ZA – Chapter Ophiucus 29 A

Chapter 29 – O

Auria

“…No… No…!!! Nooo!!!”
My eyes widen up, unable to cope with everything that just happened in front of me. The emerald-eyed brunette was shot by the white light ray straight through her chest and flung back a several meters.
“Sophia! Sophia!!!”
I quickly run in and kneel down next to her. Her eyes are closed and her face is expressionless. The cheerful and bubbly Sophia is now lying still unconscious on the floor.
“Hey! Sophia!!!” Viola rushes in and kneels down next to the girl. “Hey, wake up! Open your eyes!”
I could feel my face turning pale as tears run down my cheeks.
This can’t be happening…
Please, Sophia…
Please open your eyes!

“Auria! Healing Spell!!!” Viola yelled while I was lost in thought, snapping me out of it.
How silly of me…
I really should have had heal her right away instead of crying over it.
“U… Understood!!” Heeding her command, I immediately place Anty, who just recovered and ran back to my side, over Sophia’s body and let him radiate a warm soothing light. Normally when trying to heal a specific wound, I would place Anty right above the area of the wound. However, I was suddenly struck in surprise when I noticed something wrong on Sophia’s body.
“What’s the matter, Auria?” Viola asked when she notices my expression.
“… It’s not working,” I replied, “My spell is not reacting to her… Her body is not recovering.”
“What?! Why?!” Viola cried.
“I… I don’t know. It’s like… there is no wound to heal.” I tried my best to explain.
“That’s nonsense!” Viola quickly glances at Sophia’s body again. However, her eyes widened up in surprise when she found out that there was not a single wound on Sophia’s chest.
No blood.
No rip of cloth.
Not a single trace of injury was seen on the spot where she was shot.
“But… she… was shot straight in the middle of her chest,” Viola whispered under her breath.

“Hmph. Don’t bother. Your healing spells won’t do you any good,” a cold voice spoke up from behind us. “But oh my. How unexpected. That was such a heroic act. I’m honestly impressed.”
How cruel…
She’s so cruel…
To speak in such a mocking tone…
“What did you do to her!?” Viola grinds her teeth, glaring at the girl.
“I shot her of course. Are you blind?” Fiore chuckles.

…No.
That was definitely not an ordinary shot. There is no cut that my spell cannot heal and there is no fatal wound on Sophia’s body at all.
So why is she lying unconsciously like this?

“Don’t mess with me! There’s no way in hell that was a normal shot!!” Viola screeched. She stands up and gives Fiore a fierce look.
“So what if it’s not a normal shot!? Why the hell should I explain it to you!?” Fiore then tosses an orb of flame from her finger tips towards us in agitation. Viola quickly swings her spear forward and suddenly a huge circular metal shield appears in front of us, blocking the orb which explodes into sea of flames momentarily.
“Why do you all insist on struggling?” The dark haired girl snickers. “Why do you all keep on fighting when the end results are obvious? When are you angels going to realize that you are destined to fall?”
This is hopeless…
We’re no match for her powers at all.

“Then go forth now, and save everyone you care about. My lady, the most powerful of the 12 Zodiac Angels.”

Most powerful Zodiac Angel?
Yeah, right. Some powerful angel I am…
I couldn’t even protect myself.
And now… Sophia…
She’s lying down there because of me.
I was supposed to be the one lying down there… not her!

“… Auria.” That moment, Viola suddenly spoke up in a shaky voice. “Take Sophia and get the hell out of here.”
“What!?” I cried.
“Just get on Antares and take Sophia out of here!” the purple haired girl repeated.
“But what about you!?”
“I’ll handle this bitch,” Viola said, gritting her teeth.
“N… No! You can’t!!! Don’t you remember what happened last time!?” I cried.

She can’t be serious!
Our combined efforts were not able to take her out!
And now she’s going to take on this girl alone!?
That’s suicide!

“Sophia needs help!!!” Viola screamed. Her words made me stuttered in guilt. Sophia’s condition is indeed critical. And the one who got her in this state is…
“But… I… I don’t want you to…”
“Stop being so selfish, Auria! Are you going to let Sophia’s effort go to waste!?” Viola screamed at me again, “You are the most powerful member of our team. We can’t afford to lose you too! It’s bad enough one of us is down! Our mission to destroy the shuttle is already complete! There is no need to remain here any longer! Just get her out. I’ll cover your back and follow you!”
“Then… what about you?” I asked worriedly.
“…Don’t worry about me… I don’t plan to die here today,” Viola said with a serious look.

She is angry.
She is furious.
She is extremely upset.

“Antares!!!!”
Under my command, the plush doll in my arms disappeared and a huge mechanical scorpion emerges from underneath, picking Sophia and me up onto his back.
“Please. Viola… Please be safe!”
There is really no other choice. I don’t want to be any more useless than I am right now. As the mechanical scorpion moves away from the area, I toss an orb of healing spell at Viola to completely heal her up.
That’s probably all I can do to support her right now.
I tried my best not to look back because I know that if I do, I would definitely head back and ended up burdening Viola again.

Antares makes a sharp turn and keeps running down the main street leading out of city. Despite falling victim to the Ophiucus Army’s siege, the street lamps are still lighted, so I can still see my way easily even though the sky is so dark. However, while moving on forward, I suddenly heard high-pitch squeaks echoing from behind me. Looking over my shoulders, I notice a huge flock of winged Strikers chasing after me.
“W… Why are there so many of them!?” I can’t help but cried at the sheer number of Strikers. They are not very strong, so I should be able to handle all of them alone. However, I was quickly reminded of the brunette lying unconsciously behind me. Her condition could be worsening at every second that passed.
“I… I can’t afford to stay and fight these things now,” I muttered to myself before commanding Antares to hit the pedal and speed up. I take a turn at the corner and keep moving forward. From here, it’s a few kilometers before we can leave the town’s vicinity. After that, I’ll give everyone a call to retreat.

Just as my mind is occupied about what to do next, my eyes suddenly catch a figure standing in the middle of the road far in front of me. The figure appears to be a huge muscular man in black fiber vest, so I immediately assumed him to be one of the Star Generals.
“A Star General!? Why now!?” I cried.
His right arm is holding a huge firearm-like weapon – perhaps a rail gun. My face then turns pale when I notice him aiming it straight at me.
“Wha!?”
A light flashes from barrel and something instantly flies over my head. Briefly looking over my shoulder, I notice that the shot has exploded and blasts all of flying Strikers away.
Oh… He was aiming at the monsters?
Well, thinking about it, the Ophiucus Army is attacking the city right now, so the Star Generals probably prioritize in taking those things down first.
At least that’s what I thought at first… until he launches another shot straight at me…
“N… Noooo!!!!”
The mechanical scorpion puts up his pincher and turns the force field up to full power. However, the blast was a lot more powerful than we anticipated and the recoil was so massive that it even lifts us up from the ground. As we were flung back, the mechanical scorpion reverts back to his plush doll form so he would not squash onto me. I hold on to Sophia’s body tightly, hugging her as I rolled several meters away.

“It’s been a while, Zodiac Angel,” a cold voice spoke up and the sound of footsteps moves closer to me.
“Huh…?” I sit up from the ground and look at the owner of the voice.
This man…
I’ve seen him from somewhere before…
“I hope you haven’t forgotten about me. I am Star General Arcturus. We met each other once at the Andoria Power Plant,” said the muscular man.
Arcturus…
He is the Star General that Viola defeated after I pinned him down with Thunder Flare. His armor was thick, so Viola’s strike was not fatal to him.

“What? You taking pity on this guy!?”

“Miki’s right, Auria! If we leave him here, he’ll definitely come back to get us again!”

Miki and the other suggested that we finish him off.
But I…
“I have to say that I honestly underestimated you angels. I’ve never thought a bunch of girls would be able to put up that kind of fight. All of you put me through heavy shame. All the other Star Generals were laughing at me when I report my lost,” said Arcturus, “But you know, the even funnier bit is Sirius and Formalhaut were also defeated by the likes of you. I wonder if the higher ups would give me a new look, once I destroy one of you angels.”
Having said that, Arcturus points his huge rail gun towards me. Fear quickly overwhelms me, paralyzing my whole body. Instead of standing up to fight back, my hands hug onto Sophia’s body tighter instead.
“… I see. So you are prepared. I hope we have no hard feelings. At the very least, you will not be lonely,” the Star General said, “Good bye, Zodiac Angel.”

“You’re way too soft. If you wanna live while on this road, it’s either you or the other person who has to go.”

Miki’s voice echoed in my ears over and over again.
She is right. She has always been.
It really appears that my soft side would prove to be my undoing…
I’m so sorry.
I really should have listened to you, Miki…

That moment, just before he could pull the trigger, a bright light shines onto Arcturus from his left. Blinded by the light, the Star General squeezes his eyes trying to identify its source only for a black saloon car to crash straight into him at an extremely high speed, throwing him against the concrete wall of the building right next to the road. The impact immediately knocks the Star General unconscious. But my attention was quickly diverted back to that car.

This car…
This black saloon car…
I’ve seen it before.
I’ve ridden on it before.
How can I forget?

After that, the car’s door opens, revealing the face of driver to me – blonde young man with sparkling azure eyes.
“Come on, get in the car!!!” said the young man, giving me his hand.
“Ly… nus…?”

———————————————

A/N:
Surprise!!!
Look who came to the rescue! o.O

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