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No. 777

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It wasn't all too unusual to see young men confined to chairs in the Zaun Hospital, their bodies wrecked by only God knows what chemicals. But what made this particular patient interesting was his patchwork flesh. Countless skin-grafts had left him with the Pied Piper's outfit for a birthday suit. Even his eyes didn't match, having had to surgically replace one of them after being blinded in a chemical "accident."

Heh. Accident. His eyes slid listlessly across the room as he tasted that word on the tip of his tongue. It brought back fond, but painful memories. Back when he could move under his own power. It was only about ten years ago, just a few years before the Ionian campaign. He'd been one of many, he himself was numbered seven hundred and seventy-seven. All of the assistants were referred to by number, instead of name. He'd been told that his number was lucky. He'd also been told he was lucky to still be alive.

He was one of Warwick's many assistants, each of them clamoring for the glorious position as his protégé. He'd also been fast friends with the front runner amongst them, a man he saw as his equal, numbered three hundred and thirteen. He'd mused it was an unlucky number, it had thirteen in it two different ways. Of course, 3-1-3 went on to become Singed. Heh. Luck.

The friendship was something of a respectful rivalry, each of them trying to outdo the other. Eventually they realized what Warwick had intended all of the chemists to realize: the winner of the prize would be the last one left standing. That's when the "accidents" started happening. 777, or Trips as most people called him, had been among the first to experience such an "accident." He mulled over that word again, focusing in on that first time.

One of his empty beakers had been laced with a chemical. When he poured in an unstable concoction, the whole thing exploded in his face. The burns were severe, he needed skin-grafts. He was back at the lab in all of a week. These days, Trips savors those deliciously subtle ironies of the past. Chemists killing each other with chemistry. Heh. He hadn't even realized the humor of it at the time.

He wasn't just a victim either, he arranged for his fair share of "accidents" to happen. 216, 965, 867, 530, all of them victims of his own brand of deadly pranks. The ranks thinned, and Trips survived attack after attack after attack. Soon, there was just himself and 313.

They went back and forth, frequently sending each other to the hospital for medical attention. Exploding beakers, melted shoes, "accidental" chemical spills, mislabeled bottles, noxious fumes. Almost every weapon in a chemist's armory was pulled out and used. Singed found a cure though. A way to strengthen his body, using the very chemicals they assaulted each other with and a mix of magic.

Trips failed to do so. By the time he'd developed his own counter-measure, it was far too late for his body. In the span of a year, just before the outbreak of the war, he'd been reduced to needing a motorized chair for movement. Singed had won the competition. By the time the war ended, he needed to be fed by nurses. The fondness in the memories sharply turned to bitter recollection. In his mind, it was luck, happenstance, that led to Singed's discovery, not genius. That position was rightfully his. And it had been Warwick that had turned the two on each other. Bitterness turned to anger, turned to hate.

A knock on the door frame brought him from his memories to the present. He didn't recognize his visitor. His hair was cut short and dark, he wasn't very tall, but wasn't short either. He didn't even have the good courtesy of having a memorable face.

"No. 777. Such a sad state for a brilliant mind like yours to be in." The tone and the accent reminded him of Noxian's he had once had dealings with. But it was a little off. He didn't bother acknowledging the man's presence.

"But I can change that. What if I told you I could give the chance to ruin Singed? To destroy Warwick? What would you say to that." Trips' listless eyes suddenly focused on the man, filled with a burning hate. "Ah...so you're still alive in there after all."

"Not alive. Nothing but a shell. Nothing but hate," He growled out. Trips' own voice had a gravelly feel to it.

"You'd need surgery. Muscle replacements, various chemical injections. But my backers think you could be useful. They think they can make a champion out of you. Do you think you could survive it?"

Trips smiled. "My body's seen worse."

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Little late to try to roleplay your way into the ionia vs noxus, isn't it?

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Trips flexed both of his hands, each finger popping from lack of use. Pain. It was a sensation he hadn't felt in a long time. It felt good. Maybe it was the lack of feeling anything in so long, maybe he just liked the hurt. He relished the feeling as he stared into a nearby mirror.

His flesh had once hung loosely over his body, his muscles had withered away as a result of his constant exposure to dangerous chemicals. Now his patchwork skin was stretched tight over a fresh set of muscles, graciously “donated” by a local martial artist. Fresh scars adorned his already marred body, not yet healed from the various procedures and surgeries. As he traced the scares with his fingers, he heard steps in the hallway.

“I see you're recovering well. The Bloodsword said you were healing rather quickly, despite having had nearly all your musculature surgically replaced. Though I do believe he said you were on strict bed rest.” It'd been about six weeks since Trips had last heard that voice. The smooth cultured tone of the Noxian Nobility that belied their murderous and violent nature, or rather an imitation of it. He wasn't a noble, but he certainly worked for one of them.

“I know my limits. I just wanted to stretch my legs. I just had to get out of bed. It's been more than ten years since I last moved under my own power.” As he stretched, he mused that he really wasn't moving under his own power. Hell, even the cartilage and ligaments weren't his own. But he moved. That's all that mattered to him now.

He ran a hand over his bumpy and patchy scalp, clear of hair. “I don't suppose we could find someone willing to donate a scalp full of hair too.” He wondered out loud.

“I think it's a little too late for you to worry about vanity.” Trips didn't like the Noxian's mocking tone. He didn't say anything though, he still needed him. No reason to piss off his new “friends,” he could afford to weather a few slings and arrows.

“Not vanity. No delusions of it. Not even a mother could love this mug. But he doesn't have it. That alone is reason enough.”

“I'll see what Bloodsword thinks. My backers would like you to be ready as soon as possible. There's a couple of groups beginning to make power plays. The Black Rose, for example, is likely behind the disappearance of Du Couteau. Things are happening, and we need to be able to capitalize on them.” Trips put on his lab coat as the Noxian spoke, popping his neck as he did. Then he headed towards the door.

“He said bed rest, chemist. Exactly where do you think you're going?”

“Just a walk. Just a short walk. Just can't take being penned up here. I'll be right back, won't do anything dangerous.”


The old halls of the Zuan laboratories were both familiar and alien to him. So much had changed, but the architecture had stayed the same. He knew the halls, but not the paints and colors that decorated them now. The sterile smell, though, he certainly recognized that.

The biggest difference Trips noticed though, was the complete lack of people. Warwick had so many apprentices, he had them numbered. If Singed had any, they weren't roaming the halls.

He ran a hand over the textured wall, feeling the dips, bumps, and gaps of the painted cement blocks that composed the building. As he did, he admired the metallic receptacle that Bloodsword had added to the back of his hand. There was one on his other hand too, but he wasn't paying it much mind. It was ever so curious. What was its purpose? What did it hook in to? He had noticed it early, but paid it no heed, his mind wrapped too much up in the joy of movement and pain. How curious it was. Surely it connected into the Radial artery.

His destination interrupted that thought. He could see the large double doors that led into the main lab. He remembered passing through those doors so many times, always when he was one-upping Singed. Heh. Like he was about to do right now.

He slipped through the doors quietly. Singed had countless beakers and burners set up, Trips recognized the layout, the colors of the chemicals, the smell.

“Cerazine gas? How boring, three-one-three.”

The bandaged Chemist froze, tension gathering in his shoulders. He glanced over his shoulder at the intruder. Though half his face was hid by wrapping, he wore his confusion on his sleeve for all to see. It lasted but a moment, but a moment was satisfying enough for Trips.

“777. You're supposed to be dead.”

“Death didn't like how I tasted. Dying was to good for me. Death chewed me up and spat me out. And now, here I am.” His voice was almost emotionless. Like it used to be, back at the lab. Insecurities, fear, bloodthirst, hatred, all of it was masked behind a stoic face. But now, it was hard to mask. His flesh had been peeled away, leaving the monster in plain view for everyone.

“So it would seem. Perhaps you have good fortune after all. Fortunate, too, that you should come here. I find myself in a complete lack of competent help. I could use a good lab assistant.”

“Me, your assistant?” The crack in his stoic mask spread. “Me, help you? Measured on any other scale but luck, I was the better, Singed.” He spat out the Chemist's name like a curse, as his act of stoicism gave way completely. “This is my lab. You just don't know it yet. We'll be seeing each other real soon. Mark my words.”

[From the log of C.T.K., Captain of the Noxian Home Guard, and Warden of the third Noxian Prison Facility.]

July 19, 20 CLE

The prisons are full. This in and of itself is a rather boring fact. The prisons are almost always near full. Hell, one of the first things a Noxian child learns is that if they are going to break the law, they'd best not get caught.

What makes it interesting is what I found while trying to make room. Like all of my predecessors, when room runs out I look for prisoners that the High Command would approve for execution. I sent word to one of my clerks to bring me a list of prisoners who met certain specifications that I thought would help speed up approval. The prisoners are all numbered in the order that they arrived, and the numbers stretch all the way up to ten thousand, after which we roll back around to one. All of the numbers in my list currently read something like 8375, 8922, 9001, 8675.

Now here's the odd thing. One of them read 12. Even at the rate we throw people in jail, Mr. 12 here would have had to been at least a hundred years old, because the last time we went back to one was several generations before I was even born. Going to do some digging tomorrow, if time allows.

July 27, 20 CLE

Finally got around to looking through Mr. 12's records. There's no record of when he was incarcerated, what his name is, or even when he was born. Oh, and apparently at least seven of my predecessors had put him up for execution. If the logs are to be believed, after being beheaded he would pick up his head and be escorted back to the prison.

Oh, and of those seven predecessors, one of them was the very first warden of this facility. Which means Mr. 12 here is almost as old as Noxus itself, if not older. Just who exactly is this guy? Why has he been left in here? The only thing I know about him is this cryptic note left in his file that says “DO NOT REMOVE HIS SHACKLES.” All caps. Bold font. If we ever have to move him, I'll make **** sure those shackles don't come off.

Oct 30, 20 CLE

Asked about Mr. 12. Some of the guys I know happen to have connections with the Nobility and even the High Command. Now, typically if I want to know something and it turns out I shouldn't exactly be asking about that sort of thing, I typically find out pretty quickly. Suits show up, remind you who you work for and that you should keep your head down, and tell you not to ask about what you asked about. And that's the only warning you get. If you persist, you disappear. I've seen it happen before.

I got none of that with Mr. 12. I also got no information. The High Command doesn't even know who this ******* is. You'd think they'd have some record or some paperwork somewhere, but no. Who, or rather what, he is is even unknown to the state. I don't like the thought of that. I think I'll pay Mr. 12 a visit tomorrow. See if he knows who he is.

Oct 31, 20 CLE

I went to the West Wing today, to follow up on Mr 12. I've always tried to avoid this area, something's off about it. Now that I think about it, maybe it was Mr. 12 that was off.

Useless. The man is a gibbering fool. He wouldn't stop muttering to himself. It was giving me the creeps. I've been the Warden of this prison for years, and visiting that man has been the only time I've ever felt fear in these halls. I think he knew too. He glanced up at me, from his corner, and those red eyes of his just froze me still. With a 2 inch steel door between us. Somehow, I felt like that door wouldn't really have been a problem for him to get through at all. When he glanced up, his muttering became clear enough for me to catch all of one word. But honestly, I think that's all he was muttering to himself, that one word over and over and over again: “Blood.”

I need to stop thinking about it. Just let him rot in that cell. He can't hurt me from there.

10 January, 21 CLE

A Noxian attendant came through today. With release papers for Mr. 12. Everything I know says I should have just burned those papers, consequences be ****ed. I handed him the key to 12's cell and shackles, warning him that he was about to make a big mistake. He simply smiled at me.

Whatever fear 12's madness invoked in me was dwarfed in comparison to the fear I felt from that man's smile. Something told me that when he smiled, very bad things were about to happen.

As they left, I noticed they had armed Mr. 12. He turned and smiled at me, showing none of his earlier madness. I think [The rest of the page is soaked completely in blood and is completely illegible.]

Revenge. Trips mulled the meaning of the word as he rested in bed. His appearance had unnerved the Mad Chemist of Zaun, but he hadn't really given much thought as to exactly how he was going to exact justice on him. Setting him up for a lab accident was too obvious, and too dangerous. Singed would be watching for that now that he knew 777 was still alive. Not to mention that the idea of it just felt childish. He had removed people from the equation with accidents before, but it was an impersonal act of his youth.

No, his revenge on Singed and Warwick would have to strike home for both of them. Warwick was easy: find a way to reverse his Lycanthropy. The old bastard loved his new form far more than his old wretched body, reverting the change would crush him. He wouldn't even be able to return to his old life: Singed had taken over his position and Warwick hadn't touched a lab in years.

Singed would be hard though. Like Warwick, Trips had fallen out of practice with his Chemistry. It would be hard to win the lab from him, not without considerable effort. Killing the Chemist off just seemed too quick. He wouldn't get to savor it. Trips didn't even want the lab any more. Not really. The only real reason he had to want the lab is so Singed couldn't have it. Like the accidents, he deemed the action childish. Alone, it was a petty action, one not worthy of his revenge.

He ran a hand through the new hair the good surgeon had grafted on his head. Maybe he was a little petty, but even the most aesthetic people indulge themselves, every once and a while.

“I'll take the League from him.” He mumbled to himself. “Then his title. Then his lab. And then I'll wipe his name from the history books. By the time I'm done, no one will even know he existed.”

“Talkink to hyuself iz not a goot sign. Hy fink maybe ve ought to go diggink in hyu brain and fix dot, yah?” The Bloodsword's accent still caught him off guard. It was unlike anything he had heard before. Apparently, he couldn't even speak Common at all until a few days before the first operations.

The Noxian, Devon Talisen, had told him the surgeon's primary language was this esoteric and dead language that dated back to before the founding of Noxus. By chance, Talisen happened to have a very rough understanding of it: whatever organization he worked for used it for code. That's probably why the recruited the Bloodsword in the first place.

“No thanks. Not crazy. Need to vocalize some thoughts.” He paused for a second. “Well, not completely crazy. I've heard things about you though.”

The Bloodsword laughed, and it chilled Trips to the bone. He made a mental note to try to avoid making him laugh in the future.

“Some vays, yez. Some vays, no. Hy, uhh...had focusink problems. Hy can't even count how long Hy vos starved. Hy tink...700 years? More? Trapped in darkness, in tiny room, no contact. Dot kind of crazy, not easy to fix, Hy think. De sword helps.”

Trips glanced at the red blade that hung from the Surgeon's side. Ah, so that was the Bloodsword, not the person that stood in front of him.

“700 years. That's a long time. Long enough to forget one's name. Is that why they call you the Bloodsword now?”

“Yah. Ze sword clear the mind, but much of mine memoriez are all jumbled up. Hard to focus on zem, since Hy hev to supprez the sword's blood thirst. But Hy suppoze, eazier dan if Hy could clear my mind myzelf. The thirst used to be much stronger, probably vy Hy vos in that cell.”

As they were speaking, Talisen slipped into the room, his eyes sharp and focused. The surgeon turned immediately the face the Noxian.

“Somfink rong?”

Talisen ignored the question.

“Is he ready? For the next part?”

Both Trips and Bloodsword chimed in unsion, “Yes.”

Moved the second part to the first page, for easy viewing.

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H1s m0m

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wow this is the best lol fanfic I've read.

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nice job.

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Cold Fusion



Really nice. Enjoyed it

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Trips sat staring at the chemicals before him. Half a dozen beakers, all filled with the same curious green liquid.

“And this is?” Trips asked the Noxian, who had led him there.
“I assume you're familiar with Singed's Insanity Potion?”
Trips nodded. “Seen his matches. Saw him fight. Saw him lose.” He added the last part with a satisfactory grin.
“Our spies managed to get a sample.” Devon continued. “We've been working on developing a similar concoction, one more suitable for dispensing to foot soldiers. Current tests have shown that our imitation Insanity Potion has most of the original's benefits.”
“But...” Trips added.
“But all batches made so far also have the undesirable side affect of sending the subject into a blind rage. They become uncontrollable.”
“And you want me to fix that.”

Devon nodded as Trips glanced down at the metal circles grafted into the back of his hands. Such curious things, their position seemed to indicate that they were connected to his arteries. A perfect delivery system.

“If you want me to work on this, I'm going to need a real lab. And two weeks to get back into Chemistry.” He paused, considering the task in front of him. “Actually, make that a month. Maybe more.”

“That's all? A month? Our chemists have spent the better part of a year on this with no success.”
“Noxian chemists have the creativity of a rock. They likely attacked this problem with all their standard solutions, then beat their heads against a wall for the next nine months. No offense.”
“None taken. Just get it done.”

Trips passed a cotton swab through the liquid in one of the beakers. “My body may have rotted away on me Noxian, but my mind is as sharp as it has ever been. You'll have your poison.” As Devon left, the chemist passed the swab through a flame, taking precise note of the flame. A proper start to a month's work.

Two months passed as Trips toiled in his lab. Every so often, usually at most once a week, the Noxian would slip in unannounced, glance over Trips' work, then leave without saying a word. It was a most unnerving thing really: the chemist only ever realized Devon was there when the Noxian left. And while he didn't exactly have the most acute sense of awareness, Trips liked to think that he never got so absorbed in his work that he would completely miss someone walking in the lab.

Another day, another visit from Devon. This time, his patience with the chemist was wearing a bit thin. “Is it done yet? We can't afford to let time slip us by. The sooner you're done, the sooner you can exact your vengeance on Singed.”

Trips' eyes narrowed at the name. “You don't need to remind me. You don't have to pester me either. Your poison is done. It's been done. I said I only needed a month, even that was a bit of an over-estimation.”

Devon's face soured. “Are you trying to play us, chemist? If it has been done, what exactly have you been doing all this time? And why exactly did you never bother to mention that you were done?”

"Heh. No, certainly not. You never bothered to ask, and yet you've been by at least four times since I finished the stimulant.” The chemist flashed a wolfish smile. “And I've been working on something I left unfinished many years ago. It's a high-powered acidic toxin. It eats through just about anything, and once it gets into your veins it starts wrecking all kinds of havoc. Back then, I called it chemical number 777.”

“We don't have time for you to indulge in your personal pride.” Talisen rapidly produced a small flintlock pistol from his coat, pointing it in Trips' direction. “You're just a tool, like the rest of us. A cog in the machine. You can, and will, be replaced. Remember that the next time you decide to waste our time.”

Trips tightened up and studied the angry Noxian carefully. The brief seconds the man had the gun trained on him seemed to stretch into hours. Did he intend to kill him, or was it just a warning? Was the warning going to come with a painful gun-shot reminder? Devon put away the gun and Trips relaxed, exhaling as he did.

“So, you have what you wanted. Now what? You set me loose to take out Singed?” He studied the circles on the back of his hands. “...or do you have something else in mind?”

“You'll be field testing that stimulant of yours. As a league champion. We'll be using you and several others to gain influence in the league.”

“No. Absolutely not.” The Chemist's tone changed to a quickened anger. “League champions are not allowed to take actions against other league champions outside of the arenas. If I join the league, I lose my chance to get back at him. Short lived pain will be the only thing I'll be able to do to him. Not enough. Not good enough. Not even close.”

“The tools don't get to say no to the craftsman.”

His emotions acted hastily. Trips tightened up, his freshly healed muscles contracted, his weight shifted, and his curled fist launched forward faster than he could have ever punched before the operations.

Devon didn't even see it coming. He took the punch to the face, stumbled backwards a few steps before falling flat on his ass. Before he had a chance to react, Trips followed up the punch with a swift kick, knocking the Noxian flat on the ground and out cold. Thinking quickly, the chemist tied Devon up, grabbed several grenades filled with his new toxin, as well as all the work on the “Insanity Poison.” Before he left, he stopped to gloat to the still unconscious Noxian.

“Nothing, not even your little conspiracy group, will stop me from achieving my ends.”
With that, he left, setting fire to the lab. It was time to start enacting his revenge.

Caution. Trips mulled over the idea. He didn't like it. Especially since he had just thrown it to the wind. He wasn't going to be able to exact his revenge alone, and he had just cut himself off from his one ally. Though, to be fair, they weren't going to help him at all. At least, not at the pace he wanted. Maybe they thought crushing the two main Zuanite champions in the arena would be a satisfying enough revenge. Maybe they had long term plans.

He wasn't interested in either.

So he'd have to throw caution out, yet again, and align himself with James Connefellow. James was a politician, one of Zuan's big-wigs. He'd been the one who'd gotten Trips into the hospital's care, free of charge. It was a political move, of course. At the time, he had been considered a “city hero.”

Hero. Heh. Trips swapped gears, thinking about that word. Connefellow had hoped to play the part of the “hero” by “taking care” of Trips. Singed and Warwick played the “hero” by burning their enemies into piles of oxidized goo. Trips had hoped to do the same.

Some heroes. In his time in his hospital chair, Trips often reflected on how he now looked the part of a monster, much like Warwick. Much like Singed. Monsters who were paraded about as heroes.

There was something liberating about looking exactly like what he felt he was. He wasn't a hero. He was a monster. An unrepentant, devil-may-care, monster.

Which was good, because monsters are probably one of the few things that actually put politicians on edge. You can always trust the heroes to confine themselves to the rules. The monsters? Not so much.

Trips snapped from thought as the Councilor's house came into view. It was obscenely big, especially for someone who had taken the “humble position of a civil servant.” Heh. Humble. Even the head chemists didn't make that kind of bank. Must be nice being a part of the group that determines how the civic positions are paid and funded. He knocked on the hardwood door, noting that the councilman surely had to have it replaced at least once a year. Zuan isn't a very friendly environment for wood. Or, anything, really.

To Trips surprise, the Councilman himself answered the door. Of course, seeing the cripple he visited once every few years for publicity's sake wasn't exactly what he was expecting either.

“How in the crow-begotten Hell are you up and moving.” It wasn't a question, more of a statement that the councilor blurted out. As if Trips being up and about did him some great disservice. Politicians, always concerned with the next election.

“Pleasant to see you too, Councilman. Perhaps, for once, it would be nice if someone didn't have that reaction to me. Probably not going to happen though. Could use your help, could be helpful to you too. Got a minute?”

The councilor eyed Trips with suspicion, as he did anyone who offered him help. For a few seconds, the thin, contemptuous man stood there, carefully trying to decided exactly how much Trips was trying to take him for. After deciding that the chemist posed little threat to his position of power, aside from the obvious and possible physical threat to his person of course, he stepped to the side and motioned for Trips to come in.

Much like the door, most of Connefellow's furnishings were hardwood. Expensive to import. And to upkeep, in Zuan anyway. Even the city's extremely wealthy circles didn't attempt to go this far. A nice hard wood table, an air filtration system, and a spot on the “nice” side of the city was usually the most anyone tried to afford.

“Whatever you need to say, chemist, it had best be quick. I'm a very busy man, I have a schedule to keep.” The Councilor spoke with an orator's voice. He could be spewing out the world's worst profanity, and he would still capture and awe audiences. Of course, he had worked at his voice to get it that way. Trips mused that the man probably drank all sorts of herbal remedies to counteract the harsh chemicals in the air in Zuan. Expensive herbal remedies.
“I'm going after Singed. I need y--”
“No.” Connefellow said curtly. “I have no intention of making any moves against one of my city's finest.”

Trips cracked his neck, then popped his knuckles. “How about you listen to the whole thing first? I couldn't give a rat's ass whether you want to move against Singed or not. All I want is the Lab. After I ruin him. In return, I'll take care of Warwick for you.” Trips smiled. He had learned a long time ago, if you're going to do something anyway, you should find someone who's willing to give you something for it. Connefellow paused, silently staring at one of the portraits on his wall.

“That bastard killed my son. Killing him isn't good enough.”

“Oh I wasn't going to kill him.” Trips smiled devilishly. “I had something else in mind. I think I've got a way to reverse his lycanthropy. You and I both know how much his “curse” means to him.”

Connefellow paused again, thinking hard about the risks involved.

“You know, I was there. When your son died. He was a good chemist, not great, but certainly good. Warwick's policies were certainly the at fault here, but another chemist shares that blame. I was never sure, exactly, of who killed him. But only one apprentice in that lab could have made such a horrific poison.”

“Singed...” The senator had taken the bait and ran with it. “Just the lab? That's all? You won't need anything to prepare?”

“I have a space that I own that should be useful. It's a safe house I set up, back when I was working for Warwick. Aside from that, I could use some funding, chemicals aren't without price, after all.”

“You're sure it was Singed? Absolutely sure?”

“Chemists have specialties. Carefully chosen, based on skill in that area. Can't say for certain though. I will say, however, that Singed is the sovereign of poison. I prefer acids and bases myself. They have more general uses than poison alone.”

“The report did say poisoned in a 'lab accident.' I warned him about working under that madman, but it doesn't make me any less angry. You well know the council sees certain actions as...signs of ambition and initiative. If you take out Singed and Warwick, I'll convince them to give you the lab instead of prosecuting you. I have enough sway to do that.”

Trips thought back as he left, back to the day that idiot chemist died.

Every last inch of that kid's flesh had oxidized rather nicely. Was a successful “first try.”

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I typically don't read very much fanfic, but I decided to give this one a go. (It might have been the first couple, very graphic, sentences... my mind is wierd like that >&lt

Yeah, I'm very glad I did give it a read... But now I'm dissapointed, because I want more

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good stuff!

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All predators know the smell of prey. The smart ones know when to resist the call.

Of course, a really smart predator might fall to the lure of curiosity. Questions might buzz in their head, begging to be answered. Why is that smell so irresistible? What's making it? Why did it just now show up? Nagging little questions appear and bounce around your head, refusing to be silent until answered. Curiosity always proves a far more horrible drive than instinct. And Warwick was a very smart and very curious predator.

The key to perking his target's curiosity would be subtly. Warwick had once mentioned a desire for a rare Ionian plant, with a particularly peculiar smell, because of its unique chemical properties. Trips didn't know if the old fiend had ever actually gotten a chance to examine it, but he was certain Warwick knew the smell. Certain enough that he had spent a week refining a concentrate form of that smell. Even concentrated, he could still only barely smell the flower's scent, but he knew the Blood Hunter's enhanced senses would pick it up easily.

Trips walked the streets of Zuan, leaving a light trail of the mild fragrance behind him, eying the nearby concrete buildings with suspicion. Talisen's backers had the influence and power to rebuild him, Trips' casual murder of their operative would likely not go unpunished. Maybe they hadn't noticed yet, Trips told himself. Maybe if he kept telling himself that, it'd become true.

He picked up his pace, he'd be crossing his target's path soon and Warwick was a fast walker. In order for this to work, he'd have to avoid being seen and make it to his destination with enough time to get into place for the trap. As he crossed over one of the streets, he noticed the crowds on the sidewalk beginning to clear out. The Blood Hunter was coming back from lunch, but the people decided to err on the side of caution and stay outside his reach just in case. The people of Zuan may revere their heroes and champions, but they also have a healthy level of fear for them.

Trips' mind idly considered what that said about the Zuanite people. Nothing good, obviously. To be fair, you had to have a healthy level of fear and caution to survive the city's streets anyway. Not that that improved the people's outlook.

He stepped up pace again, having suddenly picked up the unmistakeable feeling of being hunted. That feeling took him back, back to the old days at the lab. If the other apprentices weren't hunting Singed, they were hunting Trips. He couldn't count the number of times he had “returned-to-sender” a rigged flask or a polluted, and therefore dangerous, sample. How often he turned someone's traps around on their owners.

He paused, mentally anyway, and considered the possibility of Warwick doing just that to him. The chance was there, but the odds were low. The Hunter wouldn't realize he was the prey until it was too late. Trips carefully entered the warehouse he had readied his trap at, turning off the lights and closing the shutters. The only place that had any light was a small area just a short way away from the open door, with a radius of no more than 10 feet, lit by a low hanging light. The only one Trips left on. It would light the stage of Warwick's fall.

With everything ready, he donned his gas-mask and climbed up onto the catwalk.

It took only a few minutes for the Blood Hunter to arrive. Warwick truly was the ultimate predator. Cunning. Smart. Powerful. Able to track prey for miles and miles. Or to latch on to a single scent in the midst of a chemical cesspool that some graciously consider to be a city. He stopped at the door, bent down, then effortlessly sliced through the tripwire without triggering the trap.

“A trap 777? Is that any way to greet an old friend?” The beast growled in an amused tone. Warwick had always had a very guttural sound to his voice, even before his transformation. “Oh, by the way, the Ionian Switchleaf was a nice touch. I had all but forgotten that plant.”

The chemist smiled wryly and said, “Only a precaution. Only there to keep out someone who shouldn't be here. Obstructions, like the ones you used to use to keep the unworthy out of the labs.”

The old hunter laughed and moved further into the building, but proceeded with caution. “Those were some good times. But I've always preferred to be concerned with the present. Like, why are you presently here?”

As Warwick moved further in, Trips slowly began changing his position. “Oh, you know. Just. This.”

The chemist triggered the trap at the door remotely, causing the gas canisters placed there to spew out a noxious black cloud.

“That gas is fairly poisonous. Causes your blood cells to start oxidizing your blood vessels and your organs. Rather nasty affect. If you survive that, it also has the nice little property of eating through your armor and any magic-dampening trinkets you have. After that one-two punch, a toddler would be capable of killing you barehanded. Recommended safe distance, five meters. It's inadvisable to run through the gas, I want to savor this.”

The Hunter growled out loudly. “What's your game boy? Revenge? I made you! Took you out of the gutters of this **** city, built you into what you are!”

“A little too well it seems. Your policies confined me to a **** chair for ten years. Ten. Bloody. Years. Do you have any idea what it's like being trapped in your own body for ten years? Not being able to move? Or even feed yourself? Or kill yourself? I spent every moment fantasizing about killing you, because your **** policies put me there, and Singed, who didn't even have the guts to finish me off. Now that I've got a nice new set of muscles to get me up and moving, I don't have to fantasize anymore.”

Warwick kept turning to face Trips as the chemist moved about unseen on the catwalk. “Oh, by the way, that black gas was just a diversion. Little more than smoke grenades, just wanted to keep you here long enough for the paralytic gas to kick in. Odorless, tasteless. Should be starting to work by now.”

The Hunter slowly glanced towards the door, then back to Trips. “Quit playing around and face me **** you!” He shouted. Only, it sounded like mumbled gibberish to Trips.

“Motor functions are the first to go boss. But I think I know what you want.” The chemist jumped down from the catwalk, lazily making his way to Warwick. He had time, after all.

“Oh, but I made certain it didn't knock out the pain receptors. Would be rather boring if you felt nothing while I bruised you up a little.”

Violence always called to something deep within Trips. He relished in the fact that he was more of a murderer who used chemicals than a real chemist. Watching people burn because of his devices, seeing them writhe in pain.

It was a primal, wonderful, maddening sensation. One that he had crazed since before he could remember. Back in his lab days, he would occasionally spar with his friends to get that need out of his system. He even fought with Singed, on the occasion.

This was going to be less of a spar, and more of a savage beating. Vibrations shook up his arm as the first hit connected with Warwick's skull, sending the beast flying to the ground. Trips indulged in his madness, raining blow after blow on his paralyzed victim.

He wasn't clear how much time had passed when he stopped. His hands were bloodied, the flesh on his knuckles broken and bruised. Warwick's eyes were red with rage, but his figure was as motionless as it was when Trips started.

Sorry about that. I guess I spent just a little too much time sitting around doing nothing, all that excess rage must have just built up over time. Which reminds me, I've got a little something to give you. It's the reason I dragged you out over here. You'll really love this.”

Trips walked over to a table that set just outside the light, and grabbed a small filled syringe. Popping the cap, he turned to Warwick.

“You remember what I was working on? Just before the Ionian war? It was a countermeasure to divinity magic. I didn't get to finish it, but it did at least dampen their healing magic. If I recall correctly, you handed it over to the league, after I was unable to continue working on it. They used it in the creation of the Executioner's Calling. Rather effective, if unfinished.” Trips slowly walked over to where Warwick helplessly laid. “Well, I got a chance to improve it. Anyone else, it'd likely kill. But on you, my old teacher, on you the effect will be rather....different. I hope you don't mind, but I'm going to rip away the only good thing you have going for you.”

The chemist stuck the syringe in his target's neck and emptied the contents. The effect was immediate. Warwick's body thrashed about as his bone structure and musculature began to change. His eyes showed pain, but Trips' earlier toxin kept him quiet.

“Farwell. Master. Do say hi to Singed for me. I'd love to get a chance to destroy him, too.”

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