Ooh…things are getting interesting…
I’ll be posting two chapters of Deus Ex Machina today because things are getting so awesome all of a sudden. Oh, and I just realise that yesterday’s post was the 100th! Gosh, I was planning on doing something awesome! Meh, I’ll do it on the 500th or 1000th post… Main exams have been clared away and so I think I’ll feel less stressed than usual, but I still need to talk to my teacher about my prefect duty error thing (my duty was swapped from Tuesday to Monday, but they didn’t record it so they listed me as not doing my duty – outrageous!) and then there’s the ABRSM prep test on March. Plus, there’s the IGCSE thing –
Omo – I forgot to tell you this – I can now pick Fine Art and Physics! They changed the options blocks so that Photography will be against Physics. The teacher said that it’ll be good for those who wants to be an architect – to me, it’s like heaven on Earth!
that aside, enjoy Deus Ex Machina!
Deus Ex Machina
5 – Diem perdidi
Things had been inhumanly awkward and tense with the Naitt children. Ace had been viewed as a juggernaut, blood thirsty and extremely aggressive. Dea ran into him that morning when she was going to the bathroom and although Ace had apologised for blocking her way, Dea had dismissed him with a savage glare that made him cringe. Annette had been very critical of him and her usual playful remarks became toxic jabs. Even Hiero had been avoiding him and trained more with Dea, Abel or Annette. Erin had been the only sibling who dared to talk to him, but she had been hyper aware of Ace’s activities, commenting on whether or not he was being too harsh. Vivanne, on the other hand, had been sympathetic to the Peters twins but she was still on good terms with Ace – that slightly irked Dea who viewed Ace as a walking disaster.
Jenny was away when the incident occurred and the Naitt siblings tried to give the doctor hush money (the doctor, however, was a kind man and so he refused the money but promised secrecy) so Jenny had no idea about the incident whatsoever. What she did notice was the visible tension between the siblings. Usually, she would try her best to pick on her foster children but seeing Abel so dispirited, Dea picking on her vegetables, Annette shooting daggers towards Ace and Erin not defending her brother from the harassment, and Hiero taking the seat furthest from his idol, she decided to save her disappointments for later. Jenny did try to pick up a conversation, stating how the weather was telling them that it was going to rain and flood the riverbanks, but the effect it caused on the children was not what she expected; Dea left her breakfast unfinished, grabbed Abel and stormed off the house, and the other Naitt children – save for Annette, for her glare intensified a thousand fold – looked very fidgety and depressed.
Once everyone was out of the house, the children walked to school in a stormy silence. Annette stared up ahead with rigid shoulders with Hiero falling into step behind her, while Erin became a barrier between her brother and the disappointed brunette. Ace couldn’t take it much longer. He sighed and instructed Erin to walk with Hiero while he’ll have a word with Annette. “I don’t really know what you’re expecting from me,” he began slowly, “but I really regret my behaviour that day and I am truly sorry –”
“It’s not that we hate you because you were a raging bull, Ace,” Annette said blandly, “We are upset because you broke the code, the promise each of us made for Zach’s and everyone’s sake.”
Ace winced, noting how vicious Annette sounded when she was as cold as dry ice. “I was blind and I know I shouldn’t have taken that challenge so seriously – I was wrong, very wrong, and I wish to make amends.”
At this, Annette’s features soften marginally though she still kept her eyes on the road. “It was my fault too, I suppose, for I shouldn’t have taunted you so. I kept on blaming myself for orchestrating the accident. I confessed to Dea that I was guilty about the whole thing too but she still believed that you were the one who has the most blame. I’m not satisfied with her forgiveness – she should hate me as much as she hates you.”
“You shouldn’t be too hard on yourself, Ann. And Dea’s right about the whole thing, that I’m the one who bears the blame –”
“Part of the blame,” Annette corrected.
“ – and I deserve to be hated. The twins are allowed to kill me a thousand different ways over and over again; Hiero and Erin have the right to see me as a monster, and you shouldn’t feel any hesitance when it comes to despising me.”
There was a long pause after that. Then, Annette said, “Have you noticed that the others had also broken the promise?”
Ace blinked at her and then shook his head, “No. How come?”
“Dea had been very biased about the incident, to be honest, and I felt that Hiero and I exaggerated with the whole hate thing. Abel, Erin and Vivianne are the only ones who hadn’t broken the promise, and I think it’s because they fully understand the situation.”
“I still think Abel should hate me…” Ace mumbled.
“But Abel realised his mistakes too, though the way I see it, it wasn’t that big of a mistake. Dea, Hiero, Erin and Vivianne are also innocent and so they have the right to judge, but I was part of the chaos and so have no right to resent anyone.”
“So, you’re saying that I should let the others hate me but not you?” Ace asked.
“Yes, and I should apologise for being too hard on you,” Annette smiled sheepishly, “and I’ll try to help you bear the hate from Dea.”
“You’ll defend me, to make it short.”
Ace chuckled and shook his head affectionately, “Dea is so going against you…”
“I deserve that,” Annette winked.
* * *
The corridor cleared itself as soon as Dea stepped into the zone. Every student present skittered out of way like mice fleeing from a threat, not daring to whisper a comment or even look at the twins in the eye. Dea held her head high whilst guiding Abel to their class; Abel, meanwhile, was throwing apologetic looks to everyone present.
“Umm, Dea? I don’t think you should be this scary…” Abel said, nudging Dea at her bicep, “And you’re kind of hurting my pride as a man here,” he added, rolling his eyes.
“Hmm…huh? Oh, sorry,” Dea said, releasing Abel’s aching wrist. She then looked around and announced her apology to everyone in the corridor. When the two began walking again, she said “I wasn’t paying attention. Sorry about that.”
“You shouldn’t be too hard on Ace,” Abel said.
“I have every right to be angry, Abe, and you do, too,” Dea hissed.
“I do hate him, kind of – well, at least not as bad as you, but I do hold a faint grudge against him. What happened to the code?”
“Broken. Not repairing any sooner, or ever again,” Dea said quickly.
“…But that’s not what you want, is it?”
“You want things to be back the way it was, but your pride is getting in the way.”
No answer. They’ve reached their lockers, Abel’s next to Dea’s, and Dea began to get the books needed for the first few lessons.
“It’s not that you hate him…You’re just feeling betrayed and hurt. And we all know – especially you – that Ace regrets his actions too –”
Dea slammed the locker as hard as she could and glared at her twin who held her gaze steadily, unflinching and determined. “Do not speak about this again. Do not even speak his name in my presence. Understood?” Abel stood his ground. He made no move to promise anything nor did he try to snap Dea out of her hate-drunk state. The only way to calm Dea down when she’s upset was to let her vent everything out, and judging from her current state it will take a long time before she’s back to her old self. Realising she had just lashed out at her brother, Dea gave weary sigh and patted his shoulder affectionately. “Sorry I did that…I didn’t mean to do that, really…”
“’S alright. I understand,” Abel shrugged and gave a lopsided smile.
“But I still hate that guy.”
“I figured as much.”
* * *
It felt to Dea as if Erin had suddenly turned back to the dark side; the first thing she did when she met Dea was to “accidentally” spill her coffee on Dea’s favourite vest. Next, Dea found her textbooks in the garbage bin (the ones she had lost a few days before) – she turned around and found Erin sniggering and ran around the corner. Dea had spent her whole lunchtime complaining to Richard, her trusted sidekick, about the whole charade. “I mean, we were on good terms before – why did she do that?!” Dea huffed.
“Dunno. Maybe it was all just a trick to get to your good side?” Richard provided. That made Dea stops and thinks about the recent events.
“You’re…kind of right…maybe…” Dea said, distracted by a river of thoughts flowing in her head. Then does that mean the whole Cornelius thing was a hoax? That might explain some of the vague information Erin gave… “Gosh, I shouldn’t have trusted her! Once a liar, always a liar.”
“And once naive, always naive,” Richard added.
“And once annoying, always annoying,” Dea rolled her eyes.
“What? I’m amazing!” Richard beamed.
“Amazing at being a pain in the backside. But I feel like Erin wasn’t lying that time. Maybe I should talk to her about it, clarify some things and all that sick sibling stuff,” Dea wrinkled her nose at the thought of getting too comfortable with her biggest enemy.
“Hey, not all of your siblings are annoying…or scary.” Richard shuddered at Ace’s image, the one when Ace single-handedly defeated a gang of delinquents who claimed that he sprayed slushy on them on purpose. Then again, he remembered the time the look on Annette’s face when she found out that someone had been trying to sabotage her school president campaign (and the rumours of what happened to the suspects), and the time when Hiero managed to bend a brand new steel pipe in half after he found out that his girlfriend was cheating on him. “It’s not like you’re any better –” The only reason Richard was talking to Dea was because he owed her his life – otherwise he’ll be locking himself up in his room out of fear of facing the mighty hunter.
“Please – I’m, like, the goddess of everything nice!”
Richard laughed sarcastically, “Yeah, right. Deanna, Goddess of Awesomeness –”
“Don’t forget hunting.”
“ – and Hunting –”
“ – babies?” Richard double-checked.
“Childbirth, let’s say,” Dea supplied.
“Alright, so Deanna Goddess of Hunting and Childbirth –”
“And the moon; I love the moon.”
“ – Goddess of Awesomeness! Gosh, you talk a lot!”
“Says you,” Dea laughed, “Oh, and I like animals too –”
“Speaking of animals, I heard you turned against them,” Richard chimed.
Dea was silent for a moment and replied in a whiny voice, “But it was so tempting! I promise I won’t eat that much of them – I still love them!”
“I detect hesitance in your words,” Richard sing-songed the words, but he then calmed down and put on a serious tone, “Dea, I think you should confirm your grounds with Erin face-to-face, despite the chances of disaster.”
Dea searched Richard’s face for any change of minds. When she found none, she sighed and nodded reluctantly – if Richard’s not faltering, then he’s right. “Then I guess I should wear my battle gear…” Dea huffed.
Later on that day, Dea went over to pick Abel up so they could walk home together. The cool spring breeze blew over their faces, momentarily erasing any tragic memories whilst the twins chatted about nothing in particular. At this time of the year, Dea could smell the blossoms and hear the buzzing of busy bees nearby, and butterflies would make frequent appearances whenever they get closer to a patch of flowers. The damp but cool atmosphere reminded them of the rain last night, long and mournful, a big contrast to the calm and bright day it brought. The twins couldn’t resist purposefully stepping too hard on puddles just for the same of making visible footprints on the road or trying to copy bird songs with light-hearted whistles. But the beautiful spell had to be broken as soon as Olympia Mansion came into view, and all the recent events were drawn back into focus.
A maid greeted them at the door and offered to take their bags to their room, to which Dea declined. Leaving the maid and Abel, she went straight to Erin’s door and knocked thrice firmly. Shuffles were heard from behind and the door opened slightly, revealing Erin’s dark eyes. “What’s it, Dea?” she grumbled.
“About Cornelius –”
“That word’s taboo here,” Erin hissed, “Come in and make haste – I was in the middle of a recording for my project.” Erin let her door swing aside and gestured for Dea to enter.
It was actually Dea’s first time seeing Erin’s room aside from those attempts to peek inside (the girl would always keep her door locked at all times). A bed in navy blue sheets rested with the pillow away from the window which was situated just by the end of the bed. A small oak desk stood facing a wall in front of the bed; on it was a laptop buried in stacks of papers and books, and Erin’s dark green bag was dumped upon the black wheeled chair. An ancient wardrobe loomed over in the corner behind the door, a rare sight among the other relatively modern furniture.
Erin moved her bag onto the floor next to her desk and flopped down on the chair. She then swept her hand towards the bed, giving Dea permission to sit. “I hope this isn’t another confrontation,” Erin drawled – her voice told Dea that she knew she was going to get an earful of accusations.
“I was going to talk to you about the coffee and my books and how you completely ruined my day,” Dea scorned, “but I changed my mind. You lied about Cornelius.”
At this, Erin sat up straighter and levelled Dea’s intense gaze, “I’d lie about my life and death, but I will never lie about him.”
“Why’s that? You seem to know more than you should, and I think you’re just trying to cover up a plan, a dreadful plan,” Dea hissed, “You’re bluffing, Erin, and it’s very clear. If Cornelius was still alive and walking around, then someone would’ve known sooner or later.
“It’s weird how he had managed not to get caught by any of the house’s security systems. We all know that no one can trespass this house that easily, especially through my room, and the only way someone could roam around this mansion is if that person is already inside.” Dea crossed her arms and leaned back on her leg – a posture known for signifying Dea’s finality with her decision. “So? Out with it, liar.”
The dark haired girl searched her half-sister’s face; she saw distrust, anger and betrayal, none of the things she saw in Dea’s face before the incident at the river. “You’re going astray, Dea –”
“I told the others about it and suggested a bug search – there were none. I double checked, going to the deepest corners of the house, and found nothing but spider webs and dust. You say this house was bugged and that’s the reason you can’t tell anybody about Cornelius, and even when we’re outside you refused to tell me – in fact, any of us – anything! Don’t you think it’s suspicious?”
“You have no idea what you’re talking about,” Erin snarled, rising from her chair, “This is exactly what he wanted. You just ruined my plan to –”
“To what? Destroy the family?” Dea laughed bitterly, “I thought you were better than using non-existent information. At least you used to use logical lies to get away with your schemes –”
“You just ruined my plan to protect the family!” Erin rose her voice, but quietened down soon after, “I can’t help Zach with what he’s going through right now, so I’m going to make sure the family is running perfectly for his sake. That’s why I told you I’m doing this for my own good – if the family is gone, Zach will be saddened for sure, and that will mean Mum’s downfall and then the rest of us will suffer the consequences. I don’t want to end up like dirt. I need you for my plan to work because you are superior to me in things I need most. I don’t care about the other’s fate whatsoever. All I want is for my family to be happy.”
Dea stood still. The room felt gloomier than it already was. The sun was setting and the room darkened by each passing second. Erin’s alarm clock ticked continuously, the only thing that kept a sense of reality inside the bedroom. “A theory would need an evidence in order for it to be a fact,” was all Dea said before exiting the room with an ominous click.