Jedah - Tale 1 - Into The Pit

Description: Darkstalkers are still something of an enigma. An urban myth, a tale told of... but relegated to the fringes of society. People do not believe that they even exist, they are thought to be costumed freaks or body modders. Two passing acquaintances from a bygone era encounter each other here in the Capital 7 Casino in Metro City... and decide that it may be to change that perception. For the good of all (man)kind.

A fine hive of scum and villainy this is! The signs outside were... not subtle. In fact they were about as crude as could be -- DARKSTALKERS FIGHT TO THE FINISH! -- and the banners pissed Jedah Dohma right the hell off.

But you'd have to be some kind of freaking expert to be able to tell it on the noble's face right now. Because he doesn't look like a darkstalker -- he looks like one of the lowborn humans he's currently finding himself in the company of. Sure... these people in the top deck aren't exactly penniless, nor are they commoners -- they're the rich upper-class, the hoity-toity. For this age.

Leaning against the circular railing, he looks down at the two darkstalkers dueling to what might be pitched as 'the death' by the utterly classless announcers. It's all part of the act, Dohma realizes. But it sickens and disgusts him even moreso to know that it's all a sham. The darkstalkers below -- one lupine, his fur matted with his own blood and that of his leonine opponent who seems to be in much better shape -- are giving it their all, but the casino would lose their cash cows if they let them finish one another.

The entire spectacle disgusts him. But still he stands here watching the scene, quietly soaking in the ambience, keeping the laughing, commisserating humans in his peripheral vision as he swishes a martinez around in its glass.

In that morass of laughing, hedonistic humans, another gentleman bears the same sort of distress as Jedah, the same sort of understated, disrespectful subservience that the common-law /demands/. It simply isn't worth it to be outraged at the mistreatment of darkstalkers, these days, and Slayer isn't one to offend, despite his most earnest sensibilites. So the man sits at a table not ten feet from Jedah, a scarecrow garbed in the finest fabrics, flesh over bone, a corpse wearing a shock of brown hair for a hat. To say he looks healthy would be a lie, but there remains enough of a blush in his cheeks that that he's not asked too many questions - it's not like there aren't other cocaine abusers, methamphetamine addicts, and heroin junkies scattered around the arena's observation deck. The rich don't ask questions - they don't care.

While Slayer watches the fight, scarlet eyes half-lidded, his attention *wanders* - and oh, how it wanders. A young waitress saunters by, full of life, gorgeous, fleshy, perhaps twenty-two and certainly a near-virgin from the vague discomfort she exhibits under his smiling stare. Nearby, a man gesticulates towards another - a smoker, with a heart ready to fail, in his mid-fifties and battling a growing cancer he likely hasn't discovered yet. Slayer's eyes slink from individual to individual, eyebrows shifting in the slightest upon 'interviewing' each -- until they fall upon Jedah, standing there on the rail.

Flesh tight like a suit that doesn't fit. Heartrate elevated like a man watching his family die. Sweat, beaded on the forehead. Pupils, pinpoint. Slayer tilts his head to the side, catching the light in a way that can't help but draw the eye - he's a gentleman. It's easy to catch the flash. Best to let an equal know when you're reviewing them.

In one smooth motion, Slayer rises from his seat, plucking his pipe from the table and setting it in his mouth - smoke bubbles from its bowl, rising slow and ponderously, thick like incense. Before long the man's taken up a spot beside Jedah, eyes cast over the combatants, expression neutral.

"What do you think about this fight? Observe their stance, the light in their eyes -- or lack thereof."

Jedah Dohma has been away from society for quite some time. He'd be quick to tell people he was sleeping, of course -- when nothing could be further from the truth. He was recuperating. Plotting. Planning. Coordinating. Anything -but- sleeping... But insofar as this common world is concerned, he remained blissfully ignorant.

He'd had to get attenuated to the foul smell again. -That- took some time.

Cradling his glass in his hand, he gives it a tender sip. At least the taste of vermouth and gin hasn't changed, he considers, observing the fight.

As smoke billows out, he finds his lips curling into a mild sneer. It's not a -bad- scent, entirely -- but it's one the highborn had not experienced throughout his exile, and he's finding himself forced to endure it yet again. He knows what's coming next ... or at least he thinks he knows.

The man... does seem somewhat familiar. They'd crossed paths before -- haven't they? The agitated noble glances over to the man with the pipe, tossing a faint smirk his way. "They're desperate to win, to be sure. It's not insignificant... but it's a pittance compared to what they could earn on the grand stage."

He inhales softly, inadvertently drawing in some of that foul smoke. A trifle to tolerate for his newfound company. "Quite sad. They're in the prime of their lives, and..." He gestures an open hand down to the so-called 'Pit.'

He looks back down to the creatures below. "It's abominable." Then, in a cryptic tone, he adds, "I do hope their luck improves."

A murderous smile spreads across Slayer's face when Jedah makes his observations - lips like wilted flower petals curl upwards, and his shoulders shake in silent laughter. Desperate to win, eh? The man glances Jedah's way, pipe kindly jaunted to the left side of his mouth, for now. "Winning, certainly, but against what? They hold no love for the obvious conflict, note the movement of the eyes. It would seem that the leash has made the man into a beast - or at least, I hope so. It would be extraordinarily disheartening to see one so noble as a *lion* reduced to little more than a jester."

Slayer speaks to himself, tones a low murmur, but he's certain Jedah can hear - he's close, and he's *special*. The gangly nobleman doesn't look away from the fight, not for one second, but the smoke from that pipe billows grander and grander, broader and darker, 'till it obfuscates the view of a nearby gentleman, a fat, richly-fed fellow wearing a dress shirt and slacks, the sort of shoes you need to have somebody else polish.

"Sir, could you refrain from smoking in my *face*--"

Slayer reaches out to his left, without looking, and casually bats the man against his cheekbone. The effect is instantaneous, stupendous - the offended elite goes careening over the Pit's railing, to fall some sixty shrieking feet 'till his body impacts at EXTREME speed...

A cape, the sort worn over one shoulder, but *expanded* to greater size and *floating* some six feet above the Pit's arena floor. It cushions the aristocrat's fall, but nonetheless deposits the rich man between the two combatants.

"Let's change the equation, and see if we can't find the *real* fight, here..." That cape settles back upon Slayer's shoulder with an emotive rustle. People are staring, certainly, but nobody's going to *say* anything. Distantly, the guards are chattering endlessly into their earpieces. Slayer pays them no mind. Screaming has already started up in the lowest sections of the Pit, but his eyes are riveted to the fighting floor.

Jedah glances over to Slayer, his smile growing to mirror the bearded one's. "It's like you're reading my mind..." he muses aloud, before glancing back down to the two brawlers. Like Slayer, he had kept his voice low -- no sense in alarming the normals.

Though Slayer certainly seems to have annoyed at least one. The -nerve- of that so-called gentleman. But what comes next certainly comes as a surprise to Jedah.

Perhaps he'd been around these simpletons for so long that the thought of outright violence just... dissipated. Is -that- why they lust for violence? So they can pretend that they're better by withholding their animal compulsions, so they can be smug and content in this 'civilization' artifice they've constructed for themselves? It's a sickness, he considers -- and one which Slayer offers the cure to.

The addition of the cape to slow the aristocrat's fall, preserving his terror, delaying it... well, that just brings a more sadistic smile to the disguised demon's lips. The screaming is just icing on the cake.

The two furry fighters below quickly change their focus. Death? No. Death would be too simple. Adrenaline is pumping much too strongly for that -- now that they have a viable target. One who isn't being paid.

Blood flies from the aristocrat's mouth, spatters the walls of the pit. Not just once... but multiple times, as the lupine one slams out one wild haymaker after another.

And then he stands back, even as security officers start to swarm in. Nightsticks are drawn -- after all, tranquilizers have little to no effect on a creature of the night in such a frenzied state.

He doesn't even mind the smoke now, as he draws in another breath, savors the sensation of pure panic below. "I do so enjoy the way you think, sir." he states, not unkindly.

Slayer holds no such malice in his gaze. Where Jedah certainly relishes the visceral display of power, that reminder of mankind's *place* amongst its superiors, Slayer is simply *observing*. A deep sort of consideration falls over the man's exaggerated features - he turns with Jedah, even as pandemonium lifts from below. Casual conversation and uproarious laughter has been replaced with shrieks, shouting, gibbering, the panicked commands of senior staff to their juniors. Snarls and the meaty thud of composite carbon against flesh beat out a steady cadence to the new mood.

"Ah, to be young again. To wake up hungry and nude, to sleep covered in the blood of one's conquest! I remember those days..." Slayer laughs, and simply fixes the security guards on the *observation* level with a steady gaze. They're more than welcome to confront him if they like. As it is, the assembled hoity-toits have given him and Jedah a *wide* berth.

"Your eyes shine, the world holds mystery to you, it must! I hate to say I'm *jealous*, but I miss the days where I could feel such a rush from simple misery. Do not mistake the lesson to be learned, here. Yes, the balance has tipped - the weak feel they can ostracize the strong, the *gifted* for being... different, rare, misunderstood." Slayer leans back against the Pit's railing, and casually glances over a shoulder, red-rimmed eyes canting downwards, over the sight of two animalistic 'men' fighting for their lives against an evenly-matched cadre of security guards. Blood is *everywhere*.

It's easy to see Slayer's nostrils flare, the flesh pulling tight over his skull. He ignores his compulsions - he is better than them.

"I have only been back for a few months, myself, and the situation is gravely boring. Why, at the current rate, these ignorant fools will have stamped out *all* of the special things present in their lives. Meanwhile, on the other end..."

Slayer indicates the arena floor - lion and lupine both are fighting for their very lives.

"I'm sure you understand what kinds of new limits you find when it's your very *life* you fight for. The odd, the unwanted... they are not so different from mankind. Remember what I said about the mystery of the world, the temerity of youth - I've found that "morals" and "inhibitions" are sacrificed long before "pride"."

Slayer turns back to look at the guards, who have finally summoned up the gall to draw their weapons - they're strapped, a large-caliber handgun to each. He smiles.

"Desperation lends itself to innovation. I consider myself a patron of the arts -- you seem to be the same, if a little more... malicious."

Just under a month ago he was stuck in a land of endless torment -- delicious torment, in one sense, but exceedingly boring in another. Now, soaking in the heady emotions of the crowd below -- unbridled terror from the unarmed humans, exhilaration and thrill in the darkstalkers, the projected illusion of control from the security guards -- this is the best Jedah Dohma has felt in a long time. The intensity of emotion is enough to stir his heart, to move it to action.

It takes some... effort, really, to recognize that Slayer was even speaking to him. The security guards, for their part, are completely ignored -- the gnats can do whatever they like as long as they stay out of his face. But Slayer... his words strike a nerve. He sounds contemputuous, condescending.. and that'd be fine, of course, but he's condescending to a noble of the Dohma house. Speaking as if he's... not just evolved past the -want- to feed, but past the very -need- to feed. In Jedah's mind, Slayer thinks himself higher...

Jedah's red irises twinkle, just slightly, with the harsh lighting cast upon the Pit. "You say you've been 'back' for months... and already you're bored." His monstrous smile fades, by degrees. Slayer, the instigator of a few moments ago, and now the straight man to play against Jedah's impulsive urges, the orchestrator against a man who feels his greatest gift is his unwillingness to simply accept what's been laid before him. And yet... there are grains of truth in Slayer's words. Perhaps he didn't mean to directly impugn his nobility. Perhaps.

But there are more pressing concerns -- the gnats have made their move. With a predatory smile, Jedah squares his shoulders with one of the guards, tapping his index finger against his left wrist in what seems to be an idle gesture. "A patron of the arts... a noble cause, to be sure. I'm content to observe, for now... much has changed, and I've only been back a month. Perhaps I too will grow bored with humans, in time."

And then he draws blood. A thin red line is etched across his wrist; the red line thickens as he hyperextends his fingers, staring at it for a moment. "But for now... I've seen enough."

He turns his open palm to the security guards, a magician's grin sliding across his face. It's plain to see he's unarmed -- or rather, that the only threat is his wrist, now slicked with a thin rivulet of blood. He then extends his open palm at the guard nearest the oculus opened to the pit yawning below. A gesture of friendship, perhaps -- but the guard tenses, seeing it as a threat, his hand shaky upon his sidearm.

And then in the blink of an eye, the guard finds himself grabbed by the front of his shirt, impossibly levitated upwards. It betrays logic, it betrays reason -- but in another heartbeat, the guard understands, sees the long sinews, arteries, and veins connecting the hand at his shirt to the noble standing several yards back. Unmoved, and indeed, still wearing that leering smile, Jedah casually twists to the side, his mostly-detached hand jerking the guard off his feet, and suspending him over the railing. The impossible physics of the situation become clear -- there should be no way he could have even been moved in that direction, let alone suspended over the spectacle below. Blood drips from the nigh-disembodied hand, staining the security guard's nice, tidy uniform.

And still, Jedah smiles. Casually, as if struck by the sudden need to crack his neck, he cocks his head to the side -- just in time for a bullet to whiz past his head, a bullet announced by the explosive report of the gun carried by the other guard, who had finally overcome the paralysis that struck when his partner was hoisted off his feet.

"Are you in the mood for hors d'ouevres?" asks Jedah casually, never having departing from the low tone he'd kept conversing with. For the guards do not deserve the monstrous noble's attention. Desperation is not a sensation for -him- to experience at the moment.

Slayer's seen a lot in his centuries, perhaps millenia, but a man being hoisted by a disembodied hand, Jedah's casual lack of concern for his very body -- well. You can't really blame the old man's eyebrows for jumping a little bit. Still, he leans against the railing, back to the viewing area, eyes on the remaining guard, the trail of blood adjacent.

"A hemotheurge, mm? I don't believe I've ever had the opportunity to meet one in my years - impressive. The rumors about you were..." Slayer runs a finger through his beard, along his jawline. "...Nowhere near the reality, I would imagine. Enough experimentation to make even Vlad of Draculesti look tame. Truly monstrous." Slayer finds himself staring at the blood Jedah's spilled, his jaw clenching, muscles bunched beneath his cheek. He realizes his folly, the 'tell', and turns away from the guard, his gun, and, most importantly, all that *blood*.

His eyes instead find the carnage below the landing, once again. "I appreciate your offer, but I feel I'd embarass myself - I worry I've lost all my manners. It's been some time since I've had to play this particular game, you understand. I'd hate to appear *rude*. Still..." Slayer focuses less and less on the situation around him, beside him. In a way, he becomes *engrossed* by the fighting downstairs, the savage carnage on display. Human flesh is strewn everywhere, mingling with blood, fur, and scale.

"I apologize, but I think I must correct you on one important point: Humans are hardly boring." Slayer indicates the crowd beneath the platform, allows a smile to pull at his thin lips. There's a twinkle in those cinnamon eyes, the outward sign of a sort of macabre kindness.

"Incredible depth of creativity, insurmountable ambition, but such tremendous laziness. Observe, down there. The young beasts fighting for their lives have coerced the humans into a sort of stalemate - see how they have found tools in their pockets, begun to understand how much *potential* lies in the mundane objects around them? Envision it on a global scale, Darkstalkers winning back their place in the world, humans struggling to maintain their seat on the throne. Blood is drawn, fangs are bared..." He spins back around, hoping that Jedah has finished whatever morbid thing he was up to back there.

"People will find their spark once more, I promise. Desperation will bring it out of them."

Hemotheurge -- Jedah will have to remember that one. Language has changed so much in the dozens of years he's been in his prison of not-quite-death, and society has moved on so very far. And yet, Jedah feels, they have moved backwards.

The noble did not fail to notice the obvious feat of will that Slayer is performing. It was a calculated guess on Jedah's part -- the voluntary spilling of blood in front of a creature who claims to not desire it any further. But this is, for all intents and purposes, an ally of his -- there's no need to unnecessarily -provoke- him by teasing the blood in front of him. And besides... he's actually rather impressed that Slayer is as good at keeping composure as he is -- and he acknowledges such with an impressed not_bad.jpg smile.

And then he realizes he'd been holding a guard so casually over the Pit, and that while his grip on the man's shirt has not faltered in the slightest, the man seems to be about to fall out of it. And that simply won't do. Dismissively, Jedah gives the man a sharp jerk inward -- his knee cracks against the railing, but it's a small price to pay for the relative safety of -not- falling to certain doom. And besides, now the guard has Dohma's full attention, as she noble's most bone-chilling gaze bores into his eyes, his smile alight with amusement. "Not boring, you say... but right now, -very- boring. They think they have power... all that's needed is to remind them of their place. They may have -thought- themselves the alpha predators..."

Dismissively, he tosses the guard off towards the other guard, still paralyzed with fear. Bodies tumble across one another like tenpins, and... cowering, they decide that a tactical retreat is probably the best option for now. Some of the other hoity-toities take the hint, and leave with them.

"The question then becomes, my dear friend..." he continues, leaning casually on the railing. His wound, the slit wrist... knits back with only the slightest delay. "... on how we might accomplish what you have in this petri dish, on a wider scale."

Slayer watches guard tumble into guard, offering a sympathetic wince at the crackle of bones and the yelping either man emits in the face of pain. As they scramble away, Slayer leaves his perch at the Pit's railing - the sounds of chaos and bloodshed continue, but he doesn't seem to care who wins. His attention is on the ceiling, his thoughts, the pipe in his mouth.

"I'm afraid that falls to you, Master Dohma - I regret that you've found me in a rare state. I've 'retired' from the game as a whole, but can't help my own proclivities -- I like man, for all his weakness and intolerance. I enjoy the art, the comedy, the tragedy, and even older children require patronage from time to time." He pulls his pipe from his mouth, billowing out a plume of bat-winged smoke, and continues walking towards the Pit's exit on long-legged steps.

"Consider this, though - the Darkstalkers require champions and guides, momentum and initiative. They have no cause to call their own, no banner to rally around, and truly, how can you blame them?" Slayer stops, to reset his pipe in his mouth, to withdraw a watch from his pocket. "The Darkstalkers are ready to fight for their place on the planet. Somewhere, a torch rests, wrapped in rags, doused in the oil of bigotry, and as volatile as it could ever be. This started with a push," comments Slayer - with his pipe, he gestures to the bloodbath behind him.

"You, young, with the eager eyes, the snapping jaws!" Slayer's voice rises, he sweeps that pipe towards Jedah! Eyes glow *crimson* behind their warmth. "The Darkstalkers are as devoid of hope as humanity, and with the evils awaiting both, it falls to us to conidition them such that the finest survive! Be the spark to light the torch, and we might find places for both to occupy the world's stage, just a little longer!"

In a sweeping motion, the cape over Slayer's shoulder is thrown before him - it unfurls into the shape of a bat-faced creature, its fabric large, voluminous. Wordlessly, Slayer steps within, and is quickly swallowed up! The garment folds in upon itself, until nothing remains...

Somewhere very far away, Slayer exits his cape, visibly bothered, jaw clenching and unclenching furiously. Sharon *must* forgive him, and *soon*, lest he lose it all...!

Log created on 22:28:07 12/30/2014 by Jedah, and last modified on 22:47:27 01/08/2015.