Valley Town, Ruwella
Subaru and Nanoha were waiting outside a bar. They, alongside Fate and Teana, managed to gather a clue that this was where Thoma and his new "friends" were last seen. Currently, they were waiting for their Enforcer friends to finished asking questions with the people inside the building.
"Your mood seems to be always down, Subaru." Said Nanoha.
"Oh, it's nothing, Nanoha. I am just thinking about how Thoma managed to get himself into all of these problems." Replied Subaru.
"Don't worry, Subaru. If he's like what you told me, then I am sure that he's not guilty and merely at the wrong place at the wrong time."
"Thanks. But that doesn't get rid of the fact that Thoma is very likely to be infected by Eclipse."
"Yeah…that's the difficult part."
One of the biggest problem that the Bureau faced when facing Eclipse was that they barely knew what they were fighting against. Few things that they knew about the virus were that it was, obviously, some sort of biological weapon, giving its hosts abilities like regeneration, and access to Eclipse equipment.
Then there was the interesting bit about the fact that Eclipse infectees grew a homicidal urge. Those that survive initial phase of the infection will gain all the powers and also the urge. Unfortunately, it was during those urge period where the Eclipse virus was at its prime and thus the best sample for vaccine. The virus from before and after that period provided little due to being too young and didn't grow anymore or degenerated really quickly when its host die.
So far, the only thing that the TSAB can do was to lock up all infectee and wait until they die. It was a cold decision, but the Bureau need to minimize the casualties as much as possible.
Subaru and Nanoha looked at the pair of Enforces that exit the building. Fate let out a sigh as Teana finished her note.
"So, how is it, Tea? Did they see where Thoma went to?" Asked Subaru almost immediately.
"Subaru…I hate to say this, but…almost everyone inside witnessed Thoma punched a guy until he went unconscious before setting off with the guy's motorcycle's key." Said Teana somberly.
Subaru, upon hearing that, lost some of her face's color.
"It…It must be early stage of Eclipse. He's not in murderous rampage…but…but…"
"OK, OK, Subaru. Calm down. There's a possibility that Thoma hasn't reach that stage yet."
"I…I really wish that, Tea. But…the fact that he punched a guy until he lost his consciousness…"
"Actually, that's the strange part." Said Fate suddenly.
"What do you mean, Fate?" Asked Nanoha.
"When Thoma punched the guy, the witness overheard him saying 'Next time, don't cheat from your wife'."
"Wait, what?" Said Subaru confused.
"We checked the guy's ID and managed to confirmed that he's married. The bartender confirmed that the gut routinely visited his bar to meet up with some woman. She's not his wife."
"Which raise an interesting question." Said Teana.
"Indeed. How did Thoma managed to find out about that, considering that his victim didn't even wear a ring?"
The fugitive trio – Thoma, Lily, and Isis – were exploring the road by riding a motorcycle. So far, they haven't been spotted by any TSAB officers.
"So, where should we go next?" Asked Isis.
"Another town I guess. The Bureau is most likely still observing all methods of exiting the planet since they haven't find the Huckebein and believe they're still on the planet." Replied Thoma.
"What makes you believe in that?"
"Call it instinct."
"Well, I guess the other killings that happen around Ruwella don't help the situation." Said Isis with a bit of snark.
They became quiet once more. After several minutes of driving, Lily spotted something on the horizon.
"Look up ahead."
Both Thoma and Isis looked at the thing that Lily saw. When they got closer, they could see with a clear view that it was a gas station.
"Gas station? That reminds me, shouldn't we stop there and buy ourselves some fuel for the motorcycle?" Said Isis.
"Nah, we don't need any fuel." Replied Thoma before thinking about something. "On the other hand, we might get ourselves some snack, hat, and glasses. You know, for our stomachs and guise."
"Sounds like a good idea."
With the three of them agreed with each other, Thoma drove the motorcycle towards the gas station.
Inside one of the room in the ship, Fortis, Arnage, and Cypha were having a meeting. The topic of the meeting was about how they're going to take out the entity that managed to hurt Veyron.
"So, let me get this straight, the wounds that Veyron received don't heal by themselves like usual." Said Cypha.
"Yes." Replied Fortis.
"Those wounds are inflicted by some sort of being with a flaming skull as its head."
"That's correct." Replied Arnage.
"And no matter what Veyron did, he couldn't hurt the entity at all."
"Indeed." Replied Fortis and Arnage.
Cypha let out a sigh and pick up a glass full of beer. She drank the entire content before putting it down.
"When I heard that we're in trouble, I thought that it's because those social workers managed to create an anti-Eclipse weapon, not because some demon from Hell decided that it's the time for us to take a trip to the Underworld." Commented Cypha.
"Well, I myself rather doubt that the thing that attacked Veyron is a demon. Illusion magic nowadays can do some rather surprising visual effect and Eclipse might not be the only source of these kind of powers." Replied Fortis.
"I know. I am being sarcastic."
"In any case, do anyone have an idea on how to take it out?" Asked Arnage excited.
"Veyron told us that despite being incapable of getting hurt, that entity still follows the rule of physics, including action and reaction. Pushed it hard enough, and it could be propelled across the room." Said Fortis.
"That means we just need to apply enough force and keep it on the ground while we finish our objectives, Am I correct?" Suggested Cypha.
"Correct indeed! Leave that to me; supreme firepower is my main shtick!" Said Arnage.
"I am not going to just conclude it to that. According to him, the entity is extremely durable. You can propel it across the room, but it will just stand up as if nothing happens. Which means, if we want to suppressed with force, it needs to be near continuous. And as powerful as we are, we have our own limits." Remined Fortis.
"Damn it. This must have happened when I declared that life has become easy for us. The Universe must've took that as personal offense and accepted it as a challenge." Said Arnage as she let herself fell to a sofa.
"Never challenge the Universe to make your life harder. It never ends well." Said Cypha. "Anyway, any idea on how the entity managed to give Veyron unhealable wounds?"
"Hmm…" Fortis put his hand on his chin. "Eclipse Virus has its history all the way to the Ancient Belkan Era. Perhaps an antidote of sort once exists during that time and the entity is in possession of them."
"I guess that makes sense. Most of the Bureau territory are former Belkan's. If the Eclipse wasn't somehow being purged, we would hear the news about if ever since we were born." Said Cypha.
"Exactly. Let me see what I can find from the ship and extranet. We might be going to raid several libraries, so be ready." Said Fortis as he walked away from the two women.
"Good luck with your search, Fortis! I'll make sure you get some good food in return!" Said Arnage.
Inside the convenience store, Thoma, Lily, and Isis were buying some snacks and other things. Thoma in particular tried himself some new shade. Lily was confused with the food and drink that she was, due to never seeing foods like these. Isis tried some hats she found in the store, but found them unfitting of her style. Then, she decided to go to the toilet.
"[TV]…as such, the Bureau advices the citizens of Ruwella to report anything suspicious, stay inside the house during the night unless necessary, and…"
"Damn, this was a nice peaceful world. Then some idiots decided to cause problems." Commented the cashier who was busy reading a magazine.
Thoma silently agreed with him. At the same time, just from the voice he found the cashier to be annoying.
Anyway, looks like the three of them need to stay low for quite some times. According to the news, instead of decreasing, the Bureau actually increased the amount of security and surveillance on Ruwella. At the least, they need to find a place to stay for several weeks. The alternative was to keep moving around, never in the same place for a long time.
After picking the chosen snacks, Thoma and Isis went to the cashier to pay for them. And the shade as well. As the cashier scanned them, Thoma took out his wallet and was about to pay it when suddenly he felt something.
"Come on, Lily!" Said Thoma as he grabbed her hand.
"Hey, what about your grocery?"
Both of them went inside the toilet that Isis used; the girl's toilet.
"Hey, what are - UMPH!"
Signum parked her car in a gas station. She actually didn't need any fuel since the tank was still full. But when she saw the motorcycle that was similar to the stolen one, she decided to asked some question here.
She fixed her uniform before disembarking from the car with Agito. Signum looked around for a bit as both of them went towards the convenience store. She entered it and saw the cashier reading a magazine.
With some snacks on the table. None of them were open, which means there was a chance that they belong to a customer rather than the cashier.
"Excuse me, Sir?" Said Signum. "I am Signum and this is my partner Agito. We're looking for three people suspected of committing some serious crimes. Have you seen any of them?"
Signum showed the man a poster with the sketches of Thoma, Lily, and Isis. In reality, Signum wasn't confident that the man saw anything worthwhile.
Her suspicion was proven true.
"Don't know. Not seeing anything important. Though there are two people who are about to buy these snacks but then decide to go to the toilet." Replied the cashier.
Hearing the last part, Signum and Agito decided to go towards the toilet. When they only few feet away, Agito asked something.
"Hey Signum, isn't it the time for you to prepare Laevatein?"
"I don't think so. While there's no customer, there's still the cashier. Then, we can't risk scarring the children."
"I am not so sure about..."
Before Agito can finished her words, they already in front of the door. And not even a second later, the door got pushed off its hinges and slammed towards the Knight. Thoma, who pushed the door, slammed the door and by extension Signum to the floor.
"Hey, what the…!" Exclaimed Agito before Isis delivered her attack.
The attack resulted in series of explosions that sent Thoma, Signum, and Agito across the store.
"Be careful, will you!" Exclaimed Thoma.
"It's not like I am aiming at you or something!" Retorted Isis.
"That's not what I mean!"
Agito immediately flew upwards and retaliated.
"Brennenkugel!" Shouted the Unison Device.
On the other part of the battle, both Thoma and Signum managed to stand up and started to trade blow with each other. Each time Signum tried to summon Laevatein, Thoma immediately close in and prevent her from completing the action.
During the fight, Signum noticed that Thoma's movements were sloppy. Make sense since he lacked experience and didn't have any training except a little from Subaru. Unfortunately, it had been a long time since Signum fight in hand-to-hand combat and – she started to scolded herself mentally – having that kind of training as well.
However, it appeared that Thoma didn't need any skill at all. The force that he put in each of his punch was strong enough to hurt Signum significantly. Which mean she need to parry or dodge the attacks since blocking still cause her to receive a pain.
Suddenly, Signum heard something fell to the floor and the voice for some reason attracted her. When she looked at what was falling, she saw Agito on the floor, pretty much beaten up. When she saw the Device however, Thoma grabbed her right hand and punched her on the abdomen two times before hitting her chin. Those punches were strong enough to make her fall.
Thoma immediately summon his Divider and shot Signum on her kneecap. As she tried to stop the bleeding, Thoma, Lily, and Isis exited the store. On their way to the motorcycle, Isis destroyed Signum's car using Dusky Thrush. When all of them embarked the motorcycle, Thoma immediately rode away from the gas station, leaving a fire trail behind.
The cashier, who was hiding during the battle, grabbed several items from the now ruined store before took off himself.
Several hours later…
Inside the medical bay, Shamal and the nurses managed to tend Signum and Agito's wounds. Both of them were now resting on the bed.
"So, I guess we can now confirm that Thoma Avenir is infected by the Eclipse?" Said Teana.
"I guess so. According to Subaru, Thoma was quite unruly when she found her, but never aggressive like this." Replied Fate as she took a look on Subaru.
The former Forward of Riot Force 6 remain silent after they brought Signum back. It was as clear as day though that Subaru was in ruin. Her face showed how panicked and in despair she was. Make sense since there was a high chance that Thoma showed an initial symptom of the homicidal urge that all Eclipse infectees suffered.
"Is there something that you can tell us about Thoma's ability?" Asked Hayate.
"Except the usual, not so much, Hayate. I am sorry." Replied Signum.
"Don't worry. Just make sure you have enough rest."
After the conversation, Hayate and others left both Signum and Agito to let them rest. However, the General of Raging Fire had no intention to do that at the moment.
"Vita, Shamal, Zafira, Rein, please come to my bed. And make sure that no one notice. Not even Hayate." Said Signum through the telepathy.
"Is there something wrong, Signum?" Asked Vita. This was rather unusual.
"I can't explain it like this. Just come over here."
Several minutes later, the rest of the Wolkenritter entered the bay and went towards Signum and Agito.
"So, what do you want to tell us about?" Asked Vita.
"I actually didn't tell Hayate about everything that happened on the gas station. I left one little detail; I saw through Thoma's eyes." Replied Signum.
"Is there something wrong with his eyes?" Asked Reinforce, now very curious.
"When I saw his eyes, I can feel a sense of fear…terror started to grow in my heart. It urged me to run away from him ASAP."
This caused the other Wolkenritter to raise their brows in surprise. It was an achievement to make a Wolkenritter to fear about something that's not related to their master.
"Then, there's another thing."
"What is it?" Asked Shamal.
"Whatever I saw through his eyes, I can't help but feel I have seen those eyes before." Said Signum as she stared at the ceiling, thinking about when and where she had seen those eyes before.
And the chapter is done.
If you have question or suggestion, feel free to tell me.