By Eric Gutierrez Jr.
Published by Dreaded Sushi Press at Shakespir
Copyright 2017 Eric Gutierrez Jr.
The chapel of the Royal Cross peered over mountains—covered in snow and the howling of the frigid air. The building was untouched by time, but the interior was modernized. The Exorcists walked through the corridors and the snowy field getting to their next place of business. No one uttered a word, not even the rookies who just began their training that week. The entire location was dead silent, except inside the chapel—where the footsteps echoed. The Four Elders were holding a meeting of grave importance.
“How long ago did this happen?” The First Elder spoke with his beard covering his mouth, but never muffled his words. His clerical robes dragged whenever he walked around the table, sometimes giving the illusion of him hovering above the floor.
“Looks like over forty-eight hours.” The Fourth Elder spoke with his eyeglasses glaring at the screen across from the table. His outfit consisted of a generic priest outfit and combat boots. An odd mix, but being in charge of the offensive Exorcists requires preparation on his part.
“How did we not know about this?” The First Elder shook his head in disappointment as the head of the Exorcists, the oversight falls on his shoulders and questions his role as a leader.
“Our squadrons haven’t been able to locate a static source to this…” The Third Elder’s words paused as she brushed her pants while she flicked ash from her cigarette, “Dilemma.”
Their screen across from the table showed a map of dark energy consuming parts of the nation. No one understood the source or how something so big can easily avoid the trained eyes of the Royal Cross.
“If we don’t come up with something quick,” The Fourth Elder cleaned his glasses, “That dark energy will annihilate the world in less than a week.”
“That’s too short of a deadline!” The First Elder banged on the table.
“Well, if I may,” The Second Elder rose his hand as he sat silently that no one noticed he was there, “We can bring in the exile.”
“The Hell Walker?!” The First Elder exclaimed, “We have no use for his recklessness nor his black magic!”
“I hate to say it,” The Third Elder exhaled her smoke, “What choice do we have?”
“We can have Amy escort him,” The Second Elder suggested, “If he strays then she’ll put him down.”
“Amy?” The Fourth Elder scoffed, “She’s one of my best soldiers! I can’t have her settle for some babysitting mission!”
“Her abilities are not in question,” The Second Elder clarified, “In fact, that’s why she is capable of watching over him.”
“So what do we do?” The Third Elder rubbed the table, “We give this monster free rein?”
“Now, now,” The Second Elder waved his hand in disbelief, “Amy will make sure he doesn’t stray from his mission.”
“What makes you think he’ll even decide to aid us after we banished him?” The First Elder stared at The Second.
“We’ll figure out that bridge once we cross it,” The Second smiled, “For now, let’s call Amy in.”
“Very well,” The Fourth Elder reached to an intercom, “Can you bring in Ms. Downs?”
“Yes sir, right away.” A petite voice chimed in from the intercom.
The Elders waited for a good ten minutes until a gentle, but ambitious knocking echoed through the chapel.
“Come in, my child” The First Elder’s voice boomed to the entrance.
A young woman in her mid-twenties, dressed in the standard Exorcist uniform which consisted of a navy coat, undershirt, navy pants, and combat boots entered the room without a shred of angst. She was ready to follow orders or die trying.
“How can I be of service, my Elders?” Amy’s fixed her blonde hair behind her ear.
“It has come to our attention that something has lurked out of the shadows.” The Third Elder lit another cigarette.
“So you need me to lead a squad?” Amy assumed. Why shouldn’t she? Her skills and academic achievements have been the subject of envy from her peers since she started. The Elders calling her by name is enough to generate enough authority to lead her own soldiers into battle, but this was not the case.
“This mission will involve you and an escort,” The Fourth Elder sighed, “You must bring in someone.”
“Who?” Amy asked, ready for anything.
“Kayden Yamada.” The Second Elder said without hesitation.
“The Exile?!” Amy couldn’t keep her disbelief in check, “For what purpose?”
“We believe he may have the answers to defeating this monstrosity before it consumes our plane of existence.” The First Elder spoke out.
Amy was disgusted that her superiors would stoop so low as to bringing in Kayden, a man that she was trained to hate. Every policy she followed was to stay away from the path that he chose. Her abilities put her above him in rank and as an Exorcist. She wasn’t afraid to face him, but once again, this wasn’t the case.
“Is he in custody?” Amy wanted more details.
“On the contrary,” The Second Elder clicked his tongue, “We will be commissioning his services.”
“Don’t hold him in such high regard,” The Fourth Elder gritted his teeth, “He’s still a traitor!”
“Sweetie,” The Third Elder stared down at her cigarette, “Please don’t underestimate him. He is highly dangerous and is a skillful tactician.”
The young woman was told in school that the Devil possessed his soul and gave him powers that rivaled God, but to her those are fairy tales. She saw him as a modern-day Napoléon, or just some power-hungry monster who couldn’t back his mouth up.
“When do I begin this mission?” Amy accepted the assignment.
“As soon as you leave this room,” The First Elder said, “Time is of the essence, so you must hurry.”
“May God be with you.” The Second Elder said.
The Fourth Elder walked up to his prized pupil for a handshake and whispered into her ear a message only meant for her. Her eyes widened a bit and she nodded in agreement.
After years of service, Amy Downs felt somewhat as an equal to the Elders, and she hoped that this will grant her more recognition from not only them, but her peers. The world stood on her shoulders and all she had to do was escort the exile.
The Hell Walker.
Amy entered her dorm and sat down on her bed. She stared onto the floor, knowing she had to face her enemy to aid her or face the apocalypse within a week. The options were slim, but to climb up the Royal Cross—she knew what to do. The advanced student stood up to her wardrobe and pulled out her clothes for the trek into the world, where Kayden resided in exile.
She hasn’t been out in the world since her parents left her in the orphanage. Nothing was expected from her adventure except retrieving Kayden. She never understood entertainment or any of the like. The Royal Cross were strict with things like that, and they stood by it—no matter what. Books were written by the Devil, games where distractions created by the Devil, or movies were the ways the Devil speaking to you. Amy respected the rules and she expected others to follow them, which gained her favor with the Elders.
Her room was never cold, since a slight decrease of temperature was very uncomfortable, but she wasn’t sure about outside of the mountains or if it’s even inhabitable nowadays. The mountains were known for its freezing temperatures and no matter longer how long she stayed there, she just wasn’t used to it. She grabbed enough clothes and stuffed them into her bag.
Amy walked out of her dorm and made her way into the armory to load up, especially against someone like Kayden. She’s faced Hell’s cannon fodder, but never someone capable of possessing its power. All she knew about his was that he used to be a student under the Royal Cross, but no one knew the length of his studies. The only people that knew his capabilities were the Elders themselves.
All she saw in him was betrayal and evil—nothing else.
“Amy Downs?” A voice called out. Amy turned around startled to see a man about her age, a fellow student standing by the door.
“Who’s asking?” The star pupil asked.
“I was told to escort you on your mission.” The young man said holding two bags. One in each hand. His blue eyes pierced at her with a degree of certainty.
“Great,” She scoffed with a sound of pistol hammer clicking, “They leave me to hunt down a demonic psychopath with a no-name. What class are you?”
“I’m a medic class with a rank of 1 in Grade S.”
“Oh,” Amy fixed her bag of arms, “So you know your way around a possession?”
“I’ve done a few with no problems.” He confidently said without a hint of arrogance. They knew he was picked among countless of recruits for a reason.
“Okay,” She sighed, “Does the medic with a rank of 1 in Grade S have a name?”
“Kearney,” He replied with a smirk, “Kearney Nielsen.”
The pair walked out of the armory to the Elder’s meeting room to talk more about what they have in store. The variety of students with passed by them unknowing of what was happening beyond their walls. Their chatter scattered around about what they ate or how the week’s training was.
“How much do you know about the job?” Kearney asked under his breath.
“How much do YOU know?” Amy shrugged. She assumed the Elder’s left out most of the details due to his standing.
“Just that I’m your backup in case something goes wrong.” The medic was oblivious to the fact that he will soon face an opponent that is far stronger than anything that he read about.
“What makes them think something will go wrong?” Amy turned to him.
“Trust me,” Her partner chuckled, “Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong.”
The halls were cluttered with young Exorcists making their way to their classes or dorms to finish the rest of their day. The pair continued to the meeting room to finish being informed and make it to the city across the mountains. The doors were closed almost in unison while they walked to the other side of the school.
They found the meeting room, which had the exterior doors stained with a cherry oak color to make it stand out and give it the “important” room status. The door was heavy and required at least two hands to pull it out fully. The purpose for it was merely entertaining for the Elders in some sense.
The pair barely spent five minutes inside before being greeted with a booming voice echoing throughout the room.
“Have you sorted your affairs?” The First Elder asked.
“Yes, I am ready to look for the target.”
“I see you have already met your partner.” The Third Elder chimed in.
“With all due respect, I—” Amy was ready to voice her concerns.
“Your life will not be gambled against such a fiend!” The Fourth Elder said, “You are in capable hands with Mr. Nielsen.”
“Yes sir.” Amy grunted in defeat. Kearney patted Amy’s back as a sign of trying.
“You will be reaching the city of La Vista by helicopter and you’ll be based in a small apartment for the next three days while you track down the Hell Walker.” The First Elder informed the two students.
“Be extremely cautious.” The Second Elder emphasized his words, hoping that they would ingrain themselves into their minds when they arrive in the city. The power that possessed Kayden is one of merciless, blood thirst and something that shouldn’t be underestimated.
Amy and Kearney marched to the helipad where their transportation was getting fueled up to leave.
“How are they sure that it’ll take us three days to find this guy?” Kearney asked.
“I doubt we’ll need that much time.” Amy scoffed.
“How can you be so confident?” Kearney smirked at Amy, leaving her scoffing.
“Are you the recruits who’ll be going into the city?” The pilot yelled over the loud sound of the helicopter starting up.
“That’s right!” Kearney yelled back.
“I was given strict orders to leave you for seventy-two hours,” The pilot gave them a stern warning, “If the both of you don’t make it at the rendezvous by then.”
“You’ll leave us?” Kearney joked with a clueless smile.
“Yes.” The pilot stared at the pair with a lack of empathy.
“Are you serious?” Kearney wasn’t entirely sure on how to take the answer.
“If you don’t think you can handle it,” Amy continued walking to the helicopter, “You can always turn around.”
Kearney bit his tongue and followed Amy up to their ride. The spinning blades continued throwing gusts at them as they climbed aboard with their bags of supplies and other gear. The pair waited for the pilot to finish his inspection before they leave.
The pilot finally completed his inspection and climbed aboard to start lifting the helicopter while the Four Elders meet up outside by the helipad prepared to see them off.
“Do you think they’ll survive?” The Third Elder turned to the First.
“Only God will decide.” He replied.
Amy couldn’t help but look down to the shrinking school. She was calm and collected on the exterior, but inside her fears began to unravel. She was finally on her own with another life in her hands against a possible formidable opponent. Amy didn’t want to alert her unsolicited partner about her change in attitude.
“No turning back, right?” Kearney smiled nervously.
“Right.” Amy turned to him with a subtle unnerving smirk.
The helicopter stayed by the nighttime clouds, avoiding unwanted eyes. Kearney didn’t want to stop staring below him. Everything looked like specks of sand from their height.
“Sure looks nice up here.” Kearney spat from the helicopter to see where it lands.
“Yup,” Amy wiped her cheek of the residue Kearney left for her, “I’m glad you’re having fun.”
“Sorry.” Kearney’s smirk slowly turned to an expression of discomfort. The helicopter decreased its altitude slowly to get better stability as they reached closer to their destination. The lights of the city began to glow through the clouds. The nightlife was prosperous with countless of people enjoying their night out. This proved challenging for the Exorcists as they couldn’t land discreetly. The pilot would have to change his landing zone to the nearest skyscraper that wouldn’t be suspicious.
“This spot here will be the rendezvous,” The pilot shouted over the loud chopper, “So be here in the next seventy-two hours.”
“How are we supposed to get back here?” Kearney was puzzled—the building wasn’t exactly abandoned, in fact, it was one of the eventful buildings out there.
“Don’t worry about that,” Amy chimed in, “We just need to find Kayden first.”
“How are we supposed to find him in this hell?” Kearney stared below him where possibly thousands of people scurried through the streets.
“Are you finished?” Amy mocked.
“For now.” Kearney replied without thinking about the sarcasm behind the question.
The twosome jumped down on the roof of the building with their equipment in tow. The helicopter lifted up and flew off back to the mountains.
“Do you have a lead on this Hell Walker?” Kearney turned to Amy, his eyes peered to hers, ready for any response.
“All I have is a photo of him ordering something called yakisoba.” Amy pulled out a snapshot from her pocket. One of the Second Elder’s scouts was tasked with recon around the city to locate a possible location where the exile was based in. They found him by a food truck among other patrons trying to get their orders placed. He looked like one of them, easy to disguise himself from his friends or foes.
“That’s it?” Her partner responded with a sign of bewilderment, “Not exactly devil-like.” He expected Kayden to be torturing innocents or causing destruction along the city, but instead he’s ordering Asian cuisine from a food truck.
The pair located a fire escape and jumped down to it. Their training granted them agility and acrobatics that were on par, or even better, than the parkour experts seen on the internet. The elegance of their jumping while accurately descending the building showed just a minimum of their aptitude as Exorcists. No one saw them climb down or even heard them land onto the ground below. They skillfully blended in the shadows of the alleys, ready to scope the area for their target. The crowds of people walked throughout the sidewalks, standing in line to the hottest clubs, or trying not to vomit onto the asphalt. This was expected, but the amount of crudeness wasn’t what they anticipated.
Amy was stared down with ill intent while Kearney tried not to create a disturbance with the sinners. Women dressed in an exposing fashion while the men were like Neanderthals trying to answer the night’s mating call. The cars struggled to move an inch down the road thanks to the various people limping to the next street. The loud sounds of honking horns blared through the air. The pair couldn’t adapt quick enough with the drunks lumbering over them and shuffling between them.
“Where did they get there manners?” Kearney grunted trying to squeeze through the inebriated crowd.
“Scope through them,” Amy peered over the throng, “Kayden can be hiding here for all we know.”
“And if he isn’t?” Kearney advocated.
“He has to be here.” Amy kept her calm demeanor. She was convinced that he was hiding out in the area. The only question was where he was taking cover. The night quickly passed and the streets was soon being cleared out of its patrons. Amy and Kearney kept cover in an alley by the hobos and other lowlifes of the city.
“How long has it been since we got here?” Kearney kicked cans out of boredom. Each can bounced back to him causing some noise to echo out in the alley. This didn’t annoy Amy, but she couldn’t speak for the people residing in the backstreet.
“Four hours,” Amy stared out to the buildings, hoping to locate the Hell Walker in one of the windows, “And could you stop kicking those damn things.”
“Sorry.” Kearney whispered.
Amy noticed nothing out of the ordinary except for a carpool full of impressionists of former Presidents of the United States. Other than that, no sign of Kayden.
“Maybe that was just a lucky shot,” Kearney said, “For all we know, he could’ve just came to this city to visit.”
“Visit what or who?” Amy questioned, “It’s not like he has family or even interests besides death or destruction.”
“I’m not saying that,” Kearney gave Amy a look of confusion, “We’re looking at this wrong.”
“Do you have any better ideas?” Amy scoffed. They only have the next three days to find him, and the last thing she wanted to do was go on a cross-country adventure for one person. She prayed to pinpoint him in one location close to her.
“I’m thinking that he can be a recluse,” The medic thought long and hard about it, “I mean, he was nowhere outside in the streets, not even the crowded areas. So maybe he’s a private person, you know, like a hermit.”
“That is a…” Amy’s eyes widened in clarity, “Good observation.”
“Thanks?” Kearney couldn’t distinguish if she was serious or sarcastic. The new information changed the entire plan of investigation. They had to look at the least active areas of the city, like outside of the university, library, and isolated small towns. They began their search at a hotel to locate a map of the surrounding areas.
“Okay,” Kearney scanned the paper eager to find an answer to their dilemma, “If I was a devil-possessed, combat-trained killing machine bent on chaos and the downfall of humanity, where would I be?”
“It wouldn’t be the metropolitan areas,” Amy continued to analyze the streets, “That’s too obvious.”
“Obviously.” Kearney blankly stared at the map.
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Kayden Yamada was once a great student at Royal Cross, a base of exorcists who specialize in combating the evil across the world. He was made for great things until a change in paths marked him a traitor and the Royal Cross was forced to banish him. Now, a giant evil is making its way around the world and their only hope is another gifted student by the name of Amy Downs and her medic partner, Kearney Nielsen who are tasked with locating the exile. Things await them in the outside world and with two threats on the table. The duo have a lot on their plate.