Gerogom is raising one of his eyebrows and frowning when he sees Ren inside his laboratory. He points at Ren and faces Ignis, “What’s he doing here?”
“Does it really matter?” Ren asks.
“Not really. I’m just not expecting that at all. Then again,” Gerogom turns to all of his guests, “what are all of you doing here? I don’t remember asking anyone to come today.”
“You have something on the black mist?” Ren goes straight to the point.
“What? Black mist? Sure I have something on it. What do you think I’ve been doing here?”
“Oh hey, everyone’s here,” Rick comes in. It seems that whatever stuff he was attending is now finished.
“Another one? What are you doing here?” Gerogom waves his hand toward Rick.
“Hm? Don’t you already found something about the black mist?” Rick asks as he walk towards the group of Gerogom’s guests. He’s welcomed cheerfully by Tama.
“Another question about black mist,” Gerogoms rolls his eyes, “How do you know I’ve found something about it?”
“A bird chirps to us,” Ren remarks.
“A bird?” Gerogom frowns for a second before he realizes something, “ Ah, that bird you mention doesn’t chirp; he caws.” Gerogom turns and walks away from his guests and towards one of the myriad panels in the room. “If that annoying crow told you to come here, I guess I have to show it to you then.” He presses some button on the panel and a big screen on one side light up. It shows the black mist floating freely inside some kind of canister.
“Is that the same mist you saw?” Ren asks Aqua.
“Well,” Aqua tilts her head slightly to the side, “It is black…”
“What you see here is the Black Mist you all already seen. This has a weird property to create an unstable connection to other realms randomly when there’s enough amount of it clumped together. The ‘way’ it created can be closed at any moment without notice.
“What intrigue me is its other property,” Gerogom presses something on the panel. Several pictures appear on the screen. The demons Rick and Ren fought are pictured on the screen. Other than those demons, there’s also photo of the assassin who was rampaging with the black mist seeping out of him.
“You see, this black mist able to corrupt an organism’s life energy like it did to the fox spirit girl. She’s a unique case since she is able to suppress the corruption thus retaining her personality. On any other case I’ve observed, the corruption sent the subject into rampage. It’s important to note that the corruption also increase subject’s physical prowess. It also give them high rate regeneration. These two side effects are damaging to the subject life energy and undoubtedly shorten their life.”
“No wonder that assassin suddenly become so tough to beat,” Rick remarks.
“You fought him?” Ren turns to Rick.
“I did. He became surprisingly stronger than before and also faster. Plus, he could heal all of his wounds in seconds. He was a handful.”
“What happened to him?”
Rick gestures toward Gerogom, “He took him.”
“Obviously,” Gerogom fixes the glasses position on his face, “If I didn’t, he’ll be dead now.”
“Where’s he now?” Ren asks curiously.
“Still recovering. I already extracted most of the black mist from him. Thanks to him I have so many samples now,” Gerogom shows his usual creepy smile.
“How did it get into people?” Ren asks.
“Easy, from any crevices in one’s body,” Gerogom says it in a matter-of-fact tone.
“But it needs to note that,” Gerogom adds, “the black mist is easier to infect organism with high usage of life energy on it’s body metabolism. That means spirit is among the easiest to get corrupted and human is the hardest.”
“Wait,” Rick cuts, “then why that assassin could get corrupted that much? Is he not a human?”
“Oh he is a human. But no matter how hard it needs to corrupt a human, if that much of black mist get inside him, then he will be corrupted.”
“So, our metabolism only matters to how easy it is to get infected. How bad the black mist corrupted us is not related to that, huh.” Ren tries to summarize Gerogom explanation.
“Correct! How bad it corrupted a subject is related to how many get inside him,” Gerogom nods.
“Now, you girl,” Gerogom approaches Aqua. Ren quickly gets to Aqua’s side as he sees Gerogom getting near.
“Yes?” Aqua looks cautious. She already heard about Gerogom from Ren. She realized that Ren has personal grudge on Gerogom, thus his story might not be exactly accurate. But, Ren is a reasonable man according to her observation so far, so his story on Gerogom’s personality must have some truth behind it.
Gerogom grabs Aqua’s bandaged arm and pull it closer to him. “Ah,” Aqua flinches from the pain but Gerogom ignores her and removes Aqua’s bandage without hesitation. “H-hey,” ignoring Aqua, Gerogom continues to examine her arm. He starts move his hands around Aqua’s slender arm, touching, pressing, and squeezing on several areas ignoring Aqua’s pained voices.
Ren quickly grabs Gerogom arm and keep it away from Aqua’s broken arm, “Can’t you see she’s in pain?” Ren gives Gerogom a sharp gaze as he gently handles Aqua’s arm, “Are you okay?”
“Y-yeah, I’m fine,” Aqua sighs as the pain leave her arm.
“What were you doing?” Ren glares at Gerogom.
“Are you not worried that her arm hasn’t healed yet?”
“What?” Ren thinks for a while and gaze once to Aqua. “Yes, I’m worried,” Ren answers. Aqua nods in agreement.
“What are they talking about?” Rick tilts his head in confusion. Tama looks worried when she heard Rick as she know what this gonna lead to. Rick turns to Tama, “Isn’t it normal for a broken bone to take a long time to heal? Like weeks?”
“Ah, perhaps she’s not a human?” Tama quickly answers without telling Rick that Aqua is a demon. While on several days she was on earth, Tama heard stories from Rick. One that is quite memorable is Rick’s deep hatred toward demons. It connected to his past and now Rick doesn’t discriminate; whether it's a zelve or raygn, he hates them and want to eliminate them.
“Oh, you’re right. Maybe she’s like you, come from the other realm,” Tama let out a relieved sighs as she heard that from Rick. There’s no telling what will Rick do if he knows about Aqua.
“It seems like some amount of the black mist is inside the girl,” Gerogom explains.
Aqua and Ren look surprised hearing this. “Is it dangerous for me?” Aqua gets worried.
“I suppose not. My sensor,” Gerogom points at a camera-like device planted on the ceiling, “found only small amount of black mist in you. That’s probably what prevents your arm from healing.
“Now,” Gerogom moves toward Ren and Aqua. His eyes stare at Ren before he looks at Aqua, “I want to examine you. Hopefully we can extract the black mist after that.”
“Hey,” Ren is about to step forward when Aqua raises her healthy hand. “It’s okay,” she smiles at Ren.
“Relax,” Gerogom fixes his glasses’ position, “I don’t have time to do anything else. I just want to see how this black thing prevent regeneration in this girl while boost regeneration in other person.”
“Well… If she’s okay with it.”
“I don’t think he planned something weird for this, so I guess,” Aqua turns to Gerogom, “I’m in your hands? Is that the right phrase?”
“Um, I won’t say it’s wrong, but it certainly not exactly proper in that context.”
“Are still want to get examined?” Gerogom is already near the exit of the room when he turns and shout to Aqua.
“Ah, okay,” Aqua quickly follows Gerogom to the door. She stops before she reaches the door and turns to Ren, “Don’t worry, I won’t going anywhere without letting you know first.”
Ren is stunned. He go silent for a while because of Aqua’s word. She’s trying to calm Ren since his sister, Yui, was missing with Gerogom’s help. Knowing her intention, Ren smiles at her. Aqua’s not ready with that kind of reply and becomes flustered. She quickly turns and follow Gerogom out of the room.
“So, is that all?” Rick breaks the silence after Gerogom and Aqua left the room. He walks around the room and looking around.
“That’s weird,” Ignis takes a seat on an empty chair, “I thought there’s something more urgent than explanation. That big crow must’ve send us here for a reason right?”
“Well, at least we know why it told us to bring Aqua, right?” Says Tama while following Rick around the room.
“Right, you guys,” out of nowhere, Gerogom’s voice comes out and fills the room. It seems his voice comes from some kind of speaker installed in the room. “While you’re waiting,” he continues, “Why don’t you do something on the trespasser that coming from inside the black mist? They’re roaming the city right now.” And he’s gone. His sound was calm, talking in a matter of fact manner without any worries and urgency.
“What?!” Rick shouts in a very opposite way with the way Gerogom was speaking.
“Trespasser? Does he mean something like the those from that night?” Ren becomes uneasy.
“Ah, ah, wouldn’t it bad if they start attacking people?” Tama too starts to become worried.
Ignis puts his palm on his forehead, “That guy…. He always like this.”
“Why wouldn’t he told anything before?” Rick runs to Ignis.
Ignis looks at Rick in front of him, “He doesn’t care. Simple as that.”
“He hasn’t changed, has he?” Ren remarks as he walks toward the exit door.
“You’re going?” Ignis sees Ren and stands up. He starts to walks toward exit, following Ren.
“You think?” Replies Ren without stopping.
“Hey, hey! Don’t forget about me. If there’s a demon out there, I want to exterminate them,” Rick follows them out. Tama follows behind Rick, “I’m going too~!”
“Ah, yes,” just before they’re out of the room, Gerogom voice returns. “Ignis, come to the workshop 05 before you’re going out.”
“What was that all about?” Rick raises one of his eyebrows.
Ignis sighs, “You all go first. Take care of the dangerous one if any. I’ll follow you later.” Ignis turns into the corridor away from the exit.
“Hey, where are you going?” Rick asks the running Ignis.
“Come on, we must hurry,” Ren picks up the pace and the three of them run outside Gerogom’s lab.
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