Excerpt from The Last Defender
Book Four of the Halsin Chronicles
Pestilence's Realm was exactly what I expected to be quiet honest, and it could only be best described as pure misery incarnate. The streets were desolate but filled with garbage, filth and other disgusting matter splattered across the street that I hesitate to even name. It was also perpetually dark as if this was permanent stuck in night time and I shivered, as a big part of me, knew that this realm was our future if Pestilence's plan came into fruition.
Roads were cracked and broken, buildings were reduced to rubble, and the lights above us hung like misshapen pendulums above us that periodically flickered with a haunting yellow light as if it was cautioning about what was to come.
“Light, this place is an utter gross mess,” Ally remarked.
“Ally,” Reggie hissed in a warning as if to say don't say much because we don't want to draw attention to ourselves.
Reggie, where is he being held? I asked mentally.
We're about six blocks away from Pestilence's main fortress and that’s where I picked up his energy. Though this is as close as we could jump without alerting all his minions to our presence. Granted we are going to be in for a fight no matter, I can almost guarantee that for I think Pestilence is expecting us to do something, since his decrepit hospital fortress that was crawling with monsters and ghouls, the likes of which I never seen before in my life.
Well good, since I hate to be bored, I said sarcastically before adding, though I would rather not pick a fight with things that I cannot identify because I am not a fan of hit or miss fighting, all it does is waste time.
Well I've got an idea but the chances of it working may be pretty slim, Reggie remarked hesitantly.
I looked at him and mentally responded, Well a slim chance is better than nothing, what does your plan entail?
Reggie nodded to me before he beckoned all of us to follow him. We walked up the street and around the next corner where a decrepit-looking 1960s ambulance sat.
“Do you think it runs?” I asked Reggie in a whisper.
Reggie quickly pulled open the rusty hood with minimal noise, to display a surprisingly good engine below.
“Well that works for me, though hold on a minute,” I said when something caught my eye.
Working quickly because I did not want to be in the open too long nor did I want to leave Memphis in Pestilence's clutches for too long. I quickly donned heavy gloves before I sifted through the debris of the building beside us and started pulling out heavy duty metal pieces.
Summoning up a wielding tank, I looked to Reggie and the other Hell hounds, “Hey Ally, Alfie, I know you both are mechanical geniuses, so do mind helping me turn this car into a beast? Everyone else, please keep watch and kill anyone who discovers us.”
The Hellhounds nodded before Ally and Alfie went to work with me as we started to make a makeshift tank as quickly as possible.
Inwardly I reflected briefly that my words, which I knew sounded brutal but I also knew that the wretches who inhabited this realm had been wicked souls in the human realm and had gone so far to pledge themselves to Pestilence for power to cause more devastation. So they were not innocent souls trapped here and I was not about to risk Memphis' life even, by letting one of the wretches live.
Bending down, I started a fixing the heavy metal scraps to the outside of the vehicle. Normally this would have taken me ages to do myself but with Ally and Alfie who were experts at making 'monster' machines in minutes. Case in point, our mini tank was completely fixed up in five minutes flat.
“Oh snap twins and Callie, this is freaking awesome, dibs on driving it,” Sebastian called.
“Eff off, Sebastian, you can't drive worth crap and there's only one of us who has the skill to drive the hell mobile and that's Ally,” Alfie declared.
“Whoa I don't have crappy driving skills,” Sebastian declared.
“Sorry, Sebastian but Ally is the best driver for this type of situation and we really do not have time to argue over it,” I said quietly.
“Damn, but alright, though if you crash this vehicle on purpose and I end up with one tiny scratch on my beautiful face, then there will be hell to pay twins,” Sebastian declared.
Ally and Alfie both rolled there eyes before we all piled into the small vehicle. Then Ally hot-wired the vehicle before she revved the engine.
“Subtle there Ally,” Sebastian remarked.
“Hey Sebastian here's a news flash for you, I plan on doing as much damage in as little as time as possible in this beast. Ergo, why must I be subtle when I want to take out as many villains as I can?” Ally demanded as she put the car in gear.
“Touché, Ally, touché,” Sebastian said.
Then the car went deathly silent as everyone, except the twins, held there collective breaths and prayed to the Light that we would survive this drive and preferably in one piece, if at all possible. After all, Ally may be a good driver but this vehicle felt quite rickety, especially given the extra protective weight that we tacked on, which made the hell mobile shudder and groan heavily when Ally sped up before she tore down the street at break neck speeds.
Then after what felt like torturous eternity, we were in the main hospital square and I could not help but grimace when I saw a number of large indescribable beasts who seemed to have the ability to squash our vehicle like a tiny bug if they were so inclined.
“Hey Alfie, how many points on my license do you think I will get for 'vehicular monster homicide'?” Ally asked.
“None since you get jail time for hitting a human not points and monsters don't count,” Alfie replied.
“Oh... well that's good news because I don't think I have any more room to get any more points on my license for another year.”
“Ally... that's really not encouraging,” Sebastian said with a sigh.
“Don't get your knickers in a twist Sebastian most of it is for drag racing and that's only when I get caught, which is seldom I swear,” Ally responded.
“Hey Ally, I promise to buy you lunch if you can take out every giant beast with this car,” Alfie said to his sister.
“Deal, though it better not be fast food, I want an all-you-can-eat buffet.”
“ Hey twins! Focus!” Reggie declared.
“Hey I'm not stupid,” Ally said as took aim for the leg of the first monster.
No one said anything as we all braced for impact thinking that this car was going to split, lucky for us, it didn't happen as the heavy metal that we tacked held out and took the monster’s leg out.
“Ha ha, this car is awesome, I want to keep it!” Ally declared.
“Ally you know the rules, you can't take anything from Pestilence's realm because it will taint our realm,” Reggie reminded her before continuing, “and I didn't call you stupid, so I don't know where you got that notion from.”
“You've never heard the saying, 'Feck off cuz you're stupid' before, Reggie? Really? Alfie says it to me all the time. He also tells me that I'm FUBAR'd too,” Ally remarked before she frowned and continued, “You know you are not very nice brother.”
“Yeah, I know, though you're not a nice sister either and only last week, you threw a bunch of lit bottle rockets at me last week, remember?”
“Ha ha ha, that was epic,” Ally laughed as she plowed into another monster.
Though she was not the only one, since Alfie was laughing too and now I know I should have been worried about that but they were hell hounds and laughing at taking out evil monsters made them really happy. After all hell hounds could not just live and let live with evil. No, to a hell hound it had to die, preferably a slow and painful death. Which was why hell hounds were so feared and though it was also why the humans were able to flourish so well, since the hell hounds kept the vast majority of villains at bay.
“Okay this isn't fair, I want to kill one of these stupid monsters too, when do we get our turn?” Penny complained with a small growl.
“Soon Penny, let Ally take out these bigger monsters with the car and then we should jump out taking out whatever we can. After that Ally I want you to sent the car through the main entrance. Though it would have been better if we could have rigged it to explode because I am sure it would draw most of the villains in the building towards the explosion to investigate and that means less jerks guarding Memphis. Damn, I wish I had thought about this before we left then I could have prepare for it but oh well,” I said with a sigh.
“Don't worry Callie we've got you covered on that note,” Alfie said as I saw him pull out a block of C4 in the mirror from his coat pocket.
“Where the hell did you get that?” Sebastian demanded.
“I always carry a stick of dynamite or a block of C4 on me, in fact I'm known for it, so why is this so surprising? Oh and on that note, Ally does too, don't you Al?”
“Oh yes, I also carry fireworks, a knife, a pack of gum and a lighter at all times.”
“We are so going to have a long talk about your pyro tendencies, twins, I swear, though right now, I am quite happy that you two came prepared. Now don't forget to make sure you that you both are clear of the car before you blow it up this time because we really don't need a repeat of the last incident,” Reggie murmured.
“I promise I won't set myself on fire again for once was enough,” Ally swore as Alfie nodded.
“Good, now hurry up Ally because time is running out for Memphis,” I murmured fearfully.
“Okie dokey, I'm about to take the last big guy in three, two, one...” Ally said as she punched the gas and took hit the last monster who let out a loud ear-piercing shriek.
“Well there goes our element of surprise, oh well,” Sebastian said before he opened the left backdoor of the car and jumped out immediately with the car was still in motion.
“Sebastian!” I hissed after him but it was too late, since all the hell hounds in the back, save Alfie who was wiring a makeshift bomb from the looks of it, had jumped out.
“Hey Callie sweetie, you might want to jump out soon too because I'm going to continuing commit vehicular monster-a-cide while my bro finishes our diversion bomb in the backseat. Once he's done I'm driving this baby right into those big hospital doors over there and give this car a proper Viking send off if you get my drift. Oh and remember sweetie, tuck and roll,” Ally advised sagely.
Okay I will not lie when I say that the thought of jumping out a moving vehicle kind of terrified me. After all, I was not crazy like all the hell hounds who did this kind of thing all the time. Though I knew that I did not have any alternatives because if I asked Ally to briefly stop, it could put all of us at risk of retaliation over the mayhem Ally had already caused.
Flinging the door, I moved to half hug out the door as I prepared myself to tuck and roll but my plans changed. When I had to suddenly to jump upwards to save myself from being crushed by the door when it clipped a larger monster and swung back in. I had managed to jump up on the roof of the car because of my natural feline agility. Though now completely scared out of my mind, I sat in a crouched position holding onto the roof with claws as I tried to think of how I was going to get out of this without possibly maiming myself.
I could faintly hear Ally in the car as she shouted with laughter in her voice, “Callie that was friggin awesome! You totally pegged that jerkface monster in the face. Hey Alfie you friggin' miss that man, that was a honestly a once-in-a-million shot. Any who Callie, time to get off the car roof because Alfie's finished wiring the bomb. Now I can feel your fear, though I need you to trust me, when I tell you to just close your eyes and take a leap of faith, for the longer you stay on the roof the more your fear is going to be paralyzed you and the more it will hurt when you do jump because you'll be super tense. Please believe me Callie because I know this first hand from experience since Alfie and I do this once a week, though that's neither here nor there kitty cat. Now come on, you can do it and you've done scarier things that jump of a rickety speeding car. Plus you are a cat and don't you got nine lives or something?”
“No I do not have nine lives... oh screw it!” I said as I decided to jump anyway.
I really do not know how this happened, maybe it was just the grace of the Light, but when I jumped my hand hit a spike that was protruding from a statue in the middle of the courtyard and instinctively I grabbed onto it and swung around a few time before I was able to pull myself onto the spike. Looking up at the massive grotesque statue of Pestilence impaling victims on spikes and I kept my revulsion at bay as I started to form a plan in my mind.
Reggie, which floor do you think Memphis is on? I asked him mentally.
The top floor, from what I can gather from his magical presence.
Right, well it is a good thing heights never bothered me. Now everyone once Ally blows the door, starting heading up the side of the building vertically and stay in your shadow form, so no one will be able to see you.
Well that works for us but what about you, Callie? I mean when you are in your griffin form, it shines with the light of the ethereal magic you possess, Sebastian stated.
To be honest, I am going to wing it, though I will be fine I swear it. Now Ally start your countdown when you are ready, I said as I started to make my way up the grotesque statue, climbing spike after spike.
Right, three... two... one, Ally said after a moment before I heard two car doors open followed closely by a loud earth shattering, that sent a massive shock wave outwards.
The statue shook intensely but I was able to hang on before I quickly continued my ascent. Unfortunately, I did not realize until I was one or two spike from the very top, that the statue had been severely damage in the blast. I felt it suddenly heave and groan before it started to give way. I let out a small gasp of shock as I scramble to the other side of the tower and held on as it crashed down towards the hospital-like fortress.
Watch out! I shouted at the seven hell hounds who were ghosting up the side of the building, though they all dodged the statue debris with out missing a beat.
Callie! Whatever happens, wait for us if you can and we'll cover you, Reggie said as the hell hounds hovered slightly waiting to see which way the statue would finally crash into the building.
Unable to respond because I was entirely focused on leaping across the falling debris heading towards the building ahead of me and relative safety. Though when I made the last final leap of faith, I held my breath until I hit the ground and rolled across rocks, wood and shards of glass that was littered across the floor before I came to a complete stop.
Coughing slightly I flipped up onto my feet and quickly brushed off the debris before I took in my new surroundings. I did not have much time I was attacked by what appeared to be villains dressed up like the criminally insane from an old asylum. There were at least twenty of them in front of me and they were all making horrendous noises as they ran around me in a disorientated fashion. Then one seemed to rush me, ready to attack and reacting quickly I leapt up and roundhouse kicked him in the head with such a force that I snapped his neck.
Expecting that to be the end of it, I heard a creepy horrid laugh as the man seemed to reanimate and turn his body so that his limply hanging head was facing me as his features took on a ghoulish look.
Inwardly I shuddered but I still readied myself to continue to fight him again but then Reggie suddenly stepped in front of me in his hell hound form and I watched the ghoulish zombie man’s sick grin slowly turn to a sudden frown when his dead whitish eyes took in Reggie's form.
Then he let out a whimper like screech, he backed up ready to flee but Reggie lunged at him, ripping the creature apart before he set him on fire with what we Animalia called 'hell fire'. Though despite its name, was actually a purifying fire like the fox fire that the Mystic Fox Clan used. In fact, they were one of three species capable of producing it, with the other being the Phoenix clan.
Light them up boys and girls so we can clear a path for Callie, Reggie declared mentally to the other hell hounds.
They all nodded their big shaggy dog heads before they wandered around me forming a protective circle before they launched an assault on the ghoulish villains in front of me.
I did not watch the fight instead I just ran when I got the opportunity. Speeding down the hall past the ghouls heading for the stairway door that was bizarrely lit up in front of me. Kicking in the heavy fire exit door immediately, I ran up the stairs, not knowing exactly where Memphis was, only that he had to be held in the highest floor of this place, like Reggie had mentioned earlier. Rounding the second flight of stairs, I heard the sound of heavy paws tread on the mental stairs and I breathed a sigh of relief, knowing that all seven hell hounds were following.
Keep going Callie you're almost there, Reggie said.
Pushing myself harder, I ran faster than I ever had before in my human form. Rounding up the corner of the last flight of stairs, I used my momentum and magic to blast open the door in front of me.
The force of the blow caused me to trip and fall, though instinctively, I rolled in the air and landed on my feet before I started running again, determined to reach Memphis before it was too late, since I was so close, for he had to be behind the large heavy door ahead of me.
Slamming into it hard, I burst through with all seven hell hounds behind me before I stopped dead in my tracks.
“Oh Light no,” I moaned.