#include / Ryan & Jennifer Chessman are the creation of Crys. Anything done to them by my sick and twisted mind is with his permission. Bwahahahaha.
It is not merely the absence of light. For one, it is a permanent state of being.
Some claim that a moonless night is the poetic epitome of darkness.
They are wrong.
Some poor souls who have been trapped underground tell of the oppressive, velvet blackness, of how they whimpered with fear as the encroaching darkness swallowed their sanity within hours.
They are closer.
There is one being alive who truly knows what darkness is. Has embraced it, welcomed it, even accepted it into his being.
He could hardly do otherwise.
For longer than any normal man could imagine, he has lain alone, in a clay coffin the precise size and dimensions of his body. For an eternity he has been held in stasis, as the rigid slate around him prevented him from moving; even prevented him from breathing.
Not that, to this being, being prevented from breathing was anything more than an annoyance. His ancient heart still beat strongly, exactly as strongly as it had for thousands of years, pumping blood with no oxygen around his body. His muscles had not atrophied, nor would they, no matter how long he remained trapped in the eternal darkness.
One thing, and one thing alone allowed this being to focus his mind, to keep the hounds of insanity at bay.
Hatred. And with it, a deep, smouldering desire for revenge.
Suddenly, like the birth of a star, the earth shuddered, and the darkness finally broke.
The bright yellow vehicle drew to a halt outside an antiques store on Hudson Street. The driver shifted the gear stick to neutral and engaged the hand brake before turning around to face his passengers. Well, one passenger in particular. The petite red-head, who had a body to die for and legs that drew attention like magnets. The gorgeous woman, her partially Asian features twisted into an expression of innocence, whispered something into her husband’s ear.
Ryan Chessman chuckled at both his wife’s quip and her ability to attract the attention of any member of the male gender as he opened the passenger door of the taxi cab and tossed their meagre luggage out onto the curb. He leaned forward and passed a tightly folded bill through the tiny aperture to the distracted driver before shifting across in his seat and exiting the vehicle.
He turned and reached back in, offering a hand to his wife, and gently assisted her from the vehicle. The vivacious red-head smirked at him, obviously pleased with the effect she was having on the driver. She parted her legs slightly as she exited, allowing her husband a quick glance at her underwear. Ryan’s eyebrow-raising expression and nod of approval evoked a flush of envy in the driver, who had blatantly repositioned two of the car’s mirrors on the journey from the airport.
Picking up the bags, the pair left the driver to regain his drool reflex and reached the main doors to the old building. Jennifer rang the ancient door bell, which went unanswered. Looking up, Ryan frowned and shook his head. “He’s not here. I can’t sense him.”
“Maybe he got caught up somewhere,” Jennifer offered as she glanced at the door, before gesturing towards a discrete black panel with a keypad. No numbers appeared on the keys. “Do you know the combination?” she asked.
Ryan extracted a piece of paper from his pocket, stepped forward and quickly pressed one of the blank keys. Instantly, each key lit up and flashed for a second, before assuming a random number. Referring to his sheet a few times, Ryan slowly punched in an eight digit code, taking a couple of seconds between entries to search for the next number. As the last button was pressed, the keys again went dark, and a soft click indicated the door was open.
“Cute toy,” Jennifer noted as she entered the store for the first time.
There had been an antique store here since 1783, when a man who went by the name of Adrian Montague purchased the original holding. Since then, records show that it had passed down through the decades to five owners, ending with Russell Nash. Few people knew that Montague was Nash, and had also been each owner in between. The man had been born with the name Connor MacLeod.
The pair rode the open aired elevator to the next level, an open plan living space left so subtly empty, that in a city where space was a premium like New York, it screamed wealth and privilege.
Ryan shifted his light leather jacket slightly, unconsciously ensuring that the short Japanese sword hidden within the folds was still safe. His other hand absently patted the hilt of the combat knife likewise hidden within. He glanced around the room, noting that Connor had made exactly no changes to the setting since his first visit.
A set of fish tanks containing several rare species dominated the living area, with the specifically commissioned glass tanks surrounding a depression in the floor, which had a U-shaped leather sofa custom fitted. The wonderfully relaxing area called out to the pair.
Jennifer resisted, and wandered around the enormous studio floor, examining paintings, sculptures and historical artefacts. “This place is incredible. I can’t believe you’ve never brought me here before.”
Ryan nodded. “Connor prefers his privacy. Apparently he has a cache of even more exotic and valuable artefacts here, but he’s never shown me. I think he only allows Rachel and Duncan access.”
“His daughter. He adopted her after World War 2, after she was orphaned in Holland.”
Jennifer gave her husband a smirk. “One of these ‘adopted children’, who appear older than their parents?”
Ryan grinned and nodded. He glanced around the room too, noting pictures on the wall that showed just how extensive the Highlander’s life had been. At least, how extensive it had been since the invention of the camera. “Whoever manages to take Connor’s head is going to become very powerful,” he mused to himself, before suddenly looking around in confusion as all the lights in the building went out in a single instant.
Ryan had hardly turned back to his wife when a large, indistinct shape dropped from the ceiling and slammed two booted feet into his chest, sending him flying. Winded from the impact, the young Immortal gasped repeatedly to try and get his breath back.
Jennifer, who had no difficulty manoeuvring in darkness, hissed and leapt, moving so quickly that she became just a blur. As tiny as she was, she barrelled into the enormous dark figure with the momentum of a truck, easily tearing the assailant away from her husband.
Ryan staggered to his feet and struggled to draw his weapons from his jacket. Unfortunately, the sudden blow had pushed the wakazaki’s blade through the dense leather, which had been stretched in odd directions, making it more than a little difficult to free the longer of his two blades.
The wrestling match in front of him was suddenly accompanied with a quickly-rising, high-pitched whine, similar to a camera’s flash recharging. The instant the sound abruptly stopped, there was a flash of dark purple light, so far into the ultra-violet wavelength that it was almost black. The nearly invisible burst of light was itself followed instantly by a high-pitched scream of pure agony, which burst forth from his wife’s throat. In monumental pain, Jennifer flinched away from the huge figure, instinctively trying to put as much distance as possible between them. The silhouette snatched hold of her blouse in one big fist and easily, no, casually, threw her halfway across the room. She landed hard, seemingly uncaring to her fate, moaning and sobbing softly to herself.
“Jennifer!” Ryan screamed as he finally succeeded in tearing his sword and knife from their hiding places. Hearing the piteous sounds of pain coming from his bride, Ryan snarled with anger and moved to attack, only to discover that his assailant was no mere beginner to the art of battle. In the muted gloom of the room, punctuated only by the streetlights on the other side of the curtained windows, the attacker seemed to meld into the shadows, from where he attacked and retreated with impunity.
The combat knife held in Ryan’s left hand was sent spinning across the room as a heavy boot kicked the inside of his wrist, followed by a gloved fist smashing into his elbow, breaking at least two bones. With a grunt of pain, Ryan brought his wakazashi around as fast as he could. The blade whistled through the air, directly at the attacker’s neck, or at least where the attacker’s neck had been. When the blade met no resistance, Ryan’s stance was so out of alignment that he nearly fell.
Twisted out of shape, off balance and panicking, Ryan tried to bring his remaining blade back into a defensive position and his feet into balance. At the back of his mind, he heard the voice of Duncan, his teacher, chastise him for falling so far from his centre so quickly. Ryan turned slowly, trying to discern his attacker’s location, his ragged breathing echoed throughout the massive living area, merging with Jennifer’s cries. He let loose a second grunt of pain as four fingers, clenched together as hard and as straight as a spearhead, were driven up under his right shoulder blade from behind, striking a knot of nerves and rendering his remaining sword arm useless. The wakazashi skittered across the polished floor, leaving deep tracks in the varnish.
Ryan threw his left elbow out behind him in a feint, hoping to get his attacker out of close combat range. Instead of halting the strike, he followed through, and with a little difficulty (since he was using his off hand), snatched the Glock from the holster at the small of his back.
Before he could bring the weapon to bear, a hand grasped his left wrist in a steel grip, twisting it so the gun was aimed directly at the ceiling. Ryan felt his attacker’s second hand grasp the weapon and manipulate it. For an instant, Ryan wondered what was happening, only to have his answer as the gun fell to pieces, having been dismantled.
Ryan’s curse of surprise was punctuated with an elbow crashing into the side of his head, just missing his temple. Stunned for a second, he couldn’t stop himself from being tossed across the room, nearly as easily as his wife had been not twenty seconds ago.
With adrenaline fuelling his perceptions, he saw his sword lying two metres away in the heavy darkness of the room. Wincing, Ryan threw himself towards it, and tried to duck and roll, knowing in his gut that the manoeuvre was futile.
Exactly as it proved to be.
A booted foot slammed down on the back of his right knee, pinning him in place while nearly dislocating his hip. A massive fist gripped the collar of his coat at the nape of his neck, hauling his up and backwards, arching his back tightly.
Ryan scrabbled at his attacker’s grip, trying to bring to mind the lessons Duncan had drilled into him about forcing someone to release a hold. The fist holding him was half again the size of his own hand, and felt as though it had been sculpted out of titanium.
With his captor’s foot on the back of his knee holding him down (and, coincidentally, breaking his patella), and his incredibly strong hand gripping the material of his coat pulling his body up and backwards like a bow, Ryan could only act purely on instinct. He swung a free fist wildly behind him, praying that he was on target.
The angle was wrong though, and his fist lightly struck something that felt like a tree trunk, but was probably just his assailant’s thigh.
The foot on his knee disappeared, but Ryan didn’t get a chance to rejoice. He was bodily picked up, and tossed face-first into one of the load-bearing concrete pillars scattered around the building. He heard, rather than felt his nose break.
With stars dancing in his vision, he hardly noted being turned around and slammed back against the pillar. A forearm thicker than his neck slammed hard into his throat, smashing the back of his head back against the concrete and pinning him tightly.
“Why are you here?” his attacker demanded.
Ryan felt the man’s hot breath on his face, the light sensation somehow overriding the pain from his many wounds. Even so, he had to wait a moment while his nose straightened before he could answer. “M-MacL-Leod,” he managed to force past his throat, even with the pressure on his adam’s apple. The idea of coming up with a lie didn’t even appear in his consciousness.
The pressure increased, but in an upwards direction, forcing Ryan’s face up. “What do you want with the Highlander? Do you want his head?”
At the back of Ryan’s mind, something shouted for his attention, but battered and broken as he was, he couldn’t think of what it was. “H-he’s a f-fr-riend,” Ryan wheezed, trying to shake his head.
The forearm at his throat rose even higher, pushing Ryan’s head back harder and forcing his body up the pillar. His back scraped up the hard surface until his feet dangled an unknown distance above the floor, which was slowly being stained with his blood.
“Who are you?” the man demanded.
Ryan was unable to swallow. He managed to wheeze out, “Ryan Chessman,” as his vision began wavering. “Who are you?” he whispered back, the last flaring sparks of his indignation finally coming to the fore.
Instead of answering, the man leaned forward. His face became illuminated by a beam of light coming in through one of the gaps in the curtains.
The only part of the man’s face visible was his mouth and chin. The rest of his face was covered in a black mask. Two pointed ears rose from the sides of the mask to peak a few inches above the dome of the mask. The eyes were covered with light green lenses, which glittered menacingly in the gloom.
“Do I need to introduce myself?”
Ryan shook his head as much as he could.
“Good.” The pressure on his throat lessened. “And tell your Vampire that she really doesn’t want to start something with me. I may not kill, but I’ll have no hesitation in ending her existence, since she’d dead already.”
Ryan’s eyes swivelled slightly to look at his wife. Jennifer had risen from her curled ball of pain and was stalking the Batman from behind. In the dim light, Ryan couldn’t make out her expression, but the horrific burns and peeling skin bore mute testimony to the attack she had suffered. She stopped at his words, indicating that she was at least measuring him up as a threat. Even so, Ryan knew that it was only a matter of time before she would attack to try and protect him.
Suddenly, the Batman’s forearm disappeared, and Ryan collapsed to the base of the pillar, gulping air into his abused lungs. There was a sound of a billowing cloak, then nothing. Jennifer blinked, looking around with an expression of total shock on her usually beautiful features.
The shock didn’t last long though, and she screamed her husband’s name, leaping to his aid. Gently cradling his head in the crook of her elbow, she murmured comforting words into his ear as his Quickening slowly healed the damage done to his body.
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