It took Lucifer a while to notice it, the disturbance. But well, he’d sealed away the vast majority of his power when he’d landed on the earthly plane, his severed wings the key to unlocking it. And then he’d gone and burned them in a fit of rage, making his power even harder to reach, so he figured he deserved a break for his lack of perception in this case.
It was a bit embarrassing that it had taken Malcolm Graham literally showing up on his doorstep for him to notice, though.
The formerly dead man (and yes, Lucifer could say with certainty that the insane human had in fact died) had practically glowed to Lucifer’s sight, like the Fires of Hell were still burning away at his fragile soul. It was no small wonder he was still capable of any level of functionality, crazy as the other humans would no doubt see him.
At first, Lucifer had thought Malcolm himself was the source of the disturbance he was so suddenly sensing, but it became clear almost immediately that that wasn’t the case. The man was simply too…small to be the problem Lucifer could now feel. No, Malcolm had only opened the gate for something much more dangerous to slither through: Los Angeles, and maybe even the world as a whole, was about to have a much bigger problem than one traumatized mortal soul wreaking a bit of havoc.
And so he’d sent the cop on his way with a pentecostal coin—little good that would do the human when the demons chased him down after he actually used it—and set to work figuring out what big bad had escaped Hell on Malcolm’s heels.
The process would have gone much quicker had he not had to deal with the minor inconvenience of being shot by that embezzling charity wife and the necessity of seeing her arrested. And, of course, that whole ordeal led to the revelation that it was the Detective making him vulnerable, so it was nearly sunrise before Lucifer managed to sequester himself away to meditate on the real problem.
And a real problem it was.
“Dammit, Amenadiel,” Lucifer cursed as he pulled out of his trance. “What have you done?”
He strode towards the intercom by his elevator and called down to his demon’s floor, “Mazikeen…Mazikeen!”
“What?” her voice crackled back after a beat of impatient silence.
“Come up here.”
“Come up here, Maze,” he commanded again without acknowledging her question. “Now.”
The line went dead and a few seconds later the elevator dinged, admitting a clearly sleep-rumpled and irritated woman. “Couldn’t this have waited, Lucifer?”
Lucifer waived her question away with a distracted motion of his hand, instead ordering, without offering any explanation, “I’m going to need that feather you took, Maze.”
“I…” the demon froze, suddenly on unsure ground. She should have known her lord would know about that feather. “May I ask why?”
He snorted, his opinion about needing to explain why he would want his own feather back obvious, but then he sighed, deciding to indulge her. “Malcolm Graham has caused a bit of a problem. Well, I guess Amenadiel is really to blame, but…”
“You need your wings back to deal with one damned soul?” Maze asked slowly, brows scrunched in confusion.
“Of course not,” Lucifer rolled his eyes dramatically and poured out two full glasses of whiskey, sliding one over to Maze. “No, the problem, Maze, is that Malcolm is not an escaped soul. He was resurrected. And Amenadiel, the daft seraphim, clearly had no idea what he was doing. It feels like he just bulldozed his way through Hell with no regard at all for the balance.”
Lucifer had not realized it was possible for his right-hand demon to pale so quickly.
“What escaped?” she asked with slow-dawning realization.
“Hell Beasts,” he replied, expression set in a grim and uncharacteristically serious frown. “I can’t tell how many, but it could be as many as a hundred or more of the things. Hopefully less.”
“Shit. That’s not good.”
“Yes, thank you Maze, for that astute observation. Now if you could, please…the feather? Time moves rather more quickly in the infernal realm, and I’d like to get down there to stop the bleeding, if I could.”
Maze knocked back the remainder of her glass in one large gulp and spun on her heel, disappearing down the stairs and reappearing with a wooden box cradled in her hands before Lucifer had managed two more sips of his own drink.
“Here,” she thrust the container at him as they both moved towards the leather couches in his living room. Rather than take it from her though, Lucifer instead started removing his shirt, tossing it over the back of a chair before he gracefully flopped facedown on the sofa.
“Put the feather on my back, right between the scars,” he directed. “And step back.”
Maze immediately complied.
Seconds after the feather touched his skin, it started to glow. Softly at first, and then with greater and greater intensity, until a mortal would have been blinded for looking at such brightness. As it was, the demon was forced to look away, but not before she saw two massive white wings beginning to solidify from the pure light.
Lucifer keened loudly, cutting himself off with little pain-filled whimpers every time the noises escaping his throat threatened to escalate into tortured screams. His entire body was a tense, quivering line as he fought to keep from thrashing around like a seizing mortal while he clawed at the cushions with a death grip that ripped the leather at the seams.
Finally, a short eternity later, the celestial light began to fade, taking the excruciating pain with it, but Lucifer just laid there for several long moments, panting.
Maze crept forward, almost tiptoeing towards the Devil, and unceremoniously thrust a fresh glass of whiskey in the trembling archangel’s face.
He stared up at her, dazed, for half a second, before hauling himself into a sitting position and grabbing the tumbler.
Liquor sloshed over the edge, dripping onto his bare chest as he brought the drink to his lips with a still-trembling hand.
“Bloody Hell,” he grunted, draining his glass in one go and holding it out for a refill, “That was almost as bad as when you cut ‘em off in the first place!”
They were quiet for a moment as Lucifer stretched his newly regrown appendages. Then he reached deep within himself, feeling along the series of self-imposed locks that kept the majority of his power caged. In the physical realm, one of his wings curled around him, a sharp primary dragging down his chest, leaving a perfectly straight line of blood. And on the metaphysical plane, the restraints crumbled to dust.
Lucifer breathed in light, relishing in the power that lit the stars. It swelled within him, realigning all his jagged edges, tingling along his nerves and making him whole once again.
Maze sucked in an enraptured breath when Lucifer opened glowing Hell Fire eyes, for an instant turning the world around them into a burning inferno before earthly reality settled back over them and he appeared just an ordinary man sitting in a fancy living room, shining eyes and angelic wings tucked out of sight.
“What do you need me to do?” she asked, even more eager now, after that display of power, to get back in her lord’s good graces than she had been the night before when she’d declared herself Lucifer’s inside man against Amenadiel.
He gave her a considering look, debating whether or not he should take her with him to Hell before deciding against it. “Start tracking the Hell Beasts, numbers, locations. I want a priority list when I get back. And Mazikeen,” he said as he flared his wings, “should the Detective call, do let her know I’ll be back soon.”
With that, Lucifer dove off the edge of his balcony and disappeared from the mortal plane.
He touched down in front of the main gate to Hell, grinning up at the massive Cerberus still loyally guarding this entrance. Malcolm and the Hell Beasts hadn’t escaped through this pathway then, not that Lucifer had really thought they’d come this way. But still, he was pleased to see his guardian unharmed.
The Cerberus towered above him, taller than a pine tree, and all three heads zeroed in on him, halting the procession of damned souls waiting to gain entrance to Hell and their own personal torture chambers. The middle head flicked out a forked tongue, tasting the essence of Lucifer’s soul while the other two heads leaned down to sniff at his physical form more directly.
It barely took a second for the three-headed dog to recognize him as its master, and in the space of a breath it went from being a terrifying beast to deciding it was really just a big puppy, laying down on its back and whining for a tummy rub, giant tail banging against the gates with a spray of crushed stone as it wagged enthusiastically.
Lucifer huffed a laugh and flew up to pet the silly creature’s stomach as requested. “Yes, yes, good boy,” he offered general praise as the dog wiggled happily below him for several minutes before eventually ordering, “Time to get back to work now, good boy.”
The Cerberus immediately rolled back onto his feet, growling at the crowd of clearly petrified mortal souls, much to Lucifer’s amusement. With a final scratch through thick silver fur, the archangel turned and flew through the gates, headed for the Pits which were located as far as possible (both physically and metaphysically) from the infinite rows of cells allocated for torturing the damned.
Hell Beasts were…horrible creatures. Formed from a combination of excess energy from the realm of Hell itself and the insanity and pure destructive violence that bleeds from the especially despicable souls of damned mortals, they were purposeless monstrosities, and it took literal hordes of demons working round the clock to keep them contained in the Pits. It was delicate, dangerous work, work which couldn’t afford even the slightest of distractions.
And Amenadiel’s ham-fisted resurrection of Malcolm had been nothing but distraction; Lucifer could still feel the imbalance running through the core of his realm, so he could only imagine what the place must have felt like as the seraphim bullied his way through Hell’s foundation.
“My lord!” an exhausted demon exclaimed when he landed.
“Where is Bael?’ Lucifer asked, ignoring the kowtowing of the low-ranking demon before him. The demon pointed towards the watchtower at the far east of the Pits, and the Devil nodded his thanks before launching himself back into the air.
“Lucifer!” Bael greeted him with a tired grin when he arrived, the easy familiarity in sharp contrast to the twenty or so other demons in the room who had all dropped to their knees in respect.
“Bael,” he returned the greeting, bending down to kiss his trusted general and sometimes-lover’s cheek. It was too bad he didn’t have more time to indulge in the man while he was down here. Bael was an attractive demon, with his dark bronze skin and silken black hair; he had a face that intermittently shifted between that of a handsome, sharp-featured man and a viciously scarred cat. The sharp canine teeth, though, those were always present, and it was such a pleasure when the demon bit him just so.
Lucifer sighed, shaking off his brief stab of lust to focus on the infinitely less enjoyable task of dealing with Amenadiel’s mess. “How many escaped?” he asked.
“It’s hard to say. We lost more than 300 demons during the escape. Almost everyone working the deep pits was obliterated.” Bael’s face shifted into its cat form as he spoke, barring his teeth in an angry hiss; Lucifer grit his teeth in response, impotent rage filling him. Damn Amenadiel. The stupid angel probably hadn’t spared two thoughts for the trouble his stunt would cause the demons of Hell, let alone the potential danger. Lucifer doubted it would even occur to Amenadiel to grieve for the lost demons, should he ever learn of their deaths.
“Best estimate, though?” Bael continued after a moment of silence. “I’d say 97.”
“That escaped the Pits or that escaped Hell?”
“Hell,” Bael confirmed Lucifer’s fears. “More than 500 escaped the Pits before we could get a lid on it.”
Lucifer nodded in grim understanding. “But you’ve got the situation contained now? All the Hell Beasts still in Hell are back in the pits? And you’re not having trouble keeping them there?”
“It would help if you could repair rips in Hell’s foundation,” Bael stated, staring Lucifer straight in the eye. “Earth’s call is still strong, and it beckons those abominations.”
Lucifer nodded his head in easy agreement. The tears throwing Hell out of balance would self-correct in time, but they couldn’t really afford to wait given the current situation, and the Devil alone had the power to speed the process along.
“I was planning on it,” he stated, causing Bael and the other demons listening to their conversation to visibly relax. “But other than that issue the situation down here is under control?”
Bael confirmed that it was, so Lucifer took his leave. And for nearly the next week (at least in Hell-time), he flew around the infernal realm in a constant effort to fix the damage. It was exhausting work, so when he finally finished cauterizing the last rip, and thus shoving Hell back into near-perfect alignment, he collapsed on his bed back at his palace, sleeping for the first time since his arrival down below.
When he awoke some time later, there was a heavy weight flopped across his chest, and soft fur had somehow found its way into his mouth.
“Aza,” he grumbled, shoving at the hellhound who for some reason always liked to sleep on his head. “Get off me, girl.”
The dog huffed but complied with his command, shifting over so he could sit up. His other two personal hounds, Zeev and Rhan, were curled up at the foot of his luxuriously large bed. Like good boys, he thought, side-eyeing the only female of the pack even as he reached out to scratch behind her ears.
He really had missed them these last five years, and now he needed them on Earth, the only happy thing to come out of this whole catastrophe.
Throwing his arms above his head in a full-body stretch, he rolled out of bed and went about making himself presentable. Once he’d finished dressing, he gestured for his hounds to follow him and made his way towards the main gate out of Hell at a leisurely pace, ignoring the demons that dropped into bows as he passed.
He’d already informed Lilith, the leader of the Lilim, his best legion of hunters, to be on the lookout for his call, just in case he ended up needing them to come topside. So there was nothing left for him to do in Hell. Now he needed to go handle the supremely more difficult task of wrangling the Hell Beasts that had made it to the earthly plane.
And to think, all he’d wanted was a nice century or two of vacation time. Honestly, angels screwed everything up.