"This is just a work of fiction, the author does not own any of the properties in this story."
Chapter 0: Chill Therapy
That was the only sensation I can feel where I am now. I'm impressed that my psyche is still functional in this space. Then again this situation can be considered hellish and claustrophobic, how time had passed in my body's slumber? Even though I am not aware I know that I'm asleep, perhaps forever stuck in this chilly limbo.
My, my, this is an interesting turn of events…
I come to see my surroundings change, a bluish space visible to my eyes and I noticed something on my neck.
A stethoscope? Seeing my reflection on the shiny blue tiles, I noticed my garments where changed into a doctor's uniform only to noticed that I am in a blue hospital room.
"Where I am?" I asked to myself not noticing the man on the office desk, his face facing behind me.
The chair turned around and I was taken aback, a strange looking man with big eyes and a knowing smile, I seemingly know that he wasn't human.
"Welcome to the Velvet Room."
This place is called the Velvet Room? This is quite peculiar; then again it is safe to assume that this is just a fever dream.
"I see you have many questions young man." Quite a lot Mr.…
"My name is Igor and this place exists in a realm between mind and matter."
I suddenly heard a cough in the room to see a refined platinum blonde sitting on the couch.
The nurse stood up and bowed, "My name is Sherry, an assistant of this Velvet Room."
"What do you want?" I quickly asked before they drop another bombshell at me.
Igor gestured for his assistant to sit, he then produced a parchment from the desk.
"Our interest is to protect humanity, no matter what world it may be." Other worlds, so they also help others from alternate universes, I don't have any grasp on my identity but that made me have a sudden existential dread.
"Protect humanity" however, does that mean humanity in my world is in danger? Without even thinking I moved towards Igor.
"Oh?" He was a tad surprised, then again I was too, and it's like the desk is calling to me,
"How proactive of you, eager to sign the contract."
The paper was a contract? Wait, it doesn't have any readable text!
Seeing this, Igor waved his hand lazily and then it became readable.
This contract is only effective until the contractor achieves The World and has cured the illnesses that plague the world.
"What do you mean by The World?" I hesitantly asked.
"Perceptive, most guests just skim over the fine print and do not know how to read proper capitalization." Igor sighed amused, like it was an inside joke of his.
"Are you by any chance familiar of the Tarot?" I shake my head, "The World is last card, and it represents completeness in a sense, for you see you are a literal hollow soul."
"Never mind that detail, I take it you have signed?" Before I knew it my signature was written on the paper, seems like my soul wants to take the contract.
Igor chuckled, "Excellent, now then Doctor we shall continue this conversation however…"
I woke up in an icy prison, whether it was of my own volition or by force I imprisoned myself. I lost everything that makes me, who I am, memories of friends and days gone by, of paperwork and thesis defenses. The good and the bad wiped away like a clean slate, sanitary to my mind's impurities, at least that's what I got from her; the one who brought me back to reality.
I am a doctor of Rhodes Island Pharmaceutical according to her. I lead them to prosperity I inferred from the high regard she spoke of me and the respect the Operators gave to me, albeit some of them are cold and Dobermann, a Guard Operator, judges my competence, then again I do too, moving them and giving combat orders feels familiar me and the squad are quite surprised when I lead to victory just after my sleep in a cryochamber.
Reunion, the enemies we are facing why did they attack us? Judging from their attitude they assumed that we are the aggressors even though some of them attacked us when they extracted me.
"I don't understand?" I voiced out, Dobermann guarding me while Amiya assisted the Casters.
"What confuses you Doctor?" She immediately asked intent on filling me with more information, perhaps she thinks this would help me get back on my feet.
"Reunion, they seem to fight like we are the aggressors."
Dobermann silently mused, "Indeed it seems like they fight to hold us off, however it may be the upcoming Catastrophe."
"Aren't they devastating though, why would they want to stay here unless they had a leader that will lead them to safety otherwise."
"Reunion is a terrorist group of ruffians I doubt their chain of command is that competent."
What we're you saying Dobermann?
The operation is FUBAR, their leader is immensely powerful, a lady who uses fire ARTS? Did I mention we are currently in the midst of a freaking Catastrophe?
"Now burn" Their leader commanded the flames to turn us into ash. However black met orange-red and the flames ceased to cinder our souls. I looked to see Amiya's eyes tinted red with power and determination.
"I swear Doctor, I will protect you!"
Ace and his squad used this time to distract Talulah, the Reunion leader on the other hand seemed to be amused at Amiya's willpower?
"Go ahead Amiya, me and my squad we'll hold them off." Ace instructed.
I was about to protest but Amiya took my hand before I could have said anything. The last look I saw from him was resigned defeat and a glimmer of hope? His mouth moved while looking at me, almost like he's saying words of encouragement sadly I couldn't hear them amidst the chaos.
Steel clashed against steel, and somehow I can feel embers touching my skin.
"I, I couldn't…" I breathed my grief, I lost memories sure, but knowing that once there was a bond between them, at least a goodbye can I least say that much. Dobermann glared at me, almost saying that I shouldn't mourn for them yet, I steeled my resolve.
"Glad to see that you're as perceptive as Amiya says you are."
We continued fighting our way out of the city amidst a Catastrophe no less; somehow I was able to command them perfectly. Relief spread through my heart at the fact that I raised the morale of the Operators when we are at a hopeless situation.
Explosions run amok on the point, the silhouette of a girl moving towards us,
"You can call me W, A mercenary working for Reunion." Her introduction was followed with a tense silence.
"Oh, you don't remember…" The mercenary said, taking interest at me. Talulah was more fixated on Amiya but W however.
Easy enough, another skirmish occurred, while W is tired she barely had any critical damage, luckily our forces are too. This is the last stretch if we make out of this then Ace and his squad's sacrifice won't be wasted right?
As the heat of the vicinity rises however, my face paled. Dobermann, Amiya, and the others we're trying to hide it to varying degrees, how are they so quick? She is really a force of nature according the reports I skimmed while commanding.
She didn't say a word, I watched as the area was slowly swallowed up in flames, Mephisto, an earlier commander we fought against, laughing in murderous glee as we slowly feel the other end of an oven.
Some of us passed out, and Amiya despite her show of power before was struggling to use it again.
"So this is the extent of your power?" I heard Talulah mutter while burning us in an increasingly painful passion.
Seeing the Operators that risked their lives and their comrades slowly burn like me, why can't I do anything? Why did they risk this much for a single man? I have no recollection of my identity I'm practically useless. Aren't we a medicine company? Why is Reunion attacking us in first place? Why! Why! Why!?
Why do they have to die?
In that moment, time seemed to have slowed down. Flashes of the dream that I had echo in my head, a cure to an illness, the world and The World…
The world I inhabit now is dreary and bleak because of an illness that much I know of. The pangs in my heart seeing anti-infected propaganda and the results of it to the city… The rundown clinic that was caught in the crossfire when they just help infected people without bias.
If there is one thing I can blame for our demise, it would be discrimination as a whole.
That's the true illness in this world, not Oripathy. Unlike Oripathy however, there is a cure but people are hesitant and terrified to take it. I know even before my past self, hated this situation, this hatred of these bigoted patients that refuse to take the pill can't compare to my hatred in curing their illness.
A chilly air enveloped me.
Void of memories you may, it appears your heart still has sway.
Being punished for having a cure, can't even make them swallow the pill?
What kind of doctor are you? If you can't cure them who will!?
The flames dissipated in an instant, shocking everyone even Talulah who broke her composure slightly.
I looked to see my hand grasping a black and white pill, I held up into the sky making everyone anticipate what it is.
"This aura…" I heard Amiya say from behind.
Be the first to be cured, my dear Doctor.
I swallowed it in one gulp, all of them anticipating what effects this insanely bitter pill does. The taste wouldn't go away; it feels like poison more than a cure. I feel nauseous, starting to sway and buckle holding on to dear life just to stand up.
Three seconds and then indescribable pain course through my body and mind. Nobody dare shoot or throw ARTS for the fear that it would as ineffective as Talulah's fire. Five seconds after I coughed blood!
"Doctor!" I heard Amiya shout in panic, amidst that were relieved Reunion faces.
Frost started to form underneath where I'm stepping at. Slowly I can feel myself feel better.
To use yourself as the example of the effects of your remedy.
Such dedication even for someone without memory!
They didn't know why but Reunion instinctively braces for something they don't even know.
I am thou, thou art I!
The world is wrought with death incarnate yet they choose to ignore it!
Force down the bitter remedy, cure anyone in sight, they all are ill!
A mask suddenly formed around my face, the hood of my jacket turned into ice and shattered a while ago.
Tearing it off, I shouted with a bloodied face…
The area was greeted with a burst of icy wind, Reunion bracing for impact but it was useless only the strong where holding on to impact. However, this power was kind to my allies I noticed they were slowly healing.
"What the hell is that thing!?" An operator behind me shouted out.
"Who cares he's on our side right?"
Talulah's terror was evident in her face, even for a split second I saw that expression and grinned.
She charged with her blade, glowing an intimate red.
A spectral hand blocked her attack by instinct, and another sent a fist at her.
She pulled back and launch another fire ARTS at me, but almost by instinct I called out.
"Bufu!" Ice launched at her, overpowering her fire like it was nothing however she reposition herself to attack me before she could get hit.
"Bufu! Bufu! Bufu!" I shouted it with glee, making Talulah run around avoiding ice.
Mephisto was the first to get back to his senses, "The hell are you doing assist Talulah!" he barked at his lackeys, ARTS, bows, and swords launched at my position ignoring the operators behind me.
Ophiuchus blocked them all with his wings however, I missed one. An arrow almost hit Amiya dead-on.,
I fired a Bufu at their general direction.
That's right! Cure them all! They all are infected; they parade through the streets sick in the body and in the mind.
"Cure them all Ophiuchus!"
The Doctor is protecting us; he was enraged when I was almost hit by a stray arrow. Even amidst a Catastrophe he was laying waste to the enemy group.
"BUFU BUFU BUFU!" He shouted again and again, ice being launched by the creature behind him, in a way it reminded of Monst3r on a more terrifying level. Talulah couldn't do anything about it, even after losing his memories he is still more reliable than me.
I'm still a burden to him. However the glee on his bloodied face as he dismantles the squad that was pursuing us, that isn't him!
Even on his most blood-lustful moments, there was always a method to his brief periods of madness, this was animalistic anger, even if I'm weak I need to-
It was too late, during the brief period Talulah was distracted he went to Mephisto, jumping into the enemy group pushing them away just to reach one of their commanders.
"Cure him Ophiuchus!"
Suddenly, that Sniper friend of his pushed him out of the way being hit by that ice ARTS the Doctor has been using.
The shrill scream of anguish fell on deaf ears as the specter lifted the unconscious Faust with its hand, intent on finishing him off, Talulah rushed forward with her sword and some fire ARTS but the thing shrugged it off with its wings knocking her back with the force of its chilly flapping.
"No, please…" Mephisto begged, even we felt a tinge of mercy as the ghost possessing the Doctor "cures" him.
"Doctor!" I screamed to the heavens hoping that the Doctor would end this terror.
Regaining my senses I surveyed the area that I laid waste to.
It felt like a trance was broken, I see myself surrounded by Reunion. Wait, weren't their more of them here? I turn to see a kneeling Mephisto in front of me, his legs having signs of frostbite; Talulah on the ground exhausted but not severely injured she was heavily frustrated however. Even W was not exempted from what seems to be me, rampaging, her skin also being affected by the cold and some ice going through her limbs but judging from the lack of blood the wounds frosted before they could even bleed. I look around to assess the damage, ice everywhere; the members that haven't run were either dead by collateral or severely injured. I did not even notice I was carrying Mephisto's friend with Ophiuchus.
A thud echoed as I laid him down disrespectfully, Mephisto looked up to my face staring at me with disbelief at the mercy I apparently showed. I also am horrified at the carnage I've done, this power was never meant for wanton destruction; in my rage I did not even notice the other spell I can use with Ophiuchus.
"Dia," I whispered targeting the injured sniper and with a verdant aura, wounds were relieved and I went back to my rescuers.
My body felt horrible, begging me for mercy and rest but I cannot, if I show any signs of weakness they will continue what they did to Ace's squad. A mask appeared on my face, and by instinct I crushed it, the glow of Ophiuchus making the Reunion members cower in fright.
"Follow us or I will end you." My tired and dry throat echoed out, the voice that followed sounded like a reaper's whisper. Before they depart, I was compelled to cure W as well; I silently whispered Dia again and her limping had stopped and she quickly walked away, not before giving me a knowing smile.
The wait for them to leave was agonizing.
"Doctor!" I ran towards him as he suddenly collapsed from fatigue. Nearl carried him in a bridal carry, now that I noticed he has quite the average height, barely being an inch shorter than most male Operators.
Dobermann suddenly approached me and urged us to quickly depart; hopefully when he wakes up he can share what happened to him and why he suddenly has a demon-like creature following his commands.
"I'm not familiar with the Doctor, but I'm pretty sure you have no idea what just happened as well Amiya." Dobermann stated.
Memories of him flowed in my mind but no one remembers that power he brought upon our enemies a while ago.
"Yes, Dr. Kal'tsit would probably have a headache after we report back to her."
"Couldn't we just omit the fact that the Doctor has a spirit obeying him?" Nearl suggested.
While that would be optimal if this is a one-time thing …
"That thing's existence is something that will be revealed eventually." I reasoned, knowing that Dr. Kal'tsit would scold us if we omit that fact anyway.
Ace and his squad are…but at least he'll be happy that his sacrifice is the reason why we might have hope in the battles to come, that entity that the Doctor called out, I did not notice during the battle but the ice surrounding us was healing our wounds, the cut on my wrist perfectly sealed without a trace of it being there. In a way, I'm happy. Even though I was useless during the battle, my voice was able to stop him from having a taste for slaughter.
"Dr. Kal'tsit, we have recovered the Doctor."
Welcome back, to the Velvet Room.
Arcana: The Fool
Trait: Resourceful Transmutation
"Replaces SP cost to HP if user's SP is not enough for a spell."
"According to Roman/Greek Mythology, this was Asclepius after he discovered the cure to death. He was struck down by Zeus/Jupiter because this goes against the natural order. However he was later turned into a star in memory of his good deeds, that star was called Ophiuchus."
"In astrology, the sign Ophiuchus is an anomaly as it was only added when the established Horoscope is already the norm, thus disrupting the status quo."