Chapter 18:

End of the Night

Aether: Sin

The divisions of the Militia aren’t complicated in the slightest.

By their titles alone, one can understand the essence of their duties.

Alpha, Beta, Delta, Foxtrot, Shikari.

Guardians, Officers, Analysts, Scouts, Spies.

All named after the symbols created by the first kings.

All populated by clans. All possessing individual titles.

My father is the one in charge of overseeing all of them.

And I…as his son…

Will be the one to destroy them.

Kato: “Isaac…enough…”

Isaac Perreira turns to see his friend Kato glaring at him in the distance. Aurelia, who at first didn’t realize what was happening, finally turns as well.

Aurelia: “…”

Isaac picks himself up from Aurelia slowly. His hands were left shaking ever so slightly.

Isaac: “Kato…”

The man previously harassing Aurelia steps up confused: “How did you find us?!”

Kato reaches into his back pocket with his left hand, and drops the ID badges of the volunteers from earlier onto the floor.

Kato: “These are the IDs of some of the men that were caught inside the temple. They were all volunteers from the same batch of recruits that arrived only yesterday, brought in to fill the empty ranks of the divisions after the Alpha Squad’s fight against the Minotaurs. Volunteers come from Texdan and the other cities outside of Floritian, so of course they know nothing of the order of our ranks. They were desperate after all. Floritian is the capital city, complete with the best opportunities for a lifestyle that a human in our world can only hope to achieve. Due to that, volunteers will always follow orders, no matter what they may be. But in order to become a soldier in our Militia, one must first pass the required fitness tests. Those that fail are sent back home. Which means…these men were the castaways. Yet, even though they failed, they were deceived by soldiers who promised to change their situation. The only people in charge of registering the volunteers…and the only people who could make such a believable promise to these hopeless individuals….are none other than the soldiers of the Delta Squad…”

Kato glances over at Soldier 2 standing behind Isaac.

“Francis Ventura. Delta Squad Division soldier. Your sister, Quinn, has told me all about your work…directly with volunteers…”

Francis fixes his eyes on Kato, and smiles deviously.

“Congratulations! You figured it was me! Still doesn’t explain how you figured out our location, Kato I-za-na…”

Kato remains still with his usual unimpressed look.

“The soldiers you sent to disturb the temple were soldiers you managed to blackmail. Working for the Delta Squad, the division focused on intel and research for the Militia, I’m sure it wasn’t hard to find information on them. Whatever their crimes might be, I figured they were there out of necessity, not reason.”

Francis: “Lo-ca-tion?!”

Kato: “In order to figure out where a captive is taken, one must always know whom they are dealing with. Beta Squad Rule 121. I was foolish to assume the soldiers within and surrounding the temple were there for the sake of lust. But I learned quickly to change that narrative once the name Huncho was mentioned.”

Francis eye’s widened: “Who told you that it had anything to do with Huncho?”

Kato tilts his head in confusion: “If you were planning to remain in the shadows, you should really learn to keep your lackeys uninformed of your involvement.”

Francis becomes ticked off.

Kato: “Afterwards, you had us all assume Aurelia had disappeared somewhere in order to spread the rest of us out. Once spread out, your other men would sneak their way here, and you would all then await orders for your next move. I don’t really understand how you managed to trap her up here, but-”

Aurelia: “Up here?!”

Kato glances towards Aurelia: “Yes. We are still standing on the grounds of the Temple of Sol. Right on the roof. You haven’t been moved from where you were captured. Only blanketed by a Militia ‘covert operation’ device to coat your surroundings.”

Aurelia: “...huh…”

Francis: “So you figured out we were going to be here by that alone?”

Kato turns back to Francis: “Not quite. I could…sense that I should be here…just for a bit…”

Isaac, who had been frozen all this time, now smiles.

Isaac: “I see…of course it would be so…and of course it would be you…”

Kato stares at Isaac: “...why, Isaac?...what is the meaning of all thi-”

Isaac: “That’s none of your concern, freak.”

Kato’s eyes widen in shock, as he notices the menacing expression painted on Isaac’s face.

Isaac: “You know, you’ve always frightened people. You already stand out as it is with that silver hair of yours, but the way you are in itself is even more frightening. Always knowing what comes next, always being the hero behind the scenes, always moving forward even when the rest of us are still trying to figure out your actions of the past. Of course they would be scared of you. I’m not any different…in fact…I’m probably the person most frightened by you.”

Kato remains stiff. He cannot manage to speak. He can barely even manage to think.

“Isaac Perreira…a friend of mine since the days we were in the Elected Division together as schoolmates…I…”

Isaac: “Being around you always made me feel uneasy. Sometimes I even felt worthless. No matter how hard I tried, I could never figure you out as a person. It’s like you’re not even human. But you know what they say! Keep your friends close…and your enemies CLOSER!”

Aurelia, sits up properly, and glances at Isaac’s frustrated expression. She then glances over at Kato, and gasps.

His eyes were so cold.

So empty.

Kato: “…”

Isaac relaxes: “Do you understand why I can finally say these things? Look around you! You’re cornered in an area where you can’t escape with the girl you came to save! No friends to help you! And you’re even injured to add to that!”

Kato’s mind begins to race.

Isaac: “You wish to know the reason for all this?! We’re here for YOU! This whole ploy was to single YOU out! The son of the peasant bastard who snuck his way into the Militia general role, and is even now being molded to take his father’s position! The person you came to save isn’t anything but a pawn! YOU are the reason this woman is in danger, Kato! YOU are the reason all of this is happening! It’s all because of YOU!”

Kato’s mind races even faster. His ears begin to screech.

Isaac laughs maniacally as he stares at his shaking hand: “And the fact that everything actually played out just as the boss said it would! Factoring in everything about you and the ways in which your strange ability operates…it’s incredible! Every test you were given, you always made the choices he expected!”

“Wait, that’s the reason? I thought we were here for the girl?”

“So we came just to kill this chump? I was excited for nothing!”

Francis glares sharply at the men speaking up: “Shut your mouths!...”

Isaac flings his arms wide: “There’s no way out of this one, Kato. Even with all your strange tricks and abilities…you’re still just a man like the rest of us, aren’t you?! So here’s your last test Kato! Either you run away, empty handed!...or try to keep playing the hero, and DIE!!!”

Isaac motions the rest of the men towards Kato, but Kato remains at a standstill. His mind races faster and faster. His breath drags harder and harder. His-

“Don’t listen to him!”

Kato snaps out of his trance, and slowly looks towards the speaker.

Aurelia grabs hold of the chains attached to her neck.

Aurelia: “This is not your fault! The blame is mine! They used me to come after you! So please…just run away! If I am nothing more than a pawn, I’ll be fine!”

In that moment, even with all the objects in between the two of them, Kato’s eyes only see Aurelia, and Aurelia’s eyes only see Kato.

Kato: “”

Aurelia: “!...”

Suddenly, Kato’s mind freezes to the point everything around him seems to stop. His thoughts trail back to everything that had transpired throughout the evening. They then trail back to the brief moments he can remember of his past life.

A strange but familiar voice calls out in his mind: “RUN, Ceramys! RUN!”

Kato: “...right…I promised myself…that I would never run again…”

As the men inch closer to Kato's position, they then stop in their tracks, frozen in fear.

Kato: “...besides…I’m not out of options…”

As Kato holds out his right hand…a small ball of light appears.

Kato: “A gift from the faeries for protection. If I crush this ball in my hands, it’s all over.”

The men begin to back away slowly, knowing they would rather not die from the power of the faeries.

Kato: “I have no reason to fight any of you. You may all be here to end my life…but I am only here to save that woman…”

As Kato nudges towards Aurelia’s direction, Aurelia stands up slowly and points to her chest to make sure he meant her.

Kato: “You are literally the only woman here…”

Kato: “Walk towards me, Aurelia.”

Aurelia obeys and begins to walk towards Kato’s position, leaving the men to grunt and murmur loudly.

“What kind of a man would avoid a fight?!”

“Such a chump!”

Aurelia frowns as she thinks to herself, “Hold on, aren’t you all the ones trying to ambush him?”

Aurelia quickly skips towards Kato, and glances slightly at the ball of light as she reaches near. She then realizes that the ball of light looks much too familiar.

Aurelia whispers in Kato’s ear: “Oi…ain’t that a gift from Lady Daradriel to her Flare Aids? What are you doing with that?”

Kato, still staring at the men full on, whispers back: “Miss Beatrice informed me that Lady Daradriel had your ball of light preserved, since you refused to consume it. She meant to give it to you earlier, but you were much too distressed,”

Aurelia tucks herself under Kato’s arms, and whispers: “Hmm, I swear it vanished, though,”

Kato whispers: “Clearly, it didn’t.”

Aurelia whispers: “Clearly, you didn’t see what happened,”

Kato whispers: “Clearly, I don’t care.”

Isaac: “Are you two lovers finished?”

Aurelia and Kato glare at Isaac with disgust.

Isaac fixes his eyes towards Kato: “You didn’t think I’d just let you go, now did you? Sure you’ve got the girl now, but I still won’t let this opportunity slip by.”

Isaac braces himself for combat. His eyes remain full of hatred, glaring right towards Kato. His mouth foams in anticipation.

Isaac: “Power of the faeries, gods, or whomever. I’ve waited too long for this. Let’s dance…IZANA!”

“Now, now, let’s all be civil.”

Everyone in the vicinity suddenly turns towards the calming voice.

Dante Jamaerah, accompanied by the lieutenants and commander of the Foxtrot Division, arrives on the scene.

Dante: “Isaac. I understand you’ve never fought Kato before, but it’s just like Paul and I mentioned during the parade - Kato is not to be messed with. In fact, even with his injury…if you push him hard enough…”

Dante’s eyes pierce sharply in the moonlight as he glares towards Isaac.

“He would slaughter you where you stand.”

Isaac, feeling a great sense of unease, relaxes his stance. The Foxtrot soldiers then surround Kato and Aurelia, standing in front of Francis’ lackeys.

Quinn: “Dance, huh? Sounds like a lot of fun. Surely my invite was lost in the mail, right, little brother?”

Francis backs away, gritting his teeth in severe frustration.

The man who was harassing Aurelia earlier then steps up enraged…but comes to a halt after having a gun pointed right in his face.

Jason: “Ah, ah, ah. I know how to shoot with more than just rifles, big boy.”

Imeni unravels her boomerang and glares furiously at the men, causing a few of them to shriek in fear. Faeko and Emilia smile comfortably as they hold tightly to the hilts of their swords.

Randall claps his hands: “In order to avoid unnecessary bloodshed, I propose this....You all scatter away and find yourselves back in your barricades. And from now matter what... don’t ever show your faces at the temple again.”

Without warning, Randall manages to slip through the darkness and wrap three fingers around the front man’s throat.

“Otherwise…I can’t guarantee your safety…”

Kato: “Right…Randall and the others still believe the men are here for Aurelia…they see them more as fanboys than actual threats…”

Isaac grits his teeth: “I refus-!”

Francis: “Isaac! Let’s go! We have no fighting chance.”

Isaac turns and glares at Francis, before turning back to the highly skilled soldiers in front of him. He clenches his fists in frustration.

Isaac: “....alright….”

The men with Isaac and Francis then turn around, jump down from the top balcony unscathed, and run away from the temple. Francis is pulled into the arms of one of his lackeys as he jumps, while Isaac remains standing tall on the ledge. He refuses to turn towards Kato, who he knows is still surrounded by the Foxtrot soldiers.

“Mark my words, freak…now that we have a better grasp of your ability…your time…is limited…”

Kato says nothing, as Isaac finally jumps down and runs away with the rest of them.

Aurelia: “We’re really just going to let them go! Why?! We could have finished them off!”

Quinn smirks as she turns to Aurelia, “WE? Who is we?”

Faeko: “Fanatics wouldn't be prosecuted under law. They didn’t technically abduct you, since you were still on temple grounds. And you have no scars or bruises to symbolize that they harmed you.”

Aurelia: “But!-”

Quinn: “You have no reason to fear. They now know that there are capable people protecting you here, and this is the only night they could do it without the faeries around. Once they return, they will have no more open chances like the one they had tonight.”

Imeni murmurs: “Not until four months from now, at least,”

Aurelia glances around at the smiles coming from the Foxtrot soldiers. They all seemed very happy and relieved, but none of their smiles were directed towards her. Aurelia then turns to the receiver of their affections.

Kato, who was still thinking of the words Isaac said before he jumped down, then looks around towards the beaming Foxtrot soldiers, and smiles softly as well.

Kato: “Thank you all,”

Dante: “You smiled again?! Twice in one day?! Is the world ending tomorrow? I knew that damned Ichirogen took me away for a reason!”

Kato stops smiling: “Yea, sure…”

Dante smiles, and then rests his hands on Kato’s left shoulder and whispers:

“Don’t worry, I’ll be sure to make it clear to the faeries what you did to save the night.”

Kato glances at Dante’s sinister smile, and leans in.

“Thank you…” his voice drops slightly to a whisper as he gazes upon his closest friend, “…Huncho…”