Beaux & Aero - Chapter 2: The Wolf and The Bat
I can't easily recall the first moment I had ever met Beaux and Aero, but I had been a friend of their's back before they went by the nicknames. The moment that I can recall the most though is the day I reconnected with them back in '95.
Ever since I was a boy, I'd wanted to start my own business. When I graduated college, I used the money I had saved since enrolling, along with a generous loan from the bank and the remainder of my financial aid to invest in opening my own bar. I bought an old gas station on the desert outskirts of Allsborough. I originally wanted to purchase some property in town to have a better chance at getting some customers but even with the money I did have, I couldn't afford most of the real estate that was available. I needed investors to buy that kind of property and no one was willing to invest in the business venture of a twenty-something year old Djinn Culinary Major (don't ask) with no credentials or experience in business besides my own wit and ambition.
I did make good use of my left-over money, however, by paying some old friends to help me renovate the building, turning it from a decrepit old eyesore into a half-way decent drinking establishment. I had acquired a liquor license, stocked up on inventory, marketed my bar across town, and built a neon sign over the top of the building with the name I'd given it: "The Garodj." It was pronounced like "Garage" but I felt like the unique spelling would make it stand out. One of my close friends, who was a human but pretty naive to mythlore fact and stereotypes, actually made a serious suggestion of naming it "The Magic Carpet." I nearly decked him in the face for it but decided to constitute it to a heavily deprived childhood and a lack of sharpening materials for whatever tool shed he came from. Customer attendance was a slow start, which I expected, but it actually picked up faster than anticipated. Within the first few weeks or so, we even had a few regulars. I initially thought that since it was on the outskirts of town, there would be next to no one coming in to visit, but it turned out there were a lot of drifters that traveled in and out of the city willing to stop for a drink or two on their way through. Things were off to a good start.
It was on a bright Sunday morning that things changed for me. I had just opened up shop and only two customers had arrived, one a regular who came by to buy some inventory and another customer who dropped by, grabbed his drink and left. I know I should have been more cautious of serving alcohol to most of these people, since they were driving but at the time, immersed in my naiviety to the street smarts of bar-managing, I didn't pay it much attention. I was the only one in the bar at the time, as business was still slow and my two bus boys weren't scheduled to come in until the afternoon.
I'd been wiping down the same table for the last ten minutes, trying to stretch time. It was hard to find things to do when there were so few customers and I didn't have the money to purchase a tv or anything, so I often sat around in boredom most of the time. As I wiped the wooden table with the rag for the twelfth time, I could hear the sound of tires screeching in the distance. Must be another potential customer heading out of town. I left the rag by the table and made my way to the window, adjusting the blinds by it to get a peak outside. Good thing I had, or else I wouldn't have anticipated what happened next.
I was forced to close my eyes quickly and immediately made my body mass intangeable, just as a loud crash filled my ears, rumbling and thunder around me. My heart sank with realization as I opened my eyes and my form once again became solid. I was now looking outside, without the obstruction of the blinds. Or the window. Or the wall I had been standing in front of. The front of the bar was now renovated with a giant gaping hole for an entrance. I looked behind me to see a wrecked Corvette upside down, smoldering from its engine and lying right next to where the liquor counter used to be. Most of the inventory that was on display by it had been knocked from the shelves behind the counter and were leaked across the bar floor.
"No...." I croaked in a whisper at the sight of my now ruined bar. I hadn gotten the chance to put insurance on it, but found out from a friend that the company I'd went with was unreliable in certain situations and I'd planned to apply for another outlet the next day. There was no telling if the company I went with would pay for this kind of damage. I shook my head, overcome with worry.
Suddenly, I was jogged out of my growing depression in the moment by the sudden banging of the damaged passenger side door swinging open and colliding with the remains of the liquor counter. Climbing from the wreckage of the sports car was a young man, roughly the same age as me. He stood to his feet and revealed that he was relatively short, standing at about 5'11". I stood at 6'1" so I looked down on him slightly when he walked up to me. He had been wearing a red two-piece burgundy polyester suit with an open jacket and a matching tie, blood oozing down his temple as he staggered forward. His skin was corpse pale and his finger nails were black, but what stood out the most was the X shaped scar carved over his eye from cheekbone to eyebrow. The scar wasn't too deep but enough to be permanent and I could tell that he'd had it for a while. His eyes were narrow and despite his young age, his smile lines could be seen even when he had a straight face. He immediately looked familiar to me but I couldn't make out who he was at first. His dark curly hair went slightly past his ears and he displayed a full-grown beard that probably used to be a goatee but hadn't gotten a proper trim in a while. I remember my first thought when I saw him: Stab him. Stab him and kill him. Stab him to death.
Before I got the chance to look around for something I could use for a weapon, another man crawled from the wreckage of the sports car behind the first man, who I could tell by his appearance was a vampire. This second man's skin was darker, likely of African Descent but not immediately distinguishable at first by complexion. What gave him away were the long dreadlocks that had been tied back into a bun behind his head with one of the locks hanging off by his temple. His eyes were a bright yellow and he too had a goatee, only his was more beard-like and defined, stretching up to his cheeks. He was much taller than the first man but slimmer. He was wearing a white dress shirt with a black tie and matching black pants but his sleeves were rolled up displaying elaborate forearm tattoos on both arms that I couldn't make out at first glance. By the look of his bright yellow pupils, I could immediately tell that he was a wolfman. How strange. A wolfman and a vampire riding in the same car? Maybe they'd been fighting and that was what caused the crash. Either way, someone was going to pay for these damages.
As the two walked to the hole they'd made in my bar, I could see that they hadn't even acknowledged my presence. They had their eyes glued out on the New Bark Desert, which lay on the outskirts of Allsborough and stretched onward to Cottle Town and the rest of the state. By the mixed expressions of anguish, determination, and subtle worry on their faces, I could tell they were expecting something. That's when I realized it.
"Cole!? Aaron!?" I called out to them with growing surprise in my voice. As the two of them turned in my direction with curious but vigilant looks, I could tell immediately that my suspicions were true.
"Who are you?" the vampire asked forcefully, slowly reaching behind him. I knew it was for a weapon, so I acted fast.
"I'm Trent!" I exclaimed, pointing at my chest with too much excitement. "Trent DeLucia! The Djinn from the Caleidos Mythlore School of the Arts!"
The two were giving identical confused looks as they scanned me from afar. They looked at each other questionably, but when they looked back at me, the same realization I'd just experienced lit up in their faces as if they'd just searched through each other's memories for any evidence of my existence.
"OH!" They both shouted, now giving off the same excitement and immediate charisma I'd known them for.
"What are you doing here?" The vampire asked with a bright dazzling smile of a former football star, valedictorian, and Prom/Homecoming King. His name was Aaron.
"This is my bar you just crashed through," I responded, now switching from familiar friend to pissed-off bar owner. "What the hell happened? Did you take a wrong turn at albuquerque?"
The duo once again looked at each other, this time with hesitation. The wolfman stepped up, giving off the timid charm of a Marching Band tuba player, Math Club head rep, and the school's most well-known virgin. His name was Cole. "Uh, we're kind of in the middle of something,"
"And what could you possibly be in the middle of that would"- A tire screech that was even louder than the one from earlier could be heard outside. We all turned back in the direction of the desert. The gas pumps to the old gas station were still in front of the bar, as I hadn't gotten the chance to have them taken out and it had accidentally drawn in some travelers looking to refill. Between the pumps, we looked out onto the road ahead, which led to the state capital of New Devon, and we could see three cars speeding in the direction of the bar. "Is that the something you're in the middle of?"
Cole shrugged hesitantly. "Yeah. Aero, you got insurance on that death trap of yours?"
"Death trap?" Aaron asked. "You mean my car? No, Beaux, my payment expires this week. I was hoping the money we got from this job would help me pay for it, but somebody had to fuck it up for me."
"Quit bitching. I was tired of cruising around in that plastic peace of crap anyway. We're definitely going back to the Messiah once this is over."
"Once what is over?" I asked with a touch of worry as the cars in the distance began to make their way into the bar's parking lot. "Who are those guys?"
"Let's just say if you've got any kind of little spells or whatever that can deflect bullets, you might want to throw them up now."
I can't remember if I thought "aw shit" in my mind or if I said it out loud, but either way, I knew we were fucked. I was about to experience my first time being screwed over by "Beaux and Aero" as they called themselves. I wasn't sure where the silly nicknames had come from, but I disregarded them with so many other things to worry about at the moment. The trio of black sedans skidded to a stop by the gas pumps kicking up red desert dirt from its tires approximately seven yards away from where we were standing. Just as quickly as they had arrived, several men in black suits stepped from the vehicles, armed with large guns. Very large guns. They looked in our direction, pointed, aimed, and fired away.
Beaux, Aero, and I dived from the opening and took cover behind what was left of the wall of that end of the bar. The assailants seemed to be shooting for ages as bullets flew into the building, smashing into the remnants of the car. It was apparent that if they didn't stop shooting, the vehicle would eventually explode. We were trapped. The car was blocking the only other exit out of the building not being showered in bullets. But suddenly, the firing stopped. Beaux was beside me on the left side of the wall, while Aero sat across from me on the opposite side, peaking out to get a look at our new visitors. I did the same to see what we were dealing with. I couldn't really tell from the distance. They looked like humans. They could be demons or possibly wolfmen, although I was too far away to see if their eyes were yellow. I suddenly got an idea. I snapped my finger once, shut my eye, and suddenly I was able to see them as if I were standing right in front of the gas pumps they'd parked around. I rarely ever used my powers, partially because I hung around humans often and many of them critisize or get annoyed when you use your powers around them, but mainly because many humans call it "cheating," saying its taking the easy road out and I wanted to prove that I didn't need the convenience to get things done in my life. At this point though, I had no choice. I needed to see what we were up against. From the view, I could see no obvious signs that they were any kind of mythlore, so they were either humans or demons.
"Some hired guns you two are," shouted a man who stood in front of the group. He looked to be the leader, as he was wearing what looked to be the most expensive suit and jewelry around his wrist and neck. He wore sunglasses that hid his eyes and was twisting a toothpick around his mouth with his tongue. "If you're going to make an attempt on my life, at least get the job done right. You're hardly living up to your reputation. You should have been able to take us humans out no problem."
"Who is that guy?" I whispered harshly, trying to get Beaux to hear me but hoping this guy didn't come to the conclusion that we were trying to formulate a plan and start shooting again.
"Freddy Santana," Beaux whispered back. "Human Underboss for the Murphy Family. We were supposed to take them out, but we ran into a few snags."
"Wait a second, what do you mean you were supposed to take them out?" I asked, giving Beaux a suspicious look.
"You know....take them out."
"Wait, so you guys are like....hitmen or something?"
Beaux didn't answer, but instead peaked out once again as Freddy Santana continued on with his pointless monologue. I could see Aero pulling out his weapon, a 9mm pistol, pulling back on it with force as he made eye contact with Beaux. When he had his attention, Aero made several signs and after a few seconds, Beaux turned to me. "Do those gas pumps have any gas left in them?"
I had to think for a second. "Uh, yeah, maybe a little. Why?"
"I remember you were always really good with fire. Is that still true?"
"Well I haven't used my powers in a while, so I don't know. Maybe. Do you have a plan?"
"Yeah, just cover Aero. This should be a over soon."
Beaux turned back to Aero, who once again made eye contact with him. The two nodded and Beaux counted on his fingers, mouthing the number at the same time. "1....2....3!"
Aero jumped out from cover and fired the gun at the group of mobsters. As they worked to pull their large weapons back up and go on the offensive again, Santana soon realized by the lack of real accuracy that the assailant wasn't aiming for the group. They were aiming for the gas pumps. By the time he wrapped his mind around it, the gas pump farthest from him ignited, causing a huge explosion that destroyed the nearest Sedan closest to him. He shielded himself from the inferno and hit the ground as the flames danced into the sky. Beaux looked over, giving me a nod. I looked at the cloud of smoke and flames and reached my hand out, focusing on the fire rising from the broken gas pump.
As a few more mobsters headed to one of the remaining vehicles, I closed my hand into a fist, entraping an orb of flames into a single ball. With a sharp pulling motion, I smashed the orb of flames into the escaping Sedan, causing it to explode instantly on impact.
As if using it as their cue, I watched as Beaux and Aero shot out from cover and change into a side of them I hadn't seen in a while. Aero pulled off his suit jacket and launched forward, taking on a feral stance, his fangs and fingernails extending and his dark pupils taking over the entirety of his eyes. Beaux's limbs and height increased exponentially and I could see that large patches of hair seeping from out of his shirt. A snout began to form over his face and his canines, which had already been slightly more prevalent than his other teeth when he spoke, sharpened themselves to a point, and his yellow eyes had become as illuminated as car headlights. As the two, now in their most natural form, charged forward into the wreckage, I watched in total awe as they targetted the group of remain mobsters that were fleeing into the last Sedan.
Aero got to them first, tackling one to the ground and sinking his fangs into the mobster's neck, causing him to scream out into the desert wilderness. Beaux, who by this point had gone full Man-Wolf form, launched at one of the fleeing mobsters, yanking him back and swinging him in a 180 angle until the mobster smashed against the Sedan and flew off farther into the parking lot along with the car. I was utterly amazed; I had rarely seen a wolfman enter his man-wolf form or a vampire go primal and feed. It wasn't something you see often, not even on television. By the time the remaining mobsters had been disposed of, I watched from afar and could see that the two hadn't let down their guard. They were once again looking out in the distance across the desert in front of the gas pumps that they now stood by, the flames of which had dispursed and died down to a tamed blaze.
"There's Santana," Aero said, pointing out to the fleeing man making his way across the street and out into the desert. "I'll get him."
"No, its all right, I've got him," muttered the well-dressed giant wolf, narrowing his sight on the mobster.
"I said I've got him, Beaux," Aero replied, looking at him with a dark glare as his fangs became even more visible.
"Okay, how about we race for him?"
"Deal. Count to 3."
"1....2...." Before Beaux could finish counting, the vampire shot forward, sprinting after the man. A second later Beaux chased after him, swearing under his breath as he struggled to catch up. In no time, the two were ganging up on the escaping mobster, who turned back in horror at the sound of their footsteps and picked up his pace. Beaux galloped freely on all fours until he was right beside Aero and shoved him aside. As he began to pass him, Aero regained his pace and hopped over the sprinting werewolf, vaulting onto his back and using him to launch through the air after Santana. He dropped short right behind the mobster, but right in front of Beaux, who pulled him back with his large claw and reached forward for Santana, while at the same time, Aero jumped forward for him as well.
The two grabbed onto the man simultaneously and then struggled to pull him out of each other's grip.
"Let Go!" Beaux growled, tightening his hold on Santana, who howled in pain.
"No, you let go!" Aero exclaimed, trying to pull Santana back. They continued to yank him back and forth, trying to pull him from each other's clutches.
Okay, we'll both let go on 3. 1....2....3."
Neither of the two let go of him. Beaux rolled his yellow eyes. "You are really immature, you know that?"
"Shut up! You didn't let go of him either." Aero pulled back harder and Santana screamed even louder.
"You're going to kill him!"
"So?" Aero answered. "Isn't that what we're supposed to do?"
"Yeah, but remember, we get paid more if we get info out of him."
"Oh right. All right, really let go of him this time."
The two mythlores let go of Santana and let him drop to the desert floor with a loud thud before Beaux allowed own his body to revert back to its natural human state. Despite the size growth during his drastic change, his clothes had not been stretched and still fit him as perfectly as it had a second ago. They were both covered in red dirt after kicking up dust from the ground during the chase. As they dragged the unconscious man across the dirt by his arms, they took a sigh of relief.
"So," Beaux started, a smile forming on his face. "Despite things not going out way at first, I say this job was a success."
"Yeah," Aero said, shaking his head. "Not counting the failed explosion back at the hotel, the shootout, the car chase that brought us out here, the almost deadly accident, the second shoot out, and the second explosion. I'd say despite those obstacles, this was a cinch. All action. No drama. And best of all, you didn't get raped."
"Don't even, Aero," Beaux replied, unamused. "I was in a good mood and now you have to bring that shit up. I can't get those images out of my head."
"Then you should stop fantasizing about her," Aero teased. "You know she's bad for your health."
"Thank you, Captain Obvious."
"Your welcome, Lieutenant Sarcasm."