Chapter 16:

Blind Spots and Misdirection

The Leigh Theory

Mom and dad would've been proud of us.

After not seeing each other for so long, our first objective was to head straight to the battlefield. With the current state of the world, I couldn't ask for a better reunion.

According to Van, agents like him belonged to an elite group called Exalted. They were under the Supreme Leader and were involved with direct orders.

The Exalted were people whose bodies were modified using Arq Shards. They possessed superhuman strength and had exoskeleton suits that had specific abilities. If Megan and Reese's fighting ability and teamwork weren't enough to beat my brother, then I might not be able to survive if I faced someone like him.

"Please make me arrive on time…" Van muttered as he grimaced while we headed northwest.

Having a newfound direction in life, Van poured all of his strength into every leap. Moments later, Porifa City's walls were within reach.

Van jumped over the city walls and landed on a crowded spot. As soon as we arrived, he sheathed the daggers, causing the exoskeleton to retract. The people panicked a little, but we tried to ignore them as I followed my brother, who seemed to be searching for something. Or someone.

"Finally! I've been waiting for you, Nyx!"

The voice came out of nowhere. We scanned the area but saw no one talking to us. I then looked up, and to our left, a man with the same uniform as Van was sitting on the edge of a three-story building and staring at us.

Van swallowed as soon as the man jumped off the building. The ground cracked as he landed loudly, causing the people to flee.

"Why haven't you reported back to HQ? You know there's no way of contacting people nowadays, right?" the man asked.

"Calu, I'm not going back," Van responded nervously.

I remembered that he told me the Exalted used codenames to refer to each other. I went beside him and placed my hand on his right shoulder to let him know he wasn't alone.

"I see what's going on," Calu said as he raised an eyebrow and nodded.

He then performed a series of stretches and jumped up and down rapidly. Claws appeared from his gloves, then went into a stance with his arms lowered to the side, diagonally. He was getting ready for a fight.

I activated my shield and wrist blade and rushed toward him without knowing if I could beat him or even put up a fight. All I knew was we needed to stop him before he could destroy the city.

"Oliver, wait!" Van yelled as I headed straight to Calu.

I felt the same forceful impact as with Van from earlier as his claws hit my shield. He then sprang back as soon as I went for a slash.

In a blink of an eye, he suddenly leaped towards me and kicked me in the chest. I got knocked back and stumbled as I failed to block it.

I noticed he didn't have an exoskeleton suit, yet he was already on par with Van. That was when I realized I didn't stand a chance, and suddenly, a gust of wind blew by as I tried to get back up.

Calu got caught off guard as Van lunged with his spear, stabbing him in his right abdomen. He grinned while walking backward, slowly detaching the spear as blood gushed out from his stab wound. He fell to the ground and laughed while holding his injury.

“You missed,” Calu said as he panted heavily while slowly getting up. He then shook his head and continued.

“I don’t know why he chose you as a personal agent, even though I’m way better and stronger.”

Calu grimaced as he regained his balance. A few seconds later, the blood flow had stopped as his wound suddenly closed. He then placed his right hand on his middle back and tapped something.

A slightly thinner exoskeleton sprang from his back and attached to his extremities. Metal pieces then coated his hands and feet, and long claws popped out as he got on all fours.

“Thank you for turning your back on us. You just gave me the chance to prove myself to him!” Calu exclaimed as he pounced at us, ready to strike with his claws.

My brain was able to react, but my body couldn’t keep up. I knew I had to put up my shield, but I couldn’t move while Van, on the other hand, got into a defensive stance with his spears when all of a sudden…

A valkyrie had descended and flapped her wings as she rushed towards the battlefield.

The lady intercepted the leaping Calu with her battleax and flung him away. She was equipped with a similar exoskeleton but had wings extending from the back. She turned to us, and then I realized who she was.

"A-Aquila?!" Van asked in a surprised manner.

"Oho! I'm about to hit a bird and a cat with one stone! " Calu yelled as he got back on his feet.

Van and the lady rushed to him, leaving me on the ground. Leo went to my side and asked who the guy was. Behind us were the rest of Omen, standing by.

"That's my brother, Van. He was the guy Megan and Reese were fighting earlier," I explained to Leo.

Leo looked shocked after hearing it from me and turned to the Exalted. We were both amazed by how they moved as they fought.

"Hey, was that Miss Georgia?!" I asked aggressively while grabbing Leo's shoulders.

"Yeah! Trust me, I was surprised as well!" he responded while he did the same thing.

I didn't expect Georgia to move and fight like she wasn't bedridden when I met her. She looked amazing and seemed like a real valkyrie from movies and books.

The Exalted were on another level as they clashed; Calu fought like a savage wolf, Van dashed across the battlefield like a cheetah, and Georgia maneuvered herself in the air like an eagle. Given the situation, Omen and I didn't know when and where to find an opening.

Injuries didn't stop them as their bodies simply regenerated. After exchanging a couple of fatal hits, Van and Georgia inflicted severe wounds on Calu.

Megan approached us while Van and Georgia retreated to our spot to catch their breaths. She then glared at Van and walked towards him but was stopped by Georgia. She must’ve recognized Van as the man they faced earlier.

"Let's settle that later. Right now, we need to either stab the heart or attack with something that could inflict damage faster than the body could regenerate," Georgia said as she held Megan's shoulders.

Even with their speed and power, they couldn’t land a clean hit on Calu. I thought Van and I would be enough, but it seemed like I underestimated our enemy. All of us went silent, then Georgia muttered under her breath.

"If only the cannon has been comple–"

"Oliver's gun once destroyed five armored Paradise vans at once!" Megan and Leo exclaimed in unison, interrupting Georgia.

I didn't know if the Lightning Ball would be enough since Eli lowered its power output for prolonged use. Although unsure, I shifted my shield to the Lightning Gun as Van and Georgia stared at me.

"Alright, let's make a plan around Oliver," Georgia said, then turned to Megan and ordered her to lead the people away in case I would miss. Fair point, I would say.

"Enough fun and games!" Calu exclaimed as he reached for his back.

"The Limiter," Van muttered as he looked furiously at Calu.

Electric sparks suddenly appeared around Calu's body, burning a little of his uniform, as he removed a small rectangular device from his back and threw it to the ground. Georgia clicked her tongue and continued to explain the plan to us.

Calu let out a menacing laugh and then sprang towards us, interrupting us. Van and Georgia intercepted him while I started charging the gun as I got away with Leo.

We crept towards Van and Georgia and caught Van’s gaze, signaling us to hurry behind them. Georgia landed on the ground and spread her wings as Van jumped in front of her. Calu took the bait and attacked rapidly, pushing them backward.

The four of us lined up perfectly with Van in the front. Georgia was behind him, covering me with her wings, and at the back was Leo, waiting for the cue.

"Do your best to match our timing."

I suddenly recalled what Georgia said to us right before we got interrupted. Like me, I knew Leo doubted whether he could execute the plan properly.

As soon as Calu lunged with his left claw, Van and Georgia simultaneously jumped to the left and right, respectively. In that split second, Leo hopped to his left and fired with his laser pistol.

Calu averted his gaze to Leo and grinned as he ducked to his left, dodging the laser. He then prepared to pounce at him, like a wild animal locking on his prey. Little did he know, we had him where we wanted him to be.

I hid behind Georgia's wings as Leo directed Calu's line of sight to him. As soon as he ducked, I had him at point-blank range.

"Please don't miss," I muttered to myself as I aimed the fully charged Lightning Gun at his face.

Having noticed the glow in the corner of his eye and the crackling sound of electricity, Calu attempted to turn his head. I then grabbed that window of opportunity and immediately fired the gun.

I suddenly remembered the explosion and the drawback it created just moments before the Lightning Ball left the barrel. I was more concerned with the three as I didn't care what would happen to my body.

As the Lightning Ball struck Calu, it erased the electrical surges on his body, but, surprisingly, it didn't create even a minimal explosion. I feared the attack wasn't enough, and our plan was a complete failure.

I almost lost hope, but I regained my composure as soon as I saw the determination on everyone's faces as they prepared for a follow-through. I then got myself back and didn't stop moving as I attacked with my wrist blade.

Everyone froze as Calu suddenly bellowed in agony when electric sparks appeared again on his body. He then threw himself to the ground and started thrashing as he tried reaching for something in his back, wounding himself with his claws.

He shook violently for a few seconds and then eventually stopped. Smoke appeared from his body, and his uniform was a bit burned.

Van checked on Calu while Omen hurried and rushed towards us. Leo went beside me as I inspected the Lightning Gun. It wasn't as hot as before, and, thankfully, the bracer was still intact.

I felt ecstatic as the feeling of accomplishing something and successfully executing the plan sank into my body.