Disclaimer: I don't own any of the members of the Coven, nor do I own the Coven's allies, or the various members of the Gathering
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The Gathering of Supernatural Psychopaths
As the Horseman turned to walk towards Constantine, Leo and Clown, Hellboy's fingers closed on the object that he'd been awaiting his cue to use.
Here goes nothing…
"Horseman!" the red-skinned demon yelled, the skull clutched in his flesh hand as he stared at his opponent, praying that Angel's idea would pay off; this had to be the most desperate 'plan' to take out the bad guy he'd ever tried to put into action, and he'd once allowed a demon to swallow him in order to blow it up. "Catch!"
Before any of the other Gathering members could do anything- although the punch in the mouth Clown had just received from Constantine kept him distracted at the crucial moment, and the other three were so focused on defeating their own opponents that they barely registered what any of the others were doing-, Hellboy had hurled the skull through the air, only for it to land directly in the Horseman's hand as he spun around to grab it, Blade having stepped back from the fight as soon as he saw his teammate remove the skull from his pocket.
Even as the Horseman slid his sword into its scabbard and began to place his skull onto his neck, Hellboy had already spun around to fire another shot at It, his gun quickly targeting the creature's monstrously-sized leg and leaving the leg suddenly a couple of significant feet shorter than it had been.
Seizing on the opportunity presented by his teammate, Angel lunged forward to plunge his sword into the now-'bleeding' hole in the creature's hide, prompting It to let out a strangled scream from whatever passed for its throat as it reeled back. The sound was so horrific that even the Creeper and Pinhead momentarily paused what they were doing to look in the direction that the scream had come from, giving Cole and Spawn a crucial opportunity to score another powerful blow against their current adversaries while they were distracted that sent both of them falling to the ground.
For a moment, as the Coven looked around, the Gathering were momentarily immobilised, the Creeper, It and Pinhead briefly immobilised from pain while Clown stared anxiously at the Horseman as his head finished regenerating itself.
"Oh shit…" he muttered, shaking his head in a panicked manner as the Horseman turned to look at him, his head now restored- revealing pale skin and a wild shock of dark hair with unusually sharpened teeth and wide vivid blue eyes- and a sadistic grin on his face as he stared at his former 'leader'.
"Now, look here," the demonic clown said, holding up his hands to look pleadingly at his old 'teammate', "I'm sure you're a bit hacked off about getting dragged out of hell like that, but we can work something out-"
The Horseman didn't even bother replying- although none of the Gathering were sure whether he was even capable of speech; the restoration of his head had restored his neck physically, but would his vocal chords have regenerated given that he didn't actually 'need' them?- as he walked over to Clown, grabbing the portly demon by the neck and hauling him up like he was manhandling a child.
"Look, is there any way we can-?" Clown began, only to be cut off as Constantine walked up to the guy quickly hit him in the side of the head, the Holy Knuckledusters on his hands as Clown slumped into unconsciousness.
The Horseman barely even seemed to have registered the exorcist's efforts- done mainly to stop them worrying about Clown's rantings rather than anything else-, simply casually walking over to a door in the nearest wall, which opened to reveal a whirling distorted mass of red before them, the images among the red moving by too quickly for any of the Coven to make out. As the Horseman stepped through the door, dragging Clown behind him, there was a brief, short 'splash' as a red liquid that Angel, Blade and Spike immediately identified as blood surrounded the floor around the door, and then the door vanished, the faint sound of whinnying from outside the hall where they were currently fighting the only indication that the Horseman's horse had returned to Hell with him.
Angel was the first member of the Coven to recover his senses; with the Gathering having lost the only member capable of thinking of a plan more complicated than 'kill them', they had to take the others out as fast as possible. With It still temporarily immobilised by his last attack, Angel turned around and ran towards the still-slightly stunned Creeper, stabbing his sword through its chest to pin it to the ground.
"Captain Spencer!" Angel yelled, turning to look at the door where Pinhead's human half was waiting. "Now's your cue!"
"Right," Spencer said, stepping out of the corridor's shadows and looking directly at his other self, Pinhead having already regained his balance to look at his 'other half' with a casual smile.
"So," he said, looking almost casually at his other self, clearly confident in his own power, "you have returned."
"Yes," Spencer replied, a slight tension in his stance the only indication of the fear he had to be feeling as he faced the creature that turned his life into a nightmare. "This ends now."
Before Pinhead could respond to that, Spawn and Illyria- who had taken up position behind Pinhead while he was distracted by Spencer's arrival- lashed out at his back with two powerful punches, sending the Cenobite stumbling forward and momentarily knocking him off-balance. The blows themselves weren't that damaging- Spawn hadn't even used his blades-, but the purpose hadn't been to damage Pinhead, but merely to bring him within range of his other self.
"My turn," Spencer said grimly, as he stepped forward, his hands seizing his other self by the wrists before the Cenobite could regain his balance.
As soon as the captain had grabbed Pinhead's arms, both men's faces assumed expressions of barely-repressed pain- Angel was prepared to bet that Pinhead's nature as a Cenobite meant that he experienced limited pain himself; why seek out others to experience something you could endure yourself?-, their foreheads literally stretched out from their heads, linking and wrapping around each other before the rest of their bodies began to combine. Accompanied by a sound that sounded like a twisted combination of bones being crushed and something being submerged in water, Spencer and Pinhead's bodies briefly seemed to become one, their heads a mangled mess as the flesh combined, before Spencer seemed to be literally 'sucked' into Pinhead, a brief flash of brilliant blue light momentarily overwhelming their vision before it faded away, to reveal only Pinhead standing before them.
Glancing down at himself for a moment, Pinhead raised an eyebrow, almost as though he was waiting for something to happen, before he looked up at the Coven, a curious expression on his face that somehow managed to look satisfied and puzzled at the same time.
"An… interesting… strategy," he said, his gaze fixed on Angel as he spoke; whether he now 'remembered'- thanks to Spencer's presence- that Angel was the one who had come up with this plan or was just addressing the leader, none of the Coven were sure. "But… to what end?"
"Look, Pinhead," Angel said, looking resolutely at the Cenobite as he walked forward to glare at the monster that had once been a man, forcing himself not to think about how easily the creature before him could tear him apart over a prolonged period if he wanted to do so, "if flesh is what you want, how's this; you spare us, and in return, you get unrestricted access- without a fight- to the Creeper and It."
For a moment Pinhead looked silently at Angel, contemplation on his face, before he nodded.
"I am… intrigued," he said simply.
"They're literally functionally immortal and have a lethal reputation of causing terror and pain in their respective worlds," Angel said, continuing to look at Pinhead. "I don't deny that you'd probably beat us in a fight, but considering that we'd fight you to the end to stop you taking us, coupled with the fact that they're already immobilised…"
That last comment seemed to do it for Pinhead.
"I accept," he said, before turning to look at the temporarily-immobilised immortals that had once been his allies with a casual smirk. "Now then…"
Without even a wave of his hand, Pinhead automatically summoned a full set of chains to bind his former 'allies'- if they could even be considered that-, before he casually turned to look at Angel, a slight smile on his face.
"I will depart," he said simply. "Along with those I have already sent there in recent times, these two shall provide my kin with a great deal of… material… before we seek new pleasures."
Angel didn't bother responding to that.
He didn't like the implications of Pinhead's last statement- the idea that the Cenobite had taken some of the Gathering's victims into his realm during his time on Earth was far from a comfortable thought-, but right now they didn't have much choice but to accept the situation; they'd already tried to fight Pinhead and had accomplished nothing, and with him the only member of the Gathering left active, they could save more lives by letting him go than they could even hope to release by trying to fight him.
Even as those grim thoughts crossed Angel's mind, Pinhead turned around and walked into the shadows at the back of the conference room, subsequently vanishing into the darkness, It and the Creeper being dragged along after him even as the monstrous creatures began to stir back into consciousness before vanishing into nothingness.
For a moment, the Coven simply stared silently at where the Cenobite had just vanished from view, until Spike turned to look uncertainly at Angel.
"That's it?" he said, waving a hand at where their old adversaries had just vanished from view. "What happened to that bloody box they were talking about in his file?"
"Well, we're already just a slight dimensional shift away from Hell in our current location; it's possible that Pinhead didn't need to go through the box to go back to Hell when he's this… close to it," Angel said, shrugging uncertainly.
"As for where it is now," Leo put in, walking forward to better address Spike as he stood beside Angel, "either Clown had it on him when he was dragged into Hell, or it's still somewhere in here-"
"In which case," Cole put in, his gaze fixed on an upper corner of the room, "it'll probably be destroyed when this place collapses, and I would rather not join it if that's an option at this juncture."
"What-?" Angel began, turning to look at the area where Cole was directing his gaze, only for his eyes to widen as he saw what Cole was looking at; the upper corner of the room was actually starting to disintegrate even as the vampire looked at it, the stonework crumbling away to reveal more of the swirling red… stuff, for lack of a better term… that they'd seen when the Horseman had departed with Clown.
"Everyone get out, now!" he yelled, turning to look back at the Coven even as the demon within him thrilled at the 'feel' of Hell so close to them. With the Gathering gone, this pocket dimension that had served as their base had evidently decided that there was no longer any reason for it to be here and had decided to begin to collapse, leaving all those remaining inside it at increasing risk of exposure to whatever hell dimension they were currently located in.
None of the Coven needed telling twice; as soon as Angel had given his order, Spawn, Leo and Cole each grabbed on to the two other Coven members nearest them…
Then, after the usual disorientation that always accompanied teleportation between dimensions, they found themselves back in their 'headquarters', slightly dazed but otherwise unharmed.
"Whoa…" Hellboy muttered, shaking his head slightly as he looked over at the others, a broad smile spreading across his face as he looked at them. "We won…"
"Yeah, I know," Angel said, smiling himself as he looked around at his assorted allies. "Great job, everyone; we've beaten a collection of the most ruthless serial killers it's ever been our displeasure to encounter, and we're all still here. It's been… well, to call it an honour would be an understatement, but it's the closest I can get… to fight with you all-"
"Yes, yes, very touching little speech, vampire," a voice said from behind the Coven. "Now, if you don't mind, can we get down to business, please?"
Spinning around to look at the new arrival, the Coven were surprised to see a tall man standing there, a bored expression on his weathered-looking face as he stared at them, dressed in long white robes.
"What the… Odin?" Leo said, looking incredulously at the new arrival.
"Hold on; Odin?" Constantine repeated, turning around to look at Leo in surprise. "As in the Norse God Odin? Wasn't he supposed to only have one eye?"
"I'm not that Odin, exorcist; it's… well, it's all rather complicated and we don't have time to get into that right now," the figure said, waving a hand dismissively as he indicated Jason. "Anyway, the situation's simple; I'm an Elder- one of the people who, however indirectly, are responsible for this little group of ex-killers coming together in the first place-, and I'm here to send that ugly lump back where he belongs."
"Hold on a minute; you're here to send Jason back?" he repeated, his eyes narrowing as he glared at Odin. "Not gonna happen; I didn't help him get over his issues-"
"Please, do you really think that just because you played nice with the homicidal maniac he's going to stay like this?" Odin asked, indicating where Jason was standing off to the side, the Crystal Lake Slasher looking slightly uncertainly at the man before him as though trying to understand what he was talking about. "Oh, I don't deny that he doesn't want to kill you lot any more, but how long do you think that's going to last? Sooner or later his degenerate excuse of a brain is going to reach the point where he doesn't remember why he's not ripping you apart-"
"We helped him once, we can help him-" Constantine began.
"Even if you're willing to do it, you can't exactly protect him from getting killed again, you know," Odin said, his gaze fixed resolutely on Constantine. "As you so aptly concluded, Jason's ability to reason takes a not-insignificant knock every time he dies; sooner or later the big lug will reach the point where he can't even understand the basic reasoning you used to get him to fight with you at the moment, and then where will you be?"
For a moment the Coven and the Elder simply stared at each other, the Coven clearly waiting for Odin to elaborate on what he'd just told them, before Odin finally sighed in recognition that he needed to reveal more than he wanted to.
"Besides," the Elder said, looking grimly at the clearly-confused Jason as he continued to speak, "there's more than a few people back where he came from who could do some very ugly stuff if they aren't stopped by a certain hockey 'fan' of our acquaintance…"
Registering the confused looks his last comment had attracted from the rest of the Coven, Odin shrugged. "Oh, it's not that he'll retain the 'heroism'- if you could call it that- he might have 'picked up' from your team; it's just that they'll try and use our boy here for their own ends and he'll end up ripping them to pieces before they can get beyond the beginnings of their murder sprees or their attempts to harness his ability to regenerate for their own goals or something like that…"
He shrugged nonchalantly. "He might not save the day on purpose, but he does manage to stop those guys from doing any more damage; leave them to find something else to obsess over apart from Picasso-face over here, and who knows what else they could do?"
For a few moments the Coven simply stood in silence, each of them exchanging uncomfortable glances with each other, none of them happy about what they were being 'asked' to do, until Constantine sighed and turned back to look at Jason.
"You… you have to go now, Jason," he said, looking earnestly at the mass murderer who, in a weird way, had become a sort of child to him over these last few days. "We… have to say goodbye."
"Good… bye…?" Jason repeated, his voice still slow and uncertain as he looked back at the exorcist; Constantine could even swear he saw the faint trace of a tear on Jason's good eye.
"Yeah…" he said, reaching out to place a reassuring hand on Jason's shoulder, wishing that he could offer the being before him more than hollow words of virtually empty comfort. "But… it's been good knowing you, Jason Voorhees."
For a moment, as he looked back at Constantine, Jason seemed to smile under the mask.
"Friend…" he began to say, his voice cracking slightly even as he spoke, continuing to show the signs of its long disuse.
"Friend," Constantine confirmed, nodding solemnly at Jason. "Thank you, Jason Voorhees."
"From all of us," Angel put in, stepping forward to nod solemnly at the mask-wearing killer before them. "You helped us, Jason; hold on to that, if nothing else."
Before Jason could reply, Odin waved his hand, and Jason vanished in a cloud of dark blue light, Odin vanishing shortly afterwards in the familiar light blue orbs of an Elder, leaving the Coven alone in their headquarters, staring silently at the location where their all-too-brief ally had stood mere moments ago.
He might have been a killer back on his own world- and, from what Odin said, he would almost certainly revert to old habits when he returned to it-, but, for a few brief, shining moments, he'd been one of them.
They could only hope that their friendship- however brief it had been- had been appreciated by Jason; maybe, at some future date, it might help him in some dark time…
It wasn't likely, of course, but anything was possible in the end; with Jason returned to his world, all they could do know was hope for the best for their old ally.
"Well," Spike said, looking around at the others as he jerked his thumb towards a drinks cabinet that had appeared in one 'corner' of their 'base'- their pocket dimensional home had shown an interesting ability to 'summon' food and drink for them if they'd spent too long in it without returning to the 'real world' for a rest while training-, "personally speaking, I plan on just kicking back up here and getting sloshed; after dealing with those assholes, I think we've earned a break."
"Amen to that," Hellboy confirmed, giving Spike a brief thump on the back with his flesh hand as the two of them walked over to the cabinet, the rest of the Coven close behind them.
Even as Angel began to pour his drink, however, he couldn't shake the one thought that had been nagging him since Blade had initially pointed out that the Gathering's activities were too straightforward; who had brought the Gathering together in the first place?
And, more importantly, why had they created the Gathering?
Angel didn't know the answer to either question yet, but he had a strong feeling that none of them were going to enjoy finding out what the answer actually was…
Even as those thoughts crossed Angel's mind, he was unaware that their headquarters was even now under observation from a lower plane of existence by the very being whose motives now dominated his thoughts.
Perfect, the creature mused, allowing himself a smile as he studied the sight before him.
Even if the vampire and some of his associates did have their suspicions about the true purpose of the Gathering, in their current location, by the time they learned the truth about the reasons for bringing that group of degenerate thugs together, it would be too late for them to do anything.
He had planned for this moment for the past few thousand years.
He had selected his troops…
He had prepared his strategies…
He had allocated the relevant targets…
And, most importantly, he had made sure that the group that was most likely to amass the strongest opposition to his actions was distracted and otherwise occupied at the crucial moment.
As his selected generals came to stand before him, Satan, for perhaps the first time since he had initially made the decision to rebel against God, felt a strong sense of certainty about what was to come.
Nothing could stop him now…
To Be Continued…
THE SATAN WAR