St. Chloe, Part 2
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Last time on Nexus:
St. Chloe, Part 1

It was early morning in the Vatican.
The Holy Father was still slumbering in his bed. He was in that blissful kind of half-sleep where you know you are awake but can't think a clear thought.
His sleep was unfortunately abruptly interrupted when one of his secretaries opened the door with emphasized but still audible quietness but and slipped in.
The Pope sat up sleepily.
"Oh, at this ungodly hour! What's the matter, son?"
He noticed the man's harried expression. Things seemed to be serious.
He held out a smartphone to the head of the church.
"Really, really urgent!" he whispered so softly that you had to read his lips to know what he was saying.
Frowning, the pope accepted the phone.
"He- Hello?" he answered.
A female voice came from the receiver. The phone was on speaker.
"Good morning, is His Holiness on the line? I mean, seriously, I've been on the line for over half an hour."
"Uh… Yes?" replied the Pontifex Maximus. "Who is this?"
"Elli's my name. I've forced your secretary to dig through your archives regarding the, well, company of Benedict III. It's amazing what even he doesn't know."
"Forced?" the Vicar of Jesus Christ made sure. "Over the phone?"
"Uh, no, I just visited him in his bedroom and shooed him out of bed with my carpet beater. I'd love to come to you myself, but then you'd have the Swiss Guard on me. Besides, I've got my hands full here right now."
"And who are you now?" asked the sovereign of the Vatican City State.
"A little helper from the years eight hundred and fifty-five to -fifty-eight. I assume you are familiar with the legend surrounding Pope Joan? However, the actual events have been somewhat glorified, I have stood by Benedict III…. occasionally…"
"You want to tell me you are Joan? Don't make me laugh!"
The successor of the Prince Apostle felt anger welling up inside him, but then saw the face of his secretary. He shook his head and told him to be quiet.
Something fluttered behind him. When the Primate of Italy turned around, he saw some poker cards sliding down from the ceiling, He just saw a black hole in the being close above him.
"That could have been a bomb, Your Holiness. Your secretary will hopefully be able to convince you that I am indeed the original. He had some very controversial documents in front of him. And a photograph of me about one thousand two hundred and fifty years old."
The secretary nodded vigorously.
The Primate of Italy sighed in resignation.
"All right, suppose you are who you say you are, what do you want from me."
"Just a bureaucratic formality. I want you to canonize someone."
A graying eyebrow was raised.
"Uhu. And if I refuse?"
"Does the term 'Moses' Third Tablet' mean anything to you?"
The Bishop of Rome began to cough in surprise and horror.
"How do you know about it! It's the best kept secret in the Catholic Church!"
"I used to be a part-time pope, my good sir," came from the phone. "And I can have a very loose tongue when someone pisses me off. All right?"
The servant of God gritted his teeth.
"All right, then. Who do you want me to canonize?"
His secretary handed him some documents. Transcripts of a resume. He flipped through them briefly.
"Chloe… Angelica… Winter… Oh my God, she's only thirteen! How did the poor child die!"
"She's not dead, she's standing here right next to me."
The Supreme Bridger of the Church took a minute to process that."
"You want me to canonize a living person?!"
"No one has to know. Canonize her and put her name with the other saints in the martyrology."
"Hrm, all right, but that will take a while, besides, I need a bishop's recommendation."
"You have mine, I never officially resigned my office, as her secretary will tell you. Granted, we were drunk when they appointed me, but my status is legal. And you have three hours. Otherwise, I'm going to spill the beans. Any questions?"
The pope pressed his lips together….

Spinazzola frowned and watched the city of Las Vegas through binoculars. At first, everything had gone as described by Mr. Coin. The delay had even filled him with hope that his martyrs would escape in time, but the fall of the city proceeded at a snail's pace.
He turned to Mr Coin, who stood guarded by two knights beside him. In keeping with his name, he twirled a large gold coin in his fingers.
"I take it this isn't going as predicted," the branch manager said.
"Indeed not," returned the renegade. "There were two irregularities, probably attempts…. Whatever is going on is not the work of the Foundation. Maybe there's a particularly virtuous person in town, but I can't imagine that. Such a level of innocence, you'd have to have been born a Buddha."
"What are you suggesting?"
Mr. Coin pondered.
"We can just wait for the fall to occur, as you can see it goes on infinitely slowly, in a few hours it will be over. But soon the Foundation will realize that radio contact has broken down and take action. So we would have to go in and remove whatever the city anchors in the base reality. Or kill it…
Spinazzola picked up his radio and began issuing instructions. Even if it required the deaths of innocents, they were outweighed by the protection of God's creation that would be achieved.

"You're a pope?" Chloe asked incredulously.
Elli waved it off as they walked through the streets.
"Was part of a bet. I lost…"
The demons left them alone. Elli had explained to her that it was because of Chloe's aura, which aroused uneasiness in demons. Also, Dean was not on their radar, being an android and therefore soulless and all.
"Where are we going, anyway?" asked Dean. "Don't we just have to wait for Chloe to be canonized?"
"We're talking about the Catholic Church here, Dean," Elli countered. "Never take it as a guarantee that they'll do the right thing. For that reason, it's my contingency plan. So now for my actual plan. Someone has destroyed or shut down the exhaust device for excess Tartarean Resonance Energy that actually keeps Las Vegas here. It's in the Foundation's possession. In itself, this would not be an immediate problem because, like a dam, the volume would have to be filled before the dam would break. But apparently there was already enough TRE. And I want to know why. And if I know why, I can figure out what to do about it."
"Who are you going to ask? A demon."
"Don't be silly, Dean. We're asking a demoness, of course."
She turned in to a nondescript house squeezed between two high-rises.
"And we are now in her humble home."
Elli held the door open for them.
Dean stepped inside. Chloe bumped into him as he stopped suddenly.
"I had a feeling," he sighed. "Elli, is it really necessary to take Chloe to a brothel?!"
Indeed, a blush of shame rose to Chloe's eyes as she looked around. Everything was done in shades of red and pastel, two scantily clad, horned women lolled in plush-covered armchairs, eyeing Dean with interest.
Behind a counter of black lacquered wood sat another demoness, reading a book with disinterest. She had long raven-black hair, high cheekbones, and wore thick red lipstick.
She slammed her book shut without looking up as Ellis's shadow fell on her.
"Welcome to our humble establishment, how can I help you-"
Only now did she look up and become aware of Elli grinning at her with bouncing eyebrows.
"Xōchiquetzal, it's been a long time!"
The demoness's eyes got as big as plates.
"Ooooooh no! Ooooooh shit! Oooooooh please don't…"
She became aware of Elli's companions, and Chloe in particular.
"Wha- Okay, Elli, cut the crap, I know from personal experience that your fetishes are insanely kinky, but I'm not going to go along with that, no wa-"
"I don't even know what you're upset about," Elli countered. "I dutifully paid for all of you in advance. And I tipped a Benjamin for each of you."
"Me and my employees were not able to work for three days because of your excess!"
Dean sighed in resignation.
"If it makes you feel any better, I'm not here today as a costumer," Elli placated.
"Oh, thank the infamous…"
Xōchiquetzal relaxed a little.
"You know what's going on outside, right?" her non-customer asked.
"Huh? You want info? Sorry, honey, a girl's gotta work."
She grinned authoritatively.
"I'm afraid none of your rates come close to the time I hope this will take," Elli replied, also with an authoritative smile. "Which would mean I'd have to otherwise get my money's worth. Are you in?"
Xōchiquetzal was blushing so hard she rivaled even Chloe.
"Just-ask your questions…. Please…"
"Las Vegas is going to hell, again, did you notice?"
"Yes."
"Hasn't the Foundation's House-Nicolas Theoplanar Vacuum Unit been in use lately?"
"The what?"
Elli sighed.
"The Luxor laser. Has that been broken lately?"
"Uh, I haven't paid attention to it, but I don't think so."
Elli leaned forward.
"Then are you possibly aware of where else such a massive amount of sin came from, assuming that the sin sucker was destroyed about three quarters of an hour ago?"
Xōchiquetzal shook her head without taking his eyes off Elli.
"Honest?" Elli asked in a surprisingly erotic voice, leaning even further forward.
The demoness' eyes welled up with tears, probably due to Elli's bad breath. Chloe couldn't see Elli's face, but Xōchiquetzal's head turned a bright red color again. She hesitantly raised a finger.
"Uh, I might have a guess."
Elli leaned back again, smiling with pleasure.
"So? Go on, out with it."
"Well, all kinds of people come in and out of here," the demoness began.
"That's why I came to you," Elli confirmed.
Xōchiquetzal ignored that.
"And some time ago I had had a truck driver here. Had a nasty boner even before he came in, I'm telling you, that's the kind of thing you-"
"Please not in front of Chloe," Dean pleaded in anguish.
"Well, anyway, I took care of it, and after we took care of the problem, he was whining about his cargo. Would drive him crazy, he said. Red crystals, but supposedly they would put the darkest thoughts in his head. I recommended him a psychiatrist. And drugs."
Elli pondered.
"Piaculumite. It's a rare mineral that stores TRE. It can serve as extra weight if you want to drop a city into hell. But who would drive something like that into the city?"
"I really can't help you with that right now," Xōchiquetzal apologized.
"Because you want to go back?" Dean interjected.
The brothel manager shook her head defensively.
"Never in my life. It's a lot easier to make dough here. And you guys have the better booze."
"But they do have booze down there, don't they?" Elli asked in panic.

The red intensified further and further, the shadows in the desert came closer and closer and gradually took on consistency, one could hardly see through them.
Spinazzola sat with Mr. Coin and some technicians in a large van outside the city. On numerous screens, he watched the goings-on through the body cameras of his knights, dressed in military uniforms, who had been dispatched to the city. Their tactical equipment clattered quietly. According to Mr. Coin, the task was to look for someone who was not being attacked by demons.
The knights were armed with holy water, since they could not tell if they were facing demons or people dressed like demons. And there were quite a few of those in this wicked city. However, they also carried weapons with consecrated ammunition in case there was a clear case.
A five-man team probed the streets and finally set their sights on a small store that was strangely deserted.
A brothel, Spinazzola noted with disgust.
It was beyond him how women, or even men, could work in such a degrading industry.
His loudspeaker crackled.
"This is Team Romolus. We're going in."
The door was pushed open.
"HEY, NOW, DROP THE GUNS!" the black-haired receptionist snapped.
"A kid?" remarked Spinazzola, looking at the images. "In an establishment like this?"
Coin approached the screens with interest.
Meanwhile, a giant-looking guy in a motorcycle suit approached the team.
"Gentlemen, you heard the woman, please put your weapons down. What's supposed to happen to you guys here? As long as you don't pay, you're safe, I think…"
He turned to the receptionist, who nodded affirmatively.
"Sir, please step aside, we need to take a look around."
"What are you looking for?" the giant asked. "Maybe we can help you."
"I said STEP ASIDE!"
The soldier rammed his rifle butt into the stomach area of his opponent.
He bounced back as if he had tried the maneuver on a copper statue.
"That's not very nice," his conversation partner commented.
The Knight of Saint George jerked the live weapon from his shoulder.
"LIVE AMMUNITION! FIRE!"
Guns were pointed at the apparent demon. The hookers screaming took to their heels as they were used and the receptionist also took cover.
The tall one grabbed the gun of the one in front and forced it upward, causing the gunman to fire into the ceiling. Seemingly unaffected by the latter's moment of inertia, the man shoved his victim backward into another knight before the latter could realign his weapon. Both fell to the ground. Two soldiers on either side of the giant attempted to crossfire him, but their rifles were also seized and forced in a different direction. As a result, they fired at each other. Fortunately, they were wearing bulletproof vests, but Spinazzola knew from personal experience that the bullets still felt like punches.
Even as the two tried to figure out what had happened, they were grabbed by the throat and slammed head-first into each other. Dents had formed in their helmets as they were thrown at the two felled soldiers who were just trying to get back up.
The last one fired his shotgun, now that he knew he could no longer commit friendly fire. The charge caught his opponent in the pit of the stomach and caused him to double over from the force.
But that's all it did.
"Oh you've got to be kidding me! My pretty motorcycle jacket!"
The last thing the camera picked up was the fist hurtling toward it.
There was still scrambling on the others as the soldiers tried to get back off each other, but their images too went black as the fifth Soldier was body slammed into the pile.
"Holy shit," escaped Spinazzola in a less than christian fashion. "Looks like reinforcements are needed. Mr. Coin, do you have any idea what that was?"
The man addressed seemed to startle up from his thoughts. His eyes glazed over.
"What, the big one? I don't know, 666 has held quite a few demonic goons captive but I've never seen that one there."
He pondered.
"With any luck, the man is protecting what we want…"
"In a toke?" the branch leader assured himself incredulously.
Mr. Coin shrugged his shoulders.
"Well, look at it this way. Is that where you would have looked for it?"

"Friends of yours, Elli?" Xōchiquetzal asked as she and some employees disarmed and handcuffed the men.
Apparently there was no shortage of ropes and handcuffs here….
Some of the intruders tried to fight back, but since Dean had been unceremoniously equipped with a large club, the resistance didn't last long. Chloe had noticed that no one seemed to mind that he had survived a shotgun blast.
"Nope," Elli said. "But I'm guessing that they're part of our hell problem."
One of the felled soldiers looked at her hatefully.
"We're not going to say anything!"
"I don't really care," Elli countered. "You can hope, of course, that I find the piaculumite you carted into town in time and get it out of town so it can halfway re-anchor itself in our reality. Because otherwise, you're coming along…"
"What's piaculumite?" one of the soldiers asked, confused.
"Ah, multidimensional domain formation…," Elli remarked. "Who are you working for?"
The man remained silent.
"Anyone else?"
The other men also gave no answer.
Elli bent down and took the body camera from one of the soldiers.
"Let's see where this goes. Xōchiquetzal? Do you have a computer here?"
"In the back of the office," was the reply.
Elli began to grin.
"Well then, let's ma-"
The floor trembled slightly. And again. And again.
It was a rhythmic earthquake that indicated footsteps for Chloe.
Footsteps of something big.
Something big that was moving towards them….
The something didn't bother to open the door, but simply marched through.
It was a big, muscular demon, and as you would imagine, it had hooves, a tail and a thick pair of horns curved upwards, with which it left deeper furrows in the ceiling. Black fur covered his body.
"Hello…" he rumbled in a voice too deep to belong to a human.
Behind him, several demons armed with clubs and smashed bottles entered the brothel.
"Oh, uh, Az, hello…", Xōchiquetzal cautiously replied as she, like her employees, also slowly walked backwards. "What-what brings you here? Weren't you serving time at the Foundation?"
"Oh, well, you could say the site here is under new management now. I got out on parole," Az explained, grinning through several rows of needle-sharp teeth. "But for what I'm here for…. Someone supposedly defeated some Knights of Saint George…"
His head swiveled to Dean.
"…Like he's got something to hide…"
"Elli, shall I?" asked Dean without breaking eye contact with the demon.
"I'd rather not, Dean, he'll tear you apart," Elli replied.
Unlike Chloe, whose knees were shaking pathetically, she was extremely calm.
"Look, Az, these guys came in here with guns drawn, and you, as the embodiment of lustfulness, should be able to understand that guns are-"
"Oh, I suppose you're also one of those who believes everything the Zurvanists write?"
Az growled menacingly.
Elli drew in her breath sharply.
"Oh… Uh… Sorry…"
Xōchiquetzal for her part understood what Elli intended and tipped Chloe on the shoulders to push her out of the hall.
But Az unfortunately noticed and turned to her.
"Ah, are you the one keeping my home at a distance? Granted, you're disgustingly virtuous, but that seems like a stretch. Well, I'll just mangle you to be sure…. Get 'em, boys! And kill them as soon as you do!".
With an evil laugh, his subordinates started moving. Dean stepped in their way, but was immediately kicked away by Az. The kick was so strong that it dented the wall against which he was hurled.
"RUN, CHLOE!" yelled Elli to her before Az lunged at her.
"Come along, little one," Xōchiquetzal said beside her. Chloe ran after her, pursued by a horde of jeering demons.

"You know, I know you're busy ruining an entire town, but couldn't we maybe settle this over a nice beer?"
The only reason Elli hadn't been torn apart by Az's paw was because she had thrown herself backwards onto the floor. She hastily rummaged in her bag and pulled out her pan while the demon stood back up.
"What are you doing?" he asked. "Are you going to cook at me?"
"Oh, my rump roast is excellent," Elli replied proudly.
Az laughed.
"I like you. If I meet you again in hell, I'll make you my personal torture subject."
Elli became thoughtful.
"What kind of torture, exactly?"
Az smiled.
"Well, we'll start with my special bondage technique…"
"Oooh!", Elli made.
"… Followed by a good round of spanking…"
"Wow!"
"…followed by candle wax…"
"Meow!"
"… Before I lower you into my acid bath afterwards."
"Ouh…"
The demon laughed.
"Ha! Just like I thought, you're awesome!"
He attacked again. Elli batted aside his attacking paw with the pan, but the demon spun in response without taking his eyes off her and tried to pull her feet out from under her with his tail. Elli, however, had the presence of mind to jump over it, but got a backhander for it when Az turned his front to her again. She saw stars. It didn't get any better when Az grabbed her by the throat and started squeezing.
Elli felt herself starting to turn blue. She gasped something, but as she could guess, it was too quiet for Az to understand. He pulled her closer to him.
"I'm sorry, what was that?" he asked.
He held it up to his ear so Elli could speak into it.
"Harder, Daddy!" she choked out.
She realized Az was involuntarily letting go and took the opportunity to catch her breath.
"Holy shit, you were serious!"
"Who knows?" said Elli more hotly. "In any case, the performance distracted you long enough."
"What?"
There was a click behind him as the Saint George Knights, freed by Dean, turned their weapons on the demon. He hadn't had the keys to the handcuffs, so he'd unceremoniously ripped them apart.
"They may not like us, but Az, they will strike down a demon if they see one," Elli explained.
The demon turned around with a sneer on his face.
"Oh, how cute. You think your air guns can hurt me."
"Uh, they can," Dean replied. "Gentlemen, aim for the eyes and throat! FIRE!"
The men fired. Not all the bullets hit their targets, but even if they missed, they dug into his body with the hiss of burning flesh.
"GAH! WHO IN ALL THE DEVIL'S NAMES HAS BLESSED THESE THINGS!" the blinded demon howled in pain as he began to thrash about in agony. He didn't even notice Dean grabbing him from behind and ramming his horns into the ground with a German Suplex. The Demon's hooves kicked the ceiling, but only resulted in bricks falling on him. Then his horns broke off and he fell onto his stomach with a loud thud. He winced in suppressed pain.
"OOOOUUUUCH!"
The knights pressed their rifles and shotgun to his skull.
"STOP!" commanded Elli imperiously. "I want to know what's going on! Let him live- for now…"
The knights didn't listen. But just before they could pull the trigger, Dean spoke up.
"Any of you missing these?"
One of the soldiers turned and then jostled his neighbors in a panic, who also turned and got wide-eyed.
Dean was holding an object that turned out to be a hand grenade.
"Hey, that's dangerous!" one of the soldiers warned him, while the others rummaged in their pockets to see who was missing the bomb.
"True," Dean countered. "But if I blow this thing up now, which one of us is more likely to escape with his life?"
The knights lowered their weapons through gritted teeth.
"Thank you very much, Dean," Elli said. "And now for you, Az, what do you know about Vegas' upcoming trip to hell?"
"Screw you!" came from the demon's mouth.
Elli sighed.
"Dean, put it in his mouth and pull the pin. Let's see if he's still so rude then."
"Okay, okay, I'll talk!" whined Az.
One of the knights raised his weapon rather involuntarily, but Dean reminded him who was in charge by tapping against the grenade.
"Who's responsible for the TRE being not properly disposed of anymore?" Elli asked.
"The Knights of Saint George!" came it quick like a shot.
The knights twitched briefly. Elli raised an eyebrow.
"Dean, about that grenade in the mouth thing…"
"Okay, okay!" whimpered Az. "That was Mammon's plan."
"What?" snapped one of the knights. "That must be a lie!"
"It's not," Az affirmed. "Mammon had Site-666 spied on by its inmates for months. He wrapped Foundation researchers and later the boss of the Saint George Knights in America around his finger and released the captured demons!"
Elli saw the knights' jaws drop.
"What does Mammon hope to gain from this?" asked Elli.
"Mammon is Hell's chief tax collector," the demon gasped through his pain. "He wants to take back what rightfully belongs to Satan. You know why Paradise was founded, don't you?"
"Tax evasion…" muttered Elli. "I understand. But since demons in our world can't take action on their own under normal circumstances, they have to seduce people. And that's where you guys come in…"
The knights looked at her with wide eyes.
"We were just used!?"
"Seems so. Now that Las Vegas has taken on hell-like conditions, the devils can do whatever they want here. Az, where's the piaculumite?"
"I don't know!" howled the fiend. "I was trapped in a cell until recently, I don't know what was done to make the city crash so quickly!"
Suddenly he began to grin.
"But soon it will be, if we can find the support that still keeps Las Vegas here…. Your little friend is probably already dead."
Dean twitched briefly but Elli held him back with a gesture.
"Dean, this one's more dangerous than anything that's chasing her right now, we have to take care of him first. And we'd know if she was dead."
"Oh, so I was right?" asked Az.
"Yes," confirmed Elli. "But as for killing, your minions are in for a nasty surprise…"

Chloe ran after Xōchiquetzal, followed by a bleating and giggling horde of lesser demons.
She saw the goal in front of her. The emergency exit. Finally, she didn't even want to imagine what these creatures would do to her if she got caught.
The demoness threw herself against it and the door was pushed open. Chloe slipped through behind her. Xōchiquetzal didn't bother to lock the door again; by law, emergency exits always had to be able to be opened from the inside.
Behind them, the demons poured out into the open, while Chloe and her guide ran through the alley that led to the street.
There, however, all hell had already broken loose in the truest sense of the word. Passersbys were being punched everywhere and some had gotten carried away with more intimate activities with the demons. Fiends who had nothing to do at the moment turned to look at Xōchiquetzal and her with interest, to Chloe's horror.
One particularly large individual stood in their way. She came to a skidding halt.
"Well, well, the madam's come out for once, don't tell me you're in the mood for some devilish fun…"
The demon grinned insinuatingly.
"Yeah, nah, not with you," Xōchiquetzal retorted snidely, trying to sidle past him, but the big guy gruffly grabbed her by the arm.
"That wasn't a request, sweetheart…. You might learn something in the process, too, kiddo."
Chloe's whole body shook with fear as the fiend reached for her.
Fearfully, she backed away, but behind her, the giggles of her pursuers grew louder.
Turning around, she saw that the demons were sure of their prey. They sauntered and grinned greedily.
"Hmm, what are we going to do with her? Looks like she's a screamer…"
"Hey, let's rip out her nails, one by one, and then chop off each phalanx one by one-"
"Nahnah, impaling sounds much more fun-"
"Can I take the legs off first? I want to keep them…"
"How about some nice burn scars first?"
Trembling with horror, Chloe slowly stepped backwards.
And was grabbed by the neck by big guy and pulled in.
Well, that's what he was trying to do, at least…
Chloe immediately resisted and tried to unbend his fingers. Of course, his grip was way too strong, but he still let go almost immediately.
The contact with her bare skin burned his flesh.
"GAHAHA!" howled the attacker as he also let go of Xōchiquetzal again. Turning around, Chloe saw him try to hold onto his burned hand, but it crumbled to ash. He swung at her, but as soon as his remaining fist made contact with her head, it crumbled to dust on top of her.
Chloe watched the process stunned.
Then she heard the horde behind her stop abruptly.
She turned around again.
The demons who had been chasing her a moment ago, deliberating about how to make her die in the most agonizing way possible, were standing there at some distance from her, trying to assess the situation.
So that's how it was, Chloe thought to herself….
A red haze settled over her eyes. She felt something ugly rising inside her. Something that took her over. It was like a rush…
Then Chloe realized: she was simply giving in to her sadism for the first time in her life.
Cold sweat came to the foreheads of the fiends as she began to roll up her sleeves with an expressionless face…

Next time on Nexus:
Saint Chloe, Part 3

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