Eternal Ch. 05byFeotakahari©
This chapter is sort of gay, so consider yourself warned if you're a straight guy.
With a faint popping sound, more than forty figures appeared in a parking lot. From a position several feet off the ground, they landed with more or less grace according to their natures--thirty tempters managing graceful rolls, ten sword spiders crushing the cars beneath them, and two greater demons at least landing on their feet.
Belial was the first to recover from teleportation, and as such, the first to notice that they weren't alone. With a wave of his hand and a bit of his power, an unfortunate bystander hit the ground, bleeding from her mouth and nose. He spun in a circle, searching for more targets--and found no more people, and only a few cars left unsmashed. "I don't know about you, Judith," he said, "but I'm disappointed."
"We're a ways from any National Guard base," Judith replied, "and I think we have the police outmatched. Given twenty minutes, we'll be able to kill everyone in these buildings. It'll strike fear into citizens everywhere, that we attacked somewhere with no strategic value, just for the sake of killing." She smiled beatifically. "Of course, if we happen to kill someone whose soul I want, all the better."
"Yes, this 'Neil' guy," he replied. "You never told me what your problem with him was."
"I believe he's hiding out in the abandoned office building just in front of us," Judith said, ignoring the implied question. "Our time is limited--the parking lot's clear, but surely someone heard the noise. Send two of your sword spiders to clear it out, and I'll have my tempters take the buildings behind us. The rest of the spiders can guard us while I charge up to teleport us back."
Belial was powerful, given his young age--powerful enough that he could have controlled forty imps--and there were few demons he took orders from. Judith could have controlled sixty imps, and more than once, she'd survived refusing orders from demons who could control two hundred. Rather than argue, he simply relayed the order.
"Curt, you take the lower floors. Randall, you're on the upper ones. Slice up anything that breathes." And, because he knew Randall's will had not yet broken, "Slice up anything that holds its breath, too."
-- -- -- --
It could easily be assumed that someone who's died and been reborn is scared of nothing. Within five minutes of entering the building, Randall knew that assumption was mistaken.
The power had long since been cut--neither the lights nor the central heating functioned. Only by staying near the windows could he navigate in the gloom, edging past abandoned desks. He searched each of the upper floors, moving faster than was strictly necessary, and when he reached the top, he was certain no one was there.
"Twitchy, aren't you? I'd expect a big spiky spider to be less afraid of the dark."
Randall spun awkwardly on eight legs to confront the source of the noise, and found a dweebish-looking man in a slept-in suit, who stared at him with an inscrutable expression.
"I was afraid, too. I wanted so much to hide, and this was the perfect place to do it--in the place where I worked, not so long ago, before the world fell apart and the main office stopped sending instructions. But you would have found me anyways, wouldn't you? Just like the other one, you would have found me. At least I can face death with dignity."
He must be over thirty, and he's still an overgrown child, Randall thought. Time to shut this twerp up. He raised one limb to strike--
"Go ahead, do it. It's what we all deserve."
What the fuck? Maybe it would be better not to kill this strange man just yet. Randall slashed shallowly at him with his knife-tongue, savoring the blood on the blade as his target yelled out in pain.
Are you Neil? Randall called out along the psychic link.
Not everyone's response to sudden telepathy is intelligent or dignified--particularly when they're cradling their bleeding arm. "What?"
You're Neil, aren't you, kid? The guy Judith hates? I'm supposed to kill you, but I think I have a few minutes before anyone gets antsy. We're all alone on this floor, and even without a Contract, this link will take a while to fade. I'd like to know, what the hell's your story with her?
Neil drew himself up to his full height (five foot eight.) "I'm not telling you anything if you're just going to kill me."
Sorry, kid, but my orders are to slice you up--Randall put two and two together. Not to kill you! They implied it, but nobody actually told me "kill Neil!" Kid, how'd you like to live through this? It's said that someone who makes a Contract with a sword spider can heal from almost anything.
"A deal with something like you? No way."
Then I hope you enjoy it while I cut you to bits. Your pain will be delicious--I'll draw it out, make it last as long as I can . . .
"All right, you've got me. What do I need to do?"
You'll follow any order I give, and in return, most weapons won't hurt you. They'll cut you, but you'll heal in an instant. You need to know and want this, and you need to hold still.
"I accept--" Neil began, and Randall cut at him again, drinking more of his blood to seal the contract. If it worked, that cut should heal before I finish this thought. But my orders require a few more.
Neil stood absolutely still while the incisions were made, letting his suit be torn to pieces, and Randall was surprised to discover a strange taste to his pain--like what should have been smoked cod was instead a strawberry sundae. That ought to be enough. I'll try to meet you here after sundown--
"That's not enough," Neil said, his eyes gleaming in a manner that gave Randall pause. "I just made a deal with--I don't even know what. This is the worst thing I've ever done." He turned his back to Randall. "Please, give me what I deserve."
The request was polite, but there was something in his tone that did not brook disobedience, Contract or no Contract. Randall could not remember having ever been more unnerved than at that moment, standing silently in the gloom as he carefully sliced through the back of Neil's suit.
"Slower. It needs to be slow." The taste filled Randall in a way he'd never been filled before, penetrating him far deeper than he penetrated Neil, even as he finished the pattern of lines and began to crisscross it. "Yes, that--Agh! That's perfect. Just a little deeper . . ."
Randall felt oddly drunk, and in his stupor, he made a mistake. The deeply sunken blade did not truly harm Neil--little could, now--but with a yelp, he went limp, unconscious from pain.
Randall let him slide off the blade and drop to the floor. There's liking a little slap in your slap and tickle, and then there's this. What the hell did Judith do to this kid?
Deep inside, he asked himself another question: Why do I want to do this again?
-- -- -- --
In a corner of the room, a third presence stood silent and still. It is the power of an imp to not be noticed in darkness.
This particular imp was known as Alice, and her loyalties were to Judith--so much so, in fact, that she was trusted to be Judith's eyes and ears in other places. She'd been warned that Neil might survive this encounter, and instructed to report back on the results.
It's too bad Judith probably won't approve another trip here, she thought. Risky as it is, I would have loved to see where this is going.