Arc 2: Chapter 25: Black And White

Two people, two men, bust open the door to a church, only to find a single man lying in wait for them inside.

One of the two men who have come to this church is a slightly dark-skinned, 5’6 tall, slightly muscular and prospectively attractive Japanese individual in his late 20s. The other of the two is a relatively pale-skinned, 5’9 tall, quite muscular and decent looking man from the country of Kangaroos, Australia.

And both of them have come here just to meet the man they find waiting for them inside the church. This man, dressed in the attire of a priest, happens to be the most broken human being either of them have ever met. However, despite that, it is a fact that he is essential to their organization and they need to see if he’s okay, especially as he has gone in hiding and not contacted anyone for a week.

Seeing his face, that face that they both would gladly prefer never seeing again if they could, they try to ask the most essential question. But, before they can,

Halogen: “Oh my, if it isn’t two of the three most powerful Hellfires. What brings the two of you here? Miyamoto-san? Mr. Smith?”

Akio Miyamoto, the first Japanese to become a Hellfire, grits his teeth as he is asked that. It’s not that anything in those lines irked him, it’s just the existence of the man saying those lines that he despises.

Akio: “Save it, Halogen Dietrich! A word of respect out of your mouth will just give me nausea.”

Halogen: “Now, that’s cold! I don’t remember ever doing something to harm you, or anything of the sort. I have been very careful in making sure I don’t end up on your wrong side, I’ll have you know.”

Akio clicks his tongue. It’s true that Halogen has never done anything to cause harm to Akio but, what he has done to others in the name of ‘church’ and ‘serving the lord’, Akio can never bring himself to even consider Halogen a human.

However, even though Akio hates him a lot, Vaika Smith, the strongest Australian psychic in present time, hates him even more.

Vaika: “Halogen, we saw what you did in your old church.”

Halogen: “What I did? You mean, how I killed the man who killed two of our friends?”

Disgusted. Wanting to kill him. That’s Vaika Smith right now. 

However, as he’s the oldest Hellfire with an age of 48, Vaika is the most mature. As a sign of this, he manages to stay calm, outwardly at least.

Vaika: “No, we didn’t mean that. We meant how you sacrificed 80 people to TRY to kill him and couldn’t even finish the damn job.”

Furrowing his eyebrows, Halogen Dietrich simply asks,

Halogen: “You mean he got away?”

Akio: “Seems that way.”

Halogen: “Oh!”

Pondering on that for just a second, Halogen then says nonchalantly,

Halogen: “Well, that’s unfortunate. But we can always repeat the ritual, just this time with better minions and larger sacrifices.”

The piece of ground Halogen Dietrich has been standing on this whole time, no longer exists. Instead, there is magma burning so hot that it could kill a human within a second. Fortunately for him, Halogen saw this coming and teleported away just in time.

Akio: “Shit!”

Halogen: “Come now, Miyamoto-san! Don’t use such a foul language in the holy church.”

He says as he comes out from one of the many lines of benches.

Akio: “Any place you live in cannot be holy.”

Halogen: “Now that’s hurtful. Is trying to burn me alive really not enough venting for a while, Miyamoto-san?”

Akio: “It’s not even close to enough. And stop adding that ‘-san’ at the end like you are someone from my country. The very hypothetical thought of you being from my homeland makes me want to turn against the entire nation.”

Halogen: “I am very appalled to know that you hate me so much. But, I just wanted to show you my respect, Miyamoto-san.”

Akio: “Alright, that’s it!”

It takes less than a second for Akio to reach Halogen and put a hand through his chest. That said, it takes even less than that fraction of a second for Halogen to dodge that attack. And before Akio could continue,

Vaika: “That’s enough, Akio. Don’t keep falling for his provocations!”

Shouts Vaika Smith.

Halogen: “Provocations? I would never-“

Vaika: “Enough!”

Halogen calmly and Akio reluctantly back down when they hear Vaika yell so with an angry expression.

Vaika: “We came here to check on you, to see if you are alive or not, and to get you back to doing your job.”

Halogen: “But, Mr. Smith, my job is to find and bring more and more talented psychics in the organization. I never stopped doing it in the first place. In fact, that’s what I have been doing this whole time.”

Akio: “By making them Vampire food?”

Halogen: “It was a necessary sacrifice, Miyamoto-san.”

Vaika puts up a hand to stop Akio before he does anything and tells Halogen,

Vaika: “There’s something else that you need to do.”

As he hears so, Halogen’s lips curl up in a grin.

Halogen: “Something else I ‘need’ to do? That sounds like the Phoenix has a new order for me.”

Vaika: “Not just for you. This job is meant for all of us.”

Halogen: “Oh, is that so? It must certainly be quite a big job if it needs all of us on it.”

Akio scoffs, and leaves the church, asking Vaika to do all the explaining. As Halogen turns towards Vaika though, he first asks,

Vaika: “Before we tell you about the job, tell us about Abgere. Tell us everything you know about him.”

Halogen: “… I have no problems with doing that but, may I ask, why do you want to know that? It feels to me like there’s a reason beside the fact you are on his hit-list.”

Vaika leans his body backwards, relaxing himself, and says,

Vaika: “Let’s just say, it’s related to the job.”

*******************************

Ethan: “What’s up, guys?!” 

He asks cheerfully. No one replies.

Ethan: “How’s it going?!”

He asks more cheerfully. No one replies.

Ethan: “Is everyone doing well?!”

He asks even more cheerfully. No one replies.

And as that happens, as everyone he tries talking to ignores him and keeps quiet, Ethan hears a few excited whispers coming from behind him.

Kais: “Hey Sona, did you record that on a phone or something?”

Sona: “No, that was Sneha’s job.”

Sneha: “No, it wasn’t. It was your job.”

Sona: “What!? Then why didn’t you tell me this earlier!?”

Sneha: “I thought you knew!”

Sona: “How was I supposed to know that!?”

The excitement in those voices fades and despair strikes. And with crying voices, the despaired whispers continue.

Kais: “That means no one recorded that.”

Sona: “We will never be able to re-watch that moment again.”

Sneha: “But it was so beautiful!”

Struck by the pangs of despair, all three of them fall to their knees.

Kais: “This … this is just unfair!”

Sona: “Why? Why!? After all we have been through, couldn’t we at least get a recording of that bastard being ignored?”

Sneha: “We deserved it. We deserved it! But, I suppose ‘God’ truly is cruel in this world.”

At that moment, Sneha Stone understands the feelings of those who want to blame God or such concepts for anything bad that happens to them. She truly understands them. Obviously, for the other two who already fester a deep hatred for ‘God’, it could only grow worse.

Kais: “You shut up!”

Yells the despaired youth with a raging voice all of a sudden.

Sneha: “Wha-why?”

Kais: “Oh, I’m sorry.”

Returning his pitch to normal, the youth explains.

Kais: “I was yelling at the ghost inside me. He dared to tell me that we were being mean to that bastard and requested that we stop doing so.”

Sona: “Hah! Looks like being cooped up inside you for so many years has made him retarded! I mean, how could he possibly suggest such a thing?!”

Sneha: “I know, right?

Abgere: “…”

Not saying a word, the anomaly of a man continues to stare, also being pulled down by the chains of despair but putting up a strong act as if it doesn’t affect him.

But, just as it starts to seem that there is no hope, that all is lost, that the war is over, a light shines through the darkness pulling the youthful souls towards it.

Gabriel: “I expected you people to fail. But worry not, for I have recorded it, ALL OF IT!”

And with those words said in a pleasing voice, the Hellfire pulls them out of their Hells, out of the pits of despair they had fallen into after being abandoned by fate and God alike.

Kais: “Gabriel, despite me calling you a loser for ever since I have known you, you should know that I never really meant it and actually always respected you.”

The saved youth says so despite it not being true.

Sona: “I have not known you for long, Gabriel. But, I can tell that you are a man who deserves my whole-hearted respect and admiration. I wish I could be like you someday, although I would probably never be as good as you.”

The female saved youth also says so despite it not being true.

Sneha: “Indeed. I always thought I was really strong and independent, until I met you. You showed me what true strength is. You, Gabriel Washington, are the epitome of manliness and courage.”

The other female saved youth also says so despite it not being true.

Abgere: “Although I hate to say this, you are someone I have come to respect too. And know that you are the first person I have ever said that about.”

The anomaly of a man mixes bitter truths with sweet-sounding lies as well.

And with that, all four of them bow as they all make one request,

All four: “Please show us the recording!”

Their savior smirks, and then says,

Gabriel: “Fear not, people! Regardless of our differences, we all share the same goal here. I couldn’t possibly be cruel enough to deny you the right to see this recording. Come, stand up, and prepare yourselves for the greatest video you’ll ever see.”

And so they stand up and prepare themselves for what would be the objectively most sacred video they will ever see in their-

Ethan: “Are we done with this nonsense? We kinda need to find a way to talk to these guys.”

Hearing that, all five of them scoff.

All five: “You will never be able to understand the beauty of this video. We have nothing to say to you.”

Ethan: “Alright, don’t say anything to me. Just say something to these morons. None of them seem to be willing to talk to me.”

“Excuse me?”

They all turn to that voice, the voice of the man who leads the Aurals they have come to meet.

With eyes glittering, all the Aurals behind him await his words, the words that would carry enough weight to be considered equal to the very fate of their race.

And so, with all that weight behind it, their leader, abandoning all pride and prejudice, voices their most heartfelt desire.

Ethan: “Yes, what is that you want to sa-“

Leader: “Please share that holy recording with us too!

He asks with his head bowed, and the rest of them follow suit.

This is the singular most heartfelt request of not just the leader, but the entire group of Aurals, who are famously known as ‘Heise’.

*******************************

The Aural group Angela Holystone has allied herself with, famously known as ‘Baise’, seems to be in a bit of a confusion after hearing a particular piece of intel. As Angela enquires about it, she comes to understand why they are confused and finds herself in a similar state.

Angela: “So, let me get this straight: Abgere has made contact with Heise?”

The leader of Baise nods and as he does,

Angela: “Why though?”

“There’s more.”

Says the man directly talking to the spies who are relaying this information to them.

Angela: “What more is there?”

“Abgere isn’t alone.”

He conveys what his spy tells him.

“He is with five other people, all of them are … peculiar, to say the least.”

Angela: “Peculiar? How so?”

The same question rests within the heads of all of the people listening. And so, the man conveying the message makes himself clearer.

“One of them is a Hellfire.”

Angela: “…!?”

Surprising everyone and especially Angela, that is revealed. However, that is hardly the end of their surprise.

“Ethan Kales is with them too.”

Angela: “Who the heck is Ethan Kales?”

Surprised that she doesn’t know, the entire Baise looks at her with wide-eyes.

Angela: “…?”

Leader: “Well, let’s just say, he’s a very dangerous individual.”

Angela: “Okay~ what about the rest?”

As all eyes turn to the person conveying the information, he continues right where he left.

“Sneha Stone, the infamous sole survivor of one of the greatest and most prestigious Aural groups in history, is with them too.”

Just as much as they did for Ethan, their eyes widen again. This time, Angela does know what the person in question is. 

Sneha Stone is known quite well among the Aurals for the very reason stated there. She’s the sole survivor of a highly respected Aural group that was slaughtered 12 years ago by a certain psychic.

“Furthermore, there seems to be two more people. While we have never encountered either of them before, they are both marked as important figures by Vermillion.”

Angela: “Who are they?”

“Kais, a psychic that is said to have immense value. The reason Vermillion values him so is unknown to us though.”

Angela: “Kais, huh? I have heard that name before. Pretty sure the Phoenix had said to do what we can to bring him into the organization. And there were multiple attempts in doing so, but I think all of them had ended in failure.”

“There’s another. She’s a spirit-user. She’s … skilled. But, what’s most intriguing about her is that, once in the past, Vermillion set a bounty on her.”

Angela: “Vermillion sets bounties on a lot of supernaturals.”

“Yes but, her bounty was quite high. It was as big as the bounty set on Valdis.”

Angela: “…!”

All of them find themselves surprised, to say the least. However, the reason for Baise members to be surprised is simply that a bounty equivalent of the queen of Vampires is ridiculously high. The reason Angela finds herself surprised is that hearing that – reminds her of something, or rather, someone.

And as she remembers that, she comes to understand who this Spirit-user is.

“Her name is-“

Angela: “Sona Pectus.”

*******************************

As the charade is over and Ethan is explaining the situation to the entire group known as Heise, Gabriel detects a telepathic link trying to connect to him. As he spots that link, he moves away from the group, and allows it to connect.

Henceforth, as if picking up a phone call, the Hellfire is connected to the Phoenix.

Rosevelt: “It’s been a while, Gabriel.”

Gabriel: “I suppose it has.”

Gabriel, just like he always does when talking to the Phoenix, shifts to a formal and business-only tone.

Rosevelt: “I am surprised that you haven’t brought all of them here already. Has there been some kind of problem?”

Gabriel: “I … guess there has been one.”

Rosevelt: “Oh, what happened?”

Gabriel: “The family of my fiancee was murdered and she was driven to the point of insanity that she committed suicide. That sounds like a problem to you?”

Rosevelt: “Interestingly enough, it doesn’t. I don’t see how that has anything to do with bringing those four here.”

Gabriel: “They were murdered by Vampires, Rosevelt. It was all on that bastard strategist’s orders.”

With his tone finally breaking a little, Gabriel tells the Phoenix so.

Rosevelt: “And?”

Gabriel: “And I am taking my revenge on the Vampires, and their strategist. I am going to have these guys help me do so. Only after I am done with that will I bring them to you.”

Rosevelt: “…”

Gabriel: “You have something to say?”

Rosevelt: “Well, I do but I think keeping it in me will be a wiser decision.”

With a more relaxed tone, Rosevelt says,

Rosevelt: “Fine, do as you wish. But you are to bring them to me, safe and sound.”

Gabriel: “Very well. Is there anything else?”

Shifting back to the business-like tone, Gabriel asks.

Rosevelt: “There actually is.”

Gabriel: “Huh?”

Rosevelt: “So Gabriel, are you telling me everything? Or, are you hiding something from me?”

Asking so in an accusing voice, Rosevelt makes it quite clear that he knows that which Gabriel was trying to not tell him.

Hence, Gabriel decides to just come out and spill the beans.

Gabriel: “Temporarily, those four have teamed up with Abgere. And since I am to bring them to you SAFE AND SOUND, I can’t try to kill him and end up on their bad side.”

Rosevelt: “Is that so?”

Rosevelt laughs.

Rosevelt: “And why hasn’t HE killed you yet?”

Gabriel: “I guess, similar reasons to mine.”

Rosevelt: “That so? Certainly interesting.”

Gabriel can almost hear Rosevelt smirking as he continues.

Rosevelt: “It seems there will be a problem then. You might face quite a challenge in keeping those four safe.”

Gabriel: “… Explain.”

Rosevelt: “Oh, it’s just that, some people might be coming to kill Abgere. And it will fall to you to try and stop those four from getting involved.”

*******************************

Halogen: “That was quite a surprise, wasn’t it?”

For once, he says something he truly feels.

Akio: “Not that it was a challenge.”

Says Akio as he flicks his fingers, making the flames go out.

Vaika: “Well, you can’t expect a challenge from these guys.”

Vaika says as he steps on the throat of a Vampire, and crushes it easily to land his foot on the ground beneath.

Out of nowhere, just as he had finished listening to all Halogen knew about Abgere and was about to tell him what the job is that the Phoenix has given them, an unorganized bunch of Vampires attacked the trio.

As one would expect, the three Hellfires remained unscratched and killed all the Vampires. However, they couldn’t help but wonder why these idiots attacked them. 

Could they not sense just how much more powerful the three were compared to them? Or,

Halogen: “Someone ordered this. That’s what I think, at least.”

Akio: “And who would do something so pointless and stupid?”

Halogen: “Who indeed?”

Vaika: “… I may know the answer to that.”

Vaika says so, looking like he can’t believe his own realization, but he knows that what he thinks is the right answer.

The other two look at him, asking him to continue, and so he does.

Vaika: “Walter told me right before coming here that he had an encounter with … Bronzer, the strategist of Vampire Kingdom. He told me that I should look out for him.”

Akio: “What!? THE Walter Schmidt told you to look out for someone?!”

Vaika: “I was surprised too, but that’s what happened.”

In a quite soft and unchanging voice, Vaika continues.

Vaika: “He warned me that Bronzer would do the most unexpected things possible, that he would come at me in ways I’d never imagine, and that by the time I realize the meaning behind those moves, it’ll be too late. So, I should look out for him.”

Akio: “…”

Akio, left speechless, can only stare at Vaika as he says all that. Halogen, on the other hand, readily accepts the explanation.

Halogen: “I see. If that is the case, it certainly seems possible that he ordered this.”

Seeing that acceptance of Walter’s words conveyed through Vaika, Akio and Vaika find themselves at a loss.

Halogen: “Anyway,”

And so, Halogen gets the chance to lead the conversation.

Halogen: “What was the job?”

Vaika: “Right, that. We are to kill someone.”

Halogen: “Just one person?”

Halogen, surprised by the fact that three Hellfires would be asked to kill just one person, questions so.

Vaika: “Just one person.”

Halogen: “That person must be quite something, huh?”

Vaika: “Connect the dots from our earlier conversation and you’ll know who it is.”

Pondering on that, it doesn’t take long for the ‘priest’ to understand.

Halogen: “I see. So we are hunting for Abgere, are we?”

Vaika nods. And irritatedly, Akio says,

Akio: “It’s not just us either. Chang Lu, Ross Green and Laurie Brown are on it too.”

Hearing the names of the other three Hellfires, Halogen says sardonically,

Halogen: “Six-on-one for Abgere? That doesn’t like the brightest idea the Phoenix has come up with.”

However,

Vaika: “It’s not exactly six-on-one”

*******************************

Gabriel, with shocked eyes, listens to what the Phoenix tells him.

Rosevelt: “Halogen, Akio and Vaika are on one team. Chang, Ross and Laurie are on the other team. And they are competing for one target – Abgere.”

Unable to form words, Gabriel just listens.

Rosevelt: “Whichever team kills him first will replace me as the Phoenix.”

Gabriel: “What the heck are you saying!?”

Rosevelt: “What? Are you bothered because there will be three Phoenix. Don’t worry, Gabriel! Things will work out.”

Intentionally sarcastic, Rosevelt tries his best to contain his excitement as he reveals everything.

Rosevelt: “So anyway, when they come for him, you better do a good job at keeping those four safe and away from the Hellfires.”

Gabriel: “Tsk! Bastard!”

Rosevelt can’t help but laugh as he hears Gabriel curse him.

The thought that the third faction would need to fight and defeat six Hellfires in order to keep their alliance with Abgere going is scary enough. The fact that Gabriel can’t be sure what they would actually do in this situation is even scarier.

The best thing for Gabriel to do would be to, just as the Phoenix says, keep them away from the Hellfires’ way.

However, will they be willing to back down? Will they comply? 

He just can’t be sure with someone like Ethan Kales being the ones to make strategies and decisions and everyone else completely trusting him.

Rosevelt: “What’s wrong, you have been really quiet for a while now!?”

Gabriel: “…”

Rosevelt: “Gabri-“

Cutting off the link between them, Gabriel sighs.

Gabriel: “This is going to soon become a mess that there will be no way out of.”

He says so, telling himself of the reality he faces, and questions what he should do.

*******************************

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