Earl Harbinger belongs to Monster Hunter International
FIC: The Armageddon Protocol (11/?)
The man stood in front of the dilapidated ranch house was short but powerfully built with long sideburns, a craggy face, and intense, knowing eyes. “You from the Council?” he rasped as Xander climbed out of the car.
“Could I be this good looking and be anybody else?” Xander riposted. “I’m Xander Harris.”
The man snorted. “Earl Harbinger.”
Xander stuck out a hand then winced when the man took it and squeezed it like it was in a vice. “Like a guy with a nice grip, bone-crushing on the other hand.” Xander shook blood back into his hand.
Earl Harbringer snorted again, amusement flickering briefly in his eyes. “I understand you’re having some trouble?”
‘Some trouble’ hugely under-stated the problems they were having but Xander wasn’t surprised that Harbinger knew about their problems. The demon and demon-hunting world was a small, almost incestuous world where everybody important knew or was at least aware everybody else if not personally then by reputation. “That’s why we’re here,” Xander lightly replied before looking towards Dean and throwing him the van keys. “Open the van’s doors.”
Earl raised a bushy eyebrow as he peered into the back of the van and peered into the stacked high packs of bills. “How much?”
“Twenty-five million dollars,” Xander replied. “Now, you might be asking yourselves why we aren’t sunning ourselves in Barbados-.”
“I know I was.”
“But that’s because we were sent to hire you and your people for the entirety of this crisis,”
Xander finished with a reproving glare at Dean.
“Twenty-five million dollars is a lot of money, but what if this crisis goes on for years?” Harbinger demanded.
“God I hope not,” Xander shook his head, “this stress is making me grey. No,” Xander sobered, “this is a down-payment. Five million to hire your entire company, a sort of signing on fee, the other twenty million for three months, non-refundable. And there’s another twenty million every three months from now on, same conditions.”
Harbinger nodded. “It’ll take a few days to get my people all together, but yeah, we’re in.”
The Deeper Well
“Far be it for me to be the voice of reason,” Spike began.
“It is unusual,” Angel agreed.
His Grand-Childe shot him a glare but continued in the same tone. “But we know what happened to the Slayers who were left patrolling the Deeper Well, the enemy killed them. Should we really poke the bear by going into the Deeper Well?“
Angel scowled at his Grand-Childe. He really, really hated it when Spike was the sensible one. “We have to find out what they were after, what’s missing. Many of the world’s most dangerous and rarest artefacts are stored here.”
Spike raised an eyebrow. “Oh aye? You take an inventory last time you were here, mate?”
“Just come on,” Angel started forward and into the Deeper Well’s darkened entrance hall, a vast cavern with an impossibly high ceiling and seemed to go on forever. Angel’s gaze searched the inky darkness, vampire-enhanced gaze missing nothing.
Eventually they reached the bridge crossing over the Deeper Well. “Guess that answers that,” Spike commented as he peered over the edge.
“Yeah,” Angel’s eyes narrowed as he peered down to the far off ground. As far as the eye could see all that remained of the Old Ones was torn-apart tombs, shattered skeletons, stone, and dust littering the ground. No wait, his eyes narrowed still further, there wasn’t just skeletons cast across the stony ground, but also recently dismembered corpses.
“And once again, Illyria is supreme over the other Older Ones,” the blue-haired goddess smirked.
“How do you figure?” Kennedy queried.
“Only I remain.” Illyria sniffed.
Angel shook his head clear, trying to make sense of what he was seeing. “People, we need to find out what happened here.”
Spike shot him a look the sort of which you’d shoot an especially slow-witted child. “People came, people destroyed Old Ones’ skeletons.”
“Yeah,” Angel rose and started down the stairway. “But who killed people?”
Soon he was making his way across the skeleton-strewn floor, careful to avoid touching or standing upon any of the bleached bones on the basis that even death might not be able to stop some things from having power. “Ah hell,” his eyes widened as he realised that the corpses surrounded one tomb in particular and began to piece together what had happened. “Whoever’s behind the carnage was worried about the Old Ones somehow becoming an obstacle for their plans, so they either hired or used their own mages to dissipate their remaining energies. But something went wrong, somebody made a mistake, wasn’t concentrating, or one of the Old Ones was incorrectly imprisoned, whatever. Point is, the Old One either re-corporealised and killed everybody or the Old One possessed the one of the sorcerers doing the magic and killed the rest.”
“Bollocks.” Spike cursed as he crouched by the tomb and peered at the inscriptions carved into its side. “Looks to be Egyptian, but I didn’t bring my English to Egyptian phase book with me, who is it?”
“It’s Nergal,” Willow replied, her voice hushed with horror, “the Babylonian God god of war and pestilence.”
Spike raised an eyebrow. “So not one of the fun tyrants then?”
Angel cast a nervous look around. “We need to get out of here.”
“What’s the rush?” Kennedy glanced at him.
“The Deeper Well didn’t just store the Old Ones’ essences, there’s items of great power here too,” Angel replied. “Whoever possessed Nergal might come back for them.”
“Oh.” Kennedy raised an eyebrow. “Last one’s out a wet blanket?”
Each of the golems stood about eight feet tall and built broad with it, with the sort of thick limbs that looked capable of palming a good-sized family car. The creatures gleamed like freshly-glazed ceramic and had flat, featureless faces except for a pair of dead black eyes.
“Eh,” Faith was first to break the shocked silence that followed the golems’ appearance, “I really hope somebody brought a nuke ‘cause swords and axes aren’t gonna cut it against those SOBs!”
“No explosives,” an unusually sober-faced Dresden replied. “But if you give me five minutes I’ll have a spell.”
“I hate wizards,” Faith shook her head before glancing towards her fellow Slayers, “Kim, Ron, you’se two are on Reggie Kray, I’ll take Ronnie!” Faith launched herself across the tiled floor at the right hand of the two monsters, pulling her head down into her shoulders. The way she saw it, the Golem had size, durability, and power on its side, she had skill and speed on hers, she’d have to stick and move, not try and beat the damn thing, just keep it away from the others.
A backhand crashed into the side of her head with the force of a bat swung by Barry Bonds. Her head snapped to the side as the blow lifted her from her feet and flung her into the wall. “Fuck,” Faith groaned as she slid down the wall to the ground.
Legs wobbly, she grabbed the wall and pulled herself up just in time to see the Golem lumbering towards her. Her eyes widened as the mastodon threw a right that she swayed outside of, stomach hollowing when the monster punched a hole into the wall, dust billowing out.
Okay, Faith’s eyes widened, this wasn’t float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. More like float like a butterfly, get flattened by a super-truck. “Any time now would be good!” Faith’s voice cracked as she abandoned any attempt at offence in favour of bobbing and weaving out of the monster’s way.
Faith winced as she blocked an upswinging knee on her crossed forearms, the blow’s impact knocking her back into the wall, head bouncing painfully off the concrete. Out of the corner of her eye she saw the other Golem explode into rubble even as she ducked forward at the waist and under a wildly swung hook. “Why is mine still breathing? Well alive? Well trying to beat the shit outta me?”
“Give me a minute, I can only do one a minute!” Dresden retorted, his face covered in sweat and taut with effort.
“Said the Pope at an orgy!” Faith wise-cracked then gasped when the Golem grabbed her around the throat and picked her up. A normal person’s neck would be snapped in a second, as it was Faith’s face instantly blued and her vision blurred. Heart pounding both from terror and the effort of keeping her body working, Faith swung her legs up, wrapped them around the Golem’s tree trunk thick arm, and tried to wrench her way loose.
Unfortunately loosening the monster’s grip was like dragging something loose from quicksand. Faith’s vision swam, black dots appearing before her eyes. And then she crashed to the ground. “Shit,”Faith groaned, her entire body feeling like one big bruise.
Well one perfectly shaped bruise.
“Here, let me help you up.”
“Well aren’t you the perfect gent?” Faith took Daniel’s hand and let winked lasciviously at the man’s sudden blush. “Unfortunately.”
Faith looked around the rubble-strewn floor, rubbed her throat, then winced at the continual buzzing in her ears, then realised the buzzing wasn’t in fact in her ears, but was the building’s alarm systems. “Damn it, Dresden,” Faith looked towards the sorcerer, “we need an opening to the Nevernever and fast!”
“Nag, nag.” Sweat soaking him, Dresden glared at her. “Your boyfriend’s a saint!”
“Saint?” Faith blew the wizard a kiss. “Nah, I’m just that good.”
Rufus Turner spun around at the deep voice. He just about managed to fight back decades of hunting experience and not reach for the nearest gun when confronted by a red-skinned giant with shorn-off horns and a mutated hand with a band of freaks and weirdos lurking behind him. Instead he managed a brusque nod. “Glad to see you’re alive-.”
“Warmth of your welcome is making me tear up,” the red-skinned monster who could only be Hellboy rumbled.
Eyes hardening, Rufus opened his mouth to answer, the thing might be the size of a silverback and twice as ugly, but he wasn’t about to let any damn demon sass him. But before he could answer a bald-headed, hard-eyed man in his early-fifties stepped around the demon and stuck his hand out. “Director Walter Skinner, pleased to meet you. We were going find our own way to your organisation, but we’re very pleased you came to find us.”
“Yeah,” glaring eyes still set on Hellboy, Rufus took the law enforcement official’s hand and shook it, “my pleasure.” Rufus cleared his throat. “Let’s get everybody home shall we?”