Life's Balancing Act | TeenInk

Life's Balancing Act

July 10, 2019
By uberbearsharkm8 PLATINUM, Seminole, Florida
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uberbearsharkm8 PLATINUM, Seminole, Florida
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Author's note:

This short story was created to show that while two sides may oppose one another, they likely are interdepend on each other’s existence. Rather than continue a rift imposed between two groups, the rift can be mended if one has an open mind and allows themself to see the good in others; no matter how big the differences between them might be.

Some people believe that first in this world was Order; each creature alive knowing their place and the duties accompanying them. Others believe that first in this world was Chaos; anarchy being the first thought breeding amidst the minds in the world. Both schools of thought, however, are terribly misconstrued, for Order did not precede Chaos, nor did Chaos precede Order. Rather, their births were simultaneous, occurring the second life began. No matter what you believe the first creature on Earth was, its mind was undoubtedly filled with the presence of the newborn Order and the newborn Chaos. 

As is expected, Order and Chaos never once got along. Chaos always seemed to dismantle every little thing Order molded into shape, and Order was always intent on bringing an end to each thing Chaos found fun. Neither of them ever accomplished much, as they spent millennia undoing whatever the other had been busied with. As much as they despised each other’s existences, though, one could not live without the other. Life was a balancing act, where Chaos needed to roam free in order to give Order something to correct, and Order needed to triumph so that Chaos had something with which to play. 

When the wear and tear of a job designed to last the life of an immortal finally set in, just as dust settles upon a book which no longer holds a purpose, Order was bestowed a son. The son was perfect in every aspect of the word; righteous, just, holding a sense of duty that was outweighed only by his sense of virtue. He was given the name Iuris, meaning “law,” which was what he would be made to maintain as Order once had. Iuris accepted his fate as if it were normal for every child to be born a supernatural entity which would act as one of two on the Measuring Scales of Destiny. He never complained, never hesitated, simply grew into the archetype for which he was named.

At the same time, Chaos had just welcomed a daughter into the domain of entropy, adding the needed weight to perfectly balance the Measuring Scales of Destiny. The girl was named Orcorum Tenebrarum, an awfully intricate way of saying “Chaotic,” but then again, Chaos had never learned the ways of subtlety. A daddy’s girl at heart, nobody could mistake Orcorum to be daughter of anyone aside from Chaos. She adored wreaking havoc from the moment of her birth, thriving in the most dangerous—and, as a result, fun situations. The most chaotic thing about Orcorum was not her love of mayhem, but her love for her own enjoyment, which was much stronger than her love of her duty. In that aspect, she was unlike Chaos in every single way.

Logic dictated that by no means should Iuris and Orcorum Tenebrarum be anything more than enemies which detested each other to such an extent that they refused to acknowledge their interdependence. The two should have only crossed paths when doing as their respective employers expected, casting loathing glances upon one another in the process. They had roles to play. Iuris was to arrest Orcorum, to bring her to justice by means of eternal imprisonment and finally end her chaotic reign on the Earth. Orcorum was to ensure this never happened, to cleverly evade Iuris and have him disposed of if he were to interfere in her attempts of outdoing the lawfulness of Earth by adding to the chaos. No, the two should never experience a single emotion that was not borne of pure hatred for the other. They were beings created solely for the purpose of tearing out the other’s throat if need be, and so they should never be found together taking pleasant strolls down the Great Wall of China, sunbathing in front of the Pyramids of Giza, or dining whilst enjoying the view from within Big Ben. 

And yet Iuris was sitting in Earth’s first coffeehouse, Kiva Han, located in Constantinople during the fifteenth century, anticipating his rival’s appearance. He had saved her a seat at his two-person table, as he always did, right next to a window just as Orcorum preferred. She liked to have an easy vantage point to observe the humans, in hopes that one of them would start something fun for her to act upon.

“You look so mopey,” Orcorum’s sing-song voice slithered into Iuris’ ear, in the same way a snake slithered towards its prey. “Why the long face?”

The woman sat across from her adversary, her blood-red eyes raking over him as if she hadn’t been playing what was essentially an intricate game of hide-and-seek with him for the last three millennia. Even in his colorful, iconographic tunic, he still somehow appeared prim and proper, every blonde strand of hair slicked back into place. He lacked even the slightest obstruction to his skin, he always had, even after Orcorum had his flesh burned with a stray lightning bolt.

Iuris took notice of how Orcorum was presented as well. She looked unlike herself, much more orderly than he was used to seeing; a natural result of her having to wear clothing appropriate for their time and place. Her dress was modest, relatively formless yet still donning bright colors. A head-veil hid her crudely cut, shortened hair, which the last time Iuris saw her had been dyed a bright violet. The scar he had left across the bridge of her nose and cheek with a specialized knife was hidden by a face-veil; a disfiguration she could easily have rid herself of, but claimed to find enjoyment in. The only thing seemingly chaotic about her were those crimson eyes of hers, and Iuris felt admitted relief to see her true self deep within them.

“I’m upset that you insisted on us getting coffee here,” Iuris’ voice was monitored with great care, intensified emotions being purged and each word enunciated just as they had were created to be. “We could’ve gone to one of the great Italian coffeehouses: Baratti & Milano Caffe, Caffe Florian, Pedrocchi Caffe, Caffe Greco… Caffe Florian opened the Venice Biennale, an art exhibition, in 1893, you know, we could’ve gone and seen its debut.”

“Oh don’t lie to me, you know that’s my job.” Orcorum narrowed her serpentine eyes, refusing to avert her attention from the ethereal, even as she removed her face-veil and sipped the coffee he’d purchased for her. “We can teleport and time-travel; we can head to Italy for coffee whenever we’d like. So why are you really upset?”

Iuris hesitated before speaking, a tad bit embarrassed by his source of discontent. “I… Well if you must know, I was in the mood for an affogato.” He cast his gaze downwards, burning under what he assumed was Orcorum’s scrutinizing gaze. “Believe it or not, fifteenth century coffeehouses in Constantinople don’t sell affogatos.”

Orcorum stuck her bottom lip out in a mock-pout. “Aw, poor baby,” she was nearly patronizing, but within the cracks of her voice sympathy could be discovered by trained ears. “How’s this, next time you’re in the mood for coffee, we’ll go have affogatos and watch the  Venice Biennale’s debut. My treat.”

“Really!” Iuris exclaimed just a bit too loud, smiling a bit more than the Son of Order should be smiling at the Daughter of Chaos. “You’d be willing to look at an art gallery with me? You hate art galleries.”

“I’m sure there’s some fun I can have; maybe steal a painting or something.”

“If you do that, I’ll have to arrest you.”

“I’d like to see you try… You know you could go to… what was it… Caffe Florian? You could go there whenever. You don’t need me for that.”

“I know, but…” Iuris corrected his posture, which had begun to permit him to become slightly too comfortable. Perfection like himself was not supposed to experience pleasurable comfort. “I have grown accustomed to your presence. I believe that if I were to visit Caffe Florian unaccompanied by you, I should experience a certain amount of… disinterest.”

“Quite the charmer you are…” Orcorum’s focus turned to the window, lazily watching people go about their daily lives in a rather boring fashion. “You know what would be unfortunate?” Her voice grew impish in nature as she began to to slide her face-veil back on. “If those barrels filled with gunpowder outside were to somehow be ignited. Wouldn’t that be quite the display?”

“Orcorum Tenebrarum, don’t you dare.” Suddenly, Iuris was up on his feet, reaching for his weapon holster. “We can’t have one gdamn moment without you pulling something like this!”

“I’m sorry, darling, I really am.” Orcorum eyed the Orderly ML-3V9, a Decorus-Corp firearm designed to eliminate immortal beings, which was now skillfully being aimed at her by the man who had just paid for her drink. “But you know how it is, business is business. And I can’t disappoint Daddy Dearest, can I?” 

In a swift motion, Orcorum snapped her fingers, disappearing into thin air before Iuris could react. Had Orcorum not been kind and set a delay on the inevitable spark that would set the barrels aflame, Iurius would have been swallowed by a horrible heat, losing his physical form for an inconvenient amount of time. She had been kind, though, in her own way, and Iuris was able to teleport back to Decorus-Corp without so much as a scratch.

“Goddammit,” he cursed upon arriving in his office. Now he’d have to do something like convert an anarchist to the ways of democracy or stop a church from taking bribes in order to restore balance to the Measuring Scales of Destiny.

As he began to write his report on the events from that day, conveniently leaving out the part where he and Orcorum had planned to get a drink together—he instead said he ran into her while performing his duties—a note appeared upon his desk, which, when translated from the code he and Orcorum created years before, read:

Sorry about my exit, Iuris darling, I could feel Chaos’ eyes on me. 

No need to worry, he hadn’t tuned in until you held the gun to me, clever boy you are. 

Let’s head to meeting place 21-C-XN8 in two weeks. 1873. 

Clear your trail. I’ll clear mine. 

How’s lunch sound? My treat.

Iuris sent his breath towards the note, watching it disintegrate into nothingness upon contact. “Oh Corum,” he whispered so no lingering ears within Decorus-Corp could hear, “I cannot believe you’ve driven me to appreciate chaos.”

 

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Orcorum had been raised within the walls of her future employer, Combine-LICENTIA, being given her current office almost immediately after her birth. She had a throne—oh how she loved her throne, encrusted with fabulous jewels, and towering over everything else in the room. It was just like her father’s, though smaller than his, of course; she was by no means as high-ranking as him.

Across the hall was the office of Impetus, Orcorum’s closest friend at the Combine since childhood. One time in their youth during their make-believe game of War, Impetus had successfully decapitated Orcorum, and then done the same to himself so the two could remain in their metaphysical forms together while their bodies were repaired. That had been a truly entertaining experience, so much so that Orcorum decided to keep the gash on her neck resulting from the beheading rather than have it be fixed. She wouldn’t repair the broken flesh until she decided she preferred the marks Iuris left instead.

Chaos had been quite pleased with the stunt she’d pulled in Constantinople. Much to her delight, Evil, head of Combine-LICENTIA, had been pleased as well. He said Death had made a terrific harvest after she’d done her work, and the Scales had weighed down in their favor. 

Admittedly, Orcorum had little care for the Scales. They were of more interest to someone like Evil, whose destiny was to swing them in his favor. To Orcorum, however, they did nothing else but give reason to her creation and employment. She had not found herself bound to the Scales as her coworkers were. She had not found her purpose within the Scales as her father had. They were but a game, a game she found lackluster at times, a game which failed to captivate her.

Iuris proved far more entertaining than some silly scales made an eternity ago. He kept her on her toes, as her best friend and as her attempted—and occasionally successful—arrestor. He made her meticulous, a quality exactly opposing her nature, turning her into an individual with the unprecedented ability to create controlled destruction. He showed her the ways of Order and in turn she showed him the ways of Chaos. Combined, they were a force unbeknownst by either of their fathers. Combined, they created a symbiosis that nature never intended to exist.

It was because of Iuris’ unintended lessons on systematicness that Orcorum had learned to arrange their meetings so perfectly that their respective employers could never hold justifiable suspicions on their whereabouts. Much to Iuris’ dismay, it was also due to him that Orcorum could perform massive acts of chaos which could take him weeks to undo. 

“Y’know,” Impetus had said after Evil granted Orcorum a commendation for her actions in Constantinople, “You could do so much more damage down there if you would just get that goody-two-shoes killed.”

Orcorum had heard this a multitude of times, and each time had the exact same response. “It’d be boring that way. There’s no fun, no risk—no chaos in causing trouble when nobody’s goal is to stop you.” 

“He’d get replaced. You’d have years to raise hell unchallenged until his replacement was born and raised.”

“Years of boredom, yeah.”

It seemed this conversation had been brewing far more often than Orcorum was comfortable with. Cruor, Mors, Caedis, Neco, Occisor, and even Cruciatus had been attempting to persuade her into executing her nemesis. They thought she was stubborn, having refused this for over three-thousand years, and thought she was succumb to their constant persuasions. If she did, they would win the Scales for a good amount of time. The Combine could reign supreme until Iuris’ replacement was raised; ’twas a pity Orcorum only cared for what she found interesting. ’Twas an even bigger pity that Iuris was the singular thing in the universe she found interesting. 

Here was to hoping he felt the same about her. For Orcorum suspected her friend was receiving similar pressures at Corp to have her executed, and would just hate to have to kill him out of self-defense. 

 

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Meeting Place 21-C-XN8 was Víðimýrarkirkja Church in Iceland. It was a beautiful spot, one Iuris absolutely adored to visit. The grass was some of the greenest he’d ever seen, the flowers a vibrant dispersion of each color found across a rainbow-painted sky. It was absolutely beautiful there and Iuris was so glad that Orcorum had chosen it as their meeting place for the day.

While waiting for his rival, Iuris used his spare time to visit the graves of all buried next to the Church. Though it was unknown to him whether their souls remained in the vicinity of their tombs, he felt it right to bid each deceased he came across a good day. He spoke to the deceased whenever he found himself perusing an area that happened to be near a burial-ground of some sort. He had no clue as to what came after death—it was never addressed in Corp. It was safe to assume, he thought, that it must have been something rather unpleasant. His only basis for this thought was constructed due to what any mention of an afterlife did to Orcorum’s typically facetious behavior. 

Unlike Iuris, Orcorum absolutely abhorred the thought of ending a life on her own accord. She took no issue with initiating events which could allow for Death to consume lives; her detestation came when she was submerged with the idea of her being the consumer of lives. Iuris wasn’t fond of taking lives—whether they be mortal or not—however, he understood there were times when he had to do what he found unpleasant, and in the end a life was merely one in the sea of billions. Yet he had never seen Orcorum harm another creature to the point of swiping away their breath; he had never heard her even consider such a possibility. 

When he had asked her about this years ago, when he asked her if she never killed because she knew something terrible came after death, she told Iuris to shut up and then disappeared. 

It was since this interaction that Iuris became fixated on speaking to every tombstone he came across. He knew not if an afterlife existed, and if one did, he knew not if it were lonely or torturous. All he knew was that whatever followed the inevitability of Death’s Kiss, was a slumber that unnerved the bravest individual he knew.

It took Iuris a few hours to pass words of comfort to the deceased, just as it always had. Typically, Orcorum managed to time her arrivals to areas such as this so perfectly that her presence was never made known until the second Iuris finalized his endeavor. This time, though, she was nowhere in sight. 

Iuris rested under a neighboring birch tree for what had to have been at least another two hours. Hm… Maybe Orcorum had been given a last minute, high-priority job. Things were never well thought out at the Combine; that was evident by Chaos being one of their highest ranking workers. Still, it wasn’t typical of Orcorum to leave Iuris without so much as a small message of explanation. It was possible then that someone from the Combine had grown a tad bit suspicious of his and Orcorum’s friendship—though Iuris found that highly unlikely. 

Rather disappointed, he began to leave the churchyard, only stopping when he came across a stone colored the same shade of red as his counterpart’s eyes. He pocketed the object, making a mental note to gift it to his friend upon seeing her next, and then allowed himself to fade away; seemingly into nothingness. 

 

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Being an immortal with the ability to time-travel and teleport meant that after a few centuries, one, whether bound to Order or not, grew bored of constantly moving around. It was enjoyable to settle down in an area and live out a life there for a few decades or more, only leaving to conduct business before returning. 

Iuris’ most recent life had been established in the year 2017. He ran a small pastry shop in New York City, just a few blocks away from The Metropolitan Museum of Art. When he wasn’t working at the shop or for Corp, Iuris frequented the museum at least twice a week, and left each time with a new print from the Museum’s store which would adorn his shop’s already full walls.

He “lived” in the only floor above his shop, which was a lovely place to retire to when he wished to escape the bustling livelihood he had created for himself. His office at Corp was not permitted to be personalized by him with decorations; that would be awfully disorderly of him. In that room, he could only hold the absolute necessities required for his work. As a result he, naturally, lavished his dwelling on Earth with objects and decor founded by him during his millennia of work.

Upon returning from Iceland, Iuris retired back to his NYC home. There was a generous amount of paperwork awaiting him, most of which Opus was absolutely demanding he complete immediately. The dull work at hand would have been the full receiver of his attention—truly, it would have, had it not been for Orcorum sitting at his desk when he returned home.

She looked disheveled—more so than usual, that is. Black threads were torn apart in her drift jumpsuit, exposing various parts of her flesh. Gashes were woven into her once almost unsullied skin, blood red as her eyes pouring from them. Her cheeks, her arms, her legs, her bodice, they were all subject to a fountain of blood, bubbling at the seams. 

Aside from her certainly damaged human vessel, Orcorum simply radiated something far different than her usually chaotic energy. Upon peering into her eyes, Iuris felt caution within them. She was on-edge, expecting something of which he was not sure. He certainly had no clue about who could harm her in such a way, or why she would let them. Perhaps she had grown chaotic enough in nature to be boding the wrath of immortals; Iuris certainly wouldn’t put it past her.

“Well, you look lovely,” Iuris broke the silence. “The blood is a nice touch. Does something for your eyes.”

Orcorum actually laughed, a sound so sweet that it reverberated in Iuris’ chest. Blood nearly rushed his face—that’s what he deserved for choosing a human form when on this damned planet. 

“You’re being funny today, hm?” She laughed again. “I more expected you to be cross with me for getting blood everywhere.”

Iuris hadn’t notice the blood spattered on his desk until then. “Yes, now that you mention it, that is an antique mahogany armchair you’re defiling with your blood.” And it was worth thousands, he reminded himself, “so if you would be kind enough to get off of it and go clean yourself up…” he trailed off.

To his surprise, and almost to his disappointment, the woman complied. She rose to her feet gracefully, beginning to take strides out of the study. Iuris needed not to ask where she was heading, he knew that Orcorum was well aware of where he kept his clothing, as well as where the washroom was.

While she was cleansing herself, Iuris became busy with washing away any blood which would be privy to staining his many antiques. He did cheat, sure, using his powers to easily dissolve the substance. Still, it was thorough work. 

Orcorum returned to the study just as Iuris had finished preparing tea for her and himself. She now wore one of brightly, colored long-sleeve shirts, a sweater over that, and a rather bland pair of pants, all of which were just a tad bit too large for her. She had disintegrated any new blemishes on her face, the only one remaining being courtesy of Iuris. Though she seemed more relaxed, more in her zone of comfort, caution still existed in her eyes.

“I missed you today.” Iuris brought a mug over to Orcorum, who had just taken a seat in the plush armchair he purchased for her. She preferred much more comfortable seating than he did. “I was disappointed when you never showed.”

“Well pardon me,” Orcorum scowled. “I was a bit busy. Or was that not apparent to you, darling?”

Ignoring this bit of sarcasm, Iuris merely sat down across from his adversary. He knew better than to ask her what had occurred; she’d tell him if she wanted to. Or if she thought it was safe to.

“Well then, if you’re so busy,” he kept his voice even, away from any sounding jealously that bubbled inside him, “what brings you here?”

Orcorum said nothing at first. She drank from her cup, seemingly using this as a distraction, a way to buy her time so she could think. Thinking a step ahead was never her strong-suit; she had been created, crafted to do the exact opposite. It went against her nature entirely, and yet, she was doing it.

“Iuris…” her voice dropped low enough for Iuris to need to scoot his chair closer in order to hear her. “I need something from you.”

“You always need something,” a frown formed on the man’s lips at the unkind reminder.

It was likely Orcorum hadn’t heard this remark, for she just continued to speak. “I need you to get me a weapon.”

Iuris laughed. Surely this was an attempt at a joke in order to lighten the tensions of whatever Orcorum had just faced. Yet, she did not laugh. Her face remained deadpanned, the air surrounding her growing thin out of tension. 

“No.” He said, realizing just how serious his friend was. “No. You do know my job is to arrest you, don’t you?”

“Yes yes yes I know. Damn, I’m running out of time here… Look, your job is to arrest me. But there’s people whose job is to kill me and if I don’t get something good to defend myself with, they’ll succeed.”

“Can’t you get a weapon from Combine?”

Orcorum stared at Iuris as if he were the most idiotic creature on the planet. He nearly wanted to shrivel up at the dumfounded gaze she casted upon him. 

“The people at Combine don’t know that I… misplaced my last weapon. At Combine you have to trade in an old weapon for a new one, or at least show proof of your current weapon to get another one.”

“You didn’t misplace your weapon. It was confiscated during your last arrest—”

In a flash, Orcorum had flung herself onto Iuris, a hand clasped atop his mouth, silencing any words he tried to form, and another digging nails into his neck. Any attempt to get her away from her proved he was uncomfortably immobilized. “They don’t know I was arrested and I am intent on keeping it that way,” Orcorum growled in a voice more like her father’s than her own. “Do you know what happens to us when it’s discovered we were captured? Do you know what they do to us if they think there’s a slight chance of us being compromised? Spoiler alert: it ends with us burned at the stake.”

Iuris swallowed back the slight regret he now faced upon hearing this. He had no clue that his many times arresting Orcorum in the past could have resulted in her death. He was now quite glad she had always escaped before her superiors at Combine realized, and was even more glad she seemed able to hide her imprisonments from them.

After the fury fled Orcorum’s eyes, she hopped off her counterpart and sat back down. She eyed the red lines now appearing across Iuris’ pale neck, pleased with the notion that they’d remain there for a bit of time.

Iuris took a moment to regain his composure. He straightened his posture, readjusted his clothing, and ran a hand through now messy locks of hair, tucking them back into place. When he looked proper once more, he spoke, very carefully. “Do you know who’s trying to kill you?”

“Why? You gonna get rid of them for me?”

“I need to know so I can file a report.”

“I dunno who they are. They’re not human, not with their weaponry and magical capabilities. At least one of them is yours. I saw a brand on one of their arms.”

“A Corp brand? Are you sure?”

“I’ve been chased by you for the last three millennia. I know what a Corp brand looks like.”

Every member of Decorus-Corp was given a brand. They were similar to barcodes that humans placed on products intended to be purchased. Rather than be a rectangle filled by unique lines, however, they were a rectangle filled with Corp symbols. Each brand distinguished every member of Corp and were protected by magic so they could not be imitated. When in his human form, Iuris’ brand rested on his left inner-arm, which happened to be one of the reasons he was so fond of having his arms covered. 

Members of Combine-LICENTIA had brands as well, though they were far less discreet. Each one took up the entire length of their owners’ backside and were also greatly personalized to each who held them. Orcorum’s had been seen by Iuris a multitude of times; he was one of the only Corp members who knew what the almost always hidden Combine brands could look like. Though he would never admit it—the methods through which he had seen the brand were unseemly at best. Corp did not need to know about that.

Iuris thought over this new information. Someone with a Corp brand was apparently attempting to assassinate Orcorum, hm. Well that just made no sense. He of all people would know if there were an order to bring about Orcorum’s death. And sure, he’d had it suggested to him for years by Order, Iustitia, Lucrum and so many more, but he couldn’t imagine anyone else being given the command to do so. Nobody knew Orcorum like he did, nor did anybody from Corp know this Earth like he did. It just didn’t make sense.

“I would know if someone from Corp was ordered to assassinate you,” Iuris vocalized his thoughts, which only made Orcorum frown.

“Listen, Ius,” her use of the nickname sent a momentary burst of delight through the man, “I know what I saw. I don’t really care who’s trying to kill me or who they work for. I just care that they fail. I need a weapon. And if you won’t get me one, I’ll break into Corp and steal one myself.”

“You can’t!” Iuris was suddenly much, much louder than he should have been. “You’ll be killed!”

“I’ll be killed if I’m not armed.”

“I’ll protect you.”

The immense weight of what he just said crashed into him in the way a large wave crashed into a child at the beach. He spoke truthfully, with a passion he never knew he had. Iuris had just sworn himself to protect the entity he was created to bring to justice. In three simple words, he had undone every thread which tethered him to Corp, and he hardly realized it.

The effect of this declaration was not lost on Orcorum by any means. Her eyes softened, her cheeks pooling with blood until they matched the color of her likely still blood-stained lips. Sarcasm, of course, was her way to distract herself from what those words meant for her and Iuris. 

“Oh yeah,” she drawled with a roll of her eyes, “Corp’ll love seeing the man in charge of arresting me actually defending me from their assassins.”

“If you let me arrest you, you’d be protected by the highest of Corp security until I could figure out who’s after you.”

“Iuris, Son of Order, are you insinuating you’d arrest me, Daughter of Chaos, and then tell me when it’s safe for me to escape?” Orcorum mimicked a shocked, dignified voice, though her devilish expression gave her away. 

“I—”

“You’re a sweetheart.” Orcorum laid back in her chair with a nearly genuine smile. “An absolute idiot, but sweet. Someone from Corp wants me dead. If I’m arrested, they’d be able to get me easier. But if I had a weapon…”

“No, I can’t do it. If anyone found out I stole for you, I’d be executed on the spot.” Was that really all he was afraid of? Death? He wasn’t scared of being denounced by his father or of being removed from Corp, he was only fearful of death now; his own death and Orcorum’s. 

“You could claim you were under my influence!” Orcorum insisted, evidently set on convincing Iuris to change his position. “They know I can manipulate minds, don’t they?”

“They do, but that’d be extremely risky to pull…” Iuris set his own teacup down and rose to his feet. “You’ve had a long day, come to bed.”

“Immortals don’t need sleep,” Orcorum pointed out, an eyebrow raised with an almost teasing curiosity. She clearly wanted to make Iuris say more than he was. “You know we don’t.”

That was true, immortals such as them did not require sleep, just as they did not require to nourish themselves with food or drinks. That did not mean they couldn’t indulge anyways; being in a human body for so, so many years made things such as sleeping and eating rather enjoyable for an immortal at times. That was the argument Iuris was going to make, but he just couldn’t get the words out.

“We don’t, no. But… I want you to come to bed.”

“You won’t leave me alone, will you?” Orcorum knew the answer, but she still asked. 

“Never.” The word hung in the air, to the extent of both in the room being taken aback by it. It was another declaration, another promise the Son of Order should have never made to the Daughter of Chaos, but he did.

Satisfied with this, Orcorum stood and took Iuris’ outstretched hand. “You’re such a softy, darling,” she purred into his ear, sending shivers cascading down Iuris’ spine. “And you’re far too sweet to me.”

Iuris said nothing, merely led the woman into his bedroom. It was his house, but with Orcorum around, he might as well have been in foreign housing. For as long as she was around, Iuris would be submerged into a chaos far beyond his own existential plane. And, well, he would never admit it, but he found Orcorum’s chaos so terribly comforting. 

 

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Orcorum expected to awake the following morning with a head on Iuris’ chest, ears permitted to hear the gentle beat of his heart coinciding with his light snores. She had been rather upset to find that this was not the case, as she awoke to what she assumed was an empty bed.

She turned her head, and instead of seeing Iuris laying in his regular spot, reading a book as he typically did on mornings like these, she saw an extremely familiar piece of weaponry. 

By human terms, it seemed like a stiletto dagger, entirely silver aside from the magnificent red gemstones implanted within its hilt. In Combine terms, it was a piece from Cruciamen’s Mucro Weaponry Collection. It was known as the Egestas a Virtute, one of the most powerful blades to come from the Combine, and it had been created for Orcorum herself. The weapon was embedded with some of the world’s most powerful magic, able to slay millions in mere seconds if its beholder so wished. While in Orcorum’s possession, the blade had shed blood, but had never once caused death.

Next to the dagger was a note written in code, clearly scribbled down hastily by Iuris. Once translated, it read:

Stay here for awhile until I say it’s safe.

No need for you to infiltrate Corp.

I’m on the search team looking for who stole your dagger.

They say he’s a criminal genius. I’m flattered?

No clue as to when I’ll be back.

I’ve enough there to keep you occupied until I can return. 

Stay safe. DON’T leave. 

P.S., please stop kicking me in your sleep.

“Oh, Iuris…” Orcorum held the note to the place on her chest where the human heart was located. As soon as the paper hit her bare flesh, it turned into a ball of flames, reverting to ash. As warm as the flames were, they could not compare in temperature to the warmth filling Orcorum upon reading the note. Iuris had not only stolen her weapon back from Corp, which had likely been under extreme security, but he had also joined a group intended on finding the thief in question. He was acting in the name of Chaos, not in the name of Order. No, he was acting in the name of Orcorum, of Chaotic rather than in the name of Iuris, of Law. 

The stakes of this were terribly high; the slightest mistake could result in Iuris’ death.  He was risking everything by having done this. Orcorum decided she needed to find a way to do the exact same; she needed to act in the name of Law.

 

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Iuris had never realized just how little he had in common with the members of Corp until he was assigned to the Egestas a Virtute Investigatory Team. He hadn’t had to work so closely with Corp employees in over a thousand years, and found that they were even less pleasant to be around than he remembered.

Quite frankly, they were boring. They almost all dressed the same, spoke in monotone voices and held little to no tolerance for senseless behavior. Years alongside both humans and Orcorum had forced Iuris to grow at least somewhat fond of individuality, as well as life’s joys. He could find pleasure in things that were not perfectly structured; he found delight in a life that sometimes, just sometimes, lacked order. They, however, did not.

Iuris noticed that those he was forced to work alongside seemed to have a limited trust in him, due to his many run-ins with Orcorum and his behavior being different than it once was. Ductu had vocalized many times for everyone to hear that he believed the Son of Order to be a traitorous swine. Luckily, Iuris’ father was much higher-ranking than Ductu’s father, Aptitude, and so even though they had lacking faith in him, Iuris’ coworkers took his side rather than Ductu’s. 

The investigation went on for what felt like months, years even. Truthfully, Iuris was surprised he had managed to cover his tracks so damn well. He’d set enough red-herrings up that he, theoretically, could keep the Investigatory Team busy for centuries. That was not needed, however, as one day their leader, Princeps, told them the investigation had been called off.

“Orcorum Tenebrarum has formally renounced herself as Daughter of Chaos,” he announced to the crowd. “She has officially dissolved all bonding ties with Chaos and has removed herself entirely from the Combine-LICENTIA. As a result, the individual which stole her weapon is no longer a priority, as she is now Public Enemy Number One of Combine and her affairs—being as she no longer plays part in the Scales—are no longer our jurisdiction.”

People shouted, saying this could be a hoax, yelling about how Combine had tricked Corp with ploys in the past and how this was no different. Iuris, on the other hand, simply left. He could not understand—could not fathom this. Orcorum had given up everything: her father, her position, her seat of power. It was all gone and now she was Combine’s Most Wanted Criminal. 

Iuris wanted answers. He wanted to grab Orcorum’s shoulders, shake her and ask her what the hell she was thinking. He wanted to yell, wanted to panic, wanted her to understand the gravity of the situation she had just placed herself in. Why would she do this? Why would she jeopardize herself so damn much? Was she that chaotic? Chaotic enough to ruin her entire livelihood? Iuris feared so.

His answer arrived a mere hour later, once the Egestas a Virtute Investigatory Team had finally disbanded. He had gone back to New York City and made his way to a local coffeehouse (one that served affogatos, naturally). Once he’d sat down with his dessert, a note written in code appeared on his table—a note he was rather wary to look over.

Yes, yes, darling, I know you’re upset. I’d be disappointed if you weren’t.

Truth is, Combine was growing far too boring for me anyways. They were too set on me

killing you.

Quid pro quo, I figure. You risked your livelihood for me. I can only return the favor.

Do as you please, but if you do the same, there’s a lot of Earths out there.

There’s a lot of places where we could live in our own Lawful Chaos.

I’d like that. Wouldn’t you, darling? You can’t lie to me; I know you find Corp dreadfully 

miserable.

Let me be who makes you miserable. At least I’m fun with it.

Think about it, darling, I’ll come to you soon.

Iuris struggled to comprehend what Orcorum was saying to him in this note. She was risking death because she wanted him to renounce Order as his father and run away with her. It could work, yes. There were an infinite amount of universes with an infinite amount of Earths; not every Earth was able to be watched by Corp or Combine. But Orcorum was asking the most of him. She was asking more than Iuris initially realized.

If he were to go along with this, this insane plan, there was a great chance he’d be killed before he could even escape Corp. Even if he lived, the rest of his eternal life would be characterized by him escaping members of Corp whose job was to kill him. 

Orcorum had those exact same potential consequences, and she still faced them, he reminded himself, she faced them in hopes that we would be together forever.

If he did not go along with this, it was unlikely that he would ever see Orcorum again. She’d have to leave their Earth eventually to avoid Combine officials. Sure, he’d keep his job and his father, he may even climb the ranks at Corp, but he would lose his best friend. Was he willing to make that sacrifice? 

A week later, it was announced publicly to all members of Decorus-Corp and all members of Combine-LICENTIA that Iuris had renounced himself as Son of Order, had confessed to being the thief which stole the Egestas a Virtute from Corp and returned it to Orcorum Tenebrarum, and resigned from Corp altogether. He was reported to have fled Corp before any disciplinary action could be taken against him. He was made Public Enemy Number One of Corp.

And with that, Iuris and Orcorum had officially removed themselves from the Measuring Scales of Destiny. They had become the middle-ground, the epitome of neutrality, which, though they had never realized it, was all they were after all along.

 

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The G-M95 Universe was a quaint place, one with little interesting events ever taking place. As a result, Earth-G-M95 was almost never looked over by Corp or Combine; it was certainly not of enough importance to have anyone stationed there. It was the absolute perfect place for Public Enemy Number One of Combine and Public Enemy Number One of Corp to establish lives on.

Both were fond of the twenty-first century city life, and so they opened an antique store in Paris, just a few street from the Louvre. It was a requirement that they be near some place filled with artwork; Corp’s Public Enemy Number One just needed to frequent art exhibitions at least once a week. 

Iuris took the name Inacio, which meant “internal fire,” he felt it represented what exactly set him apart from his former colleagues. Orcorum, on the other hand, took the name Ornela, which meant “ash tree,” and being as ash trees were a symbol of rebirth and new beginnings, she found the name perfectly suited for her. 

Ornela made Tenebrarum her surname, having grown quite fond of that typically unknown addition to her first given name. Inacio would have it become his surname as well once the two partook in the awfully human tradition of marriage. It was a childish attempt on Inacio’s part to “officially” become Ornela’s and have her become his—as if thousands of years together had not been enough. It was likely Ornela knew of the man’s motives, but had never said anything of it.

The two made quick business of having their brands be covered-up by tattoos—another rather human tradition. Inacio’s was turned into a globe, depicting Earth at its finest. It was the planet he had learned to love more than he ever could the Corp. Ornela’s was a bit trickier to cover, and had eventually been morphed into a lovely piece of art: her back covered by black-and-white images of a beautiful face, surrounded by serpents and roses, with a skull lingering just beneath it. It was beautiful, chaotic and yet so structured. Ornela adored it; as did her husband.

They still fell into their old ways of course. When they weren’t busy time-traveling to find new pieces for their antique store, Crustae de Praeteritum, Ornela could be found unraveling the threads of sanity, and Inacio was always intent on sewing them back together. 

Occasionally, the Tenebrarums faced assassination attempts from both Corp and Combine, yet with their stolen weapons they always resolved those problems with only some struggle. It was a good thing, too, for after a century of life on Earth-G-M95, Ornela announced she was expecting twins.

Inacio only hoped the twins would be as Chaotic as their mother, and Ornela only hoped they would be as Lawful as their father. 

It would also be quite nice if they could raise these children without them renouncing their parents years later. 

 


The End…



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