It had been four months since former president Liam Hovert-Dore had been forcefully impeached. After having gone their separate ways for some time, the Ne'er-Do-Wells decided to reconvene in the Red Dragon and catch up, both on an official and personal level. Angus's lumber company had been busy reconstruction Washington, including the Monument that he so gloriously demolished. Page had gotten back to a calmer routine at the library. Carrion had been living in DC with Gregor and taking care of Constanza's children while she'd been at a magical rehabilitation center. And Boanna had been doing what she usually did: plotting her revenge on the demon who destroyed her.
Across the street a commotion was heard. The group found that their neighbor, the Bro-cery store- your one-stop-shop for everything Bro- was being robbed! They quickly hopped over to the scene of the crime and prepared to deal with the hostage-situation they learned was happening inside. Apparently the infamous Professor Knife-Fist and his elite warriors 'the Fisters' had assaulted the fine bros of Sapphire City in search of the fabled golden lacrosse stick they sold there. Inside a new hero rises to the occasion. Made of muscle and alloy and powered by ambient ionic energy, he wore a backwards cap, sunglasses and two popped-collars. He is The Cybro, and he vows revenge on the Bro-Scientists who took his life in attempt to create the bro-iest cyborg ever.
Anyhow, this Cybro vows to defend the fine bros at the brocery store and begins firing his plasma cannon at the Fisters- right at Professor Knife Fist's crotch, to be specific. He strikes true and the place erupts with cries of "bro down, bro down!" One Fister throws a can of Axe Body Spray at the ground to create a smokescreen, and the Ne'er-Do-Wells are coated in it as they charge into the Brocery. Before any of them can even make another move the Fisters have disappeared. The owner of the Brocery Store (the Browner?) and Cybro bro-hug it out, and he hands him the golden lacrosse stick as a reward for protecting his establishment. The Ne'er-Do-Wells introduce themselves and attempt to comprehend the Cybro's new-fangled vocabulary (brocabulary), and they're fast friends. Angus in particular seems like a hero to their new companion, with his inhuman tolerance for drinking. But a still closer bond forms between the Cybro and Carrion, for whatever reason.
Outside the Brocery store a crowd of curious onlookers has formed. The heroes are dealing with their fans, signing autographs and whatnot, when an unfamiliar figure approaches Boanna. He's shabby and worn, and he tells her he has something very important to discuss with her- but he can't do it here, where they can hear him. Who, Boanna and the others ask. But they can't pry it out of him. So Carrion proposes a game of charades. The man reveals that the second word in the name rhymes with the Spanish word for yes- they understand almost immediately that he's referring to the demon Barrow Si. Boanna takes the man into the back room of the Brocery, where the beer pong tables are, to discuss the matter further.
Inside the man introduces himself as Daniel, the demon of sloth. He tells Boanna that he had been in hiding after he vowed never to use his powers for evil again. But he'd learned that the other demons were plotting something quite evil indeed. He explains that Barrow Si is planning to release the demon of gluttony from his pocket-dimension-prison, and the demon of wrath from his prison deep in Hell. Boanna knows a fair bit about demons from the books she'd been having Puck steal from Page's library, but she asks him to explain the demonic Family as well. He tells the group that there are seven in total, one for every sin, and that when one is destroyed they are reborn elsewhere. Gluttony had consumed the last pride's demon heart, and wrath had consumed lust's. The only way to defeat a demon totally is to consume their heart, and when one does, they gain unimaginable power, but also embody the sins of the demon consumed. Therefore both of these supercharged demons were being sealed in secret for a very good reason.
Daniel urges Boanna to investigate this plot in his stead. He's very fearful of getting involved with the Family again. So he tells her that she can perform a ritual to summon Barrow Si into the area and trap him, if she has a focal point of demonic energy and pours some of her own demonic essence into the ritual for extra efficacy. Still, he knows that this will corrupt her further, so he warns against overusing her powers. Since Boanna wants more than anything to destroy her father, she vows to do what she must, and Daniel declares that he can't work with her any further under those conditions.
She and Page initiate the ritual and Boanna uses her personal knife to extract some of her blood, but resists the corrupting influence of the demonic magic. The familar shape of Barrow Si appears, but something isn't right. He begins to walk in place, and Cybro asks, "is that pauncy, slow-jogging elf your father, Boanna?" He goes on with his business as if there is no one watching. Eventually he pauses and beings to speak to someone about his plans, but vaguely enough that our heroes are no more informed. Eventually they learn that it is Felbix- the demon of greed whom they'd met during Mistaken Identity- that he's speaking to. He begins to make out with the air. Boanna is disgusted and halts the ritual, leaving her father and aunt to their business.
Still, Boanna remembers that nothing good can come of the open Hellmouth in the basement of the Red Dragon, assuming that Barrow Si had left it there for a reason. So she and Page devise another ritual to close or stabilize the portal. Unfortunately Page slips up, lamenting that "the ancient Sumerian for 'stabilize' is weirdly close to the ancient Sumerian for 'widen.'" The portal opens up and swallows all but the strongest Ne'er-Do-Wells, the Cybro and Carrion, who latches onto the cyborg as they jet-pack safely down the hole. After falling for what seems like forever the group is reunited in a dark pit littered with human skulls, all of whom are whispering the chant to Tiamat, 'Our Mistress who art in Hellfire.' Ahead of them are two large doors, each with a five-headed dragon carved into it. The group opens the door and enters the Hellscape, a misty plain with seemingly no end. They're greeted by a small imp who only speaks in rhyme and tells them they'll never escape. After a bit of intimidating banter he flies away, and the group finds themselves at a volcano.
They discover early that traversing Hell is easier said than done. It appeared that they had to will themselves to move, which was made more complicated by the fact that they didn't know what they were looking for. They decide to try and find Wrath's prison, but only find the volcano again. They try once more, but by some fluke end up split into three groups. Angus and Boanna are transported nearby, where they encounter a demon who wants nothing more than to feast on their souls. They fight him off, Angus throwing his axe hilariously far away, and it is then revealed that the demon is actually quite a fan of the Ne'er-Do-Wells. Angus is his favorite; he says, "this heroism business is fun and all, but I preferred your older work. The axe murders. Oh man, remember that time you wore that guy's kidney as a hat? Or was that just the fanfiction I wrote?" In the end he leaves them peacefully. Page finds herself alone in a forest of hanged corpses, where skeletal birds whose intestines are somehow still intact feast on the repeatedly regenerating bodies. She struggles to keep herself hidden, and to keep herself from being sick. And Carrion and the Cybro find themselves in the Valley of Lost Souls.
There, they try to ask for directions. No one seems to know where they are, or much of anything really. Cybro tries to offer one soul a can of Natty-lite, but the creature quickly forgets why it was drinking in the first place. Then they see her, six inches tall with a blank look on her face. Ivy. She floats aimlessly with the rest of the souls, and much as Carrion tries to remind her of who she is and where her friends are, she forgets seconds later. While Angus and Boanna fail to find their way forward or to Blank Page, they do wind up in the Valley eventually. When Angus sees Ivy he can't hold back the tears. Thinking that there must be a way to get her out of there, Boanna tries to summon Puck and then flies to meet her at the volcano. The group tries to console Ivy while they wait. Boanna and Puck return and Puck is disgusted by the vision of her past self. Boanna commands her to hold still so Carrion can grab her and put her body back with her soul. Once they begin to merge Ivy remembers everything; her family, her friends, her death and her descent to hell after Boanna's magic had corrupted her. The group promises they'll get her out, but she knows there's no way to do so right now. So they let her go on with her wandering and with that promise while Puck flies away, very angry with herself.
Meanwhile, Page had made her way to a sort of demon bazaar. She uses her magic to disguise herself as a small cloaked demon, but some can still smell the human on her. One demon with horns that loop under his arms tries to sell her some human fetuses. Another with large legs and a tiny ribcage preaches about the great dragon lord Quezacotl (sp?). One demon approaches her with suspicion and with baby hearts, and she tries to lie her way out of the situation, saying she had her own source. She promises to share with him, and reveals her name to be Saweldos. The demon is incredulous- "but Grimshaw's right over there," pointing to a cowboy and a small child. With her cover blown, Page attempts to teleport away, but ends up in a tent full of fish. The rest of the group finds the bazaar at this point, and every demon there is looking for a human, whom they assume is their Page. The fetus merchant tries to push his wares on Boanna too, but she brushes him away, and he flies about screaming "don't touch meeee!" The demon who caught Page asks Boanna and her 'sex slaves' (the Ne'er-Do-Wells) to help him find the human. Boanna is disgusted by this assumption, but does indeed try to find Page for her own reasons. At the same time, Page had been teleporting around with disastrous results. She landed herself inside a demon, and when she tried to leave she lost a part of her lung, leaving her critically wounded. Luckily Boanna finds her in time and heals her up, the piece of her lung still with the demon. Angus always warned her about "teleporting blind."
With their combined willpower, the team makes their way forward. They see a large and shallow lake over which they try to cross by air, untill the unthinkable happens. Watery shapes emerge from the lake and coalesce into mirror-images of themselves, but somehow worse. Angus sees himself hairier and feral, like the wolf from which his axe's blade was extracted; Carrion sees a slobbering monster with no semblence of humanity in him; the Cybro sees a version of himself with thick-rimmed glasses and a pocket protector; Blank Page sees a girl pale as a sheet under her black cloak, with a darkened Gerald in one hand and a lighter in the other; and Boanna sees herself, almost the same as she is now, but with a wicked glint in her eye. They fight. Carrion is immediately grappled by his shadow, who starts to try and pry his head off. Boanna's evil shadow is throwing more hex-bombs than she should be able to, hitting the whole party repeatedly. Angus squares off against Dark Page, whose magic is equally powerful. Boanna attempts to fight herself, but the Ne'er-Do-Wells find their exact opposites difficult to contend with. They keep taunting them too; were-Angus tells Angus-Angus how much stronger he could be if he'd just give in. By then Page had been knocked unconscious in the water by the evil Cy-nerd and Carrion's head was being crushed between evil-Carrion's grimey hands. Angus was as resolute as usual though, and he managed to cleave through Dark-Page's head with ease. Learning that they were better suited to attacking each other than themselves, Boanna short-circuits the Cy-nerd with her magic. The Cybro blasts his plasma at evil-Carrion's back, forcing him to drop the real Carrion into the water. He rescues Blank Page from drowning while Angus slices the bad zombie in half down the middle, and he falls apart like flower petals. Page and the others take down evil-Angus, whose resistance to magic isn't so hot (I can't remember if that's what happened). Boanna finally manages to whittle her demonic self down; when she dissolves into the water she whipers: "soon."
With their worst enemies conquered the Ne'er-Do-Wells find the strength to move on and confront the worst evil they know. They all hold hands and combine willpower, but before they can make it out of the lakeside area a black vortex engulfs the Cybro and Carrion- whose wills were lowest in that moment- and they're sucked into their own nightmares. Boanna and Angus follow Carrion into his. In the kitchen of the DC apartment they find him hunched over Constanza, who is still alive and screaming as he rips into her with his teeth. Her children are screaming at him to stop, but Boanna and Angus aren't so sure they want to see her live. Deciding that this is just a figment of Carrion's imagination and only he can dispel it, Boanna puts her hand into his mouth and deters him. She says that he has to stop, that he has something to live for now, a family to go home to, and she won't let him fall back into his evil ways. The words hit home and Carrion is released tearfully from his personal hell. Blank Page follows the Cybro into an operating lab, where a team of bro-ish scientists are taking him apart piece by piece. She sees them spouting un-scientific nonsense- "scalpel. Natty-lite. Hockey stick." They hit him with a hockey stick. She yells at them to stop, but she can't get through. So she talks to Cybro instead, who resolves not to let the scientists take his humanity. He breaks out of the nightmare and joins Carrion in an emotional but totally no-homo embrace. Then they move on.
Next they find themselves on a circular disc. There, seven thrones sit tall and empty. One made of various weapons; one plain and covered in cobwebs; one made of solid gold; one rather lewd in shape; one more like a pit, surrounded by food; one tall and covered in ribbons; and one regal and black, with a photo frame on each arm. Boanna examines the photos; two women, both in nuns' habits, one who resembles her sister Lily and the other more like herself. She eyes what she assumes to be pride's chair with interest, but her desire to sit or not to sit is cut short by the arrival of her aunt. Felbix appears with an army of well-muscled men in bondage-like clothing and taunts the group. Boanna reminds her that she was responsbile for Ivy's death and swears revenge, but Felbix haughtily retaliates that all she wants is to see more of Boanna's friends die in front of her (not, as the Cybro asked, the lacrosse stick; and not, as Angus asked, 'the D'). So they fight her and take care of her and her guard easily, leaving only one left. They tell him to run along, and he refuses; then he claims that he'd already done a good job stalling them anyway. With that distraction out of the way they will-travel their way forward.
The team finally reaches their destination. They stand on a bridge over an abyss, at the end of which is a hooded figure leaning on a sword and guarding a pair of solid black doors. They approach the figure, who says nothing until they are inches away; then, she wakes up. She introduces herself as The Jailer, an angel created to guard the prison. Why was she created capable of sleeping, they ask? How long was she asleep? Oh, maybe a few hundred years. But what does it matter? Wrath was held inside the doors with chains that could only be realeased by one pure of heart, like her or another angel. And no one could get in without her permission either. So the group banters with this jailer, about fate, god, souls and the like. She tells them that gods are what humans make of them: collective belief creates and destroys deities every day. Boanna is disheartened by this blasphemy, but she was defected from God anyway, and according to the Jailer, "demons are pockets of concentrated evil." After some confusing conversation the group decides to, with the Jailer, check inside the prison just to make sure nothing was amiss. She consents to take them inside.
There, they see him. Wrath: 30 stories tall, pure muscle, kind of attractive, two sets of arms both bound with glistening chains. He is asleep, luckily. But just when the team is ready to leave well enough alone they hear the familiar pop of a teleportation spell, and they see before them their favorite envy demon. He greets them all pompously, but his words hold disturbing implications. He asks Carrion how Constanza's doing, but cuts him off as he answers, saying that he'd originally meant for him to use the Pink Skull amulet. He tells Angus just how dangerous his magic axe can be if he wants it to. And he asks Page about her Gerald, implying that it was he who put the secret 'black pages' in the back of the book. Boanna is boiling over with rage at just seeing her father again, but those comments throw the others over the edge and they attack him head-on. Early on in the fight Barrow Si plants himself on Wrath's shoulders, where Boanna squares off with him. She asks him about the photos- who she'd assumed were of herself and Lily before they fell- but were revealed to be their mothers instead. She blasts him with all her magical might, intent on killing him. The Jailer too flies after him, but Angus and Carrion try to stop her, sure that if she misfired with her sword and broke the chains then it'd all be over. But she flies directly at Barrow Si, striking with righteous fury and severing his head from his body. Boanna is more than disappointed at not being able to end him herself, but there are more problems on their plate at that moment.
Behind them, the demon of wrath had begun to open his eyes. He awakens, empowered by the massive display of rage and violence, and pulls the chains right from the walls of his prison. It turned out that, no matter how unbreakable the chains might be, the walls were much less so; an oversight of Heaven and Hell, perhaps. The group insists on fighting Wrath, but the Jailer knows that they'd lose. So she offers to hold him off while they're returned to their secret base, leaving their new friend to an uncertain fate.
Disturbed by the events of the day, the Ne'er-Do-Wells stare at the open Hellmouth and try to plot their next move. Boanna is fuming, her thirst for revenge unsatisfied. Meanwhile, during a pleasant conversation with The Cybro Angus notices something. His axe. On the blade, two new runes had begun to glow. They translate to: foe. And that was when he got the call.