Chapter 7 - Pendulums Swing
By: Andrew J. Kolesar
Jack stood on New York’s mean streets looking for the out of place. Unfortunately it was New York and everything was out of place. The streets were always filled no matter what time of night, and to even the keenest eye, it was hard to tell the demons from the “normal” people. New York sure had her share of weirdness, and tonight was no different from any other.
Just then Jack felt Pheonix lay her chin on his shoulder, he was about to make some obscure joke when he caught what her eyes were upon. There, at the mouth of an alley was a creature in a beat up trench coat. At first glance it was just a bum, but on further inspection the hands of the bum were definitely not human. Reddish black skin covered the hand while long black claws graced the end of the gnarled fingers. Jack gave Raven a nudge and soon the four young warriors were watching the beast.
To their surprise however, the beast turned on them and gave them a wicked grin. It knew it was being watched and decided to show them what it had done, at that a body was thrown at their feet. It was hard to tell, but at one time this person had been female. Now all that remained was a few pieces of bone and muscle with flesh hanging on in tatters here and there. Maeve yelled out in surprise and all four of the demon hunters jumped back. The beast bellowed out a roaring laugh, its yellow eyes gleaming by the street light.
In a heart beat, the warriors had their weapons out, and Maeve shifted into lupus form. The demon cast off its coat and stood to its full height, over eight feet tall. Raven and Pheonix were not impressed at all, for several years now they had fought beings such as this. To them it was just another battle. But to Jack and Maeve, this was something completely different; sure they had faced goblins, death children, had solved mysteries and riddles, but up to now, neither had faced an actual demon. But neither Jack nor Maeve froze, for them too, it was just another battle.
The four broke up and started to circle the demon like a pack of ravenous wolves cornering their prey. Even though their looks were determined, their weaponry tough, the demon itself did not take its opponents seriously enough. Had it not underestimated these four humans, it might have had a better chance.
Pheonix fell back ten feet from her companions and brought her sniper rifle up to her shoulder. Maeve lunged at the demon’s chest, wicked looking claws raked at its skin. Jack, katana and pistol in hand went to the demon’s back as Raven grabbed a hand grenade, tossing it from hand to hand.
Pheonix waited patiently for a clear shot, sure the demon stood eight feet tall, but in lupus form, so did Maeve. Normally the talented young lady had no patience, it was a virtue that skipped her and went straight to her brother. But when looking down the scope of a rifle, she was a rock, steady and true. Her patience then could last standing in one spot for hours. And for Maeve who was blocking the demon, that was a very good thing.
Jack was the first of the four to land an actual injury on the demon. After circling the beast Jack realized that the demon thought this was just some kind of play. Though the demon did act a bit surprised when Maeve shifted into lupus form, it all but ignored everyone else. Jack thought it was about time to give this thing a reality check and with a hard slash to the ribs, Jack laid the demon open with one mighty cut. The demon bellowed in pain and rage, with one clawed hand it slapped Maeve aside and went to reach around for Jack. But the second that Maeve was in the clear a single shot echoed out.
Jack jumped back as the demon clutched its eye he was about to make another strike when he saw Maeve shove ten long, razor sharp claws into the beast’s belly. The demon howled again in pain, fell to its knees, with its head thrown back. Then the horrendous sounds stopped short and a look of confusion suddenly crossed the demon’s features. Jack, Pheonix, and Maeve looked confused as well, that was until they saw the thing swinging from Raven’s finger, a pin to a grenade. At that the demon’s head exploded covering the four warriors in blood and gore. Through it all, Jack noticed that Raven bore an insane looking smile, a smile that only a mad man would have. Then Jack realized it was the same type of smile he often wore. Jack knew immediately that he liked Raven, the boy was a lunatic. Suddenly Jack didn’t feel so alone.
As the shock of the demon’s exploding head wore off, everyone began to check for injuries. Only Maeve was slightly injured with a bruise on her cheek. They began to congratulate themselves when Shadowolf appeared.
“You kids did a great job, you worked together better than I would have thought you too. However, I do have some criticism for you.” Shadowolf started, and then stopped. He knew the twins were about to interrupt him anyway.
And as expected, Raven and Pheonix both started in on Shadowolf. Both of them were highly offended at the thought of their performance rolls being anything less than perfect. After a few minutes of trying to calm them down, Shadowolf gave up and just let them talk, he cast a spell and a stool appeared. ‘Might a well get comfortable, this could take awhile.’ He thought.
After several minutes of hearing the debate, Jack loudly interrupted. He could tell that Maeve was as tired of this argument as well.
“Look guys; let’s just hear what Shadowolf has to say. All four of us know that we took down the demon fairly easily. But there’s obviously something he saw that we didn’t about our performance. There’s no need to argue about it.” Jack stated.
“Right you are Mr. Karde. The four of you fought wonderfully, believe me, that wasn’t an easy demon to defeat. You twins should know that. The problem was that your reactions were to slow, when he first faced you, the four of you should have burst into movement immediately, but you all hesitated. Had he been an even greater demon one if not all of you might have died. The other problem was; the four of you did not fight in perfect harmony with one another. Yes, you fought well, yes, you killed the beast, yes, and you did it relatively fast. But had you been in perfect sync with one another, Pheonix would not have had to wait to fire her weapon; perfect sync means that Maeve would have instinctively known to clear the shot. The four of you definitely have some training to do, but all in all you did a good job. Especially for a first time together, you all seem to know what roll you’ll play, and that’s good. But you four are meant to travel in places that others dare not even venture, so you must be a perfect fighting unit, no mistakes can be made, ever!” Shadowolf said.
At that he got up off his stool and cast a spell. A black portal appeared before them again and with a single hand gesture, Shadowolf beckoned them inside.