"I want answers. Now."
A pause as they entered the room - they saw him, sat there with the microscope and the swarms of holographs around him. Armstrong's eyes flicked up at them before he turned away. The Contessa corrected her posture, and prepared for the worst. Esme watched.
"I took the liberty of checking if I would interfere with any of the instruments key to my recovery. I couldn't have - no technology in my system at all. So I did some thinking."
The Contessa rolled her eyes, and moved closer to the microscope. Armstrong snatched the slide from it before she could get close enough, and held it close to his face.
"The blood inside me isn't human. It was never human. I found copies of the notes you had in Ingolstadt located on the N.E.M.E.S.I.S. mainframe - it seems you were planning to take me to Sweden - Götaland. So what's in Sweden? There doesn't seem to be any reason. So what was the purpose?" He turned, his eyes bloodshot, hands trembling. "What the hell am I?"
Esme was the first to speak. "Jesus Christ, Armstrong, is this the best you can do?" He snapped around, his eyes fixed on her as she continued. "So you don't have any of these things you thought you did - so what? You've saved enough lives without them. What more do you actually want?"
His arm flashed out and toppled the microscope as he let out an unearthly shriek, crouching in the mangled metal and sheathed glass. Esme could just make out what he was saying - a mumbled mantra, repeated over and over: ...remember... remember... remember... remember...
He finally stood again, silent tears streaming down his face, hands shaking visibly and legs weak. It was almost comical - the ice cold agent who had killed Alaric Blondstone was now in the midst of a full blown breakdown. The Contessa finally sighed and beckoned him closer, and he obeyed. A slender finger with a black nail was placed to his forehead, and the visions came...
Time was running out - if she could just haul him up this mountain, if she could just save this one's life, then there could be a chance to act against that monster Wen. She clambered up the rock face, the carcass strapped to her back as her inhuman muscles strained against the cold and the weight.
Finally, there was the opening, still a glimmer of gold from within. She clambered through, the corpse still in tow, and made her way into the grand hall that awaited.
And there, upon the stone floor that was polished to perfection, it lay.
The scales upon its flesh were the size of a man's torso, and it's great golden eyes stared out towards her.
The great serpent moved, steam escaping between its teeth.
DE SANGUINA. It attempted a smile. GREETINGS, CHILD.
She curtseyed, and hoisted the corpse off her back before placing it before the great beast. It looked over the body, and finally moved towards a large altar towards the back of the great cave. She dashed over along with the body, placing him in the correct position and connecting a tube between the two. The transfusion had begun.
Armstrong stumbled back as if he had been punched, and gripped a nearby table for support.
"There was no other choice," the Contessa stated. "It was either let you die, or fix you."
"By replacing my blood with that of a... a..."
"You can say dragon," she replied. "Dragon isn't too far off the mark." Armstrong went pale, and slowly sat upon the floor with the broken glass again. "And it gives all the same improvements that you have gained - heightened thought processes, higher pain tolerance, a resistance to the supernatural - you are a prime example of a successful transfusion."
Armstrong looked at her in disbelief, looked at Esme, and finally stood and left the room. The Contessa pressed her fingers to the point between her eyes as Esme looked at the damage.
"He's crazy," she mumbled. "You saved his life and now he says he didn't want to be saved. It's crazy." The Contessa nodded a little.
"It is, however, understandable. This is a man who has valued himself as a human more than anything, and now has found that he definitely isn't. Plus, he has had to deal with both his and my memories of the events that occurred, so there's bound to be discomfort." She turned to Esme and smiled before snapping her fingers - the microscope pieces leapt into the air and reassembled as a result.
"So what happens now?"
The sun had set. The night air in Rhamnous was sweltering - the humid particles clanged to the Contessa and Esme as they moved through the ruins of the old sanctuary. Devoted to the goddess of revenge, and now collapsed. One could only imagine what would happen to what lay beneath it should Wen succeed...
Esme wheeled around, but there was nobody to see. She looked back at the Contessa, who had closed her eyes. "Armstrong," she mumbled, "if this is a cry for help, I swear to God I will happily take that blood back from you. I'm peckish - I might have your liver, too..." A chuckle.
"I'd like to see you try. I'm back on the case."
Realisation hit them both.
The two looked up.