|Reaping With Class by Beki Yopek|
I rigged the Blood Magic before I’d even finished taunting the bitch that stole from me and The Reaper. Pumping both wings, I leapt at Avarice with the haloxite knife in my right hand, ready to dig up whatever she had in place of a heart. Orange blood still dripped from the knife tip where I’d pricked my finger to fuel the Demon-Angel aviators, which fell to the ground when I attacked. I daubed blood from my finger on the knife’s handle and the unguided Blood Magic launched the knife forward even faster than I was flying.
Avarice’s eyes shot open and she flipped her wing sideways to parry the strike. I could see she’d be too late to block the knife that was three feet ahead of me. Martial arts are noble until you need to trick your opponent in order to survive. I’d end her at last and then take out her paunchy partner in the white hat next. He hadn’t moved since handing her that beer--
Hat-head pitched a hip flask from behind Avarice and it smashed into the haloxite knife. Golden powder burst from the flask and I flew right into the haze. Powdered haloxite got into my eyes, mouth, and nose and I sputtered. Brimstone penetrated the defenses of an angel’s halo, and haloxite wrecked demons despite our horns’ protection. Avarice’s block snapped my arm to the side and I flopped right past the pair into a row of spectators watching the Friday Night boxing match.
It was a good thing Yankee Stadium was already getting rowdy with the Louis-Schmeling fight ramping up to a finish. The men and women I collided with tumbled to the cement at the edge of the boxing ring. Multiple shouts erupted and more New Yorkers jumped into the fray, some helping people up, some throwing punches. I kipped up to my feet and sneezed, then queued in on The Reaper’s rasping snarl.
He’d stayed back and clashed with Avarice while the humans caused more chaos, and now he had the Septuplet in a vicegrip between him and the haft of his scythe. Flying without wings, The Reaper soared straight skyward and out of the stadium with one of The Pneuma Coalition’s highest-ranked Septuplets ready to be delivered to the SPD. Or destroyed. Since no souls were in the area, we weren’t bound by Heaven Law to give a crap about these parasites of society.
My grudge against The Coalition boiled in my veins and I flapped up after them. Two more flasks arced past me and I scoffed, craning around to blow a raspberry at hat-head. He shed his fedora and blazer, revealing a mullet, a beer gut and a pit-stained button-up. The horns and the beer gut had already given Voracity away. He was here with Avarice to. . .what, watch a boxing match?
I looped over the rim of the stadium and chased after Reap and his writhing captive. They were already far below, duking it out in the parking lot. Seraphs dotted the skies above us, and a few swooped closer, but stayed away or eased back toward the streets where souls were more likely to be meandering. I descended on Reap as he hurled Avarice down the middle of an aisle of parked cars. She tumbled and skidded, then smacked into an overly polished bumper and lay among the bulky classic vehicles like a crumpled hotdog wrapper.
I touched down next to The Reaper and reached for my Blood Magic folio again. It was out of my blazer pocket when Voracity landed in front of Avarice with a greasy grin on his mug. His overconfident celebrity voice rang out among the cars. “Do you see me futzing around? Get over here and do your job.”
Apathy, the bald careless Septuplet, walked out from between two cars that had their AM radios blaring. The people inside were either rowdy because of the match they were listening to, or the horizontal mambo was in full swing. Apathy waved Voracity’s comment off with a thin hand and adjusted his battered smoking jacket. “I provided you and Avarice with thousands of humans. What more do you want?”
Voracity flicked a wing behind him. Avarice took it by the claw and sprang to her feet, tucking her cleave back into her dirty cream-colored dress. She conjured two fishing nets, one in each hand, and snapped at Apathy. “Soliduction is how I fight for The Coalition. I don’t see you acting when action is needed. Get out there and pull your weight.”
“Bahahaha,” I shrieked, pointing at Apathy with my folio. “She’s lecturing you on responsibility.”
The Reaper leaned in close to me while he tugged at his tux. “Avarice is The Coalition’s leader. She must be.”
I nodded and grinned at how well that fit into what I knew of their organization. Avarice could Soliduct any solid object she wanted into existence as long as it wasn’t brimstone, haloxite, magic, or alive. That included gold to use on Earth to buy whatever The Coalition needed. Once they walked away with thousands of weapons, another Soliduction would vanish the gold and create plethoras of something else like ammunition or food. What could Voracity and Apathy do with their white collar powers? Trick people and bore them to death?
Apathy crossed to the middle of the aisle next to Avarice and sneered. “Don’t mistake the ability to rout an enemy once with true victory. Physical combat with The Reaper is stultifying. The AM radio got the broadcast of this fight out so the world could hear it. It did wonders for Joe DiMaggio and the Yankees, and could be made to help The Coalition. So could the cameras the spectators used to photograph the match.”
Yep, Apathy was one of only fourteen beings in the Three Domains with powers, and his had to be the ability to say pointless, obvious crap.
I flipped to the ‘strength’ section of the folio and whipped out a political cartoon of a fifty foot over-muscled ape. “Reap, let’s finish the niff-naff here and unload at the Fountains.”
He rolled his humerus. “I am in a tuxedo, Avaline. We had our chance to destroy Avarice and my choice of garment ruined it. You didn’t see my two clashes with her, but she conjured objects to shield herself from Seversoul’s blows.”
I was about to crank out Blood Magic and suggest Reap use that scythe again when a pair of souls ambled into the lot from the direction of the stadium. Five or six more souls dotted the surging crowd that poured out of every entrance. Most of the humans hurried to their cars, while the rest brawled and attracted event security and police. Three Seraphs swooped from above to watch the fracas now that souls were in the area.
Apathy’s lips twisted. “Consequences, Ms. Vasaga. Your actions within the stadium brought the SPD at a time when you could have finished The Coalition. Let’s go, Voracity.”
With that, the trio unfurled their wings and flapped skyward around the Seraphs and disappeared in the direction of one of the New York hell divides that connected Domains.
The Reaper jabbed the haft of his scythe down and leaned on it as humans filled the lot. “We must wait until these disperse before we can harvest the new souls. Apathy’s talk of radios and cameras fits the current trend we’ve seen with humanity recently.”
I heard more in what he didn’t say than what he did. We wouldn’t kill living humans to get at the souls and their life force. Avarice knew that, and antagonized me into making a mistake that let The Coalition get away with their stolen souls and their lives.
Heaven Law created a balance.
Fountainians like me and The Reaper worked to build a system that could support all demons and angels, though not in the way they might want or in the way that most helps them.
Avarice and The Coalition used everything from their members’ choices to their very lives as stepping stones so a select few could thrive, while the rest got less than nothing.
They’d be sure to use these things humanity invented against us. All Hell’s magic and all Heaven’s spells would be tested in the coming decades. We could adapt, or The Coalition could exploit weaknesses they found to destroy The Soul Fountains.
This night didn’t mesh with their usual schtick.
Why didn’t it?