Bladesport

November 01, 2018:

Blade is invited to participate in a martial arts tournament with an occult undertone.

South Point, Gotham

An abandoned standalone furniture store building near Park Row.

Characters

NPCs: Assorted Lovecraftian martial artists

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: Mortal Kombat theme song


Fade In…

ONE WEEK AGO:

A link to a short, private video appears in a text message sent to your phone from an unknown number.

The video shows a well-groomed white man in a bespoke suit. He is sitting with his hands on one another at the head of what appears to be a high-end corporate desk or meeting table. Other than a dim light illuminating the man from overhead, the room is otherwise so dark as to be unremarkable.

"Greetings. My name is Steven Grant. I am contacting you on behalf of an employer who wishes to remain nameless. This employer requests your presence in an upcoming high-stakes contest of skill in the martial sciences.

"The winner - the last person standing - will receive the gift of a lifetime.

"I am to alert you to an additional incentive. My employer has in their possession a hostage, a man named Marc Spector, whose life is contingent on your participation and victory. Any attempt to alert conventional authorities to the matter would also result in his death.

"I am also to alert you that none has yet participated and survived … because your opponents are not /exactly/ human. I am not authorized to disclose more about their condition at this time."

The man clears his throat.

"To complete your invitation, you will receive an address as the sun sets before the next new moon. I trust that Mr. Spector hopes you consider attending on his behalf."

The video ends.

TONIGHT:

The address that gets texted is to a delapidated furniture store that's heavily boarded up. There's a very large bouncer pretending to be a hobo leaning against the door.

To the right ears, a chant can be heard, faintly, from somewhere beneath the store:

CTHU-LU-MI-TE
CTHU-LU-MI-TE
CTHU-LU-MI-TE

Blade is no fool. It's a trap. It stinks of a trap to high heaven. It's the sort of lure that lots of brash young heroes would fall for, a call to their white knight complex and their desire to prove themselves martially. That's a siren song for many up and coming capes who end up six feet under. Or monster kibble.

Blade walks up to the door. Leather duster, sword, various accoutremants hidden on his person. He makes no effort to hide himself or conceal his approach, giving the hobo plenty of time to get in front of him.

"Sorry man. We're closed," the bouncer says, grimly, and holds a hand up to stop Blade's forward movement with a straight arm, palm to the chest.

Blade stops a fraction of an inch before the man makes contact, staring up at him. His tongue runs over his teeth, before he sucks air between them. A grin crosses his face. It's not a nice grin.

Moments later the doors fly open, broken off the hinges by the force of the hulking door guard being flung through them. Blade steps into the warehouse without breaking stride, casually stomping on the man's groin and eliciting a howl of pain.

"Knock knock, motherfuckers," he announces in his sibilant baritone. "Anyone home?"

The floor to much of the furniture store has been opened up to reveal a fighting pit in the basement—or, as it appears now, the lower half of a two-storey open floorplan.

At the same moment that the door is burst open by Blade bearing the bouncer, in the fighting ring below a man with a head like a frog or a fish delivers a spinning kick to his opponent's face, dropping the latter to the floor.

The victory is short-lived, though, as attention turns to Blade's arrival. "Wha…?" the fish-man asks angrily.

On the store level, a creature with leathery wings, a mushroom-like head, and spindly limbs approaches the vampire hunter cautiously, its bikini barely covering the numerous cilia writhing about its torso.

"Wait, Mi-Go-Girl," booms a deep voice. Seated on a shadowy throne on the edge of the fighting pit, a figure with four large tentacle-arms leans forward. Its skin is a mottled yellow and green, and a giant eye stares from the center of its face.

"Welcome, Blade," the creature says. "Welcome to … the CTHULHUMITE!" it shouts, tentacles flung out from its sides.

"I trust you are here to compete. Otherwise this will be your last night on Earth. So I swear, or else my name is not Shuma-Goro."

Blade walks up to the edge of a pool of light, just before his boots touch the edge of the illumination. He looks left and right, gloves wrapping around his duster lapels and keeping it pulled tight to his shoulders.

"Mm. I'm here for that asshole Spector," Blade says, with a long enough silence to be insoucient. "I hear you got him wrapped up in the basement. Now…" He pauses, examining the other contenders and finding them somehow wanting, though his expression doesn't change. "I don't particularly like him. He's a pain in my ass. But he's got something of mine. I want it back. If he's dead and I can't /get/ it back, I take it outta yo' ass," he says. Hands curl into a fist, leaving a single index finger extended amidst creaking leather to point at Shuma-Goro.

"So let's talk about how to get that assclown out of your jail cell, in a way that doesn't make me leave most of your boys here on the ground, in a pool of their own entrails," he says, voice rasping pointedly.

"You are in luck, daywalker," Shuma-Goro intones, and Mi-Go-Girl nearby shudders and emits a sound that might be a giggle or a shriek.

"Spector is indeed here. His life is promised to the victor of this tournament. Currently," the creature notes with a nod toward the fish-headed man, "The Dagon-born leads the day."

The fish-man assumes a defensive stance, clearly posturing.

"Defeat him and his runner-up and you can have the honor of taking Spector's life." Shuma-Goro laughs. "After all, that /is/ the great prize! Sacrificing him will provide his killer with a position of privilege before the Great Darkness."

The assembled monsters nod their heads slightly at the name.

Shuma-Goro's single eye narrows slightly. "If you want to challenge /me/ for Spector, then I applaud you all the more loudly. Let all of us earn our own place in the darkness."

"No!" Dagon-born shouts angrily. "Let me have my chance first. I can provide Czenrobogh with the soul of a half-breed vampire."

"This dipshit?" Blade points a finger at Dagon, eying the rest of the room and pointedly ignoring his challenger. "Him? This dickless Ken doll, here?" Blade walks in a slow circle around the edge of the ring. "What'd he do, take on the junior varsity chess team?"

He grins, that same unpleasant expression as he had before, surveying the room as he goes. "Problem with you junkless freaks is that you still think you run the world. Humans are meat and entertainment. You're as dumb as the fangs. Dumber, maybe, 'cause they're just animals at heart. Like putting down a rabid dog," he gravels.

"So if they're just rabid animals…" he pauses considering, and extends a finger at Dagon and then the others, before folding his arms across his chest. "What does that make you pussies?"
The Dagon-born grits his tiny sharp teeth, his eyes growing wide. "Oh, I'm going to enjoy fucking you up for a greater purpose. Behold the fighting school of the Hellfish style!"

He leaps, flipping forward, and corkscrews tightly into a two-foot kick aimed at Blade's chest.

An obese man steps into view nearby, disrobing from a loose yellow garment. He hands the garment to a figure in shackles standing meekly next to him—Marc Spector, looking bruised and disheveled.

It's the kind of big flashy move that Blade was expecting. It tends to happen when people lose their temper— particularly if they've been getting baited by Blade in front of peers and allies.

He dodges the big kick easily, but doesn't counterattack. He steps away smoothly, still insulting Dagon by .. ignoring him as a threat.

"Spector. You dumb fuck," Blade snarls, pointing a finger at the man. "We get outta this, I'm gonna beat you so bad your future kids are gonna develop bruises." He seems to ignore the fat fellow as well, dismissing everyone except for Marc.

The Dagon-born hits the ground and somersaults to his feet, pivoting around to face Blade again.

"Fight, damn you!" he sneers, launching himself forward with a right hook aimed at the daywalker's temple.

Spector slowly looks up, noticing Blade, and a smile slowly expands across his face.

"It's about time," he says quietly. The large man next to him smacks Spector back against the nearest wall.

"Silence, worm," the man says, stepping into the fighting pit.

"E. Hastur!" Shuma-Goro calls. "Dagon-born is already engaged."

The large man glances over his shoulder, and Shuma-Goro says no more.

Spector, meanwhile, is suddenly out of his shackles. "Blade—we get out of this, and I'll /let/ you beat me that badly. Couldn't quite tackle all this shit myself." He flings the shackles at Shuma-Goro's eye.

Blinded, the four-tentacled figure cries out in an utterly inhuman voice, and the assorted combatants descend on the two vigilantes.

Blade ghost-steps. It's a maneuver that requires impressive timing and dexterity, to step into the blind spot formed by your opponent's own swinging arm. Doesn't work all the time, but when it does, it's like magic.

Blade slams a six-inch wood spike into the base of Dagon's skull and twists. Hard. "Poplar stakes!" Blade barks, curtly, and tosses the weapon to Spector. Poplar— a Druidic weapon. The Celts are pretty well known for happily killing their gods when they get too uppity, and the dried blood on the stake's tip definitely contributes to god-ganking.

Then again, Blade comes prepared for a lot of things. When Shuma-Goro lunges, Blade's arm dips inside his coat and he swings the barrel of his SMG upwards. Thirty rounds of consecrated silver hollowpoints roar from the muzzle, stictching a line from mid-sternum up to the centerline of the four-armed man's heavy, Neanderthal browline.

The effect of Blade's stake into Dagon-born's skull is that the latter suddenly freezes, desiccating into a pile of flaky scales on the ground.

Shuma-Goro dies in a far more conventional manner, its torso ripped open by the spray of automatic gunfire.

While Blade's attention is turned to the four-tentacled figure, E. Hastur creeps toward him, hands ready in an open-palm style.

Marc Spector rushes forward, throwing his weight into a kick aimed at the side of the obese man's kneecap. A loud crunch precedes Hastur's collapse to the floor, but he still swings out with a number of palm strikes to Spector's abdomen that occur much faster than anyone should have expected.

Spector spits out blood and stumbles backwards, flailing defensively to try and stave off the remaining abominations attempting to grapple him and Blade. He bites the meat between finger and thumb in one hand and retrieves a small electronic device.

"Blade. Need tonffhcarve us a path," he groans, spitting out another mouthful of blood.

"Two steps to your left," Blade tells Marc. His sword whips around, carving a space around them. He eyes Marc again. "Two more."

Blade fights defensively, blade snapping in short, arcing circles. It's remarkably effective at severeing fingers and hands that reach for them.

"Whistler! The door!"

"Eat it, shitbirds," comes a disembodied voice from Blade's earpiece.

There's a terrific *BOOM* as something moving faster than the eye can follow his the heavy locked doors. And the inner doors. And the inner walls. And the exterior walls. And then the objectg travels another quarter mile before digging itself into a trench some hundred feet long, leaving smears of blood burning in its wake.

"Anytime you're ready, ladies," Whistler calls from a flat-bed truck— and the anti-tank cannon he's got mounted to a vehicle trailer behind a midsize truck.

"Good enough for me," Marc says, hugging his stomach with one hand as he dribbles out blood from his mouth with each stumbling step through the quickly dying crowd of combatants and spectators.

As he reaches the truck, Spector throws himself onto the flatbed and fumbles for the small device still cupped in his palm.

"Get us the fuck out of here and I'll bring this place down," Marc calls to Blade. "I finally got enough hope to believe I wouldn't have to do it while I was still inside. Don't … don't make me regret that hope." He lies on his back. "You can beat me to death for it later."

Blade helps Whistler drop the cargo panels back into place, concealing the borrowed Howizter from view. "The Army guys are gonna be pissed if this isn't back by tomorrow morning," Whistler explains, limping towards Marc. "This is gonna hurt." He jams a syringe into Marc's neck, and depresses it. Hard. A little consecrated water, colloidal silver, and some other provable odds and ends that would set any shapeshifter, skinwalker, poltergeist, or other baddy screaming.

Whistler's old but strong, too, and the wounded Marc is held down by the two men. "And here's a little something for the pain," 'Doctor' Whistler says, with a grim humor. Adrenaline and morphine sing into Marc's left arm, dulling the pain of injuries but not letting him lapse into concussion.

"Keep an eye on him," Blade orders Whistler, and shuts the doors to the cargo container. He moves to the driver's seat of the truck, hops in, and a Ford F-350 rattles down the road, with a smiling 'We Haul Everything!' mascot on the side of the moving truck.

Whistler turns on a light and smiles down at Marc through his dense beard. "Okay, pumpkin," he says, reaching for Marc's dislocated shoulder. "Let's play doctor for a bit."

Spector replies first by turning his head to one side and vomiting. "Fuuuhhhh … thanks," he mutters.

Seeing open sky above him as Blade & Whistler pack up their cannon, Marc presses the single switch on his tiny device.

There's a series of muffled explosions, and the furniture store building that housed the 'tournament' collapses in on itself in a ridiculously thick cloud of dust and debris.

As the dust settles and the truck takes off down the road, Marc smiles and nods in response to Whistler's question. "No pain, no gain. And, boy, have I gained some info that we can use…"

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