“Get the Hell out of there Shay!” I shouted, not giving any shits what names we used at this moment.
“I can’t do that,” she answered, looking all around her. “Not until the portal is closed.”
This shouldn’t have been happening. She’d been peaceful and reasonable, she’d been careful not to do anything to scare him, she even took care to take out the creep responsible for this in a non lethal way.
Which left the question:
How did a baton wielded by an, admittedly really strong, but not super strong woman, impale a guy and kill him?
“YAAAAAAAAH!” Takato whaled, blood pouring out of his eyes.
“Takato, listen to me,” Shay started. “You have to stop this.”
At the very least, none of the demons were going after Shay. Since they were creatures filled with nothing but rage and hate, they probably wanted to go to highly populated areas where they could kill as many people as possible. Big cities like New York, Los Angeles, and Blue…
I hate my life.
“The boy doesn’t need to do anything but continue the holy work he’s doing,” a man said, approaching the scene.
“Who are you?” Shay asked, the bald Spanish man coming closer.
“My name is Edwin Bosques. I am the man who has orchestrated this world’s destruction, and the crumbling of its godforsaken civilization.”
Hold on a second. If this was the guy who’d tortured the arsonist and Del into becoming psychos, then where the Hell was Carter?
“I see,” Shay said. “Wanna tell me how Del just died?”
From both Shay’s end and mine, I heard a roaring thunder as the sky’s color became filled with a tint of red.
“We’re so dead, bro,” Joey said, still in his seat.
“Joey, I know you’re freaking out, honestly, this is one case where I wouldn’t call anyone a pussy for doing so, but you need to get your shit together.”
“What?” he asked blankly.
“I’m pretty sure thousands, if not millions of demons are spreading across the city, and we need an organized force to at least buy Shay some time.”
“How are we gonna do that?” he asked.
Before I answered, I turned my attention back to Shay’s conversation with Edwin.
“So you have the same power as Punchline,” she said. “Well I don’t give a shit. You may have killed Del, but I’ve fought Demigods before. Hell, I beat your arsonist earlier today. You’ll go down like the rest.”
“The other men you have fought didn’t have a cause. And even if they did, they didn’t truly believe in it. The end has begun, and in the name of God, I will see it through!”
With that, Edwin threw a punch, launching Shay back onto the dead grass which now encompassed the park.
“You alright?” I asked her.
“Yeah,” Shay answered. “I’ve taken worse,” she continued, holding her stomach. “Honestly, I was talking out of my ass. I really haven’t fought that many Demigods, and I don’t have a winning record against them. Any tips?”
“Give me a second to think,” I said.
“Oh sure,” she said with attitude. “No rush.”
“Joey!” I shouted, getting his attention again. “We are very fortunate that our good friend Raina happens to be in charge of all the organized crime in this city, and as such, has access to a lot of manpower. You need to call up Hope or Casey, I think they’re the smart ones, and get them to spread out their forces across the city. Oh, and have them send someone over to what used to be Del and Badrah’s house. We need an update on what’s going on with Carter. You got all that?”
Shaking, he nodded, and ran out of the room to use one of the hospital’s phones since I was using his.
“Uh, Malcolm, any time now!” Shay screamed, side stepping his attacks. I think. Couldn’t be sure what was happening since Edwin’s attacks were invisible. “I’m starting to get down the timing of how his movements corresponds to the timing of his attacks, but I need more to go on.
“Alright,” I said. “Um, your arms are still burned, so while you were able to flip Del before, you should try to avoid striking him with your upper body.”
Shay ducked down as Edwin threw a right hook. She got up and leaped at him, a kick at the ready, but Edwin launched another punch. She dodged but it wasn’t clean, Shay falling down on her back right in front of the dickweed.
“Even if I could hit him, I don’t think it would do much damage.”
“Then don’t focus on fighting him!” I exclaimed. “You’re the queen of dodging. Just avoid him while you take apart what’s left of the ritual. The fountain was swallowed but there’s still some things there. If you destroy it all, maybe the portal will close.”
There was another loud clap of thunder, the sky now completely red. I could hear people in other rooms screaming and panicking, and from my window, I could see tons of demons flying in the city.
“But that’s not enough,” Shay and I said simultaneously.
I went on.
“Too many demons have come out. We need to send them all back to Hell before we close the portal. And the only one who can do that…”
“…is Takato,” Shay said, finishing my thought. “Alright, so that throws out just killing the kid,” Shay continued surprisingly coldly. “I know what I’ve got to do.”
“How long do you intend to keep this going?” Edwin asked. “I’d like to be gone from here so I can watch the world burn.”
“You’re not going anywhere,” Shay muttered. As she flipped around, dodging another assault from Edwin, she shouted, “Hey Takato! Right now, millions of people are dying because of you! If you truly hate evil, you have to get control of your emotions. You need to stop this!”
“Malcolm!” Joey screamed, running back into the room as the lights went out. Demons had probably cut the power line. “I’ve got Juggler on the line and…”
“Raina’s boyfriend?” I groaned. “The idiot?” I sighed. “What about him?”
“He wants to talk to you,” Joey said.
“Fine,” I said, looking away from Shay’s fight. “Hand it to me.”
I took the phone and said, “Hey, I…”
I was cut off by the angry teenager.
“You wanna tell me why monsters are overrunning the city?!” Sammy asked. “Cause my friends and I are hiding out in our lair, and we’re just a little curious why it’s fucking armagaydon out there.”
“Armageddon,” I corrected.
“Like it matters!” He sighed. “Why’d you call anyway?”
“Because,” I started. “You happen to have a small army at your disposal. Now Raina tells me you see yourself as a good guy. If that’s true, you should use that to…”
The obnoxious brat cut me off.
“Already done,” Sammy said.
“When we noticed demons flying in the sky and things dying around us, my sister and I got in touch with our sub commanders, along with Exposure’s and Mass’s, and ordered them to defend civilians at all cost. They were hesitant, but we threw enough money their way.”
“Wow. Um, thanks. That’s good work.”
“I know,” he said sternly. “Now you just mentioned her, so since you’re the leader of the team she’s on, I have to ask: WHERE THE FUCK IS MY GIRLFRIEND?!”
“I don’t know,” I answered, unlike him, keeping my calm. “It’s not my job to know where she is at every waking moment.” I thought about the situation for a moment. “But if she’s not with you, odds are, she’s with Carter. In which case…” Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! “Juggler! Where was the last place Raina told you she was going?”
“She said she was going over to Del and Badrah’s house to apologise to Takato and…and I’m a dumbass,” he sighed.
“It wasn’t Raina’s fault,” I said. “Takato didn’t open the portal to Hell until he was coerced by someone else when he killed Del.”
“Del’s dead? Poor Badrah.”
I shut my eyes.
“She’s dead too.”
Just from the sounds he was making, I could tell Sammy was fuming with rage.
“Malcolm,” he growled. “Where’s Carter?”
“If you’re right, the same place as Raina. Only thing is, Shay and I are pretty sure he was fighting the guy responsible for causing all of this. And since he’s now fighting Shay…”
Once again, he cut me off.
“Then they’re fine,” Sammy said, breathing a sigh of relief.
“How can you be so sure?” I asked.
“Because, much as I don’t like the guy, there’s one thing about Carter I respect: He loves Raina. If someone had killed, or even hurt her before he got there, then the fuckhole wouldn’t make it out alive.”
I hate to say, I liked his logic. Rather, it was comforting. Sure, Carter would never kill, but Smog or other demons aside, I couldn’t see him losing to someone who’d killed Raina.
“There’s still a piece of the story we don’t know,” I said. “I’m gonna try bringing Carter into the call. Hopefully he’ll answer.”
As I dialed Carter’s number on the hospital phone, I could hear the air filled with the cries of demons.
“Is he picking up?” Sammy asked impatiently.
“Give it a second,” I responded.
Come on Carter. I need you man. Shay needs your help!
“Hello?” a tired sounding Carter asked.
“Yes!” I shouted.
“I knew you were alright,” Sammy said. “Don’t worry how, but Malcolm and I know everything except for what’s been going on on your end. How’s Raina?”
“Alive, but having a hard time. Apparently on her way here, she was attacked by a vampire working for Smog.”
Not even shocked at this point.
“The guy responsible for the current apocolypse beat her around to, and then his partner essentially drank the life force out of her.”
“Partner?” I asked. “Let me guess, that’s who you’ve been fighting.”
“Yeah,” he responded. “She was really strong, but I beat her. Only problem is, the fight exhausted me. Not my powers, just my body. I’m in the house with Raina, who’s sleeping by the way, trying to hide from the demons. Not sure how long we’ll last, or even how we can stop this.”
“Don’t worry about yourselves,” Sammy said. “I’m on my way to you guys. Even if the rest of the world burns, we’re making it through to the end.”
“Thanks Sammy, but I don’t really think juggling will do much against demons.”
“You seem to forget,” I barely heard Sammy say over the background noise of thunder and people screaming. “What makes the Queen’s Guard special is that our powers all have far more powerful uses. Trust me, I can handle myself just fine.”
“Alright,” Carter said. “But we still need someone to stop Del and Edwin, and get Takato to close the portal to Hell.”
“Del’s dead,” Sammy and I both said.
“Damn it,” Carter whispered.
“But, someone is fighting Edwin by the ritual site,” I said. “Shay.”
“She is?” Carter asked, surprised. “Well, we’re gonna be just fine then,” he finished with complete sincerity in his voice.
“Carter, not that I don’t trust Shay, but even if she can beat Edwin, who from what I’ve seen is really strong, I’m not sure she’ll be able to get through to Takato.”
“Yeah man. She doesn’t even have any powers.”
Carter let out the largest laugh I’m sure someone could during the end of the world.
“Sammy, I get you not believing in her, but Malcolm, with all the time you’ve been spending with her, haven’t you seen it?”
“Seen what? That’s she possibly the best fighter alive. Yeah, but…”
“She’s not just a fighter, Malcolm. And she doesn’t just have a pure heart like me. Or the drive like you. Or a cause like Raina. She has all of it, and tenfold. King Power, Chronimeter…they’re my heroes…
But my big sister is the best hero the world has ever seen, and she WILL save the world!”
Speechless, I handed the phone back to Joey, and looked back at Joey’s.
From what I could tell, one of Shay’s contact lenses had fallen out, so the image had gone splitscreen. One one side, Shay was hunched over, her hair a mess, and blood dripping down her face. On the other side, Edwin still stood tall.
“Say I believe you and Punchline really did try to kill you,” Shay said, apparently having a conversation in the middle of the fight. “How’d you survive?”
“I ran,” Edwin answered, cracking his knuckles. “It was my only option. My heart was broken, but the void was filled with God. He didn’t want the guilt of wiping out a corrupt humanity himself as he once did with the great flood, but I knew that he wanted me to do it for him. I never thought I could truly do it, but look around you! God has won!”
Edwin launched a barrage of punches. A dizzied Shay dodged the first few, but was eventually knocked down.
“I was wrong about you,” Shay said from the ground.
“How so?” Edwin asked, approaching her.
“This whole time we’ve been fighting,” she said, slowly standing up. “I thought you were just a standard psycho with delusions of grandeur.” For reasons I couldn’t imagine, there was a look of sympathy in Shay’s eyes. “The trauma of having your mentor betray you and try to kill you though? You’ve really lost your mind.” Shay looked Edwin straight in the eye. “I’m sorry.”
With blinding speed, Shay charged at Edwin again, but rather than strike him in any way, she gripped his throat.
“What do you think you’re doing?” Edwin muttered.
“You’re a really strong Demigod,” Shay began to answer. “I can’t hurt you by hitting you or kicking you. But you don’t have invulnerability. So I don’t care what you throw at me. I’m gonna hold on to your neck, strangle you to death, and get Takato to close the portal.”
Edwin spit in Shay’s face.
“You will not stop what has already begun.”
For the next few moments, I was as frozen as Joey had been before.
Edwin continuously punched Shay, and she just kept holding on. I knew what she was capable of, and I knew what Carter had said.
But I still wasn’t sure she was gonna pull this off.
Then I realized, this is where she needed me.
“Shay!” I screamed at the top of my lungs. She didn’t respond, which I expected. “Listen to me! Over the last few days, I’ve seen how incredible you are. But the great hero that you are…that’s NOTHING compared to how your little brother sees you! He thinks of you as the person who will always come out on top, and topple any evil. So you have to save the day. You can’t let him down!”
She was still holding on to Edwin’s neck, but her knees were heavily bent. Anyone else still at that park would probably think that she was losing.
But her eyes were filled with determination.
“You still stand,” Edwin said, briefly halting his attack. “You must have a cause. Why do you fight?”
For a little bit, Shay was unable to answer, alternating between breathing heavily and coughing up blood.
Eventually, she got one word out.
Edwin pulled his arm back and threw another punch.
With reflexes only Shay possessed, she released his neck and grabbed his arm, redirecting the blast at Edwin, sending him flying back.
“Needed you…off guard. Close range.. Low oxygen…Slow.”
Shay charged at him once more. Before Edwin could throw any punches, she did a one-two punch at his throat, and then shoved him back even further.
“Oh god,” I said, unsure if the vocalization of my thoughts was on purpose.
“What is it?” Joey asked, having gotten off the phone with Carter and Sammy.
“I know what her real plan is.”
“You apologized to me,” Edwin said softly. “But it is I who must apologize. The way you fight…you clearly believe in this brother of yours. But my faith is in the world, and thus my faith trumps yours!”
He pulled both of his arms back, but once again, Shay outmaneuvered him, grabbing his wrists before the blasts were fired.
“Apology accepted,” Shay said somberly, turning his arms around, again hitting him with his own attack…
And sending him down into the portal to Hell.
“Shay,” I said.
“It’s okay,” she responded. “Didn’t have a choice. Besides,” she said, wiping off some blood. “I can’t feel any guilt. There’s something which still needs to be done.”
Shay stared at Takato.
“Do you really think you can reach him?” I asked.
“I have to,” she said.
As Shay made her way towards the interminably screaming Takato, a familiar screech was heard.
Shay looked up, and saw three demons flying towards her, entrails hanging from their scales.
Most people would have given up at this sight. Even I would have run in Shay’s shoes.
But she didn’t.
Shay pulled off her bandana, along with her bloody jersey and football armor.
“Alright. Think I’ve got one more in me. Bring it.”