Justine hung on the branch and refused to let go. “Come on Justine!” Angel called up the tree. “Will you just come down already?”
“NO!” the demon reaper whined like a toddler, snaking her arms and legs tighter on the branch. “I’M NOT COMING DOWN TO THAT DOG!”
“HEY!” The dog demon shouted offended.
“Angel, you’re a demon that can turn into a dog, and have some traits of a dog, but him!” She temporarily let go of the branch with one arm to point at the white haired, red eyed man in nothing but a black collar, scratching his ear with his foot and later sniffing it. “He is a full out DOG!”
“He’s not all that bad.” Rachel stated, scratching Pluto’s head as he hung his tongue out and huffed happily. “He’s actually kinda cute.”
Justine laughed a little humorlessly. “Try living with him every other week when he thinks of you as a CHEW TOY!”
“It was only one time!” she called up.
“One time is enough to mentally and physically scar someone!” was the answer.
“Come on!” Paul called up, throwing his arms. “It couldn’t have been that bad!” Justine then raised the bottom hymn of her pants a little to show the long scar that hid on her ankles and up her legs. “That’s nothing!” he called again. “You should see my dad’s customers!” She then swung up to sit on the branch and lifted her shirt just enough to show the many tooth marks and scars on her stomach, sides and back.
Jeremy sighed exaggeratedly. “Did I mention that you’re a scaredy cat?!” he called up the tree as the sister clutched the branch.
“Yes!” she called back. “Several times! Just so you know, I’m down to my last three lives thanks to that mutt!”
After another hour of the friends trying to reason with her, Jeremy growled. “That’s it!” he shouted, swinging out his ax and tossing it at the branch, slicing straight through.
Justine fell all the way down the tall tree, screaming the whole way. Pluto perked up at the sound of screams and stood on his two legs, holding his arms out and looking up. Surprisingly, Justine landed square in his arms. She kicked and squirmed until he let her down.
The cat demon roughly brushed the twigs and leaves in her hair before she huffed. “Mutt.” As a response, Pluto licked her cheek happily, causing her to cringe and push him away. “EWW! GROSS! DOG SLOBER!” The friends (and brother) simply laughed at the sight.
“Let’s get back on track.” Paul stated. “When’s the last time any of you guys saw your missing parents?”
Rachel was the first to speak. “Well, I last saw Bard during the last stormy day. He was bored and wanted to hang out in my room while dinner was cooking.”
“Last time I saw mom was the last time I saw you.” Jeremy snarled at Justine. “After that, mom sent me to dad’s, and then I last saw him leave home with a letter from mom.”
Justine furrowed her brows. “Mom never sent a letter to Uncle Will, but he did say that he got a letter from Uncle Undertaker, that’s the last time I saw him.”
Paul was confused at both their stories. “Hold up. My dad didn’t send any letters; he got a letter from Mr. Spears, saying it was a reaper emergency.” After a second, he crossed his arms and pouted. “He said it was for full reapers only, so he left me in the morgue to deal with my mom when she came to ‘visit’.”
After some thought, Justine continued her statement. “Also, I hadn’t seen my dad since I left for mom’s week.”
Angel scratched her chin, trying to remember. “Well…last time I could remember seeing my dad was in the middle of that storm we had last night. He must’ve taken me to my bed. The last thing I remember of him was hiding under the table in my dog form and him trying to talk me out and the next thing I knew, I was in my bed and it was morning.”
“What about this little angel?” Rachel asked, scratching Pluto’s head and baby talking to him. “How does he fit in all of this?”
Justine took a closer look at the demon hound and noticed the back collar. “…Angel…” she stated. “you’re going to hate me for saying this, but…I think your mom is behind this.”
To this, the dog demon was confused. “…My mom?” The reaper nodded, causing the Shepard to laugh. “You still think that my mom’s an angel?” she asked. “I admit, it’s kinda weird and random that I have big, white, feathery wings, but that doesn’t prove anything!”
“It proves that your mom has big, white, feathery wings, which Angela does.” Justine stated. When Angel stubbornly crossed her arms, the demon reaper shrugged. “The fact that it’s your mother-”
“NOT A FACT!”
The cat demon just looked at her before she continued. “…is not important. What is important is that angels are behind this.”
“How can you tell?” Jeremy asked, an edge of attitude in his voice, but still curious.
Justine mumbled a little “Ax Brain” before she sighed and pointed out the collar to him. “Well, first off, back when Pluto was just a part of my dad’s orders to train a dog and he lived with us in the manner, he always had that exact collar on.” She stood straight and looked around the group. “He got that collar from Angela, a fallen angel, who later used the collar to control him to burn London to the ground. The collar also glowed when he was near that freaky puppet guy, who I think was working with Angela, but we were never sure.”
“Burn London to the ground?” Angel asked, baffled. “How’d he do that?”
Justine looked over at her and answered simply, “Pluto is a demon hound.” Her friend was still confused, causing the half-breed to face palm. “Didn’t Claude teach you anything?” she asked with a sigh before she started to unleash her surface knowledge on demon dogs. “Demon hounds have two forms, their human form, and hound form, obviously. Their hound forms are normally the size of a second or third class house. They also breathe fire, which is how they got their nicknames, ‘hell hounds’. They actually come from Greeks, standing guard alongside Cerberus, the three-headed dog of the Greek Underworld. My dad took me on a vacation there a few times when I was little. I always loved Persephone’s garden.”
“Getting off track!” Paul shouted sternly.
Justine nodded. “Right.” she stated before Rachel caught her attention.
“Also, I remember Bard telling me that Pluto was dead…but, it’s starting to get a little fuzzy…” the human stated.
The demon reaper only shrugged. “More of a reason to point fingers at the angels.” she answered. “If I remember correctly, Angela, like the reapers, can rewrite the past to bring specific people or beings back to life, and therefore, alter present reality as we all know it.”
Jeremy snatched the spotlight from his sister. “There’s a fault in your reasoning.” he stated. “None of my memories are being rewritten, how can it alter present reality?”
Justine groaned and face palmed. “Because, Ax Brain, you have no past relationship with Pluto! It only alters the memory of his death! Duh!”
“Will you quit calling me Ax Brain?! I have a name, you know!”
“I’ll stop calling you Ax Brain when you get an actual brain!”
“I do have an actual brain!”
“Then use it!”
“To sum it all up,” Paul shouted as he clutched his head, interrupting the fight. “Our parents were taken by angels.”
Angel was still confused. “But why my dad?” she asked, gazing at nothing and not really asking anyone, but at the same time gazing at her friends and asking them this critical question that still didn’t make sense in her reasoning. “He doesn’t know any angels. Why would they target him?” When Justine started to say something, the dog demon pointed a stiff finger at her. “Don’t say it!”