A chirping sound of birds tweeting their usual song could be heard as Alexus slowly woke up. The warm sun heated his skin, telling him that everything was okay. Fresh air wafted through his nose, even ruffling his hair, telling him to get up. He opened his eyes, staring up into the crystal blue sky that welcomed him. The beauty of the sunlight warmed up his soul, which was unexpectedly refreshing.
This was life, living to experience the simple and little things. Listening to the sweet songs of the birds, letting the wind caress him with a loving embrace, and feeling the soft green grass of nature under his skin. Just as he was enjoying the moment, the sudden memory of what happened slammed into his mind, jarring him completely awake.
Alexus bolted upright into a sitting position and stared around, completely confused. He looked over his entire body just in case anything was wrong and found the same gray, ugly clothes that he had worn. The last thing he remembered was that he made it into the pod just before he was almost swarmed by the dragonfly drones that descended towards him to kill him. Then the flash of memories of running away, fighting against Gluttony, and surviving filled every corner of his thoughts.
Why did Sloth wait? The demon girl just left? Damn it, why did I give her a name too? He thought. Luckily, Alexus didn’t speak her name out loud and actually gave her the name of Sloth in her face, just like how he did to Gluttony.
Either way, knowing that they were newly born demons already considered so powerful made Alexus feel small and weak compared to them. Yet, just from naming them, they became even more potent than before. All he could do was sigh, hoping that Gluttony was dead after what Sloth had done. He was glad that fight was over for now, and he hoped dearly in his heart that he didn’t have to meet them again, but Alexus felt that fate didn’t play out the way he wanted to.
“Hey, Alexus.” A sweet voice called out towards Alexus; he turned around to see Crystal walking over with two cans of drink.
“Crystal?” Alexus tilted his head, surprised that she was here.
“Here you go. Glad that you’re awake.” Crystal came over and took a seat next to him; she handed him an orange soda.
Alexus gladly accepted it, realizing how thirsty he was. With a pull, a hiss of foam erupted out from the can. Quickly pulling Alexus’s head towards the drink, he downed it before it could spill all over his fingers. Ah~ The refreshing cold taste of orange soda.
“It’s natural, waking up being thirsty.” Crystal replied; she clicked open hers and took a sip.
“I’m sorry? What?” Alexus didn’t understand what she was talking about.
“You know, waking up after being stuffed in a pod.”
“Oh,” His lips stayed into an O for a moment. “Wait, who took me out?”
“The usual employees that work at Seventh Sanctum.” She replied as she stared out into the distance. “The others woke up here on the rooftop as well.
Alexus noticed that they were on top of the roof, just like she said, looking out into the bustling city life of the city itself. While he was on the rooftop. There were small trees, flowers, and plants neatly trimmed and decorated every nook and corner of the roof, leaving no single open space of bricks or metal. Other people were also up here on the rooftop, looking just as confused as him.
“We’ve been sleeping for one hundred forty-nine years now.” Crystal dropped the bomb as if it wasn’t a big deal.
“One hundred forty-nine years?!” Alexus cried out in alarm. One hundred forty-nine years of my life gone in a flash just like that without him even noticing it. It just sounded as foreign as if it never happened. “What the hell for?!”
“Well, that’s what happens when you sleep in the Garden. We all hibernate to allow our souls to train and become stronger. So this is the Animus Progressium project that allows us a unique and safe experience.”
“Sleeping and training don’t mix.” Alexus flatly replied. One hundred and forty-nine years, why not one hundred and fifty? Why an odd number? Never mind, sleeping an extra year sounded just as bad. “It sounds like a contradiction in itself.”
“It’s not. People who can train their minds in their dreams are how one can get stronger. This allows them to have full control over their body with their mind.” Crystal turned towards him, her hand raised as her finger tapped her temple. “A brain is a powerful tool, and this tool can do anything that you put your mind to.”
“Look, right now, you should feel a bit stronger. Things like your abilities should be easier to control.”
When she said that, Alexus did notice a slight change in his powers. It felt like he could now do a bit of it on his own then hope for the best. The string of power that seems to coil at the base of his stomach wrapped and twisted into a constant spiral, telling him that he had quite a bit of it.
“With that being said, that one hundred forty-nine year of hibernation did us more justice in helping us grow. We were in cold hibernation, slowing our aging process for a very long time until all of us were ready to come out from sleep. So you can say time stops for us. The Garden’s controls were set to when everyone has evolved and when everything was safe, we would be set free.”
“How does it know that we’re ready?”
“That I don’t quite know. It’s an old technology that we found buried away in the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean near the Bermuda Triangle. Luckily, we uncovered it and brought it here to use.”
“We’re stuffed in ancient technology that we don’t know what it could do to us?!”
“We understand 89% of it.” She replied surely.
“Then what about the last 11%? That’s a huge gap, you know.”
“I don’t like the sound of that.”
“That’s the best that we could do.” She replied with a sigh. “I know it’s not reassuring, but it got us to where we are now, though that one hundred year wasn’t what we thought would take us to get here.”
One hundred forty-nine years, completely unbelievable. The thought of it felt so surreal that the words rang through Alexus’ head repeatedly.
“Wait, if it’s one hundred forty-nine years, did whatever happened in your dreams come true?”
Crystal was startled by what he had said; she looked away, unable to answer. Silence followed until she finally spoke. “I don’t know. I only can see a glimpse of the future, and even then, things happen that change the course in a different direction.”
“So, what you’re saying is that the direction of the future still hasn’t happened, and the danger is possibly thwarted.”
“Yes, and no. It’s complicated.”
“Explain.” Alexus crossed his hand in front of him.
“It’s like this when one event happens, or a person does a different set of activities, it sets off a chain reaction. A hundred years ago, I wouldn’t have suspected that we would wake up now, all I knew was we would all wake up in due time, but that one hundred forty-nine year is a big giant plot hole that I don’t know what exactly happens. I would’ve known if I had stayed awake during those first ten years.”
I thought over what she had said.
“So, what was the ten years’ future, or past?”
“The city was ravaged and destroyed by the Voracious and the Unmovable.”
The city being destroyed sounded a bit far-fetched; right now, in front of them, the city was fine as it is; nothing looked any different. “Are you sure? The city looks fine.”
“That’s why it’s strange. It’s not supposed to be like this.” She waved her hand in front of her.
“I think you should be glad that it didn’t happen, or maybe it’s just been pushed back,” Alexus replied curtly, even though he didn’t like the thought of the city blazing in fire or being destroyed. “Though who is the Voracious and the Unmovable?”
“I don’t know.”
Alexus thought over what she had said, especially the two words. Voracious meant wanting or devouring significant quantities of food, while the Unmovable was physically not movable. Then it hit him, “You don’t mean Sloth and Gluttony do you?”
“Sloth and Gluttony? Who?” Crystal tilted her head to the side, her large eyes staring back at him cutely so that he couldn’t help but feel his heartbeat a bit faster.
“Uh, that is.” Alexus’ hand reached up towards his collar as he started to pull on it to cool himself down.
“Are you talking about the seven deadly sins?”
“Well, no….yea…I mean, I’m talking about those Myth-type demons.” Alexus quickly replied. “Sloth was that little demon girl, and Gluttony was that demon boy. That’s what I call them because of how they acted.”
Crystal thought it over for a moment, her eyebrows furrowed, his words hit her like a sledgehammer. “Them?!”
“That can’t be right. These demons weren’t as powerful as the Myths that I saw.” She shuddered, “Their powers were considered diabolically out of this world, and the ones we ran into weren’t considered half of what my dream saw. I thought those child demons were Myth types at first, but now that I think about it, they were breaking into Legend-type monsters passing into Myth.”
“Well, you don’t have to worry about one of them.” Alexus quickly replied, trying to help her calm down. “Gluttony’s dead. That’s probably why your dream didn’t happen.”
Once again, Crystal faltered, searching his face to hint at what he had just said. But unfortunately, it didn’t tell her that Gluttony was dead and why her dream didn’t come into reality.
“When all of you guys went into the Garden, I was the last one to see what happened to Gluttony that we were all fighting. He changed forms a third time, or maybe I could say that he evolved? Anyways, something happened, and at the last moment, he was injured badly. Sloth, the little girl, came and killed him.”
“Change forms a third time?! Shit.” Crystal swore. “That would make sense, an evolution type that grows over time. Are you sure that Gluttony is dead?”
“Well, I did see him turn into dust, and Sloth swooped down and took his gem.”
“Yea, it was weird. She ran away with it.”
“Then that means he might not be dead.”
Alexus groaned; Gluttony being alive and well made him want to punch something. All that effort to fight against Gluttony and still fail hit his pride. “Why do you say that? You know he could be dead.”
Crystal shook her head. “Sometimes the form a demon possesses doesn’t always have to be a human body, there are cases where a Demon possesses an item, and a jewel is a perfect conduit to house a powerful soul. Giving a possessed item to a human allows the demon to possess a second body while keeping its source safe. If you want to kill a demon that possesses an item, destroying the item that houses its soul is imperative.”
Alexus let out a defeated sigh; that’s why Sloth took the emerald as if it wasn’t a big deal and ran away. Then does it mean that they were just staying hidden for now and possibly attacking later? That could be the only answer that he knew of right this moment, but the question was why? Why wait, and for what purpose?
The thought of the city going under sounded like a bad case of horror film ready to happen.
“We should go get yourself checked up. After waking up from cold sleep, the employees brought us up to thaw completely under the sun. We found that sunlight is one of the leading factors in bringing a half-dead man back to his old self and even stabilizing their body.”
“So, that’s why we were all out here,” Alexus replied, nodding at her words. “Then where’s Marcus, Jones, and Timothy?”
“They woke up three hours earlier than you, got their physicals checked, and went to the cafeteria.”
“Oh,” Alexus momentarily paused, “are you, my physician, also this time?” The end of his lips went into a curl, and his eyebrow went up and down.
Crystal stared at him for a moment; she burst out into laughter. “In your dreams.”
“What? I can ask with a please?”
“I’m a patient this time, too, you know.”
“That’s no fun.” Alexus felt a bit down but quickly squashed the feeling and got up.
“Now, let’s go and get this over with, shall we?”
“After you, my lady.” He bowed, motioning her to go ahead before him.
Crystal got up and walked in front of him, still chuckling to herself. “Asking with a please, seriously?” She mumbled to herself.
The sweet laugh brought an unusual joy to his ears, warming up his heart. Talking to her wasn’t a bad thing; maybe even being her friend sounded not too far away.
Eventually, they both blew through the physicals without much problem and headed straight towards the cafeteria. The moment they entered, the loud chatter of both female and male voices could be heard mixed in.
Alexus searched around and saw Marcus, Timothy, Jones, and even Simon sitting next to each other. The sight of seeing Simon with the crew was shocking. Marcus leaned over towards Simon, taking in every word he said to heart.
Crystal and Alexus walked over; she sat next to Marcus and him across from her.
“Hey guys,” Crystal replied. “Good to see that you’re all still here.”
“Good to see you, Crystal and Alexus. Had a nice nap?” Marcus chuckled. The others glanced over, acknowledging their presence.
“Yo, Alexus. Glad that you’re here with us.” Timothy replied with a chirpy attitude. “These guys are in some serious debate; you guys came just in time to change the subject.”
“I wouldn’t call what we went through a nap.” Simon wasn’t too pleased with the thought of sleeping for so long.
“Don’t be like that. We slept through the trouble without a hitch of a problem.” Marcus replied with a happy tone of voice.
“Sweeping the problem under the rug isn’t something you should be proud of.”
“I’m not; there were circumstances where we couldn’t deal with the problem at hand. Right now, our priority should be on how to make ourselves stronger, so something like what we went through won’t happen again.”
“And you have an idea on how to fix this issue?”Simon frowned, waiting for Marcus to give him an answer that they all wanted to know. “We don’t have all our rights here; the real question comes down to what rights we even have.”
“He’s got the point, you know,” Timothy replied. “We’re not a free man living under the Seventh Sanctum.”
“Don’t worry about that; let me talk with the higher-ups.”
“You do know that the owner of Seventh Sanctum is dead. It’s like what, one hundred and forty-nine years too late.”
“Like I said, leave it to me. I’ll get the answers we need to push the plan forward.”
“How are we going to get stronger?” Simon asked, tapping his fingers on the table, waiting for Marcus’ answer.
Alexus, on the other hand, ordered a long-sought-after taste of pepperoni pizza. For some reason, he wanted grease that he craved. But, now that he thought about it, everyone looked thinner than usual.
“I understand the facilities, but what else do we need to do? What do you have in mind?”
“We’re going to have to practice our magic. The only thing that seems to work against them instead of ordinary guns is the power that we each have been given. My fist did more damage than a shotgun, while Alexus’ sword cut through its body like butter. Half of you have seen him in action and saw what our powers can do.”
“Don’t forget the Dragon Scale suit.” Then, finally, Alexus injected his own opinion. ”You don’t know how many times I have been saved by Crystal’s invention.”
“You mean that spandex?” Timothy chuckled at the thought of what Alexus wore.
“That suit stopped it from putting a hole in my stomach numerous times, though I agree that it looks a bit ridiculous.” Alexus tried to brush off Timothy’s words. It was a bit embarrassing to be running around.
“Okay. Okay. I get your point. I’ll fluff up the suit so it looks cooler.” Crystal chimed in, stabbing a potato with a bit of aggression a few times before eating.
“Please put some kind of speed enhancer on it or something on mine. I keep running into the problem of the enemies being a bit faster than me.”
“I’ll think about it.” Crystal taps her fork on her tray lightly.
Alexus replied quickly as he didn’t want to lose his train of thought. “I also suggest you find a way, so it doesn’t dissolve in acid too quickly. But, unfortunately, gluttony spewed some acid, and it ate through half the material.”
“Okay, anything else that I need to know?”
Alexus thought it over.“Something to protect my head, maybe?”
“That can be done.”
“What the heck are you guys trying to make? Superhero suits or something?” Timothy cried out in amusement, “because if you count me in.”
“It’s not a superhero suit,” Crystal spoke dryly as she rolled her eyes. “It’s an anti-demons suit.”
“Anti-demon suits, superhero suits, same thing. We should call ourselves the Exorcists.”
“Like the movie?” Jones asked, not too happy with the thought of what he just said. “Sounds so cliche.”
“Then you have a better name for what we are?”
“I thought we were already called the Ouroboros,” Jones replied.
“I’m not asking what we as a being are; I’m talking about superhero group names.”
“Wait, we’re making a superhero group?” Crystal asked, confused. “Since when?”
“Since today. Duh,” said Timothy. He wasn’t going to let this go.
“I like the sound of that,” Simon stated in amusement.
“I’m not sure about this superhero nonsense,” Marcus stated uneasily. He was looking at the crew as if they all hit their heads. “We’re not exactly saving people, but eradicating demons, and there isn’t a sugar-coated heroism involved in all this.”
“We should name ourselves the Holy Vandals,” Timothy replied, going off tangent. “Or the Challengers of Pixies.” He burst out laughing, holding onto his stomach.
Jones stared at Timothy, amused. “Whatever you’re on, give me some of that.”
“How about American Crusaders or Demons of Hades.” Timothy was trying his best not to continually laugh and answer very straightforwardly.
“Stop. Stop. Stop.” Crystal raised her hands. “Half of what you just named sounds like a bad cult. Holy Vandals? Demons of Hades? A superhero group should sound more classy.”
“What? I’m trying here.”
“This is getting a bit ridiculous,” said Jones.
“Sheesh, it’s not bad. If you don’t like it, why don’t you just call yourself the Hate Pack.”
Alexus snorted, trying to hold back a laugh.
“What pack?” Crystal crossed her arm in front of herself, clearly not amused.
“Or we could go with Enlighten Begins,” Simon spoke, trying not to laugh.
“That sounds too boring,” Timothy replied, scratching his chin a couple of times. “I’m starting to like the Hate Pack or the League of Hate Pack. Maybe even a Gang of Hate Pack’s or the Company of Hate Pack sounds good.”
Jones snorted out water from his nose, trying to contain his laughter, but failed horribly. “Bwahahahahaha! Holy cow, you’re killing me.” He was gasping for air while slamming his fist onto the table, making the table shudder. “Where do you get these ridiculous names?”
“Hey, I’m a genius with names. You can’t stop this awesomeness.” Timothy motioned his whole body as he gave them a cocky grin.
“Fine. Fine.” Marcus sighed, trying to calm them all down. “Just pick a damn name, and let’s get this over with.”
Alexus chimed in. “Infinite Corps, maybe?”
“Okay, that’s what it’s going to be.” Marcus started with a slam of his hand onto the table, sealing the deal.
“What?! But we didn’t vote on this.” Timothy cried out in outrage. “I still like the Hate Pack, you know.”
Crystal glared at Timothy, wanting to strangle him to shut up. But, instead, Timothy just shrugged his shoulders as if nothing was wrong and looked the other way.
“Infinite Corps. We’re done now. That’s it.” Marcus said with a final decision.
Alexus looked at the group of people and was rewarded with a different expression.