Phantom Requiem is one of my nearest and dearest things of all time in terms of storytelling and characterization. I've also played the limited Western release of the game, Phantom of Inferno, too.
That said, over the years I've made many an attempt at Phantom stories. First came four oneshots, later merged into one story by name of Project Phantom. Now, after a very long of saying I'd do it, the story has had a reboot under its new alias, Aria Finale. It's one of my favorite works, to be honest, and I couldn't leave it without the attention it deserved.
Three of the four original chapters have been partially re-written, largely restructured, and expanded with lots of new dialogue, some extra scenes, and new perspectives. It's a remaster and a reboot rolled into one, because the forth chapter, I'm Sorry I hurt you, has been scrapped, and will be completely remade from the ground up alongside new story ideas.
Time to Repent
At the end of everything, Reiji Azuma held but a single dream. He dreamed of walking into the light - being free of torment and unshackled from pain. As fate would have it, he found his one and only chance of freedom in a young lady named Cal Devens. Now, as the final show approaches and the cast assemble, can he save his ray of hope before it's too late? The fate of them both will be decided on this very night.
How much weight could one human soul possibly bare? After the evils he partook in, all the sins he carried with him, did Reiji even have a soul anymore? He mourned the night of Cal's passing, blissfully unaware of the truth before him. With tear drenched eyes, he prayed for her, yet it seemed she was lost forever. Reiji had little choice to escape in the chaos, and was unable to look back.
As time moved forward and the days dragged on, he became numb again. He wasn't a person any longer, just a shadow of his former self. Nothing changed when he fled to Japan either. The emptiness pulling at his heart still remained. As every lonely night faded away, he could only blame himself more and more. The young lady he'd promised the world, was seemingly forever out of his reach. Two long years played out in painful stillness - almost like the Phantom was sleeping for the longest time.
That was until; he was woken from his dream. The sound a lone gunshot shattered everything he believed to be real in an instant. There, stood before him, was a ghost of the past. It took but a moment for everything to come rushing back. Cal was alive? Two years of longing, waiting, hoping, all came to an end in one faithful moment. However, Mister Azuma could not bring himself to smile.
Where there should have been happiness, there was nought but sorrow. Cal's hatred for the young man she once loved felt so deeply intense. The look in her eyes spelled nothing but anger and vicious resentment. Those green orbs of light which were once so bright overflowed with pain. It was from that point on that Reiji made a silent vow. He'd try and save Cal before it was too late. The great Phantom of Inferno would make one final attempt at atoning for his many sins.
It took two days to coax Cal out of hiding. Under no circumstances would Reiji let this opportunity pass him by. This was his last chance – he had to save her from the icy grip of Inferno - or this time, she'd truly be gone forever.
The darkness of night had long since overtaken Japan. Morning was such a very long way away. In church there was but single figure, stood at the altar, his back turned to the door. This would be the final proving ground, not for the second Phantom known as Zwei, but for the man behind it all. Reiji Azuma would stake everything to save his Ray of Light, or die trying.
His attention was suddenly caught by something of a large explosion outside the walls of the holy building. Not long after, the doors slid open ever so slowly, boot-clad footsteps advancing. The time of judgement was finally at hand. There was no sense in looking back. He felt those eyes of green, sharpened like daggers, stabbing into his back. Miss Devens, Drei, the third Phantom, had arrived.
"I'm the only one here Cal. There isn't anyone else."
Reji turned to face her, weapon in hand but his darkened eyes surprisingly soft. Deep down, there was a longing, beneath the fear, beneath the pain.
"So, did you come here to settle this?"
Cal's question was blunt, sharp, hateful. It sent a pain across his chest. It was then that Reiji took something of a bold step forward. His expression suddenly became somewhat softer too.
"I came here to put things right, Cal. It's time for me to do something I shoud've too long ago. I've used so many people, and killed countless others, just so I could stay alive."
The young lady couldn't do anything but laugh at his comment. Everything about her was so very dark and unforgiving - a agonizing change to her younger self.
"My God, Reiji. I think I know that already," Cal scoffed with a bitter scowl twisting her lips, "You don't think you've done enough already? Abandoning me, breaking your promises... leaving me after I told you how much I cared?
"Yes, and you have every reason to hate me for it. I'd willingly accept any punishment you throw at me..."
An honest reply, one he couldn't mask despite his exceptional skill in doing so.
A sudden and somewhat evil smirk sudden began to creep onto Cal's face. Fury burned in her eyes, and in an unexpected bout of aggression, she drew her Pistol.
Yet deep down Reiji was sure he saw something. A softness, a glimer, if only for a second, of the warmth he once knew her for.
"I have a way we can finish this," Miss Devens whispered, shakily producing a familiar silver timepiece from her jacket pocket.
The sight of this beautifully crafted pocket watch froze Reiji to the core a short gasp of surprise slipping free."So you still have that, huh?"
Cal was only made to smile even more when his reaction became obvious to her, " Of course... Nice to see you remember your gift to me. Well then Reiji… Here's my game... let's finish this..."
With a slight press of her thumb, a short click' resounded, the tiny sound bouncing off the wide, stone walls. The front of the watch opened to display an elegant clock face. The watch was resting in her palm, Cal put back the gun she'd brought with her, slipping it within the holster at her hip.
"This watch has helped me so much. It's always shown me the perfect moment to land the finishing blow. Now, listen. When the song ends... draw your gun... and we'll see which one of us, which Phantom left standing."
Those words made Reiji twist with pure anguish. It was agony hearing her say those words.
Silence, broke only by the melody of the watch as it started to play. Its tune, so soothing, almost as if it was capable of curing the pain of one's very soul, seemed to go on forever. Reiji couldn't help but think back to the past, all the time they'd spent together, and most importantly, the fragile but beautiful moments of peace they shared.
If things hadn't come to this they could have been happy so long ago. Fate had drawn them both together on the night that Judy died. Their lives were entwined from that point onward. Reiji was a ghost with no way back to the world he once knew and loved. Cal was so very alone, with no one and nothing to call her own. These two lost souls were destined to find one another. Together, they could finally have the warmth and happiness they both deserved, if only Reiji spoke the words within the depths of his heart.
Reiji snapped back to reality, tears rolling down his eyes of hauntingly heartfelt brown. "Cal... stop..."
His words brought a short, surprised gasp from the lips of his green-eyed nemesis, the former love he'd held so close. Her hand shuddering, she took a slight step back.
"Wait," Reiji continued with a flare of desperation to his voice, "We don't have to do this…. Cal... After all this time I didn't have a clue you were still alive... That night when the apartment went up in flames I thought... I thought you were gone."
The young lady shuddered in response to his words, taking yet another step back, and another. The pistol left the holster, now gripped in one of her shuddering hands. "Then why didn't- Why did it have to come to this? Why didin't you help me?"
Cal froze like a statue, her finger poised to pull the trigger. "I loved you... I loved you and you left me. It's not fair... Two years without you... and now this? If I can't be happy in real life, can't I at least dream about it sometimes?"
A single tear fell from the eye of Inferno's third Phantom as her cracked, broken vocal chords struggled.
Reiji was taken aback by such a truly sad question. This didn't have to be the end for either of them. Not tonight, and not in this church. Reiji took the gun from its place of rest within the holster, tossing it to the floor.
The sound of the weapon hitting the stone floor echoed across the whole church. The young Asian man closed on the quiet, tearful blond "Cal... This doesn't have to be a dream... It isn't too late for us to be free... That's why I came back. From the moment I knew you were alive again, I had a promise to keep to you.."
Cal breathed hard, a watery sob flooding out as she dropped her pistol to the floor with a dull thump. "That's what all this was about? Why you called me here? You were... trying to bring me back?"
"Yes... and now more than ever I understand," Mr Azuma took the final step forward, closing their gap, their two year divide, for what he hoped would be forever. "We don't need to throw our lives away over this! All this time we've both wanted the same thing... to be together forever, even if we're against the world... like we promised."
Cal smiled through the tears, bringing her head to rest upon his shoulder. "That night… Two years ago. You held me in your arms… You said I was the key to you being happy again... You still mean it, don't you?"
The facade of Reiji, the assassin, crumbled away, leaving Reiji Azuma, free of his chains, to answer sincerely. With a short nod, he began to piece together the words within his scattered thoughts, "Of course I do... From that moment we first embraced, the thought of my life without you was nothing but emptiness. You saved me... You showed me there's still a way back..."
Cal's dried her eyes, moving on automatic it seemed, her arms wrapping themselves around the young man stood by the altar, "The anger consumed me… I was such a fool... You never stopped waiting for me, did you Reiji?"
He cuddled closer to the girl he'd so dearly missed, running a loving hand through her silky smooth hair, "When I thought I'd lost you, my heart stopped beating... The thought of you being inside that burning apartment... It tore me apart, Cal."
Finally, after so long of living in torment, Reiji felt the faintest flicker of hope - the hope of two lost souls uniting as one.
"Reiji," Cal whispered, bringing her soft hand to rest upon his cheek.
Such comfort was enough to shatter the steel shell a around the emotions, finally allowing the tears of Azuma Reiji to roll free.
As the two gazed into one another through tear drenched eyes, their lips met in a loving kiss. Such a feeling of honest, genuine warmth, of an innocence so pure, was enough to bring Reiji's heart, usually so stoic in its beats, to race in elation.
As they parted, the second Phantom was sure of one thing. From that moment on, however long or short their lives would be, they would be side by side. He wouldn't run any longer.
"Whatever happens now, we'll always have each other, Cal Devens... I'll end anybody that tries to take you from me again..."
"Together forever, Reiji."
No matter what the obstacle, be it Shiga's men or Inferno, nothing would stop the two fallen Phantoms. When the two finally parted from their embrace, Cal turned, giving a nervous glance in the direction the church door. "I bet Shiga's men are waiting for us outside by now..."
Reiji picked up his Pistol, gripping the weapon in his right hand, "Of course... but it doesn't matter... We'll face them together."
As the pair reached the door, Cal grabbed Reiji's free hand and linked it with her own. With warm intent, she caressed the hand of the Japanese man with her soft fingers. This sudden movement brought him to turn, his expression softening slightly.
Cal of course, didn't ease off with her compassion for a moment, her eyes pleading with him, begging to let her speak "If we don't get through this I just want you to know that... I'm thankful that I met you, Reiji."
There were so many things screaming out inside, so many things to say, "I wouldn't b-"
Cal released his hand, bringing a soft finger to cover his lips. The chuckle that followed was soft, playfully sadistic, a thing of true beauty, "Don't say a word..."
Reiji could do little more than nod. He knew her too well. Turning, he placed his hand against the door.
"Three, two... one."
With one mighty shove of his right arm, the church door swung open. Outside, an circle of men in sunglasses, clad in black and armed to the teeth, surrounded the entire building.
"This is it," Cal smiled, bittersweet and beautiful, "Together... until the very end..."
To be continued...
Thank you for taking the time to read this first chapter through until the end? Did you enjoy it? Is there anything you'd like to see in future. You're more than welcome to leave some feedback and share your thoughts.
Until next time, keep supporting Phantom of Inferno and Phantom Requiem. I'll see you in the next chapter.