Luke and Eva were sitting in their private compartment on the train that was taking them directly to Fortuna.
"So, some hot chick attacked you?" Luke commented, slouching back in his seat, his feet up on the chair beside Eva. "If I knew that book stores were that fun I'd go more often."
Eva tolled her eyes. "Shut up, Luke."
"You got to go out yesterday, even though we're meant to be grounded." Luke pointed out.
"I was helping Uncle Michael." Eva tossed her head huffily.
"Jeez. Don't get stressed at me because your boyfriend dumped you."
Eva blasted him with a glare. "He was not my boyfriend, because we never went on a date because you decided to sneak out and get us in trouble again."
Luke chuckled. "Like I said, nobody told you to go."
Eva stared out the window, unwilling to dignify him with any kind of response, or go through this loop again. "Whatever."
They sat in sullen silence, with Luke tapping his feet beside her in an attempt to annoy her. When that didn't work he started to hum … and when that failed he started to whistle.
"Luke … if you don't shut up … I'm going to separate you from your ball sack … assuming I can find the bald patch it's located first." Eva warned.
In response, he whistled louder, and was rewarded by a sword through his middle just as the conductor was walking in to check their tickets, who stared wide eyed at the gory scene before him, his eyes rolling into the back of his head and he passed out.
"You missed." Luke said, laughing. "And killed the conductor. Was that part of your well thought out, without fault plan, like always, sis ...?"
Michael was sifting through the library in Fortuna, where Nero had agreed to keep him for his protection. Michael had helped considerably with The Order in getting them a branch over in Europe and until they had found a facility big enough had lent them the Whitchurch Estate.
In return, Nero tipped him off about any Angelic Arms he heard about and was more than happy to help him out when he heard that an attempt had been made on his life by some mysterious assassin.
Selene was over the far side of the library with Lady (who Nero suspected liked Michael because she came rushing over the instant she heard he had been in danger) while Nero was with him helping out in whatever way he could.
"So ... she didn't say what demon or why?" Nero said, going through the book in front of him.
Michael shook his head. "There was something ... odd. She felt like a demon but ... not quite. She said it was just business."
Nero sighed. Things had seemed to be going well for the last seventeen years. They'd steadily been breaking through the ranks of hell, and had managed to slip into Europe to begin work there. They'd taken down demon lord after demon lord.
"Damn ... you don't think it has anything to do with what happened over seventeen years ago ... do you?" Nero said, snapping shut the book.
"I couldn't say. I didn't find the book I was looking for either." Michael closed the book and was reaching for another.
"What about your father or Isaac?" Nero suggested.
"They're still researching some way to bring back Celestia and return her at the very least to the human world. They've been gone for over a month now. They have, however, made it a point to be back for the twin's birthday. They always do."
"That's not until next month."
Michael nodded grimly. He was not unused to his life being sought after, he had lived through it with his sister for most of his life, but it had been nice to be able to rest for the past fifteen years. He knew, however, that these things did not always last.
Nero glanced behind him to see Lady stealing a worried glance at Michael before turning away.
"Can I ask you something?" Nero said, smiling.
"You and Lady have been spending a lot of time together lately."
Michael chuckled lightly. "I've been helping her in her jobs. She's quite admirable. And I ... I rather like her eyes."
Nero stifled a laugh. "Aren't you the perfect gentleman ..."
Michael didn't seem to catch his drift and so just nodded.
"Michael!" Lady shouted, jumping down from the level above with a book in her hand. "I think I found something!"
Selene jumped down after her and the two men came towards her. Lady held open a page which showed a picture of two jewels and a white clad figure and a black clad figure.
"It says here that there are people called Umbra Witches ... it doesn't say much but it says that in exchange for the power they are born with, their soul belongs to the demons, and more specifically – one powerful demon. It can be one of many. They have to do their master's bidding, - which for the most part is slaying the divine." Lady explained. "They seem to have been wiped out eons ago."
"So perhaps that woman was an Umbra Witch." Nero rubbed at his Devil Bringer. "Just great. This is all we need."
Selene and Michael looked at one another. They had always known their angel blood got them some undesirable attention, but this was the worst so far.
"Don't worry, the knights of the Order will guard Michael. And so will I." Nero promised. "I owe you two my life more times than I care to remember."
"It's no more than you've done for us." Selene chipped in.
"Dante is going to love this." Lady said. "By the way ... where is he?"
"Oh. There was ... an incident on the train journey here." Selene phrased it so carefully all present were intrigued, but knew better than to question the matter.
Dante stared levelly at the blood that spattered the train seats, and the ambulance that had arrived to take away the passed out conductor, though the way he was babbling a padded cell would have been more fitting.
Luke was all healed, as was to be expected. Eva couldn't seem to meet her father's gaze knowing that this time she actually had done something wrong. Why did she let Luke rile her this much? She knew he went out of his way to do it and she should just ignore him.
"I see we're going to have lots of fun in Fortuna." Dante said flatly. "Come with me. Now. Any funny business and I'll take away all your weapons and you will never see a mission or a demon until you're both twenty-one."
The two gulped, blanching at the prospect. Even Eva who was much calmer than her brother relished hunting demons.
They followed him into Fortuna.
"What exactly happened ...?" Nero asked as he led Dante into his study, which had shown no signs of improvement at all in the last seventeen years, except for now it had pictures plastered on the wall that Hope had drawn when she was younger, and some she of amazing quality now she was older. Hope seemed to have a talent for drawing, despite the fact that the Devil Bringer she had inherited from her father that had appeared at a later age.
Dante, however, rather than looking angry or even perturbed by his children's behaviour was grinning and chuckling to himself. "Oh. Just playing a game me and your father used to play."
Nero, who had never really met Vergil, glowered. "What game was that?"
"I suppose you could call it a game of mercy. I used to irritate Vergil until he lost his temper ... and he usually ran me through with a sword." Dante grinned. "I always won."
Nero rolled his eyes. "I can imagine. There have been times I wanted to run you through with a blade myself."
Dante laughed. "I try my hardest to tell them off but all I keep thinking is how I was at their age. Then Selene tells me off for it, she says I can't encourage them." He sighed suddenly.
"What is it?"
"I just ... those two are just like Vergil and I ... but I'm worried that what happened to us will repeat with them." Dante propped his hip on the desk. "By the way, how is Hope doing?"
"Putting the guards through their paces, she has good control of her Devil Bringer ... but I feel guilty because it made making friends hard for her. Kids freak out when they see it." Nero smiled suddenly. "She's been dying to spar against Luke and Eva to test what she's learnt, the small fry that hand around here aren't enough for her anymore."
"It not exactly your fault that she has it." Dante pointed out.
"And it's not your fault that your kids are so like you and your brother." Nero countered.
Dante raised his hands in surrender. "Okay, kid. You got me." He kicked up and chair and sank into it. "So ... what's the deal with the woman who tried to kill Michael?"
Nero sank down the other side of the desk and explained what they had found so far before he asked: "Did your father mention anything about it?"
Dante shook his head. "As usual Dad was thoughtful enough not to mention it, the same as he never mentioned that angels were walking the earth and that Lucifer created the demons and that wonderful pact he made that caused us all grief." He folded his arms over his chest. "I want to find out who the demon is that holds her contract and I'll tear him apart with my bare hands."
"One step at a time, Dante." Nero warned.
Luke had his hands shoved into his pockets as he approached the busty young apprentice knight with blonde hair.
"Hey there, baby." He said and the girl turned. "I couldn't help but notice you, noticing me."
The girl blushed despite herself. "Oh. No I ..."
Luke grinned, and his green eyes locked back with hers. "Let's just cut to the chase, I can see you're a very busy girl. Meet me tonight for dinner."
The girl swallowed enthralled by his voice and his eyes. "Oh ... sure ... okay ..."
"And how about we seal our agreement with a kiss ...?" He leaned forwards and she was meeting him halfway –
A heavy smack around the back of his head and then a sharp pull at his ear wrenched him away from the stunned girl, and before he knew it Eva was dragging him away by his ear looking furious.
"I'll call you!" He shouted after the poor girl.
That earnt him a harder tug and he cried out in pain.
"Honestly, can't you think of a better way to use angelic charm than to score girls? You're such a pervert." Eva scolded.
"Let me go!" Luke protested.
"No way. We're to report to the training room and I'm not going to be late so you can smooth talk an apprentice knight with big boobs."
Luke grinned. "You noticed, huh?"
Eva ground her teeth together, pulling harder, feeling him thrash in her grip, and the other knights turned, stunned by the scene that hurtled by them of Eva dragging her brother behind her before throwing him into the training room like a bowling ball, causing him to tumble inside with much the same effect before slamming the door behind them.
Luke smacked against the wall in a crumpled heap. When he got to his feet, her grasped his sore ear. "Jeez. Is it that time of the month already ...?"
Just ignore him. Just ignore him. Just ignore him. Eva chanted in her head.
The two were saved by a trill of soft laughter and they turned to see Hope walking up to them. At seventeen she looked exactly like her father, and very similar to Eva. However, her eyes were large and kind, and despite her capacity in battle she was a gentle soul that only fought if she had to. She hadn't inherited her mother's singing voice but she was a talented artist.
She waved her Devil Bringer, like her fathers, it was blue and white and pulsed with light. It hadn't show up until she was eight, and when it did she lost a lot of friends because they were freaked out about it, but Luke and Eva never minded. Their family was off enough as it was, that kind of thing wouldn't make them bat an eyelid.
"Hey guys!" Hope greeted, her voice soft like Kyrie's.
Hope, unlike Eva, was pretty well developed with a curving figure and a pretty impressive chest size, while Eva was still somewhat flat and skinny even for her age, something Luke teased her about all the time.
"I see you managed to drag him along." Hope gave an awkward grin. "I want to try two against one."
This seemed to peak Luke's interest and he was drawing his sword, which was just a triggered blade like those used by the Order. On their birthday their parents were supposed to present them with a more substantial blade. They had used their parents Devil Arms and Angelic Arms, but hadn't been given any of their own.
Luke's was black with a mesh of ivory stripes, the blade he called Harlequin Knight. Eva's meanwhile was blue and white and was called Sapphire Princess. Hope was already shrugging off her long coat and standing ready.
The three had train together before, and now was no exception. They knew the drill. The twins tensed and then, their swords burned in an arc as they shot forwards. Hope stood her ground, waiting for just the right moment. In a fluid motion she swerved, her Devil Bringer gripping Eva's sword and her foot kicked out at Luke, jarring his blade aside. Then she ducked low and broke away from the two, readying for another volley. As she whirled between the two, swerving from the bite of their blades she felt a sense of exhilaration. The three were so caught up in their mock battle that they failed to notice that they had gained an audience.
Dante and Selene had slipped inside to make sure that Eva and Luke had done as asked and come to the training room.
"They work very well together ... even if they don't always get along." Selene said, but she caught Dante's apprehensive expression. "What is it?"
"Oh. Nothing." Dante lied.
"I know you. And I know when something is up. Spill."
"I've always been worried that the two of them would end up like me and Vergil. The closer it's gotten to the time when we give them their own weapons, the more competitive the two become and the more they argue. That's just how it was with me and my brother."
Selene set her hand on his shoulder. "They'll be fine. They obviously care a great deal about each other despite it all. Eva looks out for him, even though he drives her insane. Luke has looked out for her more times than I care to remember. One day they'd be fighting and them somebody would pick on her and he'd step up and become all serious."
"So was Vergil."
Selene fell silent and instead watched the two. "Hope is getting to be as good as Nero, isn't she?"
"I guess the kid hasn't been slacking off these past seventeen years." He conceded with a sigh, folding his arms behind his head.
"The Order has come along quite nicely too."
Dante nodded, but he was unable to fully shake the sense of concern that had been building the older his children got, and with every move they made he couldn't help but see himself and his twin in them, the way they behaved.
Bayonetta sat in the seedy bar in the furthest reaches of the city, inhabited only by the shadiest folk, most of which were not always quite human. She sat nursing her glass of whisky, glancing about at the demons and humans, neither all that different from one another, their hearts just as black.
Sitting beside her, barrelling into some obnoxious and loud conversation about work, and the ways of the city was Enzo, a cigar in his hand.
She sighed. "Enzo ... don't make me ask you again." She warned. "I called you here for information, not for your life story."
"What do you want to know?"
Enzo laughed. "Those fuckers? You kiddin' me?" Her expression indicated she obviously wasn't. "They're an army of demon hunters ... used to be led by some old bastard called Sanctus but it turned out the guy was trying to raise demons rather than kill them so he could be a messiah. So their current leader overthrew him with some help, I'm told, from the remaining son of Sparda. They go out of their way to confiscate any Devil Arms they find and lock them away. There are some rumours that their leader is also part demon himself."
"Yeah, and not only that, but he bears the blood of Sparda – who I might add was supposed to have acted as the feudal lord for that city millennia ago." Enzo laughed until he could barely breathe. "Funniest shit I ever heard."
"I suppose I should go and pay them a little visit. It does look like a pretty little city." She stood and Enzo rose with her, unwilling to stay behind alone in this dive. They went their separate ways, he to his car, and she down the winding smoky streets. She stopped at an alleyway, pausing to take out a lollypop and set it in her mouth.
The shadows behind her writhed and darkened, stretching out until they formed the figure of slender man with one black eye and one red, hidden mostly by his cloak, which seemed attached to the shadows that writhed around him.
Bayonetta didn't even turn. "What do you want?"
"You're not skipping out on your mission I hope." The voice was deep yet smooth. "You remember our deal and what will happen if you don't do it, don't you? Your soul belongs to me."
Bayonetta waived absently. "Yes, yes. I'm getting to it. The whole group you wanted killing are all in Fortuna. I figured it would be more ... efficient ... to kill them all in one fell swoop rather than traipsing the continent. I will infiltrate tonight." She thought about mentioning the hybrid girl, but she was reluctant to gain any more targets to win her freedom, and she had been impressed with the young girls resolve. If she wasn't told she had to kill her, she wouldn't have to. She'd get over the death of her parents – she was a resilient little thing. "Is there anything else or were you just here to check up on me, Azazel?"
"Not at all. Just ensuring that you're ... motivated." Beneath his cloak a crescent of sharp point teeth split, glinting in the street light.
"I can manage that on my own." Bayonetta ensured the demon. "I appreciate the offer though."
The shadows crackled away leaving her alone.
Bayonetta started forwards, making her way towards Fortuna.