Chapter 10 – V
As my eyes looked out of the car’s window to the gloomy sky, my mind begins to recap everything I have gathered so far. The Nebula Corp believes that the Zodiac Angels from the bedtime story really exist and wants their power for an unknown purpose. A mysterious experiment by the name [Reunion Project] was conducted on a breathing and living Zodiac Angel 20 years ago. Mom was a part of this project but it is still unknown what exactly her part is. Judging from the place where the experiment was conducted, the vision of my nightmare, and what that man said, I want to say that the experimented Zodiac Angel was me. However, there is a significant discrepancy in timeline. The experiment happened about 20 years ago, way before I was born.
Perhaps it was another Zodiac Angel 20 years ago with the name ‘VIOLA’ and purple hair?
That can’t be. It was too much of a coincidence. That experiment must be related to me one way or the other.
Even though there are more information on my hand than when my journey started, the pieces don’t seem to connect with each other at all.
Hopefully, the data in my MP3 player can help connect those pieces together.
“Hey, Viola! We’re finally there!” Natalie announced with an excited voice, snapping me out of the dream world. My eyes look out of the car once again and embrace the views of a magnificent city from the top of the highway. Grand Central is the one of the largest city on Athenia, second only to the Great Constella located up north. The city is circle shaped, approximately 50 kilometers in radius, fenced with a seven meters high iron wall. The populace and vehicles fill the streets, making this a very busy city. According to the briefing Nat gave me earlier, this is one of the cities with strict area division much like Galaxia. The industrial, business, recreational, and residential areas are clearly distinguished and kept separated from one another. As a result, one side of this city is a concrete jungle filled with skyscrapers stretching towards the sky, while the other side consists of small two or three stories townhouses. This improved the quality of life since none of the citizens are living in the area polluted by the factories. It took many years before the city becomes well organized like this and it costs a lot of money to restructure. Not to mention the relocation of the citizens’ residence was a complete chaos. No one wants his or her residence to be relocated without a good reason or compensation. Of course, the district reconstruction was sponsored by the Nebula Corporation, otherwise the central government alone wouldn’t be able to fund it.
Frankly speaking, I am not very overwhelmed by the scenery since this is not the first time I’ve come to this city. Mom occasionally had to stay here a couple of weeks for research, so she brought me along with her.
Van drives across the highway, taking us into the city from the south gate. After this, it would not be too long before we reach the central library. There are public computer terminals that we can use to open the file there.
As the car travels down the highway back on to the streets, a police officer waves and calls us to pull over.
“…Damn, the cops? Viola, put on your beanie!” Nat warned.
Big cities, like this one, have security cameras installed on almost every corner of the streets. With so many eyes around the town like this, there is even more risk of getting caught than in other cities. As a result I was prepared to be more careful since the moment we decided to come here.
“Good morning officer,” Van politely greeted the officer with a sweet smile after sliding the window down, “Is something the matter?”
“License and registration please,” said the officer with a stern voice. He is wearing a full officer uniform; a dark navy long sleeve shirt with a couple of badges saying ‘GCPD’ (Grand Central Police Department), a long pants of the same color with the shirt, dark combat boots, and a cap.
“I don’t think I’ve driven through the speed limit.” Van complied with a sad face, as if she is repenting for something she didn’t do. The officer simply takes her card and looks at it before returning it to her right after.
“Sorry for the inconvenience, ma’am. A new regulation requires that all citizens be checked before entering the city. You may pass.”
“I see. Glad to know I’m not being fined.” Van smiles at the officer again. “Any reason why they are implementing this regulation?”
“It is classified information, ma’am. I’m afraid I cannot answer your question,” the officer replied with a determined voice as usual.
“Awwww. Tell me pleaseeee. It’s not something bad, right? If it is, at least let me know what I am supposed to look out for,” Van pleaded with glassy eyes like a kitty asking for food. Those eyes seem to make the officer nervous.
“Oh please, sweetie. Think of it as a favor for a girl,” the green haired girl pleaded him one more time with a wink.
“A…W…Well…All I know is the higher ups is looking for someone. I wasn’t even told who I am supposed to catch,” he replied with a shaky voice.
“Really?” Van asked some more with a flirtatious voice.
“Uh…you know. The news about a teenage girl killing her own mother in Andoria 6 days ago?” the officer asked her back with a nervous voice.
Did I hear that right?
“…I thought the news said she simply disappeared?” Van asked the officer with a serious look.
“Since there is no other witness, the police department sort of chalks it up as a mother and daughter quarrel that led into a big fight. The Andoria Police Department just announced that deduction two days ago or so,” the officer ruffled his head, “I was not a part of the investigation team so I don’t know. All I was ordered to do was look for that girl. You know? The one with purple hair?”
“I see. Thanks. You’re so sweet.” Van immediately slides the window closed and drives away.
“So now what? They’re accusing me for killing mom? What kind of messed up deduction is that!?” I spoke out in frustration.
“Remember, Viola? The Nebula Corp is behind all this. They are probably trying to force you to come out. Nat and I were even accused for burning down our own coffee shop. That is why we had to dye our hairs to partially disguise ourselves,” Van said then sighed in relief, “I made the right idea to make a fake ID card when we started running.”
The more I think about it, the angrier I am with the corporation. My only family member was taken away from me by the perverted murderer. And now I am accused of killing my own mother. The world is not always fair, but I have no idea what I have done to deserve this hell. The worst part about all this is that there is nothing that can clear up my own name for now. I try my best to just push the thought away and focused only on what we have to do now. Like what Van said, if my emotions got the best of me, I could have fallen right into Nebula Corp’s trap.
After a couple of turns around the corner, we finally reach the central library. It is a tall building, about five stories high. There are four stone columns with delicate crafting lined up at the front door, creating a grand magnificent entrance. Van takes the car down to the parking lot under the library and park at the corner. There are not many cars parking right now, so it didn’t take us too long to find a vacant spot. I hesitate whether I should leave the lance in the car or take it with me. But in the end, I brought it along when I saw Van taking her chakram down with her. The blades on the chakram can be slid into the ring to hide itself. With the blades gone, the chakram becomes a piece of harmless metallic disc, hanging behind her hip. I hang the folded lance onto the leather strap on my waist purse and hide it with the sweater hanging on my waist. This way, the lance becomes a lot more portable and does not attract any unwanted attention.
I really wish I knew about this gimmick when this journey started. Whoever designed these weapons is ingenious.
As we enter the lobby of the library, I am overwhelmed by the magnificent interior design. Everything was elegantly decorated. The corners of the room are highlighted with golden strips and all the furniture has intricate design that suited the place’s theme. The whole building is air-conditioned and well lighted, making it extremely ideal for reading. There is even a reading couch, made of fine velvet, but they are for subscribed members’ use only. It looks extremely comfortable and I could see myself falling asleep the moment I lie down on it. The walls are lined up with several paintings of the great philosopher of Athenia, creating a scholastic environment. Unfortunately, while I have seen a few of their portraits before, the only great philosopher I know well is ‘Angelo Fel Dahka’. He is well known for his famous bedtime story.
He was the one who wrote the [Tales of Star Ocean]. He tried to spread his words to the world about how the Zodiac Angels, who created our world, really exist. But because he neither has a proof nor a solid evidence, the other scholars all reject his ‘theory’ of world creation. However, the literature was admittedly creative and interesting when it was proposed. Hence, it quickly rises to a famous bedtime story. If Angelo is still alive, I wonder what he would say when he knows that an organization is hunting for the Zodiac Angels in his story.
Anyway, Nat and Van lead me up to the computer terminal room on the second floor while I was lost in thought. The computer terminal rooms are all lined up against the hallway, opposite to the balcony overlooking the first floor. Each room is an isolated soundproof room, making it ideal for personal private researches that require concentration.
Once we enter the room, I sit down in front of the computer and turn it on. It took only a couple of minutes before it completely boots up. After that, I plug my MP3 player into the terminal and open the data file onto the screen. To prevent any careless mistake of corrupting the file, I make a copy of the file and place it onto the computer’s desktop.
“How cautious of you,” Van teased.
“Well, I have the habit of making a copy of everything. Maybe that’s why the computer at my home always have capacity problem,” I shrugged then opened the data file.
Here it is. The Reunion Project.
I am about to learn the answers to the questions that have been tormenting me for almost a week.
“Let’s see what this project is all about first,” I muttered then clicked on the ‘Theory Concept’ folder. A document file opened up, showing a brief report about the project.
The identity of a specimen, known as the ‘Zodiac Angels’, has been confirmed. These specimens took the form of a female human; hence it is next to impossible to distinguish them from a normal female human populace. The only way to identify them is through their birthmark, visible only when another specimen is nearby.
The ‘Zodiac Angels’, as believed to be the deity that creates this planet, possess incredible energy within them. It is imperative, for a bright future of the Nebula Corporation, to discover a way to claim this power source as fast as possible.
The [Reunion Project] has the following objective:
- To discover the source of a Zodiac Angel’s power
- To harness a Zodiac Angel’s power and implant on a test subject, giving them the very power a Zodiac Angel possess
“Just as we thought,” Van muttered and folds her arms together, “These guys are really after the Zodiac Angels’ power. And they even thought about extracting and implanting it onto another person.”
“So like, what? They want to create an army of Zodiac Angels? But why would they wanna do that?” Nat asked, “And what’s the deal with the ‘bright future’ part?”
“You know what kind of powers we have. If Nebula Corp can create an army with such power, there would literally be nothing that can stand in their way of world domination,” Van explained.
“Woah, seriously!? World domination!?” Nat cried.
My mind thought about what Van said. While it makes sense that a corporation’s main concern is rising to maximum wealth and authority, I find that it is hardly the case for this corporation.
“…I don’t agree.” I cross my arms and lean back on the chair. “You said it yourself, right? Nebula Corporation has influence on almost everything on Athenia. Even the central government has to bow down to Nebula Corporation.”
“Well, that’s true. But I did said ‘almost everything’ didn’t I?” Van argued, “They probably want to make sure that their influence is completely absolute.”
“Every single people are dependent on Nebula’s energy, Van. That is the only thing they need if they are aiming for world domination,” I replied. Van ponders about my words carefully, and before long, her eyes widen up in surprise.
“…You don’t say…”
“Yeah. The question is what exactly is this ‘bright future’ they are talking about,” I nodded.
“H…Hey, let me in! What are you trying to say, Viola?” Nat asked with a slight anxiety from being left out.
“I’m guessing Nebula Corp was aiming for a much bigger scheme… Something even bigger than world domination.”