Frank dug his toes into the ground, employing a basic Shield spell in front of him, his connection to Gregorio revealing to him that the familiar had been banished in the interrum. Though this wouldn't harm Gregorio for too long, this would keep him out of the action for a couple of days, unable to reform himself within the physical realm.
Huh, at least he won't get in our way then, Frank noted to Kitty, who continued to slowly chant to himself, concentrating.
Rising from the crater, the explosion having blown apart the barrier as well as the Dais he had initially feared, Valken strode towards Frank and simply breathed, his aura seeking a ley line to replenish his mana despite knowing, intellectually speaking, that there was none to be found until the second barrier came down. The collected magelight reflected brightly off of his glowing shield, the Mage Armor and water shell combining as the defensive spell broke down, forcibly combining with the Dais artifact.
Frank whistled, "So. That's what the Greatest Defense Master looks like, huh?"
Valken grinned, hugging himself for a moment, practically nude as the shell had been forced against his flesh from the neck-down, "You just sealed your own demise, Todd. This anomalous armor of mine is without flaw - there is no spell that can penetrate it's defenses now. You may not see it, you dirty plebian, but the very nature of your own shadow enforced this! I can hear it, you know..." for a moment Jerome's hawk-like eyes glazed over with the madness of magic overdose, "The lives the geas has influenced. The history of the thing! It's mine now, just like the Demonsidhe - yes, I can admit it now. What can you do to me now that you've helped create the greatest known Mage Armor in all of known history, Frank Todd...The Generalist!"
Frank lifted an eyebrow, snapping his fingers as he responded, "I guess...this."
Valken looked about, seeing nothing at all happen. Grinning, he took a step forward and plummeted to the ground, landing hard on his face.
Frank began to laugh, long and hard, gripping at his stomach while pointing at the prone ex-Legatus, "OH! OH WOW! OH FUCK! MAN, are you a barrel of laughs, Legs!"
"Wh-WHAT?! But...I saw...you didn't cast a spell, you didn't do anything!!!" Valken shook his head, the only part of him able to move at all, the rest of his body completely frozen, "What did you DO?!"
Frank wheezed with laughter, doubling over as he wiped a tear from his eye, "Oh, OH! Is this your plan?! To kill me with this, makin' me laugh m'self to death? Here, lemme try this-" he snapped again, and Valken immediately scrambled to his feet, eyes wild.
"How...HOW!" Valken rushed at Frank, attempting to close the distance only to fall, once again, the instant Frank snapped his fingers.
Frank's sneer turned into a vicious snarl as he toyed with the ex-Legatus, allowing him to rise and attempt to either rush Frank or escape, only to send him sprawling to the ground, paralyzed at a mere snap of his fingers.
"HOW?!!!! TELL ME, TODD!" Valken roared, his eyes betraying his emotions, lost somewhere between helplessness and sheer, impotent rage.
"It's simple, Leggy," Frank chuckled from where he sat on the Valken House's throne, "You said it yourself, and it's like you like to say all the goddamn time.
I'm not a Magus."
He waved a gloved hand around at the assemblage, "THEY are Magi. They live, and breathe, and work for the Code and by their promise to the Four Elements you people put so much stock and faith in. The very same ones you feel you can ignore, that somehow you're above.
I'm not a Magus, and I wasn't hired to be a Magus.
I'm a Shopkeeper, Jerome Valken, ex-Legatus," Frank walked over to the prone Magi, watching the other man's eyes fill with sheer fright and humiliation as he held up a hand, palm extended towards him as he continued, "We're the masters of disaster, the innovators of violence. We are the torturers and madmen, the boogeyman amongst monsters. We are the Kings of Angels and the Sultans of Swing.
We are Death, Jerome Valken. Your fate was sealed the moment we accepted you as our target."
Jerome, Patriarch of the Valken House, gazed upwards, tears filling his eyes. His plans, long in foresight, had never realized this one basic rule.
"I hit you with a simple psionic ability, earlier," Frank's voice carried to him as if from a great distance away, "When I established a link between you and I with that first kick. Y'see, a Magus thinks the only thing in the world IS the Four Elements, magic and Magia and spells and bullshit.
But, y'see, it can be easily trumped by psionics. Or ki energy. Or spiritual power.
All four of the energies can be used against one another, Valken," he chuckled, "And I've been linked to you with my Hookshot since the get-go of this, buddy boy, draining you slow and steady throughout this battle. Hell, you had QUITE the store of magical power, ya did! Kudos to that. The real trap was exactly this though - to ensure that so many innnnnnteresting forms of energy are all about you, all this magic and the regalia-" he waved a hand in the general direction of each item as he ticked them off, "and the THRONES and the fucking Dais that was last used, like, a century a-fucking-go. All these sources of power and you couldn't feel a teeny-tiny ribbon of will piercing your soul, one that even a novice Psionic or those fuddy-duddies over at the d'Balthazar house with their granny panties could've spotted."
"HEY!" Ethel d'Balthazar, floating within earshot, suddenly broke out of her trance and the gestalt connection, "I'll have you know that we d'Balthazars are the PREIMER-"
"Yadda yadda yadda, see?" Frank laughed, waving at the older woman as she continued to rant at a distance from them, "See what you did, Valken? Now instead of dying with my dulcet, creamy voice in your ears, yer gonna die with Ethel screaming her fool head off.
'Nighty night, Jerry. Time to die."
Valken's bottom lip trembled and, with the sound of the screaming amphitheater, thirsting and hungry for his blood, for vengeance, for retribution against his failed plans, he closed his eyes tightly and roared two words at them all.
The barrier shattered, the magical energies of the entire location coming completely undone as explosions rocked the amphitheater, the roof directly above them raining debris down upon them.
Several of the Valken House rushed forward, many of them on high alert for just such a thing as they cast scattered Defensive spells: barriers and shields of various geometric shapes sprang up overhead, dotting the amphitheater assembly here and there. Summonings and more sprang to life as the various students sought to protect themselves, sending the various monstrosities and otherworldly creatures, ghosts and poltergeists up to either redirect debris, destroy it, or take the blow and disappear with the falling object in tow.
Frank slashed a hand through the thick air, dispelling the dust and smoke from around him while taking stock of the situation, looking around wildly as he realized Valken had disappeared.
"Looking...for me, Frank?"
Frank's eyes widened and he forced his body to relax, drawing his arms up swiftly and taking the powerful blow to his forearms, the sensation of freefall confusing him for a moment before he landed on the ground, tumbling head over heels before landing painfully on his back.
Grunting and groaning, his training kicked in and he immediately curled up into a fetal position, blocking the launched kick with both his arms and his legs, the humongous, armored foot catching him square across his forearms and shins.
"G-GAH!" As if from a distance, he heard his own battered body make a strange sound as his back impacted squarely against the d'Balthasar throne, heavy with pure silver. He crumpled to the ground, his eyes wide as he beheld the monstrosity that had kicked him.
Jerome Valken roared, his voice made thick and low from the new steel-like bio-metal exoskeleton his body had produced, the chemical Demonsidhe bonding him, body and soul, with the Demon whose contract he had signed. Standing three feet taller, his body was covered from head to toe in green, red, and silver platelets, his flesh thicker than leather and harder then even the Mage Armor it had absorbed in his transformation. His arms were corded with thick, ropy muscle, his body thickening from the process as well, his hands and feet transformed into three-digit, reptilian claws. Around it's head a deep cape and cowl had been drawn, obscuring its' face from view save for the foul ichor it slavered and drooled over the scarf-like cowl wrapped around it's neck for purchase. Drawing deep from the well of the nearby ley line, the new creature filled itself with raw magic power, forgoing completely any of the normal processes to create usable mana.
The Demonsidhe that was Jerome Valken roared, armor-plated mandibulae reaching beyond the confines of the dark cloak, his red, glowing eyes opening wide.
Demonsidhe. The abominable combination of Magus and Demon, their magical powers combined and magnified.
An amazing juggernaut of magical fury and horrible malice.
The process of transformation shrugged off all pain, damage, suffering, illness, and whatever lingering spells and damaging skills Frank had placed on him as well.
"Aw mommy, aw damn, aw crap!" Frank cursed aloud, groaning to himself, "Now I gotta start from square one!"
"First you have to somehow heal your broken back in time to stop me!" Valken chortled, his new body shaking with it as, up above, spotlights replaced the magelights as a massive airship shadowed the squalling amphitheater, a massive island of metal half as wide as the amphitheater rooftop and supported by four powerful rotors - able to cut through the air with it's beak-life front as easily as it could hover. A rope ladder was thrown down and Valken leapt, grabbing onto it with one hand and flipping Frank off with the other.
"While we BOTH have to start from square one, at least I get a God Mode cheat and you don't! HAH! Frank Todd, The Generalist, I bid thee a fo-"
Jerome Valken had completed the process to become a Demonsidhe, one of the most feared alchemical monstrosities known to the Order, a powerhouse even amongst the Fallen Thrones, those ex-Angels who now lived as Demons. Jerome Valken, once the Legatus of the Order of Magi, had risen to one of the highest positions one could within an order devoted to the secret gathering of knowledge and interdimensional power.
The Patriarch. He who would have been the Daywatch, had the Grand Magus and his cohorts not named one before he could take her place, now powerless to even challenge them now that he was offically culled from their ranks.
Yet despite how he had looked into the very ether of the darkness that lay between worlds with his own naked eyes, nothing prepared him as he witnessed Frank get up to his feet, dust his khakis off and crack his neck as if his back had never been broken.
Frank frowned, his eyes burning with hatred as his shades crumbled to the ground, a sad casualty of activating the most powerful of Artifacts on his person, "You broke my shades, you sonofabitch."
Scrambling up the rope ladder towards the humongous aircraft, its' four rotors revving up faster as it lifted up both men, unseen hands from above pulling the rope in, Valken kept his face upwards, climbing as fast as his magically-empowered new body could muster, hearing Frank's constant litany of cursing and violent promises grow closer despite him.
Too shocked to even wonder at Frank's sudden regeneration, the guards who piloted and staffed his "backup plan," dubbed The Reaver, pulled him in then stumbled backwards as he turned, nearly slashing at several of them with the blades from his pauldrons. Reaching out with a sharp-nailed claw, he roared with vicious intent only to look out from the open bay door and looked...
He blinked, gripping the bay doors, the ground already at a frightening height as The Reaver screamed upwards, every sleek inch of her powered by the very magical energies harnessed by the Demonsidhe body he now utilized. Looking left and right, mastering his own fear, his eyes widened and he slowly turned, hearing the last of the present guards fall to the ground.
Frank looked up from where he stood, a fresh pair of shades on his face, the blood from the latest cranium he had smashed already burning from his fists as the Maximum Gloves continued to feed ki energy directly into his body. Snarling, he pointed a thick finger at Valken, growling, "And WHAT is he doing here?!"
Jerome smiled, or something close to a facsimile of it, from within the depths of his shadowy cowl as he yanked the bundle of unconscious troll to his feet, dangerously close in front of the bay door.
Frank lowered his hands, the edges of his shoulders slightly blurry as he growled harder, "What...is DASH...doing here?! What...have you DONE...to my FRIEND?!!!"
Jerome cackled with wicked, malicious glee, holding him out through the bay door so his clawed feet dangled, his strength more than enough to hold the trussed-up troll, bound hands and feet by simple rope, in the air, "This. This is my ultimate backup plan, you filthy urchin. The Reaper, the greatest artifact to ever be built artificially! And now, I'm off to go deliver this and the cargo of Demonsidhe drug to my buyer! So. Here's the deal," Jerome gave Dash a shake, eliciting a snore from the still-sleeping troll-gene, "You can dive after your friend or stay here and kill me. Sounds like a pl-"
"I'm going to kill you if you let him go," Frank stated with a cold finality, "You're dead."
Jerome lifted an armored eyebrow and chuckled, "So be it!"
He turned and watched as Dash fell, calling Frank's bluff as The Reaper pierced the stratosphere, the bay door beginning to close. So it was with a complete and utter shock as, almost in slow motion, he found himself tumbling through the air as well.
A Demonsidhe. One of the worst, artificially-created terrors known to this realm. A creature that should stand head and shoulders above all other monster-genes.
He spun through the air, ignoring the troll as he fastened his eyes on the speeding form of Frank as, missile-like, the human rocketed toward him.
It was then that he finally realized something, a conversation they had had back when they were merely classmates rather than bitter rivals and enemies.
"It's simple really," Frank, younger and having just become a teacher within the Order, laughed. They had luncheoned in one of the common rooms that day, a garden park that was a favorite hang-out spot of the other teachers and more than a few of the more gifted students.
"Oh? Explain then, fellow Magus," Jerome leaned back, eyeballing a young couple as they passed by.
"Well. Let's say, well, the Order in and of itself. We're required to register EVERY single one of the Magia we know, right?"
"Well, yes," Jerome looked back at him with a bored expression, "Is this your issue with the War Party again? I get it, I get it - you agree with them about registration versus personal freedom-"
"But that's just it!" He laughed, "Even if we ARE being given that one point if we stand down - the right to not have to register our fifth Magia, I'd just as lief just LIE about it!"
"Lie? To the Order?" Jerome laughed derisively, "Oh, you ARE rich, young Magus Todd!"
Lost in his memories, the younger Frank grunted as Jerome gazed upon the glowing fist already within reach of his armored, insectoid face, "I'm not a Magus. I'm a Generalist."
In the space between seconds, where even freefall stood still, Frank grunted, "I'm THE Generalist!"
Time stand still~!
When the storm hit, Jerome's only perception was of pain. Unending, unceasing pain as Frank became a whirlwind around him, the Overdrive pushed by his berserker fury to a blazing level 3, focusing only on the Time Stop. Where usually doing so on the ground would have torn his all-too-human musculature, in the sky things were completely different for Frank.
With Kitty casting the spells from his store of Air Magia, Frank found his body encased within a shell that negated much of the G Forces, torquing his body about mid-air, firing off spells and delivering three punches at time each time he used the Overdrive more than strain enough on him.
It was in such a manner that he was able to deliver five sets of three straight punches each in the span of only one second from all directions, grabbing the reeling Demonsidhe and tearing his cowl off, ignoring the terrible gashes opening up across his own flesh, the backlash of so much Overdrive use already taking it's toll as it devoured the regenerative abilities of the Maximum Gloves at an incredible pace.
Frank ignored the sensation of terminal velocity, the horror that Valken had turned himself into. The red glowing eyes, multi-faceted, his flesh turning armored, the tendrils that had replaced his hair. The Demonsidhe blinked, it's eyes glazed over...and the Demon he had contracted screaming from within, willing Frank to not recognize it. As insectoid as Jerome currently looked, it's body was humanoid until the lower half came into view, very much so a four-footed reptile, terminating with a long, spiked tail. Like all Angels and Fallen Thrones, the creature was breathtakingly winged, it's shoulder muscles and back muscles exaggerated and bulky-looking to accommodate for them. The creature wailed and felt along the walls of its' spiritual prison, doing anything to hide itself from Frank's piercing gaze.
To no avail.
Frank gave a sly grin before roaring directly at the creature, "TARIEL! I SEE YOU, YOU LITTLE SHIT!" Laughing, the right Maximum Glove burning to ashes as the Overdrive sought to offset the balance with even more living energy, Frank reached into his pocket and slipped another Artifact on.
Holy Diver, the silver knuckles he kept on his person. Crafted from a mixture of blessed silver metal and steeped in holy water instead of regular water, the knuckles themselves bore eldritch script - Frank's own handiwork, and one of his best anti-Demon artifacts.
Anti-quite a bit of things, really. As an Artifact, they were able to affect the insubstantial and the spiritual, rumored to have a force that can even strike at entities a cross dimensions. The Purification Blow, the “Ritual of Fuck Off Already,” began the moment he slipped them onto his knuckles, and as his fist whistled through the air to slam into Valken, and through him Tariel, a stream of glowing latin words flowed out of the Holy Diver, quickly lost to the wind as they plummeted towards the ground. While the after-effect of the Holy Diver was incredibly useful, allowing him to both exorcise and banish a target while creating a boundary that stopped them from fleeing this realm and the anchor they were attached to, there was little for the boundary to do but float into the ether and fade away, useless in such a situation.
But Frank wasn't looking to create a boundary, at that point he was more than happy to simply pummel at Valken's armored face with the silver knuckles, laughing wildly as he watched the demon Tariel writhe within it, bound yet scrabbling to escape anyway. Though he had exorcised and banished Tariel, the creature could still be summoned, it's power used by anyone strong enough to bind it to their will.
And this wasn't just a normal Binding either. The Demonsidhe process was irreversible, and that meant there was nowhere for Tariel to go now, no way for it to easily escape Frank's waxing wrath.
Thankful for the shade's protection, bound to his skull by invisible filaments of ki energy, Frank gauged the distance between the rapidly rising ground and themselves. Punching Tariel and Jerome one more time, he left the Demonsidhe fall to it's own fate, kicking away from it with a shove of his legs and a minor Coast spell from Kitty, the duo working perfectly in synch to send Frank towards Dash. Rocketing into the troll, they collided while Frank scrabbled for purchase, doing nothing but upsetting Dash's combat fatigues for a moment before passing him by completely.
Growling, Kitty fired off more Coast spells, relying on their simplicity and the short burst of air they provided to help rocket Frank towards Dash once again. Reaching out, Frank felt the pit of his stomach turn ice-cold as he realized his left Maximum Glove artifact had completely burned away, the Overdrive still hungry and seeking for more resources to draw from. Realizing he was going to have one helluva comeuppance for so many uses of the Overdrive, he grasped Dash by the collar and hauled him in close, quickly untying his hands and using it to tie their belts together. Using Kitty's spells, Frank repositioned them both so the troll was directly under him, feeling the wicked, strange energy of the Overdrive rev into life once more as he prepared a complicated series of actions.
In THEORY, this'll work! Kitty panted within him, slightly turned on from the excitement and danger, If this doesn't work, I love you Frank!
Frank closed his eyes, murmuring aloud, his words lost to the wind as the ground sped towards them even faster than before.
The Overdrive, already pumped to level 4, took a sideways twist, allowing him to slow down Time to his perception and movements without ramping up to the final lethal level. Kitty, feeling the main persona begin his work, immediately fired off a Hard Air spell from the last of their magical reserves, creating a solid cube of pressurized air directly parallel to them.
Even though he seemed to have all the time in the world, Frank gritted his teeth until his gums bled, taking forever to reach out with his legs and connect solidly with the cube of air, passing them by with a strange dual slowness and quickness.
Feeling the muscles of his legs explode, his knees threatening to buckle, both personae felt a moment of utter elation as their velocity immediately changed direction as Frank attempted to change their landing pattern towards a swimming pool he had spotted earlier and cut some of their falling speed down.
Spreading himself so his body would land atop Dash's, he willed himself to relax completely, an old meditative trick kicking in and allowing him to focus only on a minute point of Dash's thick throat, completely ignoring the shock as they landed square in the center of the pool, water rushing to encase them, displaced by their meteoric impact...and the sickening squelch as the Troll's single bone, jointless and rubbery, took the full impact.
Valken awoke to screaming, his own and the Demon whose power he had coveted, craved even. Tariel gibbered insanely within him, and he wondered for a moment if the much-vaunted strength of the Daemon Magia users were, once again, more myth and fiction than any matter of truth.
Groaning, his voice still a new mystery and wonder to him, he slowly worked his way to his knees, happy to be alive still. Crawling out of the crater, he immediately recognized the hotel he had crash-landed through, tearing out a chunk of the rooms closest to the outside of the complex, apparently doing no damage save superficial, before landing next to the pool itself, one that was strangely out of water.
Staggering away from the crater, his new eyes took in the strangely 360 degree view all around him, turning his head this way and that to marvel at it all.
He had survived. He had WON!
He alternated between hysterical laughter and coughing, waving a hand about to clear the smoke that had erupted from the impact. With his new senses he clearly tracked the treacherous new Daywatch as Magus Tanelin burst from around the hotel, calling out orders to other Magi nearby. Dispelling the smoke and dust with a simple cantrip, he grinned to himself, already relishing the look of shock and surprise on her pretty face.
So it was that he found himself rearing back as the dust cleared and directly in front of him, standing tall, Dash cracked his knuckles and grinned wickedly. Slightly in front of the troll, the Holy Diver silver knuckles equipped onto his right hand, Frank tilted his head, popping it slightly before looking back at Jerome.
He made a wet sound as he ran his tongue slowly against his teeth, relishing the look of shock and surprise on Jerome's face and uttered, "Yeap."
For all her years ahead of her, Daywatch Tanelin knew she would never again see the spectacle of the gruesome twosome suddenly disappearing, the Demonsidhe attempt to reach towards her only to flip head over heels, slam to the ground, something invisible slam him further into the ground, creating yet another crater, before rising up as if held by the head, two chairs appear out of thin air to slam against either side of him before the two Shopkeepers rebounded from his form, both landing hard as if they had performed a dual drop-kick.
To the sped-up perception of the two Shopkeepers, they both activated the ki ability "Combined Force," allowing them to share the same speed and strength for exactly one second. That single second stretched to eternity and, within this space of a second, were able to slam their favorite techniques into a single target.
It was exactly the technique they had rehearsed for just such an occasion, both realizing instinctively the need to do a psychotic amount of physical damage in order to shock the Demonsidhe's system and prevent it from emergency regeneration or reinforcement of it's already incredible defenses.
In quick succession, Frank slipped behind Jerome to aid Dash's drop-kick, sending the creature to the ground. Frank, moving quickly, grabbed the creature's clawed feet as Dash leapt into the air. Frank leapt up slightly and brought his own feet in front of him, slamming them into Jerome's groin as Dash landed hard at the same time, his knee breaking the armor plating around the Demonsidhe's neck. Frank spun to his feet and grabbed Dash's outstretched hand, yanking him to his feet and the other side of himself. Dash, in turn, yanked Frank back, allowing his arm to stretch a bit as Frank dug in and rushed forward, allowing the troll to slingshot him overhead and directly down into Jerome's stomach with the points of his knees, the sheer force of the Human Hammer technique smashing the creature further into the ground.
Getting up quickly, Frank grabbed the creature's head as Dash caught his feet, the duo heaving upwards and sending Jerome flying only to suddenly snap back down, pancaking him deeper into the hole. Grabbing him by the scrapped remains of his cloak, Frank forced the creature to his feet, ignoring his own violent pains as Dash swiftly handed him a metal folding chair.
Slamming his face into it twice, the clean, bright pain driving away the fog of fatigue and the far duller pain of the Overdrive within him, Frank turned Dash as the troll slammed the chair twice into the ground with wicked glee.
Spinning, the duo slammed the chairs against the front and back of Jerome's head before leaping up and drop-kicking the chairs simultaneously, breaking both the creatures' head and the Combined Force technique at the same time.
Jerome groaned once, fell to his knees then onto his back, his joints exploding in a fan of greenish blood, unable to take the strain dealt to him anymore. He gazed upwards dumbly, both the man and the demon within him completely stunned by the attacks they had suffered.
Frank grunted, getting to his feet slowly at first until Dash landed next to him sprightly, helping his smaller friend up with a series of stupid chuckles. Frank looked at him strangely at first, then joined him in the stupid chuckles until both suddenly did a little jump and stomped onto the ground, turning to face Jerome's prone form.
Stomping the ground to a beat and clapping their hands, they did their ritual troll dance of victory, ending it by slapping their own chests once with an eruption of sound before leaning down to jam all four of their middle fingers at Jerome's insectoid face.
"FUCK YOU, FUCK YOUR MOMMA, AND FUCK ALEJANDRO FERNANDO FOR NO RAISIN!!!!! SHOP, BITCH!"
Laughing, Frank turned as Daywatch Tanelin rushed to their side, panting, "I, I...that was...eh?!"
She stopped short as Frank held up his right hand to her, the scene suddenly cold and vicious as Frank's eyes fastened onto Jerome.
She bit her lip, recognizing this look. This was the gaze of a predator, done toying with their food.
This was the look of a predator about to strike.
Dash tittered, pain and battlelust still raging through him as he bit his own finger, drawing blood before chuckling out, "You gonna do it? You gonna do it Frank? This is the guy, right?!"
"Yeah, bro," Frank spoke evenly, calmly despite the edge in his voice, "This is the guy. And yeah. I'm gonna do him. Right here-" he knelt down, Jerome busted back, the aura about his right hand becoming visible as something twisted and wicked welled up within him, "-and right now. You're going to die, Jerome. You're going to die in pain, and afraid - all full of terror. Just what the assignment calls for."
"h-" Valken wheezed, his body broken and busted beyond repair, even from a Demonsidhe's infernal engine, "...how? How did...what..."
Frank grabbed him with his left hand, his right held overhead and slightly behind him, the strange energy of the Overdrive fighting with an even stranger, darker energy, alien to Jerome but known to Tariel. His own eyes were closed for a moment as he hovered on the razor's edge between life and death, exulting in the exquisite feel of his own body wrecked, his mana reserves and mental faculties on the brink of full-blown breaking. On every level, on every plane he was aware of, he hurt. He hurt deep.
And he reveled in that pain, in this single moment where he was ever as close to death as he had ever been.
Each time was always the first time.
Each time was never enough.
Valken's eyes widened slightly as Frank's opened up, the chocolate brown transformed into a bright gold. On the psychic plane, Frank's humanoid aura slammed his Hookshot directly into Valken's face, infiltrating the man's Ajna chakra and changing it's indigo color to that of Frank's own aura.
Black, and sharp with violence.
"You never stood a chance, you elitist scumbag," Frank leaned in close and growled, devouring the sight of Jerome's and Tariel's fear as he force-fed them his own memories, his voice rising to a furious pitch thick with hatred and malice, "Neither of you have EVER stood a chance because I have faced FAR WORSE THEN YOU HAVE EVER KNOWN EXISTED!!!!!"
Tariel and Jerome, combined as they were, knew now why neither could ever beat the Shop.
Through Tariel, Jerome saw and knew what it was Frank had survived.
An endless night, unnatural and horrible, the very walls of reality having been forcibly tainted by It's presence.
Eleven saintly shrouded men stood dark against the blackened sky all about them, the charred remnants of houses burned.
Atop a midden, a pile of bodies so twisted and made wrong by It's very presence, It sat and gloated, glutting on chaos and violence.
Within this world, there are three types of known Demons. Fallen Thrones of both fictional and non-fictional, yet worshiped, variety. Interdimensional travelers, who may or may not be malicious in intent. And then you had the ones who had the most devastating impact on reality itself, the entire world shuddering under the presence of one materialized in the physical plane.
Humans cannot become angels, but both humans and angels can become demons. So it was, and so it had always been. But there was none worse than a psychic human soul that had become stagnated and bitter, trapped within this side of the Veil and unable to move on.
Sometimes these pathetic souls were worshiped as gods, or demons, tied to an artifact or a location.
Sometimes all it took was a sneeze, or a passerby simply glancing at them and actually seeing them. Always, it was just one little push that was needed to allow these poor, unfortunate souls to slip into their own vat of bitter negativity and arise, twisted and ascendant, able to destroy and warp every level of energy and matter within their range.
The Psyker Demon.
The men turned and killed one another, and for a moment Jerome was each of the men, his mind completely under the control of the Psyker. Tariel gibbered madly, seeking to kill himself and Jerome with him simply to escape the horror they underwent as their perception altered.
They had become Frank Todd, shortly before becoming The Generalist...but they were themselves, merely in Frank's place.
Unlike the real battle in Perris County, California, during the Havoc of 2012 the battle was short-lived and horrible, all-consuming in it's terror and hatred, tearing through Jerome and Tariel both with a finality that nearly killed them on it's own.
But Demonsidhes were tougher than that.
Jerome's body relaxed, finally succumbing to the damage wrought upon it on every level. For a moment he spoke as if with two throats, the Demon and the Man within him whispering, "Please. Please stop hating me. Please. Just...ple-"
Frank's right hand clamped tightly down onto Jerome's transformed face, then he squeezed, crushing the creature's mandibulae as his twisted quirk of nature began it's gristly work.
Frank's full lips twisted into a dark snarl as he said, "Die."
And with that he absorbed Valken's life, his soul, draining every ounce of the creature that was a strange combination of Tariel and Jerome Valken and devouring every memory, every choice he ever made. As he did so he felt his own life triple in size, his aura enormous as he glutted on Valken's very existence.
Behind him, Dash roared his approval, shaking his head and arms skyward as he triumphed in their victory, debris and flame raining down behind them from above.
"ALL HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAIL THE SHOP!!!!!!!!"
To Frank's heightened, abuse senses he stood up all too slowly, slightly in front of the troll as he whispered far too loud, "All hail the Shop."
The Generalist – Taboo 3: Misfits and Mayhem (The Mayhem Arc)