The Hour of the Dead

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Booksie Classic
Detective Captain Jai Fon and her partner, Lieutenant Gene Blackstone, set out to track down a serial killer on the loose in the sleepy streets of Victoria London. With the self-proclaimed “Reaper of the Unclean” circling closer and closer to Captain Jai and her friends, the young detective is finding herself at lost as to whom she should turn to. Only one name comes to mind, notorious bandit and lifelong friend Vhaidra Arcadus. Can the help of this cunning cutthroat be the answer to Jai’s prayers or will the ruthless, blood-thirsty Reaper get his way and silence not only the “unclean ones” of London, but the justice-perusing and vengeance seeking duo, as well? With each crook, killer, and crime fighter all hurrying in the same direction this mystery soon becomes a deadly rat race to the finish line to see who gives the final laugh…

Submitted: July 29, 2013

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Submitted: July 29, 2013

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The Hour of the Dead

A scream sliced through the quiet streets of London, filling its fogged air with the dreaded anticipation of the events that will and have taken place. This was not a normal scream that resulted from a surprise pedestrian or victim of a petite crime. This was not a scream that came from the throat of a vict.im of rape or mugging. This scream came from the mouth of the act of pure, carnal evil. This scream was premeditated. Desperate. As if the victim was waiting for the moment when the pain was too much so they could bellow their lungs out into the abandoned streets above. To let somebody, anybody, know that were once alive and this was their last chance to tell someone—even if it was just the ghost of the cemetery whom they will surely join. This scream was raw with pain and worn thin with terror. But unfortunately for this victim, their desperate, pain-ridden scream fell on deaf ears and eventually faded out into the sleepy streets.

 

Black, sightless orb-like eyes stared into nothingness. The rain, which was falling in sheets, slipped into, and quickly overfilled the mouth that was opened to form a ghastly O. The body was completely destroyed. If it was not for the long blood soaked hair that sprung out rebelliously on the side of what is supposing to be the face, and the scraps of filthy material that one that could possibly mistake as some kind of dress that clung to the body to its body, one would not be able to tell if the body was male or female. The word “mutilated” was far too gentle of a word to describe this vulgar display of killing.

Captain Jai Fon of the Scotland Yard bent over the eye-cringing worthy body. Her 5’4 pixie- like frame seem to grow in intensity as her sharp piercing eyes bore holes into the body. Her long dark hair was tied back as usual in a braid that laid down her back, and her rather long bangs draped loosely in front of her deep grey eyes. At first glance at the young commander one’s immediate thought would be that she was just merely a curious girl at a crime scene dressed in her father’s Scotland Yard’s uniform and captain’s badge. But when they finally looked into her eyes, said person automatically dismisses all and any foolish thoughts of prejudice assumptions. For once they look into those strikingly intense and uncomfortably serious storm-grey eyes, they are suddenly overcome with the unnatural (or natural feeling depending on who it is) that they had said or done something. Much like what a child feels in the presence of an elder they admire dearly—ghastly intimidating.

Jai Fon’s vexing thoughts jumbled together and ran into one another inside her drain as she surveyed the body in front of her. The many troubling thoughts she was trying to keep in check was suddenly jolted to a halt by a loud commotion. Spinning around the constable sought out the noise that rudely disturbed her. She found her offender, 2nd in command, Gene Blackstone. His thick glasses that almost covered his entire face hanged at the tip o his nose and threaten to fall off at the slightest of movements. His blonde hair that was usually shoved back behind his head now fell loosely in front of his thin face; and his tall stick-like fame kneeled painfully over a fallen crate, whom Jai Fon concluded was the culprit of the ungodly ruckus—that, and the incompetent Blackstone, that is.

“Oh, for the love of the Queen! Blackstone, what do you think you are doing?” Captain Jai growled to her hopeless 2nd in frustration. “Why don’t you make yourself useful and bring me a lamp so I can see better.” The Chief in Command snapped.

“Yes Ma’am!” Gene Blackstone barked out like a loyal dog, completely oblivious to the fool he is making of himself in the eyes of his captain. Pushing up his glasses to the bridge if his nose, Blackstone rushed forward ahead to retrieve the gas lamps, once he did he trotted back to his Captain’s side. Obediently the young man stuck the burning gas lamp in Jai Fon’s face, but instead of taking it the captain just stood there in front of the body, her brow frowning deeply in confusion.

“Um….Captain?” Gene inquired, becoming a bit annoyed that he was once again being ignored. Suddenly Jai Fon turned on her heels and started to head in the opposite direction, towards to horse-drawn carriages.

“Come Blackstone.” Jai Fon ordered over her shoulders as she walked briskly away.

“Where are we going?” the young man asked as he finally caught up to his captain who, by now, already had one foot into to carriage. His voice was filled with much urgency as he feared what his answer may be.

Without turning around towards to puzzled man, Jai answered him with an exasperated sigh, as if the answer was the most obvious one of all.

“We are going to visit an old friend of mine, Vhaidra Arcadus.”

 

 

“Y…you mean as in C-Cerberus, t-the dog of Hell?” Gene trembled in his question once they were safely of the cart and trotting down the cobblestone roads towards the wooded area of the town.

Jai remained silent as she starred out the small curtained window unto the black forest ahead. She was too busy contemplating her next move to pay any heed to Blackstone. Despite the protest of her pride Jai knew that she was way over her head in this case. It seemed like every move she makes in this little game of theirs the suspect was always two steps ahead of her—as if he already knew her next move, even before she even thought of making it. Tonight’s killings being no different, almost as if he was taunting her, the killer changed his tactics, killing a woman who did not fit his profile in the slightest. For the past few weeks the criminal’s only victims seemed to be low priced women of the night. Jai assumed that these women were his prime prey, but when he took the life of a baker’s young wife, a simple girl whom Jai seen around at the local bar, she knew that her premature assumptions were completely wrong. Of course Jai knew that no matter how different tonight’s killings were from the other victims this was the doing of the criminal she has been chasing for the past month. For, he put his infamous signature upon the body, marking her as his own, just as he did with the prostitutes— simple circle with a jagged line in the middle of it etched into the victim’s lower abdomen where her intestines would be. Said woman’s vital organs viciously ripped out, sowed back together, and signed. Jai was not a fool; she knew that tonight was a warning to her, the killer’s sadistic way of telling her that since she had no fear in getting too close in this case then he had no fear in taking his game to a new level if it is at the expense of Jai’s distress. Because of this, Jai also understood the desperate state of this man, a man who could jump to such extreme measures was a dangerous creature. And Jai knew that she was not such a prideful fool to ask for help when she needed it. This man was playing a deadly cat-and-mouse game with her and she had enough knowledge to know that she had no way to win his twisted game unless she got on his level and think as his sadistic mind dose. So it was time to fight fire with fire. And who is better to go up against a crazed serial killer than the Hound of Hell herself, “Cerberus” Vhaidra Arcadus?

The infamous “they” say that the bandit Vhaidra Arcadus was literally a demon born in hell. That she guarded that gates of Hades and Satan was her master (hints the nick-name, “Cerberus”). They say this not because she is a woman who has sinned, but because of her reputation in the lower parts of London. They speak not out of disgust or ill taste towards her, but out of respect and righteous fear. It is said that the one thing one should not do in their short live is to cross blades with Vhaidra, it is rumored that she literally unleash the doors of Hell in the heat of battle with one swing of her sword. Because of this her reputation has became well known throughout London that she is a bandit and modern day swashbuckler, however, oddly enough none of that bothered Jai Fon, for she had been through a lot with Vhaidra to let frightful accusations and past experiences get in the way of their friendship. An odd duo they make indeed: A justice pursuing Scotland Yard investigator and an infamous outlaw.

The Gods must have had a hand in this partnership of parings, Jai thought with a smirk as they reared her dear friend’s home.

The Arcadus manor was a fairly large estate that sat on top of an unreliable looking cliff that overlooked the sea. The tall, ancient domain looked as if it was about to tip of the rocks at any sudden shift of the wind and go plunging into the unsympathetic sea below in any minute. Fortunately for its resident, the mansion never did and most likely never would. The house was built about five hundred years ago by the current Arcadus at the time in the memory of their mother country far east. Jai remembered Vhaidra telling her that the house was made to be an exact replica of the original one in Romania that no longer stands. She is reminded of this as she lays her gaze upon the entrance, its massive double doors standing ancient yet proud while showing off its Gothic design that were ever so popular to the high-classed nobles at the time.

Jai reached her hand out to knock on the door, but before her fist made contact with the wood the door had already began to slowly creak open. Thinking quickly, Gene suddenly grabbed Jai by her forearm to stop her from entering the house.

“Are you sure about this, Captain?” Gene continued. “I mean… you know what they say about Cerberus.” The 2nd gestured toward the manor with a nod of his head. Jai, not fazed by his warning roughly pulled her arm out of Gene’s hand.

“Blackstone, I have been friends with Vhaidra since long before you were even joined the Yard.” Jai spoke as-a-matter-of-factly, putting great infancies on her companion’s name. She never truly liked the nick-name “Cerberus”; she felt it served Vhaidra no true justice at all.

“I trust her with my very life, and I suggest you do the same and--”

“Come in.” A husky whisper of a voice spoke from deep inside the house. Even though the voice was hushed it was spoken with such authority that Jai did not hesitate a moment as she obeyed the order and stepped into the large house. Gene, on the other hand, trusted the mysterious voice as much as he did the killer they have been chasing and decided to stay right where he was. But after waiting outside for a few minutes and realizing that his captain was not going to come rushing back outside to him, Gene decided that it was probably in his best intentions if went inside, despite going against his best judgments. Besides, it made him simply physically sick to know that his captain was in the hands of that…demon.

“Ah, Jai Fon, what do I owe the pleasure of your presence?”

The same husky velvet voice echoed throughout the great walls, filling it with the black silk that was Vhaidra Arcadus’s words. The room that Jai and Gene, who only just recently arrived in (running into Jai in the process) was extraordinarily large, where one could accurately assume that it was where the Arcadus once held grand balls. In front of Jai was a great black and red carpeted stairs and perched on top was a figure in all black. Upon further examination Gene could clearly see that this was the obvious owner of the Arcadus household. Vhaidra had on a finely tailored, black as night suit; the only color that her attire allowed was a splash of red that her neck sash illuminated. The blackness of her hair rivaled the darkness of her suit as it hanged loosely in front of her pale face and draped lazily across her shoulders and down her back in a stunning display of length. She was strikingly beautiful with sharply handsome facial features that gave her a slightly more intense look. However, Gene thinks that it was her eyes that made him know for sure that this was the demon legend spoke so fearfully about. Her eyes were the color of burnt August, a dark orange that glowed zealously like the setting sun before twilight. Her black pupils were full and wide, giving her a more predatory look to her, like a panther that could pounce at any moment. From the way she carried herself, Gene could clearly see that this creature used her body like that of the great feline she takes so much after, she was a living weapon; and Gene could tell this just by looking at her once. Suddenly, he did not feel so well and wanted to get out of the house as fast as he came in.

Jai, on the other hand, was completely unfazed by Vhaidra’s intimidating presence and walked calmly up to her as if she was not a force to be reckoned with at all. Reaching out she hastily grabbed the hell dog’s forearm as Vhaidra did the same.

“It has been too long, my old friend.” Jai grinned as she shocked Vhaidra’s arm.

“I couldn’t agree with you more!” Vhaidra countered, sporting the same smirk as her comrade. Suddenly she stopped shaking Jai’s hand and opted for a more forward approach. Pulling the young captain by her arm Vhaidra captured Jai in a friendly hug.

It was an awkward cough from behind them that interrupted the friend’s long awaited reunion. Entangling themselves from one another’s arms the duo turned to see Gene nervously squirming in his spot and avoiding eye contact. Finally, with another nervous clearing of his throat, he spoke.

‘T-this is v-very nice, and all, but don’t we have more important matters to attend to?” He asked in his natural meek tone. This time his eyes remained strictly on Jai’s as he tried hard to ignore the glowing orange ones. Vhaidra’s eyes widen at the newcomer and her back stiffen.

“Of course.” The master of the house drawled, her voice easing out into a slight growl that her slick Romanian accent tried to smooth out. “But he stays here.” This time her native tongue did little to nothing to hide her clear distaste she has towards the young lieutenant. Seeing that things could get quickly out of control, Jai agreed to Vhaidra’s conditions.

“Yes, of course. Blackstone, stay.” Jai commanded of her subordinate as if he was a dog and she the master. Gene was about to protest but decided against it when he felt those burnt eyes fall from his captain to him. Resignedly he held his tongue and backed away from the two women as they turned their backs on him and walked away in the opposite direction.

“What do you have against my partner?” Jai Fon lightheartedly laughed as she settled herself into a comfortable large black chair next to her standing friend. Turning towards the fireplace Vhaidra shrugged nonchalantly.

“I do not know. He has an odd smell to him that unsettles me slightly. You know I have greater senses than most when it comes to smells.” She explained.

“Blackstone?” Jai questioned in disbelief. “Oh, he is harmless. Stupid, yes, but most defiantly harmless, I assure you.”

“Hum. I still do not like him.” Vhaidra huffed out defiantly.

“As I recalled you did not like any of my friends.” Jai playfully bantered back.

“Ancient history.” The house owner shot back with a coy smirk. The good-natured grin she had been sporting quickly slipped from her lips and was replaced with a more serious one. Seeing this Jai sat up in her seat and gave her companion the undivided attention a she realized that it was now time for a more serious conversation.

“The Ripper.” Vhaidra spoke up before Jai could think of a way to form her troubling thoughts.

“What? The ripper? What is that?” Jai deadpanned, trying to see what Vhaidra was getting at.

“Not ‘what’,” Vhaidra explained. “Who. The Ripper is what the people are calling the killer now. You know, because he is ripping out their most… valuable parts.” The count grimaced.

“H-How did you know that he did that?” Jai stammered in disbelief. “That bit of information is highly classified. Not even those vulture journalists know about it. Well, yet anyways.”

“For argument’s sake, let us just say that I have my ways.” Vhaidra smirked darkly. “The bodies have been that of prostitutes, but lately it does not seem that way at all. It seems that the Ripper has changed his tactics and has started to simply kill girls at the random, but they all seem to end the way, completely baron and marked.”

“Let me guess, your ways told you that?” The detective smiles a humorless smile.

“Yes, as-a-matter-of-fact, they have. However, it is that symbol of his that bothers me the most.” Vhaidra trailed off lost in thought. Jai Fon, for her part, paid little heed to her distracted friend; she was too busy being annoyed at that fact that her companion probably knew more about this case than she did. The investigator quickly dismissed her irritated thoughts, concluding that is was not Vhaidra’s fault that she knew more about this; she was a great influence in the lower parts of the city, after all, and could easily get the information she needed without anyone being the wisest. Jai just wished that her police force was that accurate and dependable.

“Okay, let us do this.” Vhaidra finally spoke up. “I want to take a closer examination of tonight’s body. Maybe we can find some clues as to why he chose the wife of a baker to take the life of.”

“What! Are you telling me that you have not already done that?” Jai gasped in mock surprise.

“Ha. Even my resources fall a bit short when it comes to actually looking at the body at the grave keeper’s—without breaking the law, of course.”

“As if you have let that has stopped you before.” Jai added in artificial bitterness. Skillfully, Vhaidra ignored the slightly annoyed tone in Jai’s voice as she stepped closer to her.

“That being said, I do also know that you fear that tonight’s victims may mean that he is closer to you than you like; I too feel the same fear that you might be in danger. And I refuse to let anything happen to you, not if I am still alive to have a say in it, that is.” Vhaidra’s voice dropped to a darker tone, underlining her seriousness. With just as much intensity shadowing her own eyes, Jai gave her friend a bare node and a warm smirk that light up her gray eyes despite the somber nature behind her words.

“I can say the same to you, my old friend. So, what are we waiting for?”

 

 

After almost physically ushering Gene into the carriage and ordering him to go home by insisting that they were finished with his help for the night, Jai followed Vhaidra to her black horse. Upon saddling the great beast (for Vhaidra refused to ride in a carriage and swore that this way was much faster) the duo was off, racing through the woodlands towards the cornel’s workshop. Ironically enough, the cornel’s lab was in a graveyard, under a tomb (whose tomb it belonged to was unknown even to its inhabitants).

After helping Jai off the horse and tying him to a lone gravestone, Vhaidra lead the young detective into the lavatory that that was the cornel’s workspace. It amazed Jai how someone could fit an entire lab underneath someone’s grave; but she supposed that was Alyth the grave keeper for you. He was well known for his “ways” with the dead. On top of that he was a great source for research gathering. Jai guessed it was not true what they say about the dearly departed, “Dead man tells no tales,” for, the dead surely told Alyth tales, reliable tales, at that. Speaking of the devil, Jai found the grave-keeper hunched over the dead body of a girl, his dirty blonde hair falling wildly around his shoulders and his blue eyes sparkling madly as he looked at the newcomers.

“Well as I live and breathe, if it isn’t me ol’ friend, Vhaidra Arcadus!” Like a candy-happy child Alyth jumped up and rushed towards the tall woman in black. “And it seems you brought a little friend with you, as well.” Alyth smirked and his eyes filled with mirth as they grazed over Jai Fon. Frowning, the captain did not fail to notice the way he put great infancies on the word “little” as she starred up into his 6’3 frame.

“Captain Jai Fon of the Scotland Yard, the pleasure is all mines.” Like the gentleman he liked to pretend that he was, Alyth gently grasped the slightly startled detective’s hand and placed it to his lips to give it a soft kiss.

“Vhaidra, you did not tell me that you kept such pleasant company. Now, what can I do for you, my old friend?”

Ignoring her friend’s playful banter and roughly taking Jai’s away from his mouth, Vhaidra decided to straight to the point.

“We want to see this night’s killing.” The count of the Arcadus manor spoke in indifference, but despite herself it came out as an order.

“Oh! You mean this one!” Alyth giggled as he moved back to the body he was only previously examining before the women arrived.

“Yes, this little girl has got to be me favorite one, indeed! But not like the others, she’s not. This one is already marked by another, that she is.”

Jai frowned at Alyth’s manor of speaking in confusion. Sometimes the things he said made no scenes at all. This was the one thing she did not like when her people got information from him; when he spoke, it was in rhythms. However, Vhaidra seemed to understand what he meant clearly enough as she reacted to his news with great animation.

“What! Let me see!” Alyth led the duo back to the body. Vhaidra bent to one knee to take a closer look at it; she did this for a very long time without moving a single inch from her spot.

“I do not understand.” Jai finally spoke up to voice her confusion. “It is just like the others except she is not a prostitute. You already knew that Vhaidra, what else are you looking for?”  

To Jai it was the same body she was just looking at for hours, not too long ago. The same dead girl she knew form the pub, the wife of a baker. The same wild bloodied hair. The same wounds. The same…wait, what is that? Along the side of the naked girl’s waist was an oddly shaped scar. It looked like a fishermen’s hook or a question mark without the dot and an enlarged base. It was about an inch in length and width. Jai Fon’s eyes widen in recognize and a surprise gasp escaped her lips. Vhaidra, who was standing close to Jai’s side, followed the detective’s gaze to the mark on the deceased girl’s hip. Vhaidra’s black eyebrow casted down in anger and instead of a gasp like the one her friend produced, a low growl seeped from her snarling lips. Conflicting thoughts swamped through her head as she surveyed the familiar symbol, but before she could act upon these tempting thoughts Vhaidra felt the presence next to her shift slightly and before Jai could hit the ground Vhaidra caught her gently around her waist and pulled her closer to her; her hand strongly supporting her friend’s lower back.

“Are you alright?” Vhaidra asked the detective, her voice laced with worry for her friend’s well-being. Ever so gently Vhaidra slowly eased Jai to a closed coffin that was close by on the floor so that she could have a steady place to sit down on.

“Y-yes.” Jai stammered out. “Just a little lightheaded, I suppose.” She trailed off, not looking Vhaidra in the eye.

“What is wrong? Tell me what happened.” Vhaidra’s voice was urgent and filled with authority that was expected to be followed.

“It…it is just seeing the girl’s dead body up close. I-I don’t know what came over me. I-I just couldn’t-”

“Shhh.” Vhaidra cooed calmly. “It’s alright. Come on, let me take you home. You need some rest.” She slowly lifted Jai off the coffin.

“N-no. I’m okay, honest. I just need some fresh air, that’s all.” Jai gave Vhaidra a weak smile. With a great sigh Vhaidra reluctantly gave in. “Alright. Just as long as you promise you will go straight home and get some rest.” She ordered sternly.

“Aye, aye Captain!” Jai playfully barked with a small smirk.

“I’ll stay here with Alyth and take a closer look at the body.”

“Right. See you when the sun’s up.” Jai waved back to her friend. Vhaidra watched her comrade as she exited the tomb. She was reluctant to let her go, but decided it was most likely for the best. She was the police captain of the Scotland Yard, after all. She would be safe.

 

 

While walking through the graveyard, across forgotten tombstones and over fallen leaves, Jai realized that it probably was not in her best judgment to leave Vhaidra so suddenly like that; mostly due to the fact that she was the detective’s ride here. But Jai could not think straight enough to turn back around. The only thing that was on her mind was the sight of what was tattooed on the dead girl’s body. The hook with the long line attached to its end. It looked just like the one that was on Jai’s own body. It was even in the same spot! Except Jai’s was slightly bigger and faded black with age. The detective knew that that is was no coincidence that a deceased girl would have the exact wound upon her body as her birthmark. It was clear as day upon the body, down to the last jagged detail.

Cold chills ran down Jai’s back as she replayed the picture in her mind. And what did the Ripper have to do with this? Jai questioned. It was obvious that this was his kill, but why would he put that symbol on her body like that? In the same spot as the investigator’s? It is possible that he knew even that about her? But how is that possible? Nobody knew about the eerie birthmark of hers, not even Vhaidra! Jai thought to herself wildly.

The sound of dogs barking madly brought Jai back from her thoughts. Startled, Jai looked around and noticed she was standing in an alley way. With a start Jai realized that she must have found her way back into town without noticing it. Taking a well needed breath Jai looked around, trying to see if she could see the end of the alley. With a defeated sigh Jai gave up, it was just too dark for her to see her way around. She could barely see her hand in front of her face, and that was only thanks to the moon, full and bright in the sky. While thinking about the moon, Jai looked up onto the sky, expecting to see the moon large and proud in the night, but instead Jai saw a large dark figure dropping from the sky; and it was heading right towards her! Its black silhouette against the pale moon made it look like a giant bat, but the moment it swooped gracefully down in front of her, Jai could clearly see that it was a man in a black suit and cape. His face was covered with an ominous white mask that made his resemble that of the walking dead with their forever frozen emotionless expression. Jai reared back and prepared for conflict.

“Who are you?” the captain ordered.

Instead of answering her, however, Jai saw the gleam of metal and knew that it was the shine from a silver revolver in the gloved hand of the masked figure. Without hesitation Jai dove herself to the side of the alleyway before the gunfire went off; when it finally did Jai was relieved to find out that she moved out of the way just in time as she took a second to survey the bullet hole the villain left in the slab of brick right where her head previously was. Speaking of villains, spinning quickly around Jai sought out the masked man that was nearly the death of her; this was a very difficult task given the predicament that the villain was able to blend nearly perfectly in the dark alley. Just to prove her point, the man slipped behind her and throws a hard kick to her lower back, sending her tumbling painfully forward to her knees. Like a feline, Jai did not let that slow her down as she once again sprigged to her feet and readied herself in a fighting stance against her foe.

This man is strong. Jai concluded to herself as she strained her eyes to scan the black alley. And fast too, I wonder—

Jai was not able to finish her thought as a blinding pain scorched her arm. With a scream that should have woke the dead the more shocked than pained Jai dropped to the ground and cradled her throbbing arm to her chest, which is by now bleeding out profoundly.

He must have sliced my arm when I wasn’t looking. Jai thought in mild surprise. Speaking of which, said man was standing not a foot away from her and there she was lying on the ground, defenseless now that he had wounded her in the way he did, and the kick to her back he delivered earlier was starting to work its influence as the back-lash of pain reeled its head and temporally stalled the detective with nearly crippling discomfort she did not feel before.

The masked man took a painfully slow step forward and cocked his head to the side in his study of the fallen Yard member.

That bastard! Jai thought in a sudden burning fury that lit her belly on fire in its rage. He’s enjoying this! Seeing me down on my knees, weak; this is what he wanted all along! The dirty scoundrel is playing with me!

In her bitter rage she did not notice that her helpless position had steadily faded from the villain’s interest and the detective’s death was his new concern. With the gleaming shine of the man’s weapon drawing Jai’s attention back to him the Scotland Yard captain finally understood his motive when she heard the trigger cock back with an evil, metallic, click. Jai looked up into the nuzzle of the silver gun and further unto the arm that was attacked to the murderous hand; she saw a white sleeve with what appeared to have red stains on it.

How amusing, Jai thought humorlessly. That one should notice the smallest of insignificant detail before they died.

The detective knew that running was useless in her condition and would only lead to a much faster death. For whatever reason this man was not satisfied with a deeply wounded officer, instead he seemed hell-bent on her death, so with a defeated frown, Jai bent her head in resignedly defeat and waited for the sound of gun fire…Nothing came. Instead she heard the sound of a deep animal-like grunt that only a man could make and a large THUD.

Opening her eyes Jai gasped at what she saw. Vhaidra stood there in her immediate view, crouching protectively in front of her, her dark orange eyes blazing like hell’s fires in their feral anger and her long hair flowing freely around her adding to her wild and dangerous appearance. The two and a half feet long cutlass she held like a pirate only intensified her intimidating stance. Looking beyond Vhaidra, Jai saw the masked figure lying on the ground. It did not take long for the captain’s reasoning skills to tell her that her friend must have literally dropped down from the sky—right on top of the villain!

Just then said villain began to stir and rise unsteadily to his feet. It took him a while to properly compose himself, but once he did he was now staring into the livid eyes of one ticked off bandit. Just to prove her point, Vhaidra let out a growl that rose in pitch. To Jai—and probably the masked man, too— it sounded like someone had opened the doors to the underworld onto a battlefield and the beasts of hell unleashed their mighty cry of war upon their unfortunate enemies. Acting on sheer instincts, the awful, ominous, masked ghost of a creature did the only thing a ghastly figure like himself could do. He took off running down the alley as if his life depended on it; and in this case, it most certainly did.

Hum. Jai smiled weakly. That is what he deserves for angering the Hound of Hell. That was Jai Fon’s last, coherent thought before everything faded into blackness.

 

 

When Jai woke up she found herself lying in a comfortable, big bed. The black sheets that were wrapped securely around her were warm and the crimson red pillows were soft and plush with feathers. The only thing Jai wanted to do was to curl up inside the beautiful bed and go back to sleep, but her sore body prevented it. Looking around Jai took notice at how large the room really was; she could put her entire house inside this Godly sized chamber! It was dark, save for the barely light candles that surrounding the walls and bed stand. Letting her gaze wander, Jai was reminded of the room of a medieval king’s chamber she had seen in illustrated books.

Wait, this is Vhaidra’s room. Jai realized in mid shock. How did I get here?

“It is good to see that you have finally awakened.” Vhaidra spoke softly to her dazed companion from the foot of the bed.

“How… how did I get here?” Jai questioned

“You do not remember? You were attacked by a stranger in a mask and were wounded in confrontation with him. You lost a lot of blood and soon consciousness as well. I took you back here to heal your wounds; you were awake partially for that. Do you not recall any of it?” Vhaidra inquired with deep worry.

“Yes… now I think it is coming back to me… I was walking…and a man….and he…he…my arm!”Jai babbled out as memories came back flying into her mind. Unconsciously she grabbed her forearm.

“How did you heal my arm?” Jai looked down at her appendage, she was expecting to see some kind of scar or bandage, but instead all she saw was the clear, pale skin of her flesh. Vhaidra laughed at Jai’s wide-eyed child-like expression.

“It is an old family secret to healing wounds, one of which you need—” Vhaidra was interrupted by a loud gasp from Jai Fon.

“What! What is it?” Vhaidra demanded, her voice laced with concern and alarm. “Jai?”

“The Ripper!” Jai exclaimed jumping out of bed.

“Where?” Vhaidra looked wildly around the room as if she expected him to come crashing through her doors in any second.

“No. No, it was the Ripper who attacked me!” Jai explained to her bewildered partner. “I did not realize it until now, but it had to have been him! Who else would have the motive to? But that is not the important part!” Jai practically screamed in her excitement.

“Then what is the important part?” Inquired Vhaidra impatiently, trying to see where this was all going.

“His sleeve. His sleeve! I noticed that upon his sleeve it was red. Blood red. I think that he has already killed someone before he came and attacked me.” Jai finished. Her grey eyes were wide with her new realization as she stared into slowly understanding orange ones.

“My God. Then what are we around standing here for?” Vhaidra grasped Jai by her hand and ushered her to the door.

“He is probably still somewhere out there. We have to—”

“Captain!” A shrill voice filled with worry shout from the bottom floor.

“It is just Gene.” Jai breathe in annoyance to her friend. She gave her an apologetic look before yelling back down to him, “I am here, in the main chamber, Blackstone!”

Not a second past before Jai heard the running footsteps of her second in command. The brass double doors swung wildly open, revealing a very upset Gene Blackstone.

“Captain! Captain! Are you alright? What happened?” Gene fired questions at Jai.

‘What are you doing here?” Vhaidra questioned in blatant disgust. Nervously Gene rolled up the arms of his coat; it unnerved him greatly to have her starring to him in such a zealously murderous matter. Stammering, he answered.

“When she did not return to Head Quarters I got worried…”

“So you came here?” Vhaidra’s orange eyes narrowed suspiciously.

“O-of course I did! She is my captain! It is my job to know where she is at all times!” Gene practically yelled in frustration.

“Are you alright?” He turned his attention back to Jai; it took every ounce of his concentration not to look at the livid beast beside him. “How is your arm? Are you sure you are going to be okay, Captain?”

Jai frowned in confusion, still trying to clear her fuzzy head. Now irritated with Gene’s mosquito-like behavior, Jai swatted him away. Taking Vhaidra’s hand she steadied herself.

“We have got to get going.” She spoke to Vhaidra, her voice filled with urgency. “The longer we wait, the harder it will be for us to find him.” Vhaidra nodded her head in agreement.

“Before you go, take this.” Vhaidra reached into her chest coat pocket and pulled out a black revolver. She handed it to Jai who took it gingerly.

“What about you? I do not want to see you get hurt.” The captain asked of her friend. With a knowing smirk Vhaidra rested her hand on the sword that rested faithfully strapped to her side.

“Do not worry about me, I always come prepared.” Vhaidra’s eyes wandered over to Gene who was standing off to the side of the room, pretending not to be listening to the couple’s conversation.

“What about him?” Vhaidra grunted out to the lieutenant with a bare nod in his general direction.

“He is coming with us.” Jai spoke hastily as she stalked towards the door.

“Come let us not argue about it now. We have more dire matters to attend to.” With that Jai was out the door, leaving her 2nd in command and her long time comrade glaring daggers at one another.—Well one was glaring daggers while the other was simply trying to avoid the daggers being thrown at him.

 

 

It did not take long for the trio to reach town; once they did they all got out of the carriage and began to look around for clues that the Ripper might have been through. In all truthfulness, none of them knew what they were looking for, just that they should be searching. Needless to say, such blind methods made their quite difficult. That was until Vhaidra stopped dead in her tracks and lifted her nose to the air. Taking a quick sniff of her surroundings she turned towards her party.

“Do you smell that? It is so strong.” Without waiting for an answer she continued with another sniff. “It smells like hot, liquid iron.” When her companions looked at her in confusion it took yet another inhale of the air to confirm her sinking suspensions.

“It is blood!” the count with the advanced senses explained with great urgency. “Follow me!” With those words Vhaidra took off in the direction that her nose told her to follow. Giving each other a knowing look and nod Jai and Gene sprinted off after her.

After a few twist and turn down sleeping streets and through damp alleyways, Vhaidra finally stopped her mad dash in a halt in front of an old shed that once belonged to a long abandoned fishing port. Seeing this Jai skidded to a stop just barely stopping herself before she ran into Vhaidra. Gene, on the other hand, did not have such self control and went crashing into his captain, who in return bumped into Vhaidra. Vhaidra, for her part, did not wavier form her spot, as-a-matter-of-fact she did not even notice the Jai even ran into her. The count’s attention was on the shed’s door. Her nose flared at the scent that was illuminating off in waves. Without taking her eyes off the door Vhaidra reached behind her and gently pushed Jai behind her, making sure that the young detective was securely close enough to her.

“Stay behind me.” She ordered. With her other hand she slowly reached out and pushed the shed’s door open. The smell that escaped from the shed was enough to cause Vhaidra to rear backwards and cover her nose with the crook of her arm. Jai found herself thinking, as she stared at the familiar body of her now slaughtered friend, that she was lucky to be standing so close to Vhaidra as she would be able to catch her when she falls. Never truer to her words, Jai felt her knees go numb and her body pitched forward, and she would have hit the ground if it was not for Vhaidra who was standing beside her to catch her fall.

“Why?” all Jai Fon was able get out as she went limp in Vhaidra’s strong arms. Why was this innocent girl lying in a pool of her own blood in the middle of the floor with half of her organs gutted out of her? Why was she in this God forsaken hut, dead, instead of where she should be, in the pub with Jai and Vhaidra, drinking and laughing about the good old days? Why wasn’t she there and why was she here, robbed of her life? It just did not add up in Jai’s mind.

“Why?” she asked again weakly to herself. Vhaidra, who was still cradling the shocked Jai Fon, remained silent. After a few moments of sustained silence, she finally spoke up.

“I do not know.” She stated simply. “Why don’t you ask Gene?”

A moment of silence was all that could be hear.

“What?” was all Jai could whisper out as her brain tried to desperately comprehend the situation that is unfolding before her.

“Why don’t you ask Gene?” she stated calmly again. “He should know.” Gently releasing Jai, Vhaidra slowly turned towards Gene.  Her stance became taller and her eyes glared wholes into the lieutenant’s soul. “Don’t you, Blackstone?” she spat his name out like it was a foul taste against her tongue.

“W-what are you t-talking about?” Gene stuttered in disbelief.

“You know very well what I am talking about, Blackstone!” her voice sharpened in frustration. Her Romanian accent grew heavier as her voice became more ridged and disdainful. “I know it was you who did this, who killed Annabelle!” she motioned toward the dead body that rested in the shed’s entrance. “My friend, Annabelle! Why don’t you tell Jai how you did it?” She took a step towards him.

“W-what! You speak madness, woman! I did no such thing!” Blackstone yelled at Vhaidra, he took a step backwards. “And besides you have no proof that I did such ludicrous accusations that you are placing upon me!” he stumbled out. 

“Proof?” Vhaidra was no longer yelling, as a matter of fact her voice dropped to an even, calm pitch. It chilled Blackstone to the bone. “When Jai was hurt, how did you know to come to my house?”

“I-it is my job to know where my captain is! That proves nothing!”

“Hum, yes well you seem to do a lot of things that your job requires when it involves your captain, don’t you? When you got there you immediately asked if her arm was ok. How did you know that her arm was wounded? You were not there at the time of the incident. Well, as you claim you were not.”

Gene did not speak, but instead looked everywhere but in Vhaidra’s eyes. Swiftly Vhaidra turned away from Gene and towards Jai. “I can smell it on him. The blood.” Her voice went below a whisper as she spoke the words for Jai’s ears only. “I never liked him for a reason, I did not know why at first until he came to my house this evening and I smelt the blood on him. It is the different blood of his victims. Look at his sleeves--” Vhaidra’s voice was drowned out by the sound of a bullet cursing through the night air. The Count’s body dropped lifelessly to the ground.

Jai let out a blood curdling scream as she watched her friends body twitch for a second and then stop. She did not know what to do as she watched Vhaidra‘s beautiful orange eyes fade out like a candle light. She did not know whether to scream or cry or get angry. Coincidently for her she did not have to make such discussions, Gene decided to do it for her.

“It was not my fault.” His voice was just above a whisper but Jai heard him as clearly as if he were screaming. The smoke from the barrel of the gun flew across his face, making it hard for Jai to see his eyes through his thick specials. “I did it for you…I wanted you… I wanted you to see me. I had to kill them so that you could see what I could do! I wanted you to admire the clever ways I killed those… those… harlots! I wanted you to praise the work I did in your honor!”  Gene babbled out in hysteria. His voice dropped again and a shadow ran across his features. “But you didn’t even know it was me—I was so close! But everyone was starting to get in my way! I became invisible to you again. So I had to get rid of those wretched people who were blocking me from you. Your friends. Annabelle. The dog.” Blackstone jerked his head towards the dead body of Vhaidra on the ground. “But you still don’t see me, do you.” He asked desperately, searching his captain’s grey eyes for some kind of reassurance. “All you see is her!”Once again he shot Vhaidra a dirty look.

“You mad man!” Jai suddenly screamed. Hearing her voice all of a sudden startled Gene and he reared backwards. Jai eyes shifted behind him for a second, as if searching for a way to escape, but quickly reverted back to Gene. “You believe that killing off all the people I love will make me think highly of you!” She shouted to her former 2nd. “You are delusional! And to me you are nothing and will always remain that way in my eyes.” Her voice dropped as her shaking hand sneaked into her breast pocket and pulled out the black revolver Vhaidra gave to her. Hands trembling, she pointed the machine at Gene’s chest, but she could not find the strength to shoot the man she once called partner.

Gene sighed, “You just don’t get it do you, Captain? Oh well, I suppose there is no changing it…” his blank, soulless eyes fell upon Jai Fon. “Perhaps… It is time for you to die then… ”

Jai braced herself, but instead of hearing the sound of a gun firing she heard a sickening crack, and watched as Genes head twisted completely around to his backside and his body dropped lifelessly to the ground.

“You know something, Blackstone?” Vhaidra spoke up from behind him, rubbing her hands together. “You really are nothing.” She smirked. “And, for the record, you are a terrible shot.”

“My God.” Jai Fon breathed.”It took you long enough. I could have died at the hands of that maniac! What took you so long?”

“Well excuse me if healing one’s gunshot wound is more time consuming than it appears to be.” Vhaidra bantered back. Gracefully she stepped over Gene Blackstone’s corpse and over to her companion.

“Yeah, yeah.” Jai rolled her eyes. “Just remind me not to ring for you when I am in the hands of a villain. I might have a better chance at creating a diversion myself.”

“Wow.” Vhaidra deadpanned. “Some gratitude for the woman who just saved you life.”

“Hum.” Jai answered as she and Vhaidra walked down the cobblestoned street together. They fell into a comfortable silence as they walked shoulder to shoulder.

Finally, Vhaidra broke the silence. “So, what are you thinking about?” She asked, expecting an answer other than nothing.

Jai sighed. “I do not know. I was thinking that the Ripper had something to do with the symbol upon that girl’s body.” And mines, she thought but did not say out loud. “What I mean is I know that symbol had something to do with something out of the ordinary and I just wanted to know what it was, that’s all.” She faltered.

“Hum.” Vhaidra lightheartedly hummed. “Well I suppose that is simply another mystery for another time.” The infamous banded told the captain of the Scotland Yard Police Force. 

 

 

Vhaidra Arcadus walked briskly down her grand hallway that led to her basement door. After walking down a long stairway Vhaidra finally came to a room. Yet another overbearingly familiar chamber Vhaidra’s been in too many times before. With sure steps Vhaidra stalked into the center of the room and looked down. In the middle of her floor was a giant circle in the shape of a snake trying to devour its own tail, and in the middle of the snake a star with the face of a beast. Vhaidra, who did not appear to be bothered by the balsamic symbol upon the floor, sat down at the nose of set and proceeded to dig into her jacket pocket, producing a thin white piece of chalk with a skilled and knowing hand Vhaidra began to write out different symbols at the five bases of the star. Once that was finished, Vhaidra began to chant a few Latin phrases and suddenly the candles around the circle burst into flames. After muttering a few more phases Vhaidra reached across the beasts’ face with her chalk and began to draw on its forehead. The symbol she drew was quite simple and she used it many times in such incantations: a fishing man’s hook with an enlarge line at the base of it. After a few moments of silence Vhaidra finally spoke up, this time instead of ancient Latin her voice was its usual black velvet with her thick Romanian accent underlining it like smoke.

“Soon, very soon, child. You will be ours… Jai Fon.” Vhaidra Arcadus spoke her name in a ghost of a whisper. The eyes of the beast glow an evil blood red.

 


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