Hymnia - Voice of the Soul
Chapter 5: The woman who pursues the truth

News of the incident regarding the appearance of the Keii at the residential district soon spread like wildfire. Not only did the majority of Galroz know about it, but other cities were also alarmed. Only a day had passed, and soon the Grand Guard had taken action. To summarize, the Grand Guard was the high authority known throughout Grand Terra. They were an extremely large organization with members stationed in many parts of the world. Galroz, on the other hand, was granted an exception due to both factions already having their own security deployed.

However, it was known that Galroz had its own counteraction against the Keii's form of quick transportation, yet the monsters were able to breakthrough. This fault was enough to make the Grand Guard suspicious of the Galroz military. Either the problem was due to the factions' incompetence, or it was an inside job.

At present, the Grand Guard had started an investigation around Galroz to seek out the reason behind the Keii's appearance. It was only natural that the organization would look to both factions for answers. Average civilians knew little about the two factions' negativity against one another, but the Grand Guard was aware. It would create a lingering issue if news of their relations would break out, so at first the Grand Guard thought it best to simply keep watch.

A lone woman walked through the halls of the Einden Faction HQ. Her long pink hair swayed to her fast-paced steps as did her black and white coat. Her serious face showed little expression as the people in uniform stared at her, talking amongst themselves as they watched her pass by. Arriving at her destination, the woman kept her firm stance as she walked through the door.

She quickly observed the people inside. Even before she entered, the composed woman could already sense people just like her: Engraved. It made her suspicious, but one couldn't tell from the expression she currently held.

"I presume you're Arthur Einden?" The woman spoke as she looked at the veteran sitting with a similar demeanor. The aged man was usually quite welcoming, but he still knew how to keep a stern face.

"Yes, that would be me" Arthur replied with a short nod, analyzing the authoritative figure from top to bottom. "I see the Grand Guard decided to send one of the 9 Aegis instead of a whole platoon. Not that I have any objections to it though, Aegis Megurine A. Luka" His tone remained neutral as Miku and Kiyoteru both exchanged glances with the pink haired lady. These were the two Engraved the Grand Guard member had sensed earlier, though she remained unsurprised.

"Keep in mind that this is only because Galroz has allowed the situation to escalate this far" the woman replied. "We've been keeping watch on this area as well as the actions of both of Galroz' factions. I myself find it rather odd that the Keii were able to infiltrate one of the major cities, don't you?" Her words clearly stated her point. Though it was an unfriendly approach, that was the message she wanted to relay. She was searching for the truth, and in her opinion, friendly interaction wasn't needed.

With one hand placed on her hip, Miku sternly replied, "You and me both. This will sound biased since I'm in Einden faction territory and all, but I believe we're not the ones you should be pointing the sword at"

"Is that so?" The Aegis member replied. "And what is your proof? It's clear to see that you're not even a part of the Einden faction" The Grand Guard had a large database, and the Razenwald crew wasn't an exception. Though they don't have an in-depth record of the Engraved crews, its members were still part of their knowledge banks.

Miku replied with a smile, "I guess you could call it a hunch. We could show you some physical proof, but I'm sure it would take more than that to convince an Aegis of the Grand Guard, right?" The team leader knew well enough how strictly the Grand Guard worked. Though that was the case, hearing out the stands of both parties was part of the mantle that the Grand Guard member took on.

"Very well. Show me your evidence then. I'll decide whether to believe it or not after I've seen it" She didn't seem to lean towards the side of the Einden faction, but she also didn't show any signs of bias. Her solid and not easily influenced mind was enough for people to believe that she was good at what she did.

The same material initially shown to the team of Engraved was relayed to the female officer. As she read all the notes presumed to be for the Crade faction's use, Megurine continued to ask herself if it was the pure truth. When she finished, she put down the evidence and began to speak once again.

"Tell me, how were you able to get ahold of this?" She asked, getting her answer from Kiyoteru.

"As an intelligence officer, it was my duty to gather any bit of information not only regarding Galroz. Before actually moving in Galroz, I worked with an independent group that functioned a little similar to the Grand Guard. If I recall, it was the Grand Guard themselves that called us 'Mercenaries'"

"I see...so you were one of those renegade members then" Megurine's tone showed some hostility, but after all, the renegade group named 'Potestas' held a track record of unlawful operations. If the Grand Guard served with law, Potestas did so with a reward always expected. Some of Potestas' missions were actually beneficial to the people, but as long as Potestas stays a group with divided members, there are always those that are willing to do the opposite deed for a high price. "I'm sorry for the interruption. Continue with your explanation"

Kiyoteru resumed, "One of my assignments was to gather information about a certain experiment run by professor Mitsuki Kaai in Tarf. I took on the task even though my body was being strained by an abnormality called Advent-Reject. I'm sure you've heard of this, but it's a condition wherein the energy created by Hymnia activation is rejected from the body as a foreign object. Because of this, I eventually fell unconscious on my way to Tarf. When I woke up, I found myself in professor Kaai's lab"

Kiyoteru showed professionalism in his manner of speaking, not showing any negative emotion from his experiences. "I'd been asleep for a whole day from the strain. Even though she had an idea of who I was, professor Kaai didn't show any ill will, and instead wanted to help me recover from my condition. Aside from the experiment assigned to her, she developed a vaccine that prevented the Advent-Reject from worsening. During my stay there, I analyzed the research supposedly provided by the Crade faction in the hopes of finishing my task, but I never did in the end. I stayed in the small village for about two months...right until the abrupt end of the experiment. Professor Kaai handed me only the most relevant notes, and burned the rest. She knew the Crade faction would come looking for her, and so she disappeared with the rest of the research"

The Einden faction HQ was quite large, acting as a container for a variety of different sections including residential quarters. There was also a section where a large garden was put. The many flowers and trees surrounded a white fountain that pleasantly sprout out water. A silent Yuki stared at the clear water that sheltered a few small fish.

"There you are" A voice said, making the little girl turn towards a smiling Rin. "I was looking all over for you. It's pretty easy to get lost in this place, huh?"

Yuki smiled back with a nod, but Rin could tell from the girl's face that she was still deep in thought. Rin couldn't blame her one bit. The blond Engraved would've felt the same way if she was in the same position. Yuki knew her sister was gone, but she was never told the truth. She didn't want to be angry with Kiyoteru, but a part of her just couldn't help it. All he was doing was protecting her, but she was too young too fully understand Kiyoteru's wish.

Breaking the silence between them, Rin began, "I know it was sudden, but please don't get mad at Kiyoteru. I'm sure...he was going through the same pain as you. All he wanted to do was respect your sister's last request and to protect you" the young Engraved didn't know much about Kiyoteru, but the man's actions thus far proved that he showed importance for both Yuki and her sister. The former knew this, and yet as she gazed at the clear water in front of her, Yuki's mind still remained clouded.

Suddenly though, the ringing sound of a cellphone caught the girls' attention. Rin saw Len's name on the screen as she picked up the call.

"Hey...I need help with something..." An irritated and defeated Len grunted from the other line even before Rin could say hello. "I've been walking in circles all morning. Every time I follow the directories they always lead me to the wrong room! Is it too much to ask for the cafeteria!" Having grown up in a town where skyscrapers were scarce, making his way through the vast space of buildings proved to be quite a challenge for Len. He wasn't the type to ask for directions, and in the end, that became his Achilles' heel.

"Well, it's no wonder you've been going in circles" Rin sighed, giving her fellow Engraved a quick run through of the virtual map the moment they'd met up. Using simple commands found on the screen placed on every floor and facility, the teen ordered the device to display their current location and pinpoint a number of other places on the screen. "You don't even know how to use the map, do you? I wouldn't mind at all if you'd asked me before"

Len hoped she wouldn't ask that question, because that was exactly what the boy couldn't do. Lately, Len had been struggling with a whole line of gadgets newly introduced to him. Sadly, he wasn't much of the tech in his own world. "Give me a break...I'd be long gone by the time these things pop-up where I come from"

As Rin gazed at the map, a certain option had caught her attention. The word 'Terminal service' was labelled among the other choices on the screen. "By the way, Len, I haven't told you about Terminal Service yet. It's pretty popular nowadays and a lot of people are using it, including me. I'm sure Yuki has one too"

Yuki shyly nodded as Len made a quick deduction. "If it's one of those programs where you waste a fourth of your life talking all day to someone you don't even really know, then I'll pass"

"That's a pretty negative guess…" Rin sighed again with a knowing smile. "That's only one of the things you can do with Terminal Service, so you don't necessarily have to. In a nutshell, Terminal Service lets you do a lot of things from different kinds of terminals, just like this map screen over here. Let me see your phone for a bit"

Handing his friend the thin yellow phone he'd been given on his first day in Grand Terra, Len watched as Rin held up the device against the terminal, signalling a short beep moments later. The girl began to tinker with the phone as she spoke, "Terminal service lets you look up news or any other information you'd want to find as long as the device allows it. It also lets you make your own personal avatar when you register. See, I've already made one for you!"

Len's eyes widened at the little figure displayed on the screen. It looked a bit like him although 10 times smaller, with thin glasses, a towel hanging on by his arm, and clothing that made him seem like a billionaire's butler.

"Wh-What the hell? I never asked you to make it for me!"

"But don't you think it looks cute?" A chuckling Rin replied. "How about you, Yuki? I'm sure you think it looks cute, right?" The black haired Engraved agreed wholeheartedly, much to the boy's added annoyance.

"I don't care about your biased opinions! Just change it back already!" Len shot back, but it was much too late to do anything as the phrase 'registration complete' hit the screen. Rin stuttered at her accidental fault. She hadn't noticed, but she'd pressed the submit button.

Yuki mumbled, "Umm…you have to wait a month so you can change your avatar once you're registered" And that was when it hit the boy. He blamed himself for not stopping the registration instead of mouthing away. With a defeated expression once again, Len took the phone from his gleeful companion's hands. As Len looked into the eyes of his tiny self, the idle avatar did the same. In the end, all he could do was close the phone's lid.

"…This is such a low blow" The teen muttered. "I'm getting you back for this; just thought I'd let you know in advance"

The atmosphere was becoming lighter thanks to the distraction the lively scene had created. Rin noticed Yuki's uplifted mood and smiled. After all, it wasn't healthy for a girl as young as Yuki to sulk in the negatives. "That's better…I think a smile suits you more, Yuki" the female Engraved thought to herself.

AN: And that's it for this chapter. It's not much, but there's more to come next time. I'd like to hear your comments/suggestions though, so please click on the little review button after. It's those reviews that make me more motivated. Also, if you'd like to hear the songs I've made for this fic, please visit soundcloud(DOT)com/gibder/ (Just replace the (DOT) with an actual period. the link dosen't work if i post it). Thanks!