They sent me after this one. Just like they always send me after the rest.
Several years ago, the very thought of being "sent" anywhere or ordered around would be enough to send me barrelling into a fight. My ego transcended the heavens and continued to unknown galaxies.
But something happened.
Something that involved me dying, a lot of heat — enough to melt your underwear away — and a fallen angel.
Ever since that incident I've been working for 'Them'. You'll figure out soon enough. But if you're curious, here's a riddle; A group of people, human but with more power to end or divide the world...
did you guess it?
You're quite dumb if you didn't.
Know this and know this now — I am not a good person. My job is hunting metaphysical beings and dark creatures who escaped Hades. And you don't hunt these things with a jolly attitude,my friends. Trust me, any sliver of kindness you had in your body would evaporate on your very first mission.
'They' send me to deal with these things. I do the dirty work,and in return they help me track down the little beasties and shoulder any collateral damage.
Just point me in the right direction and fire me like a bullet,that's it
Don't get me wrong. I like to work alone,and for myself.
But I need them. Well not me exactly but the guy inside me. The THING inside me. It needs to hunt.
This one they'd sent me to capture is rich. I wonder what kind of monster she's hosting. Must be a Djinn. Djinns love their jewellery. And this lady is practically drowning in bling.
She's a fine specimen though. Tall, lean but very curvy where it matters. Her hair is a purely white but fades into dark gray where it reaches her shoulders. She's wearing a leopard pattern coat. Underneath it is a shapely turquoise or blue dress. I'm not sure.
It's hard to get a sharp focus on her figure; she's glittering with excessive precious stones.
I can still remember the chief baptising me with saliva as he briefed me on the mission
"Her name is Victoria Johnson, known on the streets as 'Lady Jay'"
He'd been pacing back and forth as he spoke. It left me wondering how his spit could still reach me all the way from the end of the meeting table. No matter how many times I changed my seating position,I could never escape the downpour.
I watch the woman as she receives several visitors into her Casino. Several top level vehicles pull up one after the other in front of her; the owner would step out and she'd throw them a fake smile and gesture inside.
Starting my bike, I crack my knuckles and mentally prepare for the work ahead. If it's a Djinn inside her then I'll be going home with some broken bones tonight. Djinns are downright as nasty as they are selfish.
I follow behind the next car slowly. For a brief second, the woman looks up at me.
Is she onto me already?
Nah, had I imagined it
My front tire softly collides with the bumber of the car in front of me; I'd been too focused on the woman.
The car door slams as a buff bouncer exits the car. His eyes slowly fall on me and he starts moving towards me. I remove my helmet so that my peripheral vision won't be limited while I confront the guy.
Soon he's in front of me, towering like Big ben over Westminster.
"You're going to pay for the damage" he growls.
Christ! if the chief is the king of spit, this guy is the duke of smellville.
Perhaps it isn't so bad,to the average person. But I'm not average..my sense of smell is enhanced and this guy has succeeded in blocking every nostril I have.
"What damage?" I growl back.
He doesn't even check before he repeats "You're going to pay for the damage."
He proceeds to step forward and bunch up his shoulders.
Tough smelly guy.
"I don't see any damages, my bro" I reply calmly. There is actually no damage. But I guess this is what they do to anybody. Anybody that will take it.
My eyes absentmindedly wander to the woman. She's talking to the owner of the car. The latter doesn't seem bothered about the car. Infact I don't think he even knows that I may or may not have scraped his ride. He seems more intent on touching the woman.
"... going to give you a pounding."
my mind snaps back to the brute infront of me. He'd been talking. I must have zoned out.
I yawn, and stretch my hand towards him.
"Sure bro, let's shake on it."
He looks down at my outstretched hand.
He looks like he wants to spit on it in disgust. But he soon takes it.
Suddenly he starts pressing down on it.
Ah,I see. My boy was trying to express his physical strength over mine. Boring.
I shift my attention to the target again.
She's...she's doing something to the man!
White tendrils are seeping from her hands into the man's body. The latter is convulsing. Yet there's a feverish smile on his face.
I need to move. Now!
"Arrghhhhhh" the bouncer screams. I'm channelling some of the Inner guy's rage into my hand. It first of all manifests as searing heat.
The bouncer tries to rip his hand away but I hold on. His screams go from alarmed to hysteric.
Immediately,I drag him towards me. Then using his momentum I launch myself forwards, and towards Lady Jay.
Her eyes snap to me. They're glowing. Stark white.
At first there's a look of surprise on her face but she recovers quickly and throws her arms upward.
The tendrils transform to jetstreams as they shoot at me.
I feel a cold energy emanating from them as they reach me while I'm still mid-air.
Science class, kids. What's the best remedy for cold?
Friggin heat. And if there's anything I'm good at. It's bringing the heat.
I summon the Inner guy. He's happy to be free. I feel his excitement and rage as his power flows through my veins.
His one desire; 'Burn'
I tear through her wave of cold energy with my flaming body. I'm ready to deliver the finishing blow. I'm ready to send her back where she came from.
But her reaction time shocks me again as she immediately builds up a shield from that same cold energy. I crash into it.
For a second our eyes lock. Her face holds the same question mine does
'What are you?'
She's definitely not a Djinn. Djinns don't use cold energy.
Is she a...?
She doesn't let me complete the thought. I barely have time to dodge as she launches several cold darts at me.
It's faint but I notice it quickly; each time her energy passes by me, tendrils reach out to drain my life force. Ofcourse the inner guy just keeps getting angrier and pumping more fuel into me so I don't have to worry.
But I still have to end her. This kind of power shouldn't exist in this world.
More determined than ever, I push forward. I abandon defense as I charge through dart after dart. They sting but I heal fast.
Her subordinates open fire on me as I close the gap between us.
I leave control of my right side to the Inner guy. Eagerly he obliges and begins to throw fire balls at the attackers.
Using my left hand I grab Lady Jay's neck and begin to recite the exorcism spell. She thrashes around and desperately begins to pour her energy into me, trying to suppress me. But when her cold powers threaten to freeze my very soul, the inner guy roars and sends more of his rage and flames to counter.
He's enjoying it; It's been long since we went all out.
"Immortal flame,to be quenched nay," I recite.
Something doesn't feel right.
"I stand here today,a vessel of the Divine
Let the spirits bear me witness
Let the flames hark me hither.."
By now the fear has gone out of Lady Jay's eyes. She's also stopped fighting. Now she stands transfixed..staring ah me like I am the answer to something.
This is wrong. What's going on here.
With doubt in my mind I continue to recite
"...With my will bred
in the hearth of the
I now call
forth the monster
to be quenched nay.."
I stop. She's...not possessed. There's no Force inside her.
I don't know what she is
I can't see it. I can't sense it.
This has to be what's been bothering me since. Normally I could sense the darkness from a mile away but with her there'd been nothing. No demon to exorcise.
At this rate I'll only end up removing her soul.
That wouldn't be exorcism. That'd be murder.
And that's when I lost consciousness.
He's always waiting.
My inner guy.
He's always waiting for me to slip and give him control. And in my moment of confusion, I did just that.
"Do you have any idea the amount of havoc he wreaked! Thousands! Thousands of property. Gone in a flash" Chief screams at me.
I clench my teeth.
It's been several hours since I woke up.
And since then I've just been receiving scoldings from everyone in the organization.
"I lost it for a second, chief" I try to explain. "I —"
A set of papers lands on my lap.
"Read it," snarled the chief.
They're News letters.
I read the first heading:
FIERY MONSTER MAN BURNS THROUGH CITY BLOCK. 17 WOUNDED, 1 MISSING.
He shifts at the mention of his name. He's always been touchy about it.
'What is wrong with you?' I yell inwardly.
'So many,' he hisses back. 'So many monsters in that place — I did my duty. I sent them back to the depths!'
'You burnt people,' I gritted my teeth. 'Innocent people's
'Since when have you cared about innocence,' Azriel finally replies. 'You see the world as black or white,good or bad. That's who you are!'
'You don't know me'
'Hello, I'm LIVING inside you.'
Somehow hearing him say plainly that he's "inside me" make me want to vomit.
"...are you even listening?"
Chief glares at me through his thick lens. His chest is heaving up and down with so much force I'm actually worried it might explode.
"I am," I lie.
He doesn't look like he buys my bullshit.
"Are you..." he suddenly shifts uncomfortably, "are you talking to the guy inside?"
I don't answer. He already knows.
They're all nervous when it comes to confronting Azriel. Everyone in the organization. Cowards.
They'll mouth off at me without fear. But if I even suggest summoning Azriel to the table they scatter like rats.
I open my mouth to play that card again but I'm interrupted by blaring alarms.
Everyone in the room looks just as surprised.
For a second no one does anything. The alarm continues to ring as the room is basked in red emergency lights.
Chief is the first to act.
"Bravo one,copy" he speaks into his ear comms. "What's the state of emergency"
He pauses, listening. I realize that everyone else in the room is also leaning to the side like him, listening to their own comms.
Wait, am I the only who didn't get a cool ear comm?
"What!" Chief exclaims.
I lean forward, raising an eyebrow in question. He doesn't answer me.
He's sweating now. Around him the workers are moving frantically, gathering files and the minutes of the meeting.
"What's going on?" I ask no one in particular. And indeed, No one answers.
I open my mouth to ask again but I am once again interrupted.
The wall behind me explodes.
Chief and the others dive to the floor for cover.
Dust,iron and pieces of Lead fly around me.
A few graze me but the injuries are gone just as fast as they appear. Azriel's responding fast, healing me incase there's a fight coming.
I can feel the other wounds on my back — no doubt gotten from the explosion — stitching themselves up. The pain is nothing I can't manage. I've felt worse.
I'm still trying to figure out what's going on when a pair of long slender fingers suddenly threads my shoulders.
I feel her before I see her.
That cold power. That freezing enigma.
Lady Jay. So she survived Azriel's mad spree. I don't know if I should be impressed or wary now.
"Heya, Mr.Fireman," She whispers into my ear.
A cold mist flows from her lips and encases my face. Instantly I sense it again. My life force dripping away in slow,tiny drops.
Azriel snarls and burns the mist away.
Lady Jay chuckles,as if pleased by the reaction.
"What are you doing here?" I ask. I use this time to check my surroundings. If the chief and the crew are okay and mobile then I may be able to act. But if they aren't I'll have to worry about hurting them when I flame out.
Lady Jay sits on the charred table, wiping away the debris.
"Me? Maybe you've forgotten," she leaned down to look me in the eye as she continued "You came to me first."
"I thought you were... something I hunt," I reply. "But you weren't, so you'd better leave now."
She cocked her head, "Or what?"
I don't answer. If there's one thing I hate it's being tested.
My look must have said it all because she quickly threw up her hands in mock surrender.
"Chill, Big man I come in peace," she said with a grin that said otherwise.
"Do you want to die?" I growl. I have no intention to harm her. She's not a host. I only hunt hosts. But those powers are still a problem.
Her abilities must come from a gene mutation. I've heard of those but this is my first time seeing it up close. It's..weird.
I look up, confused. "What?"
She throws her coat of her shoulder and leans further down than I thought possible from her current position.
She takes my open palm and wraps it around her neck.
Then she whispers, in a tone that doesn't align with what she says.
"I said I want to die, Mr Fireman. That thing you were doing — that weird incantation — the one that made me feel like my soul was leaving my body. Do it again."
She tightened her grip on my hand.
"I came here to die, Mr. Fireman. Do it again."