Chapter 24 – O
This has to be a joke, right? Angel Dehl Falka, the philosopher who spread the Tales of Star Ocean, is an ancestor of the Nebula Family?!
“That is right. Angelo is an ambitious aristocrat who constantly seeks wealth and fame. Lady Reisa met him when she entered into politics. He is the kind of person Lady Reisa loathes and detests to the bottom of her heart. However, given his personality, that man was a perfect pawn for Lady Reisa’s plans,” Mr. Shikoba explained, “Much like how she convinced Lord Faram, she took Angelo to the Celestial Halls to prove her true identity and passed the knowledge about the existence of Zodiac Angels to him along with the Tales of Star Ocean. Then she gave him her immortal body’s fragment, telling him that this stone will bring fortune to his family one day. Drunken by Lady Reisa’s charisma, Angelo spread to the world the existence of Zodiac Angels in attempt to glorify the goddesses who created our world.”
“… Wow… So… The Nebula Corp’s obsession with Zodiac Angels started way back then?” Lauress chuckles.
“Unfortunately, no one took Angelo’s ‘literature’ seriously. Other philosophers claimed that his story is baseless since he has no proof to back up his story,” Mr. Shikoba explained, “So in the end, his Tales of Star Ocean became nothing more than a children bed time story.”
“No proof? Wait… So where was Reisa? Where did she go?” I asked.
“After setting her plans in motion, Lady Reisa returned to the Celestial Halls and was never heard from again,” he replied.
So she left…
Today, I’ve learned an inconvenient truth behind the origin of my most favorite bedtime story. Everything I’ve known this entire time was a lie…
The ‘evil’ villain of this story… was in fact a fallen heroine…
“But I still don’t understand. Why did she give her fragment to Angelo? If she wants to destroy the humans, then why give them luxury?” Orica asked.
“… It was a part of her plan to annihilate mankind, Orica,” Auria spoke up. Her face appears to be slightly pale, as if she just came to a realization of something horrible, “Reisa cannot directly destroy Athenia with her zodiac powers, so the only way to realize her goal is to make the humans destroy themselves.”
“H… How?” Lauress asked some more.
“By giving her fragment to the humans, she drugged them with luxury of energy abundance. She has foreseen that the whole world would become dependent on her energy until they forgot that this energy is not renewable. As the energy becomes more and more scarce, the humans will start killing each other to steal energy for themselves, except this time it could easily spark a holocaust because not only a region is fighting for it, but the whole world with advance weaponry will be firing missiles at one another.”
“Wait a minute… So you’re saying that this whole deal about how we can’t destroy the Nebula Corp was a part of Reisa’s plan?!” Lauress cried.
“I am afraid so,” Auria replied, trying to stop her hands from trembling.
“A… And that part about energy running out, doesn’t that sound like a timed bomb?” Orica asked.
“Exactly… Reisa’s Ophiucus Fragment acts as a timed bomb that runs the humans’ selfishness – their greed for luxury and comfort,” mom replied in Auria’s stead, “As the fragment’s energy becomes more scarce, humans will start war to steal energy from each other. And if someone recklessly tries to destroy the fragments like how we did, then that would be equivalent to detonating the ‘bomb’ prematurely.”
“Then, what about Reunion? Wouldn’t Reisa risk herself by throwing her fragment – her power – out there too?” Orica asked.
“Oh yeah! The Nebula Corp is trying to go to the Celestial Halls to get more of her fragments, right!? She must not be aware that the humans would go that far!!” Lauress added.
“… No… I don’t think so. I think it is possible that Reisa has also predicted this,” Auria suggested, “Reisa is not stupid. She probably knew that the humans will seek more of her powers when they run out of it. In that case, they will definitely try to take more of her fragment by force, and the only way the humans can win against her is to suppress her via Reunion.”
“Why did she still risk going for this?”
Lin and Len asked curiously.
“If a human tries to suppress her through Reunion, then what stops her from assimilating her host’s soul and claiming his or her body instead?” mom suggested, “After all, didn’t that happen to Viola? She also assimilated the person who was implanted with her powers.”
“So you’re saying that the Nebula Corp’s grand scheme was doomed to fail from start?!” I uttered. “If that Ophiucus girl gets to the Celestial Halls, then…”
“Reisa will assimilate Fiore’s soul and gain a body – one not bound by the seal of the Celestial Halls,” Auria said, “She will be freed from her seal… and she will destroy Athenia with her own hands…”
“If we destroy the Ophiucus Fragments now, the world will fall into chaos and war will break out. If the Nebula Corp doesn’t do anything, they will run out of energy and the same result will follow. If they try to go to the Celestial Halls to get more fragment, Reisa will assimilate Fiore and she will instantly destroy Athenia,” mom whispered, “… That’s the extent of her plan…”
“… So whatever we do…”
Lin and Len whispered in disbelief and hopelessness.
We were wrong…
We have always thought that the Nebula Corp was abusing Ophiucus’s power to their benefit…
But it turns out that the Nebula Corp is just a puppet, and the puppeteer pulling the strings from behind the shadows all along is none other than Reisa herself…
“…But… There is something that I still don’t understand,” I spoke up then turn to the elderly man, holding up my pendant, “Mr. Shikoba… You said this pendant belongs to Reisa, right?”
“That is correct.” The old man nodded.
“Then why did she leave it here and asked you to give it to other Zodiac Angels? Doesn’t it possess her powers? If that’s the case, then why would she leave something that is potentially a threat to herself and her plan on Athenia?” I asked.
“That… I do not know as well… My family was simply asked to pass this on to any Zodiac Angels who visits this village,” Mr. Shikoba replied.
That is really weird…
Why would she do that?
So we, the Zodiac Angel hosts, would be curious to find out about her past and sympathize with her?
I don’t think someone like Reisa would seek sympathy from others…
At least not like this…
“…Speaking of which… How did you know so much about all this?” mom asked Mr. Shikoba while I was busy thinking about the pendant, “About Reisa… About the truth behind the Tales of Star Ocean… You are like Reisa’s living diary. Just who are you?”
Huh… Mom is right…
That didn’t occur to me until now…
“That was a very good question.” Mr. Shikoba chuckles. “My family descends from the female child born from Lady Reisa’s human flesh and Lord Faram.
“Huh? Reisa has a daughter?!” I cried.
“That is right. Lady Reisa left the pendant and her 5-years-old daughter under the care of the village’s chief who was Lord Faram’s friend and returned to the Celestial Halls,” Mr. Shikoba explained, “That girl grew up with Lady Reisa’s secret and passed her story along with the pendant down from generation to generation. The old lady who gave that pendant to you was my mother.”
“… Wait, so you knew about Reisa’s plan all along from start to finish?” Lin asked.
“Then… Why didn’t you do something about it?!” Len added.
“Yeah! If you knew about Reisa’s plan the entire time, why didn’t you stop her and take the fragment away from Angelo!?” Orica added.
“At that time, no one understood Lady Reisa’s intention. It wasn’t until the Nebula Corporation was formed that we finally understand, but of course by then, it was already too late as Lady Reisa’s poison has already spread,” Mr. Shikoba said, “My family carried this burden with us for generations… And that is why we hoped that by conveying Lady Reisa’s story to you Zodiac Angel hosts, you will be able to save us from Lady Reisa’s wrath.”
… So they are leaving everything in our hands?
We are the ones who get to decide the fate of Athenia?
“In any case, that concludes everything I know,” Mr. Shikoba said, “Please rest at the village for tonight. I will have my servants prepare a shelter for all of you. And after tomorrow, you are free to use all the knowledge that you’ve learned here anyway you wish.”
As the night falls on the village, the sound of the crickets echoes in the darkness. Somehow, my eyes just won’t close even though this has been a pretty tiring day. After moving on the sleeping mat for a while, I decide to get out of the shack and sit by the camp fire. Staring into the burning firewood, my mind drifts off thinking about everything we discussed with Mr. Shikoba in the evening.
And that is why we hoped that by conveying Lady Reisa’s story to you Zodiac Angel hosts, you will be able to save us from Lady Reisa’s wrath…
They are placing all of their hopes on us?
What makes them so sure that we can save them?
Because we are the reincarnation of the Zodiac Angels?
Didn’t they know that the 12 angels together weren’t able to defeat Reisa as well?
All of the sudden, I heard a voice coming from behind, dragging me back to reality. Turning around, I could see the caramel haired girl standing a couple of steps behind me.
“Can I sit next to you?” she asked.
At my consent, Auria sits down next to me, hugging her knees.
“Can’t sleep?” she asked.
“Thinking about what Mr. Shikoba told us?”
“Well, I’m pretty sure that’s all we have on our minds right now,” I said.
“I guess you’re right.” Auria sighs. “So… What do you think?”
“About Reisa as an Angel of Ophiucus,” Auria explained.
“I don’t know. To be honest, I think I’m starting understand to how Reisa feels right now. For the first time, I feel bad for thinking that she is evil,” I said.
“But even so, you still wanted to befriend her, didn’t you?”
“Argh… Stop bringing that up. It’s embarrassing.” I scratch my cheeks embarrassingly.
“Aw, you’re so cute.” She giggles.
“Then, Sophia. What do you think about Reisa as a normal human?” Auria asked.
“… Well, I think she is really amazing,” I said, “She came down to live among us. She entered into politics to solve the humans’ affair… And even without directly using her powers, she has already succeeded half-way in destroying our world.”
“I thought the same,” Auria said, nodding.
“This war… All of this pain and suffering… Everything started because of the humans. They brought this upon themselves,” I said, “But still…”
“… Not all humans are like that, right?” Auria completed my sentence.
“Exactly! There are so many completely innocent people out there as well; people who knew nothing about this bloodshed. My friends at the university. Lin and Len’s parents…”
“Yeah… My friends’ family… Our friends’ family… And even Lynus too,” Auria added, “So what do you think we should do from here?”
“I’m not really sure,” I replied, “But I love this world. I don’t want my home to be destroyed.”
“Me too…” Auria nods in agreement.
“… So for now, let’s just keep on fighting,” I said, looking up at the sky, “Let’s keep on fighting… Not only against the Nebula Corp and Reisa, but against our destiny as well. Let’s carve out the path for our own world with our own hands…”
“… Yeah…” The caramel haired girl nods and looks up at the starry sky with me.
Who is right and who is wrong?
What is good and what is evil?
What is righteousness?
What is justice?
Those questions no longer matter for we have come too far for that debate.
From here on, we can no longer fight in the name of righteousness.
We fight… to protect all that we love.
Xanatos Gambit galore, lol
These are the kind of villains that always give the protagonists headache, lol.