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Cubismo

Fright Night at Claremont (IC)

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Selena looked over at Lulu as she knelt down next to the boy's head.  "It should be safe-ish.  He looks like he's in the next closest thing to a coma, not sure if it's something we did fending him off while he was all 'demony' or the result of kicking the thing out of him.  Either way, be careful in there," she said.

 

Heading back over to Salvo she watched her teammate, and her team's resident tank, pour over the pages of the tome.  She could almost see the frown on Salvo's faceplate by the time she had closed the book, "So, on a scale of one to ten, how much of a nightmare is it going to be to unfrak their screw up?"

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"Glad to hear it," Salvo said as she lowered her head to the point she was almost level with the shorter Gauss. "Least you know it already happened and in a better way."

 

Salvo hummed at Gauss' question and whileshe waited for the other students to get their bearings. It sounded like an engine whirring, but she looked at Gauss as she put a score to their problem.

 

"An eight if we play our cards right and don't do anything stupid. The short of it is Sam and company summoned an avatar of Baal, one of the bigger princes of Hell. Our best bet to bring Baal back to where it came from is to exorcise Sam's friends of their personal demons. We can also play lawyer and make a deal with the devil or we can beat Baal up but I don't want to try my hand at either of those things. We need lots of salt, and holy water and weapons if you know where we could find them. I don't so it's a trip to the kitchen we need to make."

 

She tapped a finger on the palm of her hand as she waited for Crystal-Gazer to finish her jaunt inside Sam's head. "Mind powers are pretty scary. You could mess up someone's head if you do it the wrong way."

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"Fair enough, I suppose." He didn't really blame Salvo for the reaction, given their prior major encounter, but still, it was harsh. Not that Sam really deserved anything else, given what he had done. "Thank you!" He appreaciated Selena's help, even if they couldn't manage much. 

 

He stayed by Sam's side, when Lulu started her next little visit to the mind of the would-be-summoner. Hopefully, she would not find any traces of the demon inside that could hurt her, but he still felt he should stay close. He didn't know anything about how her powers worked, really, so if he could do anything to help in case something happened, well, he could just as well stay close.

 

"What kind of weapons?" He asked, genuinely curious. Were there rules to demons in this world, then? Salt, holy water? Things they had to abide by? They were creatures of darkness, were they not? He thought so, at least. "How well would a sword of light do?"

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"Holy weapons," Salvo repeated curtly. "That's not something any of us could do unless anyone wants to reveal they're actually the child of a god right now."

 

Salvo turned to look at Pan, her palms up as if asking the forever boy for an answer.

 

"No takers?"

 

Normally she was one for lecturing, but a year and a half in the hero business taught her the value of keeping your explanations short and your hustle shorter. No one liked a monolouger after all.

 

She was the expert here, she realized, and someone everyone here would look to for an explanation even though Gauss was the Senior. She had the experience and knowledge when it came to reality beyond the natural.

 

Behind the wards and layers of dimensions that made up her armour, it brought a smile to her face. She could indulge herself even a little.

 

"What do you have for us, CG? You didn't get a sugar rush just now did you?" She called out to Crystal-Gazer as if the telepath could respond when she was deep inside someone's mind.

Edited by Zeitgeist Blue

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Crystal-Gazer told the other Claremont students all of what she learned in Sam's abused mind. The Hidden Covenant's late-night rituals in the Underbelly. The group's many failed attempts to magically improve their social lives. Sam's theft of his family's sealed grimoire. The epic screw up that caused them to accidentally summon a Prince of Hell. Sam's daunting escape from the his possessed friends. She told them all of it and left nothing out.

 

If Sam were conscious he likely would have blushed at hearing all his dirty secrets being revealed to near strangers. That was probably the only positive thing that could be said about his current condition, though. He was battered in body and mind, and though his condition was stable, he would need time to recover from his possession. Fortunately for him Crystal-Gazer was willing to stay behind and watch over him while all the other teen heroes used Sam's map to descend down into Claremont's Underbelly where Sam and his fool friends made possibly the biggest mistake in their lives. 

 

The Underbelly was without a doubt the oldest section of Claremont Academy, being pretty much the only part of the school that hadn't go through some major renovation. It was an antiquated maze of poorly lit and decaying halls that only got more decrepit as Forever Boy, Gauss, and Salvo made their way through level after level of it. But that wasn't the worse part. Poor sanitation and dust was one thing, but as they made their way down the Underbelly it became increasingly hotter. First, only slightly so, but as they progressed ever downwards, it went from strangely humid to downright sweltering.

 

The heat wasn't the true danger, though. It was an irritant at best. No, it was darkness in those tunnels and the long shadows they cast that was the real threat. Anyone, or thing, could be in them after all. Waiting for an opportunity to strike! 

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Nicole could only groan as they made their way down the Underbelly. Tight turns, small spaces, ambush points everywhere. Talk about disadvantageous environments and you'd get something like this ninety percent of the time.

 

A hundred percent if you were a certain Salvo.

 

She lumbered her way forward, thrusters shooting small jets of air and fire occassionally, micro-corrections to her movements. She could lean too far one way and be in danger of tipping over. Her shoulders and arms would scrape against the walls with a low screech of metal against rock, stirring up dust in the close confines. 

 

No way to fly, to keep her distance and use Bellios' firepower. It was a nightmare but it would be worse for Gauss and Forever Boy. They didn't have the benefits of Bellios protecting them from harm.

 

"Stay close and behind me," she said, probably uneccessary considering all their experience but it made things clear.

 

"Ugh, couldn't they have done this in he Athletic Field? Open space, bright lights." She checked the temperature reading, unbothered by the heat. "Cool air."

Edited by Zeitgeist Blue

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Pan did not like small, cramped spaces like this. He was not afraid, of course. Fear was not something for the Forever Boy, but he was annoyed. He wanted to fly, he needed to fly, but that was not something he could do in here, was it? Not beyond floating an inch above the floor, which he had opted against. He did what he could to mask their approach into these tunnels. He had created an illusion around the small group, making them invisible, inaudible, and, for good measure, unable to be smelled or tasted. Just in case. Never knew what weird things demons did. 

 

He found himself agreeing with Nicole. "Yes, some room to move would be appreciated." Still, he followed, even in the heat. He was sweating, he knew that. How could it be so hot in here? Just what had Sam and his foolish friends done?

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Even in the confided, stuffy tunnels of the Underbelly there were places where things foul and corrupt could lay in waiting.  Baal was not the type of demon to allow a setback to ruin his plans and always had contingency in case one of his servants failed him.

 

In fact, on this occasion he had three. And they were more than ready to enact their master's will as they watched the teen heroes make their way to Baal's lair in the Underbelly.

 

"They can't see us Mr. Toad," Mr. Man whispered in the dark to his compatriots. 

 

"Indeed, Mr. Man," Mr. Toad croaked out politely. The shadow demon turned its huge bulbous toad head a full 180 degrees towards the last member of its trio who was just behind him. "Do you concur, Mr. Cat?" 

 

Mr. Cat blinked with its massive feline eyes and examined the three heroes below him before turning back to meet Mr. Toad's grotesque face. "I believe I must, Mr. Toad. The children sense us not," he purred.

 

Satisfied at the answer, Mr. Toad stretched its shadowy top-heavy body. "Then I believe its time we greet these children, my friends. Do you all agree?"

 

Mr. Man's and Mr. Cat's answers were immediate and spoken in unison. "Yes."

 

And with that, the three demons leapt off the tunnel ceiling towards each of their own selected prey.

 

It would have been an impressive display of acrobatics to watch if not for the fact that the creatures in question looked like gross parodies of the human form. Each was a creature of pure shadow and smoke that's form shifted slightly this way or that as if it was perpetually caught in the wind. All of three had a massive oversized head on an otherwise spindly body that defied both physics and biology. 

 

Catching the Claremont students by surprise, the demons used their very bodies to attack them. Mr. Man dove at Forever Boy with his elongated teeth, Mr. Toad came at Salvo with its monstrous tongue which had the strength of a whip, and Mr. Cat swiped at Gauss with his razor-sharp claws. 

 

 

 

Edited by Cubismo

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Salvo

 

She would have caught them, with radar and her sensors pinging out from around her like a bat in a dark cave. She would have caught the three demons lurking in the shadows if they actually had physical bodies to register instead of bodies made of smoke and shadows that blended with the darkness almost completely.

 

With a wet crack, a large tongue latched on to her gauntlet, wrapping around it and splashing globs of thick saliva into the rest of her.

 

Unperturbed, Salvo grabbed the length of tongue between her gauntlet and its owner with her other hand and pulled on it hard, enough to jolt Mr. Toad from its mid-air leap to tumble towards her outstretched hand instead. She smashed her hand's palm, still covered in saliva and tongue, into Mr. Toad's face. Then she slammed the toad-demon's head against the wall, sending cracks webbing from the impact.

 

Around her, she could hear the others fighting but she paid little heed to them. Underneath her hand, Mr. Toad's head shifted and swirled as if trying to escape her grip but she clamped down harder, squeezing its head. She wrenched its tongue backwards, threatening to rip it from its head in a show of force, and she squeezed that too in an iron grip.

 

"Imitating your master's temporal forms, huh?" Her visor reflected what little of its face could be seen between her fingers. "Man, frog, and toad. But can you stand a little bit of brim and fire?"

 

It didn't have time to react as her palms exploded with a searing, almost liquid energy. She gripped Mr. Toad's face and tongue tightly, determined to hold onto the demon as she seared it with magic.

 

"Stop stuggling and we'll find out."

Edited by Zeitgeist Blue

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Demons were hardly sentimental by nature.

 

They're creatures of pure, undiluted evil, and as such were inclined to mock and pervert humans emotions like empathy and camaraderie. This is especially true for the demonic servants of Baal, perhaps the most dispassionate legionaries of Hell. But when Mr. Cat and Mr. Man saw their brother in darkness Mr. Toad burned to oblivion only a few moments after leading the attack on their enemies, the two monsters felt something akin to grief for his loss. 

 

Of course, they couldn't express those feelings. They had reputation to uphold after all and an employer that wouldn't take to kindly to weakness. "Oh, what a shame,"  Mr. Cat purred as he tried and failed to disembowel Gauss with his claws. "He was a failure, of course, but he wasn't entirely worthless."

 

Mr. Man gave Mr. Cat a solemn nod of acknowledgement in between trying to rip a chunk of Forever Boy's face off with his bare teeth. Having failed, he pulled back his huge, misshapen head and turned it. "Agreed, Mr. Cat. He must be horribly tortured for his failure but perhaps he deserves another chance in a couple thousand years?"

 

Mr. Cat wouldn't help but bob its massive head in agreement. "I do concur, Mr. Man. Anyhow, let us finish what he started, eh."

 

Giving his compatriot one last gentlemanly nod, Mr. Man raised his hands and pointed them at Forever Boy. Less than a second later black tendrils exploded from those hands and rushed towards Forever Boy like a viper alerted to nearby prey.

 

Mr. Cat followed his the other demon's example. If purely physical means weren't proving effective than perhaps there was another way to hamper their foes. The demon began to speak a vile incarnation in a language long dead. When the creature reached the finale verse it gave Gauss a Cheshire cat smile. "If I cannot pluck your eyes out than maybe I can bind them in endless darkness. Wouldn't that be delightful?" His taunt was followed by volley of black needles bursting from his body towards Gauss' eyes. 

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Not enough space to really fly in here, and these demons were up close. Too close to put any real distance. Well, at least Nicole burned one of them in a moment, reducing their number a bit. Pan let out a laugh at the other demons' comments to that particular bit of horror. They were kind of funny, in their own horrifying way.

 

"Really now?" They would finish what he had started? No, not if he had anything to say about it. He could hardly let Nicole take all the glory here, could he now? 

 

The black tendrils rushed towards him, but Pan was faster than them. A quick spin, and he was out of their reach, his feet just barely leaving the floor to give him some freedom of movement. "You are an ugly one, are you not?" The demon had moved close when it had first tried to reach him, so it was within reach. Good. Pixie Dust glowed in the palm of his right hand. "I mean, a cat and a toad, those I get! But are you meant to scare us, or are you the comedy act, meant to make us laugh until we give up?" Words as weapons, and blades as weapons. The shimmering glimmer that was the Forever Blade appeared almost instantly from Pan's right hand, hilt grasped tightly as he continued his whirl, swinging it straight towards the demon's throat. 

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Gauss spun away from the claws of Mr. Cat, nimbly avoiding being hurt.  Her hand coming back up with a piece of hardware between two fingers before glancing at her comrades, "You know, when I was getting dressed to try and get some pussy at a Halloween party this afternoon, this is not what I had in mind."  When her semi-feline attacker unleashed a volley of needles made of demonic energy and shadow at her eyes Gauss flared her power, the light from her left eye weakening them enough they had no effect she called back, "You know what, screw this!" before sending the, conveniently enough, screw she had been holding spinning into the demon's eye.

 

With all three attackers having dissipated back into smoke and brimstone she gave Salvo a light rap on her armor's shoulder plates and Pan a quizzical look, "So... did that feel too easy you guys?  Like, suspiciously easy?"

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Salvo

 

Salvo stepped back from the wall, pieces of wall crumbling away where she had slammed Mr. Toad's head. The fight had lasted not more than ten seconds. Complete with one line quips from each of them.

 

She heard the tapping on her shoulder plate and looked down at Gauss, then at Pan, standing there smugly, and back again.

 

"What're you thinking? Ritual sacrifice?" She wondered aloud as she began their journey deeper into the Underbelly. Every few steps she switched her sensors, moving between normal radar and the magical one to try and keep from being ambushed again. "The three of those were the lowest rung on the metaphorical demon totem pole. Jokes. Maybe they were weakened further from the accidental summoning ritual."

Edited by Zeitgeist Blue

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"Please, no more talk of screwing when talking about these things. I thought it was an entirely different kind of cat that you were searching for." Pan grinned mischievously at Selena, even as he admired her skill in dispatching the cat demon. Yes, it was most impressive. And it had been easy. Moving out of the way to give Nicole room to move about (and really not wishing to get in the way of that big armor of hers in the cramped space), his feet floating slowly across the ground before he touched down again, the Pixie Dust fading from him once more. "True, they were quite easy, were they not? Or perhaps they simple made the mistake of not wearing someone that we would prefer not to injure too much? Or, how is the sentence I have heard... maybe we are just that good?" 

 

He knew little about magic in this world, if he was honest, but Nicole's thoughts made as much sense as anything he could come up with. "Perhaps you are right. But if this is indeed a ritual sacrifice, what do they aim to sacrifice? The demon that wore Sam came to us. Were Sam and his friends not sufficient sacrifices on their own, then?"

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Salvo

 

She couldn't help but snort at Pan's musings. He was right, in a way, getting warmer instead of colder but reviewing the tome she had flipped through gave her the most plausible answer.

 

"No," she said, shaking her head. "None of those. We actually have Sam and company to thank for this. They botched their ritual to summon a succubus but they didn't botch it enough to bring in all of Baal. Not enough power to move through the Pact. Not the right components or the ideal variables. Baal's avatar is weak and that extends to his minions. Sam screwed up right here."

 

"Speaking of screws," and Salvo glanced at Gauss and the Senior could almost see the smirk on her face. "What type of cat were you going for? Any of the new cats caught your eye yet?"

Edited by Zeitgeist Blue

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Giving her friend a sly smile she answered, "There's been a few.  Couple of the boys too, I like to keep my options open.  But I did get a phone number from one of the girls who transferred in for her senior year, Felicity.  She was the one in the purple dress and gold crown tonight I was flirting with by the snack tables.  That said, we probably shouldn't be discussing this while trying to track down a demon brought here by a botched succubus summoning.  I'd be more than happy to finish this later over coffee though."

 

Gauss gestured slightly at the screw left on the ground from her dispatching of Mr. Cat, saying softly to herself, "And you are going in the trophy case."

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With all three of the shadows demons defeated, the Claremont students exchanged information and quips before continuing on their way to the ritual site. As they did they noticed how the Underbelly tunnels weren't as poorly lit as they were before, and how the temperature wasn't as oppressively hot as it was when the shadow demons made their surprise attack. 

 

Was that a good sign that Baal's powers really were weakening after the defeat of several of his demons, or was the demon lord trying to lure the three young heroes into a false sense of security?  The only way any of them would know for sure was by facing the prince of Hell in person and determining that by themselves. It wasn't a great solution, but demonic incursions weren't exactly known for being well-springs for easy answers.

 

Than again, sometimes the universe just throws you a bone that makes things a whole lot easier.

 

As they moved down the tunnels the trio of heroes heard the sound of someone running towards them. Immediately they prepared themselves to confront some fresh new Hell only to hesitant when they saw that the new arrival wasn't another demon, but a very pale-faced and lanky Claremont student. Like Sam, he was covered head to toe in sot and the expression of his face was one of both terror and hope.

 

"I can't believe it! Sam actually managed to get help!" The boy looked like he was on the verge of tears but managed to compose himself. "I knew... I just freaking knew Sam had to have gotten help from someone. I thought it would be one of the teacher but who the Hell am I to look a gift horse in the mouth, huh."

 

The student moved up to the trio and was about to give Pan a handshake (or hug) when he realized he was still covered in sot. "Sorry, I'm kind of an emotional wreck right now. I guess being possessed does that." He laughed but there was no mirth to it. "The name's Mike Carpenter. I'm guessing Sam already filled you in on, well, what we did. I know it sounds gross, and yeah it totally was, but that's in the past and we still got a demon to exorcise."

 

Mike made a wide gesture with his arms indicating the entire trio. "Sam told you about us getting possessed, right? Well, you guys must have been kicking some serious ass because Baal's been getting weaker since Sam ran for it. That's how I was able to break my possession and escape. Thanks by the way." Mike paused for a moment when he saw the book in Salvo's hands. "You got Sam's book, too! Damn you guys are good. Ok, hand it over. There's something I have to show all of you." 

 

 

 

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Salvo

 

"Mike Carpenter," Salvo repeated, the face familiar but she had never bothered learning his name until now. "I know you."

 

His coming here was good news in more than one sense. He was another student not in danger and the fact that he shook his possession off meant that their plan of action was working. If they wanted the avatar of Ba'al to be even weaker when they finally confronted it then they should banish as many lesser demons as they could in a short time.

 

An armoured finger tapped her breastplate. "Nicole Whitfield. And yes, you are stupid but maybe you could salvage some of this and we could all forget how you summoned Ba'al because you wanted to get lucky tonight."

 

She reached out the book to Mike. She didn't know what he could show her that she didn't already know but maybe being at ground zero and being possessed by one of Ba'al's minions gave him insight he wouldn't otherwise have. "Make it right then. What is it you want to show us?"

Edited by Zeitgeist Blue

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Pan's smile at seeing Mike quickly turned into a frown at the mention of the business that he, Sam and their little group had managed to accomplish. He was not quite as forgiving with the mistake as Nicole appeared to be right now. "Yes. You were indeed quite stupid. Idiotic, even. Doing all the wrong things for all the wrong reasons. In the past, it might be, but even then, you cannot just let go and forget a past, can you now?"

 

He decided to stop. Nicole was right that Mike and his friends should make it right, and it would probably not help anything if he kept pushing his distaste of the actions that had led them to this. 

 

"I am Pan. Nice to meet you, I suppose." He gestured towards Nicole, motioning that Mike should probably answer her questions.

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Gauss flared her power, pulling the book away from Mike before he could lay hands on it.  "No offense, but you idiots already unleashed three demons and got your group possessed when you had the book the first time.  We're not letting you touch it again.  You have info to share, awesome.  Spill.  But you have proven yourselves to be clearly untrustworthy with tombs like this.  I wouldn't trust your band with Fluffy Bunny Has A Magic Hat after tonight," Gauss said, a less charitable person might have even described it as ranting.

 

Taking a breath to compose herself, Gauss added, "Seriously, next time, just use freaking Tinder."

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Mike thought he was doing pretty well. Sure, Nicole and Pan chewed him out but they at least were willing to give him a second chance and even the grimoire itself. The third member of the group wasn't as forgiving it seemed, having used her powers to take the tome right from his fingers. 

 

The teen sorcerer was piqued by the act, though he did his best to hid it. He had to play cool after all if he wanted to set things right. "You got me there," Mike admitted sheepishly. "We messed up major and for the most pathetic reasons possible. I get why you wouldn't trust me, like, at all after that. But I really want to help, guys. Honest." 

 

Mike scratched the back of his head trying to think of a way to make things right. "Look, you want to keep Sam's book safe and sound? Fine. That makes sense given the circumstances. In fact, since I'm kind of a weakling who got possessed and you guys are freaking demonslayers apparently, I think its best that it does stay with you. All I wanted to show you guys was the map Sam made. It's still in the grimoire, right? Well, if you plan on fighting Baal than you going to need to rely on me instead of that map."

 

He turned and pointed at the dark tunnel he just came from. "Baal's presence on this plane has done something to the tunnels down here. They've become warped and twisted. I think he's trying to slowly transform the whole school to resemble his demesne in Hell, which is one giant labyrinth. Point is, the map is useless now but I remember the paths I took to make it this far. I can still guide you to Baal! Just trust me."

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Salvo

 

She did not growl at Pan but her armor did as much for her, its engine thrumming low and menacing. She did not miss Pan's pointed accusation at her.

 

"No, you can't," she said, her head turning a fraction to bring Pan into the corner of her vision. She scoffed. "But tutting like a prude won't do anything will it? This will."

 

She gave the book only for it to be snatched away from Mike's grip. Unlike Pan, Gauss had a valid point and Salvo nodded her agreement. Idiots shouldn't be trusted to even look at their instruments of messing up. Like Mike and the tome. It was safer in Gauss' hands.

 

"Fine," Salvo said, gesturing at Mike to move on. "Lead the way. My radar would go haywire if that's happening."

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Forever Boy

 

Just trust him? Well, fine then. Had they any other choice? "Eh, I have found that tutting can do a great many things." he replied to Nicole, not really sure the reason for that particular comment, but fine, maybe he had committed some faux pas here on Earth. 

 

Selena made a lot of sense as she grabbed the book. Mike and his friends had screwed up majorly, and who knew what else they could do to make this worse? Then again, only Nicole knew any magic between the people here that had proven capable at demon slaying... But fine. Onwards, then. "It is all great that you know which path you took, but if everything is changing all around us, who is to say that the paths are still the same?" He paused for but a moment, before asking another question. "And since we are apparently such accomplished demon slayers, what can you tell us of this Baal? What is his goals in coming here? What can he do?"

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