“Okay, I’ll meet you there in a little bit,” Kat said, pinching the office phone’s receiver between her head and shoulder. “Be careful.”
Trish entered the office slowly, remembering the last time she had done so saw a pistol aimed at her. Kat hung up the phone and continued to pore over the sheets of paper on the desk, holding open an unfurled map with her arm on one end and a bottle of liquor on the other. A blaring television set flooded the room from its place in the corner with a cacophony of mindless commercials. Trish wondered how Kat could concentrate, but Kat had learned to focus amidst chaos.
“I’ve got some ears to the ground, checking downtown for anything…demonic. If there’s anything funny going on, we’ll hear about it soon,” Trish explained, coming up to the desk.
“Great. Thank you, for all your help Trish,” Kat said. “Things have been a little rough around here; the Order isn’t what it used to be.”
“The Order was pretty big at one point, wasn’t it?” Trish asked, sitting against the desk.
“It still sorta is big, there’s a lot of people who count themselves as part of the organization, but…that’s mostly social media warriors are this point. Much of the main group aside from me and Dante is gone…demons saw to that,” Kat said, still unable to think about the raid on the Order without getting a sinking feeling in her chest. A SWAT team forced its way into the Order’s headquarters, and began mercilessly gunning down whoever was inside with impunity. Kat didn’t really have the heart to talk about it, even with Dante. It was enough for them to remember it happened and try to continue their mission, so their lives weren’t lost in vain.
“So where is Dante? I thought he would have been back by now,” Trish asked.
“Dante decided to stay out and clean up the streets a little. He just called in to see if I had any info on churches to check out,” Kat explained.
“Churches? I take it this informant of yours had some insight for you?” Trish crossed her arms, glancing at the paperwork covering the desk.
Kat nodded. “A little,” she said, ignoring the worries in the back of her mind brought up by Phineas, worries that Dante might not need her help as they continued their mission.
“Why churches then?” Trish asked.
“Dante is half-angel, and if we want to help him get his demonic side under control, he’s going to have to look into balancing out that angelic side to counter it,” Kat explained, rifling through maps and sheets she laid out on the desk. “Phineas said that because Dante tapped into his Nephilim abilities while in Limbo, his inner devil was the first thing to come out. So, if Dante hangs around places that are less hellish and more heavenly, maybe it’ll bring out his angelic side…”
“…and so churches?” Trish smirked.
“Yeah. Phineas believes that with the dimensional Limbo in shambles, angels have probably started coming back to earth, most likely using churches for sanctuary, and trying to clean up the demons that spawn there,” Kat detailed.
“Dante hangs out with angels and we hope they rub off on him, then?”
“In a way, yeah.”
“Aren’t you worried how they angels might see Dante? I mean…are they okay with Nephilim?” Trish asked, cocking her head.
Kat shrugged slightly. “I’m not sure…but, Dante doesn’t have a lot of options. It’s either this, or…” Kat didn’t quite know what the outcome would be otherwise. She only knew it wasn’t good for anyone, least of all Dante himself.
“I see. We’ll just have to pray for the best,” Trish said, leaning over on the desk, scanning the mess of papers. “What’s this map here? Is that…Italy?”
“Yep, I was looking around and I found something interesting about Limbo,” Kat replied.
“The city or the dimension?” Trish checked.
“Both. It turns out that the city was founded a couple hundred years ago by demons in human vessels, chief among them Mundus, who was wearing a different skin suit at the time. They picked this stretch of land because it was a lot closer to Hell than any other place in the world. The whole city and the land it’s on are like a giant rift; places where Limbo and Earth are closely super-positioned. It’s as close as they can get without swimming in the Pacific.”
“Limbo might as well be the gates to Hell then, huh?” Trish said, taking in the information.
“Exactly – it’s the mother of all rifts. But! It gets more interesting from there; looking at other significant locations in relation to Limbo City’s position, I found this on the other side of the world, sitting on the same latitudinal line.” Kat brushed some books aside and pulled a laptop in front of her and Trish, flipping the screen up to show a map of Rome. Trish’s eyes widened in surprise as she looked at the screen.
“Uh…Vatican City?” Trish muttered.
Kat nodded, looking at the officer. “If Limbo City is the closest place to Hell, Vatican City is the closest place to Heaven. I found some info about it all, where that latitudinal line is known as the Celestial Crown, sometimes called the Crown of Mundus in certain occult circles. The whole thing is a hotspot for supernatural activity because it’s where the Astral Plane is closest to Earth, and there are a lot of notable locations along or near the latitudinal line; New York, Tokyo, Beijing, Rome, and Limbo City, they’re all places we’ve recorded as having a lot of supernatural occurrences,” Kat explained.
“And this bodes well for thinking angels are probably taking up residence on this same latitudinal line. Have any been seen?” Trish asked.
“Not yet, I don’t think. None of our contacts have reported anything other than demons and the usual stories about people being visited by angels. They might be laying low for now, but given the Vatican’s position in this Celestial Crown, I wouldn’t be surprised if angels were holding up at churches and other places deemed as holy ground,” Kat said.
Trish was silent, staring at the floor as she ran through the new information in her head.
“You still with me?” Kat asked.
Trish nodded slowly. “Yeah…just trying to keep it all in order; it’s a lot to take in.”
“If you wanna back out…I would understand. So would Dante…even if he acts like a jerk sometimes,” Kat said leaning on her elbows on the desk.
“No, it’s not that.” Trish shook her head. “It’d be hard for me to ignore the things I’ve seen…the demons. I watched my partner die…”
“We’ve all lost a lot in this war,” Kat said sullenly. “Dante may have lost the most, just because of who he is; he’s a Nephilim, and he chose to fight for us when he didn’t have to. He sacrificed all he knew to give humanity freedom, and to keep us free.”
“I’ll do my best to help. I know it can’t be easy, but I owe you both a thing or three. And I owe it to my partner to get back at the demons, I owe it to all the people who have been hurt by them,” Trish said.
Kat smiled at the officer. “I can see why you decided to be a cop, you’ve got a really strong sense of justice,” she said.
“Was really the only choice I had. My whole family is like that. I suppose in a way I’m doing this for them, too,” Trish replied.
“It’s good to have goals like that. Right now…Dante and the Order are all I have, so I’ll fight for them tooth and nail if I have to,” Kat said. “Speaking of, I should get down to that church, Dante said he wanted my help with something…not sure why.”
The witch gathered up her effects, draping her stencils tube over her shoulder. She picked up the remote and turned towards the television, but halted from turning off the set, her attention caught by what was on; a lively debate between news pundits.
“Oh, I believe that 100%. Controlled demolitions is the only way the Silver Sacks Towers could have been taken down the way they were,” said one man in a disheveled gray suit.
“Controlled demolitions? Really?” the man across the table responded.
“Yes! Controlled demolitions – explosives planted at key points in the towers to make them fall, not some kamikaze run into the lobby driving a van filled with explosives. Which means this was an inside job!” the gray suited man continued.
“An inside job? Oh come on now!” another anchor chimed in.
“Yes! There’s a lot of data pointing to the President himself having contact with Kyle Ryder, most likely about finances. You’ve seen our national debt! I think the fat cats in the capitol took out the bankster Kyle Ryder so they wouldn’t have to pay back the bill,” the gray suited man explained fervently.
“Well…he’s half-right,” Kat said. “We did find out that the government owed a lot of money to Mundus’ vessel Ryder. While they got off scot-free from having to repay Mundus, a lot more funds have been tied up in the city’s relief effort.”
“Yeesh…” Trish shook her head as Kat turned off the TV with a click of the remote.
“I used to think defeating Mundus would make everything better, but…it was sort of naïve of me. Nothing is ever so simple…” Kat said, tossing the remote down onto the desk amidst the maps and other paperwork.
“C’mon, I’ll drop you off on my route,” Trish motioning her head towards the door.
Kat humbly walked through the threshold of the church. A parishioner gave her a pleasant smile, and she responded with an uncomfortable smile of her own as she moved on. In the main hall, Kat scanned the rows of pews ahead of her to find Dante’s white hair amidst the other churchgoers. Kat slid into his aisle and sat down on Dante’s left.
“So this is the place?” Dante asked in a hushed tone.
“From what I found; yes. There’s a distinct lack of demonic activity in the area surrounding the church. Normally, demons have no problem hanging around churches, but this one stuck out the most because there’s no demonic activity around it. This is essentially a pretty nice neighborhood,” Kat explained.
“You think some angels might be around here?” Dante wondered.
“It’s worth a shot at this point. Purgatory itself is more important than shaking hands with an angel, though,” Kat replied.
“Sure,” Dante said. “Let’s get this started. Grab your spray.”
Dante slid from his seat in the pew, and knelt down as if to begin praying. He motioned for Kat to do the same.
“What are we doing?” Kat asked.
“Covering for you, so you can get a glyph down; looks less suspicious if it seems like we’re prayin’ or something,” Dante replied.
“Why do you want me to make a circle? Can’t you do this on your own now?” Kat asked shaking her spray can, using small motions to mitigate the sound.
“I haven’t really done it on my own before. I just wanna remember what it’s like, so I can…y’know…remember the feeling. Really take in the process,” Dante said.
Kat looked at him quizzically.
“Alright, alright…I want you to do it so you don’t feel left out,” Dante came clean, leaning his arms across the back of the pew in front of him.
“That’s really nice of you, but…you shouldn’t hold yourself back because of me,” Kat said.
“I don’t want you to feel like I don’t need you,” Dante stated.
“No Dante, you have every right to move forward, and learn more about yourself. I’m glad I could help you as much as I have, but this is something you have to do,” Kat replied.
“I just thought that you’d be pretty upset about it. I mean, you looked it when we were talking to Phin,” Dante said.
“Yeah. I guess…when I first thought about how you wouldn’t need me, I got scared. It reminded me of…when Vergil left,” Kat said.
It was difficult for Kat to say his name, same as it was difficult for Dante to hear it.
“I guess the wound is still pretty open. Sounds stupid, doesn’t it?” Kat muttered.
Dante chuckled slightly, and shook his head.
“Y’know…I can’t really look at myself in the mirror,” Dante said, nearly whispering the confession.
“Oh, is that why your hair is always a mess?” Kat said, tousling the demon killer’s hair, trying to shake away the feelings of grief gnawing at her.
“Every time I do, I see…Vergil staring back at me; especially now that I’ve got this mop, too. Just reminds me how I let him down,” Dante muttered.
“Hey, you didn’t let him down…he…he let us down,” Kat struggled to get the words out. “He lied to us, to you. He betrayed our trust. There’s nothing about it that makes it your fault.”
“But he’s my brother. He wanted me with him, and I told him ‘no’,” Dante responded, intertwining his fingers.
“He wanted you to rule humanity with him…”
“Maybe that wouldn’t have been so bad…would have made these last six months of fighting demons a lot easier,” Dante said.
“But at what cost? Ver…he…he didn’t care about the humans.” Kat refrained from mentioning she counted herself among those humans she spoke of. “You did the right thing, Dante…don’t ever forget that.”
“Thanks…” Dante and Kat shared a comforting glance, and they both smiled.
They had shared many glances like that over the past six months, as they both came to terms with the reality of their situation. Dante denied his twin brother Vergil what he felt he was owed, and he turned his back on his own flesh and blood for humanity. Vergil’s parting words cut Dante deeply. “I loved you, brother” cleaved his composure in two whenever he looked in a mirror long enough.
However, Kat was hurt all the same by Vergil. He had taught her everything he knew about demonology and occultism. The man took her in, gave her a cause and a reason to fight for. Having escaped from her demonic foster father, Kat was welcomed by Vergil and the Order, who became like a second family to her. Kat and Vergil had become close, and even with the death of many of the Order’s members, she had felt that she would always be able to count on Vergil to be there, as he had been.
But he left, sullied and angry that the two people closest to him didn’t share his ideals. Dante was effectively all Kat had left, and they both shared a common, Vergil-shaped wound that was slow to heal.
“Okay, so don’t paint me a glyph, but I still need you. You’ve gotta teach me how you astral project. Phin said that I have to think about moving myself from this plane to another…and…I figured that sounds a hell of a lot like what you do, so…teach me,” Dante conceded, looking at Kat with eyes that begged.
Kat’s smile grew. “I think I can help you with that.”
Kat moved up to sit in the pew, and motioned for Dante to do the same. Dante sat up and leaned back casually in his seat as Kat explained. “The first time I projected, I had a strong desire to get away from where I was. I wanted to escape more than anything at the time. That’s the most important thing you need to keep in mind; you have to really want to leave here.”
“You got it,” Dante said, closing his eyes and exhaling sharply. “But how do I know I’ll end up in Purgatory?”
“I ended up in Limbo without thinking about it. You’ll probably move to the closest parallel dimension, which should be Purgatory,” Kat explained. “Now…just clear your mind of all external stimulation, block it all out. Ignore it.”
Dante concentrated, shutting out all the murmur from other churchgoers. Voices and footfalls became distant in his ears, and in their place a high-pitched tone became more prominent. The ringing became louder, and then subsided. Dante felt the warm light beyond his eyelids shift to a cooler tint, fading back just as the ringing sound did. It was a new sensation, and it caught Dante off guard. He focused again, and the ringing grew louder in his ears again. His sense of touch gave way to numbness as the high-pitched tone reached an ear-shattering crescendo. Seconds later, his senses returned to normal as the ringing became a distant echo.
Dante opened his eyes, scanning the church. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary, although there was a softer light shining in from the windows. At his side, Kat sat in the pew, visible only as her common ghost-like form.
“Did we make it?” Dante asked.
“We made it somewhere,” Kat replied, taking in the church.
“That was pretty easy,” Dante proclaimed, standing up from the pew.
“For you, maybe. I had trouble trying not to go to Limbo.”
“Perks of being a Nephilim, I guess,” Dante said, smirking. “You comin’?”
“You want me to come along?” Kat asked, honestly surprised.
“Of course,” Dante said.
Kat stood up, a genuine smile creeping across her face. As she rose from the pew, she noticed a thin layer of mist that covered the church’s floor.
“Wonder what this mist is…” Kat pondered aloud.
“You feel that?” Dante asked.
Kat paused, taking in the faint sensation pushing on her that she had easily missed before. It was the same kind of push one could feel in Limbo, but it was a different kind of feeling entirely from that hellish dimension.
“Feels like…tranquility” Kat replied.
“…some pretty good vibes here,” Dante stated. “If it ain’t Purgatory, it’s something closer to Heaven.”
Kat moved out of the pews and into the aisle while Dante followed. It was an odd feeling for them both; they were in a brand new dimension, and both the demon killer and the witch were so used to being on edge, that the dimension’s easing atmosphere was disorienting.
“It’s weird; I’m still expecting something to start tossing junk around in the air, or the walls talking shit. I almost miss it,” Dante said facetiously.
Kat stepped up to the pulpit at the end of the aisle
“Looks like the mist is coming from this,” she said, examining a statue situated at the back of the pulpit.
“Huh…it’s one of those statues I use for my shopping,” Dante smirked, walking over to the statue.
“Oh wow…so this is what they look like?” Kat said.
“Yeah. That’s weird, though…I didn’t see it before,” Dante explained. “Not in the human dimension anyway…”
“Maybe you just missed it?” Kat said, holding her hands up to the statue, feeling the same soothing emanations flowing from its core.
“Nah, the hourglass on these things always flashes whenever I get near them, pretty hard to miss that,” Dante replied. “But this doesn’t even have an hourglass…are these scales?”
“Wait…if this statue is here, and not in Limbo or the human plane, does that mean they aren’t something demonic?” Kat asked.
“Maybe not…this one looks really nice compared to the ones I’ve seen before. It isn’t covered in that black shit.”
“Can you…do something to it? Like you do with the other statues?” Kat pondered.
Dante pressed his hand against the statue, feeling the contours in the marble, but nothing pushed back. Normally his mind would be flooded with information and images, something he considered akin to the statue’s thoughts and suggestions. The statues would lust after demonic blood, and in exchange offer Dante help in the form of items or visions of what he was capable of. However, this statue made no such desire known to him, only an intense feeling of respite arose, alleviating the tension in Dante’s body.
“I’m not getting anything from it,” Dante said, shaking his head. “Nothing big anyway.”
“It was worth a shot at least,” Kat replied. “Nothing seems all that different here, other than the push we’re getting, but…I’m also just a projection. Are you feeling anything more, since you’re actually there?”
Dante shrugged. “Not really. So what should I do here? I doubt just chilling out in Purgatory is what Phin had in mind.”
“Well, what happened when you tapped into your demon side for the first time?” Kat said, crossing her arms in thought.
“Well…going angel or demon was pretty simple, because I was just thinking about what I wanted my sword to be, but…what? Do I just try to do the same thing with my Trigger?”
“What happened when you first got it?” Kat asked.
Dante thought back to the time when he first tapped into the deeper part of himself. Encouraging words from his mother Eva had echoed in his head. In a secret message, she had revealed to him the power to forge ahead on the path of his choosing, and his soul cried out in long-awaited liberty.
“I just…felt like I was complete. Like I finally knew what I was, I could see everything that was hidden from me before. There was just this…rush of power after that,” Dante explained, reflexively holding the red amulet around as he thought back to the vision of his mother.
“Hmmm…” Kat paced in front of the pulpit. “And Phineas said that the reason why your demon side has gotten out of control is because you’ve been tapping into your Nephilim powers while in Limbo, and all that Malice has been building up. Maybe…you should try to trigger your Nephilim powers, but just the Nephilim powers. Stay away from anything demonic, and just…see what else you can let out.”
“Start over from scratch, huh?” Dante nodded.
“Yeah, if your demonic side was what came out while triggering in Limbo, then I’d imagine your angelic side should come out while triggering in Purgatory. At least…I hope that’s what’ll happen,” Kat said.
Dante stood at the front of the pulpit, rolling his head to stretch his neck. “Aw c’mon Kat, you just gotta have faith.”
The demon killer inhaled deeply, and then blew air sharply out of his nose. Hesitation gripped him like an icy hand freezing his actions. Images of the man-demon raced in his mind. Dante watched visions of his own hands, controlled by another, as they raised a blade to his friends. Dante patted his palms against the sides of his legs, sighing.
“Everything okay?” Kat asked.
Dante turned back, flashing a weak smile to Kat. “I swear this never happened to me before.”
“It’s okay Dante. You don’t have to…”
Kat was cut off by the sound of the doors to the church bursting open. A grand, warm light shone in from outside, flooding into the church from behind a coated figure. Dante slid in front of Kat and raised the pistol, Ivory, in his right hand, sighting it on the figure as he walked into the aisles, stopping just short of the last row of pews.
“Dante, don’t point guns at people in Purgatory. He could be an angel,” Kat whispered harshly.
“Oh shit…right,” Dante said sheepishly, lowering his pistol.
“Say something to him,” Kat suggested.
Dante took a step forward, waving with his free left hand. “Uh…hey!”
The figure didn’t respond, only leaning on his right foot, his head cocking in confusion. His brunette hair was long and swept back, and his chin ended in a pointed goatee. A white hood sprouted out from the back of the collar of the black coat that hung off his shoulders, which sank as the man scanned Dante. The demon killer turned back towards Kat, shrugging at a loss of what to do, who shrugged in kind.
A flash of silver extended from the figure’s right hand, metal singing loudly throughout the expansive church. The man leapt forward, flying through the air with a shining longsword raised overhead, the tail of his navy coat billowing behind him.
“DANTE LOOK OUT!” Kat screamed, slinking away as the man came down.
Dante spun around on his heel just in time to fall back and catch the blade with the crotch of Ivory’s trigger guard. Sparks sprang out where supernatural metal met supernatural metal. Dante hit the tiled floor hard, and the man’s feet slammed down seconds later on either side of him. The man loomed over the prone demon killer, forcing his blade against the frame of Dante’s pistol.
“DEMON!” the man yelled, inches from Dante’s face.