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Elijah Merrick and the Demonslayers

Novel By: Gideon Elrod

The following story (31,000 words) is the first of a projected trilogy. During this part of his tale, Merrick is on the hunt for Abaddon, Lucifer's second-in-command. Thanks to "divine" intervention, the biker soon crosses paths with a team of demon slayers by the name of Bart. With more than just murdered contacts in common, Merrick reluctantly joins forces with the slayers in an effort to finally quell the craving that continues to gnaw at his soul: vengeance.

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Submitted:Sep 13, 2011    Reads: 22    Comments: 5    Likes: 1   

"It's been too long," Otto told Merrick. The short man with the paunchy belly and receding hairline opened the gates and waved the biker in. "I almost didn't get your message last night; I was just about to leave for Africa when you called. We have some friends over on the continent who need some equipment if they're going to keep fighting the good fight. You know, 'the meek shall inherit the earth' and all that."

Otto locked the gates and led Merrick to a tomb where the biker could stash his bike. When Mutt was safely inside, Merrick shut the door and joined his friend on the steps. The two of them talked quietly amongst themselves about the contact's work with children while they waited for Abaddon to make an appearance.

"Not a lot of people could do what you do," said Merrick after hearing his friend's plan to combat child abuse across Africa. "You're a good man."

It was at that moment a third voice joined the conversation. "Who? Otto?"

Abaddon stepped from around the tomb with his cane and his pack of jackals. "Your friend, here, trades weapons to militants in exchange for, well, what any creature such as he would want in return: slaves."

Merrick looked from the fallen angel in the tuxedo to Otto. The contact's eyes became the opposite of the shaman's, turning completely black instead of white as he drew back his lips over sharp fangs.

"You see," said Abaddon, "your friend is a fiend, an evil creature that exists only to experience sexual depravity. And you never even guessed at his true nature. Not too observant for a warrior with a past such as yourself, if you ask me. Personally, I don't know what Michael sees in you." He pulled a delicate-looking snuffbox from the inner pocket of his jacket, opened it, and snorted a pinch of its contents daintily up his well-sculpted nose.

"Man," said Merrick, looking Abaddon up and down, "you are one prissy little girly-demon."

The jackals and Otto snarled viciously as they advanced on the biker.

Merrick, drawing his battle ax and holding it out in front of him, began backing up the stairs two at a time.

"NO!" Abaddon shouted at Otto and the jackals. "The blood of Brother's little pet belongs to my hands." The demon tossed the snuffbox aside and pulled his cane sword from its sheath. "What do you know about the Seal of David?" he asked, slowly climbing the stairs after the biker. "Did Jerrod tell you where he hid his piece of it? Tell me what you know!"

Merrick smiled menacingly as the handle of his weapon extended. "I don't know shit except that you're gonna die for killing one of the few people on this earth that ever gave a damn about me." He then swung the ax at Abaddon, who blocked the blow with sword and sheath. After battling in front of the tomb and then around it, Merrick scampered onto the roof where he was soon joined by his nemesis.

Sparks flew toward the heavens as ax blade and sword blade met one another. The demon, full of pride, and the biker, full of vengeance, fought from one side of the roof to the other with their audience below, Otto included, barking hungrily. In the midst of a thrust and a perry there came the sound of crushing metal, followed by the blinding glare of headlights. Everyone turned in time to see an RV approach the battle scene at a deadly pace with the cemetery's gates lying in ruins behind it. When it was several yards away, the back of the RV opened up and out jumped Cricket and August on their dirt bikes; behind them was Bomber on the quad racer and Father Ramirez on his cruiser. The priest drew his room sweeper from the holster on his back and shot the head off one of the jackals.

Merrick watched the canine regenerate before he spun his ax and dry-shaved the demon's head above the left ear.

Abaddon roared and kicked the cross off the top of the roof, then slowly turned to Merrick. "You're going to die, little boy. Oh, yes indeed! And your precious god isn't going to save you either."

Merrick led Abaddon from the roof of one elaborate structure to another while the members of Bart fought on solid ground with Otto and the jackals. When the biker came upon a ladder, he stepped onto the top rung and used it to get to the next roof. He made it just in time. Behind him, the fallen angel glided effortlessly through the air and landed on the monument to the dead. Then the demon grabbed the ladder and swung it at Merrick, who ducked it first as it whizzed overhead, then jumped over it as it came passing underneath. With a quick, smooth swing of the ax blade the biker sheered a patch of hair on the other side of Abaddon's head. The demon took another swipe at him with the ladder, but instead of letting the it clear the space beneath him, Merrick landed on it, which caused the opposite end to hit the demon in the jaw.

Abaddon rubbed his chin and laughed menacingly before leaping onto the ladder. "This should be an interesting experience -- for you, anyway. Someday you can tell your grandchildren about the battle you had with 'The Destroyer.' Oh, that's right, you're not going live long enough to have any descendents.

"Too bad; it would have made one helluva story."

Merrick spun his ax twice and took a step forward. "Sounds to me like your just here to monologue and blow smoke up your own ass."

Abaddon sneered and lunged for Merrick, who met him in the center of the ladder. Their weapons serenaded one another as they continued their dance above the city of the dead. Meanwhile, on the ground below them, Cricket swung the back wheel of her dirt bike like a baseball bat, hitting one of the jackals and sending it flying in Bomber's direction. The cowboy sliced the jackal in half with his snake sword. When the creature hit the ground in two large chunks and then fused itself back together again, Bomber shot it with his 50 mm.

The jackal's body bubbled where the bullets had entered and it let out a scream that carried with it all the torments of Hell. Just when it looked like Bomber's bullets would do the trick, the canine's condition took a turn for the worse.

"So much for your saint!" Bomber shouted as the canine's bloodless wounds closed and it resumed its attack.

Cricket took off her helmet and threw it to the ground. "This is ridiculous!" She followed up her comment by using her telekinesis to bring a large statue of an angel crashing down on top of the jackal. To her disgust, but also to her delight, the jackal crawled piece by piece from beneath the statue and pulled itself back together. The teenager drew her Luger next and took aim at the unearthly animal, but she was knocked from her bike by Otto before she could get off the first shot. The jackals then took it from there, pinning her against a wall. Although the bullets she had cast seemed to cause the animals more damage, or at least more pain than the other methods the demon slayers were using, Cricket shot the canines to no avail. When her weapon was spent, she slipped it into the holster on her hip and hit her wrists together. The switchblades hidden within her wrist braces revealed themselves and she was able to fend off the jackals long enough for August to come to her aid.

"No, Kody," Cricket said into her mouthpiece, "I can take care of myself. You stay with the RV. Besides, Mother Superior just arrived on the scene."

August parked her bike and ran over to assist Cricket. Before the woman could reach her fellow demon slayer, however, she was attacked from behind by Otto. In retaliation she punched the fiend in the gut, dropped low, and hip-tossed him into a column.

"August, get to Cricket!" Father Ramirez shouted over the sounds of battle. "I'll take care of the pervert." He aimed his room sweeper at the fiend. "In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit I hereby excommunicate your ass!" Then Father Ramirez asked the Lord to bless the shot and fired at Otto, who lost his arm but not his life; the fiend was able to avoid losing his other arm to the priest by quickly disappearing around the side of the tomb.

While the members of Bart were busy trying to figure out a way to destroy the jackals, the biker was busy trying to figure out a way to destroy their master. He blocked a punch from Abaddon and then a kick before knocking the demon off of the roof with a roundhouse. With his ax held high over his head, he followed the demon to the ground. The fallen angel rolled out of the way at the last second and came up behind him. Merrick quickly sidestepped the ladder as it fell and landed on the sarcophagus, then he whirled around to face Abaddon, whose eyes and attention were currently focused on the beautiful woman helping Cricket to her bike.

Abaddon, in a dreamy-like voice, said, "She is part of the reward that has been promised to me."

Merrick looked to August, then back to the demon. "Man, you must really be into self-punishment, 'cause that woman's scarier than Hell."

Abaddon smiled "Maybe a little." He let his gaze fall upon Merrick. "Besides, there are ways of making her forget the past. But first I intend to see if I can seduce her as myself, the monster that murdered her father."

"Yeah?" said Merrick; he twisted the center of the ax, causing the blades on either end to face opposite directions. "Well, good luck with that." The biker then charged toward the demon, who, with eyes and hands ready to deliver the final deathblow, held up his sword and charged in return.

The full moon rose high in the sky as the ancient battle of Good Versus Evil played itself out amongst the living and the dead. Nearby on their dirt bikes, Cricket and August pursued the fiend while Bomber and the priest kept the jackals occupied.

Cricket used the ladder and sarcophagus as a ramp, sailing over the heads of Merrick and Abaddon. When she was in the air, she reloaded her Luger and shot Otto in the back. Following close behind on the makeshift ramp was August. The woman let go of the handlebars and drew her 9mms, taking out both of the fiend's legs with a single shot from each gun. Before the bike's wheels touched the ground again, she re-holstered her guns and drew one of her kamas.

Otto tried to crawl away with his remaining arm but August landed next to him and severed it from his torso. The fiend rolled over and looked Rage in the face. Just as he was about to open his mouth and spew forth a stream of vulgarities, August separated his head from his neck. Once that was done, she slipped the strap of her other kama around her wrist, got off of her bike, and began making her way toward Abaddon and Merrick, who were moving their fight in the direction where it had originally begun.

August swung her kamas as she quietly approached Abaddon from behind. To her surprise the demon, having seen her reflection in the blade of his sword, kicked Merrick in the face, then grabbed her by both arms and pulled her to him. "Hello, hunny. I've been waiting for this moment ever since the day I killed your father." He kissed her on the lips, forcing her mouth open and slipping his tongue inside.

August bit off the demon's tongue and spit it in his face. Then she headbutted him before dropping into a sweep kick and knocking him off of his feet. "I don't know what the women are like where you come from, hunny," she said, wiping her mouth with the back of her hand, "but up here we demand a little more respect!"

The demon got to his feet and wiggled what was left of his tongue at the slayer, earning him a shudder of revulsion. Her revulsion quickly turned to anger as his tongue began to grow back. The woman didn't wait for full regeneration. With kappas swinging, she took control of the situation and engaged her enemy in combat.

Merrick watched the fearsome amazon, her prowess a thing of savage beauty, give the beast his dues. Knowing that she would soon tire from fighting a creature that could heal itself almost instantaneously, the biker retracted the ax's handle and slipped it into the harness beneath his coat. When he returned to the scene seconds later with Mutt, August was laying on a bench with her lips bleeding and Abaddon standing over her.

"Tell me that you want me-that you love me," said the demon.

August laughed, a laugh that danced on the fine line between hate and madness. "Never!" she hissed

Abaddon raised his hand to slap her but stopped himself before his knuckles could touch her cheek. "Don't make me hurt you again. I told you I didn't want to hurt you. Besides, I need you to be receptive if I am going to woo you properly. I know that my feelings must come as a shock to you since we've never met face to face, but I assure you that they're real all the same. You may not know this, but there have been many nights when I have stood over you while you've slept, just as I am standing over you now." He sat down beside her and took her hand in his. "I know you loved your father; I loved mine once too. But now you must put that part of your life behind you and learn to love the one who has fought and won the right to have you as a mate.

"Now tell me," he lifted her hand to his lips and kissed it, "what I can do to make you happy?"

August moaned seductively. "Do you really want to know?" she asked in voice so sexy that even Merrick, a man not easily distracted, was forced to take notice of it.

"Yes," whispered the demon, lustfully.

The woman's face turned from sensual to stone in less time than it takes for a humingbird to flap its wings. "For everything that you are and ever were to fade into nothing!" she said, punching him in the face and rolling off of the bench.

The demon, struggling to keep his anger under control, stood and sheathed his sword. "One way or another, my little warrior queen, I'm going to make you mine." He bent over and grabbed her by the hair and began pulling her face close to his, as if to kiss her again.

Merrick took out the vile that he had gotten from Rance and put a drop of the gorgon's blood into Mutt's tank. "Hey!" he shouted, putting the vile back in his pocket. "You looking for this?" The biker raised his shirt and showed Abaddon Jerrod's belt buckle.

The fallen angel sneered as he released August and began to chase Merrick across the cemetery on foot. Following close behind him was the members of Bart, which were being perused by the jackals. When they were near the front gates, Abaddon knocked Father Ramirez off of his bike and saddled the cruiser.

Merrick glanced in the chopper's right-hand mirror in time to see Bomber stop to pick up the priest. Then the biker led them all on a epic chase through New Orleans' oldest suburb. Fierce was the stage of the battle that took place on paved land in that part of the world. When the biker was riding down Airline Highway, he shifted the old-school chopper into sixth gear, took a breath, and then shifted back down to five. He appeared back in the physical world on Clearview Parkway. Up ahead of him in the same lane was a green car filled with smoke. Also filling the car were five young men that were teasing an elderly couple in the lane next to them.

Merrick snuck up on the car, its bass sending vibrations through the air, and drove over its trunk.

"Hey man, did you hear that?" asked a voice from inside the car. "It sounded like something hit the roof."

The passenger, clearly inebriated, bravely stuck his head out of the window. When he was greeted with a growl from Mutt, he dropped the bottle of beer he was holding and swallowed what was left of the joint that protruded from his lips.

The Polynesian hacked up what he had swallowed and looked at Merrick, who was gazing down at him from the chopper's seat. He smiled nervously and nodded, then disappeared back inside the car.

Merrick drove down the windshield, cracking it, and over the hood. Before moving on, he raised his hand and awknowledged the old lady driving the other vehicle; she gave him a wink before flipping off the group of young men.

The green car stopped in the middle of the lane. Its occupants for the first time in their young lives found themselves at a loss for words as they watched the silent specter that was the biker and his iron horse drive off in the distance.

Merrick heard Abaddon and Bart approaching from behind before he saw them in the chopper's mirrors. Focusing his attention ahead, he continued to lead the column until they reached the Huey P. Long Bridge.

Merrick hopped Mutt from the deck of the bridge onto a side rail and drove up the bridge's truss. The chopper's mirrors, able to reflect more than just matter, showed the biker an image of Abaddon's true form leaping from the priest's cruiser to the hood of the old couple's car. With an unholy grace and speed that could only be described as supernatural, the demon easily closed the distance. When Merrick reached the top of the bridge's truss, he parked the chopper, relieved his weapon of its harness, and turned to face the hideous demon's onslaught.

Abaddon, in his suave, handsome human shell, climbed over the side of the truss and slowly got to his feet. After taking off his jacket and exchanging several blows with the biker, the fallen angel brandished his sword and a smile. Sword- and ax-play dominated the fight sequence that took place above the water. When Merrick began to grow weary of the demon's teasing, he reverted to a more intimate type of aggression. The biker kicked Abaddon in the shin twice, stomped on his foot, thrust the handle of the ax into his face, struck him across the cheek with one of the ax blades and then across the second cheek with the other before finishing off the assault with a kick to the stomach.

Crossing sword and sheath, the demon stopped one of the ax's blades an inch from the bridge of his nose. He then used his strength to push Merrick backward and rise to his feet.

Merrick lowered his ax in time to block Abaddon's front snap kick; a second later, however, he was on his back after his solar plexus took the full force of one of the demon's punches. Then he rolled away from a downward kick and fell between the struts.

The demon smiled down at the biker, who dangled between the truss' struts like a fly caught in a spider's web.

"So, are you going to give up that which is already mine?" Abaddon asked. "Or am I going to have to kill you first?"

The biker held onto a strut with one hand while holding onto his ax with the other. "I think," he shouted, as a train began crossing the tracks beneath them, "I'll take what's behind curtain number three." He hooked the back of the demon's heels with his ax and let go of the bridge's truss. When they landed on top of the train the biker reached for his ax which had been knocked from his grip and was now sliding toward the edge of the car, but Abaddon grabbed it first. The dark angel then crawled onto his back and began to choke him with his own weapon.

"It's time for you to give it up and say goodnight, sweet prince." Abaddon choked the biker harder. "Come on, give it up," he whispered.

Merrick dug into the demon's hands with strong fingers and nails but Abaddon refused to let up on the handle. Finally, after much struggling, the biker went limp. The demon checked him for signs of life before rolling him over and unfastening his belt. With a burst of strength that neither he nor the demon could have anticipated, Merrick kicked Abaddon into the air and onto the next car. With the tea providing a strength well beyond the access of his normal reserves, the biker retrieved his ax and followed.

The demon and the biker fought with their weapons first, then grappled with one another. When Abaddon's face began to morph into its true form, Merrick tossed him from the train and ran back down the length of it toward the bridge, reaching the caboose just in time. He took of his belt and leaped into the air, swinging it over his head at the last possible second. The buckle caught hold of a beam and he pulled himself up. As he was climbing the bridge's truss, he saw a frustrated Bomber grasp a pike strapped to one side of the quad and stab its tip into the back of a jackal. The demon slayer then slung the creature over the side of the bridge.

Bomber looked down at the river. "Well," he shouted, "it looks like that did the trick."

"Are you sure?!" asked August.

"No," said Bomber, "but the water kinda bubbled and steamed where it landed. Besides," he said, temporarily mutilating a couple of jackals with his snake sword, "it didn't come back, which is good enough for me."

Merrick reached the top of the truss and glanced over his shoulder at a very angry and very ugly-looking Abaddon bounding down the train tracks. The biker, trying to put as much distance as possible between him and the demon, ran and slid down the first hump in the bridge's truss. Still, it didn't take long for Abaddon to catch up. When the demon did, a terrible brawl ensued. Merrick and Abaddon fought over the truss' peaks and through its valleys until they reached the chopper. Meanwhile, Bomber and Father Ramirez rounded up the jackals and herded the hellish canines toward Cricket and August, who held a net between them as they drove forward on their dirt bikes. When the net was full, August and Cricket got off of their bikes and helped the others secure the the end of it.

A blow from Abaddon pushed the air from Merrick's lungs and brought him to his knees. The biker was unable to moan-much less cry out, as the demon stroked both sides of his face with the sword, leaving large, painful gashes below his cheekbones. Next, the demon grabbed him firmly by the chin and tilted his head upward, forcing him to gaze into eyes that reflected the very horrors of Hell. Finally a small moan escaped from Merrick's battered lips just as his mind, along with the ax, began to slip from his grip. With a new battle raging to keep his soul his own, the biker let the ax drop next to his bike and wrapped the belt around his hand with the seal coming to rest over his knuckles.

"Cricket, use your telekinesis to throw the net into the river!" Merrick heard August shout.

"I-I don't know if I can," Cricket told her. "I've n-never used my powers this much-never been this tired before. I . . . I . . ."

"Just try!" said the woman.

The biker, focusing his attention on anything other than the demon's gaze, could hear the jackals gnashing their teeth as they were lifted into the air and thrown into the water.

"BOMBER!" yelled Father Ramirez. Then: "August, he was pulled off the quad!"

"Did he hit the water?!"

"No, he's hanging onto the side of the bridge."

Merrick forced his eyes away from Abaddon's. Through the struts in the truss he saw Cricket remove her fingertips from her temples and collapse to the ground behind August who was tying a rope around the priest.

"Hang on, Bomber! We're coming to get you," August told the cowboy.

Abaddon slid the cane sword into his cummerbund and lifted Merrick up by the neck. An orgasmic groan passed over the demon's lips as he stabbed the biker in the side with the nails on his right claw. "See your future in my eyes," said the demon. "See what my master has in store for you."

Merrick became temporarily mesmerized by the gruesome visions of his eternal torture. Then, with a willpower uncommon for his species, he found the strength to pull the last dart from his belt and stab the claw holding him by the neck. Immediately upon feeling the injection of holy water, the demon dropped Merrick next to the chopper and began to scream in agony. The biker stood up and delivered a hook to Abaddon's jaw then followed it with an uppercut before grabbing the cane sword and kicking the demon in the chest. With his face locked in an expression of surprise, Abaddon sailed over the side of the bridge and into the Mississippi River. A great gurgling sound where the fallen angel landed-where the moon was reflected in the river's surface-preceded a large up-rush of water that soaked the deck of the bridge.

The shaman's words echoed down the narrow passage of time linking the past to the present. To . . . defeat your enemy, you must face him where the earth meets the sky . . . and the heavens . . . touch the water.

"I knew you could do it," a voice whispered in Merrick's ear.

Startled, the biker dropped the sword and turned to face the voice's master, the Angel of Death. He sighed. "I was wondering when you would come for me."

Gabriel laughed. "You? Now tell me, what would I do-could I do-with such an insolent creature?"

"Well," asked Merrick, "what are you doing here then? Better yet, what are you doing here now? Kinda late for the show, don't ya think?"

The angel smiled. "Not at all; I've been with you this whole time."

"That's a comforting thought," Merrick said sarcastically. "Ya know, I could of used a hand while you were just hanging around doing nothing."

The angel reached over and patted him on the shoulder. "Nonsense, you were doing just fine."

Merrick unwound the belt from around his hand and held it out to the angel. "I suppose this is what you're here for."

Gabriel waved the belt away. "The fixture in Abaddon's sword is the item that I have come to claim, not that its absence will be much of a hindrance in Lucifer's search for the last piece of the seal; I'm afraid he already knows the whereabouts of Jerrod's piece. I'm also afraid those are going to scar." The angel pointed to the wounds on Merrick's cheeks.

The biker watched as Kody left the RV to check on Cricket, still lying unconscious in the middle of one of the lanes. "That's okay," he said absently. "What are a few more scars to a mutt? Besides, now my face matches the rest of me . . . inside and out."

The angel gave a sad smile and nodded ,then followed the biker's gaze.

"She'll be fine," he told Merrick "She's just beginning to learn the extent of her abilities, so is the boy. Soon the two of them will become powerful enough to put the fear of God into my fallen brothers and sisters, those of both Heaven and of Earth."

Merrick looked from the kids to the woman helping Father Ramirez and Bomber over the railing and onto the deck of the bridge.

Turning his eyes back to Merrick, the angel said, "That one is as stubborn as you are. If she is to survive what is to come she will need your help, for Abaddon is not dead, only temporarily out of commission."

The biker fastened the belt around his waist and mounted the chopper. "Why should I care what happens to her and the others?"

The question seemed to take Gabriel by surprise. "Because Jerrod would," he answered.

Merrick hung his head: the angel was right, he had spent the last few years of his life--not honoring the one who had saved him--but selfishly seeking vengeance; the opposite way in which Jerrod had lived.

"Each one of us," said the angel, "even those who abide in Heaven, must choose our own paths. Sometimes the paths of darkness try to shorten the paths of light, but only succeed in bending them slightly. That is how you must view Jerrod's physical death, along with other innocent beings that have fallen victim to the brutal hands of selfishness."

The biker grit his teeth as he thought of Ms. Adelaide and her kids. "You know," he told the angel, "it's all well and good to talk about 'good vs. evil' and 'light vs. dark' when you're the one on the outside looking in. I mean serioulsy, what is it exactly that you and your buddies are looking to save? A species that inflicts harsher sentences on the abused and defenseless than on the monsters who pay to abuse them, or the monsters which abuse them and get paid to let others to do the same?

"You're an angel, you've never had to deal with that kind of shit! I'm a human and I have. Anyone who thinks that a child would choose a life as vicious at that has got to be living in their own insulated reality. And society's full of those kinds of people, if you haven't noticed."

The smile that came to the angel's lips at that moment disturbed the biker so much that it made his stomach shoot a river of bile up his throat and into his mouth. It was as if the angel knew a great secret that Merrick had yet to hear.

"Come on, Elijah, you know we're not trying to save society," said Gabriel. "Well, at least not this one anyway--or even your species as a whole, for that matter."

Merrick spit out the bile and wiped the back of his hand across his chin. At that moment, the angel, appearing to grow in stature, pointed a finger at him and foretold a prophecy that was new to his ears.

"You, Elijah Merrick, will become one of the four riders of the apocalypse."

The revelation emptied the biker's mind of coherent thoughts. All that was left inside his head was half-asked questions and partially declared declarations. After an endless second of stringing one group of ideas to another, he said, "So, you're telling me that I'm not just one of the bad guys, but one of the major players for the other side?

"Now that's messed up."

Gabriel laughed. "You humans are so simpleminded. Perhaps that is why you feel the need to designate the power of your will to beings outside of yourselves; it gives you less responsibility.

"Long has it been known among my kind and yours that God cannot control nature, such as the growing of wheat and barley, anymore than he can control one man's decision to slay another. You and the other riders must choose your own paths, either for good or bad. Human society will soon fall; this you will witness with your own eyes. How many of the innocent survive the aftermath will be up to you and the others. If they-or you-succumb to selfishness, the numbers of the innocent will indeed be low. However, if the four riders can overcome their personal demons, so to speak, and are able to work together, they will not only save many lives, but also many hearts that have been torn asunder by the hands of the wicked."

Merrick nodded his head. "Okay, so who are the other three?"

The angel smiled down on the members of Bart. "The girl, the priest and the cowboy. But don't worry, your destinies as the four riders is still some time in the making. And of course I don't have to remind you that even if Lucifer never obtains the Stone of Light, he, with the help of mankind, will conceive another way to bring about the apocalypse.

"August and Kody also have their parts to play during the end of days." Gabriel continued. "That is, should they survive long enough to gather the pieces of the seal, which must be reunited to either control or destroy what the fallen seek. My brethren and I will try to help you and the others as much as we can during the quest for Lucifer's stone, but I fear at least one of the slayers will lose his or her way; that doesn't mean that the lost sheep cannot be found again with the help of a trusted friend, if the finding is quick." He cocked an eyebrow at the biker and smiled.

Merrick grunted as he watched Kody carry Cricket into the RV while the other members of Bart loaded up the bikes and Bomber's battered quad.

"It's okay to go whenever you like-wherever you like." Gabriel told him. "They'll catch up."

Merrick gave the angel his best smart-ass smile and lowered his goggles. "Don't start that whistling shit until I'm gone, all right?" He heeled the chopper's kickstand, then added, "Oh, and tell your brother to stop stalking me."

The angel shrugged, letting Merrick know what the biker already knew: that only God held sway over Michael.

Gabriel watched his brother's soldier ride the chopper over the truss like a roller coaster before disappearing into the astral plane. Once the members of Bart were on their way to the same destination, albeit a different route, he kicked Abaddon's sword into the air and jumped from the bridge's truss onto the train tracks below. When the sword landed in his hand, Gabriel held it up and looked at the fixture on the hilt. "Michael should be happy to this again," he said with a gleam in his eyes. Then, whistling one of his favorite hymns, the Angel of Death lowered the sword and began making his way toward his next appointment: an apathetic killer whose soul was about to learn a very important universal lesson concerning cause and effect.


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