Previously: A Heroic Trio
Despite all the nay-saying and political theater, the evacuation was actually quite successful, with the town being emptied by sunset. Daos mused at the convenient timing, repeatedly glancing westward as the sun went down.
"It's so quiet," Dominador murmured softly, as they walked the empty streets towards Club Piel Desnuda. "I mean, I always thought this town was quiet but...."
"It'll be over soon," Hyun-jun assured him. "I take it this is your first infestation?"
"How about you?" Daos asked suddenly. "As long as you've been around, I know you've had to have seen a few."
The demon broker was grim. "This will be my third. My last one was during the reign of the great Seondeok herself."
Dominador shook his head in disbelief. "Wait a minute...Seondeok? Queen Seondeok? But she ruled, like, a forever ago!"
"Infestations are extremely rare," Daos explained. "The trick is to catch the portals before any of the Horde come through. Every time one of them enters our world, the portal is pushed open wider, which makes it increasingly unpredictable and harder to control."
"So where's the calvary?" Dominador asked. "I mean, everyone seems to be on the same page when it comes to these guys - where are the shamans and bounty hunters and the like?"
"En route," Daos assured him. "The Horde has a way of bringing folks together. But the others have to travel by conventional means. If they try opening portals of their own to get here, it could make things a lot worse."
A straggler came suddenly skittering out from behind the Club just as the sun dipped low and night's first shadow fell across Soleado Valle. Hyun-jun, in typical Hyun-jun fashion, snapped his fingers and reduced the creepy-looking critter to ash.
Meanwhile, Dominador's heart thudded in his chest. He practically had to force himself to keep breathing as he tightly gripped his crossbow.
"The portal's still behind the Club," Daos nodded to Hyun-jun. "Can you sense it?"
"Just barely; it's shifting," Hyun-jun replied through gritted teeth. "They're getting smarter, Daos. They've learned how to move their doorways around at whim."
Another, then another, and yet another came out. Daos took the first down with a crossbow bolt to the heart while Hyun-jun merely waved at the other two. Once again...ash.
"This is not so bad," Dominador mumbled. "I mean, if all you have to do is snap your fingers and wave your hand --"
"Even so, Hyun-jun's still at risk for taking out the buildings, which is not a part of the plan," Daos cut him off. "We've given this town enough grief as it is. This has to be a strictly surgical strike. Get ready, Dominador! Here they come!"
And come they did. And instead of coming in twos and threes, they started to come in fives and tens. Hyun-jun remained adept at taking them out, but their numbers continued to grow. Like Daos said, the demon needed cover.
Dominador instinctively raised his crossbow and fired. At first, he mentally kicked himself, but then was delighted to see his bolt had pierced the heart. He took out another with same ease. It was strange; he somehow got the distinct impression he'd done something like this before.
He shut off his mind and let his fingers work; it was like watching himself from a distance. His heartbeat slowed to a steady rhythm and he hardly blinked as he fired the bolts one by one. Even Daos missed a few, but for some reason Dominador had no trouble hitting his marks.
It was amazing...until they ran out of bolts instead of vermin. Dominador grabbed a stake, gripping it tightly. He was not looking forward to going hand-to-hand with these things. They were creepy and icky and he was fairly certain he was going to get limb gnawed off tonight.
And then, to his surprise...Daos laid his weapons down.
Dominador almost had a stroke. "Nicolao!" he barked. "What the hell are you doing?"
"This isn't my fight," the demon-hunter casually shrugged.
"Hyun-jun can't take them all without leveling the city block, remember?" Dominador yelled.
"This isn't his fight either." Daos solemnly looked over at the demon. "Hyun-jun, stop what you're doing."
The demon hesitated, but then reluctantly stopped flame-broiling members of the Horde. Daos calmly turned to Dominador and asked, "Why are you here?"
"In this town, why are you here in this town?" Daos asked again.
"I got assigned here - you know that! Now pick up a weapon, Daos! They're coming!"
"Wrong," Daos shook his head. "You're not here because of any assignment or because the Consultant pulled strings. It's fate, Dominador. The odds that you - of all people - would be here now, during an infestation? One in billions."
Hyun-jun's eyes widened as he realized what Daos was saying. "You have got to be.... Him? It was him? This whole time?"
Dominador's head swiveled back and forth between them. "What the hell are you two --"
"Hyun-jun's last infestation was during the reign of Seondeok, but there was another which occurred centuries after that in our own homeland, in the Visayas," Daos patiently explained, as though a small army of flesh-eaters weren't slowly, cautiously approaching them. "The Horde was defeated by a gino'o whose bravery and love for his people knew no bounds. He fended them off by himself, wielding the power of the sun."
Dominador stared at him, still struggling to graspwhat he was hearing.
"You did save me, Dominador," Daos told him kindly. "It wasn't a dream. I did die by the water-shaped bullet as was prophesied...but you saved me. Just like I know you'll save us now."
His timing was flawless. A flesh-eater had just lunged at Daos, but without thinking or looking, Dominador had caught the creature by the neck. The next thing he knew, he was staring into the cold, dead eyes of the demon and then suddenly...warmth....
Daos and Hyun-jun stood back as they watched Dominador's body slowly begin to luminesce. It started with his right hand, with which he held the flesh-eater. The warm golden light spread slowly through his arm, and as the light grew, the demon he held slowly burned, until Dominador casually ground its skull to dust.
In seconds, Dominador's whole body was glowing in full Umalagad mode, the light from within him began spreading beyond him, flooding the street, then the block, then the whole town, until all of Soleado Valle was cleansed of the Horde.
Daos smirked. "No weapon like the sun, indeed," he mused.
"The portal is sealed," Hyun-jun whispered. "I can feel it."
The still-glowing Umalagad turned suddenly, gazing upon Hyun-jun rather curiously as though he'd forgotten he was there. Daos opened his mouth to actually intervene on the broker demon's behalf but he wasn't quick enough. The Ancestor lightly placed his hand on Hyun-jun's chest, until Hyun-jun was both glowing and gasping. He was still standing, but struggling to breathe as the light began to fade from them both.
When he was back to his normal appearance, Dominador blinked several times and turned around twice.
"Uh...Daos?" he asked. "What just happened?" He turned round and round. "Where's the Horde?"
Daos raised an eyebrow. "You mean you don't know?"
"I, uh...I don't remember," Dominador mumbled, turning around and around again as though trying to figure something out. "Like...we were fighting the Horde, and then...and then...I don't know.... Dude, what the hell happened?"
"Remember when I drowned?" Daos smiled. "And I got over it?"
Dominador blinked, clearly flummoxed. "Yeah...?"
"Well," Daos chuckled. "The Horde came and...we got over it."
Next: Human Error