Chapter 8:

Hand in Hand

Aether: Sin

How can someone tell when they are in love?

I suppose the same question applies to how someone can tell that they hate another person.

Especially since the two go hand in hand.

I hate the word hate. I love the word love.

Not because I aim for love and despise hatred…

But because I feel more for hatred than I can ever do for love.

“Let me go! I have to see!”

“Please stop this! You are a lady of the light now! You have to have some composure!”

The group of four turn and see three beautiful ladies attempting to drag back another beautiful lady into the alleyway beside them. The lady in front was clearly trying to escape from their clutches, but the other three were persistent as could be.

“It’s only our first day here, we won’t allow you to ruin this for us!”

 “Well if you would all just let me peep for a damn second, I’ll be sure to return as soon as possible!”

The four ladies end up falling on top of each other as they spill out from the alleyway. Their thin and beautiful white silk dresses now appear a bit dirtier than before.

“See! Look what you di-”

The four ladies turn and see the four men looking at them, unsure of what is happening. A few of the crowd look back as well, but most are too busy cheering.

Isaac: “Umm…are you ladies alright?”

The ladies become flushed with embarrassment, aside from one. This lady kisses her teeth, before standing up and trying to dust herself off. As she does so, her eyes wander to the one in the group resting his arms on the rails…who seems unimpressed by it all. Almost as if he is disappointed, but couldn’t care either way.

They lock eyes.


Aurelia and Kato think simultaneously.

[“ his problem?”]

[“ her problem?”]

As Isaac, Paul, and Dante all glance towards Aurelia, they freeze. None of them can say a word. None of them can look away.

Aurelia slowly turns to the other three and notices their frozen expressions. She then glances around as the people in the street turn towards her, and adopt the same expressions of shock. One by one…they all begin to stare.

The cheers fall silent.

The children stop dancing.

Even a few of the parading soldiers stop to see her.

“Are you lost?”

Aurelia turns to where the voice came from. Dante snaps out of his frozen state, and looks towards the same voice.

“You look lost.”

As Kato asks the question, Aurelia meets his gaze once more. His cold and gloomy expression remained, not shaken by anything going on…as if he didn’t have a care in the world…

“If you are looking for-”

“Thank you, but I’ll be fine.”

Aurelia walks away back through the alleyway she had come from, avoiding contact with any of the people loitering the center street. As her three friends follow her, she can’t help but feel confused. Her head begins to spin.

Aurelia: “What was all that about?”

“What was all that about?” Kato asks Dante.

Dante looks at Kato, confused by his indifference towards what they all just witnessed. He then sighs, knowing how his friend has always been.

Dante: “You are too straight forward for your own good, you know,”

Kato stares at Dante, clearly confused, but still with a cold expression nonetheless.

The men in the crowd begin to murmur amongst each other, shocked by the scene they had just witnessed.

“Who is she?!”

“She is as beautiful as a faery!”

“Given her clothing, I reckon she was chosen as a Flare Aid,”

“DAMN IT! I’m not royalty or nobility though!!”

“Her eyes shine like the ocean on a summer afternoon!”

“I want her to be mine!”

“A goddess, I’m telling you! She has to be!”

Kato lifts himself up from the rails, as he looks to the now restless crowd of Floritians.

Paul: “You seem surprised, Kato. Don’t tell me she didn’t catch your fancy?!”

Isaac: “What??!!! If you dare say such things, we are no longer friends!!!-”

Kato: “No, that’s not it. In fact, she was the most beautiful woman that I have ever seen.”

Isaac and Paul pause, before nodding in agreement.

Dante: “Then why the cold look of confusion?”

Kato continues to listen to the murmurs one by one, taken back by the scene playing out before him.

“...I’m just surprised that everyone seems to agree on the same thing…”

Dante, Paul and Isaac all glance towards Kato. They are then left completely shocked as they witness something they rarely ever see from him.

Kato smiles softly.

“It’s like a reminder…that we’re not all so different after all…”

Kato walks through the halls of the Convey as he prepares to meet with his father once more. He knows why he has been summoned, but yawns loudly without care.

Kato: “12 hours on the dot. How unfortunate. It seems we have a new record.”

He spots Quinn speaking with her younger brother, Francis Ventura, from the corner of his eye.


Quinn turns to Kato. Her eyes were filled with stress, until noticing Kato.


“I thought you would still be busy with the King,”

“Yes…I have finished my report to the King, and now await my report to the general. It seems he is occu…oh…”

Kato nods his head to Quinn, and then to Francis, before continuing on his way towards his father.

Francis shouts: “Perhaps it would be best if you didn’t always feel the need to get yourself involved…it would only benefit you in the long run, I must add,”

Kato stops. Quinn drags Francis’ ear to force him to stop talking.

“Francis Ventura. First son to the long established first-class noble family, the Ventura clan. But since the clan doesn’t heed to gender roles within the bloodline, his sister, Quinn, remains the heir as the firstborn daughter.”

Kato then looks back towards Francis.

“He always seems to know information before anyone else…if only he applied that to something more useful than deliberately getting under people’s skin…”

Kato nods his head once more. His hands remain cupped into his vest collar.


Kato then turns back and continues walking.

“Perhaps you should also take your own advice,”

Francis grins furiously as Kato walks away, sensing that Kato wasn’t trying to get under his skin as he was doing to him. No.

Kato was being dead serious.


Kato opens the door to the general’s office, and walks in slowly. He sees the general’s long time friend…or technically rival, Adrian Ortiz.

“You dare to end our conversation for the sake of this boy?!”

“I told you, I have nothing left to say to you! We are both old men in the eyes of the Militia, you truly think you could ever be a candidate for the position?!”

“Of course I do!!! It should have been mine from the start, if not for your strange outcomes in battle! And now you dare to limit my position in this Militia, even with all my experience! ”

“Out of my office at once! I must speak to my son.”

Adrian glances at Kato with demeaning eyes as he walks out. Kato only glances back in his usual cold manner, unsure of why the hostility was suddenly directed towards him.


Kato turns to face his father. He puts his hands firmly behind his back, as he stands properly at attention.

“Yes, sir.”

“What were the last words I spoke to you just two days ago??!!”



“ spoke of potential, sir,”


“ forbade me from speaking to the members of the Foxtrot Division,”


“ forbade me from fighting outside of my division rank-”

Syrus Izana suddenly flips out and pushes all of the scatter off his desk. He then stands up, and walks straight towards Kato.

“I promised you…if you disobeyed my orders again…you would be EVICTED from my ARMY!!!!”

“...that, as well,”

Syrus thrusts his hands directly towards Kato’s face, but stops short from making contact. Kato does not flinch, nor does he move his hands from their stationed position. Syrus’ hands shake with frustration, as he reluctantly pushes himself back.

“...where did I ever go wrong with you? Tell me, boy. I would like to know.”


Tears begin to form in Syrus’ eyes, as he sits down on top of his large desk. 

“I have tried. I have done everything I could to make you into the finest warrior, and to lead our clan into prominence for the future.”

Syrus holds out his hands and stares at his palms.

“Ever since I felt you in my hands when you were still a child, I knew…I knew… that all the children that bear through you…would be great. So…great…”

Kato continues to look at his father, unphased. Syrus continues:

“And yet…all you’ve done is cause me trouble, time and time again…you refuse to obey protocol…you refuse to obey the rules applied to this Militia system for the sake of the greater good…all for your own selfishness…”


“To think that I even had to punish you by limiting you to the Beta Squad…even with all your potential…I did it to make you realize that your mistakes were actually mistakes, regardless of your stubborn dreams…I did it to make you a better man….and yet…you still refuse to heed my warnings….I am truly tired, Kato…I’m tired…”

“...I’m sorry, sir,”

“Don't give me that! You don’t mean any of it.”

“And yet…I really do.”

Syrus walks around to the back of his desk, where his documents are piled inside the desk drawers. He pulls out a letter, sealed with the light emblem of the faeries, and holds it up.

“Due to the many losses that the Alpha Squad received in their previous fight, many soldiers are being distributed to fill in their ranks. Beta squad soldiers included, as they will all be dispersed and chosen accordingly.”

Syrus smacks the paper down on top of the desk.

“Since you disobeyed my orders again, I refuse to allow you to be chosen. If anything, you should be grateful I am being kind enough to allow you to remain in my army.”

“Thank you, sir.”

“Don’t just thank me. Thank the Priestess of Sol. It seems since this morning, many men began to clamor around the Temple of Sol for unknown reasons, and they are requesting Beta Squad soldiers to help guard the area from henceforth. The faeries don’t want to end up killing the men by accident, so they think that we, the Militia, should handle it instead. Since this falls under the duties of the Beta Squad, and you are already ordained to remain one of them, I will be sending you and a few other soldiers to handle this. You will be joined by others not chosen to be moved to a different division if the situation ramps up even more.”

“Yes, sir.”

“The decision of who joins you or not would have fallen under the jurisdiction of Commander Honebee. However, it seems he met a tragic end last night.”

Kato’s eyebrows raise up, shocked by the news.

“He was assassinated by a soldier who claims Honebee had assaulted his sister a few months ago. The man will face trial at the Smaix later today, and Honebee’s funeral will be held by the Peace Wall tonight. As a soldier in his division, you are required to attend.”

Kato recalls the last time he had seen Commander Honebee:


“If you were not the son of the general…you would have been kicked out to the boonies a long time ag-!”

Suddenly, the commander feels a sharp pain in the hand he is using to grab Kato’s hair, and immediately pulls his hand back. As he looks at his hand…he sees the lines in his palm and fingers have disappeared entirely.

The commander looks at Kato, confused and fearful of what just transpired, leaving Kato confused by the change of demeanor by the commander.

“...are you alright, sir?”

“You are all dismissed!”

The commander walks away sharply with his direct subordinates, refusing to look at Kato or the other soldiers any longer.

*End of Flashback*

Suddenly, Kato recalls a strange memory from his distant past:

“The lines across your hands are the keys to understanding your future.”

He then remembers the hand that Commander Honebee had used to grab his hair the previous morning.

“...and in their absence…comes death…”

Kato looks back towards his father, pushing the memory away, “...Yes, sir.”

As Kato begins to turn to leave the room, Syrus quickly stops him.

“Everything I’ve done is for your own good, Kato…please understand that…”

Kato’s eyes darken, before continuing his motion towards the door.

“...yes, sir.”