"Espers are nothing new. Humans with the capacity for psychic phenomena have been around for millenia, but it wasn’t until 1934 that the acronym ESP was coined, which gave birth to the organization called NUE and the creation of ESPers, otherwise known as Vespers." - Hiryuu Osakura
Vespers are the product of human-angel experimentation. Referred to as chimera by Celestials and vampires by mortal men, Vespers are undead beings produced using the recombinant techniques of splicing the soul matter of Ochigami and human souls which are then binded to a human body.
The original purpose of Project ESPer was to combat the Ochigami that were purported to have wiped out the original Esper population. With Espers almost annihilated, mankind was at a greater risk than ever to suffer attacks from fallen spirits. Vespers were created to replace the lost Espers and become a buffer of protection against spirits for humans. Later the purpose of Project ESPer began to include the goals of increasing longevity in humans and find a possible route to immortality, as well as raise the dead. However, this was foiled by the fact that Ochigami themselves are not immortal. The only way for an Ochigami, and consequently a Vesper, to remain undying is by consuming the souls of others. Thus, Vespers are given to the same faults that their Fallen predecessors have: they need to consume souls to survive. Given that spiritual energy is limited in the Physical Realm, this did nothing but create competition between Vespers and the Ochigami. The Ochigami prey on normal humans, while Vespers prey on Ochigami, as well as humans, which effectively controls the demon population.
Early Vesper experiments all proved to be failures. Subjects frequently endured long hours of tortuous splicing and often became overrun by the Ochigami supplying the power. Many appeared to be possessed by Legion. Others were consumed by the need to feed and were euthanized.
The first successful experiment was A-1187, which spearheaded the A line of the Human Angel Genome Project (Project ESPer). The differences with A-1187 were that the subject had been recently deceased, and that the soul matter of the Ochigami—with whom he had an affiliation previously—was not injected into his bloodstream or soul, but rather into the seat of the soul, around the location of the pineal gland.The two souls spliced together neatly, and A-1187 suffered fewer ill effects from the experiment.
The success of this Vesper led to the creation of further "lines" of Vespers, including the AB, B, and 00 lines. A, AB, and B all have relatively the same power and techniques, while 00 represents a superior class.
Vespers controlled by NUE are required to wear a uniform to identify them. The standard uniform consists of a black longcoat bearing the Vesper insignia, or gold eight-pointed star, on its back. It is usually worn with black pants and boots. Many Vespers customize their uniform with additional weapons, clothing, and armored vests. The longcoat has a double collar that can be worn up or down. Higher ranking members of NUE may wear white coats instead. Shirts and pants vary, though most Vespers appear to wear an entirely black ensemble. There is often a weapons holster, often on the right thigh, along with other various holsters hidden on and beneath the coat. Vestments other than the longcoat may feature the Vesper insignia, including buttons, belts, and buckles.
There are other distinctions within the ranks of NUE, and most wear an arm patch distinguishing their division. Undercover Vespers frequently wear civilian clothing, while Special Forces units wear hooded longcoats with their masks at all times.
As Vespers are essentially copies of the Ochigami they shadow (or channel/tail), they typically don the mask of the source of their power. Thus they manifest the mask of a power that isn't truly theirs. Termed "living behind the mask" by many of the Vesper, it denotes a shadowed identity that is eclipsed by the powers' true users.
Vesper abilities vary widely depending on several factors. These include the ESP ability of the original human, the Ochigami with whom their soul was spliced, and the method used in splicing; later generations of experiments, notably the 00 line, tend to be stronger than their predecessors, with better control over their bloodlust. Vespers are ranked from Twelfth Degree to the First Degree, with the First Degree being the most skilled.
Vespers have many of the abilities that Ochigami have, since Vespers are direct descendents of the Ochigami. They are basically weaker versions of their Coronas.
Vespers can learn all forms of Tendō but are generally limited to single spells. They have spirit abilities of Celestials but the bodies of humans that essentially function like zombies or vampires, much like their Ochigami counterparts. They are undead and cannot eat, breathe, give birth, etc. They are still limited by their human bodies, however, meaning that they cannot transform or possess (unless in spirit form, removed from their body). They cannot access the Otherworld and cannot open Portals to other locations. They do, however, often have a strong psychic connection to their Corona, the Ochigami from whom they received their power.
Vespers have a reputation for being vampires, due to the fact that they consume only blood or spirit matter, and the fact that they often come out in the evening. They are often prone to nyctophilia and insomnia. Because the pineal gland is the seat where the soul splice takes place, Vespers often have an inability to sleep and sometimes even a dislike for sunlight which further aggravates their difficulty in sleeping. This has its scientific basis in the fact that the pineal gland produces melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep, and that the production of melatonin is adversely affected by sunlight. This is what gives Vespers their vampiric qualities.
- Tendō (天道)
- Occasionally Deuce spells
- Apportation (with Vespers, this takes the form of dissolving into black energy)
- Exorcisms (via Energy Replacement or Purification Spells)
- Weapons Summoning
- Energy siphoning
- Increased Resistance/Durability
- Instant Healing/Regeneration
- Skywalking (空歩, Kūho) standing free in the air by manipulation of particles around them
- Apportation (interdimensional)
- Breathe underwater/in space/without air
- Trinity spells
In addition, Vespers are created from Ochigami, so they share the same difficulties as the Ochigami. Vespers must consume spirit energy or they will wither up and become increasingly erratic and psychotic, becoming destructive in their madness. In their rebirth, a Vesper's physical body is not what keeps it alive, so physical nourishment does nothing to sustain them. The closest that a Vesper can come to physical satisfaction is blood, which has both physical and metaphysical properties.
Vespers perform exorcisms by using blood rituals and a weapon, typically a silver athame which can transform into a full-sized weapon. The exorcism is performed within a pentagram outlined in blood or soul energy (also called etheric fire), with the athame performing the final act of exorcism/purification within the circle. The drawn pentagram may vary in size from small enough to stand on to encompassing an entire city.
The exorcism can either take place with an Ochigami's host, or without one. In either case the physical body is not harmed and the blade merely affects the spiritual body. When the blade meets the body, the pentagram shines a pillar of light from its circumferenc, often white, bluish, or violet. Afterward, all traces of the pentagram and spirit disappear, leaving only the unconscious host (if there was one).
The athame itself cuts off the Ochigami from its host and this world, while the Pentagram serves as the channel or doorway to the next world. In this way, exorcisms are two-fold: the soul must first be cut from its ties to this world before it can be sent to the next world. Karma, or the amount of positive and negative energy within the soul, governs which world the soul is sent to.
Often, a Vesper will not have time to actually draw a pentagram beforehand. In these cases, a spell is used to create one automatically, usually with a few symbols drawn on their hands or in the air and an incantation.
Exorcising A VesperEdit
There are different steps necessary to exorcise a Vesper. Vespers cannot be purified like human souls, nor are they like angels.
"You think Ryuuhei's a grump now? You should see him when he hasn't fed." - Phaedra
One of the most serious complications troubling the Vesper population is the Corona overtaking the Vesper. Especially in cases where soul matter was taken from a living Celestial, the Corona's soul matter can manifest in the Vesper's own soul, like a possession. It creates an unnatural connection between the two souls that can seriously endanger the Vesper and those around him. The stronger that connection, the more power they have, but at the same time the more they fall prey to the tendencies of their Corona. Vespers can quickly become vampiric when their source of power comes from an Ochigami who is still living. Even in death, a Corona's will can be so strong that it overtakes the will of its living host. As a result, those Vespers which have been taken over by their Coronas are often destroyed by the Agency.
The Vesper breed itself creates a complication by imbalancing the universe, by adding more soul matter to the Physical Realm than it is capable of holding. In addition to storing amounts of soul energy in foreign bodies, Vespers can create a link to their living "ancestor", even if that ancestor is in another dimension. Thus they can channel a member of Legion from Hell, even while that demon is not physically present. By introducing the spirit matter of another creature into the body of a subject, it creates an unbreakable link between the two souls. Currently, the ESPer Project has found no way of interrupting this connection.
Vespers that are of little use to the Agency, especially those who have either been corrupted, lost their powers, or became defunct because of the corruption of their Corona, are frequently referred to as Vhouls, especially when they lack a physical body. The term is a cross between Vesper and ghoul.
As a product of the Agency under the organization NUE, most Vespers fulfill their purpose of exterminating and exorcising Ochigami and casting them into Hell. This conflicts directly with both the Celestials and Legion. Celestials see Vespers as the inferior by-products of man's propensity for creating abominations. Legion, on the other hand, see them as a useful means to regain connection with the material world. After all, Vespers are essentially human recreations of fallen Ochigami.
Originally created for vanquishing demonkind to protect the interests of humans, NUE eventually changes its alignment from a neutral standing between the oppositional forces of heaven and hell to side with Legion. It still protects human interests by siding with Legion; there is infinitely more spiritual matter in the Heavenly Plane, and by transmigrating there, the Physical plane, according to the Vespers, would be unharmed, and there would be little need to prey on sparse spiritual matter on the ground. Thus, the Vespers eventually join Hell's quest to overtake the Celestials. The two have been inexorably linked since the Vespers' conception.
Vespers that side with Legion become infinitely more powerful because they bind both the Vesper and the Ochigami behind its source power, making for a truly formidable power that can rival even that of the Celestials.
The Celestials refer to this change in alignment as the beginning of the end, because it finalizes the two forms together and essentially makes humans, the protectors of the material world, partakers in the final battle between the higher and lower planes, and unbalances the universe by putting a tremendous amount of spiritual matter into a physical realm in which it does not belong. The tipping edge refers to this sliding of energy into the physical realm, creating a vacuum in Yomi, endangering the balance of the entire universe.
The following is a list of Vespers along with their affiliations.
- Ryuuhei Akano
- Zeno Arakawa
- Javen Serith
- Atemus Sabriel Blythe
- Noeth Falnor
- Skadi Sipogo
- Vespers are sometimes referred to as Vespires, especially when they become consumed by vampiric tendencies. It is an amalgam of the words Vesper and vampire.
- Vesper means both evening star and the ringing of church bells that signify evening mass. This contrasts with morning star, which in the Bible is taken to mean demons, or fallen angels who followed Satan.