Disclaimer: I own none of characters in the work below. Witchblade and The Darkness belong to Top Cow and Kenneth Irons (the one in the comic, not the wuss in the show), who is undoubtedly running everything. Bill Gates, eat your heart out!
Synopsis: The World of TNT and Top Tow come together as comic-Ian makes his first dramatic appearance in Sara Perini's life. Jackie Estacado, AKA The Darkness will be there. Kenneth Irons from the comic will also make an appearance, as he was too bad-ass to leave out. Everything after the first episode of TNT's second season will be used only sparingly as it pretty much sucked (never change writers mid-season). Long live the Witchblade, and all it's future movie and game counterparts!
Author's Note: It's been a while, huh? RL has just been kicking my ass for the last couple of years. This chapter's a little short, but they're finally going after Irons. Enjoy! Oh, and still no beta, so please forgive any errors:)
The Irons Estate rose up before them, nearly twenty acres of carefully manicured grass, surrounded by an ornate perimeter fence. Ian smiled as he watched the guards patrol the grounds, almost looking forward to what he was about to unleash upon them. They made their rounds with an air of boredom, fully confident in the abilities that Irons had hired them for. Like most, they never realized that there were forces far stronger, and far more dangerous, than them. Tonight, that overconfidence would cost them their lives.
Jackie stirred impatiently beside him, his armor blending into the night, as the darklings whispered around them both. "I thought you were looking forward to this, Brit. What's the problem?"
"No problem," Ian answered, slanting him an unreadable glance. "I am merely savoring the moment, cub. Allow me to do so."
"Yeah, whatever," Jackie muttered before falling silent. He glanced over his shoulder, his yellowish eyes focusing on the sedan parked at the end of the block. He couldn't see Pezzini and the others, but he knew they were there. Nottingham was in the car with them, unable to force himself to join in his father's murder.
Not that Jackie blamed him. Hell, no matter what a prick Irons was, he was all the kid had. Knowing that someone you loved deserved to die, and actually killing them were two different things. Just because he had been able to do it didn't mean that Nottingham could. Of course, his Pezzini was still alive. If Irons had managed to kill her, he had a feeling that all bets would've been off.
Ian's hands clenched into fists at his sides, yet his expression reflected nothing. His fine features were calm, placid, even though they were about to kill dozens of people. Just another day at the office, Jackie thought with a smirk. His yellowish gaze zeroed in on the red ribbon tied around the hilt of the Brit's favorite sword. For some reason he would never understand, Ian had felt the need to fortify himself with a piece of the Blood Sword. He hadn't offered an explanation, and Jackie hadn't been stupid enough to ask. The less he knew about that supernatural shit, the better, as far as he was concerned. So long as it didn't fuck anything up, it was none of his business. He had his own paranormal crap to worry about.
He watched as Ian lifted both hands and drew the twin katanas from their sheaths. "Oh, yeah!" he exclaimed with obvious anticipation. "It's game-time, boys."
Ian stifled a laugh as the darklings began to swirl around their master, striking poses and making rude comments. Their behavior was something he was becoming quite used to, and so like the cub's that Ian truly couldn't be angry. "No quarter, no prisoners," he murmured and stepped forward.
"No problems there," Jackie assured him in a growl. He followed the other man towards the estate's main gate, even as he willed the darklings beyond it.
They swarmed over the large golden gates in a seething black mass, a sight that apparently terrified the two men guarding them. A few of the braver imps scuttled towards the two lights on either side, sacrificing their piece of tonight's action as their bodies were instantly sent back to the darkness that spawned them. But the lights winked out, and that's what their master wanted.
Jackie smiled to himself as the gate burst inward, an explosion of darklings flowing into the opening, screeching like banshees as they fell on the two guards. He ignored them and concentrated, pleased when an overlarge, three-barreled shotgun formed in his hands. Yep, he thought as he fired at the first wave of reinforcements, he was getting the hang of this Darkness shit. He could form almost any weapon he wanted with it; soon enough, he'd figure out how to make a woman too.
He glanced to his right, where Ian was currently slicing some poor schmuck's torso in two. He chuckled to himself at the guy's pain-filled scream. You worked for the wrong guy, moron. Maybe, he'd make better decisions in his next life. This one was definitely a wash.
Ian listened to that quiet, evil laughter and fought a smile of his own. The cub had truly unique way of looking at the world they had each carved their place in. While he himself didn't enjoy taking the life another, he took pride in his work. Each kill was a work of art, in its own way, and Jackie appreciated that, even if he didn't realize it. He merely lacked Ian's own sophistication, and as that truly was a part of charm, he had no intention of changing it. He liked Jackie Estacado just as he was--irreverent, foul-mouthed, and loyal.
"You're too quiet!" Jackie yelled as the supernatural shotgun boomed in his hands. "You okay over there, Brit?"
It was Ian's turn to laugh as he lifted the man he'd just run through with his sword and hurled him towards the younger man. Jackie cursed and ducked to avoid the body, and his smile became a grin. "I am quite well, Jackie. Thank you, for asking."
"Yeah, yeah," Jackie muttered with a scowl, almost wishing Ian hadn't discovered his surprisingly dark sense of humor. "You don't like to talk while you work. I get it, Ian. Don't do that shit, again."
"My apologizes, cub." The scowl darkened, and Ian closed his mouth as he turned to meet his next opponent. Jackie continued to taunt his own adversaries, some of his comments quite rude, and Ian knew just where the darklings had gotten their rather sadistic ways. They were only emulating their master, after all.
And it was rather entertaining, when it wasn't distracting him. Right now, he was focused on only one thing: Kenneth Irons must die. Anyone who stepped in his path was cut down instantly, an inconsequential barrier between he and a man he would forever hate, no matter which reality housed him.
I'm coming, Kenneth, Ian thought with hatred. This time, you will die by my hand. I promise you that.
Soon enough the immense lawn was littered with the remnants of Kenneth Irons' private security. Ian used a relatively clean body to wipe the blood off of his swords, then turned towards the mansion. A wide stone staircase led to an impressive set of double doors, and he smiled wickedly as he climbed it. No matter what lay in store for them beyond this point, he would have no regrets. He was doing what must be done, and he would never apologize for it.
Ian came to a halt before those impressive doors and slanted a glance over his shoulder. "Are you coming, cub?"
Jackie's glowing yellow eyes narrowed on his as he followed, changing even as Ian watched to their more ordinary shade of brown, the Darkness melting away from him. "Yeah, yeah, I'm here," he said with irritation. "The boys aren't happy, though."
"They wanted more, I take it?" he inquired with barely leashed patience.
"They always want more, Ian." Jackie shrugged, reaching inside of his coat to retrieve one of his guns. He slid the safety off and chambered the first bullet, his youthful features taking on a sinister cast. "Time for the big game, Brit."
Ian lifted one corner of his mouth in a faint, rather cruel half-smile, before turning back to the door and lifting his foot. The intricately carved wooden doors were thrown inward, one clattering to the ground as it was torn off its hinges. Ian stepped across the threshold, Jackie at his side, and came to a sudden halt. A lone figure greeted them, his amber eyes glinting with resolve, as he drew a broadsword out of a sheath strapped to his back.
"Another fucking clone," Jackie muttered exasperation. "You'd think that Irons would have learned the first time."
A petite, slender woman with sensuous features came into view, her surprisingly vivid emerald eyes locking on them with unconcealed curiosity. Ian recognized her from his vision as Christina Wales, the woman Irons had chosen as the Witchblade's next wielder. The pretender's wide, sensual lips curved into a vacant smile as she casually lifted a machine gun and began to fire.
Ian dove to one side of the entryway, rolling even as his blade flashed out. The katana deftly deflected the bullets as he took refuge behind a thick marble pillar. A loud curse drew his attention to the opposite side of the hall, where Jackie had also hidden himself, but only temporarily. Even as Ian watched, the other man drew the Darkness around him, forming the organic armor that made him all but invincible. He lifted an arm and a writhing black mass shot from it, crossing the distance between he and the woman, and knocking the gun from her hands.
Ian smiled to himself and quickly focused on his own opponent; Jackie Estacado could take care of himself. The tall, heavily muscled replicant was coming his way, the broadsword held before him with clear intent. Ian rose to face him, ignoring the startling resemblance to Nottingham, and lashed out. The clash of steel upon steel rang through the halls, echoing even as another blow was struck. It was a dance he was all too familiar with, the intricate art of swordplay, and it would end in death. But not his own.
No, he thought as power surged through him, the 'man' before him would lose his too-short life this night. Unlike the last replicant, this one fought silently, his topaz eyes glittering not with madness, but with purpose. He was determined to give his master what he desired, and he would not waver, nor would he be bargained with. He was. . .
Loyal and lethal.
The words whispered through Nottingham's mind, spoken by a man he had never met, but knew all too well. This is what Irons had hoped to achieve with Nottingham, Ian realized. A powerful warrior who was as deadly as he was faithful, his only purpose to do his master's bidding. Had Ian himself not fallen in love Nomi and broke from William Nottingham, this could very well be how he might have turned out.
Ian shuddered at the thought even as he danced away from the clone's latest strike. He lashed out with his right hand, the katana an extension of his body--of his will--as it struck the golden broadsword. The hilt seemed to glow as the red ribbon moved of its own volition. It slithered over his hand, and just for a moment, he could hear the voice of the blade. The Blood Sword whispered his name as the band draped itself over his hand, then wound around it, binding him to the blade.
Another, greater surge of raw power raced through him, and he understood. In the few seconds that had passed between blows, the Blood Sword had bonded to him. Although it was incomplete, it had chosen him for it's next wielder. Only time would tell if he was worthy of its power, but Ian was nothing if not confident in his ability to control the ancient blade, if only because it had been his choice. All that remained was to return to his own reality and find Kusanagi's corporeal form: the blade itself.
The nameless soul who dwelled within Excalibur screeched in protest as its fated wielder bonded to another weapon. Ian winced as the sound careened though his skull, but kept his eyes on his opponent. Excalibur could be as unhappy as it wished. The decision had been made.
Jackie watched the Uzi skitter across the floor and laughed aloud. He pushed the Darkness back, forcing his armor away, and gripped his gun tighter. The hot chick with the green eyes merely smiled as she backed away, not even trying to go after the discarded weapon. Her attention was focused entirely on him, and although he hated to admit it, it was a turn-on.
I really need to get laid, Jackie thought as he advanced on her. Then, maybe the gorgeous women who kept trying to kill him wouldn't look so damned good! "I don't know why you're smiling, honey," he threw out in a drawl. "You're about to die, you know."
Christina stopped moving, her gaze locking on the stranger's. "When I was child, my father kept me in a box."
Jackie blinked, then scowled. "Yeah, like I care," he said with a snort. It figures, he thought, his amber eyes flashing angrily. She would be a fucking loony. "You're still going to die, babe. Any last requests?"
"Well, now that you mention it. . ." She walked calmly to a fancy table on one side of the hall and lifted a sword from an ornate stand.
She turned to face him once more, holding the sword before her, and Jackie just rolled his eyes. "That's not gonna help you, you know."
She giggled, those big emerald eyes dancing, and rushed towards him. Jackie lifted the gun and pulled the trigger once, watching dispassionately as she clutched at the left side of her chest and dropped to the ground. He approached her cautiously, kicking the sword out her reach, just in case. She looked up at him with a stunned expression, the look in her green eyes one of distress, as she attempted to pull herself into a sitting position.
"You shot me," she exclaimed with injured surprise. "How could you?"
"Christ!" Jackie merely shook his head and leveled the gun on her. "You're fucking crazy. You know that, honey?"
Her lush bottom lip pushed out in a pout, and he'd had enough. Jackie leveled the gun on her and squeezed the trigger. The upper half of her body was thrown back, hitting the expensively-tiled floor with a loud crack. A small, neat hole graced her forehead as blood pooled out on the ground behind her.
What a waste, he thought dispassionately, already turning away. The glint of gold caught his eye, and picked up the forgotten sword. He didn't know why he'd grabbed it; he had a freakin' arsenal on him. But still, it was Ken Irons they were going to kill tonight. He'd keep the damn thing with him, just in case.
He turned to find Ian battling it out with Nottingham's look-alike. He watched them as they fought, sparks flying as their swords met in swing after swing. He glanced down at the gun in his left hand and thought about interfering, then discarded the notion. He remembered how pissed the Brit had been when he'd taken out the last clone, and the last thing he wanted was Ian Nottingham mad at him.
"Hey, boss, can we come out, yet?"
Jackie looked down to find Lenny clinging to his leg. The small darkling's baseball jersey was splattered with blood, belying the pitiable expression on his demonic features. "I thought I told you guys to stay hidden?"
Lenny's expression fell at the anger in his master's voice. "But we just want to watch Mr. Nottingham fight, boss."
He frowned at the pathetic, whiney tone the diminutive imp used. "Lenny. . ."
"Aw, come on, Jackie." Darkus appeared on his shoulder, looking stupidly confident as only he could. "If we're out of the fight, at least let us watch. I've got fifty on the ninja."
Jackie rolled his eyes at that. "Fine," he sighed, adding, "But don't distract him. We got too much to do for him to get hurt because you guys can't keep your mouths shut. Got it?"
"Got it, boss."
The darklings crowded around him, making bets in the quietest voices he'd ever heard them use. He smiled to himself and patted the nearest demon on the head. For once, the shadows weren't hissing and spitting and whispering demands for blood. Though he could feel their need for more, the more aggressive elements of the Darkness seemed to be content--for once. While he knew it wouldn't last, he was grateful for the reprieve. The Brit wasn't the only one who hated the voices in his head.
It was creepy, seeing another guy that looked exactly like Nottingham fighting against them, but it wasn't like it was the first time. The guy was fast, just as fast as the Brit, which in itself was different. But this one knew what he was doing. None of Ian's taunts managed to elicit any kind of response at all.
He was good, Jackie acknowledged silently. Unfortunately for him, he was nowhere near as good as Ian Nottingham. It didn't take long for Ian to wear the clone down. He began to falter, his movements slowing noticeably, when Ian finally ended it. Apparently deciding to take no chances, he sent the clone's head rolling across the floor with one swipe of his favorite katana.
Jackie couldn't help but laugh at the satisfied expression on the other man's fine features. "Finally got tired of fuckin' with him, huh?"
Ian raised one sable brow as he turned to face the younger man. "He was good, Jackie, but not nearly as good as the man he was cloned from."
"Yeah, I noticed that, too." Jackie jerked his head in the dead woman's direction. "She wasn't so hot, either."
Gray-blue eyes cut to the body of Christina Wales, disgust showing in their brilliant depths. "That woman was certainly not a worthy successor to the Witchblade. I don't know how this world's Irons ever imagined that she could be."
"The guy's not a rocket scientist, that's for sure." Jackie glanced to his left, where a set of large, elaborately-carved wooden doors sat open in silent invitation. "Let's kill this mook and get it over with. I want to go home."
Ian followed his gaze and nodded once, her expression turning dark. He could feel this reality's Kenneth Irons waiting for them in that room. Through his bond with the puppy, he could sense the man's emotions. Ian sensed no fear. Indeed, Irons seemed to be looking forward to this confrontation with great relish. He was projecting extreme confidence, and Ian was immediately suspicious.
"He is waiting for us," he all but growled. "He is not afraid in the least. The replicant and the woman were not his last line of defense."
Jackie only shrugged, his hard features taking on a sinister cast. "Doesn't matter what he's got up his sleeve, Ian. He's still gonna die."
"Yes, he is." Ian ignored the voices in his head as the essence of the Blood Sword fought to keep Excalibur from gaining dominance over them both. It was nothing new. He had spent most of his life fighting for control over his own will. For now, he had a demagogue who's reign must be ended.
"Yes," he growled as he headed for the doors, "let us bring this to an end."