Mansion of Horror Part 2

OFF: This is my challenge post. It picks up where Corliss' ends.

ON: They bound out of the manor and shortly reached their waiting carriage. Zazi lowered Aji back to the ground. The tiny woman looked battered and distressed. “We made it, let us retreat quickly!” She leapt up the step to the carriage. “Get us out of here!” Aji called to her driver. There was no response. She climbed up to the drivers seat. Her man lay there slumped against the coach, a single bullet hole in his forehead. “Oh Petersen…” Aji said with grief, he had been an excellent retainer. Zazi stood on the ground looking over her shoulder, flashes of the horror they had just endured filling her mind. “no….” she said icily.

Aji turned to the woman, her eyes wide. “We are free and safe, we should run.” she pleaded to Zazi. The tall woman remained unmoving. “He has done the same to other women…Sunshine… he will do it again… and again… This ends now!”

Aji took a deep breath. Her friend was correct. She steeled herself. This would get ugly. But they weren’t without assets. Aji walked to the rear of the carriage unlocking the cargo trunk. The doors swung open once more displaying the racks of equipment and vials of chemicals. Aji quickly went about her work, making selection of the devices and accessories. “Here take this… and this…. And try these” she stated handing items back to Zazi. The pale woman looked a little perplexed at the stack of equipment, picking up each item and eyeballing it before lifting the next. She stopped on a pair of leather boots with brass fittings and straps. Aji called out from the equipment racks, “Just tap the heels together. Zazi did exactly that which caused a sudden clank and resounding ring as the mechanism snapped in place. “Oh yeah.” She stated in admiration of the device. (SFX: Cue Bass Drop)

Minutes later the two stood before the mansion, a cold mist blasting up the cliffs from the surf below. Aji had shed her long black gown for a tiny pair of Khaki explorer trousers, leather vest and a brace of knives and vials. Zazi still had her street clothes on, now adorned with leather belts and a range of rounded brass globes.

Aji stepped back towards the mansion of horrors, lifting a wicked looking gun device loaded with tiny needle like projectiles. Zazi just shook her head. “How many people do you kill on a weekly basis with this stuff?” Aji shot her a smile “I’m an inventor, nor an assassin.” She tapped her gun. “Nails. Works a lot better than a hammer.” A laugh came out of Zazi. “Very well, Milady, let’s do this.”

As they walked back into the mansion, Aji lowered her goggles, the lenses concentrating the light of the room to help her make out shapes in the shadows. Their escape had been chaotic, but she knew near a dozen crazed followers were between them and …Jack. The mere thought of him made her shudder. And on cue, two dark souls rushed towards them, knives in hand. Aji turned the nail gun toward the first and fired. Three steely projectiles flew out and swiftly pierced their target, sending the man hurtling back across the room and fastening him to the oaken paneling. Zazi grappled the second one and threw him to the ground then tossed one of the brass orbs at him. A cloud of vapor burst from the orb and enveloped the man, who began coughing and choking until shortly he ceased to move. Zazi looked at Aji and nodded. “Cute.” she stated as she turned her stance back to the main hall.

The darkness of the great hall hung over them in a blanket of eerie blackness. The grotesque statues held silent vigil of their advance. Their steps echoed upon the cold stone floor. Each step forward seemed to build into a crescendo of thumping. .A distant laugh began to supersede the thumping, making the ladies halt to assess their surroundings further. The cruelty dripping from the laugh was unmistakably Jack. Aji resisted the urge to send a volley of nails flying in the direction of the laugh. It would be a waste of a shot, but would be very gratifying.

“Did you miss me ladies? Don’t worry I still have a place for you in my collection. Servants! Seize them!” Jack bellowed from the darkness. Immediately the ladies could make out six shadows closing in on them from around the room. “Hold on.” Aji whispered to Zazi. “Let them get closer.” Zazi did not like the sound of that but trusted her friend’s judgement. The shadows moved closer and closer, likely visible now even without the goggles. “The boots! Use them now!” Aji called out. Zazi clicked the heals together activating the gears and pulleys within them to release a bowed steel plate from the soles, lifting Zazi 12 inches off the floor. “Woah!” she cried out trying to maintain her balance. The bows were quite flexible and gave her a solid spring to her movements.” She started bouncing slightly, getting the feel for the boots, then sprung upward, easily clearing he sconces on the pillars. “This is kind of fun.” Zazi said more to herself than anyone.

“Tap the toes and repeat those pirouettes you were doing earlier!” Aji called. Zazi touched the toes of the boots together, eight inch steel blades sprung out. “What do you invent with these?” Zazi stated with a solid sense of impressed sarcasm. She swung herself into a loop like her mother had taught her and sprung her leg in an arc towards an advancing shadow. The toe blade slashed straight through the man’s garments. Clutching his chest he dropped to the ground as Zazi recovered from her spin and sprung towards another attacker. As she felt the boots sink into this man, she could make out the CHA-chink of Aji’s nail gun dispatching an opponent across the room.

Three shadowy men raced up towards Zazi as she was preparing to spin again. She sprung and flipped herself over backwards skidding across the stone floor. The men laughed as they closed in. Zazi struggled to get the jumping blades back underneath herself and stumbled to the floor again. She let out a rude curse as one of the men pounced on her. She swung back at the man fighting to get him off of her. She felt the man’s hands grabbing hold of her waist.She reached out to grasp his head, her fingers in a frenzy to find sensitive spots such as his eyes. He shrugged off her attempts with his arm and gave her a ghoulish grin. She could see the avarice in his eyes as he punched downward at her. She felt the blow in her chest and winced in pain. She struggled to pull herself back away from the man, the metal blades strapped to her feet failing to grip anything on the floor. Then she felt another man at her back, his arms coming over her. There was darkness, and heat, Zazi struggled in a panic. And suddenly her assailants jerked and ceased their struggle with her. She felt moisture, thick and hot splattering on her face. Pushing her arms forward she rolled the men off her to reveal a trio of rather nasty looking prongs protruding from each of their faces. These were images that would stay with her throughout her life, but at the moment, they were not as important as getting herself on her feet. Awkwardly, she got into a crawl position and was able to lift herself up onto the springy blades once more.

She lightly bounced over to her partner who had dispatched the remainder of attackers. “These things are harder to use than they look.” Aji smiled shouting over, “You know if you click the heels again they will retract.” Zazi rolled her eyes. “Well you could have told me that before!” She bounced several more times before clicking the heels and lowering to the floor as the boots reverted to their original form.

Aji scampered up along side her. “So far so good.” she squeaked. Zazi cleared the blood from her eyes wiping her hands on her highly stained jacket. “You call this good?” she stated back. Aji grinned grimly. The central staircase lay ahead of them. At the top the room Jack had treid to hold them. Aji leapt onto the stair and the laughter started again. “Do you feel it? Can you feel it my dear Zazi? The power. The raw awesome power that comes from being the one to end another’s life. Creation and destruction in the palm of your hand. And then Woops! It’s gone. Until the next one.”

Zazi shook her head at Ajii. “Let’s make this bastard shut up.” Zazi picked up her friend and bound up the stair way much faster than the tiny woman could have made it on her own. Reaching the top landing Zazi put her down again. “He’s got to be close.” They scanned the darkened room, Aji leading with her nail gun.

And suddenly the room erupted in flame, blinding the ladies in their goggles. The laughter grew louder. “Ladies you are in my house. You play by my rules.” Aji peeled off her goggles and let her large dark eyes adjust. There he was. Jack. Flanked by four more of his minions. As she raised the nail gun one of the men ran at her kicking the weapon and Aji herself across the room.

Zazi watched her friend’s small form flying away knocking over a flaming briar on her left. She grabbed two of the brass globes from her belt. Ready to let loose on the assembled goons she heard his voice. “Zazi. My dear Zazi. Looks like its just the two of us now. I promised to preserve your beauty for eternity. Motherhood, a woman’s zenith of glory. You and your child, together always. Come to me let me worship you. Become my Madonna.”

“Pray to this you bastard.” Zazi shouted back as she flung both her globes at Jack. As the devices erupted in vaporous clouds, Jack quickly scampered away towards the back of the room. His minions closed in. Their advance was suddenly interrupted by a high pitched sizzzzing noise that ended in one man making a sickening gurgling sound. With a crack a long saw toothed whip was pulled back, ripping apart the man’s throat is a fountain of scarlet. From the nearby flames a tiny woman appeared wielding the whip. “Go after him. I can handle these boys!” Aji squeaked. The flames continue to spread around the hall as her whip lashed out again, causing the minions to keep a safe distance.

Zazi nodded to her friend and ran in the direction Jack had been, holding her arm over her mouth to keep from breathing the dispersing gas clouds from her globes. A broad curtain was across the back of the room, drawing it back Zazi found a ladder leading up to the roof, the access door at the top open to the night sky. She climbed quickly, being greeted by a cold blast of sea air from the cliffs below. Her body shivered at the sudden chill. Jack stood on the peak of the roof and laughed. That same cold sadistic laugh. She walked closer, knowing that she had no more weapons to pull. It was her against this madman.

“I promised you a quiet happily ever after. You responded to my call. So what went wrong my dear.” Jack implored. Zazi snarled back “Your vision of happy and mine are considerably different.” Jack shook his head as the woman approached. “I can still introduce you to your child before you pass.” His knife flipped open with a distinctive click. He moved in a fluid motion of one confident in his action. Zazi ducked to the side as his knife swiped just below her arm. He swiped again and again. She dodged trying to keep her footing on the shingled rooftop. “Come on, my love. Let’s end this silly disagreement. You belong to me.” Flames from the inside of the mansion began to break through the corners of the roof. The sudden heat was a relief from the frozen night air. The knife in Jack’s hand reflected the light from the flames in an unearthly red.

Zazi closed her eyes for a moment. Is this how it ends? she considered. It wasn’t the worst way she had ever envisioned, but there was no way she was letting this arrogant monster take her down. He approached again, the knife swung out. She clicked her heels and bound into the night sky, the gear wound bows on her boots propelling her above Jack in an elegant forward flip that she transitioned into a pirouette kick, the toe of her boot slamming into Jack’s skull, the impact resulting in the 8 inch blade deploying. Jack shuddered reaching for his now ruined head as he dropped to his knees. Zazi stood upon the roof watching the man stagger as death rapidly swept upon him. With one spring loaded kick she sent his body flying from the roof and over the cliffs to the dark sea far below.

Aji climbed to the roof, flames licking at her heels to see her friend standing stoically on the cornice of the manor. “Is it done?” she squeaked. Zazi nodded looking down into the darkness. “He won’t hurt anyone again.” she stated emotionlessly. Aji nodded. “Good, then lets get out of here while we still can.”

With some care the ladies lowered themselves from the roof of the burning manner with Aji’s whip blade. Once on the ground they made their way back to the carriage, their silhouettes dark against the burning manor in the background. “What will you do now? Aji asked her friend. Zazi looked blankly at her. “Probably back to the streets. What else is there?” The small furry woman smiled taking Zazi’s bloodstained hand. “I have a need for an assistant at the Exploritorium. A woman of your talents could be well used.” “Does it pay good?” Zazi asked. Aji patted the woman’s hand. “You will be fine… you both will.

Fade to black.

The Lady Aji D'moonh

Zazi Sh'viakrik
Special Projects Assistant
Corliss Fortune

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