No Rest for the Wicked - Chapter 14 - dishwasherfish (2024)

Chapter Text

V1 slid through the exit, processes catching up as it fell down the elevator shaft.

What… What was that?

V1 was expecting the Angel’s rage and the battle to follow.

What they didn’t expect was the Angel’s genuine mirth and relief.

It had been expecting a challenge, and, at first, it had gotten its wish. The Angel had fought with anger and accuracy.

But when he began laughing, he was so loose. He was almost carefree as he swung his swords.

He had reminded V1 of itself, for a moment.

But it thought it would have died at least a few times.

V2 had defeated V1 once, and yet the Angel had failed to do so at all.

That wasn’t right.

And the Angel had left before V1 had a chance to finish him off.

They could just… try it again.

It stuck out its arms and legs, stopping its descent down the elevator.

Yeah. It could just try again.

The Angel’s wings shattered, and he teleported to the floor, lying there just like last time as his swords clattered onto the ground beside him.

“Twice!? Beaten by an object... Twice!”

V1 moved forward, swiftly grabbing one of the Angel’s fallen blades and bringing it to the Angel’s stomach, slashing at his midsection as he yelled, reaching forward to grab his other sword. He slashed at V1’s arm, cutting off their hand and snatching his stolen sword.

“I will not die to you. Not now. We will meet again, Machine.”

In golden light, the Angel vanished.

“May your woes be many, and your days few.”

‘Not now?’

Interesting.

V1 held its hand to its arm as the sinew and wires reformed. They had overestimated its abilities with a sword, but they had gotten close.

Again, then.

“Twice!? Beaten by an object—”

This time, V1 grabbed both swords, moving towards the Angel as he stared up at them, his monologue stopped dead in its tracks.

“Machine—”

V1 moved forward in one fluid movement, the two swords crossing paths as the Angel’s helmeted head fell to the ground.

V1 stood above the corpse in silence, its vow complete.

The entrance to Violence waited for it, but V1 mulled in the elevator, poking at the terminal and navigating to Gabriel’s second entry.

GABRIEL, APOSTATE OF HATE

TYPE: SUPREME ANGEL

DATA: Having twice clashed with the machine and lost, Gabriel realized he had been mistaken. The strong fire that burned inside him was not hatred at all, but passion.

Gabriel had never before known the joy of a struggle, of coming face-to-face with an opponent of equal or greater measure. Though he had lost twice, each loss only further grew his desire to overcome.

Up until now, he had only done what was expected of him, but now for the first time he had found something he himself wanted. Not even the fast encroaching End of Hell mattered to him anymore.

Still, having come to realize the horrors he had committed in God's name, he felt a great guilt. Though he could not undo what he had done, Gabriel knew he had to make things right, and headed to Hell for the last time.

V1 backed away from the Terminal as it shook its optic. Passion? That was what had overtaken the Angel during battle? The reason for his sudden mirth?

He actually wanted to defeat V1 for himself, and, apparently, he’d realized his past mistakes.

. . .

V1 froze.

How did the Terminals even know about this?

They knew about seemingly everything going on in Hell, yes, but the intimate thoughts of an angel being open to them was…

V1 didn’t like it.

Because that meant the Terminals knew about V1, too.

It should have realized that during the fishing trip. Or during the inescapable battle with Minos Prime. Or even the ability to battle previous enemies.

And if the Angel was right, and Hell was falling apart, with both Limbo and Lust destroyed, V1 was certain that both layers would still be intact if it were to return to them again.

The Terminals knew too much, about everything. And apparently they liked V1 enough to keep it around. For now.

V1 exited the enemy database.

WHAT ARE YOU?

--TIP OF THE DAY--

Terminals.

ANSWER.

—TIP OF THE DAY--

We’re only trying to assist.

V1 punched the Terminal, the screen shattering beneath its fist.

—TIP OF THE DAY--

Ow.

V1 sat down next to the Terminal as it mulled things over.

It wanted the Angel dead. Of course it did. That was the logical outcome for all of this. To kill him now was more efficient. It tied up loose ends.

And yet V1 still stalked back to the cathedral.

“Machine. I will cut you down, break you apart, splay the—“

YOU FEEL GUILT.

“What?”

FOR YOUR ACTIONS. FOR ALL THE HARM YOU’VE DONE.

“That’s what I’m here to correct.” The Angel’s hands moved towards his sheathed swords.

GABRIEL.

“Do not speak my name.”

Try to actually kill me, this time.

“WITH PLEASURE, MACHINE.”

Gabriel launched himself at V1, swords ripping through wires as bullets and swords flashed in the dim light, taunts cast on both sides as each tried to tear the other apart.

Laughter spilled from Gabriel as his wings broke, and the coordinated battle became loose and free as Gabriel’s swords whistled by V1’s head, tracing the lines of where it had just been until Gabriel finally got it just right, sword colliding with V1’s neck and severing their connection, Gabriel’s laughter of victory cut off as V1’s audio died.

T R Y A G A I N .

V1 felt at its neck as it reoriented itself.

Gabriel could still kill it.

He could still try. Could still match their skill.

It slid forward, eager for another go.

A quiet sound echoing through the cathedral, barely audible over the sound of the organ, stopped V1 in its tracks.

It followed the sound, recognizing the hum of faint music—identical to the music that had lead it to its fishing trip.

V1 followed the music through Heresy, finally stopping in front of another display of P-ranks. Three remained unlit as V1 stared up at it, and it added two new objectives to its personal list.

  • Visit V2.
  • P-Rank 5-1 and 5-2.

For now, though…

Just one more go couldn’t hurt.

The organ's music vibrated through the instrument as Gabriel carefully played, each stroke of the keys deliberate, all of his rage and uncertainty channeled into his hands as he played.

The Machine needed to die here and now. It didn’t matter what was wrong with it or why and how it had defeated him. He needed to end things here.

His hands shook over the keys as the grind of metal against stone signaled the Machine’s approach. It was just like last time. But he’d do it right this time around, end all of this now. Kill the Machine, get back the Father’s Light, atone for his mistakes, and move forward.

Gabriel waited until the Machine was nearly upon him to slam on the keys, staring down as he prepared himself.

Wings outstretched, Gabriel spoke.

“Machine. I will cut you down, break you apart, splay the gore of your profane form across the STARS!” He shook, lifting himself into the air.

“I will grind you down until the very SPARKS CRY FOR MERCY! MY HANDS SHALL RELISH ENDING YOU—“

Gabriel whipped around, met by the Machine, whose expression could only be described as bored, its arms crossed and its optic tilted to the side in disinterest.

CAN WE JUST FIGHT? It droned.

Rage bubbled in Gabriel’s chest as he rose, pulling Justice and Splendor from their sheathes. How dare it have the gall to show such disinterest? This thing had ruined his life and it didn’t even care.

“MACHINE. I WILL END YOU, HERE AND NOW!”

Gabriel flew forwards, Justice and Splendor lashing out at the Machine as it backed away, staying close to the ground and shifting directions as Gabriel teleported.

“TIME TO RIGHT MY WRONG!” He cried out as his sword slash met his mark, sending the Machine staggering backwards.

“YOU’RE GETTING RUSTY, MACHINE!”

YOU’RE JUST AS PREDICTABLE AS LAST TIME.

“SILENCE!”

Sword met shotgun as Gabriel swung, the Machine parrying his blade and forcing Gabriel to back up.

The Machine’s words pulled Gabriel from the fight as he mulled over their banter, unable to keep himself from dwelling on the Machine’s boredom. It was just a machine, whether possessed by something demonic or not. Its existence had no bearing on Gabriel. The strange feelings, the deja vu–it was all just incidental, or a trick of some kind. Yes, that was it. A trick to catch him off guard–

Justice came flying back towards Gabriel, catching him in the side.

–a trick that was clearly working.

“MACHINE. Whatever trick this is–whatever it is you’re trying to do. It is useless . You can cheat all you want to, but I will END you.”

The Machine paused midway through aiming its glowing gun, optic narrowing at Gabriel.

WHAT TRICK? I HAVEN’T DONE ANYTHING THIS TIME AROUND.

“THIS TIME AROUND?”

The Machine was silent for a moment as it circled around Gabriel, firing off those infernal nails.

I’VE ALREADY DONE THIS FIGHT. BEAT YOU IN ONE TRY. WENT BACK TO KILL YOU. KILLED YOU. BACK AGAIN TO KILL YOU AGAIN. MAYBE.

If they’d already fought once, that explained the familiar feeling of the water beneath Gabriel’s feet and the snap of his wings as they shattered–

Gabriel was just being foolish, and he needed to focus. The Machine couldn’t have beaten him a second time, let alone kill him. No, this was just a distraction from battle—Gabriel needed to focus, especially since he was nearly enjoying the fight this time around.

He shook his head as his wings reformed. No, this wasn’t meant to be fun , this was penance, revenge—and yet he couldn’t silence the laugh escaping his lips as he touched down in the water.

“MACHINE, IF YOU’RE TRYING TO KILL ME, FIGHT ME WITH EVERYTHING YOU’VE GOT.”

GLADLY.

Gabriel strode forward swiftly, lashing out with his swords without a second thought as to what maneuver he intended to do or to any kind of strategy. His gut feeling led him as he brought Splendor down on the bevel of the Machine, who whirred in anger before sliding away.

“COME GET SOME BLOOD!” Gabriel practically cackled as the Machine glared back at him.

He dodged on instinct as the Machine sent a magnet towards him, and Gabriel grinned with the satisfaction of a successful evasion done not out of careful planning, but out of instinct.

“I’VE NEVER HAD A FIGHT LIKE THIS BEFORE!”

A memory from eons ago resurfaced as Gabriel recalled his first time playing chess, when the rules were newly learned and opening moves and checkmates were still strangers to him.

His opponent was seasoned—their identity lost to the haze of memory—and yet, somehow, Gabriel’s random, careless moves threw them off their game, to the point where Gabriel nearly won.

“I’LL SHOW YOU TRUE SPLENDOR!”

The resonance of the memory clicked just as the Machine’s gun fired off, his wings shattering as Gabriel fell.

The Machine fought with its gut, with its instincts.

Until now, Gabriel had always fought with strategy, with an intricate plan.

Somehow, at some point along the way, Gabriel became machine, and the Machine became mortal.

Gabriel bled on the ground as he spoke his disbelief, the realization settling in.

“Twice!? Beaten by an object... Twice!”

He hadn’t fought with passion since he’d first learned to fight, and he hadn’t listened to his instincts in battle… ever. They were lowly emotions—meant for mortals—not for him.

“I've only known the taste of victory… But this taste... Is-Is this my blood?”

…Yet he craved more.

“I've never known such...Such... relief..? I- I need some time to think...”

He began sitting up, and looked up to find the Machine gripping Splendor and Justice, the blades crossed at his throat as the Machine glared daggers at him.

Gabriel waited to see if it would actually do anything.

The Machine pressed Splendor against his neck, just enough to draw blood.

The swords clattered as the Machine backed up, optic remaining focused on Gabriel.

Gabriel stood, picking up his swords as he rose, wings reformed.

“We will meet again, Machine.”

Gabriel laughed as he wished the Machine a swift death.

No Rest for the Wicked - Chapter 14 - dishwasherfish (2024)
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