I'd like to thank the people who reviewed the previous chapter. You know who you are.
The difference between a demon attack and an angel attack is as big as the difference between the beings themselves. It would be hard to say, however, which was the more dangerous. Demons had a sneaky manner, they'd rather not fight you mano a mano. Angels, with their high-minded honour, were predictable, to the point of being counter intuitive. A straight, fair fight, with no tricks, no decoys. They cared not for themselves, the original jihadis. Demons knew well the proverb 'he who fights and runs away lives to fight another day.' When it came down to it, they weighted things against THEIR greater good. You would never see a demon kamikaze, ever.
Another difference was in their numbers, and how you matched them. Angels either came alone or in entire battalions. Alone, you were best off two to one, they would never strike from behind, always moving their attacks so as to come at you from the front. As such, they leave their own backs open to attack, and they never move to remedy this, as they cannot fathom an attack from behind. In groups, you had to have matching or greater numbers and the luck of the gods to stand a chance. When one of them went down, none would help them, simply charging in to avenge. Demons, on the other hand came alone or in very small, half dozen or less, groups. You never fought a demon with allies.
You might think the best bet with a demon was to surround it and bombard it with attacks. Not so, unless you and your partners are somehow invulnerable to each other's attacks. Otherwise, enemies strengthen you, allies weaken. You must be willing to hold nothing back. A berserker like rage cutting down everything in your path was the only sure-fire way to defeat a demon. The attacker has to be able to have no hesitation, striking at anything that moves. A demon will only stick to a fight it can't win if running away brings them a more gruesome death. If they can get away with it, they won't do the fighting themselves, using human hosts, animals, magical constructs and other minions to do the dirty work. Do not mistake this for cowardice, it's just pure survival technique.
Angels believe they are right and therefore must win. Demons just wan to be on the winning side, especially in the case of fallen angels, they will turn and ally with the strongest in an instant.
But of all the differences, speech in battle came top of the list.
"You little canicula, I aughter!"
"You oughta what? Slice me with your sword?" Jinx mocked, looking at the twisted piece of scrap metal. "Rain hellfire on me?" She pressed a finger to the spell tag holding the demon immobile and powerless. "Report me to your lord Trigon?" Jinx tapped a finger to her lips in thought, looking upwards. "Oh, that's right! You're running from your lord Trigon." The battle had been swift and decisive, Jinx catching the unsuspecting demon as he made for the bay and hurling spell after spell. After trapping him beneath a car and melting his sword beyond use, she'd had a good run around before finally being able to feint and get under his guard, planting a Buddhist spell-tag on his forehead.
"Seems you and your little buddies decided, since he was gone, you'd be dukes of hell, and divided his lands among yourselves." She shook her head disapprovingly. "If he gets free for even an instant, your lives'll become a living hell, so to speak."
"You filthy human. When I get loose!" The demon struggled in vain. Jinx rolled her eyes and pulled a piece of magnetic chalk from her sleeve.
As she drew out a circle around him and placed the proper pentacles at the cardinal directions, she said, "You're not getting loose. There" Dusting off her hands and putting the chalk away. " Demon, I bind thee." She ordered, throwing out a splayed hand.
Buddhist spell-tags were the best way to get a demon to stay still, but to bind one to your will you needed a circle. Jinx needed to get information out of this one, those were her orders, not to kill but to pump every last morsel of knowledge from him.
Sitting down on a pile of rubble that had once been a car, or maybe it was a mailbox, she couldn't tell, Jinx asked boredly "What is your name, demon?"
"None of your brimstone, witch!" The demon snarled, showing tiny sharp teeth that put one in mind of a shark. Irritated, Jinx made a show of picking up the discarded sword and melting it further, the warped steel now blacked and curled in upon itself, making it worthless as anything but an exceedingly ugly paperweight.
"I bound you, you stinking pus-bag. What is your friggin name?" No more miss nice guy, if it was gonna get snotty, she could do the same. In fact, she could probably out snoot any demon ranked lower than a Count or Countess.
"Ilpamap." He spat out, fiery eyes staring daggers at her.
"Good demon." Said Jinx, smirking.
"Go burn yourself at the stake." Ilpamap snapped, trying again to rip the tag from his head and getting scalded for his efforts.
"More witch lines? When were you last on earth, the middle ages?"
"Shut your trap you meat bag. You can't hold me here forever!"
And she couldn't. Her skill with binding circles was only passing. She had concentrated far more on protection and shielding circles when she was working with high magic, and her courses on ethical demonology meant she couldn't draw a torture-binding circle properly.
"Who sent you?"
"Lady Nasihelehon." Interesting, a demoness. She'd not met many of the upper ranks of demon society, and none of them female. Jinx frowned, knowing now she was up against a tactician who was likely far more experienced than she.
"And why did she send you?" Jinx pressed, her internal clock telling her she needed to wrap this up before she was missed at the base.
Ilpamap tried not to speak, ordered not to divulge his mission, but he was bound. His will was not his own. "To capture the daughter of Trigon" he finally gasped out.
"Capture?" asked Jinx, frowning "Not kill? Why?"
"Wouldn't you like to know?"
"Ilpamap, who serves Lady Nasihelehon under Trigon the terrible, answer me why!" The demon wailed in pain.
"Killing her now, could bring him back."
"What did you plan to do with her?"
"That wasn't part of my job."
"I order you to tell me!" Jinx roared, hex energy flaring from her eyes and sparking out of her clenched fists to put tiny fractures in the concrete at her feet.
"I don't know! I mean, maybe they were gonna extract her demon soul and put it in a bottle or something."
"What would that do?" she demanded, hating the ignorance she felt at not knowing.
"Well, you'd get one hell of a genie, and leave a fully human girl comatose until her inevitable sudden death."
"Return to your mistress and tell her the gem is not to be touched. It is only her continued existence as she is that is keeping me from killing you, and she is the only slim chance you have to be free of Trigon forever."
"Like Hell I will." The demon said, not budging. "You don't have the balls to command me." Jinx bristled. This was fast approaching the limits of her tolerance.
"I charge you to vacate this plane" Jinx began, walking clockwise around the circle, eyes never leaving the demon. "And return immediately from whence you came, never to return. And further I charge you to do all in your power to prevent any interference with the daughter of Trigon, including your fellows coming to this realm." She had nearly come full circle now and was ready to complete the binding. "By the power that binds you and that which I comment, you have been charged, and will obey!"
"Make a sodding production out of it, willya?" the demon grumbled as Jinx drew the sign in the air to dissolve the spell tag. With a pop and a cloud of sulphur, he vanished, bound to her will.
Wiping sweat from her brow, Jinx sighed. Demons she could handle. A few bursts of her unrestrained energy had anyone lower than a captain running scared. And with two years of demonology, binding them was an option. Yeah, Jinx decided, she'd take a demon attack over an angel one any day of the week.
Jobs, that is was of earning an income other than fencing stolen goods, were not easy to come by. So when Gizmo found a job, not only for himself, hacking some politicians bank account and planting bribes, and one for Kyd Wykkyd, cat burglary of an item darling daughter didn't get in Daddy's will, Jinx was surprised.
"And here I'd thought you had no talent for pulling in clients, short stuff. Way to go." She said, genuinely proud of him. No sooner were the words out of her mouth, however, than a laser took her in the chest. Jinx stumbled, immediately righting herself and letting her body fall into a familiar fighting stance, knees bent, weight on her toes, left foot forward. "What the hell, Gizmo?" She was wary, had Gizmo turned on her? Had, against all reason, Blood somehow managed to regain his hold on him?
"Short jokes are not tolerated pea-brain!" Jinx breathed a sigh of relief, knowing that the maniacal genius glaring daggers at her was just miffed at a nickname and was not going to let his thumb wander to the trigger of the laser again.
"Sorry" she muttered. "Tell me how everything goes tomorrow, k?" Jinx didn't wait for his answer, dashing to her room instead.
She rummaged through her closet for a while before pulling out a black PVC skirt cut long in the back and almost indecently short in the front, and a deep purple blouse with no right sleeve. The asymmetrical style was what had attracted her to the shirt to begin with, and Jinx felt it gave a sophisticated rebel look to the whole outfit. She grabbed a purse, slipped on a pair of flats and scampered up the stairs, heading for the door.
"Bye! Don't wait up for me, k guys? I'll see you later!" She called back over her shoulder as she made for the airlock, only to be stopped by See-more.
"Where are you going?" He asked, arms crossed. Jinx was anxious to get out of the narrow hallway and into the open air.
"I've got a date with Emilio tonight." She replied casually. "He's a sweet boy."
"Isn't your 'sweet boy' like, nineteen?" Mammoth asked from the kitchen, having overheard the conversation as it echoed down the hall. "And as tall as me?"
Billy perked up. "The same one who gits you wine an then walks you home when you're too tipsy to be left alone?" Gizmo snorted in laughter at that. Jinx flushed.
"His grandfather is the local Mafia Don. And he is sweet." The disbelief was almost palpable. "No father, but half a dozen brothers." Jinx muttered under her breath "Honestly, I'm a big girl. I can take care of myself." No response other than snorts of laughter and a disapproving look form See-more. "GAH! You don't own me, I'm going. And trust Emilio, if I ever take off, I'm not leaving you any note, but there will be word with him or his sisters. Ciao!"
The minute she was out the door, Jinx pulled the bands out of her hair and began to comb it until she was satisfied with the curl. Clucking her tongue, Jinx headed for the bus stop to catch a ride to the downtown family restaurant she and Emilio always met at. A quiet place, owned by Emilio's older brother Marco and his wife.
Helena welcomed her as soon as she walked in the door. "Senorina! Ah, you are just in time, Emilio is in the back finishing some inventory. Please, Jasmine, tell me how those boys of yours are." It was Helena who decided on the name Jasmine for non-business matters. She was incredibly nice, if there was such a thing as a mafia den mother, Helena was it. Soft brown eyes took Jinx's measure before nodding in approval.
"We're all doing very well, thank you. How are you and Marco, huh?" Jinx replied, smiling sincerely. "You going to make Emilio an uncle any time soon?" Helena laughed, a low musical sound that managed to show in her entire body language, crinkling up her eyes and shoulders shaking slightly.
"No, not yet. But my mother in law, well, she begs for grandchildren." Jinx laughed in reply, gesturing to the kitchen in askance. A slight inclination of her head told Jinx she was free to go. Slipping through the swinging doors, she made her way through the kitchen, stopping only to greet a chef she was friends with, and to the back room where Emilio was waiting for her.
Jinx had to stand on tip-toe to plant a chaste kiss on the corner of his mouth, and was instantly caught up in strong arms and spun around. "Beautiful as always, Jinx" She gave a playful slap to one olive-skinned hand.
"They say it will get you everywhere." The dark haired youth replied, taking a seat on the well-worn leather couch and letting Jinx arrange herself artfully on his lap.
"So where are you taking me tonight, hmm?" She asked, resting her head on his shoulder and inhaling the faint spicy scent of his cologne.
"Well," Emilio began, his fingers slowly tracing her bare arm. "I thought we'd go to that movie you mentioned you wanted to see, and then come back here for a quick bite and a raid on the wine cellar." Jinx murmured her approval, declaring they could skip the meal and hit the wine right away. Wrapping her arms around his neck and relaxing, Jinx let him be the one on the alert. It was only fitting, this wasn't business. If she had been here on business, she'd be in full uniform, hands on her hips negotiating her terms. She would probably have some type of weapon on her too, to counter all the ones that would be on the persons of her potential clients. As it was, she felt safe enough to enjoy herself and trust Emilio to sense and avoid any danger.
With the exception of what he put them in on his motorcycle.
"You're going to get us both killed, you freaking psycho!" Jinx shrieked as they roared through the night at twenty plus miles above the speed limit. Even with her helmet and the roar of engines, Jinx could still hear his snort of disbelief. She wrapped her arms tighter around Emilio's waist and laughed as they wove in and out of traffic, like a scene from one of the various Matrix movies that were always being shown on TV these days. It was exhilarating, to court death in this way. Every turn tipped her to the pavement with a lurch, and the shouted obscenities from slower drivers paled in comparison to the pain promised if they were to stop short. Lights flashed by as they covered half the city, Jinx thrilling at the feel of the powerful machine between her thighs and the strong body in front of her. She was almost disappointed when they arrived at the theatre. As she shook out her hair, Jinx was again grateful she'd made so many contacts while in the academy. If she hadn't been working for Don Luccio, she would have never met his grandson. The one who had just asked if she didn't mind him paying for the movie. Never did she expect a young man to know how to handle paying, yet here we has, knowing exactly how to do the kindness of treating her without the arrogant assumption she couldn't pay her own way.
She pouted for a moment in thought. "All right, since I treated last time." She finally relented.
"And since our money comes from the same place anyway." Emilio added before purchasing the tickets. Jinx laughed.
"What can I say?" She asked, "Your grandfather distributes his coin very freely."
"Only to those he trusts overmuch or likes enough to care about the wellbeing of."
Jinx wondered which of the two categories she fell into, and assumed it would be better not to know. They'd arrived just a few minutes before the movie was to begin, and had to push past others to get seats. It hardly mattered; Jinx had been looking forward to this for so long nothing could spoil it. The movie wasn't anything her roommates would enjoy, being neither explosion filled or gory. It was intense, dramatic, and required thought on the part of the viewer. Not what most would consider a date movie, for sure. In fact, Jinx ended up not missing a minute, but then, neither did Emilio. Before they had even left the theatre they were deep in discussion, comparing mental notes on the film's presentation and use of symbolism.
"I thought the interview scene was the best done of the movie."
"Well, it was pretty good, but the pocket-watch sequence felt more profound."
"The pocket-watch sequence? But it was so obvious."
"That's just the thing!" Jinx argued, "It gives you a look into Jones' character, you see? It just gets the full extent of Vincent's illness out in the open, and puts previous events into perspective."
"I still think the pen tapping out S-O-S and the whole 'no eye contact' questioning was better."
Jinx rolled her eyes as she picked up her helmet. "Ok, the Morse code was good, but I still think the silver and related vampire and werewolf references were just as good, if not better."
"Fine, a reasonable compromise." Said Emilio, pulling on his own helmet and straddling the bike. The hex witch decided to ignore the jab and took her spot on the back of the motorcycle, preparing to have yet another near death experience.
"Emilio, you crazy bastard!" Marco greeted his kid brother as they arrived back at the restaurant. "You trying to get killed?" This comment was accompanied by a slap on the back. Jinx snickered.
"No, but the young lady and I were hoping to indulge in some of your fine wine."
"Ah! Watch yourself with him, he's a devil!" Marco warned Jinx teasingly. "And, you're gonna have to stay out of the office, there's some business going on. Don't want you getting into trouble."
"Marco, I'm hardly an innocent, how bad could it be?" Jinx asked, not worried.
"These guys are real scum. You'd be best avoiding them." Marco said seriously. "They'll lie to you so sweetly, you'd swear they worshiped the ground you walked on, then turn on you, killing your friends and family before you can say 'sting'."
"Sounds like my last boyfriend…" she muttered in response."All right, but I want a nice red wine as a bribe. The pick of the cellar." Emilio took her arm and led her into the back room the night had begun in, letting her make herself comfortable while he fetched the bottle from the cellar.
Jinx savoured her first sip, letting the taste of the grape wash over her completely before giving up all thought of moderation and draining the glass in one swift movement.
The comment Billy made about Jinx coming home 'tipsy' could qualify for understatement of the year. She didn't get tipsy, she got drunk off her gourd at times. Made her wonder why people thought magic users shouldn't drink, it was in all the fiction she'd ever read, yet she'd never lost any control while imbibing. In fact, if she had the need to, she could call up a lot MORE power while drunk. Plus, it was fun.
"Right, now tell me what this last boyfriend did."
"Well, you know my group, close as a Family in some ways, right?"
"Closer, you don't go shooting each other for kicks."
"You'd be surprised. But anyways, he gets in all close like he's our best buddy, most loyal compadre. And then, BOOM!" Jinx slammed her open palm on the table to emphasise the seriousness of the action. "Bombs the bloody hell out of our omerta, our code of silence. Has us all running like chickens with our heads cut off, scared witless from this. I mean, he freaking squealed like a pig."
"Who is this guy?" Emilio asked seriously. "I'll have some guys take care of him if you so much as ask."
Jinx blushed. "Nah, I got him. Tha's real sweet of ya to offer, but I got him good. Ha! Wish I coulda seen his face when it happened, but, that's how it goes." They were both slurring a bit, being an hour into the bottle… or bottles, and Jinx was draped rather suggestively on the couch, but no one was there to see, and had they, no one would have dared comment.
"No, but seriously, I mean, he ripped apart all our security and structure and on top of that left us homeless."
"No way, I heard about that. But I thought, didn't you say that was Titans?"
"Did I say that? Well good" Jinx paused to refill her glass. "Cause it was, he called em in on us, cause ya see, you see, what it was was, he was one of them."
"So why'd you go and let him in then?" Jinx screwed up her face in a rather unladylike expression.
"We didn't know he was one of them. He was using an alley… alebe… twas in disguise."
"And you dated him?"
"Eh, sorta. One dance. Real square, but had that kinda bumbling idiot kinda appeal."
"Thought your team were all bumbling idiots and you hated that about em."
"No, I mean the innocent bumbling idiot. Knows which end of the sword to hold and who to stick it in, but not much else."
'So he used a sword? That's mad awesome." Emilio said, impressed.
"No no, but I fought a guy with a sword once." Jinx boasted, setting aside her glass.
"No shit?" He asked, leaning forward to catch her every word.
"Big flaming number too," Jinx nodded, "Nearly took my head off."
"Nah, you musta saw that in a movie." Emilio shook his head.
"Flaming sword." Jinx insisted.
A few moments of mindless chatter later, Jinx sat up and declared, "I'm too drunk for this," and stumbled over to the sink to wash her face and drink a few glasses of water. At least she wasn't puking. Emilio would never laugh at her, but still….
"I'll take you home." He offered.
"Walking. You nearly kill us on that bike sober."
"All right, fine, we walk." Emilio agreed disappointedly. "Lemme find my shirt... your shoes are around here somewhere." The young man stretched, unfolding his long body and fishing around behind the couch for his missing shirt. Jinx bit back a remark about the tousled state of his hair and pulled a comb out of her purse to attempt to bring her own under some kind of control.
She was going to pay for this in the morning, Jinx knew. After missing articles of clothing had been located, the pair had started the two mile, as the crow flies, walk back to her base.
It was late, or rather, early, however 3:00 am was reckoned. The cool night air felt good on her face after the slightly smoky back room with the scent of cooking drifting by.
They didn't talk, an unspoken rule was that when someone said they were drunk, conversations ended. It made sure drunken brawls never happened, at the very least. Mumbles of apology and thanks when someone stumbled were occasionally heard, and Jinx's whispered profanities directed at her shoes would have made a sailor wince, had he understood Hindi.
Even so, it was an unremarkable night, just enough cloud to balance stars, the occasional breeze, the rare screech of tires, or that of some joker out causing trouble with his friends. It was times like this Jinx could almost enjoy the city. She had never told anyone, not that there was anyone to tell, but she missed India.
She missed running barefoot down a dirt path to the river to bathe, scraping off the layers of red dust that coated her body and clothing.
She missed the sounds of the bordering jungle as it threatened to take both village and temple back into its folds.
When Jinx was small, she had run amok throughout town and wilderness, climbing trees like a monkey or sitting stone still atop a pillar until some curious person wandered up and she would jump shrieking onto their back.
People didn't love her there, and she didn't love them, but the land, now that she loved, and was loved in return. When she had lived in and around the temple, she was never hungry, ever, though other trainees grew thin on the food the temple received as offerings. Everything she needed, she could find for herself. Armed with her developing powers and an ivory knife that had been a part of her mother's dowry, she feared nothing the forest could hold.
Jinx missed that freedom to depend on only herself, to use her powers whenever she wanted, although during chores was a bad idea. She missed, quite simply, being at one with the land.
Which was why she had decided, when Trigon was defeated and her mission complete, she would go back to being Shreya. It would hurt to leave her family at the H.I.V.E., but the hurt of this concrete and metal world she had been a part of for these past six years was far worse.
She was a sorceress, wielding the elements. Here, in this land, they were distant and unresponsive, save bad luck, which was always abundant. Conjuring a flame with a gesture was impossible. Taking a sip of water to collect and wash toxins from the body was a practice no one had heard of. Whistling down a wind simply wasted breath. The pure sorcery didn't work here, even calling on gods produced only a faint trickle of power.
Jinx wasn't suited for this world. All her villainous aspirations lead inevitably to one thing: the freedom to leave this country for somewhere she could connect and use her full powers.
As much as proving herself meant to her, Jinx knew she was nothing more than a pawn. A valued pawn, but ultimately replaceable. And not just to Kali, but the H.I.V.E. as well. They didn't need her, in fact she got the impression even her base full of boys would rather she weren't there at all.
So she had decided, beyond a shadow of a doubt, someday soon she would be going –
"Home." Emilio finished his sentence, startling Jinx out of her thoughts.
"I said, I've done my job walking you home." Jinx blinked a few times before realizing she was indeed at the warehouse door.
"Thank you. I had fun. Don't forget to call if you need anything." With that, she slid the door shut behind her, wincing at the clang, and brought a burst of hex energy to her fingertips to light her way down the stairs to her room before collapsing into bed.
People at the robin and starfire shrine know how lazy I am and how much I bitched as I typed this up from my notebook. Something like nine pages on paper, front and back.
The movie Jinx and Emilio went to see... I completely made up.
This is probably the longest chapter yet. Whoo.
You can expect the next three chapters to be very fast paced and action filled, with 25 being the final chapter. I chose to leave out the mother mae-eye episode, mostly becuase its jsut one humiliating episode based on comedy with no relevnce to any plots. So it happened, but I'm not gonna write it.
As usual, if you want this to update faster, reviews are the best bet. I have part of chapter 24 written, but thats becuase its the big showdown and I was bored sometime last year in school. And until something inspires me, well, you can't expect an update anytime soon at this rate.