Chapter 4:

House of Hades

Code: Zero Defect

The rest of the day went by like any other. Well, except for the fact that I was swamped by a bunch of kids who caught wind of my victory against the sergeant. They asked so many arbitrary questions that I kinda regret raising my hand for that 'demonstration.'

After the bell rang to signal the end of the school day, I made my way out of the front gates, and there stood the most inarguably beautiful woman in the world holding a bouquet of flowers.

"Hello, my dear," Mother greeted me with a smile. "How was your day?"

"Not bad," I replied. "A soldier from the army came today to teach us a bit of defensive training."


"Let's just say he didn't land a single hit on me."

She giggled and ruffled her hand through my hair. "That's my boy."

I couldn't help but smile. Words like those mean nothing to me, but it's a different story when Mother says them.

"You brought flowers for me?" I scoffed. "I thought I remembered saying that I'm not into that kinda stuff."

"Oh, stop kidding around, and let's go," Mother chuckled. "We can't keep her waiting."


"Sol... Don't tell me you forgot."

As I stared at me with visible disapproval, I instantly remembered. I was wondering why today felt colder than usual.

"Ah... Right," I mumbled. "I suppose we should go now."

We waited for a taxi and got in.

"Where to?" asked the driver.

"Domos Haidou," Mother said.

"Got it."

With that, the hovercar rose from the ground and joined the traffic. As I looked around at the magnificent architecture and the grandiose skyscrapers, I couldn't help but compare it to the dilapidated infrastructure of the undercity.

It's unfortunate that there has to be such a massive societal disparity. In a perfect world, all would live an equal life and be granted equal opportunities under the same sky. However, this isn't that kind of world.

I consider myself lucky to have been born into the upper class, not because of the lavish lifestyle. I couldn't care less for that. Had I been a dweller of the undercity, I wouldn't have the same means to wage my silent war against the coatsmen.

"Aren't you forgetting something else, Sol?" Mother asked.

"Hm? Oh, yeah," I said.

I pulled out my phone and scrolled through the short contact list. Among them was one named 'BROSKI.' I tapped the call button, and he picked up almost immediately.

"Hey, hey!" shouted the ugliest man known to the world as his face planted on the screen.

"What's going on, Caelus?" I greeted him with a chuckle.

He rested his phone on a holster and sat down in front of it with a relaxed posture. His long black hair was tied in a ponytail, flowering all the way down to his back. His bangs were unevenly scattered across his face, giving him a wild look.

There is not a single man in the world who could pull off that hairstyle except for him, and he has Mother to thank for that sharp face. As much as I despise him simply because he's my brother, even I have to acknowledge his near-perfect looks. If only I could be half as imposing as he is.

"How ya doin, Lil Bro?" he smiled.

"Living, at the very least," I scoffed.

"Sol," Mother said in a scolding manner.


"Is that Mom?" Caelus asked. "Hey! Put her on! Why are you making me look at your ugly ass when she's right there?!"

"Wha... Drop dead, you bastard."

"Okay, that's enough out of the two of you," Mother sighed as she swiped my phone away. "Hello, my dear. How've you been?"

"Living, at the very least," he grinned.

I pulled my hand over my mouth to keep what hideous laugh would've come out. All the while Mother slowly twisted her head at me.

"Are you hurt anywhere, Caelus?" Mother asked.

"Nah, I'm good," he assured her. "Ain't nothing out here that can kill me except for me."

"Don't push yourself too hard, okay? And make sure you're eating healthy."

"Mom, I'm fine. Don't worry too much about me. Otherwise, you'll start wrinkling."

But she was still reluctant to believe a word he said. Caelus had always been reckless, even when we were kids. He was the kind to say he was totally fine when he wasn't. I hated that about him, but... now that I've grown up a bit, I can see that I was never any different.

"If you say so," Mother finally managed to say with a smile.

"And I am saying so," Caelus chuckled. "So keep your head up high. Just know that your son is out there kickin' ass for the best mom in the world."

Mother giggled and breathed a joyful sigh. "Alright. I'll take your advice, my dear."

"Awesome. Oh, could you hand the phone over to Solas real quick?"

And she did as he asked. When I saw that devious smirk on his face, I wanted to throw the phone out the window.

"I hope you get strangled," I sighed.

"Whoa! Hurtful words, Lil Bro, hurtful words," he exclaimed dramatically. "Anyway, how come you don't call me as often anymore? My line's still free."

"Because you made it a habit of answering no matter the circumstances. Last time, you accepted the call even though you were surrounded by eidolons."

"Well, how else am I supposed to show you how cool your older brother is?"

"You're not that cool."

"Ouch, my heart! How could you say something like that, Lil Bro?!"

"Cuz it's true."

The taxi suddenly came to a halt. The driver leaned over the gap between the two front seats.

"We're here, ma'am," he said.

After wiring the necessary amount of credits to him, Mother said, "Let's go, boys."

We left the hovercar and stood at the edge of a massive lush field. Dotting the ground were gravestones of many different shapes. This is Domos Haidou, otherwise known as the House of Hades, the largest cemetery in the entire city.

We kept walking along a path until we reached a particular gravestone. Even after so long, I still can't get used to reading that name on an object symbolizing death.

For the last ten years, we've visited this grave in honor of our fallen family member—the eldest child of our family. My sister, Nelia De Leux.

The Reclamation was a historic event that happened ten years ago. I was too young to remember the details, but from what I know now, augmented creatures from beyond the city breached its walls. They are known as eidolons.

They successfully tore through a quarter of the undercity and eventually took over the Spire. A mass operation to retake the city was initiated among the best soldiers in the city, the Queen's Guards.

Volunteer soldiers were also accepted before the operation. Nelia was one such soldier, as she wanted to follow in our father's footsteps.

The series of events that followed for the next six months became known as the Reclamation. In the end, Nelia never came back. It was Mother's greatest regret to accept her daughter's foolish proposal.

"I often wonder how these past ten years would've gone had Nelia been with us," Caelus said. "Would Dad have paid more attention to his family? Would we still be together at home, fooling around and stressing the hell out of Mom? It's so... disheartening."

Mother knelt on the ground and rested the bouquet in front of the gravestone.

"We're here to see you again, sweetie," she whispered softly. "We miss you very much, but we're okay. Please, don't worry about us and have fun up there. Okay?"

It makes me angry and sad at the same time whenever Mother talks to Nelia like this. There's nothing I can do to make her feel better, and it makes me angry at myself.

"Rest well... my lovely daughter," she whimpered before the tears came out. "You'll always... always... be in our memories."

Caelus and I remained silent because we both knew that if one of us cried, the other would, too. It's getting increasingly hard to stay calm these days.