Chapter 13 – O
Sarin lifts up her axe and strikes Fiore for a few more times. However, all of them were blocked by the mysterious dark claws on Fiore’s left hand. She simply brushes each strike away, taking a step back only when necessary. For her to take on Sarin’s attacks without flinching like this, there is no more doubt that we should not remain here any longer!
At my command, the iron giant emerges and charges straight at the girl in gothic dress. After that, Zubenes tosses his shield at Fiore, who was able to parry the strike with her claw, but was still launched into the air nevertheless.
“Zubenes, eh? You must be pretty desperate to call for help, Viola.” Gregory chuckled mockingly.
“Everyone! We have to get out of here now!!!” I announced.
“But what about the fragment!?” Lauress asked.
“We’ll just have to let it go this time! We can’t defeat that girl right now!” I said.
“Dammit!!!!” Thick headed as she might be, even Miki seems to understand our current situation. She grits her teeth and quickly rushes for the exit along with Auria and Orica, who were already running for the exit since my first announcement.
“Come on, Sarin! Lauress! I’ll buy you some time!!!” I told the two of them as I rush forward at the girl in gothic dress.
“All right! We’ll meet up with you at the rendezvous point!!!” Sarin explained and quickly moves out of the room along with the blonde archer.
“I won’t let you run!” Fiore raises her right palm and shoots an arrow at Lauress and the others from mid-air. However, the iron giant quickly intercepts the arrow with his shield. At the same time, I swing my lance down and release a wave of energy at Fiore, but she simply brushes it away at the wall as she lands.
“Hmph… How courageous. Staying behind to sacrifice yourself for your friends?” Fiore asked me with a mocking tone.
“Who said I’m staying?”
The iron giant tosses his shield at the girl in gothic dress once more. She parries it as usual, but this time, the giant twirls the chains attached to the shields, spinning it like rodeo.
“Run, my lady!”
The iron giant’s voice spoke to me while he is twirling the chain. With Fiore still busy with the shield, I quickly turn my tail and follow everyone out of the generator room.
Please, buy me some time!
Once we’re out of the plant’s vicinity, I’ll—–!!
“How unwise of you to leave your servant with me, Viola.”
While running along the hallway leading outside, I suddenly heard a voice whispering next to my ears.
Why am I hearing Fiore’s voice!?
Wait… Don’t tell me that she can also initiate the Zodiac Link!?
“I thought you’ve fought against some of Lady Ophiucus’s servants before. Have you already forgotten what happens when your Zodiac Beast is attacked by Ophiucus’s power?”
All of the sudden, a loud crack can be heard and an agonizing pain emerges on my left arm. I felt as if my limbs are about to be torn from my body. That moment, the picture from Zubenes’s sight flashed right in front of my eyes.
The giant was lying down on the ground!
“I’m… sorry… my… lady…”
The iron giant’s voice echoed in my ears while I am running.
Turning his head to the left, the picture of his left arm came into my view; it was completely thrashed and his shield is nowhere to be seen!
H… How did this happen!?
I just took my eyes off him for only a few seconds!
“Admit defeat, Viola. Just realize that there is no way you can win!”
This time is my right leg. The agonizing pain heavily took its toll on my reflex and I found myself falling down on the ground just outside of the main facility.
Dammit. Is she trying to stop me from running!?
Before I get up from the ground, all of the sudden I have some trouble trying to breathe. Zubenes’s sight flashes before my eyes again, showing the gothic girl grabbing the iron giant by his throat. She lifts him up from the ground and hops into the air. As she falls, she points the giant’s head down against the ground.
Seeing so, I quickly dismiss the giant to safety and disconnect from him. After that, I could no longer see anything from the generator room. My neck is still intact.
…I barely made it.
If Zubenes’s head really crashed against the ground earlier… Then my neck…
All of the sudden, a loud siren rings all over the facility, followed by a disturbing announcement.
“Attention all personnel! Pursue the target with purple hair! Ignore all the other targets!”
“Ah crud… They know that I can’t run so they’re pulling all of their forces after me!?”
I grit my teeth and suck up the pain as I force my body to move forward. Once I left the plant’s vicinity, I make my way for the exit of the city area. The plan B is should we have to run separate ways from each other, we will meet up again at the hills outside of Andoria after making sure that no one can follow us.
Seeing that no one else is around in the vicinity, I guess Auria and the others have already escaped safely. So now, I just have to find a place to hide to make sure that no one is following me, then I can call them for help.
Luckily, this is Andoria, the city where I grew up. I know almost all the roads and streets, as well as where they will lead me. I should be fine getting around the city.
However, even though I am familiar with the streets, the pain on my body is throbbing, and it is disagreeing with me to move on. After moving for three blocks, my body denies to continue moving and helplessly collapses down on the ground.
“Ugh!” I whelped in pain. My left arm and right leg has completely bruised up and I can hardly move them. It’s probably safe to assume that my leg’s bone has fractured too.
How am I going to run after this?
“I found her!!!!” A man’s voice yelled from behind me while I was trying to get up from the ground.
“Oh shit!” I grit my teeth and plunge forward, soaking up all the pain.
I’m not gonna get caught here!
“The target is harmed! She can’t move fast!! We—- Oomph!!!!!”
The man’s report stopped short and a loud thud could be heard.
I curiously turn around to see what happened. To my surprise, that man is now lying on the ground, and in place of him, a teenage girl with dark straight shoulder-length hair stands with a heavy textbook in her hands. If I correctly recall, that’s the Intermediate Accounting textbook of my university! And that girl… She’s—!!!
“Hey? Do you read!? Where’s the target!?” The officer’s communicator keeps asking the same question over and over, but obviously, no one is going to answer that.
“You… Why are you…?”
“Come with me!!!!” The girl who knocked that officer off quickly snatches my right arm and throws it over her shoulder.
“Stop making that silly face and move that leg!!!” the dark haired girl said and helps me move down the alley into the residential area. After a few more turns, a house with broken fence and sliced up doors came into our view. There were traces of ‘Police Cross’ tapes around the entrance, but they were already cut by the time we get here.
The two of us move inside the house and the girl lays me down on the couch in the living room.
I never thought I would ever get back here this soon…
“Alis… What are you doing here!?” I finally asked the girl after keeping quiet for the whole time.
“I’m the one who’s supposed to ask you that question, dummy!!!!” The girl smacks her knuckle onto my head.
“Where the hell have you been, Viola!? What the hell happened!? Do you have any idea how worried I was!? Why don’t you pick up the bloody phone!? Why didn’t you tell me what’s going on!?” the girl cried tearfully as she bombarded me with numerous questions. After that, her knees collapse to the ground and she digs her face onto my lap, crying some more.
My tears helplessly trace its way down my cheeks as well.
I miss her so much…
“… I’m sorry. It’s just… Back then, I didn’t know what was going on too.” I told her, softly stroking her hair.
“Then, for the love of the angels, why didn’t you at least tell me what happened!? We have been friends for our entire life!!” Alis cried some more.
The news announced that I was the one who murdered my mom. Everyone probably believed that. How do I even start explaining everything to her without making it sounds like an excuse?
“I don’t care what the news told me.” To my surprise, it seems as if she read through my mind. “I just know that you didn’t kill Aunt Lyra. There is totally no reason for you to do that!”
She believed in me.
She believed in me the whole time, despite what the Nebula Corp has been lying to everyone.
Yet I… Yet I didn’t trust her enough to pick up her call that day…
“So please, Viola. Tell me where you have been!!” the girl pleaded.
I can’t lie to her.
I can’t keep it a secret from her any more.
I have to tell her.
“………… Will you believe whatever I am about to tell you?”
“Why wouldn’t I?” the girl asked back with a serious face.
“Because I don’t even want to believe that this is happening either,” I replied and pulled out the spear strapped on my hip. As soon as it goes free, the spear extends to its full length and the crystal blade emerges out of nowhere.
The dark haired girl stood up and glared at the spear fearfully. “Viola… What’s that?”
“… I am the reincarnation of the Zodiac Angel of Libra.”
I said it…
I’ve finally told her what I really am.
“……That’s not funny, man,” the girl said.
I can hardly blame her for it.
To fully convince her, I swing my lance down and blow the window of the living room out of proportion.
“Oh my sweet angels!? What the hell was that!?” she cried while covering her ears.
“That was my power,” I explained.
“Power…? What power? Viola, I don’t understand!” Alis cried.
“Long story short, Alis. I am being pursued by a big organization that is seeking my powers for their benefit. My mom was a victim of this pursuit and she was taken out while trying to protect me. Everyone who knew about their secrets will be taken out… And that was why I had to run and kept it a secret from you.”
That wasn’t an exact summary of what happened, but at least for now, it should be suffice to describe my situation to her.
“…Oh god… This has to be a joke.” The girl falls to her knees in disbelief.
“I wish it was.”
I really do…
“So… why did you come back here? Shouldn’t you run far far away if you are being followed?” she asked curiously.
“Well, I happen to pass by the area because I was fighting against the pursuit,” I explained.
“And they wrecked you up like that?” she asked, pointing to my broken limbs.
“…Yeah. Apparently,” I replied.
“Doesn’t… that hurt?”
“Well, try breaking your legs and you’ll know,” I said, giggling.
“Oh god… That’s so you. I’m so glad I get to see you again…,” the girl said, sobbing.
“…Yeah. Same here,” I said, trying my best to hold back the sob.
“This past few weeks… What kind of hell have you been through all alone?” The girl starts crying again.
“Well. It was pretty horrible, at least during the first few days.”
…Yeah. Before I met Nat and Van, my life on the road has been pretty rough. I had to walk a pretty long distance to get to the Cancerian Laboratory… only to shamefully lose to that man…
“But I was lucky I get to meet girls who possess powers similar to mine,” I explained.
“There were other girls with powers like yours!? Are they being hunted too!?”
“Yeah. Well, there were 12 Zodiac Angels after all, Alis,” I said.
“… Damn… Why am I not one of those 12…?” the girl muttered regretfully.
“Oh Alis. You’re lucky you’re not—-.”
“I don’t care! If I… If I was one of those 12… Then at least I might have been able to be there for you…” The girl cries again.
“Isn’t there anything I can do for you at all?”
“No, you can’t, Alis. If they know that you help me then—.”
“Heck, Viola! Stop doing this! Can’t you trust in me a little more!? You are my dearest friend! How can you expect me to sleep tonight knowing that you are being hunted down by an evil organization!?”
What should I tell her?
What should I tell her so that she can still be safe?
I trust her. But I don’t want to drag her into this mess as well…
“But let me ask you this, my angels. Have you ever thought about the consequences? What will happen to this world after the Nebula Corporation is gone? What exactly would you gain from destroying my company? Do you really think that you can go back to your normal lives after you destroyed my company? Have you forgotten that this entire world needs my company’s energy?”
“Keep this in mind, my dears. If you destroy me and my company, then you will be marked by the public as terrorists – the people who took their energy – their luxury away from them! The populace will compete for the remaining energy left in this world. War and cataclysm will arise and the history of mankind’s bloody race for energy several years ago will repeat itself! My company won’t be the ones who will hunt you after that; it’s the people of Athenia – your friends, your families – they’ll be the one who will hunt you down like dogs on the street! Do you really want a life like that?”
“Well, maybe there is one thing you can do for me. And probably only you can,” I said.
“What is it!? Tell me!” the girl pleaded eagerly.
“… Can you keep believing?”
“Can you keep believing that I am innocent?”
“Of course! You didn’t kill Aunt Lyra!”
“… No. I mean, whatever happens from now on, can you promise me that you will never lose faith in me – that what I did is not evil?” I asked, “What I want more than anything right now is the confirmation that I still have someone believing in me… Someone who will never lose faith in me.”
To be honest, Orson’s words did scare me.
I don’t want to be the enemy of the world. I don’t want the whole of Athenia to chase me.
But I don’t want to die like a dog on the street as well.
But if someone… If there is at least one person – an independent third party – who believes in me despite what is broadcast to the public, then there is nothing for me to be afraid any more.
Even if I die like a dog on the street, at least there will be someone who knows the truth…
“…Viola,” the dark haired girl whispered my name.
“So… Can you keep that promise?”
My dearest friend, Alis.
Only you can do that for me now.
Only you who’ve been with me for all I’ve known.
“…Yeah, I promise. But under one condition…”
“Pick up the bloody phone if I call you next time…”
“… Haha… Okay. If I can’t pick up, I’ll definitely call back once I made sure that it’s safe,” I said.
The two of us laughed like old times.
I really wish I can go back to those times – those times when we were just students in the university where Alis would copy my homework every morning and get caught by the teacher…
Suddenly, my phone rang up, snapping me out of my nostalgia.
“Viola! Where are you!?” Her voice seems troubled.
“I’m… I’m at my house. I kinda got into some trouble on my way out.”
“What?! Are you okay right now!?”
“Yeah… But I could use a lift though,” I said.
“Okay. Message me your address, and I’ll go pick you up right away!”
“Got it… Is everyone else safe?”
“Yeah. We were already at the rendezvous point, but we didn’t see you at all. So we were really worried,” she said.
“… Miki too?”
“… Uh… Well, probably not so much. But the rest of us are really worried!!!”
“That’s a little more like it.” I laughed.
“Ugh, you still have the mood to joke!? …Anyway, just stay there, okay? I’m going to pick you up!”
“… So… You’re leaving now?” Alis asked as I hang up the phone.
“I guess that means I shouldn’t stay here any longer,” the girl muttered.
“…Yeah, I guess… Wouldn’t be right for you to be in a murder scene…”
The couch next to the one I am sitting – the one mom was lying on until her last breath – still has blood painted all over it, although it was already completely dried up.
Where could her body possibly be right now?
“… Oh yeah, Viola. About your mom,” Alis spoke up when she noticed me looking at the bloody couch, “I’ve already arranged a burial for her.”
“Really?” I turned to her in surprise.
“Yeah… Well, the police said she has no other relatives, so my family offered to do the funeral for her. Don’t worry, she is resting in peace right now,” Alis said.
“Oh Alis… You don’t know how much that means to me,” I said with tears welling up in my eyes.
Thank god mom doesn’t need to be frozen in some morgue. At least she is sleeping somewhere peacefully now.
“Don’t mention it. That’s the least I could do for you,” the girl said, giggling, “… Just come back soon, okay? I will always be waiting for you…”
With a friend waiting for my return, there is nothing more for me to fear.