"Ah, I see," Crackled Darien's voice from a transmitter within the robot. "You're Miss Burton's farmhand. I thought Steelhead eliminated the position of Town Drunk. I'm rather busy at the moment. Go away before I summon the Sheriff."
"I know who you are and what you are! Come out and face me!"
"Yes, I'm a Spark and a Mage who commits multiple crimes against nature before tea break. Come back when you have the mob with torches and pitchforks."
"I'd prefer to keep the collateral damage to a minimum. Son."
"Oh! He's read the Chronicles! So you're not rabble after all! I heard you were a Spark, yes? So you're a blacksmith with a minor talent. You got lucky and survived an attack by a vat-grown ninja and now you have the delusion you're Jeremiah Mason? Perhaps you have shell shock from your battle. Since I am a doctor I'll take pity on you. I'll even pay for your airship ride to Tam-San."
The robot shot a ball of white fibers at me that expanded into sphere of gossamer threads, large enough to engulf me. But I drew my sabre and sliced through it with a flash of energy, and the fibers unraveled and dispersed in the wind blowing off the bay. I charged at the robot, and again my sword radiated with power as I cleaved the automaton down the middle in a shower of sparks.
"MARCUS! What have you done with Darien?" I shouted, my voice echoing across Port Harbor. The dogs in the property across the street ran terrified back to their kennels. I screamed in Ereb'ai, "FACE ME!" and stepped onto the dying grass of the property. It was a challenge that by tradition could not be ignored. I could make out the shadow of his wings from behind the violet light before it faded.
"You may be who you say you are, in a sense", I heard succinctly. "Jeremiah may very well have left a clone behind to carry out his revenge. But I would not mistake you for him. Mulling around as a laborer, then issuing a direct challenge with an energy sword? You must be a defective copy like the Chiss you fought. Perhaps you forgot who you were meant to be until the battle. No matter. I'll return you to your maker, shortly."
I levelled the glowing blade towards him as he descended. His face was Darien's but the scowl, like his wings, belonged to Marcus. He carried one of the family's relics with him. The sword of the Blood Wing Knight. He readied his weapon.
"You will not claim my brother! You will not claim me!" His sword erupted in a spiral of flames.
"I will send you back to Oblivion where you belong!"
He spread his wings and lunged at me from the top of the aperture like a bird of prey. I deflected his ancient blade with my sabre. The burst of energy from my blade countered his demonic strength, hurling him backwards to slam against the stark metal wall of the Labs itself.
I approached on guard, reluctant to destroy what at least partially was still Darien. "Marcus...I am no longer the monster I was. This body is free of that cursed concoction that makes a mockery of Life and Death. Were I a sane man I never would have ordered my servant to..."
"KILL ME?!?" He roared as he stretched out his hand. Energies coalesced into a glowing knot of hissing snakes that darted towards me. I folded space around me and vanished as the missiles passed through where I had stood and faded into nothing. "You raised me to be your perfect heir, then disposed of me when I became too much for you to handle!" His eyes projected rays of sickly green light that bled into otherspace, illuminating me as a translucent ghost as I charged towards him out of phase.
He shot upwards just as I phased back into view with my weapon slicing an arc through where he should have been. I looked up towards the cloudless night sky, following the flaming trail of his sword. He was preparing to cast wide effect spell, but before he uttered the last syllable his left wing snapped like a twig. It rolled back and forth like an Autumn leaf as it slowly descended, unlike Marcus, who tumbled helplessly downwards. His sword fell out of its curtain of flames as it spun earthward.
I winced when I heard his bones break the moment he hit the ground. I edged closer to see him trembling as his other wing fell off. He stared up at me through the pain in silent confusion.
"I brought marion back from the underworld with me," I told him as I sheathed my sword. "She convinced your new doll to help us get the real Darien back. She followed my instructions perfectly."
He raised his arm to conjure. He groaned as his flesh pulsed with the green glow of the reanimation serum and crumbled off his frame. "She recalibrated your disintegration field to project a deanimation field as you crossed the portal. All that serum coursing through your veins is now inert. "You've destroyed your lifecode! That patchwork of human and demon DNA is falling apart! Now we'll see what's left of you that's..."
I stopped when I realized his form had dissolved into ashes and bleached bone.