I thought I was just hallucinating a while ago but it was real. Even though his eyes were covered with lenses, I could still see the glint of green on them as he traversed through the changing lights of the place. The Japanese representative was a Shinigami.

We followed him inside the casino where he roamed around, looking for something or someone, until he stopped in front of a roulette. People were gathering around it and started betting. The Shinigami sat in front of the roulette table as the participants placed their bets.

"Do you have any money?" tanong ko kay Cliff at tumango naman siya.
"I'm gonna exchange it for some chips," he said and went to the casino cage.

We didn't use our patheia since the Shinigami might sense our presence or even hear our conversation. There might be other Erityians here and using it might trigger some kind of connection to them.

I wandered around the roulette table and saw some familiar faces from the news these past few days. Three of them were politicians and some were actors and businessmen.

"How's the goddess?"

Napatingin naman ako sa katabi ng Shinigami na nagtanong sa kanya. He has a shoulder-length, jet black hair that complimented his white tuxedo but what made him stood out was the horizontal scar running across his forehead.

"Your lowly presence doesn't have the right to speak of her," the Shinigami said and for a second, I saw how his pupil constrict—a sign of resentment or fear.
"Is that so? I'm sorry, then," he smirked.

Goddess? Did he mean the Death Goddess, Rin, of the Shinigami tribe?

I was suddenly confused. Who was this guy? A Shinigami? If not, then how did he know Rin?

"You Chromes are really . . . how should I say this?" He placed a chip on the Black box. "Imperious."
"That word completely describes your organization, not us." East retorted as he placed his chip between 12 and 15—a split bet.

Chromes . . . that was the term used by Spider when he confronted me. A Black. This guy was a Nox member. The Nox had been targeting the tribe leaders of the Erityian race ever since they discovered our existence.But why was he dealing with a Shinigami?

Bumalik naman si Cliff at agad siyang naglagay ng chip sa table. He placed his on the Even box and sat one seat apart from East. The croupier spun the wheel and threw the ball as it bounced around the track. The betters called their respective choices, hoping that the ball would fall on them.

"How fitting," East murmured. "So they assigned a zweite for this deal."
"Ah. You noticed," the Black said while stroking his hair.
"Of course. One of my Reapers said that the size of your tattoo decreases as the level increases," sabay tingin niya sa leeg ng Black at nakita ko rin ang maliit na black sun tattoo ro'n.

The ball finally stopped and it fell in slot 8. Out of all the people who bet, only two won and one of them was Cliff because of his Even choice.

"I guess that's it," the Black said and he suddenly stood up. "Ah. I forgot to introduce myself. I'm Pitch. Remember that."

After that, he walked away. I looked at Cliff and he just nodded. He'd continue observing East and I'd follow that guy, the one who called himself Pitch.


I had never lost sight of my target . . . until now. Pitch walked too fast and he chose to navigate through crowded area, making it hard for me to follow him. In the end, I lost him. Damn it.

Huminga ako nang malalim para kumalma. Hindi ko alam kung paano ko siya hahanapin dito at hindi ko na rin alam kung paano ako babalik kay Cliff. I didn't know that this place would be this huge.

I was about to continue looking for him but I saw a suspicious person at the poker game area. The guy was holding a black suitcase, continuously looking at his watch while scanning the place. I immediately clicked my earpiece but I still couldn't reach Naia so I tried Nigel and heard him on the other line.

"What is it?"
"I'll send a picture of someone. Please identify him immediately."

Using the nano-camera inserted in the knot of my tie, I captured a photo of him. According to Nigel, the photos taken by this would be automatically transferred to his computer. After a minute or two, Nigel called.

"That guy is Melchor Trohadas, a governor," sabi ni Nigel.
"A governor?"
"Yes. He's currently criticized because of his plan about the Central Park of their province."
"Melchor Trohadas . . . something is eerily familiar with his name."
"Did you meet him before?"
"No. But his name—" Suddenly, I realized something. "Nigel, let's talk later. I have something to do."

I ended the call and looked at Hortem. Yes, I'm sure that he's Hortem.

Using my animus, I changed my appearance into Ink and approached him. When he saw me looking at him, he stopped looking around and fixed his gaze on me.

"You're early," sabi niya at nagsimula siyang maglakad papunta sa isang table. I didn't expect that Ink and Hortem would also meet here, and luckily, Ink wasn't here yet.
"Of course. I don't want you to wait, Governor Melchor Trohadas," I said while smiling at him. He looked around with his eyes wide open and glared at me. "How did you know?" he growled and I just smirked at him.
"Your alias gave it away. Too obvious."

Bigla naman niyang binagsak ang suitcase sa harapan ko at pagkabukas niya no'n ay bumungad sa akin ang malaking halaga ng pera.

"Just do your goddamn job."
"Is that your final plan? Quite stupid, if you ask me," I said, fishing for some information about that 'goddamn job.'
"That's the simplest and easiest way to demolish that place," sabi niya kaya bigla kong naalala ang sinabi ni Nigel kanina. So his plan about the Central Park was to demolish it, huh.
"I know but that plan will bring harm to our organization. I can suggest a different—" He banged the table, cutting me off.
"I told you. Just drop the bombs and that'll end everything. I want to build my private establishments as soon as possible."

Pinigilan ko ang sarili ko sa pagngiti no'ng nalaman ko ang plano niya. Basically, he wanted to build his private businesses in the park by demolishing it using bombs and for sure, he'd say that it was an act of terrorism. He might also point his fingers at Nox if he'd be asked about the possible suspects. Was this the reason why they want to kill him?

After some discussions, he gave me the money and told me to wait for his signal before doing the mission. Agad naman siyang tumayo kaya gano'n din ang ginawa ko pero napatigil ako nang may nakita akong pamilyar na mukha.

It was Ink.

I turned around and blocked Hortem. Luckily, Hortem was a short guy so I managed to hide him well.

"I'll escort you out," sabi ko naman at tumango siya kaya mabilis kaming naglakad.
'Cliff!' I called, though I wasn't sure if the distance between us was in the range of my patheia. 'Cliff! Can you hear me? Cliff!'
'I just left that place. Why? What is it?'
'Let's go. I have Hortem.'
'Hortem? You mean . . .'
'Yeah. He's here but I saw Ink. We need this guy and we can't let Ink kill him.'
'Where are you?'
'Poker area. Near the exit.'
'I'll be there.'

Patuloy lang kaming naglakad papunta sa exit. We were just several meters away from the exit, hoping that Ink wouldn't see us, but I was wrong.

"Hey," he called with his low voice but I didn't respond and pulled Hortem toward the exit. Nasa labas na kami at nakikita ko na ang sasakyan ko nang bigla niyang tinawag si Hortem.
"Hortem. Is that you?"

Napatigil si Hortem at tumingin siya sa akin at saka siya lumingon. Nagpabalik-balik ang tingin niya sa aming dalawa at bakas sa mukha niya ang pagkalito at gulat.

"Guess I need to do this," I whispered and tugged him forcefully away from Ink.
"W-what's h-hap . . ." I smiled at him as I changed to my original identity and that shut him up.
"Come back here, Hortem." Bigla ko namang narinig ang boses ni Ink kaya napalingon ako.

I heard a thud behind us and when I turned around, I saw Cliff pinning Ink's body to the ground. He has been the 'brain' in our missions, providing us with information along with Naia, but during our academy days, his weapon was his strength and undoubtedly, he's still the strongest among us.

'Cliff, hurry up!' sabi ko dahil nag-alarm ang security sa exit ng casino.

We finally reached my car and I immediately pushed Hortem inside. He was about to scowl at me but it was replaced with an unmanly scream when he saw the bloody interior of my car. I got into the driver's seat, my left hand at the steering wheel and my right held a dagger pointed at Hortem's neck.

"Keep quiet and you'll live," I said and his body was shaking uncontrollably because of fear.

Pinaandar ko ang kotse at napahawak siya sa seatbelt. I steered the wheel and drove to Cliff's direction since the commotion might have also alerted Pitch who was inside. We didn't want to deal with a zweite and a Shinigami at the same time.

"Cliff!" I yelled and he released Ink. He looked at me and without a second thought, jumped into the car, breaking the glass of my left window.
"Faster," sabi agad niya at nakita kong nagdudugo ang binti niya. "Pitch and East are coming."

I had to accelerate because of that. I checked the side mirror and Pitch was standing next to Ink who was struggling to get up. However, without a car, they couldn't follow us.

Wait . . . where's—

"Nel!" Cliff yelled and when I looked in front of us, the Black Dimension was already opened.

Due to the sudden acceleration of the car, I couldn't slow it down. Damn it! Going inside the Black Dimension meant death for us.

"Ah. From Custos, huh?" The Shinigami appeared inside my car, beside Cliff. "Enjoy your time in the Black Dimension. Goodbye—!"

He didn't have the time to finish his sentence because a sword suddenly pierced through the roof of the car down to East's right leg and using that split second, I swerved the wheel hard to the right and we crashed at the post. East howled as he removed the sword from his leg and he escaped using the Black Dimension.

My heart was racing after that stunt. Tiningnan ko ang lugar kung saan nakabukas ang Black Dimension pero nawala iyon kasabay ni East. Napabuntong-hininga ako at sumandal sa headrest. That was a close call.

"Didn't I tell you to call me first before doing anything?"

Nagkatinginan kami ni Cliff nang marinig namin ang boses na 'yon. The owner of the voice jumped to the ground and a familiar face appeared in front of us. In the middle of the dark, her white hair glowed as she looked at us with her blood-red eyes.

In the middle of the dark, her white hair glowed as she looked at us with her blood-red eyes.
It was Naia.