Mankind took a different path one where they formed symbiotic relationships with monsters.
| Caulder’s lanky form lounged against the alley wall near the mouth of the alley. The other end of the alley was a tall brick wall, garbage and debris froliced in the wind only to be smashed into the wall and trapped in an ever growing pile. Caulder inhaled deeply, the tip of his cigarette glowed hot like coal. The cigarette hung lazily in between drags. The rain drizzled down softly, a dull lullaby. The only other sound in the alley was the heavy sound of his partener breathing. It sounded louder than it truly was because of Caulder’s proximity to his partner’s large frame. Caulder’s partner looked down at him “Thanks for committing suicide for the both of us.” Caulder blew a lungful of smoke in his partner’s direction. “When you get into our line of work, you don’t need to worry much about a long life.” After another long pull Caulder puts the cigarette out grinding out the glowing end on the alley’s coarse walls. “Caulder shouldn’t we have gone in the front with the others?” Caulder looked up at his huge partner and smiled “You know how these guys work, bang in the front and scare the perp. We know this is the only rear exit, let the fools rush in and flush the scum out of the building.” with this said they lapsed into a comfortable quit.
The pair stood silently, the rain falling down around them and they stared at the only door in the alley, as if cued by their stares a ruckus began in the building they were watching. The pair turned with eager anticipation towards the door ready for action. Caulder rolled his shoulders and shuffled his feet trying to shake the cold out of his limbs. The back door to the restaurant slammed open and a man tumbled out, he was short and thick with a well groomed appearance. He scrambled into the alley carrying a long handled knife in one hand and a bag heavy with loot in the other if it weren’t for those things and the distress call Caulder would have never guessed this guy was as nefarious as the reports led him to believe. He was preoccupied with looking back into the hospital, right behind him came a rat like creature though it was larger than a pony. It’s fur was dark and thick and matted with a dark substance upon closer inspection turned out to be blood. It’s six legs scrabbled at the wet concrete unable to find purchase it collapsed and skidded into the back of the man. The whirled around grasped it by it’s scruff. “Get up you lazy bastard, the cops were pouring in the front they are gonna be here any sec…” he trailed off as he took in the sight of Caulder and his partner blocking the mouth of the alley. Caulder grinned at the man “Wanna surrender?”
“Fuck you!” the man shouted brandishing his knife. “I hoped not” Caulder said then he turned towards his partner “Warlock you take the furry one.” Warlock sighed “When do I get the easy one?” With a flap of his black wings he took off towards the rat beast. Warlock’s solid black form took of like a shot from a cannon. Caulder causally ducked as Warlock’s massive tail whipped past his head. Caulder expected to see fear in the criminal’s eyes as Warlock’s lithe form rocketed towards the rat beast but instead he saw nothing but confidence. With a shrug Caulder began his own charge towards the man taking a wide path to avoid colliding with the beasts, with a flick of his wrist his baton extended. Sarcasm dripping from his voice Caulder says “Oh please surrender Mr.Criminal. The criminal let out a harsh laugh, “So you can bring us to the executioner?” He readied his blade. “I’d rather stick you and leave you for your friends to find here in the alley.” Caulder tipped his head toward the blade “If you had brought something a little less lethal you would have just got a few years.” Before the two men could lock in combat Warlock reached the rat beast. He dived with his clawed hands reaching forward ready to tear into beast. The Agathodaimon seemed strangely calm despite the fact that a chunk of nightmares was hurtling at it. It hunched in on itself and at the last second before Warlock crashed into it spines hidden in it’s fur spring upwards. The barb spikes pierced into Warlock’s taloned hands and forearms forcing a piercing shriek like that of a bird of prey from Warlock’s maw. Flapping his large wings he tried to drag himself away from his foe but the six legged spinerat’s claws dug into the cement rooting him into the spot and causing more damage to Warlock’s forearms. Caulder nor the thief gave the battle the slightest attention despite the strong winds and the whirlwind of debris Warlock’s frantic flapping caused. They were too focused on their own life or death struggle. Caulder thought with his height and reach he could end it quickly but the knife wielding man, who was squat and bulky, was surprisingly agile. Caulder first pressed the attack with no concern for his own defense he swung quickly aiming for the side of his opponent's head attempting to knock out his foe but the thief quickly blocked at an angle, the baton hardly slowed but slid over the thief’s head opening Caulder up for a slash to the ribs Caulder backstepped but the blade still sliced into his side and after taking several more shallow cuts Caulder realized that he was outmatched and unless the thief messed up, it was over for Caulder and Warlock.
Focusing on defense he hoped Warlock could win his fight quickly to keep Caulder from bleeding out in the alley. Warlock had stopped thrashing and was hovering over the rat just out of the range of it’s slashes. The spinerat was leaned back some letting his barbed spines hold Warlock close while trying to scratch upward with his front two legs four of them still gripping the ground with a lunge it let go with two more legs grabbing Warlock and pulling him in close where the powerful claws begun tearing into warlock’s stomach and chest with Warlock’s arm’s trapped there seemed to be no way to the assault but with a few hard flaps he drug the spinerat’s last two claws out of the ground the rat hung loosely nothing but the spine’s holding him up and it let out a terrified yelp. The two beast’s were of similar weights but warlock continued to pull them upwards despite the pain and tearing in his forearms. The spinerat growled “What you think you gonna do drop me?” He snarled and shook causing the wounds to tear more. Warlock's lips pulled back baring his fangs and a rumbling sound started deep inside of him and once the pair reached about two stories up warlock vomited up several gallons of a greenish liquid all over the spinerat and Warlock’s own arms. The spinerat’s scream’s were so intense the thief and caulder had to stop fighting and just watch. The thief fell to his knee’s tears in his eye’s. He reached upwards towards the pair. The acid quickly ate through the spine’s connecting the two and the two abruptly separated. Warlock shot upwards out of sight and the spinerat fell to the ground so hard it shook the walls. The spinerat flailed around on his back rubbing in dirt and garbage trying to get the acid off of it’s back and legs. It’s stomach and neck covered only with short fur had taken very little damage but it’s armored back hurt more than anything the spinerat had ever felt. The spinerat was howling about the revenge it was going to take on Warlock then he uttered an unforgivable, “The second I get up your Man is dead…” A new sound filled the air the whislting of a fast moving distant object both Caulder and the thief looked skwards and the could see Warlock diving towards the ground with a strange vibrating cloud surrounding him, he dived towards the spinerat and at the last second spread his wings. The wind slammed into the spinerat, the cement exploded and the sonic boom finally caught up, between the wind, the booming sound and the ground being torn asunder Caulder and the thief fell onto the ground hands over their ears. The thief quickly crawled over to the spinerat’s still form and threw his arms around the Agathodaimon ignoring the spines and pressed his face into the still form. The Agathodaimon was still breathing. All the Agathodaimons of this world were remarkably resilient. Caulder rose a hand clutching his largest gash. The thief was crying quietly when the police vehicle pulled up and seeveral uniformed lower level cops and their partners burst onto the scene. The regular cops stared in awe at the damage caused by Warlock and the knife glittering with Caulder’s blood.
The police vehicle was a very large vehicle with giant space in the back that would cage most Agathodaimons. Most of the creatures could escape through force or some other power but the human partner couldn’t escape as easily and no Agathodaimon would leave their partner. The partnership between a human and his Agathodaimon is deeper even than a mother and child. The Agathodaimon would lose its sentience and the human would feel the darkest of depressions. Most humans don’t survive very long after a severing. When a human is born a Agathodaimon is bound to it, no one knows how or why but a pup will travel hundreds of miles to be with their human and the two grow and learn together, inseparable as a man and his shadow.
Caulder looked at the wagon trying to play it cool with his cut burning. Officer Jennifer stepped out, a short adorable red head with a devilish grin. Her grin disappeared when she saw the blood on Caulder’s clothes she dashed to his side and immediately began scolding him while carefully applying first aid. “Why are you such an idiot?” she growled “When someone is using lethal force you know the rules you are supposed to call the tranq team in.” Caulder grimaced “you know he would have escaped… again.” The tranq team was a special force that was armed with dart guns designed for humans. You had to have special training because people came in all shapes and sizes and it was easy so under or overdose someone. The darts used a paralyzing agent to cause the person to be easily detained but even a relatively healthy person could easily die from cardiac arrest or their lungs not working.
Killing someone was the worst thing a person could do. Agathodaimon are ranked with a fairly easy model they had ranks in specific traits that were averaged out to a single score. Warlock ranked in at an A while most law enforcing Agathodaimon, ranked at around a B and of course with some higher ranks mixed in. An average Agathodaimon was usually about a C. When the human partner died the Agathodaimon would rank up, the more violent the death the greater the increase, but as said before separation from your human caused a creature to result back to a mindless beast and a violent severing caused the creature to revert to a primitive form often spiking up several ranks of power as well. So when a person died you suddenly had a creature that was often S rank or even SS rank running amok and could cause all sorts of damages. In the Age of Burning a S rank had been severed in a crowded area killing many humans whose creatures had in turn severed and the domino effect had spread wildly across the continent for 4 years. A team of people with some of the strongest ranking creatures of the age finally put a stop to the First ending it’s life and through a nationwide effort the remainder of the primitive Agathodaimon were put down. The country had to rebuild. It took a decade to rebuild and much of the technology was lost. The world was approaching the state it had been in but wasn’t quite there yet.
Caulder shrugged as Jennifer attended to his wounds, her Agathodaimon, a small creature weighing around 5 pounds floated near by. It was the pink of bubblegum and was feline in build but had legs resembling a rabbit. Its long tail was twice the length of its body, the tail was long and thin. Its forepaws ended in little clawed hands. It flitted around Warlock looking at his wounds and giggling. “Wow it really tore you up.” She looked at the creature. “It’s barely a C how’d you let it trick you?” Warlock swatted playfully at her his massive clawed paw coming to stop as if he slapped a brick wall a foot away from her. What Pixie lacked in size and intimidation she made up in raw power. Part of the reason she was on the clean up crew is that she was one of the only SS on the police force and was capable of restraining any number of Agathodaimon with little to no effort. The body of the spinerat and man levitated towards the vehicle all while Pixie and Warlock played, the Spinerat was loaded and locked into the rear compartment and the man was set down right by the car door. Fear of further harm occurring to his Agathodaimon kept the well dressed thief compliant. The grunts quickly gathered evidence and photographed the scene. When Officer Jennifer finished applying the bandage to Caulder’s side she quickly hugged him and then darted back to her wagon. She roughly shoved the thief into the back. After realizing who it was driving the wagon he treated Officer Jennifer with nothing but respect. Stories of Jennifer and Pixie were something of legends in the underworld. Pixie’s power’s were almost godlike and no one who crossed Jennifer or Pixie got away with it. The Agathodaimon could, with enough training, rank up and some said Pixie might be quickly approaching U rank a rank that hadn’t occurred since the Age of Burning. Caulder and Warlock were no slouches but the powers Pixie displayed made them look like children. Warlock strove to catch up to her and that is one of the reasons he and Caulder always took the most dangerous assignments, they pushed themselves hard but the gap was massive.
After the fuss had died down Caulder lit another cigarette and he and Warlock began walking towards the slums. Many people and Agathodaimon recognized Caulder and Warlock, the people who worked hard and didn’t cause trouble delighted in seeing the pair. Caulder and Warlock kept them safe when most of the upper echelon ignored them or abused them. People waved and children would dash up to try and touch Warlock. Warlock indulged them even rolling on his back and letting them rub his stomach scales. Many of the children marvled and the rapid healing wounds in his forelegs. One older couple waved Caulder and Warlock over and gave them a lunch basket. Caulder tried to refuse knowing how desperate the people of this area were but they insisted and he didn’t want to insult them. The ne'er do wells tried to slide into the crevices and shadows when the pair approached even off duty the pair didn’t let anything slide.
They had no qualms with setting people straight and calling the wagon even in their off time. Some may even say they relished it. Among those who were just trying to get by and that were up to no good was the Lacking, humans who had lost their partner, unlike the Agathodaimon instead of rage and power, they fill up with despair and lose all hope most starve or die from exposure rather quickly. Caulder having grown up in the slums had seen a ton of them but he never stopped hurting when he saw them. He wasn’t sure since there was no tally but he felt like as he got older there were more and more of the Lacking.
Caulder and Warlock turned down another alley there was lone body laying quite still every time Caulder saw this particular body he assumed the worst. He hurried over to check for a pulse like always. It was there beating strong despite the state the man was in he was filthy thin and dressed in tatters of a suit. Caulder prodded his brother waking him. He slowly blinked his eyes and groaned when he saw Caulder. “Hey bro!” Caulder said trying hard to express cheer. Warlock lay curled at the end of the alley blocking the path even though it was extremely unlikely anyone would try to come down the filthy alley. Caulder forced his brother Set to rise up and lean back against the wall. Set still said nothing just grunting as Caulder tried to make him comfortable. Caulder presented the lunch the elderly couple had given him. “I was going to stop and pick us up something but the Larson’s gave me this as thanks for saving their grandson from the Demons.” The Demons were a street gang that would kidnap peoples’ Agathodaimon and make that person commit crimes for them. They would tell people that if they gathered enough money they would be reunited but would charge for “boarding” the Agathodaimon. If the person got caught they would just execute the Agathodaimon causing a severing. Once a person was Severed the police would just let them go, the Lacking would wander off and usually die and the Demons would grab someone else to torment. Caulder had caught Larson holding up a food cart and found it strange that the boy was alone but was clearly emotional unlike a Lacking would be, plus you never heard of Lacking criminals. When he got the story out of the boy he and Warlock immediately had to help. With the help of a few other officers they had infiltrated one of the many Demons lairs and had saved not only the Larson’s grandson’s Agathodaimon but several other Agathodaimons. Even with the Agathodaimon having nothing but a beast's intellect they would swiftly seek out their partners. Hopefully keeping those people from having to commit more crimes or any. Set looked at the basket with dispassionate eyes “Not hungry” he whispered. “I know bud but you have to eat, you are getting too skinny, you’ll never pick up chicks this way.” Caulder said with a forced smile. After much coaxing Caulder got Set to eat, not nearly enough but more than usual.
Caulder tried several time to get his brother to come home with him and had even brought him home by force several times but Set was one of the smartest people Caulder had ever met and would escape in ways Caulder could never expect. Set had been a scientist, he had been experimenting in a new field he and and he said it had to do with attaching people to new Agathodaimon. He had hoped that one day the Lacking could be saved. His work was met with mostly disdain. No one thought you could or should save the Lacking because they didn’t want to be saved. One day Set, his partner Brain and Set’s wife Stella and her partner Luna were working in their private lab when several men and Agathodaimon attacked. Set and Brain tried to stop them while Set’s wife and her partner tried to escape out the back, Brain had been an A ranked Agathodaimon and he had put up quite a fight trying to buy time for Stella to escape but the enemy had expected her to run. Set had fought as well but the enemy was well trained and well armed. They subdued Set, Brain, Stella and Luna without much trouble and began to question them on their work and quickly gathered up as much material as they could. Suddenly a young scientist and his partner, who had been sent out for supplies walked in reading something in his hand he never noticed the men and one of them panicked at his sudden appearance and fired some sort of strange weapon right into the young man’s chest. The young scientist's partner began to bellow he was a small bipedal lizard like Agathodaimon, it’s tail always crackled with a small charge of electricity it had only stood at about three feet tall as the young scientist fell to the floor the creature had exploded into action it’s body and quadrupled in size and bolts of lightning began to blast from it’s body striking in all directions, wings burst from its back and they brushed the twelve foot ceiling. Brain quickly covered Set with his body. The electricity striking Brain multiple times he shuddered but protected Set as best he could. Set could see nothing but Brain who was trying his best to protect him suddenly suddenly went limp and collapsed on Set. Everyone was screaming and running and the men’s weapons were loudly booming, the young scientist’s Agathodaimon was bellowing like thunder. All the while Set was stuck under Brain. He found himself dispassionate and apathetic he lay there motionless not even minding the crushing weight of Brain until he heard Stella scream he finally felt something, he felt fear. Her scream was cut short and he tried desperately to dig out from under his partner to help her. He could smell smoke the room was on fire and with all the smoke he could just see shadows moving. Try as he might he couldn’t get free and though he wanted to help Stella he quickly gave up the despair drowning him an explosion threw Brain and him aside and when he came too he was laying in a hospital bed. The police questioned him but seeing as he was severed he wasn't very much help and they could find no evidence to back up his story. The building had collapsed moments after he was pulled out and the equipment they had been using had been rather volatile, some people even thought he was making the story up because he couldn’t live with the guilt of accidentally killing his partner and wife. Nothing was recovered from the wreckage the explosions and fire had destroyed the building and several near by. It took several hours to get everything under control and before the night was through Set was put out on the street despite being wounded. The Lacking were not worth the medical supplies and the authorities quickly blamed Set for the accident, listing him as the sole survivor of his own hare brained experiments.
Set quickly fell asleep and Caulder sat leaned against Warlock watching over him. Caulder fell asleep soon after. They were accustomed to watching over Set, Caulder often joked with Warlock they might as well stop paying for their apartment since they only showered there and did little else. Warlock kept watch, wild Agathodaimon roamed everywhere, they filled niches all over the world by evolving rapidly, any Agathodaimon could breed with any Agathodaimon, size being the only real limitation. The offspring had aspects of both parents and could be born into large litters. Warlock was not afraid for himself but for Caulder and Set. Carnivorous wild Agathodaimon would eat anything they could kill and the Lackless were a common source of food for predators and scavengers as the didn’t put up much of a fight. Warlock lightly dozed his body shielding Caulder and Set from the strong breeze, the breeze pushing the smell of Caulder’s blood down the alley. As the sun crept up along the horizon several creatures crept down the other end of the alley towards the sleeping pair of humans. Hagraptors were typically scavengers but would prey on the weak when they could. Three feet tall they stood on hind legs. They had delicate hands designed for gripping, their mouths were long and thin ending in a round opening ringed with teeth. They walked on clawed feet with long talons. The alpha Hagraptor quietly approached Set and gently pushed his head to the side with it’s small delicate hands and slowly lowered his mouth to Set’s neck a quite hacking noise and the creature spit on Set after a few moments the alpha bit Set’s neck and began quietly slurping up up blood as the alpha fed the other three spread out towards Caulder and Warlock. As the alpha fed his skin which was a brown started to turn red and Set started getting pale. Caulder awoke as light hands touched time but confused by sleep he tried to push what he thought was Set away, the hands pulled tighter and he felt something wet hit his neck he opened his eyes and was looking right into the eyes of the Hagraptor female. He tried to shout but nothing but a wheeze came out he tried to push the creature but his hands felt like lead, the Hagraptor made a soft cooing sound like a mother trying to soothe a baby to sleep. He felt his eyes growing heavy and suddenly he was falling backwards. When the Hagraptors had touch Warlock he had jumped up in surprise saving himself from the pairs grasping hands. Caulder was now laying flat on his back and could see Warlock hovering over the seen the two remaining Hagraptors were looking up at him and in unison they spit at Warlock with a strong flap of his wings he pushed himself upward dogging the spit. Warlock quickly assessed the situation, he couldn’t spit acid or dive bomb either could hurt the humans. He screamed with the cry of a hunting eagle and made a quick descent and he swiped a taloned forearm at the nearest Hagraptor and it nimbly hopped backwards on its strong legs and spit on Warlock’s forearm. The limb immediately went limp. Warlock growled and then let out a roar that sent the three creatures scurrying back behind the the alpha, they began to coo and the alpha and with what sounded like a small sigh he let go of Set who fell back and his blood continued to pump at an alarming rate. Caulder’s Hagraptor had just started so his wound wasn’t as ragged but he could feel a warmth leaving him. He struggled to move but it was like swimming through molasses. The alpha and the three females moved towards Warlock who hovered in the air at the mouth of the alley. He landed and began to back up slowly dragging his right arm he tried to look as appealing as possible. The Hagraptors slowly approached even with their limited intelligence they knew there would be no peaceful feasting unless they could run off Warlock. Warlock whimpered and backed away even more drawing the creatures out into the deserted street. The creatures who had been moving hesitantly sensed the weakness Warlock was displaying and were getting bold. They hesitantly cleared the edge of the alley and once they were clear the bolted towards Warlock. Warlock reacted just as quickly and with a leap and a flap clear them to stand in between the Hagraptors and the humans, the smell of blood would draw more creatures so he needed to get them out of there quickly, the Hagraptors quickly skidded and twisted around to come back at him and Warlock quickly sprayed them with acid. The green globs hissing and bubbling wherever they landed, the alpha took the brunt of it, he had tried to turn as the spray hit him and his right flank was drenched and the females were splattered as well the coo’s quickly becoming hoots of pain and Warlock watched as the alpha’s stolen blood spilled onto the street in torrents as his skin melted. The Hagraptors began to roll in the street attempting to clean themselves and Warlock convinced they would bother him no more gathered up Caulder with his good arm and gently picked up set with his mouth. Several strong flaps and they were airborne headed for the nearest hospital. Caulder regained control of his body and quickly climbed up Warlock to reach his brother and he leaned dangerously over the speeding ground trying to apply pressure to his brother’s wound.
After what seem to be ages to Caulder they arrived at the ER. Humans and Agathodaimon milled about the waiting room to be seen, but Caulder using his badge bullied his way to the head of the line. They would have seen him quickly either way because someone dying would generally cause a severing and they assumed Caulder had brought someone who was Whole. A ragged nurse looked up at them as they approached the counter “Name?”
Caulder replied“Set Dume” “Name of the Agathodaimon” “Brain Dume” she ushered them into a nearby room and a doctor came in swiftly behind them with his small purple dog like Agathodaimon who was staying nearby so he could fetch materials for the doctor. He began patching up Set and told Caulder if they had been any later he would have died of blood loss. At first the blood had masked what Set was but as the doctor worked he asked Caulder questions about the attack, he even recognized the Hagraptors’ paralyzing agent and when he realized what had happened and what Set was he tried to leave “A Lacking bum? the doctor said with a grimace. “These guys just lay in the gutters this happens to Lackings all the time, why did you bring this guy in?” His Agathodaimon shuddered and pulled away and the doctor dropped his tools on his tray and made to wheel away but Caulder stepped in the way of the cart his temper flaring “Save him!” he shouted. Hands slamming down on the cart. The doctor looked terrified and Caulder immediately deflated “He’s my brother” The doctor sighed. “I can get him stable but he can’t stay here. I’m surprised they even let you bring him in.” A few minutes later the doctor finished up. “That's all I can do. It would be a mercy to let him die you know.” The doctor said frankly. “That is a pretty nasty wound on your neck, I should check it out for you.” Caulder shook his head and lifted Set from the bed. “I’ll be fine” He carried Set outside and climbed on Warlock’s back and they flew home.
Caulder called out from work the next few days to care for Set. Feeding him and taking care of him to the best of his ability. A week passed and Set barely woke. One morning Set opened his eyes and realized Caulder wasn’t hovering around him. He could hear Warlock in the other room sounding panicked. Set slowly climbed to his feet Caulder was the only thing he still cared anything about and even that was a small flicker. He stumbled on his weak limbs into the other room and he saw Warlock trying to wake Caulder who lay on the floor still a bowl of spilled soup congealing near him. Warlock looked up a Set. “Set, he is sick, he wouldn’t let anyone look at his wound, don’t let him die please.” Set quickly moved beside Caulder. “He is burning up, we need to lower his temperature” Set dragged Caulder to the bathroom Set’s malnourished form struggling to drag his thin brother the ten feet. Set stuffed Caulder into the tub and began running the cold water. Warlock stood peeking into the door like a worried mother “Is he going to make it?” Fear plain in his voice. Set nodded “Nothing can keep him down not even when he was little.” Thinking of Caulder stalwartly pushing himself to the cusp of death to care for his older brother filled Set with shame. Set hadn’t been able to see outside of the pain he was living in and see what it was doing to others. He looked at Caulder for the first time since the severing, truly looked a saw and he saw his younger brother half starved, sick, dirty and just run down. All because of him the depression threatened to close back in on him but he held resolutely to the love he felt for his brother. Focusing on that gave him strength. He quickly jumped up and went to the phone to call the ambulance and they were there within the hour. They strapped Caulder’s still frame to a gurney and they thanked Set for his quick thinking, even going so far as saying he had most likely saved Caulder’s life. Warlock rode with him, Warlock was torn between comforting Set and riding with Caulder but his love for Caulder over rode caring for Set.