Of course the gate was locked, with no apartment manager in sight. Jonas hit ageing hinges with a spinning kick. Sparks flew, and I backed away. He slammed his boot into the metal a second time. The gate groaned and buckled. On his third strike, it gave way with a shriek of tortured metal, falling to the ground.
"You know," I said, "Right over the entryway, there's a key box for the Fire Department. I could have opened it."
"Waste of time. Let's go," Jonas said.
"Demon first, or summoning circle?" I asked.
"Remember that one time in OC?" Jonas answered.
I did. The rust demon we'd been after had eaten away at the structural integrity of the building so much that when we'd eliminated his summoning circle, the whole place came down around our ears. We'd had to dodge chunks of concrete on the way out, and while we were running for our lives, the demon had taken advantage of its escape to eat everything metal on the block, from manhole covers to horseshoes. It had cost the city millions, and our insurance adjuster had been pretty upset. Fortunately, we hadn't been liable.
"Demon first," I said.
Jonas was faster than me, and his enchanted boots and gloves would give him an edge if he turned a corner and came face to face with our quarry, so he scouted ahead. I followed, drawing my weapon and releasing the safety. The strange, living warmth and eager shiver of metal and plastic in my hand both enticed and repulsed me.
The weapon felt hurt by my discomfort.
"Shh, you know I don't mean it," I whispered, stroking the barrel with my free hand.
A distant sense of hunger answered me; the discontent murmur of something alien whispering in its sleep.
"I'll feed you soon," I answered.
My stomach cramped.
"I'm hunting your dinner right now," I answered, keeping my voice as quiet as I could.
The weapon rewarded me with a pulse of excitement and pleasure, and I shivered. I'd only been issued the new gun a week ago. It - he, actually, since the weapon had a definite masculine feel - had been awarded by my master when I had passed a series of brutal exams that proved my ability to utilize demonic artifacts without corruption.
Artifacts weren't supposed to have feelings, or a gender. My last gun hadn't talked back to me, and I wasn't sure I liked the experience.
Jonas halted, dropping to a crouch and looking down the hall, using a large potted plant as cover. I caught up, and then sank to the floor next to him. The hall ahead was filled with a tangled nest of tentacles, and stank of saltwater. Chunks of plaster had been ripped out of the walls, probably by the demon's suckers as it moved around. The way we'd come was clear. Open doors and ravaged scenery suggested that the demon had come from the other direction.
"Looks like it's taken up shop in 213," Jonas said.
"Where the fuck are all of the residents?" I asked. "Have you seen any of the people that are supposed to be living here? I haven't."
"Don't know," Jonas answered.