Chapter 23 – O
With no time to lose, our party hurries for Sarin’s house at Minoa by air with the help of Frey’s Zodiac Beast. Since it was a straight flight with no detour, it took us only 2 or 3 hours before we got to the outskirts of the Minoa Town where Sarin’s manor is located.
While on the way here, I was able to get a good view of the town from above. It seems that Sarin’s vacation house that we used as a temporarily base until it was destroyed a couple of days ago was located on the mountains to the other side of the town. It doesn’t seem to be that far from Sarin’s house, and it should take no more than two hours of car ride to travel there.
Anyway, Algethi landed on a grassy plain outside of the town and we continue our way towards Sarin’s manor by foot. Since she is more accustomed to this area, we let her lead the way. As we approach her manor, we begin to see several temporary military shacks camped around the main manor. Judging from the number of shacks, I estimated that there are probably no less than a hundred men stationed here.
“… Okay. We’re here. Let’s proceed according to the plan,” I said.
“Miki. Van. I’m counting on you girls.” The silver haired girl looked the two of them with a concerned look.
“You got it. Don’t worry.” Van gave Sarin her left thumb before moving to another direction with Miki.
Due to the circumstance, we could not simply barge head on because our opponents have hostages with them. Their safety takes priority above all else. As a result, we came up with a plan while we were on our way here. Based on how they had Sarin’s servant called to her, they were probably trying to bait Sarin back to this manor. I’m sure they were expecting her to come with other angels, but they probably do not know the exact number of members in our team.
That was our biggest advantage.
We asked Miki and Van to split up from us and sneaked inside the manor to secure the hostages. The two of them are the fastest members in our team so they are suited for this job. In the mean time, Frey, Nat, Sarin, and I will act as a bait to draw their attention.
The moment they spot us four moving closer to the manor, the troops start to assemble and form a line in front of the manor. Each aims their assault rifle at us, painting our dresses with red dots.
Somehow, I’m starting to get used to this.
“Stay where you are and do not move!” A voice spoken through a megaphone announced from behind the front lines.
“Where is my father and my servants!?” Sarin yelled back at the announcer.
“The hostages are safe! We are grateful you obliged to our request. Now drop your weapons and put your hands in the air! Surrender for the sake of the hostages!!!” the announcer continued.
“Pffft!! What a bunch of crap…” Nat gritted her teeth in anger.
“Stay cool for now. All we need is a signal from Van and Miki. Once they secured the hostages, we can go all out,” I whispered, trying to calm the red haired girl down.
As requested, I toss my spear forward to the ground and raise my hand to the air. Sarin and Frey also surrendered their weapons and raise their hands up as well.
With all of us unarmed, the troops then slowly advance towards us, never pointing their rifles away.
“Greetings, young ladies. My name is Formalhaut, a Star General.” The man in fiber vest suit who told us to unarm via megaphone steps forward passed the front lines. Since he is closer to us than before, he no longer uses the megaphone.
“So I guess this is how the Star Units do their business,” Sarin spoke up with eyes burning in rage, “I wonder what the people would say about the Star Units when they knew about this.”
“All of our actions are done for the sake of the whole world – for the whole of Athenia. We are justice. The people of Athenia will understand that,” Formalhaut said with a face full of mockery, just like the Star General Vega at Richter’s warehouse.
Are all of these guys like this?
They are so full of themselves.
While the Star General continues his speech, my eyes caught something rolling out from the windows of the manor. It’s a red carpet, rolled down from the third floor of the manor.
That was the signal.
Van and Miki have secured the hostages.
I move my eyes to the side briefly. Frey, Nat, and Sarin are all looking at me, indicating that they’ve also seen the signal.
“Well then, even though you guys are Star Unit Troops, you know that we can still dodge your bullets at this range, right?” I asked, interrupting Formalhaut’s lengthy speech.
“Resistance is futile. Think about the people of Athenia held in captive,” Formalhaut said with confidence.
“We did. And in fact, I think it’s about time we kick your asses…”
As soon as I finished speaking, Frey’s Algethi, who has been on standby from above for ages, swoops down from above into the middle of the troops, completely shattering their formation.
While they are panicking and distracted, I quickly run forward and kick my spear lying on the ground up to the air. Catching it in mid-air, I land on the ground and release a circular burst of energy in a single swing, breaking the troops’ front lines as well as stop the first blind volley of bullets. Frey and Sarin quickly run in to pick up their weapons and follow my lead. Nat rushes ahead of those two because she did not have to pick up any weapon. Opening this rumble, Nat hops into the air with her fists locked into each other then smacks it downwards with all her might. The result is an explosion effect blowing down from above, completely scattering the troops away from one another.
After that, the four of us slowly but surely take down the Star Unit Troops one by one. With their lines completely broken, it is only a matter of time before we get rid of all of them.
These troops have assault rifles in their hands, but in close range rumble attacks, they cannot blindly shoot their weapons. So they had to rely on close quarter melee combats, which we Zodiac Angels are several times superior.
It took us a while, but in the end, we were able to take down all the troops in the area. The only one that remained on the battlefield unmoved now is the Star General Formalhaut.
Van and Miki haven’t joined up with us yet. They are probably still taking out the other troops that are stationed in manor.
“Well, you’re the only one left now,” Sarin said to the Star General while still in her stance.
“I know. And it’s what I’ve been waiting for,” Formalhaut said with a smirk.
“You don’t seem to have any sympathy for your men,” I muttered.
“No. It’s just that my ‘Zeta Arms’ cannot unleash its full potential when fighting in a crowd as I’ll risk hitting my own comrades,” Formalhaut explained, “Now that you’ve take all of my men away, I can now fully unleash my powers!”
Lifting his right gauntlet up into the air, his body suddenly became engulf in a radiant light.
“I’ll take the first strike!!!!!” Sarin cried and rushes at the Star General, dragging her heavy axe along the ground. She hops into the air and smashes her axe straight downward.
However, to our surprise, the Star General showed no intention of putting up a guard and took a full hit from Sarin’s diving slash. Our eyes widened when we found that her blade just stops short as if it hit an invisible wall before being bounced off.
“A force field!?” Sarin gritted her teeth while regaining her balance in mid-air.
“That’s right, my Zeta Arm, unlike other Star Generals’ weapons, is geared towards defense. It can generate a force field of about my arm length in radius. Don’t even think about penetrating this little baby with a half-assed attack!!!!”
Showing no mercy, Formalhaut pulls his fist back and shoots a jab at Sarin, who blocked it with the blade of her gigantic axe.
“There’s no shield that I cannot smash!!!”
After that declaration, Sarin takes a step back and pulls her axe away. The blade starts radiating a faint light before she swings it forward again. Formalhaut raises the force field again, but it was completely destroyed in a single hit. Unfortunately, the range of her swing was too short, so it did not hit the Star General.
Seeing that his force field was broken, Formalhaut quickly jumps back to gain some distance.
“Hmph… That’s impressive.” The Star General smirks then puts his palm forward. A giant missile then materializes from thin air and shoots forward at us.
All of us split up to avoid the missile trajectory. However, Formalhaut snaps his finger and suddenly, the missile explodes before we could get away from the missile successfully.
“Manual detonation?” Frey muttered.
“That’s right. Even if it missed, I can make it explode and cover any area that I want! There’s no dodging my missiles!!!!” Formalhaut announced and shoots his gauntlet arm into the air. Suddenly, several projectiles shoot up into the air then slowly rain down towards the ground.
“Ground ravaging attacks again!? Darn it!!!” I muttered as I tried my best to get away from the raining missiles.
Priori used a similar attack back at the battle at the Athenium Mine. Because it covers a huge area and it destroys the footing, it is hard to avoid this attack completely unscathed. With my speed, I was able to avoid all the direct hits, so I took only slight damage. Nat’s speed is not that different from mine, so she seems to be able to avoid the onslaught like me. Frey is a little slower, but she seems to be fine. The one who had trouble is Sarin, who falls short in running speed. She tries moving left and right, but the explosion when the missiles hit the ground made it difficult for her to retain her balance.
“So you are the slowest! I better take out one of you as soon as possible!!!!!” Formalhaut launches another flock of missiles like earlier, this time however, they are all directed towards Sarin.
If it’s just one or two missiles, she probably wouldn’t have any trouble blocking. However, a whole flock is definitely too much, even for her!
“Sarin!!!” I quickly rush in and cover the silver haired girl. However, due to my heroic act, I am now also the target of the missiles. If I destroy them, both Sarin and I will definitely be caught in the explosion. My defense is even worse than Sarin, so tanking is definitely a bad idea.
…I guess I have no choice…
I plan to use this technique the next time we fight an Ophiucus servant or Fiore, but I can’t afford to be picky right now!
I swing my spear to the side and a bright light emerges in front of me. After that, the missiles all hit the light and explode, covering the area around me with a curtain of smoke and dusts.
“Viola!!!! Sarin!!!!!!” I heard Nat’s voice calling for me from outside the curtain.
“…… What in the…?” Sarin whispered from behind me after she saw everything in front of her. When the curtain of dust fades away, everyone else in the vicinity gave a surprised look upon seeing the objects hovering in front of me.
“Wait a sec… Are those… Zubenes’s shields!?” Nat cried, “But… Where’s Zubenes!?”
The objects hovering in front me right now are two circular metallic shields – the same ones Zubenes has been using.
“…Ever since I lost to Fiore, I’ve always been thinking about ways to fight against the Ophiucus servants. Our Zodiac Beasts have always had a disadvantage in that the pain they received will be shared with us. In cases against Ophiucus’s servants, that disadvantage moves to a whole new level with their special ability – [Connected Harm].”
While I was explaining, everyone just stood still, listening to me. Even the Star General was not attacking. Probably because he was too shocked that none of his missiles worked on me at all.
“Zubenes’s strength and battle prowess are extremely valuable to me, but it would do me no good if he was turned into a weakness for me instead. Since Zodiac Beasts are the materialization of our powers, the question ‘what else can we materialize?’ comes up in my mind. So I looked into this possibility with Zubenes and came up with this technique – [Integrated Summoning].”
“Summoning only the shields to protect from attacks without the risk of getting damage from Zodiac Beasts’ redirected pain?” Frey muttered, “… How crafty of you…”
“Thanks for the compliment.” I chuckled and swing my spear to the side, lifting the shield behind it.
“Tch!!!! Don’t be so full of yourself!! What can mere shields do!?”
The Star General grunts and shoots more missiles at me. This time, instead of shooting it up into the air, he launches the flock straight forward, all aimed at me.
“Good! This is my first time using this technique in a real fight, so you’ll be a good guinea pig!!!!”
I quickly swing my spear forward again. One of the shields automatically moves to the front and block the entire barrage. Exploiting the dust curtain in front, the Star General attempts to blindside me by running to my right. However, before he could launch another barrage, I swing my spear outward, shooting the second shield at Formalhaut. The shield strikes onto the force field as I expected, but that was not the end of my attack. While it was traveling towards the force field, an iron chain appeared from thin air around the tip of my spear and attached itself to the shield. After that, I simply raise my spear up to the sky and the chain starts spinning on its own, twirling the chained shield like rodeo and repeatedly hitting the force field.
The Star General was caught in the propelling onslaught and could not move away. Once he is locked in place, I immediately toss the first shield, completely cracking his force field as well as knocking straight into his abdomen…
“[Shield Rodeo]!? You can use Zubenes’s skill too!?” Sarin cried.
“That’s right… [Integrated Summoning] does not only allow me to materialize only a portion of Zubenes’s body, but it allows me to utilize his powers without materializing his physical form!!”
Flicking my spear, the chained shield that crashed Formalhaut jerks the helpless Star General straight into the air.
After that, I point my spear at the airborne target and the two shields start rotating around the tip of my spear, charging a condensed ball of energy at the center of its rotation.
“Eat this!!! [COSMIC CANNON]!!!!!!!!!!!!”
After enough charge, I release the charged energy cannon forward.
The cannon shot, comprising of pure energy, engulfs the Star General wholly. This is Zubenes’s most powerful attack, which he used to destroy Rokishi’s Chamali. A simple force field won’t be able to defend against it.
By the time the shot fades, not a single trace of the general can be seen.
“Phew… I’m glad I didn’t screw up that last shot…” I sighed and wiped the sweat on my forehead.
“Woah Viola!!! You’re awesome!!!!!”
All of the sudden, someone jumps onto my back and hugs me from behind. I could almost tell right away who that was.
“Hey, not so hard!” I try to free the red haired girl’s grasp, but she was way too strong.
“You’ve been training that secret move, huh?” Sarin asked.
“Yeah. I’ve been practicing it for a while now. I want to use this against the Ophiucus servants, but I don’t really have much choice back there.” I shrugged.
“… So that blast I saw last night was from Zubenes’s shields…?” Frey approached me.
“Yeah. Materializing the shield itself does not require a lot of concentration and it’s straight forward. The hard part is actually using Zubenes’s skills – especially the Cosmic Canon. One slight mistake and it instantly turns into a single Sonic Boom,” I replied.
It’s really a shame I had to unveil my trump card like this. But on the bright side, this gave me a chance to use it in the middle of an intense heated battle. With this, I’m a little more confident that it’ll work properly the next time I fight.
“Anyhow, let’s go check up on Miki and Van,” Sarin suggested.
Before I could finish the sentence, a huge battle copter soars into the area above us.
“Dammit, there’s more of them!?” Nat grumbled.
The gatling guns on the copter then starts shooting down on us.
But that moment, a huge wall of ice forms up in front of us, completely blocking the volley. After that, a small object flies across the sky, slicing off the propellers and dropping the copter down to the ground.
“Sorry we’re late!!!” A voice spoke up from behind us.
It was Van, and Miki is right behind her.
“How’s my father and the other servants?” Sarin asked.
“They’re fine. They placed most of their men in the front lines, so we were able to secure all the hostages without any casualties,” Van explained.
Sarin lets out a sigh of relief upon hearing so.
However, before we could continue moving on, the fallen copter started moving. Two leg-like organs extend from underneath the copter, and the copter ‘stands up’. The pilot chamber’s window then breaks down, revealing the pilot’s face.
“… Ho… You again, Oscar?” the twin pony tailed girl spoke up and steps forward.
“What’s sup! Long time no see, huh, Miki!!!!” the pilot spoke through the speakers on the copter, “I heard that the Ramel Family’s daughter is a Zodiac Angel, so I thought I’d lure her here. Didn’t expect you to catch this bait too!”
“So you were the master mind behind this!!! You got some nerve taking my father as hostage!!!” Sarin screamed.
“Hah! You think these Star Idiots have enough brains to plan out this operation? They’re a bunch of clowns that are only good for bullying unarmed civilians!” the guy named Oscar in the pilot chamber spoke up, “Thanks to you and the other angels, the Applied Psychology Department was also disbanded! I was demoted to mere research assistance! You have no idea how much connection I had to use to mobilize those star clowns, and yet this is all they could do! At the end of the day, you really can’t rely on anyone!!!!”
Suddenly, two arm-like organs with saw-blade hands extend out from the side of the copter.
“This time, I’m not gonna fail! You girls are dead!!!!”
This guy really got guts to tackle against six of us at once. I think I can easily blow this guy off the surface of Athenia with the Cosmic Cannon. However, before I could make any move, Miki steps forward in front of us.
“Guys. Stay back. I’ll take care of this scum alone,” Miki said and walks forward.
“… Hey. You sure about this?” Nat asked.
“I said don’t interfere. This is my fight,” the twin pony tailed girl repeated with a stern voice.
That moment I realized something different about her.
I don’t sense any hostility or sarcasm from her at all. Her eyes are so determined.
There must be some kind of reason behind her.
“… Fine. Just don’t get yourself killed,” I said.
“Hey, you sure about this, Viola?” Nat asked.
“She can handle this,” I replied.
Hearing so, Miki simply gives me a smirk before turning her face back to the robotic battle copter.
“Oscar… Today, I get my revenge!”
After the declaration of war, Miki tightly grips her daggers and gets into her battle stance.