"Alaric Blondstone." The name was said with utter serenity - no malice, just cold and detached. Clinical. "The last time I saw you, you were locked in Guantanamo Bay after I caught you for the... fifteenth time? You always were a sloppy crook. And now, you're a host for something just as sloppy." Alaric smiled a crooked smile, showing a mouth full of blood from the earlier savagery.
"And the last time I saw you, you'd been beaten within an inch of your life and were abut to be taken down execution style by that blonde bombshell in New Orleans. If you didn't have that fucking bloodsucker on your side..." That was as much as he could say before Esme punched clean through his stomach, her hand now covered in golden viscera.
"Don't you dare bad-mouth the Contessa, you bastard," Esme growled through her tears, yanking her hand back past his spine. Alaric merely smiled and glanced over his shoulder.
"And you must be the little brat of a great grand-daughter she has. I can smell the blood of whores from miles off."
Now it was Sherrinford's turn to snap.
His left hand coiled around Alaric's skeletal neck and began to slowly, methodically crush his windpipe. Alaric tried to smile, but the coldness of the face staring back was all too much. Deep down, past all the bravado and the boldness, Alaric was a thug who got lucky. And now he was staring down the one man who could catch him.
"Now, Alaric," came Armstrong's icy monotone, "I don't think that that is the sort of thing we say to young ladies. I'm guessing that you're the one who turned her - hence the little breakdown. Correct?" Alaric grinned and nodded, only to be met with a sharp right hook. He thudded to the floor, and looked up to see Esme over him with a face like thunder.
"Who sent you to this place?" He shook his head, but a sharp kick to the guts got the answer.
"Everett Wen! Everett fucking Wen!"
Then silence, as the pillar of viscera collapsed. The souls departed as the blood in Blondstone's body turned cold once more, and he lay now deceased upon the sand. Esme fell to her knees, her eyes teary but relieved.
The Contessa accessed the holograms and focused on the singular name - Everett Wen. Information, data, photos, images - they flowed like water directly into her mind as she began to learn.
For once, the immortal Contessa de la Sanguina - operator of N.E.M.E.S.I.S., ancestor-teacher to the lycanthrope Esmerelda St Clair and the saviour of Sherrinford Armstrong - felt a chill run up her spine.