Happy Thanksgiving everyone!


It took some time to get down to the first reactor core. The one that wasn’t shut down, of course. Seeing as how he didn’t have to jump down this time, he took it at a leisurely pace, the creatures behind him silent. He glanced at them as he walked, taking the steps slowly and deliberately. The woman was looking at him with such fury that he was sure his face would have melted off if not for the fact that he was made from metal that didn’t melt at regular temperatures.

“So, what are your names?” he asked conversationally, and the female robot growled.

“It isn’t any of your business,” she spat, and the male sighed.

“I am Ethan,” he said, giving Dominic a smile, “And she is Halle.” He took a moment before the name registered within him.

“2001 a space odyssey!” he exclaimed, and he turned to them, walking backward for a moment. They were looking at him oddly.

“What, you’ve never seen that movie? Let me give you a synopsis!” And so he prattled on for quite some time, explaining the mechanics, themes, and his own opinions about the movie. He mentioned Hal, of course, and related it back to the woman’s name. They continued to walk as Dominic spoke, going backwards down stairs as well as down the halls.

“What,” the woman said, seething, “Does this have to do with anything? We came to learn about your methods, not your leisurely habits!”

“Oh yes, thank you for reminding me! So the homicidal robot, as mentioned, is name Hal. Are you homicidal, Halle?”

“Shut up,” she said simply, “and hurry up. We have somewhere to be.” Dominic shrugged, spinning around and walking forward again. He tried his hardest not to be like a giddy child, but he think he knew what these people were. They were cyborgs. How that prevented radiation poisoning, he did not know. Perhaps they had some kind of field around them to prevent their deaths? Surely that had to be the answer. Still, he had no way to test the theory. Might as well be blunt about it, he decided.

“So do you have some kind of field that prevents radiation poisoning?” he asked, sounding as innocent as possible. The female cyborg stiffened, and the Ethan’s eyes widened.

“How could you possibly-”

“No,” Halle said, giving him a vicious glare before turning to Dominic, “Stop assuming things.”

“You were built at least thirty years ago,” Ethan continued, mystified, “How could you possibly have inferred that?” Had it really been so long? It felt like it was just yesterday that he was ripped away from— He didn’t want to think about that, he remembered. He kept that far from his train of thought, no matter the circumstances. Being upset about his past didn’t fix anything; it certainly didn’t make it any less awful. All it did was make him sad, and that wasn’t going to help him figure out how to beat Ai at chess. Nothing could really help him with that, though.

“I’m smarter than I look,” he gloated, and he could picture the winning smile on his face. But there was no smile, because he had no face. He hoped his words would convey that expression.

“That doesn’t say much,” Halle muttered, and Dominic shrugged.

“Well I am old, after all,” he said, “Thirty years is a long time for a robot to be functioning, don’t you think? And within all that time, no one’s really come to visit.” With that, he stopped where he stood and gave them both a once-over.

“So I do wonder why they sent to cyborgs to see me. Cyborgs that are certainly more machine than human. Wouldn’t a human emessary make more sense, do you think? If you can make these fields, someone would have had to come. And yet they didn’t.”

“It is relatively new technology,” Ethan said, a good natured smile on his face, “But I understand your questions. We aren’t at liberty to answer, but know that—”

“I have had enough of this idle prattle,” Halle said, taking a menacing step towards Dominic, “It is clear that you do not run this facility properly. We assumed you dead with how the power has been these last few years; the fluctuations have been unremarkable, but steadily worsening.”

“Uh huh,” Dominic said, “I’m curious to know why you’re cyborgs. How long has this technology been around?”

“We are the most advanced,” Ethan supplied helpfully before withering under the glare from Halle. He cleared his throat.

“Yes, but we aren’t here to talk about ourselves. We were quite interested in knowing how you function.” Dominic was slightly taken aback at the question. Halle was staring at him intently, only a hint of malice behind her one human eye. Ethan seemed eagerly interested, despite his fear of his companion. Dominic shrugged.

“Well how do you expect me to talk about myself when you’re clearly unwilling to talk about yourselves? And here I thought you came to look at the cores.”

“Okay, this game is done,” Halle said as she pulled out a futuristic gun from a holster Dominic had not seen, “You are going to give us the schematics, and you’re going to do it now.”

“I’m terribly confused, “Dominic said, putting his hands up, “What schematics? Also, why lie about wanting to see the reactor cores?”

“To bring you to a place where your precious computer cannot help you,” Halle said, smirking. She cocked the gun. So she was homicidal. Go figure.

“Schematics. Now.”

“Of yourself, she means,” Ethan said, “We want to know how you were built. Your creators were not specific with how they built you.” That was a sore subject. He felt something foreign, something he didn’t want to deal with. Loss.

“You are making a mistake, cyborgs,” Ai chimed in, her voice reverberating through the hall, “I may not be able to interact with you myself, but you’ll need to leave the facility at some point.” Dominic would have grinned if he could. He knew of the hidden weapon system in the building. It was old, unused, and possibly malfunctioning, but it was his ace in the hole. Still, it wasn’t as if he didn’t have his own skillset.

“Look, I don’t want to get my lab coat dirty,” he said, “So make it easier on all of us. Get out of here. Now.” Halle bared her teeth and shot. A laser flew from the gun, and Dominic dodged with speed he almost didn’t know he had, calling out his thrusters. With a plume of fire and smoke, Dominic blasted his way through the cyborgs and dodged the laser fire. He heard them cry out behind him as he flew. Oh well, he mused, they’d just have to catch him.

He flew straight through the building, dodging laser fire as he went, the two cyborgs much faster than he’d anticipated. Dominic kicked his thrusters up a notch, sending him flying through the air much faster than he’d ever flown before. He always had this capability, he just never used it. And it was a great thing that he’d managed to rest. Without all this energy, he’d surely be dead by now.

“0X239,” Ai was saying, “Get out.”

“And leave you here?” he called, “Hell no. But for goodness’ sake, Ai, can you please call me Dominic? For once in our lives?”

“We aren’t alive,” came her response.

“You know what I mean!” There was a pause as Dominic found himself in the atrium. The turrets were already deployed, the rusted weapons targeting the hallway he’d come from. He deactivated his thrusters, falling to the ground with a clang and drawing out his sword. It was an attatchment he’d come up with some time ago; it sat in his hip, and all he had to do was press a button to remove it. He wielded it carefully, pressing a button on it while it was not pointed at his face, thank you very much. Fire exploded from the hilt, and formed itself into a blade. He grinned internally. Fire blades were pretty useful: they cut through just about anything with great precision. Especially cyborgs. Although he wasn’t interested in killing anyone; if he could avoid that, he’d be happy.

Halle came running in, laser gun pointed at him. He stood there, watching her carefully, weapon in hand.

“So,” she said, “It’s just you and me, now.”

“Where is your friend?” he asked, “Did he do the right thing and leave?” She chuckled.

“You could say that. Let’s say he doesn’t have the stomach for spilled blood. Or whatever makes up your insides.”

“That’s funny,” he said, “Because you do have several turrets pointed in your direction.” She frowned, looking around. And, indeed, the turrets were pointed directly at her.

“If you don’t leave,” he said, “You’ll probably die. And that’ll suck for all parties involved.”

“I’m not leaving!” she yelled, walking forward, “You’re going to give me the schematics or I’ll survey your insides myself, you fucking piece of trash!” Dominic nodded once, and the turrets opened fire. The lasers that were shot exploded upon impact with her, and smoke billowed out.

“0X239, there is a situation. The male is planting charges in the reactor core.”

“What!?” Dominic cried. He activated his thrusters once again, flying right back where he’d come from, leaving Halle to the turrets.

More of Dominic’s tale! Finally!


Robots did not dream, but Dominic wasn’t like many of his predecessors. His recharge state was filled with lights and sounds, images, a replay of all that had happened. And, when the replay was finished, he found himself roused from sleep by Ai’s voice. The pod opened, Dominic stepping out, slightly groggy.

“There you are. 0X239, there are people here to speak with you.” Dominic nodded, pretending to yawn by tapping the part of his mask where his mouth ought to be, and then he froze. People? He looked up at the camera, chuckling.

“Could you repeat that? I think I heard you wrong.” Ai paused, her version of a sigh lasting all of two seconds.

“There are two people here to speak with you.” Dominic jolted then, as if an electric shock had run through his system. He felt as if he’d been electrocuted, energy flowing through him. He felt like a soda ready to explode. He felt like a hurricane had appeared inside him. He felt like his processor was on fire. There were people here. People! Real humans here to— Wait. No, that couldn’t be right. If they were they’d be destroyed by the radiation. It was why no one ever came here. It was why he never had visitors.

“They’re not human, I take it?” he asked as he grabbed his lab coat, putting it on and buttoning it up carefully. He carefully lifted up one foot, then the other, allowing a pair of roller skates to push their way out of his foot. He skated over to a nearby mirror and checked himself. He looked at the fat antennas on either side of his head, the blue-gray metal that made up his face, the black visor and black lines. The top of his head which delved in at the center. The bolts and sheets that composed his neck so that he might turn and look around. The lab coat was white and long, long enough to reach his knees. He was a tall robot, standing at just above six feet.

“No,” Ai said after a time, “They wish to speak with you. Now.” The minute change in her voice lead Dominic to believe that she was suggesting he stop looking in a mirror. But he gazed at himself for one more moment before taking off, skating out of the rooms where he resided most (the living room, and relaxation chamber) and down a hallway. He checked his internal clock; it was 7AM. What humans woke up this early? No, they had to be robots, surely. They had to be, and it made him giddy with excitement. More robots like himself? Yes, please!

He skated into an atrium, the ceiling high above him. It was the entrance to the compound, and as he skated, he caught eye of a camera looking down at— oh goodness. They were humans. As he skated closer, he could see that one was female— he could tell by her stature against the male beside her. And they were standing there, speaking quietly to the camera. He skated closer and screeched to a halt, jumping as the skates went back into his metal feet. He landed with a clang, and he grinned.

The girl turned first. She had metal implants in her face, one covering her left eye, and the other composing the entire right side of her head. She was bald, and had medium toned skin. She was short, and had no breasts to speak of— her body was clearly destroyed in some kind of accident because most of her parts seemed to be metal rather than flesh. And when the male turned around, Dominic was even further surprised. A human head, but a robotic body. Metal made from silver, gold detailing on his hands, and he wore pants but no shirt. The woman wore tattered black clothing that covered only a portion of her chest, and the right sleeve went down to her wrist. She seemed displeased.

“Are you the robot we’re looking for?” she asked, her voice scratchy. Dominic could only stand there.

“Yeah, I’m Dominic,” he said, extending a hand. He’d seen this in many movies— humans shook hands with each other as a form of greeting. But she looked at his and back up at him, crossing her metal arms.

“0X239, we’re here on reconnaissance,” she said, “You’ve been in charge here for years, and there has never been a power issue. Now, there is.” Dominic would have swallowed if he had the capability to do so. Oh… the reactor core.

“Ah, yes,” he said, “That. Well you see there was an accident. And I had to shut it down indefinitely for the time being. So… uh… yes. Everything will be fine.”

“I told you to turn it back on,” Ai said disapprovingly, and he shot the camera a glare though it didn’t matter. He had no eyes to speak of.

“Yes, well,” the male one said, taking a step forward, “It’s important that we survey what’s been going on here. Can you take us on a tour?”

“Don’t ask,” the female spat, “He is not worth our time. Take us to your cores, show us what you do.” Dominic shrugged. They wouldn’t be happy with what they found, but he wasn’t one to refuse a request.

“This is not a good idea,” Ai said, and Dominic waved her away with a hand. She was just being paranoid, as per the usual.

“Can I just ask,” he said to them, “are you human?” The male smiled at him.

“We were, once,” he said, “But not anymore. We were in—”

“Don’t tell him anything!” the female screamed, “We’re none of his business!” Dominic chuckled, crossing his arms.

“Yes, well, you are in my home and you are asking me to show you my daily routine. That constitutes making you my business.” He spun on his heels just as the female growled, and he walked in the direction he’d come from.

“Come on,” he said humorously, glancing at them, “I haven’t got all day!”

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.