“So you can see everything?” The question belongs to Alicia, she was conscious again and full of unanswered questions. Kiara took it upon herself to try and put her at ease. She began with reassuring Alicia that she was sane and that everything that had come to pass was, for the most part, remarkably normal for the gang. This was interrupted when Ian appeared out of thin air to recount what just happened. Ian says, “No, I can see just like you do, same field of vision pretty much. I can just throw my sight around the world. Soon as I felt Marko use his gift I threw my sight on him and saw Rebecca staring back at me.” Nick asks Ian, “What exactly were you doing that you had to look ‘across’ the world?” Ian just looked at him blankly before responding with, “Housekeeping.” If Alicia noticed the discomfort in Kiara, or the approving smiles from Nick and Sean at the response she didn’t show it.
“So it’s demons this time,” Eliot says. “That explains a lot.” Alicia looks at him, “Well not for me.” There is a strange turn in Alicia’s behavior. She was approaching a joyful attitude. Kiara honed in on this, “You seem to be doing a lot better Alicia.”
“Thanks, I guess it’s just, I mean seeing Rebecca again felt… I don’t know invigorating? Now I find out she was back here, alive… And as soon as I took my jewelry off like you said, I felt a lot better.” Ian, after materializing in the middle of their group, looked directly at Alicia and said “Take em off.” She was confused because she was just barely awake due to the commotion caused after Marko and Rebecca disappeared. She stared in confusion as he told everyone to stay put. Marko would be back soon. Ian saw the charms placed on Alicia’s earrings. They had caused the demons to have a foothold close enough to Rebecca so they could capture her. At present those earrings were melting in the fireplace. A green flame and a series of yellow sparks later saw an end to that mess.
“Your sister is gone,” says Ian. Kiara grabs at his arm forcefully. “Ian, take it easy she doesn’t understand.” She was right, Alicia didn’t understand. “But I saw her standing right upstairs and then you tell me she’s got her body back but she’s doesn’t?” Ian rolls his eyes. “Look that thing that has your sister now isn’t letting go. As long as it’s inside her we are screwed because she is going to try and kill all of us.”
“So get it out!” Alicia’s shout unnerves the others. The rested calm that she had found is gone now. “You know what, Kiara, you handle her. The men have plans to make.” Kiara doesn’t let go of his arm. “This isn’t fair to her and you know it.” Sean interjects. “When you say ‘this isn’t fair to her’ you mean Rebecca right? Because I hope you’re not about to give a speech where you suggest we owe anything to the sister that got her soul captured to begin with.” Kiara lets go of Ian, while he turns and walks off without a word, she closes her eyes. Any second now Alicia might figure it out. Sean checks his pack of cigarettes before following Ian. Alicia looks at Kiara, then Nick, then Eliot. The three of them had been kind enough to her already; she felt they could tell her the truth. Slowly Alicia asks, “What does that mean?” Eliot places a hand on her shoulder. “The bad guys couldn’t find your sister, so they sent you looking for her. Alicia, you did not bring them here. They followed you. Do you understand? This isn’t actually your fault.” At that moment all Alicia heard was “…your fault.”
Ian pulled the bookshelf in the command center apart. He removed every journal with every number of every ally they ever had. They were all stacked on a round coffee table. Marko lay comatose next to them. “When did he get back?” Asks Sean. “Well, ‘bout ten minutes or so ago.”
“What are you thinking Ian?”
“I’m thinking we get everyone on this. Marko and I can’t mess with Rebecca or her kin. So I want you all to do it.”
“That’s not cheating?”
“No it’s definitely cheating. If demons can get away with it…”
“I get it, so can we. And now it’s hunting season.”
“Exactly. The less of them around before this thing starts means the less they have working with them if they win.”
“So you and Marko just have one thing to do. Not let them win. So yeah, we’re probably not going to want to rely on that.”
“Well Sean. Probably not.”
“Alicia it’s like this,” Kiara began, “When Rebecca died her soul left. That’s what you saw upstairs. Now the body must have gotten picked up by… I don’t know who. The demons had her when they uh, found her.” She tries her best to be careful not to push Alicia deeper into guilt, by pointing out her fault in this. “It’s intense, high level stuff to put a soul back in a body once they’re separated. It probably took them a long time to get ready.” Added Nick. “So…” Alicia’s voice cracked, “A monster is inside her, right now?” Nick bites his lip. Eliot explains, “It isn’t exactly how you think. A demon has a physical body, most of those stay in hell. The demons soul is detached it can move from place to place and given a willing human they can possess them.” Alicia’s eyes watered when she asked, “Are you saying Rebecca volunteered for this.” Eliot nodded. “What probably happened is the demon promised to help her save us. But you should know Rebecca’s specialty was hunting demons specifically. She knows they can’t be trusted, so while she willingly let the demon in, she knew the risks. I’m willing to bet she had a plan, because from what Ian says it sounds like her soul wasn’t supposed to escape.”
“What does that mean?”
“Well Alicia,” says Nick, “It means Rebecca outsmarted them. The bad guys were left with the body and they were missing her soul.”
“And they needed her poor soul?”
“Yes,” continues Eliot. “The body is an instrument but our souls are the key. That’s what the demon hangs onto. Without it all that’s left is a corpse. Now something possessing you could kill you but as long as it holds on to the soul, keeping it in the body will keep the engine running.” Alicia nodded. No one believed she was processing everything right away. They can only hope the important parts will stick with her, that she can’t entirely blame herself, and after Ian and Sean offered their opinions, this was the least the rest of them could do.
“If they can get in they have to be able to get out. Rebecca has a soul now. Can’t we do something?” There is a new found resolve in Alicia’s tone. “No,” says Eliot earnestly. Kiara adds, “I don’t know as much as the others but what I do know is that an exorcism would free her of the demon. But Rebecca was dead. Souls, they rot when they become ghosts. We might be able to save your sister, sure, but how much we save… She may not be who she used to be.”
“Also,” says Nick. “It isn’t something we do. Bringing back the dead is a major imbalance in the world. It isn’t allowed. We don’t do it.”
“No, I can see your friends over there are content with doing nothing. I don’t get why you three say no. Come on don’t you at least want to try to bring her back?” Kiara stepped closer to Alicia, her eyes turned sharply at Alicia’s. “Those two, have felt so guilty since Rebecca died that they travel across the entire country so they don’t have to be around Marko. They promised to look after her if anything happened to him. So before you get further into that line of thought where you don’t think they care I’m going to stop you.” Alicia was taken aback. She crossed her arms and tuned the others out. They might not want to help her sister, but she will. She will find away. I have to.
“I’m going to go check on the others,” says Nick. As he moves towards the hallway he plots a course that takes him out of Kiara’s death stare. He sees it often enough as is.
“At the same time, we can have you draw their attention away from us by showing up in demon heavy areas. You know like teleporting there at random. They would swarm in to watch you since they know you and Marko aren’t allowed to harm them. I bet they’re waiting for you to screw up.” This is what Nick overhears as he walks into the room. What he sees is a map sprawled over the round table. He felt the need to warn them about the soy sauce they had spilled but hey, that could be a pleasant surprise like a much needed joke. And also he didn’t want them to know it was him. Red dots had been plotted over specific areas of the west and east coast. Leather-bound journals were split up into stacks on either side of the map. These are battle plans. “Are we going to war, again?” Ian turns to Nick. “As soon as you’re done babysitting.”
“Ouch, ok. What are we looking at?”
“Beaucoup fire. We’re bringing down the walls only faster,” says Sean.
“We already stepped up our game after we found out every monster from here to kingdom come had plotted to leave humans out in the cold. I see the numbers every day we can’t make the purge go faster,” replies Nick.
“That was revenge,” begins Sean. “This is survival now. We bring in everyone we know, and everyone they know. Everything we can do to even the odds if and when this next trial goes south.”
“Well. That’s not everything.” Ian and Sean stare at Nick intently. “I mean, if you really want numbers I know where you could start.”
“Well…” says Sean stressing his impatience.
“The monsters. The vampires, the werewolves, the goblins, the goddamn tree folk. Everything that we have made a conscious effort to rid the world of. We give them a reprieve, like they earn the right to live if they help us. Trust me; no one wants to be in a world where the demons rule.”
“That’s the dumbest thing I have ever heard.” Was Sean’s clichéd response. Almost as if on cue Marko sat up. To lend credit to the cliché he says “That’s exactly why it will work!” The others stare at him. “Really?” says Ian framed in sarcasm. “No, it’ll work because we’re going to threaten them. It really is a good plan.” Sean sighs and raises an eyebrow. “What’s our pitch?” Nick smiles, “Come with us if you want to live.” Sean turns to Nick wearing a harsh expression as if had they been dog fighting jets that would be the face Sean would make just before shooting him down. “Excellent,” he says in earnest. “I like it.”
“Just one thing,” this insistence comes from Nick. “We have to send the Impaler to see the vampires.” Marko smiles, the others laugh, and they are suddenly aware that Eliot is in the doorway. He says, “Alright I’ll go. It’s a silly nickname; I doubt they still remember that whole thing anyway.”