Remain. [NaNoWriMo '16]

[Sequel to NaNo '15 novel Run.] Ruling the world isn't as easy or as fun as it sounds, especially not when a group of angry angels are thrown into the mix. What's worse is that Baxel is without his right-hand man, who just so happens to be the key to everyone's plans.

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17. Sixteen: Shit Goes Down

    It was the shriek that alerted Damian both to the presence of the angels and the clear and immediate need for Baxel. “Goddamn it, Hillary,” Marcy muttered under her breath. “Be cool, girl.”

    It was too late. The damage was done. Not that Damian could really blame her. The angels were looking a little healthier after spending some time on earth, but they were still pale and gaunt and a little shriveled. Having three angels appear behind you out of nowhere was enough to earn a shriek. 

    “I am Samyaza,” the angel declared from his spot at the end of the long hallway. The other two stood slightly behind him, looking no less menacing. One had scars marring his face, deforming his features into something even more terrifying and hideous than the others. Everyone peeked out of the doorways, watching, but making no attempt to engage. “I am your ancestor. Bow before me.” 

    Almost before the words left his mouth, everyone’s knees hit the floor. Damian used the opportunity to duck back into the pitch black conference room. Damian was glad he’d had the forethought to pull the blackout shades down. Griffiths was kneeling, his gaze focused on Samyaza. Under his breath, he asked, “You have a back up plan, right?”

    “Yeah,” Damian whispered back. He pulled out his phone and called Baxel. 

    After a few rings, the demon’s familiar voice came across. “Hello?”

    “We need you here.”

    “But I was right about to-“

    Damian’s whisper turned to a hiss. “These sorcerers couldn’t intimidate a deer, and they can’t act to save their lives, which is literally what’s at stake. Get over here.”

    “Okay, okay. Alright. Got it, bye.”

    Damian shoved the phone back into his pocket and inched forward, still keeping out of sight of Samyaza. He was banking on the fact that Samyaza was pre-occupied with meeting his descendants and wasn’t searching through the light for stragglers. 

    “Stand,” Samyaza commanded. They stood. “Show me what you have accomplished. How have you furthered our blood? Where is your army, which cities have you conquered in my name?”

    Morris was the closest to Samyaza, and so the angels turned to him. “Um,” he said. 

    Venti stepped out into the hallway, the only one brave enough to. “This building is only for the leaders,” he said, his voice stronger than Damian expected. “The army is in a different camp, not far from here. This whole land is ours, from ocean to ocean.”

    Narrowing his eyes, Samyaza said, “I smell fear on all of you. How can the leaders of such a land be cowards? Show me your army.”

    Hesitating, Venti replied, “They’re not here. It would take several hours to get to-“

    Samyaza walked towards him, raising his hand and gripping Venti’s shoulder. “Visualize the place.”

    In a flash of light, all three angels disappeared, taking Venti with them. No one moved, no one breathed. Just as Damian was about to step forward and say something, there was a shift in the air of the hallway, and the GITS tensed. 

    “I, your savior, have arrived! Cower before me, angels,” Baxel boomed, appearing in a swirl of shadows and spreading his arms wide. His face fell when all he found were humans - terrified, cowering humans. That probably helped his ego at least a little bit. His eyes fell on Damian, who was standing next to Griffiths about halfway down the hallway. “I thought you said you needed me?” Baxel asked.

     “We do,” Damian replied. “Venti just gave a diversion, but it was stupid. In about ten seconds when they realize there is no army, they’ll be back, and they won’t be happy.” 

    Baxel grinned, the shadows swirling around his feet. “Excellent. I’m in the mood to fight.”  He glanced around at the other humans. “Oh, hi, guys. Please don’t try to kill me while I’m protecting you. That’d be rude.”

    Damian was willing to bet that the GITS were so confused at this point that they didn’t know who to consider the real threat. He stepped in, hoping that their trust in him would hold out a little longer. “He’s right,” Damian said to the group. “I know you don’t trust him and that’s justified, but right now, I swear to you, he’s on your side. We’re all against the angels.” 

    “Yep, see?” Baxel said, snapping his fingers. “Either way, I’m ordering you to fight the angels as hard as you can. By the end of this, we’re going to need as many of you alive as we-“

    There was a flash of white light and the angels were back, sans Venti.

    “Ah, I should have surmised,” Samyaza said, spotting Baxel and striding towards him from the other end of the hallway. It was like a scene from a wild west movie, only in an antiseptic white hallway and between two much more threatening beings than cowboys. “Baxel. It has been a long time.”

    “Samyaza,” Baxel replied, plastering his signature grin onto his face. He gestured to the other two in turn. “And Turiel and Azazel too! Man, isn’t this a party.”

    Azazel, the ones with scars crisscrossing his face, growled. “Five hundred years ago, you promised to free me. Instead, you left me to rot.”

    Baxel pursed his lips and nodded grimly. “Yeah, I vaguely remember that. But who doesn’t get distracted by the trials of everyday life? And come on, who holds a grudge for five hundred years, anyway? We were friends before that! We can be best buds again,” Baxel offered, spreading his hands. “Truce?”

    “No truce. You abandoned me.”

    “God, why does everyone have abandonment issues,” Baxel muttered almost too low for Damian to catch. “Well, fine, then,” he continued in a louder voice. “I guess it’s your move?”

    Samyaza snarled at the humans, who shied back in their doorways. “Our first move is to destroy these weaklings. They are a blight on our bloodline.”

    “Life pro tip,” Baxel offered, “no one says ‘blight’ anymore. Or ‘surmised’.” 

    “I will fight you.”

    Baxel’s face lit up. “Hey! We do say that! You’re catching on.” 

    Samyaza’s face darkened. “That was not an attempt to conform to modern linguistics. That was a declaration. I will fight you, and I will do it now.”

    Nodding, Baxel held up a hand. “Okay, counter-offer: we post pone the fight. Like we each get a day or two lead, then have this other, better, more organized fight on, like, Saturday. 12 o’clock. The parking lot out back the Ralph’s.”

    Baxel got his answer in the form of a bolt of light aimed straight at his head. Damian couldn’t help but notice that the shadows weren’t as quick to defend him without command as they used to be, but they still obeyed him when he raised them as a shield. The light broke into fragments, bouncing in every direction and becoming immaterial. “Okay, hang on, let’s talk about-“

    Two flashes of light shot at him this time, one from Samyaza and one from Azazel. Baxel blocked them just in time, but three against one was hardly an even fight. 

    “If we start to lose,” Damian whispered to Griffiths, “take the others and run.”

    “We?” Griffiths echoed. “Damian, you can’t be considering going out there-“

    Damian was already moving towards the doorway.

    “Damian!” the Professor hissed, grabbing Damian’s arm. 

    “Let me go,” Damian commanded as he heard the angels launch another attack. 

    The older man released his arm, but didn’t drop his gaze. “We’re not going anywhere. You heard Baxel’s command. But even without that, we’d fight behind you.”

    Damian held his eye contact for only a second, then nodded. He turned and stepped into the hallway, behind the angels advancing on Baxel. With both hands, he gathered the shadows, forming them into razor sharp whips and slashing them against the backs of the angels. The light diverted some of the shadows just in time, but a few made it through, carving radiant lines through their flesh. 

    “You,” Samyaza growled as he turned. “I should have killed you.”

    The moment Samyaza’s back was to Baxel, Baxel sent a shadow attack his way. Azazel and Turiel fended it off, but Baxel still laughed. “Ha! That’s my boy!” he called to Damian.

    “Don’t. Call,” Damian said, shooting shadows with every word, “Me. That.” He channeled his anger into attacks, forcing Samyaza to use his light to counter them. No matter how much Damian had trained and strengthened, he was no match for the angel, and he knew it. Samyaza waved away each stab of shadows like they were nothing more than wisps of smoke. Meanwhile, Baxel was getting into his fight, taking on two angels and seeming to quite enjoy himself. 

    “GITS!” Baxel bellowed. “What are you waiting for? Join the fun!”

    The hallway exploded with light and shadow and crackling energy as everyone threw everything they had at the angels. The angels were forced into the defensive; even though their light magic was considerably more powerful than the human-based energy magic, the GITS had spent their whole lives training with it. For as weak and cowardly as they tended to seem, when forced to give their ultimate effort, they were not to be underestimated. 

    Still, the angels were tenacious. They got in a few shots amongst the hurling energy orbs, and a few of the GITS went down with cries of pain. Damian was only dully aware of Griffiths hurling spell after spell at Azazel, who was weakening, but not fast enough. The energy magic drew from the stamina of humans, which was far less than that of angels. The GITS were already getting tired, and the moment their advantage of combined strength left them, they would be obliterated. 

    Damian had fought his way to Baxel at the other end of the hallway, who was still grinning as he swirled the shadows into sharp attacks. “Hey, Damian!” Baxel called when he was close enough. “Hold down the fort? I’ll be right back.”

    “Bax-“ Damian started to protest, but the demon was already gone. Cursing, Damian redoubled his efforts to fill Baxel’s absence. He hadn’t realized just how much of an impact the demon was having on the momentum of the battle until he was gone. Grateful that manipulating the shadows didn’t sap his energy like mortal magic did, Damian didn’t give them a break. 

    Shadow and light battled like victors, each one of them demanding their rightful place on top of the other. Damian sent shadows across the floor to come up in a cloud and surround the angels, cut them off from some of their light, but it was a struggle. The shadows kept dispersing, cut through by the piercing light. Damian tried harder, and the coalescing dark on the ground was at least enough to distract a little from the weakening GITS. 

    Near helpless, Damian could do nothing but keep attacking and watch as the GITS numbers dwindled. A few of the older members passed out, their strength completely gone. Three others fell injured, and as the angels gained the upper hand, that number was only bound to grow. Griffiths was doing the best of all of them, apart from Hillary, who, despite her cowardly squeal, could throw a mean energy ball. Even so, Damian knew they wouldn’t last much longer. 

    “Baxel,” he growled at no one. “Where are you?”

    With a yell, Samyaza sent a burst of light across the hallway, blinding everyone. Damian went to shield his eyes only to find that he couldn’t move, so surrounded by light. Drawing at the light powers he had neglected during the battle, he forced the brightness away from himself, allowing a comforting coating of darkness to surround him. When the light faded, the GITS still stood frozen, squinting in pain. Damian, on the other hand, could see perfectly as Samyaza took a step forward and the other angels flanked him. 

    “You will never be a match for us,” Samyaza promised. “And, although my descendants put up a surprisingly good fight given my… lowered expectations, they have turned their backs on the light. They have fallen to mere mortal magics,” he spat. “You all have no place under my rule.”

    “You don’t rule anything,” Damian growled, his fists clenched at his sides. “Baxel does.”

    Samyaza waved a hand. “Yes, I have heard of Baxel’s ring. It shall be mine soon enough,” he declared. “And when it is, I will rule the world. I will cause such destruction that God himself will have to descend to protect his creation,” Samyaza said, his lips splitting into a disturbing grin. “And my father and I have a few things to discuss.”

    “Yes, well, I have a few things to discuss with you too,” Baxel said, materializing in Damian’s little bubble of shadows. They were pressed shoulder to shoulder, but with Baxel’s presence, the shadows drove back the light even farther. “Mostly how I’ve just commanded every one of your human servants to kill as many Nephilim as they could.”

    Samyaza’s grin dropped from his face. “My angels will stop them.” 

    Baxel shrugged. “Maybe. Maybe when they get done dealing with the really pissed off angel that I just pointed in their direction and told to wreak havoc.”

    “What angel?” Samyaza demanded. “The angels are all in heaven.”

    “Well, I guess he’s not technically an angel just like I’m not technically a demon but for all intents and purposes…” Baxel shrugged. “Whatever you want to call him - abomination, maybe? - He’s pretty pissed, and he’s surprisingly good at getting revenge and keeping people occupied. So by the time your angels realize that the Nephilim are being slaughtered in their beds…” Baxel trailed off, his lips pulling into a smirk. “Will there be any left to save?”

    Samyaza’s glare was more terrifying than his grin. “This is not over. The ring will be mine, I will rule the world, and I will take back Heaven.”

    With a nod to the other two angels, Samyaza disappeared with them in a flash of light, leaving about a dozen exhausted GITS and Damian and Baxel looking at each other. Baxel clapped his hands, smiling. “Well, that went well.”

    The six unconscious figures on the floor begged to differ.

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