14 – The Truth of Sin

Tootz turned to Teddy, “Did you feel that?” she whispered.
They were all sitting in a room. The rain had already begun to pour. Askasa and Ismaru were sleeping. Insom was still on the floor staring into the abyss. Teddy and Tootz hadn’t realized she existed yet.

Teddy nodded. “It’s been on and off for a while, now.”

The Seekers had come toward Dexterity about a year a go. A soul was stolen and they knew only knew the general direction to go in. They had only now just made it to this city, where they had been feeling only subtle vibes since. Tonight they felt particularly stronger than usual, but nothing like they should be. Perhaps they were so slight because of the limiter? Sometimes limiters that were malfunctioning only allowed some ki to be used. It introduced some interesting side-effects of a person’s abilities. In Teddy’s hometown, a group of people had begun production of purposefully malfunctioning limiters to utilize for “new” Rez abilities.

“They said it was the Castle of the Monte Cristo,” Tootz replied. “Do you think Edmond has captured him?”
Teddy shook her head. “Why would he bother? He should be too busy with the Phoenix.”

Insom, skin green with mold, gashes red with crusted blood, clothes and hair drenched with the rain from outside, walked into the doorway. Her eyes were blank. Her voice was far off as she spoke, “Time passes by so fast….”

The Seekers looked up, giving the zombie their attention, but both of them seemed to grimace in unison at the ugliness of who stood only a few feet before them.

“… But I want to help this time,” Insom finished.

Teddy frowned, putting her goggles over her eyes. The goggles weren’t just for anything, they could see energy, and guesstimate how old the Resonance soul inside them was.
“How can you help us?” Tootz squeaked.

Teddy’s frown deepened as her goggles couldn’t give her a read. Even those without Resonance souls would give her a reading. She pushed her goggles back up and waited for Insom’s answer.

“If the Count of Monte Cristo dies, the tailed man will absorb the phoenix, but the body will not be ready and the city will die in Phoenix’s explosion of power.” Insom’s voice, as always was monotone, and her speech slow.
“If the tailed man dies, Edmond will kill everyone, and the Phoenix will live again, but in its anger will destroy the city.”

Tootz clutched Teddy’s hand, leaning against her. They didn’t want to believe this zombie, but they could feel she was telling the truth.

“If you wait until after the rain stops, to attack, the Phoenix will be absorbed into the tailed man, but they will both die, and the ultimate lifeform will be created. This future is wavering. It will bring total destruction or total peace. This being can not be killed, but it can die. And if it dies, both the soul stealer and the Phoenix curse will have ended.”

“Is your Rez the ability to see the future?” Teddy questioned.

“No,” Insom blankly answered. “This comes with the enlightenment of living for so long.”
Tootz frowned. “You hardly look alive to me.”

Insom looked to the ceiling. “A man named Mercain will discover his resonance soul is the manipulation of what is seen. He is the key to the ultimate lifeform’s death. But he will only be consumed with trying to kill Edmond.”

“What is the ultimate life form?” Teddy asked.

Insom continued to look at the ceiling. “Sin.”

“How do we get Mercain to help us?” Tootz questioned.
Insom didn’t respond.
“When will the rain end?” Teddy tried.
No response.

“… I think she’s gone…” Tootz told Teddy, lying her head on her partner’s lap. “Do you think everything will play out like she says?”
Teddy ran her fingers through Tootz’s hair. “With how much effort it seems to have taken her to tell us this, I don’t think she would lie.”

The next morning, at the Castle of Monte Cristo, Edmond was also coming to some sad realizations.

“No, I’m not saying it can’t be done at all, Mr. Dantes,” Said a woman on the other side of Edmond’s laptop.
“I’m just saying such a strong Negator is going to have to be custom made.”

Edmond grunted. “But I need it now. It’s really important.”

“Look, Mr. Dantes. If what you’re saying is true then your friend broke a custom-built Negator that was already built to withstand higher limits than normal. To make another one, with even higher limits than the previous is going to take two days at least, let alone trying to ship it to Dexterity.”

Edmond smacked the table the laptop was placed on. “I can come pick it up myself, don’t worry about the shipping. I just need that Negator as soon as possible. Make it first on your priority list. I’ll pay you whatever you need to get it done.”

The woman groaned on the other end. “All right. We’ll call you when it is finished.”
And with that, the link was severed. Edmond closed the laptop and put his hands to his face.

“Tea, sir?” A servant offered Edmond a silver plate with a cut of tea on it.

“Just set it on the table, thanks.” Edmond replied.

It was still raining, even though it was now morning. The servant did as told and walked away. The pounding and yelling had stopped in the middle of the night. Q should be asleep by now, but Edmond doubted Q got any more sleep than Edmond had.
At least Q was away from Tali. That was all that mattered for now.

Back at the apartment, Amigo was on the phone with a distraught Mercain.
“So I heard you became a bumbling mess and ruined everything,” Amigo pointed out.

“I told you I don’t do well outside of my element. I just went a little stir crazy. They threw me out.”
Amigo laughed. “Well, despite your failure I have conjured up another plan. You will, however, no longer be a part of it. And I’m just calling you to let you know that what got you so uptight about Q was that he is a Soul Stealer. And as I did my research, you should do yours. But make sure you stay out of my way, this time,” Amigo ordered.

“Whatever,” Mercain threw up his hands. “Do what you want. But you’re not the mastermind behind everything. I’ll do whatever the fuck I feel like doing.”
And in a fit of anger, the hacker threw a dart at the camera. Mercain hmphed and severed the link.

“What kind of plan do you have in mind?” Sim asked, walking out from the shower.
“It’s nothing,” Amigo quickly shot back. “Don’t worry yourself. Where’s Shoy?”

Sim frowned. “I think he went out to eat breakfast or something.” He went back into his bedroom and closed the door, mumbling about how weird Amigo was.

“But you said we were going to go today!” Askasa yelled, still in Tali’s home.
“Look,” Teddy tried to stay objective. “It’s raining out, nobody wants to go fight in the rain.”
“The rain shouldn’t matter in a situation like this!”
“I agree,” Ismaru stated, a bit confused. “You did say we’d be going today… It shouldn’t matter how nasty it is outside.”
Tootz groaned and stamped her foot. She looked to each of the two boys and they instantly fell to sleep, falling over onto the floor.

“How long will that last?” Teddy asked.
“That time? A Day. I wish that zombie would tell us when the rain will stops so we could really plan this,” Tootz looked over to Insom, who still stood in the doorway looking at the ceiling.

“What should we do while we wait?” Teddy asked.
Tootz shrugged, putting a finger to her lips. “We could…” She chuckled to herself, and looked toward her partner. Putting her hand on Teddy’s thigh, she finished the sentence, “We could fool around…”

Teddy blushed a bit. “Are you sure they won’t wake up? Or someone won’t come in? What if the zom–”
Tootz pushed her lips to Teddy’s in a kiss to shut her up.

In the underground lab, Roy was still toiling away. Instead of the tube from before being empty, it now had what appeared to be a toddler. Except this todler was completely sexless. The perfect Androgyne, as Roy had always wanted. Upon closer inspection, the toddler appeared to be growing. While it was several times faster than the normal rate, it still appeared to be slow. It was as if one were watching one of those videos of a flower blooming. So slow and beautiful, even though time was moving so much faster than it should.

Roy was slurping up some shrimp-flavored ramen as he watched the computer monitor fill up with complex formulas and numbers no one but he could possibly understand. The androgynous red-haired crazy was playing a sit and wait game, now. If something went wrong, he would have to race to fix it. However, if all went right, he would be done with the hardest part at the end of today.

Several hours later, Amigo had managed to take Shoy aside and relate his plan to his companion. Shoy had to be brought up to speed on the whole mythos of Soul Stealers and the Phoenix, but nodded and agreed after some minor complaining at having to use his Resonance Soul. Shoy was not want to rely on his. He believed strength of the mind and the body were all one needed. Resonance souls were relied on only by the weak. But he trusted Amigo, and respected his judgment. The plan seemed seamless, and Shoy would play his part just as soon as Roy was done with his project.

Sim had not overheard any of the conversation, but knew he was being left out. His suspicion and anger began to raise, and he began to make plans of his own.

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