The Aftermath of the Magic Apocalypse
I’m currently sitting in an interrogation room of the Settlement 24 precinct. The room itself isn’t very big. Just me, my chair, a simple square metal table with another chair across from me, waiting for the officer who will talk to me about the incident that I just experienced.
My scream of frustration appeared to scare off, “Beast”, the beast-warrior who saved me and Hans from the raiders who attacked us. About 5 minutes later, Kaiba Corporation’s security and recovery teams finally arrived at the site. Hans was rushed into the recovery ward of the settlement’s medical bay while I stayed behind to give a full report of the incident.
I gave a full report of the ordeal (Author’s note: bulleted points are quick recaps of main points of what happened in previous chapters and can be skipped by those who read the previous chapters);
1. how they attacked using stealth right after we exited the underground transport tunnel for our ID’s,
2. how they were fully prepared to kill us because I was hesitant to give my ID since I was part of the research division,
3. how we were saved by a mysterious new species of beast warrior who fought back the raiders who appeared to have anti-magic traits and
4. finally the massive meteor and how the creature stopped it with its beam attack that left many craters that delayed the security and recovery team from arriving sooner.
Thankfully, because Aria was activated, they were able to capture some footage and got images to match the names of all the raiders except the witch which I had to give my vague description. An elemental arts wielder that is especially gifted in manipulating the earth and has a wolfman partner for beast-warrior fusion. Despite not knowing who she was or what she really looked like, she could be tracked down using her magic residue. Magic residue was unique to every individual with magic, much like fingerprints, or DNA, though both of those techniques had workarounds to cheat the results. Magic residue did not, even in fusion form. The drawback was only individuals who could use magic were able to conduct the analysis and using that method was tedious since it was not yet possible to use machine assistance to automate that process.
After the report was concluded, I was escorted to Settlement 24. At the entrance, the policeman asked if I would be willing to give a report since the battle was less than a km from the settlement and there were residents who witnessed the meteor and its subsequent collapse in panic. Despite being mentally and physically exhausted, I decided it would be best to get this over with so the police could put the residents at ease. It was best to nip problems in the bud.
A woman with long ears, brownish skin, a birthmark in the shape of a flower on her forehead. She appears to be in her late 20’s/early 30’s but it is possible she is also one of those eternally youthful looking people. She was wearing a blue uniform with a 24 on the shoulder of her sleeves. On her left hand was a tattoo of a flower pattern, matching the birthmark on her forehead. She was about 170cm tall and her boobs...well, let’s just say they put mine to shame. I’m not saying I want boobs that large, I know the issues it has on the body for being too large, not to mention struggling to shop for clothes that fit. If I could take maybe a bit of her size off and add to mine, maybe we would both be happier.
It’s not my first time meeting an “elf”. Elves are humans who have physically mutated due to having so much magic power. Not every human with high magic power mutates and we are still unclear why some humans change and others don’t. Many elves are exceptional at their craft, but they are shunned and discriminated against by normal people who claim that magic users see themselves above being human, and have intentionally altered their appearance to not be human. If not for working in Kaiba Corporation in a position which allows me to understand the science, it’s possible I too would still believe in that fallacy.
“Greetings Ms. Vioto-”
Urk. I bring my hand to my face to relax it. “It’s pronounced Vee-ah-toh. It means life.”
“Ah, I apologize Ms. Viotta-”
I just told you how to say it and you still said it wrong?! Were you not listening? I take a deep breath to calm myself down. “Ma’am, please repeat after me. Vee...Ah...Toh.”
“Vee..Ah..Toh? Did I get it right this time?”
“Good job.” I clap my hands. “I don’t want to be disrespectful and I know you have a job to do, but it really irks me when people don’t say my name right.”
She flashes an awkward smile and sits down. “Yes, yes, I understand. Thank you for teaching me how to pronounce it properly Ms. Viotto. It would have been awkward to address you not understanding how to properly pronounce your name. Now, may we proceed to business?”
“Yes, please do. The sooner you get what you need, the sooner I can go home, take a bath and eat dinner. I’m starving right now.”
“May I get you something Ms. Viotto to tie you over? You are doing me a favor.”
“No, I have dinner waiting for me at home. So please, just ask what you need from me.”
“Very well, we can be done in 10 minutes or less if you would be willing to allow me to read your memories.”
“I have a technique where I can read your memories, if you are willing to give me your permission. It’s much faster and easier for both of us than me just asking you questions.”
“I must ask, I have access to information that isn’t allowed to be leaked to the public, not even the police. Is there a chance you could, even accidentally, get that information through your ability?”
“Well, you don’t have to worry about that. I was specifically entrusted to talk with you because you work in classified research. In fact, I’m the only reason your company permitted us to interview you. Otherwise, they would have denied the request for you when we asked you to talk to us about the incident when you came to the gates.”
“It’s true they didn’t deny you, but you still haven’t answered my question.”
“I used to work for Kaiba Corporation before working here in the police. While it wasn’t the research bureau like you, my position afforded me to have access to research secrets. My clearance is still active.”
I try and keep my surprise from showing on my face hearing that. “Why would they allow you to keep your clearance? Would you be offended if I sought to confirm that? I’ve never heard of ex-employees keeping their clearance.”
“Well, it’s true for most employees, once they choose to leave or get fired, yes, the departure process removes everything. But, certain employees are considered a valuable asset, like if you can use magic, or a distinguished researcher like the professor. As long as you aren’t fired for something ridiculous like corporate sabotage or espionage, they have a different process.”
She leans in closer to me and talks in an almost whisper like tone. “We are treated as alumni and given special perks. One of those is the right to keep our clearance. Another is the opportunity to serve as special consultants or field agents for problems that are in our domain of expertise. It’s that privilege that allows me to talk with you. Kaiba corporation wants to know if I can help them get to the bottom of the attack. The attack on you and Hans is highly unusual for a raider attack. They don’t usually attack civilians and especially not with an elite team like the one you encountered unless they are pulling off a heist.” She leans back, crosses her arms and gives a confident smile. ”If you like, since you may not believe me, we can go to the lobby and contact the professor who can vouch for my claims as an alumni and the perks.” I did work with the professor once in a while during my time back in Kaiba Corporation.
If she is willing to allow me to talk to the professor to verify her claim, she must be speaking truthfully, even if I still find this hard to believe. “Just tell me one thing. Why did you choose to stop working in Kaiba Corporation and join the police? I’ll cooperate fully if you explain that to me.”
“Asking something personal, aren’t you?” she grins mischievously at me.
“You are asking to read my memories which is an invasion of my privacy. Although necessary, I think it’s only fair we make it a trade” as I smile back at her.
“Very well. However, I don’t want my reason for leaving to spoil your impression of Kaiba Corporation. I’ll just say I chose to leave because years ago, they enacted a policy that I didn’t personally agree with. I tried to endure, give it a chance, but I just couldn’t stay working there. So I left and chose a place where my talents could still be put to good use. The police may not pay as much as I made in Kaiba, but I don’t have any regrets. I see from your face, you want more information, but I told you, I don’t want my reason to leave to stop you from giving the company a chance. No company is perfect, and I do understand why Kaiba chose to go ahead with that controversial policy. It’s even possible that policy was indeed the right choice given their scale of operations. I’m just a small town farm girl at heart.”
I sigh “Fine, but tell me what your previous role was in Kaiba Corporation. Then we can proceed with you giving me instructions.”
“I suppose it’s fair. You would probably look it up anyway and I’m sure the professor would tell you since I brought him up. I was part of the elite security team. We would focus on investigating all leads of corporate espionage or sabotage and since my ability to read memories was often very useful in proving or clearing anyone accused. I enjoyed the job. Now, if you would please cooperate. I’m going to place my hand on your forehead. You just need to relax and think about the experience you just went through with those raiders. I realize what you went through was unpleasant to say the least, and I’m sure you might even think it terrifying, but if you would be willing to relive those memories once again, we may be able to help catch them sooner. That witch and her wolfman companion need to be apprehended and your memories could be the key to stopping them before there are other victims.”
That experience did terrify me. I nearly died twice, possibly more and poor Hans was in the medical ward recuperating because of my actions today. I had to face not only my fear, but also my failure in my decision to confront the raiders the way I did. I close my eyes and take a deep breath thinking back to the incident since the crash. I feel a hand on my forehead.
“Please allow me to see what this child has endured today, [ACCESS]”
A warm sensation flows into me for a few moments as the police woman hmmms while I presume she reads my memories. The sensation stops and the hand comes off my forehead. I open my eyes to see the woman standing in front of me
“Now Ms. Viotta, I am going to ask a few questions to confirm I did not misinterpret what I just saw. Please answer honestly. First question, the raiders only sought your ID’s promising to leave if you cooperated. Why didn’t you do so?”
“I didn’t believe them. And I was afraid since I am part of the research bureau of Kaiba corporation they would be able to gain access to corporate secrets and risk sabotage.”
A flick to my forehead.
“Oww” I rub my forehead.
“Stupid girl, is your job worth your life?”
“Well, no, but if I was going to die anyway, it’s better to not just lie down and die.”
She gives me a stern look. “Do you know how many times raiders have killed people over robbery?”
“I know it is rare, but it does still happen.”
“Do you know what the conditions are for when it does happen?”
“Not exactly. It’s hard to predict what goes through their minds. Raiders do whatever they want.”
Another flick comes to my forehead, this one hits harder.
“Oww. Cut that out already!” At this point, I’m really agitated with her antics. If she wasn’t a policewoman, I would just up and leave.
“Listen to me carefully girl. During my seven years as a police officer, the number of people killed who have given raiders what they want without fighting back is...zero. In other words, not once has a victim who gave the raiders what they wanted died without putting up a fight, when it was pure robbery. Raiders don’t kill unless their victims fight back. They abide by a strict code and anyone who violates it is exiled or hunted down and killed.”
I was stunned. Not once did a raider ever kill someone if they didn’t fight back. In other words, Holdergard was telling me the truth about letting us go. I let my own prejudice against raiders dictate my actions even though the observations contradicted that, the raiders claiming to let us go, Hans forking over his ID and Holdergard saying he didn’t want to kill me or Hans. As someone who prides herself on letting data dictate my decisions, this really was a blemish on my record.
In the next moment, I am embraced into the bosom of the police officer. She strokes my hair “Still, you were very lucky for both you and Hans to survive. Very rarely do those who fight back come out alive. Most who do, usually are missing a limb or two and become unable to live the same way as they did before the fight. Because of you, we know there is a very dangerous magic user out there who can use fusion magic. That information will save who knows how many lives. So, even though you were reckless, I can’t argue with the results you achieved.”
She hugs me tighter ”But please, don’t risk your life if it isn’t worth it. And especially don’t endanger others. When you die and it isn’t a natural death, those you leave behind also suffer. You should know this already since you lost your parents at a young age.”
At that moment, the dam holding back my waterworks broke and I cried my heart out. I felt guilty for Hans suffering because of me. Once confronted with the facts that if I had just cooperated with the raider demands, neither of us would have died or sustained an injury, I knew I made the wrong decision. A forehead flick was a cheap price to pay to learn this valuable lesson and I was grateful to the police interrogator. She continued to comfort me as I cried.
I eventually settled down and once she sensed I was calm again, the interrogator released me. Her uniform was soaked from my tears.
“I’m sorry” as I cleaned up my face, using a wipe she offered me.
“Don’t be Ms. Viotto. A wet uniform is a cheap price to pay for the valuable information you gave us. I would take that any day compared to losing a comrade confronting this witch because we underestimated how powerful she was.”
“I know you called me stupid, and I won’t argue with you there. I’ve already reflected on my error. But I have to ask, is it normal for a team of magic wielders like the ones I saw to be raiders? I can’t help but feel we were targeted because we were Kaiba Corporation employees.”
She gives a warm smile. “My, you are quick to accept feedback and improve yourself. That too deserves praise.” She brings her hand to her chin, probably to choose her words, “It’s definitely something I considered and I’m pretty sure Kaiba Corporation suspects something is strange given they invited me to help them investigate this incident. But, it’s difficult to say for sure. They could have just waited for anyone to hit. You just happened to be in the right place at the wrong time. The vehicle you were in does not bear the Kaiba Corporation logo. You also need to take into account, you were the one who stirred the hornet’s nest.”
“I suppose that’s true, but I can’t get the words the young witch said about her hatred of Kaiba Corporation.”
“I haven’t been in Kaiba Corporation inner workings for quite some time, but I can say one thing with confidence. As long as the professor works there, the young witch who attacked you has some kind of misunderstanding. He would never allow them to go down that path. He is the voice of conscience of that company, always has been for as long as I can remember. Some say he is also the unofficial mayor of the Compound 77 branch. I also know the witch’s union would also never allow such an atrocity on their watch. Despite some calling them a glorified labor union, they are enforcers that allow the voice of conscience to maintain his influence. They really respect him. Many people confide in him. I did too when I was there. It’s because of him that I continue to support Kaiba Corporation behind the scenes like I am in this investigation.”
“I see, thanks officer...huh, I never did catch your name. Sorry about that.”
“Hahaha, well, you were lecturing me about your name.”
“I hope you don’t expect me to apologize for that. Names are important.” I give her a scowling look.
“Of course not!” the officer slams her hands on the table. “Oops, got too carried away there.” as she blushes and waves her hands at me. “I would have felt really bad upon reading your memories to find out I had gotten your name wrong so I’m really glad you corrected me at the beginning. I’m Chief of the Settlement 24 Precinct, Officer Amana at your service. Now let me give you a ride home. I’m sure you must be eager to get home after such an ordeal”
“Thanks Chief Amana. I’ll take you up on that.” as I get up and follow officer Amana who escorts me out of the interrogation room
“Oh, uh, one last question” as I scratch my head embarrassed.
She grins mischievously. “Oh, I don’t think you have to worry about contracting any infections from when he kissed you.” giving me a wink. “The recovery team cast purifying magic on you and Hans to minimize risk of getting sick. They did notice you had dried blood on you.”
She really is good at reading me. I know she knows that isn’t exactly what I was looking to ask, but I know her wink is her way of telling me she doesn’t plan to share anything further. I’m really feeling the pangs of hunger now and I’m sure my brother must be worried about me since I never go home this late without letting him know in advance. If he happened to see the meteor as well, he may suspect I was indeed caught up in the event and it would be best to alleviate his worries by getting home as soon as possible.