Chapter 14 – O
After the mission, all of us, including Miss Myria’s group, returned to Sarin’s vacation mansion – our current base of operation. Each team took turn reporting the results of their operations. Miss Myria took the lead and reported their successful operation. They were able to successfully infiltrate the plant and retrieve the fragment. Since our team failed to retrieve it, and therefore had no chance to see what it looks like, Lauress and Orica eagerly circle around the glowing crystal in Van’s hand.
Anyway, it should have been great news on our side that we had retrieved one of the fragments. But considering the discovery on our side, we can’t really say that their success was a positive victory at all. Once Miss Myria finished her report, Viola proceeds to report our operation results as well as our unexpected findings. The purple haired girl wanted to stand up and talk. But she was barely able to sit without moaning in pain because of her fractured leg. As a result, she sits down on the couch and reports, while I kneel down next to her and start healing her injury.
Somehow, ever since Anty removed one of my limiters, it seems like my healing powers have become substantially stronger than before. Now, I can heal fractured bones and deep scars, but it takes quite a while for the recovery effect to display its result. Still, everyone told me that it’s better than any other medical options available to us.
As for why Viola suffered this injury, it was because of her battle against that girl named Fiore – the self-proclaimed rightful host of Ophiucus Angel. Even with the six of us attacking simultaneously, we could not make that girl flinch at the slightest. It appears that Ophiucus Angel’s power is the power of ‘Connection’, which allows her to connect to other Zodiac Angels’ stars and invoke their powers. As a result, that girl used our powers against ourselves. Having no other choice, Viola stayed behind to stall us some time while we escaped from the power plant’s vicinity. Once she was sure that everyone is safe, she left her Zodiac Beast, Zubenes, to fight against Fiore while she followed after us. However, that girl wrecked Zubenes’s arms and legs to pieces. Somehow, Ophiucus’s power allows both her host and her Zodiac Beasts to inflict direct harm upon us Zodiac Angels by attacking our Zodiac Beasts, unlike normal cases where we simply feel the same pain.
Such scary power…
Unlike previous battles where I saw everyone over powering their opponents with our servants, using our Zodiac Beasts against Ophiucus’s host and her servant might not be a very wise idea…
Now that I think about it, would I also be harmed if Anty suffered an injury from them?
After all, he proclaimed that he is the only Zodiac Beast who does not connect his pain with me.
“Become the enemy of the world?! That’s just ridiculous!!” Nat cried in disbelief.
“… But Orson had a point though,” Van muttered, “Damn. To think that their roots have grown this deep…”
“… So like… Our fight at the power plant…”
“… didn’t really mean anything?”
The twins let out a depressing sigh.
Well, everyone on Miss Myria’s team seems to be depressed. After all, their victory was all for nothing.
“We were too careless. I admit that I myself haven’t thoroughly thought about the after effects of destroying the Ophiucus Fragments too,” Miss Myria said in a way that almost felt like she was blaming herself. I can understand where she is coming from. She is the eldest member of our ranks, so she probably felt like she was held responsible for everyone.
“Who would have thought about that?” Miss Frey patted Miss Myria’s shoulders, trying to calm her friend down. “After watching Lyra’s video, we all were too focused on destroying the Nebula Corp. There was no time for us to think about the consequences. It’s no one’s fault…”
“…Isn’t there any way we can defeat the Nebula Corp at all?” Orica muttered with an obvious tone of hopelessness.
“Well, what way is there? If our world still depends on that bloody corporation’s energy, then there’s nothing we can do to them without branding ourselves terrorists,” Viola said just in time for me to finish healing her leg. She stands up to test if it was fully healed. Although there seems to be no more pain, she seems to be slightly less agile than before. Perhaps she needs a little more rest to get back to her full shape.
“That is, of course, unless we can find an alternative energy source for the whole world…,” the purple haired girl suggested, almost in a joking manner.
…Alternative energy source…?
As in another source for energy?
Wait a second… If I remembered correctly, there is indeed a company that is crazy enough to think about developing another kind of energy to compete with the Nebula Corp.
The name of that company is Richter Electronics…
My thoughts slipped through my lips in the middle of the discussion.
“Huh? What’s that, sis?” Orica asked curiously upon hearing my mumbling.
“…Everyone…” I stand up and call for everyone’s attention. “I think… I think we ‘might’ just have a way out of this.”
Hearing so, everyone curiously turns their attention to me.
“There is a company named Richter Electronics, which is trying to create a new power source so that they can compete with Nebula Corp,” I started my explanation.
“… Richter Electronics? Oh right… Their house appliances are extremely good and durable. My house used lots of their products,” Lauress remarked.
“Yes, but where did you get that information from, Auria?” Miss Myria asked me, “Richter Electronics is a house appliance manufacturing company, not an energy company.”
“My boyfriend is the executive manager of the Innovation Division and the only son of the president of Richter Electronics,” I explained. With that, everyone’s eyes widened up even more than before.
“Huh… You never told me that,” Viola muttered.
“Yeah. Never knew you have such a rich boyfriend!!” Nat teased.
Seems like everyone suddenly becomes interested in my boyfriend. Well, it’s only normal for girls of our age to be discussing (gossiping) about these matters.
But now is seriously not the time for that…
“He told me about how the development of his company’s new energy is going smoothly, and if I remember correctly, he said that the energy should be ready for launch in a few years,” I explained. Upon hearing my story, everyone’s eyes started glittering with hope. It seems like everyone could almost see where I am going.
“If we ally with Lynus’s company and help him create a new sustainable energy source so that the populace would no longer have to depend on the Nebula Corporation’s energy…”
“… Then there would be no problem if we destroy the Ophiucus Fragments after that!” Lauress eagerly finished my sentence.
“That’s… sensible.” Vanessa nodded in agreement. “After all, the only reason the Nebula Corp is not afraid of our attack is because they think that we wouldn’t dare destroy them. If we can seize an alternate energy source and distribute it to the world, then taking down the Ophiucus Fragment would no longer be a problem after that…”
“Yeah! With this, we can finally kick the Nebula Corp in the nads!!!!” Nat cheered.
“I don’t think it’s that simple though,” Miss Myria interrupted.
To have Miss Myria, the most mature member of our team, disputes my idea really makes me feel disheartened.
“Many reasons. First of all, seeking for his cooperation means dragging him into this mess. He will be targeted and hunted by the Nebula Corp if they know that he’s lending us his hands.” Miss Myria immediately gets to the point. She doesn’t mince around her words at all.
“… I understand that. Miki has told me about this several times,” I replied.
“Next, he’s the head of a division, not the president of the company, right?” Miss Myria shot me with another question.
“So how much authority do you think he has that will actually help us? He might be the manager of the division and even the son of the president, but that doesn’t mean he could just make any economic decisions without the approval of the board or the president,” Miss Myria continued.
“We don’t need him to shelter us. What I’m suggesting is that we aid him in whatever way we could so his company can launch the energy distribution faster. The faster his energy hits the market, the faster we can take down the Ophiucus Fragments,” I argued.
Right now, the 12 of us can take care of ourselves just fine as long as we stick together. We don’t need extra shelters. All we need is a way to make it that destroying the Nebula Corp won’t make us terrorists.
“Okay then. Now, what do you think is the possibility that he would accept our help? He’s a completely neutral third party after all. If he refuses to help us, then that would mean exposing our identities as Zodiac Angels to another outsider,” Miss Myria continued, “And one last thing. If he ended up cooperating with us, have you carefully thought about other consequences?”
“…? Like what?”
“His reputation… If a few weeks after his company launches the energy, the Nebula Corp is instantly destroyed, what do you think the headlines would say?” Miss Myria asked, “[Richter Electronics forcefully destroys its competitors] is not completely impossible. After all, the media STILL belongs to the Nebula Corp.”
That would severely damage his company’s reputation…
“If it’s about the media, then don’t worry,” Sarin spoke up in my stead, “If we really could destroy the Nebula Corp, then the Ramel Media will be free from the Nebula Corp’s influence and we should be able to handle the publicity. We could just say that their energy plants all malfunctioned and blew up at the same time.”
“Oh oh oh!!! That’s like giving them a taste of their own medicine!!! I like that!!!” Nat laughed.
“… Then wouldn’t that be equivalent to just destroying the Nebula Corp now? Just let your father’s company tells the public that the Nebula Corp is evil after it’s destroyed,” Lauress muttered with her eye brow twitching from the complication.
“That’s a different case. Remember that the key here is Athenia’s energy supply. If we destroy them now, then no matter what the media say, the people won’t listen because they have no more energy distributor,” Van explained, “But if we do it AFTER we gave another energy source to the world, then it would be another story. Not to mention that most people would just careless about who distributes energy to them anyway, as long as they still have their luxury.”
It seems like I have the supports from other members.
That’s a relief.
“Miss Estella, I personally think that this strategy is highly probable and promising. Nebula Corp is so full of themselves, so they probably wouldn’t be aware that we are making a counter strategy by aiding their business competitors,” Van added.
“I agree. This is not a matter of solving this through brute force any more. We really need more allies,” Viola spoke up after remaining quiet for a while. Somehow, I’m glad I had her support. She might not be the most mature person, but I admire her sincere determination.
“…Well, if everyone agrees to that, then I have no objections. I’m merely suggesting that we, especially Auria, carefully consider the possible consequences of this plan, so it won’t end like our last operation,” Miss Myria said and leans on the couch, “Plus, I don’t have any better plans right now too. Stopping everyone without giving an alternate solution would make me a hypocrite.”
“… So… We are giving this a shot?” I asked for confirmation.
“Yeah. I think it’s worth a shot. Plus, it’s not like we have a lot of options at this point,” Viola said with a smile.
“Auria,” Miki called to me all of the sudden, filling the room with complete silence. She doesn’t speak a lot, so most often when she opens her mouth, everyone tends to give her full attention. “Do you realize what you are about to do?”
“……Yeah. By doing so, I’ll be making him a part of this mess,” I replied, “He will be deemed a threat to the Nebula Corp, and possibly, they will even hunt him down as well…”
“S…Sis…” Orica cried, as if asking if I am really sure about this. The girl admires Lynus like her big brother. Obviously, I understand how worried she is.
“Are you really sure about this, Auria?” Miki asked me again, “You probably don’t need me to tell you how stupid I think this idea is, right?”
“Auria. I want you to think carefully about this too,” Sarin said, “I know that I sort of supported your plan earlier, but I am in the situation where someone very dear to me is in danger, even though he was not directly helping me with anything. Pulling your boyfriend into this mess will create a vulnerable spot that the Nebula Corp can use to abuse you. Are you really sure you can handle that?”
Sarin’s warning is filled with genuine concern.
I could just tell.
“Lynus told me many times before that he wanted to be my support since my sister and I have been going through a rough time, but I kept turning him down because I wanted to do my best before relying on someone else. I told him that I’ll ask for his help only if things go beyond my ability,” I explained, “Ever since the night Orica was kidnapped, I knew that I won’t be able to do this alone. But I broke my promise with him because not only I don’t want to risk his life, but I thought that I’ll be able to put an end to this by myself.”
Miki was actually the person who helped me. Without her, I wouldn’t be able to make it to the end too.
“Now the situation has changed, and everything is out of hand. If I ask him, I’m sure he’ll be happy to help…”
“Auria… How much do you trust him?” Viola asked me with a serious face.
“He… is the only other person I have left in this world. I trust him with all my heart and soul,” I replied.
That was a little embarrassing, but I’m speaking the truth from the bottom of my heart. He was always there for me since the day my parents left and he never left me behind. I can count on him, I just know it.
“… I see. Okay then, I’m going with you.” Viola’s reply extremely brightened my confidence. “If you trust him that much, then I’m sure he is worthy of our trust.”
… I see.
Now I see…
I think I know why Viola understood me now. She went as far as allowing Miki and Miss Frey to take her life if what her mother said is a trap. She must have trust Miss Lyra the same way I trusted Lynus. That was probably why she gave me her full support.
“Well then, I guess that’s settled?” Miss Myria asked and no one seems to object just like usual.
“In that case… Can everyone give me a moment?” I asked, “I want to talk to him in private.”
“Sure. Take your time. We’ll be waiting in this room,” Viola said.
“Hey sis…” Orica reached for my arm. Her face seems extremely worried.
“Don’t worry. I know what I am doing. I can talk to him. You stay here with the others,” I said.
“……Okay.” The girl nodded obediently and went back to her seat.
With everyone’s consent, I leave the room and move to my guest room upstairs so I can talk to him in private.