Chapter 23 – V [Epilogue]
“Oh! Look who’s back!!!”
The red haired gal waved to my direction as I stroll out of the temple. The green haired girl stood up and gave me a smile upon seeing me. The silver haired girl was leaning on a stone pillar nearby. She turned to the temple’s entrance as soon as the red haired gal started waving at me.
“All is well, huh? I hope you got your revenge,” Van said.
“Duh,” I shrugged and gave her a smile.
“So he’s dead, huh? Guess that’s one ledger cleared,” said Sarin, smiling.
“You girls don’t seem very surprised.”
Their voices showed no trace of relief to see me. Instead, it sounds as if they were tired of waiting.
“Well, the thought of you losing never really crossed our minds. And even so, it’s not like you’d be happy if we butt in,” Van shrugged.
“Ha. I guess so,” I chuckled then look around. Their Zodiac Beasts are nowhere insight. Neither does the NEF troops.
“They retreated,” Van explained before I even ask, “Since the chicken commander ran away, there was no one to issue the command and hold the line. After you went inside, I announced to them that we don’t have any reason to kill them. If they value their lives, they should reconsider this and just walk away.”
“Well, it was a small number at first, but then slowly, each of them began running out once they realized that they cannot harm us,” Nat laughed.
“They made a wise choice indeed,” Sarin giggled.
“Well, I really wouldn’t mind if they stick around to taste my knuckle sandwiches,” Nat joked.
The four of us walked out of the cavern through the path we entered earlier. Thankfully, the park is still empty and there is no more NEF troop hiding around. I stretch and take in a full deep breath of fresh air. The air inside that cavern was rather stagnant and confining. I’m glad to finally be standing outside again.
“So, then. With that out of the way, I guess we can resume our original plan to go to the Orion Observatory,” Van muttered as we moved for the park’s exit.
“Yeah. But well, it’s getting a little dark,” I noted and looked out to the horizon. The sun is just about to set.
“Hm, you’re right. Let’s rest up for the night,” Van agreed.
“Is it okay to keep your friend waiting? …What’s her name again? Sophia?” Nat asked.
“Well, I have her number, but she hasn’t called me yet. I guess it’s safe to assume that she has not yet made it to our rendezvous point either,” I said, “Knowing her so far, I think she can take care of herself just fine. I’ll check up on her after we rest up.”
“In that case, we should see if there is any lodging site for us tonight then. Perhaps we all can agree to stay at an inn?” Sarin looked at Van.
“Getting fond of inns now, aren’t we?” Van teased.
“I suppose. The best part was sleeping over with friends after all,” Sarin giggled.
Chatting with them like this, it felt as if we’ve forgotten that we were being chased down by the world’s biggest organization. It just feels so relaxing.
The four of us get into the car and Van drove us off to the nearest inn. Today was another rough day. But at the same time, it felt like I was able to lift a huge burden off my chest. With this, I should be able to get a better sleep at night.
The closest inn is quite a distance from where we are right now, so the sunsets before we could get there. As the sky got dark, Sarin and Nat fell asleep, leaving Van and me awake.
“Always the first to fall asleep,” Van teased her sister, who is now sleeping like a little baby without a care in the world, “Hey Viola. Got something to talk about to keep me awake?”
She talked to me who is sitting in the back without turning her focus from the road.
“…I can’t think of anything in particular right now,” I replied, removing one earphone off my ear, “…Hm…Actually, I might have something to talk about after all. Wanna know what happened to me 20 years ago?”
“…What? That man actually told you everything?” Van seemed a little surprised.
“Not really…But fighting with him kind of jogged the memories of my past,” I said, “Still wanna listen?”
“Let’s hear it. At least that’ll keep me from getting sleepy,” Van chuckled.
So I told her everything; the truth about the Reunion Project as well as the unexpected result of the extraction process.
“……Wow…That…was kind of unexpected,” Van muttered, “So in a way, you are supposed to be like…what…? Almost 40 years old now?”
“Thanks for adding up my age, but yeah, I guess so. Sadly, I don’t have any memory of those years before I turned into a baby any more. All that’s left is some weak reminiscent that pops up every now and then,” I paused briefly, recalling the first time I reached Cancer City, “…Maybe that was why I suddenly welled up. It did feel like I missed the place … But anyway, that ‘Viola’ is technically dead, no matter how you put it.”
“Have you ever thought about how your journey would end?”
I paused briefly thinking about an appropriate answer.
“…To be honest, I don’t know what Nat had in mind. But I really can’t see the end of this,” Van continued before I could answer her, “Everything seems impossible with just Nat and me. We thought that the situation might have been better if we could find other Zodiac Angels to join our ranks. But then there’s something else new to worry about now.”
“…The Angel of Ophiucus…,” I mumbled.
“Yeah. Honestly, I still don’t really buy into all that. But from what we’ve seen so far, I don’t think we can deny that this incident definitely has something to do with our powers. And neither can we run away from it too,” Van proposed.
“I guess,” I shrugged, “For now, let’s just focus on meeting up with Sophia and the other angels. If anything, that should at the very least keep us safe from the more immediate threat.”
“You mean the Nebula Corp, huh?”
“……Our struggle started because of that company. I don’t want to imagine this world having more people like Rokishi,” I muttered, “Just think of all the evil things that company could do if they have our powers. The more I think about it, the more I cannot afford that to happen. No one else should suffer the hell I went through.”
“I guess that only further confirms that we are on the same boat,” Van laughed, “I don’t want other people to fear that organization like Nat and I do. And Sarin wants to save her family from that organization’s influence. I think that should be more than enough reason for us to stick together.”
“Yeah. Let’s do this together, Van.”
“Right. We’ll bring this struggle to an end together. You. Me. Nat. Sarin. And the other angels too. I can’t wait to meet them already.”
Her voice might sound calm and profound, but I could almost sense the intense excitement from her.
My eyes cast out of the car’s window into the starry sky.
Lyra…I mean…Mom used to tell me that when people die, their souls become a part of the great star ocean, glittering in the night sky. From there, they look out for the ones they love and care. Maybe she is also up there somewhere, watching over me as I speak.
My heart is now liberated from the angst and rage. The journey to avenge my mother and to uncover my past has finally come to an end. Mom can rest peacefully now.
But this is hardly the end for me.
In fact, this very moment marks the beginning of my new journey to the ocean of stars…
—Chapter Viola End—