November 20th, 2007
Sometimes when you take your knife in hand, you just can't see anything to do with it but plunge it into someone. Right there, he's right there, at the edge of the parking lot roof. The hunter smirks, runs his gloved hand over the hilt of his knife. He remembers being dead, remembers pain, remembers hate, and war, but not right now. Right now all he knows is there is prey, prey thirty yards away at the edge of the parking lot, and no one else is here but he and they. Normally he would try to lead the prey somewhere more private, but at this time of night, the Iron Triangle belongs to Acetyl, and Acetyl hungers. If the blue overseers come to try to stop him, even though THEY would 'disappear' 'Cet's prey if they knew what was up, he will simply kill them too. Or slip into the Star Place, the Dreaming Time, and escape them, if he feels like taking the path of least resistance. He usually does. Lightning always does, and he is sometimes lightning. Tonight, however, he is thunder, and he intends to come crashing down...
The raindrake masquerading as a misborn man keeps straining his ears, scanning the airwaves, sucking every bit of information from the sky rails, his nose pulling everything his ears do not. Molten bronze irises glint copper in the yellow streetlight, his soft mammal-like paws resting silent against the asphalt. A police siren wails hopelessly in the night, at least a mile away. The city is alive with the raging ranging scent of life and death, daily dealing and wheeling, everyone doing everything to and for everyone. Alive in a hive, the predator creeps toward his prey. The man, a young bald flat-face, fusses with his gun. A coward! Acetyl's black lips curl back from his teeth in disdain. The young man's silencer, or his sight, doesn't seem to be working. His bald pate glints as he peers over the edge of the parking garage, staring six stories down, and 'Cet presumes the prey fancies himself a predator, fancies that he will kill someone tonight. Well, certainly, someone is going to die ...
Acetyl pads in practiced silence to the prey's back, three feet away, then casually extends his hand and slaps the man upside the head as hard as he can. Yelping, shocked, the man drops his gun, and it clatters to the ground. The man's incompetent attempt to assemble the piece gives way to reality on impact, the gun shattering into three separate pieces. Flashing out on the back of its partner, as the man wheels around to bring his hands up defensively, 'Cet's other hand drops like a bladed anchor from above, raking the young tough's face to the bone. The prey's enraged shout curdles into an agonized squeal, and his hands rise to his face, unbelieving. Forgetting about his knife for the moment, 'Cet pays no attention to the scream, to the man's attempts at self-defense. He is awash in the moment, swirling full of misty ecstasy, feeling as if he will burst with the pure intensity of sensation he holds now. He loses track of time, aware only of the sleek powerful sensation, the shivery goodness of his claws flexing from their sheaths, sensual rapture of tearing flesh, finding Heaven in his prey's Hell. Soon enough the man lies motionless and dead upon the ground, his pitiful bodily contents strewn about his corpse as if he couldn't hold himself together any more than he could his gun. Slick with crimson glory the raindrake's right hand curls around the knife's hilt. Steel sings, slivering the chill steaming-gore atmosphere with its metallic sigh. Crouching, Acetyl overturns the corpse, making it lie on what was once its stomach and the cutting begins...
The hunger is particularly strong today, driving and fierce, but the hunter cannot hunt, for the blue overseers have located his last 'game', and he must remain quiet for some time until they lose interest or lose the trial. And yet he needs, needs so very much, to vent. So he goes forth first to run, dropping into quadrupedal form just to feel his body stretch, feel his lungs expand to bursting with the chill of the air, his muscles settling into a sleek, perfect rhythm, paws pounding against the pavement as he imagines he is free in a true forest, the towering buildings hung with vines, mushrooms sprouting at their feet as dutiful children. His breath becomes ragged after a while but still he keeps going, forcing more and more from himself, until he drags himself to the crest of the tallest hill in the city, a hill that was once a real mountain, and he throws himself down the other side, hurtling down and down, no longer running so much as falling on his feet, an uncontrolled but unending forward topple, like falling down a cliff at an angle. His legs feel like rubber, his body like a rolling flexing rubber band, simultaneously like an old machine that's about to rattle apart, losing bolts and sparks as it careens wildly down the incline. At the bottom he falls to the ground, allowing himself some surcease, gasping, panting. He has driven himself as far as he can, wrenched every bit of stored energy from his muscles. Yet still, the Beast is unsatisfied ...
Acetyl glares downward, frustrated. He has gagged the man, suspended him at waist-level from his limbs, just as the hunter likes. Yet the man is refusing to acknowledge his destiny and go nicely. While this normally would not mean anything, would in fact add an interesting element of challenge, after the run the hunter is exhausted and doesn't want to bullshit around. He is tired of listening to appeals to mercy, to the law, to sanity, to faded hypocritical morals and national rules. If he could, Acetyl would urinate on every single member of the Vesperigoan Congress, not to mention its crazed primate President, but even heartily assuring his soon-to-be toy/meal of this fact fails to make an impact on the man's whimpering, cowardly attempts to "reach" and "reason with" his captor. Losing all patience, Acetyl grabs the man's jaw, forces it open, and rips the tongue out, throwing it aside. Blood spurts into the air and the talking stops. Immediately 'Cet tapes the man's mouth shut securely so he can't just start screaming. He wonders if the man will drown before he finishes his work. The big knife comes free, and 'Cet wishes he didn't have to wear gloves, but just in case, he needs to give the blue overseers as little to work with as possible. He is particularly grateful that he doesn't shed. The man is already nude save for underwear, and now 'Cet cuts that last concession to dignity away. The man is no longer a man; he is beef at the slaughter, pinioned for easy butchering. But first, Acetyl must dress the meat, and so he does — marking it as prey, apologizing to the Father of Men for the necessity, inviting his kinre to feed as he does. First he cuts a spiral over each knee and elbow, which then trails out into wavering lines. He literally draws many sigils and symbols on the man's skin with the blade, cutting just deep enough that the wounds bleed, but not so deep that they bleed so much as to obscure the symbols. The blade whispers its trepidation, hesitation, and Acetyl adds shielding glyphs, drawing a great oval around the torso, a smaller one within the first, then laboriously adds many quick, sharp, jagged cuts, declaring the prey for himself and his kinre only, blocking other spirits from even percieving the prey, much less being able to devour it — or tattletale about it.
Here Acetyl pauses to lick blood from the surface, washing his glyphs, and he holds a mouthful of blood just long enough to swallow a few turquoise dragon seeds from his pocket. Exerting himself, he hatches the seeds with the blood, feeling the fog swirl and expand from his belly outward, filling his body, particularly the cranial vault, with its cool calm grayness, the mist of the other. Chewing a leaf from another pocket, he feels vines growing around his bones, sparkling with dew as the mist feeds them power. The mist and the vines grow together, coiling into each other, and Acetyl suddenly feels a very powerful need to offer the great totems he calls upon something greater, something better. So he opens his eyes, the bronze already bleached away to a silvery storm-gray, and a huge, toothy grin spreads across his muzzle. The gods demand, so who is he to resist?
Surrendering to the call of the dragons, hearing thunder in his heart, the raindrake drops the knife and flexes his claws. One-two-three-four-five-six they flash out, ripping into the torso, and this begins an ecstatic slam-dance of worship, as Acetyl throws himself around and around the hanging body, attacking it in rhythm with the pulsing beat in his heart, which he feels in the air and the floor. Feeling his own strength, reveling in the power of the dragons and the blood, he lunges forward after his claws rip the torso open, ripping at the body with his teeth, tearing out a rib. This he holds in his jaws as he goes around the body again, now counter-clockwise, dragging his claws from the center of the torso outward, describing a five-lined three-tiered spiral. The pulse of the music strengthens, and he tosses entrails into the air, twisting and kicking, utterly lost in the sympathetic gnostic pulse of drugs and violence and life, a roiling rapture run rampant across the sympathetic back of a helpless ruiner, twisting himself into a frenzy until the last of his energy gives out and he collapses to the floor, absolutely spent.
And so it is that, two moons later, the hunter has for himself a full six prey-beings, flatfaces all, stand assembled before him in his favorite place. He had considered taking them to the White Room, the room-for-dancing-and-playing, but he feels more primal tonight. He wishes to hunt.
Hence he has taken them to the Bone Forest, in the spirit place, where all is Death, where they can run as far and as fast as they please and still never escape the Forest or their pursuer ... each one is corrupt, as corrupt as a human can be without becoming a mockery outright. Each one pulses with the spiritual detritus of ruination and destruction-corrupted, pale, revolting mockeries of the True Way of Destroying. Face all but curled into a permanent snarl, the Knife-Smile has decided that there will be no escape for them this time, no reward for their perversions. They will not survive long enough to enjoy the power of the mockery. They will die tonight.
At first, they stand together, clustered, naked, shivering in the breeze as the winds nip at their bare flanks, tug at their genitals, whisper taunts and threats in their ears. Then the hunter emerges as if from nowhere, as if he has been there all along, standing as a horse-sized, sleek red wolf-of-Hell, empty candle-flame eyes alight in sensual anticipation, with a coiling, scorpion-stinged serpent's tail and broad raptor's wings, yet each feather a gleaming knife-blade.
Immediately, two break and run in pure panic, attempting to escape, but with a cackling laugh the predator is upon them, leaping, his body following the prey's motions in midair no matter how the fool tries to dodge even without the help of his pseudo-wings, even as the stinger lashes out at the second runner. The four, who had been debating fighting back, stand and watch, transfixed in horror and fascination. The hunter lands on the first man's back, his eagle's claws flexing through the shoulderblades with a strange, distinct tearing-popping sound, while simultaneously the second man's shriek dissolves into an agonized gurgle, the huge curved sting protruding from below his ribcage. Venom dribbles from the tip, oozing back down to the wound, and the second man becomes rather woozy as the tail lifts him into the aid, suspended from the stinger.
Hungry, so hungry, the demon-ghost basks in the sensation of mingled blood and venom dripping, dripping, dripping against his back. He sighs happily, flexing his claws in the first man's flesh like a preschooler enjoying the sensation of Play-Doh or wet sand. Then he cranes his neck and fixes his jaws around the round of the man's skull, but instead of crushing, he ensures a firm grip, then rips it away.
The other four would, in their brief remaining lifespans, argue over whether the first man was still alive or not. They only became certain he was dead after the knife-winged beast devoured his entire upper torso in a single gargantuan bite, crushing the fleshy morsel down into a manageable swallow after several careful mastications.
The tail swings arong, and the other men glance at each other, assuming the hunter will deal with his paralyzed snack before he goes for the others, or else attack them outright. They are prepared for either eventuality. This, of course, is precisely what the spirit knows they think it will do; it confounds their plans by doing both simultaneously. Even as it rips into the now-delirious man with its jaws, tearing the stinger free, its foreclaws lash out, sinking into the flesh of two men between the ribs, forcing them closer, dragging them within range of the horrible bite. One man turns to flee while the beast is occupied, but forgets the tail, and he too is impaled and lifted into the air, his pitiful wails little but background white noise to the hunter as he smashes the last intact male against the punishing, vengeful Earth with one bladed wing, enjoying the sight of the fleshy geyser that erupts.
He tosses one remaining victim into the air, smacking the hapless man with his wing. The man's body disintegrates against the force of so many perfect cutting edges, falling as a sacred rain against the hunter, and he shudders with delight, for even as the rain immerses his senses of touch and smell, he is feasting his tongue on the flesh of the last victim, his ears on the sound of ripping flesh and prey's cries, and, of course, his eyes are glorying in the sight of lakes of blood, rivers of blood...
For quite some time the beast's world is reduced to one of shining hot blood and savory, power-rich flesh.