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Darkness Rising

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It’s the middle of the night when a cell phone starts ringing loudly on a nightstand next to a bed. A small, slender hand moves out from underneath the covers, moving in different spots trying to find the phone while letting out an annoyed and tired groan. Finally, the hand finds the phone and swipes to answer.

“Highwind speaking”

“Hope I didn’t wake you from your slumber, Highwind” the individual on the other side hears a tired groan and couldn’t help but roll his eyes.

“What is it now Leonis?” Aranea was annoyed to be awake as she looked over at her alarm clock to see that it is 3am, as she covered her eyes with her arm.

“Homicide was just reported out in Lestallum back in the alleyway near the power plant. They don’t have any detectives to spare on hand, so they asked for our assistance. Let me remind you that as a detective and part of the federal marshals, you’re always on-call 24/7.”

“Yeah, yeah I know I’ll start heading out there in a few minutes, anything else?”

“That is all. I will be calling your case partner now. Please do pick them up on your way there. I’d prefer you both on this case. I’ll call and check in with you around 5am.”

“Alright, sounds good to me. Bye.” Aranea hung up and tossed her phone aside and sighed. She was about to roll out of bed until she heard her phone ringing again. “Ugh what the hell does he want again, my head is killing me!” She reached for her phone once more in the dark until she heard someone else speaking.

“This is Scientia speaking.” She looked over to her right to see a body shifting to an upright position from the blankets. Shit. She forgot that they went out drinking last night and that it went….from there.

“Scientia, we have a reported homicide in Lestallum. I’d like you to work with Highwind on this case. She can fill you in on the details once she picks you up. I’ll check in with you both in about 2 hours.” Ignis looked to his left to see Aranea already awake and staring back at him.

“Understood. I’ll get ready as soon as possible so Miss Highwind doesn’t have to wait, see you in a bit.” Ignis hung up the phone and stared back at Aranea with a cheeky smirk. “Well I guess we better get ready so you can pick me up on the way.”

“Shove it Scientia.” Aranea rolled out of bed and stomped over to the bathroom with clothes in hand to take a quick shower and freshen up before heading out. Ignis decided to get up and put coffee to make so he can be functional out in the field today. He couldn’t quite describe their relationship, if it could even be labeled as a relationship. They would just meet up and whatever happened, happened and they went about their lives like nothing ever occurred. Sometimes he found himself wanting more than just a one night ordeal, but she keeps putting up walls between them every time he gets close with her emotionally. Ignis continued into his thoughts until the bathroom door opened. “All yours four-eyes, and don’t make me wait long. I want to get this case over with so I can go back to bed.”

“Indeed.” Ignis smiled as he walked towards Aranea and handed her a cup of coffee before walking into the bathroom and shutting the door. Aranea wasn’t much of a coffee drinker because of the taste, but she also didn’t get much sleep last night so she’ll have to suck it up and deal with it. She grabbed her overcoat and car keys and sat at the kitchen table reading the news on her phone while Ignis freshened up. Every few articles she scrolls past mention crime increasing around the area. There has been an increase in homicides recently and it’s starting to take a toll on the police departments nearby. Detectives are in high demand due to the fact some of them don’t last long out in the field, rather it be due to emotional stress or being caught off guard and killed. This was their sixth homicide case this week, and it was only Tuesday. She felt her eyes becoming heavy again and closed them for a moment, ‘just a moment’ she thought.

Eventually, she realized she had fallen asleep and eyes shot wide open to realize she was moving. Panicked, her body automatically moved forward until she realized her body was restrained by a seat belt. “Aranea, you’re finally awake again I see.” She turned her head to see Ignis driving her car and looked confused.

“Why the hell are you driving? Why didn’t you wake me up?”

“Apologies, I tried to wake you, but you refused. So I carried you to the car and put you in the passenger seat and fastened your seat belt just as a precaution, plus in your current condition driving would’ve been unsafe,” he adjusted his glasses on his face before continuing, “pulling over to the side of the road now to change drivers would just put both of us in danger.” She nodded her head in agreement. Night time is dangerous with creatures lurking about in the shadows, waiting to pounce at any given moment. Usually the daemons have been under control thanks to the hunters, but even the police force had to eventually learn to fight against the daemons just in case. Luckily for them, most of the squad and undercover squad cars were outfitted with bright LED headlights that daemons stay far away from, making it safer to travel at night. Aranea reclined her seat back a little bit to be more comfortable. “I’ll wake you when we’re getting close to Lestallum. We still have about a half hour before we arrive.”

“Hell you don’t have to tell me twice. I’m going back to sleep then.” Ignis nodded as she closed her eyes and drifted back to sleep, he wasn’t sure how he managed to get out of bed today either with how much overtime he’s had to work lately. He glanced over to see bits of moonlight lightly reflecting off of her silver hair and how beautiful she always appeared to him as a slight hint of red swept across his cheeks. Ignis was interrupted from his train of thought yet again as his phone started to vibrate in the cup holder and he answered it immediately as to not disturb his partner.

“Good morning, Scientia speaking.”

“Morning Ignis, it’s Noct.”

“Hey Noct, what’s up?”

“Overworked like usual. Are you on that Lestallum case that was called in overnight?”

“Indeed, Cor put me and Aranea on the case. We’ll be arriving there momentarily.”

“Alright, cool. I just arrived here not that long ago actually. Check in with me once you’re here, I already have Prompto here and he’s taking pictures of the crime scene. Just as a forewarning, the crime scene is a bit….brutal this time around.”

“Noted. Although every crime scene we’ve come across this week has been rather unusual and brutal. I’ll come find you when we arrive.”

“Sounds good, later Ignis, and be careful out there.”

“Will do, you do the same.” Ignis put the phone back in the cup holder and realized they were almost to Lestallum. Aranea was supposed to go over the case with him before arriving so he could be prepared. He reached his right hand over and placed it firmly on her shoulder, gently shifting her. “It’s time to wake up Aranea, we’re almost to Lestallum,” she swatted his hand away and turned her back to him. “Astrals woman, you’re more difficult to wake compared to Noctis!” he attempted to wake her once more and she flat out refused to wake up. Typical. Why did he allow her to go back to sleep again? After five more minutes they arrived into Lestallum and Ignis parked the car on the side of the street, much to his surprise Cor was waiting for them upon arrival.

Cor looked at Aranea sleeping in the passenger seat and raised an eyebrow. He spoke loudly in an annoyed tone, “Highwind time to wake up, no sleeping on the job!” Cor pounded on the car window with his fist, startling Aranea out of her nap. Her body lurched forward so quickly, the seat belt designed to keep her safe choked her back into her seat.

“For the love of Six!!” Aranea angrily growled out towards Cor as she unfastened her seat belt and got out of the car. Ignis stepped out of the car shaking his head at Aranea. He had made an effort to wake her so this type of situation could be avoided, but alas she is a stubborn one.

“Highwind you’re damn lucky we’re so short on detectives right now or else I would’ve put you on desk duty as punishment by now. Get your act together or get out of here.” Cor set a serious tone with her now, letting her know he’s done with her outbursts. “Now if you’re done with your complaining, let’s go. We have a body to take care of.” Aranea shrugged him off and started walking towards the crime scene leaving the two men behind. She was pissed off enough as is being so overworked lately, but also irritated that Cor has been accepting cases from all over Eos and dumping them all on her. She did like to help people, but there’s just not enough time in the day to help everyone, and it has put a heavy strain on everyone within the department whether he realizes it or not.

Lestallum was a large town with various street food vendors scattered all over and had quite the night life. The weather there is always hot due to being so close to the meteor site. The townspeople here harvest that energy to power the entire town, which is why daemons try to target the power plant every now and then. Lately however, the townspeople have been hiding in fear at night due to the sudden increase of individuals disappearing or being murdered. “Highwind, hold up a moment,” Cor reached out to her, “let’s go over the case here before moving to the scene since I have the both of you here.” Ignis and Aranea stood at the base of the stairwell before the power plant. “Right, so this case called in overnight was for a young woman who was reported missing earlier in the daytime. Witnesses stated they saw the woman in what seemed like to be a daydream like trance. She was frequently wandering through the alleyways claiming to be following a man’s voice, even though bystanders claimed they heard absolutely nothing. They figured the woman had too much to drink and shrugged it off.”

“You mean to tell me a young woman wandering around in alleys and appeared to be daydreaming or drunk was just shrugged off by bystanders? What the hell is wrong with people these days?! Why did no one stop her or try to help her?!” Aranea was starting to get worked up, if anything pissed her off, it had to be people who ignored someone clearly in need of help. She felt Ignis’s hand firmly grasp and lightly squeeze her shoulder in an effort to calm her down.

“It’s unfortunate that no one helped this poor woman, but we can help her now by finding out who committed this heinous crime and give her family justice. Now is not the time to lose your cool.” Ignis stated softly. He was just as upset as she was, but Ignis was always a logical man, while Aranea was more emotional. This is also the reason why Cor pairs them up on homicide cases often, because they both tend to even each other out between logic and emotion.

Cor looked away as he could tell the workload lately has been burning them out. “I get that resources are strained right now you two, and that it’s extremely stressful—but once we solve this case things will hopefully calm down for a while. We have to find out just who or what is terrorizing these towns. I appreciate the work both of you have done so far and I know you won't disappoint me.”

“Alright, enough moping and kissing ass let’s get to this crime scene already then. The sooner we get through this, the sooner I can get back to sleep.” Aranea led the way up the stairs and towards the crime scene, where yellow tape labeled "Do Not Enter Crime Scene" was used to separate the public eye from what was ahead. What the three of stumbled upon shocked all of them and left them speechless.