Endings were supposed to reflect the beginning in some meaningful way. In life, that wasn't always possible. Samantha Hilson's relationship with her father had started out loving and nurturing. There were few hints of how badly he missed his brother or how far he would go to prevent his death.
Now, Samantha zeroed on her father's location with a little help from his older sister, Deanna, she couldn't imagine how this could be a fitting ending to their relationship. Sammy armed herself with her signature mouse-gun, prepared to storm in a rusty motel room and gun down her father where he stood.
Sammy tried to keep the doubt out of her head. Dad had become a monster the moment he killed Mom. Killing him wasn't killing the way it was with humans anymore. Dad had crossed a line. And whatever he was doing, Sammy got the feeling that it was at the behest of some higher darker force.
"You found me," Dad announced as Sammy kicked down the door. "Where's Deanna?" Sammy didn't pause to answer the question. Deanna had stayed behind to keep on eye on the Walkers. In truth, it was probably more to do with keeping an eye on her would-be girlfriend, Alyssa. Whatever the case, it was a perfect set-up. Since, as far as anybody knew, the Hilson sisters were together. It made it very hard for the baddies to take them both out at once.
"I guess you're wondering what I'm doing, Sammy?" Samantha shook her head. She knew exactly what he was doing. This demon Nergal had sent him on a little errand. There was something he wanted found and destroyed. He had offered his brother Tyrese unharmed if he could destroy this one object.
This was all the information Deanna had been about to gather from the notes and clippings Dad had left at the previous sites. Even now, Dad was testing them, seeing if they could piece it all together in the fashion of true hunters. It would have been touching if not for the fact that he had killed their mother.
"I didn't kill your mother," Dad corrected as if reading her thoughts. "The demon Nergal killed her." Dad stepped towards Sammy. She raised the mouse-gun with intent. "He left me with the gun to see what I would do." Dad smirked. "I guess I screwed up. I should have told you what happened."
Sammy shook her head in resistance. "What about the Walkers?" Sammy stepped back, cocking her palm pistol as she did. "What's your excuse for attacking them? Demonic possession?" Sammy had seen Dad's eyes that day. Those weren't the eyes of a demon. They belonged to a die-hard hunter.
"After everything we had gone through with them, after all they had done for us, you turned on them the moment a demon told you to." Dad attempted to speak. "Shut up! I don't want to hear it. You're so full of crap. What would Uncle Tyrese think if he could see you now?" That struck a nerve in her dad.
The wounded look on his face quickly faded away as he revealed the source of the sickly green glow inside his duffel. "I suppose we'll find out." As Dad prepared to crush the jewel in his hands, two shots rang out. One to the throat. One to the head. A bizarre anti-climax after many sleepless nights wondering if she would have to kill him. Dad slumped over dead, the Emerald of Lucifer clutched firmly in his iron-gripped fingers.
Like all hunters, Samantha Hilson had heard rumors of the existence of the Emerald. Said to be a source of raw magical energy, it could perform miracles but at a steep price. The user would have to endure the backlash that irradiated from it with each and every use. So, basically, you could have almost anything you wanted as long as you realized that you would, in all likelihood, not be around to enjoy. It was a paradox of mystical power if ever one had existed.
According to legend, the only way to shield oneself from its power was to bathe in the blood of the thirteen shifter breeds. Seeing how Nergal wanted this thing destoyed, he had obviously failed to take that precaution. Sammy broke her father's fingers and carried the Emerald out the door.
Samantha Hilson looked at the picture of Noah Walker she carried around with her wherever she went. "I'm coming home, baby," Sammy said as she kissed the photograph. She reached for the consecrated short sword in her coat. She needed to get back to Noah. She needed to help him with a miracle.
Bernard Walker emerged from the quiet suburban house dripping in blood. His wife, Michelle, and his daughter, Alyssa, followed behind. It was getting worse. In the beginning, they had luck getting to people in time. Now, their hunting was becoming a game of catch up as the monster moved from house to house. Judging from the condition of the bodies, these folks, the Quadlands, had been hit by a contigence of letiches, hairy alligator men.
They had managed to catch a single straggler in the act of ripping apart the corpse of a ten-year-old boy. The Walkers had probably gone into overkill when taking him out. Letiches weren't as tough as other monsters. Since, letiches rarely acted on their own. This kill was part of a mercenary function.
Bernie tried to block that realization out of his head. There was no evidence to suggest that these were anything besides an abnormal uptick in monster activity. There was no reason to believe that there was some dark force guiding the will of these damned abominations of nature. This is really bad.
Even that Bernard Walker tried not to think about. Things were bad but meditating on that fact wouldn't make them any better. He needed to focus on what could be done to remedy the situation. The Palladian Society, recently outed as the good guys, were now hunting monsters and gathering clues. Paul Utah, their leader, didn't know to make of this conflagration. This was even worse than when Remus assembled his army at the gates of Rome.
Bernard kept thinking of that old myth of his people about the day Remus assembled the great beasts of the earth to march on the city of Rome. He had been stopped by Romulus' army and only then by a miracle that had robbed him of his immortality. There were no miracles or armies to prevent them. If this was the prophesized return of Remus, then he had the advantage this time. His many armies were larger and the opposition significantly weaker.
That was the hard part being a cop and being the head of a household had in common. He didn't always get the privilege of knowing whether he was making the right decisiona. Michelle and Alyssa wanted to go looking for Noah and leave the fighting to the Palladians. Bernie was sorely tempted but it would be pointless. He could be anywhere. They had no place to start. The monsters, on the other hand, were everything, spoiling for this showdown.
Jason Newton wandered the halls of the hospital, a ghost trying to free himself from the sheer boredom of an earthbound afterlife. Jason still had only cursory memory of how he had died. A guy broke into his room at the psychiatric ward, slashed open his throat and did something with his blood. That was all he could remember. The exact details, like the physical appearance of his killer or the description of the murder weapons, alluded his faculties.
Noah Walker had given him a crash course in the supernatural. He had told him about poltergeists, those lost neutral souls who had stayed behind on Earth. If Noah was here, he would tell him to cross over as quickly as he could. The longer he stayed on Earth, the darker his soul would get. Jason didn't care. He had been dragged through the mud before. He was willing to endure a little pollution if it meant learning to bend a spoon with his mind.
In the two weeks since he had died, Jason Newton had been practicing. A couple of the dying patients could see him. He had even knocked over a chair yesterday. These were baby steps. Tiny little improvements over being a near nothing with no power except the ability to watch others live their lives.
At that moment of self-pity, Jason Newton saw them. A legion of scary-looking folks marching in the urgent care ward of the hospital. The one at the center, a hairy man with teeth with razor blades, casually killed the doctor who questioned his presence. Jason locked eyes with him. For a moment, he thought he could see him. The moment passed. The angry hairy man had fixed his intense gaze on what he thought was an empty space. Coincidence.
"Come nightfall, we shall send for the others." The leader of a crowd of giant hairy reptilies looked around the hospital. "As it is said, an army marched on its stomach." The man spread his arms in a theatrical gesture. "Feast well and tomorrow will march." Maniacal laughter echoed from the hairy man.
Jason Newton didn't know if this guy was for real. He was talking (and laughing) like a supervillain. His sense of unreality heightened as the monsters started attacking and eating the patients. Jason did everything he could but being able to knock over chairs had no purchase with these hulking beasts.
So once again, Jason did what he did many times before. He watched people die. Except these people were dying a lot worse than the ones he had seen before. The ones he had seen before were surrounded by people trying to their damnedest to keep them alive. These folks were ripped to pieces and there was no one there who could save them. Tears formed in Jason's eyes. Jason screamed as loud as he could, knowing that no one would hear him.
Alyssa Walker's stomach knotted as she looked around her homeroom. It was half-empty with rumors swirling about the absence of the other life. The teacher, Mrs. Yaeger, had a rattled appearance from failing to groom herself before coming to work. Half the people here had that look of people who had seen something horrible. Alyssa knew the problem was getting worse but she had no idea it had gotten this bad. Alyssa tried to hold back the tears.
During lunch period, Alyssa did her best gathering intel. This was the only reason Alyssa went to school anymore, to see who else hadn't come to school and to try and learn everything she could about this hellish events. She even went Erica Eastman who reacted to her presence as she had handed her a steaming turd. Alyssa didn't have time to deal with her mind games. Somewhere, someone knew what was doing on. She just had to find him.
Or her, Alyssa thought as she looked down the hallway to see a familiar face. "Deanna," Alyssa said as she ran up and gave her a hug. "God, it's been too long." Alyssa looked back and forth. Deanna was no longer enrolled by Creighton Chaney High Schoot. "How do you get past the security guard?"
Deanna smirked. "You mean Otis?" Deanna jerked a thumb in the direction of the school's security guard as he counted the bills in a wad of cash. "Let's just say he doesn't get paid enough for this job." Alyssa smiled. It felt like years since the last time she had seen Deanna Hilson in the flesh.
"When did you get back?" Deanna shook her head. Alyssa knew instantly what that meant. "You never left?" Deanna nodded with a smirk. Alyssa looked back and forth. "Where's Sammy?" If Noah were here, it would have been the first thing he would have asked upon seeing Deanna at the school.
"Away," Deanna replied with a vagueness that said she didn't want to talk about it. "Besides, we have other things to worry about." Deanna held up a newspaper. The front page was about the hostage situation at the hospital. "You probably guessed this by now but this is all supernatural in nature."
Alyssa wanted to know how she knew that. "I have my sources," Deanna replied cryptically. "Long story short, this is an act of fortification. The enemy is building a stronghold and if he don't stop them, they are going to advance in numbers from that location and conquer this city as the spoils of war."
Alyssa's head was swimming as she digested this news of a monster army building forts and shoring up numbers in a major metropolis in this modern day and age. Alyssa had heard stories about this kind of thing happening in the past. But that was the past. Such things could never happen now? Right?
Regardless of how Alyssa tried to understand the situation, one thing was unavoidable. It was happening. Helter Skelter with supernatural horror. A monster mash to end all monster mashes. Alyssa could feel that stomach knot forming a knot in its stomach. Everything was spiraling out of control.
Still, her theory had one hole in it. If the monster really were marching in formation, whoever led them should have sent out assassins to take care of the real threats, namely, the hunters, some of whom had spent their entire lives learning how to hunt them and learning how to kill them. Just as she thought, a chorus of screams emerged from down the hall. "Speak of the Devil," Alyssa said as a creature called a letiche charged after her. "Damn."
Alyssa didn't bring her weapons to school. Such an experiment was too dangerous. If she got caught, she would get expelled. Deanna, despite having the money to bribe a security guard, didn't anticipate any trouble and, thus, didn't bring any weapons either. That left only one weapon at her disposal. "You need to turn," Deanna said, pointing out the obvious. "Right. Now." The tension in her voice egged Alyssa on as the letiche locked eyes with her.
Alyssa tried to find that solitary thought inside of her that would propel her into full-on wolf mode. She couldn't find it. Thinking about Deanna helped her channel but she needed something else to finish the turn. Suddenly, in a moment of clarity, she knew what her trigger was. Alyssa always tried to hide in the shadows, pretending to be something she wasn't. For once in her life, she needed to show the world who she really was.
"It's happening," she said.
Black fur erupted from her skin as the hairy alligator man closed the distance between them. His paws were covered in blood. He had snacked on the way over here. As the letiche drew near, Alyssa raised her front paw and smashed it into his face. A second blow followed. Then, she took a bite into him. Like that, the battle had ended. The letiche struggled to breath with half a throat. His efforts were vain. It took half a minute for him to give it up.
Alyssa turned back in the middle of the hallway, vaguely aware of the fact that she had ripped through her clothes while killing the monster. Deanna, gathered her. A naked eighteen-year-old girl standing over the corpse of an honest-to-monster had a way of drawing undue attention. Alyssa passed out.
Tyrese Hilson wandered the streets of the city in a daze. Months had gone by since the last time he had enjoyed complete sovereign control over his body. Tyrese had glimpsed into the demon's mind. He saw what he was planning to do. Tyrese needed to get someone, anyone, and warm them about it. Tyrese felt like his muscles had been put a marathon. They strained and stretched with every movement. Tyrese was just graveful to have his body back.
Tyrese coughed into his hand. He stared at the blood but he didn't react to it. He knew what was happening. Nergal or Remus or whatever he wanted to call himself, had been bluffing his brother Robert about giving him back. Being a demon's host for this long he had drained his batteries. He was going to die soon. That might be the only reason that the demon didn't finish him off. Tyrese Hilson was a goner. Only question was how long he had left.
A cruel bitter laughter escaped his lungs. All his life, he had wanted to be someone special, someone people remember for ages. In a warped way, Remus had given him that opportunity. For ages to come, Tyrese Hilson would be remembered as the face of apocalypse, the host of Armageddon. It felt unfair. After everything he had gone, everything he had suffered for, Tyrese Hilson's entire life would be reduced to some hoary old moral play.
Tyrese took a moment to reveal the burden of his feet. He was next to a bridge, a mere block from the J'Adore where Remus had shed his demonic nature and resumed his godhood. Under the bridge laid an old homeless man with a collection of items next to him wrapped in clothes and blankets. He looked closely at one of the items in his possession. It had a name written on the hilt. Remus. Tyrese smiled as his eyes rolled to the back of his head.
Elizabeth Summers walked into the sunlight, carrying the head of a slain vampire. It hissed as its mortal enemy, the sun, burned away at his earthly remains. Eliza still caught herself thinking of her old name, Jackie Kell. According to Paul Utah, that was perfectly natural. Her old identity as an addict with no hope and no future had consumed a great deal of her life. It was inevitable that for a year, at least, it would try to reassert control over her.
Eliza tried to comfort in that as he tossed the severed head into a nearby garbage. The letiches had been easy prey. They were mercenaries, making them less motivated than their hunter adversaries. Even the eating of human flesh was a display of terror their boss had probably asked them for. In short, the letiches were the grunts of this army, stupid yet smart, designed to overwhelm in numbers but were nary a threat alone without the chain of command.
Eliza lit her lighter and tossed it after the remaining vampires inside. She had gone to the trouble of wetting the place down with kerosene. These critters were about t oget extra crispy. Eliza clenched her eyes as the backdraft from the fire licked her flesh. She had grown accustomed to the heat of a fire. The other Palladists did a lot of rituals to insure that Eliza could pull off the role of a dark magician convincingly. Much of that involved fire.
Something primal about fire, Eliza caught herself musing. The first weapon Man ever armed himself in the face of darkness. Silver had been a distant second. In the beginning, mankind held the dark forces at bay with fire. As Paul Utah was fond of saying, a little fire solved everything. Eliza stared as one of the vampires tried to run into the daylight. Eliza whipped the sword across his neck and the head rolled to a stop next to her left foot.
Nicholas Netwon should have known something was wrong when Michelle Walker had updated her homeowner's insurance. No later than a month after she did so, her home burned down under mysterious circumstances. Nick wanted to ask her if the policy had been on the level but he caused enough trouble for Michelle for one lifetime. Nick listened as the creature outside killed Barbara McCullen, a trusted co-worker and his sister-in-law.
Nick reached for the gun in his cabinet next to an old flask of whiskey. He had been saving it for a special occasion. He was minutes, maybe seconds, away from getting his head ripped off by a monster. The occasion couldn't get anymore special than that. As he settled into his swivel chair, Nicholas thought back to one of his few pleasant memories. He thought about the night he had spent with Michelle Walker, a married woman and a lonely one.
Michelle had been everything he had dreamed she would be. Her body was a beauty matched only by the elegance and agility but which she wielded it. His only concern was she didn't open her eyes during, a fact she was willing to ignore in exchange for the remarkable way she pressed her body against his. Martha always complained about how quick he was. If it bothered her, Michelle was doing a good job of hiding that fact. Nicholas' back arched.
"Bernie!" Michelle screamed at the top of her lungs. Nick was too pumped up to realize she had said the name of another man, her husband, in fact. In that moment they shared together, Nick realized that Michelle would never be hers. She belonged to Bernard, her husband. Whatever was keeping them apart, Michelle would work through it. Nick was just the dirty little pit stop along the way. Nick emptied the hip flash in one gulp. "Come and get me."
Answering his come-on, the creature smashed through his window. Nick fired three shots. The creature just laughed. It actually laughed. Its jaws widened as it sprinted towards him. Nick fired again and again and again. Then, he put the gun to his head and pulled the trugger. Click. Nick's heart raced. Click. Click. Mr. Towles, his boss at Endore Insurance, always said he was the slow one of the group, always the last one to get the punchline.
Laurie Goode watched as the ranks of their makeshift army assembled in the parking lot of the apartment complex. Her son-in-law Bernard had assembled a great army. The Shirts and the Skins, former rival, were among the soldiers preparing to march to the hospital less than two blocks away.
Laurie Goode thought the Goodes. How they were miles from this madness. She thought about what would happen to them if they failed here tonight.
Laurie pushed the thought out of her head. Her daughter Michelle and her granddaughter Alyssa were in high spirits. Michelle had spent the entire day burning through the numbers on her phone tree, trying to gather anyone concerned over the recent events in their city. The reply was amazing. Some of them, like the Zacniewskis, weren't even hunters. They were just concerned citizens in desperate need of a crash course in supernatual self-defense.
This felt like the beginning of the end. Laurie had been present at the conflagration in the Black Forest where they had tracked down the Wolf Mistress. Back then, their army included some of the finest hunters in the world. The Wolf Mistress and Lupone Clan ripped them apart like tin foil. It was a bloodbath and it happened to soldiers climatized to the melodrama of violence. Most of these soldiers weren't really soldiers. Just desperate citizens.
In this eve during battle, Laurie said a tiny prayer, fully aware of its impotency. Laurie knew how to pray to a dozen different gods and spirits. None of them could save them now. Laurie grabbed her necklace, a collection of amulets and talisman strung together on a string. Her husband, God rest his soul, had given her this necklace back when it had only one talisman on it. Saint Jude. Patron Saint of Lost Causes. An apropo talisman for this battle.
The wolf didn't know who he was. He only knew that he had nearly died. Someone had set him on fire and throw him through a window. Fortunately, whoever did the throwing had a helluva pitch. The wolf landed in a lake, extinguishing the fire. When he regained consciousness, he saw an old man wrapping in blankets. The wolf looked around. He knew this old man from somewhere. He looked over and saw a sword wrapped under the clothes.
Remember, the wolf heard a voice in his head. He tried to reach out to the sword, somehow forgetting he didn't have opposable thumbs. It is yours, the voice insisted as the wolf stared at the blade sparkling in the moonlight. Take it. The wolf shook his head. How could he take it? He didn't have hands. The wolf took a breath. He had been unconscious for a long time. He knew that much. He was forgetting something important. He knew that as well.
The wolf strained against the wall of amnesia blocking his path to his lost memories. All this felt so familiar. Like he have been through this before. The wolf felt beads of sweat gathering on his fur. He had been through this before. He remembered it being much colder the last time this happened. With the tenacity born only of an animal's curiosity, the wolf continued to scratch away at the wall in his head, desperate to find his answers. Please.
Noah Walker. The wolf nodded. He knew that name. It was his but how? Noah Walker was the name of a human, not a wolf. How could he be both? Benandanti. That was how he could be both. Benandanti were shifters. A shifter could change between a human and an animal form. He had taken a massive beating and it robbed him of his memories but they were coming back in full force. If he was a shifter, he could change into a human being.
Change back into a human being, Noah corrected himself as he stood on his hindlegs. In a rush of breaking bones and squishing organs, Noah took the form of a naked little boy. The old hobo stared as Noah pulled the sword from his blankets. Taking a moment to savour the feel in metal in his hands, Noah went searching for clothes. Nergal. Noah knew that name. It belonged to his enemy. Remus. That name belonged to the enemy as well.
In that moment, Noah remembered his scent. As a demon, he didn't have a scent. As a god, he had a distinct odor. Noah channeled as the scent pointed him in the direction of a hospital. Noah Walker didn't know how or why his enemy had gone to a hospital but he didn't care. This sword was the only one he had. Whether it possessed the ability to kill him or not, Noah had no choice but to try. Noah bolted towards the hospital, the sword in his hands.
The letiches were pushovers. Even the vampires seemed to be phoning it in. Samantha Hilson stared at the battlefield through a set of binoculars. Noah Walker was nowhere to be seen. The Walkers had assembled a magnificent army. Against the ones holed up in the hospital, it was a curb stomp battle. But that only heightened her paranoia. Among them was a demon-turned-deity. Such a creature could end this one-sided battle with the flick of a wrist.
As the Walkers charged forward with their army behind them, Sammy spotted him. It was Nergal. She could tell by the eyes. Even in the body of a god, Nergal or Remus or whatever he called himself had the same eyes. The eyes of an alien intelligence plotting against his surroundings like impossible precision and cynicism. Sammy produced the Emerald from her father's duffel bag. This was the game breaker if she could get it close enough to use it.
Sammy looked to move sides as a pair of vampires materialized out of the shadows on either side of her. "You are wise to stay back," the first vampire said, his round enormous never leaving her face. "They are walking into an ambush." The vampire extended a hand. "I am Piotr Chernov. This lovely creature is Natasha Belova." The second vampire in the skintight outfit did a curtsy. "If you are here to kill our master's murderer ... we are for you."
Piotr snarled at the Emerald of Lucifer. "Where did you get that?" Sammy held it in her hands. Piotr backed away. Natasha was unmoved by the glowing green rock. "We can get you in close," Piotr said, sneering at the Emerald. "After that, it is all up to you." Sammy liked the sound of that. A suicide run amidst a doomed battle with nothing less at stake than the survival of millions, if not billions, of lives. "Are you ready?" Sammy nodded.
Noah Walker was ready. Remus was a god now but he still had weaknesses. His psychic abilities were not passive abilities. He had to focus to use them. It meant that people could sneak up on him. As Remus' telekinesis gripped everyone, his telepathy monitoring their every thought. Remus was gloating. The usual villain chat about how he soon be killing them. That was his chief weakness. Ego. He wanted some praise from all his fallen adversaries.
The sad thing, the thing he would never get, was that such praise was never going to happen. No matter how clever and how devious his plans were, he couldn't see the sheer wrongness of them. Remus was doing advanced calculus in the blood of the innocent. Whether he was right or not, it didn't change the fact that what he was monstrous and the only sane response to his brilliance was to make him extinct for the benefit of all. Noah gripped the sword.
Noah Walker didn't know where this sword came from or why but every inch of it cried out for Remus' blood. Noah could only hope that wasn't a lingering thread of lunacy left over from his stint with amnesia and regenerative flu. Noah waited in the shadows. "Now, without further ado, time to die." Noah knew this sword was powerless against a god. He didn't care. He lunged forward. Remus turned around and caught the blade in his chest.
It was a surreal sight. Noah had moments before watched buckshot bounce off of Remus without even wrinkling his trenchcoat. Remus laughed. With a flick of a wrist, Remus pinned Noah against a nearby wall. "Was that it? That was your plan? To try and kill the unkillable?" Noah nodded as the back of his head pressed against the drywall. "Why, child?" Noah's eyes dilated. "Why won't you give up?" Remus gritted his teeth. "Why can't I break you?"
"This is why." Noah and Remus turned their heads in the direction of the voice. It was Samantha Hilson holding a green glowing jewel in her right hand. "Certum est, quia impossibile." An arch of green light connected with Remus, knocking him to the ground. Noah screamed as Sammy collapsed to the floor. Noah ran to her side as her lungs groped for air in quick shallow breaths. Noah didn't know what Samantha had done but it was killing her.
Remus rose to his feet, a smile from ear to ear as the sword jutted from his chest. "You failed." Remus grabbed the hilt of the blade. "Remus, Nergal, whatever you choose to call me, I am indestructible." Remus doubled over in pain. "I am immortal." Remus let out a holler of agony. "I am a god." At that moment, the red light of hellfire shone in his eyes. Remus was Nergal again, transformed into a demon yet still trapped in the body of a god. "No."
Flickers of blue lightning gaped from the wound as Remus attempted to pull the sword out of him. "Stand back." An invisible wall appeared between Nergal and the soldiers aching for a chance to get at him. The sword hadn't pierced his heart. He'd survive if he managed to pull it out. Then, Noah saw him. The spectral shape of an old friend grabbing the sword's hilt. "No!" Nergal screamed as Jason Newton sliced the blade through the demon's heart.
If this were a movie, Nergal/Remus would have exploded into a brilliant flash of light as he yielded to extinction. Instead, the old demon's Benandanti host body turned to ashes as Samantha Hilson's eyes rolled to the back of her head. The letiches and the vampires stared on in disbelief as their indestructible leader chose to accept his death with quiet dignity. As the enemy's army surrendered, Noah Walker felt the wolf spirit leave his body.
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