Our Last Day On Earth - Part I Jan 28, 2020 21:44:27 GMT -5 Cory Steel, Rick Majors, and 2 more like this
Post by Dominator / Mortimer on Jan 28, 2020 21:44:27 GMT -5
Friday 24th January 2020 - 11.37am
Location: Hangtown, Kentucky
The wind produces a chill that is significantly more bitter than usual. Winter has most definitely settled. So cold is the rain that the droplets feel as if they might freeze the precise moment that they come into contact with his skin. His beard feels heavy; as if weighed down by dozens of icicles that may or may not have formed. He feels the muddy ground squelch beneath his feet; his mass forces the water out of the surface areas of soil claimed by his feet with every stride. The trees act as sentinels, watching him as he passes. They are justified in their concerns.
Weeks, if not months have passed since Dominic came through this particular section of woodland. Denzel must have slipped away somewhere along here. It was the only place that he hadn’t looked, that is, with the exception of the most restricted parts of Hangtown. However, Dominic figured that if the Dillingers and their fellow Black Hand cohorts could thwart Horacio’s attempts, then Denzel would face equal difficulty. And given the monumental efforts that he had Dominic go through to escort him to these grounds unscathed, The Zenith highly doubted that Denzel would do something so headstrong as to head straight into such territory.
Entering Hangtown itself had proven to be enough of a challenge.
Something catches his ear; a sound unlike anything he had heard in these hallowed grounds. It couldn’t have been the wind. It sounded electronic. Not the sort of sound that one would likely hear when the nearest settlement is so far away. And even with that logic, Hangtown is not renowned for it’s use of modern technology. Dominic takes a few steps in the direction that he thought the noise might have emanated from; deeper into the growth. Thorns hook his clothing in a bid to pull him back, yet he bores through the undergrowth regardless, even when the thorns resort to ripping into his skin.
“Get off!” Dominic grunts, hauling himself forward into what appears to be a clearing. He plants his foot firmly on the ground. Immediately, he realises something is amiss. Whereas the ground has been soft and muddy up to this point, the earth is completely flat and even more solid than rock. “The hell?” he exclaims with a whisper. He taps his foot gently on the indistinguishable surface. It sounds slightly hollow. There is certainly something underneath the feebly layered blanket of leaves that have been used to camouflage the door. Kicking them aside, Dominic kneels down and unscrews the hatch. It is as though the top of a submarine is poking out of the top of the ground.
He lets himself in. The descent is long and cramped; clearly not designed for someone of his larger stature. Upon reaching a readily illuminated chamber, Dominic notices just how vast the chamber is. It is almost the size of a football pitch for as far as his eyes can see. It may span even further and wider. Some parts of the laboratory are evidently shrouded in darkness. There is no movement nor odour from anywhere. An electronic hum is the only soundtrack accompanying his arrival, along with some faint tapping of fingertips against a keyboard. There, Denzel Aurelian appears blissfully unaware of his arrival. Dominic stares at him. He could take him down now and nobody would know.
That is, until another figure steps out of the shadows; a man with unorganised and unmanaged hair on his head and around his face alike. He is muscular, yet somehow wizened at the same time.
Indeed, Harley Weiss had been missing in action for a considerable amount of time. Dolores had mentioned to Dominic that she had endeavoured to make contact multiple times, each attempt went unanswered and unreturned. It was collectively assumed by Horacio, Dolores and indeed the remaining Watchmen that Harley had opted to distance himself from The Chronological Order. He had always been a fairly independent fellow; far more so than the likes of Matthew and Marx, who often worked as a pair.
But this man in front of Dominic, as much as he looked like Harley Weiss, albeit vastly unshaven, was not the man that Dominic had once known. His eyes look vacant. His skin; pale. He moves his lips as if trying to speak, but no words manage to leave his mouth.
“What did you do to him?” Dominic snarls. Despite being one of his more treacherous friends; one who had bailed on The Chronological Order during perhaps their greatest time of need, The Zenith cannot help but vocalise the pang of grief that he experiences as he looks upon the trembling wreck of a man before him. All the while, Denzel Aurelian has been slaving away on a computer in the corner of the room, his back turned to Dominic as he works apparently unperturbed by his arrival.
“Moi?” Denzel exaggerates a French accent as he places a hand on his own chest. “Mon ami, this is not my own doing. Rather it is the will of Hangtown itself.” Dolores’ father lets out a cackle as he gets out of his chair and walks in front of Dominic before sliding a sinisterly feigned comforting arm across Harley’s shoulders, weaving it behind his neck like a python. “See, poor little Harley here isn’t like you and I. We can exist freely within Hangtown’s borders thanks to our heritage. It recognises our bloodline. Harley here is not so lucky. Hangtown sees him as… a foreign body; a virus. And what does the body do to a virus?” Denzel licks his lips maliciously. “It neutralises it.”
“When an outsider enters Hangtown, they forget what they experienced when they leave,” Dominic seemingly thinks aloud. “So if an outsider stays in Hangtown, that must mean… they forget themselves.”
“Very good!” Denzel applauds. “In case you were wondering, my case is more relatable to a blood transfusion,” It took Hangtown a small amount to time to recalibrate itself upon my return, but, as you can see…” he gestures with an open palm in an arc of open space, “there are no signs of ill will towards my presence here.” He stops upon noticing The Zenith’s stare. “Save for yours,” he adds venomously before letting out perhaps the most sinister smile that Dominic has come across since the last time he caught himself in a mirror. “Maybe I have something that might change your perception of me? Harley, flip the switch.”
Within seconds, the previously darkened section of the laboratory flickers into view. An iridescent blue glow fills a large tube like a lava lamp. So large is the container that it could easily contain a man of Dominic’s size. What is currently stored within is something a little bit smaller, but still of a humanoid figure. More specifically, a female figure. One that Dominic immediately recognises…
…he drops to his knees.
“Is that…” Dominic blurts out.
“May I present; the one, the only, Miss Amy Trenton-Metallinos!” Denzel declares like the voiceover for a tacky game show.
“What the hell is this!?” His scream rattles between metallic walls, intertwining with the betwixt and unnerving laughter from Denzel. He shoves Denzel to the side as he scrambles towards her and presses himself against the container, slamming his palm against the glass pane as if to rouse the hostage’s attention. It does not move. Amy remains completely motionless, save for the gentle sway of the bubbling waters that engulf her lifting strands of her long auburn hair. “Amy!” Dominic implores her to hear him. Maybe she can, but she is nevertheless unresponsive. “Amy, please!” he begs, knowing the futility of his efforts. His hand squeaks down the length of the tube, dropping defeatedly at his side before he turns back with a curled lip towards Denzel. He slowly begins to pace towards the still grounded Aurelian, only to be cut off at the pass by Harley Weiss, who wields some sort of cattle prod at the end of his outstretched arm. The Zenith pauses, noticing the glazed, yet aggressive look in Harley’s eyes. “Why would you defend such scum!” Dominic roars to his friend. “Can’t you see what he’s done to Amy? What he’s done to you!”
“Like I said, Harley’s condition is not my doing,” Denzel reiterates, “but his loyalty to me is.”
“You’d better start explaining,” Dominic threatens. “And don’t give me some long winded bullshit. All I want are the bare facts.”
“Very well. I‘ll dumb it down to terms that even you can understand,” Denzel smirks. “See, Harley here felt under-appreciated under Horacio Mortimer’s influence. He felt unfulfilled; like he was more of a pawn in a chess game than a gear in a machine. See, pawns can be disposed of if needed, but every gear has a function inside of…” he is suddenly cut off by an impatient fist impacting the metal wall, sending a sharp echo through the room that causes some distress in Denzel’s inner ear. “Alright, point taken,” he acknowledges. “The fact is, when I learned of his intended departure from The Chronological Order, I offered him an opportunity. Horacio had asked him to collect some personal belongings from Amy’s not long after her supposed ‘death,’ however what Horacio didn’t know was that I too had asked him to retrieve something. More specifically, her body.” Dominic disbelievingly stares at Harley, who maintains possession of the emotionlessly defensive stance. It is as though not a single word is registering with him.
“You made him dig Amy up from her grave!? Just how fucking twisted are you!?” Dominic is quickly silenced by a frantic wave of Denzel’s finger.
“You misunderstand,” Denzel continues to grin. “We are not grave robbers.” He cannot contain himself but to let out a slightly triumphant chuckle, taking great delight in allowing himself to take a bite out of the ripened fruits of his labour. “How she got here is irrelevant at this stage.”
“Tell me!” Dominic booms.
“All in good time,” Denzel replies. “I can’t give you everything you want all at once now, can I? Just look at this wondrous machine!“ Denzel attempts to divert the attention. It works. “It is the same technology that helped me survive after the explosion,” Denzel begins. “A combination of hyperbaric fluid suitable for cryogenic manipulation and a supplement of essential nutrients needed to preserve the body. Make no mistake, she lives.”
“Would her body not have been starved of oxygen for too long a period of time?” Dominic asks out of the blue. Denzel seems taken aback by a question with such legitimacy. Dominic may appear to be all brawn and no brain, but this is as good a proof as any that there is more to The Zenith than meets the eye.
“Well, that’s the catch,” Denzel somewhat sheepishly replies, drawing in the first inklings of ire from Dominic. “Though she is most certainly alive, there is a small possibility that she may be wholly reliant on the machine supplementing her body’s needs. She could emerge as her usual, bouncing, beautiful self. Or she could be… well… a vegetable.”
It is at that point that Dominic snaps.
He thrusts his arm outward, catching him around the throat and plucks him into the air with ease. Harley immediately steps forward to intervene, but Denzel waves a hand to dismiss him, as though he is accepting this fate. Dominic cannot help but grit his teeth. So many thoughts rush through his mind. Does he go through with what he wants to do; what he could do?
“Do you know how long it has taken me to put this shit behind me?” Dominic roars. I thought I was done. I thought my grieving was over. I thought I was at peace! And now you’re telling me that after all of this, she could still die!?”
“It is only a small chance,” Denzel says with a voice as smooth as silk, yet as venomous as a cobra. “Would you like me to release her now and find out?”
Dominic exchanges his line of sight between Denzel and Amy. With a solemn scowl, he shakes his head much to Denzel’s amusement. Not looking to surrender, yet not to come across as antagonistic either, he lowers Aurelian so that his feet reach the floor. Denzel motions to walk away with a satisfied smirk on his face, yet Dominic keeps his hand firmly clamped on his shoulder like a vice. If he so chose, he could snap Denzel in half like a twig. The man is so brittle that a gentle breeze would likely do him in.
“If any harm comes to her…” Dominic warns with utmost sincerity.
“She’s in good hands,” Denzel chuckles, though he cannot help but wince at the pressure with which Dominic has clasped him. Slowly, The Temporal King uncurls his fingers. Denzel slaps Dominic’s hands away. Evidently, Dominic’s strength is something that Denzel cannot contend with. And he knows it. “Harley, prepare for my recharge,” he instructs. Harley glowers soullessly at Dominic before obediently turning and following his orders without rebuttal. “Like I said,” Denzel says, “she’s in good hands.”
Amidst all of this madness, Dominic produces, of all things, a smile.
A sly, conniving smile.
“I’m not so sure about that,” The Zenith retorts just out of earshot. Only now does Dominic realise how well and truly the roles are reversed. Though physically, Dominic has Denzel against a wall, allegorically speaking, it is Dominic who finds his back against the proverbial wall. He could not bare the thought of losing Amy again, especially so soon after being reunited, if one can even call this a reunion. This matter is not something that could be discussed with Horacio, Phinehas, Dolores… or anyone for that matter. As far as they were concerned, Denzel no longer existed. If they knew that Dominic had brought him here, it would create more of a hassle than Dominic could contend with right now, particularly with such big things slowly rising over the sunset like the dawn of a new day.
Was it fated? Destiny? Or could it simply be labelled as ‘a happy accident?’ No. The circumstances surrounding The Zenith’s second coronation as PCW North American Champion were born purely from the former champion’s sheer ineptitude. David Hunter, and by proxy Pandaemonium, had attempted to deliver a statement not just to Dominator, but to the entire PCW roster, with constant beatdowns and sneak attacks. They dared to underestimate The Zenith’s tenacity and resiliency. And, in Hunter’s case, it had literally cost him everything. Guilty by association, Holden Ross and Gerard Angelo are now at The Black Hand’s mercy on an even playing field. And yet, with the odds as even as they are, one cannot deny that Pandaemonium are the ones with a disadvantage. By removing David Hunter from the equation, their tried and tested (or rather tired and tested) technique of using the numbers game is no longer at their disposal; the one and only advantage that they had.
But at least Holden and Gerard are somewhat on the same page. The same cannot be said for the thrown together tandem of Stormm and Cory Steel.
This, of course, is not the first time that Dominator has squared off against Stormm. And it certainly won’t be the last. The clock is ticking on how much longer The Zenith can hold on to his guaranteed World Championship opportunity. It will certainly need to take place sooner rather than later. The more immediate urgency lies with the recently returned Cory Steel; the new top contender to Dominator’s prize. This is an ideal opportunity to see what this new challenger can bring to the table in a competitive setting first hand. That, and eliminate him before he has a chance to gather any further momentum.
He can sense the fear building inside of Cory; like the cowboy about to ride his first rodeo on the meanest bronco in the stable. He too will likely take note of how The Temporal King presents himself between the ropes ahead of his challenge at Mass Destruction. To face Dominator alone is a harrowing experience for any man, but to have to stand to the might of The Black Hand; Grimm and Dominator side by side, it is the very definition of nightmare fuel.
Perhaps it is best of Cory to return to the exile that he had called home prior to coming to the foolish conclusion that there would be somebody out there that he was disappointing by having not returned to PCW sooner.[/i]