Chapter 11 – A
I lead the two girls deeper into the alley until we reach the tight square block intersection I passed by earlier.
“No one should be able to follow us in here,” I turned around and told the two girls who have been following me without questioning our destination.
“I see. I guess we can take a breather here,” the emerald eyed brunette sighed in relief and leaned against the wall nearby, “Phew. I’m beat.”
The purple haired girl simply crosses her arms and leans against the wall. Even though the three of us are taking our rest, she still looks very tensed and alert. I can hardly blame her for feeling insecure. Even though I said no one should be able to follow us here, I myself don’t really feel safe either.
Anyway, after a fresh breather, I’ve decided to speak up first.
“Oh, that’s right. We haven’t introduced ourselves yet, haven’t we? I’m Auria. Auria Remil.”
“I’m Sophia Estella. Nice to meet you girls,” said the staff brunette.
“Hikari Viola. Hello,” the purple haired girl introduced herself.
That moment, I suddenly recall how I thought she looks very familiar when we met up at the square earlier. After observing her face more carefully, I am even more confident that I’ve seen her somewhere before, and recently too.
But where could that be?
“…Hm…Viola?” Sophia muttered and curiously observed Viola’s face.
It seems like I was not the only one who thought she looks familiar.
“Is something wrong with my name?” Viola asked skeptically.
“Uh…No…It’s just…I felt like I’ve seen you from somewhere before…But I can’t remember where,” Sophia said, “…But actually, let’s just forget that for now. I owe both of you a long explanation, didn’t I?”
“Oh yeah, right. What was all that about?” I asked, “I heard both of you talking while I was trying to chant the spell. But it’s pretty weird. It’s like both of you are standing next to me when you weren’t.”
…I don’t think that made any sense.
“…I hope I’m making sense here.”
“No no no. I understand. It made perfect sense. I was puzzled and thought the same the first time I did that,” Sophia replied, laughing nervously, “Back then, our thoughts were connected because of this.”
She then points to the pendant hanging around her neck. It appears to be a peculiar looking emblem: A metallic ring with a huge Y-shaped symbol in the middle.
“It’s called the [Connection] Pendant. It’s an ancient relic that amplifies the Zodiac Link among Zodiac Angels,” she explained further.
Viola and I spoke up coincidentally at the same time. We looked at each other awkwardly before turning back to Sophia.
“Eh. How do I put it?” the emerald eyed brunette ruffled her hairs, as if looking for the right words, “You girls know that we are the reincarnations of the 12 Zodiac Angels of that bedtime story, right?”
I can’t really say I don’t believe her. The legend did say that the Zodiac Angels’ souls wandered the cosmos before reincarnating into a new human body. According to Miki, that is what Nebula Corp called us. But there is no solid evidence to prove that we really are the reincarnation of the goddesses that created our world. I turned to Viola to see if she knows what Sophia was talking about. But instead, she turns her face towards me as well. I guess she’s just as lost as I am. As a result, I simply shook my face at her.
“O…Oh…I see. Let me explain it then.” The brunette clears her throat and shoots us with another question. “I’m sure both of you heard about the [Tales of Star Ocean] right?”
This time, I nodded. Who doesn’t know about that story anyway?
“Zodiac Angels’ souls, even after losing their immortal bodies to seal the Ophiucus Angel, are imperishable. They are forever destined to wander the cosmos waiting for the day to be reborn into another worldly host,” Sophia explained, “We are the shells that hosted the souls of those Zodiac Angels. So it is not wrong to say that we are the reincarnations of those goddesses.”
At this point, Sophia paused to see if we believe her story. I simply gave her a nod to show her that I am still listening. Although I found it a little sudden someone just confirmed me that I am indeed the reincarnation of our goddess, there is absolutely no reason for me to not believe what she said.
On the other hand, Viola seems to be lost in thought as soon as Sophia finished speaking. I wanted to ask her thoughts on this, but I’m not really sure if I should ask her in front of Sophia. She could perhaps take this the wrong way and thinks that I am rude.
“Anyway, the point is, the souls of the Zodiac Angels are linked to one another by an unseen force governing the stars in the sky. Because of that, it is possible that when that link is temporarily strengthened to a certain threshold, the Zodiac Angels can hear the voice of one another or experienced what the other angels are experiencing.”
After finishing her story, Sophia gave us another pause, as if giving us the time to digest what she just briefed to us. Viola doesn’t seem to be interested in showing any responses, so I’ve decided that I should say something so it would not be rude to Sophia.
I tried my best to appear fascinated by her story. Well, I am indeed a little fascinated to learn that I really am the reincarnation of the 12 goddesses who created this world. But the emotions inside me were more on the confusion side, rather than excitement.
“Um…I don’t mean to be rude, and it’s not like I don’t believe you, Sophia. But how did you know so much about all this anyway?” Viola asked after she finished pondering.
“Well, my mother is the Zodiac Angel of Virgo. 20 years ago, she, along with the 11 other angels, managed to stop Ophiucus from her previous coming. Oh yeah. That’s how I knew about the names of those monsters too. Mom told me about them,” Sophia explained, “But the battles were fierce and severe. She was separated from the others and never met them again.”
Sophia paused again, as if looking for the right words.
“And…well…long story short, let’s just say my mom knew about the next coming of Ophiucus. She knew that she alone cannot stop this awakening. So mom and I started looking for other angels.”
“I see. No wonder you know so much,” I muttered.
“Ophiucus’s previous coming…? Why have we never heard about it before? I mean, that wasn’t exactly a small thing. Shouldn’t it be on the news or at least in a history class?” Viola asked.
“…News…? News!? Oh…Oh!!! OOOHHHH!!!! A…Are you…THE Hikari Viola on the news!? The one from the murder news in Andoria last week!?”
From the news? Oh yeah! That murder news in Andoria! I was also watching this news on the sky train before it stopped. No wonder I thought I saw her somewhere just recently. All these chaos really made it slip my mind.
Did she really kill her mother like the news said? If she is really a fugitive, even though she’s a Zodiac Angel like I am, is it really okay for me to hang around a supposed-to-be criminal?
“So that’s why you thought I look familiar,” Viola shook her head as if tired of being recognized, “Yeah. I don’t know what the news have been feeding everyone, but I didn’t murder my mom. If anything, I was actually chasing after the bastard that did that.”
“…So the news was a lie,” I mumbled.
“I see. This is certainly a surprise. I didn’t expect you to be the same person as in the news,” said Sophia.
“Wow, you girls are so gullible,” Viola chuckled all of the sudden.
“…Huh?” Sophia and I puzzlingly looked at Viola at the same time.
“Don’t get the wrong idea, okay? While what I said is true, I find it funny how both of you believed in the words of a supposed-to-be fugitive from the news right away. I’m sorry, though. I meant no offense.”
“…Oh…Uh…Well…You don’t really seem like…a bad person,” Sophia said nervously.
“Well, I believe you, Viola,” I told her, “The news on the television these days aren’t always true. There are many times those news were intentionally rewritten to please the audience or to benefit the person who rewrites it…”
This is not only the case for Viola herself. I’ve studied several case studies at the university, and there are indeed many falsifications of news in the world of business that leads to fraudulent acts and disclosure of false information for the benefit of a party.
“Perhaps…the person who authorized the distortion of that news is trying to force you to surrender yourself,” I suggested.
“Bingo. I’m surprised you could tell so much.” The purple haired girl gave me a round of applause, slightly showing a hint of surprised.
“So I assume you know ‘who’ is chasing us, right?”
Since the three of us are Zodiac Angels, it is very possible that we are under the same situation. Because of that, I decide to ask them to confirm if we are all in the same situation.
“……The Nebula Corp.”
She replied after a short pause.
“So both of you ran into them too, huh? That makes it the three of us,” Sophia muttered with an anxious face, “I guess there is really nowhere safe for ‘Zodiac Angels’ on Athenia anymore.”
An awkward silence of confusion and insecurity quickly filled the atmosphere. To prevent it from degrading our morale any further, I decide to change our topics.
“Anyway, Sophia. Let’s go back to what we were discussing earlier.”
“Oh, sorry. Yes, Ophiucus’s previous coming. It was a much smaller scale. She did not send her messenger and army openly into the city like this one. According to mom, she guessed that Ophiucus was just scouting our world. Then again, we also don’t know how she could make such a move if she was sealed.”
That is true. The legend said that the 12 Zodiac Angels used their immortal bodies to seal Ophiucus. But that was so many years ago. The story said this was way before the ‘beginning of time’. Perhaps after all this time, that seal became weaker?
“Could it be that the original Zodiac Angels’ seals are growing weaker?” I suggested, “I mean. It probably still has enough power to hold some of her powers back, but not all of them. That’s why she could only send out her troops down on Athenia.”
That was really the only sensible conclusion, given all the information Sophia gave me.
“That’s what my mom and I thought. In any case, assembling all the 12 Zodiac Angels is essential. We all know that Ophiucus’s power alone is stronger than the 12 Zodiac Angels combined. Therefore, we’ll need every arm we have to stop her from fully awakening at all,” Sophia explained, “If Ophiucus’s seal is fully released, that would spell doom for Athenia.”
A long awkward silence quickly fills the atmosphere. That really sounded a little too stretched. For one I know that I am not exactly a normal girl like I thought I am. I really want to focus on saving my sister. But now all of the sudden, I am one of the only 12 people who can save this world from an impending doom.
“So, what do you suppose we should do?” I asked Sophia, “This sounds like a very big thing, and I’m not really sure I am following this.”
I know for sure that for now that saving Orica takes the most important priority. But even so, I probably cannot ignore what I have to do after that.
“This might be a little too sudden to ask, but would you girls join me in looking for other angels?” Sophia asked, “I was looking for the other angels with mom when these Ophiucus spawns attacked. We were separated and I have been trying to join up with her since then. But I was caught up fighting against the Spiders and the Strikers. Before I knew it, I was already standing at the Central Square where I found both of you.”
“Well, if you are assembling Zodiac Angels, then just your luck. I came to this city with two other angels. But we got separated when those monsters attacked the city too,” said Viola, “So how about this? You think of a rendezvous point, and when I meet up with my friends, I’ll take them there.”
She has other Zodiac Angels with her?
Wow. Just today alone, there are at least five other Zodiac Angels beside Miki and me wandering near each other. Perhaps our world is not as big as we thought?
“That’s not a bad idea. Let’s see…,” the staff brunette paused and pondered, “How about the [Orion Observatory]?”
“Orion Observatory?” I asked.
“Yeah. My mom was working as an astrologist there before all this mess happened. She knew about Ophiucus’s coming from the arrangement of stars. I’m not sure how that works though,” said Sophia
“Agreed then. Once I find my friends, I’ll take them there. And then I’ll contract you again,” said Viola.
“Thanks,” Sophia smiled, “What about you, Auria?”
Should I really tell them about my current situation?
Like I’ve said many times, saving Orica takes priority over everything else and I intend to stick to that itinerary. Plus, Miki told me to get to the station and wait for her there.
“If you still want to live long enough to see your sister again, listen and obey everything I said.”
She might not be the kindest person on Athenia, but somehow I trust her. I don’t know what is her reason for helping me and neither do I care. But I do know that she saved me and I still need her to save my sister. And because of that, I cannot just leave her here and walk off with another angel.
“My younger sister is also a Zodiac Angel…But she was captured by the Nebula Corp three days ago,” I told Sophia and Viola as calm as I could.
“WHAT!?” Both of them cried out at the same time, startling me.
“Y…Yeah. But don’t worry. Another angel and I are on our way to bring her back. That is why we’re here. But I got separated from her when those monsters attacked the city. According to my friend…”
Is that really the right word?
Well, I do want to become friends with her if we are going to stick with each other for a while. But I am not sure if she sees me as a friend like I did.
“…I mean, the angel who came with me, my sister was being held captive in a small research center just outside of Grand Central. She also told me that she has some knowledge about how Nebula Corp performs experiments on Zodiac Angels, so it will take some times before anything horrible can be done to her.”
“In any case, that is definitely not good,” Viola bit her teeth anxiously.
“Y…Yeah,” Sophia muttered nervously in agreement.
Both of them seem very nervous as if Orica is also their sister. I mean I’m glad they understand the situation that I am in, but it looks to me as if they have other reasons to be so concerned.
“Maybe…we should focus on getting Auria’s sister out of that research center for now,” Sophia suggested. Viola was even nodding in agreement.
I’m not really sure what to say. I really appreciate their concern, and while I know Miki won’t be happy to hear this, I can’t deny that I totally prefer these two girls as my traveling companion over her. But my conscience was telling me otherwise.
I can’t leave Miki alone here.
I still trust her, and I want her to help me.
“I appreciate your concern, but don’t you girls have something else to do too?” I tried my best to turn down their offer without hurting their kind intentions, “Sophia. You have to meet up with your mother. And Viola, you have to meet up with your friends.”
I truly appreciate their offer from the bottom of my heart, but I cannot ask them to help me when they also have their own priorities.
The two of them remained quiet. Their faces were almost saying, ‘Oh yeah. I totally forgot about that’.
“Don’t worry. I’ll be fine. I’ll rescue my sister and we’ll go to the Orion Observatory together. I promise,” I gave them a promise with nothing to backup my credibility. Seriously, I want to save Orica. But with my current situation, I’m still very naïve with my powers, and I don’t even know where Miki is.
Will I even be okay after separating with these girls?
But whatever the case, I’ve already decided that I have to do this. I made a promise to not be dependant on anyone else. So all I can do was give them a smile to assure them that I’ll be all right.
“Okay. Then that settles it. I don’t feel right, but it is undeniable that the three of us have something else equally important to do. So for now, let’s do what we have to do then meet up later at the [Orion Observatory]. We’ll exchange our numbers, just in case one of us got there ahead of the others,” Sophia suggested.
Viola quickly pulls out her cell phone after agreeing with Sophia. The two quickly exchange their numbers then turned to me.
…Just my luck.
My cell phone is not with me.
“Um. My cell phone is with the angel who came with me. She…uh…confiscated it,” I explained – It felt very awkward.
“…Uh. Why would she do that?” Sophia asked puzzlingly.
“When she rescued me from the Nebula Corp’s men, she was…um…afraid that I’ll call my boyfriend for help,” I explained.
That doesn’t sound silly, right?
“I can see why she does that though,” Viola muttered, crossing her arms, “The corporation would do anything to fulfill its goal. Calling your boyfriend would definitely drag him into this mess as well.”
Not only Miki, but Viola also confirmed that. I guess it’s really better off that I listened to Miki after all.
“…Yeah. That’s what Miki said,” I added, “Anyway, I’ll just give you girls my numbers and I’ll tell her about rendezvousing at Orion Observatory when I meet her again.”
After giving them my numbers, they keep their cell phones back in their pockets.
“Well then. You girls take care! See you girls later!” said Sophia.
And with that, I move through the alley, heading for the station to rendezvous with Miki.