held by the dark noble is a meticulously crafted negotiation. Each word, a carefully honed weapon in an arsenal of thousands. And what's more -- Jedah Dohma is well aware of the Ladykiller's reputation as an investigator.
No, there will be no freebies given.
Dohma draws his right hand to the side, splaying his fingers out once more. The arachnid limbs shatter, the outer shell collapsing as effortlessly as that of a fried mozarella stick, the gooey center comprised of the demon lord's fel blood. The endostructural additions liquefy by the time they reach Dohma's outstretched palm, though already they are beginning to reconfigure themselves into a new form.
A reaper's scythe, the crescent blade glimmering with crimson light.
An eyebrow arches, as his lips press into a concerned line.
"It is not I who stands to gain from this exchange, Agent. It is you."
The blunt end of the now-solidified scythe thumps against the cavern floor, the blade shimmering.
"If Tessitore were crucial to the fulfillment of my vision, I would have loosed a pack of my best trackers. Whereas you... " His eyebrows lower, contempt flaring his nostrils. "If I may be so bold, you are less a ravenous wolfpack than a newborn pup struggling to open his own eyes."
A hand spreads out, in the general direction of the Living Forest, and the Wastes -- the vast collection of departed souls which Dohma has not yet seen fit to sift through.
"She is lost to me. I have already made plans for a replacement. With that said -- perhaps she is not lost yet. Perhaps you can find her, and lead her back into the path of Ascension. Make me an offer.... and I shall give it my consideration."
His eyes narrow, the pupils turning to slits as he affixes his gaze onto Daniel's. The war-chest of the nation of Majigen stands ajar -- but will the Agent dare to reach his hand into it?
I need to walk away.
I know what this is. I know exactly what is happening. I know exactly how I am being destroyed. This is worth nothing. Don't do it. Don't do it.
Fio Tessitore is an adult woman. She knew her choice. She knew her decision. This was not a mistake. This was not an accident. This was her plan. Her escape. This was all according to plan. Don't undo it. Don't fall for it. TUrn away.
This is manipulation. This is a deal with the devil. This is everything that Fio didn't want from me. This is what she never forced to happen. No matter how much she wanted it. No matter how much it would keep her company. She wanted to escape. And she did. Don't make this happen. Don't do this to her. Don't do this to me.
I need to walk away.
And Daniel does not walk away.
"Let me join you then." Were the words that come over Daniel's lips. "I have my hooks in her, scuzzy. Once she sees me working for you, she will sob and cry and all that crap. And then she'll come back to you. Cause she made me like this, see? She made me in this, and it will be all her fault. She will hate herself, she will feel guilty, and she will return, willingly. The only remorse is that she left you, and made this all happen. Let me prove to you that I'm no puppy, scuzzy. I'll show you that I'm bigger than the bigger dogs you got in your corner."
There was only a murmur of resistence underneath, as the presence within of Daniel dominates it. His arms, his legs, his teeth, his senses were all his. Hunger, feral hunger was boiling upwards. The smell of blood was feeding him. The aura of the Dark Messiah was invigorating him. Majigen was calling. Majigen was yearning. And Daniel was being buried. "I just need to know what the entry fee is scuzzy... and..." There was a dark chuckle.
"What I can do to suppress this nasty humanity with-"
Daniel lurches hard to the ground, landing with a sickening thump. And immediately, he drags himself, pulling himself across the floor. Writhing. Struggling. Forcing. Forcing himself to leave. Forcing him to escape. Suppress a nasty humanity.
That was making its defiant last stand.
Lord Dohma is no mind-reader.
Not because it is inconceivable for someone with the iron will to forge chi into substative form.
Not because it is beyond the realm for a devourer of souls.
But because the conflicting thoughts of the criminally insane are worthless until composed into words.
Lord Dohma arches a blonde eyebrow at the mist-cloaked detective. A murderous aspect insists on proving itself to both the demon lord and the retreating aspect of humanity.
Daniel's body falls to the ground. And Dohma is standing there, watching with neutral passivity. There is no need for condescension, no need for judgment.
All he has to do is watch the limp reactions from the Interpol Agent below him.
Help is requested.
Help is rendered.
"There is no entry fee. I do not turn away those who willingly walk into the light of reason."
The Black Messiah draws in his breath, allowing his scythe to rest gently upon his shoulder in a less threatening fashion. The bloodlord's entire body is a weapon: he does not fear such a conflicted creature as Daniel Jack.
"Suppose a horse trainer raises a horse, from a wee colt up through maturity, to walk backwards. Five, ten years of fastidious training to accomplish a task contrary to the beast's nature -- for a horse is meant to walk forward. Function dictates form -- and the purpose of a horse is to gallop forwards, to channel the bulk of its physicality into the act of forward locomotion."
Fingertips drum lightly along the scythe's haft as the bloodweaver's red irises fix themselves upon Daniel.
"If a soldier of Majigen were to encounter such a horse, it would be slaughtered immediately, along with the idiot trainer who raised it. In a time where seven billion humans plague the earth, resources are to be shared among the worthy, not squandered upon the foolish."
Fingers clasp. Drumming halts.
Some people advance the cause of humanity, of post-humanity. These people must be encouraged to step into the crucible, to forge themselves better and stronger. However, those who have proven themselves to be useless, callow and weak..."
"'Humanity' insists that everyone has equal worth. If you wish to join me in the enlightenment of reason, you will demonstrate the fallacy of such insistence. Preserving the species, and evolving past it, directly contradicts the idea of allowing the weak to prosper. The strongest pass their qualities on to their children, as dictated by millions of years of continual evolution."
If Daniel was in his right mind, none of this would be. But between the start of this tournament and now, his mind has slowly dripped, dripped, dripped away. His perception, his judgement, his mind was fractured. The core of humanity refused to leave him, just as the core of monstrousity that dominated him now. Broken, but not destroyed. And both sides saught to anhilliate the other. There was no unity. Only an enemy within.
And the enemy was in command now.
"I need to be stronger." Daniel says, forcing himself back into a stand with a sifting of black mist. "And I will not be stronger where I am now. I can see why creatures of the night unite underneath you. Alone, you are lost. Wandering. And the one person who could set me on the path... I need to find her. And I need her back with you." Selfishness. Absolute selfishness. "Because what am I?"
"I am the beginning of a new race of humanity."
Daniel walks towards Jedah, every stride coming "The Butcher saw me as kin. He was one of a race of beings, of the next stage of humanity. Of predators, feasting on the remains of the old ways. Equal worth? Equality? I am superior! I am the greatest. I-"
Was killed by Honoka, remember?
Daniel takes his pause, averting his eyes away. "Fio Tessitore was more perfect and more beautiful with your blessing. She was nothing before you. I would have never met her, never known her without you. In order for her to be useful, to be desirable to me, she needs her legs back. She can't reject me, for what she did to me. If she rejects me, for making me what I am?" Daniel Jack flares with the chi energy, curling his fingers into fists.
"Then she deserves oblivion."
His smile is one scant degree beyond neutrality.
Approval -- but only in the barest sense.
Thoughts are free. Words carry weight. But even words pale in comparison to actions.
Lord Dohma is as still as a statue, his pale blue form edge-lit by the flickering firelight within the condemned excavation, given volume and weight by the soft crimson glow emanated by his bloodforged scythe. Tempered approval, etched into noble features, elegant and stately. He stands in stark contrast to Daniel's raving, obsequious display.
The detective has a way with words.
But Lord Dohma has been betrayed countless times in the past, many times by words such as these. An overabundance of praise to cloak a dagger in the back.
It is good that such things cannot harm a man with mere facsimiles of organs.
The statue comes to life only when Daniel asserts Tessitore's eventual disposition -- a judgment to which Jedah signals with a curt nod.
"It sounds as if your intent is to join our ranks. I will not refuse. But my trust is earned through actions, not mere words. Act on behalf of the advancement of our kind, and in due time, I may arm you as I have Tessitore."
Each word is more impassioned than the last. No longer is the demon lord listening to regurgitated echoes of his own thoughts, but rather he speaks from his own heart -- about a topic most dear to him.
The greatest discovery of the long-perished occult scientist.
"The rites of the blood are precious to me. Developed at great personal cost, forged and tempered through crucibles of terror and tragedy. Tessitore had entered into a contract to receive an infusion of my blood -- a loan which I can only assume she has now defaulted upon by =refusing= to see me."
The demon parts his lips, exposing rows of dagger-pointed teeth.
His unholy eyes glow faintly in the dark.
His skin glistens with an unnatural sheen.
His dark-hued clothing even appears to be -alive-, animated in direct proportion to his increased fervor.
"If you wish to bring her back into the fray? Her contract will be renegotiated."
The scythe shudders. And in an instant, it snaps in half, broken by the slightest grip of Jedah's right hand.
The weapon folds in upon itself, the top half breaking free and beginning to fall -- just as gravity is once again defied.
The halves of the scythe tumble about in space, and moments later, Jedah has a second pair of wings affixed to the first, the bloodforged iron transitioning swiftly from blood to the hue of steel.
Jedah casually -- vainly -- sweeps a lock of platinum blonde hair away from his ravenous eyes.
"Prove to me you are worthy of your own contract. We will speak again soon."
There is no immediate sign of an exit from this cave entrance.
That has never stopped the Lord of Majigen in the past.
The storm of his mind was stilled; the parasite was in command. Daniel Jack was the Ladykiller now, a transformed mindset bent towards cruelity and sadism. Somewhere inside was the spirit, the soul of the detective. But all that was here was a killer, a murderer, a predator. The detective's words couldn't be his own, as twisting and winding as they were. It didn't want to serve Jedah, per say. It only wanted power, and the easiest means for it.
And this was, ultimately, the easiest.
"Alright scuzz- Lord Dohma." Daniel Jack growls with a feral grin. "I'll get you the girl, and we'll get her back in your good standing. And then once she's cute with you, we'll talk about service." The detective lowers his head in deference, in bowing, in humility. And to himself, the detective speaks. "So, scuzzy..." He mutters. "We need to find out where she went..."
"Lets begin with who killed her."
Lord Dohma may have his doubts about the inevitable conflicts between the various portions of Daniel's consciousness. He is satisfied with the mist-shrouded human, so long as the Agent is clear about his deference.
He will have to figure out what this 'Scuzzy' name has to do with anything though.
"Tessitore died nearby, at the hand of the Dancing Spider -- Aranha."
The bloodlord makes a sweeping gesture with his hand -- it wouldn't have been hard for the experienced tracker to follow the trail of blood. He had assumed that's how Daniel had found him anyway.
"He refused the title of Majigen Series Champion. When I speak of those who turn away from enlightenment, it is people such as he who I speak of. He takes solace in the constructs of Man, which is why you will likely find him within the marbled walls of Shang Tsung's Palace."
Eyes narrow, as his expression grows more stern. "As for Tessitore... I have checked this palace over thoroughly, to no avail. It is quite possible she's hidden herself where the accumulation of lost souls is greatest -- the most effective camouflage."
The name dances over Daniel's lips. A target. An end. A means. A vengence. The detective felt the urge to rip him apart boil up within him. And if he refused the title of Majigen series champion.... he would be available to avenge. Shang Tsung's palace. "I'll find his scent." Daniel says aloud, the thought crossing through his mind.
As for Fio herself...
The accumulation of souls were the greatest. Daniel imagined himself devouring endless souls, ripping through them, consuming them hungrily. And then, Tessitore, plump and prone, pleading to him, begging him not to eat her. And he would have her. Or he would have her. Either was there. He would just need to keep consuming souls. He would just need to find where souls were, and consume them. And consume them. Salivia dribbles over Daniel's lips as he nods his head.
"I have an idea of what to do, my lord."
Lord Dohma's lips curl into a proud smirk: a coldly calculated expression to reassure Daniel that the Bloodlord is in full agreement with his stated course of action. Daniel's sowing a path of mayhem and discontent among the forces of Earthrealm and Outworld can only prove beneficial for the Majigen contingent.
A razor-sharp thumbnail is traced along the inside of his wrist, particularly the protruding artery that can be found there. "If you find others who might be able to assist you, do not hesitate to raise them from the dead as well and enlist their aid in your cause. Success is inevitable, so long as you keep your goals first and foremost in your mind."
And with that, he pronates his wrist, thumbnail facing downwards as it rakes across the artery. Crimson flow gushes outwards, painting the floor of the excavation site with a sickening splatter.
Almost as quickly, the flow of blood ceases, leaving behind a thin red line -- little more than that for such a large incision. At Jedah's feet is painted a rough circle, the heated liquid seething and frothing from its contact with the comparatively cold stone. Steam begins to rise from the bubbling blood.
Jedah allows his sleeve to fall back into place, as he pitches forward in a mild bow. A farewell.
"Go forth. Prove your worth to us, and we shall be in touch."
Wings fold inward, curling close to him.
He takes one step forward: a noble foot is placed into the center of the crimson circle.
Jedah begins to fall, as if the round puddle of blood were instead an infinitely deep well.
He seems to be completely comfortable with this, continuing to place his second foot within.
And another instant later, his stately self has all but vanished, swallowed up whole within the sanguine disc.
The bulk of the blood is pulled downwards into the stone, stretched like a latex skin to such a point that it vanishes completely, without a sound.
Where a noble of the Demon Realm Majigen stood one moment earlier, now is nothing more than the traces of a puddle -- a circle of dried blood staining the stone like an unsightly coffee ring left upon a wooden table.
The blessing was made.
The figure, once his enemy, was now his dark savior. His path to power. And the only price? To take make what was his. Fio Tessitore. Once she was enslaved again, she would do anything Daniel wanted. She wouldn't break away. She would be HIS to consume in every way, in any way. He just had to take her. It was win win. There was no real price. No price that was meaningful to the detective's twisted mind. Lord Dohma sinks from sight.
And Daniel looms over the circle.
Where was the pieces. Daniel paces around. The remains, Tessitore remains, they were gone. He must have taken them away. His hunger was incensed, his desire overwhelming. He had to have her, or hurt, or consume souls, or making suffer. Arousal was over him, he had to find something, or somoene, to salk his lusts. Shallowly, he wanted her pieces. To fetishize, to keep, to perserve. Deep inside?
Deep inside, Daniel was mortified.
He was gone. He was off the rails, and gone. He was given a second chance by that Rose woman. And what has he done? He has made a devil with the devil himself. And for what? Power? He was corrupt. And worse... worst of all, he was going to find Fio. He was going to find Fio, and bring her back into him. To both of them. She was free. She was finally free. And Daniel would be the one to enslave her again. And as the misty figure chuckles darkly, as he fades into a creeping fog, as he begins the hunt, Daniel realizes that the corruption wouldn't end.
And it will take his loved ones with it.
Log created on 14:12:17 01/25/2017 by Daniel, and last modified on 21:51:00 01/30/2017.