Friday, January 25, 2013

Transit Problems

I clearly had not psychically transported myself to the front line of battle.  I hadn't even moved across the room.  I was standing in the exact same place.

"I can only teleport to places I've seen before," I muttered in sudden realization.

Gus looked up.  "What did you say, Boss-Man?"

I sighed.  "I want to go figure out how to deal with the invasion, but I can't teleport there because I've never been there," I explained.

Gus nodded.  "That is how it works," he agreed uselessly.

"So how the fuck am I going to get down there?" I asked.

Gus chuckled.  "Jorge," he said.

"What?"

"Jorge," he repeated, unable to keep himself from smirking at my cerebral sluggishness.  "Remember you installed him as the new Director of Transportation after you captured Azraal?  What did you think the Department of Transportation was for?"

"Trans...port...at...ionnnn," I intoned.  "Well, I feel like an idiot," I announced.  "Thanks, Gus."

He nodded.  "It is both my pleasure and my job, sir."

In an instant, I'd teleported myself to Jorge's office.  He was seated at his desk and he jerked in surprise when I appeared before him.  "Can't you knock or something?" he yelped.  "You're gonna give me a heart--"

"I need to go somewhere," I interrupted breathlessly.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Sitrep

Gus picked up the office chair that had been tossed across the room and sat down, glad of the opportunity to relax now that he was no longer in charge of Hell or being threatened at knife point.

I pulled out my phone and called General Gavsot.

After a few rings, he picked up.  "Gavsot," he said sharply.  He answered the phone like a badass FBI agent from some TV show. 

"General," I said, "Gus is telling me we've been invaded while I was gone."

"That is correct," he replied.  "Some kind of ancient species unearthed by the Department of Construction."

"So what's the situation?" I asked.

"They ripped us to shreds, but we are currently holding them from advancing," he reported.  "But I do not expect the standoff to last," he admitted grimly.

"Where are you?" I asked.  "I'd like to see for myself.  And help if I can."

"Our current position is just outside the outer edge of sector 248 in the Department of Torture," Gavsot replied.

"Okay," I said.  "I'll be there as soon as I can.  Good luck."

I hung up, closed my eyes, and focused on teleporting to the outer edge of sector 248 in the Department of Torture.  When I opened my eyes, I was still in my office.

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Worse News

"What's the worse news?" I asked.

"We've been invaded," he announced dejectedly.

"What?

"The Department of Construction was trying to expand to make room for more barracks to house the ever-growing number of damned souls and they dug in the wrong place, apparently, and opened a pocket in the rock that contained some locked-up pre-demonic species or something."

"What?" I repeated.

"And, Boss-Man, I'm really sorry, but they just started attacking as soon as they were freed, and these things are fucking huge.  They can apparently kill demons, which is a new one for me, but they do this thing where they rip demon hearts from their chests, and it actually kills them, I guess it's some kind of special power they have, it's pretty fucking brutal."

Somewhere in the back of my mind, I realized how weird it was that Gus was babbling and I could only manage a monosyllabic reaction.  But, yet again, I said, "What?"

"So Gavsot has pretty much every unit he can spare down in the drilling sector trying to hold these things back, but they're pretty fucking scary and they don't seem to tire, and the last time he called me, he said he really doesn't know how to fight them because nobody really knows what they are so naturally nobody knows anything about their vulnerabilities or weaknesses or anything."  He was breathing heavily and wheezing.  His eyes were red, his complexion was pale, and his expression bespoke crushing hoplessness. 

"Gus," I said, after taking a moment to absorb the shock of what he'd told me, "I'm really sorry all this happened while you were in charge.  I know you didn't want to do this.  Thanks for having my back, buddy."  I held him firmly by the shoulders.  "We're going to figure this out," I told him.

"Yes, sir," he said sadly. 

"Now if you'll excuse me," I said, "I have a general to meet with."

I was trying to appear in control for the benefit of Gus's shattered nerves.  But as far as I could tell, I was completely fucked.

Friday, January 18, 2013

The Bad News

"Give me the bad news," I said.

"I think the plot to ambush your funeral was a setup," he said.  "How'd that go, by the way?" he added as though he were a coworker inquiring politely about my children whom he'd never met. 

"Fine," I answered tersely.  "What do you mean by setup?"

"It seems it was a diversion," he explained.  "Someone wanted to break Azraal out of the Department of Enforcement, and that plan was timed with a scheme to get you out of Hell."

"Someone?  Who?" I asked.

"Hell if I know," Gus said, allowing himself a slight smirk at yet another Hell-pun.  "Azraal, I assume, although it would have been difficult to organize during his incarceration.  But the idea was that you'd have to appoint a temporary Devil in your absence, and Azraal would be poised to overpower the weaker substitute, work the spell, and usurp your throne while you were busy trying to save your family from a couple of Low-Order Demons."

"Wow," I said.  I'd been duped.  I didn't really have much of a choice other than to go save my family, but I didn't like how easily I'd been manipulated.  "I take it we were mere minutes away from that plan coming to fruition?"

"Seconds, more like," Gus amended, rubbing the spot on his throat where Azraal's knife had been pressed.

"So Azraal is no longer neutralized," I said.  "And the Department of Enforcement is empty--does that mean there was some kind of mass breakout?  Am I going to have to fight off the worst demons from millenia ago?"

Gus shook his head.  "Thankfully, no.  So far, it looks like the supply of the cocktail used to limit demonic powers was compromised--but specifically for Azraal.  Seems like some kind of inside job.  But it was just him, all the other inmates remain imprisoned."

"Then why is the department empty?" I asked.

"Last I heard from General Gavsot, it isn't--it's just running on an extremely low guard capacity," he explained.  "The majority of Gavsot's forces are required elsewhere."

"Why?" I asked.

"That's the worse news," Gus sighed.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Reclaiming Territory

The demon whose tibia I'd just disintegrated had been reduced to bellowing in pain as he hobbled awkwardly toward the door.  Azraal and his two remaining goons looked on in either shock, awe, or terror.

It didn't really matter which.  Any of those things meant they were hesitant to attack, and that gave me the advantage.  As quickly as I could muster one up, I sent a fireball hurtling at the demon in the corner, telekinetically threw my desk chair at Azraal's head and teleported over to the last goon.

He seemed to know what I had in mind and tried to change position during the brief moment when I was in transit.  He lost a couple toes.  Though he wasn't nearly as crippled as his friend, the effect was just as debilitating to his morale.  Azraal had released Gus to swat away the chair hurtling toward him and the other guy had sustained third degree burns on his arms when he threw them up to protect his face.

I was winning.  And they all knew it. 

Azraal sent me the nastiest, angriest glare I've ever seen in my life (or death), grabbed the wine glass with the blood in it (probably his), and teleported out (probably far away).  His three comrades hurried off by way of the door.

Gus exhaled heavily.  "Good timing, Boss-Man," he breathed.  "Thank you."

"Gus," I said anxiously, ignoring his gratitude in favor of more pressing matters, "The Department of Enforcement is empty and Azraal is apparently roaming free.  What's going on?"

Gus frowned and gave me a pained, harried expression of sympathy.  "Do you want the bad news or the worse news?" he asked.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Quick Thinking

"What the fuck are you doing here?" I snapped at Azraal.

Rather than answer me, Azraal gestured at his goons and nodded in my direction without loosening his grip on Gus.  "Hold him," he ordered.

The three brawny demons approached me, looking very determined and very naked.  I think that might have been my favorite part about my brief jaunt to the realm of the living--clothing was everywhere.  I didn't see a single penis the entire time.

Although to be honest, the three penises moving toward me at the moment weren't nearly so worrisome as the six huge biceps.  I backed myself into a corner in an effort to buy myself a few more seconds to think. 

I could do another fireball.  I could telekinetically throw a bunch of random shit from the room at them, Darth Vader style.  What else could I do?  Was there a way to actually kill a demon?  I didn't know what happened to the Low-Order Demon whose throat I'd ripped out.  And even if I'd killed him, I had no assurances that the same strategy would work effectively against these badass full-on demons.  Or I could teleport.  I had a sudden flashback to my days as a normal, video-game-playing teenager.

Yes.  I could definitely teleport.

The largest of the three demons lunged forward.  I closed my eyes, focused, and teleported.  I heard him collide with the wall directly behind where I should have been as I appeared a few feet away, partially occupying the same space as my second attacker.

As I materialized, I heard an unbearably disgusting, fleshy crunch.  The second demon screamed as my leg appeared where one of his used to be.  A shower of splintered bone, muscle, skin and misted blood shot in every direction.  I was fine--but he was missing the better part of his left leg.

I'd totally telefragged the fucker.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Back to the Office

I dialed Gus. 

He didn't answer.

I dialed again.

He still didn't answer.  Why the fuck would he frantically call me seventeen times and then not bother to pick up when I returned his calls?  I thought about that for a moment and it dawned on me with embarrassing slowness that Gus could be in very grave danger.

"Don't go anywhere," I grunted to my prisoner, and I roughly slammed his skull into the corner of the desk.  He collapsed, and, once I was properly convinced that he wasn't faking his unconsciousness, I teleported back to my office.

This teleportation thing was coming more and more naturally to me now.  I was getting so that I quite liked having the ability.

I materialized in my office in the midst of a very awkward situation.  Three demons I didn't know seemed to be guarding the door.  On my desk were two wine glasses, one of which seemed to have a small amount of blood in it.  Next to the desk, a very vital-looking Azraal held a knife pressed to a very terrified-looking Gus's quivering throat.

Azraal's back was to me but he must have heard me arrive because he turned to glare at me with an incendiary, unbridled anger.  "Fuck!" he screamed at me.  Then he repeated himself a few times.  I guess he felt his expletive needed further emphasis.

Gus grinned sheepishly, despite looking like he was about to piss himself.  "Hey, Boss-Man," he said weakly.  "Uh, things kind of went to shit while you were gone."

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Nobody Home

Clutching the vanquished Low-Order Demon, I concentrated again and teleported us back to Hell, to inside the Department of Enforcement. 

I'd intended to hand the demon over to one of General Gavsot's underlings with strict orders to keep him lucid for questioning, but I was standing in an empty room.  There was a desk where a clerk should be sitting and a few hallways leading to various cell blocks that should have been regularly patrolled by Pit Guards, but I saw no one. 

"Hello?" I called tentatively.  This was kind of eerie. 

"Nobody's home," the demon in my firm grasp grunted.  "Listen, can you just drop me off at my place real quick?"

"Shut up," I said irritably.  I moved around behind the desk to investigate, roughly dragging my prisoner with me.  Behind the desk were only two things--a chair and the disembodied head of a Pit Guard. 

Just then my phone vibrated.  Hoping it could provide some kind of explanation, I pulled it out.  I had seventeen missed calls.  I scrolled through them briefly--all of them were from Gus.  I hadn't received any of those calls.

Apparently I don't get cell reception upstairs.

Monday, January 7, 2013

The Hit

The demon got to his feet, standing over his victim and staring down at him appraisingly as though he'd wanted to admire his gruesome handiwork from a more flattering angle.  Seconds later, I hit him.

I tackled him in a flying leap at full speed, shoulder thrown into it and everything.  I hit him as hard as I possibly could.  I hit him so hard that, despite the fact that somebody had just been murdered by a hideous creature, one guy who I was pretty sure worked for the funeral home couldn't help but let out a low whistle and murmur, "That's gonna leave a mark." I hit him so hard that when we hit the ground we could have left a crater. 

I hit him hard enough to effectively take the fight out of him.  When we rolled to a stop twenty feet from where I'd made contact, he was wheezing.  Straddling him, I pinned him by the shoulders.  "You're not escaping me this time," I assured him. 

I prepared to teleport us back to Hell.  But a shriek from behind me broke my concentration.  It was the mother of the murdered mourner and she was sobbing his name entreatingly, as though she could call him back from the dead.  The name she was calling was Quinn.

I took a closer look at the body.  His face was badly sliced, burned and splashed with blood, but it looked to be him--one of my murderers.

And he was definitely going to Hell.

Friday, January 4, 2013

On the Front Lawn

I followed my mother's supposed foot toward the front of the building, where it seemed the majority of my mourners had fled.  They grouped, confused and scared, in various spots of the front lawn.  I located my folks almost immediately--apparently I'd followed the correct ankle.

Amid the scattered babble, I could hear that a few people were on the phone with the fire department or the police.  The funeral director was trying to shout to each group of people in a futile effort to determine if anyone was still inside the building, which was beginning to burn with impressive speed.  No flames were yet visible from the outside, but the doors and windows were starting to emit an ominous black smoke.

A scream alerted me to the presence of my adversary--the surprisingly adept LOD who'd eluded me a few moments earlier.  He had apparently dispensed with any attempts at creativity and instead was attacking with good old fashioned claws.  He'd tackled someone just as I looked over and was now straddling his victim, slashing at his face with the sharp nails that protruded from his fingertips.

Everyone present seemed to be too shocked by the sight of an orange demon in khakis and a sweater filleting the skin from someone's face to react.  Actually, that's not entirely true--there were a lot of reactions along the lines of shouting, screaming, staring, and backing up in terror.  Nobody felt brave enough to help.

Then, heroically, one man took off his shoe, leapt on the demon's back, and began beating him over the head with his leathern weapon.  The demon bucked him off easily, backhanding him roughly across the mouth as he fell. 

I charged across the grass.  There were still some moments when it struck me just how superior my new body was to the pubescent one I was used to.  I covered a lot of ground very quickly, and I was gearing to deliver a hit that would raise an NFL lineman's eyebrows.  But while I was still at least ten paces away, the demon's fingers found an opening and sliced cleanly through the flesh of the victim's neck.  The sudden spurt of blood, accompanying by scattered shrieks of horror and a faint gurgling sound confirmed that my foe had indeed just killed one of the mourners at my funeral.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Disorientation


That little fucker was fast

I could have sworn I was about to break his head into at least three pieces and suddenly he'd wriggled out from under me.  The folding chair hit the ground instead of his head, and he was off causing panic again.  But I didn't know exactly where.  I heard screams from a few various places in the building and I wasn't sure which ones were "Oh my God, fire!" screams and "holy shit, hellspawn!" screams.

I wondered if the demon was going to take my criticism to heart.  Would he abandon his silly campfire trick in favor of something more destructive and more dangerous?  What kind of powers did he have up here?  How was I supposed to defend against a foe of unknown strength? 

Where were my parents?

I scanned the room, which was slowly filling with smoke and more rapidly emptying itself of people.  I glimpsed the back of my mom's foot disappearing around a corner.  She was headed for the front door, and, I guessed, safety.  I imagined my dad was probably with her.  The demon's objective was to kill them, so I decided to follow them and wait for the demon to turn up again.

At least I thought it was her foot.  If it wasn't, then that kind of changed everything.