Chapter 15 – S
Normally, I’m not the type to wake up so early, as evidenced by how I almost always get to class late. Fortunately, I was not lying on my bed, where the gravity is 20 times stronger than any place on Athenia, so I was barely able to get up at the second snooze of the alarm from my cell.
The sun has just risen, so it’s not completely bright outside yet.
I quickly take care of my daily morning chore, leave a note telling mom that I’ll go take a walk, put on my jacket, and leave the room with my staff.
The village’s organization is formed from blocks of single houses, lined up in grids. As long as one can remember the block numbers, one can easily move around the village without the fear of getting lost.
From the front of the inn, I stroll down the road cutting through the village. The early morning air is cool and the fog has set in, making it slightly hard to navigate my way around. I keep moving forward down the road, passed various trees and street lamps. As I move along the road, my eyes keep track of the various landmarks that I can use to navigate myself back to the inn.
However, after running down the road for eight blocks, I stop and come to a realization of my own silliness.
How could I be this reckless?
It’s 6 AM in the morning right now. Who is going to be wandering around a rural village at a time like this? Maybe that angel hasn’t even wake up yet.
Thinking so, I sit down at the bench, slightly frustrated at my own recklessness. I have to come up with a better approach and fast. My time is limited, so I cannot afford to just go look around blindly.
That moment, my eyes glimpse upon a small beverage outlet settled under the street light pole. Thinking about it, I haven’t had anything yet since I woke up. Feeling a little thirsty, I decide to take a sip.
“A bottle of root beer please,” I spoke to the lady tending the outlet.
At first look, her curly gray hair makes her seem like a 50-years-old lady. But upon a closer look at her face, she seems to be only a few years older than mom since her face doesn’t have a lot of wrinkles.
“Wow. Soft drink early in the morning? Your workout is all going to waste,” she replied to me with a smile while handing me the cool root beer bottle.
“…Um? Work out?”
“Yes. Or were you not jogging, little lady?” The lady then points to the direction behind me. A man and a woman, possibly a couple, can be seen doing their morning jogging together. “Many families in this village love to do their morning jogging.”
“Oh, I see…Well, I was just strolling around because I like the morning air. And I’m not from around here. I just came to this village last night with my mom,” I said.
“Aaah. That explains why you don’t look familiar to me,” the old lady said, “I’m Hilda. I sell drinks on this road in the morning for the joggers.”
“I’m Sophia. Nice to meet you.” I shook hands with her.
“So, Sophia. Need a direction to go somewhere?”
“I’m just walking around. Didn’t really have a definite destination.”
Well, I do have some kind of a heading, but I don’t suppose this lady even knows that there’s an angel in this village.
“Hm. Is that so? Well then, may I suggest you pay respect to the statue of the Aries Angel in the middle of this village?” Hilda said, pointing towards the road on my right.
“Aries Angel? One of the 12 Zodiac Angels?” I asked to be sure.
“That’s right. The residents of this village worship the Aries Angel as our Village Guardian. If you are traveling, then maybe you should go ask for the angel’s protection,” said Hilda.
“Thanks. I’ll go pay the statue a visit then,” I said and give her a polite bow.
“Take care out there, honey,” the old lady spoke to me as I walk away from her outlet.
“Yes. Thank you.”
If this was before I knew that I am a reincarnation of a Zodiac Angel, I would have been a lot more eager to pay the statue a visit. Not that I’m not excited or eager any more. It’s just knowing that the Aries Angel is probably walking around somewhere on Athenia in the body of a girl makes paying respect to the statue feels rather empty.
But since I have no real heading right now, I might as well go check the statue out.
I move down the road and head towards the direction Hilda pointed. After a while, the statue of the angel came into view. The statue depicts a lady with her hair just about her shoulder wearing a frilly gown while looking up towards the eastern sky where the sun rises.
In some version of the story, it was said that after the creation of Athenia the 13 Zodiac Angels each guards a direction of Athenia. The direction starts at the East with Aries and lines up with their orders in a counter-clockwise manner – Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, and Pisces.
The angel of Ophiucus was said to take care of the land in the middle of the circle.
All of the sudden, I heard a voice speaking from behind me. Startled, I turned around and notice a girl with her pony tail tied up in the right side of her head. From the looks on her face and her height, she appears to be a few years younger than me – perhaps a high schooler. Since she is looking at me and there is no one else around here, I can only assume that she was calling me.
“Um…Hello…?” I spoke back to her.
“I’ve never seen you around here. Are you an outsider?”
While I’m sure she didn’t mean any offense, her question almost made me feel unwelcomed.
“Well, yes. I was traveling with my mom and we happened to pass by this village last night, so we rested at the inn,” I said.
“I see. I’m Lin,” she introduced herself, “I’m studying in the local high school, trying to get admitted into Orion University.”
Fancy that. Mom is teaching in the university.
“Oh. I’m Sophia, Galaxia University Junior,” I introduced myself as well.
“Hm. From a big city…Does small countryside village like this bore you out? There’s not much to see around here, to be honest,” she said.
“Hm. Not really. The air is nice. And well.” I turned to the statue. “A village protected by an angel really seems like a nice place to stay.”
“Ah. You like the Tales of Star Ocean?” Lin asked.
“Yeah. Well, I ‘love’ it. My mom used to tell me the story before I go to bed every night.”
“Is that so? Well, I’m trying to get admitted into the Zodiacal Astrology Faculty of Orion University because I love the story too,” Lin said.
“Hah. That’s a coincidence. My mom is actually a teacher teaching for that faculty in the Orion University.”
“Oh? Really!? Then why didn’t you study—-. Oh. Right. Having your parents as teacher can be awkward, right?”
“Wow. How did you know that?” I’m surprised she read my thoughts.
“Well, my parents are teachers of our local school as well. I used to have my father as my homeroom teacher, and it was really awkward.”
“Yeah. I understand that.” I laughed.
“But anyway, you were here with your mother, right? Would you mind introducing me to your mother in case one day I become her student?” Lin asked.
“Oh. Sure. But my mom is still sleeping at the village’s inn. Can you come to the inn after breakfast?”
“Got it. Here’s my number.” The girl takes out her cell phone and exchanges her number with me.
“Okay. Call me when you get to the inn then,” I said after exchanging the numbers.
“Well. I’ll see you around, sis.” And with that, Lin walks away.
Upon pulling out my cell phone, I was reminded about Auria and Viola.
I wonder what they are doing right now. I planned on calling them today, but judging from the time, I doubt that they are awake.
Maybe I’ll call them after I get back to the inn.
Perhaps there was really no point in getting up this early after all. Not like you can do much with everyone still sleeping…
Just as I insert my cell phone back into my pocket, all of the sudden, the pendant on my neck starts glowing and vibrating again. This time, the glow forms a compass needle like back at Grand Central and points towards the northeastern side of the village.
Did that angel finally wake up?!
Without hesitating, I immediately follow the direction the pendant was pointing pass various blocks of houses to the other side of the village. Before I know it, I am standing now standing on a small patch of grassy plains, settled in between the village and the forest. But instead of leading me on, the pendant just stop reacting.
“What the? Oh come on!” I grumbled.
This is the third time it does this. Couldn’t it just wait until I actually see an angel before it stops glowing?
All of the sudden, the sound of a vehicle engine running can be heard and a huge shadow suddenly soars over my head.
Out of instinct, my right hand reaches for my staff and my eyes looks up above. To my surprise, I found a humanoid figure in blue armor with an item best described as a winged jet pack equipped on his back hovering in the air. His arms are equipped with a gauntlet and his head is covered with a helmet veiling his face.
Without a warning, he points the gauntlets at me and fires a barrage of glowing bullets out of his gauntlet.
“Wha!?” I cried and quickly roll to the side, dodging the barrage.
This kind of weaponry…
Could he be from the Nebula Corp forces!?
Have they already made their way here?
If that is the case, then I have to take them down before they can get to the village!
I point my staff up and shoot four fireballs that quickly home in at him. But before the fireballs can reach their target, another man in red jet pack armor suddenly swoops in the knocks all the fireballs away easily.
“What the?!” I cried out of surprise.
The two of them gaze at me for a while before swooping down to attack me with close quarter combat using their gauntlets. I know that there is no way I can handle such relentless assault by myself, so I decide to call for help.
At my command, the king of the jungle emerges from thin air behind me and lunges at the jet pack men. The blue one manages to get away from his lunge, while the red was pinned down to the ground. Before Regulus could do anything else, the blue one quickly shoots a barrage of bullets down on the lion’s back, loosing his grip of the red jet pack man below him. The two men quickly hover back into the air and look down at us again.
“…We can’t let them get their hands on the angel in this village. You take the red one. I’ll take care of the blue one,” I ordered the lion who seems to completely understand me.
Before they could react, my body once again acts on its own and swings my staff from behind me forward. A small fireball was then released from the tip of my staff, homing towards those two men. But instead of simply burning them like normally, the fireball instead explodes into a huge fiery globe of flames, instantly knocking the two of them down from the air.
That moment, the lion immediately charges against the red jetpack man and pins him down against the floor. The nails on his left claw then extend and glow a weird eerie aura as he aims at that man’s head.
But then all of the sudden, a mysterious figure emerges in front of the lion and blocks his claw with her sword, just before he could smash the jetpack man’s head.
“What the!? Spica!?” I cried upon seeing the armored lady.
What is mom’s Zodiac Beast doing here!?
And why is she protecting the Nebula Corp’s men!?
“That’s enough.” A familiar voice then spoke up from behind me.
What is she doing here!?
And how did she know that I’m here!?
“Just like your parents said. You girls are really mischievous,” mom spoke up and looked towards the forest nearby, ignoring me, “It’s about time you show yourselves. Lin. And Len.”
“What!?” I cried.
That girl I met in the village earlier!?
From behind the trees, two girls walk out of the shadow, nervously smiling at mom and me.
One of the girls is Lin, the same girl I saw at the village’s statue. The other girl looks almost identical to Lin, except her tied hair is hanged down onto her left shoulder.
“Wow. How did you know that we are here?” Lin asked.
“Well, I happen to be an acquaintance of your parents – Professor Huan and Professor Qing,” mom explained, “I just remembered that they live here, so I thought I’d pay them a visit when I woke up. And well, who’d expect their daughters to be the Gemini Angel.”
“What!? Wait. So these jet pack guys are your Zodiac Beasts!?” I cried, and quickly signaled Regulus to let go of the jet pack man that was pinned down.
“That’s right!” Len said with a cheeky smile.
“Then why were you attacking me!?” I asked.
“Why don’t we talk this over at their house? You can reprimand them as much as you want when we get there,” mom said and turned around towards the village.
Yeah. I better get a good explanation on why they make their Zodiac Beasts shoot me.