Chapter 21 – V
Animus rushes at me with his blade and relentlessly swings it several times. Some are aimed at my arms, while some go straight for the neck. Fortunately, they were slow and I was able to block all of his slashes without any trouble. I dodge his vertical downward slash by bending to the side then smacking the shaft of my lance onto his belly. Unlike Nat, the strike effectively halts him on spot. I thrust the shaft onto his waist one more time before smacking it onto his neck. However, the bastard just won’t go down so easily. Instead of getting knocked out, he sweeps his leg in circle, tipping me off my balance. Before my body falls to the floor, my left hand pushes itself against the floor and springs my body back into the air. I swiftly perform a backward somersault to regain my balance as I landed safely.
Animus gets back up to his feet then gives me a creepy smirk before continuing his assault. His smirk makes it seem as if he is filled with excitement and joy. What bothered me, however, is how he is throwing his attack out front recklessly. Each of his slashes is obvious like last set, so blocking it was a cinch like before.
Is he just playing around with me?
In any case, I cannot let my guard down. I cannot let the battle ended the way it did back in the Cancerian Laboratory. But now that I think about it, back at the Cancerian Laboratory, he only pulled a couple of slashes on me. It was me who mindlessly threw attacks without thinking straight.
Was it because I am being a little more cautious this time that I found his attacks easy to handle?
I took a step back again then swing my lance horizontally, forcing him to take a step back. Since my weapon is longer, I have the advantage in attack range. My hands swiftly thrust the lance forward several times, pressuring him to remain on defense. Strangely enough, he just keeps dodging my thrusts instead of brushing it away.
That’s weird. Why didn’t he brush my lance off?
Is he planning something?
…That must be it. He wants me to get the vibe that I am getting an upper hand then proceeds to take me down in one fell swoop. Then in that case, all I have to do is quickly finish him up while he is still playing around.
I smack my lance downward vertically and unleash the wave attack at point-blank range. Since the attack was sudden and released at close-rage, Animus was barely able to block the wave with his blade in time. While he is busy trying to brush the wave away, my hands thrust the lance forward and release an energy pulse. The burst blows off the lance and reinforces the strike from wave attack. As a result, Animus was blown flying across the room. The hooded man’s body crashed against the floor, lying still. However, he is not yet dead. I know because that blast was blocked by his blade, so for most part, his body was safe from the attacks. To prevent myself from falling into any of his cheap tricks, I keep my distance from him, observing his next move.
However, all of the sudden, the bastard starts chuckling, and before long, it bursts into a loud maniacal sadistic laughter. The laugh goes on and on, making it even creepier in each second.
“What the hell are you laughing for?” I asked since it’s starting to freak me out.
“I’m excited, what else!? Can’t you feel the excitement, Viola!!? I have always been waiting for this day! The day you can fully manifest your power as the Zodiac Angel of Libra and stand once again before me!”
His laughter subsides into a chuckle as he gets back up on his feet.
“And you did not disappoint me, Viola…As expected from my Anima,” he whispered under his breath and thrusts his sword onto the floor next to him. His two hands then reach for his hood and slowly flip it over to the back.
This is it – The moment of truth. The ugly face of the murderer who took my only family member away is about to be unveiled. My eyes stop blinking as if trying to catch all the details of the event that is about to occur. My body feels tense. A drop of sweat traces its way down my cheek, as his face is slowly uncovered.
However, the anxiety turns into shock and blood drains off my face as his black hood drops behind his head.
“Hey there, sweetie.” The bastard brushes his straight shoulder-length purple hair and gives me his usual creepy smirk. His eyes are narrow and sharp, glittering violet sparkles from inside. No matter how much I want to reject the thought, I just cannot deny the fact that I felt as if I was looking at a mirror. This bastard looks a lot like me, except with muscular features like wider shoulder and taller body.
My voice is trembling, but I am not sure why.
Was it fear?
Was it anxiety?
Was it confusion?
Just who is this man standing in front of me?
And why does he have my face!?
“My name is Viola Animus, the first human to be implanted with the power of a goddess,” the purple haired bastard introduced himself, “But before that … My former name… my former self … is Rokishi Vossler.”
It’s that man…The one standing next to my capsule.
“That’s right,” he chuckled.
“But…how? I don’t understand!” I argued.
“Who were you expecting me to be, my dear? Professor Gregory? Sorry to disappoint you, but even he himself knows that he would not be able to withstand the pain of the implantation process,” the bastard chuckled, “…It has to be me. That’s right! I am the only one worthy…of becoming one with you.”
“…Why you…? Out of the many people in that laboratory, why you?”
My voice sounds so weak.
Why am I panicking this much?
Was it because he has my face? Or was it something else? What is my body trying to tell me?
“You really don’t remember, do you? It seems like there is really no way to recover your memories,” Animus chuckled, “Fine then. I might not be able to influence as much as I did before, but at least I can still let you see my memory. Wanna know what happened 20 years ago?”
Animus raises his right palm up front, and a sudden surge of headache strikes me. I press my left hand against my head, trying to suppress the pain.
All of the sudden, several images flash before my eyes and many voices echo in my ears. The pain on my head is too painful to bear. It was only a couple of seconds later that my mind was able to adjust and identify the visions flashing before me.
“Vi…o…la. I’m…I’m so sorry…”
I saw mom kneeling down in the laboratory, sobbing in the arms of another scientist. Apparently, I am viewing these events through Animus’s eyes.
“It’s not your fault, Lyra. You had no choice,” said the gentle scientist.
“But how can I still call myself her friend when I betrayed her?! She is here because of me!” mom cried at that man then turned to the old scientist, “Please, Professor! Let her go! Don’t do this to her!”
“What are you talking about, Lyra? You were the one who exposed her escape plan to us. That was how we were able to capture her in the first place,” the old scientist chuckled and nudged his glasses up, “You should be happy that you are one of the people who will bring the Nebula Corp to its eternal prosperity!”
“By killing her very own friend!? Professor, please! There has got to be a way to remove Viola’s powers from her without the extraction!” The man who tried to comfort mom argued with the scientist. However, instead of replying right away, the old scientist remains quiet, turning his back at both of them.
“Lyra. Kraine. The two of you disappointed me,” the old scientist grumbled with frustration before turning around, “You fools were the one who took that theory from Cliff Estella and brought it to me! You were the one who helped me prove that a Zodiac Angel’s power source is her heart! There is NO other way we can harness her powers without extracting it out of her body like this! Both of you know it goddamn well! So to hell with ‘other means’!”
“Shut up, Kraine! I am on the verge of uncovering a new discovery – One that will change the face of mankind’s history and energy market forever! By stopping this project, I am throwing my pride as a scientist away! I will not let ANY low-life like you stop me!” the old scientist scowled and turned to his other assistance, “Rokishi! Turn the power to maximum!”
Rokishi was there, standing in front of my capsule. His eyes are wide open in fascination as he flipped the white switch on the panel next to the capsule.
“Soon my dear…soon. You will be mine forever…soon.”
“And this gentlemen! The moment of truth! My VIOLA-ANIMA! Give me your powers!”
The old scientist announced and gawked at the purple haired girl in the capsule without blinking. The sound of machine engine running echoes the room. Several bubbles filled the capsule as the girl writhe in pain.
“Extraction confirmed! We are gradually accumulating energy!”
“Good! Keep up the extraction!”
However, a couple of seconds later, the sound of the running machine suddenly turns into an alarm. The sound of the commotion from other scientists filled the room.
“Sire! The subject’s pulse is reacting strangely!”
“There are signs of resistance! She is trying to resist our attempts to extract her powers!”
“Hmph! What can she possibly do!? Turn up the bloody engine! Suck everything out of her!” the old scientist ordered, “Let’s see how long you can resist me!”
“Sire! We are already operating at maximum speed! We can go any further!”
“Her heart is no longer stable! H…Her cells…!! They…They’re—-!?”
I heard mom’s voice crying out my name as my visions blurred. The last thing I heard before everything turned white…is the cry…of a newborn baby.
When I regained my consciousness, I am kneeling down on the floor, drenched in sweat. The purple haired bastard is still standing there on the same spot, watching me with a satisfied look.
“Professor called it ‘Reverse Development’,” said Animus, “Instead of killing you, the extraction process gave us an unexpected result. It caused the angel’s host body to experience a reverse development of cells. Muscles, organs, memories. Everything inside you were reset.”
I could feel my face turn paler upon hearing so.
“…I turned back…into an infant?”
“That’s right. I saw it with my own eyes – Your body shrinking back to a size smaller than a rugby ball,” Animus shrugged, “We were not expecting this result. The professor assumed that it was some sort of an angel’s heart mechanism that prevents the angel’s host from suffering shock due to extraction. Your bodies are bloody complicated, you know that?”
“And then…mom…Then Lyra offered to take care of me? The ‘me’ that was turned into a baby?” I whispered to myself.
“That’s right. She goes on and on about how she was ashamed of betraying you and offered to raise you up again,” he replied even though I did not really asked him.
“Why?” I gritted my teeth. “Why didn’t you all just dispose me? My Zodiac Angel powers. You got what you want, didn’t you!? Or were you expecting me to grow up then ‘extract’ me again!?”
“AHAHAHAHA!!!! Why would we want to dispose you, my dear!?” Animus laughed, “Professor was very interested in your case! He came up with the last hypothesis for this project right on spot!”
“Yes, Viola. That is right. We still need you for the project’s last step and final hypothesis,” the bastard explains, “[Regardless of the conditions, the hosts of an angel’s powers shall reunite into one after separation].”
“The hypothesis proposed that one day, when the original rightful host of the Zodiac Angel’s heart is able to remanifest her powers, all sub-hosts who received a portion of her powers would do anything – from crossing the ocean to transcending the stars – in order to reunite with the angel!” Animus explained, “Amazing, wasn’t it? Our meeting here is not a coincidence. Each step that you walked. Each breath that you took. Essentially everything that you did up until now. It has been decided and planned out from the start!!!!! We are destined to crash against one another here!!!!”
“…So…why did you have to kill mom?” I asked him as I stand up gritting my teeth, “If you know that one day we would meet each other any way…then why did you have to kill her!?”
“…I was bored of waiting.”
“20 years is pretty long, honey. I just could not wait any longer to become one with you. So I’ve decided to give you a little push and incentive to come after me.
He killed mom just to make me remanifest my powers.
“I didn’t tell..be…cause…I don’t want you…to…su…suff…suffer… If…possible…I wanted you…to…not…be involved…again…”
So this is what you were keeping from me this whole time?
You did not want me to acknowledge the existence of that experiment so you were trying to hide me from them.
You wanted me to defy the destiny chosen for me.
Was that right, mom?
“And now Viola! The time has come for us to become one! I shall absorb you into me and then I’ll be together forever!!!! I’ll finally…get to become one with my dear angel!!!!!”
“…That’s enough…I’ve heard enough bullshit.” I wiped my tears then tightly gripped my lance with two hands. “I’m going to defeat you…and take back what rightfully belongs to me!”
“Aha! You want to be beat up by me again?” Animus laughed, “Don’t you remember what happened at the Cancerian Laboratory!? Not only I have the powers that you did 20 years ago, I’ve also drained quite a lot of powers from the ‘current you’! You might be able to manifest your powers better now, but don’t expect your powers to be comparable to mine!”
“No. This time, I will not lose – not to a sick and insane man who toys with other people’s life like you!”
“…You really just don’t get it, do you?” Animus sighed, followed by a creepy chuckle. A bright peculiar mark shines from above his right chest.
That mark…? I’ve…seen it before somewhere.
“Fine. Then let me to show you just how weak you really are!”
…Wait…Don’t tell me—-!?
Animus smirked and announced out loud. “Pulverize her! I summon you!!!!!! CHAMALI!!!!!”
An iron giant in white armor emerges from behind Animus. It stands over three meters tall with two huge circular metallic shields attached on its arms. Each shield has iron chain attached to it, tracing to a chain rack its back. A huge cape, weaved from some sort of metallic silk, is attached on his spiky shoulder pads. My heart races as I witness the white iron giant, glaring down upon me with its glowing red eyes.
“Don’t be afraid…my lady.”
A familiar voice whispers next to my ears.
“Call to me, Lady Viola. Let us fight along side each other again!”
I can almost feel the eagerness of my humbled servant. His longing passion for battle engulfs my trembling body – He wants to protect his lady!
“Grind! I summon you! ZUBENES!!!!”
The dark iron knight materializes himself and stands right next to me. He glares onto the purple haired bastard and his servant, clutching his iron fists tightly.
“…Animus…No…Rokishi…I’ll end this right here. Right now! I WILL defeat you!”
“End it, IF YOU CAN!!!!”
Zubenes and I charged forward, side by side, just as the insane maniac closes in at us with his partner.
It all ends here!