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Deimos was not an anomaly among his kind. Many of the infernals have embraced the corporate world and made its cutthroat philosophy their own. They love the art of the deal, high-stakes games of Machiavellian intrigue, and the binding power of a contract. Whether signed in blood or ink, a contract is enforced by that most terrible and obscure magic men call litigation.

The portrait that hung behind the deceased’s giant mahogany desk showed a large, regal-looking man with piercing eyes and flesh the color of boiled lobster. Raven-black hair spilled down over broad shoulders draped in a custom-tailored coal-black suit that probably cost more than I make in a year. A giant pair of ivory rams’ horns sprouted from his forehead, lending him the savage and regal air of an alpha-predator.

Again, nothing unusual. The corporate types usually go for the anthropomorphic look, human-like but with a touch of the Pit. That makes it easier for humans to relate to them but still remind the flunkies who’s in charge. You want to see something a little stranger or more exotic just hail a cab.

Deimos had been the CEO of Quantum Industries, a company on the forefront of the so-called ‘super-technology’ revolution that exploded after The Incident softened up the laws of physics and brought such science-fiction staples as anti-gravity and teleportation out of the movies and into the real world. Sam says the portals the infermals use to travel between our world and theirs are to blame because they allow the reality-warping essence of Down There to seep in. The concept appeals to the sci-fi fan in me but also creeps me out. Even the infernals haven’t completely mapped out Down There. Who knows what might wander out of those portals one day?

All that remained of Deimos was a layer of ashes blanketing the far end of his cavernous office. I knew from experience what that meant. When an infernal’s physical form is damaged beyond repair, its body melts into a puddle of protoplasmic goo while its true essence simply returns Down There to whatever cesspool spawned it. And boy does that make them mad. When an infernal is actually destroyed, something you can only do with magic or technology so advanced it might as well be called magic, the sudden release of energy reduces its physical form to ashes.

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