|Dirt on the Grave
Author: Jealous Rage PM
The war between Demons and Angels spilled over into humanity two decades ago. Caught in the crossfire, the humans were forced to take sides and have been locked in a fight for their own survival ever since.Rated: Fiction M - English - Supernatural/Adventure - Words: 4,737 - Reviews: 1 - Favs: 1 - Follows: 2 - Published: 11-23-11 - id: 2973354
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Conceived to kill, living just to die
Hell in a handbasket, why even try?
Death on death makes the world go round
Fitting to live six feet underground
— Black Label Society - Ain't Life Grand
Ain't Life Grand
It was dark, darker than they had expected. The clouds, thick and heavy, obscured the moon almost completely; only a tiny sliver of white light filtered through, not nearly enough to brighten the streets. The group was forced to resort to flashlights to aide their search.
"Anything yet?" Garreth's voice was quiet, barely above a whisper.
Tina looked around, shining her light down an alleyway. There was skittering of tiny feet—a rat—but nothing jumped out at her. There was no tell-tale shine of light reflecting back off inhuman eyes. As she looked, the rat ran farther down the alley, disappearing into a small hole into the building on the right.
"Nothing," she replied, as she turned her light on the crumbling building to the left of the alley. Its face had a gaping hole in it, several feet wide and nearly six feet tall. Pointing her light at the hole, she peered inside the building—the sign above the hole identified it as the remains of a shoe store—and saw nothing out of the ordinary. "All clear here."
"Same here," Garreth replied. "Found a couple bodies, but they're months old. Doesn't look like any demons have been through here in a long time."
"All right. You want us to head back to you?" Tina asked, as she shined her light farther up the street. It illuminated more of the same; broken, crumbling buildings and torn up asphault.
"Yeah. We'll wait for you at the corner of Williams and Thirteenth."
"Okay. We're on our way." Closing the psychic link that allowed her to communicate with the other group leader, Tina turned to her two companions. "Let's go, guys. Garreth didn't find anything either, so we're heading back."
"Great. Yet another failed trip." Steve shook his head as the trio turned and started back the way they came. "How the fuck are we supposed to catch up to Dave if we never find any goddamn demons?"
Tina snorted and shook her head. "I don't know. I've got some hope for next time though. I was talking to Amy earlier and she told me we're probably getting assigned to sector six tomorrow. That place has been a major hot zone lately."
Steve grinned and threw an arm over her shoulders. "Oh, Tina, that's the best news I've heard all month. I could kiss you right now."
"Woah, woah, back off there, Stevie," Kurt, the third team member, said, amusement colouring his tone. "I don't think Garreth would appreciate that much."
All three laughed and Steve drew back his arm. "Yeah, you're probably right. No sense of humour, that guy."
"Oh, shut up." Tina leaned into Steve and gave him a shove with her shoulder. The push caused the man to stumble slight and he scowled at her. "Garreth does have a sense of humour. It's just more sophisticated than yours. It's not his fault your mind's always in the gutter."
"Fair enough. I—" Steve cut off abruptly when a loud scream suddenly rang through the empty streets. "The fuck was that?"
Tina was looking all around, trying to pinpoint where the sound had come from. "I don't know." It happened again a second later, and this time, all three turned to their right. "Let's go." They drew their respective weapons and took off down a side street.
Of the three, Kurt had the longest legs. They allowed him to pull ahead of his two companions, and he was first on the scene. Four blocks from where they'd started, he came to a stop at the edge of an intersection. As he did so, the moon finally broke through the clouds. The sudden influx of light revealed the scene to him.
Three demons were standing in the middle of the intersection; a fourth was lying on the ground, headless. All three demons were snarling and growling at a man who stood before them in a defensive stance, a sword clasped in his hands.
"Guess we know what made the sound," Steve said, as he and Tina finally caught up.
"Fucking David," Tina breathed, glaring at the man with the sword. He was standing completely still, staring down the demons as if they were small animals and not nine foot tall monsters from Hell.
Even as she hefted her own short swords and opened her mouth to order her companions to join the fight, David moved. He was fast, the fastest member of the team; faster than the demons were expecting. He darted forward, his sword flashing back and forth. Just like that, another of the demons was dead, its head sent to rest on the ground. The body remained upright for a brief second, blood gushing up through its neck like fountain, propelled by a heart that had yet to realize it no longer needed to beat. Then it too collapsed to the ground, as a pool of blood began to pool around it.
"Go!" she yelled, as David returned to his previous position and continued to stare down the demons.
They reacted to her yell; one of the demons turned in her direction. But the other remained locked on David, unwilling to take its eyes off a proven deadly threat. The one that turned didn't get a chance to make it all the way around.
Once again, Kurt's long legs worked to his advantage. Before the other two were even halfway to the demon, he was in front of it, bringing his double-sided battle axe down on its head. Kurt was not a small man; he stood six and a half feet tall and had the arm-span to match. Add on the length of the axe handle, and even the inhumanly tall demon was not safe.
The razor-sharp edge of the axe bit deeply into the demon's skull, directly above its right eye. The force behind the blow caused the weapon to cleave through flesh and bone as though it was nothing harder than cheese. It continued down until the blade hit the top of the demon's ribcage and jerked to a stop, stuck in the bone. Kurt allowed the corpse to fall to its knees, then braced his leg against its torso and yanked his weapon free.
Tina and Steve headed straight for the second demon, the one that was still focused on David. They knew Kurt could handle the other one. Unfortunately, neither got a chance to strike a blow.
Just as they reached the demon, weapons held high and ready for a fight, David moved again. This time, the demon was expecting the attack and attempted to move out of the way. David's sword whistled past its head, just missing drawing blood by a half an inch. Before the demon could counter-attack, however, David dropped his sword and lunged forward. Sometime mid-jump, another weapon appeared in his right hand, a military knife.
As Tina and Steve looked on, their teammate plunged the seven inch blade into the demon's gut. It was wrenched up, creating a sizeable gap in the creature's flesh and guts. Before the demon could get ahold of him, David jumped back, jerking the knife free and raising it defensively.
The demon looked down at the wound for a moment. Tina thought it looked a little shocked, though it was hard to tell with demons; their pitch black skin and flat, nose-less faces made for warped expressions.
Suddenly, it laughed. It was a terrible sound, like rocks rubbing together; if Tina hadn't heard it before, she probably wouldn't have known what it was. "What did you expect to do with that?" it asked, voice so deep and gravelly it was barely intelligible. "You all should know by now human-forged weapons have no effect on us."
Eyes wide, Tina looked from the demon to the knife held in David's hand.
What the fuck? she thought. What are you doing, Dave?
For his part, David didn't look particularly worried. His face was smooth, expression blank as he stared at his opponent. Then, he smiled.
"Oh, I know this isn't going to do a damn thing." As he spoke, he slid the knife back into its space in his belt. "This, however…" He trailed off, fiddling with something else on his belt. From her position, and due to the darkness, Tina couldn't see what it was.
The demon apparently couldn't see either. It craned its neck, staring at his hand. Suddenly, its eyes widened and it took a step forward, clawed hands coming up as it moved. David was faster. He came forward, ducking under its outstretched arms, and pushed his hand up against its stomach. Then, he danced back, dodging a wild blow from the agitated demon. As it continued to come forward, he kept moving back.
"Run!" he yelled, shooting a quick glance in Tina's direction. It only took a split second for her sharp mind to work out what he'd done. As soon as it did, she grabbed Steve's arm and gave it a tug. Without word, the two turned and sprinted back, trying to get as far away from the demon as possible. Kurt fell into step beside them as they passed him.
One of the buildings on the corner of the intersection was missing a large portion of one of its walls. The three teammates threw themselves through the hole, landing heavily behind the remains of the wall. They all stayed down, lying on the broken stone and crumbled brick, and covered their heads with their hands.
A thunderous boom sounded a second later, shaking the ground and sending tiny pieces of rubble down onto them from the partially destroyed roof above. The concussive force of the explosion was enough to shatter the one remaining window in the building, in the door fifteen feet behind them.
Tina waited for the dirt and broken ceiling tiles to stop raining down on her before she finally raised her head and looked around. Steve and Kurt were still shielding themselves. After pushing herself up onto her knees, she reached out with both hands and shook her friends lightly. "It's okay, guys. I think we're good."
Slowly, the two men uncovered their heads and rose to their feet. Kurt held out his hand and help Tina up, then they looked through the hole, back out into the street.
It was a mess, to say the least. Little bits of bloody demon flesh were splattered all over the concrete. From where she was standing, Tina thought she could see a large piece of what looked like bone, imbedded deeply in a wooden pole that had once served as a streetlamp.
"You see Dave?" Steve asked, his voice little more than a whisper.
"No, I—there!" Kurt pointed to an overturned car, lying on the curb directly across from them. From the scorch marks on the ground and up the side of the car, it looked to Tina like the demon had been standing right beside the vehicle when the grenade David had stuck in its guts went off.
Squinting, she tried to see what her friend was pointing out. After a second, she saw movement near the back of the car; someone's feet, just barely visible as they crouched on the other side of the car. A second later, David's head appeared as he straightened up and looked in their direction. Even from the distance, Tina could see the tiny bits of blood and bone splattered across his face, residue from the demon explosion.
As he moved out from behind the car, she saw David already had his sword out and was cleaning it with a rag. He didn't look up from his task as he made his way over to them. The three stepped over what was left of the wall and went forward to meet him.
"Are you all right, Dave?" Tina asked when they reached him.
"Yes." He continued to work on his sword, making sure to wipe all traces of the corrosive demon blood off its surface. The weapons were resistant to the effects of the blood, but it was still protocol to wipe them down after they came in contact with it. They were all issued special cloths, treated with magic to nullify the acidic blood, for that very reason. Kurt was already working on his axe as well.
Before anybody could say anything else, they all heard a loud hiss. Turning, they watched as the blood pooled around the three corpses began to dissolve the pavement. Within seconds, all three bodies, impervious to the corrosive effects of their own blood, were left sitting in a massive hole, twelve feet across and three feet deep.
Suddenly, Tina heard shouts, coming from somewhere behind her. The three teammates turned around, back toward David, who hadn't moved an inch.
"There's the rest of the team," Steve stated, pointing over David's left shoulder. Sure enough, Tina was able to make out three dark-clothed figures jogging towards them. Garreth was in the lead, his tall, thin form standing out from his shorter, bulkier companions.
When the three newcomers reached them, Garreth addressed David first. "What the hell was that, David? I told you to stay with us!"
There was a moment of silence as David slowly returned his sword to the scabbard strapped to his back. He carefully folded his cloth and placed it inside a small pouch on his belt. Then, he finally turned around and locked eyes with Garreth. "You should have kept up, Garreth. It is not my fault you are all so slow."
For a second, Tina thought their normally reserved team leader was going to explode. His face got red, his nostrils flared, his eyes narrowed, and he almost seemed to swell up. He opened his mouth wide, like he was about to scream at David. But then he took a deep breath and appeared to deflate. "All right, fine. You're right; we should have kept up. But next time I give you an order, you follow it. Understood?"
David said nothing. He kept his eyes focused on Garreth's for a moment, unblinking. Everybody else tensed and got ready to leap in between the two men, just in case. But then he nodded once.
Tina relaxed when she saw that. She'd been worried David would defy their leader. He wasn't usually the type to make a scene, but he also typically refused to back down from anyone, even if they outranked him. And as good as Garreth was, David would have wiped the floor with him; of that, she had no doubt.
With the potential fight issue resolved before it ever got off the ground, Garreth turned to other matters. He gestured to the three demon corpses. "What happened?" He directed the question toward David, having immediately recognized his handiwork on two of the bodies.
"That one died first; it never saw me coming." David pointed to the first body. "That one died next; its guard was down. These three," he said, gesturing to Tina, Steve, and Kurt, "arrived and distracted the third one. Kurt killed it. The fourth one…" He trailed off and spread his hands. "Look around. I'm sure you can figure it out."
It is pretty obvious, Tina thought, looking around the intersection. The blood, bone, and flesh that littered the street, combined with the scorch marks could really only mean one thing.
As everybody looked around, taking stock of the situation, the little pieces of bloody flesh started to smoke. The quickly ate through the ground below them and disappeared through the asphault into the dirt beneath. The smell was terrible, but the team was used to it; demon blood was something they all encountered regularly.
After a moment, Garreth turned back to the team. "All right, it's time to get back. Let's go." As one, the team started back in the direction of their settlement. As they walked, their leader spoke again. "I've got some news, guys. Starting next shift, we'll be patrolling sector six." Tina exchanged small smiles with Kurt and Steve at that. "I talked to Porter earlier today and he said he wants us in there to deal with the increased demonic activity."
"Fucking right, sir," one of the other team members, Lyle, said. "He wants the best on the job!"
There was a chorus of cheers from the team. But even as everyone indicated their agreement with the sentiment, Tina caught Garreth's eyes and cocked an eyebrow. He nodded once, confirming her suspicion; they only wanted the team because of David.
Tina looked at the man in question. Unlike the rest of the team, he was walking along silently, just off to her right. From the look on his face, she figured he probably hadn't heard a single word that had been said.
Probably going over the fight in his head, she did it after every fight, trying to pinpoint anything he could have done better. With David, it was a constant battle for improvement, despite the fact he was already the best warrior they had.
It was a short walk back to where they'd left their vehicle. Garreth deactivated the cloaking spell when they were close, so they could all see it. The light armoured vehicle was old, a remnant from some human war many years ago, but it was still sturdy and ran well. It was one of three the settlement possessed and all three were put to good use by the four warrior teams. Their metallic exteriors had long ago been layered with protective spells and runes, making them more like demon-proof tanks than anything else. In battle with multiple demons, much more than the four they'd encounter this time out, the miniature tank could be driven right into the midst of the enemies and an entire warrior team could come out, ready for a fight.
The team all climbed up onto the dark green vehicle and found a hand-hold as Kurt got into the driver's seat and started the engine. The vehicle rumbled to life, much louder than a regular car or truck.
For safety's sake, the same cloaking spell that kept it hidden from prying eyes also kept it silent to anybody standing outside the spell's range. That was yet another feature that made the miniature tanks so effective in a fight; the demons never saw them coming until it was too late.
From her position atop the vehicle, with her back against the cannon, Tina observed the partially destroyed buildings they were passing. Vicious fights with the demons, both in the recent and distant past had levelled large portions of the city, leaving behind mostly rubble. The area they were in was hit particularly hard during the first stages of the war. Other than the odd block where the buildings were still standing, albeit full of holes, most of the structures had been reduced to little more than foundations. In several places, there were short walls still in place, with the odd door somehow still hanging on cracked and broken hinges. But for the most part, there wasn't anything higher than three or four feet still standing.
As she looked on, Tina caught a flash out of the corner of her eye. Turning her head slightly, she looked over the remains of what had once been a candy store. In the distance, probably a mile away, a bright bluish-white light was flashing, as though something was sparking.
"What do you think?" Steve called to her, over the roar of the engine.
"Sector five," she called back, positive about the location of the fight. Like most of the warriors, she had the zone maps memorized. "Team three is out there tonight, right?"
"Looks like they found themselves a fight too." Tina narrowed her eyes, trying to see what was happening. But it was just too far away; she couldn't see anything more than the light show. Soon, they passed into a new neighbourhood, one with buildings mostly intact, and even the flashing was cut from her view.
"Should we head over there?" The question from the final team member, Jared, was addressed to Garreth.
"No," the leader stated immediately. He turned his head to look back at the rest of the team. "Sector five is not our responsibility. Blair's team is a good one; they'll be fine."
Despite the powerful urge to ignore Garreth's command and enter the fight, Tina forced herself to relax and stay on the vehicle.
He's right, she reasoned. Team three is a solid group. They'll be able to handle some demons. She knew what the flashing light meant; one of the demons was a magic user. She seen the same thing before; it would throw spell after spell at the team, anything it could think of. From the colour, she figured it was probably some kind of magical lightning. As long as none of them had let the protective spells on their body armour lapse, they'd be almost completely shielded from any magical attacks.
As they neared the walls of the settlement, Kurt reduced his speed. By the time they reached the massive steel gates, the vehicle was barely moving forward. They came to a complete stop ten meters from the gates and waited.
"Identification!" a voice yelled, amplified by a megaphone.
"Team two, returning from scheduled patrol in sector three!" Garreth yelled back.
"Hold still for the scan." All the team members looked directly at the gate and stilled.
After a moment, s small slot in the left gate opened up and a green light shot out of it. It connected with Garreth's eye, paused there for a second, then moved onto the next person. After it connected to and scanned all seven people, the light disappeared and the slot closed.
There was a brief moment's wait, then, "They're all humans. Open up."
The gates slowly swung open and Kurt started the vehicle forward again. As soon as the team was inside the settlement, the gates closed tight behind them. They stopped again just inside, beside a large concrete guardhouse. From out of the building came a man in grey military fatigues.
"Garage one is ready to take this baby," the man said, patting the side of the light armoured vehicle.
"Which mechanic is on-duty tonight?" Kurt asked, looking down at the guard from his seat.
"Joey," the man replied.
"Good." Kurt put the vehicle into gear and started forward again. "He's the best one," he stated loudly and unnecessarily. They all already knew it; Joey put more effort and care into his work than any other mechanic living in the settlement.
They passed by the team building on the way to the garage and everybody but the driver got off the vehicle. "I'll see you guys tomorrow," Kurt said. "Team meeting is at three, right?'
"Yeah," Garreth confirmed. Kurt nodded once, then drove off into the night.
As the team made their way inside their head quarters, they split off into smaller groups. Lyle, Jared, and Steve headed off toward the kitchen. "Later, guys. See you tomorrow," Steve called over his shoulder, lifting a hand in farewell to Tina, Garreth and David.
Tina eyed their backs as they walked down the side hallway that led to their destination. "Probably going to get roaring drunk before they head home," she said quietly to the two men who remained with her. Garreth grunted his agreement; David said nothing.
"I might do the same once we get home," Garreth said as they reached the end of the hallway and emerged into their locker room. "It's been a long night."
"You're telling me," Tina said, as she made her way over to her locker and opened it up. Removing her swords, she placed them on the small shelf at the top. "Aside from the very end, this was one of the most boring patrols I think I've ever been on." She stripped down to her underwear and hung her black body armour in the locker. Her regular clothes were in a duffel bag at the bottom and she quickly donned them, before turning back to the two men.
Garreth was already fully dressed as well. He still had his back to her, just closing the lock on his locker. David, however, was sitting on the bench that ran along the side of the room. He was in just his boxers, and had a thick book in his hands, which he was studying intently.
"What's the deal, Dave?" Garreth asked, amusement in his voice. "You staying here again tonight?"
It was common knowledge that the dedicated warrior spent the majority of his nights camped out in the team building, rather than going home to his apartment. Tina had asked him about it once and his answer had been that he preferred to spend his time surrounded by the things that made him comfortable. Apparently, those were weapons, artillery, and military textbooks.
"No," he replied, looking up briefly from his book. "I just want to finish this chapter, then I'll head in for a shower." He nodded toward the back of the room, where several small shower stalls were set up, then returned his gaze to the book.
As far as Tina knew, he was the only one who ever used the things. They all had much roomier, nicer showers in their apartments, ones in rooms with doors that locked, so not just anybody could walk in at any moment.
"All right, then," Garreth said, exchanging amused glances with Tina. "See you tomorrow, Dave." The man waved to the two of them, never lifting his eyes from the page he was reading. "Come on, Tina."
"Bye, Dave," she said, as Garreth threw an arm over her shoulders and led her out of the room.
After they left the building, and the doors were closed behind them, Garreth shook his head and sighed. "I don't know about him, Tina. I've been a team leader for six years; I'm not used to having to be all diplomatic with a lower-ranking team member. I never know if he's going to listen or just start pummeling me."
Tina chuckled. "You'll be fine, you big baby. He's been with us for three months and we've only had to pull you two apart twice." Reaching up, she ran her hand lightly over the fading bruise on his right cheek. "Dave is a good guy; he's just a little odd. You know as well as I do that he'd rather be back with his old team. But he's with us now, for better or worse, so we might as well just accept it and try to make it work." She patted his cheek, then dropped her hand. "Besides, you're the one who brought him in, remember? You could have let him go to one of the other teams."
Garreth rolled his eyes. "Don't remind me. I thought, given the circumstances of his transfer, he might be a little more compliant." He shook his head. "What the fuck was I thinking?"
"You know what I think?" He turned his head to look down at her. "I think we should stop talking—and thinking—about Dave. I think we're almost home. And I think when we get there, there are much more interesting things to think about—and do." She smiled suggestively and pressed tighter against his side.
A wide grin split Garreth's face then. "I think you're right, my dear." The pair quickened their pace, suddenly more eager than ever to get home.