Chapter 02 – O
“Aaaaaaaaaaaannd we’re here!!!! The Orion Observatory!!!!!”
The red haired girl got down from the car and announced loudly to the top of her voice. She stretches up several times, crackling all of her muscles.
The sun is about to set and the weather is getting cool. I took a deep breath after I got down from the car. Sitting on the car for more than half a day can be surprisingly tiring. As a result, I really cannot blame Nat for acting like that.
“Phew!!!! Sitting on the car for hours sure worn me out!” she said.
“You get worn out at just about everything that doesn’t require workouts,” the green haired girl – our driver – spoke up while getting down from the car.
“Or would you prefer to walk the whole way from that inn, Nat?” I teased her.
“How about a ‘no’?” she frowned at me and her elder sister.
Looking into the town, the first thing I noticed is the towering observatory settled on the peninsula that stretches into the sea. Apparently, that observatory is what gave this town its name. The Orion University campus is probably the area around that observatory.
Aside from the city’s highlight, the town itself seems like a suburb town, majorly filled with two-story town houses. There are not many people walking around, and the neighborhood seems rather lonely. Since this town is known to be a scholar town, I can only assume that most citizens are working in the libraries or research rooms.
“So, Viola…What’s our agenda for now?” the silver haired girl with twin pony tail asked, brushing her hair to the back.
“Auria told me earlier on the phone that she is already here. She said she’ll come pick us up, then we’ll wait for Sophia,” I said, “Auria told me that Sophia ran into some troubles so she’s gonna join up with us a little later.”
“That’s strange. When did she exactly call you? And why didn’t I know when we were together in the car for the whole time?” Nat asked.
“Maybe because you were sleeping more than half of the time we were traveling?” Van teased her sister again.
I heard a voice hollering from behind us. Turning around, I saw the caramel haired girl in white slack dress waving at us from afar.
“Hey there.” I wave back while walking towards her. Van and the others look at each other briefly before following me closely.
“Glad you made it,” she said gleefully.
“Yeah… So where’s your sister and your friend?” I asked.
“Oh, they are resting in our room,” she said.
“…I see. What about Sophia? Any news from her?”
“No…She hasn’t called at all.” Auria shook her head. “Really wish she can join us soon though…”
“I guess we’ll just have to wait for her for a while,” I muttered.
What kind of trouble could Sophia ran into?
Hopefully it’s not something troublesome…
Maybe I should give her a call to check up on her…?
“Ahem!” Nat coughs loudly, as if calling for attention. And she succeeded because both Auria and I quickly turn towards her. “Are you going to introduce her to us, Viola?”
“Oh. Right. Sorry. Everyone, this is Auria. I met her at Grand Central while I was separated from you all,” I introduced the caramel haired girl to everyone.
“Pleased to meet you.” Auria politely bows down.
“I’m Natalie! Call me Nat!” The red haired girl introduced herself with her signature cheeky smile.
“I’m Nat’s sister, Vanessa. Just call me Van,” the green haired girl spoke up and offered Auria a handshake which she gladly complies.
“And I’m Sarin. Pleased to make your acquaintance,” the silver haired girl introduced herself as well.
“Everyone must be tired. If you don’t mind, please come over to my room. My sister and my other friends are resting there,” Auria suggested.
“Well then, lead the way,” Van said.
“…Friends? As in more than one?” I asked Auria while following her.
“Oh…? Yes. I happened to meet another angel in the city after I was separated from you,” she explained.
“Is that so? …In that case, with all of us here, your sister and two of your friends, that’s more than half of the Zodiac Angels. Including Sophia and her mom, we are only two angels short from 12,” I muttered.
“Hm…Now that you mentioned it…” Auria turned around, making a headcount.
Nat whispered and gave me a nudge.
“I saw an internet café at the lounge. Wanna go open your mom’s video later on?”
While I am curious about the rest of mom’s video’s content, I’m not really sure I want to open it in public. I just know that I could cry at any time while watching that video.
“Maybe later. I don’t think we should open it while in public,” I replied, “Who knows what mom has to say. It might attract other people’s attention.”
“Aw man. I really wanna know what your mom was about to say before that darn black out,” Nat sighed and walked on ahead.
I’ve already told Van about my past while we were on our way here last night, but I haven’t told Sarin and Nat yet since they already fell asleep.
20 years ago, I was somehow captured by the Nebula Corp. They performed an experiment called the ‘Reunion Project’ on me, aiming to extract my powers and inject it into another person, giving them Zodiac Powers. Upon extracting my powers, an unexpected side effect occurred; my body experienced a reverse growth and turned back into an infant. I lost all of my memory of my past life from then.
Even though I’ve already been turned into a helpless infant, the Nebula Corp’s scheme doesn’t stop with just extraction. They were extremely interested in the side-effect of the process. Albert Gregory, the head of the Reunion Project, sets one last hypothesis, stating that all who received the Zodiac Angels’ powers will try to reunite with the original host someday regardless of circumstances. But such occurrence is possible only when I have grown up and fully manifested my powers again. My mother … Or at least someone who I’ve always thought to be my mother … Lyra Hikari was a part of that experiment. From what I gathered, 20 years ago, I was mom’s close friend. She was ashamed that she took a part in this experiment, so she volunteered to raise me up.
In the end, the hypothesis appears to be true. Rokishi Vossler, the man who was injected with my powers, killed my mom, provoking me to go after him. Earlier yesterday, I finally chased him down and put an end to him. My powers that were injected into Rokishi rapidly flows back into my body. Deep down, I was hoping to get my memories back, but it never returned.
However, hope is not completely lost as mom left me a message in a video, saying that she wants to ‘set things right’.
What could she possibly want to speak to me about?
“Hey, everyone. They’re here!” Auria opens the door and calls to the girls in the room. One of them has a shoulder-length caramel colored hair, so I assume that she is Auria’s younger sister because they look so much like each other. Another girl has blonde hair and she is sitting on the bed. The two of them greet my friends and me with a smile.
As I walk into the room, my eyes caught a glimpse of another girl sitting quietly at the couch in the corner of the room without speaking a word. She has dark hair, tied up into two pony tails, similar to Sarin’s. She seems to notice my party but opts to remain quiet.
“Is that your friend too?” I nudge Auria, asking about that girl.
“Oh. Um, yeah. Well, I don’t really want to say this, but she’s a little…what’s the word…Let’s just say she’s a little ‘grumpy’,” Auria explained, “But she is a very nice person. Just don’t mind her language.”
“…Okay then?” I shrugged.
“So! Why don’t we all introduce ourselves!?” the blonde haired girl on the bed eagerly suggested.
“Great idea!” Nat laughed.
With two loud girls in the room, I just know that this is going to be a very lively party.
We find a comfortable place to sit in the room and did as suggested.
The blonde girl introduced herself as ‘Lauress’, the angel of Sagittarius. She seems to be the loud and talkative type just like Nat. I can already see the two of them getting along really well.
Auria’s sister introduced herself as ‘Orica’, the angel of Aquarius. Unlike her elder sister, she appears to be fairly outgoing and frank, but not as loud as Nat or Lauress.
The girl on the couch introduced herself as ‘Miki’ and said nothing else. She is apparently the angel of Pisces. From the way she acts, it’s probably more than safe to say that she’s not the social type. Also, if my memory serves, I assume that she is the person who confiscated Auria’s cell phone. I’m glad she returns it to Auria, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to contact her.
After our introductions, everyone starts discussing various stuffs such as what our powers are like and how we first met the Nebula Corp. However, after discussing for a while, I noticed that Auria went outside to the balcony alone.
Surprised at how she suddenly isolated herself, I decide to get up and check on her.
“Something wrong?” I asked while approaching her from behind.
“…Oh? Not really.” She was slightly startled at my call, but simply gives me a smile when she knows that it was me.
“What’s the matter? You don’t really look like the type to stay out of the circle,” I asked some more.
“……Well…I just… have something in my mind, that’s all,” she sighed and leans on the balcony.
“Wanna share?” I asked again.
I hope I’m not annoying her…
“Hm…Well, Viola… Do you have a boyfriend?”
Her question sure surprised me.
“Nah. My friends… I mean the normal friends that aren’t Zodiac Angels…they told me that my hair color is what repel guys.” I sighed and lean on the balcony with her.
“No way. I thought it looks pretty cool,” she said giggling.
“Apparently, guys don’t really think so.” I chuckled. “So, what about a boyfriend? Something wrong with yours?”
“……It’s not that something is ‘wrong’ with him. I just … miss him so much…,” she explained.
“Oh? …Well, can’t say I’m surprised,” I said.
“Yesterday, I tried calling him…Remember how I said Miki took my phone when we first met?”
“Well…it turns out that when she gave it back to me and I switch it on, there were over one thousand and three hundred missed calls from him.”
One thousand and three hundred missed calls?
Doesn’t he have anything better to do?
“He seems to be really worried about me. The Nebula Corp men came to get me at my apartment and left it in a mess. Since he picks up my sister and me every morning to go to the university, he probably has already seen my apartment and is worried about me,” she explained.
“Wow…I guess that made sense. But over 1300 missed calls?”
“Yeah…” She giggled. “Actually, that wasn’t the first time he does that though. When we just started going out, there was one night I left my cell phone in my room and went out to watch a movie with my friends. That night I got home a little late as the movie was delayed. When I got home, I had like 400 missed calls from him.”
“Doesn’t he creep you out?” I asked.
“Well, I have to admit that I was freaked out at the sheer number at first. But it turns out that after the third missed call, he was just messing with me.” She laughed.
“……He’s starting to sound like a creepy stalker to me.” I raised my eyebrow.
“Well, he does that. But actually, he is a very kind guy. Gentle. Honest. And playful. I mean really playful…,” she said, “When my parents passed away a year ago, he never left my side. He helped me arrange for everything. The funeral. The burial. I really have no idea what I would do on the night my parents died if he wasn’t by my side.”
I see…This guy really means a lot to her.
“…So your parents are dead too, huh? Sorry to hear about that,” I said.
“That’s okay. I’m getting used to living without them anyway. The only down side is, well, it’s a little tiring some times to balance academics and part-time works, but it can be pretty fun.” She giggled.
“Well, glad that at least you are enjoying it.” I smile.
“…Hey, Viola…” She called me all of the sudden.
“…Do you think we can really get back our normal lives?”
I paused for a while.
I really have no answer for her. In fact, I was discussing this with Van just before we came here as well.
The Nebula Corp.
Angel of Ophiucus.
Our enemies are just way beyond our reach.
Can we really get our ordinary lives back?
“I don’t know.” My response didn’t really answer anything. “…But there is one thing for sure. If Nebula Corp still exists, they’ll keep hunting us down like dogs. If we can at least take them out, then maybe we could worry less about getting hunted down.”
“I don’t know, Viola.”
…What do you not know?
“Do you really think that destroying Nebula Corp is going to give us our lives back?” she asked.
That was really a hypothetical question and I’m not sure what’s her reasoning.
“Well…with my mom gone, I haven’t really thought about getting back to my ‘normal’ life whatsoever,” I said, “…I just know how terrifying and evil those men are, and I don’t want any people to experience what they did to me.”
“What did they…? Oh…They…are the ones who killed your mother, weren’t they?” she asked.
Oh. I haven’t told her about my past too…
I thought I’d find a timing to tell everyone about it so I wouldn’t have to repeat the story many times, but I guess it’s okay if I just tell her about it now.
“Well, Auria…It’s like this. 20 years ago—-.”
Before I could continue, a loud explosion can be heard from somewhere out of the balcony. Auria was startled. She screamed and jumped, so I quickly held on to her. After that, my eyes look out of the balcony for the source, only to be petrified at what I see swirling in the sky.
“Hey… Isn’t that…!?”
“No… Not here too!?” Auria cried.
The nightmare has returned to haunt us when we notice the cluster of dark fog, exactly like the one at Grand Central, swirling above the town.
We’ve finally returned to Viola! xD
Do you guys miss her?
It’s been a while now. I’m starting to miss writing the story with her as the narrator, lol.
And once again for those who couldn’t catch when this chapter exactly take place, this chapter is exactly the day after Viola defeated Rokishi (we last see Viola’s party driving out of the Aquarius Falls at night. This chapter is the next day).
Sophia’s side however, she’s fighting Frey right now 😀