Chapter 13 – S
“You’re late!” mom said with an angry voice.
She is standing in front of an alley, under the shadow of a building, with her arms crossed, and her feet rapidly tapping the floor in frustration.
I am nearly two hours late from the time we made an appointment, so I can’t really blame her for being mad.
“Sorry mom! I kind of ran into something.” I told her as I try to properly catch my breath. “You’re not gonna believe what I saw while coming here!”
“Can we save that for later? We’re kind of in a trouble now.” Mom interrupts me and points to the city gate outside of the alley.
There are numerous military camps set up around the gate. Many men in navy suit and combat boots move about the place with assault rifles in their hands. It was only a short amount of time since they started making a move, but they have already made a temporary checkpoint right outside of the city gate.
“Oh no. They closed off the city already?” I cried.
“I’m afraid so. I heard the orders issued through their radios that Grand Central is now declared as Free Fire Zone. Should they detect anything deemed as suspicious, they are given the permission to shoot the target down at will,” mom explained.
“How are we gonna get out of here?” I asked worriedly.
“Well, I’ve been looking for other options while waiting for you, and luckily, I found another exit,” mom said, “Follow me.”
And with that, she leads me back the way I came earlier. After leaving the alley on the opposite side of the road with the gate, the two of us move down the main road until we hit a big intersection. After that, mom takes me down the streets until we reach an old abandoned building at the end of the block.
“This factory was used to refine minerals mined from a site just outside of Grand Central. But it was closed down when the site ran out of minerals years ago. There is an old tunnel that transports the minerals from the mines into the plant. We should be able to get out of the city through that tunnel,” mom explained.
“Um. You sure about this, mom? I mean, how do you know that the tunnel is still opened? Hasn’t it been years since this place was closed down?” I asked curiously.
“We have no other choice. We’re not gonna make it if we charge through the gate. If we go down this way, at least we can plow through any nailed doors that block us,” mom explained.
Well, she has a point. I can’t think of any better plans too, so I guess I’ll just have to trust mom.
The two of us venture into the dark and damp factory. The gypsum wall was only strong enough to barely hold the structure in place, and the ceiling was covered with old rusted zinc roof. From the looks of it, this factory seems rather poorly constructed, as if it was only meant to protect the interior from the wind and rain. With this place abandoned for years, I wouldn’t want to stay here for too long. Who knows what else in this place has broken down? If the whole building simply crumbles down from a soft kick at one of the pillars, I wouldn’t be very surprised.
Lucky for us, there is a small map, presumably the blueprint of this whole factory, settled on the table near the entrance. At least this should help us get out of this place quickly without making any redundant detours.
But before we could continue inside, a loud screech echoes the whole building as five Strikers jump out of the corners and surround the two of us.
“These things got in here too!?” I uttered as my hand reaches for the staff on my belt.
“Well, you see their numbers when they fall down to the city. They’ve probably infiltrated every single building in the city by now,” mom said, pulling out her emerald bladed sword from the sheath hidden underneath her white coat.
I was very nervous when I had to fight these things for the first time. But now that mom is here, I feel a lot more relaxed and secure.
One of the Strikers lunges at me with its blade raised above its head. I counter by shooting a fireball at it before it could get any closer. But then, another one immediately lunges towards me from my right. Before I react to it, mom hops out from the spot she was standing behind me and slashes that Striker into two with her sword. A third Striker approaches her from her right but she swiftly steps aside and slides herself behind the monster where she easily thrusts her sword through its body. Without pulling her sword out from the monster, mom swings her sword to her right, creating a cut from the middle of the monster’s body. At the same time, a crescent shaped energy beam was released from the tip of her sword and runs straight for the fourth Striker that tries to approach me from my left.
Suddenly, the last Striker took an advantage over mom by creeping up behind her and raises his arm up for an ambush. Seeing so, my legs spring me up into the air and my staff shoots a fireball down at the monster behind her, sending it down writhing on the ground before it could do anything to her.
“Hey. Not bad. You’re learning pretty quick.” Mom giggled and kept her sword back in place while I landed back on the ground.
“Well, I had a couple of fights while on the way here,” I told her. “Oh yeah! I almost forgot. Speaking of which, I meet three other Zodiac Angels while coming here too!”
“What!? Really? Where are they now!?” mom asked excitedly.
“The three of them said they had an errand to run, so they told me that they’ll catch up with us at the Orion Observatory when they are done. I got their numbers, so we’ll call them once we get out of here,” I explained.
Well, I told Miki to catch up with me, but with an attitude like that, I wouldn’t be surprised if I won’t get to see her again.
“Why didn’t you tell me earlier? I would have just run to you if I know that you met up with the other angels. Now we won’t know if they’ll be able to make it out of this city or not,” mom said worriedly.
“Um…Well, I tried to tell you when we met earlier. Oh, and that was why I was late by the way,” I explained.
“I see. I hope that they’ll make it to the observatory,” mom said, sighing.
“Don’t worry, mom. Auria and Viola are strong. They’ll definitely be okay!” I reassured her.
However, instead of feeling relief, all of the sudden her face is deprived of all colors.
“…Wait…what are their names again?!” mom asked anxiously, grabbing my shoulders.
“Um…They’re ‘Auria’ and ‘Viola’. What’s the matter, mom?”
Why is she panicking this much?
“…Viola…” mom muttered the purple haired girl’s name again.
Uh huh. Yeah. Viola. What’s wrong with—-.
Oh. Yeah. That’s right.
Viola was on that murder news in Andoria. Maybe that was why she panicked?
“…Yeah, mom. It’s the same ‘Viola’ from the Andoria murder news. She told me that the Nebula Corp accused her of killing her own mom and now she is chasing after the real murderer. Apparently, she is also a Zodiac—.”
“Wait, Sophia. Does this Viola have purple hair?” mom interrupted me.
“Um…Yeah. Exactly just like in the news. Fancy that, huh?”
“………It can’t be…” mom mumbled something and became lost in thought.
‘It can’t be’?
What can’t be?
“What’s the matter, mom? Is something wrong about that girl…?” I asked curiously.
“……No…It’s just…Nevermind. That’s impossible. It’s probably just a coincidence.” Mom shook her head.
“Hey, what’s the matter? With all stuffs going now, I wouldn’t count on something as a coincidence. Come on, mom. Tell me what’s wrong…?” I insisted.
She sighed and kept quiet for a while.
“…Well…You see. 20 years ago…Among my Zodiac Angel friends, there was also an angel with purple hair named ‘Viola’.”
“WHAT!?” I cried.
“Remember that angel I said the researcher who stole Cliff’s work was going after? ‘Viola’ was that angel,” mom explained.
“…No way. 20 years ago? That can’t be. The ‘Viola’ I met is just about my age!”
“I know. That’s why I said it can’t be possible,” mom said.
“Maybe she’s the daughter of that other Viola 20 years ago? …Oh wait. That can’t be. In the news, her mother isn’t purple haired,” I muttered.
“Well, one thing for sure, she can’t be the same Viola from 20 years ago,” mom said.
“Why are you so sure?”
“…Because she is already dead.”
“What!? How?!” I cried.
“Back then, there were five of us running together from the Nebula Corp for a while. Frey, Fo, Viola, another angel named ‘Saki’, and me. While on the run, we were ambushed by a pursuit force from one of Nebula Corp’s division. Saki and Viola stayed behind to stall time for Frey, Fo, and me to run away. In the end, the pursuit force was still able to catch up with my group and took out Fo. And you know what happened to Frey. Because of that, I kind of assumed that Viola and Saki never made it. After all, even though Saki was the Scorpio Angel – the most powerful Zodiac Angel – an army of over 1000 fully equipped men is probably still too overwhelming for them.”
“…I see. That’s why you were so surprised to hear her name,” I muttered.
“You know. Let’s just leave that matter out for now. We should get—–.”
Before she could finish speaking, a loud roar suddenly echoes the whole building.
Startled, mom and I quickly look around us for the source of the roar. Since the echo effect makes it sound as if the voice is coming from every direction, it is hard to exactly tell where it was coming from.
Mom points her sword up to the roof where a hideous creature can be seen hanging upside down from the wooden roof beam. Suddenly, it drips down from ceiling and splatters onto the floor before reforming itself up into lump of bouncing jelly with arms sticking out of its body like pudding that comes to life.
“W…what the heck is that thing!?” I cried and pointed my staff forward out of instinct.
“Probably another Ophiucus Spawn from the looks of it,” mom suggested.
“…Ew. I can’t look at it for another minute.” I cringe in disgust.
Small glowing dots, which appears to be the monster’s eyes, penetrate through the jelly body, glaring straight at the two of us.
“From the looks of it, I don’t think it’ll just let us get away without a fight. We’ll just have to take care of this thing if we are going to move on,” mom said, “Let’s get this over quickly!”
And with that, I quickly shoot three fireballs at the monster. As soon as the flames touch the monster, its body bursts off like an overheated pudding in a microwave oven. But then, the jelly immediately reforms back its shape as if nothing happened.
“Wha!?” I cried.
“The jelly body is probably just its outer shell. Its real body is probably some where inside,” mom said, “Sophia, you keep shooting the monster like just now. I’ll scan around the monster to look for its weakness!”
“Okay. Let me link with you first then!”
Speaking so, I hold my left hand above the pendant and concentrate. A weird sensation quickly engulfs my body and my mom immediately charges forward at the monster.
It seems like I’m getting better at using the Zodiac Link.
The monster raises its bouncy arms up to strike mom as she got closer to it. I shoot two fireballs at the monster’s arm and destroy it before it could hit her. While it staggers from the blast, mom slashes her blade onto the monster’s oozing base, but it appears to be ineffective since the cut was immediately healed up.
Mom quickly hops back away before the monster could hit her with its other arm. After that, mom swings her sword and creates that previous sword wave, slicing the monster’s arm off its body. However, two new arms instantly branch out from its body, replacing the previous two that was cut.
“Keep shooting!!!” Mom ordered me while she runs to the side, dodging the monster’s smash.
Following her order, I try to shoot four more fireballs from the tip of the staff. However, that moment, instead of pointing the staff forward, my right arm suddenly swings my staff 180 degrees from behind me to the front, shooting four fireballs out instantly instead of just one by one.
“Huh, that’s new. Didn’t know that I could do that?” I mumbled to myself.
The four fireball homes in at the jelly monster and bursts various part of its body opened. That moment, before it could recover, I could vaguely see something hidden underneath the area behind its glowing eyes.
“Sophia! You saw that!?”
Mom’s voice spoke to me in my head.
“Yeah. I think I do!” I replied to her the same way.
“Maybe that is its weak spot! You focus your aim at the monster’s head and keep firing away. I’ll move in to slice that thing!”
“Hey? You sure about this!?”
“Yeah. With the Zodiac Link, I can see where the monster is going to attack me from afar, so I’ll be fine!”
“Okay then. Here goes nothing!!!”
I swing my staff the same way like earlier and quickly shoot another barrage of fireballs, totaling six shots. The fireballs all home straight for the monster’s face. It tries to protect itself from the barrage by covering its face with its arms, but the first few fireballs easily destroy its arms.
After that, three remaining fireballs quickly plow through the monster’s defense and bursts its head away, revealing a small crystal orb buried inside the jelly body.
Mom shoots herself up into the air after my signal. While in mid-air, five swords of light suddenly appear above her head. And on her command, she swings her sword down and the swords of light behind her rain down at the crystal orbs, shattering it to mere dust.
Once the orb is gone, the jelly body slowly oozes away to a mere pile of grease on the floor.
“That wasn’t so bad,” mom said after she got down to the ground.
“Wow, mom. That attack was so cool,” I said.
“Hm? Oh. You mean the ‘Blessing of Light’?” mom asked.
“…You named it?”
“Ah. Well…yeah. Kind of.” Mom giggled nervously, scratching her cheek in embarrassment. “I’ve been using lots of attacks, so I thought I’d name them to keep track of them.”
“I see. Maybe I should start naming my attacks too,” I muttered.
“Well, why don’t we do that after we get out of here?” mom suggested.
“Sure. I wanna get out of here already.”
Agreeing so, I quickly follow mom deeper into the factory.
For those who haven’t read Viola’s chapter yet, that’s a big question mark hanging there in this chapter, lol.
But for those who have already read her chapter, then we learn something new here. ^^