The Last Temptation of the Coven
The name was all that the group sitting there needed to hear to prompt them into action; even those members of the Coven with the most limited knowledge of the wider supernatural world knew that anything calling itself Satan couldn't be there for a good purpose, and his presence at the scene of such a cataclysmic destruction was only further proof of that.
Acting virtually on instinct, Paige extended one hand and turned a destroyed bookcase nearby into white orbs before hurling the orbs towards the new arrival, the impact leaving him slightly singed as the orbs passed over him. While Satan was still shaking his head from Paige's attack, Leo followed up the attack by orbing from his current location to stand behind the demon, resulting in similar burns as the white light that Leo had become came in contact with him.
Encouraged by this current success, Spawn launched his chains to bind Satan's arms, the sharpened chains holding the demon in place long enough for Constantine to draw his gun and fire several rapid shots at his chest. As the exorcist's gun clicked on empty, Blade drew his own pistols and continued the rapid burst of gunfire against their opponent, drawing his sword as the guns clicked on empty.
"GET HIM!" Angel roared, all thought of a plan pushed aside at the sight of the bleeding and injured form in front of them; with Satan's proclamation that he was responsible for the current state of affairs, questions about his long-term plan had to be pushed aside in favour of taking advantage of this opportunity.
Whatever Satan's plan had been by launching this attack in the first place wasn't something Angel could bring himself to worry about right now; if they could take him out now they could stop him ever completing it in the first place...
Then Satan lashed out at the Coven with one casual sweep of his arm, sending his would-be attackers flying backwards into the library walls with such force that they left indentations in the stonework when they fell back to the ground, each of them wincing in varying degrees of pain.
"A laudable effort, my friends," Satan said casually as the Coven staggered back to their feet, looking nonchalantly at them as though he was a teacher complimenting some of his dimmer students on a particularly impressive bit of work compared to their usual standards, his previously-received wounds already closing as the Coven looked at him. "Ultimately, however, it was a foolish one; do you truly believe that I
could be defeated by a mere physical assault?"
"Just another demon..." Hellboy grunted as he glared at the creature before him, ignoring the slight throbbing in his chest that indicated an as-yet-unidentified wound of a type that Hellboy was sure he hadn't suffered in any fight before.
"Oh, on the contrary, my boy," Satan said, nonchalantly looking back at the large red demon, "I am far from 'just another demon'; I am the
"Yeah, yeah, you're the first of the Fallen, the Angel who rebelled against God and tried to kick his ass, we get
that-" Faith practically spat in anger.
"Actually, Miss Lehane," Satan said with a slight smile as he studied her, "you 'get' very little."
"What?" Spawn asked, glaring at him. "What the hell are you talking
"I am not just a
Satan, my good Colonel Simmons," Satan said, looking back at the disfigured assassin. "I am the
Satan; the Satan who fell from Heaven into Hell before we introduced such concepts as 'free will' into the equation, the Satan of whom all other Satans or other such demons that you may have encountered are nothing but mere shades of..."
He smirked briefly as he studied the Coven. "The First, the Source, the Satan who cured Mr Constantine over there of his cancer, the demons who fathered the one who would deny his heritage? All mere aspects of what I was and am, I assure you."
"OK, so you're the first
Satan, right?" Angel said, only giving the other demon enough time to nod before he continued. "So, if you're the 'prime' Satan, you can access every alternate world and dimension in existence?"
"Ah, and you wish to know why I chose this
one in particular to get involved in an Apocalypse?" Satan asked, smiling slightly at Angel. "An excellent question, Angel- I may call you Angel, mayn't I?"
When Angel didn't respond, Satan simply shrugged and continued. "Anyway, to answer your question, my reason is simple; your Earth is the supernatural nexus of the multiverse-"
"We're the wha?" Paige asked in confusion.
"Essentially, Miss Matthews, of all the alternate Earths out there in existence, this Earth has more supernatural activity than any other," Satan clarified. "After all, there are you and your sisters, the Slayers, your large and red-skinned teammate over there, a rather unique ghost, a certain 'spirit of vengeance'..."
He shrugged dismissively. "You'd be amazed at how many supernatural secrets this world holds that you all never knew about; most people keep fairly quiet about it, but-"
"OK, so we're the supernatural hot-spot of the multiverse; what does that have to do with you attacking us here
?" Cole asked in frustration. "I mean, if we've got that many supernatural fighters available as you're implying, then-"
..." Angel said, snapping his fingers as he looked at Satan with a faintly horrified understanding. "You take out this
Earth- an Earth where you can... gain more power from the magic that's already on it, right?-, and the others
fall more easily..."
"Excellent deduction, Angel," Satan said, nodding at the vampire. "It would apply on any Earth, of course- I take control of it and I absorb the power present on that world and grow ever stronger-, but with a foothold established for my forces on this Earth- no easy task, I assure you; the chaos caused by the Gathering provided a good distraction-, I can then draw on its power to supplant and enhance my own, thus allowing me to spread my influence from this Earth on to others-"
Roaring in rage, Spike lunged towards Satan with his sword drawn, only for Satan to effortlessly grab Spike by the throat as he flew through the air, subsequently hurling Spike back towards the Coven with such force that Blade, Paige and Illyria were sent hurtling to the ground before they could move out of his way.
"Did you really
think that would stop me?" the powerful demon asked, raising a critical eyebrow as the fair-haired vampire glared back at him. "I just informed you that I am now drawing on the supernatural potential of this entire Earth for my own strength, and all that you
do in response is attempt to attack me?"
"Bigger they are..." Spike muttered grimly, his voice hoarse as he tenderly rubbed at his bruised throat.
"It was a noble effort, don't get me wrong, but unfortunately I am far
too powerful for any such methods to be effective against me now," Satan said with a nonchalant shrug. "Your entire power combined mean very little to a being who can channel the energy of such a powerful magical Earth as this one; right now, even the combined power possessed by all of you put together means very
little to me..."
"Then why the hell are we still alive?" Faith asked, glaring in frustration at Satan. "You already trashed everything else-!"
"And yet, of all of your allies, you are the last ones standing," Satan said, smiling briefly at them as he looked at the various members of the Coven. "Granted, in some cases this was because I arrange to... keep you out of the way- your presence would have made things a bit
more complicated than I would have liked; I'm not saying you would have been able to stop
me but you'd definitely have made it harder than it was-, but that is no reason to ignore what you are all capable of..."
"Quit with the praise and get to the fucking point
," Spawn practically spat.
"Very well then," Satan said, smiling slightly at the group as they stood before him. "I will give you this one chance-"
"A 'chance'?" Leo repeated, looking incredulously at the man before them. "You just destroyed everything
we've been trying to protect for years
"And yet, even after all that destruction, you and your associates are still alive," Satan said, smiling at them once again. "As I was saying, in respect for the strength and ingenuity you have shown in opposing my various assorted minions over the last few years, I will give you all one chance at a very unique offer; when I continue my campaign across the other worlds of this multiverse, I want you to join me."
For a moment the group simply stared at him in silence, before Paige voiced what they were all feeling.
"Go and screw yourself, asshole
," she spat angrily (It was a bit cruder than her usual language, but given the current situation Paige felt that it was also justified).
"Oh, you and Mr Wyatt over there would
need to go through a couple of... changes... before you could be on my
team, of course- and we'd have to take Mr Turner back to an earlier stage of his development rather than leave him as is, naturally-, but otherwise you do
make excellent candidates for my side," Satan said casually. "After all, individually all of you have the potential to be great warriors for either side in this conflict-"
"And we're on the side that's spent its existence kicking your sides' butt; why should we just quit and defect now
?" Constantine asked grimly. "Just because you're not the Satan we know doesn't mean we're going to follow you-!"
"On the topic of defection, is it really defection when your side doesn't exist any more in the strictest sense of the word?" Satan asked, shooting them the casual smirk that the entire Coven were coming to loathe; he almost looked like a teacher trying to prompt his class to answer a question where the answer should be obvious to anyone who could think.
"If you fight against me, you will die, and nothing will change; I will simply move on to another world and kill everyone there" Satan continued, his eyes briefly flaring red as he studied the Coven, before he assumed a slight smile once again. "However, fight alongside
me, and I assure you, you will be treated well as generals among my forces."
"If you think we'd ever
agree to that-" Blade began.
"What choice do you have, Daywalker?" Satan interjected dismissively, briefly raising his hand before he stood back with a casual smile. "I will give you a day to make up your minds one way or the other- you'll even be left alone by my forces so long as you don't engage them yourselves first-; afterwards..."
He shrugged. "Well, it's your decision, really."
With that he turned around and walked down the corridor out of the Bureau's library, vanishing a smoke-like whirl as he did so, leaving the Coven to exchange grim glances with each other before Angel spoke.
"I assume nobody here is interested in that deal?" he asked.
"What do you think
?" Willow asked, glaring over at Angel as though the vampire had offered her a glass of blood.
"Had to be sure," Angel said briefly, before he looked around at his team. "All right; we've got one day to prepare, so we need to move fast. Our first priority is-"
"Hold on a minute here; first
priority?" Hellboy repeated, walking over to look incredulously down at Angel. "We just got our heads
handed to us when we tried to fight that guy, and you're saying we have a priority apart
from 'run like Hell away from this guy'?"
"And where would we run to
?" Angel said, looking grimly back at the Coven's physical powerhouse before he looked around at his team. "You heard what he said; once he's finished cleaning up on this Earth he's going to move on to another, and from then he'll just keep on moving until he's absorbed too much power for anyone
to stop him-"
"We're talking about Satan
here, Peaches!" Spike yelled over at Angel, walking over to grab the other vampire's shoulder and spin his grandsire around to face him. "The man fought God
himself and he's still here; what the hell are we
going to do to stop... this
"Working on that," Angel said, holding up a hand to forestall further questions from Spike as he looked around at the rest of his team, a solemn expression on his face. "I think- I repeat, think
- that I've got a plan, but I'm going to need time to sort out the fine details, and I need to talk with a couple of people about some of the technical aspects anyway; right now, all you need to do is focus on finding out if anyone else is still alive and fighting in this mess and get them to us as soon as you can."
"Recruitment drive?" Blade asked, raising one eyebrow inquiringly after a moment's silence throughout the Coven as its members contemplated Angel's words. "Find who else came through Hell on Earth intact and bring them on board for the big showdown?"
"Basically, yeah," Angel confirmed. "Willow, John, I'm going to need your help on sorting out the first stages of my plan; the rest of you, just... see if you can find anyone alive in this mess."
"And then what?" Faith asked grimly. "We mount everything we've got to make one last stupid-yet-heroic stand against the bad guys before we're all dead and stuck in Hell for eternity?"
"If I'm right, we'll have a chance at avoiding that," Angel said, looking resolutely back at the dark Slayer. "I'm not saying this isn't a long shot, and I don't even know if it's going to work, but if it's a choice between trying and failing, or taking his offer and helping him do to other worlds what he's done to this one..."
He trailed off as he looked around at his allies, not even needing to finish the sentence to see that everybody around him was in full agreement with his last statement.
Whatever Angel's plan was, if it gave them any kind of chance to strike back against the man who had caused this kind of devastation- particularly when the alternative was far from appealing to them on any kind of moral level-, they were going to take it.
"Let's go," Spawn said, speaking for them all as he looked around at his allies. "What's up first?"
"Finding people who meet the criteria Angel just gave us," Paige said, before she smiled slightly as she looked at the others. "Does anyone know where I could find a map of the world?"
AN: Well, I've got a few candidates lined up for the upcoming 'recruitment drive'- the movie version of Ghost Rider, Danny Phantom, Dante of "Devil May Cry", variations of Raven and Etrigan (None of the DC-comics-specific information will be included in their histories but their basic origins will remain intact)-, but if anyone has any other ideas who the Coven could recruit at this point let me know; all that matters is that they be a supernatural character with some darker elements in their history while also being powerful enough to last for any
length of time on a world where the Devil has taken charge...