Chapter 1

Bobby checked his pocket watch again. It was two minutes after midnight. Frowning, he stared out the window of the house toward the two story home across the street. The sprinkler system was still spewing blessed water, keeping a ring of demon possessed people outside the house's perimeter. Most of them shifted from foot to foot, chomping at the bit for a chance to dash inside.

"Come on, you two…"

The fact the demons were still there and that nothing major seemed to have occurred yet gave him a flicker of hope they might somehow pull this off. The odds were so stacked against them. And if there was something he knew the Winchester clan didn't get a lot of, it was for things to go down easy. Yet he hoped this once, that just this once, they would. Dean's life depended on it.

A brilliant flash of light blazed through the downstairs windows of the house, bathing the street and making it seem as if it were day.

Booby felt his heart skip a beat in fear, having heard from the boys that a bright light was a manifestation of Lilith's main power – a very strong demon's power – a power that had killed a roomful of people with the flicker of an eye at a sheriff's station. And Lilith was the demon who held Dean's contract and owned his soul. The very thing they were trying to keep her from collecting that night.

The demons around the house froze. As one they looked up toward the roof of the house. A column of black smoke rose from one of the chimney's and raced with purple lightning off to the north. Staring in that direction, one after the other, the possessed neighbors opened their mouths and released the demon essence housed inside them. Like a turbulent storm, they mingled with each other and raced after the first.

The vacated meat suits dropped onto the wet grass one by one, like discarded folds of skin. With any luck most of them would survive their ordeal. He already knew of a handful that wouldn't be coming back this night.

Bobby's mind raced, not sure whether to take what he'd seen as a good sign or not. If it was some sort of trick, he wasn't sure what it was supposed to accomplish. Debating with himself but a moment longer, he grabbed his shotgun and headed for the room's door and the set of stairs beyond. Fear and hope warred inside him, having no idea what it was he would find next door.

Knowledge was power – the lack of it a sure way to make yourself a victim. It was something he'd learned long ago the hard way. But he'd also learned from those two boys that sometimes knowledge wasn't enough. Sometimes it just took raw courage, brute stubbornness, and an unwillingness to give the bad guys the satisfaction. Yet there were also times when no matter what you did, it would never be enough.

He hoped to Heaven and back this would not be one of them.

Bobby stepped inside the house, holy water dripping off him from his rush through the sprinklers. An old woman's body lay rotting on the floor just inside, a putrid smell rising from her as gnats and other insects fed on her decomposing corpse.

A glance toward the living room showed the remains of a large birthday cake and the slumped much fresher body of an older gentleman. A man whose death they'd unfortunately witnessed while trying to figure out which of the denizens inside might be possessed by Lilith.

He felt an unwanted shiver course through him, only too familiar with demons and the devastation they tended to leave in their wake. Rare as their appearances had been but a handful of years before, they'd almost become the flavor of the week in the monster problem list, even more so after the opening of the Devil's Gate.

That the escaped demons hadn't gone off and performed more damage than they had was a blasted miracle. There just weren't enough hunters in the world to be able to stop them all if they set their minds towards chaos and destruction. It didn't mean that whatever end game they were actually working on wouldn't make up for this seeming lapse though.

Getting involved had never been his thing. He'd known too many hunters who'd met their ends early due to working cases directly. Accumulating knowledge was what he'd set his task to once he'd stumbled onto others like him, those rare few who knew there were things out there hunting and killing mankind for food or sport. He shared the information he gathered with one and all, anyone who came asking once he was sure they were clean. And in return he only requested they let him know what they knew or learned, trying to collect as much information as possible to pass on to those who contacted him, to help them destroy the things that went bump in the night.

Matters had escalated too much to just sit back anymore though. That and despite promises he'd made to himself long ago, he'd found himself caring for an obsessed lunatic and his two kids. Two kids who grew up and through no fault of their own had been plopped right smack in the middle of the biggest thing to threaten mankind since the demon scourge of the 1500's.

Bobby hesitated in the beige colored hallway, listening for any telltale signs. Whatever had gone down he was pretty sure it had been downstairs, but not exactly where. Picking a direction at random, he stealthily pushed on to find those whom he sought.