• Chapter 13: Nocturn Gets Another Clue

    “So a Reaper is pursuing Aile Aphrodites? It seems she does have some traitorous intentions indeed,” muttered a strong voice on the phone.

    “That is what believe, sir,” replied Aeulusiò di Aria into his cell phone, standing atop of his apartment building. The frigid air soothed his face like soft tissue. The sun was directly above him in the sky. “The Reaper attacked us, stating that he cannot allow us to get to her.”

    “Which Reaper was he?”

    “I am not sure, sir.”

    “I see. Were there any casualties?”

    “Jack the Ripper was injured less than severely, sir. I received some damages, but nothing very serious,” answered Aeulus.

    “Good. The traitor must be stopped. I will send an order to several Usurpers to neutralize her in a few minutes,” murmured the voice.

    “Yes, sir,” said Aeulus, hanging up the phone. He put it in his pocket and stared out over the horizon. How could she betray us? Was she playing us the entire time? Were her feelings for me just a façade for her plans? pondered Aeulus. He stretched, causing slight spots of soothing pain throughout his body. He turned around, taking deep breaths to calm himself.
    I do not want to believe that, Aile. But if Nirdaya is your ally, I will have to. He bit his lower lip, letting his jagged fangs show. I do not know what you were thinking, Aile, but now I do not care! I will bring you down, by force if I must. If you must die in the process, at least you will be out of the Usurper’s way!

    “What did the boss say?” questioned a voice from behind, breaking into his thoughts.

    Aeulus nearly jumped upon hearing the voice, accidentally grazing pieces of his lip with his fangs. “He is rather upset for Aile’s betrayal,” sighed Aeulus, stopping but not turning around.

    “Good. Maybe now we can do some hunting without restraint!” chortled Jack the Ripper. “I can’t wait to dig my blades into her flesh!”

    “We are actually going to get an order in a few minutes,” added Aeulus. “He said he wanted her neutralized, so expect a green light to kill.” He turned around and faced Jack, eyeing him directly. “Are you really that eager to murder her?”

    “I’ve been so eager since I first set my eyes on her perfect frame, Aeulus,” replied Jack. “And it is not just because she was in the business that I despise so much. It is because I have to keep up my reputation as Jack the Ripper. If I don’t, who will I be? I have no name, and
    Aile is the only person near me who I can use to use that name with pride.”

    So his eagerness to kill is for the sake of his identity, observed Aeulus. His cell phone rang. “There is the mission,” he breathed, taking out his phone. “We are to rendezvous with some other members of the Usurpers and Elites Aftok and Delea to find and capture or neutralize the traitor.”

    Jack’s face split into a grin. “Finally!” he chuckled maniacally. “Good riddance to that wretch will come once and for all!”

    Aeulus turned away to hide his troubled face while Jack’s chuckle broke into a cackle. Is
    this all my fault? Did it all come to this because of me?

    Viola yawned as she got up from her half-troubled sleep. She stretched, and looked at the holographic clock on the stove-top. It was 1:20 PM. Surprised by the revelation that she overslept, she looked around her. Ezekiel was still asleep, silently snoring away on the other sofa. She sensed Nocturn’s energy lingering in his room. It felt dormant.

    Wow, did everyone have trouble sleeping? I guess I could have expected Ezekiel to still be asleep, but how about Nocturn? She quietly slipped off the couch. I guess a Reaper’s job is just that tiring. Speaking of Reapers… She tip-toed across the living room and picked up her shoes. I wonder what Dunkel is up to...

    Viola opened the door slowly, walked out, and closed it. I wonder if he feels guilty. I wonder if he thinks that I am dead? she pondered, turning and walking down the hall, and then down the stairs to the second floor.

    The card that read Suite 210 had reverted to Suite 410. Viola frowned. I was almost sure it read 210 the last time. ‘Maybe it was just an error’? she pondered, remembering what Nocturn suggested just a few long days before. She breathed deeply, and then knocked the door.

    No response.

    She knocked again.

    Still no response.

    There’s something wrong. I can’t sense him, and he would have noticed my arrival
    minutes before I came. His Reloj magic would let him.
    She pulled her cell phone out of her pocket. It had a crack on the screen from that Elite’s (whose name had slipped from her memory) attack. She dialed a number, pressed talk, and then pressed the receiver to her head.

    “The number or code you have dialed is not correct. Please check the number or code you have dialed,” stated a robotic male voice.

    “What?” stammered Viola, eyeing her phone confusedly. His phone number has been disabled? What happened? She dialed the number again.

    “The number or code you…”

    Viola hit END, and gripped her phone tightly. There could only be one explanation for this…
    No! It can’t be!
    She took a step back so that she was against the wall, breathed, and then ran towards the door and pounced on it. The hinges snapped down their centers, and the door collapsed to the ground with a loud thump. Shaken, Viola got up to her feet and peered into the Suite.

    Suite 410, the Suite that her brother should be residing in, looked as untouched as any new apartment should look like. The leather couch was cleaned, the laminated floors were polished, and the walls were washed of any impurities. Kitchen utensils were replaced, the appliances were waxed and shined, and the countertops had decorations atop them. The curtains were opened to let light into the otherwise dark room, giving each object in the room a ghastly shadow that spoke ominously of Dunkel’s fate after the horrific events of the previous Sunday.

    Viola glanced around the room with fear from bewilderment. He’s gone? But I could still sense him... His energy is still lingering here, but it is rotting. He left this room after Sunday. A frightful notion filled her head. When a Reaper fails, she recited in her mind, he or she is called back to the Paralleliux for questioning. If they are found guilty of treason for willingly delaying the High Reaper Senate’s progress, they are executed. What if Dunkel was found guilty?

    She shook her head, trying to shake off that notion. No it couldn’t be! But why is his phone
    disabled? There is no other explanation…
    She fell to her knees, her eyes burning with tears. Damn it, Viola! Stop crying! You have to be strong. What if Dunkel was not found guilty? What are you going to say about your crying? That you thought he was going to die so you started mourning for him? she snapped to herself in her mind.

    A droplet fell to the floor, followed by several others. Viola clenched her hands into fists against the floor. “Why am I so weak?” cried Viola, trying hard to stop more tears from falling.
    “Why is it that when every time someone I know dies, I have to cry? God, I am weak!”

    She sat there for half an hour, hating herself for crying as more and more tears flowed from
    her eyes until her eyes were left sore and dry. She stared at the empty Suite with contempt, as if it were the reason of Dunkel’s disappearance.

    Footsteps sounded behind her. “There you are, Viola,” murmured a warmly familiar voice from behind. It was almost unemotional, but she had known it long enough to hear the friendliness in it. Even if it were from a new man.

    “Good morning, Nocturn,” greeted Viola despite her sorrow.

    “What are you doing in here?” His shadow indicated that he was peering into the room curiously.

    “Nothing,” she muttered, trying to hide her feelings.

    Nocturn eyed her strangely and sighed. “Really?”

    “Actually,” she said. “I thought I should buy my own apartment. You know, just to take the burden of keeping me there off.”

    “Are you sure? You’re not being a burden at all,” replied Nocturn.

    “I’m sure.” Viola got up to her feet. “Sleeping on the couch isn’t really helping my back anyway,” she added jokingly.

    “Alright.” Nocturn smiled his warm slight smile. Despite his loss of memory, he seemed to be the same man she knew. “Do you want me to stay here with you while you buy the room?”

    Viola smiled. “Sure. I would like that. I would appreciate it very much.”

    The room’s door closed as the two of them left to go down to the front desk. Well, it was put back in place at the very least. “Oh brother,” muttered Ezekiel, sitting on the couch. He chuckled quietly to himself. “If Sthuula doesn’t screw up, this might actually work.” He scratched his head under the latex mask he was wearing. “If only I did not have to wear this, though! It’s so itchy!” he grimaced, contemplating the latex suit he was wearing to block any odor that might emanate from him.

    Ezekiel looked around the room and laughed. “If the proxy is in love the lure, then he would thoughtlessly attempt to rescue her. But he just cares for her like a friend, so he’ll probably either give up or attempt to rescue her. This can go both ways, but both end in our favor,” he observed to himself. “My father is a genius! All that is left is for Sthuula to capture the lure and for Nirdaya to take the vessel, and everyone’s fates will be sealed.”

    Upon finishing that sentence, Ezekiel’s grin died. Viola is the lure, so she will probably endure several forms of pain during her capture… Is it really worth it?

    The air of the human world is a lot denser than the air of the Paralleliux. It was blue, as opposed to the mostly red skies of the Paralleliux. Air planes flew in the air where dragons roamed the skies, and tall skyscrapers rose everywhere where large castles floated over the earth. The human world had highways where the Paralleliux had bridges over the marshy ground. Mountains grew upwards in the human world where the Paralleliux had craters. The Sun shone yellow in the human world, but the Sun of the Paralleliux was bright blue, turning part of the sky into a brilliant violet.

    Sthuula Stepletine sighed as he made those observations as he stood atop the Empire State Building; his extremely tall frame leaned over the rails of the observational deck. He was of an immense 7’4”, and had a very lanky, almost emaciated, frame. He had long, unkempt hair of a maroon shade with a bang falling over his left eye. His eyes had maroon irises over black sclera with slit pupils. His fangs were shorter than the average half-wolf’s. He wore a pair of glasses, and a ragged dark yellow robe that was open at the waist, showing his black pants that he wore over a pair of black boots that were pointed in a witch-like appearance.

    “The human world is so different from our world,” he remarked to himself with a serious voice. “But it is still made of the same compounds. The air is made from oxygen, carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and a few other chemicals. Without even a percent of some of these chemicals…” he took out a vial from his pocket with his talon-like fingers. He pressed a button on the side of the vial.

    A sucking sound emanated from the opening of it. A woman in a business suite near him began to cough silently and then violently in a few seconds. She looked up at Sthuula, who observed coolly, began to move towards him, and then collapsed to the ground, taking one final gasp for breath before she fell into the oblivion of death.

    “…some will die,” observed Sthuula, putting the vial back into his pocket. He exchanged it for his cell phone, took it out, and eyed it. “Just three more minutes before I capture the lure. I
    will be sure to devise some observances and experiments while I complete my mission.
    Now before I go, I will have to test the gravity of this place. If my theories are correct, the gravity here should be the same, but the higher amount of cold air will accelerate my fall.”

    He stepped onto the railing, and then let himself fall. Many humans yelled at him, calling him such childish words such as ‘crazy’ and ‘insane’. Sthuula grunted in irritation. I prefer the word, ‘gifted’. I am, after all, the scientist.

    “It is seventy thousand dollars plus maintenance and appliances,” stated a clerk behind the desk of the Suite. “Are you fine with that?”

    “Yes, I am,” replied Viola, taking out a checkbook and a pen. She put down the amount of money she had to pay, signed it, and then handed it to the clerk.

    “Thank you, Mrs. Easton,” said the clerk, handing the keys to Viola. “Enjoy your stay.”

    “Thank you.” Viola smiled and walked up the stairs. “Well, Nocturn. I’m officially living here.”

    “Congratulations,” replied Nocturn, following her with his claw shoved into his pocket. “Do
    you have anything you need to move?”

    “I do have a suitcase or two that I left at your Suite before the…accident,” muttered Viola.

    “Are you okay?” inquired Nocturn, eyeing his friend.

    Viola looked up at him with sad eyes. “I’m fine.”

    A small pain touched Nocturn on the back of the head as he looked into Viola’s eyes. The pain of some remembrance. He put his hand on her shoulder and smiled warmly. “I’m going to miss you. Even if you are just down the hall.”

    Viola giggled and hugged Nocturn. “Thanks, Nocturn. That meant a lot to me.” She let go of him, gazed into his eyes for a moment, and then ran up the stairs.

    Nocturn looked up at her as she vanished around the corner. Who were you, Viola? he pondered before finally walking up the stairs himself. What is this feeling? Is it love? Have I ever truly loved before? What does it really feel like?

    A scream broke into his thoughts. “Viola!” Nocturn sprinted up the stairs to see that the door into his Suite was broken down. He slipped into the room to see Viola struggling to get away from an immensely tall man of about eight feet.

    “Nocturn! Help!” cried Viola, managing to kick off the man’s foot.

    “So this is the proxy,” remarked the man with a serious tone. “You look rather unique. Where is your Reaper robe?”

    “It started to feel itchy,” answered Nocturn stiffly, contemplating his change in wardrobe. He was wearing a familiar black robe that ran down to his feet. A vertical dark purple stripe ran from the center.

    “Itchy? So my theory was correct.” The man took out a small notebook and a pen from his robe pocket and checked something off. He placed them back into his pocket and adjusted his glasses. “Do you know who I am, Nocturn von Shwarze?”

    That voice… Nocturn shook his head. “No.”

    “Humph. You are not at that stage yet, then,” muttered the man. “I am Sthuula.”

    “What do you want?” snapped Nocturn.

    “I just need to take the girl. I will not mind if you let me take her peacefully. But if you are
    willing to fight for her,” he adjusted his glasses again and crossed his arms, “attack me.”

    Before he got a chance to say anything, Nocturn felt his phone vibrate in his pocket. He took it out and looked at it. “Several enemy agents were spotted in Central Park. Dispose of them quickly. Qualified arrival time: half an hour.” Damn it.

    “Attack you, huh?” muttered Nocturn, reaching for his sword, which was leaned against the wall next to him. He unsheathed it and pointed it at Sthuula, the black blade gleaming in the pale sunlight that entered through the windows. “Fine!” he snapped, dashing towards
    Sthuula, who smirked. “What are you laughing about?” roared Nocturn, slashing down on his enemy. Sthuula swiped it away with the back of his hand, throwing Nocturn off guard, and then slammed his palm against Nocturn’s stomach.

    He’s powerful, observed Nocturn, coughing up some saliva as he staggered backwards. Sthuula moved his booted foot, slamming it against Nocturn’s head. The latter crashed down to the floor, and then attempted to stagger back up to his feet. Sthuula pushed him back down with his right foot, and then proceeded to kick Nocturn’s side with his left. “You are a fool for attacking me so directly, Nocturn von Shwarze!”

    How can he be so powerful when he has the energy signature of a child? Nocturn staggered to his feet. “Obliterate!” he muttered hoarsely, swinging his blade vertically. An arc of dark energy rushed towards his enemy, and then exploded upon impact with him. Nocturn was sent back a few feet since the blast was at point blank range.

    Sthuula adjusted his glasses again and brushed a bang of maroon hair from his right eye, which he seemed to favor more than his left, as the latter eye was hidden by a bang of hair.
    He crossed his arms. “Are you sure you do not know me, Nocturn von Shwarze? You seem to be holding back as if you once cared for me.”

    “I don’t know you!” snapped Nocturn, feeling a strange pain in his head. “Materia Oscura!”
    Five cubes of violet energy formed around him and rotated around him. “Viola,” he called.

    “Yes?” stammered Viola from behind.

    Nocturn turned around to face her. “Go somewhere safe.”

    Viola eyed him with a fearful expression and nodded, running out the door way.

    “She fears you for some reason,” remarked Sthuula. “Is it because of the immense amount of energy pouring out of you? She should not be scared, though. Your energy is not enough to warp reality yourself. Those other Reapers were right in keeping you at your old rank on your last promotion; you would have been killed if you we allowed you to do anything a real Reaper might do.”

    In an instant, Nocturn’s blade clashed against Sthuula’s wrist, which was lifted in time to block the swing. “What do you mean by ‘we’? Are you a Reaper?”

    “Do not compare me with those slobs,” retorted Sthuula, sending Nocturn back. “I would never allow myself to get involved with them. My siblings, on the other hand, can do what they want. But I was the one who injected the energy to allow you to qualify to be a Reaper.”

    Nocturn eyed Sthuula with a hostile air. “What are you talking about? I was born with—!”

    “Do not be so full of yourself!” Sthuula took out a vial from his pocket. There was a black liquid in it that looked like liquid essence. “I injected this into your body after Ignus Pyre attempted to burn you, just as plan.”

    Ignus Pyre… Nocturn gripped the hilt of his blade more tightly. “What are you trying to say?” he questioned, feeling a little defeated.

    “The reason you survived was through my intervention.” Sthuula tossed the vial up and down.

    “I don’t believe you,” muttered Nocturn, the pain in his head growing.

    “You don’t believe me? You’re saying that, but it seems to me that your brain is saying other wise,” remarked Sthuula. “I can see the veins pulsating ever so slightly, indicating serious brain trauma resurfacing. Remember, Nocturn von Shwarze. Remember your origins.”

    “Shut up!” roared Nocturn, dashing at Sthuula, his blade raised. He snapped his right arm towards his enemy, sending the five cubes of dark energy towards the latter. They exploded around Sthuula, covering the room in a sickly purple mist. “Obliterate!” He swung his blade down, sending a violet arc, highlighted with jet black wisps, towards Sthuula.

    “Fool!” snapped Sthuula, reaching towards the incoming arc, getting ready to stop it.

    “Materia Oscura!” snapped Nocturn. Orbs of energy materialized around Sthuula’s wrists and ankles.

    “What?” stammered the latter, just as the arc of energy closed in on him, exploding into a row of energy that shattered the windows and blew the sofas against the wall.

    Nocturn huffed as the explosion died, watching as the smoke rose. Did that do it? he pondered, unable to speak. He bent over, unable to stand straight, as he panted, trying to get a clear breath. A cough from across the room struck anguish into him as he realized his attack did not work. “Damn,” he murmured. “You will never die, will you?”

    “Using Materia Oscura to amplify the energy released from your attack,” observed Sthuula, coughing up dust. Black essence spilled from his mouth. “You must be very experienced in battle, then. How exciting,” he coughed. “This was supposed to be a retrieval mission, but it became a source of beautiful knowledge!”

    Where is…Ezekiel when you need him? murmured Nocturn in his mind, noticing that his servant was absent. He looked up at Sthuula, who began to limp towards him; his ragged cloak was tattered even more. If he were here, we could have finished this freak off without a problem.

    “But it seems that my time is almost over,” murmured Sthuula. “You, my tool, have been put to enough use. It is time to dispose of you.” He reached up to the ceiling, his fingers, touching the cement. A bright flash of light appeared around his palm, and then materialized into an oversized scalpel-looking blade. “I will just dissect you, and then we will be finished.”

    Viola… When I saw her face after I told her to leave, I felt it. I am supposed to be her protector—her guardian. I can’t let her down now! he thought.

    Sthuula swung down with the scalpel blade. A burst of energy rang through Nocturn’s blood
    stream. I am so weak! he growled in his mind. He reached out with his right claw. Sparks flew as he grabbed Sthuula’s scalpel, tightening his grip. The metal twisted under his claw, and then ripped completely as he yanked it away from Sthuula’s hands.

    “This battle has gone long enough, Sthuula,” growled Nocturn. A feeling of static moving through his veins charged his body, and everything seemed less blurred and more focused. Molecules in the air became visible and vanished in quick succession.

    “Obliterate!” Without moving, he summoned six arcs of energy materialized that in the air before him, and zipped towards Sthuula, bending the air and space around them. They exploded in a flurry of black tendrils and violet smoke, cracking the walls and floorboards.
    The light fixtures threatened to fall from the ceiling.

    “Materia Oscura!” snapped Nocturn, summoning orbs of energy to spin around his enemy. He made a fist with his right hand, prompting the orbs to shatter into glass like shards of energy, cutting anything they touched.

    “Damn you!” snapped Sthuula as the smoke finally cleared. His cloak was in tatters—most of it disintegrated in the explosion. “That was not in my data bank,” he coughed, essence spilling from the cuts inflicted on him. His hair was charred at the tips, and his glasses were shattered prominently. “You were not supposed to do that.”

    “You’re finished,” breathed Nocturn, spinning his blade by his side. He began to limp towards Sthuula. “This is the end for you, Sthuula.” Sthuula fell to his hands and knees, unable to stand while enduring his injuries. Nocturn raised his blade, and then swung it down with all of his might.

    A clinking sound, a thump, and essence spilled from his chest. “You…” stammered Nocturn as he fell to the floor.

    Ezekiel looked at him grimly, gripping his lance tightly, the tip of it smoking with essence.
    Next to him was Viola, unconscious and tied up on the floor. “Me,” muttered Ezekiel. He looked at Sthuula, nodded, and then the three vanished, leaving Nocturn, who now lay on the floor, beginning to slip into unconsciousness. No… thought Nocturn. I’ve failed. I let Viola down, after all.