Chapter 8: Chasing Flames
I had spent my afternoon sitting on the same swing set Terra brought me to once before. The sun was shining brightly in the sky. Terra was getting higher and higher up into the summer air as she swung. She truly wanted to reach up to God. Despite my warnings that she would be wasting her time. Something within her drove her closer and closer to the sky. I suppose someone who only ever knew earth would long to touch the clouds.
I sat still, lost in thought. Despite the warm day around me, I felt surrounded by shadows. Terra stopped herself and looked at me as she slowed don’t to a halt. She placed her hand on my shoulder causing me to jump slightly. I turned to face her as she gave me a faint hint of a smile to help ease my weary soul. She then looked ahead at the sunlit treeline ahead of us before finally parting her lips to speak.
“So. Have you found your reason to live yet?”
“I’m not sure.” I said with disappointment.
“You would have had me convinced when you fought Nina.”
“I just remember thinking I didn’t want to see anyone else die, that’s all.”
“Aw~! You tried to save me!?” Terra spoke in a much cheerier voice than usual. It caught me completely of guard as I nearly fell off the swing.
“N-no! I mean… I guess? I just thought… I just… I didn’t want to be alone again.”
Terra giggled to herself as she watch me fluster. Traces of red flooded through my cheeks as I tried not to make eye contact. I felt Terra’s hand press softly into my back and begin to trace indents of bone in soothing motions.
“It’s okay Hev. I know it wasn’t easy going up against her and going after her now won’t be any easier.”
“I can’t sit around and wait for her to kill more people. She has to pay for her sins.”
“And that’s your choice to make, but allow me to inform you of another.”
I turned and looked at Terra as she spoke softly. Her words leaving her mouth like a gust of soothing cool air.
“Train with me. I’ll help you get stronger and learn to use your powers properly.”
“I used to train with my father as I kid. I can fight on my own, even without my powers. Thanks… But I’ll be fine, this is something I have to do alone.”
“Just come back alive.” Terra said with a much more aggravated expression.
Terra clearly was disappointed in my choice. Looking back on it now, I couldn’t have been more foolish. I was young and I was blind. The death of my father had cast my very soul into the pits of a never ending darkness. Only one single thing shone through the shadows and that was fire. Everything else around me was a blur. All that mattered to me was reaching the flame. Everything else was just a distraction. Something to divert me off the path. A temptation. I wouldn’t fall for it. I wouldn’t stray from my path.
I had a promise to keep. I kept thinking of that same mantra over and over again. I promised someone something. I promised my father. My father was going to rest in peace. Nina had to die. There was only reason for me to stand in this world and walk. Nina was the only reason I had to live. I would walk farther and endure more pain than ever before if it meant Nina could die by my hand. These were the thoughts that plagued my young mind. Thoughts of avenging my father.
I had long since left the small playground and pulled my hood over my face. My angry mind was still chanting hymns of the promise that was made. The promise I intended to keep. As I walked forward I could hear the “other me’s” voice in my mind speaking through the miasma of thought.
“Yeah. I need you to locate Nina for me… Is that possible?”
“That’s easy. I take it you’re going after her?”
“You’re just gonna get yourself killed you know.”
“Then my body will belong to you.”
I couldn’t see the “other me’s” face but I could imagine he was burying his face in his palm.
“Not at all kid. We are both part of one mind. Therefore if you die, I die.”
“Then we better get used to each other. Do you have a name?”
I could hear the “other me” begin to chuckle. Something about my question clearly amused him.
“I don’t remember my name. But all things considered, you can call me Hell.”
A small grin emerged onto my face as the other spoke his newfound name. Something about our names was extremely satisfying to think about.
“Heaven and Hell united in one of Nature’s vessels.”
“What are you on about?”
“Just a funny little thought.”
Hell sighed and immediately shifted topics to Nina. He had already tracked down her exact location while we had conversed.
“Nina is squatting out in the Slums. It’s some old abandoned shipping yard. Katelyn and Reaver are both with her. I’m gonna warn you now kid, Reaver is a lot tougher than Nina. Some even say he is tougher than Genesis.”
“I’ll keep that in mind.”
This was it. I knew where she was. I was going to take the fight to her. I was getting so close to finally laying my father’s spirit to rest. Victory was within arm’s grasp.
Nina stood atop the tallest crane in an old shipping yard. She looked out to the sea as the sun began to descend over the widespread mirror that was the ocean surface. Sunlight glistened and dance along the ripples in the calm salt water. Nina’s flame like hair waved in the coastal winds as she stared outward at Nature’s beauty with indifference. Katelyn approached Nina from behind.
“That kid you’re obsessed with is coming after us.” she said with a dull tone.
A sadistic grin widened upon Nina’s face as she turned to face Katelyn.
“Let him come. He is only walking to his death anyway.” Nina spoke with cruel delight in her voice.
I had approached the electric fence that sealed off the Slums from the rest of the city. With a swift cut from my dark blade I erased parts of the fence allowing me to pass through. I felt a sudden force of energy behind me as I made it through the path I had forged. I turned to see the matter I erased had returned to this world, albeit violently and with great force.
“So I can’t erase things completely.” I muttered.
“Or maybe the Earth itself is rebuilding what you destroyed?” Hell responded.
With that ever so slightly useful piece of information at my disposal I continued my walk through the Slums. To be honest, the name of this district was a severe understatement. This place made the ghettos of major American cities look like rich neighborhoods. Every building looked like a bomb had gone off within its confines. This place wasn’t just a simple poor district. As I walked through the abandoned streets littered with the occasional homeless person or two, the truth of this place became clear. This wasn’t a ghetto, it was a ruin.
Some great event in the city’s history caused the Slums to transform into what they are now. As I walked I could see more and more signs of conflicts that had erupted on the streets. It was impossible to tell what exactly had happened to this place. I couldn’t even begin to imagine in my wildest dreams what the town looked like before the battles occurred. This empty, desolate landscape was once alive. Yet now as my eyes gazed at the streets before me I saw a dead place.
Genesis made his way to Lockhart’s office. Many questions were brewing in the swordsman’s mind as he passed through the rich mahogany doors. Lockhart looked up from his work to see the swordsman in the black coat approach. Genesis immediately took to business as he approached his seat.
“Has CAPRA made any moves.” Genesis spoke with a slight edge to his concern.
“Not that I know of. For all we know Wolf could be calling in reinforcements.”
“That could be very bad for us. God knows how strong the Agents have become since New York.” Genesis spoke as he clenched his fists tightly.
Lockhart sighed to himself and looked at Genesis directly. Lockhart knew very well that the battle of New York and the horrors Genesis witnessed were still burned into his mind. Genesis had been fighting CAPRA tooth and nail since the battle for New York came to a climax. While Genesis has a modicum of respect towards Agent Wolf, it is the other Agents that he fears. Some believe in the purity of humanity, others joined up just so they could kill something that put up one hell of a fight. The men and women who served CAPRA were more demonic than the Demons themselves according to Genesis.
“We have lasted this long without them coming after us. I suppose after all those years, our luck has run out.” Lockhart spoke in a somber tone.
Lockhart knew all too well that the small peace that he and his “children” had enjoyed was coming to a close. He knew that soon he would have to call upon all the Demons to fight for their lives.
As Lockhart and Genesis spoke I had already found my enemies, or rather they found me. Nina and her two cohorts were staring me down as I stood against them defiantly. They had no idea what was about to be set in motion. This battle was going to be the one to open the floodgates of Inferno itself and unleash its tormenting flames unto the world. Genesis looked at Lockhart with a sigh as if he was reading his mind.
“You have too much faith in him.” Genesis spoke to Lockhart.
“That may be true. But I know without a single fragment of doubt… He is destined to do great things.”
I stood before Nina and her allies. Katelyn. Reaver. These two people saw fit to take the side of a murderer. It ignited a fire in my heart that could not be extinguished. It was an incurable rage that had built up inside me. A rage that brought forth vivid images of my dead father. I wasn’t about to let Nina get away. I was not going to die here. I was going to kill her here and now and lay her soul to rest.
A tough looking man who seemed to be in his early twenties approached me. This man was Reaver. He was a rugged man to say the least. His rough face painted the image of a soldier who sought refuge from the battlefield. Irony spat in his face and brought him here, to the worst of all battlefields. His vibrant yellow eyes reflected the very horrors of war and the grotesque works of art he had witnessed during his time as a soldier. His blond hair was dirty and dark. It was rather long yet had a bit of a spiked looked to it as it draped just past his broad shoulders. His rugged face showed only sorrow as he glared into my eyes. Reaver was a man who had long since broken.
Reaver wore a black tank top that proudly clung to his slightly noticeable muscle tone. Despite leaving the military he still kept his body in top shape. Over his tank top was a sleeveless hoodie, also black. Reaver’s trousers were standard military combat trousers with an urban cammo print. His trousers were neatly tucked underneath his black combat boots which were made of an extremely tough leather. Despite long since abandoning the past, Reaver wears the garments of a soldier to remind him of what he once was. To him, wearing those clothes was a means of atonement for something.
“I promised myself I wouldn’t kill anyone. But that doesn’t mean I won’t protect Nina.” Reaver spoke as he walked ahead of Nina and stood between myself and my foe.
I readied myself and summoned my two blades to my hands. That’s when I saw it. Before my very eyes Reaver had opened up a small golden Mind Gate. From the gate Reaver pulled out a heavy revolver and swiftly aimed it at me with ease. All I can remember hearing is the gunshot.