Though Leonel's heart was assaulted with a whirlwind of confusion, it didn't show to his face.
'Ten of them… Not overly dangerous but definitely uncontrollable variables… The Chef is most definitely the greatest hazard…'
Unfortunately, the Four-Star Chef was among these white pupil'd individuals. Though he had yet to move from behind his curved bar, Leonel didn't need much of an imagination to think of just how many sharp kitchen knives must be back there.
A few of the Angel Wings helped Conrad up, the tense atmosphere steadily growing.
The white pupil'd individuals didn't move, and neither did they. Leonel would have thought that they were observing them had it not been for the fact their eyes were too vacant. It didn't seem like any thoughts were going through their heads.
But if that was the case, then they should be acting on instinct. So, just what was this instinct?
'They don't want us to leave this room?'
The steadily growing spatial rift to their back waned and growled.
Leonel's eyes widened. He realized in an instant that this sound wasn't from the tear, but rather the groaning of the building as it was being slowly sucked inward.
However, even as everyone began to panic, Leonel grew calmer. His rational mind told him that there was a logical progression to all of this, there was a design to it.
First their electricity goes out, second came the spatial tear, then there came these odd mutations to their peers and acquaintances, and now they were being pushed toward this spatial tear.
If the goal was to kill them, why wouldn't these white pupil'd individuals directly attack them? They even had the backing of the Four-Star Chef. However, they chose not to do this.
Just when Leonel was going to resolve him to hop into the spatial tear, a shard of glass flew from the windowsill James had just hung from. It collided with the spatial tear, ripping into pieces with a chilling noise.
No matter how steely Leonel considered himself, he couldn't help but shudder. Is that what would happen to his body if he entered?
'Dammit…' He thought to himself a second time in just as many seconds. '… We have to make it past.'
Leonel knew that James was right about him, he was too soft hearted. He had actually almost made such a reckless decision because he would rather risk himself on a gamble than fight his classmates. But he realized now he couldn't do this, he had to steel his heart.
'Focus on the known commodity.'
Leonel's jaw set. "Let's go."
Without another ounce of hesitation, Leonel took a strong step forward, heading toward the petite girl.
Crossing by Conrad and his teammates, he appeared before the girl more than a head shorter than him. Gritting his teeth and ignoring the pain, he quickly pulled his long black coat off.
Holding onto its shoulders, he whipped its buckled ends toward the girl's head. He didn't know how intelligent these white pupil'd people were, but he emphasized his speed and cunning. At the very least, his first gamble paid off. The others weren't quick enough to react to his sudden movement.
Savahn covered her lips in a gasp, wanting to call out to Leonel and stop him. But, it was already too late.
The little girl's dull eyes didn't seem surprised at Leonel's action. Or, maybe it was just that she wouldn't be surprised about anything in her current state. Without much thought, she reached forward in a lightning quick motion to grab the ends of Leonel's coat before he could react.
But it seemed Leonel had been expecting this. Following the curved path he flung his coat forward with, he wrapped around to the girls back. He used her own grip against her, pulling the coat across her back and around.
In a flash, the frail girl had her arms tied down by Leonel's coat and his arms.
As Leonel spoke, the other white pupil'd individuals began to move. However, Leonel had already thought this would happen.
Pulling the knot he tied with his coat around the girl tight, he pushed her forward into her own pool of vomit.
As expected, she regained her balance quickly with inhuman reflexes, only to slip when her soles touched the pool. Without being able to recover again, she fumbled and fell amidst Conrad's group, slowing their forward momentum.
Conrad's group had been the closest to the exit. It was no doubt that they would take advantage of Leonel's actions first. For men who had almost been complicit in his best friend's death, he wouldn't be soft on them.
As for the white pupil'd mutants, Leonel could only push his guilt down. He subconsciously felt that it wasn't their fault, but if he made concessions for them, he would be putting the life of him and his friends in danger.
By the time these things happened, the members of the Royal Blue, the party goers, and Aina plus her friends had made it to Leonel's side, pushing through to the exit.
Leonel signaled Milan who still had James over his shoulder with his eyes. The big guy reacted immediately, kicking the couch James had been laying on over and creating another barrier.
"Leonel!" Conrad's enraged roar tore through the commotion, his gaze reddening with rage.
Unfortunately for him, Leonel had already turned away, causing Conrad's heart to go cold. He suddenly regretted his previous actions. However, what he regretted wasn't the fact he threatened James' life, but rather that he hadn't taken control of the white pupil'd girl before Leonel got to her. He had been the closest initially, why was he always lagging one step behind him?!
Leonel didn't have time to worry about Conrad's thoughts. The white pupil'd individuals were just an afterthought. What really shook him to his core was the spatial tear. He hadn't felt that death was this close since the first time he sky-dived from his Paradise Island.
But… Leonel had made a mistake. In all his calculations, he had forgotten one important fact: they were on the fourth floor.
"Dammit, they're everywhere!"
Zavier, a Three-Star Safety of the Royal Blues, shouted from the staircase. His words were like the whisper of the grim reaper to Leonel's ears.
Leonel hadn't taken into account that if such odd occurrences were happening on his floor, how could they not be occurring on others?
Rushing into the stairway and slamming the door shut behind him, Leonel looked forward with a grim expression. The problem was worse than he had first believed. On the stairway, three pairs of white pupils were waiting.
The lights were far dimmer here due to a lack of windows and the fact the power was still out, so they almost looked like floating orbs in the night, sending a shiver down Leonel's spine.
Milan stood to Leonel's right, his back against the door just like him. Before them the three girls were already half way down the flight of stairs while Zavier and a few others were ahead of them and steadily backing away from the the three mutants.
Leonel bit his lip, almost drawing blood. It was one thing to put some bruises and broken bones on the line on the football field, but it was another thing entirely to have death looming over his head like this.
He still didn't know if his father was alive. He still hadn't shed the stigma of his profession. He still hadn't heard Aina's answer…
Leonel's gaze shifted to her back. Even in the dim light, she had an alluring charm. Her figure held a steady maturity to it.
Aina had always been like this. She was shy in the face of his naked adoration, but she was the only one who seemed capable of continuing to write her exams under his presence.
The leaning of the building grew fiercer. By now, Leonel knew it was already too late.
A banging on the door came from behind him. With each passing moment, it grew fiercer before it suddenly stopped entirely.
Leonel sighed. Conrad and his group had probably been sucked in first due to the open window. There were no large windows in the stairway, nor were any of them broken open, but it was still only a matter of time.
He faintly hoped that in their last moments, even if he couldn't see his father, that Aina might say the words that could put a smile on his face even now. But, her small frame seemed to have no intention of turning.
'Maybe I was wrong. I guess she doesn't like me…'
These were Leonel's last thoughts before the building gave way, snapping off from its foundation and flying into the spatial tear.
There was yet another thing Leonel was wrong about, though. The spatial rift didn't take everything. The moment those with white pupils touched its surface, they were safely rebounded away.
The grotesque sounded of sheering metal, brick and foundation sounded through the air, in an odd way, it almost sounded like chewing… As though the spatial tear was having a good meal as it smacked its lips.
All around Earth, similar events occurred. Many shared the same thoughts of agony and despair Leonel had. Many more had suffered terrible acts of revenge, guilt and sometimes even both in just those spare few minutes.
The world was changing in a completely unprecedented way. There were some who managed to escape the tears, but it was impossible to tell if their situations were any better. In a world filled with white eyed mutants, normal humans had suddenly become the minority.
The odd mutations continued, even transcending the human race and affecting the other animal kingdoms.
However, even as their population grew, they did nothing. They stood silently, their pale eyes gazing vacantly toward empty space. Even those who stood just a few steps from another of their kind didn't speak, as though they were all collectively waiting for something.
The so-called government response never came. Ascension Empire's Paradise palace stood majestically, spanning hundreds of meters to the left and right, but it too was silent. Only the slight whipping of its high masted flag moving with the wind could be heard for several kilometers.
If one wanted to speak of the death of a world, it seemed that such a description could be any better. However, the world hadn't ended. Not just yet, anyway.
Leonel and his group lay unconscious on a bed of eroded limestone. Around them, half broken pillars stood, etched with ancient runes impossible to decipher.
An odd energy swirled around them. At first glance, it seemed to be much more like fog than anything else. However, it behaved completely unlike fog. Instead, it moved and almost breathed like a living entity.
Over half of this 'fog' surged toward a delicate sleeping beauty. Compared to the disheveled appearances of the others, she looked as though she was doing nothing more than taking a sweet nap. Her visage made many want to scramble to protect her, the light smile on her pink lips causing a twitch in the hearts of those lucky enough to see it.
A fifth surged toward a young man with long blond hair and a high bridged nose. Even in his sleep, he scowled fiercely as though facing an enemy. The disdain was almost painted onto his lofty cheekbones.
Another fifth descended toward a tall young man with bandages wrapped around his torso. He snored loudly, rubbing his stomach without a care in the world as he turned over.
The remaining portions spread out evenly, seeping into the bodies of the remaining unconscious youths completely unbeknownst to them.
The hours continued to tick by. And eventually, it became days. However, they all kept a comfortable smile on their faces as though it was a soft cloud and not hard rock they slept upon.
Finally, on the fourth day, the first of them began to stir.