Mortals, angels and demons exist as the balance of the universe. Without darkness there would be no light, such as shadows define the features of the light one sees. If light and darkness were to disappear the mortals would also cease to exist. Mortals uniquely have the ability to choose either light or darkness to rule their lives. Though some straddle the fence, others choose immediately to follow the ways of the angels and guardians, or the demons and hellions that came before them. Still others are not given the right to choose and are thrown into a lifestyle completely void of the other way of life. All mortals have a guardian, whether an Elemengel or Hellion. The guardians thrive to protect their mortal no matter how innocent or sinful. These days most people do not believe in guardians. Recently, no one has ever seen one; therefore there is no evidence to suggest they ever existed. Nuns and monks who believe in such nonsense are ridiculed. Most people just believe in the wealth and power of the mortal man; the majority being irreligious and simply claiming to have a creed. The Dionne System has never seen such a struggle between the celestial beings and the twelve clans. The hellions greatly upset the balance. Perhaps a change is just a matter of time.
“Venus! Venus!” A tall, lean, but muscular man stood abruptly from his table searching for his now invisible daughter. “Where can that girl be?”
“I wouldn’t worry about it, Jupiter.” A slender young woman ran her hands through her chin length hair. “Venus is like a stray puppy, she will return when she’s hungry.”
“I guess you’re right.” Jupiter sat back down after adjusting the parasol to block more sun. “It sure is hot out here, Halo, are you sure you don’t want to eat inside?”
“No, I’m not use to being outside on a nice day. I rather enjoy it. Besides, we better not move so Venus can come straight back here.”
“I just don’t know where that girl could be.” Jupiter glanced about then back at Halo. “There are so many people out to murder me, they might take her hostage. I don’t know what I’d do if Mihos...”
“Please, don’t mention him unless you have to.” Halo stared sadly into her cup of tea. “You know better than anyone how hard Venus can punch, so please, can we get to business.”
Crouching from around the corner, Venus observed as they chatted away. She fiddled with her thick braid, watching her father laugh with Halo. “I wish mom was still here, she would show him a thing or two about flirting with another lady.” She pulled her braid around to the front of her face, and glanced thoughtfully as she ran her fingers along the bumps. She stood with the wall as support then began her daily stroll downtown. She enjoyed people watching, especially when people talked of their problems. She slid on the other side of a phone pole, eavesdropping on an upset little girl no older than Venus herself. She had the whitest skin Venus had ever seen. No one could be whiter. Two hair buns bound her long blue hair; her yellow eyes matched the sun.
“You wouldn’t believe it Phoenix, he said no... no to me! Can you believe that?!”
“I tried to tell you Io, all boys are no good.” Phoenix said.
“Yeah, I ought to kill him, and make him an example to other boys.”
“Wait now, you might end up on a wanted list yourself. You can take your frustration out on our next bounty!” The incredibly tall girl patted her little friend on the back and began walking her down the sidewalk when she noticed Venus crouched next to the pole. The girl couldn’t help, but smile down at the pretty little girl with pointed ears. She smiled and Venus smiled back revealing her large canines. “Come on Io, hop on we gotta get going.” She bent down for her little friend to jump on her back. They ran down the street together laughing the whole way.
“That was close.” Venus stood up scratching her scalp. “Those two were real bounty hunters. That’s so cool!” She bounded down the street grateful to have overheard such an interesting conversation.
Venus kicked a rock down the sidewalk, hardly paying attention to the passing people coming down the sidewalk. When her thinking ended, she glanced down an alley. Standing near an old tin trash can, chatted two boys. One of the boys looked so much like her she could not help but gawk. When he started to look around, she ducked and rolled next to the trash can, accidentally running into it. “What was that?” His friend asked.
“Nothing, you know how big the rats get here.” The boy said.
“Yeah.” The shorter one slicked up his hair and glared back at his friend. “So why is Mihos acting so strange lately?”
Mihos? Venus was certain she’d heard her father say that name before. “He’s acting happy... which I guess is a strange look for him. He thinks he has a fool proof plan for killing him. Not even you can get in the way, Dawn.”
“Hey! So, what is this big plan? It’s not going to be at the meeting in the park, is it?”
“Yeah, but it’s just a trick. Tonight in the central park, at around 11pm or so, he’s going to send a hit man to kill Jupiter.” Venus’s heart sunk in her chest; could it be her father? “That’s all I’ve overheard him say. I bet the real plan is more elaborate for the other leaders. You see, he wants to sit by and watch Jupiter die slowly.”
Venus took a deep breath trying to prevent tears from rushing out. The long haired boy turned around sharply to see if anyone watched. She moved out of view as they walked out of the alley. She darted from the alley, holding back her emotions as best she could.
Up the street, her father pecked Halo on the cheek, before he helped her into the limo. “Are you sure you don’t need a ride handsome?”
“No, no...” Jupiter flushed. “Venus doesn’t like seeing us together. That’s probably why she ran off. Good night.” Halo smiled then rolled up her tinted windows with just enough light from the lamppost for Jupiter to see his face in the reflection. He smiled and waved as she drove off, just as Venus came sprinting up. She collapsed forward, using the support of her thin legs to keep her standing. “Venus it’s great to see you’ve returned.” Venus glanced up, sniffing, whipping her dirty arm along her face. “Ah, honey, I told you not to run around without your coat.” He placed her jacket around her shoulders. He pulled her arm from her face then stuffed a tissue paper in her fist. “Don’t whip your nose with your arm. What did you do play in a trash can? You musta had fun today?”
She nodded, calming down as he took her hand and lead her down the sidewalk. “I helped the old lady feed the pigeons, and, and I saw a blind nun collecting donations… I saw… oh, a rabbit! It was so cute… and then I saw two bounty hunters, daddy. Oh, and a boy that kind of looked like you!”
“What?” Jupiter looked down at her.
“Or maybe it was me... I can’t tell.” Jupiter looked away nervously rubbing his eyes. “Oh, and something else... uh well...”
“Can we go to church tonight? I’ve heard it’s a lot of fun!”
“Are you kidding? No one has church on a Friday night, unless you’re a ‘blind nun’.” He flung her by the waist onto his hip. “Besides church is never fun.”
“Then let’s stay up late and watch a movie, since there is no school tomorrow.”
Jupiter wrinkled his nose in playful confusion. “Um, Venny, you don’t go to school; I never enrolled you. What’s with you?”
“I want to stay up late and hang out with you pops!”
“Pops? Venny, I’m not sure wants going on, but I can’t play tonight, I have an important meeting.”
“Who has an important meeting at 11 o’clock at night?” She sighed.
Jupiter paused in the walk way. “How did you know what time my meeting’s at?” He peered across at her.
“Um... um... educated guess!” She said. He paused for a moment to think and then busted out laughing. Jupiter’s powerful laughter thundered through the neighborhood until they finally reached their apartment building. On one of the wealthiest blocks in the city, in the biggest apartment room of the smallest building there, lived Venus and her father. Their home rested on the top floor; from the roof, their own private getaway, they could view the entire city. He carried Venus up to her room, fixing her diner as she changed into her night clothes. They watched a couple of shows together, before her bedtime. Although she resisted his authority and even tried the “If mom was here...”excuse, he still unwillingly flung her over his shoulder and dumped her in her room. She banged and kicked on the door, as he locked it from the outside. “If you break the door, you have to pay for it; that means no allowance for a long time.” With one final intimidating pound, she stopped beating on the door and sprawled herself along her bed. “That’s better, now you go to sleep before I get back home.”
She sat on her bed and began to cry, making Jupiter frown and hesitate before leaving her door. “Daddy...” She called out. “You might not be coming back home!” She cried out suddenly. She waited a few minutes before moving towards the door. “Daddy? Did you hear me?” She jumped up, catching glimpses of an empty hall out her peep hole. “Dag, he’s gone!” She could hear a rustling, by pressing her ear against the door. She hurriedly dressed, leaped out the window, and slid down the garbage shoot. She crept out of the alley once her father passed, waddling behind him all the way to the park. “East Central Park, just where they said he would go. Well, here it goes.” From the safety of a tree she attentively watched over her father. She could see a good portion of the park from where she sat, ready for action. Jupiter hesitated then saw a figure standing in the shadows with a heavy coat on.
“So, I thought you wouldn’t show up.” Jupiter dropped his suitcase in the path, popping his knuckles after it landed. “How are we going to settle this? By fighting? Or compromise like two gentlemen?” He waited for a reply. “Huh? What’s it going to be?”
Venus could hear agitation in his voice, as he breathed puffs of smoke from his breath. Her stomach grumbled and gurgled with anticipation at a sound of footsteps scurrying in the distance. With a deep breath and a gulp, she forced herself to turn around, and her eyes met with a man speeding toward Jupiter. “Daddy, watch out!” At the last second, Jupiter spun around, reversing the knife in the man’s hands, flinging him to the ground. Blood oozed from the wounded man, staining the ground beneath him.
A deep rumbling laugh broke the silence. The stranger laughed. “That poor son of a...”
“What? You sent him to kill me, and then laugh at his death?” Jupiter ran up to the shadowy figure, and smacked so hard, its head flew off. “That a-- he’s not even here.” He picked up the head, noticing black eyes focusing on his face. “You idiot, if you want to start something try doing it yourself!” He crushed the head in his hands then dumped it on the ground. “Piece of sh...”
“Excuse your French!” Venus called out while running up to her father.
“Venus, I thought I heard you.” Venus stood over the body, holding both gloves in one hand as she felt the man’s cheek. The man’s cold eyes stared into space and his deep black hair mangled across his pain filled face. “Baby, don’t touch him!” he pulled her away, setting her on his hip.
“He’s probably sorry now; we should forgive him. He’s going to be alright, right daddy? He’s just a little cold… we should get him some blankets...”
“Or call an ambulance. Wow, I’ve never seen a cut let out so much red, at least when I get a cut. Why is there so much?”
He set her on the ground and stared into her eyes. “Well, you see...”
“I think I understand...” She said. He brought her close to his face, breathing warm air down her neck. “Daddy, what am I going to do when you go cold?” Jupiter burst into tears, gripping her closer to him.