Chapter 4:

Vol. 1 ☆ Fragment 3: Erasure of Hope ~「Fragmented Light」

Scarlet Finale! / スカーレットフィナーレ!


After arriving at the second floor of the castle using a rather unorthodox way, Faith approached both girls who slowly got back on their feet. It seems like the situation had grown a lot more dangerous than what he initially expected. Eri’s older sister, May, is someone that he knew really well. If there was someone that wouldn’t go down so easily it was her, and yet, something was really wrong. If the information that Eri had been receiving claiming to be from May had come from somebody else, their enemy was on an entirely new level. Faith himself didn't have enough confidence about going against May without preparing accordingly beforehand. From now on he had to raise his caution level and prepare for anything.

“Eri.” Faith walked towards her, going straight to the point. “Aside from the information you have been receiving, have you talked with May directly at all?”

“?”

“How long has it been since you last contacted her?”

“It was last night after I told her I had met you two- no.” Eri remained silent. Being questioned by Faith had renewed a worry inside her heart. Deep inside, she knew something was off. That was the reason she decided to go out of her way to ask for help. She didn’t want to face it but… “Last night it was still messages through text. The last time I heard her voice was two days ago before she decided to infiltrate this location.”

“This isn’t looking good.” Faith brought a hand to his chin. “For now if you receive any more information let me know immediately.”

“Um.” Caroline raised her hand to speak, maybe it was better to give a positive twist to this situation. “What if May is safe but someone is hacking into her phone and making it look so she’s sending fake information?”

“Not a chance.” “No way!”

She was met with an immediate response from Faith and Eri. Their confidence on this person’s skills was truly admirable.

“Either way.” Faith started walking, reloading his gun with regular bullets once again. “You said this place only has three floors, correct? If she isn’t here we should be really close.”

“Wait, wasn’t there something special about the third floor?” Caroline could faintly recall that detail after looking at the data that Eri had received.

“Hm.” Eri pulled out her phone again.

The other two leaned in closer, taking a good look at what reflected on her screen. Looking at the layout of the castle, it felt strangely similar to a pyramid. The first floor was a lot bigger and wider compared to the hall in the second one, and then, all it showed for the final one was a smaller rectangle-shaped room. The structure of the location aside, the final floor was labeled with a blue color unlike the black and white map. Was there something special inside there?

This felt like a trap as well. If Eri’s was being manipulated with fake information, there could be nothing in that floor and they could be being led to another surprise attack. Was May really there?

While in the middle of his rampage Faith had covered most of the first floor, he could tell for a fact that she wasn’t there. Unlike the first floor, taking a quick glance at the second one made it clear that this location was mostly empty. Judging by the fact that the underground tunnel had connected to a bedroom up here, it was most likely that the second floor was just used as storage and a security room that could seal up the floor below was built in for good measure.

Faith pondered for a moment before deciding his next course of action. At the moment most of the organization members in the first floor were still locked inside there, it was unlikely that they would manage to reach this place through the hole on the roof that Faith had used. As for the members on the second floor, they were laid unconscious on the remains of the destroyed control room, focusing their forces on a single spot had backfired on them horribly.

The only option left was to move onward to the third and final floor of this location.

“It’s okay. We’ll find her for sure.” Faith gave Eri a soft pat on her head before walking forward and leading the way.

Seeing Faith showing even the smallest sign of affection like that was so unexpected for Caroline that she almost felt like questioning life itself for only a moment. Either way, it was time to get serious. If they were really close to their goal the most logical thing to expect is that there would be more enemies than before.

The three of them continued walking until they reached a final stairway that led into the final floor. This time, they were met with another roadblock. Instead of the steel shutters blocking the way to the first floor, this was a metallic door with another scanner on it. Given how the only other place with one had been a security system room, the fact that the next area was special had become undeniable.

“I think I can also open this door with the ID code that May sent me.” Eri sounded hesitant. “Should I do it?”

But before Faith could give her an answer, a small clicking sound came out from the door. The lock had been undone.

Faith frowned, they were clearly being led into that location on purpose but this was no time to turn back.

“Let’s go.” The black haired boy spoke decisively, reaching for the handle of the door.

Unlike the previous floors, just like what the map showed, the final one was one single larger rectangular-shaped room. It was almost like entering an empty movie theater that had all the chairs and the main screen removed.

At this point, even though she was still nervous, Eri felt a strange surge of excitement after seeing the duo walk inside the final room with no hesitation.

The room was vast and absurdly clean to the point it reeked from the smell of disinfectant.  The place was decorated with large windows that showed a beautiful view of the city's outskirts. Just like the previous floor, this one looked very empty. However, there was a metallic, sphere-like machine by one of the corners which stood out a lot. There were also a lot of screens spread across the room, they were attached to the walls and they all showed footage from different areas in the city at the same time.

“Hm…” Eri approached the machine with caution. Of course she wasn't going to touch any of the buttons on it, as tempting as it was.

“Ah, look! You can see our building from here!” Caroline pointed towards one of the screens suspended on the walls.

Faith crossed his arms. For an organization that was trying to take over the city, it wasn't too surprising that they would keep surveillance like that. But to think one of the screens would be focused on his company's building, just how important was that company in the first place? Or could it be that they were already targeting him after their previous encounter?

No, wait. Something was off. Something unrelated to the images on the screen. Faith was the first to realize but soon, it became obvious enough to the other two girls.

A familiar figure stood at the entrance of the room.

An old man held a large and menacing shotgun while pointing it directly towards Faith's head. The one who appeared before them was the owner of the shop they had visited last night, one of the organization's branch leaders.

Faith bit his lip in frustration. How could he let his guard down like this? If possible, he would have loved to reload his gun and destroy the enemy before him without a single ounce of remorse. But that wasn't an option anymore. He was in the direct range of the opponent's weapon. It wasn't a matter of being able to dodge or not at this point, it wouldn't be humanly possible at this distance. All of his options were sealed.

“It’s alright.” The man spoke. His voice was devoid of all emotion.

Caroline and Eri glanced at each other and then at Faith. If he wasn't in a position to do anything, it was up to them. But just what could they do in this kind of situation? If they were to take any sudden movements, not only would they put themselves in immediate danger but that could taunt the attacker into shooting Faith and ending his life in an instant. Was there anything they could do?

“This time I’ll purify you for sure, it’s for your own good."

But then, something startled Eri, it was a new message that had reached her phone. She moved her hand towards her pocket ever so slowly, she knew she wasn’t in the position to make any sudden movements but the timing of this message didn’t seem to be a coincidence. 

Could the answer she needed be there? Was a way out of this situation there?

Eri’s fingers gently pulled her phone out of her skirt, but as she did, the man’s fingers began to bury into the trigger of his weapon. Without hesitation, he shot the bullet, but Eri had reached the screen of her phone at the same time. The message she had seen wasn’t just random data this time, it was a direct order. It had told her to read a special message out loud. Could this really work? Could this change anything? But there was no time to hesitate.

As the bullet flew towards Faith at full speed, Eri let out her voice, reading the special code in the message.

Luminescence 7468!!

“?!”

A large blast of pristine light ran across the air and engulfed the bullet that ran towards Faith’s direction. Despite making direct contact, it continued to fly, moving towards the branch leader of the organization. This was more than enough time for Faith to roll out of the man’s range and point his weapon back at him. Caroline readily stepped forward, standing next to Faith and ready to provide support.

At the moment, no one in the room had paid enough attention to realize, but the blast of light had come from the strange machine at the corner of the room. It had reacted to Eri’s code.

“How dare you.” The man spoke. He had been struck by the beam of light, but strangely enough, he didn’t appear to have taken any physical damage. “How dare you!!!!”

He screamed, but as he did, his voice became distorted and his very figure became engulfed by a strange white light, almost as if he was being asphyxiated by it.

“How dare you defy my hope!!!!!!!!!!!”

His screams became distorted and his lips moved into a grin. Even though he was getting ready to point his weapon at Faith once again, his head dangled to the side and his eyes had all become consumed by the light, almost as if he was being possessed.

“Eri, stay back.” Faith stepped forward without taking his eyes away from the man.

“I guess we shouldn’t touch that light or it’ll get ugly, huh?” Caroline cracked her fingers.

“HOW DARE YOU!!!!!!!!!!”

The possessed man dashed towards them at an unnatural speed, charging towards them like a mad bull. The first one to make a move was Caroline, she met the man’s attack by burying her knee deep into his stomach. But the man didn’t stagger; it was almost like he was unable to feel any pain anymore and almost as though the light consuming him was making him bulkier.

Taking the chance, Faith released multiple bullets towards the man but they were never able to reach their target. Instead, they became engulfed and absorbed by the light.

Strangely enough, despite still carrying a weapon, the man decided to attack using his body. No, it was more accurate to say that the attacks he launched were a mix of his physical strength and the very light that possessed him. Letting out a powerful scream, the light around him exploded into a blast that sent both Faith and Caroline flying into the air and crashing just behind Eri.

The black haired girl panicked, if those two couldn’t handle this kind of opponent there was nothing that she could do. Moreover, the scene that was taking place before her wasn’t something she could accept so easily. Just what was this?!

But the other two weren’t about to give up so easily. Faith and Caroline both got up on their feet, decisiveness reflected in their eyes.

“I told you it would be okay.” Faith spoke, this time reloading the Scarlet Grimoire with his special Burst Bullets. “Believe in me.”

Giving Caroline a quick glance, the two charged towards the possessed man. This time, neither would hold back. If their usual fighting style wouldn't work, then all they had to do was to find another way to break through.

With Caroline charging at the front, this time the man went with a super charged punch, but the brunette ducked, sliding down in the floor and jumping behind him. Before he could turn around and go for her, Faith had forcefully unplugged one of the screens that were suspended by the wall and slammed it into his head at full force.

Coordinating their strike, Caroline jumped up high, roundhouse kicking the man’s face at the same time. Of course, dealing with someone possessed was no easy task. He had managed to take hold of Caroline’s leg, but the super part-timer wouldn’t go down so easily. Still in midair, she used her free leg to let out a great strike against the man’s neck.

Immediately, Faith kicked his feet, forcing him to lose balance and fall on his back. This was enough for him to let go of Caroline who jumped back. 

While this strategy had worked in order to deal with the human side of their opponent, what stood before them looked anything but human. The light surrounding his body exploded once more, releasing a burst of waves that ran towards the two of them. 

Caroline was barely given any time for her to regain her balance from the last attack. She threw herself to the side. As the light missed her and crashed against the floor, it exploded into a powerful blast. The light-blue scarf girl ran for it to get away from the incoming bursts, running from what became a great blast zone. A strong burning sensation engulfed her arm just from being barely grazed by the light, she didn't want to know what would happen if something like that made direct contact. 

Faith made sure to dodge the incoming blasts as well, but he was well aware that this beast wasn't going to make any distinctions between who were its opponents and who was a simple bystander. As he expected, a massive beam of light shot towards Eri next, almost as if trying to get revenge on the person who had awakened this kind of state. 

The black haired boy knew he wouldn't be able to get to Eri in time, outrunning that attack wasn't an option. That's why he decided to face it head on. He stood right in front of the upcoming beam and released a massive blast using his weapon. The destructive burst from the Scarlet Grimoire split the incoming beam of light in two. 

As the great attack of light was cut into a V-shape and unleashed its destruction against the corners of the room, Faith began running forward while releasing multiple burst shots. He began forcing his way closer to his opponent. 

The temperature in the room heated up like a sauna as multiple beams of light flew in all directions, bouncing off the walls and floors, all of them desperately trying to stop the black haired boy. The zone around the possessed man had become a maze of burning light, it wasn't a territory a simple human could just step in. In fact, Caroline had found herself unable to get any closer because of that. 

And yet, that boy still pressed onward. 

It had taken him four Burst Bullets to cut down the space between him and his enemy. The beams of light missed him by millimeters as he continued to run with all his might. All of his movements had the quality of a professional, he moved all of his limbs and body down to every single finger with an exact pace and precision to dodge the incoming attacks.

And then, the Scarlet Grimoire entered a good range to make direct contact with the possessed man. 

The body of the beast was flung far away and into the ceiling by a devastating blast. The light surrounding him followed along, leaving a soft, fading trail as it all crashed with an explosive noise. 

Caroline still couldn't believe her eyes, what she had witnessed was unreal, but this was her chance to move back to safety. She used this chance to run back to where Faith was. They were back to their original positions as the beast then collapsed into the floor. 

Even after that attack, that beast slowly but surely stood up again. 

Faith still had one Burst Bullet left, would that be enough? Would he have time re-load again? But something was off. Even though the man stood up once again, something had changed. 

After taking so much damage, the light that was surrounding him had started to fade away. No, it was more accurate to say that it was starting to get absorbed into his body.

From the very start and judging by the way he was fighting, it didn’t seem like he was taking any conscious decisions anymore. It was more like fighting a wounded beast. And now, he remained on the spot, grasping his chest while looking at the two with lifeless eyes.

Looking at him, you would think that for just a moment, he was starting to regain his own consciousness.

And then, a loud, cracking echoed across the large room.

Everyone's eyes opened wide in shock.

They had all become so absorbed the paranormal happening before them that they didn’t notice when someone else had entered the room. They had approached slowly and silently.

In an instant, they had released a rapid strike against the left side of the man’s neck. The impact was so grand that the man was knocked out in one hit.

This time, that beast did not stand up again. It didn't look like he was able to anymore.

The person who now stood before them sighed and crossed their arms as they stared directly at Faith, Caroline and Eri.

Was it someone on their side, or were Faith and the others their next target?

Their figure reflected on their eyes, someone strong enough to take down their attacker in one hit had appeared.

And yet, the moment Eri got a proper look at that person, her face lit up.

“Sister!”

“You really need to be more careful.” The person Eri had called her sister wasn't too pleased. “Especially you, Faith. It’s not like you to let your guard down so easily.”

“May.” The boy with red eyes scratched his head. He took a deep breath, but even if he was relieved about being out of danger, he was still shaken up by this encounter. “I don’t want to hear that from the person that let herself get kidnapped by these weaklings."

Caroline was the only one who remained confused, she had met Eri before but May wasn’t present at that moment. She couldn’t help but to stare curiously at the tall girl.

The girl’s face resembled Eri, however, she was clearly older and more mature.

Her hair was of black color. In contrast of her sister she had the bangs and parts of her hair dyed in blue color and a matching blue ribbon sat on top of her head. Part of her hair was tied into a braid, which fell to the side over her well-endowed chest.

She wore a large dark blue sweater, it reached all the way down her legs which were covered with black thigh-highs. She was really tall and it was common for people to assume she was some kind of model because of her attractive figure.

Caroline wasn’t sure why, but she found herself slightly blushing just by looking at her.

"At any rate-” The girl with the blue ribbon pulled out a phone from her pocket.

The light on the screen reflected on her clear silver eyes as she started browsing for information.

“If Faith is here you may already be aware that someone was sending you information using my name.” May crossed her arms. “Somehow, they have managed to bypass even my network, I can’t take this lightly.”

But despite this, Faith’s wasn’t paying too much attention to her words.

His attention was driven somewhere else.

It was driven towards a sudden, eerie feeling.

It was almost as though the temperature of the entire room had dropped significantly.

The images on all the screens in the room began to disperse. Soon the only image that remained in the screens was a blinding bright red color.

Faith was assaulted by the loud noise of static as a piercing pain enveloped his head.

His sight became distorted.

And yet, in the midst of it all, he could see a clear image.

He could see the image of May collapsing accompanied by the sound of a gunshot.

His eyes opened wide in surprise, it was as if everything had turned back to normal. Heat was returning to his body, giving him a sensation as though he had just woken up.

May who was standing in front of him suddenly stopped speaking after noticing the blank expression in his face.

His eyes scanned the room once again but the images in the screens around the room hadn’t changed at all.

All that remained in his head was a slight sensation of static running around mixed with a piercing headache.

He started to doubt if he really did see that image or if it was just his mind messing with him and giving him that impression. But the unpleasant feeling remained.

Caroline and Eri all had a blank expression as well, he could easily read the confusion in their faces. Had the same happened to them just now?

It had been only seconds but the pressure put by this bad feeling was rising up.

Caroline and Eri both slightly moved forward but then stopped themselves immediately. They were both trying to dismiss this as the work of their imagination.

Faith tried to do the same, but before he realized it, he was running forward.

He couldn’t tell why he had chosen to do it. He couldn’t tell what this would do, but he couldn’t stop himself.

May didn't know how to react. Why was Faith running towards her with such visible worry in his face? What did he see? What was happening? Despite not knowing anything she couldn't help but to grow anxious with expectation. With a swift movement, Faith finally reached her. He stepped next to her and tackled her with a lot of force.

The tall braided girl rapidly lost her balance and rolled across the cold floor together with Faith.

The sound of a gunshot resounded right after.

The man who was supposed to have been knocked down earlier had his arm raised upwards.

He was holding a gun and still lying on the ground. May had been stepping in front of him before, so no one really noticed his actions.

He had been waiting for a perfect chance to make his comeback, had Faith not done anything, his bullet would have pierced May's back.

May stared at the scene with shock. She had been seconds away from being killed without even realizing it.

Faith promptly stood up and stepped on the man’s wrist, forcing him to let go of his weapon and taking it away. He then pointed his gun at the man, making sure he wouldn’t try to do anything else.

May took a deep breath as she sat on the floor. She focused on her phone once again and began checking it in order to confirm some more information.

“Are you alright?” Caroline crouched down while staring into her silver eyes. Their beautiful radiance was drawing her in.

“Yeah.” Despite May's cold and uninterested tone, her voice was shaking a little.

Caroline could tell she was trying to ignore what happened and trying put herself together again.

The girl with the light blue scarf sat down next to May and stared at her phone’s screen curiously for a few seconds.

“Oh right-!” Caroline realized she still hadn’t introduced herself. “I’m Caroline. I’m a new employee at Faith’s company.”

May replied without moving her sight from her phone’s screen as she continued to look up some more information, it was clear she was the one sending data to Eri before.

“I’m May. I’m Eri’s older sister and Faith’s cousin." The girl with the blue ribbon sighed and decided to take action, wasting time was one of the things she hated the most. "The one that you defeated was the organization’s branch leader, I looked into him but he wasn’t the one sending you fake information using my name. Let's keep going, I need to get to the bottom of this.”

The tall braided girl stood up, acting as though nothing had happened but her body betrayed her own mind. Her shaking legs broke down her balance in an instant.

Acting almost by reflex, Caroline stood up and extended her arms, catching the girl before she would collapse. With May being this close, Caroline's senses were assaulted by her sweet aroma.

Carried away by Caroline's warmth, May rested her head on her shoulder.

"I have to admit I was scared... just a little bit." Being honest wasn't her specialty at all.

“There there, it’s alright now.” Caroline patted her back and gently caressed her hair to reassure her.

“We are done!” Eri spoke up, calling their attention.

While May and Caroline were speaking, she and Faith had tied up the man and covered his mouth so he couldn’t speak either.

May snapped back into her senses and jumped away from Caroline, dusting off her clothes while hiding her embarrassed face.

“This man is supposed to be the Chief of this base. I’d like you to check him to see if he has a key with him.”

May‘s specialty was to handle machines and software. Just now while fiddling with her phone, she had gathered enough information to know where they should go next, but that’s why the situation had become so frustrating. Before meeting up with them, she had wandered around the castle on her own, but at some point she was able to detect someone had started to send false information to her sister. Despite this, whoever it was, had also enough control to prevent May from being able to do anything at all.

“Here.” Faith handed her a small silver key. “I was trying to find the keys for my motorcycle, but those weren’t there.”

“Hmm.” May examined the key for a few seconds. “This should do by now."

She walked towards the sphere-like machine in the corner of the room and inserted the key in a small slot just next to it. A holographic screen appeared from the sphere-like machine accompanied by a keyboard that floated in the air.

The screen was requesting a password to proceed.

"Hey cousin, can you give it back now?” Eri asked.

“Right.” He pulled out a tiny metal tube out of his pocket and handed it to Eri.

The girl with a red ribbon pressed a button, making it grow into a megaphone. She approached the man who they had previously knocked out and tied up. She carefully pressed the megaphone against his forehead.

Eri then moved her lips closer to the megaphone and whispered “Password.”

After pressing a few more buttons, the man’s voice echoed out from the device.

“4…2…4…2”

May rapidly used those numbers as the required password. Instantly the spherical machine she was operating moved to the right, revealing a path with stairs going down.

“Eri! All of those gadgets you have are really something!” Caroline couldn’t help but to be impressed.

“Hehehe, I know right? My sister made them after all! ☆”

“It’s impressive! You can even mind read using them!”

“Not exactly.” May cut in. “Reading the mind is complicated. Its functions are still pretty limited, so getting something like a string of numbers, or a password, is easy. But anything beyond that would be impossible.” May shrugged, given her knowledge this was probably something really simple to her.

“Let’s go.” Faith pulled out his gun and started to walk down the stairs. He wasn't about to let his guard down again.

Everyone else nodded and carefully followed behind.

The moment they left, there was a small clicking noise. It was as if the locks to the doors leading into the room had become undone but none of them managed to listen to it in time.

Once below, there was a really large and fancy room. It had a large machine full of screens and buttons in one side of the wall. The place was significantly colder as well.

It also had some stairs that led towards a small area below while still in the same room.

As soon as they arrived, May connected her phone to the machine with a cable and started pressing some buttons on one of its keyboards.

Caroline and Eri stood by the entrance to keep guard while Faith looked at the area below.

“The motorcycle is here!” Faith was filled with relief from reuniting with his trusted vehicle.

“The keys are here too.” May held them in her hands. They had been placed just behind the keyboard. Likely, it was because they didn’t expect anyone to access this room in the first place.

She then hurled the keys towards Faith without removing her sight from the screen before her and without stopping to use her other hand to control the keyboard.

“This bastard.” Faith couldn't let it go. In the end he only ended up tied up because Faith didn't want to cause a scene in front of everyone, otherwise his fate would have been much worse.

He had managed to catch the keys without problem, but had failed to start the vehicle with them.

“It seems he messed around with it. He added some weird security system to prevent it from starting.” Faith stared at a small screen that appeared in the center of his vehicle, just by the handles. “These kind of machines can be so inconvenient sometimes… I can undo it but it’ll take me a bit.”

May who wasn’t paying attention to Faith suddenly slammed her fist against the machine in front of her with anger.

“What happened?” Caroline asked.

“This place is a big decoy! It’s not the real base for the Organization of Hope, it seems this location was put here to throw off people, so the person using my name might as well not be here at all!!”

“What? But wasn’t that guy we fought earlier the chief? Plus the people here were the people that attacked cousin and Caro before too!” Eri scratched her head in confusion.

“Yes, they were. But to put it simple, even though some people were active here, none of the actual high ranked people are involved with this location. So even if this place is taken down, the organization can still remain fully operational.”

“In other words, the big shots are just hiding away somewhere while messing around with people, huh?”

From the start May had infiltrated them to try finding out more information on this organization and to take them down for good. At this rate all of this was for nothing on the large scale of things.

“Uh-oh.” Caroline who was looking at the entrance of the room spoke. She still wasn't able to see anything but she was able to easily hear something approaching.

Eri was able to notice as well. Of course, she was in no position to fight so she was quick to warm them all.

“I think I’m hearing some footsteps coming towards here!"

"Five minutes.” May held up her left hand as she continued to operate on the keyboard with her right one. “Can you buy me five minutes?”

“Same here.” Faith added as he continued to try and fix his Motorcycle.

His vehicle ran operated by advanced technology as well, so he was messing with some options on the small screen.

“I’ll do it.”

This was bad. Eri had the feeling the two most reliable people she's ever known were relying on her this time. Even if she wanted to avoid this, she felt obligated to take action. With this, Eri pushed a button in her bracelet. Suddenly she had gained the appearance of the chief of this base.

She pulled a red cape from out of the pocket of her skirt, unfolded it, and swung it in front of her. Her clothes had also changed to those of the chief.

“It’s really dangerous, please be careful.”

Caroline warned her. Usually she would run and beat up the attackers but she didn't really know what was the extent of Eri's abilities, if she said she would do it, she saw no problem letting her.

“No worries!” Eri reassured her and started walking out of the room and up into the stairs where the footsteps were coming from.

“Did you bring the car with you?” May asked and Caroline nodded.

“Here.” Faith hurled the keys for the car towards the area above where May was. It was the car they had taken from Eri who was disguised as an old man the night before.

“Thanks.” May managed to catch the keys and placed them next to the keyboard while she continued to check on the machine.

"What are you planning to do?” Faith asked. He knew May well enough to take a good guess, but he still tried to confirm.

"I am setting up this base for self-destruction in seven minutes from now.”

“You’ll destroy it?” Caroline asked sounding a little disappointed.

The place itself wasn’t so bad if it wasn’t for all the waves of people inside trying to kill them.

“It may not be the core base but doing this should cause some sort of reaction from the higher ups. In the meantime, I’m downloading some data from the main server. I’ll use it to find out the location for the real base and about that bastard who was using my name. It’ll only take four more minutes. It’s currently at 25%”

“How the hell do you plan for us to escape in time?” This is why Faith didn't want to get involved with May. Her sudden rash decisions always made them end up in situations like this.

“This room is also connected to the underground passageway they use to transport items of importance. This is why your motorbike was parked here.” May of course was always two steps ahead, the moment she decided to set this in motion is because she knew the exit was close enough.

In the meantime, Eri was speaking with five members of the organization that were approaching the room where May and the others were.

“C-Chief?! Are you okay?!” One of them yelled surprised.

“Yes. It got a little rough but it turned out fine.”

Eri replied while completely faking her voice to make it sound like the old man who attacked them.

“Wait, but we just saw you tied up by the entrance!”

“That was a fake, I have already taken care of them so you can rest assured.”

“What about the intruders?”

“They have all been taken care of as well. I have taken them to the hostage room myself.”

“Wait-” One of the members stopped for a moment to think.

Did they realize? Eri was trying to ignore how lightheaded she was getting. For Faith and the others to face these people head on, they were really impressive. Eri would always tag along but she felt like she never had a purpose. Even now, she didn't know what she would do if this were to fail.

“We don’t have a hostage room."

A beeping noise made Eri open her eyes wide.

The battery of her bracelet had reached 0%. The device turned off by itself and her real appearance was revealed.

"Well…” Eri smiled nervously. What now? The only option was to run for it, right? “You should really get one, make it nice too!”

All of the organization members glared at her ready to attack immediately.

With trembling hands, she rapidly pulled out her megaphone, set it to max output and screamed into it, hurting the ears of the members and giving her enough time to run away.

“Eri?”

Caroline took a step forward the moment she heard her voice but Faith had already jumped up the stairs and ran towards Eri’s direction.

“54%”

May’s sight was still locked on the screen of her phone as the download continued.

The process was going fast, but their time was running out.

Caroline took a deep breath, she was unsure on what to do, but she was ready to help in any way she could.

“60%"

Faith and Eri walked back into the room. Faith had knocked down the people that were after Eri, but chances were that even more were on their way.

"It’s stuck at 60%!!” May screamed, for the first time she started to panic, something outside of her calculations happened. The download bar wasn’t moving at all.

“Wait- but that means-” Faith froze on the spot.

“Please buy me more time.” May replied.

Her pride wouldn’t let her lose, however, the countdown for the self-destruction of the base continued to run. It wasn’t something May had an option to undo anymore.

“Let’s go.” Faith pulled on Eri’s arm, taking her towards the place where his motorcycle was. He was already done fixing it.

“65%. Please go ahead.”

May pressed more buttons, opening a door in the lower area that led towards the underground path.

Faith got on the motorcycle and Eri sat on the back while holding tightly unto him.

“See you at the company’s building.” Even though they were simple words, Faith said this because he believed they would be able to make it out despite the circumstances.

"Caro! I know sis can be really reckless so please look after her!"

With this, the two dashed away at full speed. Only Caroline and May remained.

Both the countdown for self-destruction and the download for the organization’s core data continued.

“74%”

Caroline was making sure to guard the entrance, but she felt a surge of unease as her eyes met with the screen of the machine May was controlling. She saw there were only two more minutes left for the self-destruction of the base.

“There they are!” Two more organization members walked into the room. They all looked to be around the same age as her.

Caroline went on the offensive.

She kicked one on their chest, twirled, and kicked the other one against the wall. Both were unconscious with a single hit.

“87%”

Caroline continued to protect May as more people walked into the room in pairs and sometimes in trios. Despite the overwhelming amount of organization members coming wave after wave, they were still pushovers. Of course, pushovers only for someone like Caroline.

She knocked them out and disarmed them one after another and another. It was tiring but Caroline still managed to keep up.

“97%”

Caroline’s eyes met with the screen once more. It was less than a minute before the self-destruction of the base. At this rate, it would be impossible for them to escape if they waited any longer.

She was unsure on what to do. The information May was gathering was important, but she couldn’t let her die here either.

After kicking away another attacker, Caroline quickly grabbed the keys for the car which were lying next to the keyboard. May looked at her but she couldn’t react fast enough.

Caroline forcefully unplugged May’s phone and put it inside her pocket. She then grabbed May by her waist and lifted her up.

She threw May’s weight into her shoulders and started to run towards the exit Faith had taken and into the underground path.

“Wait!! I was almost there!"

"I apologize. But- if we both die here then there’s no point to it!” Caroline scolded her while running with all of her might. Why was this person complaining at a time like this?!

“But-!!” May struggled, trying to get down and go back but Caroline’s grip on her only got stronger.

“Aren’t you a genius for this kind of thing? You can figure it out later! It’s not like you can figure this out if you are dead! I thought I wouldn’t need to explain this to someone as smart as you!!”

Caroline’s yelled. The image of such a calm girl losing her composure only made May want to fight back even more.

May’s struggle was making things more difficult than they should have been. The punches on her back, kicks around her waist, and bites on her shoulder made it harder for Caroline to move further.

It wasn’t like her to get worked up, but she definitely couldn’t allow this.

The sound of an explosion resounded. The self-destruction for the base had started.

Caroline was fully aware they were only midway through the underground tunnel's exit. She started to have her doubts whether or not they could make it.

The floor below them began to tremble and the entire place had surely started to fall apart. At this rate they would be buried under the rubble of the castle.

Caroline took a deep breath, she held May even tighter and ran as fast as she could. Little pieces of rubble fell on her hair and her arms. The place was truly about to collapse at any moment now.

A large boulder fell just on the spot where she had stepped seconds ago and most of the path behind her had already collapsed as well. Caroline however, didn’t panic. All she could do was to do her best and run with all her might.

She could see the entrance before her but she knew she couldn’t make it.

If it came down to this she didn’t want for May to die too. She wanted to be useful enough to save someone at least.

And so, in the middle of the crisis, Caroline focused all of her strength on her arms and hurled May towards the area outside the underground tunnel. With this she could surely save her.

May couldn’t accept this.

It all happened in an instant.

The moment Caroline let go of her, just as she flew across the air, May managed to grab unto Caroline’s arm and harshly pulled on it.

Caroline’s mind couldn’t keep up with what just happened. The next thing she knew her feet had left the ground thanks to May's impulse.

The two flew across the air and rolled on the solid ground after having a hard landing.

The underground tunnel collapsed completely but both had managed to make it out.

Caroline still couldn’t believe she was still alive. Her entire body was in pain but there was not enough time to stay there any longer.

She glanced at May who was quickly starting to stand up. They made eye contact for just a moment but May quickly looked away and gave her back to Caroline.

"We don't have any time to lose. Let's leave this place immediately." Now that it came to this, May only wanted to leave.

This person was really a handful, even more so than Faith. But Caroline was still proud that she managed to save her. Looking into May's intimidating face, her response was a simple smile.

With this, the two rushed towards the car that waited for them close by. There was no way Caroline would let someone like this drive so she let May take the passenger seat.

After starting up the car, Caroline drove away at full speed. The castle behind them exploded and collapsed as they got farther and farther away. 

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