Life Hunter - Chapter 129
After the squad left the destroyed island’s vicinity, they contacted the two others and checked if they had escaped the explosion in time. Everything happened quickly, so no one thought about contacting them and Moria had briefly informed them about the airstrike.
But fortunately, both squads escaped without a problem and the Azer squad even managed to retrieve the data contained in the servers before they were shut down.
“Sir, can I talk to him?” Arima asked Moria when he woke up. Moria was talking with Haze through the satellite phone when he heard the demand. He scowled but still handed the phone.
Arima grabbed the phone. “Haze, it’s me, Arimane.”
“Oh, it’s you. You made it out alive, good. What’s wrong?”
“Wait for a second,” Arima glanced at Jin and hinted him to open his computer. Jin was perplexed at first but then exclaimed as he understood what he meant. He grabbed his computer and then connected Arima’s phone to it before giving a thumb up.
Arima nodded and addressed Haze again. “I wanted to ask you; what are you going to do with that data?”
Haze didn’t reply straightaway and sighed. “…I don’t know. I’m not sure if I should give it to the country. I’m sure you noticed that the facility we just wrecked wasn’t well-furnished against intruders. From the data, we learned that it was because this place has existed for a long time and was supposed to be perfectly concealed, so security got lax. But the information leaked somehow, and we were able to find it; years after its construction,” Haze explained
“The reason I’m telling you this is because I’d guess the government learned about it through a spy or a double agent. They then commissioned us to raid the place because they knew we would be able to infiltrate it and eliminate the resistance. Basically, it means…” He paused.
“We were sent here just for them to acquire the data, and not to find out what the facility was. Well, I’m sure that they were not expecting us to destroy the entire island with the FEBs as you did though. Good thing is that we can convince them that the explosion was caused by the airstrike and not us,” Haze laughed a bit and Arima snickered.
“In any case, if I give this data to them, they will start working on it in the shadows, preparing to attack the two other great powers. At that point, there will be a world war or perhaps a second nerve-wracking cold war. After all, you know as much as I do that the government is always like that; opportunist and mindlessly seeking supremacy and new ways to obtain power,” Haze stated and everyone around Arima fell silent.
But Arima suddenly smirked, much to his comrades’ confusion. “We have two choices then. Give them this data or,” his smirk seemed to be widening if that was possible. “Keep it and tell them it was permanently lost.”
“Hey!” Erin exclaimed, shocked. “No matter what, that would mean treason, you know?!” He shouted but Moria didn’t say anything.
“That’s…” Haze was also speechless. It was the same for everyone else. The catch wasn’t that Arima didn’t want to give the data away. The problem was his word choice, ‘keep’ the data instead of ‘destroy’ or ‘delete’. He indeed said ‘keep’.
“What do you want to do with it? Don’t tell me you want to threaten the three powers…” Haze inquired but his voice lowered at the end of his sentence.
“Haze,” Arima cut him. “Can I ask you something?”
“What?” Haze frowned.
“If you had the chance to accomplish that foolish dream, would you do it?” Arima questioned.
“What foolish dream?” Haze responded utterly confused. But he was also oddly curious.
At the same time, Tieria finally woke up by having Arima talk next to her. She lifted her head from his shoulder and rubbed her eyes.
She looked around and saw everyone staring at Arima. She was slightly confused and looked at him as well. The words he pronounced afterward made her question what the hell had happened while she was asleep.
When the squad made it back to the continent, Arima was directly hospitalized. He apparently had some broken bones on his back and some of his internal organs had almost shifted out of a place. The doctor even said that it was quite impressive that he wasn’t paralyzed because of the shock his spine had suffered.
After all, Arima withstood the blow of an explosion and slammed his back on the water in order to protect Tieria when they were sent flying by the shockwave. Tieria felt guilty since she was the one who had insisted to follow him and thus remained by his side for the whole period he was in the hospital. Which wasn’t that long. The doctors were so bewildered that they checked Arima’s condition two times over before letting him go.
“…Did we magically heal him at some point?” One of the doctors muttered whilst drinking his coffee and his coworkers shrugged.
When Arima returned home and opened the front door, a wild Scatha jumped out and suddenly pulled him into a hug.
“I’m okay, mom…” Arima struggled to speak but she would still not let go of him. When he was starting to turn blue from lack of oxygen, someone else saved him.
“Hello, Ma’am,” Scatha heard a voice and looked at the source. There was Tieria there, smiling at the interaction between the mother and son. “I’m Tieria, nice to meet you”
“Oh, yes. I’m Scathach Blade, Arima’s mother,” Scatha responded in kind and then dragged the coughing Arima with her further inside the house. “Who’s that? Your girlfriend?”
Arima laughed dryly and Tieria raised her voice. “If I may ask, can I move here?”
“…What?” Scatha froze.
“…Huh?” Arima reacted even later. It was even more unexpected for him. He didn’t know why she would say that so suddenly.
“…You’re sure she’s not your girlf-mm?”
Arima covered his mother’s mouth before she could finish and waited for Tieria to continue.
“I just… didn’t want to return to the orphanage. If it’s okay with you, I would like to say here. I don’t think there’s someone closer to me than you, Arima,” she explained her motive and Arima lowered his head with a darkened expression.
Scatha looked at the two and realized it wasn’t the time to make some jokes. She gazed at Tieria with a serious look. “I don’t know what happened, but if you really want to stay here, you can. And Arima can’t refuse,” she grinned and glanced at her son. “You won’t reject a girl seeking comfort with you, right?”
At that exact moment, Rocky left the house and tilted his head as he looked at Tieria and Arima.
Arima sighed and looked away. ‘Did you have to say it like that…’ He grumbled inwardly and shook his head before looking at Tieria in the eyes. “Of course, I won’t refuse”
Tieria beamed. “Thank you.”
Since that day, Tieria started living together with the two of them and it was also during the same year that Arima stopped going to school. He then began to devote his days to something completely different. His daily routine though was, of course, learn under Scatha’s tutelage, spend time with Tieria, and play with Rocky. But most of the time, he was out of home and barely anyone knew what he was doing.
Even Scatha didn’t know where he would go. A few months later, one day, she asked Tieria if she knew something about that while they were both watching the TV.
“I’m not sure,” Tieria answered but she seemed to be quite casual about it.
“Come on, I thought you were closer to him than that,” Scatha quipped as she bumped Tieria’s shoulder.
The latter smiled wryly. “It’s not like I don’t know for what purpose he leaves every day, but I never asked what he actually does.”
“Hm,” Scatha hummed and grabbed a handful of popcorn and ate it. “So, what’s that purpose then?”
Tieria couldn’t help but smile when she thought about the answer to that question. “Getting rid of war in the world,” she declared.
“…” Scatha gaped and some popcorn fell from her mouth. She backed away and squinted her eyes like something was fishy. “…Are we talking about the same person?”
Tieria laughed and nodded. “We are.”
“I can’t believe it…” Scatha sighed and laid her back on the sofa. “And so, how is he doing that? Knowing him, he must have a plan.”
“Hm,” Tieria nodded again. “He must have one. But I’m sure he also picked the most realistic one,” she alleged and Scatha immediately agreed. “I think that’s why he’s not telling us the details,” she added and Scatha’s expression turned solemn.
“Anyway, if we’re talking about the same person, then I’m sure it will be okay,” Scatha shrugged. “Maybe I won’t have to work anymore when there will be no war,” she uttered and Tieria giggled.
“So basically, your plan is to create an Empire,” Haze uttered while staring at Arima. Both of them were sitting together in a meeting room at the very top of a tall building.
“Don’t say it like that. Sounds like I’m a bad guy trying to conquer the world,” Arima retorted and continued to type on his laptop. “I’m sure you understand that we need to become an independent force to make this plan work.”
“Yeah, I understand that,” Haze replied. “You want to create a country on your own. Let me be honest with you, that’s kinda crazy,” he stated and stood up. “But, well,” he looked down at the streets through the wide window. “Getting this far in three months… that’s actually scary. How did you even manage to create a company and own this building so quickly?”
“Well, first, you need to start a business on your own, even if it’s not really big or anything. As long as you have enough money, you can do that first step. Personally, I just used the money I stole from the targets of our previous missions,” Arima explained.
“That’s a crime you know…”
“The next step is also simple,” Arima ignored him and resumed. “You just have to eat other companies and make yours bigger.”
“More specifically?” Haze inquired.
“Well, of course, you make use of what you have, go straight to the top, and force them to surrender to you everything they possess,” Arima nonchalantly said.
“…Isn’t that a crime as well?” Haze deadpanned.
“Nah, I just targeted ones who could be threatened. I just told them that I had proof of what they had done and then led them into a trap where they could only survive by giving me everything.”
“You’ll make yourself a lot of enemies like that. I would say that it’s not a good idea in the long term,” Haze advised but Arima merely smiled at him.
“Don’t worry, I know. I won’t continue like that forever. But even if I did, there are certain methods that I could employ to make it work,” Arima casually stated and Haze shuddered. Arima’s mind was definitely not something that should pertain to a sixteen-year-old teen.
“Alright. In that case, what are your plans from now on? Maintain this business until you’re big enough? That certainly won’t be simple.”
“Well, I’ll continue to expand my business of course. But our most important task will be something else,” Arima raised one finger. “The thing a country needs the most is its military power. I will create a second company. A mercenary one this time,” he announced and pointed at Haze. “Both of our squads will be the first members.”
“Hm,” Haze fell into deep thought.
Arima raised a second finger. “And after that, we need talented people, especially in the R&D department, to make use of the data we have,” he said and smiled. “Of course, there’s one last thing that I require to accomplish this crazy dream. But it will be for later.”
Haze shook his head and sighed. “Fine, I’ll follow you in that messed up plan,” he grinned and extended his hand. Arima snickered and shook it.
Back in the Time Garden, the water of the pond Lilis was looking at quivered. At the same time, ominous laughter resounded in the garden.
Lilis gulped and realized that what came next would explain why Arima was treated like a criminal by the Time Garden itself. And also, why the entire place seemed to be filled with darkness by just rewinding his past.
For some reason, the more Lilis watched, the more apprehensive she became. She felt as if something that may even affect her was gradually approaching.
She hesitantly touched the water of the pond, knowing that in the following reminiscences, Arima’s life would change dramatically.