Chapter 3:

The World's Current State

The Ethereal Scarlet

The two girls in front of me introduced themselves-Bookmark here

And I was supposed to do the same correspondingly, but there's just one pitfall-Bookmark here

"I don't know who I am."Bookmark here

They tilted their heads at the same time as though failing to comprehend my words.Bookmark here

"I-I don't remember anything." I hesitantly blurted out.Bookmark here

The room was filled with nothing but a still atmosphere for the next few seconds. Seemingly able to digest what I said, Asami was the first to react.Bookmark here

"Ehh?!!"Bookmark here

Yori remained silent, so I was unable to read her face's stiff expression. But after a moment, she spoke in a calm and clearheaded tone.Bookmark here

"When we rescued you, your terminal was nowhere to be found. We tried to search the database, but we couldn't find anyone that resembled you either."Bookmark here

"If you're saying that you have amnesia, then it'll prove difficult to create an identity out of you at the moment. After all, that means that we literally have no information about you."Bookmark here

The feeling of hopelessness eluded within me. While I wasn't really hopeful that I'll easily remember what I've forgotten, I was hoping that the people who saved me would at least have an idea. But now that she said they have no information on me, how am I supposed to proceed?Bookmark here

"However-Bookmark here

Yori suddenly pointed at me, specifically at the clothes I'm wearing.Bookmark here

"You were wearing the same uniform as us, so you must be an ether. As for what platoon, we have no idea."Bookmark here

I didn't really pry into the details of what I was wearing at the time since I was focused on making it out alive. However, I did observe that I was wearing a neat and different set of clothes compared to that moment.Bookmark here

Wait... in the first place, who changed my clothes?! It felt frightening to ask that with the two of them here, so I threw it on the backburner. It'll probably surface sooner or later...Bookmark here

Nevertheless, even if it was just a glimpse, it was still hope. The uniform I wore at the time had shed a tiny ray of light on who I may be. Even so, I still had no idea what they meant regarding these unfamiliar terms. Rather than prolonging my ignorance, I wanted to have all the information that would give me answers.Bookmark here

"What is it about 'ethers', 'ethereals', and 'Aile'? Even the 'terminal' that you mentioned earlier. I don't understand any of this." I proceeded to question them with a tight look on my face.Bookmark here

Rather than coming across as surprised, Yori looked a lot worried. It was like she saw a lost child.Bookmark here

Though, I might actually just be one as of now.Bookmark here

I rested my forehead on my palm to not lose sight of myself. Asami spoke shortly after seeing my pathetic figure.Bookmark here

"You're going to the center today, Yori, right? Why don't you take him for a short tour? Even if the chance is slim, he might remember something seeing the city."Bookmark here

"Hmm... that's true. Well then! Let's go!"Bookmark here

She started to take hop steps towards the door, but quickly turned around as if she forgot to say something.Bookmark here

"As for your questions, I'll be sure to answer them all once we're en route to the city. Let's go."Bookmark here

Her voice was relaxing to hear as she dropped a pure smile my way.Bookmark here

"While Yori makes preparations, you should get yourself cleaned. I'll guide you to the shower room. I did change your clothes, but you were still dirty from when we saved you one week ago."Bookmark here

"One week?!"Bookmark here

More importantly, Asami was the one who changed my clothes?!Bookmark here

I felt a bit flustered on that revelation. Noticing the cast on my face, she wore an embarrassed expression herself. Her cheeks were puffed with a warm red color encircling it, and her eyes averted from me.Bookmark here

"W-what? It's not like anyone was gonna do it... Plus, Yori refused to do it. Don't worry! I didn't see anything!"Bookmark here

The way she spoke the latter half of her sentence seemed incredibly suspicious.Bookmark here

~Bookmark here

In any case, Asami guided me to the shower room. On the way, I observed just how gallant this place really was. It had a lot of rooms and several other facilities throughout the other areas. More than calling it a haven like Asami did earlier, this was something like a fortress or a secret base.Bookmark here

I took a quick shower, drenching myself with the lukewarm water coming out, all the while letting it seep to every corner of my body.Bookmark here

"So it has been one week since then, I see."Bookmark here

Seems like Asami left me a new set of clothes as well. It was neatly folded on the side. I didn't really know how this door opens or locks in the first place, so she probably went in without me noticing.Bookmark here

Come to think of it, I haven't thanked them properly yet. I ought to do it later.Bookmark here

It took me more or less ten minutes to finish showering.Bookmark here

"How do you open this door?"Bookmark here

I kept staring at the bulky door in front of me. It looked extremely heavy for me to simply push it. How does one open this in the first place? I started to walk slowly towards it when it abruptly opened up.Bookmark here

"Huh? What are you doing?" a blonde haired girl gawked at my lubberly upbringing.Bookmark here

"You even forgot how doors open?"Bookmark here

She was on the hallway with her back rested on the wall and right foot leaning against it.Bookmark here

"Whatever." she sighed in exasperation after seeing my perplexed state.Bookmark here

"Yori's waiting for you. Let's go."Bookmark here

Asami waited for me on the hallway while I was showering, it looked like. She even changed my clothes and brought me a new set. Despite how she furrowed her brows at me, and that slightly irritated tone she uses, she must be a kind person on the inside.Bookmark here

As we continued walking for a few meters, we finally got out of this maze of a building.Bookmark here

It was a sunny weather, and with the cold breeze of the wind brushing up against me, it felt peaceful.Bookmark here

However, I was left awestruck when I turned my head around, effectively scanning each detail of my surroundings.Bookmark here

Basking in the green of the trees and brown of the ground, I confirmed that I was indeed alive. It's like what happened last week just passed by as a dream.Bookmark here

There were unusual things, however. From where I was standing, it sensed like I was really close to the sky.Bookmark here

"More than that-"Bookmark here

My eyes widened in shock seeing the distant figures floating in the sky. No, wait, if they're on the same eye level as mine, does that mean we're on the sky as well?!Bookmark here

"Oh, you're here already. Let's go!"Bookmark here

Waving at us from a distance, her scarlet red hair kept being swayed by the wind, along with the neat dress she was wearing.Bookmark here

"I'll see you off here. Take care of Yori for me."Bookmark here

'Uhm, isn't she the one who's supposed to take care of me?' the thought immediately came to mind.Bookmark here

Even so, I'm not that helpless of a person. In fact, I'm incredibly grateful for their hospitability. And so, I shall behave in kind.Bookmark here

"Please leave it to me." I bowed at Asami.Bookmark here

Heading to Yori's direction, she was waiting for me inside a vehicle.Bookmark here

The vehicle didn't have wheels, but it was levitating from the ground instead. It had two doors on each side, along with stylish looking front and rear bumpers.Bookmark here

Yori opened the door from inside and let me sat beside the driver's seat.Bookmark here

~Bookmark here

"Hey, uhm... Ack! This is awkward. We should come up with a name for you." she scratched her head as she drove the vehicle.Bookmark here

"I-I'm sorry." I looked at her with an awkward expression from the side.Bookmark here

For some reason, I felt apologetic.Bookmark here

"No, no. It's not your fault. Though, I was thinking about it earlier, can I call you Kazuki for now?"Bookmark here

"If you insist, then please do so."Bookmark here

"Alright then, Kazuki."Bookmark here

I wonder how she came up with the name though.Bookmark here

We were currently traversing the sky, with the sun highlighting that fact. It felt like a fairytale fantasy, except that this was made possible by technology.Bookmark here

"So, what did you want to know, again?"Bookmark here

While her question was simple, the gravity of my answer, by any means wasn't.Bookmark here

"The world."Bookmark here

"Hmm?" I could sense that she was slightly baffled.Bookmark here

"I want to know everything; these things you call 'Aile', the ethereals, and the overall state of this world."Bookmark here

"It looks like your memory loss is worse than what I initially considered. That makes things a little tricky to explain, but I don't mind giving you a story time."Bookmark here

While Yori's eyes were focused in front, driving this floating vehicle towards our destination, she commenced giving me the 'story time'.Bookmark here

~Bookmark here

"According to history books, it was approximately 700 years ago when these creatures we call ethereals appeared. They ravaged the earth and reduced the human population to a mere ten thousand. It's still unknown where they exactly came from, but we do know that they can manipulate space by creating rifts, instantly transporting them somewhere that's not too far in distance. Owed to that fact, defenses that mankind mounted were just meaningless. After all, despite that they can only teleport at a minimal range, they can easily bypass any obstacle.Bookmark here

Since life was deemed unsustainable in the surface, the last resort was to live in the sky. The Nishimoto family founded the ERB, or simply the Ethereal Retaliation Bureau, and are the ones responsible as to why we can live in these Ailes currently. 'Ailes', basically referring to the floating islands you can see if you look outside the window right now.Bookmark here

There are four sectors serving as the backbone of humanity, scattered in each cardinal direction. Where we're currently located is at the South Sector. There's a Center Aile in each sector while the smaller ones around it are the Mini Ailes.Bookmark here

The reason why everything can work, more importantly, is because of these Ethereal cores we possess. This Levicle, the ships we use to go to the surface, and the Ailes themselves are all powered by these ethereal cores. That also includes us, the Ethers, who are essentially the soldiers of humanity."Bookmark here


The Ethereal Scarlet

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