Closed RP Dissonance

This RP is currently closed.
He returned the stare. Cryptid, the monster before him, drilling through his head with slate black eyes; steel-cold, sharp like needlepoint, scarcely able to seem Earthly, let alone human, whilst the act of staring itself seemed like its own form of attack, which, even still, belied something more. And his own, a single, cavernous pit bored into his humanity; a stare so dull, so hollow, it was almost uncanny- such that perhaps it, too, was another layer of a mask, revealing a festering void behind the facade of flesh. Twin cruelties, they were. Not people. Not close. Two weapons pointed at each other through the bullet-wound of a man already long dead.

At least Lament could see that, until now. He almost felt sorry for the vigilante.

He continued to pace backwards as the Cryptid spoke; holding his stare, holding his nerve in the face of the stare. He had angered something dangerous, here, something exciting. A lesser--or, at least, less arrogant--man would be terrified, panicked, consumed with regret at riling up something like this, but not Lament. Never Lament. There was only one dead man in that warehouse, and he was dead the moment he walked in. He was dead the moment he started to listen.

"I ain't the one who asked to participate." He said, "Y'all really should know what you're gettin' into, before you bust down a door like that- especially 'round these parts."

He shook his head. His steps were taking him closer and closer to the gun, but he didn't turn around to check. No, Lament's eyes remained fixed, focused on Cryptid's own; if the man wanted a staredown then, by god, he was going to get one.

"It ain't about me, now. Not when there's a strangled corpse in your name- why, I was just gonna shoot the damn thing. Almost makes me seem like the good guy, now, don't it?"
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The Cryptid had met maybe three people who could completely hold his predator’s stare without flinching, without their instincts winning over their stubborn will. But the thing in front of him that wasn’t human wasn’t animal, either. It didn’t possess an animal’s fears, the fear that belonged to anything that understood pain.

He saw it in the hollow eyes that looked back that they did not possess fear of a predator. They did not possess arrogance, either. The stranger’s eyes were like looking into a lake or a cave. Perhaps somewhere in the depths, there was some twisted form of life. If there was, Todd couldn’t see it from the shore where he had stopped to look down, and his instincts issued a warning to back away from the edge before he could fall in.

They were familiar, somehow, those eyes; but Todd would have remembered anyone who looked so empty.

The walking void spoke. Cryptid heard the words, but their meaning didn’t land the way it might have if there’d been less frigid anger under his skin. Guilt was an old enemy, and he would greet it when it came the same way he always did when it came of its own accord. But it could not reach him through the cold right now.

Right now, in front of him, there was an enemy made of blood and bones, a hollow place wearing meat. And the smell of blood and the sound of soft breathing from the doomed man behind him were the song of the carnivore.

“You’re right. I did want to participate.”

He’d acted rashly twice tonight. It wasn’t a pattern yet, but it might be cemented into his enemy’s mind as a trait. Frontal assault and rashness could be played on, now that he was thinking. Under the mask, he licked his lips, a bad nervous habit. He needed to time this right for it to work.

The winding of his muscles could be hidden, if he did it right. Sometimes, it could be as if he was relaxed one second, and pounce the next. But he was already visibly wound to his limit, and he leaned to his left foot in preparation. A subtle telegraph.

“And I haven’t really had the chance to dance with the star just yet.”

He kicked off, once again coming in head-on. A feint like this was dangerous, though, because if he timed it wrong, he was doomed to his trajectory. It required putting his back to the enemy only a few feet distant, just out of arm’s reach, as he changed to a turn and skidded off to one side, trying to force the miserable hole of a human being to react in response by illusion rather than putting himself into real danger. It was a test, an attempt to gauge and force engagement, just to see what happened. The burst of energy would distract his instincts long enough for him to try to clear his head, at least, distract himself from pure murderous intent by action without follow-through.

And maybe, he hoped, the empty hollow man would do something.
If Lament was the animate void, then Cryptid was a walking black hole; cold, ravenous, and impossibly dense, for all that was fed into him. He was still talking, for one. He was still fighting. Did he not know what this looked like? Did he not think, after Lament had so generously allowed him to? Even when the compulsion to do so was absent, he seemed content to act on instincts. Oh, he was a predator, sure; a monster, even. But those were still animals- still less than human. It seemed that his mind hadn't quite evolved as far as his body.

He launched another attack; head-on, this time, making no attempt to mask his trajectory. Was this another act of blind rage, or did he intend to mislead? Given all he had observed, Lament couldn't tell. He'd treat it the same way, regardless; planting his feet firmly in the ground and raising the taser ever so slightly, waiting for it to come close enough to his skin until-


-he stopped, and skidded to the side.

That was when Lament decided to act- once his assailant had done him the favour of getting out of the way. He took one final step back and dug his toe into the ground, kicking up the gun in the process, and leaning down to grab it from the air around his knees. It was a move that could've been more graceful, he'd admit, but it was safer than bending down the whole way. Fully armed once more, he pointed it at the Cryptid-

"What was that s'posed to achieve?"

-and shot him once more.
Cryptid didn’t have time for a smart comment, or even to process what he had learned in his charge, the slight lift of the taser. He didn’t have time to think or breathe. He only had time to shift his weight and turn his head, so that the bullet didn’t go through his brain.

Todd had had his jaw broken before. He didn’t know what it was – maybe the sudden vulnerability in what he knew had to be the strongest point in his body, or else just the sudden shock so close to his brain, one of the parts he knew was exclusively vital – but breaking his entire rib cage and bruising all his organs had not inspired the same, sudden, bestial panic and rage.

It had been because of a broken jaw that Arlo had seen the animal come out for the first time.

A gunshot wound, at this range, was far worse than a single clean break courtesy of a man’s fist. The mask wasn’t for protection at all; it shattered in a spiderweb pattern at the point of impact, some microscopic bits lodging into the skin. His jaw and cheek would have responded the same way, a clean hole, if it had just been a stab, a pierce. The bullet itself wasn’t an issue. It was the force that reduced Todd’s mouth to shredded meat. It didn’t explode, the way a normal person’s would have. A normal person’s face would be scattered on the floor from the impact, turned perfectly inside-out. All of Todd’s meat stayed attached to the rest of his face, but it warped and bled and shattered and it should have fucking hurt.

In a single, placid moment, Todd didn’t feel the pain. He only smelled gunsmoke and tasted gunpowder, tasted the bullet. He’d always hated the taste of gunpowder, he thought.

And then the agony struck him in an instant that reduced his inner world to blind pain.

The sound he made wasn’t possible for humans. Not even in the throes of animal pains. The ability to make it was one more thing in his body designed for something, but as it was, it sounded like a snarl, a growl, a scream, and the wind at the height of a blizzard all in one agonized instant. It was the kind of noise that would make any prey that wasn’t a fucking bottomless hole freeze in raw terror. Uninhibited by the form of jaw and mouth, it carried throughout the warehouse until Todd ran out of breath to scream. A few seconds, at best, with the ferocity in which the air rushed out of him.

Prey. The thing that did this was prey.

His hearing was fucked by the gunshot. His nose was fucked by the smell of his own blood. But his eyes were fine. Not blind. They’d lost their shape, their color, although one was hidden in the shattered remains of his mask’s left side. Even if it could be seen, however, the expression had rendered it nearly unidentifiable, except for the pale blue color.

There was rage. Not the cold, easy rage of a man who had been forced into the position where his morals had been violated, no. This burned out of the visible eye, twisted it, rendered it truly inhuman. Hunger and rabid fury chased each other in eddies as he picked up the shape in the dark, the standing shape that was unnamed and would remain unnamed for what was left of its miserable life.

If the other man was looking closely at his handiwork, he might see the muscle starting to mend, the shape starting to return, but the going would be slow, so incredibly slow. Slow enough that even if Cryptid did take down the prey, it wouldn’t be teeth that tore it apart.

The rest of him was not slow. The rest of him exploded in the direction where the shadow was, not attempting to render the gun ineffective at close range but doing so by relative chance. The man was given choices, the classic choices of prey, and he had the span of the last second to choose.

Fight, flight, or freeze.
Everything shattered. His jaw was a mess; broken teeth hidden amongst shards of plastic, mangled flesh clinging to the wound in slick red ribbons. Blood splattered across the floor again, a fresh coat over the primer from the leg wound. His mask exposed his fangs, whilst Lament's exposed his glare; two voids, hunger and apathy. How exciting. He'd be satisfied by this accidental artistic display as it stood, were it not for what the Cryptid produced next.

The scream.

The single, agonised wail that met its echoes between the walls. From a single wound, a single moment, came a sound more pained, more primal than any other that had been caught within that warehouse. It made his current hostage seem relaxed, when he could still cry. It made his previous victims seem unfazed by their torment, when they were still alive to face it. It made every single case he had recorded, every single sample he had gleaned, every single act of violence he had stood by and witnessed, all of it, all of it, seem hollow.

Lament stepped back- staggered, even. In that moment, he, too, had lost his composure; body curved inwards, head tilted down, a hitch in his breath that could be mistaken for a terrified flinch, were it not for the crease beneath his eye growing deeper and deeper.

He hadn't recorded that one, but he didn't mourn it.

There would be other chances.

For now, he had some fallout to deal with. Lament regained his bearings as the Cryptid regained his, in time to see the monster launch another head-on attack; an unarmed strike, aimed at centre-mass. He stopped. He stayed still. He stared. Then, when Cryptid was within range, he repeated that obvious little move he had shown earlier.

He lifted the taser.
There wasn’t any real thought in the creature that lunged at Lament. There was pain, still wrenching, still raw in its agony. The Cryptid felt the air on its muscle, on its teeth. The air was not cold, but it felt too cold. Or maybe the cold came from inside, somewhere.

It just knew it was cold. It knew about the cold, and it knew about the pain that burned under the cold, and it knew about the hunger that rumbled under the pain like the growl that picked up in its throat. His body moved, but his mind didn’t have room to recognize the taser lift, the same movement he had taken the moment to learn about.

This time, when the pain struck, he didn’t scream. His everything locked up. The body jerked to a stop, and had it not been for the forward motion of the lunge he may have fallen away.

And so he stayed, frozen, entirely at the mercy of the other monster until the new pain stopped.
Cryptid really was in a state, wasn't he? Lament couldn't even call the retaliation obvious, that would feel like an understatement; no, it was handed to him, literally and intentionally, to see if he had been paying attention. Clearly, the answer was no. At what point had he lost his focus, hm? Was it early, at the point of Lament's tainted sound, or was it later, after the bullet wound caused Cryptid's own? It would be optimistic to assume the former- he still had the wherewithal to try a feint, until he was shot. Was a single bullet really enough to cause this pure mindlessness, when that shot to the leg earlier had caused nothing more than a stumble?

Did Cryptid have a weak spot?

He couldn't find that out now; not here, not whilst there was no way to get the monster to calm down so he could try again. As much as it pained him to admit, Lament would have to be patient. He wasn't so much bothered with the proverbial off-switch as he was with the on. Calming people down from violent delirium wasn't usually part of his method, Lament was more, ah... what was that little phrase again? Set it and forget it?

Keeping the taser in place, Lament raised the gun; bringing it close to the Cryptid's facial wound for just a moment, as if aiming to fire another shot, to knock out more teeth. Then, he released the taser. He aimed the gun away. He pulled the trigger.

The hostage's skull shattered.
The pain that was in his jaw began to wear thin. Something was already starting to shift away from the animal in his clear blue eyes when the prey lifted his gun. And there was a clear thought in all the pain, partly word, partly instinct.

He was going to die.

There was no avoiding it now. Nowhere to run. No way to fight it, not with his muscles locked as they were. While the prey might see the change, he wouldn’t recognize the acceptance in the moment, the way the emotions reflected in his eyes. He wouldn’t see the acceptance for what it was, not surrender, but understanding.

When the gun moved and went off, when Todd couldn’t move his head to follow it, the understanding immediately shifted back to something more familiar. Not the animal look, now that his head was clearing and his jaw was resuming its correct shape.

But the cold anger sharpened back to a point through the pain, even as the smell of blood and meat washed across the warehouse. The blind rage was gone. He needed to rest. He needed to leave. To get away from the man who strangulation hadn’t killed, and the man who wasn’t a predator and killed blindly.

First, the fucking fire in his nerves had to stop. He’d figure out the rest when that was done, but he couldn’t move until the pain went away.
Ah. Not hungry, then? A shy eater? Or was he just still paralysed? Lament supposed he had asked for too much, after getting what he got out of the man. Best not to push his luck any further- especially considering what he could do.

"Well, there's your dance, partner."

He lowered the gun, but kept the taser in his hand- in case Cryptid managed to regain enough sense to beat him senseless. Now that he knew it worked, he'd be holding onto it. A nice little bonus to add to his repertoire, alongside that new note of his. Ah, he had almost forgotten about that in this blaze of screams and fury. That note was what he came here for; he still needed time to test it, to find out its exact effects. He'd make sure to have that sorted before their next meeting, to be safe. Lament didn't want to look Cryptid in the eye again until he knew exactly what that note had done to him.

Still, regrettably, this all meant letting him walk.

Making sure the recorder was securely in his pocket, Lament began to move towards the exit, waving over his shoulder with taser in hand.

"You've been a great audience tonight." He said, "Make sure you clean up after yourself. Can't have you getting the blame for this, eh?"