|Snakes and Shadows|
|What: A trap is sprung, a thief is caught. Desperate times call for desperate measures.|
At 3:30 AM in a part of Gotham that's this rough, anyone who's awake is smart enough not to look out their windows, much less walk the streets. Except, of course, for Remy LeBeau. He's on his way home from a late poker game, his pockets heavy with other men's money. And rings. And watches. And other small, personal valuables.
Whistling quietly and a little off-key, he hangs a right off the street into a wide alley, headed toward the set of exterior stairs that lead to his loft hideout. Though he should know better than to be out at all, much less calling attention to himself, here his is. His keys jingle in his hand as he spins them around his finger.
There's a sigh of something soft shifting against a rough surface. Barely louder than an exhalation, but for one with all senses on high alert, it's enough. Closer listening indicates that it's coming from the roof of the building next to Remy's loft. Then, nothing. Quiet.
Remy freezes with his key an inch from the door. He spins around, his red-on-black eyes searching for the source of the noise. His feet shift against the metal stairs, silenty balancing his weight and preparing to strike...
Nothing. He waits a few more seconds, then turns around with his key in hand. He unlocks the door slowly and lets himself in, still on high alert.
The apartment is still, nothing out of the ordinary save for the smell. It smells -wet- in here, as though a pipe broke or the roof leaked. Not that things down here don't smell strange a lot of the time, but this is very distinctive. Past the threshold, things are definitely off. The texture of the floor is damp. A droplet falls from the ceiling, then another.
TINK-TINK-TINK. Remy's staff telescopes out to full length. It's balanced lightly in one hand. He's holding a playing card in his other hand, already charged. The purplish glow lights up the immediate area. Nothing there. Just dampness. He reaches out with the tip of his staff and hits the light switch.
No light is forthcoming. At the edges of the purple glow, the shadows twist and pull away, then gather closer. At first it seems like a fog, then slowly roiling bodies can be made out from the mass. Snakes made of smoke rolling around his feet at the edge of the light, as high as his knees. The sound is back, a low slithering noise. From the qualities of the dark beyond the snakes, there's something else in here. Something big and quiet and waiting.
"What de hell... ?" Remy kicks his feet, then hops away from the unnaturally forming shadows. Cautious? Yes. Afraid? Not so much. Angry? Definitely.
"Come into my place and set up shot, eh? Fine. We see what you're made of," Remy growls, tossing his charged card into the heart of the shadows.
The card cuts the darkness and illuminates the face of the man it strikes where he sits in a chair facing the door. The man's yellow-green eyes glow as the card strikes him and the power of it is swallowed. A moment later a light like a firefly's flares in his palm and casts his smile into a devil's grin.
"M'sieur LeBeau. You are disappointingly easy to find, my friend. I hope you do not die so simply." The fog rolls in around Remy again, thickening now into fleshy bodies.
Shifting tactics seamlessly, Remy strikes out with his staff. He's been carrying and using it for so long that it's like an extension of his body, whipping around in fast, dangerous arcs. Jabbing out viciously in all directions. More charged cards are spaced between the attacks, each one BOOMing with the concussive force of a grenade.
"You not get me easy, mon ami," Remy calls. "I never see dis trick before, but you not as clever as you think."
The snakes are fully flesh now, they wind around Remy's staff and strike at his legs. Unlike their master, though, they can be harmed by the cards. Their bloody bodies litter the floor in seconds and the air smells like swamp meat. The man releases the light and as it swoops around Remy, some of the wounded heal to strike and die again. One thin green survivor winds up Remy's staff toward his hand. In the shadows that have fallen, the man is casting a spell in a warm, liquid voice.
Still moving, still striking, still adapting, Remy comes up with a new play on the fly. He digs into an interior pocket and pulls out a long, wickedly pointed throwing spike. When he throws it, he accelerates it rather than charging it. It's moving several times the speed of a professional fastball pitch when it leaves his hand, headed unerringly toward the mysterious man. Then he's busy struggling with the snakes over control of his staff.
The chair is empty when the spike strikes it but the spell is lost as the words peter out. A green bolt shoots out of the dark toward Remy, then another, like knives made of that same green light as the glow still circling.
"It seems I have you at a disadvantage, M'sieur. And in your own home. How impolite of me."
Remy releases his staff, giving it up to the snakes so that he can remain light-footed and evasive. He avoides the green bolts of light, twisting nimbly to the side and then somersaulting backward.
When he regains his footing, he stomps his heels against the floor. Triggered by the impact, twin blades spring out from the tips of his armored boots, turning each one into a lethal weapon. "You have nothing! I tell you dis, you pick a fight with de wrong Cajun!"
Now he goes on he offensive. He keeps up a volley of ball bearings, darts, and other small weapons as he advances on this strange person who's in HIS safehouse. His blade-tipped boots are used to keep the snakes at bay, slicing and stabbing whenever they get too close.
The snakes are reduced to ground meat but the floor is suddenly slick with grease. Everything that hits the man simply falls to the ground as it strikes and he returns fire with another volley of green bolts.
"I rather thought you'd be more dangerous, LeBeau." There's a staff in his hand now, a beautiful glowing thing twined with carved snakes. "I'm going to kill you now, sir."
Not yet. Remy's still got tricks up his sleeve. He launches a volley of charged cards at the ceiling above his opponent, blowing a huge hole in it and sending large chunks of debris raining down.
He's not done, either. He changes targets, now aiming at the floor at his opponent's feet. If he can't bury this baddie alive, maybe he can knock him down a peg.
The ceiling falls in, the floor collapses, and the man is gone. A heartbeat later, there's a blow struck at Remy's back from the man's massive staff.
"Ah, thinking now. This is better." He pursues the attack, striking with staff and green bolts that he channels down the staff.
The first staff strike sends Remy sprawling. He lands on his belly and his face, sliding painfully along the carpet. When he vaults to his feet, he narrowly avoids two of the green bolts. Another staff strike is turned aside with his hands, but the defensive move hurts.
"No more games," he says to the strange man, his voice low and dangerous. His kicks are also low and dangerous, with blades leading the way. There are more blades in his hands, narrow, almost dainty ones. Throwing knives, repurposed as stinging, lashing, stabbing weapons.
The big man hisses as the blades sink in, baring fangs, and shoves Remy back with all his might. He hunches his shoulders, driving his staff at Remy's midsection. The staff's glow reveals a sudden change: his head is now two serpent heads rising from his thick neck. One mouth opens to bare even longer fangs as that head turns to face Remy.
"Merde," Remy mutters. He whirls away from the staff, but it still catches him a glancing blow. He doesn't let it slow him down, though, immediately back on the attack. He throws both of his knives at the snake-man, accelerating them to the point that they literally whistle through the air. As soon as they leave his hands, he kicks out with his dangerous little boot-blades. Instead of throwing himself forward to reach the snake-man, he kicks backward, covering his blind spot.
Instead of dodging, the man takes the blades. They sink in at first but their momentum dies and and he swipes them away as he charges, mouth wide open. He holds his staff across at chest level to drive Remy back until he can't go any further. In the glow of the staff, his fangs are wet and slick, his lashing tongue black.
Pinned against the wall by the staff, Remy kicks and slashes with his boot-blades, but he can't do much damage. He writhes and wriggles, but he can't get free, either. Being slammed between the staff and the wall was painful and came with a cracking sound that might have been a rib or three giving out.
Winded, hurt, and desperate, he digs another toy from inside his coat. A pneumatic grappling hook launcher. He lifts the device and triggers it, aiming for the wide-open mouth.
The snake-man, leaning in to strike Remy's throat, pulls back inhumanly fast but not fast enough. As he closes his mouth reflexively, the grappling hook wedges it open and sinks in deep even though the momentum is gone. The pressure of the object in the snake-mouth sends venom gushing down his fangs and his roar of pain blasts a fine poisonous mist cloud over Remy even while the man staggers back.
Remy is screaming. He's running and he's screaming. The cloud of mist has blinded him, and while a part of his brain knows it can't be true, every part of his skin that made contact with it feels like it's on fire.
Luckily, his sneak attack with the grappling hook has bought him some time. Blinking his foggy eyes, plucking at his burning face with gloved hands, he rebounds off of walls until he makes contact with a window. Operating more on instint than anything else, he smashes an elbow through the glass, then throws his body through it. He's heedless of the cuts he picks up from the broken window, or the injuries he sustains from falling three stories to street level. Escape is the only thought on his mind.
Behind Remy, the apartment is empty. Sodden, bloody, poisoned, and completely still. His assailant has quit the field to cope with the wounds Remy inflicted on him. Not nearly far enough away, a massive snake slithers into the water to brood and heal.