Major Demons, page 15
“What do you think? Is he going to make it?”
Thanatos shook his head.
“The attack wasn’t fatal. He’ll live. At least… I think he’ll live. I’m honestly not sure. We should have made it back here sooner.”
Lilith paced back and forth with Lucia.
“Is there anything we can do?”
Thanatos shook his head a second time.
“He’s beyond my ability to do much of anything. That was an Archangel that shot lightning at him. He has to win this one on his own.”
Steam looked at the two corpses on the floor and laughed. He had a dead demon on the left and a dead angel on the right. He prodded them both with his boot to make sure they were actually dead. No reaction. Steam stepped over their bodies and approached the cockpit of the airplane.
Steam was an outcast from both the angels and the demons. His mother was a minor demon and his father was a minor angel. He had lived with his father briefly before being thrown out of the Heavens. He tried to live with his mother, but was thrown out of Hell for being too much of a light source. After being rejected from Heaven and Hell, he made his way to Earth. Steam was mostly a scavenger, tracking angels and demons and then feeding off of the souls they find.
Both an angel and a demon had been deployed to deal with the pilot of the airplane. He had been contemplating suicide. The angel was sent to talk him out of it. The demon was sent to talk him into it. After the angel and demon fought at the front of the plain, Steam moved in and finished them both off with his sorcery and then stabbed them both several times with his short blade. He knew he had a rare opportunity. If he talked the pilot into bringing the plane down, he could feed off the souls of the passengers for weeks. After reading the intel in the pockets of both the angel and the demon, Steam approached the pilot and whispered in his ear.
“She is cheating on you. You daughter is actually your neighbor’s daughter.”
Steam saw the pilot shift uncomfortably. He went in for the kill.
“Bring this plane down. Go down with a boom. You have nothing to live for. No one loves you.”
The pilot started to sweat. Steam switched to his other ear and was ready for another round when he felt a strong feeling. He had occasionally felt it when he was getting too close to nephilim, but never this strongly. Steam felt a strong headache followed by a pressing urge to jump out of the plane. He stumbled back several steps and fell on his knees. When Steam made it back to his feet and stumbled towards the pilot, he couldn’t remember what he was supposed to be doing there. The need to jump out of the plane was too strong. Steam made his way to the plane’s emergency exit and jumped.
Lilith continued to pace back and forth. Hypnos wore a solemn expression on his face and wasn’t acting like himself. Thanatos was moving through the sleeping and injured angels and cutting their heads off with an axe. Lilith stopped pacing and Hypnos saw that she was watching Thanatos with a curious expression.
“He does stuff like that when he’s nervous. The death calms him down. He must be pretty worried about Dad.”
“How is he even still alive? Leech fought him a while back and I thought he killed him.”
“Honestly, I’m not sure he can be killed. He’s not crazy powerful or anything, but I’ve thought he was dead several times before, too. He always comes back.”
“Interesting. Well… he still gives me the creeps.”
“Lilith, we’re all a little weird. I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but most angels and demons think you’re…”
Lilith looked angrily at Hypnos as he chose his words very carefully.
“That was very polite of you, Hypnos. I know that I’m batshit crazy. I just get nervous around a creature who calls himself the nephilim of death, especially with my newborn daughter.”
“He’s harmless to us.”
“That’s not how he seemed when…”
Their conversation was interrupted by a creature dropping out of the sky. Lilith and Hypnos both cautiously approached. The creature started to get to his feet when Thantos charged with his axe. The creature didn’t move. As Thanatos swung his axe, it went right through him. The creature grabbed the axe and wrestled it away from Thanatos.
“Woah! Calm down. I’m not here to hurt you guys.”
Lilith took the axe back from the creature.
“Who are you and what do you want?”
The creature put his weapons on the ground and stepped back with his arms up.
“The name’s Steam. I just had a really weird feeling that you guys needed my help and that I should come down here.”
Lilith raised one eyebrow.
“Come down here? Where were you?”
“On a plane. I jumped.”
Steam’s grin turned into an annoyed expression.
“Aw shit! I was going to bring that plane down and eat for weeks! This fucking sucks!”
“Why did you feel like you needed to come down here? We don’t need any help…”
“I’m not sure. Can I get my stuff back now? I swear I won’t attack you.”
Lilith pulled out her whip and lit it on fire.
“Not just yet. Tell us who you are. I still don’t understand why you came here.”
“Before I answer that… I need to know. Are you guys angels or demons?”
Lilith looked at Hypnos, unsure how to answer. Hypnos responded by taking the axe from Lilith and giving it back to Thanatos. Thanatos returned to slaying angels, no longer interested in the conversation.
“Neither. We’re nephilim. I’m Hypnos. This is my sister, Lilith. Fair warning, don’t fuck with us. My brother and sister may be crazy, but I will defend them to my last breath. That goes double for my niece and my father.”
“Well that doesn’t make any sense. Generally, when I sense other nephilim my instincts tell me to run the other way.”
“You’re a nephilim, too?”
“Yup. Mom’s a demon and Dad’s an angel. I can’t live in either place so I live here. I kill angels and demons after tracking their prey, but I don’t mess with other nephilim. You can trust me. We’re not going to have any issues.”
Lilith looked at Hypnos and Hypnos nodded. He thought Steam was probably alright. Lilith pointed at Steam’s weapons.
“Go ahead. Take them back. I’m still not sure why you’re here but…”
Steam gathered his belongings and made his way towards the tree under which Samael was resting.
“What happened to this guy?”
Hypnos put his arm in Steam’s path, blocking him from moving any closer.
“That’s my dad.”
“Was almost an Archangel.”
Steam looked impressed.
“So this is Samael? I’ve heard the stories. This guy’s a legend. Never thought he’d still be alive. I figured the angels would have hunted him down by now.”
“Well that’s what they just tried to do. The Archangel Uriel was hunting my sister and fought my father. Dad got in some good hits and Uriel ran away.”
“He got hit with lightning, didn’t he? That’s gotta hurt. I can try some remedial first aid if you’d like.”
Hypnos looked to Lilith. Lilith nodded.
“Sure. What do you need?”
“Just some water. I can convert it into steam and run it over the char marks on his armor. It should help. I’ve used it on myself a few times and it always makes me feel better.”
“Go for it then.”
Steam drew some water from a nearby river and heated it with his hands. The steam floated towards Samael’s armor and then slowly started to coat his wounds. After a few minutes, a loud explosion interrupted the nephilim and everyone looked to the nearby hills. Steam grinned.
“Fuck yeah! The pilot brought the plane down! There’s going to be a ton of food over there. Everyone ready for some food?”
“So what do we do now? We’re kind of… stuck down here without any friends. If we head for Earth again, Jess, Aim, and Murmur will attack this time. We can’t ally with them because of the way things went down. We don’t really have any options and it’s making me nervous…”
Gangrene nodded, acknowledging Raven’s comments. He had a solution, but he knew she wasn’t going to like it.
“We could always have a meeting with Nightmare and Astaroth.”
Raven looked at Gangrene with wide-eyed disbelief.
“Hear me out. We could meet with them and agree to side with them. When the battle starts, we take my army and flee to Earth. Everyone will be preoccupied with the war. No one will be watching for us to leave.”
“You’re seriously considering siding with the assholes who fought against Shadow, Leech, and Lilith?”
“Not really. It’s a strategy… and it’s honestly the only good strategy we have at this point. We need Murmur, Jess, and Aim off our backs. Our other option is to sit down here until one side wins the war and then comes for us. That doesn’t sound very appealing.”
“But the thing is…”
A demon arrived and bowed in front of Gangrene.
“General Nightmare and General Astaroth are ready to meet with you, if you’ll follow me.”
Raven slapped Gangrene across the face. The messenger demon looked horrified and brought his eyes back to the ground.
“You set up a meeting without talking to me!”
“Better to ask forgiveness than permission. I knew you weren’t going to agree with me… but babe… it’s our only good option. All other roads lead to death. You know I’m right.”
Gangrene got up to leave. Raven turned away from him.
“You’ll see it was the right thing to do when you see your sister again.”
Gangrene followed the messenger demon to Nightmare’s headquarters. He was escorted inside a large stone building and led to a room on the third floor.
“A drink while you wait, General Gangrene?”
“Not thirsty. I also don’t trust Nightmare and Astaroth to not poison me.”
“You sure? We have a lovely witch from the 17th century. It’s aged nicely.”
“Fine. Bring two glasses. If I’m going to have a drink, you’re going to have some with me.”
The messenger demon went away and returned with a bottle and two glasses. He handed one glass to Gangrene and poured a portion of the damned soul in both glasses. Gangrene took both glasses and poured them down the messenger demon’s throat. When he didn’t die after a few minutes, Gangrene took the bottle from him.
“17th century witch, huh? Nice.”
Gangrene took a long drink. He hadn’t had anything quite that refreshing in a long time. A few minutes later, the door to Nightmare’s conference room opened and Gangrene entered. Nightmare and Astaroth were already waiting.
“Gangrene. Glad you decided to meet with us. With you on our side…”
Gangrene held up his hand and took another swig from the bottle.
“Nothing is decided yet. I heard what Murmur, Jess, and Aim had to offer and then they pissed me off. Now I’m willing to hear what you have to offer.”
Nightmare pointed to a seat across from Astaroth. Gangrene took it.
“We don’t have any hard feelings. You were trained by Shadow and Leech and they’re both powerful demons. Obviously we aren’t willing to work with either of them, but we’d be willing to cut you in on the spoils after we kill off the three pretenders. What you do after that is your call. I’m not going to pretend that we have to be buddies and rule as three kings…”
Astaroth cut in.
“Two kings and a queen.”
“Right. Well we don’t have to rule Hell together. Those three just need to be put down. I heard about Aim’s attempt to kill you. How’s your foot?”
“You don’t need to remind me that they’re assholes. I still came out way ahead from that whole thing though…”
Gangrene removed White Death from the strap around his back and placed it on the table. He pointed it at Nightmare. Nightmare looked hungrily at the weapon.
“I had heard that Aim was running around with that. I guess he isn’t anymore.”
“I told them it was the only way they walked away alive. It would have been a bloody battle, but I think I could have put both Jess and Aim down.”
“Well there’s no need for bloody battles if you join with us. With your demons added to ours, we would outnumber Murmur’s combined forces by about five to one. We could end this whole ridiculous nonsense quickly.”
“Didn’t you meet with Murmur and offer to side with him initially? Didn’t you ask him to kill a demon you made look like Muan? Now you’ve turned on him. I wonder what’s changed or if the two of you are just…”
Astaroth slammed her fist down on the table.
“We didn’t turn on him. He lied to us. He was never going to back us against his buddies.”
Nightmare looked at Astaroth with an expression that told her that she needed to cool down. Gangrene and Murmur had some of the same friends. Nightmare waved Astaroth’s comment casually away with his hand.
“It’s a moot point now. I hear Shadow, Leech, and Lilith are all on Earth now and they don’t want to be major demons anymore. Good for them. You also need to remember that when we had a common enemy, even Shadow and I were able to work together.”
“The legion ring. Leech told me about that. What was it like fighting the Dragon?”
“The Six becoming Legion was the most power any of us has ever felt. The Dragon didn’t frighten us at all when we were merged as that abomination. Given enough time, we would have killed him. It’s too bad that things happened like they did… but we’re getting off topic.”
“I know we are. I just wanted to hear your side of that whole legion experience. I had heard the story from Leech but I wanted to hear the other angles. Astaroth, what did you think of it?”
“I agree with Nightmare. We were a being of raw power. Of course, I didn’t get to control more than a small part of Legion and Shadow took that away from me before…”
Nightmare grabbed Astaroth’s knee under the table and squeezed hard. She stopped her story and then looked furiously back at him. Gangrene watched the exchange with amusement.
“Well I have to admit that Nightmare really is the most talented liar in Hell. It’s pretty obvious Astaroth still hates Shadow and I imagine Nightmare feels the same way. I’ve been meaning to ask, why didn’t you ever avenge your son?”
Astaroth tightened her grip on her scythe.
“You know… the one Cain killed. Venom? Cain broke his neck so loudly that everyone in Hell could hear it. It echoed.”
Astaroth was up from her chair and across the room in seconds. She swung at Gangrene with her scythe. Gangrene blocked the blow with his own scythe and kept his other hand on the trigger of White Death, which was still pointed at Nightmare.
“Well that tells me what I needed to know. I came here to find out if the two of you are capable of putting your emotions aside to work with me. It’s pretty clear that you aren’t. I’ll show myself out.”
Nightmare stood and drew his scythe.
“I’m afraid we can’t allow you to leave, Gangrene.”
“Today we learn how to utilize the power contained in the drugs we use.”
Sarah and Shadow were sitting in front of Adrenaline with several other berserkers in training. Adrenaline tossed a small leather bag to both Sarah and Shadow. Sarah sniffed its contents and stuck out her tongue.
“This smells like chili pepper mixed with lots of other terrible stuff. It’s supposed to make us fight harder?”
“Take a sample. Snort it.”
Sarah plugged one nostril and sucked a small amount of the p
“I’m ready. Tell me what I need to know.”
“The first thing you need to know is that the drugs are more powerful than you realize. There’s a reason I asked everyone…”
Sarah fell over.
Some of the berserkers in training chuckled behind her. Shadow suppressed a grin.
“I appreciate your enthusiasm, Sarah, but this is something we can’t rush. Your body has to adjust. It will take time.”
Shadow tossed his drugs back at Adrenaline.
“I don’t need this. I’m in control of enough power without throwing this into the mix.”
Adrenaline threw it back at Shadow.
“You may change your mind with what we have planned for today.”
“And what might that be?”
“A free for all. Everyone is going to adjust to the drugs over the next few hours and then we’ll give you more. Every demon in training against every other demon in training. Anything goes. Please try not to kill each other, though. We have a hard enough time finding recruits.”
The demons adjusted to the drugs over the next several hours and then Adrenaline refilled the small bags he had given them. He started pacing with his hands clasped behind his back.
“No weapons. No spells. If I see either, you will be immediately disqualified. The winner will go one on one with me. If you defeat me, there is an additional prize.”
Shadow gave a half-grin to the remark.
“Win and find out. It could enhance the powers of even someone like you.”
All of the demons got up and handed over their weapons and armor to the berserkers. Shadow wrapped Michael’s short blade in his cape without anyone noticing. They all painted their faces, took their drugs, and waited for the signal.
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