Episode Zero -Encounter- Chapter 1

This is the first chapter of Part One: Encounter of Episode Zero -Promise- written by Jun Eishima.
The translation below is by Lissar. Because official romanizations of the names have not yet been released, they might be off.

She knew she was surrounded, but she felt no nervousness or panic. She only thought about how it would save her the time it would take to look for them. “Just like we heard”, Lightning murmured as she readied her sword. There were several Bloodbaths, a monster that looks like a fish with amphibious arms and legs that lives by the water’s edge. On the outskirts of the Coastal City Bowdam, these sorts of aquatic monsters appear quite often. It’s not only humans that want to live here, with it’s warm temperature, water, and resort-like atmosphere, it seems even monsters find it easy living.
She could detect four of the reddish grey lumps in the area. She sensed two behind her. One began to creep about. It was preparing to attack. She sliced her sword down the right side of her vision. Resistance. Now to the left. Her sword flashed, becoming her name, through the Bloodbath’s vitals. Now two are down. She felt something jump at her back. But at that speed there should be no problem. She breathed a small sigh. She whipped around and cut him down, now only one left behind her….
It was then. She jumped back. She heard gunshot, and the Bloodbath burst open. Now one more was covered in it’s own green body fluids.
“We’ll help!”
She heard a woman’s voice along with the racket of the airbike. You aren’t helping, you’re just in the way, she thought, irritated, and lowered her weapon. The Bloodbath’s attention had already turned away from Lightning. She didn’t need to look up to know that the owner of that voice was a lower class woman By the sound of the airbike it was obviously remodeled. It wasn’t one that was designed with safety first in mind for the regular market, nor was it a military model that was made for silence. It was a different sound. The woman riding that wouldn’t be a citizen or a soldier.
It was not, in fact, the woman who had a gun in one hand while controlling the airbike with the other. It was a blue haired man. He was very young. He had feather and jewel decorations all over, and even from afar you could see he was very flashy in appearance. Behind him was a black haired woman holding a huge gun at the ready. The airbike descended quickly, and the woman stood up and fired off her gun. The two remaining Bloodbath’s flew back, one after the other, and grew still. She wasn’t a bad shot. Of course, that was after she’d already wasted half her round.
The airbike flew down around Lightning slowly, and put on the breaks. It was driven by someone who knows what he’s doing.
“Hey there soldier, you were in a tough spot weren’t you?”
The black haired woman put up her gun and smiled. The neckline of her shirt was low and open. Lightning could see a butterfly tattoo on the upper part of her shoulder blades. If the blue haired man could be said to have a lot of decorations, this woman could be said to be showing a lot of skin. Either one was not wearing clothes that someone who uses a gun would normally wear. All of those decorations hanging down would just get in the way of a gun fight. And a large gun like that heats up easily. With that much skin showing she wouldn’t be protected from burns. Amateurs, she decided, and then asked:
“Who are you?”
“We’re Nora.”
Even though Lightning meant to sound hard and cold, the other woman hardly seemed to notice. Her amber colored eyes whirled, as if she were amused.
“If you’re a soldier from Bowdam you’ve at least heard a little bit about us right?”
Confident. Lightning was interested in how she managed to get so confident, but she didn’t have the time to ask.
“Sorry, never.” She said, her voice curt, and she spun on her heel. She could hear their voices behind her.
“Weird, I could have sworn we were more famous than that.”
She walked faster so she wouldn’t have to hear their voices anymore. How annoying. They interfered with her mission, and they actually thought they were helping her. She couldn’t stand how they looked so proud of themselves, so she lied to them, and she hated herself for that too. Yes, she had lied. Lied that she had never heard of Nora. She knew of them. She had heard of a group using a small shop on the beach as a headquarters. That shop was actually a cafe, meant for tourists but mostly used by local regulars. Though it’s not the kind of place that would be popular among high school girls.
“We’re like a nora-cat, a stray, that’s how we got our name.” Even more annoying, to remember that now. Lightning took our her wireless. Don’t think of unnecessary things, she said to herself. Call up the sergeant major and inform him the job is finished. That’s the most important thing to do right now.

There were already many soldiers at the reconvening point. The Bloodbaths weren’t far from the place they were reported to be. When it’s against fast moving monsters it isn’t this easy. Monsters hate humans, so you won’t see them in business or residential districts, but the outskirts are a different story. To people living in the quiet neighborhoods built outside of the city, monsters are a huge problem. Though even an amateur can take care of one small one, they usually move in large groups. The only ones living alone are the largest and strongest of monsters. In other words, ones that if you see them then the smartest course of action would be to contact the army immediately. That’s the job usually put to the security force, Lightning’s unit.
Other soldiers came up to her, congratulating her on a job well done. Lightning looked for her superior officer. No, she didn’t really need to look for him. Sergeant Major Amoda could be heard from anywhere. She went in the direction of his hearty laugh.
Lightning frowned. Amoda was talking with a group she’s never seen before. And next to them was a remodeled airbike. It looked a lot like the one that blue haired man had been flying. Who was that man who was talking with the sergeant major all friendly-like? He stood confidently, but seemed to be sweltering. She couldn’t tell whether it was from his clothes or the way he moved. But she could tell just from looking at him that he was their leader.
Their eyes met. Lightning stared back. She admits it was rude of her, but the man got a slightly suspicious look on his face. Realizing something was happening, Sergeant Major Amoda looked back.
“Hey, Commander, welcome back.”
He’s at it again, Lightning thought, shrugging her shoulders. He likes these kind of jokes.
“Commander? What sort of joke is this now, Sergeant Major?” Putting emphasis on “Sergeant Major”. Unlike when she first joined, she’d gotten good at ignoring his jokes. Of course, sometimes it’s necessary to strike back.
“Well you are our raid leader, right?” If he’s going to be like this there nothing really that she could say, so she sighed, and decided to ignore him.
“So who is this?” She looked over to the man next to her. It didn’t matter whether you saw him from far away or up close, he looked no different. He looked like bad news.
“They’re Nora, Sergeant.” A young solider cut in to the conversation.
“Haven't you heard of them?”
Not Nora again, nearly showing her irritation. I’d just got them out of my head and here they are back for more.
“A vigilante group made up of young people from the city.” He had obviously taken Lightning’s silence as a lack of knowledge on her part. Amoda added,
“Their leader is Snow here.” She felt a mixture of elation and disappointment at being proved right.
“Hey.” His off-hand greeting made her even more irritated. Can’t he be a little bit more polite? she thought.
“This is our raid commander. She might be young, but she’s good.” For proof, Amoda touched the handle of Lightning’s sword with his fingertips.
“This is a sword she got recently. A Blaze Edge… though you guys wouldn’t really understand, if any soldier saw this they would know what it meant.”
“Sergeant Major, let’s not talk about…” Lightning knew what he was going to say next and meant to stop him, but Amoda ignored her and continued.
“This is a sword given to only the best soldiers. What I’m saying is, the ones who have this sword have amazing abilities. Isn’t that something?” Now that’s going a bit overboard with praise, Lightning thought. She wanted to stop him before he started going on like that, but she can never get a word in edgewise.
“And her Blaze Edge is special. It has an inscription on it that says, now what was it? ‘White flash….. take on my name.’ wasn’t it?” In her mind she corrected him, ‘Call upon my name’, but she couldn’t say it allowed, it was too embarrassing.
“Please, let’s just leave it at that okay?” Even though he was half joking, she was happy hearing such words from her superior officer. But there is a limit to how far you should go. Especially that Snow guy was in front of her saying “Is that right?” and “Wow that’s amazing.” while looking straight at her. It was just unbearable.
“Alright, alright.” Amoda looked disappointed at first, but then laughed uproariously.
“Ah, well. So that’s why our sergeant here was able to finish up so quickly. You guys were disappointed that there wasn’t much of a catch this time either, yeah?”
“Nah, it’s not only the monsters that were reported that are around you know.”
“Yeah, if we smoke ‘em out, they come one after the other.”
“Hey now, I’m okay with smoking them out, but don’t make too much of a disturbance.” And then he said, of course of course, and agreed wholehearted. Vigilante force? Lightning thought. Don’t make me laugh. Just a group of amateurs who’ve gotten guns and are acting all justice league… She wanted to tell them what she thought of them, but it wouldn’t change anything. You can only criticize when you expect improvement. If you don’t, then it’s just a waste of breath.
“You guys have a lot of energy don’t you. Why don’t you join the army?”
“Rules and uniforms just don’t fit our personality you know?” Why does this guy keep saying things that are sure to get on peoples nerves? Lightning thought. He makes me beyond angry. But Sargeant Major Amoda just laughed and said, “Watch what you say”, while slapping Snow on the back, like a good friend.
“Well now that the monsters are cleaned up, we’ll be going.” At Snow’s words, they all climbed onto the airbike.
“You guys better not get away with yourselves and get caught.” The young soldier from before yelled at them. He was close to them in age, and they seemed friendly.
“PSICOM’s nothing like us, and they won’t over look you.”
PSICOM. Public Safety and Information. The secret service within the army, they only take elite soldiers. The security force works closely with the people, so you could say they have “warmth”. But PSICOM doesn’t have that. No, PSICOM would not allow Nora to exist. But a group made up of nothing but regular citizens don’t know that. And all the members of Nora scoffed at the young soldiers kind words.
“We’ll be okay. We’re stronger than any army.” The leader will be the leader, and members of the group are members. But the young soldier didn’t seem to mind, and just said “A little overconfident aren’t ya?” while laughing.
Lightning thought that, not only are they lacking good sense, but they aren’t even realizing things that any normal person would realize. So, she thought that ignoring them and forgetting about them would be best. But…
“Wait.” When she realized what she was doing, she had already followed after them, and stopped him. She had to say one thing, just one thing.
“Your name is Snow, isn’t it.”
“Yeah?” Snow had been preparing to take off, he turn around.
“You’re the one whose been following my little sister around.”
“Little sister?”
“Serah Farron.” She hadn’t even finished saying Serah’s name before Snow said “Ah!” and leapt out of the airbike, running towards her.
“So you’re Serah’s sister eh? You’re face looks similar, but you both seem so different.” He looked so happy, Lightning felt bewildered. He was like a child who’s found some candy.
“Serah said that her sister was a soldier. When we met I thought maybe it might be you, but you really are her sister.” He said her name so familiarly that the irritation she had felt earlier returned to her. She was just getting ready to shout at him, when he stuck out his right hand.
“Nice to meet you! I’m Snow Villiers.” His hand was huge. She thought that maybe because he was wearing leather gloves that it made his hand look even bigger. No, asking for a handshake while wearing gloves. This man really knows nothing about propriety.
“Don’t get involved with my sister.” She ignored his outstretched hand. She didn’t feel like being friendly with him.
“Why?” Snow’s eyes went from his out stretched fingers to Lightning’s face and back. He must not have understood what she said.
“I said, don’t get involved with my sister.” Snow pulled his hand back. He finally understood it was being rejected. Even so, he didn’t give up, and he said hesitantly:
“And if I did?” I don’t need to answer him, I’ve said what I planned to say, she thought. She tried to turn her back on him, but something hit her toes.
A coconut. It was a kind of coconut that comes from the Bowdam palm tree, and if you say “palm tree” around here people will think of this tree. It grows quickly, and the loves are big and wide and are enjoyed by people walking on the beach. But they are different from the regular palm tree in that the coconuts are not for eating. They are huge, and it doesn’t matter whether you steam them or cook them they can’t be eaten. Like this man, Lightning thought.
“So, if did? Then what?” She put her foot down on the coconut.
“Don’t.” She slowly put her fingers together and cracked the joints. This wasn’t how she had planned on getting rid of the man chasing after her sister, but it just couldn’t be helped. But then, the foot she had on the coconut fell. Snow had kicked the coconut into the air, and it made an arc, landing in his hand. He was like a kid who was good at ball kicking.
“Sorry, but even if you punch me, it won’t work.” Does he want to say that some woman’s punch wouldn’t be strong enough, or is he saying that he just won’t listen to her words. Probably both.
“Because I’m hard headed.” He smiled as he said it, making her more angry. She turned her back on him, and walked away. I don’t like him, she thought. Taking children and acting as their general, cheering on the weak… horrible man. Why does Serah find him interesting? Of course, she just finds him interesting. She doesn’t actually like him. Of course.
“Sergeant Farron, do you know him?”
They couldn’t have heard what they were talking about, but they were probably able to see them fighting. The young solider looked anxious when he asked.
“No, not really.” She didn’t know him. And she never planned to have anything to do with him again. Not just herself, but her Serah as well.
“I’m going back.” Lightning brushed her hair back, and walked away.

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