It was game time. Again.
The plan was all set. Everyone knew their responsibilities. All they needed was for me to give them the go-ahead and then, for lack of a better phrase, all hell would break loose.
The connecting cavern between sector 141 and sector 140 took a sharp turn, allowing me to effectively hide the army of Pit Guards just around the corner. When Halkkor appeared across the empty expanse of the evacuated sector 141, he would be able to see me but not the mass of diminutive green soldiers I had at my back.
General Gavsot stood at the head of the Pit Guards, not because he’d be leading them, but because I needed him to teleport back to his demons and get them on the move at a moment’s notice. Jaelin was here as well, because, despite my attempts to coerce her into accepting a job that she inexplicably had no desire to perform, she still insisted on watching my back over the course of what we hoped would be our final battle. I guess what she lacked in ambition she made up for in loyalty. I had no problem with that.
I had butterflies in my stomach. It’s not an admission I could make aloud, of course. The Devil can’t admit he has butterflies in his stomach. I wondered if there was a manlier, more Hell-appropriate idiom I could use. I had brimstone in my stomach. That didn’t sound quite right either.
I was immensely proud of what had been accomplished. I was proud of the battle plan and the way my friends and allies had helped come up with it and bring it to fruition. I was proud of what I’d had to overcome, too. I felt less meek, less helpless, and less in over my head than I had in those early stages. And instead of just keeping my head above water, I was actively fighting against the current. I felt like the Devil. I felt in charge. I felt like a force to be reckoned with. I felt like the only person who could bring the forces of Hell together to stop the onslaught of Lucifer’s Firstborn.
I was about to save the fucking underworld. It wasn’t as cool as saving the actual world, maybe, but at least I was saving something bigger than myself. Back in the real world, before I died, the only thing I’d ever saved was my own ass.
The time for introspection was over. At the distant end of sector 141, a lone demon, covered in blood, came hurrying out into the cavern. I wondered how many demons and Pit Guards had perished while we set up our ambush. I rationalized that it was a lot fewer than if we hadn’t made a stand at all.
Lucifer’s Firstborn burst out into the open in pursuit of what might be the only survivor of sector 141. I nodded to Gavsot. “Get your demons ready,” I told him grimly. “And good luck.”
He reached out to shake my hand. Coming from him, it struck me as a surprisingly human gesture. He looked me in the eye. “Same to you, sir,” he said. “Kick it in the ass.” With that, he cracked the tiniest smile, released my hand, and teleported away.