St. Chloe, Part 3
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Last time on Nexus:
Saint Chloe, Part 2

The shadows in the desert were now almost tangible and were getting closer. The sky over Las Vegas had given way to a bright red that looked more like the inside of a massive hole.
Spinazzola stared at the spectacle, but was unexpectedly given a headset by his technicians.
Frowning, he put the device on.
"Spinazzola here?"
"This is Team Romolus, commander!"
Relief spread through him.
"I was starting to get worried. What's your status?"
"We're all alive, a bunch of bruises, but nothing serious. We've had some important information leaked to us, though."
"Oh?" wondered Spinazzola. "What did you guys find out?"
"Sir, we've been bamboozled!"
Spinazzola listened with growing horror. Apparently he out of all people had been tricked by demons.
Still, from the sound of it, this town was indeed full of demons. Nothing about his goal changed. Las Vegas and Paradise had to be erased from the face of His creation, no matter for what reasons the demons had sought refuge here. No mercy to the sinners…
Except for one exception.
"And this girl is all that keeps the city from falling?" he verified.
"Uh, yes, sir."
Spinazzola shook his head in silent amazement.
"We need to find and protect this individual. Keep me informed."
He hung up and turned to the rest of the command center.
"People, listen up, order all units to be on the lookout for a thirteen-year-old with white hair. The individual can apparently drive demons away and is keeping the city in our world. The girl needs to be taken into custody and safely out of the city, preferably after our people are out of Las Vegas. And get Mr. Coin in here for me!"
"He just got out of the van," one of the technicians reported.
Spinazzola ran outside as if stung by an adder.
There was no sign of the renegade.
"Darn smart fellow…" the commander muttered with begrudging respect.

"Are you sure we shouldn't have taken the guys with us?" Dean asked as they left the brothel.
"They have to watch Az," Elli replied.
"They'll shoot him," Dean noted.
"First they'll realize he's regenerated his eyes and wounds."
Behind them, there was the sound of gunfire and loud yelling.
"We should make a run for it," she noted. "As long as none of them have weapons blessed by the Pope himself, they can't hurt Az permanently."
They ran out onto the Las Vegas Strip. And kept moving, as demons suddenly abandoned their victims and ran after Elli like moths that had seen a carbide lamp.
"Maybe the man was right about sinning…" Elli gasped as she ran. "You still got that grenade?",
Dean grinned.
"I got something better…"
He turned into a parking lot.
And headed straight for his bike. A black ring of burnt asphalt had formed around it, alongside a crowd of demons howling in pain.
Elli rushed into the sidecar while Dean fired up the engine and began knocking over anything not smart enough to throw itself to the side.
Elli looked around in a hurry.
"Where the hell-"
Next to her, a glowing vein of magma opened with a loud crack. The sidecar bounced over it.
"Screw you too. Where are those stupid rocks? We've got to find them fast, it won't be long before Las Vegas goes down. You can't even swear decently around here anymore."
Elli thought feverishly.
"We need the building in Paradise where the most and meanest looking demons are. But first we bag Chloe…"
"And how are you going to find her," Dean asked snarkily.
From down a side alley, screams suddenly came from partially inhuman throats, and in front of them stood Xōchiquetzal on the side of the road.
Dean came to a stop beside her.
"Hello," Elli greeted her insinuatingly. "How much do you cost for an hou-"
Dean's fist came down on her from above.
"Where's Chloe?" he asked in alarm. "Shouldn't she be with you."
Xōchiquetzal measured them both with a look Elli had trouble deciphering and pointed her thumb behind her into the alleyway where demons were apparently pleading for mercy.
"She's fighting in there right now…" she said dryly.
"What, alone?", Dean affirmed and turned off his machine to dismount.
"No, she against all the demons that are too slow…", Xōchiquetzal replied.
Dean and Elli exchanged confused glances, watching as demons ran out of the alley then and when.
Or limped, if they were missing a leg.
Chloe's laughter rang in her ear.
It was already a rare sight that she laughed, but Elli never thought she was capable of such laughter. The hairs on the back of her neck stood up at the mere sound.
"Uuuuuh…" she said cautiously. "Before you ask, Xōchiquetzal, I don't think I'm responsible…"
Dean peered around the corner for a moment.
"Is that adrenaline?" he asked.
"Mmh, possible?" replied Elli uncertainly. "I mean, if she was in extreme distress. After all, the demons wanted to kill her-"
"GAAAH!" came it pathetically from the alley.
"COME BACK IMMEDIATELY, YOU BETTER GOAT!" boomed Chloe's voice immediately after. "WHEN I'M DONE WITH YOU, I'LL PULL YOUR EARS OUT AND STRING A CONTRABASS WITH THEM AS SOON AS I HAVE CARVED DICE OUT OF YOUR TEETH!"
That laughter followed again, dripping with sadism….
Startled, Dean, Elli and Xōchiquetzal stepped a meter away from the alley entrance, while agonized groans followed again.
"Where did we go wrong in raising her?" Elli asked.
"Don't look at me like that," Dean fought back. "I told you we'd go somewhere where nothing could happen, but no, you have to drag her everywhere all the time. So don't be surprised if she picks up on some of your quirks."
Elli's mouth dropped open for a moment.
"My quirks?" she then echoed. "Who's always the first to resort to violence? She gets that from you if anybody."
"Did you ever hear me swear like that?" returned Dean. "If you'd let me take over, she wouldn't have freaked out like that."
"Um," Xōchiquetzal interjected. "Sorry, but it seemed more like she had something bottled up inside her. At first, she had just been trying to chase the demons away…. Until she got her hands on one of them…. After that she went completely mad and started hunting Az's pack. I think there's quite a bit of pressure discharging right now…"
"Oh…" made Elli and Dean at the same time.
"Am I right?" the demoness asked, puzzled.
"I… think so1…", Elli cautiously confirmed.
"How exactly does Chloe's protection actually work?" asked Dean. "She seems to outright burn those demons."
Again, pained roars came from the alley, followed by almost manic giggling.
"Well," Elli began. "Her Empyrean Resonance Energy is so damn high that she passes as an angel from one of the middle tiers. As a result, she neutralizes lower concentrations of Tartarean Resonance Energy. And without that protection, her skin, hair and nails act like sunbeams to lower demons-"
"AAAH! MY NOSE!"
"GIHIHIHI!"
"-if the sun were a deadly laser-" Elli concluded.
"Oh, lucky I didn't touch her directly," Xōchiquetzal sighed.
"Should we maybe start checking on her?" Dean asked.
The women gave a frightened "Hmf."
Deliberately slow, they entered the alley.
It was half shrouded in darkness.
Out of the shadows crawled a demon. Elli recognized him as one of Az's henchmen. He was missing his legs.
"Help…" he gasped before something grabbed him and dragged him laughing back into the darkness.
Cries of pain followed.
"Not that I don't begrudge them after they tried to kill Chloe," Elli commented as she rummaged in her bag. "But I think this is going a little too far…"
She took out a flashlight and shed light on the darkness.
The ground was covered with burned body parts. In the midst of this carnage stood Chloe, grinning from ear to ear as she gleefully burned away the face of her latest victim. Elli noticed that she had removed her shoes and socks and rolled up her pants. Her feet and legs were black with ash.
Carefully, as if she were dealing with a dangerous animal that might attack her at any moment, Elli waded through Chloe's residue and tapped her from as far away as possible on the shoulder with pointed fingers.
Chloe turned to her, beaming with delight, and finished off the demon by turning its head to ash.
"Ah, Elli, did you finish off that Az?" she asked happily.
Elli pressed her lips together before carefully answering.
"Uh, yyyyeeees… You, uh, you got by too…? Here?"
"Oh yeah, did you see what I can do?" Chloe asked bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.
Elli, Dean, and Xōchiquetzal nodded slowly and choppily.
"You, well, uh, are you hurt?" continued Elli.
"Nope, quite the opposite, I feel great."
Chloe beamed at her like a kid who had just gotten his favorite ice cream.
"Okay, um, well, come on then, we…we have to save a town from hell."
"Oh right," Chloe noted, and vseemed to have just remembered that. "There was something else…"
She ran to Dean and Xōchiquetzal, the latter quickly keeping a three-meter distance from her. On the way, she picked up her shoes from the whole mess. It should be noted that Chloe ran through all the body parts on her way without making any detours.
Elli also made her way back and accidentally stepped on a body, which then coughed suspiciously.
Chloe immediately turned her head, grinning, and directed a ten-thousand-watt halogen-beam glare at the gaunt demon with the little black goatee who had been playing dead. He had been hiding among the mortal remains of his kind because he was missing a foot. And he squealed in fear as Chloe approached him.
"Wait, Chloe!" commanded Elli to her.
She obeyed only after some delay, looking at Elli as if she had just grounded her.
"Did you happen to be involved in the logistics of this infernal enterprise?" Elli asked.
The demon nodded hastily.
"Oh, good, good," Elli replied. "Did you have anything to do with Piaculumite?"
Hasty nod again.
"Then please tell us where those things were taken, or you'll be staying here for my little friend's anger management."
Chloe blinked in confusion. Hopefully her bloodlust was starting to subside.
"Okay, okay, okay," gushed the fiend. "I'll tell you. Okay, um, do you know where Bellagio is?"
"Bellagio?" repeated Elli. "The casino hotel?"
"Yes, yes! That's the one! We, uh, we commandeered Storage Room D for that stuff. I have no idea how you guys get in there, though, honest!"
Elli stroked his head.
"You let us worry about that. Chloe! No, Chloe! No! Out!"
"He was going to kill me," Chloe insisted, taking another few steps toward the demon.
Elli didn't quite know how to proceed. Normally, there was no need to stop young girls from slaughtering the embodiments of evil and temptation….
"Yeah, I know, look, if he lied and we all end up in hell, I'll track him down for you, okay?"
Chloe grumbled a reluctant consent.
"Meh, will have to do," Elli muttered. "And you know now, little one. You were telling the truth, right?"
Another hasty nod.
"Wonderful…"

The Bellagio is basically a fairly wide and fairly narrow skyscraper and is known for its fountains in a huge pool that put on impressive light shows at night. Dean, Elli, and Chloe were now approaching the casino hotel on Dean's motorcycle. Xōchiquetzal had declined with thanks.
The red haze that had settled over Chloe's field of vision for a while was gradually being dispelled by the breeze. Not that it did much good. The red glow in the city was more intense than ever, and the whole city now seemed to be on the slope of a mighty precipice rather than in a desert.
Chloe gradually became aware of what exactly she had done, but the fact that she had murdered demons left her strangely cold. Might have been because she herself had almost been staked and eaten….
While Chloe was engrossed in her self-evaluation, more and more demons appeared to torture the residents, but hastily jumped out of the way as Dean plowed toward them.
He drove right up to the front steps, regardless of the massive amount of demons swarming the building. Some of them were as big as small houses, but all of them hastily made way when Chloe approached them.
Bad news apparently spread quickly in hell.
She decided as a result, to not file her slaughter under "Bad Deeds."
And Chloe felt a bit like a barbarian queen.
Until she met the fiend waiting at the door.
Some demons held with difficulty a three-headed dog the size of an elephant on several chains. It had enormous fangs and red fire seemed to glow in its eyes. The creature barked at them but did not move from the spot.
Chloe got out and raised her hand to "pet" the dog, but Elli held her back.
"Careful, Chloe! Cerberus is a higher-ranking Tartarean Entity. Your Magic Touch won't work on him."
"Isn't he supposed to be guarding the Underworld?" Dean asked.
"Uh, he does, Dean," Elli noted. "He makes sure Las Vegas can't get away."
"So how do we get past the critter? The demons at the other entrances are a notch bigger," Dean continued.
Chloe pulled together everything she knew about Greek mythology.
"Can we put him to sleep? I think you could get past him if you played music for him."
"He won't sleep long with that noise," Elli noted.
Indeed, the laughter and wailing in the city was beginning to become deafening.
Although, something else had mingled with the voices.
It took a moment before Chloe could categorize the gunshots.
"GET DOWN!" Elli yelled, but Dean had already grabbed Chloe and thrown himself behind the fountain.
"If my bike gets even one scratch…" she heard him mutter.
Bullets flew over them.
The hellhound was hit and howled in pain. The demons tried to hold him back, but since they were stationary targets, they were targeted. Cerberus broke free and raced toward the attackers.
Dean's motorcycle was unfortunately on his course.
"Oh my, close your eyes, Chloe!"
Chloe did as instructed. The dog gave a pathetic whine that strangely sounded from above her.
Then she heard something large land in the fountain.
Water sloshed over the edge.
The remaining fiends took to their heels.
When Chloe opened her eyes again, she saw that the motorcycle was intact, Cerberus was apparently unconscious in the fountain, and men and women in soldiers' uniforms were approaching. With disgust, she noted the crosses they carried.
Dean reared up between her and the newcomers.
"What do you want now?" he asked.
"Sir, we, the Knights of Saint George, have orders to get this girl out of town," one of the soldiers explained.
"Mhm," Elli spoke up from behind Dean. "You are aware that right now she is the only thing preventing us from ending up in the fourth circle of hell, right?"
"Our orders are absolute. What happens to this town is of no concern to us."
Chloe's eyes bulged at so much apathy.
"See, Chloe, and that's what they call knights these days," Elli mocked.
"Hand over the girl!"
Elli concentrated on something that was going on behind the knights.
"Before you waste your bullets on us, you'd better make sure your escape route is clear."
The ground began to tremble as massive creatures of the underworld came running around the house, followed by a veritable army of devils. These demons were not armed with bottles or clubs, they carried spiked clubs and flaming swords.
"Oh dear!" escaped the man.
"Well," Elli said. "If you'll excuse us, we'll take shelter in this hotel while you clean up your own mess. Tata…"
While the knights formed up in fright, Elli shooed her companions into the hotel.
"That one was more than receptive to my language memes2," she muttered as she did so. "Storage Room D is down there somewhere…"
"How do you know that?" Chloe asked once they were inside the building.
"I stole the liquor from this establishment back in 2003 when they wouldn't pay Dean off."
Chloe noticed a contradiction.
"But he did cheat."
"Yes, Chloe, but he didn't get caught."
She left it at that.
Three broken doors later, the three reached the storage rooms with their bare concrete walls and floors and faced another horde of demons.
At the forefront stood a gaunt man in a worn out suit.
"So we're definitely right…", Dean commented dryly, standing in front of the hordes of hell.
"And who are you?", Elli asked the man with a raised eyebrow.
"They call me Mr. Coin," the man explained. "I'm very sorry, but I can't let you stop the crash. Satan is eagerly awaiting his taxes."
"I'll give them a holy hand grenade as a consolation prize," Dean countered, pulling the bomb from the bag he'd taken from the knights. "I don't know if it's from Antioch."
He pulled the pin and threw the grenade, which exploded in the hordes of shrieking demons. Mr. Coin was thrown forward by the blast, while incense released behind him began to eat away at the demons.
"You didn't count to three," Elli noted.
"The grenades have clamps, Elli," Dean lectured her as he stomped toward the felled man and grabbed him by the scruff of the neck. "Now to you. Do you know where the piaculumite is?
Mr. Coin's gaze settled on a roll-up door, to his left.
"Thank you."
Dean let go and went to open the gate, but Mr. Coin in turn grabbed him by the arm.
And held him in place.
Dean gave him a questioning look.
"What is it now?"
Chloe couldn't even see what exactly was happening, but Dean suddenly flew towards Elli and swept her off her feet. As a tangle, the two rolled down the hallway until they crashed into a wall.
Chloe turned her incredulous expression back to Mr. Coin.
He, however, underwent a gruesome transformation. The corridor was too small, forcing him into a crouch as he began to grow. His suit turned into black feathers, wings sprouted from his back and his head became that of a vulture. Hands as well as feet degenerated into bird claws, large enough to hold a man in.
"They do call me Mr. Coin," the avian creature shreaked. "But you probably know me better by the name Mammon. Guys, you okay?"
Out of the haze behind him emerged a few surviving demons.
Chloe rolled up her sleeves, but Mammon only croaked in amusement.
"I'm in telepathic communication with the demons here, kiddo. So no one gets the idea of withholding their tribute. I know what you can do.
To Chloe's dismay, the demons brought out tablecloths.
"Be without fear," the greed demon shreaked on. "As long as you don't touch her skin, you're safe."
Chloe squealed in fright before being attacked from several sides and wrapped in a cocoon of blankets.

Dr. House had set out to try to activate the back-up vacuum units to rid Las Vegas of the grossest amounts of TRE. He crept through the deserted and partially bloodstained corridors, armed with a half-full holy water thrower. It worked great against lower demons, but there were entities of higher ranks scurrying around. It was safest to remain undetected.
He looked cautiously around the next corner.
And looked directly into the grinning face of what looked like a winged anthropomorphic lion with black fur.
"Well hello there, Warden," the creature the size of a grizzly bear rumbled, lifting Dr. House off his feet.
He crashed hard into the wall and slid down it. The creature stepped toward him, slavering.
And suddenly had to try to keep his balance as the earth began to shake.
Despite this natural phenomenon, he grinned even wider.
"Here we go! Oh boy! Oh boy! Oh boy!"
It took Dr. House a moment to decipher what had the creature so enraptured.
Las Vegas arrived in hell!

Spinazzola looked on with a morbid fascination at the spectacle before him.
He knew it was too late.
Las Vegas was gradually disappearing like a puddle of water in a sink, leaving only barren desert behind. Along with the city, the images from the fourth circle of hell gave way to the starry night sky.
He thought the time was ripe for a prayer.
May the Lord have mercy on the souls of his fighters and protect the girl who had so valiantly tried to save the city…

Elli came staggering back to her feet, staggering because the ground was shaking.
"What's going on now?" she wondered.
She heard Mammon laughing.
"We're arriving in hell, my dear. Enjoy your stay, because you're never getting out of here!"
He continued to laugh.
Elli's heart went to her boots.
"What! But that can't be right, according to my extrapolation we should have another hour."
"Your calculations assumed that I was in town throughout, but I only got here a few minutes ago," Mammon explained. "As a manifestation of the seven deadly sins, my presence has extremely accelerated the process."
Elli got down on her knees.
Behind her, Dean rose.
"Elli?" he asked. "Have we… lost?"
"We didn't lose, Dean," Elli replied tonelessly. "We are lost…"

"And you still think this is a good idea, Your Eminence?"
"What's going to happen, anyway?" the Pope replied. "We have now beatified this girl in a hurry, so we might as well carry out the last steps. Otherwise, we'll soon be standing here with our pants down."
The martyrology was opened before him, the directory of the saints.
The Supreme Bridge Builder took the pen and began to write….

Las Vegas took up only about a soccer field in reality and was shrinking faster and faster.

Chloe…

Soon it took up only half and the city was losing its anchoring in this world.

…Angelika…

With a last otherworldly hiss, the city disappeared, leaving only a bare desert under a sky full of stars…

…Winter.

A little harder than he would have liked, the Holy Father slammed the martyrology shut. Hopefully, this Elli now had what she wanted….

The earthquake seemed to be more ethereal in nature, because the building took no damage from it, while Las Vegas fell.
Elli thought with haste, but she lacked time and resources for every idea she had.
Mammon's laughter didn't make it any better.
The demons giggled as they trapped Chloe in the blankets, who seemed to be fighting back with everything she had.
"Well, my dear," Mammon smiled. "I guess Az will be glad to see you again, especially when I look at the amount of sin you have to work off, eternity won't be enough, I'm afraid…"
He reached for Elli. Dean tried to defend her, but he was effortlessly knocked over. The demon took her in its claw and held her in front of its beak.
"But first, I myself will-"
He broke off when Elli noticed white light.
The cocoon Chloe was trapped in began to glow from within.
The demons holding it closed suddenly howled as their hands crumbled to ash. Chloe came out again, but she glowed so brightly that Elli had to turn her head away.
Las Vegas was shaken by another tremor.
And Elli's stomach area told her they were moving up.
The light seemed to cause pain to Mammon, because he suddenly reared up, lifted off the ground and broke through several walls until he punched through the outer walls of the Bellagio. Then Elli was dropped.
Above her stretched the vastness of the circles of Hell.
And through the rock she saw the moon.
Then she fell into the fountain.

Chloe didn't know what to make of it. She didn't feel any different, but she had apparently turned into an LED lamp.
Dean came closer as the demons fled from her.
"Dean? What is it?"
"I guess the church just canonized you. You're now the first and only living saint. And you're now single-handedly pulling Las Vegas back from hell."
St. Chloe had to process that first….
"Uh-huh… So what happens now?"
Dean shrugged.
"I don't know, wait and see, I guess. Maybe you can speed up the process though…"
He opened the roll-up door that Mammon had pointed out to him earlier.
Behind it, a whole mountain of ruby red stones of all shapes and sizes emerged. It reeked a bit of rotten eggs and decaying flesh.
"That's probably going to be the piaculumite," Dean guessed.
"So what do I do with it?" asked Chloe.
"Touch it, I guess," Dean explained. "As a saint, anything you touch becomes a relic, that's why the demons couldn't hold you captive any longer. And since relics are by definition free of demonic influence…"
Chloe took one of the stones in her hand. Starting from her skin, it instantly turned blue-white.
She touched more stones. She didn't even have to keep contact, it was enough if she just tapped them briefly.
The tremors beneath her intensified as Las Vegas rose faster and faster from the pits of hell. Dean swayed a little and looked around before beginning to examine a spot Chloe couldn't see.
"What is it?" she asked.
"Hmm," Dean said. "I think I know now where Mammon got his info….

Dr. House had been tossed around by the quakes. Now he was just scrambling away on all fours from the lion monster.
"Hey! Stay here!" it yelled after him.
It seemed to be getting slower and slower. It was exhausting itself.
The site leader risked getting to his feet. His pursuer only took heavy steps.
And then it disappeared with a "plop."
Dr. House had no idea what just happened, but he welcomed it. Apparently Las Vegas was rising from hell again, despite its quantities of TRE.
He hurried to move forward. Demons rushed at him left and right, but they disappeared as quickly as they appeared before him.
Finally, he arrived in front of a large vault gate, which, to his relief, was not damaged.
After the security system verified that he was not emitting Tartarean resonance energy, the gate unlocked with a loud clack, granting access to a control panel, which Dr. House promptly occupied.
Only a few inputs later, the Theoplanar House-Nicolas Vacuum U nit, which was housed as a reserve in Site-666, powered up.
The entire Egyptian-themed front yard of the Luxor pyramid began to glow blue as the demonic energy was siphoned off and converted into light that shone up into the sky, to which more and more stars returned.

Spinazzola's troops, or at least what was left of them, gathered to depart. Even if their task had been given to them by a devil, they had successfully eradicated demons from the face of His creation.
He could already see helicopters on the horizon, probably the Foundation sending scouts to see what was going on.
"Let's go," he called to his knights.
One looked at something apparently going on behind him.
"Uh, sir, you might want to turn around first."
"Huh?"
The branch leader turned around.
Behind him was the expanse of desert that Las Vegas and Paradise had once claimed.
At its center, a bright blue pillar of light had appeared, wafting slowly.
It was coming out of the ground.
And grew visibly brighter.
A tremendous crackling sound followed, as if a volcano was about to erupt.
And under Spinazzola's incredulous eyes, the maw of hell opened again and spewed out the cities, right to where it had been swept away.
Like water, buildings, plants and equipment flowed into the place they had once claimed.
"No!" it escaped him.
All that work!
All the arrangements!
They had even messed with the Foundation! Why did the Lord do such a thing to him!?
High in the sky fluttered some creature that looked remotely like a vulture. Most likely a demon.
Somehow this creature aroused anger in him.
He nodded to one of the knights.
"Hey, give the order to collect the rest of the brothers. And hand me that sniper rifle there, please. Do we have this cartridge with us that the Holy Father personally blessed?"

Elli came up sputtering with water and tried to stand up. But the ground was too slippery.
Above her, the last shadows of hell were just disappearing like a mirage.
A hand was held out to her.
The feet belonging to it stood on the water.
"Figured you wouldn't come until the fun was over," she remarked.
"Did you learn anything about sin, Elli?"
"Probably. But I'll need to have a drink first to meditate on it."
With an amused sigh, Elli was pulled from the water and carried to the edge of the fountain.
"You threatened and robbed to save the people here."
"As long as it helps," Elli countered. "You should know that this little thing doesn't even begin to stand out among the things I would have to answer for. Look at it this way. I do it so no one else has to."
"And the stealing?"
Elli pondered for a moment.
"To… To serve as a bad example. I mean, it must have done some good, look at this."
She pointed to the entrance of the Bellagio, from which Chloe and Dean emerged, looking up at the starry sky. Dean carried a large bundle on his shoulder.
Around them, the demons disappeared one by one. The TRE was not enough to keep them here.
The Knights of Saint George were spread out all over the place, in some places standing knee-deep in dead demons, and seemed too exhausted to even notice her or Chloe or Dean. Elli ran to them, leaving her rescuer behind, who shook his head partly disapprovingly but also partly amused.
Next to him, Mammon suddenly fell to the ground.
Blood poured from a wound on his chest.
"What are you doing here!" he snapped.
"Actually, I was just here for sightseeing, but I guess I'll have to have a serious talk with you about tolerance of other's ways of life…"
The demon's eyes soon popped out of his skull in horror.
"No… Anything but that! No! NOOOOO!"
They both disappeared with a "plop".

Xōchiquetzal had gathered her girls back together and led them back to her brothel. It seemed to her that there were more but she would take any new personal data later.
Foundation forces had arrived in the city and were engaged in skirmishes with the remaining Knights of Saint George, who did not surrender and were gradually collected by their reinforcements. Amnestics were dropped over them by plane to make the population forget the terrible events, but this remedy did not work on demons in such low concentrations.
"Will we be able to resume our business? I mean, they will definitely suspect us…"
"Oh, don't worry, I've got a pretty good connection with the guys over at Site-666, we'll be fine-"
Their establishment had come into view.
Or at least what Az's rampage and subsequent firefight with the Knights of Saint George had left of it….
Her jaw dropped.
It took a while, but then she screamed to the heavens.
"Damn you! ELLIIIII!"
Only a few hours should pass before Xōchiquetzal would seek out the toilet and be buried under a flood of coins made of pure gold when she opened the bathroom door…

"So let me get this staright, you lost sight of an empyrean entity, despite your measurement devices?"
Dr. House was doing damage control at the moment. He had to do a lot of it on his own, since the containment breach had claimed numerous victims, although he suspected that many of his staff were still holding out in bunkers inside the site.
The helicopter pilot he was talking to on the radio seemed similarly perplexed as he was.
"I'm sorry, Doctor, but our values suddenly dropped back to Sin City normal when the three of them went under an underpass on their motorcycle. They didn't come back out. But they left a big bundle there, troops on the ground are investigating what it is right no- Ah, I just got a report. In it was the body of Dr. Tennant."
"Tennant!?" asserted Dr. House. "I thought he'd gone rogue…"
"Seems so," the pilot relayed. "From what I hear, he looks like he died of sexual exhaustion…"

Elli stepped back through Chloe's closet and into the Nexus. She would have to take some measures to make sure the Vatican didn't get the idea to suddenly bag her. Besides, Chloe would probably have to process the fact that, as an atheist, she was now a saintess…
Elli had teleported to her bar, a massive teak wood monstrosity that could seat twenty men, assuming Elli would ever invite that many people into the Nexus. For someone like her, who couldn't die of old age, really great friends were something like hard drugs. Fun beyond belief, but when you were off them, the withdrawal symptoms could kill you. She licked her lips as she spotted a bottle of absinthe in a cabinet that she could use to drown the dark thoughts.
She opened the cabinet, but Dean behind her pulled out the bottle before Elli could reach for it.
She turned to him with one eyebrow raised.
"You know I can just wish the bottle into my hand, right?"
"I have your attention, so the bottle has served its purpose."
"What do you want?" Elli asked.
"Clearing the air, Elli," Dean countered, slightly annoyed. "You might be able to tell Chloe that one girl can save hundreds of thousands from going to hell, but not me. I haven't said anything yet out of consideration for her. Is it Ku who gives her such power?"
Elli teleported the bottle into her hand and drank for a long time before answering.
"Ku's power works on our demons as it does against everything else. He and Hell are not compatible the way angels and devils are. No. That's something that probably only Chloe can answer for us. But I don't think she will."
"But you obviously have a hunch," Dean insisted. "Otherwise, you wouldn't have been so willing to take care of Az while Chloe was in danger."
"It's less a hunch and more a feeling, Dean. The hard fact is that Chloe's Empyrean Resonance Energy levels were on par with mid-level angels, now probably even archangels with her status as living saintess. If she doesn't even come close to the Son of God…. But you are right, such amount of angelic power is not natural. It probably also led Chloe to slaughter demons. Besides her suppressed frustration…. Hopefully she's vented enough…"
She drank again.
"And what could cause something like that?" Dean asked.
"More methods than I feel like enumerating right now, but that's probably where Chloe's atheism comes from."
"Why?"
Elli got wobbly on her knees as the alcohol finally started to kick in. She felt very tired after all the exertion.
She wanted to drink again, but Dean held her back.
"Elli, what happened to Chloe?"
"Nothing that Panacea couldn't undo…. But back when we left on our first real adventure in Paris3, I had to help her change her clothes. I saw her back, Dean…. Luckily, I gave her the healing pills…"
She sat down on a barstool, but Dean continued to hold the bottle away from her mouth.
"I have no idea what they tried to do to her or who it was, but her back was full of Christian symbolism, like they were trying to make Chloe into an abstract stained glass window or something…. In that context, I guess she was also given the ability to generate celestial resonance energy…"
Dean frowned.
"Resonance energy aside, you said the images are gone now? Panacea doesn't work on tattoos, as far as I know."
"Tattoos?" repeated Elli, chuckling mirthlessly. "I didn't say anything about tattoos. Oh, if only they were tattoos…. No Dean, Chloe's been branded. Over many years."

Next time on Nexus:
The Rage Regulator, Part 1

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