"I'm concerned, Whistler."
Abigail Whistler grunted, most likely in indifference. Hannibal King instead took it as encouragement.
"You may want to consider getting out of the 'biz. I know you're a second generation suckhead slayer, but these demons are a whole new bag of nasty. I'm concerned for your safety. That thing we fought last night? Looked like something out of a Japanese porno cartoon. And you know what tentacle monsters like to do-" his eyes traveled along her curves significantly, "-to nubile young women."
"The same thing they nearly managed to do to you?" Abby smirked, pulling their RV into a gas station.
"Don't laugh. That's not funny. No means no, Whistler." As Abby cut the motor, Hannibal hopped out and began to fill the tank. "That sort of thing leaves its mark. Emotionally, I mean. Not to be confused with the physical pain currently making me wish for death. God, and that is not helping," he hissed, referring to the loud rumbling of an engine that mercifully cut off. "Thank you," he said, to no one in particular. "I feel like my head is on fire."
"I know that feeling," a twangy voice chuckled. Hannibal turned, finding a bottle of aspirin being offered his way. The black-clad man at the next pump shrugged. "Sorry I can't do much about the noise," he apologized, patting the seat of his motorcycle. "These beauties aren't made for quiet."
"S'alright, man," Hannibal said, eagerly dry-swallowing a few of the pills. He handed the bottle back, double-taking as he did so. "Hey, you're-"
"The goddamn Batman." The man growled before breaking into a grin. He shook Hannibal's hand. "Johnny Blaze, good to meet you."
"Yeah, wow-" for quite possibly the first time in his life, Hannibal was struck speechless. He recovered quickly. "You once jumped a dozen helicopters. That was impressive, man." High praise coming from someone who typically wasn't impressed by anyone but himself.
"Two dozen's my record now, but who's counting?" Johnny laughed, setting his pump back in its cradle a swiping a credit card. "You headed into the city?" He gestured along the highway toward the skyline rising through the smog. "Best be careful, I hear there's been a bunch of nasty murders."
"Oh, I think we'll be fine," Hannibal assured him. "We're just headed there on business."
"Yeah? Same here," Johnny smiled. "Well, you kids take care, now." He tipped his hat and straddled the bike, kicking it to life and roaring away.
Abby leaned out the window, raising an eyebrow. "If you're done fangirling, we have someplace to be."
"I was not fangirling," Hannibal huffed, finishing up and stepping back into the cab.
"No, sure. I'm just saying, if you want his phone number we can probably still catch up to him."
"There is nothing wrong with showing a little respect for a man and his machine," Hannibal glared. "Your tiny female brain simply can't comprehend these things."
"It can comprehend how to kick your ass." Abby put the vehicle in gear and pulled onto the highway.
"Violence is the refuge of the unimaginative, Whistler."
"Have I mentioned how much I hate New York?"
"More than once. Have I mentioned how much I hate your bitching?" Abby frowned at the map spread on the table. While their previous base hadn't been destroyed by Dracula, neither of them had wanted to stay where so many of their friends had died. After the fall of the vampires, most members of the vampire hunting cells had made a go at normal lives. The ex-vamp and second generation ass-kicker had quietly agreed they weren't cut out for 'normal.'
Zoey had been dropped off with family - long lost, suburban, safe family. King and Whistler had packed all they could into a specially modified, armored RV and begun hunting new prey, of the demonic variety. Packed with equipment, research material, and a small living space, there wasn't much room left for Hannibal's mouth. He, naturally, felt otherwise.
"I hate New York. At least with the vamps we could firebomb their little clubs. Easy enough to find with the sigils they'd paint everywhere. How are we supposed to find one demon in a city full of millions of people? Hannibal finished cleaning his gun, giving it an affectionate pat before putting it away and moving on to another.
"Finding him may be easier than you think. If our tipster's intel is correct, it looks like there's a pattern to these attacks. Bigger problem is how to take care of it without the locals getting involved." The average cop wouldn't cause them trouble, but- "Iron Man's been seen flying over the city."
"Rich guy in a robotic suit of armor. Why do our lives keep coming back to anime?"
"Because you're so bishy?"
"Bishy and bitchy. We're quite a team."
Abby shrugged into her jacket, slid one more wickedly sharp knife into her boot, and looked at Hannibal expectantly. "You wanna banter all night, or do you wanna kill something?"
King bounced to his feet. "I love it when you talk sexy to me."
"Why is it always an abandoned warehouse?"
"Why are you always talking?"
"I can't help it. I get nervous around pretty girls with big guns."
They made their way through the darkness, skirting around debris. "Our boy was seen here weeks ago, Whistler. He's moved on. This is a dead end."
A sudden shout and growl came from behind a pile of crates. "Or not," Hannibal amended. He looked at Abby, who nodded, motioned, and they parted silently, splitting up to flank the newcomers.
Hannibal rounded the corner, turning his face away as light flared. "Hey Whistler!" he yelled, drawing a bead on the light source. "I think we found our boy!"
The flaming skeleton paused, looking directly at Hannibal. For something that didn't have eyes, they damn well seemed to pierce him where he stood. "Stay out of this," it growled. "I am here only for the evil."
"Yeah, I can see that." King glanced at the hooded, cloaked figure cowering before the skeleton. "I hate cosplayers too, but you still aren't getting away with this."
He snapped off three quick shots, drawing the skeleton's attention from his would-be victim. It seemed annoyed but unhurt, barely staggering under the impact. "Bullets aren't working, Whistler! I told you we needed holy hand grenades for this sort of thing!"
The man in the hood darted away.
"No!" The skeleton spun, reaching for the man. "You will not escape your punishment!"
Arrows had a slightly better effect than bullets. The one Abby shot through the skeleton's torso brought him to his knees. "Keep out of this!" it roared at Whistler. Hannibal shot it again for good measure. "You don't understand," it growled, struggling to rise. "Innocents will be hurt!"
"Yeah? Not while I'm around." Abby darted in, daring a kick that the skeleton blocked, knocking her on her back. The hooded man, caught with the skeleton between him and the exit, tried to flee while the skeleton was distracted.
Quicker than the hood, the skeleton pulled free the chain wrapped around its body, using it to lasso the hood and drag him close. "Feel their pain," it hissed, gazing into the eyes of the man.
"Hey!" Hannibal abandoned his useless gun and pulled a knife, charging the skeleton. A sharp crack greeted him, bowling him head over heels as the scent of brimstone filled the humid air. Shaking off the hurt, he rose to find Abby and the skeleton in similar straits. The hooded man, however, was cackling gleefully, noise erupting from a mouth filled with teeth entirely too sharp to be human. It sped away, cloak swirling in ways no mere fabric could manage.
"What the hell was that?" King panted.
The skeleton glared. "Demon. Dormammu. The cloak has no soul, and protects its human host."
"Uh-huh." Abby clambered to her feet, warily watching the skeleton. "And what are you?"
The skeleton appeared the only one unsurprised when a flaming motorcycle crashed through the wall, flinging up dust and bits and cinder block. Its death head grin seemed to grow wider as it pointed a finger at itself, offering one word: "Hunter." Jumping onto the bike, he peeled out through the newly made exit.
Hannibal stretched, making sure he still possessed all his limbs. "So... Skeletor's on our side?"
"Looks that way."
"And the human looking Lord of the Rings reject?"
"Thinking that's our real demon."
They both started running.
Whistler and King ran through alleyways, feet splashing through greasy puddles. They followed the roar of the rider's engine, intent on their prey. The hood knew the area better, but he was outnumbered and the rider was faster.
"We need motorcycles," King groused. Sound bounced off the brick walls, city acoustics making it harder to determine the rider's position in the warren of back streets. "Bikes aren't just practical; they're great for picking up chicks."
"You think your pal Skeletor picks up a lot of chicks on that thing?" Abby replied, pounding along beside him. The engine's roar grew closer.
"I bet the ladies love him. He's a skeleton, he gives new meaning to the term 'boner.'"
Abby grimaced at the pun, skidding to a stop before the end of the alley. Barely heard over the approaching engine - footsteps, headed their way.
"End of the line!" Hannibal slammed into the hood as he sprinted past their alley, tackling him to the ground. The hood rolled, delivering a punch to King's gut as a reward for his trouble.
"Oof," King exhaled, momentarily winded and vulnerable. This was, naturally, the moment the hood pulled a gun.
"A gun?" Abby protested, her kick connecting with the hood's solar plexus, driving him back. "Since when do demons use guns? I almost prefer the tentacles," she complained, knocking the weapon out of the hood's hand. He shoved her away, turning to run again and releasing a strangled cry.
Hannibal King smirked from his position on his knees, where he'd driven a knife deep into one the cracks scarring the dirty pavement - and through Dormammu's cloak.
Teeth gnashing, the hood struggled, unwilling or unable to remove the cloak and free himself. The rider roared in, stepping from his bike in a vision of vengeful glory. Ignoring Abby and King, he ripped the hood off the struggling man, exposing the human inside. "Look into my eyes, Parker Robbins," it commanded. "Feel their pain!"
The two Nightstalkers watched as the man grimaced, body contorting in torment, and fell to the ground. Cautiously drawing weapons, they backed away. "You have been judged," the skeleton rider hissed at the body, "guilty."
Straightening, he gazed at Abigail and Hannibal. Flames crackled, fading from blazing orange to blue. He regarded them for a long moment, before mounting his bike and roaring away.
"That was..." Hannibal began.
"...somewhat anti-climactic?" Abby finished.
"Suppose they can't all end in plagues," King pondered, nudging the body with the toe of his boot.
"Or tentacles," Whistler snorted.
"Motorcycles would use less gas, too," Hannibal pointed out, stepping out of the RV and swiping a stolen credit card at the pump.
Abby grunted. "Get off the motorcycles, King."
"You could get off if we got bikes. All that power, throbbing between your legs-"
Abby cut him off by turning up her music, booming bass beat drowning him out. Hannibal slammed the passenger door, shutting out the noise. It was still loud enough to rattle windows, but not quite enough to drown out the rumble of an approaching engine.
King turned, grinning in recognition. "Are you stalking me? Because that would be super."
Johnny Blaze swung his lean frame off the bike. "We do seem to be running into each other a lot lately." He chuckled, as if at a private joke, and filled up his machine.
Hannibal "hmm"ed speculatively, eyeing Johnny and his motorcycle. He leaned in, whispering carefully. "Mind if I ask you something?"
Hannibal pulled the RV's door shut behind him, settling into the passenger seat.
"Fangirl. What the hell took so long? You finally ask for his autograph?"
"Don't cheapen what we have together, Whistler."
"Got shot down, huh?"
"As a matter of fact, I got something even better."
"Blowjob in the bathroom?"
Hannibal pulled a slip of paper out of pocket, shit-eating grin spreading across his face. "Phone number. Now tell me, Whistler - what do you know about the devil's bounty hunter?"