CHAPTER 4: THE CHOICE OF CORONIS

It was another fine day in the life of Jeremy Hill. He woke up to a ray of sunshine making its way through the curtains to his bed. He couldn’t believe that even though the sun was 150 million kms away, it still managed to be precise in its aim of Jeremy’s sleepy eyes. He would laugh about it with himself.

Life seemed to be going well for him. He was about to be chosen the youngest chief justice in the history of Atismar. He had earned his name by taking a strong stand against corruption, kidnapping, murder and other grave crimes. The public, who otherwise were disassociated with the workings of the judicial system, took special notice of any and every court case Jeremy presided over. He was respected as an honest man who was willing to fight for what is right in a time when the country had been overtaken by a vigilante who had taken the law into his own hands.

Coronis, as he was better known, divided the opinions of the people. Some saw him as a person who was willing to do what it takes to bring justice to people and some saw him as nothing different than an outlaw who was trying to impose himself on the crime syndicate before taking over. Jeremy had a different opinion. It may have been down to the insider information he had thanks to his proximity to the Director General of Police, Louis Randolph, who was said to be the connecting link between law enforcement and Coronis. Louis was not very popular among the people as he had a shady background and notorious police officers working with him. This, though, was the least of Jeremy’s concerns. He looked at the person he was sharing his bed with and got a proud smile on his face as soon as he saw her. She was the most beautiful woman he had ever had the privilege of knowing, a beautiful name accompanied the beautiful personality, Naavsar.  She strived to make him a better person than he was. She gave him hope at a time when all seemed t be lost to him. She came as a ray of sunshine in his life at a time when he was at his nadir. She picked him up and made him the person he was today. Other than being a wonderful human being, she was a driven and hard working journalist as well. She worked for the national news channel and was one of the most respected professional in her field. The first time Jeremy met her, he was sure he fell in love at first sight. He couldn’t take his eyes off her, he wanted to keep looking at her and listening to her talk. He was very clearly bewitched by her and made it a goal of his life to spend the rest of his life with her. They had been together for about 3 years now and Jeremy now wanted to take it a step further. He wanted to marry her and make her his official partner in crime. He had not given any hints to her about this; he wanted to make it a grand ceremony, one that she would remember forever.

Naavsar’s phone rang. She was broken out of her peaceful slumber for some breaking news. As soon as she received the call she hurried into the dressing room to get dressed. Jeremy was still on the bed and realized that it must have been an important call to get her off her feet like that. “What is it?” he asked.

“Someone robbed the Indus National Bank. They took about $30 million, 5 perpetrators were found dead, the hostages say the 6th one ran away with the money.”

“Indus Bank? Isn’t that a bank run by the mafia? Who would be stupid enough to steal from the mafia?” Jeremy looked puzzled. “Guess we will find out.” Naavsar replied as she got dressed and hurried for her office. Jeremy didn’t get a chance to do what he had planned to do in the morning. He kept the ring he had bought for her away for another day, waiting for a better time.

LATER THAT NIGHT

CENTRAL ORPHANAGE,

ATISMAR CITY,

ATISMAR

The central orphanage was organizing its annual gala tonight. There was a lot of excitement among everyone involved, the organizers, the maintainers and of course the children themselves. Central Orphanage had been holding its annual gala for about 7 years after it had been acquired by the Fex Inc. which was run by the most famous orphan of the country, Levi Fex. Today was a special occasion as the new building of the orphanage was about to be inaugurated for the public. It was a 10 storey building capable of housing nearly 400 kids and provide them with world class facilities. Ever since the first time this gala was held, all the children saw Levi as an inspiration, a dream for them to work towards. When Fex Inc. took over, the orphanage was in a bad shape. Its funds were running out, donations had dried up and it seemed like just a matter of time before the orphanage was shut down and about a hundred children were once again rendered homeless. This made the children look at Levi Fex as a messiah who had taken other orphans like him under his wing. The orphanage was responsible for housing, catering and educating the children to make them competent enough to tackle real life. Many alumni of the orphanage went on to have a decent life. Some became engineers, some became IT professionals and there were some young but decorated police officers among them too.

Everyone came together on this night to remember the place from where they had started. Everyone gathered in the hall to greet the man who was responsible for it all. Levi Fex entered the hall in a sharp tuxedo with a weary smile on his face. He waved to the cameras and was welcomed by the director of the place, Harry Clifford, A man in his 60s who had been personally chosen by Levi to look over the proper functioning of the place. Once the ribbon had been cut and the pictures clicked, everyone moved to the hall for dinner and casual meetings.

“Welcome sir, welcome. It is great to have you here with us.” Harry said in a jubilant way, shaking his hands with Levi.

“…Pleasure to be here. I hear you have some people who studied here and went on to have successful careers. I would love to meet them.” Replied Levi.

“Of course sir, here, have a seat; I will call them right up.”

It had been a long time since Levi felt something that close to happiness. In Levi’s own words, Levi Fex died the night his parents were killed. Since then it has only been the crow, the crow controlling him from within, serving out justice and dealing with his anger using his fists. He didn’t identify himself as Levi Fex anymore. It had become a mask for him to show to the outside world, from within, Levi Fex didn’t exist anymore. He had to keep up with his social engagements to not raise any eyebrows over what a billionaire would do with all his wealth. It was just a formality for him. The prestige alumni arrived. There were some scientists, technicians, negotiators; nothing really out of the ordinary for Levi. These people had managed to create a decent career when they started from a position of disadvantage. It was admirable for the general public but for someone as cynical and joyless as Levi, It was more of a celebration of failure. He exchanged a light hand shake with everyone until he walked up to a young man. A face Levi recognized as soon as he saw it and he immediately went into flashback.

3 YEARS AGO

AN ABANDONED ALLEY

ATISMAR CITY

It was late in the night; the streets lay deserted as the citizens locked themselves in their home to keep the criminals out. It had been 4 years since the first sighting of the crow, a man who had the powers of a crow and could fly and disappear in the dark like it. Some people even believed that the man could change into a crow at will and had mystic sources behind his powers. The crime rate had decreased significantly but even then, muggings and robberies were still a common occurring.

4 thieves were reported to be on the run from the cops and all the available units had been asked to respond. One of these cops was young Rick Todd, an officer who was just 4 months into his service after clearing his exams. Rick had been assigned a partner but he was on a leave so Rick was flying solo for the night. He heard the call and was the closest to the location so he began his pursuit right then. A short drive later he saw 4 men running into a dark alley. They were armed and dangerous and it would have been a risky decision to go up against 4 men alone; on the other hand, if he waited for backup the thieves might get away. He had to make a choice between taking a risk and playing it safe. He understood that if he went after them and failed to catch them, he would be called an idiot. If he stayed back for backup and they got away, he would be called a coward. If he went after them and caught them, he would be awarded for bravery and if he stayed back and eventually managed to catch them, he would called a diligent and sincere officer. The safest option, as he understood was to stay back and hope to catch the perpetrators later, but Rick was a young man who wasn’t really known for taking the safest option. He always wanted to take risks, whether they were high yield or low didn’t matter to him. He called his last location into the radio and followed them down the alley.

He was in the dark, he could hardly see a thing but one thing he could see was that the alley ended in a cul-de-sac and there was no way anyone could have gotten past here. He walked further into darkness.

Click.

Rick turned around to see down the barrel of an automatic rifle. The rifle was in the hand of one of the 4 men he was pursuing. The other 3 stood behind him, with only the silhouettes of their bodies visible.

“Cop, aye?” the man with the gun said in a heavy voice. “Got a lot of nerve coming in here without backup…too bad it won’t get you any medals.” He was about to press the trigger when something fell behind him. He turned around, irritated, to see what thing had the guts to be prey to gravity when he was about to kill a cop. As he turned around, the 3 silhouettes were now but 2. “Where did Joe go?” he cried “WHERE IS JOE?” he shouted out at the peak of his voice, right then another silhouette disappeared. It seemed like it had been sucked into a hole of darkness to never be seen again. As if a black hole had decided to appear at that very moment to ingest the man in its endless darkness. There was fear in the eyes of the man with the rifle now. He had heard stories about things like these happening, criminals disappearing into thin air only to be found a few hours later in the same spot with broken bones and fables of a bipedal crow beating them to a pulp. He saw at his last partner standing, looking at him with tense eyes. Even in all the darkness, the fear and dread in them was bare naked. The third silhouette disappeared as well with a scared shriek as it got sucked into darkness. The rifle man’s total attention was now on the dark alley from where Rick had just walked in. He had turned his back on Rick and was now slowly walking away. Before he could be taken away by any shadow, Rick kicked him in his knee from behind bringing to his knees and disarming him in one swift and smooth move. Rick now held the gun at the scared and hurt man and told him he was under arrest and spoke his rights to him. When he was finished he turned around to call in how he had taken down the thieves by himself but as soon as he turned around he saw a shadow so huge, it seemed to dwarf him with its size. It was about 6 feet 4 inches tall. Rick had heard stories about him too, The Crow of Atismar or Coronis he called himself. He had never been face to face with it. He was dumbstruck. The shadow started uttering some words in a menacing and intimidating tone,

“You really thought you could take on 4 armed men? Are you crazy?”

Rick had never been good at taking criticism, whoever it was from. He took this comment almost as an offence and in those times his coping mechanism kicked in, “Well which one of us is dressed up as a crow, running around the country, beating people to a pulp…” The shadow didn’t utter a word. This scared Rick, he was afraid he had pissed it off and if the shadow was actually a man with mystic powers he had just made a big mistake. Rick tried to consolidate his words, “…unless of course you are a man or a crow or something that can become whatever it wants to be like a were-crow with magic powers in which case I am totally the one who is crazy. There is nothing wrong with you and you are just amazing and please don’t hurt me I am so sorry…” Rick now realized he was rambling utter nonsense and it would have been in his best interest to shut up. The backup cars started wailing their sirens in the distance. The shadow replied in a more friendly tone now, “You have guts, kid. Keep an eye out. I won’t always be there to save you.” And with those words the shadow, hardly visible in the dark, disappeared. It left behind three men with broken limbs and a man with a busted knee.

Levi was still fixated at looking on his face. He had never thought he would see it again. The same guy who had taken on 4 armed men himself was actually a former resident of Central Orphanage. He had a wry smile on his face. “This is Lieutenant Rick Todd, the youngest lieutenant in the country. He had been promoted to his rank about a year ago after his continuous displays of courage and valor at times when the odds seemed to be against him.” Said a visibly excited figure of Harry Clifford.

“We are proud to have officers like you serving our country. We thank you for your service.” Said Levi warmly.

NEXT MORNING

ABANDONED WAREHOUSE

SOMEWHERE IN ATISMAR CITY

Who the hell has the nerve to steal from us?” an angry voice shouted. The mafia had been arranging meetings in abandoned warehouses all over the country. They arranged them in the morning to stay away from The Crow. In the past 3 weeks, 7 of mafia run banks had been robbed across the country. The spoils racked up to a figure close to $250 million. The mafia was rattled and angry. They needed to do something about it and do it fast. They couldn’t have gone to the police as they would have been inefficient and risked being caught. This needed to be solved from within. The 10 heads of the family met in the warehouse to discuss their future strategies and plans to stop this mad man. “What do we know about the man?” inquired another voice from the round table.

“…Some crazy guy who cut out his own eyelids. He says he likes to keep his eyes open to see everything He is not a problem. The problem is our depleting sources in the government.” Said one of the men sitting there. Since the time The Crow had started appearing people seemed scared of taking any money or accepting any bribes. The corruption levels were at an all time low. No one wanted to be caught by the crow or earn his ire. Moreover the emergence of leaders and government officials like Jeremy Hill and Louis Randolph meant that people were now willing to change their ways from within. The system seemed to be slowly changing and there was nothing the criminals could use as leverage to stop that. No one preferred money over being beaten to near death by the crow. He continued, “What we need to do is get some new people in here and regain control of our markets! What the clown has been stealing is less than a percent of the money we have. We can deal with him later.”

“How about killing two birds with one stone?” an unfamiliar voice called out. A man in a black leather jacket and torn black jeans entered the scene. He had a peculiar appearance. His eyelids seemed to be nonexistent and gave him an extra creepy look. His eyes never blinked. They were always open, always. Everyone at the table was perplexed. Why would a man who had been stealing from them walk right up to them. He either wanted to surrender or he wanted to propose an offer. Something that was worth more than the $210 million he had stolen and could overcome the rage of the mafia. One of them said, “You must be a special kind of crazy to walk straight to your death.”

“…Ah…crazy, I must say I have been accused of being that in the past but I must say no one has said that to me in quite a long time. Mostly because the people who called me crazy are now too rich to even care or too dead to be able to say anything and that is a choice that everyone here has to consider as well.”

“You come in here, in our warehouse and you are the one threatening to kill us?”

“Well it’s not actually a big surprise how easy it has become to get to you so called “mafia family”. You meet in broad daylight and you hardly have anyone working for you in the places it matters. You are as threatening to the people as a eunuch to a virgin. I know who is the one who castrated all of you, who made you whatever you are now, it is Coronis isn’t it? Or The Crow as some people call him.”

The mafia men were beginning to grow frustrated. This sounded more like a roast than an offer. One of them called out, “So what do you suggest we do madman?”

“We live in the great capitalist city of Atismar and as capitalism says, any service can be monetized. I provide you the service of getting rid of the crow and you give me a billion dollars.” There was light laughter among the people when he quoted his price. A billion dollars was still a very small amount for the mafia but it was still too much to pay for a single task. Some people were on the fence, some were sure that there was no way they would pay that much and some people wanted to just kill the man who had the nerve to steal from them. The eyelid-less man read the room and decided it was his time to leave. “Well seems like you people need some time to think about my proposal. Here is my card and you can call me anytime you change your mind.” Just as he started walking out one the men asked him, “Hey, what do you even call yourself? What are you, a joker?”

The man in the suit looked back on hearing this and said, “Oh I am not a joker, I am Just Another Cranky Killer or J.A.C.K in short.” He walked away and the mafia family was left to wonder whether they had let an opportunity slip out of their hands.

LATER THAT NIGHT

JUDGE’S CHAMBERS

ATISMAR SUPREME COURT

Jeremy finally got a chance to rest after a long and hectic day at work. It was always a long day for him as he had to listen to both sides, make sure it was a fair trial and ensure that no one misused the court’s time for their selfish reasons. It was a tough routine. Tougher than what the other judges used to do daily, they would just adjourn any and all hearings until a later time and take the rest of the day off but Jeremy understood that once he had taken up the life of public service, there was no scope left for anything other than work for the rest of his life. He had a final meeting with the DGP, Louis Randolph to get a warrant for pre-emptive raids on mafia families to stop the flow of dirty money outside the country. Louis was sure this was going to put an end to all the mafia families as they were all somehow in contact with each other and they had to gain leverage over just one of them to expose the others and put an end to it. It was an open secret that the police department had had help from Coronis but no one wished to officially come on record about it.  Louis entered Jeremy’s chambers and closed the door behind him. Jeremy knew very little about who was being targeted and what the motive of this whole raid really was. He didn’t really like not knowing something but he did want to hear to the proposition that Louis might have had. Jeremy began the conversation with a straightforward question, “So tell me Louis, what can you tell me about your plans now?”

Louis was a bit surprised by the straight forwardness of Jeremy but he shouldn’t have expected anything different as he had heard the tales about the stubbornness and honesty of the new CHIEF JUSTICE. “I can give you the address we plan to hit. I can’t give you anymore than that. The mafia has their moles in every department of the government.”

“Oh come on don’t give me that excuse.” Jeremy rebuked on hearing that. Although it was true that the mafia had infiltrated every arm of the government but it wasn’t as if the police department was free of any sins. “You work with scum like Hugh, John and Rexion. People who I have seen being prosecuted and being let off on mere technicalities. We know they are dirty and yet they work with you on VIP security and other important tasks. These people were guilty Louis; you know it better than I do. Not being proven guilty is not the same as being acquitted of all crimes.”

Jeremy had a point but he had to pick someone to work with him. He had to choose between the bad and the worse. It wasn’t really an ideal choice. Jeremy continued, “…and what about your friend? Is he on board with this?” Jeremy was talking about the crow and it was obvious that he was trying to work Louis into a corner. Louis replied with a sentence that had seemed to become his catchphrase over the years. “Sir, official policy is to arrest the outlaw known as Coronis on site.” Jeremy let out a light laugh when he heard this. “Louis, I know you are close to Naavsar and that you know this Crow Guy well and take help from him. I need to be let in this circle of trust for us to be able to work on this. Good can only happen when people with will power are willing to come together.” Louis understood this but he still couldn’t officially admit to taking help from the crow. He was close to Naavsar as well, as she would sometimes take care of his kids when Louis was busy but he couldn’t let emotion come in between his decisions. He was in a position where there was very little he could say without letting out too much, Louis chose to awkwardly repeat the first sentence he said when he came in, “I can give you the address of the place.”, Followed by a vulnerable shrug of the shoulders. Jeremy gave up and signed off on the warrant. “Good luck, Louis and good night.” He said bidding Louis a brief farewell.

LATER IN THE NIGHT

ABANDONED BUILDING

SOMEWHERE IN ATISMAR CITY

Louis was waiting for his ally. He had to work very hard to keep this a secret. No one could know of the meetings he and Coronis shared. They would always meet on the roof of this building and Coronis would always be late. He first scouted all the surroundings to make sure that no one was following them and it was a completely secure location. Coronis reached about 15 minutes after Louis. Louis didn’t know who he was but he just knew that the crow wanted to make this country a better place for the law abiding citizens and a worse one for the criminals; that is what they shared, their will to give up whatever necessary for justice. “We have the warrant we need. We are hitting him early tomorrow. Are you sure this will work?” asked Louis.

“We just need to get some leverage on one guy and we will nab the whole family. I will bring the leverage, you bring the man.” Coronis replied.

“…And what about the man who had been robbing them? He killed five of his own men on his last job, what about him?”

“One man or the whole mafia, Louis? He can be dealt with later, we need to catch the big fish first and you need to keep your family close to you. The family will come for anyone you have ever loved. “Yeah I have left them with a close friend right now; she can take care of them.” Levi knew Louis was talking about Naavsar at this stage. He still had feelings for her but he knew he couldn’t feel entitled to be loved just because he loves her. He would still get goose bumps when he hears her name but there was not a lot he could do about it except for ensuring her safety from somewhere among the shadows.

NEXT DAY

The police carried out raids along with the Special Teams and apprehended a man from his home in the outskirts of Atismar. The man was named Jay Law and was a long time associate of the mafia. He had been touted as the man who was responsible for funneling money from the mafia to secure locations. No one saw this coming, not even other member of the mafia and now they were scared.

In the Police, this was hailed as a big victory in the fight against organized crime as now the government had a suspect in hand, proof against him (supplied by Coronis) and they had found a judge willing to go up against the mafia family. Her name was Daisy Costa. She had always maintained a low-key image for herself in the courts but she was known within the courts for her passion for truth and justice. When she was asked by Jeremy himself to oversee a trial which could end up nailing the mafia once and for all, she was onboard immediately. Jeremy saw many virtues in her and always believed that if she continued the way she is, it wouldn’t be a long time till Atismar saw its first female CHIEF JUSTICE. He had high hopes for her.

In an underground hall somewhere beneath the streets of Atismar city, the mafia bosses looked on worryingly at the news. Their man had been caught and it wouldn’t be long before they followed him to the prison. Without taking his eyes off the TV one man spoke up, “He was right. We have to deal with the real problem. Call that Jack guy. Tell him we will give him whatever he wants. We need to stop this trial.” Calls were made, people were recruited and within 4 hours of Jay’s arrest, JACK was a hundred million dollars richer and now had all the men he needed to complete his mission.”

The trial began merely 2 days after Jay’s arrest. He had been provided a lawyer by the government as the mafia family tried to distance themselves from him. The prosecution was ready with all their evidence and the media had set up their cameras to broadcast this historic trial to everyone in the country.  The Honorable Daisy Costa took her seat and asked the defendant how he pleaded.

Jay replied, “Guilty.”

Boom. Boom. Boom.

Three bombs went off within the district court simultaneously. The court had been turned into ruins. People were running everywhere looking for cover. Limbs that had torn themselves apart were raining down from above and blood and fire mixed together to form a horrible and unbearable stench of death and destruction everywhere. There was no sign of bodies of Jay or Costa. They were so close to the blast that it seemed like their bodies had been totally vaporized out of existence. Many were killed and the police and emergency response teams were on the scene trying to save as many people as they possibly could.

7 HOURS LATER

The people were still recovering from what they had just seen. All the things and sacrifices people had made to end this war with organized crime had gone in vain. A brave judge, a witness and many good people died in the court today. 79 were dead. 204 injured. It was obvious that the mafia had carried out this strike but what seemed unbelievable was how they managed to get explosives in, even with such rigid and tough security measures.

Louis was staring out of his office window. Hugh, John and Rex accompanied him. The three were standing in front of his desk and looking at each other apprehensively. The TV was playing the news behind them. They were scared to say a thing. It was obvious that Louis was furious today. Everything he had done over the past 2 years just burned into flames in seconds today. No one dared to utter a word.

“How is your niece now, John?” whispered Louis in the softest voice imaginable. The three were surprised. This came out of nowhere. John stammered to a reply, “W…We admitted her back in NICU, sir. The doctors are keeping a close eye on her.”

“That’s nice.

We have failed our people today gentlemen. We have been let down by some of our own.” Louis was implying a traitor within the police department. It was pretty common knowledge that many officers were on the mafia’s payroll but to do something like this, they needed high level clearance. There needed to be an investigation on this. Louis turned around to see what was going on in the news and to his horror; he saw a tape being played which had been sent to the channel anonymously. A man with no eyelids in dark clothes in a dingy room was saying something. Louis grabbed the remote and turned up the voice.

“Good evening people of Atismar. I am JACK. This city has been plagued by crimes and corruption for decades and I know who is responsible for that. Just today we saw corruption and few tanks of fuel taking the life of 79 people.  One of you seems to have grown a fetish of dressing like a crow and beating innocent criminals with his bare hands. I cannot let that continue. I have a job to do as well. So consider this a warning. If Coronis doesn’t publically come forward immediately, I will kill 5 children every night. You may ask why kids but it is just so much fun to kill them I mean they don’t even know what is happening to them. They are so cute and idiotic it just brings out the killer inside me. It is just so satisfying. Well, don’t let me get carried away with my emotions. I will just keep it short and simple. It is time the people decided who they love more; the sweet innocent children of god or an outlaw. Good night and happy choosing.”

Louis was left dumbstruck on hearing this. The man they had ignored to go after the mafia had now colluded with them and was threatening to murder children. It was a nightmare scenario. Something needed to be done. As the DGP, he ordered extra patrols for the whole night and all security forces on high alert.

This led to an atmosphere of fear and uneasiness across the city. People had locked themselves in and were afraid to step out. People were expecting to hear the news that Jeremy had run away from the city. It would have made sense to run when courts were being blown to pieces but Jeremy chose to stay. He was with Naavsar in Jeremy’s home. Jeremy had a lot of work to do and the pressure of it all was mounting but being with Naavsar gave him that little moment of peace which made it seem like everything with the world was alright. Big things were happening outside the walls but inside them, Jeremy felt safe. He thought this would be a good, although not ideal, time to propose. Naav was watching the news intently when he came and stood in front of the TV blocking her view.

“What are you doing? Get away, I need to see this.” She complained.

“I know there is a lot going wrong right now. I know that things have not been this bad for a long time but I also know another thing that when I am with you everyth”

“No no wait, what is going on here? All this love suddenly? Seems fishy.” Naav interrupted him mid-sentence.

“Come on I am just in the mood okay, so could you…you know…play along for a while and be cool for once.” Jeremy’s flow had been interrupted but that didn’t make him want to stop. Naav had a shy smile on her face now and Jeremy continued from where he left off, “When I am with you, everything seems to be going right. All the problems I have take the back seat and all I can do is look at you with amazement. Now I know that nothing lasts forever and that we are not going to last forever either. Something is going to happen which ruins us for all eternity…” he took a case out of his back pocket and went down on one knee, “…so Naavsar, would you be kind enough to spend the rest of your life with me; hence giving me ample time and opportunities to ruin us?” He looked up at her with gleaming eyes. In a matter of 12 hours, Jeremy’s plan to take down the mafia had gone to drain, a young judge he thought was full of potential had been blown to pieces and a madman had threatened to kill 5 kids every night and yet here he was, knowing everything that was going wrong with the world, offering his life to a person he held in special regard. “Will you marry me, Nav?”

Naav was taken aback by this. There was something she needed to tell Jeremy which was very big but she hadn’t shared it yet because she wasn’t sure. She didn’t know what to do, she needed some advice. She needed to see someone who could make big decisions in a snap. She didn’t know what to tell Jeremy whose eyes seemed to be less hopeful than before and his smile was slowly fading, “Jeremy, I am so sorry; I just need a little time before I can be sure. I just don’t want anything to go wrong. There is…There is something you don’t know and I don’t want to lose you, I am just so sorry.”

Jeremy was shocked as well. He didn’t really anticipate this. He was struggling for words, “Oh…Oh it’s okay. Is something wrong? Are you alright?” Jeremy now feared the worst and started getting to the possibilities he considered unlikely but possible, “Is it some other guy? Just tell me it’s not that Levi Fex guy because I am telling you that guy has some serious issues.” Jeremy had always had some issues with Levi. He didn’t like how close he and Naav were. He was wary of a guy who had undergone major psychological trauma and had disappeared for nearly a decade. No one except him seemed to take issue with the question of where Levi was in all that time and what he was doing. Naav reassured him, “Jerry, No. Levi is a good friend of mine. We have been friends since childhood and nothing more than that. You don’t need to worry about him. He is going to be my friend forever, nothing more.”

Jeremy felt a little reassured by this but was not convinced. He understood that talking about it at the time was not going to change anything so there was no point in talking about it. There was an awkward silence after which Naav said she needed some alone time and left. Jeremy was left to wonder whether he had made a big mistake but he found solace in his beliefs that good things happen to good people and the universe is always going to find a way to make things right. He went to sleep alone for the first time in months and it didn’t really feel like the best thing.

Naav didn’t know where to go at this time. She didn’t feel like sleeping alone but didn’t know any other place she could stay. She decided to go to the Fex Mansion to revisit an old friend.

FEX MANSION

Don was answering a knock on the door. It was late in the night and any guest was unexpected. Don was supposed to be helping Levi investigate the bombing and Jack but a knock was more important for Donald. He opened the door to see Naav there. It had been a long time since she was last there. Don had seen her grow up and make a respectable career in journalism. Don was as close to Naav as he was to Levi. He was surprised by her arrival but didn’t really mind it.

“Hey Donald, How are you? Is Levi here?” Naav asked.

Levi was on his nightly shift of looking over the streets of his city and making sure no crime was afoot. Today, it was a high stakes round as some crazy guy had blown up the local court and threatened to kill 5 kids if he didn’t reveal himself.

“Well, he is always partying this time of night. You know how these rich kids are. Spoilt, rich, always drinking and flirting and you know just…being rich.” There was some obvious awkwardness in Don’s voice. Naav didn’t really pick up on it. “Well do you mind if I stay the night here in one of the bedrooms. It has been a tough night.” Naav told him. Don understood it and gave her the keys to the royal bedroom and gave her anything she might have needed for a peaceful sleep.

NEXT MORNING

“Good morning pretty sunshine.” Don greeted Naav while waking her up in the morning. It was a somber morning. 5 children had been slaughtered, not killed, slaughtered by Jack. He had cut out the eye lids of some, cut some open in half and done other unspeakable things no one could possibly do to a child. The whole country was shaken. No one could believe he had actually done it. They were beginning to turn on Coronis now. No one wanted to risk the life of their children or someone else’s children for an outlaw. The authorities were trying to calm the people down and convince them that fulfilling a terrorist’s demands is not going to be good for anyone.  It wasn’t really working. They seemed to have outcast Coronis and this was getting to Levi. He felt like he was responsible for these deaths and didn’t understand what to do next. He had thought about talking about this to Naav. She was an old and trusted friend. In order to talk about what Coronis should do next, he needed to tell her about his alter ego. He didn’t know if that was the best choice; it may put her at risk to know his real identity. He decided to talk to her about this but in an indirect way. When Levi got home the previous night, he was surprised to find out that Naav had come to see him too. He thought it was a strange co-incidence that this happened. He went to Naav’s room and waited for her to finish her breakfast. He was nervous, more nervous than he felt while fighting criminals. It was obvious that he had feelings for her but he needed to keep them with himself because she didn’t really need more complications in her life right now.

“Hey, Levi, It’s nice to see you after so long. There was something I needed to talk to you about. It is really important.” Naav said on seeing him.

“That’s funny. I have something to tell you as well.” Levi said. He had butterflies in his stomach yet again in her presence but there was nothing he could do about it.

“Levi, I am pregnant.”

Levi’s heart almost skipped a beat when he heard that. She was pregnant. She was going to start a family and have her own kids. She was moving forward in her life while Levi struggled to deal with something which had happened nearly 17 years ago now. He didn’t know what to feel at the moment and just said what came to his mind.

“Well, that’s fantastic. Congratulations. I am so happy for you.” He hugged her intuitively.

“There is more… Jeremy wants me to marry him and I don’t know what to tell him.”

“Well he knows about the kid right?”

“Not yet, I am afraid that he may not be ready for this type of commitment. How do I know he won’t run away? Or that we are going to work as a family, I mean so much is going to change, I just don’t know what to do. It’s all so confusing.” Naav had a little of tear sin her eyes. Levi comforted her and told her that Jeremy was the strongest person he knew. There was nothing that was going to scare him away from a child. He also pointed out how Jeremy had not run away when judges were being targeted by the mafia so a child shouldn’t be that big a problem. Naav felt relieved and calmer than before. She felt like she was now ready to tell Jeremy that she was ready. She asked Levi what he wanted to talk about. Levi was upset at the moment. He thought that telling her about his works and fights would be of no use and he will have to continue this alone. He deflected the topic to something else, “You remember that Jack guy from the news? He tortured 5 kids to death yesterday. The man is a monster. It really surprised me and let me down.” Levi said in a somber tone. Naav understood what he was going through. She had always known him to be an empathetic man. “The police are going to catch him Levi. He isn’t going scot-free for what he is doing. Maybe Coronis will surrender himself to the police to stop him. I need to be on my toes though; I’m watching Louis’ kids for the night, wouldn’t want to get kidnapped by a madman.”

“Stay safe Naav. You are one of the few friends I have here.” And with that Naav left and gave Levi a warm hug for helping her in a tough time. Levi kept his feelings and his identity a secret which was not worth anyone else to know.

Later that night Naav accepted Jeremy’s proposal. Naav didn’t tell Jeremy about the baby yet. She didn’t want to overload him with all the good news so she decided to wait until the next day. They were engaged now but they had to wait a while before they could spend some more time together. Naav had already agreed to babysit Louis’ kids and she didn’t like turning back on her promises. The police were still trying their best to find Jack but they had no leads. The policemen were rebelling from within as well. Jack had already claimed the lives of nearly 17 policemen and some cops were starting to join the protests asking for Coronis to show himself. The recent events seemed to have shaken the conscience of the country and sowed the seeds of doubt and distrust among them. Rick Todd, the man who had been honored on a national level for his bravery was still not willing to give up on Coronis. He believed that the people needed to be resolute in order to fight against Jack and not be threatened by terrorists. Although that was what he believed, the investigation into the district court bombing was showing clues that high ranking police officials may have been involved. He kept his faith in Coronis but his faith in his fellow cops and their honesty was on shaky ground. He was certain that nothing could change until the police itself was willing to change and trying to change the system from the inside was a useless effort. He wondered whether he wanted to be a cop anymore or he wanted to do something that could help him change things from the outside.

NEXT MORNING

BEFORE SUNRISE

Louis was pacing across the roof of his office building. He seemed nervous and he didn’t know what to do about it. He had used the emergency contact measure Coronis had given him to use only for absolute emergencies. He was really, really worried. Something terrible had happened and he didn’t know what to do. The sun was about to rise in a few hours and he was scared of what the morning was going to bring with it. Coronis appeared from nowhere all of a sudden. The door to the roof had been locked to ensure no one saw them there.

“Listen, something terrible has happened.” Louis seemed nervous and struggled to get the words out of his mouth, “He…he took my son. Jack has my son.” He struggled to finish the sentence but he finally did. Coronis could understand the hesitancy in Louis’ words now. Louis continued, “I just got home from work and the whole house had been trashed and my son was missing. I had a babysitter for him but there was no sign of her either. I don’t know where she is.” Levi realized that the stakes were now higher. Naav had been kidnapped along with the DGP’s son and if Jack followed his pattern the dead bodies are supposed to start showing up in a few hours. “I’ll find them Louis. Don’t worry; nothing will happen to either of them.

The news of Naav and Louis’ son’s disappearance spread around like wildfire. The authorities were trembling, the media was lapping it all up and people now expected the authorities to take some serious action now that a bureaucrat’s family was involved. It was an open secret that Naav and Jeremy were dating and to kidnap the fiancée of the chief justice was something serious for everyone. Jeremy was furious on hearing this. He couldn’t grasp how Naav could have been kidnapped from the home of a police officer and that too the DGP of all people. He was running out of patience and wanted to take the matter in his own hands. He drove to Louis’ place to talk to the guards who were supposed to be on vigil that night. He wanted to interrogate them, roughly.

He got there and all the investigators were there already. They were trying to find any evidence Jack may left behind this time. Reports were coming in that 4 other kids had been taken as well. Everything was going wrong at the same time. Jeremy took the guard who was on duty that night to a secluded corner. His name was Hugh and he was actually on Louis’ senior team. He had been charged for corruption before and he was trialed as well. He got off on a technicality that time but everyone knew that he was dirty. Hugh was a little scared, he had never seen Jeremy this angry but he also knew that there was not a lot Jeremy could do to him. Jeremy was bound by rules and laws and his own principles and he didn’t really seem like the type of man who would give them all up no matter how bad things got. The place was dark and really isolated. They reached the corner and to Hugh’s surprise, Jeremy pulled out a gun and pointed it at his crotch.

“Now listen to me you dirty piece of shit, tell me where they took her and I leave you with a chance to have a child; deflect, lie or hide something and you can say goodbye to any future kids.” Jeremy said in a threatening voice no one had heard before. The upholder of justice seemed to have brought out a new monster within him. Hugh was struggling for words, he could hardly mutter out a word when an unknown voice called out form the dark, it was Coronis, “Let him go Jeremy. You don’t want to do this.”

“I know what I want to do. This guy will either talk or have a tough time to walk from now on.”

“I know where they are Jeremy. I am going to save them, all of them. I just need something from you in return.” Jeremy was surprised to know there was something he could have done to help the crow. Some part of him blamed the crow for the predicament that he was in but it would be unfair to blame him for the actions of someone else. He listened intently, “I have been running through these streets for years but I couldn’t change as much as you have in your 2 year tenure. I will always be an outlaw, trying to force people to change, trying to scare them into being law abiding citizens. You, on the other hand, inspire them. You are the idol for change, I could never be. If someone sees you doing something criminal, it would end up discrediting you and letting all the people you prosecuted go free. I am going to turn myself in, but I need you to promise me you will continue this fight. I need you to promise that you will not rest until you change things. You are the only legitimate hope we have. You can’t give up.”

Jeremy was surprised to hear all this. He couldn’t believe Coronis was going to turn himself in. He was prepared to continue his crusade for justice but he didn’t believe that giving in to a terrorist’s demand was going to help anyone. He realized soon that that wasn’t the most important thing at this moment. Naav needed to be saved and he was willing to do anything necessary. “Sure. Just bring Naav back safely. No one else matters to me.”

Coronis disappeared into the same darkness he had appeared from and Jeremy decided to wait patiently. It was going to be tough for him to be patient but that was what he had to do. He was given some more security with John, from Louis’ officers group, being given the responsibility to assure his safety. Every one important needed to be given double security in this dangerous time.

AN ABANDONED SHIP

ATISMAR CITY PORT

Jack was preparing to slaughter his next batch of little kids. The citizens had made their choice, and they chose to side with a freak. He didn’t really mind it though. He still got to kill, well actually more like rip through his fair share of humans. Killing children was beautiful for him, mostly because the kids didn’t really know they were going to die. They had been told stories about heaven and were sure they were now going there. The thing which made it so beautiful was that it actually killed everyone the kid had ever known. Those were the real targets of his. It was just so calming and serene for Jack to see people roaming around with their lifeless eyes and never ending tears and misplaced anger. He loved it, simply loved it. The last batch he got came with a bonus package though. His master piece was being watched over by some annoying journalist who was doing everything she could do stop him. Actually as Jack realized later, it was actually a blessing in disguise. She was the girlfriend of the new chief justice. What could possibly be better than killing some kids and pissing off the chief justice by killing his girlfriend? Jack had hit his ‘jack’ pot.  He had a special plan for her. He wanted this to be memorable. He concluded the preparations and was about to begin.

Coronis entered the ship through an open door. He had tracked Jack here and was running out of time to stop Jack from killing those kids and he didn’t know what he had done to Naavsar yet. He needed to move fast. As soon as he entered the ship he noticed the weird voice resonating within. Jack seemed to have recorded his own voice and was playing it over and over again. It kept repeating the same words, “Not yet. Not yet. Not yet.” This seemed weird to Coronis but he didn’t really pay much attention to it. He went to the basement of the ship and tried to blend within the shadows. He heard a motor saw running in a room. He was sure this was where he had kept the kids. He hurried in, to his surprise, Jack wasn’t there. He had left the kids on a table with a motor saw running through it. It was going to cut them in half starting from their lower body. This would have ensured that they didn’t die immediately but could feel the pain of the saw running through their bodies, ripping through the skin and leaving blood everywhere. It would have been horrible and painful. The not yet announcement kept playing in the background. The police were going to be here any second and the moment Jack saw cops he would do anything in his power to escape being captured. Coronis had to work fast. He let the kids free and told them to run towards the port and wait for the cops there. He also asked them if they knew where Jack had taken Naav but no one knew where she was. The kids were out and now Levi needed to find Naav as soon as possible.

Suddenly the sound over the speakers changed. Jack seemed to be transmitting live from somewhere. He was talking directly to Levi now. “Hello dear black crow enemy of mine. Today we are going to test your speed and agility. The woman you are looking for is hanging somewhere from a rope directly above a meat grinder. Thanks to the technology of voice recognition and the perpetual physical enigma of gravity, I have devised a technology where in the uninterrupted continuation of my speech prevents our little spirited baby sitter from being turned into human juice. I wonder what that tastes like. I hear it’s sort of sour. You will notice that I am rambling on and using as lengthy words as possible. I am giving you an honest chance to save our chief justice’s little engaged bunny. Oh and hurry up, the cops are coming to take me anytime and if you haven’t found her by then, we will all get to taste some girl juice for ourselves. So you go on and I am going to keep talking until I get bored and….” He continued to ramble on. Levi understood the situation and wanted to find her as soon as possible. He had a large area to cover and very little time to do it. The cops were going to be here any minute and he needed to hurry. He ran across every room he could see but this was taking too long. He needed to compartmentalize. He started thinking where a grinder was likely to be and started searching them. “Oh looks like the cops are here, can you hear the sirens? Time is running out crow boy, you need to hurry. Ok so as a gesture of goodwill I am going to now say the longest word in English dictionary and you better hope you find her because those cops are walking towards me now. Here goes, pneumo-o-o-o-o-o-o-ultra-a-a-a-a-a-a-a”

Levi needed to hurry. He was doing everything he could and that’s when he saw her, hanging by a rope with her face covered and the meat grinder running beneath her.

“a-a-a-a-micro-o-o-o-o-o-o scopicsilicovolcanoconiosis. Goodbye.”

The rope fell loose and Naav started her fall. Levi ran as fast as he could and tackled her right before she was swallowed by the grinder. “Are you alright?” Levi asked her. “Yeah, I’ll live.” She replied taking a deep breath of relief. On the deck, Jack had been arrested; Louis had arrived with his backup and taken the kids to safety and Jack to police custody.  Coronis walked out with Naav in his arms and handed her over to the paramedics. Rexion, another one of Louis’ unit took the responsibility of keeping her safe now. Coronis saw Louis and walked up to him, having decided he was going to turn himself in. He was no longer needed to do this anymore. Atismar had found its true inspiration. Coronis was no longer needed now and he could finally take a break. Just as he was about to reach Louis, a junior officer walked up to him and whispered something in his ear. Louis seemed worried immediately after and it was obvious that something had gone wrong. He reached Louis and asked him, “What’s wrong? It’s over, we caught the guy. Relax now.”

“It’s not over. I just heard that Jeremy has been missing since he was last seen at my home. We fear he may have been kidnapped. We don’t know who took him but it might have been part of Jack’s plan.” Louis said. Coronis’ face hardened on hearing this. His time to rest was not here just yet and the city needed him hopefully for one last time.

 

 

CENTRAL POLICE STATION
ATISMAR CITY

ATISMAR

Jack was being kept separately in an interrogation room. No one wanted to waste a lot of time, they knew that his game was over and he was just trying to play as long as possible. He was being interrogated by Coronis. His techniques were quick and effective and only Louis knew about this.

“Where is Jeremy?” Coronis asked trying to end things as soon as possible.

“You know, you really are a freak. You still think you could actually bring a permanent change to this shithole.” Jack rebuked rambling on.

“Where is he?”

“You know, earlier it was all so easy. You wanted to make people kill other people, you just needed a few rocks and some paint. Vandalize a temple here, kill a reverend there and they all would just start killing themselves like the absolute animals that they are. Then one day, one of the gods decided to show himself and killed nearly 40 million people. Rookie numbers in my personal opinion, but he changed the world forever. People wouldn’t fight for religion anymore. I had to find something else.” Jack was rambling on, but Coronis continued to listen. “Then I found nations, people killing each other over physical lines on a piece of paper. I fell in love immediately. I tried hard to start a war but then you know, a crow came in between.” Coronis was getting curious now to listen to what he was saying, “Did you really think a crane bird that size would end up in exactly that place covered in foil paper out of nowhere? I sent that bird as a messenger of war for the whole world to see and then you just blew it up before anything could happen. You spoiled all the fun!” Coronis was shocked to hear that, it was Jack who had let the crane loose which almost led to nuclear Armageddon a few years back. It all made sense now. “Then I started looking at you and you were just so fascinating. You didn’t kill people; you just beat them up so bad. I wanted to test you, I wanted to see how far you would go and you didn’t disappoint.”

Coronis had had enough; he grabbed by his throat and asked him one last time, “Where is Jeremy?”

“You really think not breaking your rule means you are any different from me. You know you are like me, you had a bad day, a very bad one and that was all it took to turn a normal person into a madman. That’s how far away these normal people are from freaks like us. All it takes is one bad day. Okay, coming to your question now, you remember that old ‘which person would you let come under the train’ dilemma? We are going back to the classics for tonight. Choose between an innocent life and the shining example of justice”

“What do you mean?”

“Oh today Coronis chooses whether he wants to save the man who is going to change the country or his innocent, sweet bride-to-be.”

“Naavsar? How do you have her?”

“You know what real power is?

Knowledge and money, everything else is just so corruptible. It all becomes so easy after that. You ask enough people what they need and one of them will do anything for you if you push the right buttons. It’s the butterfly effect, the chaos theory; small, seemingly unrelated things happening to have an unforeseeable huge consequence.”

Levi was getting frustrated now that he knew Naav was involved in all this as well. He tried to appeal to Jack’s humanity for one last time. “She is pregnant you idiot. Let her go.”

Jack’s face fell on hearing this. He had no idea an innocent, unborn life was at stake, “Wow! I did not know that. Oh man… what have I done? I guess…I guess that…just raises the stakes higher and makes it even more fun than I thought!” He said breaking into a maniacal laughter. “Ok, that’s really great. So Naav is on the rail track that goes through the east and Jeremy is on the west. You can only save one.”

Coronis rushed out to his vehicle as he started running east. He informed Louis who he was saving and gave him the responsibility to save Jeremy. Time was running out. He could only save one and he wanted it to be Naav. He drove as fast as he could. He didn’t care one bit about the traffic rules at the time; he knew he had to save her no matter what. By the time he reached the track, a train was already approaching. He had to run towards the train and look for someone tied to the tracks in the process. The train was getting closer every minute and Levi was running with all his might. Just as the train was about to run him over, he saw someone wriggling on the tracks tied by ropes, the face had been covered. He grabbed the body and jumped aside before the train could catch him.

He was panting but at least he had saved her in time; at the same time a train ran over a body on the western railway tracks. The body was cut into three gruesome pieces.  On the eastern railways, Levi tried to calm Naav down. He told her she was going to be alright. She had been saved; there was nothing to worry about now. He uncovered her face to finally tell her his secret.

It was Jeremy.

He had saved Jeremy. Jack lied to him. Naav was the one on the western tracks. She was the one who was cut into three. She was dead. Naavsar was dead and he had to live with this for the rest of his life. He couldn’t look Jeremy in his eyes. He hated him and felt sorry for him at the same time. He walked away. He needed some to think what had just happened. He couldn’t fathom any of it. His childhood friend had been killed and he was the one who chose not to save her. He went back to his mansion. He told Don about everything that had happened. Don was shocked as well. He had treated Naav like his own daughter and now she lay dead, cut in three pieces with her child lying dead within her womb. Levi blamed himself for it. He thought he had brought this on the country. Don had to spend a lot of time talking to him and making him feel better again but he knew Levi was never going to be the same person again. He convinced Levi to wear his cape again. Levi needed some help dealing with all this.

 

NEXT MORNING

JUDGE’S CHAMBERS

ATISMAR SUPREME COURT

ATISMAR CITY

Jeremy was back in his chambers. He had asked to be left alone. He was still dealing with the fact that Naav was no more. He wanted vengeance but he did not know who he blamed for this. Jack was the obvious candidate but he wasn’t the only one involved here. This went deeper than him. He wanted to bring everyone involved in all that happened to be brought to justice. Someone walked into his chambers. Jeremy calmly said, “Leave me alone. I don’t want to meet anyone.”

“Oh that might just change now. Let me turn that frown upside down.” It was Jack. He had somehow managed to escape prison. Why would he come to meet Jeremy of all people? It made no sense. This is exactly what Jeremy thought as well. “How dare you walk in like that thinking you are going to get out of here alive? How did you manage to even get out?” Jeremy said in a threatening voice.

“I am really sorry about your loss, Jeremy. I just think we need to have a frank chat about everything that has been happening over the past couple of days. You see, I was just trying to help the system. I was pointing out the flaws in their system so that they could cover them up. Getting out wasn’t that hard. Louis was working with such easily buyable players; it was honestly embarrassing to see. One of them had a niece in NICU so I promised her complete treatment; the other two just wanted a lot of money. If that is the least corrupt policemen Louis could find, how rotten the rest of the network must really be?”

“Don’t justify yourself. It was your plan all along.”

“Plan. I really hate that word, plan. You know people always need to believe that there is a plan. They believe in gods, destiny, the power of the universe and so much other stuff just to convince themselves that they matter enough to have their lives planned out by someone. Why do you think there must be a plan? I was just making things up as I went. You were the ones projecting your idea of plans on me. What happened to Naav was really nothing personal. If she wasn’t so annoying she might still be alive and if she had better friends, she would have been alive. The thing I want to say is, I didn’t kill her. The people around her killed her. If you really wish to avenge your fiancée and your child, you need to start imposing your brand of justice and you need to start right from the roots of it all. I am just an insane guy who is not even fit enough to stand trial. I am just going to be sent to some retard-home and that’s where I will be forever but the others, they are going to walk free unless you do something.”

Jeremy had no idea that Naav was pregnant. This took his rage levels to never seen before levels. Until now Jeremy wanted to carry out fair and legal trials against everyone but now, now he was thirsty for blood.

 

LATER THAT NIGHT

The city was still recovering from everything that had happened. People were looking to reach Jeremy but no one could get a hold of him. No one had heard from him since last night. Coronis was looking for him as well. He knew better than anyone where he could be. He found Jeremy at the Western rail track, at the place Naav’s body had been recovered. Jeremy was looking down in disbelief. He had a gun in his hand and it was obvious what he was going to do. Coronis was going to try and convince Jeremy not to do anything impulsively.

“She is dead. They killed her. All of them killed her.” Jeremy was muttering to himself. Naav was his life, she was the one who had brought him out of his dark times, she was the ray of light in his dark life and now the ray had been blown out by the people he trusted. He had also lost his child. Even though he didn’t know about it yet, he could only mourn the loss of his child rather than ever going to celebrate the joy of it becoming a part of his life. “I’m sorry about what happened, Jeremy.” Coronis whispered from behind his back.

“You. You were one of them. You could have stopped him when you had the chance. You could have killed him but you didn’t. Look at what has happened now.”

“I took an oath long back Jeremy, the only life I am ever going to take is my own. No one else.”

“Well guess how much I care about you and your oaths. They killed my fiancée. Jack just paid a few bucks and they gave her up like a lamb to a butcher. I am going to get every last one of them.”

“I can’t let you do that Jeremy. I am here to talk to you. We can get to the root of this and get justice the right way.”

“To hell with the right way. I spent my whole life believing that if I did good deeds, I would get good. I know now, people don’t get what they deserve; they just get what they get. Destiny is just another lie people tell themselves to feel better. I lost everything because of them. They only got richer and I lost everyone I had. I was the only one who lost everything.”

“It wasn’t.” Coronis decided to take off his mask and reveal himself to Jeremy. It was a big risk, but one that needed to be taken. Jeremy was frozen when he saw Levi’s face beneath the mask.

“Y…you? It was you all along? She…She trusted you…SHE TRUSTED YOU!!” Jeremy was struggling to come to terms with this new information. He couldn’t believe what was happening. The man that Naav had vouched for, the man she said she could trust. That was the man who didn’t save her, that was the man who let her die. Jeremy was losing his mind. He didn’t understand what to do next. He wanted to shoot everyone he could see, he wanted to put an end to his miserable life as well. “Get out of my way, Levi. I need to avenge her.”

“I can’t let you do that, Jeremy.”

“Then just take the gun and shoot me. Just put an end to this, I don’t want any more of this. Please. I beg you. Do it.”

“I can’t break my oath Jeremy. Not now. Not after everything that has happened.” Levi was having a flashback of everything he had been through in his life. That fateful rainy night, the death Naav, every time he failed to protect his people. All that misery was running through his mind when an idea struck him. He pulled out the gun he kept with himself. “I can only take my own life Jeremy. So can you. This is too much. Too many people have died because of me. I can’t do this anymore. I want to end it as well.”

“So we shoot ourselves at the same time? Is that what you want? Fine…on 3.”

Both of them out their respective guns on their chins,

“1…

2…

3.” Bang.

Jeremy’s body fell on its knees and collapsed. Levi still stood where he was. He didn’t fire. He tricked Jeremy. Jeremy would have killed many people, he would have been caught and all the people he had sent to jail would be released. Levi had chosen to sacrifice one life for the peace in our society. He had chosen peace above truth. He understood what he did was wrong and it was too much to handle, even for him. He walked back to his mansion and shut everything down. He was done being the crow. It was too much for him. He needed some rest. He needed some peace.

THE END

EPILOGUE

 After thorough investigations had revealed that Louis’ partners were the ones involved with Jack, many police officers lost their trust in the system. They retired to do something else with their lives, something more honorable. Rick Todd was one of them. He had been called to the Fex Mansion privately by Levi Fex himself. He didn’t know what it was about. When he went there many secrets were revealed to him. He got to know Levi Fex was Coronis. Moreover Levi offered Rick the chance to take over the cape from him and become the Night Crow. Rick wasn’t sure he was ready but after Levi assured him of proper training he was on board. The country needed a more hopeful hero, someone like Jeremy but until another Jeremy was born, Atismar would have to do with Coronis.