Chapter 17 – O
Lynus and I get down from his car after he parks it in front of a fenced warehouse located in the outskirts of Eternia. It was only an hour drive from the Corvus Villa. Miki’s car closely follows us into the vicinity and parks right next to Lynus’s car. Being a car fanatic, Lynus tries to inspect Miki’s car model, but the girl unsheathes her daggers the moment she saw him do that.
Well, it’s her big brother’s car, so I’m not surprised that she is a little overprotective of it.
Lynus leads all of us into the warehouse where a number of workers are busy operating various machines. Although he said that this is a ‘warehouse’, a ‘factory’ might actually be a better description of this place. There are so many machines running and manufacturing several appliances.
“Up here we have the Production Department borrowing our space. Their factory has reached the operating capacity and can’t expand any bigger. Since the construction of new facility is currently under financing agreement process, they have to borrow my division’s warehouse temporarily to operate their expanded segment,” Lynus explained like a tour guide as we move deeper into the warehouse.
“Good afternoon, Mr. Richter!” one of the staff in an office attire greeted Lynus while we are walking.
“Good afternoon, Mr. Fauner,” Lynus replied.
“May I ask who are these ladies accompanying you?” Mr. Fauner asked Lynus some more.
“Oh. She’s my girlfriend,” Lynus said, tapping my left shoulder, “And the rest are her friends.”
All of us simply give him a bow.
“What business do they have here?” he asked again.
“I’m just taking them down to the R&D. Is there a problem?”
“Of course not. Please, enjoy your stay.”
And with that, the man named Fauner returned to his work station.
“That’s Fauner Clifford, the new manager of the Production Division. He was recently transferred here from the headquarters,” Lynus explained as all of us get into the elevator, “He’s a little nosy as you can see, so don’t mind him. He just likes to talk to many people.”
“Uh huh…?” I gave him a short reply.
Well, he really does seem nosy…
The blonde young man inserts a key card into a small slot in the elevator. After that, the doors close and the elevator move down passed ‘B3’, the lowest floor available on the panel.
Once it reaches the ‘B4’ level, the metallic doors slide opened and we enter a laboratory-like room. There are about five men in white gown moving around the room, inspecting various equipments at each corner.
“Is Orville here?” Lynus spoke up once he gets inside the room.
“I’m here,” a man in white gown at the corner of the room responded to Lynus and walks to him.
“Everyone, this is Professor Orville Layton, the head of the engineering team for the Rich Generator,” Lynus introduced that man to us.
“Nice to meet you,” I greeted him in everyone’s stead and bow down to him.
“Oh. You’re going to show them the prototype?” Professor Orville asked Lynus when he heard the word ‘Rich Generator’.
“Yeah. It’s complicated, but let’s just say that they are here to help us with the ‘issue’,” Lynus explained.
Just as I was questioning that, my eyes saw Miki reaching for the hilt of her sheathed dagger.
She is extremely alert. Then again, I can hardly blame her for doubting Lynus. Even I was questioning him since he offered to ‘help us’, but now, he’s saying that we’re going to ‘help him’?
“That would be great! If they can do that for us, then we should be able to complete the generator a lot faster than scheduled!” Professor Orville cheered gleefully.
“Come on in, everyone,” Lynus said and leads us towards a huge metallic sliding doors with a small code panel and a retina detector. He inputs the code and let the sensor detects his eyes.
“Access Authorized. Welcome, Mr. Richter.”
The panel with a lady-like voice spoke as the metallic doors slide opened. All of us move inside and inspect a huge cylindrical machine settled in the middle of the room.
“Everyone. Say hello to our new technology – the Rich Generator!” Lynus announced proudly.
“It’s… so huge…,” Orica remarked in awe while inspecting it.
“So, how does this machine work?” Miss Myria asked.
“We got the blueprints of the Nebula Corp’s energy generator from a reliable source and we reverse engineered it,” Lynus explained, surprising everyone, “We found that their generators extract and process energy attained from a weird element that has an unknown property. We’ve been researching it for a while now, but all of our scientists have no idea what it is. They told me that they’ve never seen this element before, and that there is no record of such materials anywhere on Athenia.”
The Ophiucus Fragment…
Viola’s mother told us from her video that the stone installed inside the Nebula Corp’s generator is a fragment from the immortal body of Ophiucus Angel in the Celestial Hall. Since Lynus’s research team was also baffled at this unworldly element, I guess there is indeed some ground to the claim that the stone once belongs to the Angel of Ophiucus.
“We studied the generator’s blueprints and came up with our own model. However, since we cannot find the same element that the Nebula Corp is using, we decide to find a substitute element,” Lynus explained and leads us to a small vault installed on the wall behind the machine. Upon inputting the code, a loud unlock sound was heard. Lynus opens the vault and fetches a small stone from inside.
“The deposit of this element is not as pure and efficient as Nebula Corp’s element, but it is good enough for a substitute,” Lynus explained and shows us the stone. From a rough inspection, one can hardly tell the difference between this and a pebble on the street. It looks completely different from the Ophiucus Fragment – a stone that emanates pale reddish pink glow perpetually.
“There is no official name for this element, but we called it the ‘Athenium’ as a contrast to Nebula Corp’s element which has extreme otherworldly properties,” Lynus continued his explanation, “It’s a little less efficient, but this deposit can generate approximately the same amount of energy Nebula Corp created.”
“I see. So this generator can essentially provide the similar kind of energy as Nebula Corp’s output, except less efficient?” Miss Myria muttered, “And are there any drawbacks or waste products?”
“Drawbacks? Hm… Well, the processed deposit turns into carbon charcoal after energy is extracted. Charcoal can be used for something else, so if we recycle it, I guess there is no waste?” Lynus muttered thoughtfully.
“… Is this Athenium renewable?” Viola added another question.
“From what my team told me, it’s renewable since it’s a deposit formed by the world’s soil. The energy that we attain from the deposit should be enough to fuel the world on the same scale that Nebula Corp does. The Athenium should be naturally replenished by the time we are done with the batch we mined,” Lynus replied.
A similar energy…
This is it…
This is a perfect alternative for Nebula Corp’s energy!
“I see. This would make a perfect alternate source,” Miss Myria spoke my thoughts out loud.
“But I regret to tell you that our development and launch date has been delayed due to a big problem,” Lynus said with a serious face while keeping the Athenium back into the vault, “The monsters that came from the sky have invaded our Athenium mine.”
“What!?” I cried.
“Not just only our mine actually. I heard that the monsters are now roaming everywhere around Athenia. You should not be surprise to see something like them running around anymore,” Lynus continued, “The Athenium is extremely rare, and there are not many deposits in this world. It’s going to take us a while to find a new source. The amount of deposit we have right now won’t even be enough to power a small village for a day. Well, it’s only a sample after all.”
“… So this is where we come in?” Miki asked.
“That’s right. We need to get that mine back,” Lynus said, “The faster we get our Athenium deposits back, the faster we can launch this generator.”
“So basically, our job is vermin extermination, huh? Sounds easy,” Viola said with a daring smile, “Maybe we should have had Nat come with us after all. She’ll love this job.”
“Well then, what are we waiting for!? Let’s go get that mine back! We have no time to waste!” Orica cheered.
“Right. Lynus, can you give me a map of where that mine is?” I asked.
“Woah? What? You all are seriously going!?” Lynus cried in surprised.
“Well, yeah, why not? The faster we get that mine back, the faster you can continue working on this generator, right?” I asked.
“Y… Yeah. I just… Well, I wasn’t expecting you all to agree to this right away. And you are all girls. I thought you’d show some signs of being scared for a bit,” Lynus mumbled.
“Hah… Don’t worry about us. We’ve fought ‘big’ stuffs,” Viola told Lynus.
“Once you release this energy to the market, we will be able to continue destroying Nebula Corp’s power plants again. And after that, we’ll be able to stop worrying about them pursuing us,” I explained, “That’s why I want to end this as fast as possible.”
“…… I see,” Lynus muttered and reached for his cell phone, “I understand. I’ll let my team get you a map. The mine is not very far from here, so you should be able to get there before the sun sets. I’m sorry that I can’t go with you though. It’s swarming with monsters.”
“Don’t worry. Right now, I want you and your team to focus on getting the generator done as soon as possible,” I replied, “I’ll be fine with everyone with me.”
“So, I guess we got our new heading?” Viola turns to Miss Myria and asks her while Lynus is calling for his team.
“Yes. Right now, our highest priority is to secure that mine. Once Richter’s team got their Athenium mine back, we can plan our assault on the Nebula Corp’s power plants again later,” Miss Myria replied.
“Do you think the six of us would be enough for this operation?” I asked.
“We should be fine. We can handle the small fries. And if we happen to encounter the Ophiucus servants, we still have you with us, Auria,” Miss Myria said.
“Yeah, sis! Have you forgotten? You are the most powerful Zodiac Angel!” Orica reminded me.
Anty told me that and Miss Myria seems to confirm that truth. She told me that her friend, the previous Scorpio Angel, demonstrated an exceptional magical prowess that no one else was able to compete. But I’m not so confident about myself. I can use only a few spells and I even need people to cover me while I am chanting. My powers might be strong, but will I really be able to properly support everyone?
“Okay. They’ve prepared a map for all of you,” Lynus said as he hung up his call, “You can get it from one of the guys outside.”
“Got it. We’ll be on our way then,” Viola said.
“Um… Before you all go, can I… have a minute with Auria?” Lynus asked everyone reluctantly.
“Hm? Oh, sure,” I replied.
“… Alone.” The young man sighs and looks at everyone standing behind me.
“Ohhhh. Okay. Don’t make it too long, okay?” Orica said, giggling.
“We’ll be waiting outside,” Viola said, also giggling.
Not you too, Viola…
“Hey, Orica. Can I leave Anty with you for a while?” I asked my sister and hands her my plush doll. Anty looks at me with an anxious look and struggles to get back into my arms.
“Haha. Okay. Come on, Anty.” Orica giggles and lifts the plush doll into her arms. “Let’s give the two of them a room for a while.”
As she moves out of the room, the plush doll keeps struggling to break free of Orica’s arms and get back to me.
I’m sorry, Anty…
Everyone else follows Orica out of the room, leaving me alone with Lynus.
“Hey.” The young man strokes my hair while I watch everyone walks out of the room. After they all left, I turn around and look at his face.
“I’m so glad I get to see you again,” Lynus said while looking into my eyes.
“Same here,” I replied. I miss him too. But somehow, I can’t look at him straight in the face. My heart is already racing so fast just by hearing his voice.
“Although I wasn’t expecting this kind of circumstance,” he continued.
“Well, no one is expecting it. That’s for sure,” I said.
“…… Don’t you think it’s cool? Originally, my girlfriend is the smartest girl of the Eternia University. Now she is also the most powerful Zodiac Angel as well,” the young man said and laughed jokingly, “I’m the luckiest guy on Athenia!”
This is so like him. Now he has even more stuffs to brag…
“Well, from what I know, I’m only the strongest among the 12 angels. The Angel of Ophiucus is still more powerful than me,” I corrected him.
“Who cares?” he said, laughing, “You are smart and powerful. That’s enough for me.”
“I don’t know about that. I didn’t even get to do much in our last fight,” I said.
Yeah… All I did was cast a single spell on the Star General to hold him down. The rest of the time, I was just standing there doing nothing. I can’t rush head on like Viola and the others…
“…I probably should go now. Everyone is waiting for me,” I said.
“…I’ll wait for your return.” The young man lifts up my chin, forcing me to look at him. “Once this is over, I hope we can get back to our normal lives…”
“Yeah. I hope so.”
That moment, the young man’s face moves closer to mine. My heart beats even faster than when I was manifesting my powers. He presses his lips onto mine and braces his arms around me.
He is so gentle and warm.
This might not have been our first kiss, but it was so meaningful to me. I feel safe and secure just by knowing that he is here in front of me, and that he’ll be waiting for me until all this is over.
“I love you, my goddess,” he whispered to my ears.
“Oh, stop that! That’s embarrassing!” I pinch him softly. I could feel my cheeks burning from the embarrassment.
“Haha! I like it when you flustered like that.” He laughed.
Ohhhh! I’m so getting a revenge after this!
“I’ll wait for you,” he said.
“And I’ll be back.”
I give him a confident smile before leaving the room.
He is waiting for me. I have to quickly finish this, and we’ll be together again…