When she got there, the twenty-two demons she taught were already assembled.
Chemosh was not present. “Damnit,” she snarled, turning towards Belphegor. “Where’s your boss?”
“Hmmm. Well, I’m not overly-” the demon began, his gaping stomach maw slurping with every word.
“Belphegor. Is Chemosh coming?” Kelly was not having this, not right now. She needed to get moving, she needed to save her brother.
“No,” Belphegor slurped.
Kelly sat back on her desk, feeling tears of frustration welling up in her eyes, wanting to just punch something with building rage. Without Chemosh, she and Shannon couldn’t face the Sarombies and win. They’d need…
Uh, hello, Kelly?
The thought was like a spear to the head with how quickly it cleared her thoughts. She looked around. Belphegor, the corpulent mass that, while thinner, was still an immense bulk of demon flesh. Eisheth, whose withered flesh was covering muscles thicker than when she had arrived, and with fangs that had lost none of their potency. Haagenti, a human torso that was showing some definition on top of a mass of tentacles with a head like a hyena. Orobas, a four-horned being that walked on his hands to let his raptor-like foot talons serve as weapons, and all of them leaner and more vicious than when he had arrived.
Nearly two dozen demons, all of them made of weaponized Sin and technically required to do whatever she said for the next two hours.
“Okay, everyone, we’re doing something different today!” Kelly said, clapping her hands for attention and giving them a manic grin. “Take on human form, and head to your cars. It’s time for this class to get into practical application!”
She’d call Shannon on the way. But nothing in Kelly’s contract said classes had to happen there, and nothing had insured the safety of her students.
If Chemosh didn’t want her to lead a small army of demons in an attack against the Seraphim holding her brother hostage, he should have said so.
The crew of demons arrived in a motly collection of vehicles. Some beat up sedans from the early 90’s, dark SUVs that looked like they had rolled out of a movie sequence about a shady government organization, one pickup truck with an American flag painted across the hood. If Kelly hadn’t been heading the convoy, riding next to Belphegor in a Chevy Impala, she never would have believed that they were together.
Shannon had met them on the way. She road in the backseat, her eyes white so she could watch what was going on within. “I still think I should go in with you.”
“My dear,” Belphegor slobbered, “I think that, hmmmm, the intelligence you could provide is far, far more valuable than your, hmmmm, newfound occult skills.”
Kelly had confirmed with Belphegor. The contract was clear that discretion was required as to the exercise classes. As long as no one told Shannon how Kelly knew them and stuck to the story that Chemosh had allowed her to conjure up a horde of demons, they were fine.
“He’s right,” Kelly said, fitting in the bluetooth they had picked up along the way. Every demon that would keep ears when they went in would be wearing one, and with Shannon’s aid be able to coordinate. “Don’t worry, Shannon. We’ll get him back.”
Shannon nodded tersley as the convoy drew closer. “Alright everyone,” Kelly said into the bluetooth, “Sariel has watchers on the balcony. They’re going to open fire as soon as they see us. We’re going with the plan, so everyone else, get ready to bolt. Eisheth, take point.”
Eisheth, who drove a pickup with a snowplow on the front, pulled out of the convoy and pulled it to the head of the line.
“Once we’re in there,” Kelly continued, “only speak if you need to relay information. Otherwise, listen to Shannon and me. Remember we’re calling the people Sariel has possessed Sarombies for short, and that if we find anyone who hasn’t caved to him, we want them alive and unharmed. Now then, sound off. Everyone ready?”
Kelly waited for everyone to report in. One by one, all vehicles’ occupants informed her they were good to go.
“Alright, it’s up ahead. And…one and two and three and four-” Kelly’s countdown of the time to impact was cut short when she saw Mabel, standing on the balcony. The older woman’s glowing eyes grew wide with shock and she reached for her shotgun.
The convoy screeched to a halt, and the demons began to pour out. Everyone except for Eisheth, who pushed down on the accelerator and slammed her truck through the front door in an explosion of glass.
Sarombie Mabel opened fire, but was also screaming for the others. An important detail Kelly had almost missed last time around – if she needed to speak, the Sarombies weren’t a true hivemind. They had precious seconds before the entire complex came down on them.
“Go go go!” Kelly shouted, shedding her human form to charge in. Orobas, as they had planned, overtook her to lead the charge, bowling over the few Sarombies in the lobby that were still standing after the car impact.
Kelly called up her trident and threw it through a Sarombie that was raising a pistol, and his eyes flashed even brighter yellow before his body went limp, all light and life gone from them. Kelly felt a pang of guilt, but he had already been dead, and besides, there was a war to fight.
Belphegor waddled over to the stairwell, throwing the door open and shoving his stomach mouth into the gap. Anyone trying to come through would have to try and get past that slavering maw, and until a gun came along it was unlikely. Orobas finished disembowling the Sarombie he was crouched over and joined a few other demons in waiting for the elevator to come down.
When the doors opened, it was like a blender had been set off. Fangs and claws and and bladed tendrils lanced in and began tugging Sarombies out, and they didn’t even have time to scream as they died in flashes of light and viscera.
“Oh, damn, that shit is messed up!” The speaker came from the hallway, and Kelly whirled to face that direction, realizing it wasn’t the deep and resonating voice of Sariel. The crowd of Sarombies parted to show Sean standing there, holding a gun against Clifford’s head. Clifford looked like hell, beaten and bloody. “Alright Kelly. Call off your demons or your little brother dies.”
“Wait!” Kelly shouted, for the demons and for Sean. The battle stopped and everyone turned to face the two of them. “Sean, you don’t have to do this.”
Shannon whispered in Kelly’s ear as Sean laughed, and she almost couldn’t hear her friend as Sean started to rant. “Seriously? Bitch, you’re crazy, you know that. You went psycho on our date, you turned into a demon, you possessed me, and now you’re slaughtering people and telling me I don’t have to do this?”
“They’re already dead, Sean. Sariel killed them when he possessed them, there’s-”
“Shut up with your lies!” Sean screamed, flecks of spittle flying from his lips as he did. “Enough! I’m so sick of you, you stupid whore! Send out your demons or your little brother gets a hole in his head!”
Kelly sighed. “I tried to reason with you Sean, I really did. Multiple times. You just had to stay out of it.” She took a step forward.
Sean pulled the trigger, and as Shannon had promised, the gun clicked down on a dead round. Sean looked at it, an expression of stupid shock on his face, right before Kelly drove her trident through his gut. Even the Sarombies stared at her in shock.
Eisheth looked at her and hissed. “I thought we were sparing anyone Sariel hadn’t possessed.”
“He was a douche” Kelly said, grabbed Clifford and pulling him away from the Sarombies.
“Oh my god, oh holy shit, oh fuck oh damn,” Clifford was just repeating various swears, and Kelly slapped him gently across the cheek to get his attention.
“Cliff. Look at me.” He did, his eyes wide with panic. “Shannon is outside. Go to Shannon. And stop freaking out about the bloody murders and focus on the fact that I am going to kill you for not telling me you two were dating.”
As she hoped, that much more normal fear gave some anchor of sanity for Clifford to grab onto. He nodded and ran.
“Well, demon. You have what you came for. I suppose our business is concluded?” The voice coming out from the dozens of mouths was fairly conversational.
Kelly tapped her chin thoughtfully, then gave the nearest Sarombie a grin. “I mean, I want to say yes. I want to be done with this. On the other hand…you kidnapped my brother. Everyone, let’s kill a Seraphim, yeah?”
As one, Kelly’s horde of demons charged forward. As soon as they did, the light went out of the eyes of of the Sarombies, and they fell to the floor.
Sariel was gone. But he hadn’t gotten a truce, he’d fled in terror.
Kelly decided that it counted as a win.
“Great!” Kelly clapped her hands in time with her instructions with the music. “Now left! Now right! Now left! Now right! Now point your fingers up and give me some hellfire!” She basked in the the heat from dozens of jets of infernal flames shooting upwards.
“Alright everyone, great work. See you tomorrow!” It was the day after her horde had saved her brother, helped her kill Sean, and driven Sariel away. Chemosh was sitting at her desk, as he had been the entire class, his features unreadable.
Shannon had taken Clifford home with her, and had locked away the memories of what happened in his mind, last Kelly had heard. When he was ready ready to deal with them, he would be able to, but he’d been a complete wreck.
Kelly thought that was probably best for everyone. One less thing to worry about, unlike the demon glowering at her from her desk. Not wanting to waste any more time, Kelly walked over to him, her face a wide grin. “Hey Chemosh. Happy with-”
Chemosh held up a finger to interrupt her, then reached into his jacked and unlocked his phone. He showed her what he had pulled up. A newswoman, looking directly into the camera. “Right now, no terrorist groups had come forward to claim credit for the attack. It is now believed by authorities that the truck used in the attack, registered to a Carol Penders who died in 1987, was driven by a Sean McAlister, and was laced with a nerve agent that caused the apartments inhabitants to turn on each other before -”
He closed the app. “Discretion, Ms. Schmitt?”
Kelly shrugged. “Told you it was a typo. I didn’t violate the contract.”
“No, you did not.” Chemosh tapped his chin in thought. “Ms. Schmitt, if I’m being honest, I’m impressed. What you did was perfectly within the restrictions I’d given you. I really do think you’d make an excellent demon.”
Kelly’s smile widened. “I agree. Why don’t we formalize that?”
Chemosh’s face took that carefully blank negotiating gaze. “I would be amenable to that. Have you decided what rank you want?”
“Oh yes. At least, assuming I understand how things work. Tell me, Chemosh, is Archdemon a rank?”
That broke through Chemosh’s facade, and his eyes widened. “It is, yes, but it requires you have followers.”
Kelly gestured to the room of demons, who were shifting into their human forms. “And they are?”
Chemosh looked at them, looked at her, and he dropped the blank expression entirely to let a smile grow across his lips. “Well then. Welcome to Hell, Archdemon Kelly Schmitt.”
Kelly smiled and felt herself shudder. Her human form slipped. Her wings sprouted in full, and she stretched them experimentally. They were the color of her hair, like flames of feathers, and she could not wait to stretch them. “Thank you, Archdemon Chemosh. So…where do we begin?”
Chemosh smiled, and moved out from behind her desk so he could take a seat.
It was only fitting. After all, he was now in her domain.