Master Key (for [personal profile] raggedy_doll)

May. 22nd, 2013 09:28 am
hypnotic_patter: (Suited for Suits)
[personal profile] hypnotic_patter
Given the nature of his business Ragdoll had a habit of going off the radar for days or weeks at a time. Billy was generally all right with it. Plenty of people had long-distance relationships where their first conversation in a month involved giddy Skype calls from remote South American dictatorships that had recently had a major administration shift.

Still, he kept tabs in the best way he could. When his Google Alerts notified him that "Peter Merkel Jr." had made the news again he abandoned his half-finished sonic gun and ran to see what his dancing doll had done to make the world more interesting. The scene of a smoking building half-submerged in the river made him smile. Meister popped open a soda and stretched out to watch the news report.

The costume worn by one combatant was identified as that of Peter Merkel Jr., better known as Ragdoll, while the identity of his attackers was unclear. Their brutal battle spanned several city blocks, ending at a fuel station used for local barges. It's unclear exactly how the fire started but the blaze quickly led to a massive explosion that demolished several nearby buildings. Witnesses report that Merkel's injuries during the battle were quite severe, indicating he most likely died in the explosion. The only bodies identified so far were those of local dock workers, and two others were burned beyond recognition. So far no one knows the motives behind--

Some part of him had always assumed Ragdoll was invincible. Rubbery, able to bounce back from any catastrophe with a smile and a bizarre quip. In some ways he had seemed more force of nature than mortal human. Billy left increasingly desperate messages on Peter's voice mail, but after a few days of silence denial seemed impossible. He huddled in his dressing room trying to write some appropriate requiem in Peter's honor. Nothing he could create seemed grand enough to encompass the beautiful kaleidoscope chaos that was Ragdoll. He spent hours staring at the ceiling with the RENT soundtrack playing in the background, devoid of inspiration or the will to create.

At the end of the week a knock on the back door roused him from restless drowsing. He leapt from his bed and ran to the door, still in t-shirt and boxers, hoping against hope that--

Who the heck were these dorks?

A group of one man and two women were gathered in his back alley. Their clothes were loose white muslin with embroidered red coats. All of them wore elaborate jewelry and golden bangles around their wrists, as well as beads threaded into their long braids. "Music Meister." The group bowed low to him, as if he were some pope of weird people. "It is an honor, a privilege, to finally be in your presence."

"Eh?" He brushed his hair out of his eyes. "Who exactly are you?"

"We are the Acolytes of the Celestial Echo." Possibly they could sense how close he was to ordering them to pile themselves in the nearby dumpster, so the explanation was extremely rushed. "We believe that the universe was created by a single song, and that this song was then taught by the gods to the first humans. All songs thereafter are humanity's feeble attempts to recreate that which they once knew, buried deep within our ancestral memory. No living person can repeat it, for time has withered our voices."

"I see. You're crazy people." When he found who gave them his address he was going to beat them with a stick. Billy frowned. "I'm really not in the mood for creepy cults right now."

Again the low bows, their jewelry clinking. "We are sorry for your loss. We know how it must pain you."

"You know nothing about it." He had the door slammed in their faces before the implications of their words fully sunk in. The door opened a crack. "...what do you know about it?" Few people knew he was connected to Peter, let alone dating him. It wasn't their business.

"We have been following you for some time. You have a voice like no other, something precious beyond measure, and we believe it may accomplish what no other voice can. You alone, Music Meister, could bring the first song back into the world."

"So basically you're saying you're my stalkers." He leaned on the door, arms folded. This was not garbage he needed to be dealing with before coffee and a shower. "I appreciate the sentiment, I just don't care. There won't be any performances for a while, and you should understand why."

"Fully." The lead man reached into the ragged bag hanging at his side and produced a familiar mask. It had obviously been cleaned, but traces of dried blood and dirt lingered where the false hair met the pale face. Billy gaped.

"Why do you..."

"It was pulled from the rubble by the police. We recovered it by--"

"Give it to me!" Here hung those lips that I have kissed I know not how oft. Where be your gibes now? Your gambols? Your songs? Your flashes of merriment, that were wont to set the table on a roar?
Billy snatched it out of the acolyte's thin fingers, hugging it tightly to his chest. His fingers ran fondly through the red mass of yarn. To Billy the mask was Peter's face as much as the scarred flesh beneath it.

"If you will come with us you may get back the rest of him...and more besides. The song created the world. Bringing one soul back from the dead would be a minor affair by comparison. Come with us and we shall teach you the song that meager mortals cannot sing. You will be worshiped as a new Apollo with we your willing servants, and your dancer shall return to your side."

Billy tongued the gap between his teeth. In his thoughtfulness he did not hear the soft humming by the acolyte in the back or see the way her fingers moved in arcane patterns across the symbol held in his first two fingers. The merest nudge, though even that took a great deal of their power. They appealed to the Songbringer's grief and his pride in unison, and this was only the final push to tip him over the edge of the cliff. The mask of the fallen dancer would bring his lover under their sway.

"Keep talking."

Date: 2013-05-24 02:17 am (UTC)
raggedy_doll: (i'm ever so nice)
From: [personal profile] raggedy_doll
"Nor am I the poster child for good anything!" Ragdoll agreed cheerfully.

He wasn't especially fond of his doppelganger, but he really didn't feel a need to keep a distance, either. It certainly didn't seem hostile; in a way, it might even be on his side. Which could prove useful, at least for the moment. He crossed over to pat Billy's arm. "Of course I know you're excited, dear one, but rest now. If you do, we may wake early to practice and dress before your debut." It was already fairly late, and while he knew the others wouldn't like waiting, it wouldn't be terribly long before morning. They would just have to stick it out. Things would be easier if he wasn't creeping about trying to figure out who to target -- and leaving William alone and unguarded but for this silent homunculus.

Date: 2013-05-24 11:24 am (UTC)
raggedy_doll: (Default)
From: [personal profile] raggedy_doll
Ha. He was right, and even William admitted it. Sort of.

As Billy prepared for bed, Ragdoll crouched nearby, keeping an eye on him; he was obviously in quite a state! "Where did you say you'd be debuting again? I'd hate awfully to get lost in this temple. It would be a shame."

While Billy slept, Ragdoll would take a better look around his quarters, and perhaps eavesdrop on a few conversations in the temple. If he knew where they would be setting up, perhaps he could get a better idea of their real plans, beyond simply using the Music Meister for their world domination song. If there were going to be any surprises, they could always stand to be less surprising.

Date: 2013-05-24 12:30 pm (UTC)
raggedy_doll: (i'm afraid i don't know my hymns)
From: [personal profile] raggedy_doll
"Of course I trust you to understand me better than they do," he soothed. "Good night, dear William."

He crouched beside the fake Doll, waiting for Billy's breathing to even out. It wouldn't do to get his attention and possibly make him suspicious, though he wondered if it was possible for Meister to be suspicious of anything in his current state. He was hardly against insanity, of course, but this was just no fun, not for William and not for him.

When he could be reasonably certain that William was asleep, he got up again, the black cloak he'd borrowed swirling suitably impressively in the darkness. The affect was spoiled somewhat when he bent over again, leveling his mask in front of the blank gaze of his stolen mask.

"If you hurt him, or do a thing to help this cult," he hissed quietly, "I will tear you apart slowly, doppelganger." If not, he could consider it to be on their side. It couldn't be left alive or functioning or whatever it was, of course, but he could at least give it the kindness of a quick death.

He slipped out of the room, carefully making his way back into the temple proper, to scout out the amphitheater. If William was going to be in control in the morning, he would obviously need a little bendy help with it.

Date: 2013-05-24 09:00 pm (UTC)
raggedy_doll: was it the butterfly thing? i never know what's going on. (what did i say?)
From: [personal profile] raggedy_doll
Why, could he almost feel ashamed, really -- he just didn't threaten people, or creatures, under normal circumstances. (Unless it seemed appropriate at the time... or if he really felt like doing so... which did, of course happen!) But, really, how else was he supposed to trust this homunuclus to watch over William while he was away? They were deep in enemy territory, after all! If William was made to do anything too strange against his will, he would make such a fuss later.

He noticed the gesture, though out of the corner of his eye, but didn't think much of it at just that moment. The approaching footsteps distracted him, and he made a quick decision. The room too free of clutter to maneuver as he'd like, he looked back at the false Doll, gesturing for it to boost him up, so that he could perch on top of the doorway. It was, after all, either trust "himself" or have a difficult time of things.
Edited Date: 2013-05-24 09:00 pm (UTC)

Date: 2013-05-25 12:27 am (UTC)
raggedy_doll: and i smell like an atrocity (the charge is set)
From: [personal profile] raggedy_doll
Whatever it was -- and it wasn't human, though bits of it might be human; Ragdoll was familiar with what dead flesh felt like -- it was intelligent, and even managed to be conniving... or at least loyal, and capable of being bendy with the truth as well as its manufactured limbs.

He heard the second set of doors close, and nodded for the homunculus to stay by Meister's bedside, slipping off to follow this individual himself. This particular man certainly seemed to have at least some responsibility here, and perhaps he would speak more freely around his fellow-cultists, as they prepared for the dawn.

He'd prefer to say his hellos and strangle the man right now, of course, but patience was one of those virtues he was fuzzy on and could always use more practice with! And he was in a temple, so this was surely the perfect place for it.

Date: 2013-05-25 01:39 am (UTC)
raggedy_doll: (pardon me! sorry!)
From: [personal profile] raggedy_doll
As long as he kept out of the candlelight -- and above eye-level if he could; people tended not to look up -- Ragdoll was certain of not being spotted. And while this overheard conversation wasn't incredibly illuminating, it certainly confirmed what he had already surmised.

And it confirmed that they had no respect for William's judgment and taste. That was just uncalled for and inexcusable.

What it did reveal was that the tall man was apparently in charge of things, if Meister was meant to be granting him his power. And that William was not fully under their control. That was good; he could be snapped out of it, if Ragdoll but knew where to aim. And he was certain he could figure that out, or if nothing else find out via process of elimination.

Date: 2013-05-25 04:07 am (UTC)
raggedy_doll: (oooh dear)
From: [personal profile] raggedy_doll
Ragdoll slipped away, not bothering to follow the two up the stairs. It was time to go back to William's chambers, he thought, and prepare for the morning. It wouldn't be much longer.

Masks and leashes, oh my! It was quite lucky he'd chosen to follow the cultists. He had a few ideas, now, on how to proceed. And while they would prove unpleasant he was sure, if it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well it were done quickly, and all that.

He slipped back into the room, examining the masked figure crouched at Billy's bedside. He could possibly take its place... but no. It would probably be more useful at the ceremony itself, and he wasn't sure he wanted that mask back yet. Who knew what had been done to it? Ewww.

"I'll be waiting in the courtyard, homunculus," he said quietly, after a minute. "Lead him there. I really am terribly sorry you'll have to die, but you understand, yes?"

He was certain he could conceal himself behind a statue or something, even if he had to contort himself to do it. Perhaps he'd check in with the others and let them know what was happening, and what was going to happen.

Date: 2013-05-25 04:38 am (UTC)
raggedy_doll: (i'm ever so nice)
From: [personal profile] raggedy_doll
"Yes, yes," Ragdoll murmured, "I know. I will. Later." So that William wouldn't have to pretend to still be under their control, on the way.

He could unmask the thing now, of course. Wake William up and show him, try to keep him quiet, try to sneak them both out before dawn. But even he wasn't that crazy; there were too many problems with the idea, only one of which was the fact that they'd be leaving the entire cult alive and eager to come after them. Not the best of choices, he'd say.

He slipped out again. Time to talk to the others, and find a suitable place to wait at the amphitheater. It wouldn't do to miss the show, so he'd have to make sure to show up incredibly early.

Date: 2013-05-25 01:00 pm (UTC)
raggedy_doll: (i'm afraid i don't know my hymns)
From: [personal profile] raggedy_doll
Particularly determined he was, and nestled away as well. If he wasn't so firmly wedged into the crook of the statue, the screams as Billy arrived would have knocked him from his perch; he didn't need to see clearly to know that things were about to start.

He peeked over the statue -- no one was paying attention to anything but the Music Meister, their "Songbringer," so he was fairly certain he wouldn't be spotted -- and it would probably only be a few seconds now.

Billy was encouraged to head up to the dias, close to the statues, and three of the cultists, their leader included, stepped forward to bow to him. The crowd slowly quieted.

"Master of Music. Songbringer. The song that you have learned-- no, the song that has chosen you--"

With an entirely unintentional flurry of his cape, Ragdoll landed on the man.

"Hello. I'm afraid you have something of mine." There was audible gasps from the crowd, and even a few screams, but he didn't attack. Not yet. He simply stepped from the man's head and shoulders to the raised dais -- which seemed to bother them a lot more, somehow.

"And someone," he added. "I've come to get them back." He hopped from the dais to the ground, then, to crouch before Billy, and more importantly, before the false Doll.

"I'm terribly sorry, William, this might be unpleasant for you." Then he reached out and wrenched his mask from the homunculus's face.


hypnotic_patter: (Default)
The Music Meister

June 2013

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