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Another One Bites the Dust (IC)


Cyroa

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James looked around the park as the sun was setting. Already he could see trick-or-treaters, kids in costume out on their jaunt for candy. They were looking for fun and sugar; for them the evening had limitless promise. Back at school, he was certain his friends were getting ready or already at the party. James sincerely would have like to be among them. But it was not to be.

He was doing his best not to get antsy, knowing what was coming. He’d chosen his ground, planned as best he could. At least if he fell, he would be gone forever. Dead for good. While that would really suck and certainly wasn’t his plan, it would at least prevent his father from using him and keep James from fulfilling his ‘destiny’.

He watched, just waiting and enjoying the moment as the sun set. As the last ray of sun disappeared, James stood up. Anytime now, they’d be coming. He walked over and passed through the gate to the cemetery. While the whole thing wasn’t holy ground, there were places inside that were. It would do. He took up his position and waited.

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He waited for a few hours. Night was in full swing when he felt them coming. A lot of them. Soon enough, he saw them too. First the little ones, imps. Not much of a threat by themselves but enough of them could bring even the toughest opponent down. Behind them came the tougher demons and devils of numerous variety, all different and horrible in appearance. Warrior demons basically, they were the type that made up the ‘infantry of Hell’s army’.

He stopped trying to count them after a moment. It didn’t matter how many there were. It was just another obstacle to overcome. Of course, given the numbers, it was appearing to be quite an obstacle.

They moved in, around, encircling the little hillock with the mausoleum on top. As they did, he could feel their power seal the place off. They didn't want anyone looking in or stopping them. He wasn’t on the top either, just down the hill a bit from it. But he could feel it, waiting to burn and drain him if he took just a few steps closer. It was sort of comforting, having it at his back. It would deter the demons just as much as him after all.

One particularly brutish looking demon stepped forward, opening its mouth to speak. James just grinned and threw out a burst of destructive Hellfire, covering the entire hillsides which included the first few rows of demons. It wasn’t like he wanted to talk or hadn’t heard it all before. Better to start working on those numbers early.

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The Hellfire cut through the demons, burning as it went. The little imps didn’t last, most being banished back to Hell. Not a surprise given how weak they were. They bigger demons were made of tougher stuff. While many suffered burns, some quite severely or even staggered, none were banished.

The demons roared in response. Most were simple warrior/grunts/soldier types. Their weapons were sharp claws and teeth. They charged en-mass. Those with other powers had other options. Mental affects, fire, pain, compulsions, acid, the works. Unfortunately for the demons, none of those had any effect on him at all. His heritage protected him from their powers as if they weren’t even there. He shrugged them off and ignore them all. The claws and teeth were another story though. Despite his increase in powers, a half-dozen of those strikes still managed to connect. He shrugged off two hits but the others had him reeling and staggering backwards. Either way, he was quickly buried under the mound of demons.

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Wincing in pain underneath the pile, James concentrated and vanished. He appeared on top of the mausoleum, instantly wincing in pain as it’s holy properties slowly started to work on him. While the demons continued to punch and claw, they were bright enough to immediately figure out he wasn’t there, he channeled the fires of hell and let them seal up his wounds as he hopped down off the building.

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James staggered back, bruised by one but taking the other two stoically. He had been lucky several times so far but his luck was running out. He kept moving, avoiding the demon-piles, as he summoned more hellfire and brought it down on them. It wasn’t his strongest attack by far but there were too many of them to try one at a time.

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The demons, all bunched up nicely now, took more damage this time. The damage combined with the previous blast was enough to incinerate 4 of them instantly. More than half-dozen others were staggered and stunned from this blast. The others managed to shake it off. The roaring reached new heights as many were gravely injured and damaged. Those still in range redoubled their efforts to bring Hellion down. Once more, he avoided half but three managed to connect.

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Staggering under the blows, he winced as one managed to land a solid gash across his ribs while the other two he mostly shrugged off. He swore, wincing as he staggered backwards. He was running out of room to move. He’d have to ‘port’ soon before he ended up on the bottom of the pile again.

But first he needed to thin out the numbers some more. Another wave of Hellfire burst forth, searing the assembled group of demons.

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The demons were having trouble dealing with the constant barrage of Hellfire. Six more demons vanished as their corporeal forms were destroyed. Four others sustained more damage but the rest ignored the attack as they strove to get at James.

Now that there were only ten left and they’d forced James to keep moving, the last ten rushed him, claws slashing. However, only four managed to connect.

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James managed to soak most, one quite luckily and by the barest of margins. James managed to soak most, one quite luckily and by the barest of margins. While he took two of the hits without flinching, the last one crashed into the side of his head, tearing his scalp and sending him staggering.

With a force of will, he shook off the dizziness and summoned up his energies to heal himself. His life was draining away, getting weaker just from being near the thing, but he wouldn’t risk being taken.

Fully healed, but still badly weakened, he sent another gout of fire down to envelop the demons.

His last ditch blast incinerated all but two of the demons. Those last two leapt back to lick their wounds and pause.

James jumped down off the building, leaving the draining area at last. Still weakened, he was feeling pretty good considering he had basically won. He was still here and they weren’t.

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Out of the darkness five very, very large figures stepped onto the burned grass. These were not the ‘general’ warrior demons. These were much bigger, and tougher. They were the ‘heavies’, the tanks; not some ‘run of the mill’ warrior demon. And behind those five were another dozen of the original demons. The first wave had just been to weaken James, a warm-up. These were the real threat and they were here to take James home. They moved forward steadily, purposefully and hungrily.

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Blinking, James swore, using a word he almost never ever used. “Aw hell…â€Â

He lashed out, not at the demons but at his hole card. He’d planned ahead and really hoped to not have to use it given what was going to happen. But it didn’t look like he had a choice. His strike flashed out and hit the waiting switch, breaking it. “It was a good run,†he whispered though no one would besides the demons would hear it.

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As the heroes approached, it was hard to notice something was going on, almost as if there was a blanket muting everything to the outside though it hadn’t been enough to completely hide the bright flashes. To most it probably looked like a fireworks burst but to the Claremont group, it was more like one of James’ massive fire bursts despite its dimmed appearance.

But as soon as they set one foot through the cemetery gate, it changed. The smell of fire and brimstone was thick in the air. There had been bright, if somewhat muted, flashed of fire a moment ago. They could hear multiple and loud unearthly roars of pain and agony as they entered.

Despite the dark hour, there was still enough light to see from smoldering tufts of grass and such. There were burn marks in abundance as well as dozen of stained places where a demon burst into flame and was banished. Despite the lack of bodies, it was obviously a battlefield. Oddly enough, to the heroes anyway anyway, the sprinklers were going off and spraying water everywhere, though the water pressure seemed to be dropping. All of this was surrounding a little hill with a mausoleum at the top.

Amidst the remains of the now wet battlefield, starting at the base of the hill and spread up one side of it, there were almost a half dozen hideous-looking demons towering close to twelve feet tall, rippling with muscle and claws. Around them, there were a dozen or so demons of various horrify appearances that, while massive, were several feet shorter than the larger ones. Their terrifying appearance was made even more so as the water from the sprinklers hit them. All were screaming as their flesh and bones burned and melted upon contact with the water as if it was really some potent acid. Even as the heroes took all this in, several of the ‘smaller’ demons exploded into little fire bursts and died, scorching the ground black with their destruction as the water ate through them. Held in the massive hand of one of the large demons, James was barely recognizable; his body barely moving. And like the demons, the water burned and melted his flesh. Thick smoke rose from burning skin, both from the demons and James, as the water ravaged them.

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Erin paused at the edge of the cemetery just long enough to get her bearings and drop Mark from her shoulders. It looked like there was some sort of acid spraying from the sprinkler system, or something that acted like acid, anyway. She wasn't worried for herself particularly, it would have to be strong enough to dissolve stone and melt into the ground before it could do her serious damage, but it was doing terrible things to James.

"Stay out of the sprinklers," she told Mark and Alex, "and try to keep those big demons off us." She looked to Mike. "I'll try and take down the demon holding him, you grab James and get him out of here. He can't heal himself if he's unconscious." Not bothering to wait for agreement or discussion this time, Erin opened her bat and leapt forward, aiming a heavy blow at the head of the demon holding James.

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"Come on," called Mark urgently, "we can do this! Careful of that acid, Wander! Everybody, let's kick some demonic butt!" He raised his arms and fired a shot from his wrist blaster at the demon holding James, aiming to distract the demon enough to let Phalanx swoop in for the kill. "We'll show these no-good-niks that we don't let demons steal our friends! If they want to go to HELL, we'll send them there the OLD-FASHIONED WAY!"

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Phalanx was alreadyin the air streaking towards the demon when Mark spoke. He slammed his fist into the creatures jaw with is full momentum behind it dealing a mighty blow to the hellish thing. "GET AWAY FROM HIM!" he shouted as he connected.

He dropped to the ground between the demon and James protecting his friend as best he could.

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Psyche dropped to the ground, running directly into the sprinklers, "It's not acid, it's water. Holy water!"

Ignoring the spray as well as the battle that surged around her, Psyche darted forward until she was within arm's reach of the fight. It was more than she'd ever tried to cover, even in simulation, and conditions were less than optimal. Stretching her hands out, she focused entirely on covering James's body with the glittering manifestation of her power. Psyche could feel the strain in her ears and sinuses as she demanded her brain accomplish the impossible. Shutting out the battle and the danger, Psyche put her formidable will to the task. It had never failed her before, and it didn't now.

Sparkling power coursed down her arms and surrounded James in a protective coccoon. "Got you. I've got you."

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The heroes surprise assault was fast and brutal. The combined assaults literally exploded the demon holding James. It exploded in a burst of fire, damaged beyond it's ability to stay. James fell to the watery ground. Luckily, Psyche's quick work covered him and prevented anymore of the water from touching his body. He was grievously wounded still, but at least no more water was hitting him.

While the heroes gather around, now in the center of the demons, the rest of the demons realized they were there. Despite their burning injuries, they were not going to let this go...

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The ten demons lunged forward as one, claws ripping as they attacked Phalanx and Wander. The two heroes, despite their skills, were both hit multiple times and some quite hard. The roaring demons were holding nothing back as they tried to bring the heroes down.

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"Mike, take James and Alex and go!" Erin ordered urgently, wincing reflexively as a demon bit without success into her arm. Another managed to lock onto her throat from behind, but she prised it off with her bat before it could break the skin. "We'll follow you!" She waded into the morass of little demons, beating them with both ends of her bat. Her face was set and her eyes locked, as though this were the sort of battle she could handle by instinct more than training.

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As Erin exploded two of the 'smaller' demons, the larger ones rushed in. The heroes were crushed together, almost no room to maneuver. They obviously were intent on not letting anyone leave with their prize. Massive claws and teeth attached to their twelve foot tall frames tore into the heroes. In the tight quarters, everyone was hit. Except of course for Edge who seemed miraculously untouched somehow.

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Wander fought back viciously, using bat and body to try and fend off the onslaught. One of the demons hooked a claw into her shoulder and drew blood before she could shove it away, while his compatriot pummeled her but did no damage. Stretching her body, she wedged her bat between Psyche and the demon trying to attack her, absorbing the blows with its shock absorbers. "Go!" she gasped again, trying to hold the near-untenable position.

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"Burn," said Edge to the demons, as the ground beneath them began to bubble up. His power reached down through the earth beneath them, breaking open legions of pipes that still pumped with an impossible volume of holy water, a great jet of drenching liquid that came rushing up to cascade over all the demons, somehow bending around James to leave him undrenched even as it soaked and battered the rest of the monsters with massive waves of holy water.

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The deamons tore visciously at Phalanx. Carveing deep slashes into his impervious skin, but he held fast battered but not beaten. His eyes flashed with a bright orange light as he dug deep into his reserves prepareing to get them all out of there as he pulled Alex and James closer.

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Psyche whimpered softly in her throat, bending her body over James protectively as she kept the forcefield around his broken body. She couldn't help but flinch as Wander dove in between her and one of the demons but she simply curled herself into a tighter ball over their fallen teammate. There was too much water around to risk dropping the sheild, so Psyche tried to make herself as small a target as possible as the demons advanced.

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