Note: I MAY advance this into a full story, depending on what you guys think. Otherwise, this works as a nice little stand-alone piece.
It had been three weeks since Alicia parted ways with Maxwell Cougar. For her, life was simple: walk in any direction, find a demon, kill it, rinse and repeat. Aside from The Darkness occasionally pointing her in the general direction of an abnormally powerful demon, it was just aimless walking and shooting. The flow of demons into our world had been cut off, but there were still billions of Geists already here, along with countless demons creating even more Geists from the dead. They would all have to be killed off one by one. Most of humanity had already given up hope, and looking at the numbers, it seemed as though they were right to do it.
Of course, as Maxwell showed Alicia, not every human had stopped fighting. There were still dozens of organized, trained soldiers in his unit alone, and with long distance communication growing more and more difficult, it wasn't impossible that there were tens of thousands of organized resistance soldiers all over the world. It could even be that whole cities still existed that were yet untouched by the demons. Unlikely, but clinging to such hope was how Maxwell's soldiers were able to continue fighting. And even if none currently existed, with the billions of demons prowling the Earth, such cities would have to be built as portions of the world were cleared out and secured. At some point in the future, it could very well happen that the war against the demons would mimic any other war in human history – one nation against another.
Alicia had fought alongside dozens of soldiers in the past several weeks, from Maxwell and his unit, to smaller teams of ragtag resistance. Courageous, selfless; good men, all of them. Though really, how did she know that? Those men could just as well have been disgusting people in their private lives. It would be silly to think that every one of those dozens of men were righteous and noble at heart. They may fight evil and protect each other today, but at the end of it, they wouldn't change who they were. They wouldn't change being obnoxious, or racist, or sexist, or deadbeat parents, or whatever intentional faults they may have. Though really, wouldn't they be obligated to? You don't start being a despicable person to people who you were risking your life to protect hours before. You don't go up to a man who you just took a bullet for and drop an n-bomb on him. It really said a lot about humans, the fact that being forced to kill in war brought out the best in them. In every other instance, be it politics, trade, international policies, economics, and even just everyday dealings with everyday things, humans lie, cheat, steal, and step on as many throats as possible for their own personal gain. But when it came to organized murder, suddenly, humanity knew no races, nationalities, or genders. Every man and woman suddenly became brother and sister, united, willing to give their lives for each other without a second thought.
It's as though a human can't live without having something, be it an actual person or a generalized group of people, or zealously loath. A person or group of people to spend every day trying to cause harm to, be it emotional, financial, or physical. In that regard, humanity was no different from the countless demons trying to wipe them out. Hell, the massive wars that took place before the demons came were proof of that – those wars killed almost as many innocents as the demons have. Granted, the wars only took place because of demonic influence, but the two world wars and the countless smaller wars prior to that showed that humanity needed no demons to find reason to hate and murder each other. And it wasn't just that humans felt the need to go to war at every turn – they ENJOYED it. For every soldier you met who'd speak of the horrors of war and how he couldn't sleep at night over what he had done, you'd meet another who laughed as he told stories of "capping bastards while they ran crying like little girls."
And as inhuman as skinning their kills and wearing the skin as a sick trophy may be, humanity was not without its share of sadistic acts done to defeated enemies in war. Every major conflict in history had them, from ancient Roman crucifixion and throwing prisoners to lions, to the Aztecs cutting the hearts out of living Spanish conquistadors, to the Rape of Nanking, to everything the Nazis did, to the Al-Qaeda beheadings that were taking place up until the day the demons came.
Should that day come where portions of the world purged of demons grew enough to mimic a regular human war against another nation, the differences between the war against the demons and any other war in human history would almost be mere technicalities. In the thousands of years of history in human wars, every general would tell you that the easiest way to convince your soldiers to die for their country is to demonize the enemy. "They're less than human", you make them believe. If we don't kill them, they'll invade is, massacre us, rape our wives, brainwash our children, and on and on. And in the very recent history of human wars prior to the coming of the demons, as much as people would like to think otherwise, that still happened. The media had become the new instruments of brainwashing for a cause, portraying THOSE guys as a nation of evil, sadistic murderers, while portraying OUR guys as the knights in shining armor riding in to spread salvation. Nobody ever spoke of the good people in the other nations or the horrible atrocities committed by soldiers of our own, and should some people speak up on that, they were shouted down and treated as treasonous sub-humans, perhaps even fined and arrested. The only difference between humanity and the demons in war is that the demons were up front about what they did to the enemy and what their intentions were.
The only difference between humanity and the demons was that the demons were honest.
In quiet nights like these, alone with her thoughts, Alicia often found it difficult to find reason to fight. She had to remind herself over and over what it meant to be human – what made us different from the demons. There really wasn't that much. Humans were perfectly capable of irrational prejudice, selfishness, unimaginable cruelty, torture, murder, and on and on. Sure, being shot at on sight by the Geists never failed in snapping Alicia out of it, but that was a cheap copout. Were this war against just another human nation, they too would shoot on sight.
The thought of religion sometimes helped. At this point, there was no doubt in anybody's mind that otherworldly beings existed. Demons from Hell were here, so it was an open and shut case. If Hell exists, so must Heaven and so must God. And if God exists, then that's what makes us different and that's the reason to fight – we're God's children. But on the other hand, the demons had taken a population of 6.5, almost 7 billion people, and reduced it to under one. Billions of innocent people had been horribly killed, and though the demons didn't kill all of them directly, it was their influence that caused all those natural disasters and started all those wars. What god would allow that? Wasn't God supposed to have power over them? Shouldn't he have stopped this? Shouldn't he have not allowed it to begin with? Why was that ritual pit even allowed to exist? If we're all God's children, he's a deadbeat father.
So what else was there? Humans had done everything the demons had done, so it wasn't as if humanity was fighting for anything other than to preserve their own equally evil lives, and religion was a train of thought that lead to nihilism. What other reason could there be to prevent the demons from winning? What gave Alicia hope, what motivated her? What made humans so different from the demons, enough so to make it imperative that the demons fall?
The same train of subconscious thought that made humans incapable of living without zealously hating others, without stepping on throats for their own personal gain, made them yearn for the love of others. Love of family, love of friends, love of a partner, and love of children. And beyond those, love of a generalized collection of people – their extended family, their race, their nationality, their gender. Demons didn't give a damn, even about their own kind. The Geists laughed insanely when Alicia gunned down their own comrades. When Alicia felled even the massive demon weeks ago, effectively vanquishing the demonic presence in that city, the surviving Geists who witnessed it were no doubt taking sick pleasure in the death of another, even though it was one of their own.
Humans, on the other hand, look the deaths of their own harder than anything. Nobody took the news that they had cancer harder than they took the news that their wife or kid had it. And when Alicia and Maxwell came upon the massacred members of his squad, she saw a battle-hardened soldier momentarily fall apart. Demons felt no such connection to their own kind. They knew no sadness, no sympathy, no sorrow. The death of their own wouldn't make them pound the ground in anger and fight back tears. No, that was a human quality.
On these quiet nights, where the demons and Geists had apparently moved on, and all humans were either dead or uninjured; when Alicia was left to her own tortured thoughts, all it took was the memory of that day, in the sewers, of Maxwell's reaction to finding so many of his squad members dead, to keep Alicia going on. For Alicia, that had become her reason to fight.