Chapter 97:

Ticking Time Bomb - Part 1


“Why? Just explain to me why…?” The shortest member of the group kept asking as she and the kitsune carried the brunette inquisitor inside the bridge. “Why in the heavens your first reaction was knocking her?!”

“It’d be better than havin’ her notice the sea, ay?” Anna explained in turn, following the two ‘strongish’ girls with their bags. “Like if ya threw me somewhere very tall, it'd be sure better if I hadn't noticed.”

“Couldn’t you lie like usual and manage something?! This is your whole shtick, right?”

“I panicked, dammit! It ain’t easy to improvise somethin’ like this, y’know?”

“By the Circle…”

“W-what are you doing?” The white captain stopped her preparations towards the other three girls on the bridge, moving her eyes full of surprise at the new arrivals. “I-i-is she hurt? What… W-what happened?!”

“Col is weirdly heavy for a woman with no chest, isn’t she?” Minako set the fainted person on one corner of the room and then turned again to her awoken companions. “I feel she’s above a 100Kg even.”

“I won’t bore ya with the details, but her body’s real dense. There’s all there is, though. Lotta muscle and nothing more...” Anna’s explanation wasn’t helping with much to make people understand muscular hypertrophy but explaining it was a bother. Making the panicked Alya and her weirded-out officers calm down was more important too. “Anyway, she’s fine, whitey. Only sleepin’… Don’t ask the reason, by the way.”

“T-this… But… W-well…”The stuttering fairy kept trying to somehow organize her words, although the prospects of such weren’t very bright. Luckily, there was an easy escape from this subject now that Col was sleeping on the floor.

“Weren’t you going to explain something to us, Ms. Wessex? We can focus on other matters after that. Or better, we SHOULD focus on other matters later.” Karim changed the subject, approaching the captain’s chair and taking a good look at the small room while she did so.

"Yes… R-right, right… I have to explain the ship and how to use it, right?” She panicked, as usual, but still glanced towards the unconscious inquisitor as she did so. “B-but still…”

“One thing at a time, ay? We’ve other things to do too.” Then, the redhead promptly cut her again, wandering around the bridge in the meanwhile. And taking notes of how small this one was while she did so.

It was still weird how small this bridge was when compared to the Tortuga, but it was likely something connected with the abnormal design. All basics seemed to be set, though. And some, like the radios, seemed more advanced than the ones in the other ship Anna visited.

How its crew was only four girls, with the captain included, was a little weird but that was beyond the point.

From the looks of it, they had a radio operator doubling as the person controlling the emergency systems. Someone manning the radar and, by extension, the single turret’s fire control. And lastly, someone equipped with a different screen than the ones used by everyone else. What this one did was beyond the redhead's observation skills.

“Well… This s-ship is, is an experimental vessel." The Beehive's captain started her explanation, grabbing the attention of the unfocused inquisitor. "I-it's meant to infiltration and, well, airborne missions…”

“Airborne missions as if in…?

“This ship flies?! Is it a proper airship like the ones Col is always talking about?” Minako bulldoze through Karim’s question as the only thing she managed to get from that was the airborne bit. Differently from her, though, Annabeth knew how airships worked and was sure this one wasn’t one of them.

“This ain’t a flyin’ ship, so the airborne’s ‘bout the troops inside, ‘aight? I betcha it's why I only saw fairies inside 'ere too…”

“Yes, it’s, it’s closer to that, yes.” Alya went on with her hat now covering her eyes. “It was, well, it was somewhat my idea s-since fairies didn’t fit… didn’t fit well with the navy. The air force is more, more a-about the army, so t-they are… they are…”

“Let’s say they have a ‘might makes right’ mentality there, so ‘weaker’ races don’t do too well, right, Ms. Alya?” The cop concluded her compatriot’s words, likely saving a good minute or two for them, and then she continued with something even more complex. “But if the whole point is sending a boarding force, wouldn’t an even smaller boat do better? A proper warship that’s meant only to move flying marines seems redundant.”

“It’s also a lot less cool than a flying ship…” Minako complained, even if her words had something around very little to no value. They weren’t wrong, though, only unnecessary and unhelpful as it was somewhat of an obvious point.

“W-well… You see… This ship is special too. I-it tracks everyone and, and helps coordinate everything. It’s, it's… a-also very stealth. The admiral even vouched for me, so, so they would try an experimental barrier here…”

“Wait! A barrier like hers?!” The blondie pointed to her partner in surprise at seeing someone use what, in most definitions, was heretic magic. “Isn’t that against the laws?”

Minako’s use of ofudas was already a way of pushing the boundaries of sorcery, only being somewhat accepted because the kitsune were, in many cases, the ones making the rules, and its effects weren’t very flashy. But building what was, in all senses, a device meant to bend the rules of the world like a proper barrier was way too much.

This kind of thing could easily get someone arrested, or even worse. And still, all reaction Alya had was to somewhat lose the little cool she had left while failing to explain anything.

“I-I… I d-don’t… Well… It’s… I-I…”

“I don’t think she knows, y’know? Seems like li’l fairy ‘ere never thought ‘bout it… But to be fair, this ‘law’ of yers’ kinda dumb, ain’t it?”

“Keeping things proper isn’t dumb!” Karim turned to her partner with an expression filled with outrage and a good deal of anger. “What’s dumb is believing that, only because you can, you should play with higher rules made when this world was born. Isn’t that so, Minako?!”

“Huh? Me? I… Hmmm… I don’t really see the problem…” The kitsune answered in a troubled manner that was unusual of her. “Magic is magic, I think, so if it’s there, why shouldn’t we use it, maybe? I don't know? Go ask my mother!”

“Aren’t you a priest?! What kind of answer is that?”

Karim’s reaction was getting a little out of control by now, so it was better to disengage the situation as fast as possible. Still, even if she knew that, Annabeth had to say her bit as it would be against her own values to stay quiet.

“I said before, but yer seein’ things wrong if ya think ‘sorcery’ as ‘breakin’ rules’ or whatever... You can’t break the rules of nature, 'kay? Yer sorcery's only a way to apply the real rules instead of what y'all decided to be the truth 'round 'ere. And that’s all there is.”

And in answer to this, she received the closest she ever saw of a soul-freezing glare. But if it was due to a lack of arguments or overall unwillingness to keep going, the other party still retreated.

“I don’t want to hear this from an INQUISITOR, but this is going nowhere… Let’s change subjects then, okay?” The petite cop spoke with her hands holding her temples.

“What do we do with Colette?”