-The below story takes place immediately following the events of The Wicked Dead.
|It's hard to be surrounded by idiots|
I so fucking hated playing the damsel in distress. Yet, somehow, that seemed to be the card I'd drawn as of late. Shit, I mean in the last day alone I'd been adopted by Sasquatches, kidnapped by a guy who looked like the second place winner in a Glenn Danzig lookalike contest, and now I was being carried like a ragdoll by Bill's fucking dungeon master of all people.
Talk about adding insult to injury.
Still, maybe I shouldn't complain. After all, I was alive. That's more than I could say about a lot of people. Hell, I couldn't even say for sure my friends survived, being that the roof of a fucking cavern had been dropped on top of them.
No. That was the wrong attitude to take.
Say what you will about my friends, but damn if they weren't survivors ... amazing as that might be at times. Besides, I had to hold out hope. From the look of things, it was all I had ... aside from the company of rock monsters, compelled vampires, and some psycho chick who, up until a short while ago, I'd assumed was no more than a middle manager in the vamp hierarchy.
"I can walk you know."
Dave gave no response, continuing to march forward like a mindless android. I let out a sigh. It wasn't his fault he was currently enslaved. Sure, he was an abrasive ass, but I doubted he'd willfully ever fall in line with this lot.
I couldn't see much from my vantage point, slung over his shoulders like a sack of potatoes. Go figure, I was apparently the only one in this traveling freak show without night vision. The only illumination in the tunnel came from the glowing eyes of the Jahabich marching with us and it wasn't much. I could barely make out the walls on either side of us, much less how far back our procession stretched.
Where my eyes failed, however, my ears did not. I could tell there were a lot of us - not from the witty banter going on, mind you, but from the footfalls of many feet marching along. Amazingly enough, it wasn't so much the company that creeped me out, nor the fact that I was being kidnapped again for whatever the fuck reason. It was the silence. My voice had been the first since we'd started this trek through the bowels of the Earth.
Other than footsteps there had been nothing except ... hold on. I had to go and think that, didn't I? No sooner had I rued the silence than came a low rumble from somewhere behind us. I was no spelunker, but that sure as shit sounded like something collapsing.
"Um, you might want to walk faster, man," I said from over Dave's shoulder.
Again, no response. I looked around at the vacant eyes of the vampires who'd been unlucky enough to have been ensnared, hoping to see a glimmer of ... anything really. But they might as well have been mannequins from the uncanny valley looks on their faces.
"I don't suppose it's any concern to you fuckers, but I'm pretty sure that's a cave-in we're hearing."
"Of course it is, child," an unconcerned female voice replied from somewhere up ahead. "Who do you think ordered the tunnel to be collapsed behind us?"
I guess that made sense. Would keep us from being followed. Speaking of behinds, though...
"As much as I appreciate you talking to my asshole, it's kind of hard to carry on a meaningful conversation this way."
Before I could say anything further, Dave bent down and deposited me onto my feet - where I was almost immediately bowled over. The procession as a whole didn't bother to stop moving, forcing me to quickly match pace or be trampled.
I spared a quick glance at his slack-jawed face. "Thanks for nothing, asshole."
The tunnel lit up ahead and I turned to see the source. Unsurprisingly, it was the woman in the white dress who'd recently kicked everyone's asses upstairs ... Calibra. A small orb of glowing energy floated next to her.
"My concession to your frail mortal eyes."
"You're too kind."
She was leading the way ... somewhere. The light cast by her magic trick didn't illuminate much, just enough for me to keep from tripping over my own feet.
Unless I decided to take my chances at being a human gopher, there wasn't much I could do but bide my time and hope for a chance to run later. Where to? I had no idea. Hopefully a plan would present itself. Until then...
I caught up to Calibra, being she was both holding the flashlight and seemed the lone other person in the group whose tongue the cat hadn't gotten.
"Hey. What's a nice guy like me doing in a shit-hole cave like this?"
"I see you're a flippant one, like your friend the Freewill," she replied, still facing forward. "Tis a sign of this age, I suppose. Once upon a time, men knew their place when among their betters."
"Ah, I see. I'll be sure to add m'lady when I tell you to go fuck yourself."
"You dare?!" a different voice snarled from somewhere behind us.
I spun to see one of the vamps from Bill's coven pushing her way through the crowd … the hot redhead who seemed to put out for everyone but him. Mind you, she looked a bit less hot with her eyes blackened and her fangs bared.
"There will be no need for that, Elizabeth."
The redhead stopped dead in her tracks. I expected her to offer some sort of protest about not being allowed to play with her toys, but all she did was nod respectfully and fall back again. Wuss.
"Got that one on a short leash, I see."
"She knows her place," Calibra replied. "Something you might do well to consider."
I decided to try my luck. After all, there was obviously a reason they'd taken me. "See, that's the thing. I don't think I need to."
"Oh?" she asked, a bemused quality to her voice. That was fine. Amused was potentially a lot less painful for me than enraged. Still, it helped reinforce what I'd been thinking.
"Yeah. I can't help but notice how everyone seems intent on using me as the trophy in a massive game of capture the flag. Translation for the ancient monsters in the room…"
"I know what you mean," Calibra said. "Unlike some of my children, I have made it a point to stay abreast of current affairs."
Oh. Well, that saved me the trouble of explaining the finer points of online gaming. "Good to know. Anyway, I'm gonna go out on a limb and assume it's not my charming personality that you're all after.
"Your insight is truly fascinating."
"Be that as it may, you need me for something. I don't know what that is, but since I'm still breathing I'm going to assume it's important to you."
"Oh, it goes far beyond me, I can assure you, boy."
She stopped short of telling me what that was, though, leading me to believe I wasn't going to get some super villain soliloquy outlining her evil plot. Nevertheless, she seemed to be in a conversing mood, which was a fuck-load better than a killing one.
"Whatever it is, you have to know it's not going to work."
"I assume you are speaking of your friend the Freewill. How do you even know he's still alive?"
"Bill seems to have a guardian angel hanging over him, several probably, in the form of that big prophecy you all seem to like crowing about. Oh, and I'm not just talking about him. You didn't get to meet her up above, but trust me when I say a certain girl with a flaming white aura will probably be very eager to make your acquaintance."
"The Icon and the Freewill?" she mused.
"Yep. Despite what you might believe, they're working together, and don't doubt for a second they're going to come looking for me." I left out a silent I hope. No point in showing her that in actuality I was pretty close to shitting my pants.
"And that's the best you've got to threaten me with?"
"You're kidding, right?" I asked. "Need I remind you that those two are kind of a big deal in your world? Their big showdown during the end times and all that. Oh, and since I haven't heard anything in those prophecies about you, that tells me maybe you should be worried about still being around to see it."
"I would remind you, child," she replied. "That the prophecies, and I can assure you I am far more intimately familiar with them than you are, also fail to mention you."
"Why would they? Effervescent as my personality is, I'm not a player in this supernatural circle jerk."
For the first time, she turned to look at me, her eyes gleaming in the dim light. "Oh, how wrong you are. You, my child, are the harbinger of a new age. Despite everything you've heard, your friends are the inconsequential ones. Freewills and Icons, their kind have come and gone before. Aberrations they may be, quirks of magic, but nothing more. Why, did you know that the very first Icon fell to my hands?" She shook her head dismissively. "Of course you wouldn't. But it's true. It was an amusing altercation, truth be told, an interesting diversion, but nothing more. Do not think your friends will be any different."
I tried not to show it, but the utter confidence in her voice was causing a bit of a pit to form in my stomach.
"You, on the other hand, are unique," she continued. "Nothing like you has ever appeared on the face of this world. Trust me, I have been looking."
"I like to think I'm..."
"I don't care what you think. Your wants and needs are irrelevant. You will foster a new beginning, but do not think that makes you its master. You are a pawn and will be used as such."
"And if I refuse?" There. It had to be said. Mind you, I was alone and surrounded by a small army of beings of which I was physically the weakest. As far as bluffs went, it was pretty goddamned pathetic.
"Is this supposed to be the part where I threaten the lives of your friends?"
"You could, but there isn't anyone present I'm willing to take a bullet for."
"Hardly," she replied with a grin, eyeing me up and down.
"What are you doing?"
"What is the colloquialism? Ah, yes. I am ... checking you out."
What?! That was her gambit? I mean, sure, she was cute in a crazed sort of way, but seriously? "I'm flattered, really I am. But, unlike at least one of my other friends, I'm not about to sell out the world for a quick lay."
She let out what sounded almost like a genuine laugh. I tried not to be insulted. "Oh, silly boy, that wasn't what I was looking at."
"Your arms and legs, of course. Limbs are an interesting evolutionary achievement. They allow us to walk, run, fight, build, all of the things that have allowed mankind to rise above the muck."
"And," she replied, her eyes darkening, "they are entirely superfluous for the purpose for which you are here. You would suit my needs just as well as the equivalent of a human slug. And if you think I am in any way bluffing, I implore you to say another word to the contrary."
In the last year I'd helped face down monsters for whom I wouldn't have hesitated to flip off at such an ultimatum. This time, however, I didn't get the vibe that there was any sway whatsoever to the threat laid out before me.
I didn't consider myself a coward, but I'm not a fucking idiot either.
Considering the alternative, I zipped my lips and fell into stride beside her.
I had no idea what Calibra had planned for me, but at least for now I was alive and whole. I hoped to stay that way, but that didn't mean I wouldn't keep my eyes open for an opportunity. If one arose, I'd take it. And if not, I'd do what I could to muck things up for her while patiently waiting for my friends to come for me.
Now to only hope they didn't take their sweet fucking time doing so.
The Road To Armageddon: