City Series:Volume3a Chapter 9
Act 9: Verdict of Normality (3:31)
Taking Chatham Road north from Tsim Sha Tsui for twenty minutes on foot brought one to the eastern Hung Hom region of the Kowloon Peninsula.
If the shopping districts such as Tsim Sha Tsui were Hong Kong’s face, then this manufacturing district was the city’s body.
It was filled with factories and high-class residential areas for the nouveau riche who kept Hong Kong’s economy running.
Unlike the shopping districts, the region was filled with bright Lives that lacked any heat.
Or it normally did.
Ma Tau Wai Road cut east to west through Hung Hom. Akira ran east down it with Gunmal and she could not help but voice her opinion of the odd Lives surrounding the streets of Hung Hom.
They were Lives of alarm.
The fifth alarm ringing throughout Hong Kong was transforming the streets of Hung Hom.
Having subconsciously noticed, the people were trying to flee that region.
Cars flooded the roads and the sidewalks were even more crowded than usual. Everyone was moving west, away from Hung Hom and away from the Kowloon Peninsula as a whole.
Their voices were all filled with doubts and unease.
Akira found it hard to breathe under the auditory pressure of their Lives.
…This is harsh.
“Don’t you think it’s that alarm’s fault? Yeah, I can feel it tingling from my brain down to my toes.”
“You sound like that makes you happy.”
Akira avoided the people while replying to Gunmal’s comment. Everyone on the sidewalk carried large bags and a lot of them had children with them. The two ran as well as they could without getting in the people’s way.
“Akira, it would definitely be faster if you flew.”
“But what about you? You don’t know where the thermal power station is, right?”
“Don’t worry. I’ll ask a police officer to show me the way.”
…And where are you going to find that police officer?
“There’s one right in front of- Hey, don’t ignore my clever joke.”
They continued running.
“There aren’t any people on the sidewalks anymore. Is it because only the roads are clogged up?”
“Hm. I guess you could say manpower won out over civilization.”
“That is not what it means. …Oh, we take a left at this signal.
They turned left at the intersection.
They left the show windows and lights of Ma Tau Wai Road and entered a residential street that looked a lot more like a shopping district.
There was a lot of green.
A church came into view on their left. It was the Holy Carpenter Church that the area was well known for. The church had an Anglican and Victorian style and the plaza out front was surrounded by green and filled with…
Akira heard quiet Lives ringing from the church.
“So they’re seeking salvation from god, are they? Maybe if they pray, they’ll get to go to heaven even if they still die. …Oh, wait. Heaven was destroyed.”
She warned Gunmal while looking up into the night sky.
The destroyed heaven was up there.
It itself was not visible, but she could faintly see its Live. One spot in the sky glowed faintly as if more stars were gathered there than elsewhere. That was likely the chapter title page that acted as an entrance to heaven.
“Restoring heaven, hm?”
She faced forward again and saw a land bridge.
Once they crossed that, they would arrive at the thermal power station.
…We need to hurry.
As soon as she thought that, she heard a mighty blast of a six-tone horn from behind. An engine rumbled in the background.
She looked back while running and saw Kouga riding a motorcycle with…
It was Rin.
She wore body armor over her usual suit and held a shotgun.
The motorcycle decelerated to match Akira and Gunmal’s speed.
Kouga looked to the two of them in the eye and smiled bitterly.
“Honestly, those clogged streets didn’t make it easy. They really need to work on the traffic control around here. What are the cops doing these days?”
“You’re one of those cops, you know?” said Rin. “I see Gunmal is here, too. You’re a normal civilian, so you didn’t have to come.”
“Oh, c’mon. As a normal civilian, I’ve gotta enjoy all the events the city has to offer.”
“…I’d call you an abnormal civilian,” added Akira.
“Well, I am cooler than average and smarter than the standard.”
“Don’t forget far more special than normal,” cut in Rin while facing forward.
Her eyes were fixed on the thermal power station visible in the darkness.
“Our opponent is probably in there.”
“And we’re all that showed up? This’ll probably make them cry.”
After his joking comment, Gunmal looked to Rin.
Akira noticed where he was looking and realized his gaze had suddenly grown a lot calmer and colder than a moment before.
…Is something the matter with Rin?
Gunmal may have heard her question because he spoke.
“Why are you prepared to die?”
Akira gasped and Kouga slowed the motorcycle.
Just as they all focused on Rin, she responded.
“Hurry. The enemy is over there.”
Her calm voice contained no emotion, but Akira could see her Live. What she saw there was far too unstable to call an emotion.
Hung Hom’s thermal power station was a four hundred square meter facility bordering the ocean. It contained several reactors that narrowed in the center like a pot.
Four of the reactors were situated in the center of the power station to create a square.
Something like a small park surrounded that square and mercury lamps revealed four figures in that park.
It was the Nein Engel group.
The group contained Double Lee, Fei, Genius, and J-Gun.
They were currently preparing for their ceremony.
“This is the last of Master Huang’s blood,” muttered Double Lee.
He looked to the ADs, one of the Devices J-Gun had made, which was stabbed into the asphalt.
And his right hand held a glass bottle.
It was their final bottle of Huang Daquan’s blood.
He tilted the bottle and poured its contents onto the ADs.
The Device’s blade reflected the light of the mercury lamps as the dark red blood slid down it, reached the asphalt ground, and pooled up.
Soon, the bottle was empty.
And at the same time…
“Word Accel, you Live with an Octave of 80,000!”
After shouting his Over Up, Double Lee grabbed the Device’s hilt.
He released a slight Live.
And what happened then? Waves formed in the blood creating a puddle on the ground.
The waves spread and produced countless ripples.
The blood was moving.
In places, it spread in a ring. In others, it moved in a single direction. In yet others, it stayed in place. Altogether, it drew circles, lines, and words.
It drew a Tune Emblem.
Fei, Genius, and J-Gun silently watched the Earth Burn summoning Tune Emblem take form.
However, it was hard to say J-Gun was actually watching. There was no strength in his eyes.
He was dead, after all.
And one of them was distracted by his presence: Genius.
She was watching Double Lee create the Tune Emblem, but she was not focused on that. Her ears and other senses were all turned toward J-Gun next to her.
Only her eyes were turned elsewhere.
It looked like she was waiting silently for him to say something to her.
She must have known how it looked because there was a bitter smile on her lips, although it did not leave her lips.
…That would never happen. He’s a corpse without a heart.
“Does his presence bother you?”
She looked up in surprise and found Double Lee looking her way.
He had already pulled the ADs from the ground and held it in his hand.
He had finished creating the Tune Emblem.
It would take time for it to be complete as the blood had to dry.
“It really would have been better not to bring him here so he could work on the final Device needed to summon the Earth Serpent, but the enemy has made some…troubling movements.”
“I know,” said Genius. “The Yard has your sister, J-Gun’s brother, and… Fei?”
“There is someone from my past. The past I do not know.”
“It’s strange, isn’t it?” said Double Lee. “Long ago, Fei too must have had his acquaintances on the surface.”
“Fei…you really can’t remember?”
“I have no reason to enter the mental state you would call ‘wanting to remember’, but it is possible my modified brain tissue contains residual pieces of the information.”
Genius looked to the cybernetix plug at the base of Fei’s neck which was evidence of his brain modifications.
It was a small plug about the size of a pencil eraser.
It was embedded in his lightly armored body, it was not as large as the ones seen in old B movies, and it was not wired.
“Fei only agreed to join Archs RDC if they Customized his body, right? I remember because it was a pretty big issue at the time.”
…Why did he want to erase his memories and emotions?
Double Lee was the only one to answer Genius’s thoughts.
“The three of us, no… Master Huang and…all of us are probably the same in that way. We have something that leaves us with a grudge against the surface.”
He lightly swung ADs as he spoke.
It was not a powerful swing, but it still audibly sliced through the wind.
And that sound briefly froze the air.
“They’re here,” said Double Lee. “I can hear their Lives. …There are three…no, four? One of them has an oddly quiet Live. And…ha ha ha.”
“That is the Live of the young man Fei killed before. Ha ha ha. He seems to be a vampire or some other immortal race. In that case, the one near him is his boss and…the last one is Akira.”
“That’s your sister, right?” asked Genius.
He silently nodded. His expression was the same as always, but she sensed something different about him: she could not see his Live.
She had no idea what he was thinking as she heard him speak.
“So this ceremony will not reveal the answer. …What a shame.”
The battle had a sudden start.
As soon as the Yard group set foot in the power station, the Nein Engel group began to move.
The time was 7:13 PM.
The night was only just getting started.
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