Chapter 07 – A
After the tough training session, I just cannot wait to get a bath. Turning on the shower, the warm water gently flows down my body, cleansing any dirt and dust that caught onto me during the training. My fair skin no longer presents any purple bruises that I got from the training, thanks to that ‘power of healing’, according to how Miki puts it. While on the way here, I told her that I heard some kind of voice whispering next to my ears earlier during the training, and that was how she started explaining this to me. She told me that my power is considered to be the ‘magic-type’. She said the Zodiac Angels have many kinds of powers in themselves, but in the end, all of their powers are boiled down to, for the sake of simplicity in description, either ‘physical-type’ or ‘magic-type’. Physical-types are powers that can be release simply by thinking or wishing it to happen, just like how I shoot Anty out of my arms like a boomerang or how Miki creates an ice ramp. On the other hand, magic-types are powers that require an incantation of an ancient poem to release extreme powers. These incantations come to an angel naturally when she needs to cast such spell. She said magic-types’ powers are generally more powerful of the two types, but it has a tradeoff in that it requires the angel to remain still and chant.
Well, she made it sounds simple enough. But what surprises me even more is how she knew so much about our powers. I asked her again after we reached the inn, but she just told me to go take a bath without replying to my question. I wanted to take the bath any way, so I did not bother to ask her some more.
While I am drying my hair with a towel, the black moving plush doll hovers by me and hands me the white bath robe provided by the inn. My dress was sent to the guest laundry, so it would be a while before it is dried up. As for the doll, he would not let go of my arm when I entered the bath. So I have no choice but to bring him inside the bathroom as well. However, he is cute and honest because he was sitting by the toilet flusher, facing away from the shower the whole time.
“Thanks.” I smile and take the robe from him, patting his head. The plush doll does not have a mouth, but it is safe to assume from his dance that he seems to be flattered.
After putting the robe on, I leave the bathroom and see Miki lying on the couch, sleeping in the white bath robe like mine. She has been driving for almost the whole night, so it is only natural she is worn out, even though she insisted that she already had her sleep. I sit down at the desk next to the couch and observe her face closely for the first time. The girl has fair skin, perhaps even brighter than mine. Her hairs are straight and smooth, and her eye lashes are long and sharp. Upon closer inspection, she seems to be a little younger than me. However, I have to admit she is a lot more mature and profound. That being said, I just realize that I know next to nothing about her. I wonder what kind of life she had and why she was suddenly running on the road.
But more importantly, how did she, and the Nebula Corp, even know that Orica and I are Zodiac Angels? And how did they know where we are? On top of that, Miki seems to know a whole lot about our powers too.
Suddenly, the girl’s eyelids started moving, signaling that she is about to wake up. I quickly turn to the mirror on the desk and pretend to comb my hair. Something tells me that she probably won’t be happy to see me observing her while she was sleeping.
“Oh, you’re done?” she asked as she sits up, yawning.
“Uh yeah. I saw you sleeping, so I didn’t wake you up. I thought you might need the sleep,” I replied, still looking at the mirror.
“Well, I’ll go take my bath then,” the girl said and dragged herself into the bathroom that I just came out.
This twin room is in a small inn, located in a traveler’s checkpoint a little distance from where I had my training with Miki. These travelers’ inns normally don’t cost a lot per night because the travelers only use the place for sleeping. However, the accommodations in this inn are surprisingly good. The bed is comfy and there is a bathroom with warm shower in it. It is not a resort, but to me, this place is more than enough for a good night sleep.
I sit down on the couch and lift the plush doll onto my lap. He looks at me innocently with his big sharp eyes before jumping up to cuddle his cheek against mine.
“Awww, you’re a clingy one now, aren’t you?” I giggled and held him up in front of me. He really seems like he would be a good pet. I’ve always wanted to have a pet – a kitty or a puppy is fine. But since I’ve been living in condominiums and apartments for my whole life, even when my parents were still alive, we weren’t allowed to keep any pets.
“…Hm, say, what should I call you?” I talked to the plush doll, who seems to understand my words but could not reply due to having no mouth. “…You said your name is ‘Antares’, right?”
He simply nods.
“That’s a little too long. And that doesn’t sound very cute,” I muttered. Antares tilts his head to the side, as if asking ‘what’s wrong with my name?’.
“…Hm…How about Anty?” I suggested him a name, “That’s a little shorter and sounds way cuter!”
The plush doll simply gives me a nod and jumps around on the couch gleefully, as if celebrating his new nickname.
While he is jumping around, something mysteriously inspires my eyes to turn to the desk and spot my cell phone lying on top. I got up from the couch and went to pick it up. The phone is turned off.
I remember that the phone was still turned on when Miki tossed it into my face last night.
Did it run out of battery?
That can’t be. I vaguely remember that I recharged my cell phone just two days ago, and normally it stays for more than a week – five days earliest – before it needs a recharge.
So how did it turn itself off?
“You better not be doing anything stupid if you don’t want your boyfriend to die.”
Miki’s voice suddenly emerged from behind me.
“Aaah!!!” I startled and fumbled the phone, dropping it onto the floor as a consequence. The pony tailed girl is standing in front of the bathroom door, wearing the same bath robe she had before entering.
“N…No. I … I didn’t do anything with the phone yet. I just thought it’s weird since I don’t remember when I turned it off.” I raised my hands up front to show that I haven’t done anything with the phone yet.
“I turned it off for you when you were sleeping last night. Your boyfriend was calling several times,” Miki said as she picked up the phone while drying her hair with the towel.
“He…called me again?” I asked.
“Yup. And it was annoying as hell, so I turned it off,” Miki replied and placed the phone onto the desk.
I always call him back whenever I saw a missed call from him. Has he noticed that I haven’t replied his call yet?
How many times has he been calling me last night?
…And what about this morning?
Now that I think about it, it’s already a couple of hours after noon. He always comes to pick Orica and me up in the morning to go to the university. He must already have been in front of my apartment and saw the mess from last night.
…Oh no. How would he react when he sees my apartment in a mess like that?
“H…Hey, Miki,” I called her.
“C…Can I…Can I at least send him a message that I am safe right now?”
“…Do you want him to die?”
There’s that question again.
“N…No! It’s just…He comes to pick my sister and me every morning. He must be worried sick to see my apartment left that way,” I explained, “At least, I want to tell him that I’m safe.”
“Which part of the ‘Nebula Corp will hunt him down’ do you not understand?” Miki crosses her arms and leans back against the desk, giving me her signature cold stare.
“……Not even a message?”
“Actually, you should forget that your boyfriend even exists,” Miki said, “If you really love him, then don’t make him a part of this mess. You have no idea how many ‘kind’ people around me died because they tried to help me.”
I am struck once again with fear from my unintentional cruelty. I don’t want to make him a part of this mess, nor do I want him to die. But it also hurts me so much to leave without telling him before hand like this. Miki’s words were harsh and cruel, but deep down I can sense her sincere concern. She probably doesn’t want me to make any mistakes that she unintentionally did in the past.
The dilemma is too painful. Whether or not I tell him about my current situation, he would still be worried about me. What am I supposed to do?
I kept asking myself the same question again and again, without knowing that tears started falling down my cheeks again.
“If it really bothers you that much, I’ll just keep your cell phone with me while you try to forget about him,” Miki sighed and took my cell phone away.
That doesn’t help me in any way, to be honest. Should I really just forget about him like Miki suggests? Would it be really okay to forget the person who loves me so much – the selfless person who did so much for me yet only asks that I be his girlfriend in return?
“Really you … shouldn’t you be worried about your parents before your boyfriend…?”
Now that she said it, I wonder what my parents would do if they are still alive. They will definitely be looking for me as soon as they know that I am kidnapped.
…In that case, would those men kill them if they try to find me?
I can’t believe I am saying this, but maybe it is better off that my parents are dead.
“…My parents are dead,” I told her. She turned to me with a surprised look that quickly turned into a face filled with regret.
“…I’m sorry. My bad.”
“No. It’s okay. I’m used to it. Besides, we hardly know each other and I’ve never told you in the first place.” I can hardly blame her for saying that. If my parents are still alive right now, of course I would think of them before anything else. In fact, it wasn’t until my parents died that Lynus and Orica became the whole world for me. Orica is my last family member and we’ve been through a lot together ever since that fateful day. As for Lynus, I really don’t know what I would do if he wasn’t there for me when my parents died.
“Both Lynus and Orica are all I have left in this world,” I said to Miki, “…I’d do anything to save both of them. I don’t want to lose anyone dear to me ever again.”
“…If he is really that important to you, then you should really consider what I’ve been telling you again and again seriously,” Miki said, turning her face away from me, “Forget he exists. That’s the best you can do for him and for yourself.”
I don’t have any other choices?
Is it really okay for me to forget everything he did for me?
For some reason, I felt so tired right now – too tired to feel worried.
“…So what do we do after this? Now that I think about it, you haven’t told me exactly where we’re heading yet, haven’t you?” I asked her about our next heading.
If there is anything I agree with Miki, it would be our priority in rescuing Orica. I don’t know what Miki’s motive is, but for me, the reason is obvious. For now, maybe it would be best if I focus on one thing at a time, and that one thing is to save Orica.
“I remember the car plate of those men that came to get you. They are from the Aurigan Research Center, a small research facility located only small distance from Grand Central,” said Miki.
“Grand Central…? That big city in the center of the continent?”
Grand Central is Athenia’s second biggest city. Students from rural town like Eternia always wanted to work in big cities like that one. I heard about that city’s name a couple of times because the headquarter of Richter Electronics, Lynus’s father’s company, is located there. However, I’ve never been there before. In fact, I don’t think I’ve been to any other city aside from Eternia ever since I was born.
“That’s right, we should be able to get there by tomorrow. We will leave as soon as we got our outfits back from the guest laundry, and we’ll rest at the nearest inn when the sun sets,” Miki said and sat down on the bed as she continues to dry her long dark blue hair.
That’s sooner than I thought. Not that it is a bad thing, but I am a little surprised at how hectic things have been since yesterday.
In any case, I hope everything goes well tomorrow. I can’t wait to see my little sister again.