Chapter 11 – S
After a while into the one-meter wide alley, we come across a relatively square block intersection, roughly eight meters in perimeter.
“No one should be able to follow us in here,” said the caramel haired girl as she turns around to me.
“I see. I guess we can take a breather here.” I spoke up and leaned against the nearby wall. “Phew. I’m beat.”
The purple haired girl didn’t say anything; she simply crosses her arms and leans against the wall on the opposite side of me. She seems to be really up tight because she hasn’t spoke a word since we got here.
“Oh, that’s right. We haven’t introduced ourselves yet, haven’t we?” the caramel haired girl said, “I’m Auria. Auria Remil.”
“I’m Sophia Estella. Nice to meet you girls,” I introduced myself.
“Hikari Viola. Hello.”
Now that she mentioned her name, for some reason I felt as if I’ve seen her from somewhere before.
“Is something wrong with my name?” Viola asked because I was rudely gawking at her face.
“Uh…No…It’s just…I felt like I’ve seen you from somewhere before…But I can’t remember where,” I said. She is constantly frowning, so I’m not really sure if she is mad at me or not.
“…But actually, let’s just forget that for now. I owe both of you a long explanation, didn’t I?”
I decide to cut to the chase and change our topic.
“Oh yeah, right. What was all that about?” Auria 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 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,” I said. It’s exactly like she said. When I was connected with mom, I didn’t know what was going on when I heard her voice as well.
“Back then, our thoughts were connected because of this.” I show them the pendant hanging around my neck. “It’s called the [Connection] Pendant. It’s an ancient relic that amplifies the Zodiac Link among Zodiac Angels.”
Both Viola and Auria spoke up at the same time. They look at each other awkwardly before turning back to me.
“Eh. How do I put it?” I ruffled my hair, thinking about how I should begin explaining everything to them. “You girls know that we are the reincarnations of the 12 Zodiac Angels of that bedtime story, right?”
The two of them simply remain quiet. They briefly look at each other then back at me once again. After that, they shook their heads at the same time.
“O…Oh…I see. Let me explain it then.” I guess I’ll have to explain everything from zero. “I’m sure both of you heard about the [Tales of Star Ocean] right?”
Both of them nodded as expected.
“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. 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.”
I pause to see if the two of them follow my explanation or not.
Auria simply gives me a nod, probably telling me to carry on while Viola appears to be pondering on something.
“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.”
I finished explaining about Zodiac Link.
Auria appears to be fascinated by my story while Viola doesn’t seem like she really buys it.
“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?” she asked.
I’m not offended at all, and to be honest, I’m not really surprised she found my story questionable.
“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,” I explained, “But the battles were fierce and severe. She was separated from the others and never met them again.”
That moment, the various stories about mom’s past immediately rise to the top of my head. I almost lost control and told them about her story, but then I realized that I’ll probably just drag this conversation on for too long.
“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.”
As a result, I decide to immediately cut to the chase.
“I see. No wonder you know so much,” Auria 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.
Oh! That’s right! The news!
“A…Are you…THE Hikari Viola on the news!? The one from the murder news in Andoria last week!?” I unintentionally cried out loud when I finally recognized where I’ve seen her before.
“So that’s why you thought I look familiar.” Viola shook her head. “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.”
“I see. This is certainly a surprise. I didn’t expect you to be the same person as in the news,” I said.
However, all of the sudden, she begins chuckling for no reason. “Wow, you girls are so gullible.”
“…Huh?” Auria and I looked at her at the same time in confusion.
“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.”
…Uh huh…? Okay?
“…Oh…Uh…Well…You don’t really seem like…a bad person,” I said.
“Well, I believe you, Viola,” Auria interrupted me, “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…Perhaps…the person who authorized the distortion of that news is trying to force you to surrender yourself.”
“Bingo. I’m surprised you could tell so much.” The purple haired girl gives Auria a round of applause.
“So I assume you know ‘who’ is chasing us, right?” Auria asked Viola and me.
“……The Nebula Corp,” the purple haired girl whispered.
I could feel blood draining from my face. Nebula Corp’s pursuit forces have made their moves faster than I expected. To be honest, up until now, I thought I was the only one they’ve located. It never occurred to me that they have already located other angels.
I guess mom is right; there is really nowhere safe for ‘Zodiac Angels’ on Athenia anymore.
“Anyway, Sophia. Let’s go back to what we were discussing earlier,” Auria spoke up, clearing the depressing mood away from the air.
“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,” I explained.
“Could it be that the original Zodiac Angels’ seals are growing weaker? 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 send out her troops down on Athenia,” Auria said.
“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,” I said, “If Ophiucus’s seal is fully released, that would spell doom for Athenia.”
A long awkward silence quickly fills the atmosphere. The two of them are probably overwhelmed by the weight of the upcoming events.
I can hardly blame them for feeling this way.
I still don’t want to believe all of this is happening either.
“So, what do you suppose we should do?” Auria asked, “This sounds like a very big thing, and I’m not really sure I am following this.”
“This might be a little too sudden to ask, but would you girls join me in looking for other angels?” I 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?
That’s great. Counting everyone here and mom, that’s 6 angels; we are half way there.
“That’s not a bad idea. Let’s see…”
I quickly recall what mom told me about how Orion Observatory is a property of the public, and that the Nebula Corp wouldn’t be able to stir up trouble there.
Although it’s not completely safe, I guess it’s not a bad place for rendezvous.
“How about the Orion Observatory?”
“Orion Observatory?” Auria 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.”
Until now, what she said about the arrangement of stars still sound made up to me.
“Agreed then. Once I find my friends, I’ll take them there. And then I’ll contract you again,” said Viola.
If Viola could bring two angels there along with herself, then that would have been really great.
“What about you, Auria?” I turn to the caramel haired girl.
Auria keeps mumbling with words, as if looking for the right words.
“My younger sister is also a Zodiac Angel,” she explained, “…But she was captured by the Nebula Corp two days ago.”
Viola and I cried out loud at the same time, startling the caramel haired girl.
“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.”
How am I supposed to not be worried?
I know that she’s not my sister, but I also know what those men could do to us.
“According to my friend…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,” she explained as calmly as possible.
“In any case, that is definitely not good.” Viola grits her teeth anxiously.
“Y…Yeah. Maybe…we should focus on getting Auria’s sister out of that research center for now,” I suggested.
If there is anything more immediate than assembling the angels, then it’s the safety of those angels. It would do us no good if any of our comrades fall.
“I appreciate your concern, but don’t you girls have something else to do too?” Auria’s response kind of surprises me. “Sophia. You have to meet up with your mother. And Viola, you have to meet up with your friends.”
Viola and I remained silent, at lost for words.
Auria is right. Meeting up with mom should take priority above anything else.
After all, I don’t want to worry her any more than I do right now.
“Don’t worry. I’ll be fine. I’ll rescue my sister and we’ll go to the Orion Observatory together. I promise.” The caramel haired angel gave us a smile – a fake one. It just looks so obvious that she is freaked out of her mind right now, but she probably doesn’t want to place her burdens on us. I really wish I could help her out because I don’t want other angels to experience the hell I’ve personally been through.
“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,” I suggested.
That is probably the best course of action the three of us can do right now. We have people who we care about that we have to meet up.
Viola pulls out her cell phone and quickly exchanges her numbers with mine.
“Um. My cell phone is with the angel who came with me. She…uh…confiscated it,” Auria said embarrassly.
“…Uh. Why would she do that?” I asked curiously.
“When she rescued me from the Nebula Corp’s men, she was…um…afraid that I’ll call my boyfriend for help,” Auria explained.
Wow. She has a boyfriend?
Well, she’s pretty cute after all, so I shouldn’t really be surprised. But still, it probably pains her to have to not tell her boyfriend.
“I can see why she does that though,” Viola spoke up, crossing her arms, “The corporation would do anything to fulfill its goal. Calling your boyfriend would definitely drag him into this mess as well.”
“…Yeah. That’s what Miki said. 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 we are done exchanging numbers, we keep our cell phones back in our pockets.
“Well then. You girls take care! See you girls later!” I said.
The two of them nodded and walked away to different directions.
As I watch their backs moving away from me, I cannot help but constantly pray for their safety.