Counter 14: Surging Waves of Chaos
Nineteenth day of Sapta’xahr, 4044
New Eldoon City’s current status
The first bomb detonated at twelve noon followed by a letter sent to the Police Department threatening to attack District 3. The unnamed terrorists demand 100 million sol to be left in the central fountain of Issinn Park, the largest park in the district. If the demand is not meet after three o’clock in the afternoon has passed, they will blow-up the City hall. The New Eldoon Police Department immediately contacted the Counter-Terrorism Unit of ICA, to respond to the terror threats.
When the plane crashed in the academy’s vicinity, the NEPD and CTU has noticed it but they have prioritized the safety of the citizens. The only help that the city government can give are two fire trucks and two ambulances. It is an undeniable fact to everyone that most people expect reveils to fend for themselves that is why there are only few common people that are open-minded enough to lend a hand. Furthermore, AB Academy and the whole of Nalkad Island are under ICA’s jurisdiction. As such, Eldoon New City’s government has no authority or responsibility whatever happens there. At this moment, the city government’s priority is the safety of their citizens. Even if the academy’s faculty calls for assistance and reinforcements, it will most likely take more than an hour for them to arrive.
Seventeen minutes after two o’clock in the afternoon, a suspicious object is found hidden behind the large portrait of the current mayor. Two minutes after, it is confirmed to be the bomb, so the CTU bomb defusal squad detonated it. The people of Eldoon thought they are saved, but their hopes are far from reality. Twenty-two minutes past two o’clock in the afternoon, a bomb explodes in the girls’ restroom in a nearby mall. After hearing the loud roar of the explosion, a letter addressed to the mayor was suddenly found lying by the side of the detonated bomb.
“I know you can find this so I prepared an extra one in the mall. Don’t worry, I have hidden several others too… so we can keep playing our game.”
Thirty minutes after two o’clock in the afternoon
AB Academy grounds, garden area by the admin building
Two students wearing the blue-zone uniform stands by the garden area outside the admin building where most of the faculty stays.
“Three. Only three of the intruders have reached our place.” The blond freshman says while looking at three intruders facing them. “Just how many of them got in our academy? But that is not my concern now.”
He is anxious about the young master of the House of Kirihara, Eisuke Kirihara, the youngest child, has gone alone in a different direction. They have known each other since childhood. He knows that he should not worry about him, if one considers his ability. The heirs of the Seven Noble Houses are not just some people anyone can trifle with. However, he is feeling conflicted. The obligation to protect and serve his master runs deep in his veins.
“What are you dilly-dallying for, Keito?” Evan’s voice snaps his attention towards him.
Keito then fixes his eyes at him. “I’m worried about Eisuke, he went off alone.” He replies softly.
Evan’s expression seems unconcerned.
Looking at his expression, he cannot help but be concerned. Evan is also his childhood friend, so he understands that he is always like that. He barely expresses his real feelings, always hiding behind a fake smile. Sometimes, he finds this behavior terrifying.
“Shall we look for him?” Keito asks unconcerned of the intruders’ presence.
“No,” Evan answers apathetically.
“As expected,” he thought. “Evan… The moment he saw those three intruders, he shot them with ki aiming for their Achilles tendon. In a few seconds all of them dropped on the ground with no way of getting up again. That’s how insane he is.”
There is no point in wasting their time on those three intruders. They can no longer get up and they are trembling in fear. Looking at them, and how they are acting now, they are definitely not reveils. They still have some weapons, like knives and guns but they are too terrified to continue the fight. Just how do they perceive this man?
“I’m going over to check on Azalea.” Evan says with a calm tone.
“Huh?..” Keito feels confused. “Wait… HUH--?!!” In this unexpected situation, he does not know how to react. He never would have thought that he would ever make such face in his life.
“I said, I’ll go to Azalea.”
“Yeah, I heard you. I mean, why are you going over to some green-zone girl? We must first check on Eisuke’s situation.”
“Don’t worry,” he answers with a straight face. “That guy sure is fine.”
“If you are that determined then you go look for him. I’ll go this way.”
Evan then turns his back away from Keito but Keito hurriedly follows him anyway.
“Evan,” he calls, “what’s wrong with you today? You’re acting strange.” He follows behind but Evan continues walking forward as if he is not hearing anything. “Evan!” He raises his voice.
“Evan! Are you abandoning your duty as one of the Knights of the House of Kirihara?”
He then halts his march. “I have done no oath to be a knight of the Kiriharas,” he answers while slightly turning towards Keito.
Keito blinks, not knowing if he is seeing things right. That expression that just slipped is not his usual carefree mask. It is something genuine, but at the same time it is something ominous.
“Keito, I have no intention of succeeding the line, nor do I want to continue that old fashioned tradition.” He declares with his back turned away from him.
Being overly aware of Evan’s darkened aura, Keito could not move a step. The air around him just feels so heavy; it makes one shiver from within for no reason.
“I simply kept my silence all these years because I did not see any worth in opposing the family at that time. However, I have long decided that when the time comes, I shall choose my path with my own free will. Right now, I have been given the freedom to act on my own by Eisuke himself. I will make use of this opportunity as much as I can.”
“Had he always been like this?”
Thirty minutes after two o’clock in the afternoon
AB Academy airspace, above the gymnasium
A semi-transparent orb floats close to the gym’s roof where Azalea stands to confront the intruders. Using the orb, the person who created the magic is able to observe how the situation is unfolding in real time. It is as if he is watching right there, live.
“I, at this moment, am nothing but a fleeting consciousness.”
His real body cannot come here which is why he has decided to send his mind to watch over this event.
The reason why he is taking so much effort to intrude in this academy is the one standing carelessly or maybe arrogantly, on top of the roof. She rounds her sight across the conflict tainted horizon, assessing the situation. The skirmish that is produced by the attack of these combined organizations is of great help allowing him to by-pass the academy’s invisible magic barrier. It would be great if he could somehow materialize a body using magic, however the well thought-out structure of the barrier protecting the academy against outside forces is tough for him to break. Being able to peek live in this form is the most he can do. If he uses a more complicated spell, he will be detected and be forced out.
This is a kind of magic barrier that can stop unregistered reveils that is considered rank A and above, as well as unregistered monsters and demons from entering the academy. If any of those mentioned tries to get too close to the island, the barrier will react by teleporting them back into a far enough distance while alarming ICA’s central command of the attempted breach. Although in this case, the latter is no longer needed.
The reveil who single-handedly maintains the barrier for the past century is said to be a very old god-tier mage who lived since the founding of the academy. She is one of the pioneers that created this prestigious school.
“If only this barrier is taken down… I will be able to reach out to her. That child I have been looking after more than eight years now.”
Azalea’s whereabouts have been hard to track these past four years. It has been a long time since he got to see her live and not just in pictures or in the background of low quality videos. He does not want to miss this chance.
“It appears that she has no intention of fighting as of now.” He observes. “Those three intruders do not look like they are planning anything against her either.”
So far, both sides are simply monitoring the developments in current events. Both of them thought that the most appropriate place for that task is the rooftop of the gymnasium which lies in the near center of this island. However, no matter how much they leave each other’s back with no concern, they are still here taking the role of opposing currents. Sooner or later they will have to meet and crash.
Once the enemy makes a move, Azalea will have to stop acting as a backstage support crew and take the battle seriously. For that moment, he cannot hide his excitement. How much has that child grown since the last time he met her?
“Ah, something new is happening.”
“Encounter at Route A,” one of the guys who calls himself Taka reports, “Encounter at beach area, C36, status: LOST. Encounter at Route B, Shin and Sean, status: LOST.”
Elen frowns while averting his eyes from the holographic monitors. “We have lost three of our people already and we still have no information about Acheron. What are the others doing?”
“Ito’s squad headed towards the academy’s dorm area.” Taka bites his lips. His eyes are following the movements of the images in their holographic monitor. “Route A, Breathe and Will of Ito’s squad engaged with a battle against a student. Breath status: LOST.”
“What happened to Will?” Elen inquired turning her eyes back to the holograms again.
“He got away, but…” His voice quivers. “He is currently against two students.”
The other man, Goazu clicks his tongue. “Did they really know?” He mumbles while setting his eyes to Azalea who has her back turned away from them. “Maybe we could capture that female student over there and force some information out of her.”
“Give up,” she responds bluntly. “That girl used to slay demons. Forget forcing their plans out of her, you won’t even be able to lay a hand on her.”
“Why do you talk like that?” Taka clicks his tongue and then turns to the side to see the shadow of the girl in the corner of his eyes. “It’s as if you have given up before we make a move.”
“Give me a couple of minutes, I’ll handle this.” Gaozu boasts while cracking his knuckles.
Elen sighs. She looks really disappointed as her eyes explore the holograms. “Well, you can try… but don’t get yourself killed just yet.”
Gaozu smirks while approaching Azalea’s back slowly. Elen watches him for a moment before turning her eyes back to monitor the other squads’ situations. “I’m sure, she has prepared for possible attacks already.”
The man observing through the semi-transparent orb from the distance moves a little closer. “I may not know much about these intruders but their commander sure is perceptive.” He begins to assess. “No wonder she is leading this operation. She mostly does not care about what Gaozu is about to do, it seems that she is aware that Azalea is not the kind of person who would kill another.”
While Gaozu marches towards Azalea, Taka keeps his eyes peeled and his stance is that of a man ready to assist in case needed. He does not seem to be the aggressive one but he does not look like a composed cover either. He is more like a cautious coward. Gaozu charges at full speed onwards only to find himself crashing at an invisible wall. He stands still with his body stock on that invisible wall like a bird merrily flying in the sky just to hit a building’s transparent glass window.
“What a sight.”
If that is not amusing enough, then the reaction of his comrade might serve a good laugh. With his mouth wide open and his eyes almost falling out of its sockets he simply stood there like an ice statue for display. Meanwhile, the leading girl is not paying attention at all. She simply exhaled heavily as if to rid herself of inner distress.
“Ah… Hey Gaozu, are you still alive?” Taka asks without moving a single step from where he is standing.
Carefully, slowly, Gaozu takes a step back. He touches his face before taking few more steps backward. “That girl didn’t even budge a bit when I crashed,” says he while blood starts to drip from his nose. “Overconfident. She’s definitely underestimating our power!”
“I wonder what she’s thinking right now.”
“You cannot reach her, can you?” Elen cuts in.
“Stop it already!” She bites her lips while watching the holographic monitors. “We don’t have much time.” The sound of her voice returns to being calm. But then, a drop of sweat starts sliding down her jaw. “Cool your head for a little while. We’ll make our move soon.”
“This might not be good.”
After Taka and Gaozu have calmed down, they walk back to their original station, beside their commander. Elen’s face starts to change from her composed expression. Her forehead starts forming wrinkles, her eyebrows crossing. Her frown becomes more distinguished by the moment.
“I wonder what’s happening now?” He focuses his attention to the multiple holographic monitors to observe the progress of their plans.
One of the monitors is showing the place near a watch tower, a group of seven people from the intruders are down. Two students are looking at their condition.
“Ah, their uniforms, they are from the so called blue zone. Nobles, I see.”
Another group of three is laying either dead or unconscious near the place where their plane crashed, by looks of who’s near the scene, they were also done in by two nobles.
“Their advance is all over the place.”
One group of three has reached near the academy’s library, and they are against three students too.
“Three? No. There are only two people there, the other one is… either way, this is another loss for the intruder. Who would dare cross her? I can clearly recognize that girl, Saintgregor’s daughter.”
For him, these intruders are clearly losing. He then moves his attention to the one Elen has her sights focused on. That one who ran away from the fight with the red head a while ago has encountered another set of students.
“I see… This is how it’ll end, huh?”
“We’re out of time,” Elen blurts out while she slowly closes her eyes before taking a deep breathe. “We will now move on to acquiring our second objective.”
Twenty-two minutes after two o’clock in the afternoon
South-eastern forest area
The uncanny silence of the forest is broken by the continuous ringing of Xiao Feng’s phone. It has been ringing for a while now. It seems that she does not want to pick it up. She stands unmoved while looking at her phone’s screen. She stares at the name displayed while wearing a blank expression.
“Ah, it stopped,” she takes a deep breath. She knows he will call again. As expected, after a couple of minutes or so it rings again. “How persistent this idiot is.”
She wants to ignore it. Talking to Isaw can sometimes become too annoying. However, she has to report her situation and also get updates about the situation inside the academy. She is really taking her time to decide, but in the end, she reluctantly answers the call.
“HEEEEEEEEEY--!!” Isaw shouts from the other end of the line.
Xiao Feng pulls her phone away. The inconsiderate idiot at the other end might be planning to shutter her eardrums as a form of revenge. Still hearing his voice after putting a distance away from her and her phone is making her feel like she is listening to him on loud speaker.
“Xiao! Xiao, are you alive? What took you so long to pick up? I thought you tripped and broke your head. Hey Xiao, are you there?”
For a moment, she has considered on ending the call right there and then. But this time she is obliged to have more patience. “Isaw, please shut up.” She answers in a very cold tone.
“Oh, you’re there after all.” He replies cheerfully ignoring her irritated tone.
She suddenly feels conflicted whether she should be happy or disappointed that she answered him like normal.
“What happened to your opponent there?” Isaw’s tone then makes a sudden change. His voice sounds deeper and more serious.
“He’s dead.” Xiao Feng replies while looking down on that intruder’s body lying cold on the ground.
Isaw pauses for a while. She is quite surprised that he is not responding as quickly as she thought he would.
“More like… he just died.” She adds more detail to her report. “After losing to me, I made sure he won’t be able to move anymore. While talking to him, he just suddenly fell in silence. I investigated a little. He was hiding an unidentified poison inside his mouth.”
“I see,” his reaction is rather odd for being the kind of person that he is. “The same thing happened to my opponents. I managed to pin them down but they killed themselves using the same method.”
“I see. They are all suicidal, huh.” They must have prepared the poison at their back teeth to ensure that no information will leak even if they fail.
“Seems like it. We won’t be able to catch any of them alive. If their suicidal mission continues, we’ll end up not knowing the true nature of these intruders.”
“Well then, we should just rip off their mouths.”
“If you do that they won’t be able to talk, you know.”
“We don’t need them to talk as much.” With a dark tone Xiao Feng ends the call.
She does not intend to argue with him. While they are wasting time here, those intruders are advancing.
“I should follow the ones that went ahead,” Xiao Feng tells herself. She directs her sight forward looking for clues that will point to which path they took.
But then, a group of five with BK armbands catches her attention. They are running to her direction. They are looking confused and frightened.
“Professor--!!” The leading one calls while he catches up with his breath. “S-something is—there’s something c-coming out from the bottom of the sea!” He points to the direction of the beach.
Xiao Feng’s eyes follows the direction where his finger points.
The sea that used to be so calm a while ago is looking as if it is raging with fury. From the surface of the water, the waves clash angrily and then there emerges an unidentified silhouette.
“I cannot discern what it is.”
Xiao Feng walks to the nearest tree and then goes up so that she could get a better look of that thing. It looks mechanical, but since it came from the sea, its insides must be water proof. What could be their goal by sending this bunch of tin cans? They are walking slowly from the salty sea onto the sandy shores. They have humanoid features. By the looks of the deep foot prints that they leave on the sand, she concludes that those tin cans are very heavy –may be three-hundred kilos or so.
“Where is the other group of BK assigned by the shores?” Xiao Feng asks while she is still up the tree watching the robot army increase in number.
“They stayed behind to stop the advance of those things,” the leader answers immediately.
She jumps down hurriedly. “Give me your radio.”
Without question, the leader complies.
She can hear the buzzing sound of the radio along with the sounds of the waves. “Professor Zhu here. Do you copy?”
“Bzz… Squad three’s leader here… bzt.” A guy’s voice answers. He sounds calm but that may not last long. “Awaiting for your orders, ma’am… zzt.”
“Don’t rush,” she gives a simple command. She is getting a bad feeling trying to figure out what those metallic things might be. “Put acquiring data about those machines as top priority. Don’t try to fight them if you find it difficult. Retreat immediately if they prove to be life-threatening.”
Character Design Sheet
Xiao Feng's tattoo
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