United In Faith
Note: Matters become colossal when all ESP units from around the world must fight a league of demons not brought up from Inferno by Laertes but by Lucifer himself. Even the Archangels are called to fight in this unbelievable war. Normal people are shielded from the havoc that this causes. After all is said and done, Charlie inexplicably goes "Home" and Persephone becomes the new mascot to ESP. She is heartbroken though, because Charlie is gone. In fact, there is a lot of mourning because they know they won't see him again until they themselves die. Persephone believes that it is unlikely she will ever have love again like she did for Chuck, but in walks a bit of a rebel, a shape-shifter by the name of Julian Burk , and love happens again, particularly when he saves her from the one thing that can kill a reaper…breaking their scythe or shattering their own hourglass.
"And I saw before me a pale horse, and the name of which sat upon it was Death…"—Revelations
"Of this I am sure that neither life nor death, nor angels nor principalities, nor powers nor things present, nor things to come, nor height nor depth nor any creature shall separate me from the love of God."—Romans
Miko Wantanbe the Shrine Maiden: specialization exorcism, Japanese, female, 23 years old, Shinto
Deidre McGee (Dee-Dee): chief, specialization in mythical and legendary creatures, Irish, 29 years old, Catholic, Spiritual
"The Highlander" Angus (Gus) McGee: second in command, married to the chief, expert in swords fighting, military strategy, and killing rogue vampires, as well as werewolves, 30 years old, Scottish, Catholic, Spiritual, wields a sword named Mac Duff
Rebecca McGee (Becky): daughter of the chief and second in command, 13 years old, paranormal expert, gamer, tomboy, Irish/Scotch, can draw pentacle shields with anything, including lipsticks, Catholic, Spiritual
Rupert Odekirk (Ru): Godfather and babysitter to Becky, a highly religious and spiritual man, psychic, and gifted with supernatural abilities, 45 years old, African American, tamer of wild spirits, expert in African folklore, wields a spiritual spear. Is a Shaman, and had a wife named Ester, but she unfortunately died. He has never loved any other woman after her, and has no children other than grandchildren from his half-brother Leonard.
Mushu Long: Friend (and possible boyfriend) of Rebecca, paranormal expert, photographer of UFOs and ghosts, carries around a number of lucky charms, tends to be slightly superstitious, weapon of choice, karate and nun chucks, 13, Chinese, Buddhist
Charlie "Checkers" Zangula: Resident rock n' roll ghost, never became famous, was accidentally run over by a bus while crossing the street, died young, played rather good music, expert at the guitar, crooner type voice, left behind a beautiful wife Susan and fraternal twins, Nicholas and Rosanna) is peeved that other people can't hear him or see him unless he possesses someone. Possesses the youngest member of the ESP with permission to perform concerts when nothing very exciting is going on. Used to be quite the lady-charmer even though Susan was his one and only love. Tends to be a bit protective of the one he possesses and the rest of the team, and is flattered he became their 'mascot'.
Nadia Stein: Like the others, can see and communicate with spirits, and is the resident tech expert, number cruncher, and treasurer, Jewish and Wiccan, can heal others with her abilities, 10 years old, neighborhood best friend of Becky.
"Lady Death" Persephone (also known as 'Reaper Sephie'), an 'undead' reaper who acts as an ambassador between the living realms, dead and undead realms. She's a tour guide to the underworld. She's a rather chipper reaper, and slays rogue demons when necessary, age, approximately over millions of years old, but looks fresh and perky, like she's 27.
Francis "Franny" Quimby: A very intelligent woman over 30, with 2 children of her own (May and Jay, fraternal twins, she has her hands full). She keeps records for the ESP and manages calls when they are away on lunch. Some wonder if she ever sleeps and how she manages from staving off caffeine highs. Her favorite 'drug' of choice, Mountain Dew. She is Australian, and quite witty with remarks, very funny. Her husband Bernie works as a powerful CEO in one of the city's best law firms, and is by no means a shyster. Can be a bit motherly at times, which is to be expected.
Wolf Raintree: A half-Cherokee boy who joins the ESP thinking it would liven up his boring suburban life. He gets a bit more than he bargains for. Is 11 years old, and begins to develop a crush on Nadia, which later develops into a romantic relationship. His spirit animal is, appropriately, the wolf, and wolves often protect him when he is in danger. He can also communicate with werewolves.
Kafka Dietrich: A Crusnik (otherwise known as a vampire who feeds off the other blood of vampires) who works as an 'off site' member of the ESP 'unofficially'. His slaying of rogue vampires takes some business away from the ESP, even if it is unintentional. He is of Russian/German/Slav descent and can speak numerous languages, has lightning intelligence and wit as sharp as a sword. Is many millennia old like Persephone. Despite being so 'old' he moves quickly and slays his victims painlessly. Is a friend to mortals and considers Angus one of his closest allies. Once saved a younger Angus from being killed by a vampire driven by bloodlust. This was long before Angus became a slayer and Kafka was his teacher. Often times, Angus refers to Kafka as "teacher" in the utmost respect, or even deems him travarich, which is ancient Russian for friend. You don't hear this archaic term much anymore except between the closest of friends and it transcends mere friendship, delving into blood-ties, like siblings.
Julian Burk: Once a mortal man was gifted unexpectedly with the astonishing ability of shape-shifting that was given to him by a shaman after he saved their village from deadly vipers. Julian has an innate ability to speak and commune with animals, and even the most deadly creatures will not harm him. His closest friend is a simply spectacular Burmese python named Bruce, who he keeps at home.
Chapter 1—Departure and Arrival
Charlie had decided to date Persephone against his better judgment because he loathed seeing her sad. He felt slightly guilty for dating her, but strangely, he had fallen in love with the cute little reaper. It was irrational, but coincidentally and strangely enough, her big heart of gold had reminded him of his late wife, Susan. He had been so pleased that he suddenly realized he was departing the physical world to rejoin her. There was nothing Persephone could do to stop his departure, but she did see him off with a sweet kiss.
"Sephie, sweetheart, I'm really sorry about this. It looks like I'm going back Home…", Charlie stated, with some sadness. Persephone tried to hide her tears. She felt even worse when she realized she would have to tell the others their "mascot" had gone back to Paradise. At first, she felt foolish for falling for him but quickly overcame that when she knew telling the truth was the only way to solve this problem even if it was difficult.
She teleported from the city to the office, right on time with the rest of the gang she had come to know and love so well. Even if she was a reaper, she had to admit that human beings were fascinating, and this lot was the most interesting that she had ever encountered in all her millennia of existence.
With a heavy sigh and a great deal of melancholy, Persephone told her friends that Charlie had departed from them. They had all been immensely affected by this, particularly Nadia. Nadia had been the one closest to him, figuratively and physically, and she was going to miss him most of all.
"He wouldn't want us to be sad though. We can't spend the day moping about. Besides, we have cases to solve and people to help.", Nadia stated, drying her eyes. She was absolutely correct. Mr. Zangula wouldn't have wanted them to be bogged down by tragedy. His departure was only a new chapter in the lives of the ESP. Granted, he would be missed, but they were happy he had found rest at last.
The next day had been another busy one for the ESP team, but as daybreak came, the calls were fewer. At that time, an unexpected knock was heard at the door of the building. Rupert, who had just finished helping some poor soul cross over, decided to answer.
"Welcome to the Extraordinary Supernatural Police. I am Rupert Odekirk, and pleased to make your acquaintance.", he stated jovially. The shape shifter's eyes sparkled merrily. Most often, they were the color aquamarine, but at times, they changed into topaz, his favorite color. His long hair was the color of the ocean, dark cerulean, tied in a ponytail. He dressed casually and seemed no more than 20 years of age, perhaps younger. If one didn't know better they would've thought was still a teenager.
The shape-shifter, Julian thought it was high time a business like the ESP existed on Earth, but he had wondered what had kept human beings from creating it. He sighed, these things take time, but nonetheless, he found it refreshing that he had stepped into such an accepting environment. They never even gave him a second look upon being asked whether he was immortal or not, or whether he was human or mutant. It didn't really matter, since everyone here was family. So far, he knew he would love this establishment.
Of course, Julian Burk had to go through interviewing process but the process was short. Before Julian knew what he had gotten himself into, he was part of the ESP team and just in time too. He caught on quickly and learned from the others about how to handle certain criteria and circumstances, but the motto of the ESP was: "Always expect the unexpected". Indeed, the unexpected was what always occurred.
Chapter 2—Nightmares and Reality
Cases had come and gone "normally" if one can use that word to describe a paranormal activist's life. The evening had closed and the early-bird ESP workers could get to work with anything the night-owls missed. This kept everyone busy and on schedule, even if there wasn't any money involved, except for pure, honest gratitude, which was payment enough.
ESP teams from all around the world had trouble sleeping. They were plagued by horrible visions of a coming apocalypse. They knew of many different prophecies and interpretations of those prophecies, and their nightmares contained one central figure, Lucifer himself. For the longest time, he was thought of as simply myth, but the lucid dreams were more than just simple reveries. They were actual portals to what was to come if the teams from around the world didn't stand together and fight.
Inferno was becoming more unwieldy and unruly than it had ever done before. The King of Devils himself, Lucifer, was responsible.
"I am well aware that Armageddon isn't scheduled until a later time, but I really don't want to wait for it much longer. Besides, the humans are doing part of the work for us, so there really isn't that much to be done !", Lucifer said to one of his 'secretaries'.
"But…Sir, you know you can't go against the ruling and power of the Almighty. It's just not done ! Do you really want to face the repercussions ?", the squat chubby demon questioned, straightening his tie.
"To make the answer simple, yes. I do. It doesn't concern me who gets in my way. There will be a new reign.", Lucifer said, clutching his fist as it burst into flames.
"I wonder what we will rule over. By the time he finishes with his attack, there probably won't be anything left to rule…", the demon thought, nervously sweating.
"Something the matter, Brutus ?", Lucifer questioned, noticing his attendant was looking a little piquant and perspiring a bit.
"N-no. Not at all, Highness. I just have…a lot of paperwork to complete, but don't let me get in your way.", Brutus said, his tiny bat wings carrying his tubby body away. In a puff of black and purple smoke, he disappeared and Lucifer continued working his way through the outer rungs of Inferno until he reached the inner circle. It was going to be a long, long distance before he reached the door between the netherworld and humanity, but by the time he made it, he would be more than ready to see mankind fall.
Persephone with her unlimited psychic power had been able to teleport every last ESP member to be gathered in the city to wait for Lucifer to make his appearance. For the first time, Sephie had an expression of fear in her usual jovial demeanor. Even though she was scared, she stood her ground with the rest of the units from around the globe. She feared they wouldn't be enough to fight against Lucifer and his league of demons.
Archangels from all corners of infinite paradise swarmed together to appear on Earth to explain the gravity of this battle. Lucifer was intent on destroying earth by usurping it demonically. The Angels would have no part of this, but being more powerful than those who dwelt in darkness, there was no other option but to fight far above the earth from a safe distance, at least a couple of galaxies away.
Chapter 3—Helpless but Hopeful
Every person who had nothing to do with the oncoming war of angels versus demons hid in places that they thought would provide them shelter from any fallout if there was any. Many of the ESP members that wished to fight were upset that they couldn't fight alongside the heavenly forces, but they had been forbidden to participate. In fact, all ESP members (including reapers, who could usually get past such things as impediments to outer realms) were sealed in Earth to see the result of the action from down below.
"You know, this really sucks ! I wanted a peace of the action, but now it looks like I wont even get that chance.", Persephone stated, with some disappointment. Just then, a rogue demon came unexpectedly from behind her and snatched her hourglass.
"Lucifer is gonna be so proud of me…You'll be one less reaper we have to deal with !", the emaciated smartly-dressed demon said with a wicked cackle. Julian, quickly shifting his form to confuse the demon, came from his blind-side to uppercut him.
"Not if I have anything to say about it you won't !", Julian said as he shifted to his original form and returned the hourglass. The demon looked hurt and confused.
"W-w-w-what are you, some kinda freak ?", the demon questioned, scared out of his mind, and rightly so, since demons didn't quite understand the nature of shape-shifters.
"No, but if you try anything else, I'll do more than clock you.", Julian said, in a slightly-warning tone. The demon's pride was bruised and he disappeared. Persephone, elated to have her life back and falling instantly in love with the hero, laid a huge kiss upon Julian's lips.
"I appreciate the favor m'lady, but now is not the time to be celebrating.", he said, as he noticed more meteors start falling from the sky in broad daylight.
Snakes, fish, and other unusual elements fell from the stratosphere as well. The fish were harmless but the snakes weren't. Many of the ESP members had their hands full killing off snakes before they could poison anyone, and with the meteorites coming in closer to Earth, there was trouble. The only ESP members that weren't pre-empted by eradicating snakes were the original ESP team and they were becoming enervated.
"Look, we can't give up ! If any of those meteorites hit us, we're toast. It'll be worthless that the angels even heard our prayers. They will have nothing left to save !", Becky stated, as an observation.
"She's right. I know we can all do this together.", Mushu said, taking his hand into hers, causing her to blush. Nadia wriggled her eyebrows as she did the same with Wolf and soon a circle was formed and they began to chant. Their energy field was enough to destroy any meteorites coming in, fragmenting them all to pieces.
Outside Earth, Within Another Galaxy…
The heavenly wars seemed to carry on for days until Lucifer's forces had become overpowered by the light of the angels. Suddenly there was a blinding light from above and the devils along with their leader had been sent down back into Inferno where they belonged. It wasn't much later when the Archangels appeared, merely smiled at the people who had watched the battle and then disappeared themselves.
"I take it that means that we can rest easy, at least for the time being. This doesn't mean that evil is finished. Not by a long shot.", Deidre said, pleased her prayers had finally been answered.
"But that's what makes it fun, isn't it, mom ?", Becky stated, hugging her mom close. Deidre smiled and kissed her daughter on the forehead.
"Mom ! Don't do that in public !", she whined, and the rest of them chuckled as they watched life resume to its hectic pace in the city and everyone resumed their chores, errands and jobs that keep the city running.
Armageddon had been put aside as a childish notion and nothing more than a fairy tale a couple of days after the battle against the angels and demons had been waged, and no one had remembered how spastic human beings could truly be when responding to the phrase "the world's going to end".
Fortunately for the rest of mankind, ESP members never forgot an important event like the one that had happened only 2 months ago. Evil never slept but it was what maintained balance in the world. The ESP could manage to let small mischievous acts slip without becoming too concerned, but as far as Lucifer figured into things, he, along with Inferno itself, was also becoming a children's fairy tale. He was kept happy with what little mischief he could inflict and actually was happy he had such worthy adversaries as the mortal ESP unit. This unit would continue for so long as there were souls to inhabit the earth, and hopefully, that would be until time had no meaning. After that, nothing really mattered since there were plenty of nightmares to brew within Inferno and plenty of souls that needed to be tortured.
As for the ESP, they remained steadfast to any changes happening within the spiritual world. More and more new members joined as the veil between the natural and supernatural thinned. Nowadays, it wasn't so mysterious to consider the metaphysical in life. At least now, the world was becoming more equal than it had been in the past, and that was all because mankind was discovering their spirituality all over again.