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DmC: The Awakening

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Prologue: Waking Their Destinies

 

A few hours ago…

They are inside a tall, labyrinthine chasm, comparable to old medieval castles; the sun down’s light (is it even sunlight?) that passes through its tall, glassless windows barely illuminate the old brick, wood and iron architecture of the chasm. The chasm is full of books, stacked neatly and untouched inside tall bookshelves that reaches almost the ceiling. In fact, the chasm’s dark brick walls are covered by these shelves, making these shelves its walls, it seems. And yet, the scent of paper and books that should have been damaged by time should fill the air, but there is none, nothing to smell but the old metallic staircase they are descending. But there is something to hear; and in the deathly silence of each floor level of bookshelves upon bookshelves and ladders leading to more bookshelves, hallways leading to a different section of the chasm, the sound of murmuring emanates from these places, muttering a language only someone who knew it would know and understand their urgent messages—if someone listens close enough.

The chasm’s staircase may lead anyone to this old library, but the largest and its most intricately-designed staircase leads down to a special room, hidden from oblivious, uneducated eyes for centuries, millenniums even. This room is the end goal and it will open—it should open, after all the years of searching and learning all about it.

Mary could only walk behind her father as she tried to calm herself, tried to look composed and fearless, but the truth is, her father, and his companion walking right behind her and this very place is going to be the very death of her, she just knew it. Who would’ve thought, she mused, that this strange place is underneath the university she’s enrolled in?

Landing at the very bottom of this chasm—this old library or whatever this whole place should be and has kept—the three are beholden by a pair of large double doors, its height a good thirteen feet above their heads. It is made of wood and the intricate, Renaissance-like design that shows the craftsman’s work to be enticing. At closer scrutiny, Mary could see that it holds a story of sorts; some words are also carved into the wood, above the other carved images at the center part of the door.

Her father steps closer to the doors and brandishes his left hand from left to right, as if touching an invisible incantation on its wooden surface.

“I can feel it,” he mutters in his monotone, grave voice. “The tome you found was very precise! And all is left is to give it a small amount of payment to gain entrance…”

Mary could feel the chill grow at the back of her head and it spreads down to her very fingertips, down to her legs and feet, as if she is frozen to the very spot she stands on. Her head is slightly bowed now, not anymore interested at looking at the door or anything her father and his companion is doing.

She just couldn’t bear it…

She feels her father’s companion brush past her, the shoulder of her sheer green blouse almost touching the muscled arm of the man walking beside her father and to study the door.

“We are prepared, Jonathan,” the man states and languidly gives her father a thick tome, its engravings on its cover similar to the doors. “The vial of blood samples you have with you would be good enough before I use mine.”

The sound of a blade unsheathing is loud in this place that, when its sharp edge whips through the air, Mary could’ve sworn the murmurs above them have grown much louder. Her palms become colder and sweatier. Are they going to cut through her skin again?

The man turns to her and smiles, but it is a very cold and arrogant one. Her despise to him seemed to heighten and she clenches her hands into a fist.

“Don’t worry,” he says to her in that cool voice full of subtle malice. “Your blood in your father’s vials is good enough. You had been very generous and we are grateful.”

If she could only punch him—and that is a big if—she would enjoy the pain her fist would deliver at his pretty boy face. She remains silent, opting to be safe; but she cannot help but glare at him for a second and then roll them away in disgust, her lips set in a hard line.

He merely chuckles in amusement and turns to her father again, who opens the tome and flips the page to a certain chapter. When he finds it, he begins to speak an incantation; his voice chants the foreign words on the pages while he slowly procures one vial from his coat pockets, carefully opens it and spills the ounce of blood unto the surface of the door. As he continues to chant, the murmurs above them become stronger, its volume heightening. Her father repeats the process of chanting and spraying the contents of the vials in his coat until he brandishes one last vial and spills the blood on the door, as if blessing it the way holy water is on the ones who pray.

Mary gasps; the carvings on the door begin to move and its ‘wooden’ surface glistens with the blood her father has offered it—the doors looks like they are made of flesh!

The characters on the door move aggressively and violently; each character is doing some form of violence to one another or to itself—some appear to fight with swords while others mutilate and tear each other apart! The sound of their ‘flesh’ is very prominent and Mary feels sick!

The man who had unsheathed his blade pressed it against his right palm and, with one quick swipe, slashes a clean gash on his skin!

Walking closer to the door, he wipes his bloodied hand on its surface, feeding the violent creatures that are engraved on its doors.

“Let him out,” the man murmurs vehemently. “For I am Nephilim!”

When those words escaped his lips, the chasm began to rumble and the murmuring voices around them and on the door suddenly screamed! It is very deafening, as if the inhuman voices themselves are right beside Mary, screaming at her! She covers her ears, but it’s no use; the screaming pierces through her head, creating the sound of ear-splitting deafness! She fears the screams have shattered her eardrums, its high-pitched wavelengths threatening to pass her out!

She stumbles down to her knees as the screams continue and the earthquake crumbles the walls, the books falling from their places. She looks up and sees the double doors pulsate, crumble and darken, resembling an infected internal organ; dark veins appear where the man touches its surface and then it bursts upwards, cracking the walls, and an opening is revealed! The earthquake immediately stops and the voices cease or perhaps, she could not hear properly anymore…

Inside this room—this dark, fleshy room, full of pumping veins, arteries, dripping blood (perhaps the blood her father and his companion offered) and cords that resemble umbilical cords—is a…being of sorts. This being is connected with the fleshy cords that surround the room, looking like it is being sustained; even so, the being appears half-dead and pale, its bald head hanging by his shoulders back and forth, ready to fall off if it would. Mary suspects it could’ve been dead prior to there arrival.

Then, its croaky voice, long been asleep and imprisoned for centuries, it speaks: “Nephilim?”

“I am,” the man says rather proudly. “I release you from this life-long sentence but for a useful reason. You will help us in our endeavors.”

To her horror, the being lifts its head to them but seems to only see the man—this Nephilim. It looked like a corpse when it is still in its early decomposing stages, its skin slightly torn to reveal unnourished innards. It speaks again, “I suppose it is fair, as I have only been fed with all the things the prophets and other intellectuals have written in this humble abode, over and over and over again… I do want to share what I am forced to know here to keep me from escaping. I accept it.”

The man is pleased and he smiles curtly. “Thank you. I and my associate have a lot of questions for you.”

Mary’s father bows at the being in respect after being mentioned.

“But to begin,” the man says and his curt tone changes back into that cooler, more serious tone of his, “and most importantly, I would want to know where I would find my father’s sword.”

The prisoner’s face lifts up much more, looking intrigued; and then it smiles (or at least, as it tries to). “So you are their Nephilim?”

Mary could not breathe anymore; she knows their plans are now coming to fruition and she has let them.

 

Present time…

Dante’s hand trembled, but it wasn’t from his wounds he still sustains. What they had just went through and what he’s gazing at right now…

He sighs, a puff of visible cold air coming through his mouth, as he lets the horrible reality seep through his soul.

Dante’s hand trembled. He held the very neck of the guitar steady as his blood-caked fingers managed to strum the chords to test it. It wasn’t right. He adjusts the tightness of it, decides to loosen a few strings, opting for a richer, deeper bass of a melody.

He thought he saw something move, but figures it was time, anyway.

He strums the guitar again and nods at how near-perfect it is.

He begins to play the music and this time, this time, they move.

His lips open to let the lyrics float along with the dead.

“Sing me to sleep, sing me to sleep…”

Dante sat at the edge of a cliff, overlooking the largest graveyard he’s ever seen. Only, he questions how it could be, what with all the fresh corpses and pale bones littering the landscape, and not even a sight of an unmarked grave to make a Potter’s field. Many of the skeletons lay half-buried, but many new cadavers lie at the mercy of the elements, their stench a feast for a stampede of feral demons about to come to devour them like vultures.

It’s a massacre yard, then.

“I’m tired and I…I want to go to bed…”

He can feel Kat from the old Paradise mansion, staring at him and at the bleak landscape outside, near a cliff side that overlooked the lush nature and a beautiful sun setting right now.

She looks at the floating figures that accompany his lament, their souls ascending, for the final time. In many ways, Kat knew that feeling very well, but she understands its difference and how this is helping them find the Other Side. A tear rolls down her cheek as Dante sings…

“Sing me to sleep, sing me to sleep…

And then leave me alone.

Don’t try to wake me in the morning,

‘cause I will be gone…”

He strums the chords accordingly, letting his softened timbre weave gently, wanting the words to flow and reverberate. He sees a few souls: small, dancing in a circle, laughing like children—were children! His heart aches as he watches a few souls accompany them in their ascension. He almost misses a beat as his teeth grit when his own tears flow.

“Don’t feel bad for me. I want you to know…

Deep in the cell of my heart, I will feel so glad to go…”

As the last few from a thousand souls finally disappear in peace, like twinkling stars fading in the twilight, Dante feels a stronger presence, rising like dawn. His skin bristles as he knows exactly what they are…

“Sing me to sleep, sing me to sleep…”

Angelic voices accompany his lonesome crooning, echoing those words as they slowly materialize from their bones down below the cliff. His heart hammers as he remembers who they are, all those years ago…

“I don’t want to wake up on my own anymore.”

“S I N G  T O  U S…S I N G  T O  U S…S I N G  T O  U S…”

Their forms, clear as light, are ethereal and translucent; their enchanting voices together do not overpower his, as theirs meld with his melancholic one. Their wings spread, their calm, stoic, unblinking eyes upon him.

“I don’t want to wake up on my own anymore.

Don’t feel bad for me. I want you to know…

Deep in the cell of my heart, I will feel so glad to go…”

Slowly, Dante stood up as he continues, his eyes never leaving his sight from the awesome creatures before him.

“Sing me to sleep, oh sing me to…sleep…”

“S I N G  T O  U S, O  B L E S S E D  O N E,  O  C U R S E D  O N E,  W H O S E  V O I C E  C A R R I E S  P E A C E…”

“There is another world…”

“T O  A  W O R L D  P R O M I S E D,  T O  A  W O R L D  B E Y O N D…”

Already standing at the doorway, Kat remains hesitant to approach them. Frozen in fear and wonder, her indecisiveness is erased when a strange hand coalesces with hers. Looking up to see a man who looks a few years younger than Dante, he stands beside her with the same expression, yet more embolden to take a few steps closer. She huffs a breath and, together, they stepped beyond the doorway.

“There is a better world…”

“A  W O R L D  D E S T I N E D,  A  W O R L D  C O M I N G…”

She can feel her own uneasiness melting away from her heart and, through this thin connection laced through their fingers, Kat can feel how their friend feels the same way. His expression is mellower, his brows and lips relaxed.

“Well, there must be…there must be…”

The floating voices of these angels rise into a crescendo, piercing the bleakness of the landscape with their compassion and power, and blessing the ascension of the other spirits further.

“A  W O R L D  F R O M  Y O U!”

Kat’s eyes mists at the beauty of it all—!

Until Dante drops his guitar and literally bolts to the air, his sword Rebellion drawn and raised against a blazing and glimmering angel, her spear pointed at him!

“It’s her again…”

Their new friend, his strange hand on hers, lets her go and goes over the forgotten guitar to pick it up.

When their weapons clashed, the thundering force rolls throughout the landscape, bending trees, darkening clouds and shaking the very Earth itself! The graceful, violent arcs of their weapons appear like a bright-orange blur in Kat’s eyes, yet she watches for any sign of the fight stopping.

He goes back to Kat’s side as they watch the savage spectacle eighty feet above ground, helpless and waiting.

Chapter Text

Chapter 1: A Dream To Remember

 

“Where am I?…Am I dreaming?”

He stood at the very center of a broken, brick-red crag, hovering fifty feet above the dark sapphire-colored ocean. All around him were the large chunks of broken pieces of architecture, floating serenely across the perpetually-sunrise-lit pink-blue skies. He can never quite see where the vast ocean ends and a landmass—if there is—starts. But he had never ventured anywhere too far before…

…he never dared to before.

“O  B L E S S E D  O N E…C O M E  C L O S E R…”

The visually-arresting giant statue smack at the middle of all these hovering pieces and arching rollercoaster of stone slabs stood at the unascertainable ocean, its long arms outstretched, its old face gazing serenely out beyond. At its stomach is a giant glowing mirror of sorts, with floating orbs dancing like fireflies.

“I’m here again…”

It was weird to hear his voice with such loud clarity, echoing throughout this place…this world…

“Y E S,  C H I L D.  T H I S  W O R L D…T H I S  W O R L D  I S  I N S I D E  Y O U R  S O U L…”

“Who are you..?”

“I T  M A T T E R S  N O T,  F O R  N O W.  W H E N  Y O U  F I N D  T H E  A N S W E R S,  T H E  F U L L  T R U T H  O F  I T  W I L L  B E  R E V E A L E D.”

The Giant Statue’s head turns, its stone neck creaking, literally sounding like a bunch of mountains are being scraped together by a god, until its empty gray eyes bore upon him.

Compelled and curious, Dante moves.

He runs across the brick-red pathway of the façade of the building, broken off like a giant puzzle piece. At the edge, Dante effortlessly leaps across to the next hovering puzzle-slab of concrete twenty-two feet away. When his feet land, no impact stops his momentum and continues his sprint. His gaze flicks from the gray ‘eyes’ of the Giant Statue and the path ahead of him.

“Who are you?! Why am I here again?!”

“B E  N O T  A F R A I D,  C H I L D.  Y O U R  S O U L  I S  T H E  K E Y.  Y O U R  S O U L  I S  O N E  O F  M A N Y  S E A L S.  W I T H  I T,  T H E  T R U T H  W I L L  B E  R E V E A L E D!”

“You said that before, too…I know you did…but I can’t remember…”

His breath hitches as he tries to recollect; tries to find the too-soothing voice in his memories that keep reverberating inside his skull and throughout this world. It’s creepy and urgent…

ominous.

When the path ahead is only littered by floating debris, he summons Ophion—a long silver coil capable of pulling him off any platform or a long ruby coil that pulls any objects—and wills it to grab onto a piece of it to pull him off to the next! Dante swings across five of these floating stones, taking him in a dizzying, zigzag airway, all to reach the next large pathway: this time a long arch of amalgamated buildings, half its circumference submerged into the ocean—

—creatures dart across his one o’clock vision, seven of them, flying towards the Giant Statue! There colors are all different, their wings glimmering against this eternal sunrise-lit sky. They surround it like eager birds, perching on its shoulders or banking around its edges.

“I’ve seen them before, too…perhaps…long ago…”

Dante almost missed his cue, grunting in vain as Ophion’s clawed maw grapples on a solid chunk of floating debris, swinging Dante across the air; summoning a bit of power, he lets himself glide the rest of the way, his jet-black hair and coat rippling from the current of wind blowing against him.

Despite the velocity, he lands softly and smoothly across the top of the archway. His eyes glance all around him, making sure he didn’t just imagine something passing by…

…but it happens!

His skin bristles and he whips out his gun, Ebony, at his left flank! He blanches at what—or who he’s gazing at!

A woman, with the most crimson hair and dress blinding white against the glint of the sun; she has sharp features, strong in jawline and mouth, even with soft almond-shaped eyes flecked with her deep red lashes, her gaze is stern. On the left side of her chest, a deep scar is carved on her skin, dried veins formed and hidden by her modest, white dress. Her mouth opens and the words echo across the world, and inside his skull.

“C O M E…”

And just like that, fiery wings behind this beautiful being sprouts from her back—a pair behind her shoulder and another pair at her lower back—and takes her to the air, flying across the mile-long length of this archway where Dante stands, then upwards towards the sky!

The way she glows and the blinding fire of her wings that leaves a contrail has him at awe, ogling at this domineering and graceful being in its powerful appearance and flight. Just as he thought she was about to join her companions on the Giant Statue, she stops above where the end of the archway path is, patiently gazing back at him.

He sprints again, content in running the mile-long distance, not at all phased of his inability to fly and continues forward, his feet carrying him more than half already of the archway.

He can see the very rocky façade of where the Giant Statue stands on—or rather where its legs are trapped into! The rocky façade, at closer inspection, looked like a fat, crumbling tower, ancient in its style, with overgrown trees desperately hanging onto crumbling openings, its staircase outside of its dark grey walls coil around like an eternal serpent. Its dark caves of windows lay agape at this world out of boredom, while the rest of its ancient body of a tower is both trapped and trapping the legs of its captured giant, with most of its structure submerged into the unknown depths of the ocean.

Continuing down the mile-long pathway, he realizes the path is already going downwards to the ocean! Dante flicks his gaze towards the vastness of the area and finds no holding for his Ophion!

“C O M E!”

He looks above, craning his neck to see the red-haired creature, one arm outstretched for him—!

Smiling, he summons Ophion, its silvery and sharp maw soaring as the long coil extends! Before his eyes, her own forearm summons a solid mass, appearing as a dark stalactite attached to her limb! A giant shield, showcasing a sword symbol flanked by wings!

The insignia..!

Ophion’s sharp maw bits onto it without issue, on this crested shield, as Dante jumps off the archway, holding onto his tool and momentum as she uses it effortlessly to swing him across the vast space!

“This is a dream…right?”

“Y O U  F I N D  I T  S T R A N G E,  M Y  C H I L D.”

Her voice is soothingly warm and yet teasing, like teasing a stubborn child.

“Well, maybe I’m the weird one, after all.”

He hears a smirk, reverberating yet pleasant, calming. He smiles as the velocity of the swing picks up, adrenaline coursing through him like a dream! He feels like a spear being flung into an unknown target!

And a rightful analogy right there, as he sees more floating debris and broken giant slabs, but is nowhere near him or even for Ophion’s reach!

Nevertheless, the excited scream that tore from his lips reveals his carefree fearlessness!

As his swing reaches its full height, Dante knows this is the end of it! His heart hammers! Is he going to be dropped into the ocean? Is he going to swim all the way—?

He needn’t answer them; there was no solution!

He pulls Ophion off this creature’s shield and summons his own angelic powers to glide futilely! He feels the blue gaseous trail behind his back, turning into smoke immediately after he wills it to help him glide through the air! He knows he’s only falling…but he couldn’t help but feel…at peace.

Dante’s eyes widens as another creature materializes below him, catching him on its back! His body smacks on its hardy form and he grabs on to its shimmering blue-grey mane, thick and long around its head, prickly-soft against his skin! Holding on and tightening his legs around its majestic body, Dante feels the thunderous power of its two large wings, flapping slow on its sides as it transports Dante up towards a hovering platform, right before the Giant Statue.

“I really am dreaming…”

“I F  Y O U  A R E,  D O E S  I T  M A K E  I T  L E S S  T R U E?”

He refuses to answer the echoing voice as he holds onto the powerful creature giving him a free ride. The creature, a shimmering dark blue-grey, is a huge wolf-like being! With wings twenty feet wide, it thunders across the area with a proud, mighty grace and strange, cozy warmth across its glossy fur and body! Out of gratefulness, Dante places his cheek against its soft tangled mane and caresses it.

He hears its whine and, likely out of playfulness, the strange wolf rolls into the air as they zoom across the open space! Dante whoops in excitement, his string of praises echoing like a mad man, bouncing against the hollow and broken pieces of infrastructures, his hair whipping along with the wolf’s graceful, frenzied flight!

“Oh yeah! One more!”

Maneuvering for a moment away from the waypoint, the wolf goes towards the old, fat tower below the Giant Statue. Banking sharply, the wolf shows the decrepit status of it, but Dante ignores it, too distracted at being happy and feel like flying! The wolf arcs lower and Dante feels the sudden jolt of his insides, making him shriek gleefully, laying his back against the back of the wolf as the wind picks up and lifting his old tank top, laughing at the feel of the sharp breeze against his bared torso!

Reaching the surface of the ocean, its four muscular limbs touches the dark crystal ocean, leaving a long trail of graceful splashes across its surface! He feels the wolf decelerate, his flying becoming a smooth, gentle sailing. Looking down, he sees his reflection: jet-black hair, electric blue eyes, his fair face and old clothes, riding a very majestic, blue-grey wolf with strange features of its own…

He reaches down, out of curiosity to feel its waters…

…his fingers break the liquid surface and an ethereal glow comes forth, changing the dark waters’ colors! Like insane swirls of watercolor pigments, the watery surface is now a disturbed neon of all the known colors Dante has seen in his life!

But joy is fleeting. As much as he enjoyed the flight, he understands that he’s here because of a burdening reason…

As his thoughts wander, he sees movement below the water’s surface. His brows furrow as he tries to make sense of what he just saw…

…a long, gigantic snake…?

His skin bristles the longer he stares at this being.

He retracts his fingers back to himself and ignores the creature slithering below the dark crystal waves to gaze upwards. Sure enough, along with the rest of the flying beings, the Giant Statue stares down at him.

The wolf creature accelerates again and moves upward, upward towards the misty area where these strange creatures are waiting. He feels the cold mist hit his face, especially against the radiating heat he and the flying wolf give off. Like a terrifying crescendo, Dante holds his breath at what he would see.

The pale mist seem to blind his eyes, making him squint and water yet he keeps his gaze ahead, anticipating, waiting…

…his skin has been bristling since he touched the water, but now it’s almost unbearable—

“O H  B L E S S E D  O N E…C O M E  C L O S E R…”

—his skin is both ice cold and burning fire! Dante’s heart hammers, yet he couldn’t tell if it’s from anxiety or excitement! But his ribcage feels like it’s caging some overexcited bull, his lungs filled like a gallon of air pressure, about to burst at their organic, veined seams!

The blinding light surrounds him! He squints hard, trying to discern anything, anything! But he can’t see his hands, the blue-grey fur…or anything at all! The large, warm body of the magical wolf underneath him disappeared suddenly, leaving him to be bombarded with all these strangeness, with all their voices!

Out of desperation, his fingers grab his hair, the sense of touch still real and grounded, and open his mouth to scream, scream with all his confused, painful heart, while the rest of his senses are flooded to the point of being numbed! Gritting his teeth, he succumbs to the voices; their echoes are more than just bouncing across inside his cranium!

“B E  N O T  A F R A I D.  Y O U R  S O U L  I S  T H E  K E Y.  Y O U R  S O U L  I S  O N E  O F  M A N Y  S E A L S.  B U T  I T  I S  F R A C T U R E D,  I N C O M P L E T E…”

“T H I S  W O R L D…T H I S  W O R L D  I N S I D E  Y O U R  S O U L… Y O U  H A V E  S O  M U C H  T O  G I V E!”

“Y O U R  S O U L  I S  T H E  K E Y…T H E  K E Y  T O  A  C O M I N G  W O R L D!”

“A  C O M I N G  W O R L D!  A  C O M I N G  W O R L D!  A  C O M I N G  W O R L D!”

“T H E  T R U T H!  T H E  F I N A L  T R U T H!  I T  W I L L  A L L  B E  R E V E A L E D! R E V E A L E D  B Y  Y O U R  V E R Y  S O U L!”

“O  B L E S S E D  O N E,  O  C U R S E D  O N E… O  F E A R E D  C H I L D,  O  L O V E D  C H I L D…”

The voices keep talking to him, louder, yet the volume is so low, like whispers, murmuring, relentlessly! They repeat the words, chanting, singing, but never too loud, their words slithering like snakes, soft as feathers, unthreatening…yet the soundwaves are the aftermath of an explosion!

He closes his eyes and shakes his head and hopes, hopes, hopes...!

Their voices threaten to implode the very particles of his skull! Yet he does not feel pain! He does not feel the straining crawl of his veins as they keep whispering, over and over, over and over, over and over, over and over…

“T H E  C O M I N G  W O R L D  I S  I N E V I T A B L E!!”

“L I S T E N!  O  C H I L D  O F  H E A V E N  A N D  H E L L,  L I S T E N  T O  U S  A N D  Y O U  W I L L  R E C O G N I Z E  T H E  B U R D E N  O F  Y O U R  B I R T H!”

“C O M P L E T I O N  O F  Y O U R  S O U L  S H A L L  B R I N G  Y O U  D E E P E R!  I N T O  T H E  D E P T H S  O F  T H A T  O N E  T R U T H!  A N D  T H E N,  S H A L L  Y O U  D E C I D E!”

…over and over, over and over, over and over, over and over, over and over…

“D O  Y O U  K N O W  O F  T H E  R E A S O N…?  O F  T H E I R  F E A R  O F  U S…?  O F  Y O U…?”

“O F  Y O U R  B R O T H E R…?”

“O F  Y O U R  F A T H E R ?”

“My father…what? He’s not—!”

“F E A R I N G  T H E  P O W E R  O F  N E P H I L I M  I S  O N E,  B U T  T H A T  I S  T O O  S I M P L E. W H A T  D O  Y O U  T H I N K  I S  A N O T H E R?”

“…what? What other reason..?”

“E V E R Y  C R E A T U R E  D R E A M S  T O  H A V E  P O W E R…B U T  W H A T  H A P P E N S  W H E N  I T  B E C O M E S  R E A L I T Y?”

“H A V E  Y O U  D R E A M E D  O F  P O W E R,  C H I L D?”

“N-no…I—I don’t know…”

“W E  W O N D E R  A N D  W A I T  F O R  T H E  D A Y  I T  W I L L  C O M E.  I T  I S  I N E V I T A B L E…”

“W E  H A V E  N O T H I N G  B U T  H O P E  F O R  Y O U…H O P E  Y O U  W I L L  P A S S  T H E  S E C O N D  F E A R  O F  F A C I N G  P O W E R!”

He suddenly stood at the center of this strange whiteness of space, completely blank, save for the Giant Statue’s face gazing down at him! His eyes bore at the empty sockets of the statue for a moment before becoming transfixed at the blinding light stinging his eyes, suddenly emanating five feet from where he stands! He shields his eyes, futile it may be, as the light penetrates through his eyelids!

…but he could swear someone was there…

“Please just tell me…”

“IT WOULD BE BETTER, MY SON…THAT YOU LEARN…I APOLOGIZE.”

He shook his head, reeling from this pain, not because he denies his mother, he could never. How could Dante do that? No matter how vague his memories remain of her, his mother was the only proof he had of that feeling. What was it, then? That feeling of knowing that a deeper, warmer emotion makes your existence is as ordinary as a birth of a star? There is no word for that, but he didn’t need it, only the feeling of it…

But with it, he is reeling from this painful realization…that there is something wrong with him. Or rather, something is too right about being him. And that he, excluding his twin, would be alone.

“Don’t…don’t be sorry, mom.” He clutches the crimson pendant around his neck—the only proof of what once was—as she steps closer, her eyes—like his eyes—soften, apologetic. He sees how short his mother is, compared to the fragmented memories he will always have as a child…

“I AM. DEEPLY SO. I—I CAN DO NO OTHER EXCEPT BESTOW YOU WHAT FRAGMENTS I HAVE LEFT. WITH THEM, YOU WILL HAVE A WAY TO KNOW…AND YOU WILL KNOW HOW I WILL ALWAYS BE WITH YOU…”

“…even when I fail…”

Surprisingly, his mother chuckles at his self-deprecating words. She extends her hand and cups his chin. He sighs at this warmth and his heart aches.

“KNOWING YOU, FAILURE WON’T DEFINE YOU.”

So concentrated he was with the woman before him that he barely registers the seven beings surrounding him. He pans his head all around him, trying his best to remember their faces, not wanting to feel so lost at his own broken memories. He understands now. His inability to remember is linked to his whole being.

The creature in red drapes and armor spoke, her hair curly and short, her face round and stern, and her poise warrior-like. She looks the most familiar to him. He has seen her…where?

“Y O U  A R E  S T I L L  I N C O M P L E T E,  H E N C E  Y O U R  F A L T E R I N G  N A T U R E.”

“Y O U R  D E M O N  P O W E R S  H A V E  N O T  T R U L Y  P E A K E D.  D O  Y O U  F E A R  I T?” Said a bearded creature, robed in deep purples and violets, sagacious in face and athletic in form.

“A N D  Y O U R  A N G E L I C  S I D E  R E M A I N S  D O R M A N T  T H E  M O S T.  D O  Y O U  S H U N  I T?” Said the creature in an orange long gown trailing behind her, her voice soft-spoken and behind her the giant blue-wolf sits still.

“Y O U  W I S H  T O  K N O W  S O  M U C H.  A R E  Y O U  S O  E A G E R  T O  K N O W  M O R E  O F  Y O U R  O W N  F A I L U R E S?” An older creature in crisp, dark yellow furs speaks, her face wrinkled and her long silvery hair tied in multiple braids.

“Y O U  A R E  S T I L L  I L L – P R E P A R E D.  B U T  W E  S E N S E  Y O U R  D E T E R M I N A T I O N,  C H I L D  O F  E V A,  S O N  O F  S P A R D A.” A creature of imposing height and physique speaks, with nothing but a deep blue loin cloth as modesty.

“F A T E  I S  L A Y I N G  D O W N  T H E  P A T H  A H E A D  F O R  Y O U,  A S  W E  S P E A K.” Spoke the creature with her body covered in tattoos, dressed in a simple green tunic.

“A N D  S O O N,  W H E N  Y O U R  V E R Y  S O U L  I S  C O M P L E T E D, Y O U  W I L L  B E  R E A D Y  A N D  T H E  T R U T H  W I L L  B E  R E V E A L E D.” Said the creature draped in black robes with his face hidden by his long hood.

They can’t answer him directly, what with all these jargon about a revelation through his soul, yet he opened his mouth to ask them. “You said it’s inevitable…did you plan this? Is everything going to what you want?”

His voice echoes as not one creature answered. His mother stared at him with pain brimming in her eyes. “WE MADE OUR CHOICES…I AM DEEPLY SORRY. YOU AND YOUR BROTHER…WE HAD YOU SO YOU CAN FIND A BETTER WORLD.”

There was that pain again, that unshakeable pain that gnaws at him time and time again, even when he drowned himself in the many pleasures to escape, it haunted him. But he couldn’t find himself to be angry at all.

The creature in red robes spoke again, more urgent than before.

“U N D E N I A B L Y,  Y O U  A R E  H E R E  O U T  O F  T H E I R  L O V E,  B U T  A L S O  A  B U R D E N  C O M E S  W I T H  I T.  T A K I N G  I T,  U N D E R S T A N D I N G  I T,  W I L L  Y O U  B E C O M E  S T R O N G E R,  W I L L  Y O U  B E  A  S T E P  C L O S E  T O  A C H I E V I N G  C O M P L E T I O N…”

His mother steps closer and embraces him tightly. Dante swallows, the stimulation of her touch making him anxious. But he circles his arms around her, pulling her close.

“YOU AND YOUR BROTHER…YOU ARE MORE THAN WHAT WE WANTED…YOU ARE YOUR OWN, AND YOU WILL SEE…IT WILL ALL BE FOR YOU.”

Thank you.”

His mother tearfully pulls away from him as the whiteness of this strange space envelops him, blurs his sight of her sharp face, crimson hair and the same eyes he has…

“I LOVE YOU, DANTE. ALWAYS…”

And just like that, the nine figures before him drifted away into dark silhouettes as the blinding whiteness takes over. He looks up to see that the Giant Statue’s eyes have become exactly blinding white, engulfing this space until he, too, is drifting into this white void!

His whole body feels like it’s vibrating, yet he is completely still!

Too still!

Frozen!

Made to experience these tingling ripples all over his body as he stood very still!

To stand so still, in awe of it all!

The last thing he sees before the blinding brightness overtook everything and everything about him was the blurring visage of that statue, still boring its eyes upon him, warping into a figure of a man…

...but his features are indistinguishable from this blinding white blur! His eyes sting as Dante strains to see the male figure, whose eyes shine like the sun is now only meters away…

…a shock of white hair…

…his nude form, like his…?

He groans as the unbearable blurring white void finally takes him away.

“I—I have to…remember…I have to remember…”

 

Four days after Mundus’ downfall

Four days earlier

He startles, groaning in his seat. His right cheek is pressed against the cool car window, with a bit of his drool sticking onto it and his skin. He remembers that he’s taken a nap; that they have been driving for two hours from Central Limbo, all the way to the freeway going north.

North…almost back to his family’s manor…

They all keep going back to that place…

The manor…it still is a distant memory…

“You’ve been mumbling in your sleep.” Kat murmurs. Her eyes are still on the road, yet he can see that she’s ready to drift off, what with her left arm propped against the side of the driver’s door, supporting her head out of boredom. Despite it still being broken, the magical-prosthetics Phineas provided for her lets some mobility and alleviated pain. “Same dream?”

Dante groans again as he shifts in his seat, having slept in an uncomfortable position, with the seatbelt’s edge scratching at his exposed neck. He looks down at his clothes: the same worn-out tank top, old leather coat, slim dark-wash jeans and dirty work boots.

It must be…I can’t remember…

He sighs with some relief, but the breath feels shaky and he can feel Kat’s gaze turn to him. The dream he had…

It’s…something about…completion of…fuck.

“How much farther?” He looks at the GPS map across the dashboard to note where they are. He doesn’t dare look at Kat and make her more concerned, because she already does that well on her own.

“Just a few more kilometers.” She says casually but he knows the question’s coming. “Dante, you—?”

“I’m fine.” The tone is too flippant, even for his liking. Might as well change the subject. “Can’t wait to get to the service station. I need a pizza and a cold one…”

Kat smirks. “You always need a cold one.” And with that, the concerned tension is gone, for now. Dante sighs with relief as he wipes the drool off the car window’s surface. The one who provided this car won’t like it if he left traces.

This car isn’t a rent. It was a charity. Still, even though Commissioner Morrison seemed genuinely kind, Dante wasn’t risking it, wasn’t risking leaving behind his mark and get voo-dooed if by any chance, Morrison has any dirty magician hired under wraps. Kat shares the same suspicious sentiment, as she plans to wipe off any of their ‘essences’ off the second-hand leather texture of the seats after they’re through with all this. But of course, agreeing to do this wasn’t for Morrison’s, it was for the people and the place that seemingly had been experiencing paranormal things lately…

That shouldn’t be a surprise.

After the Limbo Collapse, the barrier holding them powerful and incognito has put the demons all out in the open. They would do something, they want to…

But the broken system has left a power vacuum that Phineas advises not to intervene for now. And with the Order decimated, all that’s left of Kat’s team’s hard work are all the archival bytes of information they have of Mundus’ rule in Limbo City, as well as the basic bestiaries of demons. Lastly, the Order is now just comprised of Kat and Dante, Phineas, too, but they haven’t made anything ‘official’.

And with their small number, they took Phineas’ advice, as well as this investigation. He said, ominously of course, that the questions that still bother Dante’s mind will be revealed and helping those unfortunate will not only gain them a favourable reputation, they will discover more things to collect for their new archives.

Or so Phineas had encouraged…

“You didn’t answer my question, Dante.” Kat points out, a concerned smile on her face. Dante knew she isn’t dropping this anytime soon. “Are you okay?”

He sighs and flicks his tongue inside his mouth. It isn’t that he didn’t want to talk about it. He had tried to describe his dreams to Kat the first time he had it, but to no avail. He couldn’t remember them! But he knew, or at some degree, he can tell they had been similar or had the same themes! But like water dripping, it falls between the crevices of his fingers. Maybe there’s still something broken about his mind, something broken…

Like giant broken pieces…the dark-crystal waters on his fingertips…

He shakes his head in frustration and snorts.

“You know, I’m ready to read up about how you can recall dreams.” He says humorlessly. “I know I’ve had it since…since Vergil left…”

She shifts uncomfortably in her seat and they fell into an awkward quietude. It’s still fresh, this whole thing, being manipulated into this mess. But if it weren’t for his twin, would they have even had a chance?

No, no, no…no more of those questions! What’s done is done…

“Okay, look.” He says after clearing his throat. “I’ll try to recall the dream…I want to. It’s important.”

A smile returns to her pretty face. “Don’t leave out any juicy stuff. Lay them all down on me once you’re ready.”

Pffft, sure.” He rolls his eyes as she chuckles. “You’ve been waiting to know about them, huh?”

Kat laughs. “Oh man, will we need a ton of beer? How about some Fallen Angels and Corpse Revivers?”

It was his turn to crinkle his face, his lips curled. “So you’re a medium, a magician and a bartender, shit…”

Fallen angels…there was a group of them…

“Do you think they serve olive-less pizza on the service station?” Kat teases with a giggle and to Dante’s chagrin.

“People can argue about pineapples being illegal on a pizza, but fucking olives?!

Kat laughs as he continues his rant about the disgusting green aliens being on pizzas and on cocktails. And even through his frustrated sentences, Dante feels at ease. He knew this feeling is fleeting, but he takes it. These short moments of joy, they’re rare.

And just like that, their mirthful conversation is cut short by this splash of impact! The hairs on the back of their necks stand as the stereo and GPS on the dashboard suddenly responds! A crackle of static light up the machine and erratic sounds and music blare from the speakers! The GPS itself is showing multi-colored pixels and alpha-numeric symbols, the map of their destination fizzing out of existence.

The mist that has been quite thin was nothing but gray wisps hanging over the grass plains and thick woods as they journeyed through. Now though, the greyness of the mist is now truly obstructing their path, the headlights barely penetrating.

“It looks like there’s a Threshold…” Kat muses, her brows furrowed. Dante can feel it, that barrier between worlds. It was the kind of barrier that opened and closed when the evil sapience of Limbo comes to rapture him to its distinctly twisted landscape. “Is it…a fragment of Limbo’s power?”

Dante shook his head. “No. It feels different. It’s not…ensnaring us.”

With a casual wave of her hand and a few of her magical words, Kat manages to clear the front view of mist, like pulling back a curtain to see. They continue to ride through, albeit slower, as Kat is both clearing the path and driving.

From a few meters, they can make out a large road sign, officially welcoming travelers to the entrance of this town. A knot forms inside Dante’s stomach as he remembers the visage of a giant, wolf-like creature…

Kat reads it. “Welcome to Wolfhaven.”

 

There! She thought with glee, following the movement of that vehicle making its way towards the first town of Wolfhaven. Following them was not difficult; the stench of a Nephilim is always indescribable!

She wants to bottle this stench up for Archiving purposes, after she is done skinning this abominable freak of nature! Even at this distance, the smell of his skin is hard to forget…it is quite delectable, she admits, and this one oozed of so many lustful nights he could potentially ensnare her and make her fall from the Grace bestowed upon her very skin. But aesthete delights are factors to become a Fallen! No, his very stench is a good reminder to her high rank, her true self and ethics! His stench is proof enough of his own lowly quotients and she is proud of this distance of class!

No wonder Mundus and his subordinates relied on olfactory tracking, although this stupid one’s escapades around the city before are well-recorded, making his behavior a patchwork of patterns: a delinquent, a hedonist, reckless and volatile…a hopeless seed, sown in the gutter, reaped for endless misfortunes and a graceless path!

It’s a curious thing he hasn’t died yet! But, because of him and his few allies, the empire Mundus built is now a ruin and a ground rife for her Sphere to scrutinize!

She sniffed the air, and in the midst of all the tangling smells of humans, demons and creatures perfumed in magic (which is highly annoying and a nuisance!), she detects the Nephilim is accompanied by one human, the same woman. Her magic won’t stop her this time, not like how it was a few hours ago. She will overpower them both and they will not get the best of her!

She could go after them now, do battle and be rid of them to get to her goals quickly! But the Nephilim and his witch companion aren’t the only ones obstructing her Divine mission. Here in this Realm are a slew of creatures, beasts and beings that would offend even a demon when they are beholden by their presence! And it would appear a powerful creature is responsible for delaying her.

A Threshold barricades her and other demons from coming in, and from how she had scouted the area it is protecting, it is an estimated 14.334 square miles. It is not a large area, but it is accommodating enough to hold a small town and its natural geography. Not surprising…

Whoever, or whatever, has made this barricade is powerful enough to protect the leftover inhabitants of this pitiful human settlement. But soon enough, their attempts will be for naught; those demons are gearing up in the western end of this county and if that other Nephilim wills it, they will bombard through this Threshold until it breaks…

But it’s a game of mental wits. Recklessly ordering them to do just that would incite the first phase of a long battle, a long battle that would incite a long war, another one in a long time…

And from the recent records, it shows how this other Nephilim is smarter, more cunning and definitely ambitious than this one that reeks of earthly sins. If this is the game he wishes to play, then she will play along.

A soft laugh escapes her lips.

Mundus’ downfall has given rise to the war her Sphere has been looking forward to in the last nine millenniums! No more policing of possible demon monarchs rising from the depths of Hell! No more pussyfooting outside the boundaries of the Human Realm!

We have been waiting… she thought as the fire of her bright red hair singes the softly-falling snowflakes, her beautiful wings of flames folded neatly behind her glimmering armor.

We can wait a little more. We can wait until they’ve decimated the others’ numbers! I can wait until Dante clears the path for me to get to the infested western part! And from there, I will take them down. For now, I must scout the whole of the county…the secrets are slowly unveiling themselves. The hidden ones are finally crawling out of the holes they’ve dug for themselves for millenniums! And all of them shall bear witness to Our Judgment! They will be at Our Mercy.

She will not fail. She must not!

Chapter Text

Chapter 2: The Wolfhaven Case

 

Outskirts of Edenville, Wolfhaven

Four days earlier, same time

Through her binoculars, she locates the infested town of Edenville. From the directions and pictures 'provided' by her dear old dad, she surmised their hiding in that old manor, further northwest.

"They can't do this!" Pleaded the old man, a townsfolk. Senile he may be, yet what they had done to him was unforgivable. And what's more, the old man knows they're up to something worse than the shitstorm they're already doing. "They have to be stopped! He is misguided! How can he think this way!?"

"My father's insane!" Her words seethed with fury. "And I'm the one stopping him!"

The old man, bespectacled and sun-spotted, shook his grayish-white haired head. "NO! You don't understand! I'm not referring..!"

A soft sound from outside the poor old man's house has her cocking her M1911A1. Whirling to her right, she aims her gun at a gaping, jagged-tooth maw of a demon!

The old man screams and scrambles as she shoots and rolls out of the way! A few more sound off at the roof of the house and she smirks! "Game time!" Pulling out another pistol, she points both at opposite directions, at parallel windows, and open fires!

The old man is safe, as safe as the rest who had found refuge at the last non-infested town of Angelavale. His house was like the rest of the town of Rochenmore, also infested and devoid of human life...well, devoid of living humans. She had managed to clear a path for herself when she took the old man with her on the motorcycle and, as soon as the next human saw them, the old man had been taken in.

She puts the binoculars away and gets in position on her motorcycle, revving the engine as the soft sounds surround her; all around her, the woods seem to glare at her as the roar of the engine slices through the forest's quietude!

"Found you."

As demons surround her, the motorcycle speeds onward, leaving behind a blazing contrail to burn two demons behind her! Their wretched screams echo behind her as she goes for the main road towards Edenville.

 

Same time

Unfolding a tourist map, Dante expands the visual image of the entirety of Wolfhaven to gauge where they are. Since Limbo City is just south of where they are and Kat had taken the only main freeway going to Wolfhaven, he surmised their destination is close. His eyes trace the long line of the winding path that leads to Wolfhaven’s entry icon.

“We just passed that entrance sign…” Dante says as he studies the map, tracing his finger to find any service stations ahead. Going further north, his finger lands on a service station icon, next to another icon stating it to be the first town. “Angelavale’s the first town up ahead. There’s a service station just a few kilometers from where we are.”

With her knuckles turning white gripping the steering wheel, Kat’s eyes focused at the foggy road laid before them. “Good. We can buy stuff and ask locals. And finally get down to business. Hopefully the motel isn't full of nosy people.” She tilts the wheel accordingly as she follows the road, with Dante instructing her how far they are into the county of Wolfhaven.

They had been huffing pale breaths ever since the air conditioning unit fizzled out along with the dashboard’s radio and GPS, bringing the temperature down to levels of winter. Although it’s known how chilly Wolfhaven is despite the summer season, the Limbo Collapse has likely elevated the mysterious supernatural nature of the area. And with wanted men on their hit list, they can only imagine how long will they all fare under these unnatural and dreary conditions.

Besides the map, Dante had pulled out from the bags behind the front seats some of Kat’s thicker clothes and a large blanket for her to bundle inside before she faints from the cold. If she can only trust him to drive, he would’ve driven them to the destination. But Kat has a license and isn’t easily convinced of his driving skills. So despite her still healing left arm and the skin-deep cold, she is determined to get this car to the first part of this long journey without any surprises.

“What other stuff are we gonna buy? Besides pizzas…” Dante’s question is purposely trivial and a different topic, a distraction from the piercing cold or perhaps from his own thoughts and unshakable feeling of eyes following them. His gaze switches looking at the foggily pale-grey area outside and his vividly-colored map. “We should save the money… Knowing the economy before ‘Kyle Rider’ died, I’d like to be sure I’m not pawning the Rebellion.”

“We’re just buying the most basic stuff,” she assures with a lopsided grin. From these past few days of being with him, Kat had found his two contradictory beliefs regarding money to be amusing and a headache. On the one hand, Dante would flippantly celebrate that they should blow off their cash on booze, pizza and arcade games! But as the jokes died down, Dante’s frugality would get on her nerves and he would even insist on pilfering. She supposes his past has a lot to do with that, but sometimes it’s just unbelievably funny and a lot of energy to explain to him that they have enough to not resort to something dire. “I need empty vials, jars, batteries, candles, fresh ingredients, some matches and lighters. We’d probably need our own 3-gallon water supply in case the sink water isn’t drinkable, so…”

She looks over to Dante and sees him poring over the map, his eyes glazed with an intensity she had seen him do. When after a long day or night of ‘demon-hunting’, as they call it, in his lonesomeness or out of boredom, he would take books and the laptop—research files and actual journals preserved containing demonology, history and personal accounts of his family’s allies—his eyes would rake the words from these books and from the screen, his whole figure hunched or draped across the hackneyed couch of the worn-out apartment, never mind comfort or rest. He pored over these books and data as if the scholars were going to adopt him. But never once did Dante ever speak about what he felt after he had read them.

There were a few things Kat still hasn’t known about Vergil, about their family, but now that Dante is in the equation, she knew it was right to be respectful and he has to open up about it in his own time.

It’s hard to forget the look in his face when he read Vergil’s journals, along with data regarding their family’s history, who their parents are, their allies—or the only proof left behind by their supposed allies, now an empty reminder of an allegiance he’s uncertain of—and who they could be, where they could be; anything that was about who he was supposed to be, and why he and his twin are here. Even with Commissioner Morrison, who's more connected to Dante's parents' allies, left nothing to ascertain who and what he is, except that this case is crucial and the consequences dire if they don't succeed.

She gives him a look of concern and sympathy, but of course, he doesn’t know or is trying to ignore it. All I can think is how I am glad I managed to get all the data out of the HQ. Getting abducted, risking our lives…it was worth it all.

“Does that sound good?” She asks him, whose eyes are still on the map. He groans an approving sound without looking up and takes this as a cue to remain quiet and focused…

“You trust Morrison?”

Caught surprised that he doesn’t want quietude, Kat regards the question heavily. “Well…Phineas trusts him.”

He scoffs and rolls his eyes. “I’m asking you . Yeah, Phineas may be some smartass demon who can ‘see’ anything, but still…the police had been under Mundus’ influence for years. How is he different?”

She licks her lips uncomfortably. Kat is aware of where he is coming from and she has firsthand accounts of how influential the police are when it came to doing their master’s bidding. But these are strange times and Kat couldn’t shake the feeling that they had never been alone in this endeavor, especially now after Mundus’ dominion has been dismantled. “So you don’t?”

An annoyed huff comes out of him. “Nope.”

She chuckles before she continues, “But those books you’ve been reading. They check out with what Commissioner Morrison was talking about. And you do realize that just a few hours ago…we encountered something else, right? More powerful than the police?”

His annoyance is replaced with a morbid quirk of a smile, his legs stretching. He looks itchy for a fight. “At least she was honest. I’ll take a girl that brutal than an old man with secrets.”

She heaves a heavy sigh and shakes her head. “Well, now that old man you’re referring to just pointed us to a case that he knows would benefit us. Benefit you …”

Still not looking at Kat, Dante glares at the grey fog outside the car window. She continues, “And from the data you’ve been reading…Vergil was planning to kill Morrison all along. He wanted no one knowledgeable to resist him, if he had succeeded. Morrison is equally important, he’s well-connected and that’s good reason why he had been in hiding.”

He was still quiet, listening but likely deep in his own morose thoughts. Kat understood he has trust issues, but just like how they first met, it won’t be misplaced. Morrison is different.

“So yeah. Look, I’m not saying that we lower our guard, but from so far, Commissioner Morrison could be the ally we need. Phineas confirms who he is and I know a thing or two about who he is, and who he’s connected with. And, hello? That thing that just popped in to try to kill us? What’s their deal now that they’re suddenly here?”

He takes in a deep breath and sinks on his car seat, his back now placed on the lower part of the chair, while his legs are smooshed at the end-corner of the passenger’s side. “I’m just sick and tired of secrets…” Dante complains. “I’m gonna sleep until September ends…”

The chuckle from Kat was a relief, fleeting it may be. The fog remains thick…

 

Ten hours ago

Poorest district in Limbo City

It’s been a strange, violent and hectic four days. Right after Vergil disappeared, swarms of Mundus’ demonic army had come hunting them down. The Threshold that separated them from human perception still lingered and had been a hellish time to drive the supernatural force away, just for their sake of peace. The humans fared a little better, no longer tethered to the drinkable lies and visual manipulations, as many have created legions of Demonhunts to thwart any creature they deemed demonic. Of course, lynching their fellow was just as common, proving somewhat the very reason of Vergil’s ‘holier-than-thou’ proclamation of becoming a self-imposed ruler upon the mass of fragile and weak-minded humans.

Those four days have left them questioning themselves, but there was no backing out of it. If they were going to set things right, then it was important they start from zero than having done nothing at all. Even though that zero was, at first, questionable as well, especially when it came to trust.

The wise demon and former prophet for Mundus, Phineas, had been the only one powerful enough to dispel the remnants of Limbo’s Threshold. He is also standing in as their mentor, teaching Kat more ways of magic, as well as showing Dante information of the long arduous history of this world…this Realm, as he keeps describing it . And so, they looked up to him as their only trustworthy ally…until he brought Commissioner Morrison.

They have been in hiding in the same dilapidated apartment ever since the fall of the Order’s HQ. This has been their ‘home’, no matter how cramped and outdated the facilities were, it has what remains of their belongings and their cause. At least it was quiet and, so far, had the least amount of Limbo’s presence. Perhaps being located at the poorest district had something to do with that, but at least the number of angry demons and lynching humans are small. Although it did make Dante restless, Kat and Phineas assuaged his fears and eagerness to jump into action, such as small deeds like helping displaced people into hiding in the same poor district and even helping one demon becoming a Harpy-shooter, who now shoots down Harpies for a living.

Dante had once competed against him to win a few Proud Souls—highly-prized fragments of what may have been once a living being, now turned into energized currency—in Limbo’s Harbor and won only one, because, for some reason, Dante was being generous to the Harpy-shooter. Kat could see that he wanted the little demon to win, perhaps get a taste of joy that had been robbed from the creature for so long. They had pizza after, just yesterday, and to Kat, she wished that their whole lives would be just like this…

…just easygoing, casual days, and competing out of sportsmanship, making friends out of strangers…

But the one event ten hours ago changed everything, the one that led them to this very car ride to Wolfhaven.

Kat is always in this habit of practicing her psychic powers. Before the dawn breaks, Kat would light her candles and read her books to practice safe Astral Projection, witchcrafting and preparing ingredients, while Dante snored away in his side of the cramped apartment. As she meditated, Phineas had contacted her.

“Young witch!”

“Phineas, hey!”

“How is your arm?”

“A lot better, thanks to you.” Even with her eyes closed and concentrating, she lifts her right hand to caress the magical splint clamped on her left shoulder, elbow and wrist, enabling her to perform menial tasks even though her bones are still healing. “But I have a feeling you contacted me because it’s not my arm.”

The old wizened demon smiles. “Don’t take offence, but know that I am still concerned. I have not tinkered with machinery for a…long time…except for my own eye. Anyway! To business.”

Her Astral Projections are usually just outside their apartment building, thirty meters or so. She had strayed far before, but back then she knew little of magic. Her Projections are usually a result of her trying to escape her ‘nightmares’—the assaults and abuse, the neglect and near-death experiences. Her most harrowing journey was when she was taken hostage inside the biggest building in Limbo—Silver Sacks Tower—and had stretched her limit, but she had to, so she can scale its interior weakness and relay this information, for the sake of their freedom.

That felt long ago, but her broken arm proves it otherwise. But soon, she’ll heal and she’ll improve. Her broken arm would be a thing of the past. She’ll have become better and she has to. Her and Dante’s journey has just begun.

With a snap of Phineas’ finger, a portal emerges out of nothing. He lets her inside his ‘domain’, a Soulscape.

It is not unlike the twisted, hellish domain Limbo’s Sentience can do, such as entering its Threshold and becoming victim to its demonic-infested world! It is also not unlike Dante’s, broken memories given a ‘world’ of their own for him to venture, though since he isn’t trained—nor have they explored it yet—he cannot conjure his own Soulscape at will. Kat has her own Soulscape, but she’s still practicing it, ‘furnishing’ it according to what pleases her. Soon, she will conjure it and, perhaps, use it to defend oneself, who knows…

“Come. I must ensure our conversation doesn’t fall on prying Souls…”

“I’ve been awake since 3 a.m. I haven’t felt any malignant presence…”

“That, you may think so, but craftiness is an opponent’s best weapon.”

And just like that, Kat and Phineas enter his Soulscape: a wonderfully warm, lush but small, private room! The walls are painted a rich dark emerald, covered wall to wall with shelves filled with books. Two windows face parallel one another, showing an eternally-bright morning spring, illuminating the room and the round dining table presented for them. The aroma of the Soulscape is filled with exotic perfumes, but also of strongly cocoa- and vanilla-based desserts, next to the subtle simmer of tea. At the far-right nook of this room stood a woman with a lion headset, carrying a giant hourglass with flowing, bright green liquid, that flows continuously down to its bowl-shaped base and ‘absorbed’ throughout her creviced body, sustaining her, and then flowing back to the hourglass through her fingers. It was a statue, dressed in the darkest mossy green tunic wrapped around her dark metallic body.

She looks closer to her facial features, wanting to drink in such beautiful details…

…but a pupil shifts to stare at Kat and she blinks!

But nothing seems to have moved at all, not one centimeter. It was just her imagination…

“Beautiful, isn’t she?” Phineas says regarding the statue and she nods in agreement.

But Kat is more than impressed about the whole room! To think a former convict could still have a powerful Soulscape, she can just imagine what she can do with her own!

“Not as beautiful as the whole room!”

He chuckles at her compliment and shows her to the table. “The new recipes I’ve learned I managed to Incorporate here in my hidden getaway. Come, take some.” He invites her as he reaches out to take two biscuits and popped it inside his mouth. She does the same, taking one, and chewed. It tastes as glorious as how it smells!

“I wonder if I’ll Incorporate pizza in my Soulscape?”

Phineas laughs as he pulls a chair for him to sit down. “Dante should Incorporate that to his, not yours! That boy is so eager to get things done, he should learn the arts of magic!”

“Can he, though? I mean, Vergil used to…” Kat caught herself as she recalled her time with Vergil. Although he was no magician, he certainly had levels of understanding magic, such as his own Soulscape and activating it when he came back to their family home, Paradise, and the fact that he found her through his own experimentation with magic. His blade, Yamato , had recently been imbued with a hex to break down portals, or make one. He had taught her how, showed her the many ways her gifts are ‘useful’ and how she should be proud of it. She had idolized him, and had once been smitten…

She had been stupid.

In the cramped room, with her eyes closed, Kat’s fists tightened. Wherever he is, she was sure, purely sure now, that she will stop him, with or without Dante.

“Kat.” Whether or not he was aware, Phineas’ gentle voice brings her back to the lush armchair still waiting for her to sit upon.

“Sorry. What I wanted to ask is, can Dante practice magic? He’s…well, still discovering who he is.” She asks, sitting down on the velvety texture of the armchair.

Getting back in topic, Phineas pours her tea. “Nephilim are actually a very diverse race. They aren’t just the ‘third race’, although we use that for general terms and conversation. And if the things Eva’s children are capable of are only the tip of a sword, then training them to understand magic would be the sword’s sheen itself!”

His words bring a smile to Kat’s face as she sips the tea. Despite being a Soulscape, Kat’s lips felt the hot liquid on her lips and nourishing her through. She won’t need breakfast after all. Well, maybe until Dante wakes up.

“Now, I needed to talk to you and Dante, but since you are already here, your presence will suffice.” He tells her after setting down his teacup. “Please don’t be alarmed when he comes. He is one of the allies I’ve lost contact with ever since Mundus stormed the Paradise Manor—”

Quickly settling the teacup down, Kat gestures for him to stop. “Wait, wait, wait! Who’s coming?”

“Do not be alarmed.” Phineas reiterates, too soothingly for Kat’s comfort. “As I’ve said, they are allies. He will come to knock at your door and give you proof of his allegiance to you. His name is Commissioner Gaiman Morrison, he is the newly-instated commissioner of Limbo Metropolis’ Police, after the corrupted ones who work under Mundus have been fired and are under prosecution. I know of what happened to you and how that helped in taking down Mundus’ empire.”

She suddenly felt this stinging pain on her left shoulder, as if she had been shot by that cold bullet, before being knocked at the back of her head to black out. She should not be entertaining flashbacks of what happened to her, so she tries hard to focus on her tea, which she picks up again. Looking up at the wizened demon, Phineas’ face is contorted with concern. “I hope I am not…making you fearful. You and Dante can rest easy with this individual.”

“I actually know who you’re talking about,” Kat replies as she carefully swishes her teacup before sipping and continues after. “Mr. Morrison was once one of the targets Vergil intended to get rid of, but he focused on getting Dante first. He wasn’t commissioner then, so that sort of raised an alarm as to why he’d want to target an ordinary policeman.”

Phineas hums, a curl tipping on his thin lips. “...Not surprising at all. With the information you have from the Order, as the main holder, Vergil has been very investigative throughout his years. Moving on, Gaiman Morrison has been a great ally, not only to Dante’s departed family…”

With those words, he bows his head in reverence and then continues. “…But to the very people who have been against any rising threat that would come upon this Realm. These people are the ones who successfully took Vergil under their care and out of Mundus’ eyes, or even from other, equally powerful beings, who would exploit the opportunity if they had taken either of the twins.”

She draws in a sharp breath. “Vergil once told me the people who used to care for him, but he didn’t elaborate...so his adoptive family…it’s—!”

“The Vie De Marli! Correct!” The wide, gleeful smile across Phineas’ face reflects the thudding, excited heart inside Kat’s chest.

But she also feels something shaking her! Her Astral projection is fading, pulling her back to the apartment. “Phineas! I think—!”

The teacup she was holding falls from her hands—then reappears, empty this time, back on its position on the table! Her figure seems to vibrate, becoming non-physical!

Kat felt the warm breath on her face and an urgent voice whispering, “Kat, you better get back here! The police are coming! And I think they brought something else with them!”

“It’s Dante! I think your commissioner friend is too early!”

Realizing he has mere seconds, Phineas elaborates himself as quick as he can! “I apologize, Kat! I cannot be with you personally as I am indeed busy! Please let Dante know it is for the future! For the Coming World! Oh dear, why did I—just, Kat, remember the Blue Rose! And the Wolfhaven incident! He will also gift to you—!”

The door of Phineas’ Soulscape was flung open and immediately, she was greeted with the smog and the twilight of the day as she went back to the cramped, outdated apartment room and into that space filled with candles and magical books.

Her eyes open and quickly stand up to grasp Dante herself, who had been trying to wake her from her Astral Projection—!

But he is nowhere at all!

“Dante!” She searches around the small apartment room—the living/magical area, the dining and kitchenette, the only bathroom—nobody! The whole place is empty save for her! She realizes the bathroom’s window is open! It’s never been that wide open—!

Did he just go through that small window? Has he decided to take them on—? No! Dante, you idiot!

“YOooOOOooooOOOOoo…YO WASSUP!!! WASSUP-WASSUP-WASSUP-WASSUP-WAAASSSUUUPP??! BITCONNECT!!!! MIC TEST, MIC TEST!!! KAT, KAT, KAT!!! MIND READ ME KAT! MIND READ ME KAT! S.O.S.!!! S.O.S.!!! S.O.S.!!! S.O.S.!!! MIND READ ME KAT! MIND READ ME KAT! MIND READ ME KAT! I BOUGHT ANAL PLUGS FOR MY BIRTHDAY!!! KAAAaaaaaAAAaaaaaTT!!!”

I am going to murder that idiotic asshole—!

“HEY, THAT’S NOT NICE!”

Laughing in spite of the turn of events, Kat calms down and rubs her forehead, smiling. “Dante, how’d you know how to telepath? And where are you? I just talked to Phineas—long story short, DO NOT ENGAGE!”

Inside her mind, she can hear him smirk. “Okay, first of all, they’re police, why the hell am I not engaging? Second, I do have a brain that can read Basics of Mental Magic, so that should answer your first question. Lastly, I’m at the sixth floor, on Mr. Gorgon’s recently evicted apartment.”

She frowns in disgust. “Why are you there? You do know that guy got evicted because of his…hobbies with a meat grinder. You could just look below since every floor has an outside space.”

The sly chuckle that he telepaths made her roll her eyes at him. “Oh, you know, I’m up to no good!”

“Dante, don’t! Phineas has an ally from among them—!”

“Hmm.” Dante muses but because of their mental link, she gradually ‘sees’ what he roughly wants to do with them. Something about stringing them up and putting them through a mock execution with the meat grinder…

“Dante, don’t!”

“Way ahead of you!”

“No! Dante!”

She was too late! There was a scream from somewhere, followed by orders from a commanding voice and hurried footsteps, which abruptly end mid-step! There were more footsteps, but one by one, each pair of running footsteps halt and screams of one another’s name are called out, until that, too, became a gurgling mess of desperation and…

…it’s suddenly too quiet. Not even a gunshot, which is disturbing to think.

Kat has half her mind set in Astral Projecting herself or mentally calling out for Dante. But she goes for her fanny pack, belt of spray cans and stencil, then rushes back to the living area, where she was Astral Projecting, to procure her new magical weapons: Summoning Cards. Each card depicts a character or motif, representing the power it will utilize when summoned. Once used, it will gradually lose its effects in a few minutes. Crafting another one would replace the same card, though that takes time. She didn’t know why, but as a hunch, she has to take it to defend herself and Dante…

“Hey…” Dante mentally greets her, sounding sheepish.

The air she huffs is of pure frustration. “Well, did you have fun? Did you find out if they were hunting us? Or was I right?”

The awkward, verbal pause he was making was enough evidence of his jumping to conclusions too quickly. “Yeah, you see, I have a grand distrust of cops, so you and Phineas being right about these people are still up for debate. I am, however, still going to let Commish Morrison inside our apartment so he’ll explain himself.”

“Wait, the others! What did you do to them?”

“Used their yellow tape to string them up. They’re fine!”

She groans as she informs Dante to go through the front door and to let Commissioner Morrison answer the Charmed question. Their front door has a magical security, wherein the one being asked the Charmed question must answer it as honestly as they can; otherwise it will create a Body Rope Curse, making the victim bound on the spot until Dante takes them out as an unwanted visitor.

Knock, knock… “Yo, Kat! Special delivery over here!” Dante hollers.

“I just want to talk…but your friend …he, uh…he wouldn’t listen. So I hope you would see reason.” It sounded like an older man. His voice is a bit gruff, pure in this urban accent and very tired, burdened with grim and harrowing responsibilities. Kat sympathizes.

“Who sent you here?” Kat asks the Charmed question, hoping she sounds very much in charge.

“I was brought here by Phineas. Well, actually, I sought him out. I need help. Phineas has told me that you will get something out of this as well, especially to Dante. But if you know Phineas, he has a habit of being ambiguous. Please...”

The Body Rope Curse didn’t activate. He is telling the truth. But she has more up her sleeve, more ways to know if he’s wrapped in strings from a demon Marionettist. But still, perhaps in both naivety and hopefulness, Kat believes he’s harmless.

She unlocks the door and opens it, pulling it wide enough for her to peer at the two men’s faces outside.

Commissioner Gaiman Morrison smiles at her. “Hello, miss.” He was a tall individual, with broad shoulders and hazel eyes, brunet and facial hair flecked with gray. He wore a beige blazer underneath a white crisp polo shirt, which is slightly drenched with sweat. Slung around him was a crossbody bag, right next to his holstered pistol. His gruff voice is full of kindness, a type that talked to little children about how bad things happen sometimes and that the worse would pass. “You must be Kat.”

She nods and gradually opens the door wide for them to enter. She gasps when she realizes Dante truly did use yellow tape, this time to bind the commissioner’s ankles, long enough for his feet to walk but not run!

She glares at him, who was behind Morrison and Dante merely shrugs his shoulders, and then fixes the right side shoulder of his coat; a behavioral tic, meaning he was a bit proud of what he did.

“Please, sit there.” Kat points to the worn-out armchair then disappears to the living area. Coming back, she had procured a knitted, old quilt and placed it on its headrest. Its design is curious: knitted on it are glyphs and runes adorned at the edges surrounding a much larger symbol. “And make sure you lay your head on this quilt.”

The police follows suit, his gaze going to the worn-out armchair and sheepishly sitting on it, laying his head to rest on it. Unbeknownst to the commissioner (or perhaps he has an idea), he had just activated a magical object. Now their questions will reveal lies or a demon curse from his answers.

As he sits down, a glint comes from his ring finger: a ring with a sapphire-blue jewel. “Okay.” He says calmly, his arms idle on the sides of the armchair. “So should I start explaining myself?”

Dante crosses his arms as Kat closes the front door. “You can start explaining where’s this other individual you brought in?”

The policeman’s face contorts in confusion. Nothing happens even after he answers. “What? There’s just five of us! And you scaring my rookie to death when you told her about that tenant’s meat grinder! You didn’t have to do that! I mean, grinding demons to mincemeat? Mr. Gorgon’s a… disturbed individual, but none of those meats we’ve confiscated are even non-human. Though, of course, the human victims aren’t any better…”

The sly grin across Dante is more than mischievous. “Yeah, well, I hate to tell ya, but he fed those demon remains to his favorite street animals. Those human remains? Word is, those people once bullied and harassed him. I can guess-timate those remains totaled to…eleven people, when you ‘reconnect’ those remains? Must’ve been a long week for the forensics. How is he in the psych center, by the way? I bet he’s doing fine.”

The wide eyes on the poor old man cued Kat to intervene. “I think you should start with why you would want help from... us .” She says in a comforting tone, elbowing Dante in his stomach. “I mean, as you can definitely see...me and Dante aren't still exactly reputable to the public and as far as those we know, only you two know exactly who we are and what we’ve done.”

Settling down from the meat-grinder tidbit, Morrison takes a deep breath and straightens his back, as if he was about to explain this summer’s humidity. “Yes, well good news. You and Dante are absolved of any of the crimes accused, alleged or not, during Mundus’ era. Now I know that's still not much, but I can guarantee you, no one in the police department is going to hunt you nor even maltreat you. If anyone does, I will personally see to them how wrong they are. You have my word.”

Dante scoffs at his words and turns to his partner. “Kat, your trap isn’t working.” His voice is apathetic, but she can see he’s fuming, in denial. She understands just how convenient this all is suddenly, but still can't they take this opportunity?

She glowers at him. “Well it's because he's telling the truth!”

“He may not be a demon, but I don't trust him!” He proclaims with fervor. “And I swear, something is still out there when the police came here—!”

Nothing’s out there! Dante, you’re paranoid and I understand that, but…”

“Kat, you need to trust me! Something is not right—!”

Morrison stands up with his hands open-palmed, gesturing them to cool down. Kat outstretches her hands to both men, realizing Dante has stepped forward the old man, his expression foul! “Sit down!”

But Morrison ignores him and continues his sympathy. “I’m sorry for your loss, son.”

“What?!”

“Dante, listen to him!”

“I'm sorry we've been in hiding...I'm sorry you had been abandoned. We... we never wanted this.”

“I don't need sympathy!” Dante's nostrils flare and waves his hand nonchalantly, though the tension coiled within him concerns Kat. She stands in front of him to stop whatever he would do to the old man as his temper flares. “My past...is a great part of how I'm still here…I'm fighting not because I'm against the things you people are fighting. I fought for myself, for my survival and now I'm fighting because there are people who had been born and made abandoned! And I don't care what they are! I'm with them!”

Morrison nods solemnly and she can see how his smile is that of a proud man. “Exactly.”

Fiercely, Dante's index finger points at the old man, his voice a sinister, lower register. “You have your word, right? You better keep it! Coz I can show you how I keep mine.”

“With my life.” The somber tone on the old man has Kat gazing at the hazel eyes of the commissioner, which stare back at the icy blue ones that was angry, suspicious and, deep down, scared.

Miraculously, the tension on his body dissipates, his accusatory hand snapping back at his side and she gradually steps back. Looking at him, he meets her gaze; he looks drained from venting his anger. But they can't rest and let the awkward silence stretch.

She clears her throat to make it her turn to speak. “I was told that you have a ‘gift’ to us?”

Morrison nods but Dante clears his throat at him and points at the old armchair, reminding the old man. Morrison gestures his hands up and sits back down, his head resting on the quilt, still unable to lift Dante's suspicion.

Fishing around inside his bag, the old man pulls out an embroidered pouch. It was a beautiful little pouch and it clinked prettily with what the two of them can tell is full of money. Dante, however, is gazing at the pouch’s design: embroidered on it were stems of thorny blue roses.

“Phineas told me that you’d need some extra cash and I volunteered to give it to you personally. Though I think you’d be really making this useful.” He says sheepishly.

The two remain quiet while Kat takes the pouch from his hand and recognizes the Blue Rose from what Phineas had told her; so Commissioner Morrison takes the silence as his chance before Dante declines. “Okay then. As I’ve said, I need your help. I think you’ve seen news of a massacre on the town of Edenville, in the county of Wolfhaven. A lot of news media have been cordoned off after some of the Wolfhaven inhabitants have been evacuated, though most townsfolk just moved to another area in the county and didn’t really leave, which is another problem but that’s mine to deal with.”

The two share a disturbed look. Of course, they’ve seen it, but not of actual dead bodies, however. There was nothing about the actual carnage, only of panicked citizens and police force going to the area as well as glimpses of demons zipping in, or rising from the depths as the earth gave way. The live coverage of it, as well as viral video accounts, added nothing visually concrete of any body counts, except for the sudden heavy fog and drop in temperatures. There had been many video and photo accounts that got uploaded and shared throughout, but those have gone quiet after the main incident, no one wanting to fall victim to the ones who tried, and disappeared into the fog. And victims, these panicked inhabitants have said, count to more than a thousand.

No one could console these panic-stricken and rightfully fearful townsfolk, for when they managed to get to the shelters in Angelavale—another town in Wolfhaven—the overall populace of 224,922 citizens have dwindled to 220,478. Where the remaining people are—children, men, women, elderly—they are still in the heavily-foggy, highly-infested area in the west of Wolfhaven, waiting to be found.

“The massacre happened four days ago, after Mundus’ defeat, about a few hours past eight in the evening, and there haven’t been any new attacks since. If there are, all activity that’s been reported so far are from Edenville and the westernmost area of the county. For the next twelve hours or so, my men and women have done nothing but to gather evidence and hunt down anyone or… anything responsible for this. On public media, no one has any idea of how many are dead, not even the townsfolk…and I have to say, we wouldn’t have any visual idea, either, if it weren’t for one sole survivor from the group I’ve dispatched there.”

He fishes inside his bag to procure his phone and thumbs in on the screen the file he wants to show. He pulls it up for them to see and their eyes widen, with Kat gasping. Horrific images of bodies strewn all across the tangled, grassy woods filled them with icy dread. Another batch of images show of shadowy figures, humanoid in their details while some in huge proportions Dante is familiar with…

“A Hunter…” He whispers, his brows furrowed in fury.

Morrison pulls back the phone, his face more somber. “The only surviving officer took these photos. He was spared so he can relay the message from the one responsible…that’s right.”

Kat’s head is shaking, her eyes wide in terror. Morrison's brows furrow, his tone bleak.

“My officer…he said he met the man who was leading a horde of demons. And he said he looked just liked that Wanted Man, Dante, but he knew he was different. He had white hair and the most twisted look in his face—”

“No...” The tone of Dante’s voice is blunt, colorless and devoid. But looking at his eyes, Kat can see his anguish and so does Morrison. “I get it…I drove him away. Now he's taking it out on a bunch of innocent people…”

As a gesture to assuage him, Kat reaches out her right hand to his shoulder. Morrison speaks, his tone gentle, “No one is blaming you. This is clearly a very sensitive affair and I have no say in that. However, if he truly wants to commit a massive killing, he should be rampaging all over the county by now. But he's not and I have a theory on that. I will say this, though. I think it’s time humanity has to face this darkness they’ve been unaware of for a long time. No matter how horrible, it’s in our hands now.”

From his words, the anguish on Dante’s face became sad but otherwise calm. Morrison continues.

“With this little evidence and no manpower on the site, I am still hopeful. Despite the setback, I have a theory as to who else is responsible and it’s likely he’s paired up with your brother to do this mayhem.”

He uses his phone again and pulls up an image of a middle-aged man with the most striking face and features.

Kat’s eyes widens again. “Oh, God.”

“You know this man?” Dante asks.

The man on the photo is a very regal-looking, pale, middle-aged man, with raven and facial hair slightly peppered with gray strands. His face is long with a striking nose and a scar on his left side, adding mystery to his stern face. His most distinctive features have to be his eyes: on the right one a blue-green, the other a…light brown, almost red iris. He wore what could be compared to office clothes with a coat, all in black save for his crisp gray button-up shirt, from what they can surmise as the photo ends just below the first two buttons of it.

“I guess you haven’t gotten to that journal yet.” Kat explains. “Vergil met him before, but he didn’t entertain this guy for too long. His name is Jonathan Arkham, a scholar and quite a recluse. I guess you can guess what he’s been up to…”

“I can guess Vergil changed his mind now.” Dante muses as he stares at the man’s curious pair of eyes.

“Dr. Arkham is quite a theologian and folklorist, teaching at Fortuna City. He’s divorced and has not visited his family as often as he used to. Still, colleagues check out that he's a man of routine and they make it clear that Dr. Arkham would've been sighted leaving their premises. It became suspicious when he has not been seen or have clocked in his office, as usual. So he was reported a Missing Person after two days of him gone. He’s been missing for more than two weeks now and I’d say, he’s had ample time to do whatever he needed to do…

“There’s been a string of murders in Fortuna and Wolfhaven before he went missing, but the frequency of victims had a spike after . A few of my people are suspecting him as a culprit, after we’ve gathered evidence from him when he was still a Missing Person. And boy, what a mountain of evidence: files and research notes about ancient rituals, symbolic anthropology, folk tales of The Nameless One and hypotheses on Nephilims...”

A morbid chuckle comes out of Morrison before he continues. “I’d say, we have a feeling he wants being chased. This is especially with his latest victim.”

“I guess that’s why Vergil didn’t take a liking to him initially,” Dante notes, a corner of his mouth curled to show he’s upset. “And I’m not surprised there’s not a lot of news coverage about a serial killer, given Barbas probably just turned a blind eye.”

“Yep. But unlike Barbas, he hasn’t stopped,” Morrison confirms with his lips as tight as a line, while he pops up the files and images of the case file regarding Dr. Arkham on his phone. “His recent victim is his ex-wife.”

The two of them take in the information and the visceral images of his victims. Kat had decided to look away most of the time, but Dante was drawn to the brutality as his blood ran cold. His pity for the victims were not only turning into anger, but his rage is seething as the symbols that this serial killer is using is his family’s insignia! Each photo showed was the undeniable logo of the one he has on his upper back, now desecrated and framed with melted wax candles, dried blood, as a symbol of torment and bloodshed!

“Around the same time you were taking down Mundus’ cohorts, his former spouse, Ms. Kalina Ann Battaglia had gone missing, although no one reported her missing for three days. When we got the warrant to search her place...well, I’m sure you can figure out what we saw. She was found on her manor’s library. All victims have gone through... similar torture methods, with the symbols drawn on the floor. Whatever he’s done, it’s in tandem with Mundus’ downfall and what’s happening in Edenville.”

“It also says here they have a daughter.” Kat points out and shows the image of a young woman who’s roughly the same age as Dante’s. And as expected, despite the already morbid tension of the whole case, Dante wolf-whistles at the photo. Kat rolls her eyes as Morrison shakes his head. She reads further that she’s also a Missing Person.

Morrison explains, “Missing, too and reported by her worried peers in Limbo Metropolitan University. She was expected to return after one whole day to visit her mother, and this was also the same time her mother had recently been reported as missing, so you can imagine just what the hell she must’ve seen or known about her mother’s demise.”

Gripping Morrison’s phone, he lifts his eyes to gaze at the old man. “We’ll go!” Dante’s conviction pleasantly surprises both Morrison and Kat. “We’ve been briefed enough. Anymore information needed you can just give us through a hard drive.”

Nodding, he gestures for Morrison to stand up, giving the phone back. Without a cue, however, a bright flash of light comes from Dante's hand, a long shape forms and it materializes as a sword― Rebellion!

SWISH! The yellow tape binding Morrison snaps in half as the point of his sword lands between the commissioner's feet!

With their eyes wide, Morrison and Kat glare at Dante, who wills his Rebellion to dissipate and shrugs his shoulders. "...you're free. Though I have to say, I still think you owe me a lot of explanation regarding my family...so, consider us taking the case as  Two-Way Disclosure Agreement."

A chuckle comes out of Morrison as Kat smacks his right arm, prompting him to rub it and giving her a silly grin. “Oh, of course! You two are my responsibility in a way, besides the destitute state of our city, and by extension our Realm.”

A bewildered look crosses Kat’s face. “Why do people keep saying that, ‘realm’?”

“All in due time, Kat,” Morrison reassures. “All in due time.”

As the old man stretches his legs while Kat has decided to prepare breakfast in the kitchenette, Dante sets him aside. Bewildered, he lets Dante talk, whose eyes are squinting with suspicion.

“Morrison, you said you’re keeping your word regarding us having immunity,” he murmurs, “but how are you gonna do that? Who else is with you, was with you in this... whole thing, while you worked within Mundus’ system? I mean, you can’t be alone in this right now.”

The thin lips on the old man widens into a warm smile. “ We have ways to hide. Mundus and his court are only as powerful as we let them know, but of course, we number in a few. If we did something as unthinkable as what you, Kat and Vergil have done...well…” He trails off and stares at the floor. And gazing at the old man, Dante realizes the burden and responsibility Morrison must be carrying, still carrying to this day, to this new era. “Let’s just say...it’s not just the demons we’d be looking out for...trust me, Dante, in all due time, and through this case...there will be truths that will be revealed―”

“Okay, I get that, but seriously,” Dante claps his hand on his shoulder, chuckling. “Like I’m asking if you’re literally alone in this...secret. I mean, yeah, you have Phineas...but, you’re not accompanied at all? Like, those cops in Mr. Gorgon’s apartment are all human. So, is there no one with you who’s, I dunno, like me? Right now? Coz my own brand of senses is telling me you aren’t really alone…”

It was Morrison’s turn to squint his eyes, suspicious and, as Dante notes from his bobbing adam’s apple, nervous. “You’re asking...if I’m accompanied by someone like you, today?”

The dread in their eyes creeps in. “Yeah.”

“Can you feel this company right now?” Morrison asks as he places his fingers on his pistol.

With eyes round with fear, Dante calls out for Kat to protect Morrison!

“I told you!” He exclaims as Kat abruptly drops everything and had gone to Morrison’s side, her spray can in hand. “ Someone else is here!”

He wrenches the door open from the bathroom and, once again, exits through the small window! Chasing after him, Kat is unable to witness how exactly he could squeeze through the window without breaking anything and decides to follow him through a mental link. “Mr. Morrison!”

“No worries!” He assures her, pulling out his pistol. “I’ll be fine. We do need to stick together!”

She nods and, following Dante’s mental trail, she zeroes on his location, but finds out that Mr. Gorgon’s apartment is empty! Wait! Where are the cops he tied up―!

Around the building, a Presence she has never encountered is flying by, like a hawk gauging prey! Goosebumps form as she observes the creature through her Astral Projection.

So that’s why I couldn’t sense anything or anyone! It’s not a demon!

Pumped with adrenaline and dread, Dante scales the facade of the building with Ophion, its silvery body and sharp maw latches on to the eighth floor enclosure to launch him upwards, towards the roof―

The cold tingling that has been sweeping across his skin became irritating as the presence of this creature finally reveals itself! Oh my god…

Propelling himself upwards to the roof, the silhouette of the creature soars above the building, banking in and out in graceful arcs. He can hear other noises on the roof as his feet bounds against the wall and thrusts him to the last platform!

The sight before him should’ve given him an idea of what his opponent is planning: besides the four cops that came with Morrison―unconscious, yet free from the yellow tape and not sporting any major injuries―a litter of kittens and puppies are yapping helplessly and confused, scattered all over the place!

And landing at the middle of it all, is a creature that dared show its face, after all these years.

Dante clears his throat as he is beholden before him something they have never encountered before. “Miss, I think this place is off limits.

Still with her back turned, Dante is witness to how an angel’s wings retracts into her exposed back, the only swath of skin showcased by the armor she wears from head to toe. And what an armor!

He shields his eyes as the glimmer and sheen of the armor burns his sockets with every minute movement she makes. Slowly but with such calculated poise, the angel turns to gaze at him. Her elaborately-detailed helmet allows her and Dante a peak, restrictive in its design and overtly protective, yet he can see that the angel―like his mother―is unapologetically beautiful.

And when she speaks, a lilting babydoll-like voice talks back at him. “Off limits?”

“Yes, afraid so.” He says politely. “If you’d let me escort you through this building, I can show you the exit.”

Through the slit openings of her helmet, he can see her grinning softly at him. “How kind of you. Is this your way of offering surrender?” And just like that, a long shape appears from her left hand, materializing from a bright fiery light! And from it, an equally-elaborate and glimmering polearm is summoned!

From even a few feet Dante can feel the heat from her form, like a bonfire in winter. He puts his tongue against his cheek. “Actually,” he says with a sly grin. “I just don’t wanna wake up the neighbors.”

Her soft grin is still intact, her gaze unblinking. He waits for her move. He knows she’s underestimating him.

“Such innocent creatures.” She says instead as a puppy walks around her left foot, sniffing the floor. “But they cannot live. Their mothers and fathers have been tainted with demon blood when they were fed such remains. I’ve rounded them up here so I can kill all these tainted things in one building, to finish the... cleansing.

Dante hums, tilting his head. “Hm, and you’ve been one busy bird, huh. I wouldn’t wanna be in your way.”

“No, Child of Eva,” she gestures her right hand to him, as if welcoming him. “You are exactly where I need you to be.”

Faster than a blink, the point of her polearm swings directly for his head! With quick footwork, she lashes out her attacks as her polearm twirls and pierces through the air, and finally crumbling the concrete with the galive of her polearm―

“Nice moves!” He airily tells her as he slides out of her way, his coattails swishing behind him. “Though I think you need to aim―”

Furious, the angel shrieks. “DIE!”

Now, in a fight, Dante would’ve pulled out the stops to take her out. However, this was no fight; with the baby animals strewn around, scared and very confused, and the unconscious cops lying on the floor, it’s clear she intended to have him disadvantaged with innocents in the battleground.

As her polearm plunges through the distance between them, Dante evades and deflects each attack with his arms while minding his feet! Unabashedly, she doesn’t care for the small creatures, stepping forward, left, right, center whenever she needed to get an opportunity to strike and pierce her weapon across his body!

Luckily, most of the animals are running away from them, cowering for cover and trampling among each other in the process! However, with her polearm’s powerful inertia, their feet aren’t the only factors that’ll get these creatures killed!

Shoo! ” As gently and quickly as he can, he pushes an excited kitten away with his booted foot from coming in between them, as the sharp end of the polearm rises above him, the angel hopping up to gain momentum when she brings it down! Readying his hands, he goes for the pole while he quickly kneels to avoid the glaive of the polearm coming down to his head! He grips it and goes for a roll across the floor, bringing her to the ground with him!

The scream that tore from her mouth was more than satisfactory! Losing balance, but not her vice-like grip on her weapon, she rolls away to keep her distance! But on the floor, Dante swerves his body to push away the creatures and keep his momentum going to chase after the angel! Like some crazy bipedal snake, he coils his body across the floor, while the furious strikes that should’ve plunged itself on his head or other body parts are parried and deflected, not only by his arms, but his flexible legs, coiling themselves on the pole before being kicked away, to the frustration of the angel!

She arcs, pierces and swipes her polearm at him with increasing speed, the wind from each momentous attack blowing back a breeze, yet nothing lands at Dante at all! Not even when she goes on to stomp or kick at him to impede his movements! With him closing in, the angel realizes the gap between them is decreasing, and no sooner than she did, his dirty boot lands squarely at her helmeted head, inducing her jaw to lock upwards as she dizzily tries to remain upright!

Done with his breakdancing, bright lights emanate from both his hands, summoning his twin pistols and he shoots at her torso twice! It barely penetrated through her armor, but that wasn’t the point of shooting at her!

A painful cry tore from her mouth as she lost balance and her back smacks the ground, her polearm clattering alongside her! Despite this, she summons back her polearm to her hand to resume battle―

A scorching and heavy object lands on top of her! Trapping her entire body underneath this object, the angel squirms and screams in rage!

“You will not succeed!” her raging cries morphs her face in a bright, fiery blaze, her mouth agape as a long high-pitched shriek frees from her struggling figure! “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGGHGHG!!!!”

It was a good idea to summon Eryx, a giant pair of demonic gauntlets worn from the forearms to his fists, to pin her down for a moment and just talk. Before finishing her off, of course.

“You feel better now?” He asks sarcastically, earning him another sinister look from the angel.

Aaagh! The downfall of the self-proclaimed demon-king Mundus was the key! You, you! You have made this possible―”

He nods coolly. “You’re welcome...”

“―for the collapse of his empire and his squabbling Court is grounds for Our Judgment! And you and your twin are ripe for a long-due execution!”

“Listen, miss,” Dante remains unflapped. “I think we did you a favor. You were supposed to, like, kill Mundus or something, I dunno what you angels do, but you should be thanking us, me, for exposing these demons and eliminating their top dog. I did your job.”

A laugh escapes from her lips and that didn’t settle right with him. “FOOL! FOOL! You believe yourself absolved of your mother’s sin to beget you? To conspire with a plague of sinners they manage to call themselves creatures of this wretched Realm? To dare conceive the Coming World with that abomination that is your father? For simply ridding of the wretch, Mundus ? You are inconceivably more foolish than your ancient brethren! And they’ve sacrificed their lives for naught after all!”

He dare not show it, this confusion and dread...and familiarity. Coming World…

“Big talk for someone who’s underneath this thing.” He gestures on his gigantic gauntlet trapping her to the floor. She howls in anger and writhes to get free, her skin remaining fiery bright. He guesses she didn’t like belittling her talking. “And question: why now? You didn’t want my brother and I, you didn’t want Mundus’ ‘court’ or anything, why are you only acting now?”

Dante wasn’t really hoping for her to answer. But surprisingly, while she struggled, she does. And if he was being honest, him knowing why they’re here now is unnerving. “Our duties, my duty, is to ensure an everlasting victory! With Mundus’ power and Hell Gate closed, Our Sphere is now free to Purge this Realm and finish this war! Long has humanity been enslaved, trapped and, Heaven Forbid, so willing to throw themselves to the demons that have ensnared them for their feeding and propagation, their greed, their wars, their deviance and their sins!”

As she spouts scornful statements, the door to the roof opens and in comes Kat and Morrison, in awe of the small animals running around them, the unconscious cops and the furious angel trapped inside the giant, hellish fist!

“Oh fuck… ” Morrison whispers as he glares at the angel.

The angel continues her tirade. “But most sinful of all, was your disobedience! How dare the Transient Ones created a Realm without the Angel’s guidance? Created a Realm and fornicated with demons and called their descendants to inherit their ‘Paradise’? Till now they are paying the price for their sins!”

“What the hell are you talking about?!” He roars at her and points Ebony at her head. “I swear, if you don’t start making sense, I will blow you back to your Kingdom Come in pieces!”

“The fall of Mundus’ Empire on the Human Realm,” Morrison answers, his tone morose. The angel’s eyes fix upon him and then at his sapphire-blue ring. “Breaks the nine-millenium treaty…”

“What treaty?” Dante interrogates. “Is your claim about ‘all in due time’ happening now? You better make sense!”

He ignores him as Morrison continues. “More than nine thousand years ago, a treaty was made to cease the battle, in favor of an agreement that all parties will mutually find ‘amiable’. Long story short, they agreed for Mundus’ Empire to come to fruition. But it didn’t mean that the angels wanted that. They kept their end by ensuring only Mundus’ Court are allowed in this Realm―”

“Wait a sec!” Kat cuts, her eyes wide. “You mean to say, people agreed to have Mundus as King?”

“To prevent Armageddon.” Morrison finishes. “If that battle continued...well, there won’t be anyone left behind besides those two warring factions.”

The angel howled in laughter. “So this human is knowledgeable! As expected, from someone who’s from the Fallen!” She haughtily says. “And like your ilk who disobeyed the Sphere, you will fall before me―…”

Sensing a heat rising underneath her soul, Kat realizes that the angel had projected her power in a different and very dangerous way! “Dante, Morrison, the building―!”

“I feel it, too!” Dante exclaims and he tightens his grip on the angel, who cries in pain, then chuckles. “What the hell did you do?”

But he can feel it! He can feel burning Hell suffusing deep within him and outside him! Sweat breaks free from his temples as a mental vision of the whole building coming down in a blaze of fire makes his blood run cold!

The angel simply relaxes in her state of entrapment, while Dante’s Eryx vibrates, as if something is going to break free!

“Feel the wrath…” The angel murmurs as Dante can feel her wings reappearing, cauterizing Eryx’s palm! The heat from her body is rising in exponential rates that Dante knew he’s lucky that Eryx is absorbing the scorching fire this angel is made up of!

“GET BACK!” Dante warns them both, who went down on their knees to collect the small animals and one unconscious cop too close to Eryx, then bounded to the corner end of the rooftop!

Dante isn’t sure how big this explosion is going to be and how long Eryx would be able to grip her down―

CRACK! The fist-shaped gauntlet shows its first crack! And from the look of things, as long as her body heat rises, then Eryx’s melting point has already been met, as it’s already losing shape! And worse, that scorching heat is less tolerable now than before his Devil Arm cracked!

Looking back to where his allies are, he can see Kat is set to work! She had laden down her stencils and is spraying on them as he’s losing grip! Morrison is trying to rouse one of his cops, while he held a puppy in one arm.

“Kat! AAAaarrgghgh! I hope you have something on you...I don’t think...I can hold her down...for long!”

Gazing at him, Kat pulls something from inside her fanny pack and they float right in front of her: her Summoning cards! With her mehndi-tattooed open palms ready, the cards burst into a white glow and from that, bright forms of shapes materialize forth, forming larger and larger―!

“...OF A SERAPH!”

The fist-gauntlet bursts into shattered pieces before it could melt apart! And from that, the freed angel soars above them, burning bright like a blinding spotlight, blazing hotter than this summer’s humidity! Her wings spread behind her with tongues of fire licking the air, threatening it to become unbreathable!

He let the impact of the explosion bring him along for the ride! His whole body hurtles in the air and stings from the aftermath of a freed fiery angel, with Eryx’s form shattering into a million pieces! He can feel his arm immediately healing from the blistering explosion, though the blazing heat still clings to his skin! He expects either falling down from the rooftop or colliding to the floor of the rooftop, whichever would crack his bones first, he’ll get up anyway―

“Dante!” Kat’s voice makes him open his eyes, which he realizes he had closed the second Eryx was about to burst.

He also realizes he was saved from crashing unto the pavement, rooftop or below! Looking around him, he finds his body is cradled by a giant creature and looks up―!

“Oh God!” His eyes must be tricking him, because what he’s looking at right now looks like a giant, dark brown crab-like creature! Its giant pincers support his body like a human would carry another bridal-style, its beady eyes (Dante is unsure if they are eyes) snapping at every direction! “Kat, why am I being babied by a giant crustacean ?”

Morrison’s yelling voice answers him from behind. “You’re not the only one this wonderfully surprised!”

Agreeing to this new mood, Dante clambers over the giant crab and onto its shell, prompting Kat to tell him this creature took all the puppies and kittens inside its shell! “Cancer is getting off the building after the fight! But it will stay out of the way!”

“Well, that’s good to hear!” Dante exclaims with excitement. “What else does this do?”

“Well, Cancer is a water creature, so it’s carrying a limited amount of water. I summoned other creatures to prevent the fire!”

And that is true! Surrounding them was a giant, bearded man with a large jar, another giant of a woman, draped heavily in a blinding white dress and headgear, and a pair of floating, glimmering fishes, swimming in mid-air!

“MISERY!” The fiery angel roared in disgust, her polearm―now blazing with fire―pointing at Kat. “I see now that this Realm has surviving Magicians! Mundus’ downfall was assured! But not to my Sphere!”

“Hey, hey, hey, hey!!!” Dante hollers with a roguish grin. “Did you forget?!” And with those words and his left hand outstretched, a bright light appears that materializes a longsword―Rebellion! With quick swipes and arcs, he boasts Rebellion’s form and elegant simplicity, the sound of its blade slicing the air audibly!

Even in mid-air and flying nonchalantly above them to show her supposed superiority, the angel looks displeased at the sight of these cretins who dare feel so brazen enough to stand against her! And Dante couldn’t help but widen his smile at her, irritating her further.

Flexing Rebellion to rest on his left shoulder, he smirks at his opponent. “You’re fighting me, the one begotten by my mother’s sins! Since you’re so sure about your abilities, let’s see how an angel’s supposed to deal with those below their shitty God Complex, besides making little fireworks for demons to laugh at!”

“Hmph! You dare…” And just like that, her fiery, yellow-orange wings turns a shade of white, blindingly hotter than before, in turn illuminating against her already glimmering armor, making her appear more audaciously radiant than how she had appeared! “...you mock me, Beatrice the Seraph! I will end you, here and now! And present your ashes to my highest Seraph!”

Dante chuckles, swiping Rebellion off his shoulder and taking a stance. “You can try! You self-righteous bitch!”

Chapter Text

Chapter 3: One Long Day

 

Beatrice the Seraph didn't like that at all, not one bit!

And I’m going to take advantage of her being pissed until it’s milked dry!

“WORM!!!” The Seraph countered venomously. “You are nothing! And you shall be nothing!

As if she couldn’t get any brighter, more blindingly radiant and blazingly white-hot the air became so thin, she does so! And since it was still dark morning twilight, her light simulated the break of dawn that keeps escalating to high noon! He didn’t dare shield his eyes as she disappeared within her vehemently white-hot aura as she stretches her wings, then flapping them back to prepare to launch herself―!

Where she’s launching herself, Dante anticipates! With his wide-legged stance and Rebellion reflecting back the dramatically white light, he was going to catch her helmeted face with the very edge of his blade!

Her wings flapped again, bringing with it gusts of wind that blew back a few of the discarded rooftop items and likely Morrison and Kat, too, if it weren’t for the Tall Lady, Cancer and Beard Man she summoned to shield them from the brunt of it! He stayed his ground, observing, waiting as the seconds tick by, watching every movement she makes―!

And like an eagle that dives for prey, she folds her wings tight behind her with her polearm thrust forward to her target!

“Gotcha!” He managed to see the trajectory and lightning-speed of her flight, even if she was literally outpacing a Blackbird jet! The power of her flight left a blazing contrail and forceful momentum that actually blew back a neighboring building’s wall!

Swerving his body to catch an angel, he jumps off the giant shell of the crab with Rebellion’s point forward, outstretching his left arm, aiming for her head!

The point of the angel’s polearm is still a few feet away from the Tall Lady, shielding Kat as she concentrates in keeping her Summoned creatures with her! Knowing he would protect his ally, the angel extends her left arm as she twists her body in midair, manoeuvring her head out of the way as the longsword scrapes against the surface of her helmet at the back as sparks fly!

With eyes on her sucker punch, Dante only has the nanosecond to react as her fist comes for his exposed neck! He catches her gauntleted punch a mere two inches to his skin, but the sheer speed of her arm and the stopping power of his palm make a colliding impact, imploding within their hands as they connect!

BAM!

The impact was a snap of a force, creating a quick gust of air as Kat and Morrison shield their faces from the winded dust! Pulling down their arms to see again, they watch the two creatures smash at each other, giving way to a dog fight in midair!

With all his strength and cunning, Dante contorts his body as he wrestles the angel to submission, who flaps her wings desperately to shake him off as she parries and tries to land a hit with her fists, polearm and her helmeted head!

With the two distracted, Kat jumps into action. “Quick!” She points Cancer and the flying twin fishes, Pisces, to the spot where the Seraph was trapped by Eryx and had burned through the floor. Curiously, besides the large crater created by the huge demon gauntlet, within it bubbles a magma-like substance, seeping inside the architecture of the building!

“That lava could melt through the whole building.” Morrison observed. “Damn thing was gonna clean us up with this shit…”

“Not if I’m around…” Kat claims as she commands Cancer, Pisces and the Beard Man, Aquarius, to quell the ‘magma’. From the top of the crustacean’s shell, Pisces vigorously circles around as jelly-like streams of water materialize; as they do so, they create a floating ‘bubble’ to be filled full of the purest water for Aquarius to fill inside his large jar. Once inside, the sloshing liquid is cooled as Aquarius decreases the temperature before pouring the contents down to the magma-filled spot, immediately springing up steam as the two substances clash!

With a gust of icy air from Aquarius’ lips, the synthesis of the two turn into solidifying lava, hardening from the bubbling dark-grey matter into a flat, uneven rock formation, quelling the fire! With still several of Pisces’ Bubbled Water, Cancer and Kat collect them in their respective reservoirs: Cancer’s own ‘belly’ as it distends to fit in the water and Kat’s empty bottle.

As he observes, Morrison pulls from his pocket his phone as he contacts backup and firefighters. His tone is cool as he succinctly explains the situation, and nods as he is informed in a matter of seconds. Hanging up, he conveys to Kat what has transpired. "Look, in case some urban catastrophe is coming, I've contacted the fire department to help with the evacuation and with any fire damage that could come. If you could also get my people out of here with that giant crab, that would be great."

She nods and Cancer scuttles to the fallen cops to collect them inside its shell. "And you?"

"Get everybody in this building out. If this collapses…"

Kat shakes her head and clutches his sleeve. "I won't make that happen! I managed to stabilize the whole structure!" She says proudly and gestures towards the stencilled symbols on the rooftop floor. "I knew what she intended to do. It's fixed now."

Morrison looks unconvinced. "I don’t doubt your spells or anything. We can't save the people quickly enough, so we have to be smarter."

Nodding her head, Kat understands. "Okay...it's best you go with Cancer. It's not much, but Cancer can scale buildings safely. But also, take this…" She rummages inside her fanny pack and procures a card for him to use. Taking it, she instructs. "You can activate it by simply putting it face up on your hand."

After looking impressed at the card, Morrison pockets it. "Got it."

Just then, an explosion of fire comes from a few blocks where they stood. On another rooftop, Dante can be seen shooting at the fiery Seraph!

“I think Dante’s making quite the point with this angel,” Morrison chides.

They have been at it for a minute already, with the Seraph consistently on the offensive and Dante on the defensive!

From that initial impact, Dante and the Seraph tumbled across the air, entangled with one another’s figures, trying to land a hit! Letting the Seraph hit him with her fists twice, he catches them and pushes them against her torso as he curls his legs inward and plants them on her torso as well! Turning it into Ophion, he clamps it onto her armor and, with the unnatural inertia he has, uses her as a platform to wheel her around midair! On the third roll, Dante kicks her to the asphalt below, letting Ophion go as she screams from the dizzying move and landing to the ground in a cracking smack!

Jumping off her, Dante whips Ophion to swing him across from the other building, observing from behind him the angel sitting up and flapping her wings once again, and flies towards him! But this time she hurls flaming balls at his direction, in which he responds by shooting them with Ebony, while his other hand is busy swinging him away from the apartment where Kat and Morrison, and the tenants are in!

“Now those are the fireworks I’ve been waiting!” Dante taunts as he shoots the umpteenth fireball hurled at him! Like a wild monkey, he swings himself up onto another roof platform on a building and rolls away as another misses him, scorching the floor instead! Gun-spinning his pistols, he shoots a blaze of bullets at her as retaliation, but all are met with a swirling haze of fire from the Seraph’s bullet-speed twirling polearm, melting immediately on contact! He smirks as he quickly switches his weapon in a bright blink, revealing Aquila—a pair of glowing, four-bladed throwing stars—and throws them at her direction! They zip through the air to flank her at both sides, but she merely parries the two stars with her polearm, hitting them with a metallic zwing before disappearing into thin air!

But Dante keeps throwing more of Aquila’s stars at her, each star growing in size, spinning like giant blades that would cut through walls like grass! And with each one, the polearm furiously deflects and parries them as she dances with it in midair, her form glowing gradually the longer she keeps it up! As the largest star forms in his left hand, he spins his body to make momentum and throws it at her direction, the projectile coming at her like a bright-blue tornado! She wills her polearm to vanish, swerves her body and folds her wings tight behind her as the huge projectile misses her by centimetres! But she outstretches her arms for her hands to grip the middle handle of the huge throwing star and spins it around her, like a creative gymnast! And with all its momentum left, the Seraph hurls his own weapon back at him!

Still with a sly grin, Dante lowers his body to a much more wide-legged stance and, as the rotating star closes in at half a foot, he whirls his body out of the way and lunges for the grip! Still spinning furiously, he wills Aquila to disappear into the light for another weapon and just in time!

The Seraph summons from her a white blaze of flames, bringing out her frustration to purge his presence on this Realm! As she rains down her White Fire at him, she notices that certain licks of her flames are sparking at different directions!

Halting her attack, her eyes widened when she sees him spinning another weapon, glowing a dazzlingly white color as the sound of its blade cuts the air, still licked by a few of her White flames at its sharp edge, before turning into pale smoke. Dante gleefully twirls the weapon around like a baton, grateful for his hunch!

The Seraph murmurs in loathing. “Eva’s Osiris…

Noting her annoyance, Dante twirls the large, curving silvery scythe, Osiris, on to his shoulders, smiling a lopsided grin. “Thing drives you crazy, huh?”

Floating away, the Seraph decides a new tactic. He watches as the angel spreads her wings wider and banks to another course, her sights elsewhere. His face fell when he realized the low blow this 'holy being' is capable of!

“You’re fight’s still with me!” He roars and runs after her, jumping off to the other end of the platform and, whipping Ophion again, swings! This time he intends to hitch a ride on her armor!

He swings across the rooftops and propels himself to glide more powerfully, catching up enough that he’s a few feet from her, no matter how fast she is! Swinging below her, he slings Ophion once again to clamp onto the waist of her armor!

She readied when she realized Dante was coming and so, banked to the side and managed to evade his Ophion,and threw her polearm at him while he’s in mid-swing! As the weapon hurtles through the air to its target, he swerves his body to evade the sharp glaive of it, looking like a figure skater doing a quadruple axel up in the air!

After that last twist, he shoots Ophion and this time its maw clamps onto its mark!

She had thought her White Fire would compel his presence and demonic weapons, but Ophion clamped onto her quick before the Fire could take its effect!

As for Dante burning, he didn’t care for that!

And for the sake of this mission, the Seraph didn’t care anymore if the Nephilim is this up close and personal, if it meant finishing him off!

The Nephilim’s body smacks against her torso, with her managing to push him to a few inches away from her, but his guns blazes at her helmet! She screams as she swats the meddlesome weapons away, and parries against his strikes! Willing her weapon to return, it appears in a bright blink and she tries to plunge it at his neck! Bending his body to escape the sharp end of her glaive, he flips his body off her and, ironically, grabs for her polearm as leverage to keep close to her!

Now back, Dante wraps his legs around her torso and pulls on her polearm to open her up for a strike; switching from their fighting earlier, Dante goes for the offensive as he tries to pry away her weapon! Maintaining her composure, she parries his punches, pushing them and grabbing them away from their intended targets, until Dante headbutts her helmet, the impact igniting her anger further!

As a desperate move, she frantically rolls in mid-air at increasing speeds to get Dante’s body off her flying form! Knowing her intent, Dante tightens his legs around her as he goes for another round of punches, but the Seraph manages to lock both his arms as she wills her polearm to disappear! Now both empty-handed, the wrathful Seraph retaliates with a headbutt, which is surprisingly more powerful than what he ever expected! He howls from the impact of her helmeted head, sending spittle and blood from his face!

And that was enough for him to slip from her! Free from him, Dante hurtles downward and far behind, and for her to finally destroy the building, if not the whole area, along with the female magician―

―but Ophion’s maw clamps onto her again, this time biting deeper inside her armor! The length of Ophion’s cord snaps taut and she is unable to move forward!

“HOW?!” The Seraph howls! She turns behind her to find Dante clinging onto an inner corner of a window from a building next to the apartment, with his left arm extended as base for Ophion’s cord! Being the only anchor, he pulls onto Ophion to ensure she remains there! She chuckles, “Fool!” And with a flick of her wrist, she creates a fireball and hurls it at Kat—!

But it was instantly snuffed out, colliding with a liquid substance that dissipates its form! Looking at the rooftop, the Seraph realizes more of the liquid are thrown at her direction!

With a slingshot, Kat shoots a Bubbled Water at the Seraph, along with Pisces and Aquarius, with the Tall Lady, High Priestess, protecting them with her floating sigils! Outraged, the Seraph’s White Fire engulfs her and bestows the rooftop with its intense ray of snow-white flames! The Bubbled Waters dissolve into steam immediately at contact; and Ophion’s maw, defiantly clamping onto the armor, is melting at the most intense temperature! The long cord is licked with the White Fire, reaching Dante’s arm, immediately setting fire on his sleeve and on his very skin! But he holds on, so long as Ophion is still there! He grits as the white flames spreads all over him!

The Seraph laughs as the High Priestess’ glowing barrier bars her fire but not the unbearable heat! The flames scorch the façade of the building and it’s only a matter of seconds! Whatever magic she made, it won’t hold for long! The building will start the fires of the Purge on this area!

She gazes at the Nephilim and is satisfied to see his efforts won’t last, either! This poor Nephilim’s defiance has been for naught!

Still holding onto the building and onto the Seraph, Dante’s skin bristles at the blazing fire swallowing him into oblivion! His body’s response is to fight back at the flames and, with the remnants of his strength, he pulls harder on the angel. The Seraph smirks at him and increases the flames’ volume on the apartment building, bathing the whole area in a choking white brightness!

“I can pull you off the building,” she snidely remarks as she tugs at the cord of Ophion and Dante grunts against her strength. He tugs back at her, but she grins at his effort. She stares at Ophion’s form, already losing shape. “The rope can just melt, or burst into flames, or snap!”

Still in a tug of war, Ophion’s cord threatens to snap as both beings challenge the other’s strength. But Ophion’s durability is becoming questionable; the cord thins with each passing second.

“Or I can burn you. Imagine, finally bursting into ashes!” Her smile infuriates Dante, who glares at her. His clothes have drifted away as ashy particles into the wind. He closes his eyes as he pulls on Ophion, the cord turning into a threadbare rope burning away!

Kat kneels behind the protective sigils, her arms outstretched, imitated by the High Priestess, whose hands glow with power, to maintain the sigils’ forms. But she was beginning to have doubts, as the fiery temperature surrounds them and the sound of destruction is followed by the quaking shift beneath her! Oh God…

A lilting laugh comes from the angel as magical sigils appear all over the apartment building, prompting the spell to stabilize the whole structure. Yet, the multiple cracks and snapping materials of concrete, wood, metal and glass prove the dissipating efficacy of Kat’s spell! Screams from evacuating people from below, as well as sirens accompany the cacophony of the blazing White Fire and an impending collapse!

But a most inhuman roar cuts through the noise, echoing across the district! Without a second’s thought, Ophion’s maw snaps off her armor and is met with a knee on her face!

The imploding impact halts her White Fire, sending her almost flying into unconsciousness and, for the first time in her life, Beatrice the Seraph tasted her own blood!

A strange, powerful figure had kneed her in the face, all nude and white-haired, and a powerful, unknowable force carving through his very skin! Dante had Triggered!

He had been holding back, unsure how volatile his transformation would be! He feared it affected the area within a few feet and he didn’t want to destroy the building!

Oh FUCK IT!!!

It was too late for anymore second guesses! He should’ve went for the kill and stop hoping he scared her off! But he knew better now!

Sure enough, the wall of the building he had been clinging on fragmented when he bolted from it, as pieces of wall debris are sent flying off and tumbling below! Like a rocket, he goes for her face, his left knee first!

BOOM!

And when he made violent contact, he roars triumphantly, as not only does her helmet’s visor shatters , the Seraph’s blood rivulets out like a fountain!

Not done with her, he whips Ophion once more—newly reforged, with an armoured, heavily-spiked snake for its head and a cord that reveals its thorns for better grip on either obstacle or opponent—twisting his body in the air to collect momentum! Made as a flailing weapon, Ophion’s sharp head collides against her armor, impacting a large dent on the sternum! The Seraph makes a choking sound while she howls in agony, almost tumbling down as her wings try to flap and drag her higher!

Diving headfirst, he slings Ophion one last time as it clamps onto another building, swinging him onto the building’s façade, kicks against it to launch his body high up and going for the Seraph! Still in his Trigger State, the Seraph felt her body becoming frozen in midair and realizes in horror what Dante has become! Is this one of their powers? I cannot control my body!

Ophion disappears in the light and from it, a longsword emerges!

A victorious roar frees from Dante’s lips as he swings Rebellion towards her back—the exposed flesh and the outstretched wings!

SNAP!

The crimson-soaked fine feathers of her wings scatter from behind as the searing edge of Rebellion travels across her skin! The Seraph screams in pain as streams of blood escape from the deep cut across her back!

And she was given no respite! Immediately, Bubbled Waters are splashed all over her body, quelling any remnants of her White Fire! Though able to fly, the open wound and the weight of the waters prove she cannot cover a distance in a second!

As if the water wasn’t enough to silence her fire, she screams as a sharp icy pain traps her whole body! Staring at the rooftop, she sees the human―Kat―had commanded Aquarius and High Priestess to create icy stalagmites that encase her form inside, connecting from the edge of the rooftop. The sharp edges look like icy knives, pricking her exposed face and digging into her armor! Now presented for the whole public to ogle at, Kat glares at her as she squirms inside her frozen prison.

The screams of desperation and fear are so opposite from her poised and intimidating presence from earlier, that Dante is finding it hard to believe and also amusing. He swings on the apartment’s rooftop and crouches next to the icy trap, grinning at the Seraph. “Aww. Uncomfortable?”

“Killing me is the only resort!” The Seraph said, almost pleading. “But there are… more ! More of us will come and we will stop at nothing to ensure the Coming World will never be summoned from either of Eva’s children!”

He makes a nonchalant expression on his face, shrugging his shoulders at her. “Whatever makes you happy, angel.

She continues her declamation. “I, Beatrice, of the holy sphere of Seraphs, will forevermore bow not to the malignity, pestilence and devilry of this Realm! And despite my defeat, I am more than honoured to have fought valiantly against evil! So go and commit murder on me, the angel, your Deliverer of purity, lest I return!”

Dante merely sneers at her. “You’re really over dramatic.”

But he knew she was right. She’ll regain her strength and she’ll escape. Those wounds are nothing and will heal, and for that alone, Dante knows it’s just a matter of time. Looking at her face closely, he does feel a tad remorseful and disappointed.

Pretty girl happens to be an enemy. Just our luck…

Despite the elaborate visor earlier covering her face and the blood pouring from her nostrils, she is indeed beautiful; and from the way she had stood up moments ago, she was actually inches shorter than Kat, a petite beauty. Her eyes are round and hazel in color; her nose was uniquely strong looking, like a sharp Roman nose: it has a distinct bump on the top of her nose bridge, sloping to a slender pointed tip. Her lips are full, but not pouting, with her lower lip rounded and they open to reveal a set of evenly-shaped teeth. Her facial shape was square-like, contorting towards prominent cheekbones and supple cheeks, which blushes a stark pink against her pale skin, likely from stress. Underneath her shattered helmet are strands of golden-red hair.

“I noticed, by the way, that you’re a redhead, eh, Trish? ” Dante asks, with Rebellion idly swinging from his fingertips. “My mom’s a redhead. Are all angels redheads?”

Below them, Cancer scuttles upwards on the building, with Morrison balancing on its pincer. Stepping onto the platform, his eyes glazed with fury against the angel. “You’re no good dead to us. I’m bringing you in. We have a special containment for the likes of you, a remnant of Mundus’ era.”

Despite her predicament, she chuckles. “Ha! You’ll regret trying to interrogate me! It will all be futile!”

Morrison scoffs at her. “Then you’ll have fun in containment.”

Gazing at Kat, Morrison wordlessly signals her and she nods; commanding Cancer, it obediently pries the stalagmite encasing from the building. To prevent it from melting or breaking, Aquarius and Pisces reform the icy stalagmites on it with their icy breath and endless water; with new sigils, High Priestess strengthens its longevity. As Cancer successfully separates the trapped angel from the building, the Seraph looks onto Morrison, Kat and Dante, who grins and salutes at her.

“I am more than honoured to have valiantly fought against evil!” He echoes arrogantly, which she responds with a grunt of disgust.

Then a flash of lightning struck the Seraph!

The clap of lightning and ominous clouds came from nowhere! Kat points upwards, where lightning flickers dangerously! The morning pink light was slowly streaming in to illuminate bright clouds, yet the thunderous clouds above them was a stark contrast, a hazy dark-grey—!

“Dante!” Morrison yells in a panic. “Don’t let her escape!”

The Seraph began to cry in joy.

“O Heavenly Power!” She cries, tears streaming as another white lightning strikes at her! Dante launches from his spot, Rebellion ready for a swing! She continues her praise, “You have shown Mercy despite my unworthiness! Forgive me!”

Another lightning strikes, illuminating the dim district with its color and electrifying surge, tingling the surface of everyone’s skin. For Dante, however, the lightning was a force! It hit his form, reverting his Trigger State back to normal, his white hair turning jet black, and the carving force that ripples across his skin dissipates, and sends him falling back; but it wasn’t painful enough for him to lose consciousness, as he wills Aquila in his left hand and flings it towards the ‘clouds’…

…and the blue glow from Aquila reveals the true nature of the Seraph’s rescuer!

“What in the world ?” Never has Kat been this baffled and fearful, except the first time she had realized her psychic powers and the demonic forces behind the orphanage she once lived in, but that was a long time ago. Her skin bristles as she makes a mental link at the ‘clouds’ above them, which, in estimates, is only thirty feet above them!

The ‘clouds’ is just one giant creature ! She cannot fathom the monstrosity that floated above this area as it stares at…well, everything! As best as she can see and understand, the creature is a massive circular shape, covered in a haze of black clouds and appears to have eyes all over its ‘body’!

“It’s an Elder.” Morrison mutters, his tone echoing a sort of surrender. Kat shakes her head in anxiety. “I guess I’m gonna have to need a bigger containment…”

Cancer manages to save Dante from crashing onto the side of the building and wills Aquila to disappear; he clings on its shell as it scuttles up and over the rooftop. He looks on in horror as, what appears to be a ‘rope’ of lightning frozen in form, its long white root touching the Seraph at her head, still trapped inside the ice, hovering in midair! The spikes of lightning dance across the Seraph as she whispers her prayer.

“Oh Pure, Heavenly and Immortal One! I heed your call! Make me your worthy Servant again and I shall help in bringing our everlasting victory!”

And with those words, lightning flashes, cutting through the atmosphere as its deafening crack explodes through the scenery, threatening to implode the eardrums and blind anyone even with their eyes closed—!

And they are gone…

Kat once again points at a certain direction! Against the morning pink clouds, sure enough, they see a trail of flickering lights, moving across the distance.

Morrison clicks his tongue. “That’s north…”

“To Wolfhaven.” Dante murmurs, his eyes round.

“They’re mobilizing.” The old man further illustrates with a sigh. “They’re after your twin, although I’m not holding my breath that they’re all there.”

Concerned, Dante points out, “How are you gonna handle them if they are here?”

A warm smile curls Morrison’s lips. “You don’t worry about us , kid. We got this situation. You and Kat, on the other hand, will have an impact that’s going to change the tides.”

“Yeah, no pressure.” Dante chides to the old man. “And just to clear it up again, I still don’t a hundred percent trust you. But you’re all we’ve got.”

He chuckles at Dante. “I’m keeping my word.” Then he motions for the only subordinate he has, who became conscious again minutes ago, to come close.

Tilting his head in confusion, the female rookie cop Dante had supposedly pranked came with a large towel and, with an infuriated expression, bundles Dante’s nude body!

“Oh! Right!” He says sheepishly, pulling the blanket close, turning pink. “Uh…thanks.”

She harrumphs at him as she walks away, but marches back at him when he whispers, “Nice excuse to touch me, though.”

Morrison groans and pinches his nose as his rookie punches Dante’s face! Kat hisses at the embarrassing situation and retorts, “You started it.”

Reeling from the hit, Dante presses his lips together as he gazes back at the rookie walking away. He’s already recovering from the punch, but he should’ve expected that.

As Morrison ignores the short trifle, he continues and briefs them about the information he’s supplying them, as well as gear to communicate with him directly or to any officer active in the vicinity they’re going. They are also provided with transportation, a tourist map of Wolfhaven and emergency supplies.

And with that, Dante and Kat get to packing. Two of Morrison’s police officers—the rookie and another cop—wait outside their apartment door. While Kat takes all her witchcraft supplies and clothes, Dante stares at the nook of the living room, where the only couch is. That couch had been his own private area, a ‘thought space’ while he reads everything he can get his hands on. That little nook, plopped on the couch, Dante read Vergil’s journals, Phineas’ ‘history’ books, some of Kat’s magic tomes, online news, a music sheet, fashion magazines, comics, chat heads from people who exchanged usernames…

It was a quiet place and a sober place. In the past three days, not once did he get drunk or ingested some questionable substance, not even when he was out on the ‘field’. He was clean . He was more himself…

…And more curious, more in doubt and more eager than ever before. When opportunity presents itself, Dante’s instinct to doubt was always the best option. But this opportunity is too personal to ignore and too catastrophic for him to deny.

He stares at the belongings he stuffed inside his backpack, sling bag and one small spinner luggage, all of them with him…

…and he gazes towards the front door, where the hot rookie cop and an older cop are likely yawning in boredom on the other side, as they respond or listen to the crack of their radio or the ringtone of their phone, patiently waiting for them to exit and leave…

…leave.

In between packing, they ate their breakfast, which fuels Kat so she can wonder how a shoebox apartment had managed to present itself six luggage of personal items! Perhaps the professional luggage full of their techno gear is understandable, but she had never considered her magical items to be so burdensome!

“Hey, Dante!” She calls him as she scratches her head in annoyance, wondering how exactly she is going to put two chests of fragile items in one luggage. “Give me a hand. Maybe I’m gonna have to put some of the more durable items on the trolley to be tied up instead…”

Without a word, Dante trots in and gauges the issue, listening to Kat’s orders with an absentminded glaze on his face and sets to work. She doesn’t notice this at first, but when he doesn’t answer her after a few seconds of silence, she calls his name.

“What?”

“I asked,” Kat reiterates. “If you packed the sandwiches or are you gonna finish them all?” She looks him over with her eyes, surveying his slumped shoulders and disinterested demeanor.

Sitting cross legged on the floor, Dante’s arms are over the luggage of her clothes, his eyes betraying he’s deep in thought.

“I finished them all.” He says casually, his eyes on the luggage as he taps his fingers on it. “Is that all?”

She decides to sit next to him, sighing as she does so. “Are you nervous?” She asks as she props her hand on her face.

He flicks his gaze at her, then away from her, still tapping at the luggage. “I’m feeling a lot of things. We might bump into Vergil the moment we get there without any clue about it.”

She takes a deep breath before clicking her tongue. “So what? A fight will break out, I try to make sure no civilian’s in sight, we make him surrender and …well, I don’t know . We won’t know until we get there. I’m nervous , too, and that’s normal.”

He shakes his head, his expression sour. “Well, I’m not nervous.” The breath he exhales is long and heavy, and seconds tick by before he answers. “I’m not nervous. Hell , I’m not scared.”

Skeptical, Kat unfurls her legs and stretches, getting comfortable sitting on the dusty floor, whilst caressing her splinted left arm. Dante gazes at how she readjusts the splinted arm, fury and empathy flickering together inside his mind; her arm is not as bad as it had been, all freshly-bloody, with a gaping hole from when the bullet pierced her skin and welted from the torture they did to her. Yet, here she is, now just sporting scars as if they are nothing, comforting him and dealing with a dilemma about luggage. He doesn’t deserve good and courageous friends , but fate did give him one . And for that, he feels lucky.

“How’s the arm?” Dante asks softly and Kat’s smile widens. “Hope that surprise stunt from the angel didn’t push you too far.”

She beamed at him and even flexes the left arm, although because of the way the prosthetics limits her and her broken bones are still mending, she flexes it slowly, like a robot with a few joints. “This arm is meant to fight evil.”

He chuckles. “Oh man, I better retrain my left arm! I won’t be able to deflect those moves!”

And from there, the two friends play fight, with Kat pretending to punch, elbow-drop or parry his punches, as Dante mocks a losing battle against her one-arm attacks.

“Kat the Witch wins!” She triumphs softly as Dante gurgles out sounds of defeat as he flails on the ground. “Okay, you’re overselling it.” She chuckles, in which Dante goes overboard with his acting, wheezing out a death rattle and twitching his fingers, before going completely still.

After two seconds, he looks up at her. “Award-worthy, yeah?” He asks, his arms folded like a relaxed puppy would with their pink stomachs exposed.

“For Worst Death Scene.” She quips.

He shrugs. “I’ll take it!”

But her face becomes stern just as quick. “But you won’t have a Death Scene in where we’re going…”

And with that shift in tone, Dante drops his ‘puppy arms’ to his sides, groaning loudly. Kat patiently sits at her spot as she exhales a long breath, observing his face. His eyes are busy reading the ceiling as the seconds tick by. When he does sit up, he does so gradually, breathing out a long sigh, which Kat takes as a sign that he had contemplated the right words to say.

Folding one leg to prop his left arm, he takes a deep breath before he lets his somber voice carve another newfound respect that Kat thought she already has for him.

“I’m not saying I’m not completely scared. But I’m not afraid of doing this or feel any apprehension of whatever we will face. I’m actually really just eager to know...heh, is that even the right word, eager? Maybe, impatient...I have a lot on my mind what we could be dealing there. I mean, wouldn’t you? I’ve been in the dark about who I am for the last twelve, thirteen years of my miserable, pathetic life. All I’ve ever done to myself and to other people had been just as equally bad as what the demons are doing. I’ve been nobody, just another strain of who the fuck they are , and the hell they’re doing to this world...but when you and Vergil came to my life, I had that glimpse of hope. And just getting here , to start another crazy journey that we’re going, instead of me being in an endless loop of abusive nothingness… we’re going somewhere because actual people need us, even if we’re not exactly who they expect...we’re free, more free now because everything is naturally uncertain and it’s in our hands! And it all started with you getting me out of my stolen RV trailer! It was the best thing someone’s ever done for me.”

Kat shifts uncomfortably, not only of hearing Vergil’s name, but of being complimented. Dante’s a good liar, but only because he knows how to act the lie out genuinely; and when he is being genuine and honest, he says it ever so bluntly.

“I―I did what I can.” She says, turning pink, her greyish-green eyes gazing at his icy blue ones, his full lips curling in a rare warm smile; Dante is very good-looking, youthfully athletic, and boyishly-rugged: both in an uncouth, vulgar way, and surprisingly in a charming and hilarious way, genuinely tenderhearted to the few he befriends. And she is lucky, so lucky to the point she saw him as a brother she would want to protect and have a joyous life, and wholeheartedly wish him a life away from the destined burden he and Vergil have been born into.

He scoots closer and Kat drinks in the details of the best person that’s existed in a long time. The way he murmurs reveals a gentle, boyish quality in his deep voice. “Yeah. Not many would stay their ground at the things you’ve been through. And you’ve gone through me, too.”

She represses a giggle, shaking her head as her heart beats.

Her heart used to flutter too fast when Vergil praises her; back a few days ago, when it’s just Dante who’s looking after her injuries, her heart fluttered familiarly as well, especially since he looked at her a certain way

...Dante expressed interest in her, confesses he crushes on women who see right through his looks and the obvious cracks in his outward physique, and that they are out there, proof of good-natured people trapped in this condemned world, no matter how few and far between; compared to the women who mutually desired him when he’s only drunk or have a wad of cash…

Kat can feel it on her skin his palpable feelings and his sympathetic past, and her heart races faster…

...but that fluttering heart sent a bad message…

Kat confessed her turmoil to him, about the slow recollections of memories of Vergil’s feelings towards her, and her own feelings to his twin. And how absurd it all is, how she had been so naive, so weak to have fallen in love and fallen for their own cold decisions to remain ‘professional acquaintances’ through brainwashing magic, erasing their time together as their most potent act of denial…

And Dante was so appalled to have learned this, that he berated himself at having not gotten any hints between them at all! And how his twin’s detached demeanor made more sense than being some virginal nerd (which Kat laughed at)! And Dante apologized profusely and frustratingly told her to speak up against him!

“I thought we trust one another! WHY didn’t you say no...well, you said no now! I mean, I touched your BUTT! Back at the playground after I fought Vergil!”

“Then I dick-punched you.”

“THAT’S NOT ENOUGH!”

And that was the start of something beautiful, amazing and revelational between them!

The warm smile on his lips turns into a funny giggle. “Well, look at that shade of pink!”

Her heart flutters, but it’s much more powerful, much more empowering! “I guess I did a pretty good job getting you out of your own asshole!”

He chuckles at her off-color joke, then takes her in his arms in an embrace. Kat leans her head to his neck, liking the tenderness he employs with her splinted left arm. If only there was a spell to never break this moment, or bottle it up somewhere for her to review in times of coldness or dark days...

But Kat suddenly recalls something and pulls away. “Wait! You said that RV trailer was stolen all along?”

“Shhh…” Dante hushed quickly, pulling her again in the embrace and patting her back. “We’re having a moment, right?”

He knew she wasn’t going to drop the subject for a long while, at least for the next few minutes, so she would bluntly remind him about the torn vehicle or sneak in questions regarding the hapless RV trailer he once called his shelter. He ignores them as best he can, not once did he say anything at all about its history, where he had stolen it, how long he had gotten away with it and, since Kat really wants to know and is getting him riled up (ineffectively, in his opinion), if the clothes in the trailer were from the former owner.

“From your expressions alone ,” Kat surmises, her eyes squinting suspiciously, “I’m beginning to think you stole it from a rock band... probably during a live concert or outdoor event.”

Dante scoffs, not meeting her gaze as he closes the last spinner luggage full of her magical objects and clothes. With a click of the lock, he smirks at her. “Very cold, Kat. And I thought you have data about me through the Order?"

She glares. "In my defense, we tracked you through magical means and Vergil has been doing his best to erase or edit any records of you, but pretty soon, I'll find out."

Her challenging tone puts a proud smile on his face, but not giving in, he starts pulling all her closed luggage and walked off to the living space without another word, leaving her with her tongue against her cheek and her hands on her hips. For now, Kat is dropping the mystery , but she smiles and caresses the magical splint on her left arm and fondly remembering some of the words he told her.

She closed the door of the bathroom and started peeling her clothes off to shower. She had met Morrison and fought against the Seraph in ratty pajamas, so she’s ready to actually wear appropriate ‘demon-hunting’ attire. She feels a bit nostalgic, knowing she's experiencing the last warm shower in this apartment. She had hanged on the hooks of the door a recognizable outfit: her blue hoodie with an orange body and denim shorts.

As she’s scrubbing herself, she can hear the front door swinging open and a slew of voices are coming inside. Dante had let in the two cops waiting and guarding their door outside. From the sound of things, they seem to be in amicable terms, at least as far as Dante could make it so, since he had pranked these cops. After toweling herself dry and started putting on her bra, she overhears their conversation and shakes her head incredulously.

“So...I mean, you’re not human and all, but what's a Nephilim? Because you look human, what makes a Nephilim different?" The older male cop is asked.

"I actually still don't know." Dante replies with a sigh. "But I hope to find them soon. Maybe in Wolfhaven."

The female rookie speaks. "Well, it's pretty clear he's got forums theorizing, especially with lonely bachelorettes and gym buffs regarding your body. Objectification much…"

He may not be making a sound, but Kat can hear him smirk at the idea. "I've been used to that."

The rookie cop audibly smirks. "Yeah, but in admiration, this time. Back then, they fetishize on how criminals should suffer."

"And all that because an 'angel' burned your clothes." Said the older cop sardonically. "If we can call that an angel."

Smiling, Kat realizes that they must be talking about the new viral videos the witnesses took a few hours ago: of Dante’s clothes bursting into flames and nothingness, leaving him nude while continuing his battle against the Seraph in all his ‘glory’.

She shakes her head again at the memory of their first time meeting. If there was some magical eye bleach, I would do that. But there’s only a spell to simulate amnesia of certain events, and even that is risky…

Then she remembers the way his arms encircled around her, telling her how he feels lucky to have found someone like her

Vergil…

She clasps the bra behind her and pulls on her panties, fully ignoring anymore of those memories and even the ridiculous conversation outside, as the rookie makes fun of Dante's manhood.

"You know, legends say Nephilim are actually giants," the rookie comments in a backhanded tone. "But even if you were, I think you'd make a good 'David' model with your junk."

The older cop is kinder but unable to salvage the rude attitude of his rookie. "Don't be like that."

"Hugh here's a pretty great amateur historian," the rookie continues dryly as she gestures at her veteran coworker. "You think Michelangelo or other Neo-Grecian sculptors would like him?"

Dante merely chuckles at her. "Well, better a David than a Goliath. I don't think you'll be able to handle a gigantic barbarian, might cause public unrest."

Hugh gives her a sympathetic look as she turns pink, chuckling. “Oh, Therese…”

The flushed rookie, Therese, gives Dante a salty look, who maintains his triumphant grin. "Oh, you don't know what I can handle, Wanted Man."

He slyly gazes at her, his icy blue eyes intensely framed by his jet-black lashes. “You’re right, there’s still a lot of ground I don’t know about you. You can show me the ropes, if you want.”

Therese remains snappy, her arms crossed. “Watch it, Wanted Man, or maybe I will bind you up real good somewhere.”

Dante rebuts in a low voice, “ Ooh, you’d want that, wouldn’t you?”

“Right!” Hugh claps his hands for a change of subject, as Therese, scowling, goes for her taser. “Let’s just get along!”

Finally dressed, Kat opens the door of the bathroom and joins them, telling Dante of his turn to shower. Therese adds skeptically, “Wait, I just realized, didn’t his clothes burn earlier? How are you wearing the exact same ones?”

All Kat could do is suppress a knowing grin, as she eyes Dante’s outfit: the same worn-out tank top, old leather coat, slim dark-wash jeans and dirty work boots; the exact same ones that burst into particles from the Seraph!

The only response Dante gives is him wiggling his eyebrows before entering the bathroom and locking the door behind him.

Therese makes a disgruntled sound. “Weirdo.”

Kat agrees with a sheepish grin. “He can be sometimes.”

Dante’s voice echoes behind the bathroom door. “Heard that!”

Unlike Dante, the two cops make a more pleasant talk with Kat, telling them of their experiences as cops within Mundus’ reign and of themselves. She finds this insightful and quite pitiful, realizing they are as much of a victim of the former system, as well as any lower-class citizen or marginalized individual was.

“I wanted to get into Law school, but was declined and the scholarships I pre-enrolled all cancelled my chances,” Hugh elaborates. “So I went to criminology and to a police academy. In my opinion, did a great job as an officer for the last twenty-five years of my life. Some of the heavy cases I reported either went unsolved or are fixed immediately , and Limbo Metropolitan Police sure has a ‘good, clean record of quickly-acting police authorities that solve cases and ensures criminal acts are punished and rehabilitated, for the protection of its citizens’, or so many glowing reviews from news anchors or tourist channels say. But if so, I never once got promoted to the positions I wanted. Definitely not detective or K-9 Unit. Only recently did I manage to land as a trainer. I love my trainees, but some of them...they quit only after a week or so. Office harassment, peer pressure or perhaps, blackmail. I knew there was, but...the police would keep that quiet. Therese and the twenty more that are recently helping Commissioner Morrison had been under my wing.” He finishes rather proudly.

Therese shares hers, as well. “From a suburb in New Kali City, rowdy and mostly lower-class. It gets by and I wanted to get by, and probably bring along what I know, once I get transferred for Patrol. New Kali may not be Limbo, but at least Limbo can back up their talk about sweeping away any unwanted under their rug, and into their hellhole. New Kali is exactly the urban jungle dream rife for thugs and street wars. The thing is, it’s a beautiful city, all the races, cultures you can think of, they immigrated and made a community there thousands of years ago , and I have a friend who works for an archeological team to prove it. It’s sad, that my old suburb is lagging behind.”

Her eyes brimming with sympathy, Kat leans close to Therese with a warm smile. “Maybe after the Wolfhaven case, if we have time, maybe you can show us around your favorite places.”

“Hmph!” Therese smirks and shows her right hand for Kat, who takes it for a handshake. “Deal! Just keep that horny puppy on a leash, though. Kali girls are way smoking hot than these bony Limbo dancers.”

Kat sighs and looks apologetic, in which Hugh chuckles. “Dante’s... well-behaved than his public profile is led to believe. I mean, he may like ruffling feathers the wrong way, but he’s the type to want to get invited first before he pounces.”

There was no denying the spark in Therese’s green eyes and suppressed grin. “Well, okay, we’ll see.”

Hugh is more optimistic. “We will see.

The rest of the few minutes becomes a comfortable atmosphere of making new friends. After his shower, Dante exits with his towel draped all over his head and onto his bare shoulders, meeting Kat and the two cops sharing online things through their phones on the small living area. He scrunches the towel over his jet-black hair before pulling it off and placing over his shoulders; inside his jeans pocket, he procures the one heirloom he managed to keep all these years.

“Cute,” Therese teases, glancing up from her phone’s screen; she had been discreetly eyeing Dante up and down, making a quick review of his bare torso.

Now usually, Dante’s face expresses a coolly, sometimes jeering face, except with Kat (but also, except when they’re joking). But since it’s their first time taking note of the jewel, Dante’s face becomes tender as his fingers rest on the bright ruby-colored gem of his pendant, its simple black woven chain hanging loosely down his forearm. He smiles warmly at it. "Yeah...my mom gave it to me.”

Kat can feel the teasing mood drain away from her. Therese nods, “Must be a fortune.”

He puts it on, over his head and lets it rest on the middle of his collarbones. His face contorts into a deep, somber look Kat is familiar with, whenever he read a passage in one of the journals. “Yeah...maybe.” A mother wouldn’t mind paying a fortune or her own soul for her sons.

Before the awkward silence could get the mood down, Kat stands up and pulls on her carry-on bag. “Okay, once you’re fully-dressed , we should get going.”

Imitating her, Hugh stands up as well, looking excited. “Yes. We proposed to the Commissioner that we should, at least, all get some get-together lunch. Good for morale and good overall!”

A brighter smile curls into Dante’s lips. “Sounds good.”

And that was that; getting his tank top and leather coat, Dante takes all his carry-on with him as Kat finishes putting on her lip balm while she and Therese hold a conversation about history, mehndi tattoos and festivals in New Kali.

“You two ready?” Asks Hugh, after he opened the front door for them to exit first. As they did so, Hugh is the last to exit before Dante shuts the front door, with the apartment keys in hand. He inserts it and clicks it locked, its sound echoing at the empty hallway. Kat gazed at the door keys longingly before he goes to hand them over to Therese. She assures Kat that they were going to smoothen the details to the landlord and that the place will be ‘swept clean’ as much as possible. The two hunters looked at one another and, sensing the feelings of the other, they nod their heads solemnly before leaving with them.

“Let’s go.” Kat murmurs and the cops take the lead without anymore preamble.

With all their luggage with them, Kat and Dante follow the two escorting cops down the stairs (the elevators remain inaccessible due to the attack and for check-up by some firefighting and technician crew), as Therese explains the next agenda. “Commissioner still wants to see you. He’s inside the cargo van, as we got new info regarding Rochenmore Town. You are also provided with a sedan, as I think he’s discussed already. It’s second-hand and should be enough for you and all your gear.” Then her tone becomes waspish when she talks to Dante. “ Don’t get it wrecked on the way out, Wanted Man!”

“She’s driving.” He corrects her, gesturing at Kat, who confirms it with a nonchalant sound. “And when will you ever say my name so softly, Ms. Officer?”

Therese mockingly considers the question. “Oh, I don’t know, when you will respect me, Wanted Man."

He simply gives her a devious smile, which further heightens Therese's annoyance...and pink cheeks! He adds with mocking, but still a very pleasantly timbered tone of adoration, "I may be wanted, but I can be your man, Teresa!"

The next few moments shouldn't be surprising as both Kat and Hugh are left behind while Dante sprints down the stairs of the apartment, avoiding a taser and a whipping baton! Therese hurls insults and swearing as she chases after him, his luggage bouncing along in loud thumping noises and the clacking of heavy boots following after him!

"You know, I can help you with that spinner bag," Hugh offered to Kat, looking at her left arm. She grins politely and assures him she can carry the two carry-ons pretty well, as he's already pulling two big ones.

When they finally reach the ground floor and the exit, Kat is immediately assisted by another cop and ensures all their luggage are secured. She lets her bags be taken away and into a trunk inside a cargo van, while her eyes gaze at a group of police officers, firefighters, medical crew and other professionals tending to the wounded, panicked, evacuating and confused. The noise outside had nothing been ambient sound, having grown desensitized to the urban chaos; but perhaps because most have been whisked away, it doesn't change the fact that they had been attacked.

And the multitude of expressions she's seeing heightens a kind of awareness Kat is all familiar with when she needs to undertake a very dangerous and difficult task ahead. It is humbling and frightening, knowing she looks just like them, feels just like them.

She closes her eyes as she takes a very deep breath…

...and she takes in the scent of all their fears, their hopes, their ambivalence to the harsh phenomenon they have been witness to. She feels the touch of their essence as they look around them, huddled close to their family and friends, or briskly walking to get inside another provided transportation, its bustling engine a whisper inside her soul…

...each and everyone of them will be whisked away, escaping the nightmarish reality of a new, authentic world, but where ‘Heaven’ and ‘Hell’ are not quite what they seem…

She releases her breath and suppresses a tear coming down. She glances around her and it seems not second has passed by at all.

We got this. We got this…

She sees Dante turning all around him until his eyes meet hers, then gestures her to follow him. Morrison peeks his head outside a large cargo van as Dante hollers her attention.

She takes another lungful of air and briskly trots towards their direction. It’s gonna be one long, helluva day.

“Yo! Kat! We got new info!”

She chuckles. “Yeah, I can hear you very well.”

He looks more stressed and older, even though just a few hours has passed by, as he brushes back his greying brown hair; despite this, Commissioner Morrison gives her a placid smile. He fishes inside his pocket and pulls out a thin card. “Thank you. But I wasn’t able to use it.”

Kat counters him with the same smile, shaking her head as she pushes the card―her Summoning Card―back to him. “I can make more of the same for myself. I think you’re gonna need it more.”

A wider grin stretches across his lips and Morrison peers at the Summoning Card’s image and inscription: a depiction of a woman embracing a fierce, large tiger; the word ‘STRENGTH’ is laid across below the image. He tucks the card back in and says, “Yeah. I’m gonna need it.”