Closed RP The Perfect Victim

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It was late in Pittsburgh.

Late and dark in this part of the city. Streetlights, either burnt or poorly spaced, sidewalks more dirt than concrete, and every other building a warehouse, abandoned paint depot, or impound lot. The part of the city at the outskirts of well-lit downtown, but out of the white picket safety of the suburbs. The sort of place nobody sane walked alone and unarmed at this time of night.

She didn't seem the sort to fit in here, either. Unassuming. Dressed in a trenchcoat and a business skirt, a button-up blouse with poofing sleeves that poked meekly out from the jacket's. Her stilettos caught in the soil on the roadside with every staggering step, and her purse, either a Louis Vuitton or an Amazon knock-off, dangled openly off her arm.

Something followed behind her. A shadow in the night. In a city of metas, it was almost petty. In a place where terrorists brought buildings to the ground with their mind, it was almost harmless. But he had a knife, and she had none. He knew this road, and she obviously didn't. If she did, why would she be here?

He was on her in an instant. Knife like a whip to her back. Hand like a claw to her throat.

"You're gonna do what I fucking say if you wanna get out of this," he hissed. And as anyone would -

She screamed.
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It was late in Pittsburgh.

Late and dark, in this part of the city. Neglected, near-empty streets, in desperately short supply of even the cheap fluorescent lamps that swarmed every other corner like fireflies. The ones that were there were dull, flickering; there were more shadows to hide in than light to run to. The ragged outline of the city, where the scissors had slipped cutting it from the map. The sort of place nobody sane walked alone and unarmed at night.

Lament wasn't looking for someone sane, nor was he looking for someone unarmed. Alone? Alone was beneficial, but it didn't really matter if he found them that way. A person was easier to remove than a gun, for him. A lot of the time, his marks tended to sort themselves out for him- random acts of violence, sudden-onset street brawls. He had no interest in the loser, not with the enemies he'd made. Not with the enemies he'd planned on making.

He saw him before he saw his victim, moving silently through the alleys, unseen by all but the unseen. It seemed he knew them well. Knew where to hide. Lament did, too. It was a pain, but he had to keep his distance; the chains on his hat didn't lend themselves to stealth, not whilst he was moving. One off-beat rattle here and there- well, that could've been anything- but a pattern? Consistency? He'd be spotted in an instant, which meant he'd become the target, which meant he wouldn't get to see where this was going- and he really wanted to see where this was going. A fight, perhaps? A deal? Something tense and dangerous; a powder keg with an unlit fuse, waiting for someone to come by with a jug full of gasoline and a welder's blowtorch?

The scream rang out before he could record it.

Ah, so a mugging. It seemed simple enough- the victim, from what he could see, looked like someone who had found herself lost on a walk home from work. Unfortunate, really, that one mistake with the map could land her in a situation like this; one wrong turn sending her down a cliff's edge. She didn't know it yet, but she was dead. Her killer didn't know it yet, but he was, as well. He'd just take a little longer.


Lament rounded the corner, chains rattling as he came into view- almost into view. The recorder was running. Quiet though it may be, he could definitely do something with audio taken from this distance. He leaned against the wall, arms folded, as he watched them go about their dance.

Then, in a tone only he could hear, he started to hum.
The mugger looked confused for a moment. Sweating, he shifted the grip on his knife, driving it harder into the woman's back.

"Quit fucking screaming, you bitch! Make another noise and I'll - and -"

He sputtered out, shaking his head. The hand clutching the woman's chest tightened. The hand clutching the knife shook. You could see the thoughts running. The desperation. The anxiety. The adrenaline. Roiling, rising. It'd be easy. Tie up loose ends. No witness.

No fucking witness. Bitch would squeal, anyway. Bitch would fucking squeal, and then he'd be back in Allenwood. You can hide a body, especially if no one knows where to look. Pitiful, disgusting, piece of shit meat would - would -

The woman, on the other hand, didn't scream again. She'd fallen silent. No pleas, no whimpers, not even a tremor as the man behind her trembled and cursed beneath his breath. She was completely and utterly still - not the calm kind, but the kind like a wound spring, ready to uncoil with a crack at a moment's notice.

Then the crack came.

Her head jolted, neck at an awkward angle as she turned her eyes back, scanning the darkness behind them. The man jumped, fear lapsing bloodlust for a moment, hand shifting again on the blade.

"Fuck are - fuck are you doing?" he spat. The fear settled, and his eyes narrowed, spittle flecking on his lips as his voice raised to a shout. "Fucking bitch! Don't look at me like that, it's your fucking fault you're out here! Braindead shit, don't you know you shouldn't -"


The voice that came out of the woman's lips didn't match the scream. It was sharp. Cold. One arm bent back - elbow joint crawling to face the other way like a rat burrowing beneath a fleshy blanket - and the now-inverted hand shoved itself over the man's mouth almost too fast to track. The fingers tightened.

It was the man's turn to crack, and the man's turn to scream - though his was muffled by his flesh muzzle.

"Hello? Is someone there?" the woman called plainly into the dark. "Help me, I'm being mugged. I think he might hurt me."
It was like he was following a script. The tension, holding the knife in a trembling hand, spitting threats and insults at his victim. Already, deep cracks were snaking their way across his composure- it was only a matter of time before he split. Lament watched, idly running a hand across the buttons of the tape recorder.

Then, everything went wrong.

Her neck was the first thing to break. Then her arm. Her hand. Flesh crawled beneath skin, rearranging itself into a more advantageous position- moving without moving, almost. Or, at least, moving in a way which he couldn't stop. If he couldn't stop it normally, he certainly couldn't stop it now- for all his rage, he was clearly unprepared for a situation like this, for some... weird, bone-moving, metahuman something to be what lay beneath his blade. Anger made people feel smart and act stupid. Stupid or not, there didn't seem like much he could do.

Lament wasn't hiding. He wasn't good at hiding. He was at his best when he was audible, if not visible as well. The hum became intermittent- short pulses, spaced further and further apart. Stopping abruptly would be suspicious. Tapering it off like this meant that it felt more real, more natural- not the deliberate interference it was. He moved his head, allowing the rattle of the chains to signal his presence.

"Seems to me you've already got this handled." He said, "Don't let me interrupt y'all."
The woman turned fully over. Joints popping and reconnecting, tendons twisting, muscles spasming. For a normal human, it'd be excruciating. The woman, however, didn't seem bothered. Except -

Well, except for her eyes, now that Kosuke could see them properly. Her face was placid, her expression serene, but her eyes flickered between anger, pain, and fear, damp wells running rivulets down her cheeks. The grasping hand tugged, twisted, arm bulging. Something in it audibly tore - like a pair of scissors to wet paper - but a louder noise followed, a terrible, messy crunching as blood and teeth popped out from between her fingers.

The mugger crumpled, no longer swearing, simply sputtering and gasping. The woman considered him for a moment.

"It is interesting, yes?"

She bent down to pluck the knife from his flailing hand, spun it between her fingers, then drove it firmly into his left eye.

He stopped flailing.

"Very interesting. He was going to steal from her. Hm. Maybe something more, I cannot know, I cannot say. But to come so fast to rage." She withdrew the knife, mechanically wiping it off on the sleeve of her coat. "And she, well. She was terrified. Terrified before even him. But then, in a moment -"

Flexing the knife between her hands, she looked directly at Kosuke's rattling silhouette.

"She wanted only to tear into him."

Vukodlak grinned.

"Am I going to kill you as well? Or are you useful meat? I think - I broke this one too much."
And, just like that, he was dead.

Of course, it took a while for him to actually die. One thing he had learned about metahumans was that they seldom favoured a swift kill; they toyed with their lessers, making sure they knew just how frightening they were beneath that thin veil of humanity. Cryptid, with his animalistic chase. Obsidian, with the cold-shadow poison. Phoenix, boiling her four-dozen victims alive before putting them out of their misery. Even Nat was the same. Lament was charitable enough, in most cases, to chalk it up to arrogance, rather than sadism- but, of course, there were always exceptions.

The tape recorder remained hidden in his pocket, and he remained perched against the wall- watching the woman before him. Despite her serenity, he knew he had been effective. Her eyes were a kaleidoscope of emotion; shifting, volatile, as intense as her victim's, when he still had them. She just handled it differently, it seemed. The input was the same, but the output- that was where the oddity lay. Interesting, yes. It certainly was.

His own eye stared back at her, cold and unfeeling; more lifeless than the mask that covered its twin. They come so fast to rage.

"That, they do." He nodded, "It's a shame where it leads them. A damn shame."

There was no sympathy in his voice. There couldn't be.

"Ain't much need to kill me, stranger. Ain't much point." Lament shrugged, "I'm as useful to you as you are to me. Make of that what you will."

He lowered his head slightly, breaking eye contact whilst keeping her firmly within his line of sight. His hand curled around a device in his jacket, but otherwise remained idle.

"Though, colour me curious- what do you do with your prime cuts, mm?"
She took a step towards him - then another - then let out a low moan, an involuntary rattle as her entire body heaved forward. Closer, now, he could see the damp bloodstain on her back, the leaking gash in the jacket. The man had pushed his knife a little too hard at one point, it seemed. Tilting her head, she paused.

"You may be useful to me. I am looking for someone. A woman." She laughed. "You have soft lips and a gentle voice, kotik. You must know many women."

Stretching, she turned her body the proper way around, limbs and head turning forward, then forward turning to face Lament.

"Prime cuts is such a silly phrase. Useful meat I use, until it can no longer be used," She rolled one of her shoulders experimentally. "This one is no longer useful, but that does not mean I cannot use it a little more. You, though - you would not make as good a victim, but perhaps the shlyukha would wish to lay with you?"

Vlukodlak shrugged.

"Maybe, maybe."
"Soft lips, hm?" He tapped a gloved fingertip against the porcelain, "Don't think this is my real face?"

He chuckled, shaking his head. Her proposition- well, it raised some questions. A lot of questions. This wasn't her body- or, at least, it wasn't how she usually looked. Whether she was a shapeshifter or some sort of parasitic monster using the woman as a skinsuit was up in the air, but the point was- she could be anyone. If you could be anyone, and you want to lure out a specific person, why wouldn't you do it yourself?

"Oh, women, men, anyone under the sun. I know them; they don't know me." He said, "Now, I ain't often one for seduction, but I see where you're coming from, don't worry."

The chains rattled over his face.

"They don't stop at layin', except layin' dead. I reckon I can cut you a deal."

He shrugged, leaning his weight on his back foot. His posture was casual- or, at least, it appeared as such.

"Who is this doll, anyway?"
"My sister," the wolf muttered. It wasn't exactly spoken as a curse, but it wasn't spoken with kindness, either. "She is in this forsaken city. Somewhere. Somewhere."

Taking a firmer look at Lament, she approached him, a few quick steps more like a predatory lunge than any normal gait.

"Your face isn't real," she said, amused. "We are alike, yes? Hm. Are you one of those American - superheroes, then? With the costumes, and the capes? Did this body not pay you enough?"

She grinned as if she'd said something terribly funny.
His hand tensed at the lunge, but his posture remained otherwise stoic. The speaker was firmly in his hand, now, but something was preventing him from using it. She could likely kill him at this distance. She could likely kill him at any distance. With metahumans, with unknowns, it was foolish to assume otherwise.

"Your sister. So she's like you, right? An- ah, inhuman?"

It wasn't the word normally used for this sort of thing, wasn't politically correct. Still, it's not like it was out of place.

The other word, superhero, made him chuckle.

"Sure I am, hun." He said, "Though, I'm afraid we ain't much alike. Only thing we share is a mask."

Beneath his, he smiled, lacing his voice with Disquiet.

"And the fear for what's under it."
The grin shifted into something terrible. Fear - expected, that - but something underneath it, like claws were grabbing at the woman's face to try and force away the terrified rictus. Clutching at her chest, she stumbled back a few steps -

Then laughed.

"You are a bastard," she muttered, eyes flickering from him to the area around her. Scanning for escape routes, perhaps, or looking out paranoid for any hidden attackers. "Cheap trickery, this."

She moved as if to close the distance between them, then reconsidered. Biting at her lip hard enough to well blood, she took another step back.

"Rusalka is like me. She wears faces also, though she is worse. Plastic wigs and ugly costumes." The woman spat, spit mingling with the blood. "You will know her by how she makes your head spin with a touch, yes?"
He watched with an air of disinterest as the thing before him shifted- fear, an attempt to reset, then another unresolved lunge. Unusual though it was, it didn't seem to elicit much beside a reflexive turn of the head. Even the chains seemed more emotive, as they rattled against each other loud enough for both parties to hear- his customary Pavlovian bell, though he doubted it would see much use with this one.

"Cheap." He said, "I prefer 'easy', but... same difference, I s'pose- to you, at least."

He moved his head back, nodding slightly as she described her foe. Another metahuman--inhuman--by the sound of it. Worth looking into, as likely as it was to get him killed.

"I see."

His tone relaxed a little, becoming more familiar, more conversational than it had before. There was a hint of- if not sarcasm, then at least some level of flippancy to it.

"60k, if you want her dead. Cash in hand, preferably."

He smiled.

"And, if you want her alive, I'll charge you a favour instead."