Sam and Dean say yes to Lucifer and Michael. Heaven’s army is at the doorway to the Garden but under attack. Crowley battles the Darkness as it rampages through Hell. Back in the Bunker, after tending the wounded angels in their care, Jody, Donna, and the girls keep a watch over Rowena.
This Little Light of Mine
Out in the dark
I’m going to let it shine
Oh, out in the dark
I’m going to let it shine
Out in the dark
I’m going to let it shine
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine …
Avis B. Christiansen
Jody and Donna both turned at the sudden sound of a deep rumble that seemed to come up through the library floor. The lights dimmed and came back up.
Jody dropped the paper she’d been reading on the table that was littered with the detritus of research they’d been combing through, searching for more information on the Darkness. They were alone; all the angels having already winged away just a few hours ago to go help with the defense of Earth. The two women looked to the high ceiling of the bunker, wondering what ominous portent this was. The whole building shook.
“Girls!” Donna called out to Alex and Claire.
They had a plan. They’d run the drill, though only twice now since Sam, Dean, and Cas had gone. They’d spent the last day after their departure preparing. Jody only hoped it would be enough.
Claire heard the call, having already tossed aside her book on Enochian and rose to her feet. The shared bedroom with Alex vibrated, what few possessions they each had bouncing off shelves and bookcases. A crystal ball that Claire had found in one of the many storage boxes she’d been tasked to go through in search of information, bounded out of its makeshift pedestal. That was an old Men of Letters ashtray. She’d always liked crystal balls. This one was fist sized and nothing special, but strangely, it struck the hard concrete with nothing but a reverberating clink, like it was sticking to the floor – the way the Ring of Power sounded from Lord of the Rings when it bounded out of Gollum’s possession … She didn’t know why she was thinking about a movie at a time like this, but it was too strange. And the crystal didn’t shatter into a thousand pieces like it should have, but landed and rolled to a rest at her feet.
“Okay, that’s weird,” she muttered, bending to pick it up.
Alex appeared in the doorway. “Claire, come on.”
Claire almost left the crystal orb, even taking several steps for the doorway, but something whispered in the back of her mind that she shouldn’t leave it. Again, she thought of Frodo and his precious, it was that strong a feeling. Quickly, she hurried back for it and snatched it up. She stuffed it in the pocket of the denim jacket she wore – the Bunker was always cold it seemed, and rushed after Alex.
This was different from the drills they’d run. This was real. The building shook and the lights struggled to stay on, heightening fear. There wasn’t any place to escape either, so the mad dash to the dungeon where Rowena remained in chains, was in effect, trapping them inside. There wasn’t much choice though, except to abandon the building to what was coming for them, except they all knew that what lay outside the doors was just as dangerous and equally deadly.
“I hate to be the one to tell you,” Rowena purred when they arrived, bursting through the door of her prison, “but I told you so.”
“Oh shut up, you old hag,” Jody snapped at her. “You think you’re going to get out of this alive. Think again. It’s coming for you too.”
“It’s coming for my knowledge of the Book,” Rowena said, completely unruffled by Armageddon about to rain down on them.
“Somehow,” Donna said, “I don’t think so.”
The lights clicked off one last time but they were ready for that with old-fashioned oil lamps that they lit quickly. Alex stood to one side of the door, in the storage room that was mostly empty now, holding the key to their primary defense in her hand – a slender rope that wound through a series of hooks, up through the ceiling, and out to the hall.
Jody and Donna stood with her, high-powered semi-automatic rifles in hand, each filled to capacity with holy oil bullets. Claire held an Uzi and had an angel sword strapped to her waist that she would use when she ran out of the special bullets. There were salt lines across the threshold and more warding than in any other part of the Bunker to protect them.
An avalanche of noise blew at them. The terrible rumbling grew, the vibrations through the floor making it difficult to stand.
“Here it comes,” Jody said in an amazingly calm voice.
And she was right.
Inky black flooded the hall, shape and form all but indistinguishable from night. It hovered a moment at the doorway, and what seemed a thousand eyes stared in at them. Jody reached into her pocket for the lighter.
“Now Alex,” she breathed in hardly more than a whisper.
Alex pulled the rope, triggering all the buckets of holy oil to spill their contents. Jody lit the lighter in one swift motion and tossed it at the black things in the hall that were now writhing away from the cascade of liquid that poured down from the roof over their heads.
It would have worked. It should have worked.
A writhing black hand reached out and grabbed the lighter from the air, a more human form taking shape as it stepping from the gathered horde, laughing as it snapped flaming salvation closed with a resounding click.
As realization struck that that there wouldn’t be any saving wall of holy fire, everyone took a stumbling step back. Donna opened fire. Alex yanked the shotgun off the shelf and unloaded it in seconds, blasting holy oil saturated rock salt through the doorway. A hail of bullets blasted into the hall, destroying the gathered dark.
But it wasn’t enough. It didn’t kill all of it. The salt line blew away. They were forced back into the dungeon and across the protective arc of the circle that held Rowena. That was the only thing stopping what came in after them.
“Release me,” Rowena said with just the slightest edge in her voice, “and I’ll help you.”
“Oh sure,” Donna said over her shoulder as she kept firing into the Darkness. “Now you want to be helpful.”
“I’ve no wish to die any more than you do.”
“How?” Jody demanded, reloading with her last clip.
“I have an arsenal of spells. Now let me out of these chains before it’s too late!”
They all heard the panic in her voice. It wasn’t hard to believe that she’d do whatever she could for her own self-preservation. It was what could happen after that made everyone hesitate. Dean had said not to let her loose. He’d also said to abandon the Bunker, but that option didn’t exist. The reality was there might not be an after to worry about unless they got some high-powered help.
Jody nodded and Claire, who had the key, rushed to unlock the shackles that held the witch. The Darkness boiled into the room, but stopped at the edge of the protective circle.
Rowena shed the locks and stepped between Jody and Donna, one hand thrust out in front of her, the other held up over her head. Her face was pinched with concentration and she began muttering under her breath. It seemed to take a long time, her voice rising in pitch until finally she was yelling.
“Ego vocabo gehennae incendiis!”
A ball of flame dropped from the ceiling, from thin air it seemed, and into her raised hand, formed in a tightly wound ball. She reared back to throw, using the other hand to contain the inferno.
The ball of flame shot forward, slicing through the Darkness, through the outer room and into the hall where it struck the floor slick with holy oil.
All the air was sucked away as a wall of flame exploded in the hall and destroyed the Darkness that remained outside the dungeon. As long as the flame burned, more couldn’t get in.
As welcome as the sight was, it did nothing to the mass of black standing before them. Jody saw one of them, a shape more solidly formed than others, down on the floor by the arc of iron embedded in the concrete. She couldn’t tell what it was doing, but feared it might be able to break the ward.
She shot at it, again and again before it finally disintegrated into ash. But there was another to take its place, more than one, and she was out of bullets.
“I’m out!” she yelled, turning to take Claire’s weapon from her, but she shook her head.
“I’m out too.”
So was Alex and so was Donna.
The angels had left them two blades and with Claire’s sword, they had three weapons and a witch, who was spewing out spells that pushed the horde back but didn’t harm them enough to destroy even one of them.
Still that gave them a little room.
Donna, blade in hand, started stabbing at anything near the circle, killing two in quick succession. Jody destroyed two more and Claire managed to skewer three on her side of the circle. The sword was longer than the angel blades and the reach longer.
They gained more ground, though they didn’t dare step beyond the protective circle of the ward. The Darkness shrank back, making it difficult to reach with the shorter blades.
Donna lunged at one, a dark shape within the inky black that all but surrounded them. She hit her target, but her hand crossed the plane of the ward. Instantly, she was grabbed and hauled forward. She fell, screaming as she was pulled half out of the circle.
“Testes invoco virtutes ventus!” Rowena yelled the incantation and a hurricane force wind blew into the Darkness, above Donna, driving it back momentarily.
Alex jumped forward and grabbed the Sherriff by the ankles, dragging her back to safety, but they could all see that she was all but torn apart. Blood seeped from several deep gashes that stretched from her shoulder to her hip looking as if she’d been clawed by a dragon. Alex’s hands came away coated in dripping red.
Rowena shed her cloak, dumping at Alex’s feet. “Tear this up for bandages,” she commanded, and with a darkening gaze, turned back to the fight. “Do you have any more oil?”
Jody shook her head, staring at Donna before she stabbed the next ink spot that approached them. “Only water. There on the counter. Can you reach it?”
The counter was outside the circle. A mistake that, leaving one of their weapons outside the circuit. They’d been too confident of their plan to keep the Darkness outside the dungeon.
Rowena only smiled benignly in that smug, know-it-all way she had. “Levitate et properate quantocius venientes,” she said and the jug of holy water lifted from the counter and flew into her waiting hands before the Darkness could stop it.
Claire was there when they tried, stabbing the dark shapes that dared draw close. Rowena took the jug and held it up, throwing her head back. Her face paled as she spoke, and Jody wondered how much longer she’d last against the constant assault. She wondered that about all of them.
“Reformabit hanc aquam ut plueret!”
The holy water shot out of the jug, soaring up over their heads and then out over the Darkness, where it turned into a shower of death. “Testes invoco virtutes ventus!”
Wind whipped the water into droplets that spread outward. The Darkness within the dungeon cell went up in a screeching blast of ash that filled the air.
It still wasn’t enough. The Darkness remained in the storage room and swiftly filled the void. The only good news was the still glowing flames of holy oil in the hall. They were out of everything else but the blades. Rowena was still able to cast spells but their force was noticeably weaker. Once again they were pressed back, the Darkness attacking not them but the ward that kept them from it.
Claire swung her sword in wide, sweeping arcs, trying to ignore the pain in her arms and the growing pain that touched the side of her leg at the hip where her jacket lay against her. She wished now that she could take it off since she was sweating from exertion.
Alex had taken up Donna’s blade, which she’d fortunately kept in hand. She hovered by Donna, who was unconscious and still bleeding, nimbly dancing back and forth, piercing one form of Darkness after the other. Jody stood to her left doing the same thing, only getting slower and slower as weariness sapped her strength. Rowena took longer and longer between spells.
Claire frowned down at her leg, wondering what was causing her such pain and where it was coming from. As she pushed her jacket back out of the way, her hand glanced across the pocket with the crystal. It was warm, like touching the rack of a hot oven.
With the fray raging all around her, hesitantly she pulled the orb out. The instant her hand touched a jolt shot through her body and glued her hand to the crystal. Beams of light welled between her fingers and the Darkness shrank back from it.
Suddenly, she felt possessed, a scouring light moving through her. She wanted to scream but no sound came out. She held the orb out away from her. All she wanted was to get it out of her hand, but it wouldn’t let her. Instinctively, she understood she held a very powerful weapon, probably angelic, and therefore dangerous for a human to wield. She was afraid it might kill her, but she saw the Darkness fleeing from the brightness.
Without really knowing if telling it yes would have any effect, she submitted to the power that now coursed through every fiber of being. She held the light up even as she saw Jody fall under the last onslaught that grabbed her and pulled her all the way out of the warding with Alex trying to chase after her.
Light flared from Claire’s hand. It felt like holding onto a bolt of lightning. She stepped from the circle, moving to stand over Jody’s limp, unmoving body. The Darkness that didn’t flee was instantly shredded. The light came up, expanding in aching brilliance, spilling over everyone and everything in the room, stretching all the way out to the hall.
It filled her until finally she couldn’t hear, she couldn’t see, and then she didn’t feel a thing.