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Malus: World of War
Brawl in The Lonely Girl

(AUTHOR'S NOTE:  This fight was skipped over by accident.  It is supposed to occur after The Hall of the Dragon chronologically.  Enjoy.)

Stories you might want to be familiar with:

Madness Combat
Jonah Hex
Batman
X-Men
The Professional
Spawn
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
The Princess and the Frog
Cool World
The Sorcerer's Apprentice
Camelot
Gargoyles


WARNING:  THIS FIGHT IN MALUS: WORLD OF WAR CONTAINS PROFANITY, DISTURBING VIOLENCE, IMPLIED PROSTITUTION, AND DRUG USE!  READER DISCRETION IS ADVISED!

SOMEWHERE IN NEVADA, 6:39 PM

Hank J. Wimbleton, wearing a mask to cover his destroyed jaw, stood before the Lonely Girl, a very familiar looking building within a filthy alley.  It was decorated with graffiti and littered with alcohol stains and dried up gum.  Near a trash can, which had a wanted poster of a scarred man named Jonah Hex stapled on it, Hank noticed a homeless person crouching down next to it, munching down on a hamburger.  He had several bruises and cuts on his face, and looked up at Hank with fear in his eyes.  Getting up, he slowly ran away, keeping his head low and seeming to limp slightly.  Looking back up to the sign of the Lonely Girl, he walked in, hiding his pistol and knife in his trench coat precariously.

Inside the Lonely Girl were tables all around the room, one large bar table where drinks were served, and topless (if not completely naked), well-endowed women dancing around vertical poles.  The room was dimly lit by party lights and loud, heavy metal music rang throughout the   For some reason, Hank felt strangely at home.  He walked over to the bar table, the people in the bar began to look at Hank like he was a demon until all of the eyes were on him.  The bar tender, a middle aged, gray haired man with a bit of weight on him turned around, washing a glass with a cloth, but when he saw Hank, his eyes widened as he dropped the glass and the cloth to the ground.  Hank walked past a couple more people before he took his seat on an old bar stool.

The bar tender walked over to Hank, shaking a bit,
"Hank.  ...What can I get you?"

Hank removed his sunglasses, not sure how to react.  Clearly these people knew him from somewhere.
"Um... usual, I guess."

The bar tender walked over to the glasses, not taking his fearful eyes off of Hank, tripping over his own feet as he made his way over to the glasses.  Overhead, a small television with bad screen quality showed a newscast, where the host spoke of signs of a civil war erupting in France, the development of a super prison in Gotham City, the beginnings of a crime war erupting in America, some kind of mutant uprising, and last of all, the conquest of warlord Ganondorf Dragmire.

Suddenly, everybody in the bar heard some yelling coming from a door, between a man and a woman.  Over the door was a sign that said "Sandra Everheart".  Suddenly, the door opened as a man in a suit who looked tired, with a bit of sweat over his face.  His eyes were boiling with demented anger as the woman was yelling words that were nearly incomprehensible for everyone there.  However, Hank's advanced hearing caught every word just fine.

"I earned that money fair and square!" she shouted.

"Just because you whore yourself out doesn't mean you get the money and are safe from a couple deserving bruises!" the delirious looking man shouted back.

"That's my money!  You have no right to take it!"

"Well then consider it a donation to the force!" he yelled as he slammed the door behind him.  A drunk looking man stood next to the door, staring at him like he had just seen a bomb go off.  The man who had left the room, after a couple of seconds of adjusting his suit and stroking his hair back, noticed the staring man.

"What the Hell are you looking at?!" he suddenly shouted, startling the man.  The drunkard then proceeded into the room, his back against the wall and his eyes widened with absolute nervousness as he closed the door behind him.

"Enjoy the herpies!" the creepily temperamental man shouted at the door as he removed a bottle of pills from his jacket pocket.  Uncapping it and removing a pill as everybody lowered their heads, trying not to make eye contact with him, he swallowed the tiny capsule.  Looking up to the ceiling, he cracked his neck, his face flushing to a haunting red as he grunted a bit.  He then reverted his posture back to normal, looking over to the bar.

"Lenny!" he shouted.  The bartender, holding a glass of whiskey, jumped as the man exclaimed his name.

"Serve up a good drink for me."

   Hank simply twiddled his thumbs as the events transpired around him, trying to figure out if he remembered any of these people.

Lenny stuttered,
"W-what would you like, Mr. Stansfield?"

Stansfield walked over,
"Quit being a kiss ass.  Just call me Norman.  Serve me up whatever can get me drunk."

Norman then turned around, a cheerful, yet manic look on his face,
"And serve up some rounds for my boys too!"

A table of other men, many of whom looked like they were from rough parts of town, held up their glasses and cheered.

Norman then took a seat, right next to Hank.  Lenny handed the whiskey to Hank, then walked back over to the rest of the drinks, collecting different glasses and bottles to concoct a brew of alcohol for Norman.

The two sat still for a while.  Hank simply looked away, not wanting any trouble.  Norman tapped his fingers restlessly on the bar table, looking around.  His gaze briefly turned to Hank, then to the television.  However, Stansfield's wandering eyes paused for a while, and he slowly turned his head back to Hank.

"How' ya doing Hank?" he said.  His voice was a forced aura of cheer, but insanity clearly boiled underneath it.

Hank looked over briefly,
"Hey."

Lenny briefly looked over to the two as he continued to mix up some drinks.  Norman closed his face in to Hank.

"You've got some balls coming down around here," he said as Hank simply took a sip of his drink.

"I don't want any trouble," Hank said.

Norman backed up, having a tired and surprised look on his face, as if he had just gotten off an hour long roller coaster.  He then looked behind him deliriously and back to Hank.

"Really.  Because I don't see any friends with you."

Lenny then walked over and delivered Norman's brew, a mixture of several different brands of alcohol put into one huge drink.  Stansfield looked over to his drink as if he had been pulled out of a really good dream, then his eyes peered up at Lenny.

"Hey Lenny," he said in a foreboding manner.

"Yeah Norman?" Lenny said nervously.

Norman stood up, but continued to lean on the bar table.  Pointing at Hank, he spoke,

"You know Hank right?  Murderer, thief, arsonist, top of the most wanted list?"

The words that Stansfield spoke rang in Hank's mind as he tried to remember a time where he did this.  What ties did they make into what he was before, or who he was now?  His thoughts continued to search for such a memory, even as Stansfield slapped him on the shoulder, laughing.  However, he could still remember nothing.  The memories still escaped him.

"Guy's quite a talent isn't he?!" the high-strung man continued to shout.

Leonard could only shrug as he seemed to be trying to fight past a great deal of nervousness, not sure whether to laugh along with Stansfield or to be afraid of what he was about to do.  He had an insecure look in his eyes, only barely making eye contact with Stansfield as he nodded.

Norman kept laughing,
"What gets me, though.  What really gets me."

He then reached into his right pocket, placing his hand on the table.  Only this time, his hand held a powerful looking handgun.  As Leonard stepped back a bit, Hank slowly reached his hand toward his knife, knowing that things would soon get ugly.

"Why're you serving a criminal drinks?" Stansfield asked, his voice taking on a far more malignant tone as his smile faded.

Leonard began to sweat, the fear in his eyes growing,
"Norman..."

But his words were cut off as Stansfield rigged his chest with three bullets, his look of sociopathic disposition not fading in the slightest as he shot the man.  He shook briefly and was driven against the glasses, then slowly bent forward as he fell to the ground, dead.

Norman looked on at the man he had murdered, then turned toward Hank, pointing the gun to the side of his head at point blank range.  As Hank reached into his knife pocket, he found a familiar sense kick in.  Though he did not know where he remembered it from.  It was a rush of reflex and energy descending unto him, combined with a strange excitement for what he knew was about to occur.  Where did he remember this feeling?

Stansfield reached into his jacket pocket and removed a police badge,
"That kind of shit's not permitted in my town."

Norman's friends stood up from their table, pulling out semi-automatics, pistols, and knives as they walked over to their companion.

Hank kept his knife concealed, but his eyes were widening with sudden bloodlust,
"The fuck you talking about?"

"You shot a citizen of this town just now.  Lenny right there, he served you a drink.  Then you took my gun and shot him.  Even though I warned you, you murdered the son of a bitch anyway.  Fortunately for you, no man can screw over the law and get away with it.  Right boys?!"

One of Stansfield's men loaded his semi-automatic as the residents of the bar cleared the building.

Hank, having only taken one sip from his glass before, then picked it up and chugged the whole thing down in a matter of seconds.  As he slammed it down, he spoke,
"You might wanna take that gun away from me."

Stansfield laughed,
"You should've brought an army, pal."

Norman pressed his gun against Hank, but his laughing was interrupted by a startled gasp as Hank grabbed his pistol hand with his left, pulling him forward as he delivered a strong punch to his abdomen.  Before Stansfield could even cough out his pain, Hank maneuvered under his arm, twisting it so that he dropped the gun as the cracking of bones protruded through the air, and then pressed it down, dislocating it and slamming the dirty cop's face down on the bar table.

As Norman lied on the ground, unconscious with a good deal of his top front teeth missing and his face covered in blood, the cops that remained standing rose their guns.  But Hank was too quick for them.  He dove behind the bar table before the triggers could even be pulled, bullets tearing the bottles and shelves above him apart.  

The cops slowly closed in, still amazed at what they saw (or the blur of speed their eyes had managed to catch).  Those who carried firearms loaded their bullets, breathing heavily as they drew closer to the bar table.  They had heard stories about what Hank could do.  And if they were true, they would all be in a fight for their lives.  

"Stay together." one of the cops said.  "We split up, we're dead men."

Suddenly, one of the men staggered forth into the lead cop as a vent hatch fell onto his head.  As the cops turned toward the center where the hatch had fallen, a figure dropped into the fray.  It was Hank.  

As the cops tried to compose themselves so that they could aim their guns at Hank, the outlaw took out his knife with lightning speed as he performed a back kick on a man aiming a pistol at him, sending him flying.  The cops tried to subdue him, careful not to fire their weapons so that they wouldn't hit each other, but in a series of throws, slashes, kicks, and punches, the cops were knocked and cut down.  One of them recovered more quickly than the others and swung his machine gun like a bat down towards Hank.  But the latter grabbed onto the gun with a single hand and sent the corrupt law enforcer flying through the bar table with a single side kick.  Then he heard the sound of a pocket knife being picked up beneath him.  He looked down to see another cop lying on his back, moving to stab him in the foot.  But Hank kicked the knife up to his knee, and as the blade was facing down, stomped it into the man's throat.  

Some of the cops immediately fled the bar, but most of them foolishly stayed to fight.  Hank threw his knife towards one of the running cops, striking him in the back of the skull as the remaining cops moved to fight.  Hank smiled as his knife made contact with the man.  He was enjoying this to a surprising degree.

One threw a punch, but Hank held the man's arm in between in between his own two and broke it as he bent his elbow forward.  He then flipped the man, giving him an uppercut to the face as he flew upside down, and almost immediately afterword, jumped up and delivered an incredibly placed kick to his face as he went through a second flip.  He had been hit so hard that he continued to flip two more times before he landed flat on his head, breaking his neck.

Another cop charged forward to tackle him as Hank had simultaneously jumped up to deliver his kick to the prior cop, but Hank executed a perfect side kick with the same leg that he had delivered his last kick with to.  The cop flipped in the air, but Hank proceeded to catch him by the ankle as he hung upside down.  As Hank heard the rest of the cops getting ready to attack, he drew his pistol.  He only had three bullets, but he figured he could put them to good use.  

Still holding one cop upside down, he placed the first bullet in between his legs.  As the man howled and shrieked at the shot, Hank threw him into the cops that were charging toward him.  While they fell over, Hank leaped back, spinning in the air as he landed on a pool table.  Holding his pistol toward the remaining cops as they stood up, stumbling and grunting, Hank counted them.

"Five guys, two bullets left.  You can still leave," he said to them.

But one of the cops reached for a semi automatic lying on the ground.  Hank shot him in the head before he could even touch it, but the other cops had their own pistols that they quickly drew.  Hank put his last bullet into the fourth cop and then jumped back, landing hard on the back of the pool table so that it flipped over, shielding him from the bullets.  The bullets went through the table, but luckily Hank was lying flat on the ground.  

The cops then ceased fire, slowly approaching the table, their guns still aimed in case Hank was still alive.  Suddenly, the pool table went flying toward them, pushing all four of them back.  Before they could even react, Hank leaped up from behind the table, shooting one of the cops in the heart as he flipped, throwing his now empty gun into one of the cops' faces as he grabbed onto the ceiling, then allowing himself to drop safely to the ground as he landed gracefully on his feet.  Hank looked toward the cops as they staggered to get up once again, one of them dropping to the ground again as he tried to rise.  Hank walked past them, drawing a pool stick from the rack.  Suddenly, one of the cops charged, stabbing a pocket knife forward.  Hank side-stepped the stab, knocking the knife out of the cop's hand and into the air with a twirl of the stick.  He then swiftly grabbed the knife and threw it into the cop's forehead.  Only two more remained.

The second cop charged forward as Hank snapped the pool stick in half, throwing the lower half into the assailant so that the jagged edge stabbed into his abdomen.  The last remaining cop knelt by his comrade, checking his pulse.  Looking up in rage at Hank after reading the empty pulse, he drew the second half of the pool stick from the corpse, holding it toward the man who had killed his friend.

"You fucking murderer!" he shouted.

Hank merely held his half up casually, the words of the cop seeming to strike a familiar tone through his ears,
"I told you guys that you could leave."

The cop then charged forward with an angry, somewhat drunken cry, as he swung his half of the pool stick.  Hank swatted it aside as if he was swatting away a bug, proceeding to poke the cop in the eye with the regular end, then stabbed the jagged end into the side of the cop's neck as he stumbled back.  Hank then simply stood there, looking at the dead bodies that he had filled the bar with.  He then looked over at where Norman should have been, but he was gone.  He had noticed him there, still as unconscious as before, a while ago.  But where he had gone did not matter.  Brushing his trench coat off, Hank simply left, trying to find a familiar, hidden chord that killing these people brought.  

As he opened the door to the alley, a hunched man wearing a brown, tattered cloak leaned against the wall of graffiti.  His face was hidden under a hood, but a white, well-trimmed beard could be seen.  He carried a shovel that he leaned on like a walking stick, grasping onto it with both hands as he walked over to the door to the bar.

Hank stepped forward,
"Hey pal, unless you're just looking for a bunch of dead bodies-"

"I am," the old man responded in a grumbling voice as he walked into the bar without another word, letting the door slowly close behind hi.  But Hank couldn't care less right now.  His mind empty, his memory still seeking what it had lost, he sought out a place where he could rest in peace for a while.  The next day, he planned to find a place where he could remember something.  Anything.


NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA, 8:23 AM

 Al Simmons walked through the empty streets of New Orleans with a small contingent of soldiers riding behind him.  They carried pikes and machine guns, most of them riding in on horses.  Sir Godfrey had sent him and the men in to secure to mansion of Lord Facilier, the crime lord of New Orleans.  After the disappearance of Lord Barkis Bittern, an apparent friend of Frollo's, the judge of Paris had become ever more determined to capture the man.  He could only think of how ridiculous the preparations were that Frollo had gone to to capture one man, and how cowardly Godfrey was to stay behind while men put their lives at risk. 

The men arrived at the doors of the mansion.  Al Simmons pulled out a pistol and prepared to knock on the door, just as they opened on their own.  Simmons chuckled.  Clearly this man was a fan of theatricality.  They walked into a large corridor that looked like it could pass for both a ballroom and a living room.  However, they could not see Facilier.  Only a very radiant looking woman wearing a skimpy white dress stood in the center of the room.  She sat in a chair as if it were a throne, her right leg hanging over the left leg of the chair.  Simmons noticed heard some whistles and whispers from the men.

The woman then stood,
 
"Gentlemen.  Holli Would.  Lord Facilier will be with us shortly."
Simmons walked up to Holli, his eyes briefly crossing past her rather noticeable cleavage, before he quickly looked her in the eyes.
 
"We came to see Facilier.  We're not here for any entertainment."
Simmons then heard his men let out some disappointed sighs.  Al thought of turning around to keep his men in line, but he didn't dare take his eyes off of Holli.  From his years as a mercenary, he had learned that there were some combatants in the field who used their looks and the element of surprise as a deadly weapon.  Holli looked exactly like one of these people, and if he let his guard down, he didn't know what she could do to him.

Holli chuckled as she heard the men sigh, closing up to Simmons,
"What's the matter, Mr. stiff?  Why not just have a quick drink?"

She was so close to him that her breasts were pressed up against his chest, her seduction techniques employed as if she could read his mind.  He then gave her a slight push away,
"I'm not here for you.  Where's Facilier?"

"Oh, screw him.  Between you and me, I'm a lot better company.  Wouldn't you say, boys?"

Simmons heard the soldiers laugh and whistle in agreement, but they quickly silenced themselves as Al turned a slight eye to them.  

He then held up his gun to Holli, who didn't even flinch,
"We're here to take Facilier, dead or alive.  So if he's here-"

Simmons then heard a deep, yet very relaxed voice resonate throughout the room,
"Gentlemen, there ain't no need for hostilities around here."

Simmons turned to see the man they were looking for.  Facilier walked down the stairs, holding a cane in his right hand, a glass of wine in his other.  He proceeded down the stairs like a king in his castle, a proud smile, and a straightened, disciplined posture.

Simmons backed away from Holli, not sure of how dangerous she was, and aimed his gun toward Facilier, calm poise sealed into his stance.

"Sorry, pal.  But my boss wants you on the rope."

Facilier took a sip from his glass, having a look on his face as if this situation was a mere business deal,
"Hey, I'm bettin' y'all don't know Lord Barkis tried puttin' a bullet into me a couple days ago.  Didn't pull out so well for him."

"I brought more than just bullets.  Guards!" Simmons commanded as his men drew their weapons.

But Facilier kept on striding down the stairs, looking at the guards as if they were a couple of flies,
"You boys look like a couple deadly maestros.  But you have your friends,"

Facilier tossed his glass up as it seemed to catch itself in mid air.  He then snapped the fingers on his free hands, a group of eerie looking shadowy demons emerging around the stair case that he stepped off of.

"I got mine."

The guards backed up, slowly lowering their weapons.  However, while Simmons was surely surprised by what he saw, he resisted the urge to flinch.  This Facilier was truly a man difficult to intimidate, so Simmons would have to appear just as collected as he.  For even the most skilled combatant could fear an equal.

"Cool trick."

He then pulled a flash grenade from his belt.

"But whatever those things are, I bet they don't like light.  And I've got criminals who are willing to testify you to come out clean if I don't come back."

The shadows then shuttered, wounded howls of terror echoing through the mansion as fear gripped the ghostly faces of the shadows.  Facilier exited the stairs, looking impressed, but not at all surprised or distressed, as if a chess opponent had made a move that took him off guard.  And as he continued on his path, another shadow came into Al's view; the shadow of the don of New Orleans himself, holding the wine glass.  It walked as proudly and relaxed as its master did as they both laughed.  Facilier's laugh sounded normal, yet very confident, while his shadow's laugh sounded like something out of this world.

"You're really as good as them cards said you'd be, Al.  But I ain't interested in a brawl, especially in a civil zone.  Besides, them gentlemen you put under house arrest against me... you can still find them in there unless you're colorblind to red."

Simmons lowered his grenade a bit, keeping it directed toward the shadows while he kept his gun aimed at Holli, who smiled seductively, but also seemed to be studying her adversary.

"How do you know me?"

"These good ol' boys, only one of many tricks I know, Al.  Now sit down at my table.  Put your mind at ease.  We're in a mansion, not a war zone."

The guards were still looking around at each other, their uncertainty all too obvious in their eyes and in their movements.  Simmons himself could see their stress.  They would obviously not be in a condition to fight should the condition call for it.  He rolled his eyes; this is what he got for working with French soldiers.

Simmons closed in to Facilier, moving diagonally so that Holli couldn't take him by surprise,
"Tell that to Judge Claude Frollo.  Here's my proof."

Simmons reached his grenade hand toward his pocket to pull out a badge that barred Frollo's insignia, but Facilier waved his hand around,
"No need.  I know you ain't lying.  But what if I had a better offer?"

Simmons stopped in his tracks, keeping himself alert to any tricks the warlock don might have,
"Well?"

Facilier chuckled in amusement as his shadow held out the wine glass.  Facilier held his hand over it, twirling his finger as the alcohol began to fizz and bubble more intensely than normal.  Then, the voodoo don raised his hand a bit, vapor rising out of the glass.  It grew bigger as its smell began to fill the air, then it slowly formed an image.  It projected a lone tower sitting in the center of a city.

Facilier stood next to it,
"This here is Europe, my good man.  Uncharted Britain.  I'm trustin' you know Maxim Horvath."

"You want us to kill him."

Facilier shook his head, chuckling as if he were trying to explain something to a child,
"No.  Your boss'll want you to kill him.  Consider the odds.  I'm just a simple landlord makin' my business.  I ain't the cleanest guy you'll meet, but I'm a good pal to all the deservin' folk.  Horvath broke known criminal Drake Stone out of the slammer.  Rumor going about in good ol' England that he's makin' an army of magic folk."

Simmons smirked,
"You know so much about this.  How do I know you're not a soldier of his?"

"If I was, y'all'd already be dead.  And I do have a good standin' down under.  Even the government big boys know I'm a good egg.  Killin' me would just mean too much paperwork and political rounds for Frollo.  And I know he's a busy man and there are some hitchers hoppin' around who he's not exactly on the right dollar with.  But taking out a vigilante, think of the glory, the green, the golden gallery that your name can be put on.  Spillin' my blood would just mean more enemies, wouldn't y'all say?"

Simmons was deep in thought.  Facilier did bring up a good point, and leaving peacefully would definitely be the safer alternative.  Even if he could defeat the shadows in the room, if Facilier was as clever as he seemed, there must have been more hiding in the mansion.

"Besides," Facilier said, reaching into his jacket pocket.  As he took his long fingers back out of the pocket, they held a black gemstone.  Simmons took a look at it, and felt something terrible inside.  Something sinister that seemed to be staring back at him.

"Al Simmons," he heard a deep, brooding voice say to him.  Suddenly, Simmons forced himself to direct his gaze away from the gemstone.

"You don't wanna be hangin' in here with my big friend forever, do ya?"

The other soldiers dropped their guns almost immediately.  Clearly they had felt what Simmons felt earlier.

After a bit of thinking, Simmons placed his pistol back in his belt,
"We'll leave you alone, for now.  But if you want to live, you'd better relocate."

"Oh, I got a couple locations on my map.  But y'all feel free to come back whenever ," Facilier said, tucking the strange gemstone back into his jacket pocket.  

Simmons then turned around to see his soldiers wearily shaking in their boots.  They couldn't take their eyes off the shadows.

"We head back to Paris," Simmons shouted.  The soldiers immediately tore their gazes away from the shadows as they looked to their commander.

And without a word, Simmons led his troops out of the mansion, routing his tanks and his soldiers as they headed out of the city.


BACK IN THE MANSION

Facilier turned around, taking a seat on the same chair that Holli had sat.  Holli followed him back to the seat.

"If you really want Horvath dead, you could just send me to do it," she said.

"You're more likely to kill him than they are.  That's what pawns are for.  I need to give Frollo to gnaw his teeth on while I'm gone," he said.

"And you're sure that our client will comply with your demands?"

Facilier then eloquently waved his hand about, producing a crystal glass of wine from mid-air,

"You'll be surprised."

He then held out the glass to Holli.  The white-garbed beauty lightly grabbed it, then sat down on the arm of the chair.  As Facilier's shadow handed him back his own glass, the two tapped their together, taking a drink out of them soon after.


UNCHARTED EUROPE, MAXIM HORVATH'S CASTLE, 4:52 PM

In the middle of large fields of tall grass stood a castle, ordinary for a building of its stature, but still bearing a formidable presence of might.  From within one of its highest, most elaborately decorated windows, sapphire light could be seen flashing repeatedly and instantaneously.  Within that portion of the castle, Maxim Horvath and Drake Stone were exchanging averagely powerful bolts of energy.  Drake, who now bore his black attire from before death row, looked focused and determined, his bolts relatively precise, but he seemed to struggle with his telekinetic shields.  Horvath on the other hand had apathy drawn on his face and sealed into his movements.  His bolts were quick and far more precise and experienced than Drake's, and his telekinetic shields were raised just as quickly, his spells worked through eloquent movements of his sapphire pommeled cane.  They exchanged blows for a couple more seconds, and then,

"Enough," Horvath calmly said as he deflected one last bolt with a flourish of his cane.

As Drake ceased fire, Horvath relaxed his cane.

"You show promise.  Your offense is a force to be reckoned with.  But your defense is as frail as a sea sponge.  Were you not my apprentice, I would have killed you in a matter of seconds.  You'll need to do far better than that if you want your revenge."

"I will get it.  But not for you."

Horvath merely looked at Drake for a couple more seconds, a deadly serious notion in his eyes, then turned and walked toward the table, the young man following casually.  So far, their relationship had been a dysfunctional bond between a master and an apprentice.

Maxim Horvath looked over his map.  On it were sections of the world marked in red and blue.  The red sections, which took up most of the map, were sections of the world that Frollo's soldiers had occupied.  The blue sections, although not being nearly as many as the red ones, took up a good deal of the map as well.  These sections marked the places where lied; sorcerers who were able to hold out against Frollo's forces.

Drake Stone walked over to the map,
"So when do we start?"

"Pardon me?" said Horvath, keeping his eyes on the map.

"Raiding Paris.  When do we start?"

"We haven't the forces to accomplish that yet."

Drake leaned in to the map, eying Horvath with frustration evident in his eyes,
"We're sorcerers.  He's just an old man hiding in his palace.  And if we take the capital, we take France."

"Frollo's powerful, but he has adversaries who wish to usurp his power.  Even if we are successful in killing him at this stage, there's no telling how many additional enemies we could gain with France in our premature grasp."

Drake backed up a bit.  He was eager for blood, but he was also intelligent enough to trust of in Horvath's superior experience, so it seemed.

"Frollo will die eventually, but we must have patience if we are to end him.  The civil war building up in France might just give us the crack that we need to break him."

"I can help," they heard a voice say.

Both sorcerers turned to the fireplace, where they had heard the voice come from, bearing combat ready stances.

"Come on out, now!" shouted Drake, fear reluctantly showing itself in his eyes.

"State your place here," said a calmer Horvath.

"I don't wish to hurt you.  In fact, I think that we can come together for both of our mutual benefits.  You are, after all, a fellow Illuminatus, aren't you Mr. Horvath?"

Drake looked over to Horvath, waiting to hear what their course of action would be.  However, the older sorcerer merely smiled, lowering his cane.

"I take it that this is David Xanatos I am talking to," he said.

"Close," said the voice of Xanatos, but they were encountered by something slightly different when a head came hovering out of the fire place.  Drake moved to strike it down with magic, but Horvath raised his hand, signaling the young man to stop in his place.  The right half of the head was decorated with the flesh of Xanatos, but the right half of the face was torn away, revealing a metal skull.

"The name is actually Coyote.  My creator, Mr. Xanatos, sent me to give you a message."

"And that is?"

"He knows who you are.  He knows the cause that you're fighting for.  And he wants to help."

Drake stepped forward,
"Tell your boss that we don't want his help."

Horvath turned his head slightly,
"Patience, Drake."

He then turned his head back around to face Coyote,
"Why should we believe you?"

"Mr. Xanatos is going to war with a particularly skilled opponent.  And he's taking an approach that involves both sorcery and science.  In aiding Mr. Xanatos, he can promise you his own help in killing Judge Claude Frollo."

Drake suddenly replaced his suspicious frown with a wide, excited smile.  This smile did not escape either of the other two's notice.

"The judge is a threat to Mr. Xanatos as he is to you," continued Coyote.
"He has a plan that can benefit the both of you.  But it will require your cooperation."

Drake walked toward Horvath, whispering in his ear,
"I say we go with the deformed robot head.  He sounds reasonable."

Horvath had his head lowered in thought, then lifting his eyes back to Coyote,
"We will accept your offer.  But should there be any treachery, any hints of desertion of any kind, then the deal is off, along with your masters head."

Coyote merely smiled.  The human half of his face was calm and completely collected like Xanatos', but the mechanical side gave of a far more menacing aura.

"I'll give him the message.  By the way, I thought that you might want to know that Frollo may very well be mustering forces to attack your mansion."

Drake put his hands on his hips and lowered his head in frustration.  The man had already taken everything from him and he still sought him out.  What more could he have to lose?  Horvath, however, merely took in a deep, meditative breath as he heard the news.

"So I'd suggest that you muster up whatever forces you have to prepare a counter-assault.  As we speak, a small, elite team of combatants is being sent to assist you.  You have Mr. Xanatos' assurance that they will not fail you.  Good day."
Malus: World of War I:
Brawl in the Lonely Girl
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