NPC Log Seven: Shades of Death

Daimon thought to himself about how it would be so easier if he just went home and straightened this whole mess out.

The three of them entered the apartment. Some of it had been trashed. The computer was on the floor, books were on the walls, and the desk had been emptied. One of the couches were upended, and several of the pictures had fallen off the walls. It looked like a struggle.

The man reached down and picked up the large orange cat who was hissing at them, and stroked it calmingly. "Relax, Xor. It's just me. Come on, you know me. Damn cat." He dropped it back to the floor.

The two thin women, looking like night and day, picked through the mess, feeling disheartened. They had expected this, of course. But it had happened, and it was always sort of a shock. They had been here just the other day, so they knew the mess was recent.

"It looks like struggle," Mickey said, trying to right the couch. "But there wasn't anyone here. Daimon's in Michigan, remember? As is Terry. The two screwballs of the apocalypse."

The man grunted. His attention was taken by a framed picture on the wall. It looked yellowed, an old photograph from decades gone. It depicted someone who looked startling like himself, except in a suit of a bygone era and a handlebar moustache. He was leaning on a piano, grinning. At the keyboard was a pretty, thin young woman, her hair piled up on her head, dressed in flapper garb, also grinning at the camera.

The other woman looked over his shoulder. "This was in Chicago in the 1920's, right, Erlithan?"

He shrugged. He picked up another framed picture off of the table under the photos on the wall. In it was another photograph of two people, himself in a suit, the tall thin pretty woman with short hair sitting on a stool with a guitar on her lap, wearing a sweater and a long skirt. He had his arm around her back. They both looked happy. He shook his head and put the photograph down.

"You've never been here, have you?" The blond woman asked, surprised. He looked over at the Mercurian and scowled, biting back a comment.

"I can use some help over here, if you two are done mooning and being poetic and shit," Mickey called, as she struggled with the couch. Her twin walked over to help her out.

Erlithan walked over to the trashed Macintosh, broken on the floor. Connected to it through dozens of cables, sideways on the floor. was a very expensive professional quality Roland keyboard. Standing in a puddle of books, cleared from the nearby shelf, he prodded the keyboard with his toe. "Didn't anyone ever tell him that demons aren't supposed to create? Talk about someone who couldn't get a clue if it bit him in the ass."

The couch came up with a wumph. Mickey called to the elder man over her shoulder. "If you get any more bitter, I'm going to have to smack you."

"Fuck off, Zarell."

"Wow, he's still in love. Isn't it cute?" said Minnie.

"Yeah, about as cute as..." Mickey started, but trailed off.

Erlithan left his haze of hate and bent down to look at what was hidden underneath the couch. He rubbed his hand over the spot on the carpetting. "I would say this is blood. It goes well with the draperies." The two Impudites looked at each other.

Minnie left her side of the couch. "I'm going to check out the rest of this place."

As the Mercurian went off, not one to listen to confirmation, the two demons looked around, silently picking up bits of personal detrious that was left on the floor, unconsiously trying to make the place a little more habitable.

When a scream came from the bedroom, they stopped.

On the other hand, Daimon thought, there might be some bonus to being killed publically, but it would destroy his role. The drama might just be worth it. He couldn't shake the feeling that it would be an incredible irony, a massive joke, and as a high placed Servant of Comedy, it might be the right thing to do.

The Impudite opened the door slowly. His partner, a Djinn, breathed behind him, holding his .45 with the muzzle toward the ceiling.

The Impudite pushed his hair back, and whistled low. "Man, this place has been trashed. I bet whatever went on here would have made for a good scene in a suspense movie. You know, they come looking for records..."

The Djinn ignored his partner's prattle. He was used to it, so he stopped and adjusted his pony tail in a cracked mirror hanging on the living room wall.

The Impudite shuffled around in the papers, wondering what he was doing in a Dominican's apartment. He'd never been in Heaven, but he'd heard bad things about them. The Fuzz, he thought, never get a good rap nohow. He started to imagine a funny action show, with a Dominican and his Asmodean sidekick, having to bring down the dangerous Renegades of New York while dealing with their personal differences. Yeah, and that one scene where they have to deal with the crazy Renegade Shedim who is holding the Mayor, no less, as a hostage. His mind churned with ideas.

Maybe, the Impudite thought, this wasn't such a bad idea after all. He cursed his Boss, but hey, sometimes his Boss has some good suggestions after all.

The Impudite leaned down to pick up a couple of crumpled records spread on the floor. He never saw the dark shape in the doorway.

There was a report of a gun, and the dead vessel of the Impudite slumped over the mess of papers on the floor, his brains a gray mist of clumpy blood on the wall behind him. The Djinn brought his gun around, and he got off a few shots before he was taken down too.

The shape walked out of the apartment.

The Impudite's phone inside his suit rang and rang and rang.

Daimon didn't know. He decided he didn't really know anything at all. Cold against his thigh, reverberating with his presence, was the small gold coin mounted on a gold chain. It had cost him much.

Minnie and Mickey were sick. Erlithan shook his head, arms crossed. "At least he can see her more often now."

Minnie came out of the bathroom, looking pale. "That's horrible."

"Yet funny," he said.

Mickey called out from where she was worshipping the porcelin god. "Your kind makes me sick."

Erlithan shrugged. "Literally, it seems." He looked at the body with a frown. "Now we'll never know if she has a double pupil, because she no longer has any eyes. Ah, a shame. I figured Daimon would go in for freaks. What was her name?"

"Bethany," Minnie said. "He kind of liked her, about as much as he ever likes humans. Which is just enough."

Mickey came out of the bathroom, still looking sick. The three of them stood there and pondered the body, or what was left of it. Someone had taken their time. She had been killed slowly, bound by chains with hooks through her skin to the bedposts, silenced by a gag in her mouth. Her eyes had been removed, and she had been slit from throat to sternum, carefully exposing her innards. Her naked arms and legs showed hundreds of little cuts. The bedspread beneath her was soaked through with blood. Some had splashed on the walls and on the floor, splattering tactfully chosen paintings with a red montage.

The most notable was the words written in a scrawl in dark red dry blood across the wall. In large, drippy letters across was:

"At least," Erlithan said with a trace of mirth in his voice, "the guy has great taste in quotes. That's Ezekiel." He paused. "He's working for Beleth now, you think? Do you think this could POSSIBLY be an indication of Nightmares? Nah. Then he would have done something cool with the eyes. Carving them out has been done."

"For us to find?" asked Minnie, knowing she wouldn't get an answer.

Mickey grunted behind her. "Fuck this. I'm not dealing with this asshole. I'm calling Valefor."

But there was Brightness and expectations and all this other nonsense going on, Daimon thought. It didn't matter, he was sliding into the depression that comes with too much dissonance. He knew too much of that was fatal.

Terry, sitting in the passanger seat in the truck next to Maxwell, stared down at his phone with a feeling of intense dread. He didn't want to be caught up in this. He had made a career of avoiding confrontations most of his life, so much that he missed the initial Fall and had to do it by himself. That's how he survived.

And dammit if he wasn't really starting to like the Cherub. Baby, falling for angels was a bad scene. No good ever came of it, none at all. It just wasn't his thing. He tried to keep that in mind as he thought about the next time he was gonna see her.

The small team in New York wasn't picking up. Maybe they were distracted. Maybe they had turned the phone off. Maybe the signal wasn't getting through.

He called his home base in LA, and it was picked up promptly. A little manuevering and he got to his secretary.

"Boss, the Producer called," Doreen said. "And boy was he pissed. he wants to know what the hell is going on out there. He said we've got two in Trauma, and one lost a force..."

He swore in demonic, and hung up the phone. He looked over at the kid in the seat with the big sword. He was thinking about maybe it was time to do a little side switching. Oh, not go doing something stupid like Redemption. He'd been to Heaven, and it didn't even have an outlet mall. That was just not his scene. No, he was thinking that working for the bad guys in all this just was a bad move. Hell, the good guys made for better watching.

He leaned back in his seat, forming what he was gonna tell this kid. Angels, Demons, who the hell cared? Nybbas was an equal opportunity employer.

Daimon, somewhere in his head, sighed. He needed to pull himself together. There was a fight to be had. Another one in a series, for celestials who didn't give a fuck if he lived or died. And not a fight for the one who did, whom he missed with a passion bordering on pain. It was all part of a War he didn't believe in.

He was getting pretty goddamn sick of the whole business.

"I want them all killed, and my daughter brought to me in chains," he said.

Billy Ray closed his eyes against the waves of Lust, as his Master spoke in a quiet sibilant voice behind his shoulder. He stood there, backstage, behind the curtain, arms crossed. He was getting angry, getting absorbed into business he just didn't care much about. He wanted it done, quickly. "Fine, but I need some support."

A soft breath. "You will have what you need."

The Balseraph squinted up at the open tether above the Collesium. He supposed he would.

Flaming edge graphics from Our Domain Gallery of Graphics
The "In Nomine" and "flaming feather" graphics are
(C) 1997 Steve Jackson Games, Incorporated.
Used with fnord.