PART NINETEEN: THE COMMON THREAD
Dewey Alison concluded that the squatting incident that had occurred in the Paradise Apartment complex had been as a result of a permanent Erasure from Reality of the former renter. Both he and Ada had the DoD’s drones sweep the apartment to gather any further evidence in the bizarre incident but as they suspected, the evidence could not conclusively prove that the squatter had ever existed. The DoD’s A.I and A.S. construct, Ash also scanned the contents of the written journal found on the scene in the hopes of gleaning more details of the former renter. The systems were able to obtain the names of establishments that the squatter had mentioned by name and based off that information, Ada put in a request to Director Awaya for the DoD to gain virtual third-party access to the data stored by the private establishments. Ada explained that the third party access would allow the A.I to generate a profile of the squatter and of similar cases based off information gathered by the other Protectors working on the case.
Meanwhile, Ada asked Dewey his hypothesis of how the Erased had been so effectively removed from Baseline Reality.
“Remember when Avery told us about what happened with the Reality Warper Saoimhe? The Keres Null stabbed him with the Darkness Dagger and suddenly he was reduced to dark particles and then poof! He was gone. And then there’s what happened to the Red Veiled Empress when the Keres Acyls fatally stabbed her. Since then, her memory was effectively erased from Reality even from someone as powerful as the Lunar-Titania. So it appears the Erased were also fatally stabbed with the same Darkness Daggers,”
Ada was stunned by the revelation. “How would these squatters even be able to come across such dangerous Reality altering weapons?”
“I suspect that there is someone or some people out there that could have come across these daggers and the Erased must all be connected to them somehow,”
“Then the question would be how this person or group came to learn of the Darkness Daggers in the first place and why they would distribute them to the Erased,”
“That’s a good question, Ada. I suspect once all the relevant facts are analyzed from this case, we can determine patterns and how the Erased are all linked,”
Ada nodded and both she and Dewey exited from the scene and met up with their colleagues. They all then returned to the DoD for an after-mission debrief and presented all the facts gathered during the mission. The other scientists theorized that the squatters reported missing might actually be a control group with Reality altering abilities capable of materializing and dematerializing at will. They proposed that the group were effectively Erased from Reality whenever they dematerialized which was why they had escaped notice for so long.
Knowing that only Reality Warpers like Ada and Dewey himself were capable of perceiving the identities of the Erased (should they have interacted with them prior to their Erasure from Reality), they agreed with their colleagues’ findings and added that analyzing mementos, memoirs or journals left behind by the Erased would lead the DoD’s A.I to generate profiles of the squatters so that they could be traced when they materialized (if they ever did) and determine their modus operandi. The Director reassured the team that warrants to allow third-party access to the DoD to the records of the identified establishments these squatters had interacted with such as schools and workplaces among other institutions, would be granted in order to generate further leads. She thanked the teams for the great work and dismissed them.
The Director would later on call in both Ada and Dewey Alison in her office in secret.
“You wanted to meet with us, Director?” Ada asked her.
“Yes, Protector Adalyn and Dr. Alison. Call it a hunch but I believe you two were not forthcoming with all facts gathered during the fact-finding mission,”
Ada and Dewey remained silent until the Director folded her arms and firmly stated, “I would like you both to loop me in. No one is leaving this office until you spill the beans.”
Dewey cleared his throat after a long period of silence and despite Ada’s silent non-verbal protests he stated, “Director Awaya, there was a deliberate omission on our part because there are certain facts that for some reason only Reality Warpers are able to recall.”
“Kindly elucidate, Dr. Alison,”
“We believe that these squatters are actually victims of what are known as Darkness Daggers whose primary effect is to effectively Erase their victims from Reality. Reality Warpers that interacted with the victims prior to their succumbing to the effects of the Daggers, are, however, able to recall details about the victims,”
“That is rather interesting information, Dr. Alison. Do you have any evidence to the claims?”
Dewey tasked the DoD A.I to open up the case file of the Red Veiled Empress and the Director went through it.
“Director Awaya, what can you tell me about the Red Veiled Empress from the case file you just read?”
The Director appeared momentarily confused but then ruminated on the question further then replied, “The aforementioned person of interest was a member of the Royal Family of Avala in Timeline A-31; an old dynasty that fell under the weight of their own hubris. They enslaved the Moon fay but were ultimately defeated by the Lunar-Titania Dulcina,”
Dewey nodded. “Can you recall the Red Veiled Empress’ name?”
Director Awaya blinked in confusion then shook her head, turned to the case file and was even more perplexed that the name was redacted.
“What is the meaning of this? Has this document been altered?”
The A.I showed that the case file had not been altered in any way.
“How bizzare why would her name be redacted?”
“It is the Erasure effect, Ma’am. The name of the Red Veiled Empress was Weylyn. Ma’am, I suspect that you might forget this information so kindly note it down on a piece of paper,”
The Director shook her head confusedly but complied with Dewey’s request.
“Director Awaya, Ada and I have strong reason to believe like the Red Veiled Empress, these squatters succumbed to the Erasure effect which is why no information pertaining to their identities can be gleaned from the case. We believe that someone in this Timeline has the Daggers in their possession and for whatever reason, has been using them against these squatters. The squatters must all have something in common and this common thread will lead us straight to the perp,”
“This certainly is a lot to take in Dr. Alison. Do we have any concrete evidence gathered from the fact-finding mission to base this hypothesis?”
“The Optical interferometers confirmed the presence of dark particles in each of the squatting cases. As was the case for the Red Veiled Empress, whenever these daggers are utilized, their calling card is the dark particles that remain. These particles hail from the realm of the Darkness. Our colleagues were right in their hypothesis of the dematerialization from Reality but the only way this has been achieved in this Reality so far, is whenever the daggers are used. It is also just speculation for us at this point but we are confident that our theory will be right,”
“I just want to get to the bottom of this so I will encourage any theories or leads for now,”
“Thank you, Ma’am,”
“In future, I expect you both to keep me looped in on all your findings no matter how outlandish. Understood?”
“Yes Ma’am,” they both responded respectfully.
“Very well, you are both dismissed,”
Ada and Dewey thanked the Director and left her staring blankly into her translucent screen.
‘Why was I reviewing this case file?’ the Director wondered aloud. She lifted up the paper she had written the name of the Red Veiled Empress and was baffled that she could not recall writing the note nor why she also jotted down that she should not forget the name and why she had also written down Dewey Alison’s name and circled it.
The A.I was able to generate profiles based off the information gathered by the Protectors in the case and as suspected, the profiles did not generate any further leads. None of the other circumstantial witnesses generated any further leads and could not recall any distinguishing features that would make the Erased stand out in any way. The squatting cases then remained open until further leads were generated. Among the few clues connecting all the Erased was the mention of ‘the Temple’ and of a Friar known only as Thyros.
Prior to meeting Thyros, the Erased had been for lost souls seeking a place to call home. Most of them appeared to suffer from mental illnesses which had drastically changed once they met Thyros. Many had expressed finding their true meaning and purpose in their lives and had dedicated themselves totally to the Darkness. The question remained whom this mysterious figure was and how he had come across the Darkness daggers in the first place. The DoD also had to determine how Thyros had come across the Erased and how they could apprehend him for further questioning.
TO BE CONTINUED…
Shall the DoD in D-3 find the whereabouts of the mysterious Thyros? For the answer to this question and many others like it, stay tuned to find out. The previous installment in this series is linked below!