Chapter 16 – A
The guard officer falls to the ground from a knock behind his neck with the shaft of Miki’s dagger.
“All cleared,” Miki called to me and Lauress.
“Meh. You’re pretty good at sneaking around,” the blonde archer remarked.
“Was that supposed to be a compliment?” Miki raises one of her eyebrow.
“Well, maybe.” Lauress shrugs.
“How far are we in now?” I interrupted before the two of them got into a fight again.
“We’re almost there. The lab that holds your sister is not too far in from here,” the blonde archer explained.
“Let’s go then,” I said.
The three of us traverse deeper into the research lab. Luckily, this is pretty late into the night now, so there are not many people in here. We ran into a couple of security guards here and there, but Miki was able to quickly knock them out before they made a ruckus.
Lauress stops running and looks at the guards lying on the ground.
“What’s the matter? I asked her.
“…Nah. It’s nothing. I’m probably just paranoid.” The blonde archer shrugs and continues running. Heading through the second floor hallway, we quickly head upstairs to the third floor. Unlike the first two floors, the layout of this floor was a lot simpler. It is just a straight hallway, leading to a metallic sliding door at the end of the path. There is no guard or camera in the area at all.
“The lab should be behind this door,” Lauress said, “You girls ready?”
“Yeah,” I nodded.
“Ready when you are,” Miki added.
Pressing the button on the pad near the door, the metallic doors slide opened. The three of us proceed through the doors into a semi-circular glass dome with the floor paved in white smooth tiles. The view outside the glass dome shows empty grassy plain around this research center, but it was already dark, so we were not able to see much. Also, because there is no skyscraper nearby, we could see the starry night sky clearer than when we were running in the city.
“What in the…?” Lauress muttered.
“What’s the matter?” Miki asked.
“It’s strange. I thought this is the laboratory. But why is it so empty now?”
Like what Lauress said, there is nothing here – just an empty room with a semi-circular glass dome as the ceiling.
“…Did you get us lost?” Miki asked.
“Hell no! I’ve been here for a month or two and I’ve seen this whole place inside out! There’s no way I got lost!”
Along the tiles on the ground, there are indeed traces engraved on the floor, showing that there used to be many objects lying around this room. However, the whole room is completely empty right now. What happened to this room then?
“Don’t worry, honey. This room was indeed the laboratory you were thinking about. We just redecorated this place to especially welcome you, my dears.”
A voice suddenly spoke up from behind the three of us. Turning around, we saw a middle-aged man with glasses standing on the balcony right above the door we entered. He has short thin hair on his head, and his chin and neck shows signs of shaved beard. He wears a white gown over gray shirt and long black pants, giving him the ‘scientist’ appearance.
“Welcome us…? Dang it. No wonder the security down there was freakin’ loose!” Lauress grits her teeth. “I should have noticed that sooner!”
Miki steps forward, glaring at the man in white gown standing on the balcony. Her teeth are biting against one another and her eyes are burning with hatred. I saw her hands tightly gripping her daggers until it is shaking.
“Oscar!” The twin pony tailed girl yelled the name of that man out loud.
“…You know this jerk?” Lauress asked in surprise.
“Why would I not!? This is bastard that issued the permission to dissect me!” Miki replied, still gritting her teeth.
This man gave the order to dissect Miki…?
Then that means that he is also the one who indirectly killed her brother!
“Hm? Ah, it’s you, Miki. It’s been too long I almost forgot your face. I hope you are eating well?” The man in white gown chuckles, nudging his glasses up slightly. “It’s really a shame we had to kill Marcus. He was a bright scientist, albeit a little stupid to prefer dying like a filthy dog.”
“Come down here and say that again, you spineless coward!!!!!” Miki scowled.
“Woah woah woah. Don’t be yelling at me now. I really regretted taking Marcus out. The New Energy Development Division had to be disbanded totally because our key member – your dear brother – is no longer alive. That’s why I had to change my field and work on something else,” said Oscar.
“Work on something else? Like playing puppeteer with your joystick?” Lauress asked.
“It’s called Psychological Manipulation, honey,” Oscar remarked, “We basically dived into the minds of our subject with the Psycho Crown and manipulate their behavior. With this invention, I’ll finally be able to defeat Gregory’s silly Reunion Theo—-.”
“Thanks for your monologue but I’m not interested. So if you’re done spouting crap, then I’ll make this quick for you!” Lauress said and pulls the glowing bowstring on her bow.
“Now now now. Don’t be so hasty. I’ve not finished my warm welcome for you yet! Since all of you are here, how about we play together?” the scientist chuckled, “Let me show you my ultimate master piece!”
Suddenly, the metallic door to the left of the entrance we took slide opened. A familiar-looking shoulder-length caramel-haired girl steps forth from behind the metallic door. Her eyes are lifeless and lack the glitter of life that she used to always have. She wears light blue sleeveless attire, barely covering her short white pants. On her right hand is a gauntlet tightly gripping a strange object that appears to be the handle of a bladeless sword.
“O…Orica?” I muttered upon seeing my little sister, who was taken from me two days ago. She used to be full of life and cheerful, always laughing and acting carefree. But now, she seems so cold and emotionless – completely the opposite of how I’ve always known her.
“Damn! She has that crown on her too!” Lauress said, pointing to the crown on her head.
There is indeed a thin metallic ring equipped over Orica’s trademark hair band, just like the one Lauress had when we met her.
“Say hello to AQ5402, my dears.”
My mind instantly snaps upon hearing his words. My teeth grinds against one another before my head turns back up to him.
“She has a name!” I screamed out of anger at the man in white gown.
AQ5402? What the heck is that name?!
How could he treat my beloved little sister like an emotionless guinea pig!?
“Oh don’t get so mad, my dear. It’s your fault you did not get captured along with your sister. But don’t worry. After this, the three of you will get a code like her.”
Oscar chuckled some more. His mocking cocky face is disgusting and despicable; I feel like puking just by seeing it. I can’t believe someone this terrible would exist in this world.
“The Psycho Ring she has is even more refined than the one I gave Lauress. And I would like to give the honor of testing this wonderful masterpiece to the three of you!”
Oscar pulls out a small remote controller out of his white gown. Pressing a button on it, the shoulder-length caramel haired girl immediately rushes forth at us. Orica swings the handle in her hand, and suddenly, water gushes out from where the blade of the sword should have been, forming the lash of a whip. Before the whiplash could hit us, Miki quickly swings her dagger upward, creating an ice ramp in front of us. Lauress quickly takes my hand and pulls me away while Miki jumps over the ramp and hurls an ice spear downward. Orica rolls to the side of the ramp and strikes the water whiplash at the ice ramp, completely shattering it.
My two eyes could not believe what they saw. Orica has always been slender and a lot weaker than me physically. But just now, she completely shatters the ice ramp Miki created with just one strike.
“A whip made of water, huh?” Miki remarked, chuckling, “You really mess with the wrong person this time, Oscar!”
The twin pony tailed girl rushes forth at Orica again, who counters by lashing her whip at Miki. But before the whip could strike her, the twin pony tailed girl slashes her dagger against the whiplash, instantly freezing the whole lash to ice.
“Aha! Miki has the power to freeze all sorts of liquid, doesn’t she!? You’re screwed, Oscar!” Lauress laughed at the man in white gown mockingly.
“Oh really?” The scientist simply chuckles upon hearing so.
Orica quickly ducks down, evading Miki’s initial slash, then swings her whip again. Despite being frozen over by Miki’s daggers, water still gushes out from the whip, breaking the ice that covers it and hits twin pony tailed girl, knocking her away against the wall.
“Miki!” Lauress and I cried at the same time.
“AQ5402 has the power to generate virtually infinite amount of water and manipulate them with her weapon. If you think you can freeze all of that in time, then be my guest!” Oscar laughs victoriously. “Any way, let’s get serious now! AQ5402! Summon Sandalsuud!”
Sandalsuud? Is that her Zodiac Beast’s name?
“Flush! I summon you! Sandalsuud!!!!”
A bright glyph suddenly shines from behind Orica’s nape and rises into thin air. The glyph gradually shifts its form into a huge water jar, hovering in mid-air before pouring out water to the floor. The water then slowly rises up into the air and turns into a gorgeous lady with long white hair in a nightgown, holding the water jar that pours her out.
“I guess there is no other choice.” Lauress aims her arrow at the lady with water jar.
“Wait! No, stop! Why do we have to fight each other like this!?” I cried and looked at Orica’s Zodiac Beast, “You are Orica’s servant, aren’t you!? We are not her enemy, so please stop her!”
“It’s no use, Auria!” Lauress said, “Zodiac Beasts are the humbled servant of Zodiac Angels. They follow no one else’s commands but their angels. And in her angel’s eyes right now, we are her enemy. Just think of when I summoned Kaus. I didn’t want him to fight you, but it’s no use. Kaus did everything to ensure my safety and to destroy all that are deemed as a threat to me.”
“No way…,” I whispered in disbelief, “I…I can’t…I can’t do it. I’m not gonna fight my little sister!”
“Get a hold of yourself, Auria!”
I heard Miki yelling at me from the corner of the room.
“All we have to do…is take that bloody crown of her head. After that, Oscar will have no more power here!” Miki said while getting back up on her feet.
“Yeah. So let’s just get this over with!” Lauress suggested, “Shoot! I summon you! Kaus!”
“Shatter! I summon you! Eta! Piscium!!!!”
The two of them announced their servants’ names out loud. The mermaid, merman, and the armored centaur quickly emerge from behind the two girls, glaring at Orica and her servant.
“Well then. Let our games begin then!”
Oscar’s laugh echoed the whole dome as Miki and Lauress crash with my beloved sister.
For those who speculated Orica’s Zodiac Sign as ‘Aquarius’ (no matter what theory you had in mind), congratulations, you got it right!! ^^
(Sorry if there are any more comments that speculated this. These are the only two I could find)
This chapter also digs slightly deeper into the behind-the-scenes of the Nebula Corporation. Internet Cookies to anyone who catches that.