Alice in the Massacre - Chapter 71
Iberis’ legs extended and retracted, drawing her and Raffi to the street tree at once. Gripping the branch, she spun around like a juggler and landed on the ground with Raffi hanging on to her shoulder. As if to counteract the impact, she rolled on the ground, almost instinctively striking the ground with her foot and leaping.
The rainbow-colored light pierced the exact spot where Iberis had been. It swelled momentarily before exploding in a blaze of fire and bang. With the impact as if it were dynamite being set off, the surrounding area was littered with debris, smoke and crumbled asphalt.
Gritting her teeth, Iberis dove into the shadow of a nearby building. Then she curled her body and stopped her breathing. The surrounding area was filled with the screams and moans of fleeing citizens and those who were caught in the explosion.
“So they don’t care… whether they are friends or foes!”
Iberis controlled Raffi’s strained voice and brought out a small mirror from her pocket. Then she directed it towards her own face. She checked above her head and put the mirror back in her pocket.
Then, wordlessly, she lifted Raffi in her arms and took off running on fluctuating feet. It was just in time. The building they were hiding in burst into flames just as she ran out into the street and tumbled to the ground, tripping over herself.
The white light swelled and exploded, scorching the ceiling of the shelter. Blinded for a moment, Iberis let out a small shriek and shielded her face with her hands. There was a violent gust of wind and a cloud of smoke, and Raffi, who was about to be swept away, hurriedly clung to Iberis’ skirt.
Crawling through the still gusting wind, Iberis approached the manhole, protecting her face. Then she shifted the lid, forcing it open just enough for her to slide in. It was roughly the same time that the wind gust subsided and the manhole lid shifted.
The underground passage was practically submerged in murky water from the explosion of the water tank that the two of them had been responsible for. Iberis descended the ladder and halfway down, she floated hesitantly in the sewer. Then, in the manner of rowing, she began to move through the dark sewer. Raffi’s shoulders gave a minor tremor as he heard another loud explosion above him.
“… What the hell is that Bandersnatch… it’s more destructive and faster than Alice’s.” Muttering, he looked over Iberis’ shoulder at her. “You avoided it well. All I could do was visualize it.”
Iberis retrieved a small light from her soggy clothes, switched it on, and held it in her right hand. Then after confirming the intermittent sound of explosions above her head, she spoke up.
“I didn’t see it either… But if I were that woman, Stelcis. I was simply trying to anticipate how they would attack me if I leaped out from the ground.”
“You are spot on… So you didn’t see the enemy either?”
Iberis leaned against the cold sewer wall and breathed, “By now they’ve lost sight of us and are attacking and destroying the city in the dark. It would be better to hide out here for a while. It’s true that with that kind of destructive power and speed… it’s not advisable to fight them head-on…”
“A single scratch and you’re out. But there is one thing I have learned.” Raffi swallowed his gulp and said quietly. “The fact that neither you nor I have been able to find them suggests that she is ‘concealed’ by the Mock Turtle’s ability. Yet, the Bandersnatch, like the light that flashed by, could be seen for a brief second. Do you know what… means?”
“… So, the Seventh of the Mock Turtle’s ability to erase perceptions is limited… or restricted in some way…” Thinking about it, Iberis continued. “There are probably some things that can… be erased from awareness and some that can’t… Although I have no idea how many can be erased, at that moment, Stelcis’ ‘Bandersnatch’ had not disappeared. I could see it flying at high speed.”
“I agree with you. Maybe the ability to interfere with beings that are stronger than yourself… her Seventh cannot be used against the Bandersnatch or anything like that. What you can’t perceive, you can’t erase. That may be the way it is simply put.”
“I see…” Iberis bit her nails and glanced up at the top of her head. “… Whatever the truth is, the moment they attack, her Bandersnatch can be ‘seen’. I hope this is the key…”
Releasing a sigh, Iberis shut her mouth when she felt the sound of destruction above her cease.
“… The opponent isn’t stupid. It’s time for them to make their next move.”
“What do we do now…?”
“We have a rough idea of their location from where the Bandersnatch flew. We’re moving towards it now.”
As she began to swim again, Iberis concentrated on her feet. Her fluctuating legs begin to emit an intense rainbow of colors.
“… It’s true that having such a powerful force can only mean that you are ‘overwhelmingly superior to the forces of war’. But a battle is not determined by sheer destructive power.”
Iberis stopped her motion and gazed up at the top of the sewer.
“From the perspective of the people who are aiming to get rid of us, it would certainly be very annoying for us to be able to escape. Therefore, they will first attempt to block our escape route.”
No sooner had she said that than there was a roaring crash from a short distance away. It was a swell that sent the sewage water surging.
“… What has she done…?”
Raffi turned pale and opened his mouth, but Iberis said nonchalantly, looking up at the ceiling.
“I think they’re going around destroying this section of the shelter… where there’s a chance of reaching the outside.”
“So the escape route is lost…”
“They’ll soon realize we’re hiding in the sewer. But blocking the escape route to the outside is a poor choice. Now we have one more move to gain.”
Iberis smiled, the corners of her mouth twisted up in a grin, and she reached into her skirt pocket and withdrew a small pillbox-like case. She then peeled off the seal on the back of it and pressed it against the sewer wall to attach it.
“Let’s just get this over with.” She said, glaring upwards with a dark expression.
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