The sky was blackened with storm clouds that inundated the streets below with cold, unrelenting rain as Samson, carrying Filia, hurriedly ran from Little Innsmouth and returned to downtown New Meridian. After exiting the abandoned house, Filia deduced that, if it wasn't already there, Squigly's body would certainly be en route to Medici Tower to be presented to Lorenzo. She urged Samson to hurry there to confront him and recover it, and he obeyed without hesitation, carrying her on his back through the dreary, waterlogged city.
"Kid... I gotta ask..." Samson panted, soaking wet. "Even if we find Squigly's body... how are you gonna bring her back?"
"I... I don't know..." Filia shivered. "I'm not sure it would even be possible now. But, at the very least... if we can't bring her back to life... we MUST at least protect her body...!"
Samson grunted as he tried to think of a solution to this seemingly unanswerable dilemma. "Damn it... if only we knew where HE was..."
As Samson neared the area around Medici Tower, he began to see a faint trail of blood staining the sidewalk, being swept into the streets by the rain. His eyes perked up as he recognized the trail's unique side-winding pattern.
"What the...? Kid, there just might be hope for that rag doll yet!"
"What do you mean, Samson? You've thought of a way we can bring Squigly back to life?!"
"Well, we can't... but maybe..."
Samson attentively followed the path of blood, quickening his pace as to not let it wash away. It eventually led up to the base of Medici Tower itself; reaching it, he stopped short as he placed Filia back on her feet. "Look! At the door of the tower!" he briskly indicated. "I think that's..."
Filia squinted at the ground at the grand entrance of Medici Tower and emitted a loud, astonished gasp. Right in front of the door had been none other than Leviathan, visibly exhausted and leaning against the door in a vain effort to push it open.
"LEVIATHAN!" Filia called out as she ran toward the moribund parasite. "Thank god you're alive!" Leviathan halted his attempt to open the door and looked back to the person who called his name. Recognizing her as Filia, his face twisted into a scornful frown.
"You," he sneered. "Returning to your roost, are you, Medici?"
"Leviathan! How did you get here?!" Filia questioned as she took shelter from the rain in the doorway of the tower with Leviathan.
"Perhaps you could answer that," Leviathan bitterly replied. "I had awakened in a dumpster, detached from my lady. Certain that you and your damnable family were the reason, I... gathered every iota of strength in my body to make haste to your stronghold, hoping on all hopes to locate and reunite with her here."
"Leviathan... you don't seem well..." Filia observed Leviathan shivering restlessly, barely able to lift his head. "How long can you... survive outside of a host?"
"What concern is it of yours?" Leviathan coughed. "If I am to die, it would surely be of no consequence to you, Medici harlot."
"HEY! Don't talk shit about my host, earthworm!" Samson bit back. "Especially since we actually came here to save YOURS!"
"Pah! As if I'm to believe the words of a Medici parasite. Liars and backstabbers – Miss Nadia was right about your kind. Just look where your 'friendship' has gotten my lady. I never should have allowed her to associate with you. What had I been thinking...?"
Leviathan's scathing remarks deeply wounded Filia. Realizing that the only way to bring Squigly's life back would be to convince him to join her, she attempted to prove the sincerity of her remorse to him. "Leviathan, please believe me!" She knelt down to him. "I'm so, so sorry! I don't have time to explain right now, but I never meant ANY harm to Squigly! Please... help me save her!"
"I may be a serpent... but even I know not to ally with snakes," Leviathan coldly replied. "I will not help you, nor do not want or need your help. I will rescue Squigly on my own."
"Leviathan, you're much too exhausted to do this alone! You can't even open the door! Let me HELP you! I can take you to Squigly, and you can reenter and revive her! We just need to–"
"AWAY, MEDICI! Your traitorous stench is beginning to nauseate me."
"GODDAMNIT, LEVIATHAN! Quit bein' such a bonehead and listen to her, will ya?!" Samson exploded in frustration. "Sure, I got no problem with seeing you die, but not like THIS! Man up and go out fighting! You say you ain't a worm? Well, now's the time to prove it!"
"Your words fall on deaf ears, you hirsute miscreant," Leviathan wheezed. "I would sooner die than... ally myself with the filthy wretches who took the Contiellos' lives."
"Leviathan, we are running out of time! Both you AND Squigly will be dead forever if we don't help each other! If not for me... please... do it for her..."
Leviathan grumbled to himself as he deliberated Filia's pleading request. As much as he couldn't stomach the thought of assisting the person he viewed as responsible for his precious host's death, he recognized that his chief priority was to secure her safety by any and all means. His devotion to Squigly won out over his resentment of Filia, and he turned toward her and gave an acquiescing nod.
"...Very well..." he muttered. "We shall... work together to recover my lady's body. Heaven willing, my powers can still pull her out of her slumber. Do not get the wrong idea – you are still treacherous Medici scum. As soon as our task is complete, both I and Squigly... will have nothing to do with you."
"You're really pushing it, maggot," Samson growled. "Just shut up and take our help."
"Whatever you and Squigly decide is fine, Leviathan," said Filia, dejectedly. "But for now, let's just focus on saving her, alright?"
Leviathan nodded and he coiled his body, and Filia picked him up and held him close to her chest. The warmth from Filia's body had slightly helped in replenishing Leviathan's vitality.
"Okay, Samson. Take us in," said Filia. Samson picked her up as she continued to cradle Leviathan.
"Right. Just don't get TOO comfortable back there, you slippery perv," Samson addressed Leviathan. "You better keep your tail OFF my host's squishy parts!"
"You're one to talk..." Leviathan huffed. "Who is it whose gaze is constantly fixed upon my lady's backside?"
"Hey, it's not my fault it's so hard to miss!"
"Not now, you two! Please, Samson, just go!"
"I'm goin' now! Jeez!"
Upon entering the garish lobby of Medici Tower, Samson and Filia casually passed by the doorman, who gave them both curious glances as they walked over to the elevator.
"Listen, Samson, this place shouldn't be too heavily guarded right now," said Filia, noticing how unusually quiet the building was. "Lorenzo expects me to be dead, so let's use that to our advantage. Try to avoid trouble with anyone and just make it up to the top floor as fast as possible. Remember, use stealth."
"That sounds incredibly boring, kid," Samson whined as he pushed the button to the elevator. "I mean, 'stealth'? Come on, where's the fun in that? I'm ready to bust some heads!"
"SHHH! Lower your voice, you simpleton," Leviathan whispered. "Let anyone hear you shooting your mouth off like that and the entire Family will be shooting the rest of you off!"
"Let 'em come. I ain't scared of no punks with guns," Samson boasted as the light above the elevator shaft lit up, indicating the elevator's arrival. "I'm a hundred percent bulletproof, baby!"
"Well, I'm not!" Filia emphasized while still keeping her voice down. "Please, Samson, just stay focused."
"Fine, fine. Buzzkills," Samson muttered as the elevator door opened and he carried Filia and Leviathan inside.
At the elevator panel, Samson looked over the rows of brightly lit buttons until he found the one indicating the highest floor: 100. He pressed it, and the the doors made a hydraulic whoosh as they shut before him. Filia could feel her stomach roll as the elevator briskly began ascending.
The elevator made an unexpected stop on the 5th floor; Filia's heart rate accelerated and Samson uttered a perplexed grunt. The doors opened, and two obvious Medici mobsters stepped inside; upon seeing him, they were startled by Samson's strikingly feral appearance.
"Hey, who the hell are you?" one of them curtly inquired, and Samson shot him a vicious stare.
"Um, he's with me!" Filia blurted before Samson could say anything that would endanger the three of them. "We're just... on our way to see Lorenzo. He called us to his office, so we're just going up to the top floor to meet him, that's all!"
"I've never seen you here before," spoke the other man with a hint of hostility. "What's your name, and what's with that thing you're attached to?"
"And what are you holding?"
"None of that's any of your damn business, you–"
"M-my name's Filia! I'm, uh, the granddaughter of Lorenzo Medici," Filia nervously interrupted Samson. "My grandfather is definitely expecting me and, uh, my two companions. He specifically asked to talk to all three of us."
"Yeah, well, I don't like the way your 'companion's' been eyeballin' me," the man replied. Samson noticed that the two of them had guardedly placed their hands on guns concealed at their hips.
"And if you were really the boss' grandkid, everyone should know your name," the other man added. "Something's off about you. If you wanna talk to the boss, you're gonna have to have a talk with us first."
"I'm sorry, but I can't! He really needs to see me right away!"
"...You're a terrible liar, y'know that?"
The two men started to draw their weapons, and Samson reflexively rolled himself and Filia into a ball and bowled them over. He then sprang back up and wrapped his tendrils around their necks, strangling them. The sudden flash of violence had extremely disoriented Filia and Leviathan.
"Samson, what the hell was that?!" Filia harshly questioned. "We're supposed to be staying OUT of trouble!"
"You must not have seen the 'trouble' those assholes were gonna unload on us," said Samson as he pressed another button on the elevator panel. "He was right, y'know. You are a terrible liar."
"Goodness, Samson! Did you... kill those two men?" Leviathan uneasily asked.
"Probably," Samson answered indifferently. "Either way, I'm gettin' em outta here. I'm already gonna have to deal with one corpse today."
The elevator made a stop at a vacant floor, and Samson threw the Medicis' bodies out the door. Afterward, the elevator closed again and resumed its climb up the tower.
"Samson... are you sure it was a good idea to just leave them out there...?" Filia asked. "Even if they were dead, someone could find their bodies. It would give us away for sure!"
"Eh, relax!" Samson nonchalantly replied. "It's just two guys out of a whole 100-floor building! We got nothing to worry about. I mean, we couldn't just leave them in here with us for their asshole friends to see."
"...You have a point. Just... try not to hurt anyone else. Remember, stealth."
"Yeah, yeah I know! I'm getting real tired of all this 'don't fight anyone' crap."
The trio continued the long journey upward. The entire way, Medici foot soldiers routinely entered the elevator and harassed Filia, only to be met with the same violence from Samson, who continuously stopped the ride to remove their bodies. By the 68th floor, Samson had broken the necks and discarded the bodies of ten Medicis, causing Filia a great deal of anxiety.
"SAMSON! You are GOING to get us killed!" Filia shouted after the tenth time. "You HAVE to cut that out!"
"Uh, actually, NO, I've been keeping us from being killed," Samson rebutted. "It's not my fault your 'family' is nothing but pricks who can't stay out of our business."
"Hmph. You say that as if you are exempt, furball," Leviathan scoffed.
"For YOUR sake, I'm gonna pretend I didn't hear that. Anyway, kid, stop worrying, will ya? What are they gonna do? They're out there, and we're in here."
Filia moaned fretfully as the ride continued as normal. However, upon reaching the 75th floor, she gasped as the elevator lurched to a sudden stop.
"What's going on? Don't tell me the elevator's busted!" Samson noticed that the button lights had also gone out. He went to the doors to pry them open, but before he could even touch them, they had opened on their own, and he and Filia were greeted by the sight of five Medicis with their guns pointed straight at them.
"There they are!" one of them yelled out. "Shoot them!"
The men started shooting, and Samson dropped to the ground and moved faster than they could react, stretching out his body to grab them all by their ankles and trip them. Before they could stand back up and pick up their guns, he killed them by forming his tendrils into blades and stabbing through their chests.
Filia was greatly shook up by the sporadic conflict. "Samson, w-w-what is going–"
"No time, kid! They're onto us!" Samson cut her off as he began running through the hallway to locate a stairwell entrance.
"Hmm, I wonder why THAT is!" Leviathan snipped. Samson rolled his eyes as he swiftly and attentively searched the 75th floor, eventually coming to a door leading to the stairs.
"Samson, wait! There could be a tra–"
As soon as Samson entered the stairwell, he heard a horde of foot soldiers rapidly approaching from above and below.
"Splendid. This day just keeps getting better, doesn't it...?" Leviathan wearily sighed.
"Well, kid, no way to go but up!" Samson braced himself. "Hang on tight, 'cause this is gonna get messy!"
"...Samson... it's time!" Filia declared. "Unleash your fury!"
"Finally!" Samson grinned as the gunmen approached him. He began cackling like mad as he took on a ferocious appearance, expanding his body to ten times its size and possessing a gaping jaw and enormous, muscular arms. The Medicis shot at him, but he laughed as the bullets passed harmlessly through the thick hair that made up his body. He brutally retaliated by splitting his arms into multiple random sharp objects, stabbing, slicing and skewering all of them in seconds. Filia and Leviathan found themselves both disturbed and impressed by the fearsome slaughter.
After all the gunmen were cleared out, Samson barreled up the stairs in his enhanced form, making sure to cover Filia from any shots being fired at him. Along the way, he was continuously confronted by more foot soldiers, but none of them succeeded in even slowing him down, and he effortlessly butchered them all as he sprinted to the top floor while Filia held on tightly to Leviathan on his back.
Leaving a trail of dead Medicis in his wake, Samson eventually made it to the 100th floor, emerging from the stairwell and into the hallway. He ran toward Lorenzo's office and wiped out the Medicis guarding the outside before returning to his normal size.
"Wow, Samson! That was... unbelievable!" Filia breathlessly exclaimed. "...So much for 'stealth', huh?"
"You shoulda listened to me! I told you I was bulletproof! Did you think I was joking?" Samson bragged. "I tell ya, we wouldn't even be caught up in any of this if you'd just let me do THAT to begin with!"
"Haha, I guess you have a point," Filia bashfully admitted.
"Don't the both of you relax just yet," Leviathan spoke up. "There is still the matter of Lorenzo himself. By now, he is certainly expecting us, and his bodyguards will most likely be lying in wait right beyond this door."
"That crusty old skeleton? Taking him out will be easy, not to mention FUN!"
"Just... be careful, Samson," Filia cautioned. "Okay... the final stretch. Let's go!"
Samson threw open the doors and burst into the office, whereupon he and Filia were faced with Lorenzo's bodyguards surrounding them, guns trained on them. Samson acted fast and shaped himself into a sharp propeller; he spun at blinding speed, lifting himself and Filia slightly off the ground and slicing clean through their necks. Filia was awestruck and slightly grossed out, but shortly gathered herself and refocused on her mission.
"Like I said, kid," Samson landed and coolly wiped his hands, "next time, just do things my way."
Samson tossed the guards' corpses out the office door, then shut and locked it as he placed Filia back on her feet. Filia turned to face the desk at the back of the room; upon seeing Lorenzo, her blood boiled, and she tightened her muscles and gritted her teeth.
"WHERE IS SHE?!" she fiercely howled.
"Filia?! YOU'RE the one who's been killing all my men?!" Lorenzo stood up from his desk with a flabbergasted expression."How are you even HERE?!"
"Expected me to be dead, didn't you? That's right, I know ALL about your 'plan'!" Filia indignantly spat. "You never wanted to 'get to know me', you were just gonna kill me this entire time! Grandfather, how could you?!"
"Don't you 'grandfather' me NOW, you filthy street rat!" Lorenzo hatefully retorted. "You're the one who's been rampaging through my tower, killing your own family!"
"Actually, that was all ME!" Samson grinned. "They're not MY family, so I had no problem with cuttin' em down like grass!"
"I should have known that beast of yours would be behind this, Filia..." Lorenzo grumbled. "I warned you to keep it under control – now it'll cost you YOUR life along with its own!"
"Shut up and answer my question RIGHT NOW, Lorenzo! WHERE is Squigly?!"
"What does it matter where she is? She's DEAD! Her meddling has finally been stopped for good... and now, her body belongs to me."
"To do what with?! Give another one of your sick funerals?!"
"Heheheh... while that would be fun... not this time, I'm afraid. No, I plan to make the ultimate example of this one. Everyone will know that she and her family once had the asinine idea to defy me, and that now, she lives on after death... to serve ME."
"Lorenzo, I already told you! You CAN'T control the Skullgirl OR her undead army! Whoever told you you could was lying to you!"
"It's obvious that YOU'RE the one who's lying. Even as we speak, the Skullgirl is safely hidden away, diligently awaiting my orders."
"Where? Where is the Skullgirl now?!"
"Oh, you will see her soon enough – right after I command her to resurrect your pitiful friend and add her to MY undead army!"
"You... you PROMISED me you wouldn't hurt her!"
"Filia, what did I say before? It's the law of self-preservation. Why do you think I had her and her disgusting family killed in the first place? They were plotting to kill US! If I hadn't 'silenced' them, YOU wouldn't even be here today! Those worthless Contiello rats brought everything that happened to them on themselves."
"That's not true! They weren't planning anything against our family! It was US who'd betrayed THEM!"
"Well, I bet you would know all about what that's like, wouldn't you? Even so, what does it really matter? Regardless of the how and why, they're still dead, and I couldn't care less about them. To be frank, I'm glad they're all dead – at least now I no longer have to put up with their godawful singing."
Filia smoldered as Leviathan raised his head, gathering enough strength to address Lorenzo from across the room. "Listen well, you vile, miserable excuse of a man!" he yelled out. "You will relinquish my lady's body to me unharmed at once, or suffer SEVERE consequences!"
"So I see you've brought the snake with you. You certainly have a way with animals, Filia, I'll give you that," Lorenzo sneered back at Leviathan. "Tell it that the girl is now my property, to do with whatever I want. Who do you think even put her in the clothes she wears?"
"She is NOT 'property', Lorenzo! She is a PERSON!" Filia emphatically stated. "We WON'T let you hurt her, alive OR dead!"
"Ha! 'Person'? Filia, you've never even known the real her. When you met her, she was just a zombie! Just some cold, stiff, rotted old corpse that I'd dumped in the ground, that that bitch Skullgirl then unearthed and used to destroy this very tower! Even if you 'get her back', that is still all she'll be! Since I have it now, why just let her body go to waste? If the dead have ANY purpose, it's to serve us, the living!"
"When I'm done with you, the only purpose YOU'RE gonna have is filling a body bag!" Samson proclaimed through clenched teeth. "I'm gonna enjoy snapping your brittle bones in half, old man!"
"For once, I agree with you, Samson!" Leviathan added, turning to Lorenzo. "Loathsome Medici... I will THOROUGHLY run you through!"
"Filia, if you think you and your little pets are going to leave this tower with my property, think again. You should know that I have NO patience for those who take what is rightfully mine."
"Lorenzo... you've disrespected Squigly, her body, and her family... for the LAST TIME!"
Filia ran toward Lorenzo's desk, and Leviathan saw Lorenzo reaching for his hip to draw his gun. He hastily alerted Filia to duck, and Filia dropped to the floor, narrowly avoiding a shot to the chest. Leviathan raised his head and, mustering his strength, shot a small fireball directly at Lorenzo's hand, disarming him. His gun slid across the floor and ended up in the corner of the room, and Filia stood back up and continued coming at him.
"Stop! Come no closer – I'm warning you!" Lorenzo began to panic; he attempted to run to retrieve the gun, but Filia cut off his route to it as she continued to approach. Completely defenseless, Lorenzo dived under his desk, opening up a large trunk underneath. Filia ran around to behind the desk, and she and Samson prepared to attack.
Right as Samson was about to drag him out from it, Lorenzo emerged from underneath the desk, carrying Squigly's bloody, stiffened corpse by its shoulders. Squigly's hair was messy and undone, and her face and clothes were saturated in dried blood that had leaked from her empty eye socket and the hole in her head. Her right eye was half open, though her eyeball was rolled back and had turned pink. Her jaw was tightly shut, and her arms hung rigidly at her sides. Filia and Leviathan were simultaneously shocked and enraged as Lorenzo quickly distanced himself from them while holding Squigly's body out in front of him like a shield.
"This is what you've come for, isn't it?" Lorenzo asked rhetorically. "I have to say, she's definitely still as light as I remember."
"You stoke the flames of your own seat in hell, you despicable craven!" Leviathan thundered as Filia growled and took on an attacking posture. "Remove your claws from her at once, or your grave will be one of ash!"
"Stop right where you are!" Lorenzo interrupted Filia's second attempt to run at him. "Come any closer, and I snap this thing's head off and toss it RIGHT OUT THE WINDOW!"
Lorenzo's threat brought Filia to a sudden halt, causing Samson to pick her up and continue charging him.
"Eat shit, old man! I'm calling your bluff!" Samson proceeded, undaunted.
"Samson, NO!" Filia shifted her weight to trip Samson onto the floor. "Don't fight him! I... I can't risk it..."
"WHAT?! 'Don't fight him'?! Are you serious?!" Samson shouted as Filia stood back up. "I finally have a chance to wring this bastard's scrawny neck and you're pulling this shit on me AGAIN?! Think of how much better off EVERYONE will be when he's dead!"
"Believe me, Samson... I want him dead and gone too, but... not at the cost of Squigly's own life." Filia sighed, and Samson snarled as he very reluctantly accepted her request to stand down.
"You really are a smart granddaughter, Filia. Not only that, but you've finally learned to get that hideous creature under control." Lorenzo began backing toward the door with Squigly's body facing Filia, deterring her from attacking him. "Once again, I'm quite impressed."
"Put her down right now, Lorenzo!" Filia vehemently demanded. "You are NOT leaving here with Squigly!"
"If you so much as think about harming me, NEITHER of us will leave here with it!" he shouted back. "I'll break its neck and throw it into a meat grinder! Don't think I'm not serious – this thing means a LOT more to you than it does to me!"
"You will do nothing of the sort, you barbaric sub-human!" Leviathan's eyes glowed, his intense rage reinvigorating him. "If you even DARE remove a single hair from her head, I will see to the prolonged, grueling death of you AND your abhorrent family!"
"'To the death'? That reminds me, snake: I remember seeing you with this girl at her funeral," Lorenzo remarked. "It's a shame that you weren't 'awake' for it – we all had a wonderful time! The whole Family shared in a hearty laugh when they saw what I'd done to her mouth."
Lorenzo chuckled, and Leviathan wanted nothing more than to bathe him in his dragon breath. He and Filia continued scowling at Lorenzo as he neared the locked office doors.
"So this is what's going to happen now," Lorenzo told Filia. "I am going to leave here WITH the body. Someone will be up here soon to deal with you while your 'friend' and I pay a casual visit to the Skullgirl. If you don't want her in pieces, you will not follow me."
As Lorenzo reached the doors, Filia looked down to Leviathan with a look of desperation. "What do we do, Leviathan?" she whispered.
"Worry not, Filia. There is no way he can leave this room with Squigly's body in his grasp," Leviathan calmly replied.
"W-what makes you say that?"
"If you recall, the doors are locked, which means he will have to take at least one hand off of her to open them. When he does that, you will run at him, and I will do the rest."
"Leviathan... I don't know... I-I don't want anything to happen to Squigly..."
"And neither do I. Trust me, Filia... I was once in a situation... very similar to this one. I can assure you that everything will be fine."
Filia nodded and looked up as Lorenzo pushed his back on the doors. As he realized that they were locked and he'd have to let go of Squigly's body to open them, he glanced warily at Filia, who seemed to be bracing to run at him.
"Trying to lock me in my own office, are you?" he muttered. "You're too clever for your own good. Just remember what will happen to the girl's body if you come anywhere near me!"
Filia stared intensely at Lorenzo as he used one hand to apprehensively feel around behind him for the lock while holding Squigly's body with the other hand and keeping his front faced to her. Filia waited for Lorenzo to let his guard down as he anxiously jiggled the knob. For a split second, Lorenzo was forced to turn his back to Filia to unlock the door; in that instant, Leviathan signaled to her, and Filia charged straight toward him. Lorenzo swiftly turned around and saw Filia coming at him, and tightly gripped Squigly's body, raising it to shield himself. Acting from experience, Leviathan used his last remaining strength to reach around Squigly and stab Lorenzo in the side with his tail, causing him to grunt in pain and drop her.
"Samson, now!" Filia commanded, and Samson gleefully grabbed Lorenzo as he fumbled to the floor attempting to pick Squigly's body back up. Samson laughed as he held him over his head, then forcefully hurled him into the wall. Leviathan jumped out of Filia's arms and immediately returned to Squigly's body, reassuming his usual place in her head.
Filia looked over to Lorenzo and saw that, though bleeding and having some broken bones, he was still alive.
"Alright, Samson. Let's finish this."
"Kid, I've been waiting for you to say that!"
Filia ran over to the back corner of the room and picked up Lorenzo's dropped gun. She loaded it, then walked back over to Lorenzo and pointed it at his face, and he trembled in fear.
"We'll hear your last words now, geezer," Samson smirked. "For someone with a reputation like yours, they'd BETTER be good."
"Filia, please...!" Lorenzo cowered, looking meekly into Filia's eyes. "I'm... I'm a weak, frail old man, and... you're a kind, compassionate, moral young woman. You... you wouldn't shoot your own grandfather... would you...?"
Filia paused, and her hand shook as she slowly lowered the gun and looked to her feet, and she began to weep silently. "Grandfather..." she mumbled. "You've caused so much misery and pain. You've kept this city under your merciless rule for decades. You've destroyed so many families and have taken so many lives. You made an attempt on my own life. You... you took away my only friend..."
"Kid...? Where are you going with this...?" Samson questioned, unable to read Filia's emotional state.
"Grandfather... I will not shoot you."
Samson's face twisted in confusion as Filia knelt down at Lorenzo's side. Believing to have gotten through to her, Lorenzo gave a sigh of relief and looked up at Filia with a hopeful smile; his face immediately turned to alarm, however, when he saw Filia repositioning the gun so that she held it by the barrel.
"Shoot an evil man like you? No... I can't. That... would be TOO GOOD FOR YOU!"
Before he could utter a sound, Filia raised the gun and brought the butt of it down on Lorenzo's head. She began screaming and bawling hysterically as she repeatedly bludgeoned him with it, finally venting all of the stored up feelings of grief, fear and anger that he had caused within her. Her ear-splitting wails made Samson wince, and he didn't know what to make of anything that was happening; while he had wanted Lorenzo dead, Filia's abrupt, chaotic physical and emotional outburst was completely unheard of to him, and had left him slightly unnerved. He stayed quiet as Filia beat Lorenzo to death.
After Lorenzo ceased to draw breath, Filia put down the bloodied gun and looked over his corpse. Realizing what she had done, her sobs changed from loud and emphatic to soft and mournful. Mentally and emotionally distressed, she continued kneeling and threw her tear-drenched face into her hands.
"My lady... why have I been made... to see you like this again...?" Leviathan spoke in a hushed voice as he somberly gazed at the dire state of his host. "Please... wake up..."
Leviathan was on the floor with Squigly in the corner of the office, cradling her stiffened body with his tail and gently stroking her face, praying that the dwindling power he still had would be enough to awaken her. He had blamed himself entirely for everything that had happened to her, and his overpowering sorrow and regret ate away at him.
"Urrgh... damn me...! How... how could I have allowed this to happen...?" he wept. "I... I vowed to you and your family. I swore to protect you... to stay with you always... but where was I when you needed me most...? Contiellos... please forgive me for... being such an accursed failure...!"
Leviathan continued pleading softly for Squigly to wake up. Squigly gave no reaction, and Leviathan, devoid of all hope, let out a heavy sigh and solemnly bowed his head to her forehead. He resolved to see his vow through to the end – if ever her life were to end, he would willingly lay down his own life right beside her.
"...Good night, Sienna."
Leviathan lied down on the floor beside Squigly's head, shut his eyes and silently awaited death.
Leviathan began to hear faint moans in what sounded like Squigly's voice. Curiously optimistic, he immediately reopened his eyes and raised his head to look to her face.
To Leviathan's tremendous elation and relief, Squigly had begun to blink her eye and open her mouth, and he smiled wider than he ever had before in his many centuries of life. Gradually regaining consciousness, Squigly began surveying her unfamiliar surroundings. She struggled to open her jaw or turn her head, as Leviathan's powers had only just begun reversing the effects of her rigor mortis. Her limited mobility didn't allow her a wide range of vision; aside from the golden ceiling and the red walls, the only other thing she could see as she lay on her back was the smiling face of Leviathan looking down at her tenderly.
"Le... Leviathan..." she faintly mumbled, barely able to project her voice. "Where... am I...? What... what happened...?"
"My lady..." Leviathan swallowed his tears. "What is important... is that I am here with you."
Though her mind felt cloudy and she was still disquieted over what all had taken place, Squigly was reassured by Leviathan's becalming presence. She smiled at Leviathan as he coiled around her and hugged her tightly.
"...Kid?" Samson lightly tapped on Filia's shoulder, interrupting her crying. "Um... Squigly's, uh... looks like she's woken up."
Filia instantly raised her head from her hands and whipped around to Squigly, who she saw had begun sitting up and looking around. A thankful smile spread across her face, and she promptly got up and ran over to her as she delicately leaned against the wall.
"Squigly!" Filia called out with outstretched arms. "Oh thank god you're okay! I was so worried about–"
With the little strength she possessed, Squigly raised her palm to Filia to signal to her to stay away. Filia's smile turned to a troubled frown, and she lowered her arms and timidly crept toward her. "...Squigly...?" she faltered. "...Is there... something wrong...?"
"...Go... away..." Squigly quietly demanded with a cold stare. "I... don't want... to see you..."
Filia's heart crumbled to pieces as she realized that Squigly had not forgotten what had happened in the moments before she lost her life, and that she had still viewed her as a liar and a traitor, just as Double had intended. Despite Squigly's order, Filia continued to slowly approach her, attempting to appear as friendly as possible.
"Squigly... I know what you're feeling right now, but please let me explain," Filia began. "I'm not with the mafia! I only had to do this because I... well, you see, Lorenzo–"
"Filia... you... promised me..."
"In the cafe... and again... in Little Innsmouth... you promised me... nothing bad would... happen to us... and I... trusted you..."
"Squigly, please believe me! I didn't plan for ANY of this! Nothing bad was ever supposed to happen to you! I've been lied to just as much as you have!"
"You... are the one... who lied to me, Filia. ...A lie... that involved... my very life. ...That is something... that I... cannot forgive."
"Squigly, no! It wasn't me! It was all Doub–"
"Filia... leave me... alone."
"...Leviathan! Leviathan, please! Tell Squigly that I didn't want for her to be hurt! Y-you believe me, right?!"
"Regardless of what I believe, my lady does not wish for you to be in her presence, so I will have to insist that you leave, Filia," Leviathan stated callously. "If you make any further attempt to approach her, you will be risking physical correction. This is my one warning to you."
"Leviathan, please don't be that way! J-just look at how weak Squigly is right now! Please, at least let me help her back up!"
Desperate to redeem herself, Filia ran toward Squigly and bent over to stand her up. Before she could touch her, Leviathan slashed her face with his tail without a second thought, drawing blood. Filia shrieked and jumped back as she threw her hand over her scarred cheek.
"I said LEAVE, damn Medici!" Leviathan glowered. "We will not tolerate your foul presence here any longer!"
"Okay, NOW I'm pissed!" Samson suddenly flipped Filia onto his back and stomped over to Leviathan, staring down at him furiously. "You shit-eating worm! What the fuck is your problem?! You're lucky I don't rip you back out of that reeking train wreck of a host MYSELF!"
"I KNOW you've known about this treachery all along, Samson!" Leviathan retorted. "I've always known you to be a scoundrel and a rogue, but THIS has taken it too far! You and your disgraceful trollop will leave us NOW! Neither of you had better show your shameful faces to us EVER AGAIN!"
"THAT'S the way you talk to the ones who saved you sorry sacks of shit MORE THAN ONCE?!" Samson fumed. "Do you even REALIZE what my host just had to do? She and I risked our asses for the both of you, and THIS is the thanks we get?! Unlike you goddamn ingrates, we actually HAD lives to lose!"
"No amount of imagined 'debts' excuse the reprehensible things that you filthy betrayers have done to Miss Squigly and me. I will not repeat myself: BEGONE!"
"FINE! We don't NEED you! You go ahead and keep pretending like the two of YOU would even be alive if it weren't for US, you bony dick!"
Samson then bared his teeth and looked Squigly directly in the face. "And as for you..." he grimaced, "...my host SAVED YOUR LIFE, do you realize that? She literally brought you back from the dead, but you can't be bothered with her at all? I honestly expected better from you, but at LEAST I have a host with a conscience, let alone an actual fucking brain in her head. You'll never see us again – count on that. I hope you choke on the maggots burrowing through your tongue, you COLD-HEARTED ZOMBIE BITCH!"
With that, Samson threw the doors open and stormed out of the office, carrying a weeping, downhearted Filia on his back.
As Samson returned to the elevator, he noticed Filia's sullen demeanor, and couldn't help but feel compelled to make at least a passing attempt to brighten her mood. "Hey, uh... listen, kid," he started as the pair entered the elevator. "Sorry about the way things went in there... but you KNOW I have no patience for anyone touching you, 'friend' or not."
"No, Samson, I understand," Filia replied. "I'm really grateful to you for always looking out for me."
"Man... to think this whole mess started over the Skull Heart," Samson groaned. "I thought we were done with that thing years ago."
"Yeah... it and Double have managed to find their way into our lives again to cause even more trouble for us," Filia glumly added.
"Yeah. Well, just telling you right now: the next time I see that abomination, I'm NOT holding back."
"That's definitely fine by me. ...By the way, Samson... can I... ask you something?"
"When we were searching for the Heart all those years ago, while I didn't want to admit it, part of me... knew that you had wanted it for yourself."
Samson grumbled, implicitly confirming Filia's assumption.
"My question is... now that it's returned... why didn't you go after it again? When we heard that Lorenzo had it, I was sure you'd want to take it from him so you could have me use it."
"Don't ask me dumb questions! Do you really think I'd wanna have that thing now, knowing what it'd do to you?! I was a selfish asshole back then, is that what you wanna hear?!"
"I-I'm sorry, Samson! I didn't know it'd be this sensitive a topic for you..."
"...No, kid," Samson sighed. "I shouldn't have snapped at you... but it's true: I WAS a selfish asshole. I didn't know what'd happen to you if I got my hands on the Skull Heart, and I truthfully didn't give a crap. I really was just a parasite. I'm... I'm sorry."
"It's okay, Samson. I'm just glad you feel comfortable enough with me to come forward about it."
"Well of course I do! I... I do care about you, Filia. I might not show it like those two compost heaps up there, but... y'know, in my own way. Hell, I never really cared about either of them. I agreed to help them 'cause of you."
"Aww... thank you, Samson! That makes me feel a little better... but... I still do feel bad about Squigly and Leviathan viewing me as their enemy..."
"Eh, forget them already! What does it matter what they think?"
Filia hung her shoulders sorrowfully, and Samson sensed that she was still very hurt over having lost Squigly as a friend.
"Look, Filia... um..." Samson awkwardly attempted to reassure his host. "It probably won't mean much, but... for what it's worth, you still got me."
"Samson..." Filia felt her spirit begin to rise. "That... actually does mean a lot to me. Thank you..."
"Sure thing, kid. Sure thing..."
Back in Lorenzo's office, Squigly continued to regain her strength and awareness. Her body had fully loosened back up, and she stood up and began to clean herself off, straightening her hair and wiping the blood from her face. Leviathan had informed her that they were presently in Medici Tower, in the top floor in Lorenzo's office, which Squigly took with amazement and disbelief. He told her that, after they were separated, he had met up with Filia and Samson, who escorted him to the office while battling off the Medici mobsters; hearing this caused a twinge of remorse in Squigly, who began doubting if her and Leviathan's attitude toward them had been justified – a doubt that Leviathan began to share.
"Leviathan... do you think... we were wrong to cast them out the way we did?" Squigly asked. "Filia's actions deeply wounded me, as well as Samson's words... but I'm beginning to think... we may have been too hasty with them."
"It's... difficult to say, Miss Squigly," Leviathan contemplatively replied. "Though it is true that the two of them have greatly compromised our trust, as it stands, it is also true that... had it not been for them, we indeed would not be together right now. Regretfully, I... may have been unnecessarily severe in my choice of words."
"I think... we both were, Leviathan..." Squigly admitted. "I'm still not sure what to make of any of this. Despite everything that has happened... I feel that Filia truly did care about me. Didn't she...?"
"We will have to determine that at a later time, Miss Squigly," Leviathan answered. "For now, let us not forget our ultimate concern."
As Squigly walked around the office, she came to the corpse of Lorenzo by the right wall; its legs had been broken, and its face was bloody and sorely bruised. "Oh my...! I take it... Filia did this?" She gasped and covered her mouth.
"Yes, my lady, it was her doing," Leviathan confirmed. "As I resuscitated you, the lady Medici dispatched her grandfather with her own hands."
"Lorenzo was... Filia's grandfather...?"
"Apparently, yes. I had expected some manner of relation, but her being a direct descendant of the man had even me taken aback."
"Do you think his death will spell the end for the Medici Empire?"
"Of that, I am quite certain. Now that the head is deceased, the body will soon follow suit." Leviathan glared disdainfully at Lorenzo's corpse. "Oh, how the tides of fate have shifted. The Medici head lies dead at our feet, and we now stare down at the disfigured face of his own corpse. What say you to stitching his mouth shut, my lady?"
Leviathan's jest made Squigly crack a smile, but it quickly faded as she reflected on how Filia must have felt about what she had been made to do. "...Even though Lorenzo was a deplorable monster, he was still Filia's family. It couldn't have come easy for her to do this to him. I... I think I may know exactly how she felt in the moment she took his life."
Leviathan subtly nodded and gave an understanding hum, knowing that Squigly had been referring to the similar situation that she had been put in with Selene.
"Leviathan..." Squigly finally spoke up, breaking the pensive silence. "It's... the Skull Heart. Whatever happened between Filia and Lorenzo that led to all of this... I'm absolutely certain that the Heart is at the root. It must be."
"Indeed, Miss Squigly. It would seem that the Heart is responsible for both of your familial losses."
"This... this cannot go on. Leviathan... now that no one is holding us back any more... it is finally time for us to track down the Skullgirl and eliminate her and the Heart."
"I couldn't agree more, my lady."
"This time, though... this time will be different."
"Different...? How so?"
"I cannot allow this cycle of destruction to continue any longer," Squigly declared with a fiercely determined look in her eye. "Once I take back the Heart... I will see that I put an end to it. Permanently."