༺ The Resistance – 5 ༻
This was the land cursed by Mother Earth, the abyss that the Sky God’s eyes didn’t reach.
Dying wasn’t frightening, but she was terrified of the possibility that her soul might not even be saved in death.
Beta, no, the young girl of strong faith named Cindy, grasped the cross she had put in her chest pocket as she always did.
“No. The Sky God is in our hearts. He must always be seeing the world through our eyes…”
Her father was a pastor. As a devout believer, he would lead the young lambs every Sunday. People offered prayers every church day and gained some small comfort to hold through the week.
But ever since the State established all kinds of religion as a “hobby”, God was blasphemously put in a position to pay taxes.
It was preposterous. How could the Sky God, the master of this world and father of all creation, pay taxes?
Naturally, protest arose among the believers. Cindy’s faithful father was no exception as he took the lead before everyone else in opposing the policy.
And as one would expect, he was dragged off by the State and never returned. Never.
Recalling her hatred drove away much of the fear in Beta’s heart. She exhaled deeply as she headed to the underground armory.
“May divine punishment fall upon the blasphemous, unjust, and depraved Military State.”
If all else failed, she would become the punishing hammer of god, even if it doomed her to a wretched end.
Suddenly, as Beta was walking on while praying, the doors to the underground armory opened by themselves. Although shocked by the abrupt change, she assumed the Sky God had opened the way and strode forward with firmly set jaws. With faith, she could move onward.
It was so dark inside that nothing was visible.
Beta thumped her elbow, swept her hand to her wrist, then focused all her mana into her fingers. After a long while of fidgeting, she whispered a spell.
Light sparked at her fingertips.
Lux was an illumination spell, one of the State’s standard magic. Of the dozens of standard spells Beta had studied in school, this was the only one she could use, but it was enough to satisfy her. How convenient and nice was it to be able to light the way whenever it was dark?
Of course, she couldn’t help feeling conflicted every time she remembered this magic was developed by the loathsome Military State.
Light originally belonged to the Sky God. The State was borrowing that light, yet they insolently imposed a tax.
Soothing herself with that excuse, Beta raised her finger high, but the light didn’t clear the darkness inside, only making it inch back momentarily. So she barely illuminated what was below her feet and went deeper underground, not even knowing where she was going…
And then, candles burst into life. An ominous light bloomed in the darkness.
Beta jerked her head around.
Blood was everywhere as if someone had cursed the world with it. Crimson oozed through the gaps of the stone wall carvings, which would have been beautiful otherwise, and the once-sacred paintings hung nearby featured blood-stained monsters.
The scene was like a profane insult toward the Sky God. But Beta felt fear before being offended.
Blood, red, darkness, and the unknown.
Just as primal terror suddenly struck her.
｢Is it you? The one who impudently dared to pray to the Sky God in my palace?｣
Beta gasped as she urgently grabbed her cross and raised her gun.
A rancorous voice came from the darkness.
｢A cross… Fufu. How nostalgic. I did not think I would see it within my abode…｣
At that moment, Beta’s cross turned red and became covered in blood. Seeing the sinister sight, she hastily let go, and it sprang off into the air.
She traced its trajectory with shaky eyes. The blood-stained cross flipped upside down and flew toward the wooden coffin in the middle of the room.
Immediately after, a white arm appeared out of the coffin. Its hand gently reached for Beta’s cross, and the tainted symbol of God landed on its palm.
A pitch-black coffin, and a blood-stained reverse cross.
Realizing what was lying in that box, Beta reared her gun and shouted.
“Cursed vampire! You servant of Devil who has forsaken humanity to oppose the laws of nature!”
The white hand paused.
Armed with faith, Beta was unfazed by the darkness as she aimed at the coffin.
“You have no right to defile that! Put it down this instant, monster!”
｢… Well now.｣
The blood-stained cross was crushed in an instant. Before Beta could feel anger at the blasphemous act, she was instinctively scared by the irresistible force she felt from the vampire.
｢I have no right? I forsook humanity to oppose the laws of nature?｣
Questions came from the coffin.
God was far, while the Devil was near. As if to prove this, the vampire exuded malice and magical power as if to put Beta to the test.
But she didn’t lose faith yet. With a strong belief in her heart and a gun in her hand, she had nothing to fear at the moment.
Beta yelled a retort.
The lid of the coffin showed movement. It was made of imperial juniper, which was loved by librarians and undertakers for its moisture and odor-absorbing properties.
The bed that held the vampire for more than a thousand years opened. Darkness flowed like oil, so thick that it oozed like liquid void matter.
“Fear me if you will, for I am a predator to your kind, an object of horror.”
A white hand appeared from the coffin, moving with gentle, light poise and aged elegance. A hazy fragrance followed. The smell of iron should be thick with all the blood in the surrounding, yet the air smelled like that of an old book.
It was the scent of the imperial juniper coffin.
While Beta was distracted by that contradictory smell, she appeared.
“Despise me if you will, for I am a vampire who feeds on the blood of your people.”
She rose from the coffin. A girl with a discolored white complexion. Her skin was as pale as a well-polished pearl, but her waist-length silver hair was glossy as if to prove she didn’t simply lack color.
The girl’s eyes were uncannily red, yet they were bewitchingly attractive, and if you slid your eyes below her high nose, you would find an adorably small, eye-catching pair of lips.
Merely gazing upon her features, so fair like a labored work of God, was a dizzying experience. And there was her pure black shoulder strap dress with its neat, refined design, giving her the air of a noble bride.
Not even the surrounding darkness could dampen the soft, shining beauty of the girl. If Beta hadn’t known, she would have taken her for an angel.
“However, if you treat me like a taint in the name of that accursed god. If those who abandoned me once again shamelessly pretend I turned my back on them.”
Beta’s perception, her faith was thrown out of joint.
The evil, strange blood-drinking being was as lovely as an angelic. She was said to be a thousand-year-old vampire, yet her appearance was that of a mere teenager.
The smell of old books filled the bloody basement.
Beta didn’t see any of the madness and ferocity the rumors spoke of. The vampire’s gestures held subtle grace, and her small face held intoxicating charm. Her appearance was completely different from what Beta had learned.
“Then I will send you to the side of that god you so revere.”
The reality Beta faced was too different from what she studied. There was no common sense surrounding her, no powerful word of any renowned priest.
She was alone.
Beta had never experienced such a trial. Was she to chase faith, or submit to the power that had presented itself?
She made her choice. Not based on faith, but simply on the belief she had held until now.
“Lord! Guide me!”
The bullet dug into the vampire’s eye. The girl’s head was thrown backward. Blood splattered,
accompanied by the sound of ruptured flesh.
Even as Beta felt guilty, as if she had destroyed a piece of art with her own hands, she felt an odd ecstasy from overcoming temptation and following her faith.
“I, I did it. I didn’t fall for the devil’s temptation… I, I defeated the vampire!”
“… Is that your will?”
The splattered blood rose again, and her neck returned to its place like the world was rewinding. The bullet that pierced her eye was pushed out from the inside and dropped to the ground.
Her irises were still red. no, they were even redder than before.
The moment Beta met those eyes, she froze like a rat facing a snake. She struggled to move her limbs as if her body was no longer hers.
While the rest of the world was frozen, the white vampire girl raised her pale hands.
“Then die for your Lord.”
Beta heard an ominous snort. Turning her head, she found a huge, blood-red horse glaring at her,
Its eyes glowing red.
When had it approached? How was such a large creature down here?
But those questions were quickly far gone from her mind.
Beta groaned in terror.
She tried to shoot, but her finger wouldn’t move. It was like even the gun was rejecting her. The thing wouldn’t budge however she pulled at it.
Looking down in a hurry, Beta saw the gun was already soaked red in blood from its handle to its muzzle. It was controlling the gun’s barrel.
And that wasn’t all. She realized even her body wasn’t listening to her commands. Cobweb-like threads of blood were lined over her skin. The vampire’s blood was binding Beta’s arm, forcing her movement.
The blood of Progenitor Tyrkanzyaka was dominance itself. In the distant past, she had controlled half of the world using this power. Five countries and seventy-two territories had fallen into her hands before its people even realized it.
It was the Sanguine Mark. A token of becoming a part of the Progenitor, a puppet that moves according to her will.
The muzzle of the gun moved toward Beta’s eyes. Her own weapon was glaring at her most fragile parts.
She couldn’t stop it even though she tried. This was the power of a vampire who had been heralded as a Calamity for millennia. Mere strong faith wasn’t enough to resist it. Beta’s hands and eyes trembled, but regardless, her body aimed the gun at its master.
She could see the cold circle of steel and the darkness locked within. The smell of gunpowder wafted out. It smelled like the blazing sulfur of hell.
One twitch of the finger, and that cold, dark hole would burn red and spit out an iron bullet. The foolish bullet, unable to recognize its master, would penetrate her eye and tear apart her brain.
Despairingly, humans had the ability to imagine the terrible things that would come in the future.
Not even strong faith prevented fear from seeping out. Beta’s teeth chattered. Her eyes shook in the face of imminent destruction. Faith was neither visible nor tangible, and it could not protect her from that bullet.
It could only safeguard her soul.
“P-Please spare me.”
God was far away, and her gun had betrayed her. All that remained was a still-young girl.
So, there was no choice. It would be harsh to expect something beyond life from an ordinary person.
But sadly, cruel trials that demanded life came too often, a frequency disproportionate to their severity.
“You have neither manners, elegance, nor even spirit. How pathetic. I would have personally corrupted you if you cried for God until the end.”
The vampire heaved a short, conclusive sigh, which signified her decision to end the fate of the human before her.
Her hand waved in the air like a beautiful butterfly.
The trigger was pulled. Beta foresaw death and closed her eyes.
But the bullet wasn’t fired. She only heard the trigger being pulled in vain. Although the Sanguine Mark had pulled the trigger, it hadn’t pulled the breechblock to eject the empty shell and load a new bullet.
Beta had survived. But as she smiled faintly, the sanguine steed reared its hooves.
And that was it.
Like a weed unthinkingly trampled by traveling horses, like an insect meaninglessly crushed to death by a human’s finger, the life of one human was reduced to a splash of blood.
She didn’t even leave a corpse. A bug crushed by a boulder would only leave pieces of itself behind, and likewise, the human trampled beneath Ralion’s hooves became part of the floor and walls.
Tyrkanzyaka swung her hand, releasing a wave of blood that erased what little remained of Beta.
Afterward, nothing was left.
The vampire had gotten rid of the rude intruder. From the world, and her memory.
The sanguine ocean was too vast to remember a mere pool of blood.
But the iron bullet that barely wounded her did remain. Tyrkanzyaka picked up the bullet with her white hand.
It had been so long since metal had dug into her body. She would have to trace back countless days and nights to remember. Although this type of attack couldn’t harm the Progenitor of Vampires in the least… Nevertheless, it was an achievement attempted by many outstanding knights in the past and only succeeded by a scarce few.
Yet such an ordinary-looking girl had pulled it off.
“It stings slightly… Looks like the humans of today all have an ace or two up their sleeve.”
Not to mention, the gun hadn’t activated when Tyrkanzyaka pulled its trigger. Apparently, it had some special function that recognized its user.
After seeing a gun and being shot for the first time, the ancient one muttered to herself.
“I suppose there is a need to be wary.”
Today’s the best day of all!
The human! The human made something yummy!
It was meat but it tasted like beans too and it was delicious! And we played ball too!
The human, the ball throwing, they were so slow I was a little bored!
Still I liked it! Playing ball is fun to play!
New humans! Lots!
So fun to have so many humans talking!
Is there anyone among those humans who’ll fulfill the promise?
They’ll like me if I go up smiling!
We’ll grow closer playing ball!
It’s okay not to fulfill the promise!
Humans are still humans!
One showed up! And talked to me! Let’s play! So fun!
It’ll be fun!
They’re scared of me.
They’re scared of me.
They’re all afraid. Trembling. They want to run.
They don’t, because there’s no place to run.
They don’t rely on me as I rely on them. I feel like I’ll fall apart.
But if I keep laughing, if I keep relying, maybe they’ll rely on me one day?
Let’s play a little more.
A little, a little more.
They all left. Because they’re scared, they ran without even meeting my eyes.
Monster. Someone muttered that as they passed.
But I’m no monster. I’m Azzy. A good Azzy who listens well, and knows how to wait!
I listened to a human and came to this dark, dark place.
I waited here a long time. Even though I got no answers, I kept waiting, and waiting.
Even when humans scarily killed humans, and there was nasty-smelling blood, I kept my eyes closed and held on.
Because I’m a good Azzy. A good Azzy who cheers up and waits even if I’m bored and lonely!
… Still. They must be scared of me.
Apart from this good human.
The good human’s hand, is good.
Pet me often. Scratch my hair and chin.
Still, I have the good human with me, so I’m good!
And after petting me, the good human walked to the bad human.
He raised his hands smiling brightly. A white square thing appeared from the back of his hand!
He keeps saying something, moving the white square around!
Blood is coming out. The human fell. And he doesn’t move.
He died. Mhm. He died.
The human killed a human. Blood is coming out. Not stopping.
It was same last time. Humans killing each other must be normal.
No, rather. Maybe to humans, death… comes in human shape, not hunger, sickness, or predators.
The human who killed is closing his eyes.
He’s a good human who makes me yummy food, plays ball, and pets me a lot.
He gets annoyed sometimes, and tried to hit me once for some reason, but he doesn’t get scared of me. He’s a good human.
A good human like that, killed another human.
He’s a good human to me, but it looks like he’s not a good human to other humans.
Are you scared of me too?
When I got close, the good human frowned.
I’m suddenly scared. Is he afraid of me?
“Eh. Why did you come? You hungry? Don’t think about eating corpses now. If you get hooked on human meat, I’ll be in dang—I mean, people will hate it.”
I know. I won’t eat. Human meat not really attractive.
I know they’ll be scared if I eat.
So I won’t eat. I’m a good Azzy after all.
“Huuh? Oi. There’s no time for petting right now, alright? I have something to do so go over there for a bit.”
I want to be close. I don’t want to become scary.
But if I’m scary, I want you to tell me from the start.
“I said go! I got no time to touch you!”
If you’re scared, I’d rather leave.
“Oi. Nevermind. I can’t tell what you’re thinking.”
The human clicked his tongue and pressed my head. It’s not heavy at all but I moved. I went back two steps, and the human hugged me and petted me roughly.
It was rough, but I liked it.
If he was scared, he wouldn’t have hugged me so tight.
“You happy? Happy right? I pet you enough, yeah? I’m going off to whack some people, okay? You can’t murder anyone, so just go to the cafeteria and stay there licking a pot or something! Shoo! Shoo!”
I can’t fight humans. If it comes to fighting humans, I can’t help the good human.
I want the good human to live.
If you die, I’ll be sad and cry. Cry all day.
I’ll probably forget to eat for about two days.
Azzy licked my cheek and plodded off toward the cafeteria. I wiped the saliva off with my hand.
That dog-girl really was an odd one. She’d get happy on her own one moment, then all gloomy the next.
As usual, I had a hard time reading the dog’s thoughts. She was the representative of her kind born to communicate with humans, yet I was clueless about her mind.
Maybe it was normal not to know? The Dog King was the representing person, or should I say dog, of all canines. Maybe it would be more problematic if I could read her thoughts.
“Now, anyway. I did find what I wanted.”
My head hurt from overusing my mind-reading ability, but I still managed to get something out of it.
The Resistance members who died so far were riff-raff that was only there to make up the numbers. The true body of the group, Kanysen and the technician, was still inside the control center. They seemed to have discovered something as they weren’t moving.
The vampire was in the underground armory. The Regressor was fighting the enemy with the combat suit. They both had the power to defeat their foes in a jiffy and come to help me.
If there was a problem, it was that neither had the intention of doing so.
The vampire had no interest in what happened outside, while the regressor was deliberating limiting her strength, believing that I would handle things on my own.
“For crying out loud. Like hell, I’ll handle things on my own.”
Should I immediately rush over, explain the situation to the Regressor, have her take down her opponent fast, and stop Kanysen from blowing up Tantalus?
Sure it was possible, but that would take too long. In addition, the Regressor was at maximum alert against me, so she might not believe my words.
Did I have to do something myself somehow?
Ugh, I don’t have the confidence to win.
Huh? Did this thought come from that technician called Gamma? Why’d it come so loudly out of nowhere? I bet the whole world could hear.
｢I’ve found out the secret to Tantalus! Who’d have expected it to have a structure like this? I’d never have known if the basement of the control center hadn’t been dug up!｣
Huh? What’s that? He found out a secret?
｢Haha! With a structure like this… We won’t even need many explosives to destroy it! It’ll take a single moment to collapse! I have to quickly report to the Captain!｣
No, wait! Seriously?
There was no time. I rushed toward the control center.
TLN: Protect Azzy at all cost!
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