6/23/05 05:07 pm - evil_lord_zog - Purity Part 7
The Ultimates: Koschei
Anatoli Mammon clenches his fists nervously, keeping his back to the window and the mid-morning sun streaming through it. The warmth adds a touch of stiffness that his spine otherwise lacks at the present moment. That warmth - and being on the third floor - is the only thing keeping him from flinging open the window and fleeing the baroquely appointed room like a mewling child.
Ryan Purity stands by the door on the opposite side, immaculate white suit contrasting the other man's crumpled sleeping attire. There is no trace of emotion on his flawlessly handsome face, no trace of tension in his stance, no sign the gloom surrounding him is anything but expected.
Between them, light and shadow flicker. Randomly gaining and losing ground in the wash between one world and another.
Mammon's always hated the Fringe. More accurately, he's always had a fearful hatred of what lurks within it, and what its nature means for him when he dies. It is a fear that Purity enjoys seeing him suffer. It's a fear he enjoys using to control him. The fucking little sadist.
"Have you found her yet?" Purity asks lightly.
"No," he answers, voice a little higher than he'd like it to be.
"That's not what you promised me."
"Ryan, luv. Be fair," he wheedles. "The Hand was broken while you were... away. I've only a few adherents and a bunch of addled cultists to work with. She's got the whole damn Archer Pact to cover for her."
"Anatoli, my associates agreed to help you in return for helping bait a simple trap, and ensuring that it worked when it was sprung. Allowing someone to spirit the quarry away at the last moment doesn't qualify as ensuring success." Purity fixes him with chill blue eyes. "The assistance they've rendered you so far is based entirely on my advocacy. An advocacy I can choose to abandon..."
"It's not my fault that she managed to bring one of the Iron Seed strain with her," Mammon protests. "Or that her pissant little mystic friend managed to pull off that little stunt of his." He shrugs. "But what does it matter if you don't have Ashlyn O'Connor's body? She's dead, you grabbed her soul - and from what I've seen, it's just as vulnerable to your wonderful little flourishes. It's only meat they took away, meat that's probably worm food by now."
A familiar sneer crosses Purity's face. "She's an immortal, you fat fool: bound body and soul to your world. While her body remains it anchors her in a manner we cannot break, and the Architects need her unfettered and vulnerable."
Were it anyone else, Mammon wouldn't be able to say. But it's Ryan Purity, a creature he'd spent years working beside, becoming familiar with. It's that knowledge whispering in the back of his mind right now that Purity is lying to him about something. So he dissembles, nodding with the practiced obsequiousness he'd always used when dealing with that dead bitch Eva. And all the while trying how to make this insight work for him.
A grey-robed figure, face obscured by a low-hanging cowl, materializes out of the gloom and floats up behind Purity. Tilting its head, the figure whispers something that makes his former pet-torturer's mood change from one of indifferent contempt to incandescent rage. Backhanding the messenger savagely, he turns his attention to Mammon.
"Find that body. Find it sooner rather than later, or they'll never find you."
And with that, the gloom is gone and Purity with it.
Mammon lets out a huge sigh and sinks to the floor. "Anatoli my dear, what have you gotten yourself into now?"
* * *
The M60 has jammed, just like she knew it would. The AK is busted; funny how jamming even that venerable weapon down a thing's throat tends to do that.
Her armour gouged and split by the talons harder than they have any right to be, Leopard brandishes her fighting blade from the corner she's backed into. And she's angry, a spewing geyser of rage and hate made incarnate. She's going to die here, she's going to fall beneath a tide of freakbeasts. And that which sets the flames dancing in her mind is knowing some twisted mother-fucker is going to take Koschei away and do shit to her that would make De Sade sick.
And all she's got is this little fucking knife.
She cuts and slashes, flickering blade gleefully loosing fingers and scattering black blood. Leopard exults in these small things; she's gonna die but not alone. Never alone!
Below her, rubble. Above, twilight zone. Behind, the wrecked choppers. Something's got to be there.
She ducks in, half blindly gouging and half frantically rummaging. Maybe one of the SF slugs dropped something, in a pocket, in locker, under the-- Fuck! The blade spins out her grip, and something trills in glee. Leopard gropes a cool metal curve as talons whip at her face and she pulls, smashing out... smashing slamming driving killing! Frenzied. Sick of monsters. Sick of being helpless... until the fire extinguisher bursts, dousing its acrid foam over the dead Blackhawk and the dead things strewn across its threshold. She holds it by its metal flower neck, gawking at the headless victim of the old aluminium exploding cigar topple backwards out of sight.
The last of them. But she can hear more coming. Always more.
There's nothing else in here. Seats for dead soldiers. Spider's arm, lanced through... Impaled. Transfixed... The rotor!. Carbon-boron-aluminium-something. About five feet of it, erupting through the ruined technology of Spider's arm. They do that - she once saw a 'hawk get blown over while cycling up. It's blades chopped up 10 meters of runway before they shattered. Chopped... something hisses outside.
Leopard kicks out, boot striking the arm, fulcrum for her efforts. Crunch it goes, and again, rotor breaking inside it and both falling to the ground. She glances away then back; another kick and the rag doll on the other end slides wetly off. Leopard finds herself pleased at its jagged, splintered terminus, the way it looks not like a helicopter rotor as much as a... blade. Look around again as something lands heavily on the buckled airframe, look for something the dead don't need anymore to bind the shards to her vision.
Outside, her audience hisses in collective anticipation. Starts working out who's moving in for a better look first.
Brace on the wall, and pull. Tug. Yank.
Really now, really wrench that bastard!
The creatures are laughing now.
Turn within. Find that little piece of yourself, that indifferent iron nugget that makes you what others see when think "super-soldier". That part that never quits, never succumbs, that is never quenched by any amount of hot booze or hard cock. Seize it, grip it, feel it twist and abrade and bloody you and DO IT. For... love?... your duty... your hate... your blood... AS YOU ARE AN AVATAR, AS YOU ARE A GOD IN MAN'S IMAGE YOU WILL NOT FAIL!
It screams in birthing trauma and as the she falls back from the crew-crypt the heat washes over her, the aluminium coated blade fwooshing to incendiary life. The beasts shrink back as she bears aloft Judgement.
Leopard whips the blade in a casual arc, it's touch liquefying and igniting the shadows of this lightless place. One of them shrieks then screams, it's mindless wailing rising and climbing as the foot it hadn't been quick enough to move is split than devoured as the flames leisurely devour the flesh not even pausing as it spits flecks of bone ash. At it's sexless juncture they split, a diversionary force hell bent to take the other leg while the rest turns the creature into a writhing and mewling pyre. Leopard laughs, cocks an eyebrow at the rest.
They're uncertain now, glancing and stumbling. Unready to die and unable to fight.
Leopard points her Judgment at them, its wobbling length wreathed in hellish chemical coronas.
And that's when she wakes. When she always wakes. Unable to go where she needs to even in her fantasies. Like her dreams have a power that is being denied her by some intangible agency beyond her ken.
"Let's go, Leopard. The wards have been renewed, and we've got a briefing." Book, sounding anxious, impatient. The silhouette he creates in the doorway seems strange for a moment until the fug of sleep is shaken off and she remembers the tattoo his hair is only just growing back to cover.
She gets to her feet, stretches like her namesake, aware of the magus fidgeting, his dislike of hospitals obvious even to people that barely know him. She turns to the bed and looks down at Koschei's slumbering form.
Slumbering. Because that sounds better than comatose. Better than soulless shell, sustained by drips and catheters. The EEG monitor on the stand next to her fluoresces in the patterns she's been told indicate physical pain and emotional trauma. Patterns that have been near constant ever since they hooked Koschei up yet her face, her body, her physicality, seems serene.
Leopard reaches out, touches the swell noticeable beneath the sheets. "We'll find your mother little one. I promise."
I just wish I knew how!
To be continued...