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554 The Calm Before The Storm!

    The next day.

    Zed arrived at what remained of Royal Heart Academy.

    The ground was flipped upside down, covering the academy campus with layers of soil. Given the academy was within the range of shockwaves when Extermination fought Hyperion, Zed knew below the soil, there might be only debris and nothing else.

    "The academy is also gone... just like Wife Pleasuring Service Ltd and my other properties."

    Zed let out a bitter sigh.

    It was ironic that the one who destroyed what he loved was himself.

    "Extermination... I guess I now really have Dissociative Identity Disorder."

    Whenever Agatha noticed the big differences between Zed and Kiba, she would make jokes about him having multiple personalities disorder.

    After all, what else can explain how they were so different, totally opposite of each other?

    Of course, she understood that both Zed and Kiba were one and the same. They were also different because of the roles they served in his life.

    Now... with Extermination... he really had a new personality.

    Zed let out a sigh before tracing the amulet charm on his right wrist. It was a thick, white bracelet with golden engravings.

    "Claudia used every precious resource we have to create it in a hurry... It has to work!"

    He observed the ruined campus for a few minutes before turning around. As he started stepping towards his car, someone shouted from behind.

    "Zed!"

    Jessica shouted as she rushed at him.

    Zed looked at her with a smile and noticed Felicity following behind, though her expression seemed to be... very complex.

    Before he could ask her, Jessica gasped.

    "What happened to you?!"

    "Nothing, I'm alright."

    "No! You aren't!" Jessica shook her hand. "I can feel it!"

    She grabbed his hand and injected a flash of white light into him. The flash channeled through his body, making her see the deteriorating condition of his cells. Most of them were broken, and others were barely holding up. She then noticed medical particles inside his bloodstream, and realized, if not for them, he would not be in a condition to stay conscious.

    Swish~!

    Streams of white light surged out of her and entered into his body. She poured a great portion of her healing energy into him.

    But to her shock, the energy barely made a difference. Except for relieving some stress from cells, it made no difference. It was like the amount of energy his cells needed was as vast as a sea... and she could barely provide a few buckets.

    This made her eyes dilate in shock.

    "Just what sort of pressure the cells took for them to be in such a condition?!" Jessica asked.

    Zed didn't reply.

    Some distance away, Felicity closed her eyes as she remembered the scene of him transforming into Extermination.

    What he then did terrify her, just like the rest of the world.

    For a long time, she refused to believe it was Zed... but she knew it was him. She had observed it with the seed she sent... something she wished she hasn't.

    It has stained her image of him.

    Zed glanced at her. Her mood was totally different from Felicity he knew; the thrill-seeking, cheerful girl.

    She felt his glance and looked back at him. Neither of them spoke, despite the emotions they carried.

    ...

    They only stopped looking at each other when they heard the sound of a car approaching. They turned around.

    "Sophia? Lady Katherine?" Zed called in surprise as the mother-daughter pair left the car.

    "You said we will have breakfast! Since I didn't find you at your house, we arrived here!" Sophia said as she arrived before him.

    Zed opened his lips to reply when Sophia noticed Felicity. Her eyes sparkled and she exclaimed, "You must be Felicity!"

    "Yes?" Felicity was startled. She was sure she didn't know this eighteen-something girl so why was she exclaiming with emotions?

    "It is a relief to see you have recovered!" Sophia said excitedly. "But then I never doubted Zed will fail after what he did in Desolate Blood Forest!"

    "!!!"

    Felicity was stunned.

    Desolate Blood Forest?!

    Could she mean... to find a cure for her injury from nanites... he went to that forbidden forest!?

    Shock crashed through her body.

    "He really loves you!" Sophia added with a radiant smile. "So I'm glad you are safe!"

    "!!"

    Felicity clenched her fists.

    Right!

    And she loved him... like she always had, despite knowing about Extermination.

    She has always known that. Even if he hadn't gone to a dangerous region, the love wouldn't change.

    So why should one event change what existed between them?!

    She recalled the promise they made: to be always there for each other... How could she forget that?! How could she let a secret spoil their relationship?!

    "Thanks," Felicity responded to Sophia with a composed smile. "I guess he must be far more adventurous than I give him credit for."

    "Yes!" Sophia nodded her head.

    ...

    Katherine suppressed a smile. She turned towards Zed and said, "Can I have a minute with you?"

    Zed was surprised but he nodded. They walked some distance away from the group.

    While walking forward, Katherine gazed at the ruined surrounding before bringing her eyes on him.

    "What I want to say will be presumptuous," Katherine started. "But I will say it nevertheless."

    "?!"

    "Your mother... she had suffered, a lot more than you can imagine." Katherine stared into his eyes. "Whether you trust me or not, that's up to you, but believe me she has been looking for you ever since she lost you."

    "!!!!" Zed was dumbstruck.

    Katherine knew the reasons why Rebecca failed in finding him.

    One of the major reasons was Zed being in slums for starting eighteen years of his life.

    There were countless slums over the world. They lacked digital or any form of records about their dwellers. So it was impossible to find, especially with half a billion population living in them.

    Not to mention, when Rebecca first searched, Red Fox knew means to avoid tracking by World Government...

    Katherine noticed the shock in his eyes. She smiled and continued.

    "And that's not to say you must forget what happened or develop a relationship with her... No, all it means is that you shouldn't fully trust what your biased perspective tells you about her."

    "!!"

    Zed didn't expect her to speak on his mother, and definitely, not in such a way.

    "Just remember no matter how powerful one is, they always have some weakness," Katherine continued. "Your mother is the same. Perhaps, someday, you will understand."

    After saying this, she turned around and started walking back.

    Behind, Zed took a long breath. He suppressed his thoughts and caught up with Katherine.

    "Sophia was right!" Zed exclaimed as he arrived next to her. "You are really wise!"

    Katherine was amused. With a faint smile, she said, "I pray my daughter didn't bore you with my wisdom!"

    "No, she didn't." Zed replied with a sincere smile. "Without knowing you, I came to know of you from her. I always imagined you as a wise, beautiful lady with a heart of gold. You just proved me right."

    Katherine was startled. She could feel he was being honest.

    "Thank you for the compliment," Katherine responded with soft laughter. "Though I don't think I deserve to be called beautiful."

    "No, you deserve more than that." Zed disagreed with her. "You are the most wonderful woman I know of, not only in physical appearance but also from the beauty of the heart."

    After saying this, he joined Sophia.

    Katherine was stunned by his genuine praises.

    If any other male had praised her in such a way, she would know that man was trying to flirt with her. But she knew his personality and knew how pure-hearted he was.

    He wasn't the type to flirt with a married woman... much less a mother.

    ✦✦✦✦✦

    State of Avalon.

    House of Hestia.

    "It seems Rebecca has failed!" Lord Harley remarked while reading the latest report from Delta City. "Her son has no love for her!"

    The spies from World Government have collected information from Sylvan and the bank manager who witnessed the first meeting. The spies then also shared information about how Rebecca was in the hotel while her son continued to be in his villa.

    Everything denoted nothing went as per her expectations.

    "Then there's no need for her to be there!" Xalion said with a big grin. "She has to be here!"

    "Fufuf! You are right!" Lord Harley's eyes glinted sinisterly.

    Whoosh~!

    Blue flames erupted under his feet like a volcano. They sucked him and he disappeared.

    ...

    In her room, Kirstie explored a digital gamebook while resting on the bed. The doctors and nurses continued to examine her condition through virtual monitors.

    Without anyone of them realizing, Lord Harley appeared beside the bed. He was invisible, his body in the form of nothing but intangible vapors.

    He took out a gel bottle and squeezed a droplet of it into Kirstie's eye. The gel was invisible, and Kirstie didn't even feel it as it fell into her eye. The instant it dropped, it dissolved and spread into her head.

    ~BEEP~ BEEP~ BEEP~

    The doctors and nurses were startled. The readings on the monitors exploded to an unbelievable degree.

    They hastily turned towards Kirstie just as she started trembling violently. Her face turned ashen and she began to cough up blood.

    "Oh no! She's having another of those episodes!"

    The doctors panicked. Under their horrified eyes, blood started trickling out of her facial orifices.

    "Dammit! Contact Lady Rebecca! She needs to provide Source Blood as soon as possible!"

    The doctors then started the procedure to suppress her condition for the time being.

    ✦✦✦✦✦

    Delta City.

    Rebecca's heart sank as she got the message from her family.

    She didn't think her daughter will face one of those tragic episodes so soon. They used to be occasional, once or twice a year.

    Just three months ago, she had one... so how could it repeat so soon?! Was her condition deteriorating further!?

    Rebecca turned towards Heather.

    "I have to leave."

    Heather bowed down in understanding and said, "Please rest assured. I will handle things here."

    Rebecca nodded.

    BANG

    Powerful, violent flames exploded out of her body. They wrapped her, transforming her into a bird of flame as she shot out of the hotel, disappearing between the clouds.

    Inside the hotel, Heather felt bad for her mistress. She knew Rebecca wanted to stay here... perhaps wait for a chance to speak with her son again and try to develop their relationship.

    But now... with Kirstie's health failing, she had no choice.

    "I have to complete my duty!"

    Heather resolutely muttered as she left the hotel and rushed towards Dream Rise House.

    ✦✦✦✦✦

    House of Hestia.

    "Rebecca is on her way! It is now safe there!"

    Xalion said as a virtual screen flashed in front of him. Upon it, a man was visible, his face covered with strange tattoos.

    "You know what you have to do!"

    The man nodded.

    ✦✦✦✦✦

    Dream Rise House.

    Zed sat in the living hall, observing the sunset.
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