Chapter 259 – Awakening Emotions
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‘Simonides…’  Athene whispered to herself.  Her mind finally came down from the racing pace she pressed it into for days.  It staggered her for a moment, falling back.  The strength in her legs fell out leaving her a mess on her floating platform of lights.  ‘What have I been doing, Simonides?’

The silence and lull in the attack gave Yori the much needed chance to recover from everything.  Ever since he awoke from the fog in his head, things moved too fast for him to process.  He hoped it meant that the fighting between them finally ended.  ‘Looks like she’s calmed down some.  Still didn’t really get an answer from her, but if it brought her to her senses I’m not going to complain.’

Yori took a few steps forward once he gathered himself.  A lot rode on his risk, but he needed to provide the proof she needed.  “Um…excuse me, Miss.”  Silently a prayer ran through his mind that it all worked out.  ‘Please don’t try to kill me again.’

Alerted out of her thoughts, Athene glanced down at Yori, cautious approaching.  Her mind leveled out enough with her emotions still running hot.  No longer was she at a blindly seething rage, but it didn’t mean she accepted him.  She immediately stood up, taking up a dominant position with needles appearing in her hand.  “What?”

Holding his hands up, doing everything he could to make himself seem non-offensive, Yori approached her a few more steps.  “I was thinking, you don’t believe what I told you, right?”

“Of course!  I heard straight from Abeiron that Simonides is dead at the hands of you and your friends.”

It didn’t feel as strong as before, but he felt the anger directed at him.  She didn’t seem to be solely executing everything upon him.  Even still, she dropped most of it on him.  Wincing a little looking at her as though he felt it, he broached the subject.  “I was thinking.  One of your abilities is to read my mind.  Use it and look inside to find the truth.  Then you can believe me.”

Narrowing her eyes, she stared at him reading his intent.  “Your mind’s a maze.  It’s too complex for me to be certain anything I find in there is the truth.”

‘Dammit!  Come on, stop making excuses!’  Yori sighed, trying to restrain himself from yelling at her.  “You won’t go check over there where my friends are just to see him.  And you won’t search my mind.  He sounds important to you, I’d bet he’d be pleased to see.  Especially since he’s only got Nerine with him that he knows.”

“Second Lieutenant Nerine too…”  Athene’s suspicions started to rise.  Her eyes glanced over to where she first found Yori.  ‘Could it be true?’ The thought made her heart jump.  ‘No, I can’t trust him.  He’s the enemy.’

He saw the doubt in her face.  ‘I almost got her.  Is there something else I can do to finally convince her?’  The man she knew was still fairly unknown to him.  Yori didn’t know enough information that might be a trigger for her.

The last chance he had was just to explain everything.  He hoped it was enough.  “After our last battle with your Captain and his men, he came to our side.  He seemed to feel there was something bigger that threatened your country.  He couldn’t beat us, so he joined us to watch us.  Our goal is not to attack Atlantis, but just to bring an end to the assassination on Yuki Hayashi.  Considering what his actions meant, he faked his death.  I suspect that it wasn’t just because he was afraid of those in the Capital that would view it as a traitorous move to side with us.”

Yori could see that he at least had her attention, even if she remained skeptical.  “I think he also wanted to protect his men.  Just something in what I saw in his eyes when he talked.  He felt very protective of them.  Wanting to keep them out of danger.  As he correctly saw the Omega Division and even the Titans coming after us.  If you kept following us, the disaster could have been far worse.  The loss of life might have been catastrophic.  These people are in a completely different league than everyone else.”

Silence hung between them for several seconds.  He wasn’t sure if he should say anymore.  He said what he needed, but she just stared at him.  “So I feel he did it all because his men were the most important thing to him, including you.”

Nothing.

Chapter 259 – Awakened Emotions

The silence was unbearable.  He knew he couldn’t say anymore.  He likely already exceeded his bound.  There was a fair bit of assumption made, even though he was honest about what he saw in Simonides when speaking to him.

Athene stared down at him.  The whole time she read his face, checking for clues.  It should just be lies.  She shouldn’t believe a word he said.  The little chip of his mental avatar still haunted the back of her mind, threatening her sanity at every turn.  It taunted her.  He corrupted her mind, tainted her vision and cracked her sanity.

“I despise you, Yori Mizuno,” Athene confirmed.  “But I believe you.”

He sighed again.  “Thank you.”  It was over, finally.  He could return to the others.

“But this isn’t over yet.”

“Huh?  But you just said you believed me!”

“Believe you when you said that Simonides is still alive and you talked to him, however our matter is still unsettled.”

“What matter?  I don’t have anything to settle with you.  You’re the one that invaded my mind and left me unconscious for a few days after.”

“You took my sight!  And threatened my sanity!”

“Eh?!  I did neither of those things!”  He couldn’t remember any of that happening.  “I don’t know what you’re talking about.  Besides, if you can’t see then how can you fight so well still?”

“I modified my power to reproduce everything directly into my mind through echolocation.  I can make it as detailed as I need to even see the wrinkles in your skin.”

The response made him lean back a bit.  “That’s some frighteningly powerful stuff.”  Yori already felt impressed by what they were capable of, but the lengths she went to left him stunned.  He really didn’t want to fight her, even though he saw that in her eyes.  “Do we really have to fight though?  Haven’t we settled the main reason you wanted to kill me already?”

“I still won’t be satisfied without punching you for everything you’ve got coming!”

“That doesn’t even make any sense!  Why can’t you people be more enlightened and be above fighting?!”  He sighed again seeing her unconvinced expression.  She was clearly set on a fight even though it was unnecessary.  “Fine, if you just want to punch me a few times.  I’ll give you all of the free shots you want until you’re done!”

“Huh?  I’m not going to punch you!  That’s just an expression!”

“Well I don’t want to be punched by your cannon again!”  Yori caught a disappointed look when he shut down that idea.  “You were thinking about it?!”  He ruffled up his hair, annoyed by the whole situation.  “Fine, since we’re not getting anywhere like this.  You want a fight.  I'll do my best with this new power I have.  But I want you to unscramble my brain after this!  There’s something I know I’m missing still that’s really important.”

“Can you give me back my sight?”

“I don’t know how I took it away from you!”

“You have your answer.”

“Tch!  Damn, whatever.  We’re having a long chat after this is all over though.  We settle everything with this fight, right?”

“Yes.”

“Good!”  Yori threw down his hands as black blades materialized at his call.  It was the only thing that felt familiar to him.  He was still new to his power to understand it like the others.  ‘I’ll give her a fight, but hopefully it’ll be over quickly.’  Looking ready for the fight, didn’t mean his heart was really in it.  He just needed to satisfy her need for it.

Athene clinched her needles as her opener, but stored plenty in reserve for the fight.  She felt ready for anything he might try to do.  ‘I’ll win this and finally put this all to rest.  I’ll conquer this!’

Jumping forward, Yori made the first move.  Not out of aggression, he just wanted it pushed.  However, he realized that he actually was higher than he planned, even though he jumped with full strength.  ‘What’s with my body?  Is this her Field?

The long hang time in the air gave Athene all the time she needed to react, despite his swift act.  Throwing her needles at him to force him to use his weapon to block allowed her to set up her next attack.  A whip appeared in her freed up hand to latch around his blade and swing him away from her into the ground.  She tossed some more needles amongst the coughed up smoke cloud around Yori.

A little shook up, Yori stood up out of the cloud feeling the ringing in his head from the impact.  To his side, one of her needles dug into his shoulder.  ‘Damn, I’m not sure which hurts more…’  He yanked out the needle chucking it to the side.  ‘I know I said I didn’t care about the fight, but I don’t want to get hurt that much…’

Questioning his position in the fight, Yori hesitated too long.  Another strike from Athene forced him to start moving.  Like before, everything seemed to move slower than it should.  ‘What’s with everything?  Why is it so slow?’  Because he wasn’t used to it or really even suited to combat, the well-telegraphed attacks gave him time to evade, but still left him rushing around.

Taking up his dual swords, he charged in for Athene blocking her needles.  The slashes he made were stopped by more of her needles, a common weapon for her apparently.  Between the end and start of his next attack, Athene pushed him back spinning around suddenly whacking him across the stomach with a large scaly tail.  The force sent him flying back to the brick wall.

Slamming his head painfully against the immovable wall, Yori staggered a bit.  “Urgh…damn…”  He pressed his hand to the wall to push off.  A strange image flashed through his mind.  He saw a dark sphere gather in his hand in the image.  It seemed familiar.  ‘Did I…’  Thinking about it, he looked down at his hand to see the sword changing shape into a sphere like in his mind.  ‘Something else this power can do?’

Yori wanted to ask what it did, as though someone with the rulebook stood next to him.  However, he just fired it immediately at Athene, somehow knowing what it did.  ‘So it’s a projectile…’  The result from the hit unfortunately missed Athene, something deflected at the last moment.  And she seemed to feel encouraged to respond with her own ranged attack, missiles.  Missiles, as in the rocket propelled from an installed battery or naval ship type.  Yori’s eyes widened just looking at what she summoned.  “No fair…”

Running was about all he could do in the face of that.  Explosions went off behind him tossing him into the air.  ‘Why am I still alive?!  I thought she didn’t want to kill me anymore!’  Yori slammed into the dome wall again, but ran his free hand against it keeping a balance stuck to the side.  It gave him visibility on the next missiles allowing him to jump off, taking advantage of the slowed time.

Slicing through the front missile, he jumped off the two halves to turn himself around in midair.  While still tumbling through the air he threw his sword at the next to pin it into the ground and took out the last two with quick blasts from his hands.  He came to rest on the wall on the complete opposite side.  ‘I swear she’s just throwing random things at me.  There’s no theme to any of it!’  All around the Field explosions ripped through the earth.

Settled into the situation, Yori started feeling different about the fight.  “If it’s going to be like that, I’m not going to lose!”  He materialized his swords once more before dashing across the air, actually running on air, towards Athene.

Weapons clashed quickly before Athene threw out another random weapon.  Yori spun around making use of the slowed movement.  She still had another counter, but he could keep up with the pace.  Even when he made a mistake, the time given allowed him to make it up.

They danced around each other rapidly exchanging blows.  Yori learned he could shift the swords into other shapes, giving him a larger array of weapons.  New, more bizarre tools in Athene arsenal appeared like a frog’s tongue, a flame throwing lion’s mouth and a ballista.

Yori ended up staring down the wrong end of a giant guillotine blade, as though there could be a good end.  It came flying at him, missing the guide rails and not vertical.  It moved too fast for him to dodge.  He lifted up his hand with another image popping into his hand.  Squeezing his hand, the blade crushed on an invisible force rendering it completely useless.

He sighed, feeling his mortality more than some of the other attacks.  However, the pause gave his body enough time to remind him that he wasn’t in shape.  The minor wounds he picked up from the course of the fighting and fatigue washed over him.  ‘Dammit…this is going to be what does me in?’

Gathering up the black energy into his hand, Yori stared across at Athene.  He needed something to level the field.  ‘All of her random weapons are making it difficult to get close to her at times.  My body isn’t holding out for anymore crazy stunts, even if I have the time to pull it off.  I need to restrict her movements…’  An idea suddenly came to him.  The power was still new to him, but different functions seemed to be popping up.  So he had a chance.

His hand closed around the sphere, shrinking it down to a smaller size.   Opening his hand, several orbs appeared no larger than a marble.  ‘Just need to be careful…’  He released them from his palm, letting them float up away into the air.  They spread around the space between them.  It worked, somehow, but one suddenly faded away.  ‘Damn, lost my concentration.  Need to focus on them.  If I can create them in my hand I should be able to do it elsewhere too…’  More marble sized black spheres appeared in the air all around them.  The count increased to the hundreds.

Packed tightly around them, Yori moved in closer to Athene pulling out his swords again.  Their blades extended further and thickened.  ‘Alright, let’s try this now!’  He forced a clash with the woman once more.  She played around him carefully, but made the mistake of hitting one with her dragon’s tail sweep.  Blasts went off for the three orbs she collided with knocking her back.

Barely put off by the blasts, Athene charged back in for Yori, but went for a melee weapon.  It kept things close range and out of risk.  It was exactly how Yori wanted.  His floating mines focused their fight to something more favorable.

His weapons clashed with her battleaxe.  The weapons sparked with each swing.  They struggled against each other for the dominant ground, surrounded by black marbles.  Leaning in with their whole bodies, their heads almost touched trying to break through the other.

However, amidst the clash, a swarm of images flooded Yori’s mind.  A burning village and a child appeared.  They were unfamiliar scenes, but something about them he knew he had seen before.  More continued to show off the girl.  He felt like he was seeing someone else’s life.  Then he remembered.

‘It’s her!  I remember!  During the interrogation, I saw these memories!’  Everything suddenly started to come back to him.  The other forgotten pieces swarmed his mind.  ‘…the truth!  I remember, I saw the truth of Atlantis!’  Finally recalling his forgotten memories, he started to put together all of the pieces.  Everything he knew from current events and his newly acquired knowledge formed an even bigger picture.  ‘That explains everything!  Ayumi’s plan!  Yuki Hayashi’s in danger!  If she continues with her plan, he’ll die!’

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