Chapter 4 – The Bright Lights in the Sky (3/5)
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Yuu Yuu, Mellissa, and I all approached the knight station. There was a crowd of people outside. They seemed to be cheering on the knights. People of all ages gathered around, crying out to Marx for help. We filtered our way through the sea of people. Halmote was there with his large mustache and tiny eyes when we forced our way to the front. He rubbed his belly and huffed.

“Oh, this ain’t good, no sir, no sir."

I was a tad wary of asking, but I pushed it out.

“Halomote, Jade asked me to come here along with Yuuna and Mellissa. Would you allow us to get inside?”

I timidly asked. The last time I dealt with this strange man, I was in handcuffs, and he didn't treat me the nicest.

“Oh, it’s you again. Well, I guess I can if Jade asked.”

He moved his large body to the side, allowing us to have an opening. Once we slipped in, the interior was quiet in comparison to the commotion on the streets. There were people in suits all around that I assumed to be Radiants, and Jade was at the back along with them.

“Feodora, Mellissa, Yuuna! Over here.”

The knight waved at us. We followed her into one of the interrogation rooms. There, Vivian and Eve were already stationed looking at the one-way glass.

“Glad you three could join us. I’ll get right to what’s going on.”

Jade approached the front of the room where the one-way glass was. The group of us, all associates of Jade, watched as she directed what we were going to do.

 

 

“As I told you all, we have 5 new credible bomb leads. We haven't announced this to the city, and we're not going to either. It'll create havoc and… I'm certain none of these bombings are even going to happen."

Eve bit her lip and squinted her eyes.

“Why would you think that, Jade? Didn’t you see the destruction that just happened? What makes you think the rest won’t happen?”

The knight crossed her arms and stood tall.

“That’s the very reason why I believe at least 3 or 4 of these new credible leads… are fake.”

I was becoming confused too, so I raised my hand, earning the eyes of everyone to turn towards me. Reactively, I lowered my hand.

"I have the same concerns as Eve, though, Jade. How are you coming to this conclusion that these new threats… aren't credible. It sounds to me like…."

I paused momentarily before accusing her…

“It sounds to me like the Radiants have more information than you’re letting on.”

The knight paced around and took a deep breath.

"It's because these bombings have been senseless in their patterns.”

Vivian tilted her head.

“Senseless? Isn’t that a little cruel to say to the victims, Jade?”

Annoyed, the white bunny remarked.

“Senseless as in no particular target, Vivian. They have been sporadic, and I'm under the impression that they aren't meant to be a show of something against Radiant City. In cases of a serial bomber, they tend to like to make a statement…."

With her hands on her hips, she looked back at us.

“And there is no clear statement here thus far. It’s destruction here and there. But now we received all these tips. So it’s either someone isn’t clear on what they want… or their aim is something more sinister… and these tips are calculated in comparison…"

Mellissa raised her hand, Jade confirmed her with a nod.

“Are you implying… that the bombs might be decoys to a true goal?”

“That’s just what I’m implying. But I don’t have the information to know what the true aim is… and that’s why instead of spreading our forces thin, we Radiants want small groups to go and search these locations.”

It showed me that Jade has been at this for far longer than I could have imagined. With my new understanding of her train of thought, I asked.

“So you want us to spread into small groups and see if these threats are credible to keep a heavy knight presence in the city?"

Keenly, the knight turned to me.

"That's just what I want. From how it looked today, we had to spread our forces all over the blast site… leaving openings for whoever may have wanted to come into town and do something in the shadows."

The knight pulled out the piece of paper in her hand.

"And these leads… do just that. They are made to spread us knights thin for the person or people involved to freely move around the city. In other words,  we won’t fall into their trap.”

Eve scratched her head.

“Yeah… that makes more sense. If all the knights in the city were to go out searching for these new… leads… anyone could waltz in here and do what they want with fewer people roaming around."

The psycho cackled. I stepped to the side, a bit away from her, and asked.

“So, where are these leads trying to take us?”

"I was just about to read them off, Feodora."

Jade nodded sharply at me, showing we were on the same wavelength if anything.

“1st location is the factories near the city. Primarily the ore plant is where we are looking at. We have reason to believe there is a credible threat to use that plant’s highly flammable substances for a bomb.”

I recoiled a little.

“You mean… one of the places we have to search could be a potential bomb itself?!”

I complained. All the knight did was sigh and stare back at me.

“…Yes. And call me a fool… but I think I want you on that case, Feodora.”

“Huh? Why me?”

She gazed at me with a look of determination.

“Because I’m sending Mellissa and Yuuna with you. If that place is a bomb waiting to happen, your best bet is to have Countess Mellissa with you. She'll be valuable…"

I pried deeper.

"Ah… wouldn't putting me in that much danger… hinder your other investigation, though?"

“And that’s the very reason why I want you on that as well. I want you to prove to me that you’re not a part of this, Feodora.”

I scratched my cheek. Mellissa giggled.

“Oh Jade, never a dull moment with you. Not to worry, I’m sure my other side won’t let anything happen to Feodora.”

"Huh… It was Countess Mellissa that tried to kill me the other day!"

With a cough, Jade got our attention again.

“Anyway, Vivian and Eve, you both will check on the 2nd threat. It’s the farmland just east of here. Scan the area and make sure there’s no chance of a strike. Eve, with your technical knowledge…."

“Right. I can defuse any bombs if I find them.”

Eve dejected.

“A few Radiants will scan the shopping district as the 3rd threat was there. The 4th is the Radiant castle gates, and those are heavily armed. And lastly, Me, Abigail, and her little sister, Lana, will search the Baron group as they are the 5th threat of attack.”

Yuu Yuu whispered.

"Even the Baron group…."

Jade nodded and looked back at me.

"Feodora, you have my number. Eve, you have my contact too. The moment you find something, tell us, and we're on our way. Do not hesitate to get out of there if you suspect a bomb.”

We all agreed by nodding.

“Right!”

“Prepare yourselves before you go. I want you out of the city by 10AM. We don’t have time to waddle around. We will find the culprit or culprits of these bombings if it's the last thing we do! Follow my lead, and I'll take us all to victory!"

Before I knew it, I was caught up in her chant as I raised my hand in the air. Everyone looked at me… it seemed that I was the only one that was drunk in excitement. Mellissa giggled at me… like she always did.

 


 

After our discussion, all of the consultant team made our way out the gates.

"Well, Vivian and I will start with the farmland. Good luck, you three."

Eve put two fingers on her forehead and saluted us off. Together, she and Vivian began jogging towards the farmlands. That was a lot of areas to search, but I'm sure Jade was right… likely, there aren't any bombs in either of the places.

I turned to Yuu Yuu and Mellissa.

 

 

“Ah… I want you to know Feodora, I do not… call my other me.”

Mellissa admitted.

“Oh… don’t worry. Jade explained to me that she’ll come… when the time is right. Ah… Yuu Yuu, are you good at combat?”

The pink bunny nodded softly.

"Yes… Ah… I'm very good at enchanting weapons with spectrum. B-But I can only use… low-level spectrum across the board."

Curiously, Mellissa turned to the bunny, towering over her.

“Oh, how interesting. What vessel type are you?”

Rubbing her soles into the ground, she confessed.

“… I… ah… I don’t… actually know.”

I was surprised alongside Mellissa. Knowing one's spectrum vessel is common knowledge. One is born with it and their vessel doesn’t change at death. Yet… Yuu Yuu was saying she… didn’t know hers?

“What element are you strongest in?”

She puffed her cheeks and squeezed her soft hands.

"I'm… bad across the board. B-But I'm super strong in the enchanting spectrum. I-I can change the element of your weapons and provide s-support…via… low-level spectrum from the back."

I nodded.

“Eh! I can provide healing too! A-And…”

"I see. I never had my weapon enchanted with spectrum aside from me doing it myself. Don't worry, I'm sure you'll be an asset, especially when Countess Mellissa comes out."

I pet her on the head… unconsciously. Sadly, I felt guilty about doing this. I warned myself not to get caught up in the moment anymore… but everything in me wanted to reassure her that… I think she's important. Sadly, Yuu Yuu looked like she was going to cry as she explained her potential.

I turned to the kind human as she put her hand behind her back and smiled brightly at me.

“You’re human… so you don’t have any spectrum to use, right Mellissa?”

“That’s true. I’m useless in a fight… but I heard amazing stories about the other me!”

“Yeah, I’m more worried that she’d go insane and try to kill me… rather than the terrorist. I need you to stay behind Yuu Yuu and me until your other side decides to come out. Can you do that, Mellissa?”

“Yes! In the meantime, I’ll try to be best friends with Yuuna!”

“B-Best friends?!”

The pink bunny blushed as she ran to me.

“B-But… Feodora… ah…”

She clammed up, causing me to chuckle. Despite where we were going and what we had to find, I believed this was going to be an interesting group to work with.

“Right, I’ll lead the way.”

I said as we made our way to the factories in the distance. From the notes Jade gave me, there are 10 main factories. The one we’re after is the major ore refinery. That’s where the lead is centered around. On the bright sunny day, the wind blew our hair to the east. It was nice… and felt as though what happened this morning was a distant memory.

“Ah… I might as well get both your statements now that we have the free time.”

“S-Statements?”

Yuu Yuu stammered.

“I’ll start with you, Mellissa. Where were you when the bombings took place?”

“Me?”

The human giggled.

"Well, I was in school, if you must ask."

Mellissa ran up to me and pushed her shoulder along mine. She was super tall, and it felt as though… she was dominant out of nowhere.

“School?”

"Yes, the Radiant City College. I'm working to become a Neurologist."

"Neurologist… that's an interesting field. Well, back on the topic, you were at school when the bombings happened?"

"Yes. I was in first-period classes when I received the call from Jade. So, I rushed over to aid the injured, and as I was helping, Jade heard Atom, and we rushed over to you and Eve."

Everything checked out so far… and with her being in school, she might have the most solid alibi out of everyone if her classmates can corroborate her there. So, I wrote down her claims and turned to the bunny. She suddenly shot up and held her shoulder.

“Yuu Yuu… I just want to make sure I’m doing my job to help.”

“I-I…I don’t… I….”

She sighed.

"After our… outing yesterday, Yuu Yuu went home and was scolded by her mentor. She… made Yuu Yuu do a lot of things, and Yuu Yuu was exhausted by the end of the night.”

She calmed herself as she looked back at me. With her hands on her cheek, she confessed.

"I s-slept in, and my mentor scolded me… T-Then when I was outside, I heard… the bombs come from… the city. T-The Light Camp called me and told me to go and help the injured and… I ran into Jade. S-She was mean and pushed me to help her.”

I nodded.

“So your mentor can confirm your alibi?”

Coyly, she nodded.

“Okay, well, if I ever meet him or her, I’ll confirm your statement. As for now, thank you for your time.”

Mellissa put her finger to her lip.

“You’re quite the detective.”

Shyly, I rubbed my head.

“No, it’s nothing like that, Mellissa. I was…taught by my own mentor to always try my hardest to live. And… because of reasons I have to work with Jade. So, in order to get my normal life back, I have to work hard. So, in this case, I have to be a detective."

It was simple to me, the faster I solve what's going on here, the less hold Jade would have on me. So effectively, if I solve the mysteries, there won't be any left, and I'll be free, able to live like Maxwell wanted me to. If I have to be the detective, so be it.

 

 

During our chat, we made it to the factories. They were much larger up close. There were sections that spanned miles and miles of factories. But our job was to get to the ore factory and investigate. As we approached, a couple of knights patrolled around the outskirts of the factories.

“Ah, are you Feodora, Yuuna and Mellissa?”

The knight asked. We all nodded.

“We have a few already checking the ore factory. If you follow this pathway, the 5th factory will be up ahead. You’ll know which one is which. Ore burns with a rough and tart scent. Also, it’s signed.”

He handed me a map of the factory.

“Once you get there, there will be another set of guards stationed. Just tell them you’re with Jade, and they'll let you in. No worries, the workers have been sent home for the day, so there's no risk of them being harmed."

“Good! Very good!”

Mellissa beamed endearingly. Happily, she bounced down the road towards the ore factory.

“Eh, M-Mellissa…”

Yuu Yuu attempted to call out, but it was too late. The human was ready to go since all the people had been evacuated. It… showed me how much she truly cared for people… unlike her other side.

“Let’s catch up with her, Yuu Yuu.”

“Ah… Y-Yes, Feodora.”

Timidly, she followed behind me. To think only a few days ago she would run at the sight of me… but strangely she’s running behind me… like a puppy.

The ground was dirty and rough as we passed the factories. I could see cement building zones and other goods like iron and such. But what we were looking for is the ore refinery. When Mellissa finally reached it, she stopped, lifted herself on her tippy toes, and turned back to us.

“It’s here! Over here!”

Excitedly, she bounced up and down. When we made it to her, she grabbed my hand and hopped with me.

“Ah… Hehe, Mellissa, stay behind us. Jade would kill me if you got hurt."

"Oh… sorry, Feodora."

She did as she was told and made her way between Yuu Yuu and me. When we walked up to the gates, a knight looked at our papers and allowed us inside. As we walked inside, everything was dark and looked eerie. There were iron belts that were stopped midway through production. It was as if everyone had just vanished, but I knew better than that.

Suddenly, Mellissa held her nose in the air.

“Arrgg…”

“Huh, what’s wrong, Mellissa?”

“Oh… I smell something....”

Yuu Yuu tilted her head.

“Smell… something? Do you mean the burnt ore?”

“No… something… else.”

“Should we rest, Mellissa?”

I tapped her soft shoulder. Gently, she turned to me with a beam.

"No… I… I assume that the other me is telling me to… be careful. Usually, when this happens… bad things are around."

At her intuition, I took out my blade.

“… If that’s the case, I’ll be on high alert.”

Calmly, we made our way deeper into the factory. Soot and grime plastered the walls, showing how constant the machines here worked. Large amounts of processed materials were piled around in barrels labeled Highly Flammable. There was a large sign hovering above us that read, New Age, that reminded me of the Radiant Age for some reason.

 

 

"What does New Age stand for on this banner?"

I asked, nobody in particular. Mellissa perked up with the answer.

“‘New Age’ is a term coined by the Radiants. It signifies… new technology and discoveries.”

We walked under the banner as I continued my questions.

“The Radiants have made a lot of new technology… haven’t they?”

Yuu Yuu nodded.

“… S-Some… even believe they over…step their boundaries.”

“Hm? What do you mean… Yuu Yuu?”

“Eh…”

She signed.

“Yuu Yuu’s mentor thinks… that… the Radiants… might be…."

She struggled until, ultimately, Yuu Yuu stopped. She clammed up and put her head down.

“What? Yuu Yuu, your mentor, isn't here… tell us what she said."

“No! Never mind. It wasn’t important.”

From above, holy spectrum shined, lighting up the place. The factory came alive as the gears on the machines started to move. We all stared up at the bright lights above, as if heaven opened up and shined down on us.

“What the?”

 

 

I questioned, confused as I looked around. With a loud bang, the doors behind us shut.

“What the heck?”

I ran over to the door and pushed it, but it didn’t budge. The noise increased as the iron belts began moving, and material started being processed on its own.

“A-Are we l-locked inside?!”

Yuu Yuu began to panic as she held her backpack in her hand. She cowered down, trying her best to hide. Mellissa didn't seem fazed though, she just looked about.

“I wouldn’t worry. If we are locked in, can we just call Jade to get us out?"

I thought it was a brilliant idea. So, I took out my… phone thing and tried to call Jade… but it wouldn’t connect.

“What does… no connection… mean?”

I asked, earning a terrified look from Yuu Yuu.

“Oh no…”

Mellissa put her finger to her chin as she studied the situation more.

“It would seem… our devices are being jammed.”

With a calming sigh as if this was someone else’s problem, she continued.

“Well, worry not! The knights will see that everything is activated and alert Jade."

I shrugged.

“Well, whatever they’re planning, they have us trapped here for the time being. That means… this might be their bombing location.”

I calmed myself down.

“Whatever we do, we have to survive. So, let’s look around and see if we can find whoever is doing this.”

They turned on the lights, lit up the factory. There might be a chance that they are trying to draw attention to this place… And if that's the idea… then this might be the bomb site.

I calmed my mind, trying my best to not think about it. If I knew anything by this point, Jade wouldn't readily make me go into this with the high chance I'd die… she likely had something up her sleeve, and I had to just hold out until then.

“Ah… this way!”

Suddenly, the human raced off.

“Wait, where are you going, Mellissa?”

"I… I don't know, but my other side seems to want me to see something."

“Come on, Yuu Yuu.”

“Oh… right.”

We ran after her as we raced down a few production corridors. All the machinery was moving. This was clearly made as a show, and I was certain the idea was to bring in as many people as possible. That would be there was a high chance the culprits were in here. As we followed the human, she began to speed up as she turned the corner.

“Ah?!”

“Mellissa?!”

Suddenly, the factory began to shake. I took Mellissa in my hands and pulled her towards me. What appeared was a large iron creature. It was put together with bolts and seemed to be radiating wind spectrum. It stood at least 15ft tall and had a large grey body. The grey metal glistened off the bright lights above. With its wheel-like legs, it rolled towards us. It had a triangle face and crescent-shaped claws on each arm.

“What the heck?!”

I shouted before pushing Mellissa out of the way. She fell to the ground and looked up at the iron beast. Yuu Yuu set her backpack aside again as she got into a battle stance.

 

 

Its large arms attempted to crush her and me, but I pulled my blade to defend us.

“W-Water embrace!”

Yuu Yuu cried out, and before I knew it, a rushing swirl of water entered my sword. The iron beast slammed down on me. The pressure from the water spectrum pushed its body off of my blade, though. Sparks of electricity shot against the walls as its body jolted around.

“Did I stun it?”

“N-Now, F-Feodora! Hit it!”

Yuu Yuu screamed at me. I brought my blade behind me and slashed it with a horizontal arc...The iron, bolts, and metals scattered across the small room. A shockwave full of water, mirroring a tsunami, rushed through the halls and evaporated before my eyes. The room shook as I realized what Yuu Yuu’s ability just did.

She didn’t just give my blade the water property… but she amplified the spectrum… to the scale of a water vessel. Yuu Yuu’s abilities effectively made my attack as devastating as any natural vessel user. In awe, I turned to Yuu Yuu.

“That’s really useful, Yuu Yuu! How did you do that?”

I praised… earning a cute blush from Yuu Yuu. She rubbed her foot into the floor… and it was hard taking my eyes off of her.

“You two, another one!”

Mellissa called out to me, breaking my thoughts of the pink-haired bunny. Another mechanical beast of the same style rushed out from the door across the way.

"Alright, everyone in formation!"

I commanded. Yuu Yuu stood behind me as Mellissa made her way to the back. This was going to be a two-man formation with a VIP. Mellissa was the VIP until her demon side decided to come out. The iron beast was just like the previous one, almost like a replica. It harshly stepped forward, crushing its own partner under its wheels.

“What the heck are these things?”

I readied my blade as I awaited its strike.

“These are machines from the human age. Atom reinvented them, but… none are in full operation yet. The public… hasn't seen them yet either.

Mellissa explained matter of factly.

“Then how do you know about them, Mellissa?”

I questioned but was interrupted by the machine strike. I avoided it, along with Yuu Yuu. The ground shook as a creator formed where we were standing. That showed how massive its strikes were.

“Again, Yuu Yuu?”

“R-Right!”

She charged her spell in hand and sent it to me. My blade went a sharp blue as I swung around and cut the machine. It stumbled back but didn’t fully go down. When it landed back on its wheels, Its claw-like arms grabbed me by the hip.

“Huh?!”

With insane speed, the iron monster lifted me up. I braced for the impact by flowing my dark spectrum around me. The machine slammed my body into the ground. Blood pushed out of my mouth as my eyes attempted to roll behind my head. As I tried to stay conscious, a blade of water rushed over me, cutting the beast and causing it to start sparking like the previous one. The mech released me, giving me the chance to roll away. With all my might, I stood up and held my katana with both hands.

“Ha!”

I shouted with all the force I could muster. I struck its immobile body, destroying the wires from inside. The machine finally collapsed and fell on its comrade.

“Feodora! Are you alright!”

Mellissa ran over and touched my face. She looked extremely worried as she whipped the blood from my mouth. It seemed the machine gave me a good cut on the back of the head when it slammed me on the floor.

“Sorry, I didn’t expect it to survive that first strike.”

Hoping to ease her worries, I tried to play it off.

As she wiped the blood off my face, Yuu Yuu sprang into action as she touched my body from behind. It was strange… I could feel the pressure that was inflicted on me all over again for a moment… but in… reverse. The pain subsided soon after, though. I could only imagine that this was… the same thing Yuu Yuu did to that little girl earlier.

“I’m okay, you two.”

I assured the doctors. But Mellissa kept tending to my already treated wound. She sighed as she tilted her head at me. Before leaving me be, she pushed her face in mine and kissed me on the cheek.

 

“Ahhhhh?!”

Yuu Yuu shot up and rushed over to Mellissa. Outwardly annoyed, the pink bunny puffed her cheek and attempted to grab the tall doctor.

“Oh, it’s a bad habit of mine… Yuuna.”

“B-Bad habit? D-Do you… just kiss people like that?”

With her hand behind her back, she smiled.

“Not everyone…”

I was sure my body was bright red by this point… not only because of Mellissa's actions when it comes to treating me… but Yuu Yuu’s reaction too.

“I wish the other me would have come out… she… might have been more useful.”

Mellissa slumped her shoulders. Yuu Yuu finally let go of me and walked to the side.

“…I-I think we should g-go before more show up.”

“Yeah, we’re not sure how many they have.”

I closed my eyes and thought about it. If the culprits brought along these machines, what could they be planning? Would they… risk destroying their machines in a bombing?

It was clear to me that something more devious was being planned, and we were likely just the decoys and pawn in this bigger game.

 

 

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