I’ve always felt that hospitals have such an eerie atmosphere. Such a sterile environment presented by these white walls. What a paradox. An inhumane facility dedicated to care. I find myself fascinated by the place. I’ve been here for six weeks now. After my brushes with death in my youth I know my body will not go on much longer. I simply ask for forgiveness for the sins I have committed. Make no mistake, I do not ask for forgiveness from a god or masses. I ask for forgiveness from myself, and from him.
“Azrale! Azrale! Azrale!”
“Soon people will chant my name in the streets. Some will be afraid, some will be relieved. That was my dream. I wanted to change the world; I wanted people to know who I was. So why is it that I am ignored, despite my efforts?”
Looking back now, Azrale realized how naïve he was when he was young. He was unknowing of the truth. Now he knew what he really was – he was just a number, a statistic. The government doesn’t see people. They don’t see wives, husband sons or daughters. They only see a number. If they lose 1000 troops in a war it’s a fraction of their power not men. Of course it isn’t just the government that is at fault. He was going to help them. They needed to realise that people aren’t numbers and he was the perfect person to show them. He was looking forward to what they were going to do. He leaned back in his chair. He wanted the time he had left to be brilliant, because soon he was going to lead the world to the future. To leave the world with a dazzling lightshow and hear them slowly whisper in awe, “Azrale.”
Another man sat with his feet on the desk. He tried to slowly organise his thoughts. After becoming a detective, he had seen a lot, however, the case was different this time. Other officers had told him not to worry; this was just another homicide case. Justin disagreed. The body had equations carved into it all over the skin. It was sickening yet intriguing at the same time. Why was it done? Every time he came close to being calm he remembered the body. He was trying to figure it out. There was something about it that didn’t add up. They had found the body of 26-year-old Haruko Wakahiso, a Japanese businessman who had moved here year ago. We had concluded that he hadn’t been seen outside for almost the entirety of that time, staying inside his apartment for the entirety of the year. Haruko had managed to do that by working at home and having items delivered to his house. Even online there were no examples of instances where he interacted with other people. We only found his body after an anonymous tip. Of course the anonymous tip was most likely given by the perpetrator. After all, the videocassette left there made it seem like he was challenging us. Unfortunately it’s difficult to track a payphone. However, one problem still puzzles Justin; a man with such a high intelligence could be dangerous depending on what he does with it.
Meanwhile, Azrale was trying to figure out his own problem. If he wanted his legacy to be told for centuries then it needed to be interesting. And unfortunately there was currently no evil to combat his righteousness. He needed to find one strong rival he could beat even himself. He knew that despite what he said, he wasn’t doing this to stop IMS. He was doing this to become a legend. Forever praised, loved and adored. Now, most importantly, to do that he had an overall goal and evil to defeat but a rival was needed drastically. How could he acquire one? Perhaps by provocation. He turned to his computer. He who could hack any government would not be troubled by one police station. He never knew where his rival would appear. First he needed to think of a message. Once it was in his mind he broadcast it to the station.
“Hello Officers. I am the person who sent you your anonymous tip. I am also the person who killed Haruko Wakahiso. His death was duly deserved for his crimes. I would like to inform you that I shall be taking care of the entirety of IMS. I wish to know if you are with me or against me. I will soon have the masses know of my intent. The world shall know of their saviour, I shall rescue it from its own ignorance. To those who fear me, love me, fight me and ally with me. Call me Azrale.”
The police station was in an uproar. What kind of person were they up against? How was he able to hack into the station? Whilst others tried to figure out how he had hacked in, Justin was thinking. Whilst to others he seemed to be calmly sitting on his chair, his inner thoughts were frantic.
“First and foremost was the fact that Azrale was a person who was confident, yet also intelligent. Given the fact that he hacked into the station for this small message suggested two theories: the hacking was simple for him, or he found this message of importance. Of course it is also possible that both theories are true. But why would the message be important, what purpose does it serve? What has the message done? It has provoked a reaction from the police, but why would he want this result? Clearly if he was that intelligent he would have used better words. He could be delusional in some way; no it is almost certain considering that he felt killing Haruko would result in him being a saviour. This means that he is either only knowledgeable in hacking, or wanted this message for a specific purpose. Also how would a man like Haruko be involved with any company of any sort? He did nothing but stay in his apartment for the entirety of his life. Wait, if he was only knowledgeable in hacking, how was he able to kill Haruko? The department contacted a mathematician who discovered that the mathematics used were incredibly advanced and the mathematician also believed that the equations on the body may provide the answer to Hilbert’s 16th problem. So clearly he has other strengths besides hacking, but he may simply be bad with people. What if he wanted to provoke us? Why would he want to? Wait, he himself states that people will fight him. He seems to desire that outcome. Does he want to fight? Why? He finds himself self-important, and wants everyone to know of his so-called heroics. What does Azrale want? Azrale. Azrale. I’ve heard it before.”
Another officer interrupted Justin’s reverie. “Sorry, Sir, we’ve been trying to track his I.P. but it takes us to the middle of the Pacific Ocean. We’ve also been trying to find out what IMS might mean. We think the most logical solution would be international militia sciences. However we’ve been completely unable to access any information about it. It requires very high status. A normal person wouldn’t be able to find out it even exists.”
“It seems we’re dealing with somebody very competent.”
“We also believe that he has already given his message to the masses like he was proclaiming.
“Sorry Sir, forgot you don’t have a mobile,” he said, whilst fishing his phone out of his pocket. “Here. We believe the following message was sent to every mobile phone.”
The walk to the area had taken 138 seconds. This time Azrale was quite certain that everything would once again go to plan. He blended in with the many pedestrians walking on the street. He saw the jet black hair and blue eyes that he had been looking for. He smiled and watched his prey. Watching his eyes warily rest on those around him was enjoyable. That such a powerful man would be frightened. Azrale felt incredible whilst following his target. Like a golden dart frog, he was completely unnoticeable. However much like the golden dart frog, he was easily able to kill ten people. Joseph was the name of his target. Slowly working towards his chance. He realized something then and there. Joseph was continuously looking towards two people who were walking close to him. Those two also seemed to be following Joseph. It was possible that another group may be trying to harm Joseph. However, given the personality profile of Joseph he had received from his investigation, it was more likely that they were protecting him. What was important was whether they were hired thugs or whether the police had decided to stand against him. Weighing the pros against the cons, he decided to kill all protectors. He needed to prove that he was sane. He brought out the arsenic.
Justin felt he had lucked out when a member of the organisation came to him seeking protection. It seemed they had a found a man connected to IMS, however, he said he wouldn’t talk to them about the organisation until Azrale was killed. Who was this man? He was clearly intelligent, but in how many fields? He seemed to specialise in technology but also showed skill with mathematics. Thanks to Joseph the department also found out that two poisonings had occurred already to two women involved with IMS. So whilst not yet displaying the same skill with poisons as shown with tech and maths, he clearly had some knowledge. Fellow officers pointing out a man who had been following them for a noticeable time interrupted his thoughts. In an attempt to see if he was following Joseph, they asked Joseph to turn into an alley. However nothing happened for 5 minutes. The other officers were thankful but at the same time boredom was beginning to set in. Many were new and were expecting more excitement. Meanwhile Joseph was hoping to hurry back to his apartment, however, the overall tiredness of the group resulted in the group resting for a few minutes.
Justin loved this city. The look and the smell. He could smell the fresh bread of the baker, meat from the butchers and a slight taint of fish. Odd – where could the garlic be coming from? One look at his fellow officers told him what was happening. It was arsenic and he hadn’t noticed!
Azrale slowly watched the officers and Joseph. He had realised they were police after the procedure they proceeded with. It was strange, instead of happy or excited he only felt upset as they died so easily. For people to be so frail, yet they still decide to evolve their weapons. Now that the police were involved he had to instead move with plan 244. The arsenic should now be slowly killing them whilst they are too tired to move. However to his surprise he witnessed one officer get out. Fascinating. To find a soul so resilient to death. It only made him more determined to reap this spirit. He drew his knife and began to advance slowly. He had already equipped a gas mask. The officer had noticed him. He fell to his knees. Strength giving out from under them.
“So has the angel of death decided to claim my soul?”
He spat the phrase out. Azrale was surprised. He had realised who he was masquerading as; with his cover gone he felt scared. With that fear came a welcome feeling. Excitement. The thrill of what he was doing had come back. He couldn’t kill this man. Not yet.
“Who are you?”
“My name was Justin.”
“Speaking in past tense already? What a sense of humor, going into the police force with a name meaning justice.”
“You seem rather scared, is it possible that under his mask Azrale is just a scared man?”
“To look at death and jeer, you are just what I’ve been looking for.”
“What have you been looking for?”
“Perhaps I have misjudged your intelligence.”
“I’m afraid I wasn’t sure how you wanted me to answer. Of course I know what you’re looking for.”
“It’s not nice to be vague, Justin.”
“You want to create a show. A spectacle so large that even if you lose, your message will be received. However that requires a villain or foe to play against you. Which is why you’re going to save my life, and then I’m going to kill you.”
“You talk as if your life isn’t in the palm of my hand right now.”
“You talk as though your show is.”
“It seems I was right when choosing you.”
“Then if you could give me the anti-venom now…”
“Sorry, but the stage still needs to be set. So in this needle is the pure anti-venom. However in this needle there is the anti-venom along with a drug that will keep you unconscious for four days. Choose your anti-venom.”
Azrale presented two antivenoms.
“It’s likely that there probably is one of each of the anti-venoms there considering your thirst for excitement. The question is whether you are telling the truth or lying. In this situation most people would think that you are lying, knowing that it’s likely you could be telling the truth, but you would also know that, so it’s likely for you to be lying and so it would continue. Thus the correct answer would be to pick any as they both have the same possibility. Thus I shall pick both.”
“Simple. There’s a chance that the drug will only knock me out for four days in that concentration. Thus if I add more anti-venom it may be less affective. Also if too much of the anti-venom is deadly I wouldn’t have to worry about it because you can’t kill me yet.”
“Thus your choice is made. Here.”
“Azrale, I will kill you.”
“And I you.”
Justin had been out for six days. It seemed his gamble had paid off badly. Even worse, he had woken up to find that Azrale had managed to kill seven targets whilst he was asleep. There were also eleven casualties who weren’t associated with IMS. People were clamouring for answers that the department couldn’t give. He had managed to gain information about Azrale but there still wasn’t enough. The most important thing was that they still had no idea what IMS was. However he had a way to acquire it. Now that this was becoming a national incident it would be a lot easier to get the information about IMS. However it seems that even now his colleagues were unable to access it. It seemed that if he wanted the information he would need to use a different method. It should be easy enough. Azrale probably already knows that he’s awake, so he just needs to use that to his advantage. The easiest thing to do would be to find out where Azrale had found the information. He had most likely hacked it, but he would need a reason to hack it. No, first he needed to find out who Azrale was. Justin was certain that the information about IMS would soon be available.
Azrale was feeling brilliant. Today was the day Justin would finally wake up and return to where he belonged. He needed to start setting everything up for the final scene. Slowly moving everything into place. An egg needs to crack for an omelet to be made. Many eggs had been cracked to create the atmosphere currently surrounding people. An atmosphere where people whisper, people wonder and people see the truth. He can hear his name being whispered down the streets. However, right now, he’s presented as a villain. There is an easy way to change it. Justin, whilst his foe, also has a strong sense of justice. If he found out he would make the information freely available. Simple.
Justin had finally found a person who matched. It was rather easy considering there are few people who have the ability to be Azrale, considering the mastery he has showcased thus far. He checked his email and finally the awaited message was here. It was obvious that Azrale’s next course of action would be to reveal what IMS is. His preferred method would most likely be to use Justin. He opened it and clicked the first link of five. It was a video. A woman began talking.
“Now this is what I’ve found. It’s pretty disturbing. IMS stands for international militia sciences. It’s an organisation that constructs weapons. It’s kind of like the illuminati of the weapons industry. At least that’s how they were previously. Now they just invent weapons, however, when buying weapons like the ones they’re selling you would want proof of the capabilities. They perform human testing and every leader has a blind eye. From what I understand it’s gas, missiles, guns. They get their subjects from people who are in massive amounts of debt. You know, like a million in debt – they are forced to sell their own lives to these people. It’s marketed with a chance of survival, but there’s not a known survivor.”
So this is what IMS is. He looked at the following links. The next two provided extensive proof about the existence of IMS, the third a list of deals they had partaken in and the final listed possible victims. It numbered just over a thousand. Effective for a company that had been created recently.
Azrale was now overjoyed. After the information as to what IMS actually was had been released, he had become a hero. Somebody who stood for justice. It was brilliant. However he would still be in trouble if he was caught. He couldn’t allow that to happen. The show was just about to reach its climax, and for that it needed a thrilling confrontation or perhaps a race. Wait. Azrale was being foolish – after all this would not only affect him. He called Justin.
“Hello my rival.”
“Azrale it’s been a while.”
“So have you joined me?”
“I’m afraid not. IMS is one of the worst things I’ve ever heard of. However if I stop now I wouldn’t just be betraying you but also myself.”
“I’ve worked hard on setting the stage.”
“So now is the time for our confrontation, I take it.”
“Actually I wanted to ask you a question. Would you rather a duel or a race? Which should decide our fates?”
“I’d like it to be something that represents both of us.”
“I have an idea already. I’ll send someone to pick you up later.”
Justin weighed the options. If he said yes it was against every code and rule of society he had been taught. Most would think that Azrale had a surefire plan, but he knew. Azrale wouldn’t find a thrill in that. If he suggested it like this then Azrale felt either side had a chance of winning. He grinned, here he was trusting the insane serial killer.
“Yes, I accept.”
The phone went dead. Now all that was left was to see what Azrale would do.
Justin had done it. This was going to be so very interesting. He had a feeling things were going to get interesting very quickly. He dealt his cards out. He had his own sayings for the cards. He had never been wrong so far, after his own interpretation of the cards. The king of hearts. The king represented a person much like himself. The dagger represented the death of one of them. How excellent that a confrontation should come so soon. Now all that was left was to see what Justin would do.
A limousine appeared outside his house at midnight. He got in with little hesitation and waited. The driver seemed surprised but continued. He didn’t have weapons or a plan. He was counting solely on the fact that Azrale would present something where both had an equal chance. The limo finally stopped. He got out and it drove on. He was outside an apartment complex. He walked up the stairs until he reached the second last level. He then entered the second apartment on the third floor. It was unlocked. In it stood Ingall Angelo.
“So, you did know who I was.”
“It was rather simple to figure out; few others have as many credentials as you and Azrale.”
“I am the messenger of God.”
“Funny, I’m an atheist.”
“Are you ready?”
“It’s fine. I’m good to go. So what did you prepare?”
“Here are three pistols, two have been tampered with. One won’t fire at all. The other will explode, fatally wounding the user and, of course, the third will fire normally.”
“Seems self explanatory.”
This was it. The end of the story. He picked up a pistol.
He picked up another. They stood a suitable distance away.
Both prepared to pull the trigger.
“You know you might be completely insane, but I like ya. We should’ve met under different circumstances.”
“It is fate that brought us here to this moment.”
“Fate huh? I don’t like the thought of fate, it’s just another tool we created to ease our minds.”
“Are you confident in your choice?”
“If I was I wouldn’t be talking would I?”
“How about on the count of three?”
“Seems rather childish.”
A shot and explosion rang out.