Rating: Mature (Language, Violence)
Synopsis: Good and evil are corporations vying for control of the mortal world. Used to be, business was good. These days, mortals a lot less susceptible than they used to be. Facing the worst spiritual downturn in history, Abbadon Acquisitions and Providence Solutions are forced into an unholy alliance. A merger. Can Alastor learn to work with his new teammates, or is he just too damn evil?
The headquarters of Abbadon Acquisitions stood in stark contrast to the rest of Waterside. It wasn’t the only skyscraper towering above the bustling city’s center, but it was most definitely the tallest. All black, the building reflected nothing—not even sunlight. From a distance, it made everything look like a picture that was complete save for a solid black rectangle.
That strange building attracted all manner of people. Tourists posing in front of the matte skyscraper, pretending to be sucked into the void it created behind them. Journalists investigating the strange comings and goings of Abbadon’s odd employees. Conspiracy theorists who—rightfully (and kind of accurately)—believed the harbinger of the endtimes owned the place.
But, in all its years, Abbadon HQ had never been visited by the archons of Providence Solutions. It was against the Agreement. The angels stayed in their smelly gymnasium in Fartown, and the demons stayed in their super badass shadowy tower.
So, admittedly, Alastor was surprised to see those winged muscle-turds standing at the front door. Draped in their dumb tracksuits. Patient as trees.
Yet still, all that was half as shocking as the video Malphas was playing for Alastor. It clearly showed Alastor handing money to a squirrely teenager.
This was not itself damning. Unfortunately, that same teenager was currently in police custody for shitting in the espresso machine of Glazed and Confused. The boy claimed he was paid to do it, but no evidence could prove that. Until now. And, as luck would have it, Dick motherfucking Dantero now had pictures of Alastor at the scene of a homicide. Two sources, linking Alastor to two crimes.
“When’s it going public?” Alastor asked.
“Two hours ago.”
“Yes. Fuck indeed.” Malphas clicked his phone shut and stuffed it into his pocket. His eyes were focused past Alastor, across the parking lot, toward the angels.
Alastor thought back to the day. He had checked for cameras. He wasn’t some freshman. That park was in Westend—the shittiest part of town. No cameras. No cops. No archons. Alastor had watched the kid—what his name? Fucking… Trevor?—pass off little bags of weed in that park for three weeks before he moved in, disguised as just another skeever junky. He was sure he hadn’t been spotted. Archons didn’t even protect ghettos.
Archons. “You ask them yet?”
Malphas looked at him the same way an impatient man looks at a gas pump. “Yes. They said they didn’t do it.”
“Angels don’t lie, you fucking idiot. They’re angels. We’re under investigation. The Executives think it’s independent contractors. GBB, probably. Maybe Feds.”
“I can make some calls, maybe see if Barbas can—”
“Federal. Investigation. You will be doing nothing. Nothing at all.”
Malphas leaned in close. “Nothing.”
Alastor punched the steering wheel. The car honked. Across the parking lot, sitting in his little booth, Keith the Security Guard perked his head up from his TV. It was at that point that Keith noticed the archons. Must have been for the first time, because Keith snatched up his phone and started dialing.
Malphas’ phone rang. He sighed.
He was doing that a lot lately.
Malphas answered to what sounded like a flurry of terrified confusion. “Yes, Keith… Yes, I’m aware. No, don’t approach. They’re cleared.”
Alastor found himself shaking his head. Keith the Security Guard was a mortal, and an exceptionally stupid one. He was on Abbadon payroll because he was blatantly useless. Somehow, the Executives thought having Keith around would demonstrate a general unkemptness about the company as a whole. Maybe throw off mortal skeptics.
Yeah, people were going to ignore the building made of shadows for Keith the Fucking Security Guard.
And these guys were running the company.
“Wait. Did you say cleared?” Alastor asked. Who cleared angels to Abbadon HQ?
“Yeah, I’ll be there in a minute.” Malphas hung up the phone and chucked it onto the dash. If he’d heard Alastor, he ignored the question. “Let’s just go, please.”
Malphas went to open his door, but Alastor snagged his arm. “What do you mean, cleared?”
Malphas fiddled with something in his pocket. “Alastor: go.”
Alastor obeyed, wincing at the little shock of pain he felt in the center of his brain. Ah, being hellbound. Soon, he and Malphas were side by side, walking toward the ever-lost Keith the Security Guard and the pack of probably ravenous angels waiting at the entrance to Abbadon.
Alastor knew each of the seven archons present. Just as he’d not always been a hellion, so had they not always been archons. Mortals that had accomplished great works of peace. Saints promoted for their popularity. Their apparent leader—Ezekiel, the one in front of the rest—was promoted from simple choir angel after his singing convinced some psycho dictator to dismantle a nuclear arsenal.
“Ah, the prodigal fuck-up arrives,” Ezekiel said, a pearly smile stretched across his divinely strong jaw. “Photogenic as ever.”
Laughter from the other archons, as if on cue. They all looked like a college running team; white tracksuits matching their white sneakers. Team Goodguys. Morons.
Alastor took the chance to take a dig. “Prodigal? Ooh! Was that three syllables?”
“Shut up,” Malphas cut in. “Both of you. We’re here to handle this civilly. The Executives want this resolved quietly. I assume the Man wants the same.”
“Do not dare presume to understand the mind of The Man Upstairs!” shouted one of the archons.
“Blasphemy!” squeaked another.
Ezekiel calmed the dissent with a look over his shoulder. When he turned back, his face was considerably more stern. Angels. So fucking uptight.
“Sorry. This is just… weird,” Ezekiel said. “Angels and demons. Eternal war and all. Didn’t expect to get called here.”
What? “We called these pussies here?”
Ezekiel stepped forward at Alastor’s words and rose into the air a few feet. His nearly invisible wings flicked like a beetle’s. He floated toward Alastor and Malphas. A lance of bright, hot light—more white than any star—buzzed to life in the archon’s hand. The true form of a demon-killer.
“Ya know,” Alastor said, “you look kind of like a buff fairy when you do that.”
Ezekiel sneered through his tight, square face. “You put the entire Veil in danger. The Balance is threatened. Why should—”
“Wh-what the fuck?”
Everyone turned in unison toward the stammering voice. Keith the Security Guard was backpedaling, his wide eyes fixated on the floating angel warrior before him.
“Ah, shit.” Ezekiel dropped back down to the ground, but it was too late. Keith the Security Guard was already sprinting across the parking lot at full speed, his keys jingling, piss dotting the dry ground in a trail.
“Great,” Malphas said. “I expected the protectors of Providence to be more careful around mortals.”
Alastor snickered. “High expectations.”
Malphas fished a key from his pocket and held it up to Alastor’s face. “Alastor: shut the fuck up.”
Alastor’s mouth snapped shut and clenched tight. His throat seized against his will. That familiar sting in his brain. He knew there was no point in even trying to fight the magical control Malphas now had over him. With that key to the corner office, Malphas had mental ownership over every demon in his department. The perks of being a manager.
So, the best Alastor could do was grunt disapprovingly.
“That’s useful…” Ezekiel chimed, turning off his buzzing sword of light.
“You shut the fuck up, too. Look, I’m just the guy who called you. The Executives are the ones who want to talk. If any of you want your fucking answers, just follow me, all right? The sooner we get this over with, the sooner I can go back to my actual job, and you can all go back to lifting weights and making salads in your fucking gym.”
“It’s a recreational center…” Ezekiel muttered under his breath.
“Yeah, whatever. Are we good here?” Malphas asked. He looked around.
For the first time in his immortal life, Alastor found himself agreeing with angels. He followed Malphas through the entrance of Abbadon Acquisitions with seven angels in tow, thoroughly sure that he was about to be unceremoniously fired. Maybe executed.
Even as the group packed into the too-small elevator of Abbadon’s luxurious ground floor, all Alastor could picture were the Pits of Hell, swarming with the screaming, naked damned. Oceans of bodies crushing one another for eternity.
He couldn’t go back. He just fucking couldn’t.
Thanks for reading, all! I hope you enjoyed this installment! Remember to come back every Monday for more Hellions!