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This story is No. 1 in the series "The Maelstrom Series". You may wish to read the series introduction first.

Summary: When Wolfram and Hart decide to set up a branch in Chicago, Johnny Marcone looks for someone with experience fighting them. Wesley, late of Angel Investigations, seems a perfect candidate. Post 'White Night' and Episode 4x02 of Ats

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Literature > Dresden Files, TheAlkeniFR152574,32437722,90625 Oct 1116 Sep 12Yes

Know When to Fold Them

Disclaimer: Not mine. Not mine at all.

New City, Same Enemy

By Alkeni

Chapter 19: Know When to Fold Them.

Isle of Demonreach

The first thing that crossed Amy's mind when the threads of the spell snapped was fucking hell. Not only had all her work been wasted with the interruption of the spell, but it had been interrupted at absolutely the worst time it could be. The spell had been interrupted as it reached its crescendo and the magic had thinned the barriers between the worlds.

Azhelmenek of Makhash was now free to enter this world, and roam the island. Amy Madison rose to her feet and backed away from the lighthouse quickly. The structure itself began to buck, and move and even...fall apart. Huge portions of the top of the structure began to slip off, cracking and crumbling, whole pieces sliding into the lake. The island itself continued to shake, and the ground began to groan and crack and rumble. In the floor of the lighthouse, a large crack began to form, beneath the bound Sidhe child. It grew wider, and wider. Amy didn't stay to watch, turning to run.

Wesley watched as Jacinta spun around to face the witch momentarily forgotten as the cult leader saw all her plans collapse to ruin all around her. Her expression exploded in fury, and dark energy formed in her hands, apparently preparing to go to battle with the witch.

“You ruined the spell! How dare you?! How dare you destroy my plans?! You and your master Diocletian will pay for this treachery!” Oh. Wesley mused. This witch works for Diocletian? Interesting... “DIE!”Jacinta threw the magic at the witch, who responded by raising her hand cooly and tossing the offending spells aside with a simple flick of her wrist.

Dresden had mentioned Diocletian to Wesley, his arrival in Chicago, and his recent attack. It was a problem that Wesley fully intended to help Dresden deal with as soon as Diocletian showed up. Oracle Securities was doing what they could to find the man, but he had completely dropped off the grid. Searching for a wizard who didn't want to be found in a city the size of Chicago when you had just this side of nothing to work with was like looking for a needle in a pinstack. Unproductive and potentially harmful.

Of course, getting any information out of a woman with such obvious power would be impossible for himself or his team to pull off. Catching her would be unfeasible. And despite himself, despite the fact the island was still rumbling and cracking and the lighthouse was still falling apart, Wesley was rooted to the spot, wanting to watch this mysterious witch completely destroy Jacinta Drake.

The witch chuckled. “You really think you have the power to defeat me? Honestly. First of all, I did not ruin the ritual. That would be your cronies, for bringing that man,” she gestured to Wesley, “into here, and you for not killing him immediately. Or at least from stopping him shooting at me. But now that you've betrayed the pact you made with Diocletian by attacking me...” the witch laughed. “You have no idea how much I've wanted to do this, and that's in the less the 12 hours of knowing you!” The witch gathered fire in both of her hands and threw it in a single long stream at Jacinta.

The cult leader wasn't willing to go down that easily. Dropping and rolling to the left, Jacinta drew a knife from her robes and threw it at her opponent. To no avail, however. The witch's hand snapped down and caught the knife. Flipping in in her hand once, Amy threw it back towards its owner's throat. Again Jacinta managed to evade certain death, twisting and dodging the best she could. The knife embedded in her left arm instead. Jacinta cried out in pain, ripping knife from her hand.

“Do you really think that you can defeat me?!” Jacinta demanded. “I have an army at my disposal!” She turned, running towards the tree cover, when the lighthouse finally cracked completely. The vast majority of it had fallen into the lake, and now the ground itself was at least twenty feet wide. A massive red, clawed hand came out of the crack. Wesley couldn't help but gape. It was easily twice times the size of the average human, and it was just one hand. Another reached out, both grabbing the earth, the claws sinking into the ground as it found purchase. All three of them watched in a mixture of fascination, fear, horror and awe at what was coming.

For years Jacinta had dreamed of this moment, when she could call upon the mighty power of Azhelmenek of Makhash, Lord of the Thousand Hosts and Master of the Dark Scourge. To use his mighty powers to reclaim her father's cult for herself, wresting it from the grasp of her undeserving brother. Since childhood, she had worshiped Azhelmenek of Makhash...and now here he was, unbound, entering the mortal realm for the first time in thousands and thousands of years. The Lord of the Thousand Hosts was not an old one – he was not that old – but he was from the era following them.
The Master of the Dark Scourge could roam the world, and now Jacinta felt terror. Her worship of him, his power, was true...but Azhelmenek of Makhash did not care for such things. He was an engine of destruction, of everything and everyone.

The claws dug into the ground deeper as their owner pressed down, pulling himself up, out of the crack. A massive head, in proportion to the rest of his body, was visible, then shoulders, and a torso. Azhelmenek wore nothing, his red skin stretched tight over powerful muscles. With a powerful shove, he pulled himself out of the crack, standing easily thirty feet tall. A monstrous scream of glorious rage ripped from his throat, throwing his head back and roaring something in some kind of demonic language.

“Now look what you've done!” The witch told Jacinta. “Fuck this. I'm out of here!” She ran way, towards the tree line. Wesley took the opportunity do the same.

Jacinta, on the other hand, refused to do anything. Well, refused would be language that implied intent. Rather, she was completely overwhelmed, sensory overload rendering her completely sunned, insensible. She stood, rooted to the ground. Her mind a blank field, her lips moving as she murmured prayer after prayer. I need to keep him at bay, you can't run from, you can't run from him, you can't run...I am his loyal follower...he will not harm me.

Azhelmenek laughed, the voice booming across the island. “Free! I'm hungry!” One claw swooped down, closing around Jacinta, scooping up her and at least half a ton of dirt along with her. Still too lost in herself, Jacinta didn't even mage to scream as Azhelmenek opened his mouth and tossed her into it. The cult leader fell down maw, his throat. He snapped his mouth shut and chewed. Then he roared once more.

Isle of Demonreach
12:43 am

Mark, David and Abigail had stayed close, fearing despite themselves as the island shook and rumbled and cracked. And then it got worse. As the island opened, rotting, bony hands reached out. Surrounding them in a matter of minutes was an army of undead demons. Just standing there as the island began to settle down.

“Okay...” Mark said slowly after a moment, leveling his shotgun. “ long are we going to wait for this to go somewhere...or are we all going to just all stand here in a stand off?”

“I don't think they're going to be in a position to answer,” Abigail said slowly. “They seem a little dead.”

“We fight vampires and demons on a regular basis. The dead talking is hardly unbelievable.” David commented in reply.

Before Mark or Abigail could reply to that, a roar ripped across the island. Mark recoiled, dropping his gun, the sound more than a Sound, magical power, dark forces. The former marine grabbed the sides of his head, explosions going off inside it.

Abigail and David had it even worse. The black-haired kinetomancer screamed in pain as she held her hands over her ears. The power of Azhelmenek's roar broke through every set of defenses Abigail St. Pierre had. Blood oozed from her nose, the stresses building up within her. She collapsed to the ground, a crumpled heap, convulsing in horrifying spasms and screaming more.

David fared no batter than his friend. Trickles of blood fell from his left ear, control over his arms so jerky he couldn't even cover his own ears. He didn't scream, but he got even more blood flowing from his nose. And he too fell to the ground, convulsing.

The undead chose this moment, of all moments, to attack, charging towards them. Only Mark, lacking a magical center to attack, was remotely able to respond coherently. Dropping to the ground, head still pounding, he grabbed the shotgun and fired as quickly as he can, though to little overall effect. Each of the walking corpses he hit fell, but there were more coming. Always more.

“Fucking goddamned hell!” Mark yelled without realizing his volume. He pulled his pistol and fired, but these bullets just weren't cutting it with them. And finally, despite their slow pace, they drew in, preparing to attack the prone casters when the distinctive sound of AK-47s shooting reached Mark's ears. Hundreds, thousands of bullets embedded themselves into the zombies, more whizzing past and over them. Mark dropped to the ground as the cultists attacked. Orders were backed in a demonic language and more manes and more of those misshapen ax-weilding demons charged – or waddled quickly, in the case of the bloated, pus oozing manes – at the undead. Battle was joined in moments, the three humans momentarily forgotten. Mark crawled over to them. The bleeding and screaming and convulsing had sopped, but their faces were, in places, covered in their own blood. “David, Abigail. We've gotta move.” His words were only met by whimpers of pain. Hissing, Mark slapped them both lightly. “I won't say I understand what the hell just happened to you, but we can't stay here, so suck it up.” Mark looked up at the battle raging nearby. “I think the living demons are beating the dead ones, and I'm nearly out of fucking bullets.” He grabbed one of their arms each and stood up, pulling them up with him, to their feet. They swayed and staggered, but managed to stay upright. Still holding the arms, Mark started to run towards the beach, half-dragging the two after him.

Isle of Demonreach
12:45 am

Wesley, like the others with any magical ability, had suffered a blow to his psyche from the demon lord's roar. He'd managed to just collapse to his knees, rather than entirely to the floor, but the blood oozing from his ears was not any less than what Abigail and David suffered.

Amy, on the other hand, had more than enough magical power to endure it far better. It had been difficult, and painful, but she hadn't fallen, she hadn't bled. Still, her magical center, the very core of her being had been assaulted. Taking a slow, shuddering deep breath, she paused. All around her she could hear the sound of gunfire, screams, screeches and battle. She could feel the death that was beginning to cover the island. She had the magical power to force her way to the shore, and off the island, but if she used too much magic she'd draw Azhelmenek's attention, and opening a Nevernever portal would risk allow the Master of the Dark Scourge to get off the island, or stay on it for longer than daybreak. The moment the sun rose, he'd be back in his cage, but...

Amy had no illusions, unlike Diocletian, that she was somehow a misunderstood crusader for some twisted sense of justice. She was in it for herself – for power, for revenge against that stupid bitch Willow. Three fucking years as a rat. She was, by the definitions of all those stupid, moralizing hypocrites who saw the world in terms of good and evil, rather than that of power, evil. But even she didn't want to see a thirty-foot nearly invincible demon roaming the streets of Chicago.

Up ahead, she saw that bastard who had shot at her. It was that stupid Watcher she'd heard about. Wesley Wyndam-Pryce. The head of Oracle Securities. However, he was perfect for what she needed.

“I should kill you for ruining that ritual.” Amy said standing behind him. “But, if we're both going to get off this island alive,” She lashed out and punched him on the back of the head, sending him sprawling. “I'll need you alive, for the moment. Consider that a down payment. Now get your ass of the ground, Wyndam-Pryce.”

Wesley groaned, rolling over onto his back. “I'm afraid you have me at a bit of disadvantage. What should I call you?”

“I'm not telling you my name. How stupid do you think I am?” The witch demanded, as Wesley slowly, carefully, picked himself off the ground. His mind was still reeling, but years of experience in L.A. - including having his throat cut – had given him a rather remarkable elasticity, in the short run.

“I didn't ask for your name. I asked for something to call you. It could be Bob for all I care.” Wesley replied, snapping his wrist, then realizing he didn't have his collapsible sword anymore. He'd need to get another one from Baldwin.

“Call me Amy.” She replied. “Now, let's move. Do you have any way off the island? The Nevernever isn't an option with Big Red walking free.”

“My boat was blown up by your benefactor.”

“Jacinta is was a prissy bitch who got what was coming to her. If Diocletian hadn't ordered me to, I wouldn't have come to this fucking hellhole.”

“Regardless, we have no way off the island. One of my compatriots, assuming they lived long enough, has hopefully called for back up.” Wesley had no illusions about being able to kill this Amy, at least not with what little he had at his disposal and since she wasn't making any moves to kill him, he wouldn't even try. “So going down the the beach facing Chicago is out best bet.”

Isle of Demonreach
12:51 am

Finally, Mark and the others arrived at the beach. The opposing forces had mostly been too distracted by eachother to get in their way, but Mark had had to expend the last of his bullets, and get into a straight up fist-fight with a still-armed Cultists, grabbing the man's AK-47 after knocking him out. When they got to the beach, he saw Wesley, and another woman, waiting there. She was short, wearing form-fitting black clothes, and her hair was long and black as well.

“Wes!” Mark called, as they reached them. “Who the hell is this?”

Wesley turned. He sighed in relief as he saw them. Then, “This is Amy. Diocletian's apprentice.”

“And you're not killing her why?” Abigail demanded.

“I'd like to see you try, minor league.” Amy shot back. “I have more power in my pinky finger than you do in your entire body. Only reason you lot aren't dead right now is because you've got a ride coming and using the Nevernever to just get the hell out of here isn't an option as long as-” They heard another roar, though fortunately not one so laced with power. “That guy is still here, which will be until sunrise. I don't fancy joining Jacinta Drake in his stomach.”

“What the hell are you-”

Wesley answered Mark's unfinished question. “Giant demon. It ate Jacinta. And yes, we'll be taking her with us.”

They stood for another few minutes, then they saw a mass of undead rushing at them. Obviously, the larger battle had been decided. In the favor of Azhelmenek and his undead. In fact, coming in behind, standing tall above the trees, they saw him. He looked towards them and actually smiled, teeth showing. It said something in a demonic language – one Wesley, unfortunately, couldn't follow.

“Your ride had better get here, or we're all dead.” Amy muttered. As if spurred on by her words, they heard an engine roaring behind them. But the undead were getting closer.



“You wouldn't happen to have any grenades left would you?”

“Just one.” Mark pulled the pin and threw it, as the large boat pulled in close. It went off, scattering the center of the undead, and still they came. With seconds to spare, the five prepared to fight for the minute it would take for the boat to pull in, but then, more grenades flew, fire exploding across the army. Wesley looked back and saw Petrovich and several others with Grenade launchers.

Finally, they were off, no more injured than they'd been ten or so minutes ago. Which was no an insubstantial amount. As the boat sped away from the island, Azhelmenek screeched in anger, beating his chest, ancient magics preventing him from leaving, to pursue his prey.

Wolfram and Hart
9:53 am

Richard Carlise stepped into Lilah's office, unable to contain his eagerness. He'd received word – the entire event on the Isle of Demonreach had gone completely south. Denna would have to receive the blame. Lilah was sitting at her desk, eating some kind of stir-fry with chopsticks.

“You called me here?” Richard asked rhetorically. He knew why. She was going to tell him that Denna's failure was more than the firm could handle.

“Do you often betray the firm, Richard?” Lilah asked, not looking up from her meal.

“What the hell are you-” Richard was so busy protesting, his mind racing, desperate to cover his ass, that he didn't notice the large demon stepping in behind him. It grabbed his arms and locked them in place, holding him there.

“Don't play dumb.” Lilah said. “I've got no problem with working against the firm's interest for career gain. Its standard practice. Undercutting your rivals, advancing your own position. Been there done that.” She looked up, waving her hand dismissively. “But you got caught.” And Wesley nearly got killed. “See...Denna's secretary never really changed loyalties. And if there's one thing Wolfram and Hart can't stand, its sloppiness. You didn't cover your tracks well either.” She pressed a button on her phone, as Richard struggled. “He's all yours, Gregory.”

Next Time on New City, Same Enemy: The Cultists are defeated, and Wesley and the Command Team are back in Chicago. But Diocletian still roams freely and alive, Gregory still plots and schemes for revenge, and the Red Court is preparing to finally make its move on Harry Dresden. And oh yea, Knock, Knock Wesley. Its an old 'friend' at the door.
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