The Last Light
Eventually, they stopped when they met with the victim’s body. Anthony Gonzalez, a Nephilim that was found dead two days ago in front of the Nephilim embassy. Worked as a baker, but his true occupation was a spy. To be honest, he doesn’t really look like a spy, more like a regular Joe, but if he does look like a spy, that would mean he wasn’t really a good one.
Jonathan leaned closer to the body, he found that the stabbing wound was odd. It was as if he had been stabbed multiple times by a different knife and tools. But there’s no slight deviation in the stand wound, whoever it was, they didn’t change the tools every time he or she stabbed him.
“The stab wounds didn’t come from the same blade, but somehow, they didn’t change the blade from how close the wound was to each other,” said Jonathan.
“Perhaps the murder weapon was a Metalmorp. That would explain why there were traces of it inside him,” said Eri as she leaned closer.
“What’s Metalmorp?” Jonathan turned to the undine.
“It’s a liquid metal that can change into any shape according to the user’s will.” Eri exposed the wound further and revealed a small amount of silver substance stuck between the flesh.
“I see. Wait, I’ve seen this before. It was sold at one of those shops we walked past.”
“It’s a common item here. The Metalmorp are good at a few things, but turning it into a weapon isn’t one of them. Its toughness is weak compared to a normal metal. I don’t see how the suspect could overpower the victim using such a flimsy weapon. The victim could simply break it with a hit before the suspect could even attack.”
“Not if he was unconscious. Hypno Poppies. The report said there was a trace of it inside his body and house. I saw it back then when I was at his house. Also, look at his wrists and ankles. He was certainly bound, but he didn’t struggle.” Jonathan pointed out the marks around the victim’s wrist and ankles.
“Hypno Poppies are rare here.”
“Then we got our lead. We just need to follow the poppies.”
“Still there about twenty apothecaries that have the licenses to sell it. I don’t know if we have the time to question them all. Furthermore, he might even use another name to purchase it.” She turned to Diana. “Perhaps Lady Diana can provide us some insight.”
Diana hovered her hand above the body. She flattened her lips and furrowed her eyebrows together. “Disturbing.”
“What do you see?” Jonathan leaned closer to the banshee.
“Nothing. Absolute nothing…” She turned to face Jonathan. The look she held on her face was fear.
“That’s not possible. Everything, no matter how small it is. All of them have a past. Lady Diana. Are you saying this body has no past?”
“It’s not impossible, but it’s true. Either it’s being blocked by something powerful or it has been erased by something even more powerful. In my opinion, both are alarming.” She placed her hand on her chin.
“What about the Shadow Walker I took down yesterday? Can you do your thing on them? It might help us if we know what they are after,” said Jonathan.
“That will be useless. We don’t have the bodies anymore.” Eri averted her gaze to the file in her hands.
“What do you mean?”
“The Nephilim government already took the bodies. They stated the personals who attacked you weren’t on an official mission, and they will launch an investigation within their ranks to uncover the one responsible for the order.” Eri lowered the file.
“Could have guessed so. A seer like you would be a danger to their national security. Imagine the stuff those Shadow Walker knew.” Jonathan furrowed his eyebrow together and crossed his arms. “There’s nothing we can do about it. Talking to his close contacts at this point would be a waste of time. It’s his cover after all. The Apothecaries are our main lead. He wouldn’t be buying it so near to his residence. That’s why we need to start with the furthest one from his home then make our way deeper until we can find one who has seen the victim before.”
“As much as I hate to admit it, you’re right. I will ask the administration to compile all the apothecary’s addresses with the license to sell Hypno Poppies. From there we can determine which one is the furthest and start there.” Er took another look at the file. “That’s odd. According to the autopsy report, he had been dead a day prior before he appeared in front of the embassy. However, the witnesses said they saw him walk and collapse in front of them.”
“Can magic do that, move a dead body?” asked Jonathan.
“By definition of moving, throwing them across the room, sure, but make them walk, no you can't unless…” Eri’s words trailed off, then she turned to Diana.
“Unless what?” asked Jonathan.
“Forbidden magic. Necromancy,” answered Diana.
“Implying that would mean turning The Headmistress into our main suspect. Necromancy isn't just forbidden. Its knowledge has been thoroughly wiped across the world, and the only known practitioner alive is Miss. Victoria” explained Eri.
Jonathan sighs heavily. The case has become substantially even more difficult than before. “Is she our suspect, then let it be. Innocent until proven guilty, right?”
“You both should leave, or you are going to be late for your class,” said Diana.
Eri looked at her watch and turned to Jonathan, “She’s right. We need to go.”
Before Jonathan could follow Eri toward the door, Diana tugged on his sleeve. Jonathan glanced behind him and saw Diana with a worried look. She smiled before saying, “Trust your right.” She let go of his sleeve and walked away.
Jonathan raised his eyebrow, confused as to what she meant, but before he could give it any thought, Eri glared at him to hurry. He shook it away for later and fastened his pace toward the undine waiting for him.***
Two years prior before Jonathan had even the slightest thought of leaving this life, he was on a mission in the middle of the night. Thousands of heavy droplets broke apart into tiny drops upon impact with the thick jungle foliage above. His dark tactical garbs were soaked with rainwater while his boot was smeared by the mud.
He peered out of the bush to get a better look at the compound. A standard out in the woods drug lab. Everything was set up in a way that is easy to move in case of emergency. Highly guarded by more than a dozen mercenaries.
The rustle beside Jonathan drew his attention. He turned his head and met with a go-lucky and rugged-looking young man with dark hair. With a dumb grin on his face, he took out a thermos and poured a cup of tea for himself. “Cold night, eh?” whispered Kenny.
Jonathan pressed his hand against his forehead and groaned quietly. “I told you to leave it behind. You’re going to give away our position,” whispered Jonathan.
“Pfft, it’s not like they have heat vision out there,” said Kenny as quietly as possible while waving his hand at Jonathan’s worries.
“I can’t believe Memory would pair us again. She never listens to me when I keep telling her I want another partner.”
“Come on, Jonah. You’re going to hurt my feelings, you know?” Kenny pouted.
“Whatever, you know the rule if anything happens to you.” Jonathan focused his attention on the compound.
“I know. I know. Whatever happens, the job takes priority even at the risk of my life.” Kenny lay against the wet grass and covered his face with a hat. “I’m bored, Jonah. Bored out of my mind.”
“Then take a shore leave.”
“And leave you by yourself? I wouldn’t do that to you. You know I love you too much.”
“Spare me your love. I’m not your responsibility.”
“You said that, but I know you love having me around, Brother.” Kenny slapped Jonathan’s back.
Jonathan shrugged off Kenny’s hand. “Please stop saying that. I’m not your brother. Can we focus here? We got a job to do.”
“Sure. Sure. Tell me what do you see?” Kenny crouched beside Jonathan, then rested his arm over his partner’s shoulder.
“Too many soldiers. We need a distraction.”
Kenny stretched out his arms. “Alright. You get data. I provide the distraction.”
Before Jonathan could even suggest anything, Kenny already left his side. He groaned at his sudden disappearance and snuck around the edge of the compound. He found himself behind the main tent where his target should be. All he needs to do now is wait for the distraction.
Jonathan waited and waited. Suddenly, the entire jungle shook with a loud boom. He turned around and saw a bright orange light flickering over the foliage. Panic arose around the compound, Jonathan heard shouting coming from inside the tent and numerous footsteps leaving the tent.
He took a knife and tore a small slit in the tent’s wall, enough for Jonathan to take a peek inside. As expected, there wasn’t a single soul left. He tore the slit even wider for him to crouch through. He examined the interior and stopped his gaze at the laptop on the desk. Wasting no time, he made his way to the laptop and began copying everything into the external hard drive.
A soldier walked into the tent and saw Jonathan messing with the laptop. He didn’t give any warning, instead, pointed his handgun at Jonathan. He was about to pull the trigger when suddenly, he fell unconscious and collapsed to the floor.
Jonathan turned his head to the sound of a metal thump. He let out a groan when he saw Kenny behind the collapsed soldier. Kenny held a dented thermos and wore a grin. “And you tell me to leave my thermos behind.”
“What are you doing here? Aren't you supposed to head to the extraction point?”
“Come on, I deserve a thank you for saving your life.”
“My life has no value. If you were forced to pick either to save my life or complete the job, take the job. I would do the same to you in a heartbeat. Also, I don’t need your help. I got it under control.” He took out the silenced pistol that was pointed at Kenny and slid it into the holster.
“There you go again. A good loyal cub. The same as always. Mama Bear really got you under her spell.”
“The reason why I’m loyal to her is not because of her spell. Memory put food on my plate, taught me how to survive, and gave me a roof over my head. She’s the only good thing that ever happened to me. I owe her for everything.”
“How long are you going to keep paying her back? Hm? Two years? Five perhaps? How about ten? Twenty? Fifty? And do you think she did all those things out of the kindness of her heart? No. She sees us as a means to an end. We’re not her family, or friend, or equal, we are her weapons.”
Jonathan quickly stood up and brought the tip of his knife closer under Kenny’s jaw. A trickle of blood dripped down the blade. “Give me a reason. I dare you.”
Kenny remained calm and collected. He sighed and raised both hands. “I won’t fight you, Jonah, but know there’s much more to life than being a good little soldier.”
“There isn’t. Life is disappointing. Life is cruel. It is unjust and the people in it are vile creatures.” Jonathan pulled his knife away and slid it back into the sheath.
“Not all of them.”
Jonathan disconnected the hard drive after the process was complete. He walked toward the opening slit he came through. “Let’s head to the extraction point.”
Jonathan turned around with a raised eyebrow. “What?”
“I can’t. They're keeping kids here as forced labor. I need to save them.”
“Save?” As if that word was alien to Jonathan. His teeth clenched against each other. “Save? Our job is to infiltrate, extract the data, and leave. There is no saving of any kind in the mission briefing.”
“I want your help, Jonah.”
“Have you gone crazy? There are more than a dozen soldiers out there. The two of us don’t have the manpower or the ammo to take all of them down. Even if we did save those kids, then what? Who’s going to feed them? Where are they going to sleep? Who’s going to take care of them? You? Me?”
“I know. I know…” His fingers dug into his palms. “But, not this time. I’ve been to where they are. I can’t leave them.”
“Fine. If you want to kill yourself, do it. I refuse to take any unnecessary risk, so I’m leaving.” Jonathan turned his back on him.
“Catch!” Kenny threw the thermos at Jonathan. His partner caught it and glanced behind him. “I want you to have it. One day when you’re out of Memory’s grasp, I want you to ask yourself; Who am I?”
“Who am I?” asked Jonathan with a raised eyebrow.
“Yeah, who are you?” asked Kenny before he turned around and put one round into the chamber of his rifle.
That night was the last time Jonathan ever saw Kenny. He didn’t know whether the young man had survived his foolish mission or not. To his knowledge, he believed that he never made it, or at least, that was what he told Memory after he got back from that job. It took him almost a year to realize that he should have taken Kenny’s offer. If only he knew what Memory truly was.