Devil May Cry is owned by Capcom. This is my first DMC fic. It's the story of just another night in the life really. Oneshot. -D
It was a group this time. They were an ill-assorted bunch: local government officials, elderly residents and a priest. The town of Strathton was being haunted. Or rather, the rather large graveyard just east of the town was.
Dante couldn't even begin to guess how they had managed to get the password, but got it they had, and they were paying in advance. He still didn't feel any better about having the assembly in Devil May Cry.
Father Patterson was a worried looking man, with prematurely thinning hair. Despite his watery eyes he seemed to have collected a gaggle of old ladies, who never seemed to be more than a few feet away from him. Dante couldn't blame them. For the most part they seemed terrified of the city, and one had fainted dead away when she had seen the decorations on Dante's walls.
When the group had collected themselves enough, Patterson steepled his fingers and in a quiet tone of controlled panic explained just what was happening at Sycamore Acres Cemetery.
"The Cemetery is as old as Stapleton itself. It's quite large, but it has never had any...events of this sort happen before. Strathton itself has never had anything like...well; I'll start at the beginning. It wasn't that long ago."
"The late Mr. Rossi was buried the Tuesday before last. I didn't pay much attention at the time, but looking back now I remember there being disturbances, in the ground, like someone had been digging at graves. I thought it might have been kids."
"Young vandals," whispered an old lady in a scandalized tone.
"Edna, we know now it was the unholy living dead." Her companion explained gently. Patterson blinked nervously at the exchange and Dante frowned impatiently. The priest continued,
"Jeb Coleman was the first to see one of the monsters. He was driving back from the City after a conference. It was very late, and he said that someone stepped out in front of his car while he was on Sycamore Road. He braked but couldn't stop in time. Fearing he'd killed someone he got out. The...person had been thrown from the road, when he walked over the person got up. It...he said it had maggots...all over it, and in it. Like out of a movie."
"Those terrible movies," the old lady whispered again.
"Edna, this time it's real." Her friend sounded just as reassuring as last time. Dante ignored the unnerving exchange, and gestured for the Priest to continue.
"Well, we didn't believe Jeb at first. He's still mad about that. But when other people started seeing them, the...the creatures we could ignore it no longer. I tried; I tried to bless the place. Nothing went wrong with the blessing, but the next day more graves were opened, and more creatures were wandering. We've killed a couple of them, those that wandered in to town, but we daren't venture anywhere near Sycamore Road at night."
"And so we're paying you to kill them. All of them." The only old lady who had introduced herself to Dante was Gretel Schwenki, Mrs., if you please. Battleaxe didn't begin to do her justice, and Dante felt that she could probably take on an entire graveyard of zombies and then some.
The rest of the meeting was merely a discussion of when and how Dante was to get to Strathton. It was with a sense of relief that Dante finally ushered the group out of his office.
"If," Mrs. Schwenki fixed the half-devil with her steely gaze, "the job isn't completed in one night; there is a spare room in my house." Her tone made it clear that she hoped there would be no need for her offer to be accepted, and Dante silently, fervently, agreed.
Dante rode out of the city late the next morning, with the aim of reaching Strathton just before dusk. The suburbs and freeways soon gave way to rolling hills, farmland, and dark deciduous forests. Dante arrived in the Strathton with the lengthening of the shadows.
Strathton was a town past its glory days. The old buildings told of the money that their builders had once had, and the subsequent neglect told of the lack the current owners had of the same. Traditional farmhouses and stores lined the quiet roads, made quieter by the unnatural threat from Sycamore Acres. Dante entered the council house briefly to inform the town clerk of his arrival, and to as if there had been any new developments. Upon receiving the negative he made the short journey along Sycamore Road to the graveyard.
Sycamore Acres had been aptly named. The huge trees rustled restlessly in the night wind as Dante brought his motorcycle to a purring halt outside the wrought iron gates. The residents had barred and padlocked the entrance in an attempt to keep the ghastly creatures penned inside the cemetery. It had been a useless gesture; the chains hung slack around the iron bars, and the padlock lay on the ground.
Dante examined the gate with a raised eyebrow, "I didn't know zombies used bolt cutters." He murmured to himself. He stopped still and listened. In the distance a truck snarled along the highway, the wind rustled the leaves, and his motorcycle made little clinking sounds as the hot metal cooled. There were no groans, sighs or ghastly death rattles. Yet.
Dante stepped through the gateway and into the cemetery. He couldn't see any movement; he moved forward cautiously, his boots crunching on the gravel. From the other side of a large headstone with a life-size carving of an angel on it came sounds of grunting and digging. Whoever or whatever it was on the other side; they hadn't heard Dante's approach. He smiled and drew Ebony and Ivory. If the culprits were human they were going to get a hell of a scare, and if they weren't they would merely be sent back to hell.
The grave-robbers worked industriously, if rather haphazardly. They did not look up, even when they threw dirt over Dante's boots. Dante tilted his head quizzically; all he could see were labouring backs and shovels and he could not tell if the workers were dead or alive.
"Not that I've ever seen zombies go to the effort of digging up graves." He said out loud. The working ceased, and two pairs of white and rotting eyes stared out of the half-dug grave. Shovels in hands the pair of undead started awkwardly clawing their way towards the half-devil.
Ebony and Ivory spat and hot lead rained down into the grave. The zombies twitched and groaned as they were torn apart. A shovel, wielded by an unseen assailant caught Dante across the back, nearly sending him staggering into the pit.
In a split-second Dante recovered, and leapt gracefully onto the headstone. Braced against the stone angel Dante looked around in horror. From around every second headstone came shambling, groaning, snarling, lumbering undead, and every rotting gaze on Dante.
"Quite an infestation we have here." He smirked in anticipation, "time to get to work, guys."
Dante leapt into the fray, Alastor cutting a swath through the putrefying hoard. From crumbing skeletons that a strong breeze would have destroyed to the recently deceased who merely looked a little pale, it seemed the entire graveyard had decided to move aboveground. Dante wondered briefly if the late lamented Mr. Rossi was amongst them. Many of the undead carried shovels, and Dante could not recall another instance of undead actively recruiting corpses. In his experience they preferred to make their own.
"Stop! Stop splatting my zombies!" Someone shrieked from nearby. Dante spun around, both guns aimed at the source of the entreaty. There was a scuffing sound, and from between two crypts walked a most peculiar person.
She carried a rucksack and a shovel, and the dirt on her clothing testified to the fact that she had been excavating. Dante had a fair idea what she'd been digging up. Stings of beads and weird symbols were hung around her neck and wrists. Her glaring brown eyes swam behind a pair of thick glasses, and her hair was covered by a gaudy scarf. She looked like one of those rather vague and fluttery women who hung around new age and aromatherapy shops and kept a million cats. Except for the fact that she had about a dozen zombies trailing behind her, all pulled like puppets on invisible strings.
"So you're the one behind all of this. I didn't think this many undead would wake by themselves." Dante kept his guns trained on the woman, although she was not directly threatening him. She pouted and brushed some soil off her clothes.
"I'm just looking for my brother." She said sulkily.
"Can't you read the headstones like everyone else?"
"He's not in his own grave is he?" Dante winced as she wailed at him, "He's hiding from me isn't he? His own sister; who only wants the best for him."
Dante found himself sympathizing with this brother who apparently resorted to self-entombment to get away from this creature. He noticed that more zombies were congregating, although they kept their attention fixed firmly on the young woman.
"Look, why don't you put the zombies back into their graves. You're not helping anyone by terrorizing the town."
"No!" She stamped her foot, "I'm finding Saul if I have to turn over every grave in this god-dammed cemetery!" She glared petulantly at Dante, "And you're not stopping me, neither."
"Sorry," Dante smiled rather nastily, "but I've been paid to do just that. I've been ordered to get rid of the zombies, but I don't think anyone would mind if I got rid of the cause as well."
She looked a bit frightened for the first time, her gaze sweeping the remains of the dozens of zombies Dante had already dispatched.
"You, you can't do that. It would be murder."
Dante sighed. In truth he knew he couldn't reconcile killing this irritating person with his conscience. She may be a necromancer, and judging by the sheer number of zombies she was a powerful one, but she seemed so harmless. She didn't seem to have it in her to be actually evil.
"Why did you let the zombies wander into the town?"
"I didn't mean to, honestly. But when my attention waivers they sometimes wander off by themselves. They can't help wanting to join the living...or was that wanting the living to join them?" She stared vaguely into the distance as she considered the problem. Dante shook his head in wonderment,
"Just how did you become a necromancer? I wouldn't put you in charge of making a sandwich, let alone a zombie."
"Hey! That was uncalled for. I taught myself, alright?"
"Whatever. Listen; if I find your brother for you will you put the zombies back?"
"Oh would you? Really?"
"I just want this whole nonsense to be over. Where haven't you searched already?"
She pointed towards a batch of undisturbed graves. The zombies shuffled out of Dante's way as he strode to the nearest. He plunged Alastor into the ground and the woman shrieked,
"You'll hurt him!"
Dante looked at her, "He's been buried for at least two weeks, so I don't think this'll hurt him. Start putting those zombies back."
Dante walked along the rows of graves, viciously stabbing Alastor into each one until he hit wood or stone. He wasn't going to open any coffins, mad necromancer or no. This was the most ridiculous mission he'd done yet; even shooting baby spiders didn't come close. At least the idiot woman was ushering her creations back into the ground as requested.
Soon the necromancer was trotting along behind the half-demon, cheerfully detailing the list of crimes her brother had supposedly committed. Most of these involved evading responsibility or chasing women and Dante was beginning to think this Saul sounded like a decent guy.
"He came back the very next evening. I had been worried sick about him, but had he spared a thought for his poor sister-"
"Half-sister!" Her diatribe was interrupted by a cranky growl from the next row of graves. The woman gave a squeal of glee and practically leapt towards the voice. Dante strode after her.
Saul didn't look too bad for being underground for a couple weeks, merely a bit pale and hungry. He swatted at his half-sister as he unearthed himself, she was trying to hug him, or strangle him; Dante wasn't quite sure which.
"Get off me, you daft bat," his eyes flickered as he eyed Alastor, "and don't go shoving that thing through my chest." He gave a grin that revealed long gleaming canines, "It might actually hurt."
"A vampire," Dante said, "I might have guessed. This really is the perfect family."
"It would be a damn sight more perfect if certain members would leave other members alone." He snapped at the woman still trying to cling to him.
"Please Saul, don't do that again," she started to cry, "it was like you were dead."
"I am dead." He still sounded angry, but his gaze softened, "What silly things have you been up to this time?"
"I've been digging up the graveyard," she sniffled, "even with my helpers it was taking forever."
"Helpers?" Saul looked at Dante with mounting horror, "She hasn't?"
Dante merely nodded. "That was a very silly thing to do," Saul scolded, "You're lucky he's a reasonable person," he said, gesturing towards Dante, "a lot more reasonable that I would have been I might add."
"You're always mean to me!"
Dante left them to it. He breathed a sigh of relief as the sounds of arguing grew fainter. He was looking forward to getting home and leaving these insane ex-humans to their dysfunctional family life when he heard a bang from down amongst a grove of sycamores.
"Sounded like a shotgun." He heaved an irritated sigh, "What is it now?"
Alastor crackled in his hand as he strode quickly and quietly through the grove. There was yet another field of mouldering tombstones on the other side; the residents were probably of a different denomination. Standing amongst them, shotgun in one hand, foul-smelling pipe in the other, was Gretel Schwenki, Mrs., if you please.
"What are you doing here?"
"Well someone had to make sure we were getting our money's worth." She sniffed. Then she gestured at the grave at her feet, "Stupid girl ordered them back into their graves all right, but then she just left them. They're getting restive already." Mrs. Schwenki took a seat on one of the headstones and puffed on her pipe, "Well boyo, it's time to do what you were paid for."
Dante didn't appreciate being ordered around, and his look said as much, but he unholstered his guns without comment.
Mrs. Schwenki sat and watched Dante slice and shoot the restless dead, calmly emptying her shotgun into any zombie that came too close. Dante realized that she must have filled all her pockets with shells. She had a lot of pockets.
During Dante's tour of the graveyard the necromancer noticed what he was doing. She tried to run at Dante, yelling for him to stop. Saul restrained her, and she slapped his face in retaliation. He bared his fangs at her and the argument was on again. The zombies seemed to be ignoring the pair, and Dante did the same.
Eventually Dante was satisfied that all the zombies had been mopped up. He returned to Mrs. Schwenki to see her giving the necromancer a dressing down.
"In my day we had a little more respect for the dead."
"How can you respect them if they never pay the rent on time?"
"If you had let me stay in the ground I wouldn't have to pay rent at all." Saul interjected.
"Young man," Mrs. Schwenki glared at the vampire, "if you decide to bury yourself again, might I suggest you choose a different graveyard."
"Yes ma'am." Saul practically saluted. He took his sister's arm, and the pair beat a hasty retreat, bickering and casting nervous glances back at the old woman.
"It is humankind's greatest weakness and greatest strength," Mrs. Schwenki proclaimed, looking thoughtful, "the ability to remain human against the odds."
"That wasn't humanity; that was stupidity." Dante opined. The old woman chuckled.
"You didn't do so badly yourself." She said, looking the half-devil up and down, "The money wasn't a complete waste."
"I'm so glad I have your approval." Dante said sarcastically. The old lady grinned and walked to the gate, shotgun in the crook of her arm.
Dante held the gate open for Mrs. Schwenki. He didn't bother putting the chains back up - there didn't seem to be any point - so he merely affixed the padlock. He jumped nearly a foot into the air when he felt Mrs. Schwenki slap him on the ass as she walked past. He turned pale and stared at the old lady. She winked at him,
"The offer is still open, you know."
Dante made record time back to the city. He received a speeding ticket for his trouble but all in all he considered it a small price to pay.