The Issue At Hand [Private]

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Kismet
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The Issue At Hand [Private]

Post by Kismet » Fri May 22, 2020 8:23 pm

Drip. Drip. Drip.

The saline steadily flowed down the plastic tube, flowing beneath masking tape and metal cuff to the wrist below. It had been difficult, performing an intravenous injection - the nurse had needed a titanium drill just to prime the needle, but they'd managed. His skin was durable, not unbreakable, something quite evident by his bloody forty-story plummet. Still. It just fed more into the mystery of Victor Graf - who he was, where he came from, and why he defied the encroachment Kismet's power. A force of nature, she had called him before, an act of god, and she was determined - with the time she had - to find out which of the pantheon had sent him.

His eyelids fluttered, and Kismet smiled, closing her book and setting it on the bedside table.

"Good evening, Victor. Did you rest well? I would think so, seeing how quickly you managed to heal."

She always knew there was something - off, about him. Something she couldn't quite understand. She was quite forgiving of the unknown, for someone to whom which the unknown proved a massive threat, and had long been willing to give him a chance. Even when he tried to kill her - even when he threatened to leave multiple times - she was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, willing to assume his place before her would blossom into some greater asset, hope, or lead. That was, however, before Augustus - another unknown, another brimming threat - had returned from death itself to try and destroy everything Kismet had built.

Before her lay another Augustus. Not a product of her sin, perhaps, not a righteous damnation, but a force of divine chaos all the same, and one she would not handle lightly.

"I am going to ask you a few questions, and you will answer them to the best of your ability. Is that alright?"

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Re: The Issue At Hand [Private]

Post by Jaeger » Fri May 22, 2020 11:40 pm

Awaken.


When the hunter opened his eyes, he was seated within a field.

His back lay heavy against a twisted willow. As far as the eye could see, wheat sprawled out along the plains like an ocean of lustrous gold; the sky shone a vibrant blue, uncompromised, not a cloud nor fog nor wisp present to sully the unbroken rays from the sun which shone within the firmament. For a moment, he could do little else but gaze at the scenery which surrounded him, encompassed him, his attention engrossed in the momentary beauty presented to him.

Victor moved to stand, and his tired limbs assented-- he rose, slowly, boots crunching sullied peat born from leaf and wheat as the hunter righted himself within the eternal garden. He gave a cough; then, he gave another, and a faint warmth fell upon the hand risen to stifle the momentary tempest. When the limb drew away into his gaze, the eyes of the hunter narrowed. Blood had fallen upon his digits, but it was not his. Or, perhaps, it was.

A golden spatter lay upon his wrist. The light caught off of its reflective luster and cast prismatic flurries across the bands of ironflesh like mirrors trapped within the skin. In disjointed shards, his own visage shone back at him-- only it was not his. It was not even a face. It was metal, twisted steel, scorched and tempered with time.

It was a cracked, corroded helm which stared back at him, a sculpted plume blossoming from the top into fanned metal feathers. A gap split the face in twain, and darkness shone from within.

A touch to his face-- a gauntlet. The contact was enough to jostle the helmet, and a skull fell against the gap, dusted and shattered.
When he blinked, the cold and unforgiving sight of concrete greeted his eyes.

He felt distant, in body and mind. There was an omnipotent weight throughout his mind, clouded and sporadic, and he could do little but stare up at the ceiling for a long while, Kismet's words falling upon ignorant ears. Eventually, his lips moved to speak, and no sound came forth.

Awaken. Something had called to him. Was his vision real? Was any of this real? Something nagged at the back of his consciousness, latching there like a parasite, drinking from the underbelly of the mind like a monkey upon his back. He could not move; he lightly raised his wrist, barely, and a dull thunk arrested the movement. Pain spiraled through his arm not long after, the bone screaming out in agony. He would have matched its wail, had his own voice not been taken from him.

And by whom? Himself. He was the own architect from his suffering. All the torment he had endured throughout his existence had been brought upon himself. His lips moved to speak, again, and he forced a muted noise from between them, like stone dragged along stone; after a moment, words formed themselves from the raucous sound.


"... let... me... go."
He whispered. He could not move his head, but his eyes settled upon the woman who sat beside him. Her. The woman who had quickly become an adversary, and an architect of his trauma. One of many. He moved, again, and his wrists met metal, and his arms cried out in shared pain. His teeth grit, and he called out once more.

"L-let-- me go. Have-- to... get to her."

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Re: The Issue At Hand [Private]

Post by Kismet » Sat May 23, 2020 8:02 pm

Let me go. I have to get to her.

Kismet sighed. She expected him to resist this, but truth be told, she was done with taking risks. Done moving forward without the utmost care to mitigate the real and present dangers to her well being. It pained her, to see the man distraught, to see him writhe against his restraints in an effort to get free. She felt for him. She truly did.

However, in a war between compassion and reason, the greater good needed to prevail.

"The sooner you comply, the sooner I can safely let you go. This is a precaution, Victor, and it needn't be any harder than you make it." She rose from her seat, now, moving to his bedside. "You don't need to get to her. The girl is in our custody - critical, at present, but perhaps still able to be saved, all thanks to your bravery. You're a hero, Victor. How does that make you feel?"

Not rhetorical, but legitimate. Gauging how he acted, how he reacted to the news. She was not used to flying blind. Was not used to flailing through the dark. It still had that edge of exhilaration, that sense of dangerous puzzle that might nip at her fingers as she tried to solve it, but now - now it had a deep, sinking dread beside it.

When was the last time she'd felt fear?

Not when Augustus raged. She trusted herself to control that, trusted the situation to be resolved. No, it was when this very man pointed a gun at her head and pulled the trigger with every intention of leaving her dead. She couldn't have predicted that. Barely had the chance to react, and still had the wound to prove it. Her fingers moved to touch it, now, to feel the hole in the edge of her ear, the gentle dimple in the side of her cheek. A message - a reminder. She was still vulnerable.

She could still die.

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Re: The Issue At Hand [Private]

Post by Jaeger » Sat May 23, 2020 9:57 pm

A precaution, the bindings were. As if he were set to lash out at the nearest attendant within a heartbeat, a wild animal meant to be caged and studied by scrutinizing, emotionless eyes. That was what she regarded him with, at that moment. Analytical apathy. Her gaze was tantamount to the barrel of a gun, and staring it down amounted to the same feeling of muted dread within his gut. He had tried, for so long, to remain resolute in the face of all that had happened-- but in the face of her, it could do little else but reshape itself into the binding threads of rage he'd felt that very day on the bridge. The first and only time he had changed thus far, and the first time he had truly let go of himself.

"Her name is Sitri."
He whispered, eyes portraying a fury that would never hoped to be matched by blows. Did she happen to forget that, in her blatant disassociation? He was partially surprised she'd even remembered his fucking name.
"Hero. Right. Hero... for cleaning up... your messes."
His lips turned into a sneer, now, as he regarded her with a derisive glare that could sever steel. A dry breath escaped his lungs-- a laugh-- and he coughed, shaking slightly in his bed as he shook his head.

"And look at you."
He spat.
"Not even a scratch, except that scar on your cheek. Funny, isn't it. If I'm brave, then what does that make you?"


He wasn't going to finish the question for her, nor was he going to present her with the opportunity to do it herself. Not even a moment later, he cleared his throat. Pain spasmed through the esophagus, and he coughed out the next few words.


"G-get-- the fuck-- out of my room."

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Re: The Issue At Hand [Private]

Post by Kismet » Sat May 23, 2020 10:13 pm

She knew her name is Sitri. Trust her, she knew. The name was burned into the back of her head, branded on her tongue, and there wasn't a moment she breathed that the glazed eyes of the girl didn't interrupt her thoughts. That, she presumed, was the greatest of the losses that weighed upon her - not Augustus, though he was victim all the same, but Sitri. She was the type of person Kismet swore to protect. The type of person she gave her life to make the world a better place, for. Another reminder - not the physical wounds of mortality, but emotional of vulnerability. Of weakness. Of negligence. Kismet's face hung, expression overshadowed by the brim of her hat. Her lip curled into a frown.

"It makes me a coward, Victor. A coward and a failure. It was an oversight on my part that led to her injury, and an oversight on my part that led to - Augustus, for all his anger. I take responsibility for both of their pains, distinct as they might be, and I will never forgive myself - even if the g - even if Sitri survives." She glanced up, eyes damp, but cheeks untouched by tears. "I will not leave, Victor. It was a lack of caution that led to this mess, a mistake I do not intend to make again."

She touched Victor's arm, resting her hand upon his shoulder.

"Which is why I ask - no, beg you to cooperate. Implore you to answer what I need to know. At the moment, you are an unknown variable, a potential threat to Assurance - to my people - that I cannot stand to see unsolved. You are a grey man. Nothing for a past, nothing for a future. Your name is scattered in your wake on a paper-trail of contracts and odd-jobs, but beyond that, it is no more telling than fifty feet of footprints in the middle of a snowy forest. You came from nowhere, Victor Graf, and the prospect of what that entails concerns me greatly."

Her grip tightened.

"Is Victor Graf even your real name?"

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Re: The Issue At Hand [Private]

Post by Jaeger » Sat May 23, 2020 11:11 pm

So. She was threatened by him.

Of all the things she could have said, he felt that such an admission was, perhaps, the most angering. Was he a threat, now, bound within a hospital bed-- if that was even what this place functioned as-- to suffer the weight of injuries sustained by trying to protect somebody she claimed was close to her? It was insulting. Enraging. His arms rose again, buckling with metallic clamor against the restraints which kept him immobile. He let out a grunt, throaty and pained, and shook his head.


"You. You are a threat to your own people."
Victor growled beneath his rasped exhalation, closing his eyes so he did not have to look at her anymore. His voice rose in volume, despite his throat's sustained punishment; the monitors attached to his vitals began to increase. His fists clenched. His teeth ground themselves together.
"Do not try and project your shortcomings onto me. You fucked up. You endangered your employees. You created the thing that nearly killed an innocent woman, and then you stood behind another fucking thing and sent others to face the culmination of your sins, YOUR mistakes. And after I do my job-- after I save the life of a girl, as you called her, not months after I had nearly died trying to secure a facility filled with metahumans you had imprisoned-- I am placed here, against my will, without a lawyer, and I am questioned by a woman who claims that I am a threat to her."


He leaned forward, now. His eyes locked onto hers, now. His name was not Victor, now, and he knew that-- or, perhaps, it was. The most important subject was her.


"Is Mary Brown your real name?"
The hunter replied with a snide tone, an indignant smile sweeping along his face.
"Or is just another lie you've told yourself? All you are is a lie, girl. A falsehood stapled onto a meaningless identity because you thought that you were destined for greatness. Your entire life, you've done nothing but latch upon the backs of others and blame them for your burden. You are a parasite."


His mind was alight-- through the haze, a name unearthed itself from recessed thought. Just like on the bridge, a title he did not know came from between his lips, and he knew not who spoke the name. Only that he was the vessel for its word. A thousand fractures conjoined into a singular void-- and, from that void came purity.


"And that… is what will be your undoing, Fatima."

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Re: The Issue At Hand [Private]

Post by Kismet » Sun May 24, 2020 7:03 pm

Kismet merely smiled in return as the man prattled on about danger, about consequence, about responsibility. He was upset - such a reaction was rational, when confronted with a loss of will, even in cases where such precautions were necessary. Did Odysseus not struggle against his self-made restraints as the siren's song of freedom graced his ears? Liberty had an alluring voice, but also held within it hazards, hazards that could only be best mitigated when such liberties were leashed. Then - and only then - could one listen to the song of the sirens, but not be tempted further, reveling in the prophecies of that-to-come without the drowning dangers of the open tide. It was a gift, to show restraint, and a gift all the same to have restraint shown for you.

"You cannot deny the fact -" Kismet began, but Victor was not done. He focused on her, now, eyes ablaze, tone dripping with sarcastic ire. But these words - these words held a different weight. Her smile slipped, slightly, at the accusations, only kept aloft by stoic poise. Her eyes narrowed, her hand tightened further. He called her a parasite. A falsehood. Did he not know the burden she took on, in her role? Did he not know the responsibility? The long nights she had spent paralyzed, unable to sleep, trying to come to terms with the magnitude her future held. Yet - the indignant man-child had the gull to insinuate she took no blame. He said that she did nothing - was nothing - disregarding with callous mockery all the pain and toil she put forth into the world.

The final word was a bullet, ripping the air from her chest as it struck.

Fatima.

She hadn't heard that name in - nearly a decade, perhaps. At the very least, several years, long years that each felt a decade in their own right. It burned in her ears, the pained truth of an ifrit's lie, the idle tongue of a devil, a daemon, a servant of the furies, come to torment her for matricide against herself - for Fatima was the one who birthed her, and Fatima was the one she had killed, only holding on to the past remnants that best drove her goals.

"My heart bleeds for the world, Victor, Kismet hissed, her nails digging hard enough in his arm to hurt - if he were any more human, hard enough to pierce the skin - but he was not human. He was shaytan, come to torment her for her purity alone. "You do not know the suffering I partake in. The sacrifices, the trials I face. You could not begin to understand. You call me parasite? The world is a parasite, feeding upon my goodwill. You say I take no blame? I blame myself and myself alone for all humanity fails to do. I alone can carve this world in a brighter image, so for every edge I sand away, every splinter I grind to dust, it is my hands that suffer the wear, that come away torn and calloused in the wake. And for my carpentry, I get the same thankless thanks as the lowest of laborers, spat upon for mantling the responsibility of a God - for he has abandoned our world, and it is upon us to reclaim his burden."

She drew a deep breath, sighed, and smiled. Sharp. Wrathful.

"But I doubt you would know anything of godhood. I doubt you would know anything about true sacrifice."

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Re: The Issue At Hand [Private]

Post by Jaeger » Mon May 25, 2020 4:25 am

"And my heart DOESN'T?"


His voice hung in the air, and he coughed to break the silence, his lungs ground to dust by his earlier screams of unbridled rage; all that followed, now, was the mistlike vapor of a voice unheard, a thousand words left unsaid. When he spoke once more, his voice was nary a whisper, let alone the angered bark he could once deliver. He absolved himself of sight once more, eyes closing to focus upon the nails which dug into his arm and the woman which dug into his mind. She wanted to study him like some sort of caged animal-- if she were complacent, she'd have forgone the manacles entirely and wouldn't have broken like she did. No, something had gotten to her. The name.


"For you to sit there… and lecture me… is telling enough of how utterly deluded you are, Fatima."
His rasp returned, the weakness showing through in droves. There was no need to display any semblance of power, here-- she was scared enough by presence alone.
"I was prepared to sacrifice my life to save Sitri's. I was prepared to sacrifice my life securing your prison. I spend time away from the woman I care about to work for you, and I am willing to die for the people I protect."


Victor turned his head away. He could not bear to look upon her.


"But you? You're willing to let everyone die protecting you."
Every second he spent gazing at her face was another moment he was reminded of the person he had left to come work here, and for what? To be collared and treated like some sort of rogue specimen? It was inhumane. Illegal, it had to be. When he left this place, he had to-- contact Sitri when she was stable, get in touch with Septimus, Hammerlock-- they couldn't just be complicit in this--

"You're an evil woman, Fatima, do you know that? No-- no, of course you do, because you're the worst kind of evil: the one which masquerades as good."
He stared at her, now, the fury reigniting within his veins.
"You claim to be a martyr because you can't possibly justify your inner depravity, can you? Nobody else understands you. Nobody else is equal to you. Everyone else is a sycophant to be led, aren't they? And I-- well--"


A dry noise emanated from his throat. Another chuckle.


"I'm just what you hate, aren't I? It's... nagging at you, isn't it?"


Another wheeze. His eyes closed, again, and he adjusted himself within his bed.


"The fact that I refuse to deal with you on your terms. If I cannot interact within the little bubble you've made for yourself, this nice little net of security, then I can't be classified below you. I can't be controlled, like everyone else can. You-- you know how to read people, but not me. Your little abilities… don't work on me."


In a flash, his eyes snapped open, and he sat forward. Like a man possessed, he glared at her, hair falling over his gaze as if trying-- and failing-- to conceal the hatred trapped within.


"I am beyond you, Fatima. Do you understand that? Or shall you find that little nugget of wisdom within your mind after searching for the right thing to say? You are built upon disingenuous ground. Your entire existence is an amalgam of personality meant to satisfy all the followers under your thumb. You are nothing but a lie. Each part of you is manufactured, isn't it? Except fear. Oh, no, the fear I felt from you was real indeed, when I nearly put a bullet in your skull-- because that is all you are, in the end. That is why you do what you do."


He smiled, then. His teeth glinted in the fluorescent light, sharpened and hungry.


"You are afraid."

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Re: The Issue At Hand [Private]

Post by Kismet » Mon May 25, 2020 4:51 am

She had already said far too much. The man had provoked her - that much was obvious, had been obvious from the moment he opened his mouth. And yet, she'd taken the bait without a second's recourse, all because he'd said that damned name. Traditions held true that names had a power. The less spoken a name, the more power it held. Even now, as she expected such a spell on his lips, the second incantation still worked its vile magic, causing her to flinch away from both man and word.

Speaking it was a key - his condemnations touched her long-locked soul.

He was wrong, of course. She wasn't evil. Others were not sycophants - they had their own wills, their own lives. Certainly, she did her best to guide them, but were students sycophantic to a teacher? Were flowers sycophantic to the sun? To deride pure and honest guidance as some sort of masterful domination, as some sense of superiority, well - it was incorrigible. She was the one who washed the feet of all. She was the one who lived with humility.

And if she had to die to protect humanity - then she would gladly take the chance.

However false they were, though, the words ate beneath her skin, burrowed into her core, eating away at what little peace still remained. In their place, they shat out hollowness and anger. Do not act on it. Do not let it overcome you. She had already failed to remain calm, once, and she would not fail again. So, it was with calmness that she pulled away from the man's bed, her hand leaving his arm. It was with calmness that she smiled, a smile that no amount of poise could save from drowning in its own sharp venom. It was with calmness that her hand strayed to the tray beside his bed, shifting aside documents and charts to wrap around a single syringe of morphine.

"You should not have said that, Victor." She calmly raised the needle to her eyes, flicked it, then lowered it once more. "I would have preferred you to comply. In all honesty, I would have even preferred passive non-compliance, refusal, a desire to leave. I would have granted you that. I would have."

It was not a lie, but a simple fact.

"Unfortunately, you have revealed to me your nature. You are not unpredictable. Not anymore. I know what you are, Victor, and I know what you will do if I allow you to leave this room."

All this time, he'd controlled her. He'd led her along. He thought himself the winner, of their game - she heard it in his voice, saw it in his eyes, heard it in the laughter he spat her way in scorn. He controlled her, and she would not be controlled. He defied her, and she would not be defied. He named her, and she would not be named. For her name was Kismet, fate itself, and fate bound all to its demands. It was not cruel. It was not benevolent. It simply was.

She inserted the tip of the syringe in the IV and depressed the plunger.

The chemical descended with the rushing saline, disappearing into Victor's cuff. Syringe now emptied of its contents, Kismet calmly picked up a small tan bottle, refilling the tube once more. The needle fell - the plunger depressed. The needle rose - the plunger pulled back. Four more times, she refilled the needle, four more times, she pushed a dose of morphine in the line, watching the liquid swirl as it mixed with the IV's charge.

Then, her task complete, she set the syringe to the side, and calmly waited for Victor Graf to die.

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Re: The Issue At Hand [Private]

Post by Jaeger » Mon May 25, 2020 10:04 pm

"What are you doing?"


She was not satisfied with caging him, now. Kismet moved towards him not with fervent anger, but indignant calm; her hand moved not to grip the flesh of his arm, but a single syringe kept by the side of his bedding. Victor watched her, eyes widening and realization striking far too late. His wrists thrashed against the restraints; the metal groaned against his fighting limbs, agony fighting across every molecule of his battered form as he attempted to free himself and stop her.


"Stop. Stop. S-STOP, STOP--"


Once. Twice. A third, fourth, fifth injection went into the saline bag attached to his arm, and he thrashed harder, now, the covers disheveling themselves along his form as he lashed out at something, anything, his fists balling up to smash against the side of the bed as he screamed at her to stop. The pleas eventually faded into animalistic roars of anger as the numbness began to spread; creeping, at first, then sweeping along the body to leave him disembodied from the form he inhabited. He couldn't die. Not here. Not now. Not with Zelda still out there, vulnerable. They knew she was out there. They'd kill her next. They'd come for her, and he wouldn't-- he wouldn't be there. He needed to leave.

Needed to get out.

It was getting harder and harder to move, now; each press against the bindings was an infinity which fought back, his breath slowing as the hunter's struggle began to fade. All she could do was look at him. All she could do was stare, an unseeing gaze cast upon his own stare which knew no limit to its hatred. His jaw slowly began to unwind itself from its clenched position; his fists relaxed, fingers uncurling themselves as his thrashing soon became soft undulations of the limbs, the numbness within him now surrounding. Suffocating. Like a dying animal, he fought all the same.


"I h-have to-- have to go."


It was getting harder to exist. Harder to think.


"Have... to..."


He fell back into his bed fully, eyes cast upward towards the ceiling. He'd promised her-- so much. He'd promised that he'd return. Promised that they'd finally relax. Finally take a vacation.


"I..."


Finally be happy.


"I'm... sorry."
He whispered. It was all he could afford. One final apology, cast upon a breath he moved mountains to breathe. His very lungs fought against the declaration, his eyes becoming unfocused, his breathing ragged. The monitor beside him slowed in its pulse.

She would be alright, wouldn't she?


"I'm sorry, Zelda."


She would carry on.


"I-- I..."


For him.


"I love you..."


There was no final exhalation. No slump of death. He merely lay there like a corpse within its coffin, unblinking eyes casting a limitless stare to the firmament. His last thoughts were of her; then, nothingness, for there was nothing left to think, and nothing left to feel. The numbness absolved him of grief; it absolved him of anger. He was swept in its embrace and taken unto oblivion.

The monitor beeped, slowing, and then flatlined.

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