The God thrives in the wars he started. The man who lost everything seeks revenge at any cost. A demon that should be despised leads the man.
Part One | Part Two (Delayed…)
Art done by the fantastic Mister Artorias. Go check out more of his work on his Instagram!
I want to give special thanks to the patrons who’ve supported me thus far:
Hypermice, Sean Young, and Mister Artorias
A Destructive Night
Thick clouds covered the sky, and the noise of heavy rain masked the release of a bullet followed by cries of agony. The pain was cut short by sharp fangs. Clouds passed overhead, leaving behind a light drizzle. The full moon at its peak cast its silvery ray across the bloody remains splattered across the tight alleyway between two high rises. The small, stagnant puddles left were dyed a crimson red.
With the calming of the rain came the cacophony of noise to take over once more. Cars speeding across the streets, the voices of thousands of citizens walking the streets of the nearby downtown and red-light district. Ships flew overhead with the occasional burst of air as one entered or exited the atmosphere. A shrill scream of surprise near the entrance to the alleyway joined the noise for a brief moment.
Red and blue lights bathed the alleyway as yellow tape was quickly drawn across the entrance. The blue uniforms of various animals filled the tight space and the street outside. An assortment of cars sat clustered, creating a barricade for the entire street.
Jax Denek heard a car door close behind him with an audible hiss and looked over the scene with his keen eyes. A red stain splattered along the wall at the entrance to the alleyway caught his attention. A fine introduction to what this night will hold.
He turned at the interruption to his thoughts and knelt by the door with its window down to meet the eyes of the driver, his partner, Trevalk.
“I’m going up to scan the area. Call when you are ready for pick up.” Trevalk shifted in his seat trying to get comfortable with his large muscled body. The black striped tiger looked over. “Alright?”
Jax nodded and straightened himself. He watched the window slide up before the car began to lift into the air. Even with the multitudes of scratches and peeling paint, the black body of the car hid it in the night air. The only indicator the car was there at all was the occasional flicker of red lights along the sides to warn other vehicles in the air of its location.
The gust of wind from the car’s departure ruffled his red and brown fur that Jax now brushed down with his paws before he pulled his trench coat tight around his body and turned back to the waiting crime scene. Let’s see what the animals in blue have accomplished.
He walked past the variety of dark blue cop cars and came to the yellow tape blocking the entrance to the alleyway. A blue-uniformed otter looked up at Jax and began to speak before he paused at the badge presented by Jax. The otter nodded and stepped back as Jax pulled the tape up and walked on through.
Jax only took a few steps into the alleyway before he stopped. Stands had been set up on the side with bright lights. At the center was an animal in a hazmat suit moving thoughtfully around a white rabbit in a suit stained red, studying various pieces of shrapnel left on the ground. The rabbit’s left arm was ripped off and thrown deeper into the alley. The rabbit’s face was frozen in grotesque pain, most likely formed in the rabbit’s final moments at the large bite mark along its neck.
A flash of white blinded Jax temporarily. He blinked his eyes clear and watched the white-tailed doe walk carefully along the edge before taking several more photographs of the body. Her hoofed feet clopped against the hard pavement.
“Surprised to see a tanner here so fast, especially you, Denek. Isn’t it past your bedtime?” The brown hyena said. His voice was rough around the edges but quick, not affected by the late hours. He walked over to Jax and offered up a paw to the wolf, the other holding a brightly lit tablet already covered in notes.
“Tom’s orders are why I’m out this late. Though you already know that, Bonuo.” Jax took the Hyena’s paw in his own and shook it. Officer Bonuo, one of the few that can be trusted on the police force to stand his ground for the truth. How amusing that he’s a hyena of all animals.
“That old stag still bossing you tanners around? I figured he would have retired by now.”
“No, he’s still working.” Jax turned his attention back to the dead rabbit. “Tell me what you have so far.”
Bonuo sighed, his shoulders slumping, “You know, that’s exactly why I transferred departments. Having to be strict all the time…” He raised the tablet to his eyes. “The victim’s name is Halph Nelfar, age Sixteen. Quite old for a rabbit. Shot through the stomach by a compact pulse round. Based on the diameter of the hole we can assume a nine-millimeter.” The hyena slid a finger along the tablet’s screen, the notes scrolling up. While scanning the page, he moved to the side of the rabbit to give space for Jax.
Jax stepped forward to get a closer look at the dead rabbit. He noticed the stains in the rabbit’s clothes between the legs, a stench beginning to grow. He reached for a handkerchief hidden within a pocket of his trench coat and brought it up to his sensitive nose to cover it. The rain only slowed the stench of the dead rabbit, and it’s going to get worse.
“After the rabbit was shot, he fell back, and it was at that point the attacker took advantage of the situation and switched to a more physical means of attack. The attacker ripped the rabbit’s left arm off and bit into his neck.” Bonuo scrolled further along the tablet before lowering it. “Just another animal in a string of attacks in this district.”
He spotted the small pin on the rabbit’s collar, a hoof print. The Cell Organized Herd. A political party looking to make a lot of changes in this upcoming election. “Nelfar, this is the same rabbit that was running for mayor, correct?” he asked.
“Yea, that’s the one. He had the right education, the backing of many animals in the city, and a nice suit.” The hyena shrugged. “The Cell Organized Herd has been gaining a lot of traction, and with it backing Nelfar, he had a good chance.”
What a mess. I can smell already that this won’t be an easy job. Jax ran a hand through the fur along the top of his head, flattening the short tuft of red. “Thanks for the intel, Bonuo. I’ll be seeing you.”
“Good luck in the hunt, Denek.” Bonuo waved as Jax walked past the tape and out to the street.
The small screen in the console of the car was lit to reveal a smoky scene. In the dim light of the room was an old stag, his fur turning gray in spots and stained by the smoke of his cigar between his lips. The part of the office on display around the stag was a mess and covered in a thick layer of dust. The only thing kept in pristine condition was the stag’s horns, elegant and smooth, a sharp contrast to his heavy gut which popped above the desk as he leaned back in his leather chair.
“Tom, honestly, this is not worth the trouble. Diving into a homicide with politics at the thick of it. Leave that to the Sentinels,” Trevalk stated. The tiger glanced at the screen a few times, but most of his attention was kept to the skyline surrounding the car. He shifted the steering wheel in his grip, adjusting the car’s altitude as he brought it into a tunnel.
“Leave it to them?” Tom chuckled. “That department is a mess.”
“Mess or not, they’re in charge of all cases dealing with active politicians, and Halph falls under that jurisdiction, and you know that!” Trevalk replied.
Tom shifted the cigar between his lips. “What does my favorite tanner think?”
“This crap again, I swear…” Trevalk grumbled.
“What do I think? Well…” Jax turned to look out the window. What do I think? Not a lot to think on, this investigation is already off to a strange start, starting with the location. The lights of the tunnel flashed by every second like a ticking clock to some end game. Cars to the right were left behind as Trevalk sped the vehicle forward. The tunnel came and went to be replaced by a new skyline. The mountain range that split the expansive city had been conquered a long time ago.
“What I want to know is why Halph was in the southern region of Metrauloo when his home is in the northern region of the city,” Jax stated. He turned his attention to the control panel, the image of Tom shifting as the stag considered the thought.
“It’s a good question and only adds to my point on why you two are going to stick to this case. We can expect the Sentinels to defend the remaining two political candidates in this election, but we can’t rely on them to figure out why Cell Organized Herd’s Halph is lying dead in an alleyway deep in the south side of Metrauloo.”
Trevalk grumbled a curse under his breath before answering, “Yes, sir!”
“You got it, boss.” Jax nodded.
“Excellent!” Tom abruptly leaned forward and brought his eyes close to the camera to get a good look of Jax. “And Denek, I’m expecting great things from my favorite tanner!”
Jax ran a hand through the red streak of fur atop his head and gave a half-hearted smile to the display. “Always.”
“Great!” he exclaimed and sat back in his chair. “Remember, shoot first then ask questions.”
How funny I used to think that line was a joke.
The display went black as the connection was closed. A moment later the display returned to a menu screen with basic information such as the weather outside and current traffic alerts scrolling along the bottom.
“What a damn waste of time for a case. Next thing you know we’re gonna have a bunch of Sentinel idiots barraging us with accusations and questions on why we are sticking our snouts into their business,” Trevalk spat. He extended a hand to the console and flicked several switches. The screen changed to display a location lit by a red dot. “Why are we flying out here anyways and not trying to hunt down the killer?”
Jax reached into a pocket hidden in his trench coat to reveal a silver flask. “We’re going to Halph’s home to speak with his wife before the city police reach her. As for the killer, if they’re experienced, then they are long gone. Otherwise, the police will catch them before the night’s end.” Jax unscrewed the top of the flask and took a gulp of the dark red liquid inside. A necessary poison. The contents seeped down his throat and left a warm tingling in his chest.
“What makes you think even an experienced killer escaped the area?” Trevalk asked. He shifted the wheel with one hand while adjusting a lever.
Jax watched from his viewpoint as the car ascended along the side of a tall skyscraper. At the top, a platform began to extend out the side of the building, unfolding piece by piece in preparation for the car’s landing. “That’s the exact reason why you’re the driver and I’m the tanner.” Jax took another sip from the flask before screwing the top closed and placing it back inside its pocket.
“Of course.” Trevalk shook his head. “Well, good luck. I’ll be waiting.”
“I appreciate it.” Jax replied, pushing the door open as the car settled onto the extended platform. Hopefully, I won’t be needing that luck before the night’s end.
He began to make his way along the platform toward the waiting doors to the inside of the skyscraper’s top floor. The hiss of the car door closing sounded behind him. He glanced back to see the vehicle lift off the platform and re-enter the filled skyline.
Let’s see if the wife is doing any better this evening.
The lobby was kept in a pristine condition. A fountain flowed at the center with flower sculptures decorating the sides. Cushioned chairs sat empty with tables scattered around the fountain. Low walls with dirt in the center to support a large host of plant life circled the lobby. Trees rose from the dirt toward the ceiling; bright yellow flowers blossomed along the branches. The ceiling was a large sheet of glass that allowed the silvery moon’s glow to shine into the room.
Jax went through the center of the lobby; his senses calmed by the gentle flow of the fountain. The air was clean, and the outside noise of the city and its constantly moving traffic was muffled entirely in the quiet peace of the lobby. He came to the fountain’s edge and watched the movement of the water. Only the spoiled rich would want a garden hundreds of feet in the air.
He turned and walked along a path that snaked through the lobby to a distant hallway heading toward the variety of residential suites. The area was empty except for two love bats kissing on a bench; both looked at him with wary eyes as he passed.
Entering the hallway, Jax moved down its bright marble floors. His eyes looked to the names and numbers on the side of doors. He stopped at the door with a bronze plate on the wall engraved “Nelfar.” He knocked twice and waited.
The door clicked and opened to reveal a brown rabbit with several white dots sprinkled across her body. A large white dot surrounded her right eye. The brown tuft of fur atop her head was in uncombed disarray. She wore a light blue sweater thrown on hastily with a simple white nightgown beneath that hung loose around her lithe form.
“Bellu Nelfar?” he asked. She is a mess only waiting to get worse.
Only coming up to his chest, she looked up slowly with tired brown eyes. “Yes?” she asked quietly.
“Do you have a few minutes to talk, Mrs. Nelfar?” Jax asked.
“It’s about my husband, isn’t it?”
“What makes you think that?” Halph’s late-night goings aren’t new to her it seems.
She lowered her eyes. “Just a good hunch. Come in, please. Tell me everything that happened.”
Jax followed her into her home. The living space was dimly lit by a few lamps scattered around the room. Pictures lined the wall with a variety of rabbits all dressed in fine clothing. Along one side of the room, thick glass panels ran the length of the space, dimmed to stop the outside lights from intruding. At the center, a hardwood coffee table sat surrounded by a wraparound black cushioned couch. For someone of their stature, the Nelfar home is quite modest. An unusual detail.
Bellu took her seat on one side of the couch and waved her hand to the other side. “Please, sit.”
Sitting down on the edge of the couch, he kept his focus on Bellu.
“Would you like anything to drink or eat?” she asked, her eyes drifting to the kitchen through a nearby doorway.
She simply nodded and turned her attention back to him. “I assume, you are one from the Herd? I figured if my husband messed up that they’d be the ones to bring me the ill news.”
“No, I’m a tanner.”
An audible gasp sounded from her lips, which she promptly covered with her paws. “What happened to him that caused a tanner to be in our home?”
“I was hoping I could get some information from you in regard to your husband,” Jax continued.
“What happened to my Halph?” she insisted.
Jax shifted in his seat. “He’s been killed.”
Bellu stood up abruptly and walked away, her arms crossed, and head lowered. Her brown bangs hid her eyes from Jax.
He sighed and rested back against the cushions. His eyes closed, and he ran a hand through the fur along the top of his head. His ears perked at the pop of a cork being pulled from a bottle. A lady who turns to the drink in sadness, can’t blame her. I lost track how many times I’ve done the same. Taking a deep breath, he got up to follow her into the kitchen. There he found her with a bottle of wine in one hand and a glass already filled with the red liquid.
She took a swig from the glass and leaned against the granite counter. Her tired eyes met his as he entered the kitchen. “Who killed him?”
“I don’t know yet,” he replied, propping himself up against the side of the doorway. “Do you know why your husband would go all the way down to the southern region?”
“Down there?” She shook her head and took another gulp directly from the bottle. “He’s always been a good rabbit. An honest one… too honest for politics, but it’s what he wanted.”
“What made him decide to join the Cell Organized Herd?”
She took a third gulp of wine. Her ears began to droop. “It was the only party that would support his idea of decreasing the supply of animal meat. He believed… we both believed that it’s wrong for so many animals to live in constant fear of not being able to pay the taxes to stay alive. To end up in some farm to be prepared for predators. Predators like you.” She looked up in realization to what she had said. “I’m sorry.” She mumbled, quickly looking down in submission to his cold gaze.
“Quite the idea… to limit the animals selected. Even suggesting such an idea could get any animal killed and your husband wanted it to pass if he was elected?” Jax asked, ignoring her comment about him.
Bellu nodded slowly and downed the glass before pouring more from the bottle. “Yes, it was the big ticket he was running on. As a matter of fact, he was going to host a rally tomorrow.” She placed the wine bottle on the counter behind her. “I suppose the rally is off now.” She began to swirl the red liquid around, watching it move within the glass.
“Has anyone unusual been coming here or meeting with your husband?”
The red wine slowed to a standstill before Bellu took another sip. “He had many meetings with members from both the Herd and the Sentinels about all sorts of stuff. I couldn’t possibly tell you any names. There were so many, and I’m confident that not all of them were good animals.” She closed her eyes and shook her head. “Just so many. I never wanted to admit it, but I’m worried he got too deep into the Herd. That he strayed from his path of good intentions.”
Jax ran a hand along his head, fingers trailing the outline of his right ear. “Do you think he owed anyone something? Do you think they will come for you next?”
She looked up, “I… I don’t think so. Do you think the killer will come here?”
“It is possible.” He stepped forward and stopped her from gulping the rest of the wine down. “I think you’ve had enough.”
Bellu nodded and stepped away from the counter to head back into the living room.
Placing the glass on the counter, Jax followed her to the room and sat on the couch across from her.
“I have to continue where he left off.”
“I don’t think that would be smart,” Jax replied.
She brushed her bangs back behind her ears and looked up at Jax. “I have to try. I’ve been on the campaign with Halph for so long. I have to continue his legacy or else all that work, it’ll be wasted!”
“If you aren’t already a target you definitely will become one then.”
Her hands balled up into fists. “I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I let his dream of a safer life for all animals to die with him.”
“Well I—” Jax paused at the feeling of a vibration against his side. Reaching into a pocket he revealed a receiver. “I’m sorry, this is urgent.” He said, pressing a button on the receiver without waiting on a reply from Bellu. “What is it?” he asked, standing from the couch to take slow pacing steps around the room.
Trevalk’s voice echoed from the receiver’s speaker. “You have a cargo van coming toward the platform. Considering the time of day, I doubt they’re making a friendly delivery.”
“Copy. Be ready to come by if I need a quick pick up.”
“Have fun,” Trevalk replied before closing the link.
“What’s wrong?” Bellu asked, standing from her place on the couch. She clasped her hands together, squeezing them tightly.
“Nothing to be concerned about. Just stay here, and I’ll be back soon.” He headed toward the door. “Okay?”
“A…Alright.” A hint of fear crept at the edge of her voice.
“Relax!” he called back before opening the door and entering the quiet hallway beyond. Figures an interruption had to happen.
He moved down the clean hallway back the way he had originally come. The fountain came into view. With his trench coat loose, he reached to his side for the revolver and pulled it from its holster. Gripping the weapon in his right hand, he moved his thumb over the display on the rear of the weapon. The number thirty revealed itself in red on the small black display. Two smaller numbers appeared, the number eight on the left and number five on the right. He turned the barrel of the revolver, which caused the number five to become the dominant number with the thirty turning smaller.
Thirty pulse rounds, eight piercer rounds, and five slugs. Should be more than enough.
With the revolver gripped securely in his paws he entered the lobby. He spotted the two bats from before looking at him with confused looks before they spotted the weapon in his hands. He reached into a pocket to reveal his badge. “Leave,” he growled.
Both bats quickly scurried away just as the door from the platform outside opened with a hiss on the opposite side of the lobby.
Jax took position behind a low wall, the flowers helping conceal his position as he peered over the edge. Through the flowers, he spotted a bearded lizard at the lead with a gray wolf and a heavy-set lion flanking him. All three wore black body armor. Quite the intimidating trio. They’re surely not here to be friendly.
“It’s reported a tanner might have already gotten here, so be on your guard,” the lizard stated. “You’re with me.” He nodded to the wolf. “Guard the entrance,” he ordered the lion. Raising his two pistols, he set off down the center of the lobby with the wolf following close behind with a shotgun. The lion further back stood ready with a large pulse rifle.
Interesting that they already know I’m here. Jax shifted along the wall to get a better angle as the lizard and wolf approached the center of the expansive room. It is strange that a lizard is leading them. Mutated monstrosities, the scientists were fools to enhance reptilians.
Peering out from his new position, Jax watched the wolf and lizard pause by the fountain. He spotted the device wrapped around the wolf’s vambrace that he was staring down at. The wolf looked towards Jax and pointed the shotgun. Figures they have a heat detector.
He stood up in one smooth motion and pulled the trigger, the revolver’s barrel trained on the lizard.
The lizard, having followed the wolf’s angle, raised his left arm. A semi-transparent shield materialized in the air, originating from the lizard’s vambrace.
The thick slug from the revolver slammed into the shield and burst across it. The shield exploded instantly, and the force sent the lizard into the fountain, several of the flower statues shattering under his weight.
The wolf stumbled from the blast but quickly regained his footing to fire a burst of automatic shotgun rounds.
Already ducking behind cover, Jax moved along the low wall. Flowers and sections of the marble wall shattered beneath the onslaught of thick pellets. He turned the barrel of the revolver so the number thirty became dominant. He stopped at the edge of the wall that ended at the path leading into the residential hall he had come from. He stood and fired a salvo of quick rounds.
The wolf took the first round in his left shoulder causing him to spin about so that the second and third rounds hit his back. The wolf crashed to the floor face first.
The lizard appeared from behind the fountain and returned fire.
Jax knelt back behind the wall and waited. His ears alert as he heard the heavy footsteps of the lion approaching towards the center of the room. Jax raised himself above the wall and aimed for the fountain. He spotted the lion with pulse rifle already aimed. Not fast enough, damn! He jumped across the path towards the other half of the room and began to run along the low wall as heavy pulse fire rained on his trail. The energy melted through the marble walls and caused the plants to burst into flames.
Circling around to another hallway entrance a quarter of the way around the room, Jax slid behind cover and quickly turned the revolver’s barrel. The number eight took the dominant position, and he lined up the barrel toward the fountain. He pulled the trigger, and the bullet went straight through the wall creating a perfect hole. Jax peered through the hole to see a body falling back.
Jax turned the barrel again, the new number for his pulse rounds indicating a remaining twenty-seven. Standing, he saw the lion lying flat on his back with a trail of smoke rising from his chest. He looked towards the platform to get a glimpse of the tails of the wolf and lizard vanishing behind the doors. He ran down the path, his claws clicking across the floor.
His hands stretched out for the doors which he swung open and aimed his pistol for the cargo van that was already moving away. “Damn!” He shouted as he spotted the open side door with a heavy barreled weapon aimed for him. Jumping back, Jax ran for cover as the glass and walls behind became littered with holes. The crack of walls and shattering glass took over all senses.
A moment later, the engines of the cargo van moving around the building stated its intentions to Jax. He stood up and ran through the lobby. Dust and remains of plants fluttering in the air danced around him as he ran. The once prestigious lobby now covered in an assortment of remains from the decorations. I’m going to be too late. The air smelt of burnt ash.
He sprinted through the hallway, revolver in one hand, and his other hand stretching out for the door to Bellu’s home. The sound of the large window panes shattering echoed to him as he tried to turn the handle. The knob did not move under his paw. He took aim and fired, shattering the handle. Kicking the door open he saw the mess of debris ricocheting in the room as the fire of pulse rounds moved towards him. Jax turned and jumped back, landing heavily on the ground as flat as possible. The fire filled the space where he was a moment ago before it finally stopped. Through the hole-littered home, he heard the cargo van taking its leave into the night skyline.
Jax stood up slowly and turned back towards the waiting door which barely hung on its remaining hinge. Entering the home, he was assaulted with more of the burnt ash and dust filling the air. He wrinkled his nose not able to take the smell anymore as his free hand reached for the hidden handkerchief. He walked slowly into the living room where he found Bellu’s body lying across the remains of the couch. Her white gown was stained red. Another dead body on my conscience.
He turned and left, heading back to the lobby. With the revolver holstered he reached for the receiver and opened a channel to Trevalk. “Get over here; I’m going to need pick up. Preferably before security show up and slow us down.”
“I’m already on my way. I have a scanner pursuing the cargo vehicle.”
“Excellent. See you on the platform shortly; I just need to check one last thing.”
“Copy,” Trevalk replied before closing the link.
Jax stepped back into the once quiet lobby now ruined by the noise of traffic beyond. He walked toward the fountain where the lion lay. He saw the hole scarred straight through the lion’s heart. A perfect shot in a night of imperfection. Jax quickly searched along the lion’s body, checking pockets and along the armored vest for any bumps. He found a bulky receiver with a crack in the screen. He placed it on the ground and unlatched a cable from his own receiver. Plugging in the cable, he grinned when data began to transfer. Excellent.
With the transfer complete, he stood up and opened the created folder with a tap of his finger on the small screen. A logo with a red circle with a single fang in the center appeared. He pressed on the logo, and a message appeared saying “Corrupted.” Damn, there was more damage to the receiver then I thought.
His thoughts were disturbed by the approaching engine of a vehicle. Latching the cable back into his receiver, he headed toward the car, the door already opening for him.