Ultimate Garo: Recap

 

The Dark Man Akuma used a girl name Zadie to manipulate Simon Kaden, the Red Hurricane Power Ranger. In return, Akuma promised to revive Zadie’s dead brother.

 

Zadie convinced Simon to absorb the power of demons to gain enough strength to defeat Azmodai, the First Demon.

 

Years ago, the First Demon possessed a man named John and impregnated Simon’s birth mother Madelyn, who would become Black Queen of the Hellfire Club. Azmodai possessed five other men to have five other children with Madelyn: Zen, Samuel, Brandon, Owen and Rin “R.J” Amantini. 

 

The Hellfire Club granted the children with Soul Metal armor, forged with The Power and strengthened by the spiritual energy of extinct werewolves, so they could become Hellfire Knights. Samuel became the Golden Knight, Garo.

 

Azmodai used his children to take physical form and set foot on the mortal plane, which broke the Third Seal to the Dark One’s prison. With the Third Seal broken, children like Simon, whose parents were possessed by demons, lost the ability to control their demon power. They gained the ability to “demon morph” into stronger forms, called Shaded. A demon morph often happened uncontrollably and caused the Shaded to go berserk.

 

This happened to Simon. And his ally, Shirogane, betrayed and killed him.

 

Afterward, Akuma broke his promise to revive Zadie’s brother.

 

Ultimate Garo: One-shot

Witches of the French Quarter

 

New Orleans, 2008,

Weeks after the Second Countdown to Destruction

 

Sean walked into the chapel of St. Anne’s Catholic Church. The teen straightened his white robes and stared ahead with cold, unblinking eyes.

 

He spotted his fellow altar boys near the church pulpit.

 

“Hey, Sean,” one of them said with a smile. “You’re late.”

 

The blonde-haired boy said nothing. He unsheathed a dagger and stalked towards his targets.

 

An altar boy knitted his brow. “Sean? Hey…This isn’t funny…”

 

Sean grabbed an altar boy and slit his throat.

 

The others staggered backward, slammed by their own fear. Before they could run, before they could understand their situation, Sean ripped through their bodies.

 

They dropped to the ground and bled out onto the floor.

 

Sean looked down upon them. Cold, emotionless, he slit his own throat.

 

***

 

A group of four women gathered in the Lafayette Cemetery. Witches, they chanted around a fire of burning bones and ash.

 

They finished their incantation and lowered their hands.

 

“It’s done…” said Bastianna, the elder witch.

 

“You’re sure she’ll come?” asked Sabine, the second witch.

 

“Very,” Bastianna said. “She’s a stubborn girl…Let’s go say hello.”

 

***

 

Zadie armed her knife and stormed into St. Anne’s Church. She stopped cold in her tracks when she saw the bodies of the dead altar boys, including Sean. Her brother.

 

Her breath caught in her throat.

 

She dropped her knife. “Sean…?”

 

Trembling, she walked towards his body. “Sean, this can’t be…” She shook her head. “I thought you’d be…”

 

“Be what, child?” a voice asked from behind. “Safe?”

 

Zadie turned to see Bastianna and her fellow witches step into the cathedral.

 

“You…” Zadie said. “You did this to him…”

 

“A simple touch. A simple curse,” Bastianna said. “An easy way to get your attention. You fled from us, Zadie…”

 

Zadie narrowed her eyes. “Fled from you? Are you serious? You think I’d run from you? Like I’m scared?”

 

Her body trembled with rage. She hurled vials of holy water that shattered against the witches, distracting them.

 

Zadie dove and rolled across the ground while grabbing her knife. She lunged towards the witches.

 

But they lifted their hands and grabbed the hunter with strands of invisible energy.

 

“You are a Child of Lilith,” Bastianna said. “And yet, without us, you are powerless.”

 

Zadie glared at the witches. “You think I’m powerless? Put me down, and let’s see.”

 

“Stop!” a voice bellowed from the back of the church. Father Kieran stormed into the chapel and held his cross forward. “Not in my chapel! Out!”

 

Bastianna grinned, not the slightest bit threatened. “Kieran. Do you really think you can harm us?”

 

“Get out of my church!” Kieran shouted. “Or I’ll have you and your kind thrown from this city!”

 

“The Quarter is ours,” Bastianna said. “You have no power over us.”

 

“I’ll have you exposed. All of you,” Kieran said. “What do you think will happen then? A welcoming ceremony? No. No…They’ll burn you at the stake.”

 

Bastianna lifted her hand and grabbed Kieran with strands of invisible energy.

 

“We’ll kill them all if they try,” Bastianna said. “Our ancestors’ power runs deep through these grounds…through this city. With that power, we-”

 

Zadie broke from her invisible bindings, lunged, and stabbed a witch through the gut. She snapped around and slashed a second witch through the throat.

 

“You about done?” she asked Bastianna.

 

Sabine lifted her hand towards Zadie.

 

The hunter cut off her hand and kicked her backward.

 

Bastianna started an incantation. But Zadie swung her pommel and bashed the witch’s head, knocking her to the ground. 

 

Father Kieran breathed heavily and dropped his cross.

 

“Leave…” he said to Zadie.

 

“Kieran…”

 

“Leave!” he shouted. “You’ve caused enough trouble! Look around you, Zadie. This is on you! This is all on you!”

 

Zadie knitted her brow as tears swelled in her eyes. She stepped back. “Fine. You know what? Fine. Go to hell, Kieran. I hope you and this whole damn city burn…”

 

***

 

The present

 

Zadie never thought she’d return to New Orleans. Yet she found herself walking the streets of the French Quarter. Tourists crowded the area, which smelt of beer and Cajun spices.

 

She barely noticed the people she bumped out of her way. She wanted to find someone specific.

 

The hunter entered a small tarot card shop and walked to the counter. She didn’t recognize the old woman who worked there.

 

The woman smiled, a fake and insincere greeting. “Welcome to Madame Swampy’s. Can I-”

 

“Where’s Moseley?” Zadie asked.

 

Madame Swampy’s face paled. “I don’t know of any Moseley. Lots-”

 

“I doubt that,” Zadie said. “Where’s Moseley?”

 

“It’s a big city-”

 

Zadie slammed her hand on the counter, startling the old woman.

 

The woman sighed. “Oh, you stupid girl, you’re going to get us both killed.”

 

“By who?”

 

“The demons…” the woman whispered. “Come with me…”

 

Madame Swampy led Zadie into a back room. Once there, the woman blurred, as if going out of focus. When she regained focus, she looked completely different, like a middle-aged African American woman with graying hair.

 

“Stupid girl, why’d you come back here now of all times?” she asked.

 

Zadie smirked. “Moseley…A cloaking spell? You’ve gotten stronger.”

 

Moseley whacked Zadie with a newspaper. “Don’t you smirk. I meant what I said. You’re going to get us both killed.”

 

“By demons?” Zadie asked. “I’m not scared of demons. Not since you taught me how to kill them.”

 

“You should be afraid,” Moseley said. “It’s not like before. The things I’ve seen…” She shook her head. “It’s not like before.”

 

Zadie first met Missouri Moseley years ago. Zadie’s father killed himself after learning a demon possessed him and impregnated his wife. Zadie’s mother killed herself shortly after, but not before telling Zadie about the possession.

 

Afterward, Zadie lived on the streets. She refused to be part of the foster system. And she wanted to kill the creature that drove her parents to death.

 

She didn’t know where to look. So she turned to the “witches” of the French Quarter. She didn’t know if witches were real, at the time. But if demons existed, maybe witches did too.

 

Most parlor-shop witches turned her away. But not Missouri Moseley. Moseley taught Zadie everything she knew about demons, and the people who hunted them.

 

At the age of 12, Zadie became a hunter herself.

 

Moseley opened a cellar door and walked into the basement. Zadie followed, and they entered a room cluttered with candles and jars.

 

“We can talk down here. Charms will keep folks from eavesdropping,” Moseley said. “Stupid girl…Why’d you come back?”

 

“To see Kieran,” Zadie said. “And visit…Sean.”

 

Moseley sighed and shook her head. “I thought I taught you better. You want to be a hunter? You have to forget about your roots.”

 

“I did,” Zadie said. “For a long time. Still have, in fact, so why don’t you cut the bullshit and tell me what’s going on.”

 

Moseley smiled. “That’s my girl. You want to know what happened around here? A few weeks back, a demon moved into town. And he brought friends. Lots of them. The witches fought back, but…” The woman shook her head. “Damn, they lost hard.”

 

“I don’t suppose you joined them?”

 

Moseley scoffed. “Girl, you ever hear me pray to that Lilith of theirs? I’m a good witch.”

 

“Yeah, you’re a regular Glinda,” Zadie said. “All pink dresses and bubbles.”

 

“Don’t get sassy,” Moseley said. “This demon? He’s something new. Something powerful. They call him the First Demon.”

 

Zadie narrowed her eyes. “Are you fucking me?”

 

“Mouth, girl, watch that mouth,” Moseley said.

 

“Azmodai?” Zadie asked. “He’s here?”

 

“You know him?”

 

“You could say that…” Zadie said.

 

***

 

Azmodai stood on a balcony that looked out upon the French Quarter. He smiled and sipped a cup of wine. 

 

“Splendid,” he whispered. “Just splendid.”

 

He spotted Zadie the second she set foot in the city. He remembered her well.

 

“It seems Simon’s little girlfriend has come to pay us a visit,” he said. “And she’s already made friends with the witches…Lovely.”

 

Zen and Zero kneeled behind him.

 

“Do we kill her?” Zero asked.

 

“No, you twit,” Azmodai said. “The Witches of the French Quarter may fear me…but they plot against me. Some of them still share loyalty to their dearly departed Lilith. I came here to make their power my own…and I will see my plans through.”

 

“What about the Seals?” Zen asked.

 

“I will break every last one until the Dark One is released. Then I will present him with a grand army the likes of which the mortal world has never seen. My Hellfire Knights. Shaded. Demunio. Every supernatural creature on this planet will bend the knee, under my command, and I will be made king.”

 

He waved his cup. “Everything that once belonged to Lilith will belong to me.”

 

***

 

Moseley told Zadie where to find Kieran, in a run-down apartment near the Quarter.

 

She walked to the door and hesitated. She didn’t even know why she wanted to speak with the man.

 

Years ago, Moseley introduced Zadie to Kieran, and he raised her along with his foster son, Sean. They became a family, or at least the closest thing to family Zadie ever had. She considered Kieran her father and Sean her brother. For the most part.

 

Zadie knocked.

 

Kieran opened the door and narrowed his eyes. “What are you? A shape shifter? Christ, that’s the last thing this town needs.”

 

“Paranoid much?” Zadie asked. “It’s me…”

 

“Zadie…” Kieran said.

 

“Are you going to make me ask to come in?” Zadie asked.

 

Kieran sighed. “You shouldn’t be here…”

 

Zadie shook her head and took a step back. “You know what? Fine. You’re right. This was a stupid idea. I’ll get out of your sight. Have fun playing with your demons, witches and pixies.”

 

Zadie started to walk off. But Kieran called after her. “Zadie, wait!”

 

“Make up your mind, old man,” Zadie said.

 

“Come here…” Kieran said. “Let me show you something.”

 

***

 

Kieran led Zadie into his living room, cluttered with books and papers. He sat next to a coffee table covered with maps.

 

“What did she tell you?” Kieran asked.

 

“The Big Bad First Demon moved into town. Scared the hell out of the witches. Etcetera, etcetera,” Zadie said.

 

Kieran nodded. “He wants their power. But they have a plan to fight back.”

 

“And how would you know that? Zadie asked. “Gotten all chummy with the people who slaughtered your son?”

 

Kieran knitted his brow. “You think you can storm back in here and start tossing around accusations? After everything that happened?”

 

“Everything that happened-”

 

“Was your fault,” Kieran said. “All of it, was because of you. They wanted you. If you hadn’t-”

 

Suddenly, explosions burst through the windows and hurled Kieran and Zadie across the room. They smashed against the wall and crashed to the floor.

 

Demunio leapt into the room. They wore black kimonos and white bone-like masks. Former soldiers of Lilith, they now served Azmodai. 

 

The creatures unsheathed slender katana swords.

 

Zadie climbed to her feet and cursed beneath her breath. “Why’d I’d come back here…”

 

The Demunio pounced at Kieran. The priest lifted a golden cross and whispered an incantation. The cross fired a bolt of Holy energy that blasted through Demunio and burst through the side of the apartment.

 

The demons scattered across the room. They leapt against the walls and bounced towards the priest. 

 

Zadie unsheathed her dagger and threw herself at the creatures. She slashed through a Demunio; the cut sizzled with fiery light that burnt through the creature, which dropped to the floor.

 

She kicked a demon and snapped a handful of vials filled with holy water. The vials shattered, splattering the demons with liquid. But the Demunio possessed too much power for holy water to slow them down.

 

A Demunio tackled Zadie. They smashed through the wall, hurled through the air, and crashed onto the street outside.

 

The impact knocked the wind from Zadie. She struggled to catch her breath as she climbed to her feet.

 

Several Demunio dashed through the air and surrounded her.

 

She lifted her blade in a weak defensive stance. “…You all look ridiculous, by the way.”

 

The Demunio lunged to attack.

 

Suddenly, streaks of golden light slashed through several Demunio. The demons exploded into bursts of black smoke.

 

The remaining Demunio regrouped. But a blur of motion dashed past them with a single slash that tore them in half. They erupted into bursts of smoke.

 

A teen landed with his slender blade in hand. He wore a white jacket with golden embroidery, which highlighted his bright blond hair.

 

Zadie knew him.

 

Samuel.

 

Dozens of Demunio dropped to the street and surrounded the knight and hunter.

 

“Sammy…” Zadie said.

 

“Don’t call me that,” Samuel said as he tightened his grip on his sword. He lifted the blade upward and swung through a circle.

 

“Garo.” His Soul Metal armor snapped around his body with a flash of light.

 

The Golden Knight lifted his broadsword into a defensive stance and growled.

 

A wave of Demunio dashed at the Knight.

 

Garo’s armor joints ignited with green flame that shot him forward. He dashed through the demons with a single swipe of his sword, which ripped them apart with puffs of smoke.

 

The Golden Knight landed against the side of a building, pushed off, and shot through another wave of demons. Garo twisted through midair while hacking the Demunio apart. His blade glistened with light with each strike as he tore through the creatures.

 

Samuel landed and powered down his armor after the last Demunio burst into a cloud of ash.

 

Samuel grabbed Zadie by the wrist. “Come on…”

 

She shook off his hand. “Slow down there, pretty boy. I know you and your brother-”

 

“Don’t,” Samuel said. “Just stop talking for five seconds and come with me.”

 

“You can’t even-”

 

“Five seconds,” Samuel said. “Jesus, Zadie. Five seconds.”

 

***

 

Samuel led Zadie into a courtyard nestled between four buildings. Men and women gathered in the area. 

 

Zadie could sense a demon within each.

 

She knitted her brow and reached for her knife. “What did you-”

 

“It’s OK,” Samuel said. “I felt the same thing. But they’re not the enemy. Not this time, at least.”

 

“You have a habit of trusting the wrong people,” Zadie said.

 

“Who should I trust? You? That worked out so well for my brother…”

 

Zadie started to speak up, but someone interrupted.

 

“Who said anything about trust?” a man asked. He walked into the open, wearing a black jacket and jeans. He looked like a typical man in his late 20s, an African American with a shaved head and goatee. Until his eyes shifted to solid black.

 

The demon called himself Gerard. “Samuel here just wants to keep an eye on us, in case we all go bad. Isn’t that right, Samuel?”

 

“Something like that,” Samuel said.

 

Gerard smiled at Zadie. “Your friend here’s a good kid. Good enough to know this city is better off with us instead of his father.”

 

Zadie narrowed her eyes at Samuel. “You’re fighting with demons now? Isn’t that a bit hypocritical?”

 

“It’s not like that,” Samuel said.

 

“It not?” Zadie asked. “Because I remember you-”

 

“Don’t,” Samuel said. “After what happened with you and Simon…Just don’t.”

 

“Look…” Gerard said. “It’s clear you two have issues. But we have bigger problems to deal with. You don’t like it? You’re free to go.”

 

“As long as you don’t mind me shoving a dagger through your heart on the way out.”

 

“Nah, that might tickle,” Gerard said. “Look, you in our out? Decide now. If not…My boys haven’t eaten in a while, and you do look damn fine.”

 

Samuel reached for his sword.

 

Gerard smiled. “That’s what I like about you, Sammy. You-”

 

Samuel grabbed Gerard and smashed him to the ground. “No one. No one. Calls me that.”

 

Demons rushed to Gerard’s aide.

 

Zadie pulled out her knife. “This is much better…”

 

“Stop,” Gerard said to his men. It’s OK. Back off. Samuel and I just have a little misunderstanding. Don’t we Samuel?”

 

Samuel stood and lifted Gerard to his feet. He looked to Zadie.

 

“I don’t like these people,” Samuel said. “But they want to stop Azmodai. And so do I.”

 

“Stop him from what?” Zadie asked. “What the hell’s so popular about New Orleans all of a sudden? ‘Interview with a Vampire’ reboot?”

 

“We don’t know,” Samuel said. “But the witches plan to sacrifice an innocent girl to increase their power, and Azmodai wants to steal that energy for his own.”

 

Zadie’s face paled. “What kind of sacrifice?”

 

Samuel shook his head. “It has something to do with their ancestral magic. Something about the blood of Lilith.”

 

Zadie cursed beneath her breath. “These witches…I don’t suppose their elder has a name?”

 

Gerard nodded. “Bastianna.”

 

The name filled Zadie with cold rage. “Good. Well…If you boys plan to kill her? I’m in.”

 

***

 

In private, Samuel finished telling Zadie everything. The knight dedicated himself to helping Shaded like Simon before they went berserk, and he tracked one Shaded to New Orleans.

 

The Witches of the Quarter targeted the Shaded, a girl named Madison. They believed Madison had the power of Lilith in her veins, and they wanted to use that power to fight Azmodai, who nearly crushed their entire coven.

 

Azmodai tried to force Gerard’s men under his command, to help fight the witches. But Gerard refused. He ruled the streets of New Orleans and refused to let go of that power.

 

So Azmodai fought Gerard, forced him into hiding, and took over the streets. The locals and tourists didn’t know it, but the First Demon controlled the city.

 

“That still doesn’t make any sense,” Zadie said. “Why come to this flood-bath of all places? There are plenty other demons for your daddy to play with.”

 

“He thinks he can break one of the Seals,” Samuel said. “Turns out, not all the werewolves are extinct. Some of Lilith’s followers hexed a couple dozen of them a few hundred years back. They’re stuck in wolf form, and live in the bayou.”

 

“What’s that have to do with the Seals?” Zadie asked.

 

“It goes back to one of the first messages in the Dark One’s meteor showers,” Samuel said. “‘Men will walk as beasts. The heart of the shadow will rip asunder. And the Ultimate Secret will reveal itself.’”

 

“What the hell does that mean?” Zadie asked.

 

Samuel shook his head. “I don’t know. The Jakanja thought it had something to do with their plans at the time, but they were wrong. Now Azmodai thinks it has something to do with werewolves. ‘Men will walk as beasts.’”

 

“Great,” Zadie said. “Let’s go wolf hunting.”

 

“Are you serious?”

 

“Do I kid?”

 

“Everything you say is sarcastic bullshit.”

 

Zadie smiled. “Your big brother told me that once.”

 

Samuel knitted his brow.

 

“What?” Zadie asked. “Can’t even mention him? 

 

“You got him killed,” Samuel said.

 

“I tried to-”

 

“Stop it, Zadie,” Samuel said. “I’m here to do what he would have done. Before he met you. I’m here to save people.”

 

“So wolf hunting’s out?”

 

“We’re not slaughtering animals,” Samuel said. “What’s wrong with you?”

 

“What’s wrong with me?” Zadie asked defensively. “Maybe I want to stop some girl from getting slaughtered by a bunch of hungry werewolves.”

 

Samuel knitted his brow. “That would require you to actually care about people…”

 

“I hate people,” Zadie said. “I just don’t want to see your daddy rip open the Dark One’s prison.”

 

“But that’s not what you said. You said you don’t want to see the girl get slaughtered. What aren’t you-”

 

“Back off, pretty boy,” Zadie said. “We both want to stop Azmodai, and so does your new demon BFF. So what’s the plan?”

 

Samuel sighed. “The witches have to finish their ceremony during the next full moon.”

 

“That’s tomorrow night. They’ll be at the Lafayette Cemetery,” Zadie said.

 

Samuel knitted his brow. “Right. How did you-”

 

“Don’t go there,” Zadie said. “Now do I really have to ask again? What’s the plan.”

 

“We split up. I head into the bayou to intercept the Hellfire Knights. Gerard and his men take the cemetery to stop the witches,” Samuel said. “You…You do whatever.”

 

“Fine. I’ll go with Gerard,” Samuel said.

 

“Fine,” Samuel said.

 

“Samuel…” Zadie started to say, then shook her head. “Forget it.”

 

“Good,” Samuel said as he walked off.

 

***

 

Bastianna and Sabine gathered with seven other witches in the Lafayette Cemetery. They stood in front of a massive mausoleum, where an altar held a 15-year-old girl: Madison.

 

Madison struggled against the robes that pinned her to the pedestal.

 

“Why are you doing this…?” she said. “Let me go!”

 

Bastianna traced her finger across the teen’s cheek. “Poor little girl. So much power…and you don’t even know.”

 

“You have the power of Lilith in your veins,” Sabine said. “When you die, that power will seep into the ground, and strengthen the spirits of our ancestors. Our power.”

 

“Lilith?” Madison shook her head. “You’re crazy…”

 

“You should know your heritage, child,” Bastianna said. “Some Hebrew legends call Lilith the first wife of Adam. But in truth, she was the first daughter of Adam and Eve. A child, who never reached adulthood. She loved nature, loved the Earth, so much so, that God became jealous. He struck her down and damned her to Hell.

 

“But she loved the Earth so greatly, that her spirit still reached it. Breaths of her soul entered others, and they became her children. These children had others, and others, and they carried down her bloodline, her life force, generation after generation. You are one of these decedents. A Child of Lilith.”

 

Madison shook her head. “You’re…insane.”

 

Sabine sighed. “You stupid girl. What’s insane is that an army of darkness invaded our city, our home, and people like you never even noticed.”

 

***

 

Gerard and Zadie entered the Lafayette Cemetery the night of the full moon.

 

Gerard smiled at Zadie’s discomfort. “Jumpy?”

 

“Enough to fall and accidentally stab you, I hope,” Zadie said.

 

“I like you, Zadie,” he said. “You’ve got spunk.”

 

“Spunk?” Zadie asked. “Did you really just say I have ‘spunk’?”

 

“Is that a problem?”

 

“You’re supposed to be a big bad scary demon. Big bad scary demons don’t say ‘spunk.’”

 

“I prefer to think of myself as a handsome, charming demon.”

 

“You’ll have to think really hard for that,” Zadie said.

 

Gerard’s men spread out behind them. They fanned out and searched for Bastianna and her witches.

 

Gerard shook his head. “There’s something I don’t get.”

 

“I bet you say that a lot,” Zadie said.

 

“Why come here? You don’t strike me as someone who particularly cares about people.”

 

“This isn’t about caring. What they’re doing to that girl? They tried to do the same thing to me.”

 

“So this is about revenge? I can respect that.”

 

“I didn’t ask for your respect.”

 

“You’ve still earned it,” Gerard said.

 

“Great,” Zadie said sarcastically. “A demon’s respect. So comforting. Now I can sleep peacefully with warm, fuzzy dreams of rainbows and unicorns.”

 

One of Gerard’s demons walked up to them. The man shook his head.

 

“There’s something wrong,” he said.

 

Zadie scoffed. “What sharp men you have.”

 

The demon ignored Zadie. “We’ve passed this way before. We keep going in circles.”

 

Zadie knitted her brow. “Those crafty bitches.”

 

The hunter leapt onto a mausoleum. She looked out and saw the cemetery — only it spanned infinitely in every direction, an endless pattern. 

 

Zadie cursed beneath her breath. “I really hate witches.”

 

Gerard leapt onto the mausoleum to join her. He narrowed his eyes at the landscape.

 

“What is it?” he asked.

 

“A spell, genius,” she said. “An illusion spell.”

 

Gerard shook his head. “I should have killed those witches when I had the chance.”

 

“That’s the smartest thing you’ve said all night.”

 

***

 

Samuel walked into the bayou as his white jacket glistened in the moonlight.

 

The teen stopped in his tracks when he heard footsteps close around him.

 

“I know it’s you…” he said into the shadows. “My armor drew me here. The same as yours.”

 

Zen and Zero stepped from the shadows, as did Siph and Bado.

 

“Sammy…” Zero said with a mocking grin. “Nice to see you.”

 

“Don’t call me that,” Samuel said.

 

“Right, right,” Zero said. “That’s what Simon used to call you. Isn’t it?”

 

Samuel rolled his hands into fists.

 

Zen placed his hand on Zero’s shoulder. “Zero. Don’t. We didn’t come here to provoke him.”

 

Zero sighed. “No…I guess not.”

 

Zen looked to Samuel. “It’s not too late, you know. You can still join us.”

 

“Azmodai nearly killed us all with that ceremony of his,” Samuel said. “And you still trust him?”

 

“He can make things right, for the whole world,” Zen said. “We might not understand everything-”

 

“I’m not debating with you, Zen,” Samuel said. “The only person I care about right now is a scared girl, someone like us, who the witches plan to kill. And Azmodai wants it to happen.”

 

“What about the wolves?” Zen asked. “The witches hexed them. They’ve been trapped for hundreds of years. Azmodai wants to set them free.”

 

“At the price of a girl’s life,” Samuel said. “Do you even know her name? Have you seen her face? No…I don’t think you have. The less you know, the less you see, the easier you distance yourself from everything.”

 

Zero unsheathed his swords. “I’m getting bored. Let’s fast forward: We’re tracking down the wolves, so after the witches finish their little spell, we can take that power and set them free. You in or out? Out? That’s what I thought.”

 

Zero dashed to attack. Samuel dashed aside, grabbed Zero’s head, and smashed his face to the ground. 

 

Bado and Siph charged from the sides. Samuel spun with a crescent-kick that bashed them backward.

 

He unsheathed his sword just in time to block a slash from Zen. The brothers pressed their swords against each other and leaned close.

 

“Don’t do this, Samuel,” Zen said. “Remember when you first came to the Hellfire Club? This isn’t what you wanted.”

 

“All I wanted…was a family!” Samuel slashed Zen’s sword aside and kicked him backward.

 

Samuel raised his blade and swung through a circle. “Garo.”

 

His armor clamped around his body with flashes of golden light.

 

Zen, Zero, Siph and Bado swung their blades and powered up their Soul Metal armor. Zen became the Flame Sword Knight, Zero became the Silver Knight, Siph became the Sky Bow Knight and Bado became the White Knight.

 

Garo shifted into a defensive stance.

 

***

 

Zadie cursed and slapped her hand against a wall. “The same damn building. We’ve got out get out of this illusion.”

 

“Any ideas?” Gerard asked.

 

Zadie shrugged. “I could kill you.”

 

“How would that help?”

 

“It would make me feel better,” she said.

 

A woman’s voice came from behind. “Girl, I told you to watch that sass.”

 

Zadie looked to see Moseley enter the cemetery.

 

The teen smiled. “Come to play?”

 

“I suppose so,” Moseley said.

 

Gerard smiled, took Moseley’s hand and kissed it. “Moseley…”

 

Moseley sighed and pulled her hand away. “Charmer. Don’t make me exorcise your ass.”

 

Zadie arced an eyebrow. “You two are…chummy.”

 

“Moseley and I had a deal, before Azmodai showed up,” Gerard said. “She stayed out of our way. We stayed out of hers.”

 

Zadie glared at Moseley. “You made a deal with them?”

 

“As long as they promised not to kill,” Moseley said. “Plenty of other ways to practice sin and debauchery, without murder.”

 

“Ain’t that the truth,” Gerard said.

 

Zadie shook her head. “You two are actually making me miss Angel Grove.”

 

Moseley stepped in front of the hunter and demon. “I just want things back the way they were. After seeing you again, sassy girl…I think we can make that happen.”

 

The witch whispered an incantation and parted her hands. Grave sites and mausoleums vanished like fog and faded into nothingness.

 

Ahead, Zadie spotted the massive mausoleum where the witches kept Madison. The hunter narrowed her eyes and unsheathed her dagger.

 

Bastianna looked up from Madison and smiled. “Zadie…What a pleasant surprise.”

 

Zadie charged, and a wave of demons followed.

 

The witches lifted their hands. The spirits of their ancestors shimmered into view, vaguely transparent, and blocked Zadie’s path.

 

The spirits lifted their hands.

 

Waves of invisible energy bashed Zadie and the demons, hurling them several feet through the air.

 

Moseley whispered a counter-spell. But roots burst from the ground and wrapped around her arms and legs.

 

Bastianna smiled at the good witch. “You never could stay out of trouble. Could you, sister?”

 

Moseley glared. “You make me wish momma believed in abortion.”

 

Gerard helped Zadie to her feet.

 

“Thanks,” she said.

 

“You’re welcome.”

 

“No, I mean thanks for being useless.”

 

The witches and their ancestors snapped weaves of invisible energy that burst through gravestones and mausoleums, raining concrete, dust and debris across the cemetery.

 

***

 

The Sky Bow Knight fired volleys of arrows that exploded through trees with bursts of splinters and sawdust. Garo dashed through the woods to evade the arrows.

 

Bado charged and speared towards the Golden Knight’s chest. Garo grabbed the staff, swung the White Knight overhead, and slammed him to the ground.

 

Zero smashed against Garo and forced him back several meters. They smashed through tree after tree as they tore across the ground.

 

Garo knocked the Silver Knight’s arms away and swung wide; he slashed Zero with a burst of spark that whipped him through the air.

 

Zen charged towards his brother. His sword ignited and chopped at the Golden Knight. Garo dodged with a back-hand swing that slashed Zen with a burst of spark.

 

From behind, a burst of shadow energy blasted Garo and hurled him forward. He smashed through several trees and crashed in the dirt.

 

The Golden Knight looked up and faced the First Demon. Azmodai.

 

“Now, now children,” Azmodai said. “Play nice.”

 

“Azmodai…” Garo said.

 

“Surprised to see me? I wanted to be here in person, to witness the birth of my latest army,” Azmodai said.

 

Garo growled. “I won’t let you hurt anyone else. Ever again.”

 

“I’m afraid you don’t have much of a choice,” Azmodai said. “When the witches finish their ceremony, not only will I have the power of their sacrifice, but the power of your little friend Zadie as well.”

 

“What?”

 

“The blood of Lilith flows through her veins. The same spell that kills the witches’ sacrifice will kill her too. And I will steal that power.”

 

Azmodai powered up his wolf-like armor with a flash of black light. The demon armed a double-bladed, two-handed axe.

 

***

 

Zadie cursed beneath her breath and climbed to her feet.

 

Nearby, Gerard and his demons collapsed to their knees and screamed.

 

Zadie knitted her brow. “What the…”

 

Kieran walked into the cemetery while holding a cross and whispering an incantation.

 

“Kieran…” Zadie shouted. “Stop!”

 

He waved his cross slowly and looked out upon the demons, who writhed with pain at the sound of his voice.

 

Zadie charged, slashed the cross from his hand, kicked his gut, and bashed her pommel against his head.

 

She glared at the man. “What are you-”

 

An energy blast hurled Zadie off her feet. Two witches walked to Kieran and helped him stand.

 

Zadie gripped her dagger. “You bastard…you’re helping them? After what they did to Sean??”

 

“There are demons in the town, Zadie. Demons. Creatures, like you!” he shouted. “They’re to blame! For everything!”

 

Zadie shook her head. “I can’t believe you’d do this. You bastard.”

 

“You’ve brought nothing into my life but pain, Zadie,” Kieran said. “It’s time for you to go.”

 

The witches and their ancestral spirits lifted their hands and chanted. Pain drilled through Zadie’s mind and forced her to knees. She screamed, as did Madison.

 

Blood dripped from Zadie’s nose and splattered onto the dirt.

 

***

 

Azmodai growled with pleasure. He felt the first drop of Lilith’s power flow into the land.

 

The villain stabbed his axe into the ground. The axe pulsed with power and siphoned the energy of Lilith’s bloodline.

 

***

 

Madison screamed. Bastianna slit her wrists, and her blood poured onto the ground.

 

Zadie bit back her pain and scrambled to her feet. But Kieran grabbed her by the hair, lifted her, and slammed her to the ground.

 

“Stay down, you demon!” Kieran shouted.

 

Gerard charged from behind, punched through his back, grabbed his heart, and pulled. Kieran’s lifeless body collapsed.

 

“No!” Zadie shouted.

 

Bastianna extended her hand at Zadie. Tendrils of pain stabbed through her body and forced her to the ground.

 

***

 

Azmodai used his axe to siphon the power from the witches’ ceremony.

 

Garo charged and chopped towards the axe. But Zen dashed through the air and bashed the Golden Knight aside.

 

“Men…” Azmodai said. “Walk as beasts…and break the seal!”

 

A few dozen wolves howled throughout the bayou. Their bodies contorted and changed shape, turning human. They climbed to their feet and stared ahead with yellow, wolf-like eyes.

 

Azmodai waited for a sign of the breaking of the seal.

 

But nothing happened. The Fourth Seal didn’t break.

 

“What…?” He pulled his staff from the ground. “What?!”


In a blood-rage, the werewolves grouped together and charged at Azmodai.

 

The demon swung his axe through a steak of black energy that ripped several creatures in half. The shockwave hurled the rest of the werewolves through the air.

 

Azmodai powered down his armor. He breathed heavily and rolled his hands into fists.

 

“You are the last of your people. You have failed me, but you will make up for that failure with your undying servitude. Or the werewolves will truly become extinct.”

 

The werewolves climbed to their feet. They hunched and snarled, with fangs and claws, and beastial brows. The creatures bent their knees and almost pounced.

 

Suddenly, Zero landed in the midst of the group and howled. Zen did the same, as did Bado and Siph. Their howls intensified and reverberated with the power of their armor. That power forced the wolves into submission, and they bent the knee.

 

Azmodai smiled. “Very good.”

 

Garo pounced at the First Demon.

 

Azmodai lifted his hand and fired a burst of shadow fire. The blast sparked against Garo’s chest and whipped him off his feet. The impact knocked him from his armor with a burst of golden light.

 

The demon stalked towards his fallen son.

 

“You have a choice, Samuel,” Azmodai said. “You can join me and your brothers here, and help reshape the Earth. Or you can join your other brothers in Hell.”

 

Samuel narrowed his eyes. “It doesn’t matter how big of an army you build. I’ll stop you…”

 

“No. I’m afraid you won’t.”

 

Azmodai hurled a bolt of shadow fire that knocked Samuel into unconsciousness.

 

***

 

Madison and Zadie screamed.

 

Gerard and his demons charged to help. But the ancestral spirits blocked their path. The spirits hurled bolts of invisible energy that swatted the demons aside like gnats.

 

Zadie grasped her knife and tried to rise to her feet. But her legs felt like jelly. She could barely stay conscious.

 

Bastianna smiled at the sight. “This was always your destiny, Zadie. You do nothing but cause pain and suffering everywhere you go. Let me end that for you…”

 

“Go…to hell…” Zadie whispered.

 

Suddenly, a flurry of ice shards shot through the air. The shards slashed the witches and whipped them off their feet. Their concentration broken, the spirits of their ancestors vanished.

 

Zadie’s pain vanished. She pulled herself to her feet and looked up. She saw a woman dressed in white rags walk towards the fallen Witches of the French Quarter. The woman extended a wooden staff, and the tip pulsed with white energy. 

 

An invisible blast hurled the evil witches away from the mausoleum.

 

Her staff pulsed again, and Madison’s bindings snapped free.

 

The whiter-robed woman walked to Madison and helped her sit up. “You’re OK…It’s safe.”

 

“Is it…is it over?” Madison asked.

 

“For this story, yes,” the woman said. “But yours has only just begun.”

 

The woman in white cracked her staff against the ground, sparking a flurry of ice shards. The shards circled around them as they vanished in a burst of white light.

 

Zadie arced an eyebrow. “Seriously…I miss Angel Grove.”

 

Nearby, Bastianna crawled across the dirt. Cuts and bruises covered her body.

 

“Zadie…” she whispered, her voice harsh and rough like sandpaper. “You are our last hope. You can still save us. You are our last hope…”

 

“Am I?” Zadie asked as she stalked towards the witch. The hunter plunged her knife through the witch’s back. “Sucks to be you, then.”

 

***

 

Samuel's vision blurred slowly into focus. He found himself in the back room of Missouri Moseley's shop, along with Zadie.

 

“What...” he whispered. “What happened?”

 

“You got yourself into quite a scrap, kid,” Zadie said.

 

Samuel glared at her and started to sit up, but Moseley pushed him back down. “Now, now. Don't go getting up just yet. You have a concussion.”

 

“I'll heal,” Samuel said as he pushed Moseley away and sat up. “The girl...What happened to her?”

 

“She's safe,” Zadie said.

 

“Then where is she?” Samuel asked.

 

Zadie looked to Moseley.

 

Moseley sighed. “Weird times, weird times. They call her the Witch of the Askani.”

 

Samuel knitted his brow. “What?”

 

“The Witch of the Askani,” Moseley said. “She stopped the ceremony and saved the girl, Madison. I thought she was just a legend, but...”

 

“So a witch you know nothing about took Madison...and you think she's safe?” Samuel asked.

 

“Oh, she's safe,” Moseley said. “And the witches? They won't be no trouble no more.”

 

Samuel sighed and rubbed his brow. “Fine...What about Azmodai?”

 

“He's long gone, now,” Moseley said. “Took his wolves and left town.”

 

“I've got to go after him,” Samuel said as he stood.

 

“What about the other Shaded?” Zadie asked. “I thought you wanted to help them? Be all heroic in your bright and shiny armor?”

 

“There's no time...” Samuel said. “He's building an army. I've got to put him down.”

 

“You sound a lot like your brother...” Zadie said.

 

Samuel looked at Zadie and glared. “I thought I told you-“

 

“Look, pretty boy,” Zadie said. “I know it's touchy, OK? I get that. But I have to say it: I know he wouldn't want to see you like this.”

 

“Well...Good thing he doesn't have to.”

 

Samuel turned and walked away, leaving Zadie and Moseley alone.

 

***

 

Later that night, Zadie sat on the rooftops of New Orleans and looked out upon the French Quarter.

 

Gerard took a seat next to her.

 

Zadie arced an eyebrow. “Haven't I killed you yet?”

 

Gerard smiled. “Doesn't look that way.”

 

Zadie sighed. “I'll have to fix that.”

 

They sat in awkward silence for a moment. Then Gerard spoke. “Want to talk about it?”

 

“Yes, let's,” Zadie said sarcastically. “I'm a demon hunter. You're a demon. Let's begin our forbidden romance. Joss Whedon can write the screenplay.”

 

Gerard smiled and shook his head. “You're crazy.”

 

“I'm poison,” Zadie said. “Everyone who gets close to me dies. I don't mind if they deserve it. But that kid back there? Samuel? I saw the look in his eyes. He wants revenge against Azmodai. He wants to kill him. So did his brother...”

 

“I take it that didn't end too well,” Gerard said.

 

“He went all dark side and got himself killed,” Zadie said. “It was my fault.”

 

“We all get second chances,” Gerard said. “Stop him from making the same mistake as his brother.”

 

Zadie scoffed. “OK, I'm sure it's that easy,” she said sarcastically. “Shouldn't you be basking in the glory of your regained kingdom instead of lecturing me?”

 

“I can do both,” Gerard said.

 

“I really hate you,” Zadie said.

 

“I know,” Gerard said. “So...You going after Samuel?”

 

Zadie shook her head. “No...I'm going to do what I do best. Hunt demons.”

 

She stood and looked down at Gerard. “If I ever hear of you or boys killing anyone in this city? I'll be back.”

 

Gerard smiled. “Something tells me you'll be back anyway.”

 

“Maybe...” Zadie said. “Nothing in this world surprises me anymore.”

 

Zadie leaped from the building and left Gerard alone.

 

The demon smiled. “You'll be back...crazy girl.”

 

***

 

Zadie stopped by her brother's grave on the way out of town.

 

“Hey kiddo...” she said. “I just wanted you to know...”

 

She shook her head and wiped away her tears. She scowled, burying her grief with anger.

 

“This was a stupid idea to come here,” she said. “I let you down, Seany. Twice. Seems like that's all I do. I won't bother you again...”

 

She turned and walked away.

 

END