Last Embryo Volume 2 Chapter 2 Part 1
City of Water, Underwood, the waterfall behind the Great Tree.
The raging storm winds were beating against the Great Tree like a merciless whip. The crystal-clear river and water flowing through Underwood’s numerous waterways have been completely muddied by the storm and its torrential downpour caused by the sudden appearance of 『The Bull of Heaven』, and now that the water levels were increasing too rapidly to stop them, it gradually began to flood the residential districts of the city. Since the landscapes around Underwood and its Great Tree consisted mainly of grassy plains and pastures for cultivating livestock, it quickly became painfully obvious that the city’s buildings and structures, which were made mostly out of your typical bricks and stones were never build with the intent of enduring such harsh weather conditions, meaning there was no way for the citizens to protect themselves from the typhoon that was now ravaging their home other than by seeking shelter inside of the Great Tree. Even though Underwood was equipped with dams and breakwaters that could be deployed in times of emergencies, this time water was not the only problem that had to be taken care of.
As long as the source of the catastrophe – 『The Bull of Heaven』 – continued its rampage by sending crushing waves, slashing winds and thunderclaps from inside of the giant typhoon that acted as its shield, then then the City of Water which has only recently been fully revived after overcoming one great crisis in the past already, would be destroyed without a shade of a doubt.
Watching the situation which continued to worsen by the minute from the window in one of the rooms carved into the Great Tree’s trunk, Kudou Ayato let out a long and heavy sigh filled with restlessness and anxiety. Then she turned away from the window and faced the other girl who was in the room with her, her one-year-older-than-her friend, Ayazato Suzuka.
「This storm is simply terrible, isn’t it, Suzuka?」
「You can say that again. If I remember correctly, then the last weather report I saw back in our world mentioned that the wind was reaching the speed of 109 meters per hour. I think the weather presenter even went as far as to call it 「the most violent and destructive storm in recorded history」 or something like that?」
Suzuka responded to Ayato’s question, and then went back to the activity she was currently engrossed in, which was reading on top of the straw-filled bed. Three days have passed since she, Ayazato Suzuka came to the Underwood in Little Garden together with the two of her friends, Kudou Ayato and Saigo Homura and they participated in the Gift Game which was interrupted and consequently put on hold due to the sudden appearance of 『The Bull of Heaven』 and the storm it brought along with it, and now, three days later the situation has yet to improve in any significant way.
It was great that Suzuka was not overwhelmed by fear and didn’t start panicking given the circumstances… but to be completely honest Ayato thought that her current behavior was a little bit off. If she was afraid or filled with anxiety or worries, even if only just a bit, then it would be easier for Ayato to talk to her about her own worries. But deep down inside her she understood that this wasn’t something so trivial as Suzuka’s nature revealing its calm and collected side. No, the reason for her behavior was much simpler than that. It was all about the different degrees of courage that the two of them possessed.
For as long as Ayato knew her, Suzuka was never afraid of anything and never trembled or cowered in fear no matter how dire or hopeless the situation she found herself in was. And, it was just her personal guess, but she was willing to bet that if she was together with those younger than her, then she would probably try to act all cool and brave even when facing the toughest of adversities, just like an older sister should be. Ayato was mostly fine with such attitudes, but at the same time she prayed to God for Suzuka to not do anything reckless or downright stupid because of something so ultimately insignificant as the sense of seniorly pride. As long as she stayed relatively safe and didn’t do anything that would place her in immediate danger, Ayato was mostly fine with whatever Suzuka was doing, however, Saigo Homura, the other person who was in the room with them right now, was another story entirely. He has always been a tough nut to crack for her, and this time was not different, but…
「Yeah? What’s wrong, Lady Ayato?」
「Well, uhm, you see, the thing is… don’t you think that it should be high time for us to actually, I don’t know, do something like mobilize ourselves to help resolve the crisis outside? Because I don’t want to be rude, and don’t take it the wrong way, but both you and Suzuka did absolutely nothing for the past three days besides sitting here and reading all day. Are you really fine with being so passive?」
「Well, of course I would love to do anything to help, but here’s the thing, Lady Ayato. Even if we were to move out and try dealing with this situation on our own, it wouldn’t do us or the city any good, and you know why? Because the mess out there is of such a grand caliber that by ourselves we would be powerless to stop it. So, for the moment, the only thing we can actually do to help is to lay low here in the Great Tree and preserve our strength for when the preparations for the counterattack against that beast are going to be completed. Once they are, we roll out, and do everything in our power to help. But before that, we just have to sit and wait, whether we like it or not.」
Homura said to Ayato while turning the page of the book he was reading.
After his talk with Izayoi during his audience with Queen Halloween got suddenly cut off, Queen managed to successfully persuade him to seriously think about his participation in the Gift Game known as the 2nd War for the Sun’s Authority, but he did not give her his reply right then and there, which she probably expected, because she wasn’t trying to coerce or force him into making a decision, and she didn’t even complain when he announced that he will only make his decision after confirming that she was indeed telling the truth in his own way, and yet, there he was, doing absolutely nothing, as if he was procrastinating on purpose.
(That being said, I have no way of knowing if anymore bad things won’t happen to Underwood if I will make Queen wait for too long, so I should probably get my act together and give her my answer soon, huh?)
After all, since he received an invitation that was addressed to him personally he couldn’t use the excuse of this Gift Game not being related to him at all, but it was hard for him to say whether that fact motivated him to participate in it or not. He only started researching his father’s Star Particle Bodies because it allowed both him and the orphanage to survive, so it’s not like he can say that he will do it to honor his father’s will because he didn’t even left one before he died, and he definitely wasn’t the type of person to go around claiming that he will take revenge for someone stealing his father’s work and using it to further his or her own goals. As to who might have actually stolen his father’s thesis related to the research of the nanomachines, then based on Queen Halloween’s words, there was only one person who could fit the description perfectly.
(My first guardian… the man whom I have met some 11 years ago, before I even came to Canaria Family Home…)
Aside from Homura himself, the only people who had both the knowledge of the Star Particle Bodies project and the access to the nanomachines themselves were the research team from Everything Company and the man who was their superior, but as to what has become of that man, where he was and what he was doing now, Homura wouldn’t be able to tell for sure unless he investigated it in more detail first.
Covering his face with the open book while sighing heavily, Homura closed his eyes and dove down into the dark sea of his own thoughts and memories.
It happened 11 years ago, before Saigo Homura came to live at the Canaria Family Home orphanage and was under the care of a certain man.
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