Chapter 19 – I Am Hell’s Fire
The ring of fire grew hotter and hotter. Then, in a blinding flash, it was gone, and there he stood, the horned terror Ifrit, like a demon summoned from the depths of Hell. Nightmare and Vulcan wasted no time. They fired everything they had at him as soon as he emerged from the ring of fire.
The bullets bounced off his thick armor, barely making a scratch. Ifrit laughed his terrible laugh and bull-rushed the heroes. Vulcan jumped out of the way, but Nightmare stood his ground. He caught Ifrit’s charge, sliding across the floor, and shooting at any possible weak points on Ifrit’s armor. Ifrit picked Nightmare up and prepared to toss him off the train, but Vulcan fired a hot streak straight through is right shoulder.
Ifrit screamed in pain as the bullet cauterized the wound as it passed through, dropping Nightmare at his feet. Ifrit turned and released a volley of fireballs toward Vulcan, but he ghosted out of the way. Ifrit appeared behind Vulcan, slapped the Agni out of his hands, and slammed his face onto the floor of the flatbed. Nightmare tried to tackle Ifrit, but Ifrit threw Vulcan at him before he could get close.
The train accelerated, chugging faster and faster, as Nightmare and Vulcan continued to dodge Ifrit’s attacks. Streams of fire, spheres of dark energy, and bullets were flying all over the train. Parts of the flatbed broke off, other parts set on fire or ridden with holes, but the train raced on, determined to reach its destination.
Vulcan teleported behind Ifrit, holding him down by his horns and mane, but Ifrit dropped himself on the floor, crushing Vulcan under his bulky armor. Ifrit got up and kicked him away. Nightmare tackled Ifrit and started punching at his wounded shoulder. He jumped away before Ifrit could strike. Vulcan got up and started firing his pistols at Ifrit. Nightmare did the same.
A red aura surrounded Ifrit and the bullets began to melt, along with the floor underneath, before they got close to him. He released a surge of energy and knocked the heroes off their feet. Fire pooled in Ifrit’s hand and a large hammer formed from it. He swung it with ease and with such force that the wind it created was able to knock Vulcan and Nightmare back. The heroes kept out of the hammer’s reach and continued to shoot at Ifrit to try and keep him on the defensive.
“We need a plan, Nightmare,” Vulcan shouted.
“Working on it!”
Ifrit swung his hammer towards the floor and caused the flatbed to shake so hard, it was almost knocked off the track. The hit sent out shockwaves along the ground and threw Nightmare and Vulcan off balance. Ifrit charged at them at full speed, but Vulcan regained his balance and fired his last grenade at him.
The blast broke off a large piece of Ifrit’s armor and cracked his helmet, but he kept attacking. He grabbed Nightmare by the head and repeatedly bashed it on the floor while shooting fireballs at Vulcan with his free hand. Ifrit grabbed his hammer and then threw it at Vulcan. The handle hit him on his side, breaking a rib or two. Ifrit launched a fireball at Nightmare, point blank in the face, and threw him at the wounded Vulcan. He walked towards them, heavy boots sounding like cloven hooves on the metal floor.
“Oh, how the mighty have fallen,” Ifrit said in his monstrous voice. “Is this seriously all you have to offer?” He kicked at them repeatedly, laughing as he did. “Pathetic. How did you hope to defeat Lord Deus or Nova if you cannot defeat me?”
“I never plan that far ahead,” Nightmare coughed. His mask was somewhat warped from the heat of the last blast. He struggled to get up, but Ifrit kicked him back down.
“Stay down like the rabid dog you are,” Ifrit growled. “And like a rabid dog, you must be put down.” He picked Nightmare up by his neck, preparing to snap it, but then Vulcan grabbed the hammer from the floor and smashed the back of Ifrit’s knee with it.
Ifrit fell back and dropped Nightmare. Vulcan got up and started hitting Ifrit with his own hammer. “Did you forget someone,” Vulcan said.
“You insignificant little fuck,” Ifrit shouted. “Who the hell do you think you are?!” He released a surge of energy and knocked the heroes back. “Attacking me with my own weapon?!”
Vulcan ghosted behind Ifrit and smashed the hammer against his head, breaking off a horn. “The name is Vulcan, you dumb, fucking son of a bitch!” He hit Ifrit’s back repeatedly, forcing him to fall to his knees. “And don’t you fucking forget it!”
Ifrit released another wave of energy before Vulcan could land another hit, and knocked him to the floor. He got up and grabbed his hammer. He loomed over Vulcan, swinging the hammer above him like a pendulum. “Don’t ever call me dumb, you little fuck!” Ifrit raised his hammer high in the air, but then was attacked from behind.
“Hey, dumb-fuck,” Nightmare shouted and fired another blast of dark energy at him. “You don’t like being attacked with your own weapon? How about an attack from yourself?” Nightmare threw the severed horn at Ifrit as hard as he could, and hit him in the face.
A piece of Ifrit’s helmet broke off, exposing the right side of his face. Ifrit let out a rage-filled scream and charged Nightmare at full blinding speed, knocking him to the floor. Ifrit kept punching Nightmare relentlessly in the face, laughing as he did. “What? No more jokes? No more insults,” he screamed, Ramon’s Hispanic accent seeping through the broken helmet. “You got nothing to say?!”
“Actually,” Nightmare said, “there is something I’d like to say.” He slammed his head against Ifrit’s nose, breaking it, and more of the helmet fell off. Ifrit recoiled from the pain, letting Nightmare get up. “Your sins to be named.”
A hot streak shot through Ifrit’s left knee. “Your crimes to be paid,” Vulcan said over Ifrit’s painful cry.
Nightmare tore off what was left of Ifrit’s helmet and bashed his knee in Ramon Ramos’ bloody face. “The souls of your victims cry out in pain!”
Vulcan joined Nightmare’s side in front of the kneeling Ifrit. Both pointed a gun at his head. “Granted unto me their will and ire,” they continued. Ifrit tried to fight back, but they fired at his arms to keep him still. “Judgment shall be cast, and your soul, for all eternity, will burn!” They pulled the hammer from their guns back, and then said, “In Hell’s fire.”
“I AM Hell’s fire,” Ifrit proclaimed. Nightmare and Vulcan squeezed the trigger and Ifrit’s brains splattered across the flatbed.
The night fell silent after the last rings of the gunshots faded away. The train chugged onward. In the distance Nightmare saw a lone skyscraper, about fifty stories high, amid the barren land. Farther off was the glow of city lights, separate from the steel and glass spire.
“The real battle is about to begin,” said Nightmare.