Chapter 10 – O
Now that the truth has been revealed, the air of hopelessness quickly filled the room and everyone has not spoken a word.
Reunion with Ophiucus?
That’s just absurd and preposterous. The [Tales of Star Ocean] is etched into everyone’s mind, yet there is still someone mad enough to challenge the taboo goddess?
“Obviously, if the Nebula Corp can accomplish those feats, then no one would be able to stop them. The organization will turn into a tyranny, ruling Athenia with its energy supply. However, despite their grand scheme, I found that there is one big weakness to their strategy that the Nebula Corp can never cover.”
Mom’s words suddenly spark a hint of hope inside all of us. Everyone quickly turns their attention back to the screen.
“Because you can’t defeat the Nebula Corp once they get to the Celestial Hall, your only choice, Viola, is to stop them from ever getting there. The corporation might be gigantic, but all of its strengths are pillared by one important thing: their cash flows. The whole world is pouring its money into this organization because of its energy. If you can strip away its income source, then the Nebula Corp would not be able to make any more moves. I bet you probably see what I’m trying to get here.”
“Its income source… You mean stop the Nebula Corp from distributing energy?” Sophia muttered.
“Destroy the Ophiucus Fragments, Viola. Without that stone, the Nebula Corp is as good as dead. Go and look for the other Zodiac Angels. With the 12 of you together, I’m sure destroying all of the Ophiucus Fragments would be a simple task.”
…Mom is right.
If the Nebula Corp has no more capital and resource, then they are as good as dead. They won’t be able to get more income. With no income, they won’t be able to mobilize their troops or even pay for their daily expenditures or legal obligations. More importantly, their geeky scientists won’t have any more budgets to perform their abominated experiments on us!
“This… is the best plan I could come up with all the information I have access to. I hope that this video would be of some help for you.”
After she finished talking, a voice can be heard crying from behind her.
That voice… sounds like the cry of a little baby.
“Looks like you are calling for me now…”
Mom chuckled. Yet, her face seems so sad.
“I have one last thing I want to tell you. I know that this won’t undo what I’ve done to you, but at the very least, please accept my apology. I still think of you as my dearest friend… even if you hate me now… I wish you good luck. Farewell…”
I cried out to her from inside, but it was no use. The footage ends and the projector stops playing. The whole room is filled with silence. My heart aches so much. I quietly take a couple steps back and wipe my tears without letting anyone know.
Don’t worry, mom…
I won’t let your effort go to waste.
I swear I’ll make the Nebula Corp pay.
After subduing the sob, I turn back to everyone. The whole room is still quiet. There were so many things to digest, and the truth was way too hard to swallow.
“…So… Ophiucus was right under our noses all along?” Sophia uttered in disbelief.
“Ophiucus… Nebula Corp… To think that both of our enemies are actually related together,” Myria spoke up in disbelief.
“…Let me get this straight,” Sarin spoke up after remaining quiet for the whole time, “…So you’re saying that the Nebula Corp’s true goal is never about capturing the 12 Zodiac Angels?”
“Apparently so,” I replied.
“If their true goal was to reunion with Ophiucus all along, why would they try to capture us? The Nebula Corp is trying to destroy my father’s company, so he has no more power to protect me. If they are not interested in us, then why are they doing this?” Sarin asked.
“I guess… Maybe as a backup?” Nat suggested.
“Yeah yeah! And if they can generate power from Ophiucus, then they probably can generate powers from us as well!” Lauress added.
“I don’t think so,” I said, “Nebula Corp’s energy came from the Ophiucus Fragment – which is supposed to be a part of Ophiucus’s immortal body sealed within the Celestial Hall. But our body is human flesh. If they can generate energy out of our body, then they could have just kidnapped any random person.”
“Viola is right. We are able to invoke special powers because of our hearts. Apart from that, our body is not that different from normal humans,” Myria explained further.
“But then, what about Oscar’s psycho manipulation?” Orica asked some more, “They tried to brainwash Lauress and me so we can work for them.”
“…And what about my beast extraction?” Sophia asked as well.
“And my brother’s death… You’re saying that has nothing to do with their true goal?! Then why the hell would they want to dissect me!?” Miki cried.
“No, everyone. Outside of Viola’s case, I think everything else was an independent move of the other divisions in the organization,” Auria suggested, “I vaguely remember Oscar saying that he’ll finally be able to defeat Gregory. This is just my theory, okay? But perhaps there is some kind of a competition among the Nebula Corp’s scientists. Viola’s mother said that the discovery of the angel’s power source stirred the science departments, right? Perhaps all the scientists were racing to make a scientific breakthrough, hoping to get recognition. After all, Zodiac Angels are the main ‘interest’ of the organization. So anything related to attaining our powers for their side, one way or the other, would definitely pique the CEOs’ attention.”
…That makes sense.
Miki’s dissection. Sophia’s beast extraction. Orica and Lauress’s psycho manipulation. None of those has anything to do with the Reunion Project at all. But these departments were still given the budget and personnel for their operations.
“…There is one question I have in mind, though, if I may,” Van interrupted, “Let’s forget about Nebula Corp’s plan for a while. How do you think the corporation got their hands on this stone in the first place?”
“That’s what I was wondering too,” Auria said.
“Ophiucus gave it to them?”
The twins suggested.
“…How would she do that exactly?” Sophia asked, “Ophiucus is stuck in the Celly Hall, remember?”
“There’s no way… Uh… Why are you guys looking at me like that?”
Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who thought that the word ‘Celly Hall’ stuck out like a sore thumb. The whole room had their face all focused on Sophia.
“Seriously, Sophia? Celly Hall?” Nat laughed out loud. After that, everyone else starts laughing too.
“W… Why? Oh, come on! It’s… a hard name… And it’s… you know… a ‘cell’…”
Oh Sophia… my sides… That was a good one. Her face is completely red like a tomato right now.
“You need to start calling its correct name, honey.” Even her mother is laughing as well.
“A… Anyway. That doesn’t make any sense,” Auria said, “If Ophiucus really wants to destroy Athenia, like what the legend said, then why would she give luxury to humans?”
“You have a point there,” Myria agreed, “It really is strange to say that this stone belongs to Ophiucus – the angel who hated this world so much.”
“Don’t be so hasty,” Miki spoke up, “We don’t have any evidence to prove that this stone really belongs to Ophiucus. This is the Nebula Corp. It’s possible that whatever they said in their database is utterly bullshit.”
“Can we really trust Lyra?” Frey asked out loud, “Not only everything she said sounded so stretched, trusting Lyra is not something I wanna do anyway.”
“Well, for one, I don’t trust her,” Miki said. When it comes to disputing mom, she seems to be extremely talkative.
“Just say whatever you guys want. I’ve already decided. I’m going to storm the Nebula Corp’s energy plants,” I announced, drawing everyone’s attention, “To be honest, I don’t even care if that bloody stone really belongs to Ophiucus or where the Nebula Corp got it from. The only thing that matters is that this thing is giving Nebula Corp its wealth. If we take it away from them, then we win.”
That’s right. I don’t care how Nebula Corp got the bloody stone, or what it is. The only thing that matters is our lives are on the line if the Nebula Corp still exists.
“So, who’s with me?” I asked.
“…Viola,” Miki spoke up, “I still don’t trust you.”
“Anything else you wanna say? Cuz I’m tired of hearing you and Frey say that,” I said.
“But if it’s about kicking Nebula Corp in the nads, then I’m all for it.” The dark twin pony tailed girl smirked.
“…Hmph… Now we’re talking.” I smiled. At least she seems a little more cooperative now.
“Yay! So we’re blowing up Nebula Corp’s power plants this time!? Finally, getting some action!” Nat laughed.
“Well then. I guess that’s the plan. Everyone has any objections?” Myria asked.
Everyone shook their heads. No one seems to object.
“Well, in that case, let’s come up with a plan of attack,” Myria suggested.
“Oh oh oh!! I got one! We walk up to their front doors and blow everything up to smithereens!!!!”
Nat eagerly raises her fist into the air.
“Way to go, Nat.” Van presses her palm against her face while everyone on the room laughed at Nat’s silly pose.
“I like how simple your plan is, though,” Frey said, laughing.
“We can’t do that,” Auria interrupted, “The Nebula Corp is not stupid. Their power plants must be well-equipped with securities and weaponry in cases of hi-jacks. Not to mention that now that they’ve deployed the Star Units, who knows if we’ll have to tackle against the Star Generals too.”
“Auria is right. If we are going to attack the plants, then we’ll need a strategy,” Myria explained, “We have limited people, so it’s important we carefully manage the risk in our operations.”
“Let’s do it this way,” I suggest, “We divide into two teams and we hit two plants that are far apart from one another simultaneously. This way, the Nebula Corp won’t be able to tell which plants we are going to hit. Plus, with six of us hitting a random plant at once, they won’t be able to organize an army big enough to get us in time. I’m sure that each one of us can handle 10 or 20 officers just fine, so a team of six should be enough.”
“Not a bad idea,” Frey agreed.
“I like that plan. So let’s divide ourselves then,” Myria said, “Viola, you came up with the idea. So I hope you have no problem leading a team?”
“No problem. Who’s coming with me?” I asked once again for volunteers.
“I’ll go with you,” Auria volunteered instantly, “Is that okay with you?”
The two of us seem to think alike. If she hasn’t volunteered, then I would have asked if she wants to come with me.
“…Sure. I don’t mind,” I said, “I’m glad you want to come with me.”
“Then I’m going with sis!” Orica said and hugs her sister’s arm.
“Me too! I’m going with Auria!” Lauress said and does the same thing.
“…Aw… You two…” Auria smiled nervously.
“Same here. I’ll go with Viola,” said the dark pony tailed girl.
Huh… That’s quite a surprise.
“Oh? I thought you don’t trust me,” I teased her.
“That’s exactly why I’m going with you,” said Miki, “If all this turns out to be a farce, then I can kill you immediately. It’s more convenient that way.”
“Hmph. Do your worst.”
“Oh. Will you guys knock it off already!? Geez!” Auria cried.
“Anyway, back to dividing people. So Viola’s team has five people on her side now. Who else want to go with her?” Myria takes everyone back to the main discussion.
“I’ll go then,” Sarin volunteered from the back of the room.
“Okay. Then that’s 6. We’re set,” I concluded, “So… Who’s gonna lead the other team?”
“I nominate Myria,” Frey said, crossing her arms.
“Yeah. Same idea. I want mom to lead the team,” Sophia agreed.
“Oh my? You sure?” Myria asked, slightly blushing.
“Well, out of the 13 of us, you seem to be the smartest and most dependable,” Van said, “I’m not sure if everyone realized this, but most of our discussions since our first assembly were neatly organized because you helped keep the discussion on focus.”
“Agreed.” Frey nodded.
“… from a teacher!”
Lin and Len giggled.
“Well then. In that case, everyone else will be on my team. Is there any objections?” Myria asked.
Once again, no one objected.
“So I guess we’re set. Which plant should we hit first then?” Sophia asked.
“According to the map on Nebula Corp’s official website, there are two plants that are relatively close to where we are right now,” Sarin spoke up while looking at the computer. After that, she displays the map onto the projector screen, “There is one plant located at a shore further down to the south, located near the Australis port city.”
“What about the other one?” Van asked.
“…Well… I’m pretty sure Viola is going to be familiar with this one,” said the silver haired girl.
“The other one is located a few kilometers outside of Andoria,” she explained.
Oh yeah… Thinking about it, Andoria isn’t very far off from Minoa.
“I see. I’ll take that one then,” I said.
“… You sure wanna go there? Aren’t you a wanted fugitive right now?” Sophia asked.
“Well, you, me, and Auria are all wanted fugitives. In case you don’t know, the three of us were on the news of the attack at Grand Central,” I said.
“What!?” Auria cried.
“…Yeah, I saw that report. But the news didn’t focus on Auria and me though. You’re the only one the report focused on,” Sophia said.
“Sure must be tough to be famous.” Nat laughed.
“…Actually, Nat. ‘Notorious’ is the better word,” Van corrected her sister.
…Not you too, Van…
“Anyway, we’re hitting the plant outside of the city, so I don’t think we have to worry about drawing the attention of the crowd,” I said.
But more importantly, I want to see that city again – the place where I grew up. It has only been a week or so, yet it felt so long since I last been there.
“Then I guess it’s settled. We’ll move out to hit those plants tomorrow. For today, please enjoy your stay at my mansion,” Sarin said, “I’ll take everyone to the guest rooms. Pick any room that you want.”
“Yay!!! We’re staying over for the night!!!!” Nat cheered loudly.
Sarin sure is generous.
We really are lucky to have her on our side.
As everyone follows the mistress of the mansion out of the room, I felt someone yanking my sleeve from behind.
“What’s the matter?”
“…Hey. Were you serious when you said that I was on the news?” she asked.
“Hm…? Yeah. But like Sophia said, I don’t think the camera got a clear picture of you and her. After all, the media is probably more interested in me than you two.”
“…I see.” The caramel haired girl muttered, yet her face shows that she still has something else on her mind.
“What’s the matter? Something wrong?”
“I was wondering if my boyfriend saw me or not,” she explained, “I… called to him once, but he doesn’t seem to know what is going on here on my side. He seems to think that I was kidnapped for ransom or something.”
Can’t blame him. After all, there’s no way he could have known the story behind.
“Yeah. I guess it’s just as you said. The camera were probably all locked on you,” she continued, “…In any case, this is probably for the best he doesn’t know about me.”
“Yeah. You shouldn’t drag him into this,” I agreed, “Let’s rest up. We got lots of stuffs to do after tomorrow.”
Agreeing so, the two of us leave the room and followed everyone else.