“Alexus?” A voice spoke out from behind. Which caused Alexus to look over his shoulder.
“Who?” Alexus coughed, trying to figure out where the voice had come from. It sounded vaguely familiar.
“Holy shit, you’re alive.” Timothy had stepped from behind the fallen carcass of the demon dog lying on the floor. “It’s Timothy. You forgot me already?”
“Tim?” Alexus stated with confusion. The man who stepped out of the door was wearing an all-black suit with a black helmet that Alexus couldn’t tell who it was.
Timothy reached over towards his head, clicking a button on the side. The helmet clinked, pulling away and showing off his face. It was the same familiar face that Alexus had remembered since their last mission, but his hair was long and in a ponytail, making his face smaller. Even his beard had slightly changed and grown, giving him much more of a bear-like appearance. There was a bit of weight and muscle to him that he grew into.
“Timothy?! What the hell, man, you’re here? How? Why? What, where are the others?” Alexus walked over, pulling him in and giving him a deep hug.
“Woah, Woah. Back off.” Timothy pushed him aside. “Too heartwarming for me.”
Alexus snorted, shaking his head at Timothy. He was glad to see a familiar face, especially out here in the dark.
“How did you find us?”
“Find you? You guys were making quite a ruckus when I was sweeping through these homes and noticed some ruckus. I knew if there were some shouts and fights, it usually meant two things: Civilians or an Ouroborous. Especially after you sent out that shockwave of energy, I knew it was the second one.”
“Are the others with you?” Alexus asked.
“Yea, Marcus should be coming here in a bit. He’s a few blocks away, checking the other homes, while Jones is in the truck. Gimme a second.” Timothy clicked on his earphones. “Guys, you won’t believe this.”
“What?” Jones called out from his earphones.
“Both Crystal and Alexus are alive.”
“Are you kidding me?”
“No, do you think I am lying to you?”
“Yes,” Jones replied bluntly. “Believing you is like saying the comet is falling.”
“I’m more reliable than that.”
“Right…but serious, you’re not pulling my leg, are you?”
Alexus could clearly hear the doubt in Jones’ voice.
“For christ’s sake, just come out here, and you’ll see.” Timothy rolled his eyes. He clicked his earphones again to silence the radio. Then he glanced over towards Alexus. “See.” He placed his hand on his hips.
“Let’s go meet the others.” Alexus sighed in relief. He was glad to see Timothy here of all places. The weight of the burden that he didn’t think he had on his shoulder was slightly lifted, allowing him to feel some kind of way.
“Yea, you don’t want to be here,” Timothy replied.
“Why? I thought this would be a decent place after our van ran out of gas.”
“It’s a hotspot for demon congregation. Every seven days, for some reason, demons like this area.”
“Well then, I’m glad that you found us, or we would have had to go through a few more things that I didn’t expect.”
“Yea, you guys are super lucky. Around tomorrow in the afternoon, you would have seen the rise in demons.”
Timothy and Alexus went out the door.
“Hey, Crystal!” Timothy shouted, waving his hand over his head.
Crystal glanced up, looking over towards Timothy with disbelief. “Is that….you?”
“Good to see you,” Timothy replied with a wide goofy grin.
Crystal ran over and stopped in front of him. She pulled back her hand and punched him on the shoulder.
“What was that for?!” Timothy yelled, rubbing his shoulder. “Is this how you treat someone you haven’t seen in a while?”
“I haven’t seen you in over a week,” said Crystal, “plus, you messed with the damn talisman.”
Crystal sighed, shaking her head at him. She then grabbed his shoulder and pulled him into a bear hug. “It is really good to see that you are alive.”
“Yea, same here.” Timothy patted her shoulder a few times. “I’m glad you guys are alive too.”
There was a softness in Timothy’s voice that Alexus could hear. Timothy had weathered through tough times and changed during the amount that they had all separated.
“Wait, is that Crystal and Alexus!?” Jones cried out from behind with bewilderment.
Everyone turned around, looking over towards Jones. His whole expression changed. Jones’ hair was a lot shorter and buzzed cut. His soft expression that he usually had was calloused with time, giving him a rougher appearance. A red bandana was tied around his right elbow, worn over his forehead with a goggle.
“It is Crystal and Alexus!” Jones said excitedly. He picked up his speed, running over towards glee. Then, swooping in, he brought Crystal and Alexus together in another bear hug that even trapped Timothy.
“For christ’s sake, don’t bring me in as well.” Timothy barked, trying to pry away from Jones. “I get enough of your stinky ass every day. I don’t need to be smelling you.” Then, with a pull, he broke away.
“I can’t believe you guys are alive.” Jones let them go. He took a step back, looking at them one more time. Even reached over towards Crystal to pinch her cheeks, but she swatted it away. “I thought Pride had completely eradicated the Animus system and killed the rest of the Ouroboros.”
“Wait,” Alexus held up his hand. “You’re saying Pride was there at our last mission?”
“Yea.” Jones shook his head up and down. “He came and destroyed the system, causing an emergency extraction. We were all booted out of the system and into chaos. So many other Ororborous had died that day, trying to keep Pride away.”
“So, did you guys succeed?” Alexus asked, wondering what had happened next.
Jones shook his head. “He took about half of our people, and the rest scattered like rats. We couldn’t come back to check on the machine as Pride was still in the city lurking there. It wasn’t until this year that we were once again able to meet up to create a working safe haven. The seventh haven is back.”
“Really?” Alexus said with a bright tone. “I’m glad that you could create such a place.” He was relieved a bit more than before. Honestly, he was thrilled that he could jump out of his shoes and possibly dance around a little. But, instead, he gave a little fist bump on the side where Jones didn’t see.
“Me too. I tell you, the amount of crap we had to deal with for a year was hell. It’s like living in hell and coming to haven.” Jones threw back his head and laughed. “I tell you, you’re going to like that place.”
“I’ll believe you.” Alexus reached over, patting his shoulders. “Well, let me introduce you to some of the kids we brought along.” He turned around, motioning them forward. The first to come forward was Jesse.
Jesse bounded forward with giddy steps. She boisterously asked, “You’re the guy who made those talismans.” Her eyes twinkled with excitement.
“Who am I?” Timothy asked. He pointed at himself.
“Yea, I remember you that day; you were there that night when you set up the talisman and told us to stay hidden.”
“Oh, you’re that kid.” Timothy’s eyes became wide from surprise. “You’re still alive.”
“Yep, and your talisman helped save the rest of us,” Jesse said proudly.
“Well,” Timothy started to blush, looking away as he couldn’t help but try to contain a smile that wouldn’t disappear.
Jones replied with a smile. There was a soft gaze that one wouldn’t see from Jones as often, but it blossomed. “You’re Jesse?”
“Yep.” Jesse placed her hand on her hips and pointed her nose upwards. “Do you guys kill demons every day?”
“Well, kind of.” Jones raised his hand and brushed it against his head.
“That’s so cool!” Jesse replied in excitement. “David, did you hear that?” She turned towards David, who was crossing her arms in front.
David nodded his head.
“As you know, this is David,” Alexus said, “and Maze and Kim. They’re together with Rye.” He motioned them forward.
Maze had Rye in his hand, suckling his fingers and staring at Jones with big eyes. It was hard not to look away at Rye, who tried to hide against Maze’s chest.
“Your kid?” Jone asked.
“No,” Maze shook her head. “He was abandoned, and we found him on the streets starving. He would have died, but miraculously we found him in time.”
“I see,” said Jones; there was a sense of sadness in his voice.
“We’re all orphans, actually,” said Maze.
Jones was uncomfortable by her words, but he still spoke, “I’m sorry to hear that.”
“It’s fine; we are used to it.” Maze waved her hands, bringing herself closer to Kim.
“How soon will Marcus be here?” Alexus asked, wondering where Marcus was.
“Oh! Yea,” Jones pulled up his wrist, where his watch was. “He will be here….”
A loud sound of a large truck stopped over. Alexus looked over and saw Marcus step out of the truck. He walked over.
“Is that who I think it is?” Marcus’ deep voice spoke out.
Everyone turned around at the same time.
“There he is,” said Jones. “Took you a while, Marcus.”
“Well, I had a few hellhounds to take care of. Those dogs were an annoyance.” Marcus snorted; he put the gun in his hand back into the side of his suit, which opened and clicked in. It hissed and closed, freeing his hand. He grabbed Alexus’s outstretched arm and pulled him in. They hugged, pulling apart.
“Glad to see you alive and well,” Marcus replied. Nothing about him had changed; he still looked the same since the first time they met.
“Likewise, I heard you guys came through some trouble with Pride.”
“We did,” Marcus replied, his muscles tensed.
Alexus could feel the air around him become heavy.
“That bastard destroyed everything,” said Marcus with a low dark voice. “If he didn’t come, we would have been able to annihilate a Sloth and Gluttony without a problem and actually have a decent chance. But, it’s alright.” He raised up his head.
“That bastard almost killed us all,” Timothy cut in. “If it wasn’t for Marcus here, the rest of us would have died.”
“It was just a few simple things.” Marcus blew it off, “We got things to do and figure out how to take down these damn beasts.”
“What do you have in mind?” Alexus asked. An air of certainty made him believe that he had something in mind that could solve this problem that they had.
“Let’s go to the new Seventh Sanctuary and get these kids some food. I’ll tell you guys on the way.”
Jesse squealed in delight, and even Kim and Maze danced around with joy.
Marcus turned around, heading towards the armored parked van from head to toes with weapons, where they all squeezed in.