Chapter 19 – V
“All right, girls! I hope you don’t forget any of your belongings!” Nat asked us eagerly as we are preparing to leave the room.
“Aside from our weapons, we don’t have any other belongings, Nat,” Van reminded her sister.
“…Oh yeah…true that.” Nat smiled in embarrassment.
“Hey, Viola, we’re leaving now,” Sarin called me, while I am staring out of the window.
From the moment I woke up today, my mind could not stop thinking about how to explain my situation to them. Knowing full well that it is a trap, they will definitely be against going there. Not to mention how I’ve made such a big speech about the best alternative for everyone. But, I have no intention of running.
This ledger must be cleaned and I won’t have it any other way.
How would I convince them to let me go there without worrying them?
“Hello~~? Athenia to Viola! Are you still with us?” Nat poked my left cheek as she spoke right into my ears.
“Yeah, I heard you.” I replied and walked out of the room, still thinking about what to tell them. My mind was so busy that I didn’t realize Nat’s face when she saw me walk pass her.
Three of us sit down on the couch in the lobby while Van proceeds to check us out.
“…Um…Hey, Viola? Is there something on your mind? I didn’t piss you off, did I? Or was it something I said?” Nat asked with concern, after some hesitation.
“Oh. No, I’m fine. Sorry. It’s just…” I paused, thinking about how to start telling them. “There’s something I need to tell all of you, but I don’t know where to start.”
“Well, take your time. It’s still a long way before we get to the Orion Observatory. You can tell us along the way,” Van said as she approaches us.
That was a pretty fast check out.
“That’s the deal… There’s some place I want…I have to go before we move on.”
“Oh…? You need to use the bath room?” Nat asked.
Van and Sarin glare at the red haired girl.
“What!? It was an honest question!!!” Nat raised both of her arms, expressing her true concern.
Maybe for these girls, it would be better if I am frank and honest with them.
“Here’s the deal, girls. Listen to me.”
The three of them immediately move closer, listening attentively.
“There is this nightmare I’ve been having almost every night for the past three years,” I begin.
“Oh. So that’s why you were screaming a couple of nights ago,” Nat muttered.
“Shhh! Nat, don’t interrupt her!” Van hushed her sister.
“Oops. Sorry.” Nat bowed down apologetically.
“In that nightmare, I saw a vision of a laboratory from behind a glass capsule. There are four scientists in that dream. Mom was one of them. After a while, an electric shock would be released onto my body and I will choke. The excruciating pain spreads through every organ. I cried but the weird liquid gushed into my mouth, sinking my voice back down my throat,” I explained.
The three girls, upon listening to all of those descriptions, seem to have an idea of what I was trying to say.
“…So you’re saying…you saw the events of the Reunion Project in your dreams even before all of this happened?” Van asked.
“When Sophia told me about Zodiac Angels reincarnating into host bodies, I thought it might be some sort of a memory from my past life. However, that did not explain why mom referred to herself as my friend or why a girl who coincidentally looks alike and even shares the same name with me existed 20 years ago,” I explained, “Last night however, the nightmare was different. I met and talked with mom’s murderer.”
“Huh!?” the three girls raised their voice at the same time.
“Did he do anything to you!?” Nat asked worriedly.
“No. We were just talking,” I explained.
“…But um, Viola,” Sarin interrupted, “Wasn’t it just supposed to be a dream?”
“Remember how I said my mom’s video mentioned that my powers were extracted from me and implanted onto someone else?” I replied her with another question.
“…So you’re saying that whoever this man is, he was implanted with your powers, and as a side effect, he could communicate with you in your dreams?” Van proposed.
“Oh yeah. That would also explain why he was able to seal Viola’s beast,” Nat nodded in agreement, “That must be it! This makes perfect sense! He has Zodiac Angel powers within him as well!”
“So what did you talk to him about?” Sarin asked.
“He…challenged me to a duel,” I explained, “He told me he would be waiting for us at the Pisces Temple behind the Aquarius Falls.”
“That famous temple, huh? But um…‘us’? He wants us to go too?” Van asked.
“He told me that this is a trap. I woke up before I could ask him anything else,” I replied.
“…He said that…?” Sarin raised her eyebrow.
“Uh…I…don’t get it. If he was trying to ambush us, then why the heck would he tell us that it’s a trap!?” Nat grumbled.
“And so you want to go there even though we already have a destination in mind?” Van asked.
“Look. I know I’ve made a big speech about the best alternative for everyone last night. But I need to clear this ledger and I don’t intend to run from this,” I said.
“…Hm…Marching right into his trap, huh?” Van muttered thoughtfully, “Sounds like fun. Why don’t we give him what he wants?”
“So, we’re going, huh? I was afraid you’re going to turn her down.” Sarin smiled.
“Yeah! This should be fun! I hope they brought an army with them! Smashing just a few soldiers wouldn’t—-!!”
“Hey hey hey hey hey, wait!” I stopped them. “Are you girls sure about this!? He down right told us it’s a trap and you’re still going to charge right in!?”
“So what? Because it’s a trap, you want to charge in alone? Is that what you were thinking?” Van shot a question back, which made me swallowed my words. “I told you several times to trust in us, Viola. We might not know each other for all that long, but the four of us are in this together. You, me, Nat, and Sarin too. So from now on, forget the idea of going solo.”
“Yeah! You’re my friend, Viola! I’m not going to let you go through this alone!” Nat added, “No matter where you go, I’ll stick with you to the end!”
“We’ve just met for only a day, but I like you, Viola. You are the first Zodiac Angel I met since I started my journey, and I don’t intend to lose such a dear friend so fast,” Sarin added some more, “Besides, you were the one who proposed the idea of meeting up with the other Zodiac Angels. I’m still waiting for you to take the lead.”
Their concerns touched my closed heart, forcing the tears to flow down my cheek unintentionally. I was never the type to close myself from others. The trauma of losing my only family member probably took toll on me a lot more than I thought. But then, along this painful journey to the truth, I was able to make new friends – Friends with the same powers, friends with the same goal, friends that would look out for my back no matter what happen, but more importantly, friends that would always remind me that I am not alone in this world any more.
“Hey, come on. You’re a big girl now, don’t cry. Or else I’m gonna cry too, okay?” Van chuckled as she wiped her own tears. Nat was already sniffing when she saw tears flowing down my cheek. Sarin has not said anything much, but I could see her eyes welling up too.
“Thanks. Sorry. I really should have trusted you girls more,” I said.
“Don’t mention it!” Nat blows her snot onto a tissue paper and gives me her signature cheeky smile.
“Well then. I guess we’ll have a slight detour from our main destination,” Sarin noted.
“Yes. To the Pisces Temple then,” I stood up.
“The Aquarius Falls is quite a distance from this inn. Because it was closed off from the tourists, there is no bus that could directly take us there,” Van explained.
“I guess we’ll walk,” I said.
“…Walking again? Can’t we, like, walk from the closest bus stop?” Nat grumbled.
“I thought you said no matter where I go, you’ll stick with me to the end,” I teased her.
“Hey, but that’s two different things!” Nat pouted.
“I’m just kidding,” I giggled, “Do you know the closest way we can get there, Van?”
“Well, my dears,” a voice emerged from behind, slightly startling us.
It was the innkeeper.
“I don’t mean to butt in, but if you are going to the Aquarius Falls, then perhaps would it be better to rent a car?”
“That’s a great idea. Do you know any place we can rent one?” Van asked.
“There’s a Car Rental service just down the hill. If you are going to that area, using the private car is the best option,” the innkeeper replied.
“Thank you, sire. We appreciate your help,” I bowed to him.
“No worries, dear. Just come back to this remote inn again when you have a chance,” the kind innkeeper smiled at us before walking back to the counter.
“Was he listening to our conversations? I hope he didn’t think we’re weirdoes, talking about Zodiac Angels like that,” Nat muttered as we walked out of the inn.
“I doubt it. If he thought we’re weirdoes, he wouldn’t ask us to come back again, wouldn’t he?” Sarin replied.
“You’re so naïve, Sarin. That’s not the reason he wants us to visit his inn again,” Van giggled.
“Huh? What do you mean?” Sarin raised her eyebrow puzzlingly.
“Well, Sarin, on the check-in book, all of the other guests who made a reservation here are all males. Obviously, it’s not often this place gets female visitors,” Van laughed.
“So…he wants us to come back because we’re girls…? That doesn’t make any sense to me,” Sarin muttered.
“Oh dear, I can’t tell if you’re naïve or silly,” Nat laughed then softly tackled the silver haired girl.
“Hey! What’s that for!?” Sarin pouted.
“Oh, it’s nothing! I just thought you’re really cute,” Nat laughed some more.
“Say, Van. Jokes aside, what about your car?” I asked.
“…Hm? What car?”
“You know, the one you parked at Grand Central library. We got out of the library by foot. The car was still in the city, right?” I reminded her.
“Hm…oh yeah…that car…what about it?”
“What about it!? Aren’t you worried that your car is still stuck inside that city?!”
“Who said that was my car, hm?” Van giggled, then walked off, humming.
Wait, so whose car was that!?