"Are you okay, kiddos?" Dale asked after incapacitating several Blacks. He and Von approached us while adjusting their suits. Not even a drop of blood stained their clothes even after doing those kinds of attack.

My leg had given up on me so Cliff supported my body weight.

"You okay?" he asked.
"Honestly, no, but I do not have the luxury to be in pain."

Dale and Von took care of the remaining Shinigami allies while Aarif did his best to control the crowd. Some humdrums saw what happened so I guess we would need to take care of their memories later on.

We went toward the forest and I could hear screams and explosions everywhere. Dale and Von took the front line, easily incapacitating the enemies with their fatal yet graceful moves. Sa bandang gitna ay nakita namin ang ilang Custos agents na pinadala rito for reinforcements. Sumama kami sa kanila at nagpaalam naman ang dalawa para pumunta mismo sa campus kung saan sila mas kailangan.

"At 9:00."

Without even looking, Cliff threw his starknife at that direction and the Shinigami's body thudded to the ground as he let out a harsh cry.

"Nel, ten meters away from you," Naia warned.

The pain in my leg and arm was uncomfortable but I hurled myself forward. I was ready to use my dagger against the Shinigami but suddenly, the Black Dimension opened in front of me. With my acceleration, it was hard to stop.

"Enjoy your stay, Custos," the Shinigami inside sneered.

Cliff pulled me backwards but a part of my left hand already got into the Black Dimension. I felt a burning sensation, as if my hand was being incinerated from the inside. I pulled the trigger of my gun and my body jerked back due to the recoil of it. Cliff and I fell to the ground and I had to bit my lips to prevent myself from screaming. The excruciating pain was enough to make me pass out but I willed myself to stay awake and alert.

"Did you gain weight?" Cliff groaned and I hit his chest in return.
"You think you're funny?" I said with a ragged breath.

Umupo naman ako dahil sa sakit ng kamay ko at mukhang hindi na muling nakabalik ang Shinigami na 'yon mula sa Black Dimension. I must've hit his body when I shot him. Sinubukan kong igalaw ang kamay ko pero namamanhid pa rin.

A lot of research had been conducted to study the Black Dimension but nobody, besides the Shinigamis, know how it works. What we only know is that it has adverse effects to Erityians other than the Shinigami tribe and humdrums will die instantly once they enter that realm.

I just experienced it for a few seconds but I felt like dying, even though it was only my hand that was exposed. Having that dimension must be a huge advantage to the Shinigamis in this war.

"Are you two okay?" tanong ni Naia at inayos ko naman ang earpiece ko.
"Yeah. It stings though," sabi ko naman kahit na mas malala pa ro'n ang nararamdaman ko.
"Be ready," she alerted. "There's a huge signal coming from the forest."

Sabay naman kaming tumayo ni Cliff at kinuha ko ang painkillers sa leg strap ko. I injected it to my leg and arm, hoping that I could endure the pain for a few more hours. After that, I readied the weapons on my hand, anticipating the impending attack.

"Should we use our abilities now?" tanong ni Cliff at tumango ako.
"Maybe now is the right time."

As if on cue, a huge portion of Black Dimension opened and the Erityians present in the forest felt it as well. Several Shinigamis came out and their presence were clearly different from the previous ones. I recalled their hierarchy and these people might be Reapers or even Elites.

"Kill them all," the blonde girl ordered and the Shinigamis immediately deployed, incapacitating almost all those who were near them.

I changed my appearance into a Shinigami, the one who attacked me earlier, while Cliff changed his eye color to green. We advanced toward them separately and some of the Shinigamis stopped for a second after seeing me. With the face of their comrades, however bearing red eyes, confusion must've occurred to them and I used that few seconds to attack them.

Instead of staying there, I decided to head toward the campus. I could see the Senshins having a hard time against the Shinigamis, mostly because they were outnumbered.

"Behind you."

Without looking, I thrust my dagger behind and felt the blood splattered on my clothes. The body of the Shinigami fell to the ground with a loud thud and I groaned when I saw the state of my dagger.

"Too bloody," I whispered.
"Nel, be careful. The Black Dimension might open anytime—"

Naia wasn't able to finish her warning because the Black Dimension opened in front of me again but unlike a while ago, the Shinigami wasn't able to do anything because her throat was cut immediately.

"You should learn how to kill without a mess by now, Penelope."

Napatingin naman ako sa gilid ko at nakita ko si Dale habang nakangiti. Pinagpagagan niya ang damit niya kahit wala namang kahit anong dumikit doon at hindi ko pa rin maintindihan kung paano nagagawa ng Executives na lumaban nang ganito. Pagkatapos nilang lumaban ay walang kahit anong makikitang mantsa o dumi sa damit at katawan nila kaya naman halos lahat ng agents sa Academy ay hinahangad na maging gano'n kagaling. In addition, he saw through my disguise. As expected.

"Hey, redhead!" rinig ko sa gilid at nakita ko naman si Von.
"What? Can't fight without me, Von?" he teased and I flinched when I saw Von glaring at him.

Agad naman siyang pumunta sa direksyon ni Von at naiwan ako ro'ng nakatayo. Napatingin naman ako sa kabilang banda dahil sa malakas na pagsigaw.


When I looked at that direction, I saw a girl being held on her neck by a Shinigami. Some Senshins were aiming at him but they couldn't shoot or attack because they might hit her, too. It seemed like nobody could shoot accurately, someone like a sniper. Tsk. If only Jett was here.

No choice, then.

Pumunta ako sa direksyon nila habang naka-disguise bilang Shinigami pero napahinto ako nang biglang itinaas ng isa ang espada niya.

"No! Akane!"

However, before he could swing his sword, I felt a chilling sensation, and the next thing I knew, several Shinigamis were already frozen. Ice crystals covered their whole body and I saw the Huntres who talked to me a while ago.

"Sorry, we're late," she said without any expressions. "We are the Huntres tribe and we're here to help you."

Her group scattered across the campus and the girl I saw a while ago suddenly slapped a girl. I was surprised by what she did but it seemed like it woke the girl up.

'If you really want to save your friend, then save her at all cost. Walang magagawa yang mga luha mo kung mamatay rin naman siya. Naiintindihan mo ba? And we're in the middle of a war. You are not allowed to show your weakness even for a second because that will be the cause of your death. So wipe your tears and fight like a warrior.'

Huh. Spoken like a true warrior. Among the Erityian tribes, I find the Huntres tribe the most interesting. If Custos and Senshins rely more on their intellectual capabilities, Shinigamis and Huntres are the exact opposite. They like to show their strength and power, just like what she did few seconds ago.

Suddenly, her gaze met mine. I changed into my original appearance, though it looked like she already knew who I was even in my disguise.

'You survived,' she said. I knew she could use her patheia the moment I saw her.
'Is that a compliment?'
'You decide,' sabay talikod niya.
'What a cold response.'

After that, Cliff and Blake, as well as the other agents finally showed up. They immediately helped the Senshins and Huntres while I looked around to find Dad. However, he might not be here yet since, together with the leaders of Senshins and Huntres, they are the commanders of this war.

I was about to search for him but instead of finding my father, I saw a familiar face. Suddenly, my lungs felt tight. I couldn't breathe. My memories of her resurfaced and they were more painful than the wounds I sustained. I closed my eyes, hoping that my eyes and mind were just playing tricks on me, and when I opened them, she was already gone.

Halos mag-collapse ako pagkatapos no'n at hindi ko alam kung ano ang dapat gawin.

"Nel? Are you okay? What happened?" Naia asked but I disconnected our line as a response.

It was just for a moment and it might be just a hallucination, but it felt real. She looked real. It was impossible but somehow, I saw my mother, who was supposed to be dead, in this place.