Moloch smiled as the horns sounded. Finally.
The approach of Crystal and her companions had been far too long in coming. He’d thought he left enough clues to point them after him and to Tartarus, even including pretending he didn’t see Athena during the cockatrice hunt and then leaving sloppy evidence of his sacrifices behind, but was beginning to wonder if he should have left signposts pointing them here. Or if they’d perished within the Labyrinth. He thought the five of them would be clever enough to pass it.
Then again, it wouldn’t be the first time they’ve disappointed you, hmm?
“Told you he’d make it,” the woman near him muttered. Moloch looked down at her. His frustrations at having to lay such a long siege had almost boiled over, and the urge to just end this mortal’s miserable life was strong. Not yet. You have your own obligation to keep.
“You were, it seems, correct.” Moloch commented idly, beaming down at the woman. “You seem to be operating under the assumption that I did not want your brother and his ally here.”
Isabel smith looked up at him. Her eyes were red, as were he wrists and ankles where the chains bound her. She’d not been free of them since they’d taken her, and she’d only been given slight sips of water to keep her alive. Moloch knew he’d eventually need to feed her, but so far she was doing fine without food. “That’s your mistake, asshole. They’re going to tear you apart.”
“They’re welcome to try,” Moloch rolled his eyes. Isabel’s constant claims were growing tiresome, and he hoped she would pass out again soon. Listen to you. You sound like a cartoon. Should you tell her your entire plan, hmm?
The idea made him chuckle at least slightly. He had shifted his persona many times over the millenia, always trying to keep up with the current definition of evil. A savage barbarian to Rome. A murderous legionnaire to Carthage. A red fiend with a pointed tail to medieval Europeans, then a Mongol slaughter spirit during the attempts to conquer China, then a plague ridden corpse to later medieval Europeans, then a white man with sunken eyes during the age of colonialism. A redcoat and a rebel. In the 1940’s he’d adopted the guise of a fascist, then he’d been a mad communist revolutionary to the West and a decadent capitalist to the Soviets.
But since the 80’s, he’d stayed much in the form he wore now, one drawn from depictions of evil in childhood cartoons of most of the first world. Rotten teeth, clawed fingers, a hunched posture and beady eyes. Sometimes he appeared more handsome, because that decade did love their charismatic villains, but most of the time he stuck as he was. If not for Ryan Smith, Moloch would be considering updating his appearance in a decade or two, but with the world ending soon there didn’t seem much point.
It fit that he was in every way the very picture of a villian from the childhood of the Eschaton, the monsters that would have haunted the shows of his youth.
Moloch reached down to caress Isabel’s cheek, a move that had been played out by countless monsters that had kidnapped a woman dear to the hero in countless films and movies. As he hoped, she spit at him defiantly. All according to the script.
“You do know that my promise not to harm you expires upon my victory, yes? I am curious about some questions of transmutation. I think I can turn your blood to acid and keep you alive for quite some time before it eats through your heart and your expire – I intend on finding out.”
His captive rolled her eyes. “You should mention you’re going to kill my little dog to. You’re a…a bad joke. Captain Planet would be ashamed to fight someone as cheesy as you. The Scooby Gang would wonder why Old Man Henderson was hamming it up so much. You’re a…” Suddenly she started laughing, “Oh god, I know what you remind me of! You’re a third rate Care Bear villain! You’d appear in one episode as a minion of No Heart right up until-”
Moloch gestured, sucking the air out from in front of her face, then holding the absence until Isabel turned blue and purple and fell unconscious. Air returned to her before she could expire.
“That is awfully close to harm,” said the woman standing behind Isabel, who had watched the entire exchange with an impassive stare. “Do not forget the terms of our deal, Moloch.”
Moloch turned and gave her a mocking bow. “Of course not, sweet one. So long as Ryan Smith and his cohorts live, Isabel is unharmed. I never promised to allow her to remain conscious, however.”
Uriel, former assassin of Heaven, future Queen of Hell, scowled. “You will not like violating the letter to stick to the spirit.”
“Yes, yes, I know,” Moloch couldn’t help but repeat the deal in a singsong voice, “In exchange for promising you to allow your King’s followers to evacuate Earth, you give me leverage against Ryan Smith, with my promise not to harm Isabel Smith until I have ensured victory and blah blah blah.” The last word came out in a spit. “You’re a broken record, Uriel. I remember you used to be interesting, back in Egypt.”
Uriel’s gave him a level look. “And I remember you, Moloch. Since the day you picked up your nanoverse for the first time.”
Moloch met that gaze for as long as he could, but she won the staring contest. Few beings could stare down an angel and win, and Moloch was not ashamed to not be among that number. It didn’t matter.
Crystal was here, and with her was the Eschaton. With their presence, he’d be able to put things into motion. The nanoverses of the Olympians would be harvested, his ‘employers’ would learn what his loyalty was worth, and this little pathetic band of gods would all die.
And with them, this would would, after so long, be burned the way it deserved. No life would ever walk its surface again. The only thing left to decide would be if he’d watch it from space, or if he’d stay here for a front row seat.
Isabel started to stir again, and Moloch walked away before she spoiled his moment, shifting to his more handsome form. He pointed to one of his commanders, a human who thought he was following the true god of this world. Moloch couldn’t remember his name. Kevin? Frank? Carlos? It was something pithy and short like that. “You,” he growled at the man, who snapped to attention.
“Take some outriders and go meet our new friends. See what they’re made of. Ten of you.”
The man nodded, although he couldn’t help but keep a frown off his face. “Sir…we will surely perish.”
Moloch tapped his chin in thought. It would do to send them on an obvious suicide mission right now, he needed them right now. After considering, he let a slow smile spread across his lips. “You’re absolutely right. So make sure you have a chance, as tired as they are.”
He cast his eyes across his forces, finally letting them rest on what he was searching for. He pointed for the commander.
“Take Tyr with you.”
Moloch only regretted he couldn’t see Athena’s face.