We watched from our respective rooms as Commander Priam addressed his people.
“Nox has created hatred toward humdrums and vilified their existence. Their organization was built believing our race were created to rule the world,” he stated. “I know many of you believe this, too. Maybe unconsciously, but we do think we are better than the normal people. After all, we have these abilities that could change the world.”
Some started nodding while others seemed to contemplate on his words. Commander was never the type to do this kind of thing, but he knew it was needed. He knew his silence would just bring more harm to the tribe. He had the power and influence to change our orthodox principles.
“And maybe that’s one of the reasons why our fellow agents fell into the wrong side,” he continued. “Our progenitor, Lord Edda, established the Custos tribe to be the guardian and protector of the people. We exist because we are needed. And we are needed because we have the power to fight. This world does not solely belong to us. Despite being hidden in their shadows, I hope we treat them as equals. Someone who needs us just how much we need them. And I hope the hatred, greed and pride the Nox had stirred up will end with their leaders’ arrest.”
After his speech, he informed them the Executives were currently resting due to the injuries they got. He also gave new missions to the teams present and said he would be counting on them.
The Navis kids we encountered in Romania were also turned over to the Parietal Department so that they could monitor them, hoping that they could still revert them back to normal.
I plopped on my bed as the holograph disappeared from the wall. Exhaustion had finally caught up and a wave of relief washed over my mind. For the first time in a long time, I relaxed my mind after putting up walls to protect my thoughts.
“Your Dad really has a way with words,” I said as I stared at the ceiling.
Nel snickered. “Yeah. And he’s got charisma.”
“A lot. Why can’t he be a normal leader?” she grumbled.
Silence filled the room. She must be also exhausted after our mission. When I turned to her direction, her eyes were already closed.
“Sleep well,” I muttered, and I also slumbered.
I was woken up by the sound of my device. When I looked at Nel’s bed, she was still asleep. I sat up groggily and pulled my device from my pocket and there was a message from the Commander.
Report to my office.
After preparing, I went to his office and saw Ulysses sitting on the couch. Commander Priam was leaning on his desk, a pile of papers behind him.
“Commander,” I greeted.
“I assume you already know why you’re here,” he said.
With what had transpired before the capture of Dale and Zeno, I already had an idea about what he wanted me to do. My expression hardened.
“Yes, Sir,” I answered.
He looked at me with his intense red eyes and it felt like seeing the Blood Chamber from them. A projection flickered between us and it showed Dale and Zeno inside two holding cells with their headgears still activated.
“Just like what you did before, these cells would be transported using a remote device. However, the structures are more volatile as the detainees are more powerful than the previous ones.” Commander’s face darkened. “The cells will disintegrate once it gets teleported. The headgears will weaken them, but I doubt it would stop them once they resist its effect.”
Ulysses stood right next to me and handed me the remote.
“Can you do it alone?” he asked.
Honestly, going back to Shima was the last thing I wanted to do. My job as a Keeper and my nature as an Executioner were too contrasting that my decisions and actions were getting affected.
“Yes,” I lied.
I marched back to my room and saw Nel preparing her things.
“Where are you going?” I asked.
She raised her eyebrow. “I thought we have a mission?”
As if on cue, Cliff and Jett appeared on the doorway with their weapons and supplies ready. They entered our room and started talking about the days it would take for them to travel. My mind was buzzing with questions, but I didn’t know what to ask first, until Cliff talked to me.
“Naia, would it be better if we go now? And how many days would we travel in the ocean?”
I must have looked really confused because they all started snickering at me.
“What the heck are you talking about?”
Jett stowed a pocket revolver on his tool belt. “We’re all going to Shima with you.”
My head was still pounding after finding out that the Commander had approved of this. According to Nel, they all insisted to accompany me despite knowing the risks.
“Slow down,” Cliff said with gritted teeth.
“This is already slow,” Nel retorted.
If I were on my right mind, I would have laughed, but Nel’s speed was just making me more distressed. We were already on our way to the airport where Matti was waiting.
“We’re going to die,” Jett muttered shakily, his face already pale with terror.
Nel sped up and both of them cursed as they cried for their lives.
We arrived at the airport twenty minutes earlier. Nel shrunk the car and shoved it into her bag. Matti greeted us and he had to drag Jett and Cliff since their legs were still wobbly from Nel’s torture.
Nel sat beside me while the two were behind us. She started fiddling her dagger. I could still see the scars on her arms and I remembered how she almost died during the fight against the Navis. She lost her mother for the second time and now she would lose Dale, too.
“Are you sure about this?”
She looked at me with wistful eyes. A subtle smile escaped her lips and she looked outside the window.
“I’m curious about your previous life,” she said. “You know, we’ve been teammates for so long yet I only know a few things about you.”
“My life’s not that interesting,” I retorted.
“It is,” Jett chimed in.
Cliff cleared his throat. “Yeah.”
My childhood in Shima was kept a secret and I was grateful that the Commander didn’t break his word. My parents were still considered traitors and I’m sure people wouldn’t see me any different if they learned about them.
The sin of the parents is not the sin of the child.
I remembered Vince’s words when I first heard what happened to my parents. I was a child back then so I didn’t fully understand what he meant. In times like this, I missed him to the point that it felt like I was back to being a child again.
“You’ll know soon,” I muttered, hoping they would lose interest sooner or later.
I changed the topic and talked about Dale and Zeno. They examined the remote and pondered the technology behind it.
My gaze drifted to the windows and saw the the plane’s wing slicing through the clouds. It felt like we were inside a thick layer of fog. I remembered Shima’s entrance and thought about the Executioners. They must be having a feast right now. The Custos and Senshins were hunting their enemies and the only place where they could send them was Shima.
After almost 17 hours of non-stop flying, we reached Japan and immediately went to Miyazaki City. Nel drove her car to Aoshima island where rafts that could be used to travel the ocean to Shima were hidden. Cliff and Jett hauled a bigger one while Nel made sure nobody could see us. We took shifts in rowing until the sun started to set.
“How long until we reach the island?” Jett asked.
I shrugged. “It depends. Since the weather’s quite good, I guess around three to four days. Or maybe a week.”
“Shima is a phantom island,” I explained. “You’re not supposed to find it. They will sense anyone near the island, and they will decide whether to let you feel you’re near or let you drift away.”
“So what will we do now?” Cliff asked.
“Nothing,” I answered.
“Yes. Nothing. We’ll just wait until the gatekeeper finds us.”
The look on their faces were a mixture of disbelief, confusion, and suspicion. Despite the darkness, I could tell that they were contemplating whether to believe me or not.
When I traveled here few weeks ago, I felt alone and restless, not knowing how long I would drift in the middle of nowhere. But this time, it was kind of calming knowing I had my comrades with me. They wouldn’t be probably allowed to enter the island but knowing that the three of them would be waiting for me outside was already reassuring enough.
I smiled at them and stole a snack from Jett’s supplies.
“You guys should sleep,” I said. “I’ll take first watch.”
And that night, the full moon illuminating a deep silver glow, the thousand stars scattered in the sky and the calming waves of the sea kept me company.