Hello everyone. It's good to be back and I would like to hear from you too. First off though, this chapter, nor the next, is an invitation for a lively debate. Heck, right now I'm writing three other non-posted DMC stories with two explaining Nero's origins completely differently. With that being said, it's fine with me if you leave a note letting me know what you think.

The true excuse I have for being so late this time is unfortunately for me, I can't get around those damn DmC trailers. I'll be writing along then one rears its ugly head and I get set back. I try, but can't quite seem to stop this cycle. Pretty lame, huh?

Anyhow, I really hope you enjoy the chapter and drop me a note. I know I've said this before but I'll say it again: Favoriting my work is nice but not very satisfying if you don't even bother leaving a review, no matter how short, telling me why. Please remember this small courtesy.

Can't wait to hear from you all! Night Companion

What's Been is Past

Ignoring the vicious glare drilling her, Trish airily informed Marcus, "Aside from unappealing, you are lacking in intelligence if you believe a feeble plan to offer Dante a bribe in the form of a pure one, no matter how tempting, would entice him into falling in line with your... What did you call him? Oh yes. His Holiness' overly far reaching fanciful scheme. You see, Dante would never have chosen, much less, claimed Kyrie."

As she expected, Marcus spat, "You're an arrogant deviless saying you know Lord Dante's mind. You act so sure of yourself. Who's over reaching now? Why wouldn't he? Lord Vergil and Nero both think her worthy."

Bringing forth the devil she was, Trish let him see the evil glint in her bewitching eyes and cruel smile. "Because I would kill him."

At this, Dante really wanted to let loose an audible groan. First he'd been smeared by a freakin demon lord, then some moronic brat had the nerve to say he'd been run off by a punk mouthed Nero, and now his supposed pure caste one was saying she was in charge of whom he chose. Super. What's the point of being seen as a badass, uck, 'Master' without the perks? Geez, was a little respect too much to ask? Guess so, Dante internally groused.

Lessening his Demonville stature, Dante was positive Trish wasn't kidding about what she'd do to him (well, when it came to the 'claiming' part), and anyone with any extra sensory perception would be able to tell she wasn't exaggerating. As in, I dunno, those hidden whatevers just waiting for a chance to pounce for instance?

His attention sharpened exponentially however, as did Trish's and a catching on Nero, when Marcus jeered, "You lie. Even a demoness of your caliber wouldn't dare challenge Lord Dante. Besides, I recognize you and that's not how it works. You were by his side as he accepted His Holiness' great sacrifice of Credo by the blade of the blessed sword Yamato held in his hand. If you are his chosen one, he orders you, not the other way around."

Nero's stomach churned as he held Kyrie closer while she struggled to swallow rising thick tears at Marcus' description of Credo's death and Dante's kindness in catching her plummeting brother, holding him as he died while he knelt - showing respect for the fallen warrior whose honor had been reclaimed too late (as they saw it - Dante not so much, but there had been an off chance the kiddies were watching so...).

Feeling this, eyes flickering, Trish cooed a lethal, "Be very careful what you proclaim. How could you, a mere human, understand what you spout? Did Sanctus educate you in demonic hierarchy? Unless he mentioned I belonged to Dante, why would you assume so? No human would conceive this. Why should they? Unless, you are a human toady owned by another human. My, my. How pathetically ironic. I thought humans valued their freedom. Are you admitting you are inferior within your own species by willingly relinquishing yours?"

"Me? Inferior? You say that while fawning over Nero, betraying your Master. Does he know you're playing the field? Does he care? Maybe he commands you to seduce men into lowering their guards for him to manipulate or kill easier. Or is it you've been rejected by Lord Dante? Are you so desperate that in regaining the status you lost you would offer yourself to any Sparda - regardless if that Sparda is the lowest rung of the ladder? I don't care how superior you seem, or how magnificent you look. Either way, to me, lowering yourself to Nero's level in the Human World makes you a good for nothing demon whore." Marcus, the walking dead, sneered at Trish.

Kyrie paled and Lady even shivered as the air grew heavy. Ominous thunder shook the compound as Dante flexed his power and his eyes sparked. With Vergil not far behind him and Nero in close proximity, their overlapping sizzling energy alone made for a deadly environment.

As Trish quickly appeased a furious Dante with assurances a measly human wasn't worth his anger nor hers, Nero erupted with eyes blazing red and an arm firing blue. Too fast for the human eye to follow, he had Marcus in his grip and slapped across the face with a humiliating open hand. Slamming him into the ground, blood burst from his mouth and nose. Twisting his fist in his shirt, Nero roughly shook him until his eyes refocused.

Once he had his attention, he growled low in his throat, "Watch your tongue douche bag 'cause you're giving me an excuse to rip it out. She's no whore, but you've always been someone's bitch. And I know who you want holding your leash. Too bad he's into classy breeds other than yapping mongrels. Tough luck. The only reason you can still talk is I want to know why."

"I noted Nero's quick reflexes before and found him most accurate in his aim," Vergil remarked, sliding lightened eyes gleaming in approval toward Dante who was slowly calming under Trish's words and Nero's actions.

"Yippy ki yay. For once, it'd be nice to get there before he did in teaching someone about watching their manners in front of Trish," Dante grumbled.

Before Marcus could retaliate, enraged and outraged, he was brought to a frozen standstill by a confident smoothly feminine cooing, "Perhaps he would be willing to be mine. I may have need for a pet."

"Gloria," he choked, awed. Awe turned to hypnotized stupor as he was captured and ensnared by electric blue-white eyes.

Gazing at him steadily Trish/Gloria purred, "For a Knight who was supposedly Sanctus' star pupil, you certainly have a vivid imagination and talent for jumping to the wrong conclusions"

Thrown by Trish's sudden transformation, Kyrie sent a nonplused Nero, "This is how Trish looked as Gloria? When you told me she was stunning, you weren't exaggerating, were you?"

If being hit by a two by four equaled being stunned, he figured Kyrie had chosen the right description and could truthfully answer while slightly squirming, "Uh. No."

Standing next to her, amused, Lady whispered snickering, "Wow Trish. Talk about sexy. When you said you dressed to kill, you weren't kidding. What did you do? Strike a pose and demons fell dead at your feet? Did you even think about the human men around you? That must've been a sight. Wish I'd been there to see their reactions when they got a load of you."

Without releasing the young man from her enthrallment, Trish/Gloria tellingly smirked, "You should know. I have a friend I used to base my look. So glad you approve." Catching her drift, Lady's amusement changed to a scowl as she stopped herself from taking a quick glance downward at her own scanty outfit and plunging jacket opening revealing a lot of cleavage.

Surveying her disguise, Vergil admiringly projected to Dante, "Impressive. That look suits her. In this guise, Trish appears quite..."

That was as far as he got before Dante slit him a sharp glare, jabbed a hard elbow in his ribs and warned, "You were saying?"

"Ah. Yes. I was going to say she appears quite capable of easily obtaining whatever information she seeks," Vergil tactfully rephrased.

Wryly, Dante told him, "Smooth recovery. As long as you don't break into a chorus of 'Glorious Gloria, Glory Hallelujah' I won't break your front teeth." Then he muttered, "Damn kid got a look see before I did. Who said life was fair?"

"Glorious Gloria, Glory... For Devil's sake Dante. That is ridiculous. Not being a religious man, I am unfamiliar with this particular hymn," Vergil retorted.

"Yeah? You'd think that wouldn't you? Unfortunately for me, many a man and a few women found religion as they swarmed to watch Trish as Gloria fight with her curved switchblade since she was in disguise. I swear the damn choir would go up an octave when she stashed her blade," Dante grouched.

Interested, Vergil went for more information as he wanted to know, "You say Nero saw this before you? Strange."

"Not really. After I tested him, she heard rumors, and since he was tracking me, she decided to do a little testing of his character of her own. Probably figuring I wouldn't appreciate the lousy tune without becoming quickly bored and feel the need to add a little rock to liven things up, she only met me as herself."

"Now that I can actually believe," Vergil concurred.

Nailing him with the evil eye, Dante went on, "Trish took to Nero right away. Said after gawking briefly at her dramatic entrance and watching her strut her stuff, he blew away a demon going for her back.. Wanting to see if he could be detoured from his route, she poured on the sex appeal and flirty charm. Not being dead, he wasn't immune. She got a kick seeing him quickly looking elsewhere when she made sure he saw where she sheathed her knife. Unlike the usual treatment she got, he talked to her as another comrade at arms, I guess you'd say. She also had a laugh when he thought she was out of range before he sneered about 'the Savior'."

"Quickly looked elsewhere as she put away her weapon? This is the third time you've mentioned this. Where exactly did she 'stash' her curved blade in that intriguing getup to cause such a reaction? " Vergil asked as if mildly curious.

"That's classified. I'd tell ya, but then I'd have to kill ya. Man, we need to find you a willing woman after being in lock up for so long. Reel it in. Your perverted side is beginning to show. It's creeping me out."

"Really Dante," Vergil censored, insulted.

"Really, Vergil," Dante stated dryly.

Unable to resist, irked, Vergil inquired, "Are you certain you are the one in charge? I would take an educated supposition and state if Trish ordered you around thus garbed, knowing you, you would jump to obey."

Smugly taking a day cruise at the memories Vergil conjured, Dante gloated, "When I can get her to."

"Oh. So she is the one who gives the orders," came Vergil's glib conclusion.

Brought back to earth too soon for his liking, Dante snapped, "Listen you. Shut it and find a woman of your own to ogle."

Unconsciously taking Dante's advice, Vergil leisurely appraised Lady in masculine appreciation while saying haughtily, "Ogle? I do not ogle women. How crude. I was simply complimenting Trish on her fine style."

Tongue tucked in cheek, Dante drawled, "Fine style? Rigghht. We're talking checking out babes here, and you know it. Although I'm sure you'd call it something else with your high falutin language. All the same, I'll take the compliment for Trish with a returning thanks... maybe."

Striving to maintain her poise after listening in on Dante and Vergil's exchange, Trish couldn't allow any pleased smile appear as she prepared get answers.

Adding credence to Kyrie's assertions, Trish/Gloria rebuked sternly, "You speak as if you were part of the inner council. I was there without any sight of you when Sanctus was told of Nero's power and ordered him taken into custody. You declare he knew Nero was of Sparda's bloodline when he clearly did not until Yamato was restored."

Quailing under her derisive tone, Marcus sputtered, "His Holiness knew everything. He'd studied the Demon World extensively as a means of knowing his enemy and using his knowledge to turn evil into good. Didn't his resurrection prove his blessed wisdom after being dishonorably shot, even if by Lord Dante?"

Getting the reference, Nero taunted, "So. What? You implying I fight dirty 'cause I use a gun? If that puts me in the dishonorable camp, up yours. Idiot. By the way, sorry Sanctus' 'miraculous' resurrection didn't stay very miraculous. Lemme put you outta your misery. Before I smashed his face in during his claim to fame in becoming that gross statue, I ran him through from gut to gullet with Yamato. How's that for an honorably befitting death? Feel better, fuckhead? I know I do."

Features twisted in a frenzied hatred, Marcus lunged for his throat and Nero happily dropped him on the floor with a flip of the wrist from his human hand.

Unluckily, he couldn't stop the mouthy twat from spewing, "You lie! You're a liar Nero and don't deny it. There's no way you could defeat His Holiness, who held Sparda's sword. Not even Yamato could contest him or the sword of all swords of power at full strength. Admit it. You took advantage of the honor bestowed on you by stealing Kyrie away from her holy role for your own gain."

Fed up, Nero snarled, "Give it a rest already. Too bad it wasn't you in there instead of me. That was no paradise. Try suffocation. Immobilization with no way out. Pitch black broken by flashes of puke yellow and dried blood red while your soul is being sucked out of you. And Kyrie had to endure this longer than me. Yeah. It was a picnic alright, shithead. You make me sick and then some."

As Kyrie crept further and further into Nero's arms as he spoke, Trish's eyes flickered orange, Lady subtly clutched her guns to her stomach while Vergil and Dante blanched. None of them had asked either of the young couple exactly what it had been like inside the statue, and they discovered they didn't really need to know.

After that revelation, none could believe Marcus' smirk in the face of Nero's fury. Shoving himself up, he got to his feet refuting, "Say what you will but I know what I know and I was there when Gloria first appeared with the sword of Sparda, which she offered to His Holiness. If the Savior was hellish, why would she wish to join the Order and be saved from real Hell? Not taking chances, suspicious of her motives, His Holiness asked her to wait while he mediated."

Oh yeah, Dante just bet he did. He only wondered what or whom he'd made an underground phone call to while he "mediated." Startled out of his musings, he felt Vergil narrow his attention on him like a laser beam.

Uh oh. Here it comes. Wonder what's got his jocks in a twist? Dante internally bemoaned as Vergil enlightened him.

"I have been meaning to have a long discussion with you about Father's sword. Could you not have come up with something else to offer to get Trish inside?" he blandly commented with a dangerous edge.

Not missing the promise of retaliation, Dante responded, affronted, "Hey! Don't blame me. That's on Trish. She snuck the sword out behind my back after leaving me a note to meet her. From there, we put a plan together. It worked, didn't it?"

"Only too well. For the other side. And Yamato?" Vergil admonished acidly.

"OK. That one's on me. What was the use of letting the sword get all rusty when Nero had shown his metal? You weren't anywhere around I could see."

Except for in Nero there possibly, Dante added to himself before continuing conversationally, "For all I knew, you were pushing up daisies in Hell. Though, since we are talking you, it's more like pushing up those thingamajigs with spiked teeth luring the unsuspecting in for a snack."

Vergil dripped a frigidly caustic, "You are too kind."

"Don't mention it," Dante absently returned with an off handed wave without removing his attention from the scene before them.

"When he returned from his chambers, he was a changed man. His visage alight with divine insight, he proclaimed this was a sign the younger son had embraced his destiny and graciously accepted the gift while insisting she become part of the inner circle. This is how she gained his trust. Shocked, when I asked him most humbly why he allowed such a woman into his confidence without commanding her to clothe herself in uniform as is proper, he explained the only way a full devil could acquire the sword was through the consent of Lord Dante."

Pausing, Marcus thought a moment before saying, "I will admit I was amazed to learn Gloria's nature since she looked human. I voiced my reservations, which happened to the same as Credo's, yet unlike Credo, His Holiness chose to enlighten me. He told me a devil's sense of modesty is not the same as humans. They are comfortable displaying their bodies. Take this other she-devil for example." He pointed to Lady.

Frowning, Lady heard Vergil's sly, "Apparently you give devils a run for their money in getting your money's worth. Care to retract your previous comments on my devilish nature in lieu of the comment directed at you?"

"Ha. Ha. Very funny. We'll see who laughs last. I enjoy a good run for my money. Do you need a head start, or should I go for broke starting now?" she replied sweetly.

Vergil didn't get a chance to send an answer as Nero laughed at Marcus, "That's a human woman cheesebrain. Can't you tell the difference? Some apprentice you were. I bet Sanctus had to speak in simple two syllable words while spelling out your lessons in blocked letters."

Confusion appeared over Marcus as he stumbled, "But... But I don't get it. Why would the second son of Sparda choose a pure human woman if this female devil threatened violence against him or any he chose?"

Then he concluded, "Oh, I get it. He was pretending. It's actually you gathering together female supplicants. Do you think to persuade the true devil to your side although she has sought Lord Dante's attention? I can only suppose he hasn't chosen her, or cast her out if she had been, because she hadn't proven her loyalty to his satisfaction."

Rolling his eyes along with Trish and Dante, Nero huffed, "Oh man, are you stupid or what? You may think you have a clue about demons, but you don't know squat. What gave you the idea I'd wanna be a gross demon Master? Oh. Yeah. Let me guess. The bastard who took over after Sanctus."

In disgruntlement, Dante muttered, "I knew it," to which Vergil inquired, "Knew what?"

Leaning toward him, he explained, "Trish struck a pose striking me dumb when I finally got my chance at seeing her new style. Once I unswallowed my tongue, I got the joke. I just knew if Dad walked into that, ugh, church, nobody would know him on sight."

"I do not understand," Vergil admitted.

Gesturing, Dante elaborated, "You know. The bobbed white hair, wild blue eyes, and for laughs she added feathers on her shoulders pretending she wanted to be an angel while having a 'devil's tail', etc. Get me now?"

Coming alert, he heard Vergil observe, "Yes. Obviously you are right in thinking this, however, including this Sanctus person, others obviously did as they came after you and enslaved me."

Ack! Dante did not want Vergil connecting any dots in that direction and leaped to change the course of the subject. "I'd say it's more like the guys in charge wanted to keep Dad's likeness and the awareness of us under wraps for reasons you know."

Nodding Vergil agreed, "Quite. Revolting, really. Asinine ambitions do conceal the truth while revealing only enough to make others do their bidding."

Drily, Dante pointed out, "If anyone would know, it'd be you."

Succumbing to her silent command, Marcus told Trish proudly, "I had the distinct honor of being chosen by His Holiness, along with other handpicked recruits, to serve him in his wondrous quest. He proclaimed we were carefully selected because we'd be the best at embracing his teachings."

You mean by being mediocre malleable sheep, don't ya? Dante corrected.

"He wished to share his secrets with those who would follow him in bringing his full vision to life. Humbly honored to be part of this exclusive circle, we swore an oath giving our souls and unconditional devotion to him."

Souls? Black magic required soul energy often mixed with a blood sacrifice to be effective and Dante, Vergil, Trish and Lady knew this. More importantly to Dante was the question of whom or what the mentor's mentor had been.

A strong intuition told him they hadn't been the regular run of the mill practitioner. His bet was on demonic forces as the obvious choice in running this depraved school of education. If that was the case, Dante figured it's doors would be shut when they destroyed this little fiefdom of Hell. One problem solved - let's hope.

But Dante did want to know how deep and far this consorting and communing with the enemy went, as did Trish as she continued her questions. "Others? Where are they now? I thought Credo was in charge of the Knights."

Marcus answered bitterly, "After our Savior fell, I was the last left alive. As for Credo, his Holiness offered him the position of Supreme General if he would aid him. Seizing the opportunity to become an active participant fulfilling His Holiness' dream, during our training, Credo gauged the most suited recruits to become His Holiness' disciples."

Releasing Nero, feeling tainted by her brother's actions, Kyrie flattened herself against the wall and closed her eyes as he went on in reverence, "As our superlative leader, Credo chose to become the first Angel before allowing any others to go through a potentially dangerous process."

Almost wincing, this was what Nero hadn't wanted uncovered. Feeling her sorrow as if it was his own, he tried to comfort her, "I'm sorry, Kyrie."

"There's nothing for you to be sorry about Nero and don't ever think so," she fiercely replied as his contrasting wholesomeness whirled through her - washing away the coating feeling of defilement.

Taken aback by her furor and surety, Nero asked,"What do you mean Kyrie? What are you saying?"

Sighing sadly, she projected, "Ever since our parents died, Credo was consumed with sustaining the memory of them. You know this. He wanted to be like our father and in his ambitions, fell for Sanctus' promises and lies. I know you stayed because of me, but I think, in staying, you also helped Credo from falling too deeply into his trap. You planted seeds of what was right and wrong through your discussions with him."

With a slight grin, Nero teased, "Don't ya mean our arguments or fights?"

A light smile crossed her features as she laughed a little, "If I remember correctly, you two called them debates." Then she added soberly, "You see Nero, Credo may have betrayed you by unfairly calling you a traitor but I don't think he would've been so quick to try and save us when he saw how far Sanctus was willing to go to capture you. Do you understand?"

Nero did and sincerely hoped Kyrie was right. While he didn't think he'd made that much of a difference, he'd be grateful if he'd helped someway, somehow. What he heard next made him believe her more as Trish/Gloria prompted, "Why wasn't Nero chosen to be part of your little band of followers? I would have thought his closeness with Credo would make him a candidate."

"Nero," Marcus scoffed, "You know his reputation. Besides, Credo always stood up for him, saying he was our best tracker, a skilled warrior and dedicated to the Order. He said he was a good man to have your back and always got the job done, no matter how difficult the assignment. So what if he had a bad attitude, smart mouth and disdain toward the Church? This is why Credo wasn't invited to our ceremonies. Sanctus explained he was too military minded and held Agnus in disgust, though it was through his research he became an Angel."

Nero agreed with Credo. Killing him with the idea of cutting off his arm to "examine" had been disgusting enough without all the other stuff he'd seen. Nice to know he hadn't been the only one who found the crazy psycho repulsive. Even Sanctus had the brains to keep him out of sight in the basement where monsters belonged.

Then Marcus said something that completely rocked Nero's world. He aggressively protested, "You don't understand. Don't you remember how Nero's arm conveniently changed?" He sneered, "Or was supposedly 'injured' in the weeks after you gave us Sparda's sword? You probably don't know this but around that time we invoked a mighty ceremony calling the sword's power forth."

Eyes suddenly blazing orange flames, Trish dropped her disguise and hoisted Marcus up by his throat. Her nails digging into the soft tissue, he choked with clawing fingers at hers. Fiercely she spoke with menace under her melodious tone, "Do you not mean a blood rite calling forth the darkness? How demonic of you. From what I can tell, for a human holy man, your beloved Sanctus certainly savored ritual killings of innocents to gain a so called benevolent 'Savior' and peaceful world. You disgust me."

Under her ferocity , Dante heard her sorrow. "Why so sad Trish? "

She revealed on a tight band, "This is my fault Dante. I am supposed to protect the humans. In handing over the sword, although I sensed the ambition within Sanctus which I took as a sign he was a zealot, I failed to take into account what I am sure are poor young men's senseless deaths. I couldn't conceive of a holy man doing something so foul no matter how skewed. In this case, to complete his plan he wanted the sword to completely reclaim its demonic heritage. I wish to rip this one's throat out."

Soothingly he reached out, "Darling don't put this on your shoulders. There's not much sense in most religions I can discern and you shouldn't think you should've guessed the actions of a warped mind behind a bizarre cult. Nothing has caused more carnage and destruction than these so called peaceful, spread the word, religions. Why do ya think I avoid church like the plague?"

Despite herself, Trish internally laughed at him without loosening her grip, "Because you hate anyone telling you what to think or do. And let's not forget lecturing. You hate what you call boring preaching making a sheep assembly line. Not all churches are bad, you know. They do a lot of good. I've seen it."

Relieved, Dante sent back, "There you go. This was a small cult so how were you to know how bad things were behind the scenes, even from behind the scenes where you were? This seems like a nest for a multi-headed snake, dearest. Now don't kill the filthy rat in your hand. You might catch something like rabies if he bites. Leave him to Nero to bring him to human justice as part of the, uck, Order."

However, what Dante couldn't know was Kyrie had seen through Marcus' eyes and had felt his gloating obscene thrill as a young man just out of the academy was lead unknowingly to his death.

The boy was dressed in white and Marcus relished the moments he had gone from wide-eyed awe to wide-eyed confusion to shock then pain filled horror as his throat was cut from behind. A scarlet fountain erupted - drenching the greatest demonic sword in existence. Kyrie couldn't get the image of the white tunic turned dark red out of her mind.

The puzzling part to Marcus (and she could feel he felt just that callous as the naive youth fell forward with his hands pressing the hideous slash gushing out his life before he had a chance to really live) was Sparda's sword refused the offering. It's purpose was in triumphantly killing demons - not hungering for human pain, despair and blood.

The disciples were shocked whereas Sanctus was furious the sword refused to absorb the precious liquid. Imperative to his plan, the sword had to remember its demonic roots and that meant it had to drink in the life force of a human versus a demon. Determined he would not fail, Sanctus began a demonic chant demanding the sword bend to his will by accepting this diabolical drink from the purest of hearts.

Sharing this scene with Nero, forgetting herself, Kyrie gave a small cry she tried to swallow and burrowed even deeper into him as she whispered in his mind, " Aaron. They killed sweet Aaron for their foul means. Horrible. Bestial."

Nero's eyes flashed red as he vividly remembered the kid's excitement upon graduating and pride in becoming a Knight. Recalling how amusingly impatient he had been with him as he followed him around asking a million questions, he fought everything inside him demanding he rip this piece of filth apart.

Ignoring Marcus' precarious circumstances within Trish's tender administrations, Kyrie exclaimed almost tearfully, "Will you stop talking about Nero's heritage and destiny? Sanctus lured his victim in like spider does a fly. You murdered for supposed grandiose purposes to your mind which were actually sick and grotesques. You know you did and have no remorse as any person with an ounce of compassion would. You're the real devil here - not Nero. How dare you suggest your disgusting ritual had anything to with him?"

Lips abruptly harshly compressed, Nero paled. Blocks of memories began rapidly arranging themselves into a movie with a story he didn't want to see.

Walking patrol during the time under discussion, he'd come across a hot spot his mother had warned him against. Although he remembered his mom as if through a fog, there were moments when the fog bank opened and he got glimpses of lucid clarity. And one of those moments was when she told him to stay away from anything to do with the black arts and those who practiced them.

Nevertheless, Nero couldn't simply ignore summons of diabolical power or whatever. His job was to put down demons and he figured stopping anyone from trying to bring them to the surface fit the job description. Able to sense dark forces at work, he was fast at breaking in on a ritual in progress and destroying any means allowing the persons involved to finish their project.

Cutting a large swath through that particular community, he'd been disturbed and puzzled when he'd noticed rising streams of blackness flowing throughout the city. Moreover, aspects of this darkness felt different from the norm. Like Vergil, Nero avoided certain areas as his sixth sense warned him away with his mother's voice ringing in his mind, shooting him into retreating survival mode.

He would never forget the pitch black night that changed him and his life forever. It came about a week before Dante's dramatic entrance when he accidentally stumbled into one of these wickedly swirling vortexes. Hearing chanting, he had moved to investigate only to be caught in an entangling snare he sensed too late.

With what he now knew was the devil inside howling in terror and raging denial, his human half hadn't been too cool either as he was forcibly propelled forward by an unseen force. Digging his heels into the ground for all he was worth while grabbing hold of a sturdy metal rod fence, he'd been able to make out a spooky building through shrouding trees and the darkness with candles burning in the windows.

This was where the chanting and greedily malicious power had been emanating from. And it seemed to Nero its hunger was for the second part of him as it ferociously fought answering the call aimed specially for it.

The chanting had become louder until it became a steady drumbeat in his head while a male voice intoned he needed more power from an obviously magical object he was commanding. Nero figured the guy had the right idea as both his hands began to slip until he was precariously gripping the metal with only one.

With every cell shrieking a code red danger ahead, he tried thinking through the panicked fear but couldn't. Losing the battle as his body rose vertically in the air, he prayed for a miracle to save him from whatever evil thing lay in wait.

As if hearing his mental pleas, a masking presence swept over him. The energy felt familiar from a long ago memory as it hovered around him - assessing his dilemma. Suddenly, before Nero had a chance to brace himself, the warm force sank into him.

A searing agony built in his right forearm as his coat shredded and skin peeled back, transforming into an incredibly powerful demonic replacement. The anguish was so intense his scream couldn't burst forth as it echoed throughout his entire being. From a distance in that ocean of pain, he discovered he couldn't open his rapidly changing, effervescent hand as the metal bar began to bend in order to grab another.

Thankfully the metal held and the power flowing in him paused as it seemed to feel its extreme affliction on him. Shockingly, though his arm continued its transformation, he felt relief as a coolness eased the lava rocketing through his veins.

Once the change was complete, he got the impression of regret mixed with pride before the powerful energy was forced out of him - swirling in a jerking motion back from where it came. He had the feeling it could no longer hold out against that awful call and demand.

Unaccountably hoping he hadn't been the cause of draining the energy's strength when it stopped to help him, he internally cried out at the sight of his arm and hand. Once the summoning ceased, he had been on his feet, streaking away from the area toward home, all the while planning how to hide from Kyrie and Credo. He had also prayed he would return to normal with a sinking feeling that wasn't going to happen.

Now he went sheet white as he re-experienced the sensation of that night he always pushed aside whenever it snuck into his mind. After everything, Nero came to the disturbing realization he had been trans-mutated by the power of Sparda as it utilized his devil half. It must have come from the sword as it fought to free itself from Sanctus' command to which it eventually succumbed.

Instinctively he knew this was why he had a devil avatar instead of a devil form. He didn't need one - his demon was already visible and attached. By Nero's reasoning, his Devil Arm was a replacement for a sword belonging to him from Sparda as surely as Rebellion belonged to Dante and Yamato belonged to Vergil.

Son of a bitch. No. Make that son of a Hellspawn bitch.

And Dante had to know. He had to.

In his mind's eye he saw the intense concentration and implacable resolve on Dante's face when they first fought. He'd deliberately, viciously, slapped the sword he was using from his fist before making a blurring straight stab attack. Once he made contact and felt the explosive connection decimating rows of pews, he'd nodded as if confirming something he suspected. Only then did he speak as if Nero had become worth the effort.

There had also been the incident with Yamato. Stabbed through the heart by Agnus, his devil's arm became totally alive as he died. Feeling this, Yamato too must've connected with me in an even bigger detonation blast - simultaneously in sync with my Devil's awakening, Nero accurately theorized.

(As soon as he regained his balance, Dante was a dead man for not telling him.)

Triple son of a bitch. His arm hadn't flashed at Dante's entrance because he was in furious killing mode, but in greeting. This was why Nero hadn't attacked. He had always wondered why he hadn't felt the need to until he thought Kyrie threatened. He had always put his baffling actions down to needing her safe.

The very, very worst part was in remembering, Nero recognized the touch of his parents, especially his father, in the power that changed his life forever. An image vividly arose of his father looking a lot like Dante and Vergil bouncing him in his arms with his dark haired mother fondly tousling his hair.

A grown man, Nero became a child as his father, a father he hadn't been able to picture before, smiled proudly at him while saying, "Our son Miriam. Such a miracle. And he is. A miracle. I have no regrets. Although our son, Sparda's potency flows through him. I believe in your foresight. It is a relief when we are gone he will never be alone. You'll ensure a home for him while he has two brothers who will aid him in his time of need. He is strong with your temperament and my eyes."

While his mother gave his laughing father a mock scolding as they faded, a horrified Nero savagely yelled out of the blue to the room at large, "No way! There is no way. You're not my father and I do not have brothers. None! I'm imagining things and have it wrong - I have to."

Everyone staring at him in astonishment with a gasp from Kyrie, he stepped away from her while glaring dire punishment and dismemberment in Dante's direction as his hand glowed a blinding bright burning yellow.

Both Dante and Vergil straightened while thinking in growing alarm at the same time, WHAT?