Harry Dresden….the man I’d watched die at the Fairgrounds under a horde of red court vampires, had just launched us from the building with a blast of air stronger than any hurricane. Hell, it was stronger than Nicodemus’ breath and packed double the punch. Unfortunately, it wasn’t so minty fresh. Harry was dead. And Cowl had quite likely just killed us.
I spread my arms, hoping to slow my fall. The pavement rushed up toward me at a frightening pace. All sorts of things ran through my head. All the things I’d never said. Mistakes I’d made. Moments I’d shared. It looked like that was it. I knew Connie was somewhere above me, but the chances of her being able to catch me were looking fairly slim. I took solace in the fact that at least her magic would give her a chance at saving herself, even if she couldn’t get to me. Still, I did all I could to slow myself. Maybe we’d get a miracle. I breathed deep as the street rushed closer and prepared for the worst.
And then Connie’s arm wrapped itself around me as she yelled VERAMOUS. A gust of air buffeted our fall like a jet engine. The concrete cracked, dust and debris encircling us as we crashed hard on the pavement. I was pretty sure I bruised a rib or two, but I was still in the fight. If I wasn’t dead yet, a fall from a skyscraper wasn’t going to kill me. Not if I had anything to do about it. Besides, the war wasn’t over. I helped Connie to her feet. Sweat poured off her and she looked as if she’d just ran 10 marathons. I snatched up her staff that had been blown to the side and we got out of dodge before Cowl had decided to come down and finish the job. As darker clouds gathered over the city, we knew it was only a matter of time before Cowl completed his spell, but we had no choice but to retreat. We were just two people. A wizard and a death dealing Devil-Dog, but still two people nonetheless. Against possibly the strongest evil wizardly duo to ever walk the earth. Penn and Teller these guys were not.
We regrouped at the house as we tried to piece together the plan. CoCo hovered over Connie’s shoulders as we mused about what Cowl’s plan might be. It was big. It was powerful. But what was it going to do? “Oh, it’s this thing.” CoCo giggled as she looked at the map. Lake Erie. A circle enveloping the most powerful magical nexus on the eastern seaboard. It would have enough power to level the entire country, and the resulting aftershocks would take the rest of the planet with it. Cowl had been serious with this plan.
Connie laid it out for everyone, telling them if they wanted to leave, that they were free to go and we wouldn’t think anything of them for leaving in the face of these odds. We were the ones fighting the darkness so they didn’t have to. I wasn’t all that surprised when all of our friends were standing around us, ready to give their lives to save the world.
As I slipped into my gear for what might be the last time, I looked around at all of my friends. People I’d fought alongside, people who’d pulled me up from darkness more times than I could count and people who’d pulled me out of worse places. Even John Noble had slipped on an extra kevlar vest and grabbed a 9MM from my gun closet. Lopez even showed up with a minigun. Where the man got these things, I’ll never know. There were no more civilians, not here. It hurt me to see my friends having to stand against this force, but I knew they wouldn’t have it anyway. Connie had laid out the deal and all of them stood up to fight. It was as simple as that. Most of the White Council was dead or fighting for their own lives elsewhere. No help was coming. We were that last line of defense.
And speaking of thin lines, Kevin walked in, a bit late to the party and suited up. Well, we may not have had a thin blue line, but it was a line alright. And we weren’t going down without a knockout fight to the last.
The convoy rolled into the city, much like a tornado tracking crew into the eye of an F5 tornado. The streets were literally crawling with the supernatural. Portals had popped up all over the city, spewing all sorts of evil into Buffalo. Ogres roamed along the streets, taking streetlamps as clubs. And behind miles of all of this, was our target. Harry’s throne with which to bring about his new world. We stopped the convoy and got ready to hoof our way into. “I need at least three minutes.” Connie said, preparing herself. I loaded the Thompson and prepared to make a snide remark. Jason beat me to it, confidently drawing his blade, the sword of hope, from its’ sheath. “We’ll give you four.” he said as he strode to meet the tide of monsters. I nodded to him as we met the enemy. Rafe changed, his body rippling with muscle as he took to his bear form, a roar shattering the glass along the streets as he began to battle a troll. Connie worked her literal magic and a tornado of fire bore down on the city, expertly keeping the buildings from being immolated. It cleared a massive path and let Cowl know we meant business. Two sorcerers, brainwashed by Cowl’s insane plan, began trying to ventilate my frontal lobe with whatever magic they could. Connie distracted them as I snuck off into the shadows. The headstrong mages never stood a chance, particularly with Connie’s capable wizarding skills keeping them occupied. A couple of quick shots from Sanya’s AK took care of that problem. We pushed on as I heard Lopez’ minigun spin up, the unmistakeable sound of bullets punching through metal ringing loudly through the cacophony. Unfortunately for the ogre behind his shield, armor piercing rounds are quite effective against pretty much anything. As we made our way through the city, the entire supernatural world seemed to crash down on us, trying to crush us to dust. Just when it seemed the most hopeless, I saw a fully crewed Sherman tank rolling down the street, Baron Wocjinski dressed in his finest battle mobster attire, was at the helm. Even Dizzy had brought his van (How can you miss it? It’s literally covered in aluminum foil to keep “Them” from listening in,) The boys from Sentinel filed out, professional and as effective as ever. No one was taking their city from them. Even Adam Kane and the magical army he’d raised through the Never-Never were fighting right along side SI and the rest of the BPD. Kyle and Hannah worked together in their weird psuedo-psychic harmony as they took on an Elder gruff, finally settling that score for themselves.
And of course, before all of that was finished, who stood before us but two of the most evil, tough bastards I could think of. Tessa, in all her creepy crawly horror literally writhed in front of us, itching to tear me apart. Hell, I’d gotten into a fist fight with her and shot half of her face off with a 12 guage. She had a right to be mad, even if she was an evil bitch. Magog, in all his beastly gorilla like monsterness loomed beside her. I was pretty sure he’d been keeping fit by bench pressing tectonic plates somewhere, but hey, gotta keep in shape somehow. He charged at Connie, for better or worse, and I simply had to have faith that she’d make it through.
The beast reared forward, eager for a shot at Tessa. And I let him in, controlled, but ready. I’d trained enough to know how this works. I wasn’t going to slip and Tessa wasn’t going to walk away from here. We harried each other a few times, tendrils of insects and blades slamming into me and the air carried the sharp scent of blood before long. I bit into her, taking mouthfuls of squirming roaches and locusts with me. As many times as I’d tangled with her, I still had to fight retching. Tessa was getting desperate as I kept pressing her. I dodged her whips as the flailed more and more madly. Hell, she even tried to drop what was left of a nearby skyscraper on me, taking out her own troops and some of Buffalo’s Finest trying to defend themselves.. I dove back in on her through the smoke, tearing right into her face with every bit of energy I had left. I let the beast out almost all the way. Trust me, there’s no other way to chew through live insects. You try it and tell me how you’re feeling. Eventually, I heard the unmistakable sound of the coin hitting the asphalt. I gave it only a fleeting glance. I’d been down that road before and wasn’t about to claw my way out again. Better to die as myself than live under their special breed of insanity again.
I turned on Magog, hoping to get into the fight before he became too much for Connie to handle. The dazed monster fought with more gusto than I’d expected after being pummeled by two or three parking garage’s worth of cars. So I harried him as best I could. I had speed to his brawn. But a good blow would probably flatten me like an eggshell. So I tore at him just enough to piss him off and then darted away. Behind him I could see Connie lining up her shot as she aimed her staff like a javelin. She screamed for me to get down, and believe me, I don’t think I’ve ever moved faster. Being on the receiving end of Connie’s spells is like standing in a building while it’s being demolished. Magog let out a roar as he fell, the coin hitting the ground beside him.
Walkers from beyond the outer gates. Two of them. Well, when you’re going through hell, keep going, right? Even if it’s a being that could shred you limb from limb like flicking a booger off your finger.
Luckily, we’re a pretty hard booger to flick.
Connie climbed on my back as I ran between them, focusing my attention on dodging them while Connie laid down the best magical beatdown I’d seen in a while. Well, Hannah could show her a thing or two about raw power, but the finesse she leveled against them was mind blowing. Gouts of flame peppered the two walkers, but barely left a dent. We needed more firepower or they were going to catch us one of these times and end it all. Connie hopped off my back and yelled for me to get the Knights and Dizzy out of the wrecked van. The guys had put up a good perimeter, but there was only so far that was going against a wave of red court vampires. They were good, but there is only so much guns would do. They needed me. I wove my way through the chaos as I fought over to them. A few of the red courts turned around just in time for jaws to set into their faces. The crew didn’t waste a second and fought their way out of their to regroup with the rest of us. Shiro climbed onto my back, sword swinging as we shredded our way back to Connie.
Connie had managed to take care of one of the walkers. How, I don’t know if I’ll ever understand… With Shiro’s help, we were able to take care of the second one, thanks to his swordfighting skills. Just when things seemed to get a tad bit brighter, it appeared.
Me and Connie shared a quick moment as he lumbered around the corner. This was probably the last the three of us would get. Hell, the little guy wasn’t even getting a chance. The more I thought about it, the more anger took hold and I turned to face it this monster. Fuck him. I mean really. He wasn’t taking this from me.
The creature that had killed one of my closest friends and my wife’s dear husband. A creature that had made a damn good pass at me, and put its’ hand in with Nicodemus. We entered a dance of death that we had no hope of winning, but I gave it everything I had. I let the beast completely off his leash. Growling and snarling, I dove on the thing and then ducked back, barely missing death each time. It was only a matter of time before I got clipped by one of his massive blows. Connie was able to come up with a plan, and at the right moment, she battered him into one of the magically charged buildings behind him. The resulting backlash made him unleash a cosmos shaking roar, that was finally silenced as the charged building fell.
Our friends held an opening for us as we moved up the stairs to finally end this.
Or, you know, face a gruesome death.
But hey, you gotta die sometime, eh?
As we stepped out into the thick air under Harry’s cataclysmic spell, Mi-Hyun turned to meet us.
“This ends now.” was all she said as she set on us. Connie pulled one of her swords and began dueling, alternating her blade with her magic. I set in, trying to pull Mi Hyun’s attention from the fight and give Connie an opening. I dodged, as best I could after climbing 50 flights of stairs, but took enough blows myself. I swear, “Concussion” is my middle name. Look it up. The roof was less about five air conditioners as I dove on her one more time, teeth bared. She overextended, trying desperately to keep me from tearing into her side. Her body spasmed a bit as the blade sunk into her chest and Connie took her in her arms. For all the evil she’d been involved in, in her last moments, she was Adam’s daughter. She’d loved her dad and wanted him to know that. And that was a message I was going to make sure got delivered.
But first, we had to take care of the world ending spell circling above us.
“It’s done. You’ve killed my apprentice, but my spell is complete. Soon I’ll rule from the ashes of this world. A new world of justice and honor.” Harry intoned as a madman is wont to do. Connie responded, acknowledging him and then ending him. Fire engulfed Harry, killing him almost instantly. The spell seemed to crack apart for a moment and for a split second, I thought we’d really done it. But then it coalesced into something stronger. The spell kept rolling and there was no stopping it. It had a life of its’ own now.
I took my wife in my arms and embraced her, as it seemed death had finally come. If there was any place I was going to die, it would be beside her. And then, she started to guide me to the ground. Through her, I felt a tiny pulse of energy. I’m no wizard. I’m not even close. Hell, turning on the lights in the living room is the most magic I can do. But that tiny little pulse begged to be let out. Connie expertly guided it, drawing on everything that had happened. Our hopes, fears, our friends and family below us in the streets. Love. All of that was poured into this…spell. It had a mind of its’ own though as if life itself were trying to survive. It barely touched the wall of Harry’s spell, and just like that, the lake exploded, contained by the magical energy that had stood the chance of reducing the entire world to ash.
I took Connie in my arms, thankful to be alive and beside her after everything we’d been through. I have say, the prospect of “I saved the world” Grand Slam’s at Dennys sounded like the greatest thing ever. Before all that, there was work to be done. Losses to mourn. Shiro had been killed. The Pole had lost Sam and Carmine, amongst a host of his other troops. The city was a wreck. Rafe stood beside Mountainheart, who’d lost a fight with about fifty red court vampires. There’d be time for Grand Slam’s later.
Still, life went on.
The Three Amigo’s have a fantastic band now. They’ve even gotten some high profile gigs on TV. I’ll admit, the tape hasn’t found its’ way out of my cassette player in the GTO, and I wish I could blame Connie’s magic for it being stuck in there.
All in all, it makes you enjoy the little things all the more. Daniel and Mia have reminded me of that every day. Jason, Sarah and their little rugrat. Poker night with the three amigos. Our barbecues at the house. Late night fires. When you literally fight for your life for this stuff, it makes you cherish it all the more.
Me and Connie? Well, we kept on going through the years. We had a city to protect. The supernatural world had taken some hits, but we were still the sheriffs in this town. Being a helldog makes it pretty easy to stay in shape.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, my lady is looking for some neverending pancakes. I wish I could invite Big Money so they wouldn’t keep kicking us out for “stealing” food.