The mini giant tossed me into the greenhouse. The roof crumbled and fell. The windows shattered and the walls gave in. I could hear several teacups and pots breaking. The wooden table that I used to sit at with Rin broke in half after I landed on it. I pulled myself up but felt dizzy and fell to my knees. Blood was dripping down from my forehead and into my eyes. I turned my claw into my hammer and stumbled out of the destroyed greenhouse. Takumi and Rin had already evacuated. I could see from the corner of my eyes that he was carrying her away. The sound of me dragging my hammer behind me echoed and resonated. It was then pulled up by me and I launched it in the direction of Yabumi-sensei who was casually walking towards Xykoss and his Paroxys.
“Do you really think that this will work on me Ayumi?”
He said and caught it mid-air.
“No, but this will.”
I was seeing red and even without having my weapon, my hand turned into a black claw. Thanks to Xykoss’ legs, I instantly got next to him. The claw slashed his face and his black sunglasses fell down to the ground. I stepped on them and quickly held on to my hammer’s handle to extend it. The head was pushed into his stomach, and he tripped backwards. Blood was dripping down from his face, and it was the very first time I saw his white eyes. Xykoss had become a lot smaller and was able to escape the mighty wolf’s mouth too.
“Yabumi-sensei, I think you have forgotten one of your own lessons. That we can communicate with our Paroxys without actually talking to them. You taught us that.”
The roles were reversed. Xykoss had the mighty wolf in his grip, and I had Yabumi-sensei cornered.
“What do you want me to say? That I am the rat? That I am the one who betrayed all of you?”
“Yes. That is exactly what I want to hear. I want you to confess your wrongdoings.”
“I didn’t do anything wrong! It was them who started it all!”
He started shouting.
“They are the ones who did me wrong! I had no choice!”
“You had no choice? Do you have any idea what you have done? Because of you, people are dead! Uehara is dead!”
I shouted back at him. My body was trembling, and my voice cracked. My hand formed into a fist, and I took a few steps closer to him.
“You don’t know what kind of people they are! They will use you and throw you away like trash.”
I was going to punch him, but the mini giant came in between us. I jumped back and told Xykoss to stay next to me. The mighty wolf returned to his host as well.
“Whatever your reason is, it does not justify what you did.”
The mini giant started exchanging blows with Xykoss while I slid through his legs and followed Yabumi-sensei. I spun in a circle and swung my hammer at the wolf who charged at me to push him out of the way.
“They promised that they would find my wife. But it has been 15 years! And not even my Paroxys, Wratzle could find her.”
He had started talking to himself. I managed to get close to him and grabbed him by his collar. My wrist was swollen, red and disformed but my anger was growing. It was getting bigger and bigger.
“You’re not making any sense. What are you talking about? What has your wife to do with all of this?”
His eyes filled with tears and his bottom lip was trembling. The mighty wolf charged again towards me, but I didn’t turn around. I just let him run into my hammer that I turned into my claw at the very last second. The wolf’s throat was pierced, and I could hear it whimper behind me, followed by a loud thud.
“Tell me. Why have you done this? Why did so many people have to die?”
“My wife. She disappeared in a plane crash 15 years ago. She worked as an Outliner. The higher-ups told me that when I would become an Outliner myself that they would help me find her. But she was never found. Not a single trace of her was discovered. I was desperate for any clue that would lead to her. They started avoiding and ignoring me. Telling me to forget about my wife. I had no choice. I was angry, disappointed, and desperate.”
“So, you turned to the RIP? Why?”
“Because they promised me that they would find her.”
He grabbed me by my jacket and got closer to my face.
“They said that they would find her for me.”
He whispered into my ear. I pushed him away and he fell to the ground.
“You won’t understand.”
“I don’t want to understand. How many lives were you willing to sacrifice for your wife? Do you really think she would want this? She was an Outliner too. You are killing your own kind.”
My voice was gradually getting louder and louder.
“With how many have you gone on missions? With how many are you friends with? And they are all dying right now!”
My yelling was interrupted by the mini giant who leaped forward into the direction of where Takumi and Rin were. Xykoss was trying his best to hold him back. Takumi created a water bubble that surrounded him and Rin to protect them.
“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”
Yabumi-sensei kept stuttering. I left him behind and followed the mini giant. With one swift swing, I hit his ankle with my hammer. I could hear the bone crack and it tripped him over. Xykoss threw me on his back and climbed his body to get to Takumi and Rin as fast as possible.
“How many times do I have to tell you? Stay the hell away from Rin.”
I said while looking down on the mini giant’s head while we were sprinting past it. A sudden sea of electrical discharges caught my attention in the distance. Dark grey clouds had gathered and from it, a dragon was emerging. It was purely made from lightning. There was no doubt it. It was Yu’s Paroxys in its full form.
“Takumi, are you okay?”
He nodded his head and showed me Rin as well who was hiding in his jacket.
“Are you okay, Ayumi? You’re bleeding a lot and your wrist looks horrible.”
Rin showed me a worried expression. I forced myself to smile.
“I’m fine. Trust me, Rin-chan.”
I petted her head and gave Takumi a nod. It was his cue to leave the scene entirely and go get help. But my plan was halted by the man. He appeared in front of us out of nowhere and kneed me in my stomach and tried to grab Rin-chan from Takumi. Xykoss immediately lashed out and confronted him but to only be flung away again. Takumi used his Paroxys but to no avail. The man kicked him from the side, and he was sent flying as well. Rin was grabbed by him and they both disappeared. The mini giant had decided to stand back up again as well. I was holding on to my stomach and started running. The man was next to Yabumi-sensei and was whispering something in his ear while Rin was quietly watching. I could see in her face that she was terrified. Her eyes were sparkling, and she was mouthing my name. Takumi assisted me by blocking the mini giant’s attack with a giant wall of water that swept him away from us. Xykoss then tackled him to the ground.
“I’m sorry. I’m sorry.”
Yabumi-sensei kept repeating the same sentence over and over again. The man walked a bit further away from him and pulled something from the back of his trousers while keeping Rin in his arms. He tossed it over to Yabumi-sensei and it landed right in front of him. He picked it up and placed the barrel of a gun underneath his chin.
“Don’t do it! You can’t! Killing yourself will only mean that you are running away! You have to make up for what you have done!”
“This is the only way.”
He looked me in the eye and pulled the trigger. The bullet went through his head and his body bent backwards. A spray of blood forcibly escaped out of his scalp. The mighty wolf howled and vanished into thin air. The sound of the gunshot kept reverberating in my ears. I tripped over my feet and fell on my face. Everything was spinning around me. Rin-chan was crying out loud. Takumi kept calling my name. I dug my fingers into the ground and tensed up my body to curl up into a ball. It was stiff and rigid. I couldn’t move. My mind went blank. My body twisted and squirmed to make the feeling go away. It felt like my heart was about to burst and I couldn’t breathe properly. My mouth opened and it felt like my scream was going on forever. Why was this happening? Why did it keep happening? How many times will it repeat? When will the cycle finally end? My breaths were heavy and deep. My vision was blurry, and the tears kept running down my face. I punched the ground several times and stood up. My hammer was in my hand and Xykoss was right next to me.
“Xykoss Unlimited. Devour those who stand in my way.”
It was the same as last time. My surroundings got coloured in red and a massive shock wave escaped my body. I kept spinning my hammer, ready to destroy that man. After a final glance at Yabumi-sensei’s body, I got a direct hit on one of the man’s arm. He stumbled back and I assaulted him continuously with my hammer while avoiding Rin entirely. I grabbed her by her arm and threw her into the air to then round kick him in his face. He slid backwards and gasped. His elegant face was not so elegant anymore with the blood that was flowing down his temple. I caught Rin in my arms and was getting ready to attack again.
“Ouch, that actually hurt. You’re not going easy on me, especially on my left arm. The one that you and Xykoss ripped off 10 years ago and I managed to reattach again.”
He wiped off the blood with his hand and then massaged his left shoulder while having a grin on his face. I handed Rin over to Takumi and told them to escape.
“Leave and don’t look back. It’s time for me to get serious and counterattack. I won’t be able to do that if you both are close to me.”
Takumi hesitated at first but after a moment of silence between us, he understood and left. A giant whale made of water carried them away. The mini giant tried to capture them, but I blocked him and thrusted him back with my hammer. I ran after him and jumped up to perform a cartwheel above his head, to then grab on to his long, black hair to pull him down first and then to throw him into some trees. They split and broke into several pieces and the earth was gouged out by the collision.
“Now that he is out of the way, I can finally have a proper talk with you.”
I said to the man who looked ecstatic and was only observing from a distance.
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