>Previous thread: http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/archive/44909070/
You decide to remain silent, raise your eyebrow and make a very noticeable gesture of nodding your head up and down in an “ah, I see” manner.
“If we’re going to take the time to introduce our new friends,” MacKay says with a placid smile on his face and a hand reaching for his COMP, “Then I suppose it would be remiss of us to neglect our duty.”
Five seconds and another burst of data, and a girl hovers a close distance to the priest. At least, what should’ve been a young girl at least Madison’s height, if it weren’t for the red skin, and butterfly wings. You pointedly decide to avoid remaking a remark about how dangerously short the Chinese-looking dress is.
MacKay gently pats the demon on the shoulder. “Hua Po, why don’t you introduce yourself to my friends? These are going to be your traveling companions for the foreseeable future.”
The demon bashfully looks down to the ground before raising her hand in a small wave with a tentative look towards all of you. What sounds like the chirping of birdsong exits her mouth instead of the usual guttural noises or hating English that you’re used to. It’s a pleasant enough sound, one that doesn’t require a translation from bird-to-English to know that she’s friendly enough, if a little shy.
“We found the poor girl on the verge of death,” Knocker says with a deep sigh. “As a tree spirit, she cannot live without water for extended durations of time. The dry spell that’s running through the county came very close to killing her.”
“Fortunately,” MacKay says with a soft smile, “We were able to save her by running to a nearby run-off of the Potomac. That was no easy task in of itself, either.”
“No kidding,” Brady mutters, running a hand through his sweaty hair. “The fish demons guarding the river were hell to get past. I’m laying off the seafood for the foreseeable future. The next scale is going to send me into conniptions.”
Couldn't fit in the previous post.
>General Pastebin: http://pastebin.com/u/TaskForceKaz
“Now that you mention it…” Fitz approaches Brady, and reels back upon getting too close. “So that’s the rotten smell that was starting to come in. Eugh. Gimme smoke any day of the week. Rotten fish? Hell no."
The Englishman rolls his eyes. “Tell it to the flock of Azumi demons that were so bloody territorial about the run-off. Damn things wouldn’t let us get a single cup without getting all riled up…”
“Be that as it may…you still haven’t seen my other demon. And this one’s a real bad mother…” Fitz’s smile is a little too eager as she begins running the Summoning Program. “Come on out, Lham Dearg!”
You decide to avoid pointing out that she just made a Pokémon reference as the demon materializes into the air-
Holy fuck, that thing is huge!
If Lham Dearg was a demon, then he was the most human-looking one that you’ve ever seen. Barring the swords driven through the guy’s body and a slight pale pallor of the flesh, he could easily have passed off as a cosplayer from a distance.
MacKay’s eyes widen noticeably. “Very impressive. He looks like quite the warrior.”
“Hell yeah he is,” Fitz grins as the demon grunts a neutral greeting. “This big guy’s why we’re still able to shoot the breeze right now. Got us out of a real clusterfuck, he did.”
“Let's...not talk about that any more, please?" Victoria seems eager to change the subject for whatever unknown reason, if the grimace is anything to go by. Fitz pauses and then nods, stepping back from the proverbial spotlight.
Relieved, the mechanic points a finger at the Centaur, who’s standing dutifully next to you and awaiting your next set of orders. “So did you run into any new demons in the woods, Adrian? I don't recognize him."
>Which order will you introduce your demons?
This is Centaur, he challenged me to a battle of mastery. He fought well but in the end I was the victor, with Pixie's help. Then switch Centaur out for the other fairy. This is one of the fairies who helped me fight off the Orthrus demon that set fire to forest. I recruited her. She's quite a good healer. Then swap her out for Griffon. And I got Griffon after he tried to eat me with centaur's and Pixie's help. Tough old hunter he is.
"This is Centaur, the first demon I met out here. We had a duel in order for me to receive his service and is a damn good dutiful warrior. Helped a bunch against the Orthrus that caused this fire."
>Which order will you introduce your demons?
Order we got them.
Did you want me write in introductions for the other two now or later?
Griffon - Good hunter that we got into a scuffle with after negotiations broke down. Joined up after the we won the fight.
Napaea - Fairy that we saved after her and sisters were attacked by Orthrus. Young but is determined to prove herself.
You motion for Centaur to step forward, who stands at attention in front of the whole group. “This is Centaur,” You say, and the demon bows with a noble gesture, “The first demon I ran into out here. If I wanted to have his services, I would first have to prove my strength in a duel. He’s a damn good and dutiful warrior. Helped a bunch against the Orthus demon over there that started the fire.”
Brady raises a very noticeable eyebrow. “That’s a Centaur?” He asks slowly, choosing his words carefully to avoid offense. “Wow. Seems like the famous painters and writers got something lost in translation from Ovid and Homer.”
Centaur grunts. “The human ideal of what a Centaur appears like is an image that few of us choose. There are those that desire to retain the image that we ourselves have taken for ourselves.”
Huh. So it looks like demon appearance and human perception of them had some kind of correlation with each other. You file that interesting tidbit away as you move for your COMP. A few pushes of your buttons, and your Centaur disappears into the machine.
“And here we have Napaea.” The nymph appears with a burst of radiant light and gives a surprised “oh!” at the sight of the other humans in the area. “She’s one of the fairies that helped fight off the Orthus. In exchange for saving her life, she decided to join me.
Everyone seems to be surprised that you’ve got more than two demons. Fitz raises an eyebrow. “Another fairy? Seems like you’re buildin’ quite the collection, but two female demons seems pretty suspicious...”
You shrug and smile. “What can I say? This is the one field that I’m allowed to one-up you on.”
She snorts in amusement. “Ah Christ, I can’t believe you took me seriously. Fuckin' hell...”
GODDAMMIT WHY DO I FORGET TO ATTACH PICTURES FUCK
A quick push of the button sends Napaea back into the COMP after she makes a quiet introduction of herself. “And finally…”
A piercing cry causes everyone to jump when Gryphon materializes onto the ground. Upon looking at the collective group, it turns to you and crows, “ENEMIES, MASTER? FIGHT NOW?”
The other demons and their respective owners collectively shift as it looks like the beast is about to attack all of them. Pixie frantically waves her arms in a “STOP” gesture towards both sides of the conflict.
You’re quick to reign in the situation before everything hits the fan. “No! Don’t attack,” You order sharply. “I appreciate your…enthusiasm, but these are not enemies. They are…friends! Hunting pack! I’ll be very upset if you attack your new friends, Gryphon.”
Gryphon tilts its head before pawing the ground. “OKAY. PROMISE NEXT TIME TO BRING OUT WHEN HUNTING.”
“…yeah, sure,” You quickly assure it before returning your attention to the rest of the party. “Okay guys, everything’s fine. No one is going to be fighting any one. This guy is Gryphon, a damned good hunter if I ever saw one. We got into a scuffle after negotiations broke down, but we managed to convince him of our good intentions after we won the fight.”
They don’t need to know that you threatened to have Centaur snap its neck. But at any rate, it seems that the Gryphon preens at the words of praise that you attribute to it.
>Gryphon’s Loyalty is now 5%!
“…don’t scare me like that, sawbones,” Fitz mutters, taking her hand off the club at her waist. “I’ve got some bad memories working with out-of-control animals…”
“Right,” You assure her. “Won’t happen again.”
You still have time to explore. And now that you’re all here…
>”Let’s head back.”
>”Wanna keep exploring?”
“Let’s head back,” You say as you send Gryphon back into the COMP. “Alger’s probably waiting for us. And given how irate the fire made him, it’s probably best not to keep him waiting.”
Brady snorts. “Understatement of the bloody century. My hearing aid almost broke at how loud the guy was over the COMP. The last thing we need to do is dig our grave any deeper than it already is.”
“It isn’t as much our grave as much as it is Adrian’s grave,” Victoria points out innocuously. “Because he was the one that fought the Orthus and got the forest set on fire.”
You groan. “Mitigating circumstances. Besides, Alger said that it wasn’t natural for those kinds of demons to come down here. So hopefully I won’t get into TOO much trouble…”
MacKay gives a quiet smirk. “I’m a priest, Adrian. Believe me when I say that I have spent many years discussing semantics with the youth of my parish, and undoubtedly Alger has too as a former officer in the army and as our commander. Believe me when I say that it never works.”
You withstand the urge to make a very dry retort before throwing up your hands in resignation. “Then let us walk the Green Mile towards the gallows, shall we? Hopefully I get lunch before he tells me off…”
You all set a moderate pace as you walk back towards the entrance of the forest. At your current pace, you’ll make it within at least twenty minutes of hiking.
You figure that you want to pass the time talking with…
Now that you think about it, you haven’t really had the time to have a proper one-on-one with the former clergyman. As it stands, you are certainly comrades, but little more than acquainted co-workers in terms of how much friendship you've got going on. Perhaps you should rectify that before heading out on missions proper.
But with that said, what do you want to talk to MacKay about?
“Hey, MacKay,” You say as you walk right up to him. “Mind if we have a bit of a chat while we head back to Alger?”
The priest seems to be surprised that you want to speak with him. “No, I don’t mind at all. But if I may ask, what makes you so inclined to talk to me now?”
You shrug. “Just haven’t really had the chance to have a good one-on-one conversation with you yet out of all of us aside from both hospitals. So I figure that we may as well get to know each other a little bit better before we get assigned to missions.”
MacKay smiles. “Fair enough, I suppose. It is nice to be able to have a discussion that’s unimpeded by the stresses of a bad situation. Tell me, what do you wish to talk about?”
"So what made you decide to join the clergy?" You ask. "Not a lot of folks I know up and become priests."
"It's my way of giving back to the Lord," he replies, looking up briefly at the sky before continuing, "I was raised in a Christian orphanage run by the Jesuits. I was one of the last boys to grow up without being adopted. Did you know that more people wanted to adopt girls more than boys back in the late eighties?"
"Oh..." Well, that's awkward. You clear your throat a few times before responding. "Uh, I'm sorry if I opened any old wounds up."
MacKay waves his hand in a dismissive gesture. "It's perfectly all right. I'm not the kind of person to be plagued by my past constantly. And I certainly wouldn't be who I am today if I was adopted, I would have been heartbroken to part with the Jesuits. I could not ask for any better guardians to raise me.
"But I digress. I decided to joined the clergy when the Jesuit that was closest to me was forced to retire due to a stroke. I would serve the Church in his place and make up for the years he would've served if not for the unfortunate accident."
You decide to move to a question that his hopefully less-loaded than the one prior. “This is something that’s been on my mind for awhile now…how do you feel as a priest that summons demons?”
MacKay takes a moment, choosing his words carefully before responding: “It certainly makes for a very…interesting experience. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought to thing that these marvelous creatures are a part of our everyday living. It goes without saying that to believe in the existence of God is to also believe in the existence of Satan, Lucifer, and all the other devils and demons I find myself so often preaching about in my homilies. To see the struggle as a physical one as well as a spiritual one seems to make the test of walking in God’s light even harder than normal.”
Here, he shrugs. “But to summon, negotiate with and command those that I would normally consider to be demons? The Task Force as well as their own kind refer to them under the colloquial term of ‘demon’.
“But when I look at Knocker, your Pixie and the majestic Gryphon you had earlier, all I see are marvelous creatures that God has seen fit to bring into His beautiful creation. A true ‘demon’ would be axiomatically opposed to negotiations and more eager to cause misery and grief to humans.
“How they’re willing to aid us in protecting our fellow man separates them from the forked-tongue serpents and devils that I find in the Bible. I have no cause to truly oppose them as we have not run into any Biblical demons.
“Perhaps it is a bit idealistic and no small amount of orthodox,” he admits, “But that is how I was brought up, and how my ideals stand in my mind.”
You take a moment to digest the words he says. That was pretty deep, and a whole lot less “fire and brimstone” than you were expecting.
“You know why I joined, right?” You ask. “They said that they’re gonna help me get my medical license faster as long as I stick with them. And since I don’t intend to leave any time soon, I think sticking with the Task Force is gonna be my main way of bringing bacon home for a while. So what made you sign up with the demon-hunting organization?”
Here, he seems to hesitate out of holding something back as opposed to choosing a very concise answer. MacKay eventually says, “This is the higher calling that I am called to rise and answer to, but it isn’t the only reason I’m here. There is something that only I can do. Like you, I joined because of the aid they can provide me.”
>Your Approval modifier is not high enough to unlock this branch of dialogue.
You decide to go for a more light-hearted approach. "Random question, but did you ever think about doing something like this?"
Here, a nostalgic smile breaks across his face. “In my teenage years, I’ve entertained fantasies about making war against demons in the name of God, smiting all those that would dare oppose His Will. The Jesuits said that nothing would come from reading too much pulp fantasy, so I never looked back on it.
“But perhaps the Lord has granted me this wish, albeit in a most unorthodox fashion.” Here he pauses to laugh. “The only thing preventing me from becoming the Paladin I created all those years ago is the absence of a hammer!”
>If you have no more questions, the MacKay will start asking you some of his own.
You smile. “You know, if we ever get an off-day, we could get together to play some Dungeons and Dragons. Then you could have the hammer and everything.” You didn’t pack those books in with the rest of your kit back at the main base in D.C., but the drive up to Maryland to fetch them shouldn’t take too much time at all.
MacKay seems amused. “You mean the game that parishioner mothers are decrying as ‘Satanic’ and full of ‘evil demonic influence’ that will corrupt their children from the light of God? I would most certainly play it. It will make for a nice sideshow from actually fighting real demonic influences.”
>MacKay approves +3
“So I have a few of my own questions if you don’t mind me asking.”
You nod. “Sure. Go ahead. I spent a long time grilling you. May as well have the opportunity to get some of yours in.”
He quickly steps over a stray branch on the trail before asking, “So what motivated you to become a doctor? Much like a priest, that is a decision that no one makes lightly.”
>“I want to save lives.”
>“I’m doing it for the money.”
>“A doctor saved my life."
You tug the collar of your fatigue shirt slightly downwards to reveal the faded end of a slight scar. “See this? I got this when I was eight years old. Car crash in the playground parking lot. If Alder made us shave our heads, you would be able to see a slight scar running along my temple.”
MacKay offers a sympathetic look. “I’m terribly sorry. What happened?”
You shrug. “Dunno. My memory isn’t too clear of what happened on the day of the accident. All I remember is the sound of someone bouncing a ball and laughing…and then, blinding white light and then I wake up in the hospital drugged out of my mind.”
“I see that you have a bad experience with hospitals,” the priest observes with a wry tone of voice.
You laugh at that. “Yeah, I guess so. The doctor had to open up my chest to get a piece of shrapnel the size of a pencil out of my heart. Mom says if he hadn’t done it, I would’ve bled to death on the operating table, not to mention the rest of my broken bones and mitigating lacerations. Call it cheesy…but that’s why I want to become a doctor. So I can save lives like that guy did.
>+1 to Light
MacKay makes a pensive sound. “It seems that you and I are more similar than I first thought. We both desired to become who we are today due to past events as opposed to our own desires. I first wanted to be a carpenter, you know, but I’ve found the priesthood to be just as satisfying.”
“I mean sure,” You begin, “I’ve always wanted-”
To be a fighter pilot!
“…what the hell?”
I’m gonna fly around the world.
MacKay frowns. “Adrian, are you alright-”
I’ll be just like grandpa back in World War 2.
You feel an immense pressure wrapping around your skull like a vice. It hits harder than a migraine the day after drinking excessively.
I want to see the world from high above.
It’s a conscious effort to stay conscious and resist the high-pitched ringing in your ears. But you can hear something else...like...a voice, someone's voice?
It's gonna be my dream!
>Roll 1d100 to resist the mental pressure.
>Depending on the degrees of success, you may be able to perceive a clearer image.
Yeah, that’s a promise, little brother!
You stumble slightly, before managing to catch yourself just as it looks you’re about to fall face-first into the dirt. You feel something pushing up against your chest, Pixie probably, to help you up as the others come rushing around you in concern.
“Hey, are you alright?” Victoria asks, a look of worry on her face. “You’re sweating all over.”
Brady invades your personal space to get a real close look at you. “He’s lookin' a little pale. Maybe he inhaled too much smoke while trying to put out the fire.”
Fitz curses. “That’s not a good thing. Even slight exposure is dangerous for their immediate health. Should we radio back for help?”
The vice seems to loosen up from the grip on your head. And your head isn’t pounding as hard as it was twenty seconds ago. Aside from a slight light-headedness, you seem to be alright.
MacKay helps sit you down against a log. “Give me a second to check him first. Adrian, Adrian,” He says, snapping his fingers in front of your face. “I need you to snap out of it. We have to go back to meet up with Alger.
Had to go take care of something.[/ooc]
“Unnggg...” You groan as you massage your temples and wave aside MacKay’s hand. “Yeah, yeah, I’m alright. Not sure what that was, but it wasn’t from the smoke.”
MacKay raises an eyebrow. “Elaborate, please.”
You look blankly at him. “Hell if I know, dude. It felt like…like I was hearing someone else’s thoughts.”
“Hallucination?” Brady suggests. “Isn’t that a side effect of too much smoke inhalation?”
Fitz shakes her head. “Depends on the kind of smoke, but it certainly isn’t from fire. You’d need to be burning hard drugs to get a hallucination out of any kind of vapor or smoke.”
“Be that as it may,” Victoria presses on, pointing in the direction of the clearing, “We should get back to the base. Do you need someone to help you walk? Or can you walk on your own?”
>Walk on your own.
>Pick someone to help you walk.
You manage to stand on your own with the aid of a nearby tree trunk. “I’ll be fine. It passed, so I should be good to go. Thanks for the concern, though.”
Victoria frowns, but doesn’t make any more of an issue out of it. “If you say so…”
Shaking off the mental cobwebs that linger in your mind, you continue to make a slow, but steady trail towards the entrance point of the forest. Your companions and demons keep a close eye on you just to make sure that you don’t have another repeat episode of…whatever the fuck just happened.
But that voice…you’re sure you’ve never heard it before in your entire life, but there’s something about it that feels familiar. If you could describe the frustrating feeling of being unable to place its origins, it would be the old “tip of the tongue” expression.
Dammit, this is getting you nowhere.
Yet…you get the distinct impression that whoever that voice was…it was addressing you. That can't be. You've never had someone that could ever call you that.
But you decide to shove those thoughts to the side as you exit the forest. Alger is standing by the table where you picked up the COMPs earlier. He raises his eyebrows at the sight of your collective demons, before nodding in approval.
“Barring the unfortunate destruction of a small part of the forest,” He begins with a pointed glare at you, “You can consider this exercise to be well-executed. Good job. And I see that you’ve recruited some demons with you? Excellent. Your COMPs will sync up with the central sever to deliver an automatic report and analysis of your performance. If you have anything else you would like to add, be sure to fill out a form and send a copy to myself and Analysis.
“Now go take a shower get some chow. We’re gonna have history class after lunch. Meet me in the classroom at 1300 hours. We clear?”
“Yes, sir…” You wearily chorus.
The hot waters of the shower do a good job of clearing your thoughts as well as your body from the dirt and grime that’s stuck fast to it. By the time you, Brady and MacKay exit from the male sections, you’re definitely feeling a second wind.
The girls meet you in the cafeteria for lunch. After reassuring them that your mental processes are sharper than they were before, you all grab your trays and dig into the passable food of Camp Cocytus.
Together, you eat in relative silence, occasionally punctuated by the odd small talk about this and that. Nothing big or disconcerting, but it’s nice enough.
>Everyone approves +1
>“…” [Keep eating in relative silence, then go to Alger’s class.]
>“[Write-in].” [Get a conversation going before Alger’s class starts]
You swallow a big lump of mystery meat before asking, “So what do you think our first mission is going to be?”
Fitz shrugs. “Probably something to do with killing demons. That’s what they hired us on for, right? Because that’s what I inferred when Smith said ‘protect the unaware from demonic predations’,” She finishes in a falsetto of Smith’s voice. “Gonna be definitely more active than being a cop, I bet.”
“We’re part of a demonic Men In Black,” Brady jokes. “I think our missions are going to run along those lines just as much as the guys on TV had to do. Just swap aliens with demons, and advanced technology with magic and we’re essentially good to go without a copyright infringement.”
MacKay swallows the last of his fruit juice in a single gulp. “Be that as it may, we must be careful not to reveal the existence of demons to the unaware unless it becomes absolutely vital to the task at hand. I read up a little bit on the manual they gave us. When we get the proper clearance, we get to carry ‘flash’ uses of the goddess Mnemosyne. Five uses before the cloned creature dissolves into raw data and returns to the central hub of the Task Force.”
“It has a shotgun-like spread that confuses the minds of those within a certain blast radius,” You add, remembering what you can about that chapter of the book. “Hopefully we won’t have to use those too much. Apparently it’s expensive to produce flash-clones of the goddess, and each Division gets a certain budget allocated to them. Mark of a good team? Don’t use Mnemosyne.”
“I used to be a cop, sawbones,” Fitz bluntly says, spearing an artichoke with her fork. “And rode with SWAT for a year. We don’t exactly do subtle.”
>“There’s a first time for everything.”
>“Yeah, we’ve noticed.”
“Well, there’s a first time for everything, Fitz,” You retort. “Kind of like becoming a Devil Summoner.”
She blinks at you for a good three seconds before she raises her hands in surrender. “Fair enough, sawbones. I’ll try my best to keep it on the down low during the mission. But I can’t promise I’ll keep quiet when the lead starts to fly.”
“I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
She grins. “Damn right you wouldn’t.”
>Fitz approves +5.
Brady coughs politely. “It’s about five minutes before Alger wants us in the classroom. We should head out now.”
“Right/Gotcha/Quick sec to finish,” The group collectively replies.
Three minutes before 1300 hours find the group situated in the classroom. For a hideout that’s underneath an early 1900s rural country estate, it’s pretty decked out with the latest goods that you’d normally find in a more urban area. The latest computers, projector screens, and everything you’d essentially see in a college lecture hall. At least one that has high tuition, anyway.
At precisely 1300 hours, Alger walks into the room. He sets a set of books on the desk before turning to address all of you. “Looks like I won’t need to take attendance,” he dryly says. “Seems like you’re all here. Good. Keep it that way. If you’re early, you’re on time. If you’re on time, you’re late. And if you’re late, don’t bother showing up at all. That’s how I work and how you should work for the rest of your career here.”
With a flick of a switch, the lights dim and the projector turns on with a quiet whir. Alger says, “When we inducted you into the Task Force, did you ever think to wonder how we came about to be?”
Some ancient family or whatever had a duty, and thing's got muddled a bit as they tend to do when you scale things up to global?
As long as it doesn't involve any Elder Ones, it's not gonna matter for a while
Just to be safe, you raise your hand. Alger rolls his eyes and says, “Yes, Brown?”
“Eh, this is just me shooting the breeze, Commander,” You begin with trepidation, “But my guess is that this organization’s been around for a very long time. Probably under different names across the years, but the same kind of job. Maybe it’s a family-run thing that got turned into a whole global level-organization as things scaled up. At least that’s what the movies are telling me.”
The Commander snorts. “You’re almost correct. But it goes back way further than that, rookie.”
The projection screen flashes, turning from a white screen to display the image of a vase of some kind. From the way the figures are depicted in the tell-tale silhouette-esque style, you place it within the time of the ancient Greeks.
“Demon, or monster back in the day, slayers have existed since time immemorial,” Alger says, flipping through more of the slides. All of them are artifacts of the ancient world: tapestries, weavings, pottery, sculptures, everything one would find in an anthropology museum. “Gilgamesh, Perseus, Beowulf, Ōkuninushi, Davy Crockett, and countless other folk heroes from all sorts of mythologies and folk tales.
“It was real nice and all for these heroes and groups of demon slayers to rise up whenever there was a threat, but eventually someone got the memo and realized that we needed to centralize all the groups into a permanent, standing, global force.
The slide changes to a sepia picture of a man dressed as a cowboy with a repeater in his hands, a jack knife in his belt, and a stern, predator expression in his eyes. Adjacent to him stands a hunting dog, probably a shepherding dog of some mysterious breed.
“Meet Jonathan ‘Johnny’ O’Donnell,” Alger states, “The nastiest son-of-a-bitch to roam the Old West and the first American Devil Summoner. He was the Lone Ranger before there was a Lone Ranger, but instead of bandits, he was hunting demons, and his Tonto was a Native American shaman, the last of his tribe who were killed and eaten to the last by a wendigo demon.
"And before you ask, that’s his hunting dog, Descartes. Never understood why he named the dog that. Couldn't find any reason in his old journals and diaries.
“But at any rate, Jonathan gathered a group of learned youngsters around him." The slide changed to the image of men on horses riding down a railway. "Over the course of his years. These were the madmen, the raving lunatics and drunkards that testified that monsters made off with kids in the night and that demons killed the butcher’s boy. With his motley crew of borderline brigands, they made a name for themselves as the Demon Hunters of the West.
“Eventually, the big wigs in D.C. wizened up and decided to formally employ the Demon Hunters as government-sanctioned agents after a the Jersey Devil came too close to devouring the state’s senator. The twelve of them, led by Jonathan, would become the founding members of Task Force 666’s oldest branch: the Devil Busters.”
Alger pauses. “I know this is a lot to take in, so if you have any questions, I’ll take them now before I continue.”
“So who’s the oldest organization of Devil Summoners?” Brady asks. “Certainly can’t be these guys.”
“To answer your question…either the unnamed groups of Sumerian priests who would travel the land chasing away demons in the name of their gods, or the nomadic hunter gatherers of our early history that would brandish clay idols of the unknown Earth Goddess to drive away primordial demons. No one knows, and it varies from source to source. We aren’t the oldest, but we are the most prevalent.”
Fitz raises her hand. “So how did they make our group global? It must’ve been hard to get everyone to cooperate with each other and play ball”
“I’ll get to that in a minute. It’s a part of the presentation. Yes, Brown?”
“So those demons you mentioned…wendigo and the Jersey Devil…” You start with trepidation. “They aren’t still around, are they? What happened to them?”
“From the diaries we recovered, the Devil Busters were able to kill both of those demons, among many others. But it would be foolish to assume that their species have stopped plaguing the American people over the course of the last decade-and-a-half. I heard Division Three managed to negotiate with a Jersey Devil.”
Victoria is the one with the next question. “What kind of demons did they use and summon by preference?”
“Whatever they could get their hands on. Elementals, Fairies, Avians, Divines, Wilders, you name it. Back in those days, each Devil Buster could only carry two demons, with the exception of Txiv Neeb, the shaman traveling with them. That guy could have twelve demons on him without the aid of a COMP or grimore and control five in battle. He was one scary dude.”
>Any more questions?
“The Devil Busters eventually grew as an organization; even long after the original twelve passed away either due to a violent death, mysterious disappearance, or the odd old age. All things were going nice and dandy until the end of both World Wars.
“An imbalance in the realm of souls caused a mass outbreak of demons to pour out of the spirit world and into our own. Some manifested with harmless gestures, like flat tires or missing items. Others took a more malevolent approach and conducted mass sacrifice, possessions and all other manner of crazy shit you’d find in a Stephen King novel.
“Most first-world countries had their own version of Devil Busters, and they took severe casualties combating the demons in the aftermath of World War One. Only after they were standing in the blood of their comrades and cradling the bodies of their loved ones was when they realized that they needed a standing organization to constantly fight against demons.
“World War Two was when everything came into plan. The founding of the U.N. allowed the world’s Devil Summoners to unite under a banner that answered to the entire world. Devil Buster Kyle Smith, Tower Exorcist Patrick Osborne, and Red Priest Ivan Zolomerwich negotiated on behalf of all the world’s Devil Summoners that a standing Task Force was needed to combat demons in the aftermath of war and safeguard civilians in the years of peace.
“The U.N. caved only after the news that the Russians had finished building their atomic bomb. Task Force 666 would be given complete autonomy and deniability to pursue their mission with government permission.
“I could go on about how the Cold War complicated things for a bit, but that’s a whole different can of beans, and we’re now all playing on the same team. So that’s more or less how we as an organization came to be. If you want to study up on it more, you can read up in your down time.
“Now, follow me. It’s time for science class.”
You follow Alger towards the lab section of the underground base. The room he leads you into doesn’t resemble a science lab as much as it is a tech lab. Various computers, electronic pieces and mechanic tools are scattered around the room at various stations.
In the center of the room, a series of platforms, car-sized glass containers are given prominence alongside a series of technician seats and jack ports.
Seated at one of the chairs, a bearded old man in a white lab coat types away at a series of numbers running down the screen. He seems to be too absorbed in his work to give you any sort of attention.
Alger brings you towards the bottom of the platform, and turns to address the group. “Tell me, how do you make your demons stronger?”
“Defeating other demons, it seems like,” You answer. “Straight up fighting. Pixie seems to have gotten much stronger since we first met her in the hospital.”
Your commander nods. “You’re correct, but it’s not exactly the most efficient way in the long haul. Short term, say a couple of days or weeks? Should be good. But just like human beings, the threshold for a demon’s growth will continue to rise higher as they grow stronger. Professor, why don’t you take it from here?”
He steps to the side to allow the old man to slide across from his workbench on his swivel chair to look up at the five of you. The guy’s beard runs even longer than you thought – all the way down to the guy’s belt, at least! And there was something…off about the way his white lab goggles catch the overhead light.
“Well, well, well,” The old man mutters with a smile. “Five new Devil Summoners stand before me, each filled with hopes and aspirations of what they wish to accomplish in the Task Force. You’ll have to learn everything there is to know about demons if you want to proceed up the chain of command, aside from daily living.”
Alger coughs politely. “Meet Professor Mido, one of the original authors of the Devil Summoning Program that your COMPs use to store and summon demons. His prodigy, Akemi Nakajima, was the one who was able to use computer programs to emulate demon summoning rituals, but Mido’s talent lies in strengthening demons. Specifically, in the art of Demon Fusion.”
“Quite right,” the old man sniffs. “I am the one that many turn to when they need to have stronger demons. Still haven’t managed to compress the Fusion Program into the COMP, though. I’m close and on the verge of a breakthrough, but not close enough…”
“Well how about you show them how Demon Fusion works first, Professor. Do we have any volunteers?”
>Keep your hand down.
I have no honest clue. On one hand, Centaur plus griffon would be neat, but I kinda like centaur for his personality. Not to mention that Pixie and Napea are our healers basically.
You raise your hand. “Sure, I’ll volunteer. Stronger demons is a good thing, right?”
“Excellent, excellent,” Mido excitedly says, pushing past Alger to reach towards you. Or rather, your COMP. “Let me see here…”
With a swift motion, the old man pulls a chord from his laptop and plugs it into your Gauntlet. “Now stay still and let my program analyze your demons…” He warns. “Disrupting the process would be very disastrous for us both.”
It doesn’t take long. Within a few seconds, Mido excitedly begins perusing through the report that his analysis gave him.
“You have a lot of demons for a two-week recruit,” the old man says. “Not many have four on their first walk in the Deep Woods. At the most, two. Three if you’re lucky. Four? Now that’s a sign of great skill.”
You try not to let your head inflate too much from that unmasked praise.
Mido turns to address the entire group. “Demon fusion is the process of combining two demons and making a brand new demon with the skills and strengths of the previous two. This is the quickest way for many Devil Summoners to acquire stronger, more powerful demons aside from negotiations and simply butchering your way through hordes of enemies.
“Demon Fusion takes into account many factors: your demon’s Skills, Race and Loyalty, and the human Summoner’s strength. Skills are passed on from one demon to the next as a sort of ‘inheritance’, while race will, for the most part, determine what final product the demon becomes. Loyalty determines how willing a demon will let itself be fused; simply put, if your demon’s loyalty is too low, there is a risk of it rebelling against its master.
“Additionally, the human in question must be strong enough to be able to command the fused demon. If he or she is too weak, then the program automatically locks out the fusion as a safeguard to prevent the demon from escaping.
“Do you have any questions?”
>Not being a part of the glorious Moh Shuvuu master race.
You frown as a thought suddenly crosses your mind. “Wait a moment. What happens to their personalities?”
Mido shrugs. “I haven’t gathered enough research to give a concrete answer. But for the most part, the personalities that make YOUR demon so unique from the rest of its species will be lost as the new demon is born. Although I have heard of isolated cases where an old demon’s personality was given in the place of a new one.
“But I digress. Who knows what variables determine what personality emerges? It is either a new personality with trace remnants and memories of the old demons, or the old demon given new form, shape and power.”
That’s horrifying. Judging from the how the rest of your group is reacting, with aghast faces, it seems that they’re thinking along the same tracks as you are. The complete and utter loss of one’s identity to be subsumed into the greater whole?
What a horrible fate.
You can’t tell from behind his glasses, but you’re fairly sure that Mido rolled his eyes. “Oh, don’t be so dramatic. Each Devil Summoner has their own repository of the demons they own, registered in a personalized database called the Demonic Compendium. Think of it as a time-machine or stasis preservation of some sort.
“If you record a demon’s state in your Compendium, the demon at that point in time can be called back to your COMP. Of course, there is a price that you have to pay. Depending on either my mood or the regulations at the time, the Task Force may ask for either macca or magnetite. Still, paying any price no matter how great is insignificant to having an old friend rejoin you, no?”
You aren’t quite sure that you were able to make a full heads or tails of what he said, but you got the gist of it. Record the demon’s state and summon them later…it still leaves you with a sour taste in your mouth, but it’s better than losing a demon permanently.
>Any more questions?
Mido frowns. "Demons that wouldn't otherwise exist...young man, what on earth are you trying to get at here?"
I actually have no idea what you're talking about. Elaborate further, please.
>tfw I forgot to verify.
"Demons that aren't naturally found in the wild, I guess." You shrug. "I dunno, it might've been a stupid question-"
"There are no stupid questions," the old man replies with a smile. "Only voiced inquiries and cowed silence. But in regards to your question...yes, there are a few demons that cannot be found in the wild places of the world. Obtaining a sample of their demonic essence or flesh will allow me to reverse-engineer a fusion process that can allow the program to fuse the demons into your desired one. I've done it for Alger before.
"But if you don't have any more questions...I would normally recommend a fusion now, but you need to raise your demons' Loyalty a bit more. That gryphon of yours prizes its individuality a great deal, and at its current state, I doubt that it would take too kindly to being fused away."
You're about to reply when you hear Alger's COMP start going off. Frowning, your commander checks it, and his eyes widen in alarm. Before you can ask what's happening, you can hear the distant sound of an explosion before the ground underneath your feet begins to shake violently.
As soon as you all regain your balance and the ground stops moving, the Major quickly starts moving towards the exit of the lab.
"Mido, lock the lab down," The commander snaps. "Rookies, follow me to the armory. Grab a gun, summon your demons and meet me outside by the entrance topside. This is not a drill or an exercise anymore. Right now, the facility is under attack."
Next time on Task Force 666: Raid
Feeling sleepy, but since my university canceled classes tomorrow due to inclement weather, we can run another session.
Gonna archive it in a few minutes.
Follow me on Twitter for session times and other TF666-related stuff.
Don't forget to vote for the previous threads on suptg.
Hope y'all have a good night/morning/day/afternoon wherever you based anons are.
I wasn't around to vote for much, but I enjoyed it.
how I feel about each of our demons
Yeah, he wants to get strong, he got it.
He'll come around
I'm unsure, since the whole point was "to bring honor to the clan". Pretty sure she doesn't evolve, so just fuse her such that race is maintained?
that one's a bit complicated
To be honest, High Pixie is ugly, and the power boost isn't much. It's a good mainstay for quite some time, but not geared at all for permanent stay in the COMP. But holy shit, if High Pixie can evolve to Queen Mab, that's a powerhouse. I still prefer regular Pixie in terms of looks, though.
Honestly, with all the references to SMT3 we've been getting, we should probably hold onto Pixie anyways.
I wouldn't be surprised if Super Pixie happened in the future.
Personally, best end game team is Super Pixie and Best Daughterfu.
>stack mitama onto Pixie just to keep her viable long enough to reach Amala.
She terrifies me, and I prefer consistent damage over OHKs, therefore
she gets enough screentime in London, although I'm rather curious to see her itemed. One-piece combined with angel bone corset to construct a proper dress of DIE FOR ME
What if it's Raidou 2 High Pixie?
Eh, other quests shouldn't have a baring on what we do or do not summon.
As well, Alice is pretty damn good at constant damage. On top of any demon being able to be made viable, Alice generally starts with great stats all around on top of an exceptional magic stat and a shitton of resistances and nulls. Depending on what we're taking from, she may also have the Magic Torrent skill, which makes her Magic Skills 50% more effective, Unearthly Form which allows the team to move and act a second time after use, and Ultimate Hit which makes her base attack Almighty-Type.
She is quite literally one of the best magic using demons in the game, IMO.
Truely, Best Daughterfu.
Now that's just having the cake and eating it.
>can take elemental punishment
....that's not a daughterfu, that's a WMD.
Nobody expects the little girl to be dangerous until she kicks the ass of everything within a 5 mile radius.
She's also perfect for stealth which the Task Force seems to pride itself on. We could stroll down the street, holding her hand and eating ice cream and nobody would bat an eye.
Yeah, usually. It varies between game to game usually.
Of course, Kaz could also have an Alice we meet in the wild join us or something as well. Won't actually know until it happens.