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“You suck at drawing, Haydi!”

“You sure do, Haydi.”

“Hey, how many time do I have to tell you two that my name is Hayden, not Haydi.”

“D-Don’t worry, I know that your name is Hayden. I-It’s a very handsome name.”

The place was one of the primary schools inside the Union Center, not so far from the Research and Development Department. These schools were built to allow parents who worked here to leave their young children when they had nobody to pick them after school. In these places, there were afterschool activities led by the teachers and other staff of the school.

Inside the room used for indoor activities were three children of around 10 years, one boy and two girls, and one male adult. The four of them were sitting at a table with papers and colorful pens on it. The boy was clearly the energetic type. He had short brown hair and there was a missing tooth on his smile. One girl on his side had long black hair and seemed quite quiet. The other girl was beside the man. She had slightly tomboyish air with her short hair and her actions. She was wearing a short and a t-shirt with animal print on it. Her hair color was a vivid red, indicating that she was not an ability user.

The man, the only adult of the group, looked like a college student. He had spiky ruffled blond hair. His build was quite average. Neither too small nor too slim. He was wearing brown jeans with a sleeveless white shirt. He seemed to like accessories as he had a red earring on his left ear and a few rings on his hands. His gestures were calm and gentle. Normally, he would be out of the place here, surrounded by children, but they seemed to enjoy drawing with him.

The girl with red hair looked up at him with a face the same color as her hair. “Also I think that your drawing is cool! Like, this bear!”

Hayden, the man with spiky blond hair looked once more at his ‘bear’ drawing. He scratched his cheek with a wry face. “...This is an otter, Tiss.”

“...Ah.” Tiss, the tomboy girl on his right became redder as she unvoluntary made fun of him. The boy and girl on the other side of the table smirked at her. They whispered loudly, making them audible for the other two.

“Tiss sure likes Haydi.”

“Since she has been saved by him when she had fallen from the tree, she would become red every time he comes here.” Tiss slammed the table before yelling.

“Nino! Jeannie! What are you saying?! It’s not like that…” She wanted to retort them, but she could not finish in the end. She could only glance with the corners of her eyes at the man on her side. Her heartbeat raced faster each time she saw his smile.

Meanwhile, Hayden smiled toward their interaction. He picked up another piece of paper to do another drawing. He knew that he was terrible at this, but the children wanted to draw, so he decided to join them. Then Jeannie, the quiet girl, talked to Hayden. “I thought that the next time that you had work will be next week.”

Hayden stopped drawing and put his chin in his hand that was not holding a pen. He frowned in response to the question. “That was normally the plan, but my uncle called me earlier in the day.”

Tiss tilted her head in puzzlement. “But you still have school at this time, right?”

Hayden resumed his awful drawing. “Yes, but he told me that he might have found the thing that I’m seeking. However, he also told me that he will send someone here when it was time.”

All three children stopped in surprise. Nino had a smiling face as he asked. “What are you searching, Haydi?”

“It’s Hayden.” He looked through the windows with an expressionless face. However, his eyes were hiding something. Something that was sleeping, lying in wait until it was set ablaze.

“He told me that he might have found someone stronger than me.”

10 minutes later, a knock was heard on the door leading to outside.

--------------------------------------

Talia and Sanya were walking side by side. There were also guards and the ministers, Darius and Yui. They had taken cars to go to the Research and Development Department. The Union Center was big, so there was sometimes the need for a vehicle. Even more, Ministers could not just walk there without protection.

They were now walking inside the building. Sanya was looking at Talia’s profile. ‘...World strongest man. I heard that one of the S-ranked ability users is considered as the most powerful existence on earth. It seems that it is a man. However, there is no photos or things like that could tell his identity. It is known that he lives in the Union and his ability is physically oriented, but that’s all. It is not known how strong he is...Talia should be ok, right?’

Sanya was a bit worried about Talia. She knew that she was extremely powerful, but she could not tell how much. However, Talia was still calm, so she decided to trust her. George, who was near them, gave a glance at Sanya. “Why did you take a normal student with you? What is happening today could be a historical event depending on the outcome. This is not a place for children.”

Talia only turned her head to look in his direction. “She is not a normal student, She is my girlfriend. I brought her here today to show the world that I lived before coming back.”

George frowned lightly. “...Are you not worried about her safety? It would have been easy for the captain of the 9th unit to take her in hostage before you could have done anything.”

Talia stopped in her tracks. She faced him with a cold face. “You should be careful about what you say. If I took her with me, it means that I have the means to protect her. All of you would have been breathless before he could have done anything. I stay the most pacifist possible, so don’t try to anger me with taunts. Otherwise, I don’t mind destroying this whole building to show my powers. I already think that we wasted a lot of time earlier.”

George and the others felt the situation becoming tenser. They didn’t know if her words were backed or if they were bluffs, but if it was a bluff, it was very realistic. His face remained calm even if his heart pumped more blood. Talia decided to stop here as she resumed her steps.

Soon they arrived in a giant place. It was like a Chamber the size of a football stadium. Talia tapped on the floor, testing the sturdiness. ‘It’s sturdier than yesterday’s Chamber.’

There were seats placed behind very thick glass panels on the side. There was a young man who seemed to be a college student. He had spiky ruffled blond hair and a light outfit unfitted for the current failing rain outside. When he saw the people coming inside the Chamber, he stood up and walked toward George. When he reached them, he swept everyone with a glance before talking to George. “Uncle, is what you told me today true?”

George nodded and held his hand toward Hayden as he turned to face Talia. “Here is the world strongest man on earth.”

Hayden looked in wonder at him and scratched the back of his head. “Why do you tell this to this cosplayer? Even more, what is two high school girls doing here?”

Talia looked at her own outfit. ‘...Did he just call the uniform reserved only for the Ylas and handmade by Turiul a costume? The uniform that would be considered as a national treasure in countless worlds?...Lord would have probably erased this guy’s existence since long ago.’

The other ministers were walking in the direction of the protected area. It was big enough for a hundred of people. Talia saw them and told Sanya to also go there. The ministers and Hakam were sitting not far away from each other, while Sanya was sitting next to Yui, who didn’t know why she was still being here. Darius had to stay on alert with the other soldiers, but he planned to watch closely the confrontation between Talia and Hayden.

George explained the situation to him. “She is the one that claims to be stronger than you.”

Hayden was clearly lost as he looked alternatively at his uncle and Talia. “Just what are you talking about? Unless she had dyed her hair, she has no ability. How can she be stronger than me?”

George was about to explain the existence of other worlds and so on, but Talia interrupted him. “Stop. It would be quicker to explain through actions.”

George gave a stare to Talia. “...You seem brave even in front of the world strongest ability user. Either you are fearless or your story is true. However, if all of this is just a farce, I swear as the representative of the Interior Ministry that you will regret it.”

George turned around and left to join his colleagues. Hayden gave a long look to Talia. ‘...What is going on? This girl is supposedly stronger than me? Did the government has gone nuts or something?’

He could not bring himself to make a move against this apparently defenseless girl. Meanwhile, Talia was also looking at him. ‘So, this is the strongest human on earth. His build is very average and he seems calm and inoffensive. However, he does have a good balance of his body and he naturally leaves only a few openings. It seems that I would not have to hold back too much.’

“Look, I don’t know what is going on, but you and your frien-” He was not able to finish as a shadow suddenly appeared in front of him. He opened his eyes wide while trying to put up a defense, but Talia’s kick landed on his unprotected stomach. Hayden was sent flying toward a wall that was a few dozen of meters away from the initial point. A big explosion was heard as his body slammed into it, sending big fragments of wall and dust everywhere! Everything happened only in a second.

The silence fell on the field. Everyone was looking agape at Talia in the middle of the Chamber. All of them could not believe this sight. Only Talia was looking at the cracked thick wall with a thin smile.

All of sudden, noise was heard coming from the place covered by dust. “Kukuku! Hahahaha!!”

A walking form was barely visible inside the cloud. Hayden appeared from inside it. He seemed unharmed, even his clothes were intact. “I’m sorry for doubting your strength!”

Unlike his earlier calm behavior, his face was filled with excitement and his eyes with burning fighting spirit. S-ranked ability user, Celestial Body, Hayden Carter had his blood boiling for the first time in years.

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Lararion

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