The moment the dark figure flickered into existence between the two, Dante’s captor shot to her feet on full alert, ready to attack at any given moment. However, a moment later when she heard the dark figure’s voice she heaved a sigh of relief but then glared daggers at the person’s back asking coldly: “What the hell are you doing here?”
Hearing the resentment in the young woman’s voice, the dark figure gave a light chuckle then replied while tilting their head to the side: “I’d like to ask you the same thing, is this where you normally sneak off to?”
“Tch…” the young woman gave a low scuff and turned her head to the side, avoiding the dark figure’s gaze.
“As to why I’m here, you’ll find out soon enough.” After speaking to the young woman, the dark figure switched its gaze to Dante and coolly spoke: “You there, boy… speak!”
Adding to Dante’s surprise, the dark figure’s voice was indistinguishable. It sounded like that of a young man’s but at the same time, mechanical. Due to the minuscule amount of light being shown by the blue algae, it was impossible to discern the features of this person. He seemed to be no more than a shadow and the mask he wore made him seem even more mysterious.
Earlier, when he heard his own words being used against him along with the unannounced appearance of this person - left Dante both shaken and speechless. It was as though a ghost had suddenly appeared in front of him out of thin air. After assessing the situation, Dante decided to co-operate for the moment until he fully understood what was going on. But more importantly, find out where he was: “My name is Dante, might I ask who-”
“I’ll be the one to ask the questions.” The dark figure interrupted. “I don’t recall seeing your face around here Dante, and your attire is even more perplexing. You are clearly not from here. Where are you from?”
Seeing that his ‘interrogator’ wasn’t going to give him the opportunity to make any queries, Dante decided to solicit the information some other way.
“I was out taking a stroll and the ground collapsed beneath my feet due to an earthquake. I fell into that hot spring over there, where I was so ‘graciously’ rescued by that beautiful young woman behind you. Though, I can’t say that I’m fond of her fetishes.” Dante replied while gesturing at his bound arms.
The young woman’s mouth went agape and her face beneath the mask went pink from embarrassment. She was left flabbergasted at his response. To think that he would bring up the earlier ‘incident’ that occurred with them in the hot spring while painting her pure actions to protect herself in such a lewd manner. She grew furious and yelled at him: “Y-you insolent, lecherous fiend! I’ll rip that vile tongue out of your head!” The blue light around her hands intensified as she stepped forward to rend him.
Dante’s eyes narrowed as he saw her hands emit the same cold blue light from before. “What is that?” he thought to himself. No matter how he looked at it he couldn’t figure out what it was nor how she did it. However, his intuition told him that if she were to lay hands on him he would die a miserable death.
Before the young woman could get any closer, the dark figure raised a hand to stop her: “Leah! Don’t… tsk, be impatient.” The dark figure clicked his tongue as he realized his blunder: “To believe I fell for such, child’s play.”
Feeling quite satisfied with himself, a faint smirk crept onto Dante’s face for a split second before he resumed his façade of being a prisoner. His Exo-suit was cable of exerting up to 500 kg of force to any limb and could absorb up to 75% shock of the same amount. So, breaking out of his restraints was an easy task. His only concerns were the stealth and speed of this dark figure and the blue light that the young woman’s hand could emit. “Leah huh, not a bad name.” he thought to himself.
The dark figure caught sight of that brief change in Dante’s expression and became even more infuriated. His voice dark, he continued: “So… Dante, you mentioned that you were on the surface earlier, what were you doing out there?”
Beneath this calm voice, Dante could detect a brewing killing intent that the dark figure was carefully trying to suppress. Apparently, Dante’s response to this question would determine the outcome of the situation.
While walking along the coastline earlier, Dante gave deep thought to how he came to be in this place. He thought of every possible situation, but could not come to any better conclusion other than him being teleported here after his body disintegrated back at the Amphitheatre. Even though it was a shocking realization and he didn’t understand how exactly it happened; he trusted his gut feeling and was about 80% certain that this phenomenon might really be what happened. His only concern was, why there wasn’t anyone else there with him.
After settling his thoughts, Dante calmly replied: “I was sent on a training assignment.”
The dark figure’s face sunk at Dante’s reply. Even though his facial expression could not be seen due to the mask on his face, his voice was enough to let Dante know that his killing intent had been aroused.
“You were sent? By who? Speak!” the dark figure enquired as he stepped forward to apprehend Dante.
“By Dr. Lambert.” Dante promptly replied. By constructing his responses in this manner, he could ascertain whether or not this place that he was sent to had anything to do with the new ‘training regime’ that Dr. Lambert mentioned. Once he was able to confirm this bit of information, what happens next would be simpler.
The moment Dante spoke the name ‘Dr. Lambert’, he saw both the dark figure and the masked young woman’s body visibly tremble within the faint light. In that instant, the cavern became so quiet that the sound of water dripping from the stalactites on the ceiling became noticeably louder resembling drums being struck. If it weren’t for the masks they wore, Dante would see the incredulous looks of astonishment written across their faces.
“Who was it that you said sent you?” The one who asked this question was interestingly the young woman, Leah. Her anger from Dante’s earlier taunt seemed to have been completely forgotten.
“What’s their full name?” the dark figure added. His voice was still cold but not as much as it had been a moment ago, it carried a slight trace of astonishment and wonder. “It must be a coincidence; it can’t be the same person we’re thinking about.”
Leah was having similar thoughts as the dark figure, but her voice carried more hope than astonishment. The blue light being emitted by her hands flickered for a moment before quickly fading away.
Dante gave a sigh of relief when he saw this happen after saying Dr. Lambert’s name. “It seems I might’ve been sent someplace where he’s known.” However, a short moment later, he was asked another question by the dark figure. Dante replied with the same calm expression as before while looking up at the dark figure: “His name is, Dr. Vincent Lambert.”
Both the dark figure and Leah’s eyes went wide with disbelief beneath their masks and their bodies went stiff as though they were struck by lightning. This news was an earth-shattering piece of information that could cause a major disturbance in the world. The dark figure’s body flickered and in the blink of an eye, Dante found himself pinned up against the wall. Dante gave a low grunt as his back smashed against the wall causing the cavern to tremble slightly.
“Damn he’s fast!” Dante cursed in his heart. To his surprise, he could feel his internal organs churn and could taste something sweet rising at the back of his throat. This dark figure before him was equally strong as he was fast. Dante’s Exo-suit was able to reduce the force of an impact from 500 kg. to 125 kg. by distributing the shock across the host’s body. So, the fact that he sustained some minor internal injuries meant that the strength this person displayed exceeded 500 kg. In addition to that, the speed the dark figure employed just now was unheard of! That sudden burst of speed further increased the force of the impact making the damage dealt almost twice the dark figure’s actual strength, far more than what Dante’s Exo-suit could bear.
Wait!” Leah screamed the moment she saw the dark figure’s body disappear and in the next instant, she saw his hand firmly grasping Dante’s neck, pinning him to the wall like a piece of artwork.
“What did you say!? HE sent you!? Where is HE?! Speak!!!” The dark figure roared as he was instantly incensed the moment he heard Dante speak Dr. Lambert’s full name.
Leah rushed forward between the two and held onto the dark figure’s free arm that he was preparing to deal Dante another blow: “That’s enough! Put him down! Release him this instant!”
After pleading to the dark figure several times, Leah noticed her words weren’t getting through to him as he didn’t respond at all to her; and his grip on Dante’s neck continued to tighten. It was clear that his anger had clouded his mind and it seemed that he might even kill Dante in this state.
Earlier, Dante had decided to ‘play along’ with the two until he got the gist of things and then make his escape. The incident between Leah and himself could be crossed off as an accident, so he bore no enmity towards her. He could tolerate a woman laying a hand on him to a point, but to be handled in such a manner by another man was something he would never put up with!
Just as Leah was just about to act, she heard a high pitch sound of something metallic breaking then hitting the ground. When she looked down, she saw the restraints she placed on Dante’s arms and legs in pieces. She sucked in cold breath and looked up at Dante in shock only to see his fist whirling through the air towards the dark figure’s face.
* Boom! *
Dante’s fist landed on the dark figure’s face and a sound similar to a boulder collapsing reverberated throughout the entire cavern. The dark figure’s body flew back like a kite with its string cut until he finally collided with the wall at the opposite side after which he coughing up a mouthful of blood. His body was shockingly immersed into the wall by several inches which shocked Leah by a great deal. Bats that were some distance away from where the dark figure landed were startled awake by the noise and flew about in a mad frenzy while making ear-piercing screeching noises. After a moment, the dark figure’s head slumped forward and the mask that he wore fell from his face.
Leah’s hand was still raised and cupped in the shape of holding the dark figure’s arm long after his body had disappeared from in front of her. It took a while before the shock of the moment dispersed and brought her back to her senses.
“Michah!” Leah frantically called out as she rushed over to his side. Even though she didn’t have much of a favorable impression of him, he was still someone on their side, and a loss of another abled body was similar to losing an arm.
“Son of a bitch!” Dante cursed through gritted teeth while flashing his right hand. He felt a heart-piercing, burning sensation coursing through his hand. It felt like what he punched was not someone’s face but the toughest of iron plates. Dante landed on his feet at almost the same instant the dark figure collided with the wall. Dante raised his head and looked towards this ‘Michah’, and it just so happened to be the exact moment that the mask fell from his face.
The moment Dante caught sight of what was beneath the dark figure's mask his face blanched and his eyes went wide with shock: “What the!?” The left side of the dark figure’s face that he punched was like that of a robot, and the right side… wasn't even human.