Welcome to one of the tortures my muse subjects me to when I don't write often enough. I do hope you enjoy it.
To be clear, this is absolutely NOT canon to either of my main stories. If anything, it might be a bit closer to the original Zootopia story-line, with some GhostRider added in for extra flavor.
I do not own Zootopia, GhostRider, or anything that is not my own OC. I could do so much more with them then they are, but I'm just some puke on the internet. Easy to claim that.
Nick glared at Blackheart. "I do not work for you, no matter what you think. We have no agreement, despite your claim to the contrary." Blasting hellfire and chains at Blackheart, who simply shrugged them off.
"I am no minor demon, and I have no soul, so your powers here are of no consequence to me." Ripping open the duffle Nick had dropped while he fought the elk, he removed the book with a grin that split his head in half.
"You have a soul, it just isn't one that my powers would affect. So what are you going to do? Turn all these souls into an army that you can take hell with?"
"That's kinda the plan, yes." Blackheart didn't bother looking up as he flipped through the book. "So many souls, willingly given. Sure, there are a few that signed under duress and thus will be freed once I make my claim, but hardly a noticeable amount. This will be glorious."
"I'd think you'd want to absorb them and the power they represent."
This idea seemed to surprise Blackheart. "What? Why would I do that? I'm a major duke of hell already. I have power."
"Sure, and while leading an army of evil souls like this is certainly intimidating. How much more intimidating and establishing of your true power would it be if you, yourself were that army? Think about it. Sweeping through hell, your adversaries would throw their minions at you, only for you to easily overwhelm them and then claim them as your own. Your power such that you can turn back their own as your minions. Giving you the chance to effortlessly overwhelm them and take their power as well. Sure, you're powerful now as a duke of hell, but that would make you its master. None could stand against you."
Zath hissed inside Nick's head. "What are you doing! Are you insane? If he does that, he literally becomes what you are suggesting."
Responding, a grin in his mental voice. "Sure, but he has to be able to use it. Once he has absorbed even a single one of these souls, he's got a soul that we can affect. If he absorbs all of them…"
Zath was clearly surprised. "Then we could judge those souls, and by extension, Blackheart himself."
"Okay, but this is a crazy risk."
"What choice do we have? It is really the only play we have to stop him and not end up enslaved by him."
Blackheart in the meantime seemed thoughtful. "An interesting idea. Having such power would make me not just a duke, but the king of hell. It would let me expand as I claimed the power of all those beneath me."
Rider nodded. "Right! It would make you unstoppable. As for me. Like I said. I don't work for you, but… If you were to become that, you would be worth working for. Better to rule in hell than serve in heaven, no?"
Blackheart laughed wickedly. "You have the right of it. You think you would deserve to serve under me?"
Rider shrugged. "Well, at that point everyone would, wouldn't they? In some form or fashion? You would be the king demon, after all, and even if my contract remained under Mephisto, you would still have right and power to command, no? I figure at that point, serving under you directly would be smarter than being the lackey of a lackey."
Blackheart's laugh was horrible, enough to curdle milk from a mile away. "Oh, you are a devious one. I believe I agree with you, and your terms. We shall make it official shortly." As Blackheart held the book in front of him, Rider shifted the BlackWolf into paw, its transformed state making it a massive cannon. He didn't figure it would stop Blackheart, but it should distract him long enough to get close. "I am Blackheart, grand duke of hell. This is the contract of San Bengalis. I claim it as mine, and the souls within so inscribed! I claim their power, their essence and make it mine!"
A terrifying howl arose from the town, and across the world beyond the valley in which it resided. Damned souls whose name was inscribed within the book screamed as they were ripped free of the bodies they possessed. In moments there were souls swirling around the inside of the church, screaming their rage before slamming through and into Blackheart, before being absorbed by him.
Blackheart's eyes glowed a bloody, hellish red as he gasped in almost orgasmic pleasure. "I can feel it! Each soul amplifies upon the last and those I have already taken as my own! Their power… It is a thousand times what I expected!" His voice started to take on a resonant quality, as if dozens or more voices spoke as one. "The power. It is exquisite. I will be unstoppable. The heaven's themselves will be unable to withstand my power."
The unresisting bodies of the town fell as the possessing souls were forcibly ripped from them. Those bodies that were continuing only because of the possession released the soul entrapped within with thankful, joyous gasps. Those whose bodies were still viable curled up in agony, often both physical and emotional as the horrors done by them, by their bodies while controlled by the possessing soul washed over them. For many, it was far too much, and they quickly ended their existence on this plane in any way they could.
Others went almost instantly mad, attacking each other and anything and everything around them. Many more died in the ensuing melee. Not that any of those souls would complain, it freed them of the horrors of their continued existence. The last group, simply curled up as they weathered the agony and horror.
The children, huddling together in the forest saw this from a distance, observing in rapt fascination and horror. Wondering what had happened, and remembering how Rider had consumed the soul of the one that had intended to possess one of them.
In the world beyond, mammals who had been possessed by the souls of San Bengalis fell to their knees, screaming in ways a mammal should not be able to. Those around them looked on in shock as a dark soul was clearly ripped out of the body, leaving the original owner to gasp in relief as they collapsed.
Shocking to many was the sheer number of mammals that were labeled as serial killers. Mammals barely considered that, and sitting in prison for life, if not awaiting the gallows in some form, had dark souls ripped from their bodies. The mammals crying out in relief. Many of the absolute worst of mammal civilization, oft in plain view of other mammals, succumb to this as the far flung souls of San Bengalis were summoned home and absorbed by Blackheart.
Laughing, Blackheart's voice was now clearly the voice of thousands spoken as one. "We are power. We are many. We are Legion! None shall be able to stand against us."
Rider cocked his weapon. "Good. that's what I wanted to hear!" He then unloaded an entire magazine into Blackheart, causing him to be blasted into pieces. Pieces that quickly pulled themselves back together.
"You cannot hurt us with such weapons."
"Wasn't my intent. It proves to you that you are now more powerful. For while it would not have injured you, it would have hurt. Did that hurt?"
Laughing in his legion voice. "It did not! We will be unstoppable."
Rider was standing right in front of Blackheart, his chains slipping around and around him, though not yet constricting. "That may be true, save one thing."
"Oh, and what is that my minion?"
"Now you have a soul. Plural. Look into my eyes!" His chains constricted in that instant, and the hellfire of his eyes and penance stare lept out encompassing Blackheart.
"What? NO!" At that, Blackheart screamed. The pain, the suffering, the evil done by every soul he had absorbed inflicted on him in its full horrific glory. As he burned, even his own actions, his own original soul that Rider could not normally touch, now linked and bound by the souls he'd taken in, was not immune.
They stood there like that for several minutes as more and more souls finally made their way back to San Bengalis and merged with the rest, only to be judged as they did so. At the end, Blackheart's eyes looked like cooling, cracked magma, a deep bloody red glow from the cracks in the seemingly blackened surface. Rider released him and he collapsed, twitching and moaning in his still legion like voice.
Turning as Mephisto manifested, Rider shook his head. "So… San Bengalis." Picking up the book, he held it out to Mephisto. "Here is the contract."
Mephisto looked at it and chuckled. "Nice try, but we both know the agreement was for what that contract represented, and Blackheart claimed it instead of me."
Nick shifted and nodded. "I figured as much."
Mephisto lifted Blackheart up. "Interesting." Turning to Nick. "It would seem you and I have an accounting to settle up. You failed to obtain the contract of San Bengalis for me, as such, you owe me another full century per our agreement." Nick's ears folded back. He knew that was going to be the results, but he could see no other way out. He was not able to take Blackheart. "However…" This had Nick's ears perking up. "It would seem that you have still provided me all the souls of San Bengalis, all in one special little package, and in the process claimed for me Blackheart himself. Something, had he not done as he did and absorbed the souls, would not have been possible.
This places me in quite the predicament. You fail, and yet in the process you succeed. The number of souls clears even your extended debt, and then some. Add to that not only vanquishing Blackheart, by branding and claiming him for me. In doing so, you place our scales not just slightly unbalanced, but excessively so. I now owe you far more than you ever owed me, and that cannot stand.
What do you ask of me? What grand favor do you ask that will balance our scales. Your soul is yours again. I can free you of the curse that binds you to a demon? Power? Riches? Females? Males? I care not. What can I grant you to bring our scales even?"
Nick looked up at the demon lord that had owned his soul since he was twelve. "There are so many things I might ask for, so many things I could demand of you. I will not ask for release of my curse, as Zathros and I have come to an understanding. I will own this curse, and now that I am free of you, I will put it to good use. No, I will ask other things of you.
You will owe me a favor at some future point. Undefined and to be answered at the time of asking, even if that asking is upon my arrival in hell. We both know that's where I am going to end up. No, what I demand of you is that I am able to access the full power of Zathros without needing him to fully manifest through me. I will be in control, always, unless I willingly grant Zathros control."
Mephisto nodded. "Done. What else. I cannot express how unbalanced our scales are, even with those two items, as absurd as they are."
Nick looked beyond Mephisto to the town beyond the doors of the church. Seeing several of the formerly possessed mammals in their clear death throes, as their bodies, used up as they were by the possessing spirits, gave up their last. "The mammals that were possessed by the souls of San Bengalis. Those that wish to still live, have their health restored. Those that chose to end their existence here because of what was done by them while possessed, be held untainted by that decision. We both know that many of them signed that contract, but were not summoned by it because their signature was tainted and not truly of their own free will."
Mephisto nodded again. "Done. Damn selfless requests. Yes, you are likely to end up in hell, in the end, but your soul is not nearly as corrupted as you think, sadly. You seem nearly immune to the corruption of having a demon, even one such as Zathros possessing you. Despite his nature, he is still a demon, yet you are nearly untouched by that fact. Our scales still remain unduly unbalanced. Is there anything else?"
"The mammals who were possessed by the souls of San Bengalis. Let leniency reign in their treatment by other mammals. Let madness not take them that they may seek help to deal with what happened while they were possessed."
WIth a final nod, Mehpisto began to fade. "Done. While our scales remain unbalanced, with your open ended favor hanging over our heads, they could be seen as balanced, depending on what that ask ends up being. So for now, you and I shall have no more dealings, until such time as you require that outstanding item of me. See you in hell, when you get there."
At that, Mephisto vanished and Nick fell on his butt. He was free. He could also feel the absolute tsunami of power wash over him as Mephisto satisfied their new deal. He could sense it as it also washed over the town, reviving the bodies and healing them, their souls rejuvenated. He could hear the collective gasp across the town as the pain dissipated and their bodies recovered.
Zathros appeared before Nick, Kneeling and looking down on the fobbit. "Well, that did not go as I expected. Mephisto got what he wanted, and more. You removed a major thorn in his side by dealing with Blackheart. You have in doing this, changed the face of hell. My power is now yours, and without me needing to manifest through you, thus why I can manifest like this. We are still bound, but no longer as before.
This was a dangerous gamble you have played, Nicholas WildeHopps. Even more so that you still have something you can demand of Mephisto, and such an open ended ask, too. I suspect this may end up falling under a saying of you mammals. Be careful what you wish for, you may just get it."
Nick nodded, looking up at Zathros. "Well, that may be true. I just hope I am up to the task. Also, you are still family, you know that, right?"
Zathros frowned. "You were serious? Your mother was serious?"
Nick nodded. Yes. We're a family of hybrids and freaks. Adding a demon to our ranks is hardly a big lift."
Zathros nodded. "I see. I suppose, when you get home, I will have to manifest then, and see if their opinion stands."
Nick watched Zathros vanish in a puff of smoke and smiled. "They will, Zath. I'm sure to your surprise, they will."
Nick then picked himself up and retrieved his duffle and weapons. Making sure they were all still loaded and ready, he made his way out of the church to start taking stock of the mammals still alive in the town. He had a phone call to make, and needed to get out of the valley to do so. He had checked his phone and found that he had no signal, not even a satellite, inside the valley when he first got there. Checking again, he confirmed, no signal.
The first mammal he came across was a wolf, who looked surprisingly like Kyle. Helping the wolf sit up. "Hello, what's your name?"
The wolf looked at Nick confused. "I'm Jacob. Uhm… What?"
Nick smiled. "You've been possessed, for a very long time. You're free of that possession now, as the souls of this town that did that to you are now all in hell where they belong. Since you are still alive and talking to me, you clearly don't want to end it, while others did." Indicating another wolf who was very clearly dead. "The question being, what do you do from here? That is something I cannot answer for you, but I can help you. The first thing we need to do is organize all those still alive in this town and get them out of this valley. Once we are out of this valley, I can call for help to get everyone back to civilization."
The wolf nodded. "Okay. You haven't met my brother, Kyle. Have you?"
Grinning, Nick nodded. "Yeah. He should, hopefully, be waiting just beyond the valley exit. I thought you looked related." Lifting the wolf to his feet, a look of surprise on his muzzle that a fox was able to do that. "I'm not a normal fox, obviously. I wouldn't have been able to end the sorcerer that created this nightmare or arrange the recovery of all the mammals in this city that still wished to live. So, come on Jacob. Sadly, there is no rest for the weary in this case, at least not yet."
Over the next day, all the mammals of the town were collected and directed out of the valley. The kits were found still slowly working their way around the edge, terrified of being caught, especially as they witnessed all the souls in the town flying about and screaming. The silence more terrifying than the screams.
Claiming his badge back, Nick did one last scour of the town, before following the last of the mammals out. Once beyond the valley, Nick pulled out his phone to see he again had a satellite signal. Dialing Chief Wolford he waited.
After the third ring the line was answered. "Nick? Is everything alright?"
Nick laughed. "Yeah, I suppose you could say that. San Bengalis is no more. However, I have about five hundred mammals that I need to get transported back to civilization, many of whom have been possessed for decades, or longer. All of whom are going to need a lot of help, both to reintegrate into society, and just in general, given what was done by them while possessed."
"Yeah, there are a few hundred mammals throughout the world who are now free of that possession. Who knew that the town had such reach. The satellite images were doctored, although I suspect you know that."
"Yeah, bit of a shock. I also suggest that you ask the military to do some training exercises in this canyon. You know, things like aerial bombardment in a protected canyon. Keep their skills up, and wipe any trace of the existence of that town from the world, permanently."
"I think they'll agree to that. There were high ranked members of the military that were possessed, and it seems had been since they were young, as such, they were possessed during their entire careers. It's an absolute mess."
"I believe it. Also, I'll be calling mom next. There are over a hundred kits that are going to need homes. A lot are hybrids. Regardless, I think mom will be perfect to help make sure they get the care and help they need."
"Kits? Oh gods. Tell me they weren't."
"I'll tell you no such thing, so I am not lying to you. It's bad, Mike. It's really bad. A good third of the population, despite being able to live free of the possession, chose to end their lives due to what was committed by the spirit that possessed their bodies. A lot of the adults were children that were used as vessels and have grown up. A lot of the kits are the young of the adults. It's bad, Mike."
"Understood. I need to make some calls. I'll call you back with an update."
The call ended and Nick looked up to see Kyle approaching him. "You did it! You freed everyone!" Kyle was suddenly tackled from the side by Jacob.
"Kyle! You're alive!"
"Yes, and free thanks to Nick. We've been away for like a hundred years, Jacob."
"That's why Nick was telling us all. That the world has moved along, and we are all going to have a lot of catching up to do. Some of us more than others."
At that moment, a military transport flew over, clearly taking stock of the mammals collected at the exit of the valley. Nick watched as it circled and then headed a distance off to land. Advising everyone to stay back, since it was too soon for his boss to have gotten assistance sent out, he would deal with whoever was there. (Think of the Quinjet from the Marvel movies, just bigger.)
Nick stepped into the clearing as the transport officially set down, a dozen military special forces wolves jumping out, the transport taking back off immediately. Nick held his badge up high as he approached. Making himself clearly seen, the soldier's weapons quickly trained on him. "Evening. Thanks for joining us, but what we need is transport for a few hundred civilians, including kits."
The lead wolf shook his head. "Nothing personal fox, but there are standing orders. Nothing leaves this area alive. That means you." Pulling the trigger, the bullet evaporated before it could hit Nick as he transformed.
"I think you'll find I am not quite so simple to dispatch. I am Rider. The town and its residents are free of the possession that warranted that order. Given what we know about high ranking members of the military being possessed by souls from this town, that order may itself be invalid at this point. You may want to check in with your command before you take further action that forces me to take action. I will not allow you to hurt these civilians. They have already been through horrors you cannot fathom. They do not deserve to be treated as criminals."
One of the other wolves gasped. "Holy crap! It's Rider! Dude, you look different in person." Glancing over his shoulder at their leader. "Alpha, there is nothing we have that can hurt him. I think we should radio in."
Their radio's squealed and then a voice spoke over it. "Team Alpha One, stand down. Standing order is on hold until reevaluation is completed. Confirmation that General Hellit and Commander Ferrel were compromised by the souls that order was created to contain."
The alpha looked at his radio in shock. "Clear read. Confirm Alpha One, Tack Tack, Six Two."
There was a pause and then the voice spoke again. "Confirm order. Alpha One, Tack, Six Two One One Bravo. Hold position but take no action unless attacked. Be advised, there is a non-standard heavy present, likely protecting possible civilian survivors."
"Confirming, command. I'm looking at him." Seeing Rider's flame enshrouded smirk. "He is definitely outside of what we can handle."
"Roger. Updates pending. Keep separate from the civilians, but take no actions unless attacked."
"Alpha One, confirms." The alpha then looked Rider over. "Yeah… We've dealt with a few mammals trying to get out of the town, and they don't go down easily, but they do go down. Then one of those weird dark shades exits the body. We're required to wear these weird symbols on our body armor. Never understood why."
Reverting to Nick, Nick smiled. "If it is what I suspect it is, it'll be some runes that protect you from possession. Meaning, whoever set the order for you to wear those symbols was familiar with what was really happening here and provided you protection. The town is empty now, and hopefully someone will have your friends with the big planes do some bombing training in that valley until it is nothing but a glassed out crater. The reason the souls remained here to do the possessing has been removed. They are all where they belong, in hell."
The alpha nodded. "Fair enough. Is that a real ZPD badge?"
"Yep! Lieutenant Nick WildeHopps, at your service. Or Rider, when I look like a flaming skeleton. Maybe you can request a few cases of MRE's? Have them dropped off, then you can stay at one side of the clearing while the mammals recently freed from possession get some real food into their systems?"
The alpha nodded. "Yeah. I'll make the request."
Nick's phone rang. "Hey Chief, what's the word?" He put it on speaker.
"Are you seriously facing down a Marine special forces team right now?"
"I wouldn't call it facing them down. We're just having a nice, nervous, conversation where one of them tried to shoot me."
"Yeah, well. I guess there was a standing order to prevent any mammal from leaving the area. They have protective runes on their uniforms so they can't be possessed."
He could hear the chief roll his eyes. "Of course they do. Well, we're finally able to get clean images of the town. I think I said that earlier. So the military is considering what action to take. If you haven't called your mom yet, do so. I need her backup in getting the right reaction."
Nick frowned but nodded. "Alright. I was about to call her when the operators showed up."
"Roger that. Then get to calling her." The chief then ended the call.
Nick glanced up at the concerned looks of the wolves, the alpha groaning. "Oh gods. I know what that means." Grabbing his radio. "Command, this is Alpha One, over?"
"Go ahead, Alpha One."
"If you are even thinking about ordering me and my team to murder several hundred civilians, you can just eat that order right now. Not happening. Not that I think the non-standard heavy you mentioned would let that happen. He's heavily armed, and from what I could tell, his weapons change to match him." Seeing Nick nod, his ears folded back.
Nick in the meantime, dialed his mother, who answered on the second ring. "Nick? Are you okay? Is everything alright? What happened? Chief Wolford told me to expect your call." Worry clear in her voice.
Laughing lightly. "I'm fine, mom. It was just a bit more complex and harder to deal with than I expected, but I got through it. The town is clear now, but there are several hundred mammals that are no longer possessed that need help, along with nearly a hundred, maybe a hundred and fifty kits, all of whom need help, love, and a home. However, the military had a standing order to not let anything leave this area, with kill on sight orders. Those orders are suspended, but not revoked while they try to determine the correct course of action."
Judy growled over the phone. "Oh, I know what that means. I take it you are not going to let that happen?"
"You know it, mom. That wouldn't sit well with Zath either."
"So, you're not free then?"
"It's a bit more complex than that, mom. We'll talk when I get home. In the meantime, Mike needs your help in making sure that the military comes to the right decision."
"Say no more." The call then ended with Nick smirking back up at the wolves.
The alpha cocked his head to the side. "What did she mean by that?"
"That was Judy HoppsWilde, my mother. That means she is currently starting a group text with mammals like Vice Admiral Hopps, Lieutenant General Wilde, Major General Hoppersan, etc… Along with a few phone calls."
The Alpha groaned. "WildeHopps. I missed it because her name is HoppsWilde. Your dad was the Wilde part of that, wasn't he?"
Nick nodded. "Yep. Take after dad, but I'm one hundred percent half rabbit half fox."
"Figures. It'll take some time to filter out, but yeah. There should be actual transports arriving in a few hours then. And not to just carry out bodies."
Late that afternoon a dozen transports arrived full of personnel. They were mostly military, with some ZPD officers along for the ride, such as Chief Wolford, and Judy HoppsWilde. They also carried dozens of medical mammals and those with clerical skills and the computers to back them up.
In addition to that, there was a military mammal, a large black furred wolf, with an unusual uniform that included a long trenchcoat, carrying a walking stick with a crystal embedded in the end. He swept through the collected mammals from the town as well as the kits, as if he was searching for something. Returning to the transport he nodded to the higher ups that included the Chief, Judy, and a pair of generals. "The mammals are clear, there is however one supernatural presence here I haven't been able to locate."
Nick chuckled. "That would be me."
The mammal turned towards Nick, eyes glowing. "You're possessed by a demon! I will exorcize you!"
Nick frowned and transformed. "You will do no such thing! I am Rider. I did not just go through all of this to have you undo what I fought to obtain. The demon and I have an understanding. I keep him fed and I get to use his power. Our dynamic is a bit changed now, but the deal we have struck still stands. So, if you try it, I'll be forced to put an end to you! It was a sourcer like you that did this! Their desire for power and immortality created this horror that has lasted for centuries, and what have you or your ilk done? NOTHING! So don't get all high and mighty about it!"
"But, your soul, while not deeply tainted now, will be. Over time, no matter what, it will be tainted."
"Something I accept because of the good I can do in the meantime. A sacrifice I give freely."
"What do you feed this demon?"
Smirking, Rider glanced as his mother and boss. "He's a demon, yes, he's also a spirit of righteous vengeance and justice. So… I feed him the suffering of evil mammals when they are judged by me. Burned as they experience the evil they have committed. So, feeding him isn't that hard."
The sourcer nodded, his eyes ceasing to glow. "I see. You are correct, we did nothing, but that is because we could do nothing. The power and spells he had in place, the power of the souls bound to him, made him all but untouchable here. Unless he left this sanctuary, we could do anything. We did our best to control the outreach of his minions of possessed souls. We did our best to keep them contained here. That's all we could do."
Rider nodded. "I see. Well, he is no more. The souls that powered him are now in hell where they belong. And I own my soul again, and will own this curse of being possessed of a demon, a spirit of righteous vengeance and justice. Yeah, he's a demon, but on the balance of things, he's one of the good guys. Though you and I both know it's a lot more muddled than that."
"Fair point." The sorcerer turned to the generals. "Sir!" Giving a salute. "The area is clear then. The civilians were clearly possessed, and I do not understand how they are in such as good a condition as they are, given some of them are more than a century old, but they are no longer possessed. They are all going to have a long road to getting used to the world as it is now."
Nick shrugged as he returned to his normal state. "My fault."
"How so?" The wolf asked.
"I came to be this way for selling my soul, and then having the demon I sold my soul to offer modifications to our deal. My efforts here was to claim for him the contract of San Bengalis. If I succeeded, I would earn my soul back. If I failed, I would serve him for an additional century. I failed, yet still succeeded.
You see, our modified agreement allowed me to earn my soul back with evil souls claimed on his behalf." The wolf nodded, familiar with the idea. "Only, with me, the modification is where I became a Rider and was bound to the demon that you sense. At that point, I was to serve for a century. I had essentially a quota, and if I went over that quota, or scored a nasty enough soul, I'd earn some extra time served as it were. I was down to about fifty years left, when he offered to clear the ledger, if I could claim the contract for him."
"To which you agreed, but that put another century of service on the table if you failed. Yet you said your soul is your again?"
Nick nodded. "I did. Another demon, Blackheart decided he was going to claim me as his own. We know he couldn't do that, but I guess he figured he'd bully me into doing his bidding. Especially as I could not take a senior duke of hell. Not as I was."
The wolf shivered. "Blackheart?" Looking around. "I assume he is gone?"
With another nod, Nick continued. "Yeah. With a quick and dirty plan, I talked him into absorbing the souls instead of just claiming them as his army in Hell."
The wolf frowned and a distinctly British accent took over. "Are you properly insane?"
Nick chuckled. "Well, I knew I couldn't touch Blackheart as he was. He may have a soul, but isn't of this plane, and therefore I couldn't affect him. However, if he absorbed all those thousands of souls, that would change the equation. I could judge them and by extension him, because they were now a part of him. I distracted him with some talk about ruling in hell instead of serving in heaven and wanting to be on the winning team. Then I judged him, and all the souls he had absorbed. Boom. Defeated."
The wolf laughed heartily. "Oh, that's brilliant. Risky as hell, if you'll forgive the turn of phrase, but brilliant nonetheless. His ego I am sure was more than enough to play that card on him."
"Yep. Talked about how much more powerful he would be. Leading an army is one thing, being the army itself, able to turn his opponents armies personally. Able to turn his opponents themselves."
"Ha! That's well played. But that didn't relieve you of your contract with Mephisto."
Nick shook his head. "Nope. That put that extra century on me without question. I failed to obtain the contract for Mephisto. But… On the balance, when you consider just how evil and how many souls there were, I more than earned the return of my soul, even with the extra century. Then add to that the fact that, by being able to judge Blackheart himself, and wrapping him, all his power, and all those souls up in one neat package. It left the scales a bit unbalanced."
The wolf's eyes just about bugged out. "Holy hell! I didn't even consider that. What did you ask for?"
"A few things. As you know, I am still possessed by a demon, but that relationship is different. I now have full access to his power, but without needing the demon to manifest in full through me."
Zathros appeared at that moment, a wide smirk on his muzzle. "Hello Hairry. How have you been?"
The wolf, Hairry, stumbled back. "Bloody hell! Zathros!"
Zathros put an arm around Nick. "I'm the one attached to Nick here. So you can stress a bit less."
Hairry shook his head. "Yeah, and no. Not based on what he's saying, but the who, yeah." His full attention on Nick. "You realize that channeling that much power will burn you up, right?"
Nick nodded with a smirk. "Of course. I've studied a few things, and now with the relationship with Zath altered to what it is now, I can start using some of the things I have learned. Besides, it isn't like it'll burn me out instantly, and if I'm in a situation where I have to manifest his entire power on this plane, well…"
Hairry nodded. "Okay, yeah. You have thought this through."
"I have. Anyway, I also asked that the residents of the city that wanted to live, be allowed to and that their bodies be returned to health. I also asked that those that chose to end it were not tainted by the decision given it was being made due to what was done while they were possessed. A few other things as well. Nothing bad."
Hairry nodded as Zath grinned at him and vanished again. "Well. That's pretty damn selfless of you. Although knowing who your mother is, that isn't as surprising. I'm sure that irritated Mephisto something fierce."
"Oh, very much."
Smiling widely, the wolf held out a paw. "Hairry Drezz Den, sorcerer extraordinaire. You and I should meet up for a coffee or drink some time soon. I suspect we have a lot to share with each other."
Nick smiled and shook the offered paw. "I'm sure we do. Stop by Precinct One some time. We'll get lunch, or that drink."
"I'll do that." Turning to the generals. "Sir's. I have other business to attend to. You know how to call me if you need me." With that, he pulled out a pocket watch, checking the time, looked up at Nick with a smirk and a wink, waved his paw in the air and then vanished. Nick laughing. The others gaping at his disappearing act.
One of the generals grumbled loudly. "I hate it when he does that. If he wasn't so damned necessary I'd throw his tail in the deepest pit I could find."