In a city that never sleeps, there are quite a few skyscrapers that would leave many with their mouths open. This city, called Kelsey, is about five centuries old, and has been named as one of the most developed cities in the world. And one of the things that have largely contributed to it gaining this reputation is the fact that the headquarters of one of the biggest tech firms in the world is situated here. This tech firm goes by the name of Vermillion.
The fact that the towering skyscraper of 90 floors that Vermillion considers its headquarters lies in this city is easily the biggest reason this city is renowned for being developed, but to those who really know the truth, they can only wonder how this devious psychic organization is capable of gaining such a reputation when it seems to be so busy with actual work that its “employees” do. Just how does this form produce products that make it such a big company when no one in the entire organization is ever free for more than a day from doing jobs associated with the supernatural?
The answer is simple, however. It’s because everyone in this firm is a psychic that things like these are possible.
Just how much effort would it take for a psychic to completely replicate a different corporation’s products?
Just how much effort would it take for a psychic to then tweak it up a bit and release a much better model than the one that was the target to replication?
Just how much effort would it take to produce thousands upon thousands of copies of those products?
Well, if one Hellfire gets that job assigned to them, then it will be a piece of cake.
And that is why Vermillion is one of the greatest tech firms in this world. But no one actually wants this job, and so, it is rotated monthly between the 10 Hellfires.
While this may look tedious and not-so-important to a lot of supernaturals, for Vermillion to have the resources it needs to keep on functioning, this job is very essential. Which is why, losing the Hellfire that was currently tasked with this job is quite bothersome to everyone in the upper echelon.
In this kind of troublesome situation, what can the remaining 9 Hellfires do? They discuss it among themselves and their leader of course. So, when this shocking and worrying news reaches the ears of the Phoenix, the leader of Vermillion,
Phoenix: “It doesn’t really matter.”
He reacts with a frowning, not-so-impressed expression.
Phoenix: “I had already known about Gin’s death before you all came shouting about it in my ears, I mean, mind.”
He corrects himself because the slang doesn’t work in this sense, not when the 9 Hellfires are talking to the Phoenix through telepathy.
Phoenix: “All this proves is that the man named Abgere is serious about his threat. You all should be careful. There’s nothing more than that to say and no reason at all for this much buzz.”
He says and ends their telepathic link. He does so because he has no interest in talking to those morons who will themselves forget about this problem when they wake up the next morning.
Now alone in his cabin, which was the entire floor, with no one to disturb him anymore, the Phoenix stares out the glass windows that shows him the view of the entire Kelsey city lit in the night by the radiance of those technologies that he himself definitely has a part in creating. As he stares at that scenery from the 90th floor, he can only wonder at the pathetic temptations of a superiority complex. He can only laugh at the people who grow conceited just because they see a view like that.
He chuckles. He is undoubtedly delighted to see this beautiful view, but he knows it means nothing. He knows this view has no value at all as the only reason it exists is because of some humans trying to play god. These lights that are like a jewelry atop the city’s neck, these large buildings like his own that can be found everywhere in the city and the traffic that never slows down, it’s all there because a human tried to create these lights, the cars, these building and so on. A human tried to play god, he tried to create knowing that the human nature is of destroying.
For what reason were these building created so beautifully and elegantly? For them to one day become targets of terrorist attacks?
For what reason are these cars created with so many different styles and polishes? For them to one day be blown up by a militant?
For what reason are these lights that shine so brightly in the night created in the first place? For them to help monsters mix in with humans?
It’s the foolishness of a smart person that leads to these inventions.
And yet these are the inventions that have helped Vermillion sustain itself in this modern era. The Phoenix, for just that reason, doesn’t consider these things completely insignificant.
Phoenix: “So Gin was killed after all.”
The thought comes to his mind as he stares at the man he can faintly see in the glass windows. That man has monolid-black-eyes and equally black, slightly long hair on his oval face and his skin pale enough for one to assume there is no pigment in them. He stands 6’3 tall and wears a black suit that fits the image of the CEO of a tech firm. That man is named Reid Vezalius Rosevelt, also known as the Phoenix.
Rosevelt: “Well, my guests might need some protection from this Abgere I guess.”
Even though he had dismissed the news of Gin’s death as not-very-important, he does understand the threat that Abgere poses to those not powerful or smart enough to defeat him. And so, the guests who’d be arriving at this doorsteps a few days from now might need someone to keep them safe during the journey.
Rosevelt: “Considering the route they’d need to take, Gabriel is the best person for it.”
He says without any reaction as his black eyes shine a bit in response to him using telepathy over long distance trying to create a link with someone who is half the planet away.
Gabriel: “Yes, is something the matter?”
Gabriel, one of the Hellfires, speaks in a way that shows his foul mood. Even when all the Hellfires had come to talk about Gin’s death, this man was just present in the link. He had not said a word the entire time. From that, Rosevelt could tell that he was in a foul mood so he was prepared to deal with it as he always did – talk business, nothing else.
Rosevelt: “I have a job for you.”
He says in a plain tone and on hearing that, a sigh comes from the other end followed by no response for about 20 seconds. Rosevelt knows for a fact that he is taking those 20 seconds to get over whatever had spoiled his mood, which he also knows for a fact that it was not Gin’s death.
Gabriel: “I’m listening.”
Finally, in the plain voice akin to Rosevelt’s, came the response.
Rosevelt: “The job is to escort 4 people safely to me.”
Gabriel: “I see.”
Rosevelt: “And by safely, I mean that they need to be kept safe from any kind of danger, be it from Abgere, vampires or even another Hellfires.”
Rosevelt: “The safety of all four of them is the top priority.”
Gabriel: “Is that so? Who are these four that are so important to you?”
Rosevelt: “Kais, Ethan Kales, Sona Pectus and Sneha Stone.”
Rosevelt: “What? Is something the matter?”
Gabriel: “No. Everything’s fine. Where are the four of them?”
Rosevelt: “That you’ll have to track them down to find out. I can give you a memory sample of what Sneha’s aura is like. That might help you.”
Gabriel: “I see. Then please do so.”
Rosevelt: “Well, that’s all.”
Gabriel: “So, there isn’t any time-limit for the job?”
Rosevelt: “No. Times are dangerous. Just you bringing them to me safe and sound will be enough.”
Gabriel: “Okay, I got it. When should I start?”
Rosevelt: “Can you start right now?”
Gabriel: “I can if you send me the memory sample.”
Rosevelt: “I see. Then I’ll make sure that memory sample reaches you within an hour from now.”
Gabriel: “Then that is when I start.”
Rosevelt: “Good. That’s all.”
Rosevelt says and after waiting for about 5 seconds for there to be any questions from the other side, he cuts the link when Gin doesn’t say anything.
Because this only happened telepathically, neither of the two ever opened their mouths. And so, to a bystander, this conversation would have never even happened. And that is why Rosevelt, the man famous for being open and frank to the public going so far as to put 20 cameras at different places in every place he stays including his houses, is considered one of the cleanest man alive. He could never possibly do any kind of corruption when there are always cameras watching him, cameras that are directly connected to crime branch headquarters of the country. This man couldn’t possibly have just said ‘kill anyone who means those four people any harm’ to someone. He couldn’t possibly be shady at all.
Rosevelt … smiles.
While she had more than two and a half days to bring the jet to the island, Sona did it in merely half a day.
And so, the five of us are now sitting on the comfortable leather seats and doing whatever we want while two of Sona’s spirits, the rabbit-like-spirit and her new sparrow-spirit named Les, are controlling the jet making it fly to the destination Sona instructed them on.
Les, for some reason, is somewhat familiar of a name. It feels like Sona had told me that name when we were kids. It was the name of some spirit that she couldn’t show me, for whatever reason I don’t really remember. But anyway, I’ve heard that you can’t give the same name to more than one spirit in your arsenal. She says this one is a new spirit so, for whatever reason, that spirit is not around anymore. I am not going to ask her what happened but I am a bit curious.
And trying to ignore my curiosity, I look out from the small windows at my right. I can faintly see my reflection. My ink black hair and equally black-monolid-eyes complimented by an oval face and hair that is an inch away from reaching the last of cervical vertebrae in the back while covering half the forehead reflected from the window and the skin that is the darkest shade of lighter-skin-color that would remind a person of the color of peanut butter. Well, if I were to be honest, I look pretty damn good.
And that’s not just me playing my mom because she didn’t play the part but I have been told that by many people. They didn’t spell it out exactly like that but I got love confessions at work and at school many a times and even on my first few days, by both sexes by the way. Okay, never mind that.
Ethan: “Someone seems to be in a good mood.”
He says sarcastically while looking at me from his seat, which is on the opposite side of the jet and facing the other way as well, perfectly made for us to look at each other. Seriously, I just remembered a weird thing and seeing a guy look at me with a grin is the last thing I need right now.
Kais: “Is there a problem, Ethan?”
And so I try to fake a face showing ‘don’t talk to me if you don’t want to get punched’ which, to no one’s surprise, didn’t work on the guy who can see people’s auras just by looking.
Ethan: “It seemed like you were remembering a gloat-worthy material back there.”
What the hell is gloat-worthy material!? I mean, I get it, but do you really have to say it like that?
Kais: “Couldn’t you have just said ‘it seemed like you were remembering something that you are proud of back there’.”
I say a bit sarcastically but,
He immediately answers with that remark while closing his eyes and having a dismissive face. Do you really hate clichés that much?
Ethan: “But anyway, I didn’t mean to disturb you from your dream of marrying whoever you were having.”
That was not the type of dream I was having but now I am horrified to imagine what kind of expression I was making back then.
Ethan: “That said though, there’s something that would need a little consideration if you haven’t given it any already.”
As he finally gets down to business, I find myself involuntarily turning my head in his direction.
He sighs as he looks at Ro and Sneha who are both seated at angles I can’t look at (behind me) and then at Sona who is in front of me. When, I am assuming, he finds that all of them are paying attention, he speaks,
Ethan: “The leader of Vermillion, the Phoenix; what kind of guy do you think he is?”
He directs the question at all of us obviously but by the fact that he stared at me while saying it could mean that my answer is what he is looking forward to the most. Well then, what kind of man do I think the Phoenix is?
Sneha: “I haven’t talked to him much but I think he is a devious person.”
The first answer comes from the former Vermillion associate.
Ro: “I agree. I have never talked to him to be honest but just looking at him in real person gives me the chills.”
And then comes the voice of the former Vermillion Ember supporting Sneha’s judgment.
Well, I certainly don’t deny that he looks devious from his face which, like Ro, is all I have truly seen of him.
Sona: “I think he is callous.”
Callous, eh? That’s not too far off from devious but is different.
Ethan: “Well, that’s a pretty interesting judgment. I too think of him as callous.”
Ethan agrees with Sona’s judgment leaving me to be the only one yet to give his judgment of the Phoenix. Why do these kinds of things happen to me all the time? Am I a protagonist of a novel or something?
As Sona prompts me to answer, I take a deep breath and try to think of the best word to describe my impression of him, which isn’t completely devious and not completely callous either.
Kais: “Well, I think he is …”
And then the right word comes to my mind.
As Ethan and Sona hear my answer, they are left with widened-eyes and slightly hung open mouths. I assume this is the same for the two behind me.
Kais: “I mean … he is someone who stands at the top of the psychic world even if he is not the strongest. That means that his life would be full of dealing with less powerful people and trying to hold himself back when they do something stupid.”
That … is a pretty boring life.
Kais: “That’s just like I used to be, before Sneha, Ro and Mohammed kidnapped me that is.”
A surprised reaction from Sneha came, to which, I just slightly smile, and say without looking back at her,
Kais: “What? You thought I hadn’t realized it.”
I ask in a sarcastic tone but her answer comes in a genuinely surprised and slightly anxious tone.
Sneha: “I … did think you hadn’t.”
I almost laugh at that but am able to hold myself back from it as I reply in a gleeful tone.
Kais: “Well, I have. And rest assured, I am quite grateful to you people for it.”
After all, it is because they kidnapped me and brought me to that island we just left behind a while ago that I was able to find a true goal in my life other than trying to live – the goal to bring justice to Abyss, the man I respect more than anyone else in the world.
Kais: “That reminds me though.”
I say as I get up and go to the back door.
Ethan: “Um, what exactly are you doing?”
With that intentional ‘Um’, your question was quite cliché by the way. I make a mental note to tell him this when the moment is right.
Kais: “For now, you all should probably hold tight to your seats and make sure to have been wearing your seatbelts.”
I give them a warning in a gleeful voice, acting like a psycho about to blow a bus. All of them grow cautious as they hear that.
Kais: “Well, Sneha might be fine though.”
I add that as I do think she might be. And as that’s done, I proceed to unlock the door leading to outside causing a lot of air pressure to start sucking things out of the jet.
Ro: “Do you want to get us killed?”
Kais: “Even if I did, why are you worrying so much? You are already dead.”
I give a sarcastic remark without bothering to make my voice turn sarcastic and then hold the door’s edge as I try to lean outwards and …
Ethan: “Oh, so that was the goal.”
Of course he understood right as he saw me leaning outwards what I wanted to see. And while I haven’t heard any remarks from her, I can bet Sona too has understood.
And so I give an obligatory affirmative as I stare at the place we just spend a few days in and have now left behind. To somewhat of my dismay though, it’s not there anymore. The island has already sunk to the bottom of the ocean, i. e., destroyed.
I can do nothing but sigh as I see that.
Ro: “By the way, I asked this question before and I didn’t get an answer the last time.”
He tries to grab our attention to himself by pausing, but I just keep staring at the ocean that once had the island on it. Well, I do lend an ear to him though.
Ro: “Since the island was about to be destroyed by now, what would we have done for the 48 extra hours that you people gave Sona to bring the jet if she hadn’t brought it in time.”
Ro asks in a serious voice, to which, Ethan immediately answers in an uninterested tone as if it’s a foolish question.
Ethan: “Cut some trees before the island sinks, build a raft from its wood, and live on it.”
Yeah, that was the plan.
Ro: “You aren’t serious, are you?”
Ethan: “I am always serious, even while making fun of someone.”
That’s also quite true; ironic, but true. I become a little curious and shift my gaze to Ro to see what kind of reaction he’d give and to no surprise, he is baffled and trying to seek confirmation from Sneha and then Sona. Both of them just nod.
He then looks at me and …
Kais: “Yeah, yeah, that’s what we thought we’d do.”
Ro: “You are freaking kidding me! What about food? Were you planning on eating fishes and octopuses both these days?”
Kais: “What’s wrong with eating fishes and octopuses for two days? You a veggie?”
Reality check: I hate seafood and I wouldn’t have eaten fishes or octopuses but I can just maintain my body by meditating a little, so there wasn’t much to worry about.
Ro: “No, and I don’t even need food since I’m a ghost but …”
He trails off as he sees that everyone except him seems to be completely fine with the idea of living on a raft for two days.
And then he sighs exasperatedly.
Ro: “You guys are something else.”
What? Do you have something against living on a raft and eating seafood? I mean I can relate to the seafood part but what’s wrong with living on a raft? Is he afraid of water or something?
As I continue wasting time on thoughts like those which wouldn’t really matter in the long run (probably), I also realized that these are some of the last moments of peace we may have in our lives.
I … smile.
Warning: From here, the story is about to get darker and quite a few things that happen might be uncomfortable for you if you aren’t good with dark and twisted psychopaths. So, you have been warned.