Seal No Evil, Here No Evil - Chapter 3

3: Glittering Darkness

            A dark haze permeated the air, obscuring the signs of the street, and combined with the fact that everyone had fled indoors, the main street of University City seemed like an old, dead city. Creeping shadows grew larger on the black road and grey windows. A beast in flaming black aura walked up to them, breathing out dark fog.
            It opened its mouth as if growling, and the lower half of its white mask covered in curly red lines detached with its jaw. Levius, Delchwin, and Yuria hid around the corner of the High Street Sandwich Deli while Ellie cautiously approached the beast with her hand held in front of her. The beast came to a dead stop, lowering its head when Ellie came into view. They both stared each other down silently.
            So this is an Inverse. Like I thought, seeing it in person is completely different. But if I can stand my ground here, then maybe I can remember my parents again. Ellie concentrated on the Inverse in front of her. The beast pushed off the ground and charged at her. It stopped right before her, being pushed back by an invisible force as it dugs its shadowy claws into the asphalt. Ellie exerted all her strength on the four-legged shadow, but it wasn’t as simple as lifting an object. She then used both her hands to push. She folded her arms back, then gave one final shove, blowing the beast down the street and onto its back. It crashed into the asphalt and bounced and rolled several times before coming to a stop.
            Ellie wouldn’t give it any time to rest; she turned her palms up and raised her arms to lift the beast into the air above the three story class building. She flipped her hands and flung her arms down, and the beast plummeted from the air and into an asphalt crater. Its legs were mangled, but it still endeavored to stand up again. No, you won’t. Never again. Ellie lifted it up again and smashed it into the street again, and again, and again, until only its head was twitching. It opened its jaw in one final gasp before collapsing completely. Just as it did so, Ellie thought she saw a faint yellow glittering in its throat, but it vanished as it the Inverse faded away.
            She panted and dusted off her hands. She smiled for a moment but then noticed that something wasn’t quite right. The dark haze hadn’t disappeared despite the Inverse’s destruction. A black shadow enveloped her head instantly. A giant humanoid Inverse over three meters tall had grabbed her head. It squeezed down, and blood splattered between its fingers.
            Yuria stood with her mouth gaping open. Levius was wide-eyed and started to step back, but Delchwin grabbed him by the shoulder. “Time leap now! Before we all forget her!” he desperately shouted.
            Levius was trembling, but as he felt something start to fade from his mind, he closed his eyes.
            Ellie was panting as she dusted off her hands. Levius blinked for a moment, then shouted, “Ellie, behind you!” She spun around to see a giant humanoid shadow wearing a white and red mask reaching for her. She raised her hands in front of her and knocked its hand away from her. Ellie leapt back to gain some distance.
She pushed on the giant with her invisible force using both hands, but the Inverse trudged through it as if it were walking against a strong breeze. “It’s too strong! I can’t push it back!” she cried.
Delchwin bit his thumb, looking carefully at the scene. Ellie was the only one among the group that had combat abilities. “Try throwing a rock at it!”
Ellie focused on the road in front of her, and broke apart a large chunk several times her own size. She raised her hands to lift it up, then hurled it at the giant. The humanoid Inverse crouched, then sprang up into the air to avoid the speeding boulder.
Yuria said, “How can something that big jump that high?”
A solution dawned on Delchwin. “Ellie, get another boulder ready! Toss it after it lands. Levius, use time injunction and push the boulder until it’s right in front of the Inverse right after Ellie throws it.”
“What? I don’t have force manipulation. I can’t push a boulder that big!”
“Just try. If I’m right, it should work.”
“And if you’re wrong, we die.”
“We’re all gonna die!” Yuria screamed, running in circles in the alley.
“No, if I’m wrong, time leap back, and make me think of something else.”
“But—”
“There’s no time!” Delchwin said. Ellie had carved out another piece of the asphalt and dug it out just as the Inverse landed and bent down to its shadowy knee. She pushed it through the air, and Levius, about to rip out his hair, closed his eyes.
The boulder appeared directly in front of the Inverse’s head and smashed right into it, knocking it onto its back and cracking its white mask.
“Keep going! Aim for the mask. I think it’s dazed,” Delchwin said.
Ellie lifted another boulder and flung it at the humanoid just as it braced its hazy black hands on the road to sit up. The boulder appeared in front of its head again and exploded into rubble upon impact, shattering the white mask.
Behind the mask, an even darker void stared at them, like the abyss of a black hole. Yellow glitter floated inside the void, as if watching them. The Inverse fell onto its back again. Ellie grabbed another piece and used the opportunity to repeatedly smash its head from above until the deformed head faded away with the rest of the body.
Both Levius and Ellie were panting heavily. Yuria fell onto her butt in slow motion. “I almost had a heart attack!” she said. Delchwin sighed and wiped the sweat from his brow.
Levius walked up to Delchwin and asked, “Just what made you think I could push that boulder? Even if time stops, I don’t have super strength. I still don’t know how it even happened.”
“It wasn’t your strength that moved the boulder. Your ability is not to cause everything around you to stop. The speed vectors of everything around you don’t disappear. They simply cannot travel any distance because there is no time. But if there were truly no vectors when time is frozen, then you shouldn’t be able to walk.”
“Of course I’m unaffected, or else the ability wouldn’t be of much use.”
“Have you thought about why that occurs though?”
“Why? Maybe a separation of the observer and the state?”
“Maybe. But the practical answer is simpler than that. You moved my hand in class when we tested time injunction. That proves that physics still work when you’re interacting with the object, at least in the direction of the force you exert. Ellie already threw that boulder, so if you push it along the same direction, then in theory its acceleration vector would apply while you’re touching it, so it would move in the direction you pushed it.”
“I suppose you’re not in the tactics department for nothing.” Levius was pleasantly surprised to learn something new about his ability, something that had not occurred the previous year. Perhaps interesting things would keep happening with this group.
“Thanks for your support,” Ellie said.
“No problem. I’m as much of a fan of living as anyone else,” Delchwin said.
“That was so scary,” Yuria said. “Why did you run out there all of a sudden?”
“That’s because—”
Security vans rolled up to the scene, and men and women in black armor poured out of the back, bearing giant black rifles.
A female officer approached them, clad in a helmet with a red visor obscuring her face. “What are you students doing here?”
Ellie rummaged through her red skirt’s pocket, and turned them inside out. Yuria pointed at the pocket of her own yellow jacket and shrugged her shoulders. Ellie pulled a folded black case out her jacket’s pocket. She unfolded it to show a silver badge of an eye inscribed in a circle of ivy. Above the badge was an ID card with her photo. “I’m Ellie Mavelin, with the Guardians. I heard the Inverse alarm and did my duty.”
“What about these civilians?” the officer asked.
“They assisted me. I couldn’t have defeated the two Inverses without them.”
“Two?”
“Yes, two. Did I say something strange?”
“Inverses usually attack solo. Fighting one is dangerous. Fighting two is suicide. What kind were they? I need to make a report of this.”
“It was a beast and a three-meter humanoid,” Ellie answered.
“Alright, your statement’s been recorded,” the officer said. She pressed a button on the side of her helmet, and her visor slid up, revealing dark blue eyes. “I want you to promise me though that you won’t do something so dangerous again. Even if you’re a Guardian, you’re still a student. And right now your friends are civilians.”
“Yes, I promise,” Ellie said.
“I look forward to working with you then. I’m Teri Einschwitz, captain of the forty-second Security squad. We serve the west side of University City, so we’ll bump into each other again. Now get back to class, all of you.”
They all walked back to class after giving their statements to the officers. Luckily, the officers agreed not to charge Ellie for damages to public infrastructure.
Yuria popped up next to Ellie and said, “I didn’t know you were a member of the Guardians.”
Ellie said, scratching her head, “Well, I wasn’t until today. After I met you, I went to Central on a committee member’s recommendation and they gave me a part-time position at the Guardians.”
“Lucky. I heard it pays well.”
“Well, the Guardians are all students, so they have to pay a lot, otherwise why would any student risk their lives fighting public disturbances when they can get a job at the school cafeteria instead?”
“Just you wait. I’m your roommate, so I’m not going to lose to you. Once I unlock my potential, I’ll join you as a Guardian!”
“It’s not really a competition…”

Levius envied them being able to have a normal conversation like that. As the perpetual loner, he hadn’t had much practice talking to people. He turned to Delchwin, but he was lost in thought. There was probably nothing to discuss with him anyway. Levius looked back but knew there was no one to talk to.

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