Pitch darkness. A gentle hiss of snakes changing into a chorus of dulled, indeterminate chanting.
Julian Bathory: Did you enjoy your reprieve, PRIME?
Torches spontaneously flare to life, illuminating the Carpathian Devil. He’s noticeably larger than he was on the night he defeated Mitchell Quinlan, musculature enhanced through fierce training. As has become synonymous with his brand of pre-recorded appearances, reverb sends his voice echoing through the dim chamber.
Julian Bathory: I told you that everyone gets the help they need, Rhine. MESSIAH offered charity and you met our gift with smug defiance. As director, I do not abide that contempt. I said after Great American Nightmare that changes were in store and you, amongst others, haven’t heeded my warnings. You could have been spared and allowed to run your self-righteous vanity project; there could have been coexistence, if not harmony at least by stable truce. Nothing is free and nothing comes without consequences. In the end, Jon, you reap what you sow. By making MESSIAH your enemy all that you harvest will be wreathed in pestilence.
The hushed chants momentarily become distinct. A toothy smile stretches across Bathory’s face, vicious and cruel.
(Who can you trust?) (Does she care?) (Will it really last?) (What do you see in the mirror?)
Julian Bathory: With UltraViolence looming, I was determined to take PRIME’s soul. A coronation worthy of the reign of darkness to come, and a sacrifice befitting our throne. I aspired to conquer Brandon Youngblood and build this kingdom atop his bones. I – we, the empire that is MESSIAH – were denied our object of satisfaction. You stole our glory, Phil Atken. Like that slimeball Cancer Jiles, you’ve gotten our attention, for all of the wrong reasons. Your date with finality is coming up fast. You’re never far from our thoughts, for your crimes are grievous, and there will be no clemency. Dress well come your own day of reckoning, because it will also be your funeral.
A sigh as he turns his head. In the torchlight, fresh scars are visible across his arms.
Julian Bathory: First things first. Tonight, Rhine your judgment arrives. Fight, run, pray, none of it will matter when MESSIAH International descends to pour out our wrath. It all comes crashing down tonight in Las Vegas. Kiss your charges goodnight knowing that this is when it all falls down.
The torches erupt in towering fire, drenching the dungeon-like room in orange, flame-fueled light. A ring of zealots kneel in supplication, surrounding their New World Savior. He straightens, arms opening in embrace. As one, the faceless adherents of MESSIAH’s black gospel cry out to the stars.
“FOREVER! THE! CROWN!”
The flames dim, grow pale again. Behind Julian Bathory, before darkness again consumes all, an optical illusion unfurls twisted wings from his back.