Prince of Patriotism, One: Duke of Hades, Zero

Post date: Sep 08, 2020 4:53:27 PM

Flame Demons can spit fire out of their mouths and set most things ablaze. They are irascible, impulsive, violent, and highly intelligent creatures. They are often dispatched by Satan to act as shock troops and commanders of his legions in the earthly realm.

Botis Vassago was an evil sorcerer who lived in a stone mansion on an estate in Fallbrook, California. He had been stirring the cauldron of hate, violence, and discontent for decades and with the presidential election rapidly approaching, he thought now was the perfect time to ratchet up the violence and chaos. He used an incantation to summon assistance from the bowels of hell: “Lord Satan, I beseech you for the power to conceive in my mind and to execute in reality that which you desire me to do, and in the end we will attain anarchy and destruction. O Mighty Satan, the one true leader who livest and reignest for all eternity, I vow my full allegiance. Inspire me to fulfill my chosen destiny. I respectfully and humbly ask you, Lord Satan, that you deem me worthy of your assistance.”

A flash of lightning hit a gas station on Mission Road and exploded it in a ball of flames that could be seen and heard for several miles. Botis looked out the window of his palatial residence. Seeing the inferno, he knew his request had been answered.

Turning around, he saw a handsome man with jet black hair and dark eyes standing before him. The man spoke in a melodic and hypnotic voice, “I come at the order of the Emperor of Darkness, the King of Hell, the Antichrist. I am Dantalion, Grand Duke of Hades!”

Dantalion had 36 legions of demons under his command. He was the 71st of 72 spirits of Solomon and could read the thoughts of all people, changing them with his will. He had the ability to initiate the emotions of love and hate, and could cause delusions in people to make them believe they were part of a world they envisioned, but that did not exist. Dantalion was also a shape shifter and had the ability to duplicate the physical appearances of men and women.

* * *

Jensen Castiel was a young Navy Seal who grew up in Oceanside, California. He was the son of a career Marine. His father Jack put 27 years into the Corps and retired as a sergeant major. Jensen had two older sisters. Michelle was an emergency room nurse at Tri-City Medical Center and Emily worked as a computer engineer for Cox Communications.

Castiel was on an extended assignment with his team in Ukraine trying to destroy a human trafficking ring operated by Albanian gangsters. He was on patrol in the Carpathian Mountains when his unit came across a small structure hidden among the dense foliage. The Americans took cover and Jensen pulled out an infrared scope. Pointing it at the building, he said, “I’ve got nine heat signatures.”

Senior Chief Brice Tillman replied, “Dugan, take point.”

Chief Petty Officer Kane Dugan acknowledged the command, “Roger that.”

The Navy Seals moved out in single file, staying low to the ground and not making a sound. When they reached the front door, they saw it was reinforced. Castiel pulled out three small plastic explosive charges with remote detonators and placed them in strategic places next to the doorjamb. The Seals backed away and Jensen blew the door off its hinges. The Americans rushed in and killed three human traffickers before they could react. Six young girls ranging in age from 11 to 14 years cowered in the corner.

Tillman reassured them. “You’re safe.”

Even though the girls did not speak English, they got the message from the tone of the Seal team leader’s voice. As they prepared to leave, Petty Officer Charlie Donnell called out as he scanned the area with binoculars, “We’ve got company. I make out 30 hostiles.”

“Castiel, hang back, give them everything you got, you stay 30 seconds no more, then I want beating feet to catch up, understand?” said Tillman.

“Comprendi,” Castiel smiled.

Tillman turned to Petty Officer Boomer Morland. “Give Castiel the grenade launcher. Remember what I said…30 seconds…don’t make me come back here to get you!”

“I got it…I got it,” Jensen replied. “Now go before none of us are going anywhere.”

The Navy Seals left with the rescued girls while Jensen fired high-explosive grenades at the rapidly approaching human traffickers. After firing 15 rounds, he raced off at a full sprint to rejoin his team. When he reached the top of the ridge, he saw an image of a woman being pursued by two beastlike creatures. Jensen had to make a split-second decision; rejoin his team and let the woman defend herself or help her. He had sworn an oath to protect those in trouble, so he changed directions and followed the woman.

When he reached her location she was trapped against a rocky cliff. From his viewpoint, it looked like she was wearing a high tech, multicolored, one-piece tracksuit that matched the foliage of the forest. She held a shield in one hand and a glistening sword in the other. Despite her situation, the woman did not seem fearful at all.

Jensen had never seen anything like these beasts. They were part animal and part human. They were the size of a bear, with the face of a wolf, but the lower part of the torso had big human legs and feet. Jensen called out to distract them, “Hey!”

The two creatures turned around and began moving toward him. The Navy Seal fired two grenades that knocked them off their feet. Even though both were seriously wounded they got up. But as they did, the woman came up from behind and decapitated both with two powerful swings of her sword.

Then she communicated telepathically with Castiel. “Thank you for your help. We’ve been watching you and your friends and we approve of the work you’re doing. My name is Thalrania.”

“Who are you and what are these things you just killed?”

Thalrania switched to verbal communications. “It might make you a little more comfortable if we spoke instead of exchanging thoughts. I am a wood nymph by birth and a demon hunter by profession. These two creatures are not of this world.”

She kicked the severed head of the monster and it rolled down the hill. “There’s a technical name for this particular breed, but we just call them, ‘Bearserkers.’ They are immensely strong, but as dumb as a rock. They fall into the general category of beast demons. Walk with me and I’ll explain more to you.”

The beasts disintegrated into dust, leaving no trace of their existence.

“Okay,” Castiel answered.

As they walked under the forest canopy, Thalrania began to speak.

“Whenever there is centralized evil, it creates a massive negativity field that weakens the world’s defenses against hell. The portals that lead from the bowels of depravity to civilization sporadically open and close during this chaotic time. Evil sorcerers use these opportunities to call for Satan’s assistance. I am a part of a larger group called Hunters. The Devil doesn’t like to play by the rules so whenever he brings in his demons, we respond. Sometimes when you’re on a mission we stay close-by, but out of sight. We do this to make sure you are not facing an adversary that you don’t have the training or weapons for.”

“Considering what I just saw and speaking for my teammates, I extend our sincere gratitude for your assistance.”

“Not necessary. We do it for the same reason you do your job; it is our sworn duty. We might have a slight problem, though.”

“What kind of problem?”

“You may have crossed some kind of line by engaging in a battle with a beast demon. I won’t know for sure until I discuss it with my commander.”

When they reached a clearing in the forest, several men and women were sitting around a campfire. A middle-aged man wearing a camouflaged uniform approached and he wasn’t pleased. “You know better than to bring him here.”

“He got involved in a fight with two bearserkers,” Thalrania explained.

“That does change things,” Gideon Windwalker replied. “Have a seat, Chief Petty Officer Jensen Castiel. I’ll need to contact my superior to see how he wants to handle this.”

“How do you know who I am?” Jensen asked.

“We know the name of everyone who serves in the defense of honor and freedom,” Gideon said.

Thalrania got a big plate of food from the outdoor grill and brought it over to Jensen as he sat down at the table. As soon as he tasted it, Castiel commented, “This is great!”

“Just one of the many benefits of serving at the pleasure of the Great Almighty is that we get a lot of heavenly recipes,” Thalrania responded.

When Gideon returned, he sat down across from Castiel.

“We are prepared to offer you the following; we know you have a prior commitment to the Navy Seals and we would never ask you to violate that oath. There may come a time when you need our help. All you have to do is ask and we’ll be there. Since we have the same core values and goals, your victories will also be ours.”

“I don’t see how I turn down a deal like that. How do I get in touch with you?”

“Since Thalrania has already communicated with you telepathically, we have your thought waves on file.”

“Finish your meal and I’ll lead you back to your team,” Thalrania suggested.

“There is one thing we would like to ask of you in return,” Gideon said. “This is only a request, not a demand.”

“If I can.”

“Keep this meeting and our agreement secret, even from your teammates. We like to consider ourselves the ultimate covert operation.”

“Absolutely, of course. I can do that.”

The beautiful wood nymph moved so quickly down the mountain trail that the well-conditioned Navy Seal had trouble keeping up with her. When they reached the top of the hill, Thalrania pointed down to the river below.

“Your men are down there. Take a look at your radio.”

Castiel complied. “It’s not working.”

“They are going to ask you why you didn’t communicate by radio. Now you won’t have to lie.”

Castiel looked away for a moment and when he looked back, Thalrania was gone. When he got back to his team, Senior Chief Tillman was obviously relieved to see him.

“Where were you?”

“I had to take some evasive action.”

“These girls came walking into camp and said that a man rescued them. I assumed it was you. Why didn’t you radio for help?”

“It malfunctioned.”

Castiel looked off in the distance and saw Thalrania standing next to a tree. She gave him a crisp salute and he knew her group was responsible for the latest rescue.

* * *

Upon his return to California, Castiel and his team headed back to Camp Pendleton for a joint training exercise with Marine Corps Force Reconnaissance operatives. It only took a few days for Jensen to realize that something seriously wrong was going on in the area. Two armories on base were robbed, several Marines were badly beaten in downtown Oceanside, and a series of fires broke out in the North County area.

Navy Seals need to be able to assess danger, develop a plan, and execute the mission. Castiel’s senses were heightened to a level he had not known since his return. He could tell he wasn’t the same man he was before meeting Thalrania.

His teammates noticed the physical changes too. Jensen, Boomer Morland, and Charlie Donnell were in the 13 Area fitness center on Camp Pendleton doing bench presses. Boomer maxed out at 310 pounds, Charlie struggled to do one rep of 315.

“You’re up, Castiel,” Charlie said.

Jensen added two 50 pound plates, one on each end of the bar and easily popped out ten reps.

“What the hell!” Boomer marveled. “When did you get so strong?”

Moving outside to the track for a three-mile run, the three Navy Seals were running side by side for the first two laps.

“I’m going to pick up the pace a little,” Castiel said, speeding up. Before Boomer and Charlie finished their 12 laps, he had passed them twice.

Later that day there was another incident on base where several armed men in a pick-up truck attempted to race through the front gate. A gun-battle ensued between the military police and the occupants of the vehicle. Two Marines were injured and their assailants were killed. Two hours later, a fire broke out by Edson Range and quickly spread to 15,000 acres with zero containment.

* * *

Jensen exited Camp Pendleton through the Naval Weapons Station on his way to the Pala Casino to have dinner with former Navy Seal Ray Lighthorse, a friend now in charge of security at the resort. He stopped off at Daniels Market in the River Village Shopping Center to pick up an anniversary card for his parents. As he stood in line, he felt an overwhelming sense of evil and danger sweep over him. Castiel moved slowly through the store, looking for the source of the negative energy. When he turned down the ice cream aisle, the feeling got much stronger. A young Marine and his wife were playfully joking around with each other about which ice cream flavor to get.

From behind the woman came Botis. He touched her on the shoulder and grinned maliciously. “I have many flavors of ice cream at my house. Why don’t you join me for the best banana split in the world?”

The young Marine stepped forward. “Back off, Bozo!”

Botis reached out with his hand and grabbed the young Marine by the throat, lifting him off the ground. “What was that again?”

Castiel came up behind the evil sorcerer, kicked him in the back of the knee, and grabbed his arm. He pulled it off the Marine, who gasped for air in relief. Botis tried to use his immense power against Castiel to get his arm loose but couldn’t. The evil sorcerer knew he was facing a Hunter. When they made eye contact, their stares burned deep and both men knew that they were facing their sworn adversary. When Castiel released him, Botis turned and rushed out of the market.

Jensen turned to the Marine who was rubbing his throat. “Are you alright?”

“Yeah, I think so. That guy had a grip like a vice. Thanks for your help,” said the Marine, coughing. “I wish I had my M-16 with me.”

“Hang in there.”

* * *

Botis was raging when he reached his sanctuary. Dantalion looked over as he approvingly watched the news coverage of the fire on Camp Pendleton. “What’s wrong?”

“I just had a confrontation with a Hunter.”

“And you’re still alive. That’s unusual. Do you know what kind?”

“Military type.”

“That is not good.” Dantalion pondered the revelation as flames shot from his mouth. “Patriotism always makes things more difficult for me.”

* * *

Leaving Pala Casino, Castiel found Thalrania sitting in his Toyota Highlander.

“Why is it I have a feeling this is not a social call?”

“Maybe because I don’t do social calls,” Thalrania answered. “Drive.”

Thalrania directed Jensen to a home on Gopher Canyon Road. Gideon Windwalker and a group of Hunters were preparing their weapons for battle.

“Good to see you again…I wish it was under different circumstances,” said Gideon.

“If it was, you wouldn’t be here.”

“The man you met at the market was Botis Vessago. He’s a sorcerer who has summoned Dantalion, a powerful demon and his legions. If we don’t stop them, things will only get worse for the world…much worse.”

“How does this work? I’ve never fought demons before.”

“Our weapons are blessed and whoever is killed in battle is vanquished and cannot return to earth for two hundred years. We will meet at Mission Vista High School to see whether good or evil prevails.”

When they arrived at the school, hundreds of Demons were lined up on one side of the football field. Castiel, Thalrania, and Gideon walked out to the 50 yard line to face Botis and Dantalion, who spit fire high into the sky.

Gideon said, “It’s been a while.”

“Two hundred and forty-three years and seven months, but who’s counting,” Dantalion responded. “Satan sends his ill wishes. Thalrania, looking good as always. I told you before, you’re fighting for the wrong side. You can have massive wealth and great power if you join my legion. I’ll make you second in command.”

“I’m still happy where I’m at.”

Dantalion looked over Castiel, sizing him up.

“Navy Seal, huh? I’ve heard about you. The last military Hunter I came across was a guy called George Washington.”

Thalrania reminded Satan’s warrior, “I imagine you wouldn’t forget him. He sent you to the bowels of hell for two centuries.”

“He got lucky,” Dantalion snapped back. “That won’t happen again!”

“You going to talk us to death?” Gideon said. “Or are we going to do what we came here for?

“That is the only thing I like about you Gideon; you get right to the point. Even though we’ve been fighting for an eternity, you still don’t like to waste time.”

Dantalion waved his right hand and his legion of demons moved forward.

Gideon did the same and the Hunters also approached from the parking lot. It took several seconds before the opposing forces were engaged in heated battle. Every time a demon was destroyed, it turned into a fireball and went deep into the earth on its way to hell. When a Hunter was lost, a bright light shot into the skies. Neither would be allowed to return to earth for 200 years.

Before long Thalrania was facing off against Botis, while Castiel did the same with Dantalion. Thalrania quickly moved to the left and lunged forward with her sword. The blade went through Botis’ chest, exiting between his shoulder blades. In a moment, a bright ball of fire appeared and burrowed through the earth.

Jensen and Dantalion dropped their swords, coming at each other with knives drawn. The Navy Seal lunged forward. The Demon grabbed his wrist. Dantalion made the same movement and Castiel grabbed his adversary’s wrist. With their blades only an inch away from their intended target, they kept pushing. Dantalion smiled.

“You’re human and your first death is always the most painful. I’m glad to be the first one to give it to you.”

Just when Dantalion’s blade touched Jensen’s shirt and seemed ready to penetrate, things began to change. Instead, it was the Navy Seal’s knife slowly puncturing the Demon’s flesh. Dantalion cursed in frustration, “Aw hell!” Bursting into flames, he disappeared into the earth.

Thalrania walked to Jensen and placed a reassuring hand on his shoulder, saying, “You were destined for this.”

Gideon laughed. “Prince of Patriotism, one, Duke of Hades, zero. Rematch in 200 years.”

Read more Thomas Calabrese stories at The Vista Press.