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View Full Version : Bloody Nina (Shadowkirby) VS Hollywood (Crank)



Crank
12-26-2013, 05:31 PM
Please do not vote on the poll until after Shadowkirby submits his battle, I'd rather not have to delete this. Shadowkirby, I don't mind if you need another week or something, I'm just posting this because I feel like it's got all my characters on lock-down, hope to hear from you soon.

CnC is always greatly appreciated.

Hollywood VS Bloody Nina: August Parallel (http://forums.stickpage.com/showthread.php?78713-And-Behind-Door-Number-1)


There’s nothing quite like waking up at 4 in the morning only to get to work and be told someone jacked up the schedule. Six guys were already at the Between the Trees Diner when I stumbled in with a yawn at five to five, and being the last one there, I was the one sent home and told to come in Sunday instead. It really was a pain to keep the F-bomb out of my “Are you kidding me?” to management.

Seeing how I start the day with a hot shower, it was already too late to catch up on sleep and way too early to either pick up my dog from the vet or my brother from his sleepover. Maybe that wasn’t half bad though, I had to take out a loan to get Sparky his surgery, so now would be a good time to slip over the wRHG to pay it back. My gladiator gear was in the trunk anyway.

Stabbing the key into the ignition, I pulled out of the work lot and made my way to the highway, turning up my stereo as it played the new Pop Evil album. A long drive let it play through twice, and I was really starting to like Divide for a theme song. Maybe it was a little team oriented, but even if I did go that route, it’s how I felt about my brother and friends.

The chorus was still playing in my head when I finally pulled into the wRHG lot. It was massive, but fairly bare. Then again though, it was only about 7:50 on a monday morning. I found a spot close to the front door before taking down my back seat, throwing on my masks from the trunk and swapping out of my work clothes. Don’t get me wrong, I think the camo pants, black shirt is something sick to get to wear to work, but I really didn’t want anyone there to pick up that there was a gladiator who practically wore the same thing. That, and the diner’s logo’s actually on the shirt. Kinda dead give away. Tossing my sash of darts over my shoulder and securing my blow guns to my pants, I finally left the lot, pushing through the front doors.

Just a couple people were chatting in the lobby, no one I really recognized but I accidently stared a bit at the man with the burn mark on his face. Not because it scarred long dead skin, but because it was more of a shape arching over, and then traveling under his eyes. He took it well though, giving me an exuberant wave and giant toothy smile to which I replied with a nod before peeling my gaze away from him. He was a little too happy to be in a place of death.

“Bit of an odd ball, eh?”

“Huh?” My attention shifted towards the man behind the front desk, his black hair combed back neatly, not counting the shaved chunk missing at the side. “Yeah, maybe a little. What happened there though?”

“Just something Dale thought would be funny,” The man chuckled, pressing a few buttons on his keyboard, “And even though it was to most people, I’ve still got to kill him for it!” Considering where I was, I wasn’t entirely sure how to take that… “But anyway, how can I help you?”

“Just wondering if there were any matches available,” I shrugged, finally making it to the counter.

“You can probably challenge ol’ August over there. Just got out of the hospital after falling off the grid in a haunted house.”

Haunted house? Long standing rumor was that everyone is this organization was possessed. Or, at least that’s what Leo told me before he left last night. Apparently he lost nights of sleep because of some Kyra chick. Having no intention of fighting with someone who may or may not have brought a ghost back with him, I shrugged. “Got anyone else?”

“Giles Smiles Miles?”

“He sounds like a teddy bear.”

“Well he’s dressed like one.”

The receptionist and I held a long stare before we both just started dying. “Got anyone I can compete against without looking like a child hating devil?”

“How dangerous of a fight you looking for?” He questioned, his laughter quieting down with mine as he checked his computer. I could hear the mouse wheel as he scrolled. “I’ve got a demon in the area if that works.”

“Which it doesn’t.” We were suddenly both dead serious, only he was a little confused as well.

“Huh, most hero types would’ve jumped at that.”

“Well I don’t have a death wish,” I stated, crossing my arms, “I just don’t want to die, and I don’t want to be the bad guy here.”

“Picky much?” Then irritated, the man’s hands found themselves on his hips, “Then I might not have anything for you.”

“Then call me when you do.” I saw his eyes roll when I turned to leave, but I heard him speak up after I had taken at least five steps to the door.

“Alright, wait, I think I’ve got something for ya.”

Not even looking back, I just rose my voice. “What?”

“There’s a girl, Nina Candlewish.”

Offended, I faced him again, eyes narrowed. “You want me to fight some girl, after I just told you I didn’t want to be the bad guy? What the hell type of man fights a woman?”

“Not fight,” The man assured me, speaking slow as he reached out his open palms as if to signal me to calm down, “Just find. She’s a witness to countless unspeakable crimes. That’s it, okay?”

Sighing heavily, I shook my head for a few seconds before finally agreeing. “Alright, fine. Tell me what I need to know.”

“Rumor has it she’s looking for something out in the woods,” He informed me, relaxing his shoulders as his hands went back to his keyboard. “You might have some luck if you checked out Demon’s Den. I’d bet money that’s where she’s heading.”

I stared blankly at the man. Demon’s Den was practically an urban legend. Supposubly, it was populated by some cult trying to attain immortality through the blood of demons, if you believe in that sort of thing. People went missing, apparently their bodies used as sacrifices and their blood to paint symbols on the ground and walls. They chanted and prayed in the night, but then one fateful day something came and killed them all. Myth is that it was a demon that they had summoned, but the rest of us think it was the children’s parents, or the people the parents hired that came under the black sky to end them. Regardless though, it was a bloody slaughter. I think the count was fourteen bodies, including the ten cultists. The other four were the missing kids, but they were long dead.

“Okay,” I finally decided, “Demon’s Den it is then.”

“What demon?” All eyes drifted to August as the man he was with tried ushering him away from the new conversation. He didn’t pick up on the gesture though, and something about the way he asked made me think he didn’t even know what a demon was.

“It’s basically a human like monster from hell,” I shrugged, trying not to think about it too much, “There might not even be one though.”

“Oh,” August held the word for about five seconds before finally letting it go, “August come!”

“That’s really not-” I cut my sentence off suddenly as I reconsidered what I was about to say. My eyes drifted as Aug’s plus one motioned for me to continue. “Actually,” The man buried his face in his palm, “I wouldn’t mind having a hand, sure, why not?”

“Before you two head out though,” The receptionist jumped in, fishing for something under the counter, “Make sure you throw on a few cameras, we can’t air anything without footage, and we can’t pay you unless we get paid!” Seemed fair enough. I shrugged as he pulled out a couple bags and caught them as he threw them. The cameras were clear aside from the black lense and about the size of a dime. Each had a sheet of paper on the back, which, I assumed was because they were sticky, and they didn’t want that to run out. “Just make sure you put one on your head, upper body, back, and depending on what you fight with, fist or weapons.” Back? Fun. At least now I had someone to watch it for me though.

“Yeah okay,” I nodded, motioning for August to join me, “See ya in a bit.”

Don’t you just hate it when the first thing you discover about someone is really weird? Well we didn’t even make it to the door before I found out smile and scars was a hand holder. Now, it would be different if he was a girl or child, but it looked like he had a year or two on me and I was technically an adult. Worst part was that he had a strong grip, so I couldn’t just slip my hand out. Felt like an idiot as he waved to the people walking up to the building we were departing. It was bad too! He was giving me an innocent ignorant vibe, but with freaking interlocking fingers I’m pretty sure all the passer-bys got a gay one from us.

“Okay Aug, we’re at my car. You have to let go now.”

He cast me a massive kind smile as he finally let go. “Okay. August take back when stop!”

“Fantastic.” In that very moment I discovered he had absolutely no idea what sarcasm was. I brought my palm to my face at high speeds before unlocking the doors. Taking my seat in the driver's seat, I motioned for August to get in the passenger’s. I would’ve sent him to the back, but seeing how he’d been doing this longer than I have, I had questions to ask.

My radio started as soon as I twisted the key, and I instantly picked track five.

Separation, discon-
“What se-pra-tin mean?”
“Break up.”
t up, it's a cash cow-
“Cash money?”
“Mhm.”
“Cow food. Why money one?”
“It’s an expression, it’s not literal.”
-the medicine
Walk around with no real voices
Dissolution w-
“W-”
“I don’t know that one either.”
-to begin but division withi-
“Divisin?”
“Separation.”
“What that again?”
I groaned as I gave up on my theme song, shutting the stereo off as I repeated myself. “When you break something up. Put parts of a whole in multiple places, or just use some.”
“But hole no space. No work.”
“What?” I gave him a quick blank glance, not having time for the stare on the road, “Just forget it.”
“Okay!”

I was shocked the following silence actually lasted as long as it did. Maybe fifteen minutes passed before I slowly remembered I had questions for my passenger partner.

“Hey Aug,” I inquired, passing my gaze for a quick moment, “How long have you been a wRHG?”

“Long time,” He eagerly replied, looking at his fingers as he rapidly extended them, “This many fights!”

...He couldn’t count to four? Forget it, I give up. “Ah.” We drove in silence from there on out. Demon’s Den was in the forest a little over an hour drive away, so with the hike to get there, maybe it’d latch on another forty-five minutes. If memory served right, it should be under the roots of the great oak, towering high over the other trees. Yeah, it was going to be a long day.

The bright sun was shining down on us when we finally made it to the forest, pulling to into a rest stop just off the highway. Adjusting my mask, I stuck the cameras where the receptionist had instructed, and after August had as well, I motioned for him to get out. Not giving him the chance to hold my hand again, I weld my weapons at my side while he rolled his metal backpack on his shoulders. Not counting whatever was in there, it looked like he fought with the shields on the back, both holding each other together around the rims.

“Ever heard of this Nina girl,” I eventually asked, leading the way to the trees, steadily growing thicker as we advanced, “What sort of crimes are we dealing with here?”

“No know,” My friend shrugged, looking down and taking note that my hands were full. “Guardian Wright no say.”

“Does he work for wRHG?” I inquired, averting my eyes upwards as I scanned for the massive landmark, “Or do you just work for him?”

“August work him,” He nodded, smiling as I felt a warmth gently constrict on my wrist. Someone can’t take a hint.

“Hey, stupid question,” I took a moment to step over a log, “But why do you keep grabbing me?” It took a second, but I blinked heavily at my wording. Half of me was glad Jack wasn’t around to point out my word choice.

“You warm. August like!”

I guess it did technically make sense, it was getting cold out but that didn’t make it any less uncomfortable on my end. We moved in silence again for a while, but just so I knew what to expect I opened my mouth again. “Hey Aug?”

“Hm?” His jubilant eyes locked on mine as he tilted his neck.

“Just to be clear, hand holding is all you know when it comes to social contact, right?”

“August fight,” The scarred man casually replied, looking back forward, “Learn kiss at gho-”

My eyes suddenly popped open. “Okay!” I exclaimed, slightly too loud, “Just so you know, kisses are off limits to all strangers.”

“Who you?”

“Hollywood.”

“Now August kiss Hollywood?”

I stopped dead in my tracks as if the question was liquid nitrogen landmine. “No.”

“Why? Kiss bad?”

Shaking my head violently of all the weird visuals flashing in my mind, I jogged back up to the man before he started tugging on my arm. “Kisses are intimate.”

“What mean?”

“Can we not have this conversation?” My eyes were somewhat pleading as they looked back to Aug, “Just know that we are not intimate.”

He looked at me with all the genuine curiosity and confusion of a puppy you just pulled back from a dead squirrel. “Why not?”

“Dude!” Not gonna lie, my voice cracked right there, “Any other conversation!”

Thoughtfully, he put his free hand on his chin as his emerald eyes gazed up at the clear sky. “Hollywood want food?”

It took a moment, but I was quickly able to trail his look to a few birds flying overhead. “You about to kill one if I say yes?”

“Yep!”

“Nope.”

“Aww.”

I rolled my eyes, but briefly after that I managed to make a sane conversation out of it. Apparently birds are among August’s favorite foods, second only to berries. Never met his folks, but he still turned out alright despite living in the woods on his own. The guy almost made it his entire life without much social contact, but then something happened that changed all that. He didn’t really talk about it much, claiming to have forgotten, but seeing as he told me that’s where he got his burns from, I doubted as much. The memories didn’t make him shake, worry or freak out, but for whatever reason he stuck with his ‘no know’. It did however, look like he legitimately forgot something though. Maybe what he was supposed to say? I don’t know, and I still didn’t know by the time we got to the great oak.

“Guess we’re here,” I shrugged, kicking one of the exposed roots next to the trunk before my eyes fell to the forest floor, “We should be on top of the place, I think there’s supposed to be a latch or something just under the dirt.” Gradually, I tilted my foot, sinking the side under the earth before sweeping it away like a broom. Just more ground underneath, but I never really thought I was that lucky to begin with. Across from me, Aug squatted down, using his hands to claw at it until something just barely to his left caught his eye.

“August see!”

“Already?” Perplexed, I left my spot, pacing over to where my friend was now standing back up. Indicating a point on the ground, I followed his finger. “Huh. Guess Nina beat us here.” Motioning him behind me, I walked over to what appeared to be a wooden floorboard, the dirt dusted off the top, and creaked the latch open. The most I could see were a few stairs leading to the darkness, waiting for us down below. “Well that’s fun.”

“Why fun?”

“Someone really needs to teach you sarcasm, Aug.”

“What sar-ca-sim?”

“Just not me.” Taking lead, I whipped out my phone, adjusting the settings quickly. I wasn’t exactly walking into this prepared, and it was really the only light source I had. Changing the ‘Dim’ to ‘Always Bright’, I rehooked one of my blowguns on my belt loops, choosing instead to solidify my grip on my flashlight substitute rather than risk dropping it and walking blind from there on out. I couldn’t see more than three feet in front of me with the faint light, just enough to see the inner workings of the tunnels. I didn’t have to look down to see the wooden floor, I could hear it creak with every step I took, but it was nauseating to see the black mold forming on the oak planks surrounding the rest of the underground. Every ten or so feet we’d pass a door, but with a quick scan inside we consistently found them as empty as the hall. It was grim, but not what I expected Demon’s Den to be. Guess it got cleaned up after everyone died, but left to rot after that.

“Nina?” I shouted, cupping my hands over my mouth and leaving my echo to repeat on loop, “Hey Nina! Can you hear me?”

I threw August a shrug before he tried himself, and with just as little success. He did, however, take interest in the echo. I swear, within two minutes of walking he was just testing various sounds, his personal favorite being a bang. And without freaking warning too, he’d just get bored, take the shields off his back and slam them into the wall as hard as he could, giggling as he heard the noise repeat. Now, that might sound innocent to you, but put yourself in my shoes. I don’t believe in the demons, but believe me when I say I believe in the threat, so when I’m calling out to some girl, knowing fully well something’s after her, and then hear a sudden bang four inches away from me… Yeah. I jumped. Not cool.

“August like sound!”

“Hollywood doesn’t!” It was the fifth time at that point, and nerves shot, on edge and with my phone slowly dying, I may have freaked out a little, “You’re going to scare the hell out of her and she’s going to hide from us! Geez!” I paused for a moment, just to be steamed in silence. “We’re the good guys here! Quit making her think there actually is a demon running around!”

“August sorry.”

“Good!” I went to murmur something to myself, but his hand suddenly yanked my wrist, killing my step forward and swapping it for a backwards stagger, practically falling over as my arms flailed.

My friend’s whisper beat out my curse. “Hear that?”

“Huh?” My narrowed eyes slowly lifted as my ears perked, trying to pick up an alleged sound in the distance. Sure enough, something was there. “Is that…” August and I exchanged a glance, “Crying?”

“Girl sad,” He quietly agreed, signs of concern showing on his hyped up face, “We go.”

“Yeah w-” It suddenly dawned on me that the last thing someone scared out of their mind wanted to see a black hockey mask. Hesitating, I scratched the back of my neck behind my hoodie, “You go on ahead, I think there’s an altar a little ways up. Something might be there, but if that’s Nina, let me know. I’d rather not make an unnecessary trip.”

“August get girl,” He agreed, smile swiftly returning as he dug into his pocket. About a second and a half passed before he dug out a phone of his own, instantly irritating me. He had that all along? Picking up the pace a bit, we half jogged until we found the door the source was hidden behind.

Light still limited, we only saw a round portion of the wooden frame as we approached, so a sudden splash under my shoe caught me completely off guard. “What the?” Chills rippling down my back, I turned to August as he slowly twisted the door knob.

“Hollywood go,” He smiled, possibly sensing my fear, “August be okay.”

Not quite wanting to enter, especially after ducking my phone light to catch the crimson color of the liquid, I nodded to him. “Yeah…” I took a slow step back, my stomach churning a bit, “I’ll see you outside Aug.” We traded my fake smile for his real one before I left to head forward. He let me get about ten feet away before he pushed the door open slowly, the echo of the ominous creek following me farther down the hall, just under the soft gasp of the girl, but over the soft voice of my friend. I couldn’t make out what anything they said was, they were all just sort of lost in each other. The crying did quell as I continued to advance however, and I heard myself swallow hard as I finally made it to the end of the hall.

Up until then, everything in these tunnels were wood. This last door however, was solid steel, splashes of rust splotched all around it and with enough strange symbols to write a book in a foreign language. The grip on my weapon tightened as my hand gripped the handle for the door after slipping my phone in my hoodie pocket. Sweat was dampening the ski mask I wore under the hockey one and giving me a slippery grip as I finally heaved the door open.

Having a crack inside to slip though, I entered the room, leaving my phone in my jacket seeing a torch on the far side of the place as I shut it behind me. A cult definitely lived here. My side was still enveloped in darkness, but coming towards the faint light I could see a four foot wide splotchy purple and blue carpet, crawling forward about five feet before climbing up three stone stairs and stopping at an obsidian altar, carved with even more unfamiliar symbols. On top of it sat an ancient book, the pages torn and yellowing. I really wanted to leave, but the figure standing behind it made me know I had at least another minute. The only light behind her, I couldn’t make out the face of the woman as she looked up from the reading. All I could make out was she wore something on her head.

“Nina?” Damn I’m a good actor! Courage captured my voice as my posture straightened, taking two strong steps forward and keeping the shaking teen just below the surface.

“Are you here to have your way with me?” Her voice had all the flirtation of a succubus as she slowly paced around the altar, her open palm gliding across it upon her approach, “So, where’s your friend? It’s always more fun with more people.”

I’ve done improv classes before, but geez! It took me a couple seconds to even think of a response. “I was tasked with finding you,” I replied, voice somehow still steady, “I heard of the crimes you witnessed, and I’m here to keep you safe from the perpetrator.”

“The crimes I witnessed,” She mused, wrapping her arms around my neck, “So, you’re one of those hero types, aren’t you?” Now within inches of me I could finally make out her appearance, as well as the ‘something’ on her head, which was a long rope wrapped like a headband. Evidence maybe? I don’t know, but what I did was that she was definitely a looker. Smooth complexion, great body, in her twenties, silky black hair and blue eyes. I’d be a lot more specific, but considering our close proximity and how my anatomy works, I really didn’t want to deal with that.

“I’m not a hero, ma’am.”

“Oh so you’re a bad boy!” Her body pressed closer to mine, and my mind raced trying to think of anything to prevent me from giving any signals, “Well that’s good…” A slutty smile slowly slid across her face as I felt her pull my hood down, “Because I’ve been a bad girl.”

My eyes clasp shut as I did all I could to keep clean thoughts in my head. One arm left my neck as the other slid under my hair, oddly enough the same length as hers, and onto my bare skin. “Because all those crimes I witnessed...” Her voice lowered to a whisper as she leaned her neck forward, her lips pressing against my ear through my masks, “I committed.”

Air caught off immediately as a rope suddenly ensnared my neck, snapping it tight in a deadly vice as an airless gasp fired out of my lungs. My veins were bulging as they begged for oxygen and my eyes were the size of the moon when my fumbling hands dropped what they held, flying to the rope to tug it down. Maniacal laughter filled the air as pressure seemed to build up in my brain, like a sealed coke you just dropped a dozen Mentos in, bound to explode. Rapidly growing dizzy, I finally wrapped my fingers around the rope as I dropped my blowgun, but Nina ripped both sides of it away even harder, stealing their blood circulation, turning them, and my face purple.

Hopping lightly in the air, the psychopath wrapped her legs around my waist, keeping her off the ground as sadistic pleasure filled her wicked eyes. Going blind from a shut down, I had to fight not to fall back, but as I stumbled, a rare thought fired through my numbing mind.

Fall on her.

The lights fading, I forced my faltering legs forward, taking four steps before letting gravity take me, eyes closing like a loose garage door in anticipation.

A felt a thud and crack in unison as Nina’s back crashed into the floor, and her head between the edge of a stair and mine. The rope loosened, and frantically I tore it away before my eyes even opened, abducting an obese gasp of air, giving life to my dying lungs. Jittery from a still lacking oxygen, my arm fumbled as I slammed it on the girls neck, shoving off her as my gaze finally snapped open.

Two things registered panic immediately.

Blood: dripping off the stair underneath Nina’s cracked skull, and the growing smile, stretching across her entire evil little expression. Terrified, I swiped my other blowgun from my pants and smashed it into her face as hard as I physically could. Splatter came out the back of her head as it bounced yet again on the edge and crimson poured down her nose as the cartilage shattered. Heartbeat and breathing accelerating faster than my car, I ripped her legs off from around my waist and back peddled so fast I lost my balance and fell over.

Coughing as my groan and gasps conflicted, I rolled over to my stomach, taking a few seconds to collect myself before lifting myself upright. I was on a knee when I froze in place, feeling a cool shadow overtake the warmth of light from my back. Denial spun around in my head like a dreidel on Hanukkah before I finally forced my neck to crane over my shoulder.

I saw her sitting on the step before I heard her. “So, they really didn’t tell you a thing,” The darkly enticing voice of a nightmare mocked, as she cracked her nose back into place, “Did they? When’s your friend getting here? He sounded…fun.”

Soon, I hoped. I could feel my legs shaking as I stood up, heaving another breath as if that could conceal my terror. I really didn’t want my first fight to end with a rescue, but I wanted to die endlessly less. “Doesn’t matter,” At least my voice still had power, “You’ll never get the chance to meet him.”

“Oh?” She mused, rising to her feet as she felt the back of her head, “And why is that?”

“Because you won’t get passed me.”

Condescending laughter spilled from her as she checked her palm, soaked in blood, “So you are one of those hero types!” Her tongue fell out of her mouth as she slowly licked the crimson, a bead forming on the edge of the muscle before the droplet fell to the floor, absorbed in the carpet on the spot. Apparently that was how the blue turned purple. Pulling it back behind her teeth, she added, “So, what did it for you? It’s usually the parents.” Her smirk somehow expanded. “Did something happen to your Mommy and Daddy?”

I was suddenly shaking for an entirely different reason.

“Oh, so it something did happen to them,” She was giggling as she wiped the remaining red on her pants, “Well now something worse gets to happen to you.”

“I already met August.” At least I remembered how to joke.

“Well I could use some August right now,” Standing up, she slowly turned around, making her way back behind the altar, “December’s cold, but your cooked flesh should keep me warm in the meantime.” Continuing her walk, she finally stopped when the torch was within reach. I winced when she took it, not wanting to deal with the arm length bronze.

“Then try to take it.” Please don’t.

“I will.” Damn.

Seeing how she seemed to be the type of girl to drag things out and I was still banking on backup, neither of us were in much of a hurry as she slowly walked back. Rubbing my bruised neck with my arm, I grimaced before reaching into my jacket, pulling out a line of darts from my sash. I was really getting sick of her laugh, but it came forth upon the sight of my weapon.

“Oh that’s adorable!”

I rolled my eyes as I pulled my hockey mask up, leaving only the ski to conceal my identity. “Sweet dreams, bitch.” Popping the first in my mouth and biting down on the back, I jerked my blowgun up and over it before a -pffft- sent it soaring. Tracing my aim however, Nina twisted her wrist with ease, deflecting the projectile of the torch just over where her heart should’ve been. I swore to myself as I loaded another, blaming it’s lack of speed on my lack of air.

My throat screamed as I dumped everything in my lungs on take two, and although this one actually flew, she spun to the side like a dancer to evade it. I gulped a breath of air into my body as she pulled her torch back, prepared to strike. Quickly slipping my remaining three darts between my fingers, I twisted my hand with the gun and brought it down at the girl, meeting nothing but air as she jumped to the side behind my back. Whirling around on my heel, I cocked my fist back for a spiked hook, but a brown blur caught my peripheral vision as Nina entered it.

I had no idea the end of the torch was sharpened to a such a point until after I felt it impale my hip. The scream I made was the last thing my bruised neck needed, but Nina almost seemed to get high off it as she tore the flaming stick out, jamming it back at me like a- like exactly what she was. Adrenalin gushing with my blood, I took a quick sidestep as I jabbed my fist just under her neck, burying my darts deep as the force of the blow sent her staggering. The then empty hand slid down to cover my soaking stab while my other swung the blowgun like a hamming bashing in nails. I hit the one on the left square, the dart slamming through her skin like a drill, leaving a squirt of shooting blood behind it, staining my mask as she fell to a knee.

I was already grimacing at the disgusting scene I had created, but my face contorted with horror as Nina looked up, frowning at me. “Well that wasn’t very nice.”

“Will you just go down!?” Like a madman I swung downwards again, but Nina swiped her forearm into it’s path. I almost vomited when I felt it crack beneight my might, visibly watching as the two halves of the bone press against her skin, leaving a faint ‘v’ in the limb, still pushing my weapon from her path. Body wide open, she lunged the torch at my chest, fire first, and the most I could think to do was tug my jacket over my shirt before it was lit aflame.

My hoodie ignited upon contact, a scorching agony spread with the fire as I staggered back screaming. The revolting scent of my roasting skin was just another insult as my limbs thrashed, smoke drifting into my lungs in the midst of my anguish. Desperately, I tore one of my arms out a sleeve, flinging my burning jacket on the carpet as I fell on the dirt. I could hardly breathe when my body struck the cool ground, only to feel my body flare up like an inferno as the fire spread up the carpet. Both of my arms were a horrifying shade of red as I painstaking pushed myself upright, releasing another shriek as excruciation rippled.

“God, I love that sound!”

Teeth clenched for a full list of reasons, my exhausted eyes drifted slowly between Nina and the line of fire cutting through the room. I don’t know what the carpet was made of, but whatever it was it was making the flames rage hungrily. “I don’t know where you are Aug,” I murmured to myself, finding my second blowgun lying on the ground, “But hurry the hell up…”

“Oh, I’m sure he’ll be here before we’re done,” The woman cooed, taking a step forward on the same side of the blazes as me, “I never rush a kill.”

“Maybe you should start.”

“Is that a request?”

“It’s about to be a regret.”

Apparently that was unequivocally funny to her, vile hysteria echoing my small pocket of Hell as she charged me, holding the burning weapon high above her head. Cursing to myself, I lifted both weapons to catch the next blow she took at me. I was going to die if I didn’t come up with a plan quick. The sentatives in my darts did nothing to her, she didn’t even react to any strike I landed, and it was slowing starting to dawn on me she had long stopped bleeding. F-bomb right there as she swung the torch like she was up to bat and I was a baseball. That ball was armed however, and I held nothing back as I lobbed my right gun to intercept, shattering her wrist on contact while my left came from the other side, smashing the torch out of her grasp. It went out in a huff of smoke when it struck the ground, and finally I had an edge as I followed up with a boot to the rib cage.

My lightweight enemy lifted into the air as I forced everything out of her lungs, but as she struck dirt by the flames, she sprung up and over them, landing safely on the other side. If you can take a dart to the neck unphased, do you really need to dodge fire? Maybe I was just grasping at straws, but it felt like a fair point as we stared each other down.

“I’m not used to my prey putting up a fight,” She mused, brushing herself off, pacing along with me as I made my way to the torch, “But you’re still a screamer, hero, and I love that about you.”

“Feeling’s not mutual.” My gaze was cold as ice as they glared over the flames, bending over slowly as I slid the torch in my belt loop. The end was as sharp as a spear, and I was going to need that with what I was planning. Just not yet. “I’ll see you on the other side. One of us isn’t walking away.”

“Oh don’t you say your goodbyes just yet,” Nina giggled as I stopped at the carpet’s beginning, a just few feet from the door, “I plan on keeping you alive for a long time.”

“Again, not mutual.” Crossing my arms, I awaited the psychopath to join me. Anyone else and I would’ve taken pot shots with my blowgun, but that already proved to be useless. Drawing her rope again, the woman tied a knot on the end while she lowered her hand into the dirt, dragging it and coming up with a few stones. Rolling them in her palm, I braced myself when she was finally within a five feet of me. Grinning wickedly, she started rotating her other wrist at high speeds, the rope flying in rapid circles as the once harmless knot suddenly became a threat.

Flicking it at me, I smashed the ball with my blowgun, but as my gaze trailed it I felt a barrage of stones slam into my chest, reigniting the anguish of the severe burns coating it. My voice cracked with a high pitched yelp and my eyes clasp shut as I stumbled back, hearing my enemy’s feet shove off the ground as she dashed forward. Swinging blindly I hoped to stall, but the sounds of skidding warned me of the miss as my eye cracked back open. She was already off the ground, arching the rope over her head as she leapt at me, and snapping my neck down, the most I could think to do was protect my face as my hockey mask slid back into place, bracing my body.

Her thighs slammed against my hips as they wrapped around them, but my right arm snapped up, catching Nina by the throat as her rope found itself around my bruises again. Full circle.

My steel knees, locked into place suddenly turned into jello in an earthquake as she jerked it tight as a noose on me. My teeth slammed into a clench so hard they almost broke as I fought the urge to fall, my entire body screaming with the only exception being my mouth, lacking any way to get any sound out. Barely knowing what I was doing, I violently yanked Nina close to me, stabbing her with my blowgun with every last piece of power I had in my body, prying her off as push and pull collided.

Following the heat I felt, I arched the girl high into the air with beads of sweat soaking my skin. With nothing but a silent prayer, I teamed up with gravity as I threw her down into the roaring flames, kicking up embers as she smashed into it, rolling with the force and dragging the carpet over her. Triumph ignited in my mind, and I bolted forward with my shaky balance, slamming both guns into her back in rapid succession, keeping her moving and, it wrapping around her.

And for the first time: she screamed.

“After everything I’ve thrown at you, you really expect me to believe this hurts,” I roared, continuing until I ran out of carpet, “You lying, brutal, manipulative, psychotic, homicidal whore! I don’t even know what the hell you are!” Trading my blowguns for the torch, I twisted it in my palm as it rose above my head, “But whatever it is, you’d better make peace now!” Both hands with an absolute death grip, I plunged it deep through the carpet and into the nightmare of a woman, like I was performing the last sacrifice Demon’s Den would ever see at the foot of the alter. My voice was a low hiss as I slowly began backing away towards the door, “Because you are not escaping, and it’s only a matter of time until Hell claims you.”

For a moment she was stunned, but when I turned fully away from her, the silence died violently.

“Hell already spit me out once.” Chills ripped my courage apart as I hesitated my next step forward, fresh fear cutting me down. Slowly I turned around and she saw it in my eyes. Entirely encased in flames, her flesh seemed to melt, patches of bone showing through as the fire devoured her. “You fight for something Hero, God knows what, but so does the devil.” A protective fury swirled with my terror as I broke eye contact with her again, turning back to the door I was approaching. “Maybe he’ll let me take it from you,” Her mocking voice rose the further I got, “Did you find the bodies, Hero? Can you even imagine what I can do to your special someone!”

Inches from the door, I suddenly snapped like a twig, “Just shut up and bur-”

“Nina bad!”

My eyes struggled to open as my brain greeted me with nothing but excruciation, most notably in my pulsing skull with a bone splitting headache. Moaning in agony, I slowly reached up to my head, feeling a massive crack in the middle of my hockey mask. I would’ve breathed a curse, but my ears started working before my vision and demanded an answer on how I could hear ambience sirens in the cavern, and how it felt like the earth under me was moving. Eyes finally catching up, the questioned u-turned. I was staring at a slick metal ceiling. So… how did I get into the ambience?

Befuddlement finding a foothold in my pained expression, my eyes traveled to the left, spying a familiar face beside my bed. Relieved laughter spilled out of his lungs as his smile pushed against the long scars under his closed emerald eyes. Truthfully, I guess I was relieved to see him too, releasing a held sign like a hostage at the sight of my ally.

“Hey Aug.” His already jubilant face lit up as I acknowledged him, giving me a chuckle of my own. It hurt like hell though, so hit and miss. Once the coughing it turned into faded, I forced the only question on my mind out of my mouth. ”What happened?”

His sudden clap made me cringe.

“Wham! August push door, you go sleep!”