Chapter 35 – The Strongest Person In The World
by lemuel moo
Gale remained unconscious as blood flowed from his nostrils and mouth while Serban was carrying him. The poison within Gale afflicted his internal organs, and Serban accessed Gale’s injuries while Bernachar and Shamir looked on.
“He looks dead,” Shamir remarked.
“I gave him a potent paralyzing poison,” Serban answered. “It must’ve been too potent. His internal organs seem to be shutting down.”
“What are you waiting for?! Give him the antidote then!” Bernachar yelled. “We didn’t come all this way to leave empty-handed! Aren’t we going for Lucy after we get information from him?”
“That doesn’t mean he’s dying,” Serban replied. “The astonishing thing is that his [qi] is still flowing within his body and doing major repairs! That doesn’t sound right for a person whose internal organs are supposed to be shutting down!”
As the three assassins looked on, they observed that Gale’s body was emitting a little black aura and it was circulating him. Puzzled by the phenomenon, Shamir made a suggestion.
“We should cut his arms and legs. He doesn’t need them to answer questions.”
“Not right now!” Serban retorted. “I’m not sure if this will send Gale into Hades instantly since his body will receive a major shock due to severe blood loss. Anyway, I doubt he could do anything for the next three days. Let’s keep him in a cell for now.”
“Three days?!” Bernachar was alarmed. “We can’t wait three days! We’re supposed to wrap this operation up by today! How’re we supposed to answer to the lynchpins?!”
Serban coughed blood into his palms, and he looked at his blood. The City Plaza Battle was costly because he lost a stomach due to Gale’s [Volcanic Punch]. The lynchpins’ medical team quickly removed his burnt organ before there were complications and Serban injected additional doses of poison to his body to keep himself moving.
“Who would’ve thought Gale was this strong? All of us thought everything would’ve concluded by morning, but now the sun had set. We lost Herodias too.”
Shamir sighed. “Ramada isn’t going to be pleased with this. Psychic users are hard to find.
Speaking of which, where are the other elite assassins?”
“The lynchpins wanted to conserve their battle strength against the Black Diamond Syndicate, so they went back to their headquarters. I’m the only left from my team, and I’ve asked the henchmen to send my guys back. They’ll be useless until they retrain,” Bernachar replied. “Serban’s team is receiving medical help as we speak. We’re required to get information out of Gale at the moment, but Serban’s truth serums won’t work if Gale is unconscious!”
Shamir leaned her shoulders to Bernachar and asked cheekily. “Isn’t this what you wanted? You wanted your guys to transfer all their powers to you, but they wouldn’t have done it if they weren’t facing a big threat.”
Bernachar gripped his hands and a bronze aura wrapped around his fist. At the height of danger, his Hundred-And-Eight Crusaders gifted all their powers to Bernachar to defeat Gale, and Bernachar smiled at his newfound power. There was no way his men would do that in normal circumstances since they were all thieves and assassins who wouldn’t hesitate to kill for their own gain.
Bernachar noticed that as he recovered from his injuries, he became stronger. That was because the [Bronze Curtain] technique allowed him to recover from his injuries quickly.
“My men will be fine. It’s not difficult to regain their powers with my [Bronze Curtain] technique in a year. They should rejoice since they now have a leader who can rival a triple ‘S’ assassin,” Bernachar replied.
“Don’t kid yourself,” Serban mocked. “You’re not at triple ‘S’ yet.”
“Says the one who lost his stomach,” Bernachar quipped. “I’ve received so many punches from Gale, and I’m walking around fine. Just focus on your injuries.”
Shamir couldn’t take any more of the squabble and loudly lamented. “Guys, I don’t care who’s stronger here. I want to know what’s next so that I can get a shower!”
At Shamir’s request, both guys stopped their bickering. Shamir looked at Serban as he was the primary contact for the lynchpins.
“We’re supposed to leave the harbor with the ship we’re on, but we can’t since the local police and SPAW are on high alert. Our orders are to wait until the lynchpins give us the green light.” Serban answered.
The assassins took Gale to an abandoned harbor off the coasts of Aelfsige City. The company who bought the port filed for bankruptcy several months ago, and the place was acquired mainly by the Devonites to conduct their shady business practices. The henchmen enforced light and noise discipline throughout the harbor to avoid detection, and the assassins stayed in the basement of the ship they were on.
“This means I can clean myself up now. Finally!” Shamir stretched herself as she got up from her seat to walk towards the exit. “I’m so sweaty and filthy that I can’t stand it!”
“Why don’t we take a shower together?” Bernachar nudged Shamir.
“Wow, do you know what you’re asking?” Shamir stopped and replied as she turned towards Bernachar. “Ramada gets jealous easily, and you’re on his ship. You’ll not walk out alive.”
“Don’t I deserve better treatment? I was the only one who could match Gale!” Bernachar protested.
“Tell that to Ramada, not me,” Shamir answered as she slowly walked towards the exit. “I don’t mind rewarding you for what you did today, and you can follow me to the shower, but don’t blame me if he kills you.”
Suddenly, a noise boomed from the intercom. “High alert! High alert! We’ve spotted the Phoenix Arrow in the sky, and we’ve got to brace ourselves against the Purple Phoenix!”
At once, Serban picked up his phone to call the captain of the ship and yelled. “Move this ship immediately! We’ve got to escape the harbor!”
Bernachar didn’t understand Serban’s panicky behavior and the former asked. “What the — didn’t you tell us we’ve to stay put until the lynchpins say so?”
“Are you stupid? Don’t you realize what the Phoenix Arrow means? It means — ”
Before Serban could finish his sentence, a purple sword sliced in half from the shadows and a masked lady in purple ninja suit emerged.
“It means all of you’re going to die. Welcome to hell.” The masked lady replied.
Shamir quickly raised her hands to shoot energy blasts at the assailant, but the assailant amputated Shamir’s arms before she could aim her palms. Shamir screamed in pain and Bernachar roared.
“How did you enter this room?!”
The assailant didn’t reply but sliced the air. As her blade swung, her blade glowed and energy extended like a laser to cut Bernachar. But Bernachar activated his [Bronze Curtain], and the laser only inflicted a deep sword wound across his body.
“Not bad. You stayed in one piece after my [Heaven’s Slash],” the masked lady said.
Bernachar rushed forward to punch the assailant, and the latter met his fist with her fist. The assailant’s fist was cloaked in a purple aura and flared mightily as it sunk into Bernachar’s fist and crushed his bones. His arm joints were also dislocated and the assailant sliced upwards with her [Heaven’s Slash].
This time, Bernachar was sliced into two because his concentration lapsed and his [Bronze Curtain] faltered under the sharpness of the assailant’s energy blade.
Shamir saw how her two counterparts fell under the assailant’s sword, and she whimpered away while begging for mercy.
“Mercy?” The masked lady retorted. “Ramada doesn’t have the word ‘mercy’ in his dictionary. Would you have shown mercy to Gale?”
Instead of slicing Shamir into two, the masked lady cloaked her blade with a fiery purplish aura and Shamir exploded into smithereens as the assailant unleashed her energy wave from her sword.
The assailant turned away from the dead assassins and walked to Gale. She removed her masked and revealed a beautiful dark-skinned face. She looked as if she’s only in her mid-thirties.
After observing Gale’s body for a moment, she kicked Gale off the table! “I’m already here, and you still continue to play dead.”
Gale crashed onto the floor and struggled in pain. “I was poisoned, you know?! Can’t you be gentler, Aunt May?”
“I didn’t soak you in my special medicinal solution for ten years so that you can die to some poison,” Aunt May quipped.
Right after Gale was born, Aunt May would soak Gale in a unique medicinal solution for two hours daily. This solution caused Gale to develop appropriate antibodies which could combat poisons.
However, it doesn’t mean Gale wouldn’t suffer the effects of the poison temporarily. He was vulnerable for the first few minutes, and thus he was knocked out for a while. Because Serban overdosed Gale with his paralytic drug, Gale’s internal organs suffered, and the latter vomited blood. Even though Gale was unconscious, his body could do self-repair and his [Turtle Breathing Technique] activated.
A sage created the [Turtle Breathing Technique] centuries ago in the high mountains of Chelona. As the air is thin on the mountain peaks, the sage created the [Turtle Breathing Technique] to scale mountains where there was little oxygen, and if the sage became unconscious due to the cold, the energies within him would automatically reinvigorate his major organs to keep him alive.
But Gale pretended to be unconscious and weak to the assassins.
Gale scratched his head. “So now what? The lynchpins are aware that the strongest fighter in the world is back.”
“I only hid myself because I wanted to protect Raine and you,” Aunt May replied. “You were going through the [Silver Needles Training], and you weren’t ready to face the lynchpins then. But now it’s different. I saw how you fought, and you’ve managed yourself well. I can’t care less about those fools.
Why don’t you remove those silver needles already?!”
Gale looked at Aunt May in her eyes. “Why ask when you already knew the answer? Anyway, what’s our route of escape?”
“I’ve already killed all the henchmen in the harbor and the ship. However, we’re surrounded by SPAW operatives, and they’re gradually closing into where we are. I’m sure Athena knows that, and she will be waiting for us on another coast.
As usual, we’re against SPAW now, who will scapegoat us for the City Plaza battle. The only way out is through the sea,” Aunt May replied. “Are you ready to swim?”
Gale nodded and activated his [Turtle Breathing Technique]. His cells swelled with oxygen, and the breathing technique allowed him to hold his breath for hours.
Aunt May sliced a circle at the bottom of the floor with her [Heaven’s Slash], and immediately water gushed from the hole. Without hesitation, Aunt May and Gale dived through the hole and quickly swam away before the SPAW operatives arrive.
The ship began to sink gradually, and it was a long time before anyone noticed that a ship was sinking at a harbor.
Kasumi, Clere, and Agatha were at Agatha’s war room beneath her house. It was a headquarters for the Sigrun Enterprise where Agatha usually plan and manage operations for her agents.
Agatha laid out the map where the explosion happened on TV through the screen.
“The explosion happened at an abandoned harbor. I suspect that the lynchpins wanted to ship Gale out in stealth.
The moment I fired the Phoenix Arrow into the sky, Gale’s rescuer would immediately begin the rescue mission. Of course, everyone would notice, and SPAW operatives would lay a siege in the area to close in. They hope to corner whosoever that caused a commotion there.
It didn’t matter if it was the assassins or Gale, as long as they can use a scapegoat to explain the City Plaza battle.”
Kasumi and Clere didn’t understand what Agatha was saying, and Clere asked. “Mom, how would Gale escape if he was poisoned?!”
Agatha explained, “You saw the Phoenix Arrow in the sky, haven’t you?”
Kasumi and Clere replied, “Yes.”
“It’s a signal for May. It doesn’t matter how poisoned Gale was. May would’ve got a way to get him out of trouble, and I’m a hundred percent certain that May has brought Gale out of the harbor by now. Kasumi can testify to May’s strength as both of them went on a mission together before.”
Clere looked at Kasumi, and the latter nodded in assurance.
Agatha continued. “The problem we need to avoid is to SPAW. The World Alliance and SPAW are facing massive backlashes from the public at the moment, and the only person who can stop it is Kasumi.”
Both Kasumi and Clere were dumbfounded and confused.
“Me?! But how do I help Gale and Aunt May?” Kasumi asked.
“Simple. SPAW wants to cultivate heroes, and they have selected Valerian Tze. Didn’t you both go on a date this morning? Rumors are already flying about that both of you’re a couple.” Agatha answered.
“No! I don’t like him at all — “ Kasumi began to protest.
But Agatha interrupted. “It doesn’t matter, honey. What truly matters is that Valerian likes you.
Valerian is sent on a tour around academies to raise his public profile for SPAW, and needless to say, he is a SPAW operative. He’s a perfect choice in looks and abilities.
Now, how do you think SPAW is going to raise his public profile?”
Kasumi pondered for a moment and realized. “By sending Valerian to catch the culprits who started the City Plaza battle!”
“Precisely. What better way for a hero to save the day when this incident has so much media coverage?
I’m not sure if Valerian knows the truth of the matter and he’s in cahoots with his bosses, or he’s just an innocent guy who got ordered to save the day. In any case, I’m very sure he will be at the scene, and if we want a hundred percent victory, that’s where you come in,” Agatha answered.
Kasumi was convinced that Valerian was an innocent bystander because they were out together for the day, and they were no way Valerian would go out leisurely when such a critical incident had happened. She didn’t want Gale and Aunt May to be wrongly accused of a crime they didn’t commit, so she was happy to be a part of the rescue mission.
Seeing that Kasumi looked convinced, Agatha began her briefing for Kasumi. “A few things may happen. One, Valerian listens to you and lets them go. That’s the best possible outcome. Two, Valerian attempts to fight Aunt May, gets defeated but the SPAW operatives arrive. Well, we’ve already saved Gale, so I’m sure Aunt May will be able to escape with him, but it could expose Athena and my agents to publicity, and we don’t want that too.
I’m hoping for the best possible outcome because both of you are combat instructors of Aelfsige Academy and Gale is a student from the same school.”
Kasumi nodded her head. “I understand.”
Agatha continued. “It doesn’t matter if you fail or succeed since our primary objective has been met. However, I refuse to let SPAW and the World Alliance have their way when they are using Gale as a means to get their goals.
May and Gale will most likely appear somewhere near the coast in the south-east of Aelfsige City. Athena should already be there waiting to escort them to our hideout. The SPAW operatives may comb the coastal areas, so if you’re somewhere near, that will be great.
Take your gear from our stash and move quickly! I’m not anticipating a fight, but who knows?”
Kasumi promptly left the war room to pick up her gear, and Clere sat on a seat. Agatha asked Clere. “Didn’t you say you wanted to be in the rescue mission? This is your chance.”
“…Even if I go, there’s nothing much I can do. I rather stay here, and if the situation changed for the worse, perhaps I can do my part,” Clere replied.
Agatha smiled brightly at Clere’s response. “You’re learning fast, Clere!”
Athena deployed a couple of black vans to the south-east coast of Aelfsige City to receive Aunt May and Gale. It was at night, but Aelfsige City was well-lit with street lamps, so it didn’t look pitch-black.
As Gale and Aunt May could hold their breath underwater for hours, Athena knew she needed to be patient.
Suddenly, Athena’s infra-red and heat sensors picked up movements along the coast, and two figures emerged from the seas.
“It could be them!”
Athena rushed out and headed towards the indicators. Two silhouettes emerged from a distance, and Athena immediately recognized them.
Athena rushed forward and gave Aunt May a big hug, and Aunt May responded. “Girl, I’m wet. You sure you don’t mind hugging me?”
Athena hugged even tighter. “I’ve missed you so much, Aunt May! It’s been so long since we’ve seen each other!”
Aunt May smiled broadly and caressed Athena’s hair. “It’s only been a couple of years, honey. You look lovelier and lovelier!
Gale, see that? Athena is ripe for the picking!”
Gale gave a sheepish response. “Err… I don’t doubt that.”
Aunt May sighed. “I can’t believe you’re still so stiff around girls. Hug her!”
“But I’m wet!” Gale protested.
“Well, she hugged me when I’m wet. What difference does it make?” Aunt May quipped.
Athena then walked forward and hugged Gale boldly, and the latter hugged back. Athena then stole a kiss on his ears, and it sent shivers down his spine.
Aunt May grinned. “That’s more like it! Now, let’s head back.”
A white figure walked by and stood in front of the trio. Aunt May asked, “What’s up, young man? We just came from a swim.”
“Good evening. I’m Valerian Tze. May I ask if both of you swam from the harbor on the north-west coast?”
“No, we didn’t. Did you catch us swimming from the harbor?” Aunt May replied.
“No, I didn’t,” Valerian replied.
“Then please excuse us. It’s freezing from the wind, and we need some towels.”
Under the street lights, Valerian noticed Gale’s face and asked. “Aren’t you from Aelfsige Academy?!”
“Yeah? What about that?”
Instantly, Valerian remembered the background photo in Kasumi’s phone, and he wasn’t ready to let Gale go.
“I’ll like to ask you some questions regarding the recent incidents in City Plaza. Would you come with me?”
“No? Unless you’re blind, can’t you see we need towels more than questions?” Gale retorted.
Valerian then noticed the sword that Aunt May was carrying under the street lights. “What’s that in your hand, ma’am?”
“A sword that I got from cosplay. Want to see it?”
Aunt May threw the sword at Valerian, and as Valerian uncovered it, it revealed a purple plastic sword.
Aunt May could cloak her sword with her energy and harden it, so she didn’t need to walk around with an actual sword to be lethal.
Valerian was confused for a moment, but he asked. “Why did you bring a plastic sword to swim with you?”
“And why can’t I?”
Valerian didn’t know how to deal with Aunt May, so he switched to Gale instead.
“You know that I’m a combat instructor in Aelfsige Academy, right?”
“And what about it?” Gale asked.
“So I’m ordering you to come with me for questions,” Valerian demanded.
“Ordering? Can’t I get some towels first? You’re well-clothed and dry, but I’m soaking wet!”
Valerian gave up and followed them to the vans. Athena gave Aunt May and Gale towels to dry themselves. After seeing Gale had wiped himself, Valerian asked.
“Who goes swimming in clothes?”
Gale retorted. “And who does questioning like that? Why can’t you be straight and tell us what you’re after?
Besides, you’re not my direct combat instructor, and you’re not one of my academic teachers!”
Valerian answered. “I was asked to patrol these coasts for suspicious people who might be involved in the City Plaza battle this afternoon.”
“So you think I’m involved?”
“I don’t know, so that’s why come with me and we’ll find out!”
Aunt May interrupted. “You’re not to take my boy Gale with you. I’m his aunt, and we are going for supper after this.
If you would please excuse us.”
Aunt May tried to shove Gale into the van, but Valerian held Gale’s shoulders tightly, and Aunt May glared at him.
“What’s the matter with you, young man? Do you want to fight?”
“No, ma’am! But you’re interrupting my duty!” Valerian replied.
“What duty?! You’re a combat instructor from my boy’s school, and as an instructor, can’t you care for him first?
We were wet and shivering, and you wanted to ask questions. We want to go for supper, and you still want to ask questions. Can’t you ask them in school? What’s wrong with you?”
Valerian Tze took out his SPAW badge and answered. “I’m not just a combat instructor, but a SPAW operative. All I need from Gale is to answer my questions.”
“And my boy has been answering your questions! You keep nagging like a mother!”
At that moment, Kasumi came sprinting from a distance. She spotted Athena, Aunt May, Gale, and Valerian, and Kasumi realized that they could be arguing.
Valerian was surprised that Kasumi appeared when he had left her near her house not too long ago.
“Kasumi?! What’re you doing here?”
Aunt May went with Kasumi for a couple of missions, but she only had a little impression of her as they rarely talked. However, Gale mentioned to Aunt May about Kasumi on the phone before, so Aunt May instantly warmed up to her.
“You’re Kasumi?! Ah, my boy Gale mentioned to me about you! Do you remember me?”
Kasumi smiled brightly and gave Aunt May a big hug. “Yes, I definitely remember you.”
“Oh! Girl, I’m wet! Are you sure you don’t mind?” Aunt May asked.
“I don’t mind!”
Aunt May then gave a thumbs up to Gale. “I like your choice of girls, Gale. They hug me when I’m wet!”
Gale was embarrassed and wished Aunt May would stop fooling around.
Valerian didn’t think Kasumi would be close to Gale’s relatives, and he realized that Kasumi and Gale could really be in a relationship.
Aunt May didn’t want to fool around any longer, so she said. “This man, Mr. Valerian, who’s a combat instructor from my boy’s school, and a SPAW operative, wants to bring my boy in for questioning.
We want towels to dry ourselves, and he wants to ask questions. We want to go for supper, and he wants to ask more questions. Is this how a combat instructor behave in school? Why can’t he ask questions in school?!
Kasumi, you’re a combat instructor too. Is this how combat instructors behave?”
Aunt May went all out to pressure Valerian as a guardian of a student, and Valerian felt cornered. Kasumi understood Aunt May’s intention, and she turned to ask Valerian.
“Valerian?! What’s this about?”
Valerian stuttered a little. “I-I’m a SPAW operative, and we had a major incident in City Plaza in the day so I was sent here to look for suspicious people who might be involved.”
“And I’m Gale’s combat instructor. Would you believe me that he’s not involved?” Kasumi asked.
Valerian was surprised as he was only in Aelfsige Academy for a couple of days. “You’re his combat instructor?!”
“Yes. Class 1D. How would a student start such a big incident in the first place?”
Valerian had no proper arguments against Kasumi, so he backed off.
“Alright, I understand.
I apologize for holding you back, Gale.”
Gale nodded in reply, and Aunt May quickly asked Kasumi to get into the van. “Come with us for supper, Kasumi! Your colleague needs to patrol the place to catch suspicious people.”
Kasumi obliged, and everyone got into the van except Valerian. The black vans drove away quickly, leaving Valerian in the cold wind.
Kasumi was sitting beside Gale, and she touched his face tenderly.
“Are you alright? I heard you were poisoned and vomited blood!”
“Ah, err.. yeah. I’m alright now.”
Kasumi inched forward to kiss Gale, but both of them stopped as they saw Aunt May staring at them.
“Keep going! Don’t stop! Pretend I’m not here!”
Kasumi then whispered into Gale’s ear. “You owe me a good hug and kisses, you hear?”
Gale nodded sheepishly in reply, and Aunt May couldn’t help laughing to herself because she heard it.
[Heaven’s Slash] is derived from [天斬], or [tiān zhǎn].