Chapter 9: Essence
"Okay, okay, chill, I was only kidding." Cold sweat ran down Akira's face.
"hehe~ " Reia let out a small giggle as the distressed look on his face was amusing.
"...." Akira had nothing to say and felt like yelling but he did not want to attract any mutants.
Reia put down her gun and laid back down with her hands behind her head.
Akira let out a sigh of defeat and prepared a cup of noodles for himself and Reia. Using his own essence the cup was covered in red light. After a brief moment, the light retracted back into his hand and opened the lid to reveal a hot cup of noodles.
"Here." Akira placed the noodles and a fork next to Riea so she had something to eat.
"Do you have something other than noodles?" Reia could already see their diets just being noodles for a while before going into their canned foods.
"I do, but I found this stash so I figured it was better to eat it all before going into the military rations I have." Akira opened his cup of noodles and started eating.
Reia sat up again, picking up her cup and began to eat as well.
"So, has your essence finally gained a trait or is it only good for cooking instant noodles?" Reia, using the cup of noodles to hide her grin, asked Akira about his essence.
"Of course it has, if it wasn't for our previous leader dying I would have been promoted to your squad but they instead made me the new squad leader." Akira had only recently gotten the position of squad 2 leader.
"True, but I'm sure you'd rather him dead anyway, I could see the smile on everyone's face when you got promoted to leader." Reia thought back to the promotion ceremony they had for the top squads and remembered seeing Akira get his badge.
Akira's eyes trembled for a moment, but he kept his composure as remembering the good memories he had with his squad gave him strength.
"Our previous leader was a piece of shit and I'm glad I became leader, but seriously how do you not know what my trait is. We literally went on a mission last month." Akira looked at Reia confused as surely she would have known as although he has only been squad leader for 6 months, they had been working together for a while now.
"Pffhaha, I know, I was just toying with you but I wouldn't mind an explanation." Reia did want an explanation as it wasn't exactly clear like hers or Lou's.
"True, it is a bit weird, even I don't fully understand it." Akira looked at his palm and a red mist with bright red lightning going through it appeared and retracted it before he started explaining.
"I call it corruption and whenever the target gets hit with my bullet it begins to eat their mind slowly, and the more times I shoot them the quicker the effect is. Although that's how it works with normal people I noticed a strange effect on the mutants." Akira quickly ate a mouthful of noodles before continuing.
"Whenever I hit a mutant instead of going straight to the brain, it will start consuming the body. Now, this only happens with dead bodies so it means the mutants are "dead" beings." Akira finished off his cup of noodles and threw it in the small trash can in the corner.
"Interesting, but I wonder why it goes straight to the brain?" Reia found it odd that it would go straight to the brain and not be more like the effect it has on mutants.
"Makes me think my essence is sentient, but yeah I understand why if it wasn't really noticeable. I can always use the secondary effect lightning but I did not want to copy you too much." Akira scratched the back of his head, a little embarrassed to admit that he did not want to seem like he was copying Reia.
"Oh, are you a little embarrassed? How cute~, but you don't need to worry, we are trying to survive so use everything at your disposal. There is no need for you to be shy, so copy me as much as you like." Reia found it adorable but understood as the pressure from the military required uniqueness or the first of its kind as the leaders of the military.
"Shush, unlike you I have 2 effects." Akira's face went red from Reia's comment.
"So what if you have 2 effects I can still beat you in a duel." Reia wished she could get up, but she could only rely on her words.
"Tch, I would love to duel you but our circumstances don't allow it." Akira wanted to uphold his pride and duel but survival came first and was willing to set it aside for the time being.
"Aww that's too bad." Reia threw her finished cup of noodles at the bin, glad that Akira did not take advantage of the fact she couldn't really move.
"Yeah well, I'm too busy looking after a certain disabled fox girl."
"Oi, you're also a fox."
"And? Clearly, I'm the better fox here, at least I can move my legs." Akira got up from the desk and began to walk around Reia.
"Don't get cocky you giant." Using her fist Reia punched Akira in the side of the thigh hitting a weak point and causing him to fall to the ground on one knee.
"You bitch!" Akira was going to retaliate but seeing the deathly grin on Reia's face he did not want to entertain her.
"Sorry, not sorry." Reia was disappointed that Akira did not try to fight back, but was also glad as they really shouldn't be getting physical.
"Why did I agree to join you?" Akira grabbed his head, questioning his decisions.
"Agree? You had no choice." Reia did plan to drag Akira with her even if he said no especially after learning more about his essence.
Akira let out a sigh and sat on the floor next to Reia.
"Are you sure you want to sit that close, being in arms reach is dangerous." Reia was glad she had found her way to pass the time, and wanted to continue to tease Akira.
"As long as I don't say anything, you won't have a good enough reason to harass me."
"Oi, it isn't harassment, I call it being teased by your favourite squad leader Reia." Reia then bonked Akira on the head.
"I should have said nothing." Akira felt like it was going to be a long day, but preferred this over fighting a bunch of mutants.
Reia not wanting to torture Akira too much wanted to say something to reassure him and to be honest with him.
"Well, I'm glad I was able to find you. I don't know If I could stay sane with all this pressure aha." Reia had felt a massive weight on her mind and being able to break away from that was a much needed mental break.
"I'm also glad, I lost pretty much everything so thank you for finding me otherwise I might have joined everyone else in my squad." Although the collapse has only just started, Akira was already left feeling empty as he already lost the people closest to him.
"It's okay, although not officially, you can join my squad and I can promise you that no one will be dying while I am alive." Reia felt her heartache for a moment as she could only imagine how horrible he had been feeling.
"Whenever you are ready, know that I will be alive and well to listen." Reia tried her best to provide comfort for Akira as it seemed to be working.
"T-thank you." Akira tried his best to hold back tears.
< a Few hours later>
"Good, my legs are starting to feel better so we should get a move on soon, so make sure you are ready." Reia slightly smiled and Akira nodded.
Akira got up from the floor so he could check to make sure he had everything and if they needed to, be able to leave right away.
Reia dragged herself to the wall where her bags were to make sure Akira did not steal any of her things.
'Alright, everything is here.'
"Akira do you have everything?" Reia looked over to Akira who was packing some of the instant noodles that were in the draw.
"Okay well if I am able to move properly we will leave right away, the longer we wait, the more chances of someone run-" Just as Reia was speaking a scream was heard.
"HEELLLLPPP!!!" A woman could be heard screaming followed by the growls and screeches of the mutants. 𝗳𝐫𝐞𝐞𝘄𝐞𝗯𝐧𝗼𝐯𝐞𝗹.𝗰𝗼𝗺
"Of course right as I say something." Reia could not believe the timing.
"Can you move?" Akira, knowing they were most likely going to fight the mutants, needed to know if Reia could move.
Reia moved her legs slowly, finding that they were no longer hurting. Reia got up from the ground and gave them a quick stretch before picking up her bag and weapons. Reia turned to Akira who was by the window looking through the blinds and asked an important question.
"Now what should we do, save her or let her die?"