Quinton Vance/Farewell, Paragon
From Unofficial Handbook of the Virtue Universe
The door was ripped halfway from it's hinges; hanging for dear life upon barely a sliver of metal. His boots crushed broken glass as he rushed through the threshhold of the door, only to find his home torn asunder. He called out to her; his baby, his precious angel, in hopes that she'd answer, but only silence would reply. With animal like instinct, he drew his weapon from his hip. A crimson dot danced every which way, slicing the shadows like a razor as he strafed through the wreckage that was once his home. The howl of the wind, coupled with the timpani beat of his heart, rendered him deaf. His nostrils were filled with the scent of blood and ash...
"Quianna?!" he cried, desperate now as he moved up the stairs to her room.
Blood smeared the white door, hand prints showing signs of struggle among other eerie tales. Suddenly, the silence was broken. Wood and metal were violently divided as the door was flung open. He stood in the doorway, weapon sweeping the room. Two bodies, bloody beyond God's reason, were found lying on the floor. Both were gasping; fighting for each breath they took. He kneeled, and scooped his hand underneath the head of the woman charged to keep his daughter. Maria. She could barely open her eyes as her weak grip squeezed his hand. What little strength she had was swiftly fleeting; pouring from the gash in her side.
"Vance...They...took her..." She said, paying in blood for each word spoken. He tried to silence, her, but she wouldn't have it. "They said something....Oh...Oh ren..." And with the riddle unanswered, she gave up the ghost, leaving only the robed figure lying there. The dagger in their chest was buried deep, but it seemed they were still capable of a weak, yet sinister laugh. A gnarled and bloody finger beckoned the distraught Vance, taunting him to lean in closer. The words spoken were barely a whisper.
"Blood of a virgin...and warrior-kin...will bring back the father...of chaos...and sin..."
And they too would pass, leaving only a riddle. In a frenzy, Vance's hands tore at the corpse's robes, digging into every pocket he could find. A black velvet bag was extracted from a pocket, and from within it, a golden box. Bloody fingers fiddled with the ornate box before it was opened, revealing a compass. For a moment, Vance stared at the archaic device. It's needle wobbled to and fro for a moment before setting a course. The pale green jewel in the needle unleashed a smokey light that filled the room. Perhaps that was an indicator of some sort? He didn't know for sure, but his gut was usually never wrong.
There was no time to call for help. Shadowstormm had his own battles to fight and the entire Delta Force was deployed to the Rikti War Zone. The was his fight and his fight alone. A quick call to the meatwagon was placed and with his body armor fastened, weapons loaded and mentality set from stun to kill, this father-turned-predator took to the skies upon wings of vengeance...
"Silence...your screaming is breaking my concentration..." And yet, such a request would go ignored. Even through his heavy armor, the Arachnos Crab Spider could feel the pull of The Circle's magic. The burn that accompanied the jade colored smoke was like fire being siphoned through his skin. He could feel his veins swelling and throbbing with unbearable heat, but what could he do while dangling in the air? Like a marionette under the control of an unseen puppet master, The Crab Spider swayed to and fro, spinning about as his life was drained from his being.
Suddenly, one of the mages crumbled. As the serpent staff tumbled from the fallen life mage's grip, The crab spider caught a glimpse of his cause of death. Something, somehow, managed to rip the top of his head off, scoop his brain out, and splatter it on a nearby rock...
Red mist sprayed The Crab Spider's mask. Another snap, another near headless corpse. The remaining sorcerer was on the ground now. His hands were clasped over his bald head as he quivered for dear life. The Crab Spider felt the burn and hold weakening and began to descend to the ground. Through the haze of green smoke, he could see a figure approaching. The crimson laser that shone from the figure's weapon swept across the chest of the crab, then down to the head of the mage cowering on the ground...
"Free pass, big guy. Get lost."
For a moment, The crab spider considered taking the figure's advice. That was, until light caught his face. In an eye's blink, the heavily armored shock-trooper went from docile, to enraged. The large cybernetic appendages on his back flared outward as the sound of chambering rounds rattled the air.
"Target identified: Quinton Vance; Standing Orders: KILL ON SIGHT!"
Vance, now revealed, sighed. In a chillingly casual manner, he snatched what looked like a pistol off his hip, aimed and pulled the trigger.
A white flash. A burst of mist. Silence.
The crab spider wanted to scream, but found that he had been incapacitated by a cold so bitter, so deep, that it actually froze the saliva in his mouth and sealed it shut. In horror, he watched as the barrel of Vance's Redding rifle settled on his face-plate, right between his eyes...
They stood at the entrance of what appeared to be a cave. Vance nudged the barrel of his rifle against the back of the sorcerer's head and pushed him forward.
"You do realize that there are things down there not for morta-" The sound of a round slipping into the chamber, coupled with cold steel against the underside of the mage's jaw rendered him speechless.
The sorcerer fiddled with the compass box for a moment before looking down at the needle. The once green jewel on it was now a vibrant golden glow. Spartks of jade lightning leapt from the jewel to what appeared to be a series of glyphs carved into the smooth stone. As lightning poured in, those glyphs took upon a green luster. A faint tremor shook the ground beneath their feet and the stone slab slowly lifted, revealing a foyer to what appeared to be a vast temple. For a moment, Vance stared into the myriad of tunnels ahead, but quickly turned his attention back to the sweating mage.
"Before we part ways, answer somethin' for me, woulda ya?"
The mage nodded.
"Blood of the virgin and warrior-kin, will bring back the father of chaos and sin. Sound familiar to you?"
The sudden paleness of the mage's face told Vance that he obviously struck a chord with him. For a moment, the mage babbled; stumbling over words of old and new to find a way to put things into an understandable perspective.
"The child...is in grave danger...The father of chaos and sin is a demon. I cannot say his true name...in order to bring him to this plane, they must sacrifice a virgin..."
"And the warrior-kin?"
"I know nothing of tha-"
Suddenly, the mage fell over, half his face missing.
"Then I've got no further use for you..."
As he stalked the tunnels of the lost city, he began to ponder exactly what he'd become in the past few moments. A wise man once said that those who hunt monsters must insure that they themselves do not become one. Perhaps he had long crossed that line...
The halls, though dark and seemingly endless, were quiet. Only the howl of the wind afforded him company and even still, it whispered eerie words of terror. The sound of chanting rang out in the distance; the end of a tunnel lined in crimson crystal could be seen. As Vance approached and moved into the mouth of the tunnel, he felt his skin begin to burn. A heat crawled just underneath his flesh, causing his veins to slowly bulge. When his hand reached out to grab wall to support himself, the crimson crystal there seared through the nomex of his glove. He yelled briefly, but the sound was enough to grab the attention of the large group of robed figures standing atop what appeared to be a great altar. One turned and pointed, moving aside just enough to reveal a body levitating in the same jade smoke he saw earlier. He knew that person anywhere. From her long, curly locks on he head to the Fleabok pumps she wore on her feet, that was his child...
"Guards! Sieze him! We must complete the ritual!"
With a roar that was more beast than man, Vance took to the air and unleashed hell from the barrel of his rifle. Bolts of lightning and nether energy sliced the air all around him, ripping stone from the walls and filling the air with the scent of burnt ozone. He fought his way to the top of that altar,step by step, over the wounded and the dying, till here was just one left. A ruin mage...
Or so he thought...
"How quaint. You're empty..." With another bestial roar, Vance charged through the green wave of energy that suddenly rushed from the ruin mage's body. Though it slowed him, he did not relent. Stone began to crawl up his legs, attempting to bind his body to the floor, but still, he fought on. His hands reached out and clasped around the neck of the ruin mage, nails digging deep into the old flesh even as stone encased his arm. And yet, the ruin mage could only smile. Those rotten teeth were fixed in a grin so crooked, so broad, that no matter how hard Vance squeezed, he could not break it.
"And now that you're both here...we can welcome the guest of honor..."
The stone had completely engulfed Vance's body. He struggled to break free, but was soon engulfed in the same green smoke as his daughter. The ruin mage chuckled darkly as he casually slipped free of the death-grip the battle-hardened SEAL once had 'round his neck. With slow, calculated steps, the ruin mage moved toward Quianna. His long fingernails trailed her cheek as he spoke.
"Beautiful...you're like an angel..." Suddenly, raised his falchion and sliced the child's hand. She yelped as her blood spilled upon the altar. Just the sight of the mage's hands upon Vance's daughter drove him into a frenzy. The stone that surrounded his body began to crack, but a few archaic words from the ruin mage brought forth an excruciating pain. From the arrows still lodged in his body, his blood was drawn. It seeped down his stone prison and onto the altar...
"And now...it begins..."
The ruin mage began to utter more archaic words, chanting in ominous tones that caused all of Oranbega to tremble. From the blood on the atlar there rose a black smoke. A smoke so black and so dense that it flowed more like water than gas. As it spiralled into the air, the scent of sulfur began to permeate the air. From every shadow, more voices joined the chanting. A deafening roar rattled the city. Suddenly, the floor underneath the alter burst open, a large hand having ripped through the stone.
"Rise, my master!"
Quianna screamed as she gazed at the beast that rose from the flames and smoke. It's skin was like the flesh of exposed innards; moist and seemingly covered in congealed blood. It's body was a mass of musle. It's wings, torn and bloody, were like that of a bat. The horns upon it's head curled like that of the ram. When the beast stretched to it's full height, It towered over them all. It lifted it's large snout the the ceiling as it unleashed a roar. It's eyes, yellow and serpentine, fell upon Quianna, then Quinton, then the ruin mage. For a moment, it stared at the trio, fangs bared, almost as if pondering who to kill first. It was then that the ruin mage spoke.
"I offer you this sacrifice, in exchange for your might!"
The demon canted his head for a moment...
"UNWORTHY..."it bellowed. It's voice more felt than heard.
It then leaned down and clamped it's massive jaws down upon the ruin mage. With the The feeling of the hold swiftly began to fade and both father and daughter fell to the ground. Quianna covered her eyes as the beast began ripping the ruin mage's limbs off one at a time. Her shrill cry was quelled when she felt herself airborne. When her eyes opened, she saw herself headed for the ceiling.
"It's alright, Cricket..I gotcha..."
For a moment, all was well. She curled her arms around her father's neck as they flew toward a nearby ledge. Quinton constantly gazed over his shoulder, making sure the beast was still busy with the ruin mage. When they descended upon the ledge, Vance removed his wrist-comm and slipped it on Quianna's. Nimble, yet burned fingers began to punch in coordinates hastily.
"Daddy, your hand-"
"It's alright, sweety...Now, we're going to take a ride to daddy's work. Just hold on to this watch and DON'T LET G-"
Just before Vance could press the button that would jettison the two of them to safety, the beast's massive hand snatched him down toward the altar. Quianna scrambled to the edge and screamed as she watched the demon take hold of Vance's boot and slam his body against a pillar. For a moment, Vance felt himself slipping away. His fingers grasped the rough stone of the altar, attempting to pull himself upward. The beast roared once before stomping his foot, causing the entire city to violently shake. Quianna quickly backed away from the edge of her ledge and watched as the beast stomped toward her father.
"Get up daddy!" she called out. For a moment, the beast stopped, then looked over his shoulder at her. There she was, all alone on that ledge.
The beast's black lips curled back in a sinister grin, revealing it's large teeth. Quianna felt her heart drop into her stomach as the beast prepared to take to the air. That was, until it was struck in the back of the head by a large stone.
The beast slowly turned around to find a bruised and bloody Vance standing on his feet. Though his body seemed broken, there was no wobble in his soul. For a moment, the beast stared, glancing from the steely stare in Vance's eyes, to the three cylinders he hand in his hand. Suddenly, Vance smashed all three cylinders into his exposed forearm. The hypodermic tips in the ends forced the contents into his blood stream and caused him to unleash a sound unlike anything ever to pass a mortal man's lips. The beast took that as a challenge and stomped his foot once, causing the alter to crumble and reveal the bed of radiating blue crystals underneath. When the dust of the crushed altar began to dissipate, the beast noticed Vance's fist crashing down toward his face. It was then that the beast experienced something he had never felt before....
The bridge of beast's snout took a harsh dent as the bone underneath it's flesh snapped. Such an act would not go unanswered. Large hands began to deliver reckless, smashing blows at this perceived mortal, crushing stone and crystal, but failing to connect with the body. The beast became infuriated with each passing second; and even more so when Vance delivered another crushing punch or kick. The beast turned after Vance rolled between it's large legs and caught him by the head. It's thumb talon jabbed deep into Vance's right eye before it slammed him into the ground.
It said as it's foot loomed over Vance's fallen body, prepared to crush him. As the beast brought it's foot down, it unleashed a shriek. Suddenly, it toppled over upon it's back and began to thrash about. Vance rose, bring with him the bloody falchion that the ruin mage once had. A gaping wound in the inner thigh of the beast caused it's black blood to wash over the altar, covering it completely. The last thing it ever saw was that accursed cyclops, bringing a blade down upon it's face....
There comes a time when a man must weigh the value of things in his life. Be it a job, a home, or the love and safety of another. Quinton Vance made that choice the moment his work almost cost him the only thing he's ever valued. The truck was loaded, the house was sold. Quianna walked to her father's side and took one last look at Founder's Falls. With a smile, she looked up at Quinton's eyepatch.
"You look like a pirate, daddy." She said with a grin. Quinton could only smile in return as he lifted her into his arms. "Anywhere you wanna go precious..."
For a moment, Quinton was stunned by her answer. He canted his head to the side as they hopped into the large moving van and began to head toward the freeway.
"Why Millenium, hun?"
"That's where mommy lives now..."
For a moment, Quinton frowned. He hadn't spoken to Lianna in years, let alone seen her. She was married to her agency. A career wetwoman who rarely, if ever made time to see her daughter. So why would Quianna want to see her now. He didn't have to ask though, his expression said enough.
"Mommy misses you. Everytime I talk about you, she cries and tells me stories about how you two used to hunt bad guys together. She does the same job you do, but in Millineum. She trains polices and stuff. She says that she wants to see you, but she told me not to tell because of some guy named Pride getting in her way or something."
"Baby, I just don't see why seeing each other is going to make a difference.."
"Do you still love her, daddy?"
Quinton sighed deeply. The story of their entire relationship had somehow managed to play in his head in a staggering 3 seconds. It was in that small time frame that he weighed the pros and cons and got his answer.
"Yeah...yeah, I do."
"Well, guess what. She still loves you too. And if I've got anything to say about it, I'm gonna have my mommy and my daddy together and we're gonna be a family."
"No questions, mister. Those are the mission parameters and you will not deviate from them. Hooyah?"
Vance was stumped. There was really no arguing with that...
"Hooyah, baby-girl. Hooyah."