Nellie and Dr. Paine rushed down the street to the wreckage of Wade’s plane, their weapons held at the ready and their eyes alert to danger.
The rupture of the fuel tank had spilled nearly all of the gasoline away from the airplane before he had slid to a halt. Only part of the plane was on fire. In the red glare of the parachute flare stuck to the corner of a building, Nellie and Dr. Paine could see Wade struggling to free himself.
“Hold still,” Nellie called, hurrying around the wreckage to put the aircraft between her and any surviving cultists who might decide to take a shot in their direction. Blood trickled down from a small gash along his left eyebrow where his flying goggles had broken. He could feel blood flowing from his side too where the stitches of his earlier wound had torn with the impact of the crash. His lower left leg was pinned in the wreckage and he suspected it was broken. He knew from experience that he did not feel the pain because too much adrenalin was coursing through his veins, but that it would come.
“I’m stuck,” Wade said. “I can’t see behind me, how bad is the fire?”
Nellie was surprised by how calm Wade sounded about being trapped and uncertain as to how close the flames were to him.
“Very small fire,” Dr. Paine said. “We’ll get you out before it becomes something to worry about.”
“Ian told me what you were doing and I thought you could use some help,” Wade said as Dr. Paine peered inside the cockpit to see the extent of Wade’s injuries.
“Where did you get the plane?” Nellie asked.
“An old smuggler friend,” Wade replied.
“Hope he wasn’t expecting it back,” Nellie said, trying to distract Wade as Dr. Paine attempted to pull his left leg free. Wade winced and his gritted teeth seemed unusually white on his oil and smoke darkened face.
“It’s no good,” Wade said. Dr. Paine nodded and stepped back from the wreckage.
“Grace, Beau, lend a hand,” Dr. Paine shouted upwards.
“If they’re alive,” Nellie said.
“Always the optimist,” Wade said.
Grace soared off the roof with her succubus wings spread wide and landed near the plane. She rushed to Dr. Paine, embraced him and kissed him passionately. Dr. Paine pulled away, blushing.
“How are the others?” he asked her.
“Queen Lilith lives,” Grace said. “Beau succeeded in banishing Nyarlathotep and Lilith killed Maahes. Beau and Seth survived too.”
“Wade is trapped,” the Doctor said. “Think you can bend the metal so we can get his leg out?”
“Yes,” she said. With her demonic strength, she freed his leg while Dr. Paine and Nellie helped him out of the cockpit.
They lowered him onto the lower left wing to sit. Dr. Paine pulled his medical kit out of the canvas pack and wrapped bandages around Wade’s earlier wound. “We need to get out of here before the police show up,” Dr. Paine said. Wade began to stand, but Grace and Dr. Paine each took him by an arm.
“This is one crash you’re not walking away from, Walkaway,” Nellie said. “Let’s get in the car and get out of here.”
Their path took them past the earlier battle and the ruins of The Scarlet Lord’s temple. Debris half filled the street and covered several of the fallen cultists, ghouls and vampires. Lucy, Beau and Seth stepped out of their building.
Beau watched as Lucy resumed the appearance he was most familiar. The devastation at ground level was shocking to see. With relief, Beau saw his friends had survived. He turned to Lucy and said, “I am sorry for the loss of your people.”
A handful of surviving ghouls approached Lucy and bowed low. She made a point of taking each of them by the hand as she passed and thanked them.
“Beau, take over here,” Dr. Paine said, indicating Wade. “I’ll see if there are any surviving humans.”
“There won’t be,” Grace said, looking at the ghouls.
But she was mistaken. A dust covered Omari rose from the rubble, his face twisted in anger. He raised his revolver, but before he could fire, Lucy took it from him.
“Curse you all,” he said. “Kill me and be done with it.”
“We won’t kill you,” Lucy said.
“You were just my master’s demon whore,” Omari spat. “My master was a true vampire. He would never have shown mercy.”
“I’m not,” Lucy said and with a glance towards the ghouls, he realized the truth of her words and the color drained from his face and his eyes grew wide.
After they turned the corner, Nellie said to Beau, “You once told us it did not matter, that Nyarlathotep would simply just return in the future to try again. His earlier banishment did not stop his return. Will we have to go through this again? I could not look. As soon as Nyarlathotep began his transformation, we ducked out of sight and hid.”
“I ran,” Seth said. “I admit I ran to a succubus for help.”
“Nyarlathotep won’t return,” Beau said. “The ritual was incomplete before. It was complete this time.”
Beau heard the others sigh with relief and he could tell their mood improved as if a heavy burden was lifted.
A block away, they helped Wade into the backseat of the car. Nellie slid in beside him. Dr. Paine turned to Wade and said, “I’ll get you patched up as soon as I can, but we need to get out of here now.”
“Grace, please look after them,” Lucy said.
Dr. Paine stuck his head out the window and told Beau, “Meet us at the airport.”
Wade added, “Pick up Ian on your way. He’s at the British Embassy.”
Beau nodded. He leaned inside the back seat and shook Wade’s hand.
“Thanks for being there,” Beau said. “The Dark Young would have stopped the banishment ritual if you hadn’t showed up in time to save me.”
“You’d have done the same for me,” Wade said.
Beau shook his head and said, “No, I’m afraid that’s not true. I won’t be coming to your rescue when you need me next.”
“What do you mean?” Wade said with concern, afraid Beau would be leaving the group.
“With your leg broke, you’re not going to be able to escape from Nellie and I’m not going to risk my neck saving you,” Beau said with a laugh, turning to rejoin Lucy and Seth.
Beau drove away from the destruction and carnage, passing several police vehicles and fire trucks rushing towards it. Beau hoped the ghouls had removed the bodies before the authorities arrived, but at the moment he just wanted to leave the country. He had long loved Egypt, but he would never look at the land the same way again and was eager to be on the plane. He didn’t particularly care where they went. They pulled up to the embassy. Seth began to open his car door to go get Ian, but he stopped.
“I’d heard of the previous time you had used the banishment spell, but how did you keep your focus with Nyarlathotep crawling towards you and with everything else that happened?” Seth asked.
“It was easy,” Beau said. “Lucy used her hypnotic powers to implant a mental command. When I began the spell, I did not see myself on top of a roof with death and destruction all around us. I saw myself on my favorite beach with nothing but a warm breeze and pleasant sea air.”
Seth glanced from one to the other then turned to Lucy. “Perhaps I was wrong,” he said. “Perhaps a vampire can be a useful ally.” He knocked on the door of the embassy and entered.
Lucy leaned over and kissed Beau. “I always thought you were a terrible liar, but the others believed you,” she said.
“What do you mean?” Beau replied suspiciously.
“About Nyarlathotep,” she said. “You completed the banishment ritual before and he came back. There is a chance he could return yet again.”
“Was I that obvious?” Beau asked. “As I said before, I was haunted for years knowing that he might return. I didn’t want them to experience that same sense of dread. I think I took unnecessary chances in the past because I feared what the future would hold.”
“And now?” she asked.
“I intend to live in the present,” he said.
At the airport, they parked near the plane and loaded their equipment and carried Wade on board. Dr. Paine sat in the pilot’s seat and readied the plane for takeoff. Wade, his former flight instructor, kept up a steady stream of instructions from the first row of passenger seats.
“I was going to wait until we were airborne and had the plane on autopilot to fill him full of morphine,” Dr. Paine said to Grace who sat in the copilot seat watching him.
The plane had seats for 14 people and there were many empty seats. Nellie walked to the back where Beau and Lucy sat.
“Excuse me, Your Highness,” Nellie said to Lucy. To Beau’s surprise there was no sarcasm in Nellie’s tone.
“Yes,” Lucy said.
“I’m going to begin working on the reports,” Nellie said. “The Chief is going to want them as soon as possible and considering all that happened, I’ll be doing paperwork for the next month.”
“Do you really have to do them now?” Ian asked. “Shouldn’t this be a time of celebration?”
Nellie turned to him. “This is what we do,” she said in a sangfroid manner. “Shouldn’t you go check on Wade? It looks like he’s in need of something.”
“He’s in need of a drink like we all are,” Beau said after Ian had walked up the narrow aisle. The plane began to taxi down the runway and Nellie sat in the seat across from Beau and Lucy.
“As I thought of the reports, I thought of the difficulty your situation presents from a grammatical standpoint,” Nellie said.
“I don’t understand,” Lucy admitted.
“Do I refer to you as Lucy or Lilith? Do I refer to you with singular or plural pronouns?” Nellie asked. “You can see the dilemma I face.”
Lucy turned to Beau. “Is she serious? We just saved the living and undead across the globe from a terrible fate and she’s worried about proper pronouns?”
“I have a solution,” Nellie said. “But I wanted to see what you thought of it first.”
“I am eager to help solve your ‘dilemma,’” Lucy said.
“Since you really are a combination of Lucy and Lilith I thought you should change your name to Lucith,” Nellie said. “It pays homage to your heritage as both and reflects your current existence.”
‘“Since you caused my ‘current existence’ it is appropriate you should give me my new name,” Lucith said.
“Sounds vaguely evil,” Beau said
“Lucith,” Lucy said to herself as if trying out the name. “I like it.”