Arc 2: Chapter 29: The Conference Of Shock And Poison

Ignis: “Blasphemous!”

-is his reaction when he hears about a particular order that was given to the Vampires by their strategist some time ago.

Aquarius: “Were you out of your mind?!”

Asks Aquarius with a shocked face.

Gaiz: “Is that even a question, Aquarius? Obviously our strategist has lost his ability to think, the only reason he has been kept alive till now.”

A storm is indeed bursting out of the Vampire General of Storm’s words.

Achlyz: “…”

And the Vampire General of Silence is silent as silent can be.

And so, the Four Generals stare at Bronzer with differing looks of shock and denial. However, in response,

Bronzer: “Well, that is true.”

The strategist says casually with a smile.

The incident that has shocked all of them happened just a day before the Four Generals arrived at the main base of the Vampire Kingdom and held the currently ongoing conference. 

Bronzer had told some of his low-ranked Vampires to attack three Hellfires. To add insult to the injury, the three are considered to be the three strongest Hellfires, excluding Walter whose identity as a Hellfire is known only by a few people.

Considering that, not only was this the most fruitless order which caused the deaths of valuable soldiers but could also lead to a major retaliation that would cause the deaths of many more valuable soldiers. 

It could even lead the Vampire Kingdom into a state where they are paralyzed for the rest of the war.

And the strategist himself had ordered them to do such a thing.

Reid: “Well, there’s something else you should know by the way.”

He says with a deadpan face,

Reid: “Quite a while ago, even before that whole speech and all, our great strategist went to the house of the in-laws of another Hellfire, manipulated that guy’s fiancee into killing her relatives and left her there to drive her mad.”

Aquarius: “What the hell we-“

Reid: “Don’t be asking that yet. Because you see, after doing all that, he left there a note basically naming himself the culprit for that whole incident.”

And just like that, Reid finishes giving them something else to be shocked about other than attacking three Hellfires.

Aquarius: “What the hell!”

Ignis: “W-w-wh-wh-what in t-the w-world is wrong with you!!!”

Gaiz: “We are done for, aren’t we? We lost the war, didn’t we?”

Achlyz: “…”

Their shock amplified to the nth degree, Aquarius and Achlyz sink in their seats while Ignis and Gaiz stand up with rage consuming their faces.

Bronzer: “Well, that is also true.”

And once again, the strategist says casually with a smile.

Ignis: “You are DEAD!”

He blasts at Bronzer with speed half that of a bullet and intention to break at least 20 bones with one blow but is somehow able to stop when an unexpected person steps in to stop the incoming blow.

Ignis: “Get out of the way, Reid!”

He yells at Reid who had stepped between Ignis and Bronzer, but he gets a response with a blank expression,

Reid: “Yeah, well, if you really wanna kill him, there’s one more thing he has done that you should know about first.”

Ignis: “There’s more?!”

Reid: “Yes, he …”

Looking back at Bronzer’s casually smiling face and keeping all his emotions in check, Reid continues,

Reid: “He kinda sorta challenged Walter Schmidt and told him that he’d kill him.”

Ignis: “…”

Even Ignis, the most hotheaded of all the Vampire Kingdom’s upper echelons, is stunned to silence with that.

And then, as if to mock him,

Bronzer: “Well, I believe that is also true.”

The strategist says inadvertently again.

Gaiz: “Y-you … the fuck!?”

Aquarius: “Reid, you just let him do all this?”

Reid: “Yeah, the thing about that is,”

He bites his lip and swallows his breath,

Reid: “I didn’t exactly let him do all this … but I kinda didn’t stop him either.”

Aquarius: “You … you … what the heck could you possibly think any of this would gain?!”

While Aquarius’ expression has become as despaired and shocked as it can be, Reid still continues with his poker face,

Reid: “The expression on you four’s faces.”

Aquarius, who is shocked and unable to say anything. 

Ignis, who is holding back his anger and looking like an idiot while doing so. 

Gaiz, who is also holding back his anger but is doing so by excruciating incredible physical pain upon himself. 

And Achlyz, who has been speechless for a while but is still not able to hide at all his feelings of massive anxiety and irritation.

Reid: “I’d say it was worth it to not stop him.”

If they were psychics, the anger being excruciated by the Four Great Generals would have probably reduced the surroundings to dust. And, even so,

Bronzer: “See, that’s why I always liked you, Reid. I knew you could be an asshole when faced with stupider people than you.”

Reid: “Did you just indirectly call me stupid?”

Bronzer: “Well, that wasn’t the part I wanted you to focus on, but I guess I did.”

The sardonic banter continues.

In the conference room with six people in it, two of them keep mocking the other four and getting a kick out of it while the other four start losing all hopes of winning in the war.

However, that comes to an end right there as,

Darcy: “We are finally here.”

The female Vampire steps in the conference room with another following behind.

Valdis: “It seems like you all started the discussion without us.”

Saying so with a mild smile, the queen of the Vampire Kingdom steps in. As soon as she enters the room, the Four Great Generals, Reid and Bronzer, all bow to her.

Aquarius: “We wouldn’t dare do that, your highness. We were just-“

Bronzer: “No, actually, we were totally discussing stuff without you.”

Bronzer continues in a casual tone.

Reid: “Be serious or shut up!”

In contrast, however, Reid adopts the strict, no-nonsense attitude he is known for having.

Bronzer: “Seriously? And I was starting to think you were fun!”

He whines with a smile, an act befitting a man like him. And seeing that, the queen says while laughing,

Valdis: “Whatever the case, at least you two seem to be getting along well.”

Reid: “Pardon me, your highness, but I must correct you about one thing. We were not getting along well. Till now, we were merely cooperating in order to mock our common enemies.”

The Four Great Generals all click their tongues with Ignis turning towards Reid with a fist ready to break through steel. 

In response, Bronzer chuckles and says,

Bronzer: “While this never gets boring and I’d love to continue the chatter, now that the queen is here, I think we should start talking business.”

And just as he says it, Valdis breathes a sigh and says,

Valdis: “Yes, indeed. Everyone, take your seats!”

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Having settled negotiations with the Aural group, Heise, the third faction and its temporary allies teleport Trisha to their base. The reason for not bringing her along with them from the start was that Seers and Aural groups have a rather unfriendly history.

However, with everything settled, Heise was convinced to shelter her for the time being.

While that may be good news to the third faction and Abgere, Gabriel’s mind is occupied with thoughts of merely one thing.

The fact that a ridiculously big reward was put on Abgere’s head by the Phoenix and now all the remaining Hellfires are coming after him.

Gabriel obviously would care less about Abgere than he would do about a stranger he passes by on a street and never sees again. However, the four members of the third faction might not be willing to back down that easily. 

If that happens, they would end up in a direct confrontation with the other Hellfires. It’s obvious that the Hellfires would win but the damage that would cause is massive and the third faction that Gabriel has a mission to ‘keep safe’ and also has a use for his personal vendetta may end up destroyed.

So, should he tell all of them about this so they could make their decision right away and Gabriel could start thinking of what he should do based on their decision? Granted, with Ethan in the picture it’s no guarantee if what he hears will even be the truth.

Then, should he keep it to himself? That would at least give him the chance to surprise those four when the situation comes down to it and use that surprise to drag them out of the fight, maybe by making them unconscious or something. But once again, with Ethan’s wackiness and Kais and Sneha’s genuinely impressive arsenal, if he fails at using surprise to finish the job, he would probably lose all trust and would be able to do nothing to stop all of them.

So, what on earth can he do to solve this problem?

Gabriel can think of no way to solve the dilemma, neither can he find a legitimate third option.

And while Kais, Ethan and Sona might be preoccupied with the negotiations and related issues, Gabriel’s anxiety does not escape Sneha and Abgere’s attention.

Despite realizing that something has been bothering him though, neither of them asks what it is, keeping the knowledge that there’s something going on with him to themselves – decisions that would lead all of them into direct battles with some rather powerful opponents in the near future.

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Bronzer: “To start off, how many of you know what Psychic Potential is?”

As he is asked to explain the reasons for his absurd seeming orders, the strategist asks everyone in the room that one question.

Aquarius: “Well, I don’t know everything about it but I do know that it is something very vital for Psychics and that without it, no one would be able to use any Psychic abilities.”

Bronzer: “Well, when you say ‘without it’, what do you exactly mean? Do you mean that it’s a physical part of the body that if not present, Psychics would lose their abilities, or do you mean that it’s similar in nature to talents, tendencies, and alike?”

Aquarius: “I don’t know the answer but from the word ‘Potential’, I think it would probably be the latter.”

Bronzer smiles affirmatively, not to say that Aquarius is right but to say that his reasoning makes sense.

Bronzer: “Well, the correct answer is neither and both.”

Ignis: “What does that even mean? Stop the riddles and explain it already!”

Even though time has calmed him a little and the queen ordering him to back off is also preventing him from exploding, he still can’t really keep his anger at Bronzer completely in control.

That, is obviously something Bronzer enjoys watching though.

Bronzer: “Patience, my dear idiot, patience!”

He says teasingly as Ignis clicks his tongue.

Bronzer: “Psychic Potential is like an ability to do something, and is henceforth present in a few people in large quantities and in some in very negligible quantities. But, while it’s similar to ability, it’s not the same thing as it. Unlike abilities, it has manifested itself in a physical form inside the brains of those we call Psychics. It is now as much of a part of their brain as their ego, their superego or their id.”

Hearing his explanation,

Valdis: “I don’t really get all the terms but what it basically means is that the Psychic Potential is a part of their brain that gives them these psychic abilities, right?”

Bronzer nods, and continues,

Bronzer: “Now, this means two things in the current context. First, Psychic Potential is permanent and so a Psychic can never be robbed of their ability to use these powers.”

For those listening, all belonging to the Vampire Kingdom, this is a grim reality. However, in contrast,

Bronzer: “Second, it also means that the Potential can be harmed, it can be weakened.”

This is something to feel joy over.

Aquarius: “If you mean what I think you mean, we can weaken Psychics like the Phoenix to a level where we can defeat him. This could change the war itself.”

Aquarius says as he ponders on Bronzer’s words, simultaneously improving everyone else’s mood too.

And yet,

Bronzer: “Hmm, did you get smarter or did I get stupider?”

The point Bronzer chooses to focus on is that Aquarius could get what Bronzer meant. It wasn’t a surprise that he got it but the way Aquarius worded it is what made Bronzer strive for more mockery.

Reid: “Probably the latter, since there’s no way one of these idiots would get smarter.”

And Reid, of course, joins in.

Bronzer: “Good point.”

Aquarius, having lost some of his enthusiasm because of that banter, says after purposefully coughing,

Aquarius: “Getting back on topic, how is it that we would actually weaken them though?”

Bronzer: “We have to damage a particular part of the brain of Psychics. There’s only one possible way to do that.”

For people who have many defensive abilities as well as abilities like teleportation that allow them to escape battle against others, there’s only one way to precisely damage one specified part of their brain.

Valdis: “A virus?”

Bronzer: “Bingo!”

What other possible way would something like that be done? It obviously needs to be done by a microorganism. And the microorganisms best at damaging the body are viruses.

Aquarius: “But, even so, we would need a virus that specifically goes to their Psychic Potential and then damages it all while being powerful enough that it’s not killed by the various defense mechanisms of the body as well as being hard to create a vaccine against.”

To be able to find a virus like that is probably impossible considering that Psychics have existed for more than 1000 years and no cases of such a virus have ever come to light.

To create a virus like that is no easy task either.

First things first, one would need a Psychic to experiment the virus on. And even then, just because the virus worked on them wouldn’t mean that it would work on stronger Psychics than that person.

So, they would need some really powerful Psychics as test subjects.

Bronzer: “Well, how many of you know where the dead bodies of Gin Hanks and Julius Rome are?”

He asks with a smirk.

And then it dawns on all the listeners that didn’t know about it already, the reason why Bronzer had asked for such a large force just to get his hands on Julius’ body that was buried under the rubble.

He hadn’t asked for such a large force before but he had definitely gotten his hands on Gin’s body as well.

Bronzer: “Since you people feast on humans, you have a fair amount of equipment that helps preserve the bodies of the dead. I think you can add up the rest.”

Dead bodies of two Hellfires were taken, preserved and experimented on to create a virus that could possibly weaken Psychics and turn the tables in the war.

That was the gist of the explanation.

Darcy: “In case you all are too slow to get it still, that attack on those three Hellfires served the purpose of infecting them with the virus. While we lost some soldiers, we succeeded in infecting all of them, so it was a rather proud success.”

She says in an arrogant and prickly voice, but her words could only lead to even more enthusiasm.

Gaiz: “You mean the virus is already completed?!”

Not being able to hold his enthusiasm back, Gaiz says.

Reid: “No, she’s talking about the fever virus.”

Not being able to hold his sarcasm back, Reid says.

Gaiz clicks his tongue in response but quickly turns his attention back to Bronzer and Darcy. So do the other three Hellfires, as well as Valdis.

Aquarius: “I didn’t know our scientists were good enough to create a virus like that.”

Bronzer: “Hahahaha!!!”

Suddenly breaking into a grim and mocking laugh, Bronzer looks at Aquarius with a demeaning look.

Bronzer: “YOUR scientists are NOT EVEN CLOSE to being good enough to create a virus like that.”

For this once, it isn’t mockery with the purpose of trolling but mockery with the purpose of derision, something Bronzer very rarely does, and so something that means just that much more when he does it.

Bronzer: “For years, Barry had worked on this virus and created multiple formulae without even having a Psychic to experiment it on, because obviously he couldn’t experiment on himself. All his work needed to be completed was to have a powerful Psychic like a Hellfire to experiment things on.”

Aquarius: “B-but, Barry was gone before you got to either of their bodies, wasn’t he?”

Surprised and slightly cautious, Aquarius questions.

Bronzer: “Yeah, he was, but he had found someone good enough to complete his research.”

As he says so, the Four Great Generals look at each other, trying to figure out who he is talking about. As if Bronzer’s grim expression ignited something in him, Reid tells them the answer in a silent yet sardonic tone,

Reid: “Ro Garland.”

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