Welcome to Dominic, everyone. That’s the name of the short story, at least. I haven’t finished it, but I’ve finished part one, which will be uploaded on here!


Dominic rushed through the dark halls. He skidded as he turned a corner, his metal feet grinding against the floor. The sparks flew as he sprinted down the halls, feeling his processor begin to overheat. The world was getting hotter and hotter, and he needed to cool down. But he heard the alarms begin to blare in the small building, and he knew he didn’t have time. Shit.

“You aren’t going to make it,” Ai’s encouraging voice called through the tinny speakers. Dominic wanted to laugh, but the effort would only make his circuits fry faster. So he ignored the computer’s voice, instead diving down the upcoming stairwell, flying down the center. The spiral staircase went down, down, down into the earth, and just as Dominic reached the bottom, he kicked in his thrusters. Fire burst out through holes in his feet, and he landed softly. Had he waited any longer, he would have smashed to a thousand pieces down here. The thought would have made him smile, if he had a mouth.

“You don’t have time for this. 0X239, you need to get out of here.”

“How many times do I have to tell you, Ai,” he rumbled, his voice module garbled from the heat that was still frying him from the inside out, “My name is Dominic.” He continued to run down the hall, sliding underneath the barrier that separated the safe from the unsafe— he was reaching the core of the reactor.

“All the same,” Ai was saying as he looked around, “You need to leave.” Dominic scoffed, jumping down railing after railing. The radiation was powerful; the area was hot, and it wasn’t helping the excessive amounts of heat that he was producing. He kicked his fans into overdrive just as he landed on the bottom floor of the reactor. Through a small, green-lit hallway and a few hovering walkways, Dominic found what he was looking for. The core was brilliant and glowed blue-green. It sat there, hovering in between two gigantic metal slabs, and it was clearly overheating. Much like himself.

“Alright, Dominic. This is easy.” he said to himself as he inched towards the gigantic core, housed in giant metal bars that held a field between them. So far as he knew, it was a force field, and it kept the heat inside. But the power grid was failing, and the field was waning. When it waned completely, the radiation would kill everyone within a three thousand kilometer radius. Which meant the humans that lived in the cities would die horrible, horrible deaths.

He didn’t have Ai down here to help him. He was on his own. His job, so far as he knew, was to fix this melting mess that considered itself a reactor. He knew it wasn’t sentient, but as he stared up at the glowing ball— electricity flowing from inside it to the metal slabs above and below it— he wondered if it knew anything at all. If it had any thoughts, if it loved or hated, if it was afraid to die. There were thirteen similar glowing balls surrounded by fields and metal bars, shooting energy into metal slabs. The world would survive without this one.

Dominic walked over to a console. It was rusted and seemingly broken, but with a push of a button, it came to life. Pulling a key from a storage compartment in his chest, he pushed it into a slot and turned it. A button appeared from nowhere, and he pressed it. He looked up at the glowing ball. It flickered for a moment before dispersing in a cloud of radiation. The force field held firm— thankfully— and in moments, there was no longer a sun sitting at the bottom of this reactor. He pressed another button, typing in the code to shut down the force field. It fizzled out of existence, and Dominic let out a sigh of relief. Or maybe that was his fans. Whatever, everyone was safe! He wished he could smile just then, just once, to display how happy he was. But, alas, his face was a mask, and all that lied underneath was cold metal. But he didn’t let that ruin his good mood. With a jovial gait, Dominic climbed back out of the core of the reactor.

“We haven’t blown up. I’ll take it that you succeeded in your task.” He nodded to the camera in the hall as he left the reactor altogether.

“Succeeded is a very weak word. Absolutely perfect execution of my job? That’s ten times better.”

“Nonetheless, you need to be sure to keep an eye on the reactors now. This isn’t the first time this has happened. How many reactor cores have you had to restart?”

“Fifteen,” he replied, “not counting that one time one of the cores was submerged in water— but that is completely besides the point. I didn’t have to restart this one. I just turned it off.” There was a short pause.

“That will compromise the amount of power we can produce,” Ai said, “You need to turn it back on.” Dominic shrugged as he made his way through the hallway, his fans loud and obnoxious. He would have turned them off if it wasn’t for the heat rolling off of him in waves.

“Its fine,” he said, “We have quite a few reactors. There won’t be a problem with it, trust me!” Ai was silent for a moment— it seemed to be her version of a sigh. It was interesting to see that the computer was far more human than it thought it was. He continued down the corridor, slowing down his fans as his circuitry cooled.

“There is a1 3.5% drop in the power being produced. Allowing the other cores to take on the burden is not wise. They will overheat, as the others have.” Right. Maybe he should listen to Ai. The computer had never been wrong before, after all. But Dominic felt this sense within him, and suddenly, he kicked his audio drives into action. Music floated out of him through speakers in his antennas, and he laughed, singing along.

“People all over the world! Join hands!

Start a love train, love train!”

“It’ll be fine!” he yelled, snatching up his lab coat as he entered a small, dark room. The only light came from the computer screen before him, and with little care, he looked into the face of Ai. Numbers scrolled across her screen, computing probability and performing the menial tasks that were needed to use her voice modulator. He lowered the volume of the music he was playing. Love Train was one of his favorites, right next to Monday Monday.

“So back to our earlier conversation,” he said easily, putting on the lab coat before jumping onto a nearby couch. He wasn’t given any comfort from it, of course, but it was nice to sit anyway. Sitting meant that his processor didn’t have to work to keep him upright, after all. He looked up at Ai, who sat in silence for a moment before letting out a quiet response.

“No, 0X239, you must go downstairs and fix the mess that you’ve made.”

“You sound like a human parent, Ai” he said, and he wished in that moment for a mouth so that he might stick his tongue out at her, “Now tell me. If you had to choose a gender, which would you pick?”

“You know well that I have no name, 0X239. Also, human genders do not apply to robots or computers. They are based on physical sex, which we do not have.”

“Well, I was built to be male,” Dominic said, looking at his gray hand through the visor that composed his eyes, “And I like to think you were built to be female. You have a female voice, r?” Ai paused once again, this time the pause longer than the others. Dominic went to speak when she replied.

“Fine. I am voiced by a female human. Now, 0X239-”

“That isn’t my name, Ai,” he said disapprovingly, “Come on. Have a little fun for once in your boring life!” Another pause. Dominic was used to badgering Ai whenever he had the chance, but this was more fun than anything. Usually she would simply ignore his attempts at conversation, calling them wastes of precious energy and electricity. Dominic always disagreed. So what if their processing power meant that energy would be used? It was all about interaction, the relationships one forged with others.

0X239,” Ai said, her monotonous voice displaying her exhaustion on the topic, “Do not interrupt me. The more you ignore the reactors, the more meltdowns will occur. And if this trend continues, there will be an incident that you cannot fix.” Dominic shrugged, nonchalant.

“I don’t see the problem,” he said, “There won’t be an incident I can’t fix. Not if I have you by my side, Ai. You’re always making sure things don’t get too crazy, and I can definitely appreciate that.”

“The probability—”

Screw the probability! Things will be just fine.” He bobbed his head to the music that was still floating from his speakers.

All the leaves are brown and the sky is gray

I’ve been for a walk on a winter’s day

I’d be safe and warm if I was in LA

California Dreamin’ on such a winter’s day

“I think I’m going to take a nap,” he said suddenly, checking his energy levels. The HUD on his visor popped up and, indeed, he was running low. After all, he had woken up far earlier than intended. He was sure it was still dark out.

“0X-”

“I’m not interested Ai,” he said, feigning a yawn, “Now is the time for rest!”

“You don’t sleep, you recharge,” Ai deadpanned, and paused, “but being at peak performance is key. Especially after this incident.”

“Exactly,” he said, ignoring the first part of her sentence, “Goodnight!” Ai said nothing as Dominic walked out of the room. He passed two rooms— a kitchen that had once belonged to the humans that lived here long before himself, and a bathroom. Neither of these were rooms that he needed, but keeping them around made him feel a little better about the whole ‘being a robot’ thing.

He walked into a small, closet-sized room and found himself face to face with a black upright pod. As he stepped into his recharge station— his bed, as he liked to call it, though he stood when he slept— he thought of the last twenty years he’d spent in existence. He’d spent those years with Ai, and with the miscellaneous robots that helped the place function. Many of them had broken down, and none of them were sentient like himself and Ai, but that didn’t matter. He was content with things as they were, no matter how boring some days could get. Between playing chess with Ai and making sure the reactors were still functional, he didn’t do much. At least he had his movie collection. In fact, he decided just as he fell into recharge mode that he would watch one when he awoke.

Long Time No See!

Posted: 11/12/2014 in Personal
Tags: , , ,

Hey everyone. Apologies for not blogging consistently, it appears I have serious consistency issues. But, on the bright side, I have been writing quite a bit lately. I hope to get back to blogging regularly (where have we heard that before?) and updating you guys on my current novel in the works. Yes, it is Save the World. No, it isn’t the version I uploaded here. I’ve made quite a few changes to it since I last came on here!

See you guys soon (or shortly, depending on how fast I am at uploading things.)

 

 

I’m interested to see how you answer this poll! I personally find it very hard to finish stories of my own, but I’ve been reading more and I’ve found it marginally easier to finish a short story, at the very least. So please, tell me what you experience!

 

Hey everyone! I’m very excited to say that I’ll be participating in camp nano this July! If anyone else is, too, let me know. I’ve never sat down to write a novel in a month (which is the basic premise for those of you who have no idea what NaNoWriMo is) but I’m definitely looking forward to it. I’d love to share my journey on my blog (whenever I have the time, that is!)

So I’ve got a question for you (audience participation recommended)! Have you ever participated in NaNoWriMo? Or, conversely, have you ever finished / published a novel?  I’d love to learn a little more about the awesome group of people who follow me!

PS: Save the World is under serious construction! I’m rewriting the whole thing, and I’m hoping for a better outcome. I’ll probably post the finished product on here, whenever I finish it!

Oh Dear…

Posted: 06/23/2014 in Uncategorized
Tags:

It appears I haven’t been a good blogger. Its tough putting out content! But for those of you who still follow me, thanks for sticking around!

Hopefully I can get this thing going again! Wish me luck!

Hey everyone. Another chapter up! I hope you enjoy! It’s not my best work, but I’ve been staring at it all day and I can’t seem to think of anything else!

“Is this what you can do, as well?” Gayle asked, looking outside as the storm became worse. The fire that fell from the sky fell in droves now, as if the hells had opened above them. And Kopek was sure they had.

“No,” she replied, sitting up and surveying the damage to her trench coat. It was singed, but okay.

“I’m not t-tied to Hell anymore,” she continued trying to take deep breaths, “I can’t do even a fraction of what he can do. My power and thus my abilities pale in comparison to his.”

“Are you alright?” she asked, concern in her voice as she walked over to Kopek.

“Fine,” she replied, “Just recovering.”

“Get out!” one of the Northwest gang members screamed, holding up a gun, “All of you! Don’t bring that guy back in here!”

“I thought you were working with him,” Vassago said, sneering, “Suddenly scared, cowards?” The Northwest member took a step closer to him, holding the pistol to his forehead.

“Say that again, fucker!” Vassago growled.

“Point the gun at the real enemy!” he yelled. The man seemed intent on pulling the trigger when the gun turned to glass.

“Wha-!?” He dropped it, and it shattered. Lev was staring at them, hands slightly clenched as his eyes returned to their normal color.

“Just get out! Fucking freaks, every last one of you!!” Kopek rose to her feet, wincing as the pain in her chest intensified.

“You want a fight, huh?” she asked taking a menacing step forward, “Then fine, stupid fucking humans! Fight!!” Gayle frowned.

“But you’re hurt!” That didn’t stop the first gang member from throwing a punch Kopek’s way. She dodged it and landed a kick to his side. He went crashing to the ground, and she slammed her foot down on his leg, the resounding crack from the bone snapping audible to everyone in the room.

“Anyone else?” she said over the screams of the downed man, “No takers? I’m fucking surprised!” She paused, glaring at the remaining gang members before walking back to her corner and taking a seat. Her heart beat painfully in her chest, and she groaned. Whatever that beam was, it really did a number on her.

“Gratuitous violence, just your style,” Vassago said dryly. Kopek mumbled a reply not even she understood and rested her head on her knees. She really hated pain.

“Hey,” Gayle said, moving towards her again, “Are you going to be okay?”

“I’m going to be fine,” Kopek muttered.

The storm outside wasn’t letting up, though; she doubted it would until Baal made a reappearance. Which, if the sound of the wind was anything to go by, would probably be sooner rather than later.

“One way,” she spoke, “To stop an immortal demon is to find an immortal angel.”

“And how do you propose we do that? No one here has a connection to any angel, let alone an immortal one,” Vassago said, crossing his arms, “More than that, how do you expect to get them here? Why would an angel want to help us in the first place?” Kopek shrugged, regretting the action only moments later when pain spiked through her.

“Don’t ask me, I’m just telling you people how it goes.”

“Well…” Gayle said, trailing off for a moment, “Siruk knows angels, I think. He’s a mediator.”

“How do we get him here?” Vassago asked, and Gayle sighed.

“Someone would have to die.” Kopek looked at the Northwest members, which seemed to have grown from three to fifteen. They stood, sheet white and tense in their spots, disarmed and hopeless.
“Any takers?” she asked, and they said nothing. Of course.

“What about phones?” Vassago said, his voice deadpan.

“That would work, but there haven’t been satellites for at least three years.” His pride seemed to fall a bit at Kopek’s words.

“Right.”

“Wait…” but Gayle trailed off once again, and Kopek snarled.

“Spit it out! If you have an idea, we need to know because he’s going to be on us in at least five minutes!”

“Fine!” She jammed her hands in her pockets immediately searching. Kopek looked on with a detached interest, watching as she pulled out what appeared to be a page of a book.

“Okay, okay… You need to read this.” The page was extended out to her, and she took it. Kopek looked over the page, seeing familiar hieroglyphs.

“A spell? No one uses magic anymore, nothing like this. Besides I told you, I have barely any power left.”

“Well it’s worth a shot, right? If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work.” Kopek sighed, focusing. She had a point, after all.

The spell called for the awakening of an inner self, something Kopek had never been good at, per say. But this spell was simple, and she was sure she could do it if she tried hard enough. Or the spell would backfire and something awful would happen. Still, the unknown was better than certain death.

She closed her eyes and took a breath, fighting to find the being that existed inside her. Past all the anger, and the hatred, and the voices that spoke sometimes, Kopek found it hiding. And without opening her eyes, she read the page.

A few seconds passed as she read the last word, and just as Baal’s form materialized outside the window, Siruk popped into existence mere steps away from them holding a tall staff made from what appeared to be bones.

“What’s going on?” he asked immediately, frowning. The window burst open, as did much of the wall that surrounded it, and Baal gave everyone sharp-toothed grin.

“You like being pests, don’t you? I was only going to fight Kopek, perhaps kill her, but you’ve made my job far harder. Now I have to kill all of you.” Siruk turned to see the horned demon and sighed.

“Goodness, what have you gotten into?” he asked, massaging the bridge of his nose.

“Someone new?” Baal said, and he seemed to recognize the staff, for he took a step back from the window.

“Oh… you.”

“We’ve never met,” Siruk said with a tired smile, “But I’m sure you know my position.”

“I don’t acknowledge your ‘position’. It’s a waste of time and effort, really. Hell isn’t looking for peace.”

“If peace is what you think I do, you are sorely mistaken.” He tapped his staff on the floor, and bones materialized out of nowhere. They cracked and bent, flesh appearing on the form as it drew itself to its full height.

“I’m no peacekeeper. Now if you’ve come for a fight, you’ll have to deal with me as well as the others.” Baal seemed to measure Siruk’s threat for a moment before he grinned.

“You must be kidding me. A demon like myself against a human?”

“Not human, not entirely,” Siruk said, tilting his head a fraction, “You know of me, but you know nothing about me. How sad.”

“I know of that staff,” Baal growled out, “And I did not come here for talk. Get out here and fight me!” He flew back from the window, and Siruk looked at the others. Tapping his staff on the ground a few more times, more of the fleshy creatures were created, and he sighed.

“Great strategist,” he said, turning to Kopek in particular, “Ideas?” She stood, cracking her knuckles and ignoring the pain in her chest, which was thankfully less awful than it had been before.

“A few,” she said, “Wear him down enough that he gets tired. Beat him back in time for an angel to notice the disturbance. Find a way to kill an immortal being.”

“Whatever we do, we should do it fast,” Vassago said. Siruk nodded.

“Indeed.” He led his creatures outside, Gayle and Lev close behind. Kopek sighed.

“Hope you’re not the weak link now,” Vassago said, heading towards the door. She snorted.
“Please.” They walked outside to see the singed ground and Baal standing there, a grand smirk on his face.

“Clap, clap, clap, I’m impressed, Kopek. Most demons don’t make it past what I did to you.”

“Whatever that was,” she bit out, “You always bring something new, don’t you?”

“Of course,” he said, and quite suddenly, a large cracking sound was heard. Two gigantic, grotesque wings extended from his back, and he winced as they stretched. Kopek gaped.

“Like them?” he asked. Liked them? She envied them.

“Shut up and die a couple of times,” Kopek ground out, jumping towards him. He flew off effortlessly, and Vassago immediately sent thick black shadows his way. One snagged on his wing, but he sliced at it with a clawed hand.

The creatures Siruk had created suddenly sprouted fleshy wings, each of them flying up and towards Baal. The demon knocked one away with one of the gigantic horns, and it spiraled off. Another crashed right into him, tearing immediately at his wings. Siruk pointed his staff at the demon as he was distracted, shooting off a glowing red tether. It latched onto his leg and Baal went sailing to the ground, a cracking sound being heard as one of his wings was torn from his body. He hit the ground hard, but he stood quickly, bleeding black blood from the destroyed stump where his wing once was.

Gayle extended a hand and he froze in place, but it didn’t last for long. He shot a beam towards her, and Kopek barely knocked her out-of-the-way in time. They fell to the ground, Kopek feeling her chest protest, but the pain was receding.

“Destroy this fucker!” Vassago said, pulling the blackness towards Baal, who continued to slash at the shadows as well as the two flying creatures Siruk created. His remaining wing flapped uselessly, trying to free himself from the sludge that held him in place.

“Can’t,” Lev said, his soft voice barely heard above the cacophony, “He’ll just come back.” Gayle gasped as Kopek stood.

“Good thinking,” she said, only mildly surprised that he’d spoken. She ran towards Baal as he was distracted and landed a neck-snapping punch across his face. He reeled back, and one of the flying creatures ripped off his other wing. He roared now as Kopek landed blow after blow.

“You disgusting, arrogant, horrid son of a bitch!” Kopek screamed as she hit him again, the dark presence in the back of her mind was screaming for her to continue, enraging her further.

“Immortality can’t save you from the pain of death, you disgusting piece of shit.” And she continued to pound him into the earth to the sound of Their screams in the back of her head.

“Alright!” he garbled out as Kopek kicked one of his horns, snapping it, “Alright! You win. Stop!” She smirked, standing over his bloodied body.

“Next time don’t be so fucking arrogant,” she spat, “Now go running back to Hell, little boy.” He did just that, his body vanishing gradually. Once he was entirely gone, including the bloody wing bits that were flung across the makeshift battlefield, Kopek turned to the others.

“He’ll be back,” she said, “But at least for now we won’t have to worry about him.” Gayle immediately turned to Lev, speaking to him under her breath. He looked almost distressed for a moment, shaking his head. And as suddenly as their conversation had begun, it was cut short.

“Well we should get going,” Siruk said quickly, tapping one of the nearby creatures. It melted away, as did the other, “It’s been a long night.” Indeed, the sun was beginning to rise. The pain in Kopek’s chest was a memory now, the feeling of being rotted from the inside out now replaced with a need to kill. The need was so strong that she had to clench her fists in order to stop herself from doing something she might regret. It was Them, she could feel it. They pulsed underneath her consciousness, pulling and yearning for blood. The black ooze that was on her fingers from defeating Baal was not enough. No, she wanted red—

“Kopek? You look distressed,” Siruk said. Vassago snorted, but said nothing.

“Are you okay?” Gayle asked, ever the concerned woman. Kopek shrugged it off, feeling her heartbeat slow and the desire draining.

“Absolutely dandy,” she said, cracking her neck. The tension left her quickly, until she was calm. Those things would have to try again some other time.

Kopek knew she was unstable. She knew they would get her eventually. They always tried to make her angry, especially when she was in the middle of a fight. To take it one step further, to actually kill instead of viciously maim… And sometimes it was hard to stop at a broken bone. Sometimes, it was too difficult to stop herself from attacking first and asking questions later.

Yes, Kopek was hardly stable. But it didn’t matter. She would function and deal with the messes she made later on.

They parted then, each returning to their respective homes. And for once in her very long lifetime, Kopek fell onto her disgusting couch and dozed.

How do I even describe this song? God, I love every second of it. Hope it inspires something for all you folks out there!

Video  —  Posted: 03/27/2014 in Music Prompts
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The third installment of Immortal Soul. Well this chapter has some actual action in it, and I really enjoy it as well. Hope you all enjoy!

Dusk had come fairly quickly, and Kopek felt the jittery excitement that always plagued her when she was about to do something reckless. She had met up with Gayle only hours earlier, looking for Siruk. The man had things to take care of, and a job to do, so Kopek had asked her to come. Gayle had shrugged, giving her a toothy smile and said she might bring someone along, just in case. And Kopek had no arguments to that– the more the merrier, right?

She was heading towards the Square, clenching and unclenching her fists. She was itching for a fight– a real one. The only thing she worried about was their lack of actual weapons. The Northwests weren’t known for their battalion of guns, but if they were going to attack, they should have at least one gun.

Then again, she’d be able to take out just about anyone with even a handgun. She was a wonderful shot, after all, something she perfected during her days studying war tactics.

As she neared, she heard what sounded like childish bickering, one voice distinctly being Vassago’s. Of course.

“…didn’t know she’d be asking for help from some girl and her freak of a boyfriend.”

“Well I didn’t know the person she asked was such a shallow asshole.” And it continued, back and forth. Kopek rounded a corner and found Gayle and Vassago practically at each other’s throats, a tall, silent man standing off to the side. Kopek lifted an eyebrow.

“Well look who it is,” Vassago said as she neared, and Gayle turned to her, a relieved look on her face.

“Thank goodness.”

“Are you two fighting over something ridiculous?” she asked, and Gayle sighed.

“Your friend here tried to kill Lev,” she said, gesturing to the man standing off to the side. He was smiling and calm, and he gave Kopek a wave.

“It was an accident,” Vassago spit out, “And besides, he creeps me the fuck out.”

“You’ve known him for all of thirty minutes!” Gayle screamed, clenching her fists tightly, “You’re pathetic!”

“You’ve been at this for thirty minutes?” Kopek deadpanned, looking at them. She turned her eyes to Lev, who shrugged, his smile never faltering.

“Please,” Vassago said, “I’m an excellent judge of character. You’re clearly an idiot, and your friend is clearly a psychopath.” Kopek pinched the bridge of her nose.

“If you two are done,” she said, looking at them, “I’d suggest we get a move on. I’ll brief you on the way.”


Walking across the city would take time, but Kopek was confidant that the Northwests would still be sleeping. She knew their schedule– she’d been watching them for a while. Demons never slept, and so she occupied her time by keeping watch on the gangs in the city, at least to get a feel for how they were.

She’d considered joining one when they first began to pop up in Chrome City, but she’d decided against it. Their crimes were over petty and childish things, and they (like most humans, apparently) knew nothing of fighting. They shot off their guns, incurred the wrath of the still-fledgling police, and generally got off scott free.

This night would put an end to that.

“Now,” she said as they walked, “The Northwests are a relatively small gang. They’re mostly bent on selling drugs and stealing from the fortunate. Watch your coin purse, V.”

“Shut up,” he scowled, and she snickered.

“Point is, they’re into petty shit. And all we have to do is disarm them. So tell me exactly what you can do, and we’ll make a proper plan.” Vassago cleared his throat.

“Well you certainly know my capabilities,” he said with a smirk, “But I might as well rehash. I have the ability to control darkness and thus bend the fabric of reality. I mean, in that sense, that I can make the dark a physical presence, and from there I can disarm, or suffocate, those who stand in it.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Kopek said flippantly, “Gayle?”

“Aside from the standard deathmaster abilities, things I’m not too good at, I have a few telekinetic abilities as well. If I focus hard enough, I can levitate people, or stop things altogether.”

“Hmmm,” Kopek said, “That’s workable. You’re friend, here?” Gayle’s eyes brightened.

“This is Lev. He and I… well… regardless of that, he’s mute.” Kopek peered at him, at his purple eyes and curls of black hair.

“Mhmm.”

“He’s a magician of sorts,” Gayle said, and he nodded, tilting his head towards Kopek in a kind of acknowledgement. Or maybe he was just mocking her. Kopek shrugged off the thought easily and returned her attention to Gayle.

“Mhmm,” she said again, “Like what? Illusions?”
“Illusions, things more powerful than illusions…” Gayle said with a grin, “He’s pretty powerful. He doesn’t really like using his powers; I had to convince him to come along, actually. But I thought he’d be invaluable.” Whatever most of that meant. Kopek nodded, a plan forming in her head.

“Well despite the fact that they probably outnumber us five to one, I feel like we out class them,” she said, “All we need to worry about is not getting shot. So try not to get shot, okay? Gunshot wounds hurt, and they’ll probably kill you.” Vassago snorted, but said nothing.

“Now here’s the plan,” she said turning to them, “We’re working under the assumption that they don’t have anyone like us on their side. That’s a no-no. I’ve never once seen them do anything remarkable, but you never know. So it’ll be a surprise attack.Vassago will immobilize them, Gayle will disarm them, Lev will… do what he does, and I will knock them out.”

“Stop calling me by that demon’s name,” Vassago bit out.

“Vassago’s abilities are dependent on darkness. I don’t know if you can knock out lights, Gayle…”

“I could give it a try,” she said.

“Great!” She could really see this happening, taking down an entire gang in a night. They wouldn’t get all of them, of course, but they would at least disband the majority of them.

They were close, now, Kopek immediately scanning the area.

“Keep an ear out for me,” she said, “I might give orders, and you’re going to listen or you’re going to die.” Vassago snorted again, but she glared at him.

“Who’s the one who studied strategy all her life? Certainly not you.” He said nothing.

They crept closer to the entrance of the hideout– an abandoned building. It was only three stories high, and boasted probably about twenty or so rooms– it was small. But for a drug ring, it was enough.

Kopek motioned for the others to stay where they were, and Vassago sighed like a petulant child as she peered in one of the cracked, darkened windows. There were lights inside, including what appeared to be a floodlight in the corner. Damn.

And just as she was ready to turn back, she saw something she never thought she’d see, not in a million years on earth.

Hissing under her breath, she ducked underneath the window and motioned the others to do the same. Listening as best she could through the brick, she tried in vain to hear their conversation.

But she knew… they were already found out. His eyesight was excellent, far better than her own. He must have seen them coming from a mile away.

Quietly as possible, she crept back towards the others.

“Kopek, darling,” she heard, and she mentally slammed her palm into her face, “It’s been so long.” She stood, looking at the others and the horror on their faces. She turned.

A man stood there, two gigantic horns sticking out of each side of his head. He was almost entirely bald, save for some hair on the top of his head that was pulled into a low pony tail. He wasn’t wearing a shirt despite the cool temperatures, and steam rose off his body. His legs were covered in thick, black hair and appeared to be the hind legs of a goat. Altogether, he was as tall and imposing as ever.

“Baal,” she greeted, “I didn’t know you fraternized with your prey.” He laughed.

“Prey indeed. Who are your friends?” He gestured to them, and Kopek stole a glance. Vassago was sheet white, and Gayle looked terrified. Lev had a blank look on his face, one that was completely unreadable. She turned back. Baal was looking at her with a calm, haughty smirk. It was his usual expression.

“They’re… not important,” she said, “Why have you left your oh-so-prestigious post?” He sighed, tapping on his chin with a single clawed finger.

“I’ve been watching you, Kopek, and I’m concerned for you. They’ve been considering you letting you back in, you know. Banishment for sabotage is warranted, but you were the best strategist there was.”

“I don’t want to go back,” she bit out, “I have my own plans for my life, now. No one controls me but me.”

“Ah but that isn’t true,” Baal said, “And you know that for a fact. But… we’ll talk of nicer things. I’ve left my post because I wanted to stir up some trouble here, and because I wanted to see the look on your face. I wasn’t intending on being here when you came to attack your fellow… mortals,” and he coughed, a look of disgust on his face, “But here I am, and there you are with your little… battalion.”

“Shut up,” she bit out, her rage beginning to consume her, “You wanted to see me. Here I am. What did you want from me?” He paused, and his smirk grew.

“Always wanting to get right to the point, as ever. Fight me.”
“No,” she said immediately.

“Fight me. You want to, I can tell you that much. It’s in your eyes, and in those little clenched fists of yours.” Kopek snarled.

“Of course I want to,” she bit out, “You need to be knocked down a peg. But I won’t.”

“Why not?” he asked, a chuckle on his breath. She tried to ignore the roiling fury in her gut.

“Because you want it.”

“Fine.” And like lightning, he landed a punch across her face. It was as if he hadn’t even moved, and Gayle screamed. Kopek went down immediately, not expecting the hit, and growled.

“Fine!” And she jumped back up, dodging a kick. His hooves, or whatever they were, were pointed and deadly. To be hit with them would spell disaster.

Baal jumped back, flying high into the air before he landed. He extended a hand, and purple energy seeped from it. Before Kopek could react, a beam of high-energy and utter death was sent her way, and she was hit with it full force. It smacked her in the chest and pushed her back into the building, and she hit it so hard that the windows broke and the building shook.

“Boss?” she heard from inside, but she was busy trying to collect her own energy. But no matter how hard she tried, the beam continued to eat into her chest, making her heart beat painfully. It was rotting her from the inside out.

Very suddenly, the beam was cut off. She fell to the ground, clutching at where the beam had been hitting her, and looked up. Lev was staring very intently at Baal, his eyes black and his head tilted. A black field surrounded him as well as the demon, and he lifted a hand. Baal went flying backwards, his body seeming to almost disintegrate as he did so. All that was left of him was ash on the breeze. Lev’s eyes returned to their normal purple color, and Kopek tried in vain to stand. Her chest was killing her.

“He’s… H-He’s not dead,” she said, coughing, “He’s immortal.” And just like that, down from the heavens rained fire.

“What the fuck!?” she heard from behind her, and she looked back to see three of the Northwest gang members standing there, confused.

“Go back inside or die, pick one you fucking idiots!” she screamed feebly, trying to shield the drops of fire from her face as they fell to the earth. They didn’t need to be told twice; they ran back inside, slamming the door behind them and locking it. Gayle held up a hand and the fire stopped after a point, suspended above them as more droplets joined.
“I can’t do this forever,” she said, “Can we go now?”

“He’s going t-to follow us,” Kopek said as she tried to stand again, “We need to… seek shelter somewhere safe.” Vassago cracked his knuckles and swirling inky blackness rose up from beside Kopek. It dove straight for the door and slammed it open immediately. The inky darkness vanished and the others ran for the door.

Kopek finally stood, using the building for leverage as she finally made it inside, Gayle still keeping the fire droplets away from them. They both made it inside, and the fire fell to the ground. The ground was being singed by the fire, soot being left in its wake. And just as Kopek took a seat, trying to survey the damage done to her heart and chest, she heard an ominous laughter float in from outside. Dread filled her, along with pain.

“Fuck…”