“Hmm, mm. Oh hello, back from your shopping so soon?” Celeste asked Jonah after regaining consciousness. He gave her a hard stare back.
“Don’t act like you don’t remember, you left this room when I explicitly told you not to. You were almost killed Celeste.” He replied in a harsh yet emotional tone.
“I was curious. You seem to have forgotten that I was stuck in a hospital bed for goodness knows how long, I wanted to see if the world had changed that’s all.”
“Well next time tell me if you plan to do such a thing.”
“Yeah, yeah, I will. Oh, I have a couple of questions for you.”
She paused for a moment to gather her thoughts, Celeste then asked: “Why is it always so dark I mean it doesn’t seem like there’s a sun anymore, and another thing, what did monkey man mean when he said that I’m ‘Sheena?” Celeste had a perplexed look plastered across her face.
Jonah looked at her for a moment, gave her a smile: “I’ll tell you all about it in the morning don’t you worry your pretty little head about it. For now though lets eat! I don’t know about you, but I’m famished.”
“Seems like you’re dodging the question; why is it that men never want to sit down and talk? Though I suppose its been a while since I’ve had a good meal,” Celeste smiled back at Jonah.
“Ha. Well then I shall put the pan on and cook us up something.” He headed into the kitchen and started frying some rice and chicken…
After the meal the duo both went to sleep but were rudely awakened by incessant knocking upon the door. “Open up ya tramps’! ya aint paid your rental fee! Pay up now or I’m kicking ya both oot!” the inn keeper was rather disgruntled.
“There is no need to get so riled up good sir, I have your money right… here…,” Jonah’s wallet was barer than old mother Hubbard’s cupboard.
“That’s it! Both of ya out now! This ain’t no inn for squatters! Come back when ya got some dough,” the man left the room mumbling to himself. Jonah packed up what few belongs he had and woke up the half-asleep Celeste.
“Rise and shine sleeping beauty, time to get up,” Jonah said loudly. She groggily tossed and turned until she fell out of bed. “Ow, ow, owww!” Celste had hurt her head on the floor.
“Pack your bags, we’re leaving soon,” Jonah announced.
They left the inn post-haste and roamed around the village till they found a tavern: The Tortoise and the Hare.
“I thought we were doing some investigating, not going for a quick pint?” inquired Celeste.
“Ha. Don’t worry we are; a very good contact of mine comes here often. If any one can shed light on your past its him, ” answered Jonah.
“Hey aren’t you going to tell me abou- ”
“See you inside,” Jonah interrupted. He then hurriedly entered the pub.
“GRR! That man, always dodging questions! Well, I suppose it does give him a certain flair, tee-hee. Oh god, what am I saying don’t tell me I’m getting a crush on him!? Ahem… well don’t want to keep him waiting” And so, slightly flustered, Celeste soon followed Jonah inside.
The moment Celeste stepped foot inside the suffocating stench of smoke hit her. The were many people, mostly men, in the room. They were slumpped over the table like string-less puppets. “ You sure your contact is in here Jonah? This place looks like a cess pit,” remarked Celeste disapprovingly. Jonah ignored the snide comment and headed in the direction of the bar.
“Hey there Ando, give me a long island black tulip; and for the little lady a Vermillion rose.” Ordered Jonah.
“Comin’ right up mate.” Ando grabbed two glasses from the shelf and began pouring out the drinks; the way he did it made it seem like an art form. “So what brings you back to this neck of the woods? Trouble with the law?” curiously asked Ando. Jonah looked to his left as to hint at Celeste. “Ah a problem with your woman. You old dog you.” Joked the barman. Celeste blushed.
“I’ll explain later, all I can say now is: I need to speak with ‘Melchior’.” Jonah was now speaking quietly as if to make sure no-one was listening.
“It must be serious if you need his assistance. Follow me,” instructed Ando; he walked down to the opposite end of the bar which lead him to a door, he unlocked it and went into the passageway. “Now Celeste, I want you to stay here, ok? And this time don’t go running off on your own, please,” politely asked Jonah.
“Well I suppose so, but don’t be long; this place smells funny and the man over there keeps looking at me,” she complained.
“Ha! Have fun.” Jonah hopped over the bar and followed the barman.
Jonah and Ando walked along the dimly lit corridor, their footsteps echoing into the distance. Eventually they came to the end of the passage but it was a dead end, or at least it seemed to be at first until Ando reached out and pushed a stone into the wall. The wall in front of the duo vanished into the ground; the corridor continued further on still as dark as the dead of night.
They walked on, further and further, deeper and deeper yet the seemed to be no end in sight. At long last Ando and Jonah arrived at a door upon which there was a sign. It read: ‘Melchior’s domain- enter at ones own peril’.
“Ha. I see he hasn’t changed a bit; he really enjoys messing with people doesn’t he,” Jonah began to chuckle.
“Got that right mate, heh. Just wait ‘til you actually go inside,” Ando replied.
The room wasn’t a luxurious paradise (as one might expect of one so highly esteemed) but a small, dimly lit hell hole. It was empty. No lights, no furniture. Nothing. Well there was something; a flickering candle which cast eerie shapes over the walls; and in the corner was a single chair, old and withered. Melchior sat on this chair, puffing his pipe like a chimney.
“Magi of the North, I require your services,” Jonah asked with the best English he could muster.
“My, my, my. Its been so long since anyone has called me a Magi; you see not many people have need for one such as I these days,” Melchior cackled to himself.
“Hold on. You seem to have aged beyond your years. How is that possible?” Jonah was taken aback by Melchior’s condition.
“Well where to begin. Ahh yes. You see it was about three months ago…”
Celeste sat at the bar, stirring her drink with her finger. She sighed deeply: “Once again he leaves me behind whilst he does everything. Its my past that we’re attempting to piece together so I think I should be able to hear everything for myself. Right! That’s it! I’m going to follow him whether he likes it or not!” she thought to herself. She jumped up from her seat in a frustrated manner, hopped over the bar and followed Ando and Jonah down the dark corridor.
Celeste sauntered down the corridor making sure to keep her distance from Jonah, but also close enough as not to lose sight of him. Luckily for her the shadows hid her well should she be heard following the pair. Celeste was growing weary of walking down steps and along pitch-black crevices. “God, how long does this bloody corridor go on for!” she was getting very agitated; patience definitely wasn’t her strong suit, though despite that she trudged on forward.
After about an hour, and a great deal of walking, Celeste had finally reached the end. “A door. I’ll bet Jonah and Ando are on the other side along with…” she read the name on the door; “… Melchior? I have the strangest feeling I’ve heard of him, but the only person I’ve seen since my accident are the hospital staff and Jonah and no one has mentioned Melchior,” Celeste pondered over this for a moment until she heard murmuring inside the room, immediately she pressed her ear against the door.
“…it was three months ago and I was on the job, though the task which had been given to me seemed rather unusual; I had been asked to capture a young girl….” Celeste’s heart skipped a beat.
“Could that girl have been… me?!” she thought to herself, now she was listening more contently to the discussion.
Melchior continued: “Now at first I thought this mission to be simple, but I was sadly mistaken. You see this girl was a chimera or more specifically a Lycanthrope. They are such vicious creatures Jonah! Abominations! They laid this curse upon me, now I can never reclaim my youth! However, I was successful in my mission and managed to capture the girl, or rather the ‘guinea pig’.”
“What do you mean Melchior, you can’t be serious!?” Jonah was very flustered at this information.
“I tell no lies, the Lycans are attempting to create a virus to spread their bloodline into humans! And the girl I captured is the incubator”
Celeste was speechless, trembling in fear that her whole life was just for the purpose of some sick experiment; her life was meaningless. Why should she go on living? Celeste bravely held back the tears and silently walked away from the door which now seemed cold and menacing, it held a truth she was unable to face. It stood there taunting her, laughing as she moved into the distance.
“Hmm I’d say we still have maybe a week or so before the Lycan virus fully infects her system, we need to hurry Jonah! Take her to see Casper in Spira he may offer more insight into the matter. Now go! Gods speed!”
CHAPTER 2: The Beast Within
The howling winds blew violently, tossing leaves up into the air, whirling round and round. The sun laid low in the sky, welcoming the coming night. Jonah and Celeste had been travelling north towards the glacial city of Spira.
“How much further Jonah? We’ve been walking for hours, in silence I might say, it wouldn’t kill you to talk you know,” Celeste was looking very crestfallen.
“Ok, ok. I’m sorry, I’ll make it up to you. How about we rest for the night in that cavern in those hills, not exactly five star luxury but it’ll do for now,” he stared deep into Celeste’s eyes, she began to blush.
“Thank you. I appreciate it,” They both walked towards the ominous looking cave; although it looked threatening, it was better than being in the freezing wilderness surrounded by ferocious beasts and dark shadows which consumed the land.
The interior of the cave was damp and dingy, horrible and smelt putrid like rotten meat.
“Ugh what is that god awful stench!?”
“Ha. That’s the great outdoors, ain’t it grand?” Jonah said sarcastically.
“Humph. I don’t need your stupid jokes ok. Ive got enough to deal with as it is, so just leave me alone!” Celeste was getting very passionate, almost in tears.
“Relax, get some rest and we’ll sort it out later, alright?” He reached over and put his hand on her shoulder.
“Go away! Since I met you my life has gotten worse! I was happy in the hospital and then you come and take me away, I should never have come with you! Now I find out im some sort of freak experiment, that im some sort of werewolf! Get lost! Id rather take my chance out there on my own,” she ran out of the cave, holding back her tears.
“Very well,” Jonah replied.
A few hours had passed since Celeste had fled the cave, she was cold tired and hungry. The sky was a deep blue colour and the moon was full but hidden by the lingering clouds. Unknown to Celeste, there was someone following her. Creeping in her shadow, quiet as a mouse. The stalker was swiftly approaching Celeste. It was behind her.
“Purrr, hello there. I believe you are Sheena, correct,” the figure had confronted Celeste.
“N-no. W-who, W-what are you?” she was very scared of this stranger.
“How rude of myself, I do apologize. My name is Violetta, however most know me as the Black Panther, CHIMERA’s premier assassin,” she curtsied.
Celeste was breathless; standing before her was a tall, scantly dressed panther woman. “A-are you real?”
“Indeed I am. Haven’t you learned how to transform yet,” inquired Violetta.
“Heh heh, g-good joke. I think you’ve got the wrong person, I’m just your everyday run of the mill girl,” Celeste was trembling with fear, her eyes staring deep into the eyes of the panther woman.
“Well that wont do now will it? Here allow me to help you,” she grabbed her arm and pulled up her sleeve to reveal a tattoo, the mark of the beast. Celeste struggled free.
“What on earth do you think you’re doing?” but before Violetta could answer, Celeste’s tattoo began to glow.
“No, no! This isn’t real! Stop it! What have you done to me?!” Just as she had finished speaking her jaw and nose began to elongate. Her bones were cracking, extending, tearing her clothes to shreds. Iron grey hair was creeping over her body, enveloping her. Pointed ears were protruding from her head. She yelped out in pain; no longer able to speak.
“Damn! I’m too late! Now I have no choice left I’ll have to take her down myself,” Jonah threw down his long, black trench coat to the ground with a thud. He was clenching his signature silver revolver, it glistened in the moonlight.
“I only have a single stun bullet so I’ll have to make this shot count, because if I miss… may God have mercy on our souls.”
Jonah stared deep into Celeste’s fearsome eyes, pools of yellow. The pair sized each other up, circling a small area on the ground; this is where they would do battle. Celeste charged at Jonah without warning but fortunately he dodged and retaliated with a devastating left hook. Celeste was unfazed by this attack and merely shook it off. “Oh dear, perhaps this is going to be more difficult than I had expected,” Jonah commented. The she-wolf charged again this time Celeste hit; blood appeared on Jonahs head, staining his snow-white hair. “Damn you woman, do something!” He yelled in desperati0n to Violetta. “You can keep up with her better than I can, grab her!” She looked surprised.
“Like I’d help you, in case you have forgotten I’m here to make sure she kills you. But… I wouldn’t mind testing my skills against this beast. Very well, I shall help,” Violetta hastily ran at Celeste, sidestepping left and right during her approach.
Jonah and his new partner both attacked Celeste in a synchronised assault, and managed to pin her down. Jonah held up his revolver; it glistened in the moonlight. “Good night sweetheart,” he pulled the trigger and the bullet surged into Celeste. She cried out in agony, the tranquilizer was taking effect. Slowy but surely her bones were cracking and shrinking back to their original, human, form. The fur retracted back beneath her skin. And finally, the tattoo faded away as though it was never there…
“Well, I’m pleased it all worked out. So Violetta, are you leaving now, or would you strike an injured man?” asked Jonah; dusting himself off and polishing his gun.
“…Yes… I shall take my leave, but know this Jonah: I will return and I will kill you!” At that she vanished into the night, moving like a shadow.
Jonah breathed heavily. The air was cold and thin. The wind howled, blowing the dust up into the sky. He gazed up at the stars; the moon glistened in the milky twilight high above the earth, shining down with a magnificent glow. There was not a soul in sight, nor sign of civilisation. Nothing but the wilderness and the open road. “Ah, no matter what happens there is one thing that remains the same: the beauty of nature,” Jonah sighed again and carried on walking.
He walked on for a good many miles until, at last, he collapsed due to his fatigue. The two lay there, unconscious and exhausted, and completely vulnerable…
Clomp, clomp, clomp. A large figure advanced on them from the shadows and dragged them off into a small crevice which had a lighted fire; a beacon of hope for those lost in the night.
The strange figure was draped in a long, tatty cloak, covering its whole body like a caterpillar inside a cocoon. Jonah and Celeste lay down near the fire wrapped up nice and snugly with a thick woollen cloth. Celeste began to toss and turn. “*Yawn* Mmm… where am I?” The figure jumped back and hid behind a rock. “Hey there, thank you for taking us in from the cold, and don’t be afraid, I wont bite,” She smiled gently at the stranger, and the figure crept closer to Celeste. “That’s it come here.” She gestured the being to come closer. However, the strangers cloak snagged on a rock which jutted out from the wall. The cloak fell to the floor revealing a young, slender girl with some very unique features. “….!” The girl grimaced and stared at Celeste who was speechless, for the girl had what appeared to be antennae protruding from her head. She had large circular eyes upon her face. From her waist there grew a second pair of arms, responsive as the other set she had. And there, poking out from the base of her spine was what appeared to be a thorax, coloured red, green and black.. All that remained of her clothes were ragged and ripped pieces of cotton barely covering her body. What a shame it was for her to have such disfigurations for she was once a beautiful young girl, now a mutant. “Oh… my! What has happened to you!?” Celeste was scared yet concerned.
The young girl scurried over to retrieve her cloak and covered herself once more. “They… did things to me… horrible… things. They did… this to me. A… freak, everyone called me. Forced… out here. So… very… alone.” The girl began to whimper.
Celeste moved over to her and put her arms around her and gently rocked her side to side like a mother cradling her child. “Shh don’t be scared. I’ll help you. Somehow. Anyway I can. I’m like you, although you wouldn’t know it. And Jonah over there he’s the nicest man I’ve ever met, I’m sure he’d help you too!” Celeste let go of the girl and brushed down her cloak. “It’s a shame you hide such a pretty face from the world,” she winked at the girl, “…now tell me, what’s your name? Oh, my name is Celeste by the way.”
The girl wiped the tears from her eyes, “My… name is…,” she paused for a moment for it had been such a long time since anyone had asked her, “… Anna.”
“Well then Anna I think its time we got back to sleep don’t you?” Celeste yawned heavily and shuffled back to her cloth, wrapped her self up and went soundly to sleep. Anna did not conceal herself with her cloak again and instead kicked it out of the cave, throwing away the defence she had from the outside world; just as Celeste had done, Anna rested her weary head and drifted off, with a smile plastered across her face; for the first time in her life she was happy…
Jonah had remained silent whilst the two girls talked, but now they were asleep he took this chance to slip away. Ever so quietly he gathered his coat and weapons and exited the homely cave, took one last look inside and went on his way. “Don’t worry, I wont be gone long my dear Celeste. I just need to take care of some business,” Jonah whispered to himself.
Morning had broken and the sun was low in the sky, shepherding the coming day. The light was bursting into Anna’s cave bringing it to life. A peculiar thing happened to Anna when the sunlight brushed her body: it reversed her transformation. Her extra appendages retracted back into her torso, her antennae vanished from her head leaving only her mahogany hair. Her eyes became more human, deep blue pools of sapphire. Then, finally, her thorax curled back up into her being. Anna was once again a human. However, she can only retain her humanity in sunlight otherwise she reverts back to the hideous insect creature of the night.
“Ah, good morning Anna, how are yo-,” Celeste was surprised to find Anna human again, but then she thought back to her transformation and shrugged it off.
Anna now looked like a petite beauty, her auburn hair swaying in the gentle breeze. “…Yes… thank you… I’m… fine. How… are… you,” she stuttered.
“Couldn’t be better!” Celeste smiled at Anna and the glanced to her side and noticed a small piece of paper where Jonah had been sleeping. “Where has that man gone off to now?” she mumbled to herself; Celeste began to read the note: ‘To my little angel, I have an urgent matter to attend to and wont be back for quite sometime I’m afraid. I shall meet you in Spira in 6 days in a bar named: C’est la vie. Oh and I suggest you and that other girl work on your combat skills since you don’t have me around to protect you. Ha. Learn to transform at will and then and only then venture out of the cave area. Ciao bambina.’
“Ergh. The nerve of him!” Celeste threw down the paper and stamped on it in anger. “Tell me Anna, do you know how to transform at will? ‘cos I don’t know!” she was slightly flustered at the prospect of turning into that… beast again.
“N-no… s-sorry…but I’ll…help you…work…it out.” Anna strained a smile.
The duo left the cave and climbed above it onto a great plateau, raring to learn the art of transformation. “Ok now where to begin…” Celeste thought for a moment, “…ok, lets concentrate hard on what we need to achieve, try and manifest that into a physical shape, that being the transformation,” she was surprised that such wise words left her lips; Celeste smiled, proud of her feat.
Anna nodded and closed her eyes, as did Celeste. They stood in silence both deep in thought, trying to unleash the beast within. After an hour or so something finally began to happen! Fur was creeping down Celeste’s arms and legs, her ears becoming pointed. However this is the limit to what she would achieve. Anna too had some success, her antennae popped out of her head once more and her thorax was once again visible. “Hey look we did it! Well nearly!,” Celeste was jumping with joy, “… but how do we change back?!” Her joy had now turned to panic. Anna shrugged, and was curious too how to revert back to normal. “Ok we just need to… erm… I’m not actually too sure,” Celeste began to panic and trembled with fear “Nooo, I cant go around looking like a… like a beast! I’ll be shunned out casted…” she was lost in her little drama when Anna brought her back to her senses. “Um… couldn’t we…just um… retrace our… steps.” Celeste became bright eyed at this idea and a smile was plastered across her face. “Oh yes! Anna you’re a genius.” The two girls repeated the process which allowed them to transform into their primal, animalistic selves, except this time in reverse. The girls visualised their changes disappearing, fur receding, limbs returning to their original length. Finally, with a feeling of relief, the girls were once again normal. “Oh thank God it worked! Now I don’t know about you Anna but I’m quite hungry, what do you say we get some lunch?” Anna nodded and they headed off into the wilderness in hopes of finding a meal; a perfect chance to practice all they have learned.
CHAPTER 3: THE PATH OF STEEL, WELCOME THE PRODIGAL SON
Jonah stepped calmly towards the towering gates of Spira, enveloped by his dark, coat. Their icy iron irradiating conspiracy & terrible horror. The impenetrable metal gates lock all secrets within: nothing escapes these walls. “Hmph. I think its about time I broke down these walls,” he lit a cigarette, took a deep puff in, filling his lungs with smoke and entered the city. The people of Spira usually kept to themselves, didn’t give a regard for anyone else only looking out for number one. But despite this, as Jonah walked past them fear manifested itself in their eyes. “Ha ha ha ha ha ha! You all remember me then it seems! Oh its been a very long time indeed my friends. Did you miss me?” Jonah almost seemed a different person, loud and obnoxious. “Aw come now there’s no need to be so coy, come on out and give uncle Jonah a big hug.” He had a look of dark intent within his eyes as he spoke. All of a sudden he immediately ducked throwing his trench coat up into the air; it fluttered majestically on the gently breeze. Two large daggers were caught by the coat. A lone figure appeared behind Jonah, the figure moved like lightening yet was silent and subtle; it was someone to be feared. Quickly again the figure moved this time face to face with Jonah. “Dear me and here I thought that you’d gotten rusty after all this time. At least your assassination wont be a complete bore,” the strange man licked the blade as though the prospect of killing would be exciting. “What! What do you mean? Who has authorised this order!?” Jonah, seemingly for the first time broke his cool and was trembling, most likely from fear. “Haven’t you ever heard of client confidentially? No, no, I cant be telling you that, I’ll kill you now if you don’t mind.” He gave a small sadistic smirk then unsheathed his dark metal dagger which shone dully in the afternoon sun.
“Damn you Judas!” Jonah screamed, he then began running down the street eying left and right, up and down desperately looking for cover. Seeing a market stall he pushed it over and jumped behind it immediately. Judas laughed loudly and gave chase down the street, periodically strafing side to side as to avoid Jonah’s devastating gunfire, however the blade toting assassin was far too quick for Jonah to hit. Judas dashed towards him attempting to strike but Jonah dodged escaping with nothing more than a scratch. “Damn, the only way I can win this is to use ‘that bullet’ though I’d rather not after all it may drag in all of these innocents” he thought to himself; his personality back to his caring persona. “No, I think its time I stopped playing dirty and fought like a man. You hear me Judas!? You’ve forced me to draw my sword, I hope you have made final peace with the world because this spells the end of you!” Jonah stood up from where he was hiding, and dropped his revolver; it landed with a thud dispersing a small amount of the earth around it. He walked over to where his coat had fallen, now dirtied with dust. Once dusting it off, Jonah removed from the pocket a small object which appeared to be the grip of a sword; it was of course missing a blade. “Jonah you intend to fight me in a duel without a blade? You’ve gone crazy old frien-” before he could finish out from the handle shone a brilliant light in the form of a blade, a heavenly glow. “Penitentia. A fitting name for my weapon. The sword of heaven in the hands of a devil, ironic don’t you think?” he took a step forward then proceeded to walk right up to Judas. “Goodbye,” Jonah drove the divine blade through his foe’s chest before he even had time to blink. Judas’ body began to break up, dissolve almost, disappearing into the air. “Judgement has been passed. I only hope your soul find peace, you’re free of this whole sordid affair now, unfortunately I must continue on. I cannot die until I save that young girl…” Judas closed his eyes and vanished, a small tear fell.