Life Hunter - Chapter 130
The day Arima turned seventeen years old, he had already erected a small Empire. His entire company had both businesses in weapon development and general manufacturing. He named his company ‘Aurora’, and his mercenary group ‘Semita Finis’, literally ‘End Path’.
In a certain building owned by the company, secret research was being made under the cover of a regular shopping mall.
In the underground floors, many scientists and technicians were working on different products. And even lower, on the last floor, they were working on a different version of the FEB, more compact, but as powerful. And the fact that they were doing this in the middle of the city only meant one thing; that they had mastered its manufacturing method.
“Did you hear? The founder is coming today,” one of the researchers said to his coworkers during the break.
“Yes, of course. Everyone is curious about him. Apparently, he’s only seventeen and he started all of this only a year ago,” Another one said. “Well, we all know that it wasn’t really legal, especially considering what our research is about. But that’s nonetheless impressive if he’s truly a teenager,” he added and everyone nodded.
“He has arrived,” a secretary entered the room and declared before leaving. The researchers looked at each other and immediately went after her.
Arima was visiting the building with Haze. When they reached the underground floors, everyone greeted Haze but didn’t recognize Arima since they had never seen him before. But they knew the founder was supposed to be very young and made the connection right away.
“Well, here we are. We didn’t have that much time, but we managed to finish one at least,” Haze commented as Arima looked at a monitor in one of the offices. What was displayed on the screen was the final prototype of a stable FEB.
“What about the development of plasma manipulation?” Arima then asked.
Haze snickered. “It’s going well. The first hurdle was the huge quantity of electricity we needed but since you got that much Eion from the black market, we’re all good. We should have functioning weapons by next year.”
Arima nodded and mused while looking at the image of the FEB. “Oh yeah, I almost forgot. What about the other thing?”
“Oh, that, huh?” Haze changed the big screen’s image and this time, what was displayed was a view of the planet from space. “We tried NASA; they refused outright. We turned toward Virgin Galactic and SpaceX afterward and after some negotiation, they accepted,” Haze said. “Though, soon enough, you’ll notice a huge hole in our budget.”
“Well, it’s over ten digits. We barely managed to pay them without breaking Aurora apart.”
Arima laughed lightly, trying his best to hide his heartache. “It’s fine… Can you send the codes of this satellite to Jin? He will take care of security and surveillance.”
“It’s done already,” Haze smiled. “Tell me, Arima, what’s your plan now? You’re enough prepared, right?”
“Well, you’re right. We’re not that powerful right now, but we’re ready to start something else,” Arima scratched his hair and declared. “Also, can I ask you to establish a team of experts on Eion energy? I want to assign them a new task.”
Haze raised an eyebrow. “It’s not a problem. You can do it now actually. You’re in the middle of your main laboratory,” he said and pointed behind him with his thumb. Outside, in front of the office, there were dozens of people waiting for Arima to appear.
The latter smiled wryly. “True…” He muttered and turned around. “Our next course of action will rely on the mercenary branch. We have some targets,” Arima stated and opened the door of the office.
Haze shook his head and sighed. He followed Arima out of the office and they both faced all of the personnel. When everyone was able to observe Arima, they sighed in admiration. Their boss was an adolescent but he radiated confidence and prestige.
After that, Arima called the people who were the best at handling Eion energy and gave them a totally new objective. He led the small group of ten searchers to a private laboratory and handed them a certain file. When they looked through the content, none of them could hold back their shock.
“…Is this really what you want us to do?” Nina, the leader of the new team, asked.
“Yes, you have as much time as you want. I just require that you use all of your skills to do this. Do you think that’s possible?” Arima responded. Nina was made speechless by his coolness and resolve.
She looked at the document again and slowly nodded. “I think it’s possible. But we need resources and time; a lot of time.”
Arima smiled and nodded. “I’ll leave it in your hands then. Keep this work a secret. I’m sure you can guess the consequences if this gets out, right?”
When he received a positive reply, he left the laboratory and the researchers looked at each other.
“Let’s get to work,” Nina ordered and everyone complied.
“Welcome back, Arima,” Tieria said when Arima opened the door. He smiled at the sight he had for a year now. He still wasn’t sure if he could get used to it.
Also, the moment he stepped inside, Rocky ran to him and jumped on his legs. Arima crouched and started petting him. “Where is Scatha?” He asked after a short moment.
“She said that she was tired and went to sleep early,” Tieria answered, silently noting that Scatha had been fairly tired recently.
“I see,” Arima nodded and opened the door for Rocky. “I will walk a bit with him, do you want to come?”
“No, it’s okay. I will make dinner since Scatha is sleeping,” Tieria responded and Arima laughed wryly.
“Thanks,” he said and left the house with Rocky. He started walking toward the park near the house and let the dog play around there.
“How are things going for you?”
Arima suddenly heard a voice behind him. That voice was strangely familiar. He turned around to see the same old man he had met four years ago in this same park.
“You are…” Arima paused. “Good as they can get,” he replied with a strange expression.
“Good. I see that the little fellow is doing well too,” the old man pointed his chin at the playful Rocky and remarked. “I have a question for you by the way. By pure curiosity; how old are you?”
Arima frowned but thought that it wasn’t a problem to say it. “I’m seventeen. I’ll turn eighteen in seven months.”
“Eighteen, huh?” The old man reiterated and smiled. “Eighteen is a good age. Especially in this world. It’s at that age that things can change a lot,” he declared and stood up with the help of his cane. “Farewell. I’m sure we’ll meet again,” he waved his hand and departed from the park.
Arima stared until the old man was out of sight. He felt oddly uneasy every time he looked at him. When he was younger, he had kind of missed it. But this time, he perfectly sensed the dread exuding from him.
“Rocky,” Arima called and the Labrador immediately returned to his side. “Let’s go,” he said and went back home.
After that day, Arima’s activities suffered another change. The mercenaries affiliated with his company and his own squad, including Tieria, started targeting huge targets and they would collect the target’s possessions every time. All of those people were ones that Arima considered to be a threat. Not only for him but for humanity and the goal he wanted to accomplish.
When Arima turned eighteen, Tieria basically dragged him to anywhere she could think of for a date. And at the end of the day; “Close your eyes,” she ordered. She wasn’t even asking.
Arima did as he was told, and what followed was reasonably predictable. Tieria stepped forward and pressed her lips against his. He was a bit taken off guard, but he couldn’t bother to even open his eyes as he returned the gesture.
When the two separated, Tieria sighed and smiled. “Finally. I had decided to do this when you would turn eighteen, but it was so irritating to wait…” she grumbled and Arima chuckled. He actually did his best to not laugh.
The same day, he said that he would go pay a visit to the squad and told Tieria to go home first and wait for him. He went to one of the buildings he owned; the one he had offered to the two squads working for him. When he arrived, everyone wished him a happy birthday and started chatting merrily.
“Sir Moria, if I wanted to leave the army, could I?” Arima suddenly asked Moria while they were talking together.
“You can drop the ‘sir’ already. You’re basically higher placed than me now,” Moria replied and took a sip of his wine. “As for your question; you became a soldier the moment you were found in front of the orphanage. You could say that the army is your legal parent.”
Arima mused about the implications and nodded. “Thank you,” he said and stood up to leave. “I have to go now. You can use this building as much as you want.”
Moria smiled and waved his hand. “Yeah, go home already. You have two ladies waiting for you.”
Arima smiled and bid goodbye to everyone before leaving. It was already dark outside, and as he was walking home; he heard the sound of police sirens. He stopped walking for a second and frowned. It wasn’t really common to hear that.
When he opened the front door of his house, he heard the tinkling noise of the plates and Tieria’s unusually energetic voice. “Arima? Dinner will be ready soon. Can you call Scatha? She isn’t home.”
“Alright,” Arima said and pulled out his phone. When he was about to call Scatha, he heard the door opening right behind him. At first, he thought it was his mother coming back but scratched the idea when he suddenly felt a terrifying presence. He felt so pressured that his body refused to move. Rocky cowered in fear and whimpered.
“Who-?!” He was interrupted as he felt an atrocious pain invading his upper body. He looked down to see a dagger piercing his chest, barely missing his heart. He nearly vomited blood as the red color started dying his shirt.
The person behind him apparently let go of the knife and Arima fell on his knees. He was feeling extremely weak all of sudden.
‘Poison?’ He assumed and struggled to look over his shoulder. When he did so, his pupils narrowed and trembled. The person behind him, the one that had just stabbed him, was none other than Scatha. Her clothes were full of blood and she was staring down at him with an expression devoid of emotions.
Arima opened his mouth but nothing came out. The shock was devastating and his mind was fading away because of the pain. Rocky snarled when he saw his owner injured. He barked and leaped on Scatha to bite her. But she moved abnormally fast, to the point that Arima couldn’t even follow her, and simply crushed Rocky’s throat in mid-air.
Arima gasped and clenched his fists as Rocky fell on the floor, lifeless. He tried to shout but he coughed even more blood.
“Arima!” Tieria shouted. She arrived just in time to witness Scatha killing Rocky. “Scathach… What is this supposed to mean?” She gritted her teeth and glared at the perpetrator with eyes that could kill. She couldn’t comprehend what was happening in front of her. The woman that used to joke and call her ‘daughter-in-law’ was now wielding a knife against her own family.
“…It means nothing, it’s just how things should be,” Scatha opened her mouth and an eerie and emotionless voice echoed throughout the room.
Both Arima and Tieria shuddered when they heard it. It wasn’t her voice. Arima visibly started shaking. He recognized that voice. It was a little different, but he definitely recognized it.
“Yes,” Scatha grinned evilly. “Didn’t I tell you? A lot of things can change when you’re eighteen years old.”
Tieria rushed toward the entrance at that exact moment. “No! Tieria!” Arima managed to shout but it was already too late. Scatha moved inhumanly and appeared just behind Tieria, she stabbed her in the heart with her bare hand.
Arima could only watch, once again, as Tieria collapsed on her knees wide-eyed. She gasped and clutched her chest whilst vomiting blood. She looked up and bit her lip. “What happened to you… what are you?”
Scatha cackled but didn’t answer. Tieria squinted her eyes as she fell on the ground.
Arima crawled to her and pressed her injury with his hands in vain. Tieria was gradually losing focus and barely made out his face twisted in agony through her blurred vision. She slowly lifted her arm and caressed his cheek with a smile.
“This expression doesn’t suit you, Arima… I love you…” She murmured, and her arm turned limp.
Arima couldn’t even catch her hand as it fell. He squeezed his head with his hands and almost screamed. His eyes were slowly turning bloodshot. He ignored the agonizing twinge that followed the rupturing sounds of his ribs; he strained his nerves to overcome the poison; and drew his gun.
He pointed it at Scatha in rage. But as much as his rage was driving him, he couldn’t press the trigger when he was faced with the view of his mother. Each time he looked at her, the memory of her smile would overlap with the unemotional one in front of him.
“You really are curious,” Scatha laughed coldly with that unfamiliar voice. “Let me introduce myself. I am one of Lord Karaskan’s Seeds. I only bring chaos, that is my mission. You were an interesting target for my final. I will soon lose the rest of my mana,” she sighed. “What a shame, this world was so entertaining.”
Arima’s anger kept getting stronger as he heard the sickening tone of whatever had corrupted her mother and dared to dishonor her image.
“Anyway, before I leave, let me tell you something,” she spread her arms wide. “Where do you think all of this blood comes from?”
Arima was barely lucid but when he acknowledged the question, he felt even greater despair as he thought about one possibility.
Scatha leered and swiftly grabbed Arima’s gun. She took it away from him and reviewed it. She then crushed it barehanded and two small stones started hovering above her palm.
“Eion, was it?” She muttered. “Fascinating. If I had the time, maybe I could have used it as a substitute for mana. But well, no point in thinking about it now,” she uttered and casually waved her hand. The two small stones flew toward Arima and pierced his skin before exploding.
The walls cracked and Arima was blown away like a ragged doll. He completely went through the wall and crashed on a second one. He let out a voiceless cry as his skin burned and his flesh literally melted. Countless bones also broke in the process but he still refused to let go of his consciousness. The rage in his eyes had not diminished in the least.
“Hm, really intriguing,” Scatha muttered. “I was right. You’re really too resilient to be a simple human,” she remarked and grabbed the dagger that she had dropped earlier. “Well, I guess you’re lucky then. Let me show you one last thing. Carve this in your very soul, human,” she grinned deviously and whirled the dagger before pressing the tip against her throat.
Arima’s eyes widened as the dagger raced. It left a red line on Scatha’s neck and blood spurted. During her fall, her eyes turned back to normal and flashed with endless guilt and sorrow. She moved her mouth and spoke word by word. “I’m…sorry…”
When everything was over, silence returned and tortured Arima. He could finally think. His mind caught up and broke into pieces. He was staring at the dead bodies of both the woman he loved and the one whom he considered as his mother.
Arima cried and howled and pain for the first time in his life. His emotional injuries rapidly conquered his body’s as he fainted on the spot. He crumbled to the floor, bathing in his own blood while Eion energy constantly flowed through his veins.