Chapter 08 – A
The two of us haven’t said a thing to each other since the morning. Right after Miki woke me up in the morning, the two of us checked out from the inn and got on the car. After that, she just keeps driving forward without saying another word. Some times, I am glad she is saying nothing because almost every single thing she said was like a slap on my face – as if she was saying “Wake up from your sweet dreams, princess.”
I’ve always thought that my financial crisis was already bad. But honestly, everything seems so painless when compared to the thought of losing Orica or Lynus.
My eyes look out of the car’s window to the gloomy sky. It has been cloudy since the morning, but luckily it does not seem like it is going to rain.
While my mind is lost in thought, I felt my arm being nudged by a small hand. Turning my head down, I saw Anty looking up at me. He was pushing my arms a couple of times as well as softly pouncing around. I can’t really understand what he wanted to say, but I could almost tell that he is trying to cheer me up.
“Thanks,” I whispered to him and patted softly on his head.
All of the sudden, Miki pulls the car to behind a tree’s shade and turns off the engine.
“W…What’s the matter?”
Why did she turn off the engine all of the sudden?
Is the Nebula Corp’s pursuit team here?
…No, if they are here, she should have hit the pedal instead of stopping the car.
“…We’ll walk from here,” she said and released the safety belt.
“Oh? We’re not driving into the city?” I have to admit I was a quite surprised and worried.
“This is my big bro’s car and I am pretty sure that they are looking for this car in the city. We’ll risk getting caught if we drive inside,” said Miki, “Luckily, the Aurigan Research Center is only a small distance to the north of Grand Central. We’ll get there by foot.”
“…You have a big brother?” I asked her, ignoring almost everything else she said.
The pony tailed girl halts her movement the instant I finished my question.
Did I ask the wrong question again?
“…Yeah. What about him?” After a while, she leans back on her seat and sighs.
“Oh…well. Nothing really. I just realized that I know next to nothing about you,” I said, “So, where is he now?”
I asked the wrong question indeed. No wonder she does not want to talk about her family.
Miki simply sighs loudly again before getting out of the car. I quickly release my belt and follow her down the car with Anty. Her actions did not offend me at all, even though yesterday it was the other way around. I know exactly how it feels when someone asks a question like that to me. What I regretted the most, however, is how the wall between the two of us has just grown even taller than before.
The awkward silence quickly fills up the atmosphere as we keep walking forward along the empty road. This kind of reminds me of the day before when I had a quarrel with Lynus while on the way back to the apartment. Now that I think about it, I haven’t talk to him at all since then.
…Oh no. Could he take this the wrong way? The more I think about it, the more I wonder what he is doing now. If only I could call him to tell him that I am okay and he should not worry about me…
No. I have to be strong. That’s right. I’ve already made up my mind yesterday that for now, I should focus only on one thing at a time. The priority to save Orica comes before anything else. I mentally slap myself to make my mind stop worrying. We are getting near the place Orica was taken. I cannot let my mind wanders off; I need to focus so I can use my powers correctly when I need them. …And besides, Miki confiscated my phone yesterday, so I couldn’t call him even if I wanted to.
Miki and I move through the tunnel cutting through the iron wall outside of the city. As soon as we are out of the tunnel, I am now standing on a cliff, overlooking the magnificent view of the great city. As mentioned before, Grand Central is the one of the largest city on Athenia, approximately 50 kilometers in radius, fenced with a seven meters high iron wall. There are tall and unique sky scrapers every where. These soaring towers make me wonder what they are really used for. The populace filled the streets and they all look like ants from up here. There are several highways and various vehicles running through the city. But more importantly, I can see the renowned Nebula Sky Train – the fastest public train ran for the public by the Nebula Corp – running through the glass tunnel around the city. I’ve heard about this train a couple of times before. Nebula Corp wants to create this train for all cities around Athenia to improve each city’s infrastructure. At one point, the news said they are expanding into Eternia, but it seems that it was just a rumor.
In any case, you won’t see this kind of scenery in Eternia. I think it is safe to say that.
“You seem fascinated,” Miki teased as we walked down the big staircase into the main body of the city.
“Huh? Why would you say that?”
“Heh. You really should have seen the looks on your face,” Miki snickered, “Anyone can tell that you are a country bumpkin.”
“W…Well, I’ve never been to big cities like this one before. I lived in Eternia my whole life,” I laughed nervously.
Wow…How did I look like just now?
“Oh really? I can’t wait to see your face when we get to Great Constella,” Miki said, chuckling.
Great Constella is the biggest city on Athenia as well as the one with the most population. It is also where the headquarter of the Nebula Corporation is situated. But more importantly…
“…Great Constella? We’re going there? I thought we’re going to the Aurigan Research Center?”
Miki’s face suddenly turns from a playful one into one without any colors. The smile from her snickering also disappeared.
…What’s wrong with that question?
“…It’s…nothing. Forget what I said. We’ll talk about it after we rescue your sister,” she said and quickly moved into the crowd.
From the looks of her face, I think it is safe to say there is something she is not telling me.
‘We’ll talk about it after we rescue your sister’?
Why can’t we talk about it now?
What would she make me do after we save Orica…?
I want to ask her about it, but now is probably not the right time. The first reason is that I want to focus on saving Orica. Something tells me that if she speaks up, it’ll probably be something that makes me feel depressed again.
Another reason is because the street is filled with people and I can barely keep up my step with Miki. And here I thought the Eternia Mall during sales season is already a nightmare – it was nothing when compared to the amount of people walking on the street right now. The worst part is the street was a mess. People are walking back and forth and there is no ‘lane’ to separate the direction. As a result, I felt myself bumping into other people for so many times. It doesn’t help that I am also hugging Anty in my arms, and it makes walking in the crowd a little difficult.
Thankfully, Miki made a turn and took me up the stairs to a sky train station, where there are less people walking.
“…Oh gosh, I thought I’m gonna die down there,” I puffed while waiting for Miki to buy the ticket from the auto-machine for me.
“You really are a country bumpkin,” Miki laughed and handed me a ticket.
“Ah. Shut it. I’m just not used to places with so many people like this,” I snatched the ticket from her hand out of frustration. The two of us then continue onto the platform, where we wait for our ride.
“We’ll be riding this train to the north end of the line. After that, it should be an hour walk from the station to the Aurigan Research Center,” Miki explains to me while we wait for the train, “Since we’ll be riding to the end of this line, catch any seat you can and just sit there until we get to the terminal station.”
“Sure,” I nodded.
After a while, our ride arrives. The train has over seven cars and each car has about 20 seats. This means that it should be able to hold more than 140 people, including those that did not sit. Luckily, the train is air conditioned and it is not so squeezed like the buses at Eternia. Miki told me however, that it was because this is already after the rush hours. During rush hours, people are literally squeezed inside the train and you can hardly breathe, let alone getting a vacant seat unless you board the train from the terminal station.
While the ride was not so packed, there was only one vacant seat available when we got onto the car, so Miki let me have it. As I sit down getting my rest as Miki suggested, my eyes caught onto the news casting on the television hanging down from the ceiling of the train.
“[The police department of the Andoria City is still under going the investigation of the mysterious murder from last week. A woman was found dead within the residential area of Andoria City five days ago. The deceased is Mrs. Hikari Lyra, 45 years old, a researcher of the Andoria Astrological Center. The cause of death is believed to be from loss of blood by being stabbed by a long sharp material, but the weapon is no where to be found in the crime scene.]”
I remember reading about this news earlier this week, since the headline was so huge. However, this seems to be a follow-up news.
“[The motive behind the murder was unclear but the police believed that this results from a family quarrel. Mrs. Lyra’s only daughter, Ms. Hikari Viola, age 20, a student of the Andoria University has gone missing since the day of the incident. According to her classmates, Ms. Viola was seen at the university early in the morning. However, she disappeared and could not be contacted after 5 PM the same day. The police suspects that the mother and the daughter had a fight that results in a trage——.]”
All of the sudden, the lights and the television are cut and the train stops moving. The sky outside of the car has also become darkened and the whole town is covered in darkness.
“What’s going on?” I heard a man sitting beside me asking the same question I had in my mind.
“It’s the eclipse. Didn’t you see the news? The astrologists said there’s going to be another eclipse again today in the afternoon…which is just about now,” the woman next to him replied.
“My question was referring to why the train suddenly stopped moving,” said the man, rolling his eyes.
“Nah. Probably some technical errors. They’ll fix this up in no time,” the woman replied.
The plush doll on my lap kept nudging me again and again ever since the lights go out. From the way he pounced around, it seems that he is feeling restless.
What’s the matter? What are you trying to tell me?
After a while, the light on the train comes back. But the outside is still dark and the train does not seem to be moving.
“Attention to all passengers. We have experienced some technical difficulties and, as a result, we are now——-.”
The announcement was cut short and the people on the train start chattering restlessly.
“What the heck is going on?!”
“Why did the train stop?!”
“…I have a bad feeling about this,” Miki, who is standing next to me the whole time, said.
I thought the same. The eclipse occurrence. The lights going out. The announcement getting cut. Everything happened at the same time. It couldn’t be just a coincidence.
Suddenly, a loud explosion echoed from the side behind my back. All passengers quickly divert there attention towards that direction. Looking out of the window behind me, my eyes widened when I witnessed a mysterious cluster of dark fog, resembling a huge dimensional hole, forming on the gloomy sky above the center of Grand Central.