As usual, the secret venue was packed with the regular participants of this underground combat event along with the spectators who came to make some side bets on matches. The prize money up for grabs was worth 20,000 credits made from the entry fees paid by the participants and the bonus thrown in by the event organizer.
'Looks like it'll be another good evening tonight.' The bouncer's thoughts were interrupted by a knocking from outside the steel door. He moved to slide the miniature latch at the top to see who was outside and only saw a black visor with a pink jagged design on the front, preventing him from seeing the guest's eyes. "Yes?"
"I understand that an event is scheduled to begin at nine sharp? I would like to participate."
He briefly pondered if it was a cop in disguise who wanted to infiltrate the place. After all, this wasn't exactly a sanctioned combat event like what was run at the DSAA although there was no law in place that made it illegal to run such a fight club. "Lemme clear this up with my boss first." He slid back the latch and made a call to his superior, the one who ran the place.
It didn't take long for him to receive a response. The boss had surveillance cameras everywhere on his property. After getting a clear picture of the guest outside, a quick cross check to the most up to date police personnel list (obtained through a plant in the police force) confirmed that she wasn't one of them. With that information clearing his doubts, the bouncer opened the steel door to let her in.
She was really something. Already, she was in her barrier jacket which consisted of a light-green mini dress (with long puffy sleeves) covered by a white jacket, long white socks, and black boots. A choker on the neck topped off the appearance and her hands were equipped with customized fingerless gloves.
He shook his head briefly to get his focus back. "Just pay the entry fee and you'll be slotted into the brackets. Don't be late for your match or you'll be disqualified."
'Huh… silvery green hair colour? Weird chick…' It was all he thought as she passed by him.
The fee had been paid and her entry confirmed. Now all she could do is wait for her match. In the meantime, she decided to duck back into the women's washroom and hide herself in a stall. Once she was certain that nobody had trailed her and that there were no surveillance cameras around, she released her combat form in order to conserve energy.
Einhart Stratos had never expected to find an event like this in her neck of the woods. Even a world like Karnarog had another side to it, concealed from the view of the TSAB. But she was grateful for this chance. Not only would she be able to get valuable live combat experience and test her Kaiser Arts, she would be able to take another step closer to her goals.
For as long as she could remember, she had these recurring dreams about Ancient Belka. A dream about regret and weakness and the inability to protect what was held dear. She didn't understand it at first and the fact that it caused her distress during her childhood years put a lot of strain on the relationship between her parents. Especially when her mother had difficulty in believing what her father had said earlier about how he and Einhart were descendants from a royal bloodline in the time of Ancient Belka and how their ancestor's regret is what is generating those dreams. He experienced them as well but because he didn't inherit a great deal of magical power, they didn't haunt his sleep too often. In Einhart's case, the dreams came every night because of how strongly her ancestor's magic manifested itself inside her.
Once she had an idea of what was causing this, the next step would be to find a way to put that regret to rest. That would mean researching and learning more about her heritage. From what she had found out so far, the best way to do that would be to go to the heart of the Saint Church itself on Mid-Childa. Enrolling into the Church's school wouldn't be too hard as they do welcome anyone with the will to learn, regardless of what world they originate from. Her parents wouldn't have minded making a move to that world.
However at the moment, it wasn't feasible due to how the nature of the work that her parents did had them rooted to this world. In a few years, they probably would be ready to go but she wasn't sure she could wait that long. So she struck a deal.
If Einhart could prove that she could manage herself responsibly and raise the money (through legal means, obviously) needed to travel and live there, she could make the move on her own. Already, she had budgeted out what she would need in terms of funding. While St. Hilde provided for living arrangements with dorms that were within walking range of the campus and had some basic necessities in place like a meal plan, she would have to earn enough funds to make her way to Mid-Childa. Civilian flights between worlds weren't cheap. And on top of that, she figured she would need training equipment to furnish her room.
So she kept her eyes and ears open for anything while saving up what she could from allowances and gifts and putting herself through heavy training to maintain her Battle Form longer. It didn't look like she would have any luck until she overheard someone at an outdoor café discussing something about a fight club. With persistence and some luck, she managed to find what she was looking for.
"Attention please: Garoth Aynan and Heidi E.S. Ingvalt are to report to the Cage. Your match is scheduled to begin in five minutes."
Upon hearing the intercom's announcement, she slowly released a breath before summoning her magic and replacing her visor. "Armed Form."
As she made her way to the Cage, she pondered on what she would find on that world. Perhaps inside the Grand Cathedral, there were more resources that could explain more about her ancestor beyond what was written in history textbooks.
'No… now's not the time to think about that.' She entered the arena and spotted her opponent, someone with shoulder length black hair and a barrier jacket that resembled a tuxedo of sorts.
"Is this your first time here? Maybe I should do you a favour and go easy, little lady…"
"If you want to do me a favour…" She got into her stance. "Then shut up and show me what you got!"
When Hayate got into work that morning, the first thing she noticed was the DNA test results sitting on her office desk. She noted that it had only been 24 hours since a sample had been submitted by that woman the day before when she visited the base to give her account of events on Vaizen so that the case for her son could be reopened.
None of the other paperwork seemed as important as she reviewed the DNA results many times on that morning. If there had been any doubts about that woman being an imposter, they were blown away with the fact that her genetic code matched Vivio's for the most part with the odds of error being less than 0.001 percent.
As she exited her office to go for lunch a few hours later, her mind drifted to the last question that needed answering. She had been aware that it was being looked into by Yuuno.
"Hayate-san!" And speaking of Yuuno, there he was now just coming down the corridor to meet her.
"Good day, Yuuno-kun. How are you doing?"
He stopped when he caught up to her. "I'm fine. I was wondering about your family though since with all that happened…"
"They're doing well. Vita-chan's still miffed about what happened the day before yesterday while Signum and Shamal are just going about as normal. I can't tell what Zafira thinks about all this but it's hard for me to imagine him getting bothered by anything that doesn't concern my safety. I guess as long as Olivie's willing to let things stay settled as they are now, he won't have any issues."
Yuuno nodded. "I see."
"You're looking a little stressed there. You okay?" asked the young lady out of concern.
"No… yes? Maybe…" He rubbed his forehead. "Well, it's related to what you asked me to look into regarding…"
"Ah, right." Hayate gave a small smile. "In that case, how about we talk about it over lunch?"
By the time they grabbed their food and an empty table, Yuuno seemed to have gathered his thoughts together. "So regarding the question you wanted me to investigate… when I thought about it some more, I determined that the best source of information on cloning would be the architect behind Project Fate so I paid a visit to Jail Scaglietti."
"I would imagine he wasn't very co-operative," replied the young woman before taking a sip from her noodle soup.
"Well, I approached him under the guise of wanting to ensure that the records regarding Project Fate were fully complete and thorough. After appealing to his pride as a scientist, he gave me a few answers. Specifically, the names of other members in the scientific community who took a strong interest in the Project. From there, I had Verossa look into those who had enough knowledge about the project to create perfect clones and once we narrowed that list down, the last thing to check was whether those scientists could have had access a blood sample from the Kaiser."
"But I thought only the Shroud of the Saint King had blood samples."
"It's the only KNOWN source of blood samples," pointed out the Librarian. "There was a possibility of another source so we had to look into that. But we didn't find any such samples among those who were on our list. Honestly, this is bringing to mind that phrase used by that Sherlock Holmes character."
"Once you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable it may seem, must be the truth?" supplied Hayate.
"That's it. We've essentially eliminated the possibility of Olivie being a clone. She's the real thing… and therefore…" He trailed off as his right hand twitched in excitement.
She figured out where he was heading fairly quickly. "Are you saying…?"
"Time. Travel. EXISTS! The Kaiser is living proof of the concept! Do you understand what this means?" asked Yuuno in an excited tone.
"Um… it means that I'll be having bigger headaches trying to deal with time paradoxes? Or perhaps I'll be arguing with my future self on the type of woman that you need?"
He blinked once upon hearing that last part. "Uh… what?"
Hayate laughed nervously. "Ah, forget about it! Anyways, you were saying?"
Yuuno's confused expression vanished quickly as his mind went back to the idea. "This opens up a brand new field of science and exploration! With time travel, we can go back to the times of Ancient Belka and Al-Hazard! Get answers to unsolved mysteries such as how a world like Galea became lost. And an extra bonus to all this is how I can go up to Chrono and tell him that he was wrong about time travel being impossible! But…"
"At the same time, the world of time travel brings a great amount of danger. If someone travelled back in time, any change in events that occur in the past could have a catastrophic event in the future. The worst part is that if someone did successfully change the past, nobody in the future would be aware of it. A whole new field of law enforcement dedicated to protecting the timeline would have to be created to prevent anyone else from going back in time to manipulate the past for their own gain. They would probably have to be isolated from the ongoing timeline in order to retain their memories and do their jobs properly."
"You're thinking about it too much, Yuuno-kun!" Honestly, Hayate could easily see why he was so flustered with what he just discovered.
"With time travel, historians and archaeologists have a valuable tool to verify events of the past and uncover answers regarding historic mysteries and Lost Logia but at the same time, it is a tool that could affect the present and the future in many uncertain ways." He sighed once as he picked his food. "Is the very thing we yearn for the one thing we should never obtain?"
"Just because there's a proof of concept doesn't mean we'll crack open the mechanics of time travel right away."
"At the very least, we should set up something like a Temporal Investigation department," said Yuuno.
"Are you expecting a huge influx of time travellers now?" teased the young woman.
He let out a small chuckle before taking a bite out of his meal. "I guess not…"
"Be sure to carve these words into your heart, young man! I'm only going to say this once!"
"… Okay?" Sheesh, this female Student Council President really was passionate about things here. Then again, Touma should have figured that out earlier considering how her braided red hair whirled about furiously with each gesture she made.
"Hard work and raw courage are the keys to success at St. Hilde! They are the ingredients to create miracles in tough times!"
"You'll have to forgive my older sister. She's really passionate about the idea of hard work and effort being able to achieve anything," said the other occupant in the room, a young lady with long pink hair and a little flower clip attached to her white and red headband.
"It's not an idea! It's a truth! With enough hard work and a pure focus, one can reach any goal they set. From making it to the school or job of your dreams…" She paused for dramatic emphasis. "… To toppling God herself."
Before he could wonder about that last bit, the other girl got his attention. "In any case, I reviewed your test results, Touma-kun. I have an idea on which areas we'll be focusing on in the next few weeks to help you get caught up to the school curriculum."
The boy smiled a bit. "In that case, I look forward to your tutelage, Kyrie-sempai! Amitie-sempai!"
"Don't you worry, Touma-kun," purred the pink haired girl as she patted him on the head. "We'll take good care of you."
In a sense, it was good that Hayate had been the one to point out this possibility of a Rare Skill or some other Belkan spell being responsible for creating a strong enough effect to keep Olivie in a frozen state for almost a century. That sounded a bit more plausible. Yuuno was certain that if it had been Chrono who had pointed that out, then it was certain that the Admiral would definitely never let him live it down.
But in any case, his mood had been a bit soured from hearing that. His research goals would have to be adjusted in order to get to the bottom of this case. He needed to think about this for a bit. Perhaps a nice stroll through the city, away from the office, would help jog his thinking cap.
So he would first have to start with checking into how well Knight Armour holds up against a deep freezing effect. Naturally, they should be strong enough to allow Knights to operate in cold weather conditions. Next, he would have to dig deep into his archives and see if there were any Belkan spells or Rare Skills that could satisfy the conditions of keeping someone in suspended animation for a long period of time. He would also need to look into whether there were any natural phenomena that could contribute to creating that effect. But what else should he be considering?
"Excuse me? Are you Yuuno Scrya?"
His train of thought stopped when he heard an unfamiliar female voice call out to him. After taking a moment to trace the source, he saw a young woman dressed in a luxurious blue dress. She had blonde hair that had been tied up with blue ribbons on the sides and green eyes. On her right was a young man dressed in an evening tail coat matched with formal striped trousers and a black long tie. Considering their overall appearance, the young lady was obviously someone wealthy since she had a butler as her companion.
'Hm… a possible new patron for archaeological research?' It's certainly a possibility. His work often generated considerable attention among the public and it wasn't the first time he had been approached by interested and rich sponsors. "Yes, that's me. Is there something I can help you with?"
The young lady did look delighted on getting his identity correct. "Actually, there is. I was wondering if you had a chance to look at the request I submitted to your research department last week."
"Sorry but you will have to be a bit more specific. My research department receives several requests on a regular basis," replied the Librarian.
"I had sent in a small journal dating from the Belkan era which belongs to my ancestor, the Thunder Emperor Dahlgrün."
"Thunder Emperor…?" He couldn't remember off the top of his head of a Belkan historical figure with that title.
This caused the young lady to get a little flustered. "Well, I understand that he isn't as well known in the history books like the Kaiser, the Hegemon or the Flame King but I can assure you that he played an important role in the Ancient Belkan political landscape! Once the journal's authenticity has been verified, the writings can get translated which will undoubtedly cause the history books to be rewritten and…!"
"Please compose yourself, my Lady," said the butler.
"Right… thank you, Edgar."
Yuuno took a moment to understand what she had just said. "So let me get this straight, Miss…"
"Basically the artifact you had submitted to us contains writings from your ancestor himself, Miss Victoria. And you wish for us to verify the journal's age and decipher the contents?"
She nodded once. "Yes. The tale of my ancestor had never been told and I intend to change that with the journal and have the history books rewritten. Now have you been able to perform a complete analysis on it?"
"It's not that simple, madam," replied Yuuno. "Verifying the authenticity and the age of an artifact takes quite a bit of time. Normally, the average turnaround time is two weeks since the sample has to be submitted to the lab for thermoluminescence dating and…"
Both Victoria and Edgar shared a glance when the other man just trailed off. "What is it?"
'… that's the ticket! Radiocarbon dating tests on her cellular material can verify the passage of time at the molecular level!' It shouldn't be too hard to get her to lend a few tissue samples for analysis. Then the trick would be to determine if at any point in time, her cellular structure had experienced a stop in biological activity due to the cryopreservation effect. Of course, that field was far from his level of expertise so he would need to dig into his network and gather more research but as this was a step in a positive direction, he felt a lot better than he did earlier.
He needed to get back to the office and start making some calls…!
"Um, Mr. Scrya? Where are you going?"
Victoria's concerned tone snapped him back to reality just as he started to move. "Oh, right! What I can do is I can put a higher priority on getting a proper analysis done on the item that you had submitted. It'll be my way of saying thanks!"
"… you're welcome?" It was all she could say really as the other man had already started running back to his workplace.