Chapter 18 – V
It took only a couple of minutes before my mind drifts off to the dream world. The battles at Grand Central today were intense and tiring. Today was the first time I’ve used my powers so much in a day and it took toll heavily on my body. It craved for a good sleep and rest, since tomorrow, we will have to move on to the Orion Observatory. However, my sleep was deprived from me when the vision of that laboratory yet again emerges in front of my eyes.
“…Not this crap again…”
I thought to myself in disgust. This nightmare used to be extremely horrifying and frightening, but now I’m so sick of it. Surprisingly, this time my vision is no longer blurry like the past nights. I can see through the glass tubes into the laboratory clearly. The double metallic doors slide opened and the old scientist in long white lab gown marches into the laboratory. His three assistants follow him closely into the room like usual. My mom, the young Lyra, is among the three. She wears a light cream shirt and short tube pants under her long white lab gown. The other two men must be Rokishi and Kraine, although I’m not sure who is who. One of those two approaches the glass tube that contains my body and stares at me, rarely blinking. He has shoulder-length dark brown hair and wears a white lab gown over his dark shirt and long pants. He nudges his eyeglasses up and looks at me in excitement as he said something to the old scientist.
However, my attention is diverted towards mom, when she collapses to her knees and starts sobbing. Unfortunately, the voice outside the tube is still inaudible to me, so I could only vaguely heard her cries.
What was she saying?
‘I’m so sorry?’
The last assistant scientist approaches mom and tries to comfort her. He speaks to her as calmly as possible as she pressed her face under his chest. This young man has short brown hair and fair skin. Under his white lab gown is a blue shirt with red necktie, and long black pants. He seems so kind and gentle to mom. Mom seems to trust him enough to cry on his chest.
Who could he be?
After a while, both of them got up and spoke to the old man in white gown, who is apparently the head honcho of this laboratory. Judging from the information that I have, this man must undoubtedly be Albert Gregory, the one who initiated this Reunion Project. Mom and the kind scientist look as if they are trying to convince something to the old man. Their voice becomes louder and louder, but I still could not clearly make out what they are saying. The old man responds calmly to mom and the kind scientist at first, but after a while his temper snaps and it turns into a fight.
“—————eory ———– brought it ————! ——-ou were ———– helped ——– Angel’s ———- her heart! ———— NO other way ————— extracting —————————-!”
His yell is loud and noisy, yet I still could not fully understand what he was yelling. The way he shouts at mom and the kind scientist is uncouth and vulgar. His face is filled with frustration as he goes on a long lecture at both of them. After he is done, he yells at his third assistant who has been standing in front of my capsule the whole time. This young man blankly looks at me who is floating unconsciously within the glass tubes. I could see his mouth mumbling something inaudible to me as he flips a couple of switches on the control panel nearby.
The painful electric shock spreads through my body once again, shaking up every muscle in me. My lungs would cry for some air and my heart would beat rapidly. My mouth opens up wide as water flushed the call for help down my throat.
I heard my own voice crying to myself. It hurts so much. I try to cry for help times and times again, but it was futile. My voice just sank down my throat. My body keeps shaking.
“I said…it hurts…”
There is really no sign of this madness stopping. Someone make this stop, please.
“Dammit. I said that HURTS!!!!”
After that scream, all of the sudden, my surroundings became dark. Everything just disappears and pin-drop silence fills the darkness.
No more numbness from the shock.
No more coldness from the water in the tube.
What…just happened? I was pretty sure that was my voice…
“……What’s this? You are able to resist the nightmare I fed you now?”
I could feel my heart races from anxiety upon hearing the creepy voice. He is here, standing not too far away from me. The black hood is still covering his face like before.
“What do you want?”
I could feel my voice trembling. I know I said that I would be the one who defeated him alone. But to be honest, deep down somewhere, I am afraid of losing again.
“I was calling out to you,” he replied with an awfully creepy smirk.
“…So this is what you meant by ‘luring me’ to the laboratory,” I sighed, “Sorry about that. I went there of my own volition, not because you showed me that place.”
“But if I did not show you that nightmare before, would you even understand what Lyra was trying to tell you?”
It’s true. It was only because I had this nightmare before that I could make a couple of conclusions using mom’s information.
“…But in any case…It appears that your powers have awakened enough to withstand my influence,” the hooded man chuckled, “Good…You made me proud.”
“Who are you really? Just show me your face already.”
He knows about that experiment and tries to tell me about it. By now, it should be safe for me to say that this man has to be someone from that laboratory.
“You should already know by now who I am. I am VIOLA-ANIMUS, a test subject from the Reunion Project. Call me Animus if you want. And you, sweetie, are VIOLA-ANIMA, the sweet Zodiac Angel whose wings were torn away,” the hooded man replied, “I am implanted with your Zodiac Angel powers.”
“That did not answer my question,” I scowled, “Show me your face. What’s your real name?”
“Oh geez. Seriously, you are THIS clueless? I thought that bitch left a note for you.”
“What did you just called mom!?” I screeched.
“Mom!? Hahaha. Oh god, you’re still calling her your mom?! Stop being such a crybaby, Viola. Don’t you know that she—-.”
“It doesn’t matter that she’s not my real mom,” I interrupted him, “She was the one who raised me up until now. I love her and you took her away from me. Whoever the hell you are, just watch your back. Cuz one day, I’m gonna shove my spear on it and I will watch you die!”
“Hoho, that’s so scary, my dear. But this is why I love you so much,” Animus chortled out loud.
“Well now, if you really want to see me THAT bad, then I am more than happy to oblige! I’ll be waiting for you at the Pisces Temple behind the Aquarius Falls.”
I know that place. It is a huge cataract, not too far to the west of Grand Central. The falls is a famous tourist attraction, renowned for its natural beauty and magnificence. There is no other waterfall, bigger than this one on Athenia. Behind the curtains of water is a cave formed by nature. An elegantly decorated temple is settled within the caverns. It was unknown as to who constructed the architect there. Some theories stated that it was a place of worship for a certain ancient deity, but so far, no theory has been proven right yet.
“Why there?” I asked.
“Cuz it’s a nice place for a good duel, what else?” Animus chuckled.
“A duel, huh? So you’ve decided to show up now after hiding for so long? That’s pretty courageous for a coward like you.”
“Whatever you said, honey. Don’t keep me waiting now. I can’t wait to become one with you again,” he chuckled some more, “Oh by the way. This is a trap, so bring your friends with you.”
I want to ask him something else, but before I know it, my eyes are already starring at the inn’s ceiling.
I sigh and sit up, stretching. My eyes scan across the palely lit room for the other girls. Nat, Van, and Sarin are still sleeping soundly. The sun is just about to rise, so the sky is still dark.
This is a trap?
Why would he want to tell me that…?
But more importantly, how should I tell the girls about this?