Chapter 19 – A
The caramel haired girl continues lashing her whip onto the scorpion’s pincher, futilely inflicting no damage whatsoever. Despite her fierce and merciless assault, the exhaustion and pain are obviously starting to take toll on her slender body. Her face looks extremely weary and she is breathing heavily. Each of her attacks is no longer deft and firm like when she broke Miki’s ice ramp earlier, yet the assault still continues under the command of the mad scientist’s crown. If this continues, it definitely would not be good for her.
Originally, my plan was to wear Orica out by attacking Sandalsuud then remove the crown off her head after things settled down. But since Oscar is still able to control her even though she should have already passed out, I have to try something else. In fact, I already have another approach in mind before I summoned Antares, but I wanted to keep it a last resort. From the current situation, I don’t really have any other choices now.
“Sorry, Orica. This will hurt just a little!!!”
I swing the scorpion’s pincher at the girl, brushing her away from me. Unlike earlier, the girl was no longer in the shape to recover her balance in the air. As a result, she simply crashes against the wall and falls down to the ground.
“Get back on your feet dammit!” the scientist yelled and kept on mashing the buttons on his controller.
Meanwhile, I remove my palms off the round glowing orbs on the control panel and press the big white button settled between them. Once pressed, the mechanical scorpion instantly shrinks and reverts back to the plush doll in a flash, while my body slowly descends back to the floor. Anty turns his face at me in surprise and shock while I tightly hug him with my two arms. At the same time, Orica just got back up on her feet and is now rushing at me.
“What the!? She dismissed her Zodiac Beast!?” Lauress cried.
“What the hell are you doing, Auria!?” Miki yelled.
Since I cannot simply exhaust Orica then remove her crown, I’ll have to manually remove it while she is still actively moving like this. However, this approach is extremely risky and there are a couple of reasons for that. First of all, Antares’s attacks are all too powerful as witnessed from the pincher swing I made earlier; she was sent flying across the room in just one swing. And by that criterion, the thunder beam from the tail is automatically out of the question. I also cannot just approach her and take that crown off by hand either. Miki and Lauress were all beaten up so easily when inside that whip’s range. I won’t last any longer than they did. Moreover, Orica could also use that whip to negate anything that was shot at her, as demonstrated by how she rendered Lauress’s accuracy completely useless.
Therefore, there is only one way to go around this; I have to shoot Anty at her crown just after she lashes her whip but before it reaches me.
This way, I can bypass Orica’s blocking stance, and ensure a reasonable chance of my shot scoring a hit without causing any significant harm to her. However, since I am in the range of her whip’s lash, I probably won’t be able to make a dodge in time. Because of that, there is only one chance for this. If I miss, I’ll suffer a full lash in the face without any gain.
I raised Anty up on my arms and take a deep breath while concentrating on my aim.
“Are you crazy, Auria!?” Miki yelled at me but I don’t care.
My mind is set. I am going to succeed.
After that, everything happened in just a couple of seconds. However, it almost felt like an eternity because my mind could capture every single sensation and emotion in that moment. The caramel haired girl continued moving closer and closer to me. While concentrating, everything around me looked as though they moved slower. The moment Orica raised her whip, I yelled ‘Go!’ and launched Anty out of my arm. The plush doll made a slight arc in his projectile path, effectively sneaking passed the lash, and headed for the mind-controlling crown. But before I could see the results, everything went black.
When my senses return, I could hear two voices calling me as well as felt constant nudging on my right shoulder. My left cheek is so numb that it felt like something pierced a hole on it. When I open my eyes, I notice the dark haired girl yelling at me with an angry face and the blonde haired girl sitting next to her with a worried face.
It was only after I spoke that I realized that my head is lying on Miki’s lap.
“Oh geez, were you insane!?” Miki grumbled as soon as I called their names.
“Orica…? Where’s Orica?” I ignored her and rolled my eyes around, looking for my beloved little sister.
Both Miki and Lauress immediately turn to my right where the caramel haired girl is seen crawling towards me.
“Holy sweet angel of stars…you actually hit the crown…” Lauress’s jaw drops wide open. The metallic ring on Orica’s head is now gone.
“…Sis,” she whimpered while carefully reaching her hands out to me. Tears start flowing down her cheek once her right hand touches my swollen cheek. The four of us remain quiet, making this even more awkward than when I met Sophia and Viola. Because I cannot stand this kind of awkward silence, I just had to break it down.
“If this leaves a scar on my cheek, I’m so not giving you your next allowance.”
I pat my little sister’s head softly and give her a warm welcoming smile.
“Sis~~!!!!!!” The girl immediately cries and hugs me tightly, repeatedly apologizing me at the same time. “I’m sorry!!! I’m so sorry!!!”
“Oh come now. Don’t cry. Or I’m gonna cry too, ‘kay?” I pat her hair softly after I wipe the tears that unknowingly welled up as well. At the same time, I also notice Lauress wiping her tears onto her dress’s sleeve. Even Miki seems to be smiling in relief.
…That’s…a pretty rare sight.
“Awwww, I feel like I’m gonna cry too …… Like hell I am!!!!”
A mocking voice suddenly spoke up from the balcony above the room.
“How dare you destroyed my ultimate invention!!!? All of you are NOT getting out of this lab alive!!!!”
Suddenly, the double metallic door to this glass dome slides opened and a group of men dressed in navy uniforms quickly pour into the room, painting our dresses with red laser dots. There are 10… 15… no…probably a little more than 20 of them forming a plank formation that barricades the only door out of this room.
“Woah woah woah!!! And here I thought you want a living and breathing angel!” Lauress yelled at the scientist.
“Shut up!!! Shut up Shut up Shut up Shut up Shut up Shut up Shut up!!!!!! No one mocks my invention!!!!! No one!!!!” Oscar yelled, “Shoot them now!!!!!!”
That moment, Miki quickly swings her dagger forward horizontally and creates a thick and wide ice ramp that blocks the volley of bullets.
“You won’t last long!!! Do not resist!!!!!” Oscar yelled.
I hate to admit this but that man has a point. The bullets might not be hitting us, but repeatedly shooting the ramp can eventually bring it down.
“This is not good. We’re not in the shape to be handling these guys!” Lauress muttered, kneeling behind the ramp.
“I have an idea,” Orica suddenly spoke up, “I’ll have Sandalsuud mess up their formation and we will quickly bust out of the dome on the backs of Lauress and sis’s beasts before they reform.”
“That’s not a bad plan. Can your beast still run?” Miki asked Lauress, “I kind of really need a ride now.”
“Yeah, but that’ll cost you,” Lauress replied.
“You stingy blondie.” Miki rolled her eyes. “What about you, Auria?”
“Yeah. I was a little dazed from that lash but I’m fine now,” I replied and looked down at the plush doll who was sitting on the floor right next to my body the whole time. “Let’s do this again, shall we?”
Anty simply gives me a nod and pounds his chest in assurance.
“It’s gonna be a little rough, but hang in there, ‘kay?” I asked Orica.
“Hey. I suffered two days staying with these geeks. A rough ride doesn’t sound half bad compared to that,” Orica said with a smile while wiping her tears, “I’ll flush these guys. When I give a signal, you guys summon the beasts and bust out of the dome, okay?”
“Got it!” said Lauress.
“Right!” I replied.
Immediately after Orica snaps her finger, tremendous amount of water gushes out of the water jar that has been lying quietly at the corner of the room. The torrent flushes the frontline of the men in uniform, messing up their shooting formation. This makes them immediately cease their fire to avoid shooting one of their own unintentionally.
“Let’s move!!!! Kaus!!!!” Lauress quickly jumps up onto the saddle behind armored centaur that magically emerges from thin air, “Miki! Get on!”
The dark haired girl quickly grabs the blonde archer’s hand and gets onto the centaur’s horse saddle as well.
The plush doll vanishes and the robotic scorpion once again emerges from the glyph under my body, lifting Orica and me onto its back. The armored centaur shoots arrow from his arms, breaking the glass windows of the dome before charging out.
“Hold on tight!” I told Orica who sat right behind me on the saddle, holding my waist with both of her arms. My two hands press onto the two glowing orbs and command the scorpion to drive out of the glass dome following Kaus. We found ourselves hovering in the air before the robotic scorpion dives down from the third tier of a building down to the first. The impact upon hitting the ground was expectedly not very smooth, but the robotic scorpion was able to continue moving forward regardless.
The two Zodiac Beasts keep moving forward, taking the four of us away from the nightmarish research center.