The Aftermath Academy - CH50 (Pyrrha)

The look on my face must give it away because Reader closes his book and stands up, stretching his large body. “I think I’ll go for a walk,” he says, eyes narrowing.

“Now? Tu loco,” Emilio says. I’m not sure what to do. Reader is exceptional at analyzing people and something about my expression must have given away that Olivia was in the city. Or maybe he used some power he picked up to determine it. Either way, I can feel that he knows. His heart is hardening as he sets his sights on revenge for Nelle.

Should I try to stop him? If I mention what he’s up to, at least Emilio would run off too. Mr. Gate might as well for that matter. His power is dangerous for him to use, but it’d have a good chance of killing Olivia and he was almost as close to Nelle as Reader was.

Even if I could convince him to go with his initial decision and sit things out, should I? Reader might be able to win. He’s able to gain powers from reading that book of his. The text changes, always to stories that don’t even exist in this world. But once he’s found one he likes he can use it from then on out. Some of the abilities he’s found have put him on a whole different level than the rest of us. Even with Genevieve’s strength helping me now, I still haven’t caught back up.

Forget about Seven Sins, what about fucking Bone and Chain? Genevieve’s shade asks me. If she’s here, maybe she brought the asshole who actually killed me. Don’t you think he’d be worth taking out?

It’s more complicated than that though. Lady Hope’s default setting is to restore life to anyone who dies or heal fatal wounds prior to death. But she can sense violence done by others through her field and can withdraw her blessing. There may even be a level of violence where the withdrawal is automatic if she’s not actively allowing it, like she would for her security forces or for combat competitions.

There’s no guarantee if we go to fight that we would be protected by her abilities any more than the aggressors. Depending on who she has working for her security forces, this could be problematic. With the right people, there’s nothing stopping her from going semi-nuclear on the invaders since collateral casualties could just be brought back to life. Even if she was no longer protecting our opponents and we could win, it would really suck getting killed by her forces while trying to duke it out.

Reader knows all this. It’s why he suggested staying here before he found out Olivia was involved. But now he’s leaving anyways, anger overriding his logic. He strolls out the door, not looking back.

“Should we-“ Mary begins.

“I’ll keep an eye on him,” I say, trying to smile. “You all stay here, please.” Mary and Ray get it. Emilio’s fortunately too dense to realize what’s happening. I stroll out after, into a narrow street. I can feel people in the Blue Skies embassy across the street. Some might even be people I knew growing up, and I’d intended on stopping in for a visit while we were here. But the feelings coming across the street feel off.

It’s hard to sort through all the confusion, but there’s an undercurrent of indifference there. It’s more than them just trying not to get in the way of the security forces. Like someone’s actively instructed them to stay in the embassy and not involve themselves in the conflict, and most of the people in there are totally fine with that. They don’t care what happens.

I’m not sure why I’m so disturbed by this. Hope’s Bastion is one of the last great population mecca’s, and by far the safest. The Consolidated Empire allowed her to have sovereign status as a nation in exchange for her using her field non-stop, but it’s always irked some of their dignitaries that they had to do so. Hope’s Bastion is built on land that used to be part of the C.E., even when it was still just the Consolidated States, and some feel The Bastion should be administrated as part of the C.E. and subject to its laws.

I didn’t realize that so many members of the Blue Skies embassy disliked Hope enough to feel such a tangible indifference to what happened while The Bastion is being attacked. It’s not like I expected their members to assist or anything, but it’s a strange sensation all the same.

I try to follow Reader, but he dons a power set with super-speed and is gone in an instant. Dammit. He’s seriously pissed off right now, but his emotions don’t feel any stronger than a regular person’s. It’s nothing like Olivia’s.

I can feel her at least, if only a little. Both a distant pinprick and a bonfire at once, weak because she’s far away but the only distinct individual I could possibly pick out at that distance. Whether Reader thinks he knows where she is, or has plans to lure her somewhere in specific, then I just need to get closer to her and I’ll be able to back him up.

Seriously, what’s the plan girl? Genevieve asks. “I don’t want another friend to die. If Reader’s determined to fight her, we need to try and back him up. We almost had her last time. If Alysa hadn’t interfered, I think we would have taken her out. If Reader can’t beat her on her own, maybe he can use up enough of her energy that we can strike her down from behind.

I stick James’ point into the ground, then extend at full strength, careful to keep the energy from just cutting through everything. My body hurdles down the street, far faster than I could run or fly. I quickly thrust myself down multiple streets, zigzagging towards the edge of the city. The feelings of pain and panic grow stronger as I get closer to the edge, as does the overwhelming sense of confidence rolling off of Olivia.

Olivia begins moving in towards the city a bit. Good. I can come in from behind her and attack if Reader has trouble.

Except, the people near us. I’ve felt this feeling before, this particular brand of horror and panic.

He is here, proclaims Genevieve, just as a bone fist hurtles down onto my head like a wrecking ball, slamming my body into the street.

It looks like Reader’s on his own for a bit, because I’m going to have to deal with Bone and Chain.