3rd Person POV
I have to kill Bam.
Rachel has no other choice but to do so if she wants to climb the Tower. And so she distances herself and waits for an opportunity. Or at least that was what she intended. Her body wouldn't listen to her. She worries. What if she can't kill Bam? She can't climb the Tower with the points at her disposal now. She asks, "Why?". Bam keeps getting everything she wants. "It's always Bam." she thinks to herself. But she can't kill him, can she? So she finds an excuse.
It's a valid excuse she considers, since it wasn't fully a lie. The girl who was always near Bam. Evolet never provided an opportunity for Rachel to try and kill Bam. She seems to be always alert with Rachel, protecting Bam like a loyal shield. Rachel thinks back to the girl and the sphere she found during her visit to Bam that time. Evolet was pretty, beautiful in elegance. She had power from what Rachel saw during the Crown Game. But once again, she was on Bam's side, she was Bam's. The sphere she made radiated power, one that Rachel wants so badly. It wasn't hers, why couldn't it become hers? Why is it always Bam? It's just another reason for Rachel to get more jealous.
"At this rate, you'll never climb the Tower. Or have you already given up?" Hwaryun asked Rachel at the corridor, frankly bored of her excuses and acts.
"Of course not!"
She can't back down. Not now, not when the opportunity is right in front of her.
"Then make use of everything you can. The Shield will be out of the scenario soon. Go along with the disturbance that's about to occur. Create a situation that will allow you to stick close to Bam during the next test."
Rachel was puzzled. "Create? What am I supposed to do?"
Despite that, Hwaryun won't explain further. Rachel isn't the one that she's supposed to guide after all. So she leaves after uttering one last sentence. "When the time comes to choose, you'll understand as long as you don't misread the signs."
Currently Evolet was sitting with Rak and another regular that had passed the test beforehand, not paying attention to the briefing for the other regulars. The Joint Position Test was about to take place, but Evolet was more concerned about the fact that she was leaving. She knows her teammates aren't weak but… She can't help but worry that something might happen, especially if Hansung is the one who's in charge of the test. When the announcement of the teams and rules were done, Evolet walked over to Bam. Before he could say anything, she hugged him tight; not wanting to let go. The what if's were going through her mind, worrying about Bam. Bam hugged her back, albeit a bit puzzled. She separated them, smiling at Bam as if nothing was wrong; when she feels like she wants to stay and break her promise instead. "Good luck on the test, Bam. … I'm sorry."
ᵢ'ₘ ₛₒᵣᵣy for not being strong enough to protect you.
ᵢ'ₘ ₛₒᵣᵣy for not being strong enough to stay by your side.
ᵢ'ₘ ₛₒᵣᵣy for not telling you anything.
ᵢ'ₘ ₛₒᵣᵣy for leaving.
Evolet caressed Bam's cheeks, tiptoeing to reach his height. And she kissed Bam tenderly on the forehead, silently praying to the Tower that he would be safe. He didn't get a chance to react or say anything as he was dragged away by his teammates, Evolet waving him off with a smile so soft. Bam just can't help but feel that something was wrong. As the others were fading out of sight, Evolet turned her attention to Khun who had remained.
"You're just going to go without telling him anything?" He asked without hesitation, gazing at the path Bam just took.
Evolet showed a resigned smile that made her look tired. She was looking down, not having the courage to look at Khun properly. "If I do that… my resolution will crumble instantly."
Khun walked toward Evolet and stopped right in front of her. He seemed to be pondering about something, before he took Evolet in a hug. Confused, Evolet could only stutter out "H-huh? Khun-san?"
Khun was looking afar. "Eve… I'll track you down if you don't come back."
Evolet widened her eyes, surprised by what he said. But like what he had expected, the surprise only lasted a moment before she laughed; in relief, his mind supplied. And she hugged him back like a lifeline. "I don't know when I'll be back though, Khun-san."
Evolet was the one who separated the hug first. But instead of stepping away, she grabbed Khun's hands. Khun looked at her with curiosity as she matched their palms and intertwined their fingers. She closed her eyes, muttering something under her breath that Khun couldn't catch. And their hands started glowing ever so slightly. It was a weird sensation, Khun thought. But he doesn't mind doing it again, a small smile on his face. The glow slowly faded, and Evolet also took a step back. "It's a good luck charm. I'll find all of you again, when I'm strong enough."
Humming in confirmation, Khun took out the blue bandanna that had his family logo out of his hair and tied it on Evolet's left wrist. "A good luck charm."
Evolet showed Khun the most sincere smile she could muster. Giving him a peck on the cheek before going off without a word. If she had glanced back, she wouldn't have missed how Khun's face turned bright red as he covered the cheek Evolet just kissed with his hand. Khun decides, just once; it's fine to believe.
Evolet went back to where Rak was, and asked him to watch over the others while she was gone. Rak's suspicious glint at Khun's bandanna tied to her wrist says otherwise, but he responds with a yes as the "leader". When she was about to exit the room, she stopped shortly before the door. Hansung was staring at her and she glanced at him briefly before she "disappeared" from the floor of tests.
As soon as I was outside Evankhell's mothership, I summoned Raiden. When he materialized, he looked at me weirdly before he nuzzled into the crook of my neck. I let out an involuntary regretful smile. To think that he was able to notice my emotions when I tried to hide it… I must be doing a terrible job at masking it. I petted his head, eventually stopping as tears started streaming down of their own accord and I slumped down to the ground.
"Let's go, Raiden."
As I rode Raiden to my destination, I had a passing thought that Hansung deliberately tasked me to find the Raijuu just so that I could travel faster. I wouldn't be surprised if that was the case. My mind was wandering everywhere as the rocky terrain blurs from the speed we're going at.. I wondered if the others passed the test safely. Khun probably has a plan for that. Hoh… hopefully he doesn't do anything too drastic. Rachel should stay away from Bam as much as possible but… That's just wishful thinking on my part. Bam's reason for living is practically Rachel after all. For a moment I pondered over what would be Bam's reaction when he knew I left. But I quickly shook it off my mind. There's no point thinking about it now. Khun and Rak will take care of Bam. And Bam still has Rachel… as much as I hate to admit it. Besides… in the end this is also for his sake. Like that letter said…
It'll do you well to make a farewell gift from the Suspendium. Go to the place specified on the map behind on the day of the joint position test. That is, if you know what's best for that golden-eyed boy. A silver dwarf guide will be waiting for you there.
True to the letter, there was a map inscribed at the back of the card and a marked location. This is for the best. I need to become stronger, fast. Strong enough to protect Bam from everything that might come his way. Before I realized it, we had arrived at the destination. Jumping off Raiden, I thanked him and let him go back. A few steps forward, and I was greeted by the sight of a lone sliver dwarf. His sharp eyes met mine, he didn't waste any time. "Ms. Evolet. I'll be your guide for today."
Wait for me, Bam.
3rd Person POV
The test was long over, team A lost on purpose from Khun's plan and team B won; although at the cost of many betrayals. Hoh from team B was dead, and Rachel was injured. Bam could only see powerlessly as Rachel was ushered to the treatment room. He couldn't fathom why everything was turning out like this. It seems like it wasn't enough. When Khun and Rak showed up without Evolet, he asked.
"Where is Evolet?"
Khun looked Bam straight in the eye. "She's gone, Bam."
Rachel was unconscious on the bed, the treatment done but the doctors said she wouldn't be able to walk anymore. Bam could only stare helplessly at Rachel's sleeping face. Everything felt overwhelming for him currently. Rachel got injured in the test, he was unable to protect her. And Evolet was gone without a trace during the test. What had gone wrong? How did it go wrong? How did it end up like this? Rachel entered the Tower in search for the stars. And he chased after her, stringing Evolet along. He racked his memories, searching for anything that might be of help.
At that time, he was the one who asked that question. “Do you want to go up the Tower, Eve?”
He got a slight shake of her head and a chuckle as an answer. So he prodded more, curious of her answer. “Why? You don’t want anything Eve?”
Evolet got up from her spot in front of him and went to sit behind him before she took him in her arms, hugging him tenderly from behind.
The hug that made him all warm on the inside and safe. A feeling that he doubts can be replicated by anyone else, not even Rachel. He misses her hugs and head pats. The soothing lavender scent and the serenity her presence provided.
Silence filled the cave for a while before Evolet answered, “You’re more than enough Bam. I don’t need anything from the Tower. And… Never mind. Can we just stay like this for a while…?”
Why did she sound so sad? It doesn't fit her. She should be smiling, that's when she looks the best to him. A thought crossed his mind, that maybe all of it was a lie. But Evolet wouldn't lie to him, would she? She's never lied to him, preferring to keep quiet rather than lying. So he went through his memories once more. He reminisced when they were about to enter the Tower.
She told him not to worry and just trust her, that she’ll protect him no matter what happens. But she's not by his side now, where is she? The door to the Tower opened and made way for them. As the blinding light surrounds them, he asks what is her wish. He tried to read her lips, to catch what she said as the door pulled them in and their consciousness faded away.
“What I want is—”
What did she want to say? What is her wish? Did she leave to fulfill that wish, just like Rachel did?
A part of him felt empty, betrayed. Yet at the same time he can't bear to hate Evolet or anything of the sort. He still doesn't know why she went away without a word. Before the test he had known, perhaps that was what the feeling he felt as he was dragged away by his teammates to the waiting room. Evolet looked as if there was something more she wanted to say, and he felt like she was going faraway. His feeling was spot on, but he didn't know until it was too late. But there must be a reason, he'll just have to search for the answer.
At some point, during Bam's brainstorming session; Rachel had woken up. Bam was too absorbed in his thoughts to notice it. Seeing how he didn't notice, she partially closed her eyes. Trying to catch a glimpse of what Bam was doing. She can't read his mind, but his expression had the word 'troubled' written all over it. It was only when he uttered out her name, that she understood what got him deep in thoughts. She internally scoffed, a part of her denying how Evolet was better than her; showcasing her jealousy in her inner thoughts. At this point, she thinks it was always someone else instead of her. But by the end of the day, she was still his brightest star. She felt none of the pain, all of her injuries were transferred to Ghost per her agreement with Headon.
She hears Bam mutter Evolet's name, so she pretends. She scrunched up her face, making it seem as if she was in pain. And she called out Bam's name through the pain she's faking. He falls for it anyway, just like he always does. Getting up from the chair, he rushed to her side and held her hand in worry. Everything was laid out in his expression that Rachel could see from squinted eyes. She relaxed when he held her hand, as if his presence soothed her when in reality it just makes her more jealous. She notices how Bam made a decision in that split moment, reluctantly letting go of her hand before going off somewhere. She got up after he left, stretching her body and fisting her hands. She'll reach the stars no matter what.
Khun told Rak that it would be a fifty-fifty situation. Bam might just stay with Rachel and not climb the Tower. Or he might keep climbing in order to find Evolet this time. Khun prefers the latter, but it all depends on Bam's decision. He still can't help but feel something was off with Rachel. Bam risked his life, all to stay by her side. And yet she told him to lie to Bam, that they would only be a burden to each other. All when it was only her thinking like that. Rak also agrees with the second option, as long as his 'prey' kept climbing then he could care less. Just like on cue, Bam bursts into the room. Rak already started his speech on how Bam should keep moving up the Tower, but he didn't even make it to the second sentence.
"I'll be Rachel's legs!" Bam shouted with conviction.
"... What?" Rak and Khun weren't expecting that. They look stupified by what Bam said.
"I'll be Rachel's legs and help her go up the Tower. I… don't really care what is up in the Tower. I don't look forward to seeing the stars. But if I'm going up there is what Rachel wants, then I want to make it happen. I don't mind if it's hard or dangerous. I'll keep climbing. And…"
Bam stopped for a moment to summon the Baang Evolet gave to him. He gripped it tightly. "Eve must be somewhere in the Tower. If I bring Rachel up the Tower, I'm sure I'll find Eve too."
Bam seemed reluctant of his following sentences. "Um… I know this is too much to ask, but I'm not as strong or you smart...as you are… So I want to ask you if… you will join me? I don't know how you'll take this, but you are my cherished friends. I… want to go up with you two."
Rak didn't think twice before answering. "Ok, turtle! If you're asking then I'm in-!!!"
He didn't get to finish his sentence when Khun shoved him off the bed to present his own answer. "Well, difficulty is my specialty. I will escort you to the top of the Tower in the most evil and sneaky way possible. Be prepared. Once we start, no matter how rough it gets, you won't be able to get out."
Half of it wasn't the answer Khun expected, but he accepts it for the time being since Bam will keep climbing anyway. For a moment an image of the Lighthouse Evolet crafted flashed in his mind. He still had that, but not yet. He's not going to tell anyone about it just yet.
Bam was overjoyed by Khun's answer. "Mr. Khun… Thank you!!! I mean it!"
"Don't thank me."
… Rak was still lying on the floor after being shoved off, unable to get up by himself because of his compressed body.
Endorsi was watching Bam who was in the process of gathering teammates to bring Rachel up the Tower. She sipped her drink, enjoying the show unfolding in front of her. Her curiosity just wouldn't let her be, especially when there's a "cute boy" standing there. So she approached him. "You're working hard, Bam."
Bam turned his attention to Endorsi. "Hey! Ms. Endorsi."
"I heard that you're trying to persuade the others to team up with you and Rachel. Look no matter what you do, no one will join you. They made it all the way to this point. But you want them to take the last test with a cripple? Who would do such a crazy thing?"
"They will." There's no shred of doubt in his answer.
"Let me ask you again. Why are you so obsessed with her? When I first saw her, I felt there was something odd about her. She was like a stranger from another world wandering somewhere unknown. Well, it turns out she's just an ordinary girl. … What happened between you and Rachel, Bam?"
Bam was silent for a moment, staring at Endorsi's eyes. He started to answer. "I wasn't born in a very dark and lonely place. I didn't know who I was, where I was, or why I was there. All I knew was that there was light above. I built a tower of rubble to go beyond the light. But when I reached it, I finally realized that I would never get out of here; and that someone beyond the light had locked me in that deep and lonely darkness. I cried. Realizing I was alone was even more painful than dropping a rock on my foot while building the tower. But then, the ceiling moved… and a miracle happened. That's when I realized that it was beautiful to be a living human. Rachel was the first person who came down to me from the light. So wherever she goes, I will follow her."
Endorsi narrowed her eyes before staring at her feet as if the floor was more interesting. The drink was sloshing inside the cup when she shook it lightly. "What about Eve?"
Bam froze. Endorsi didn't seem to mind it and continued. "I'm not exaggerating when I say Eve is like your shield. Quite literally too from what happened in the Crown Game. From what I can see she would do anything for you, just like you would for Rachel. Although the latter doesn't seem to feel the same."
Bam didn't take that well. "That's not-! Rachel is kind! Rachel would…"
But he also couldn't say that Rachel would do that. Endorsi scoffed inwardly. "Bam, are you going to chase Eve?"
"Of course I will!"
"While bringing Rachel up the Tower?"
"Yes, of course."
"Then what if Eve is going on another path different than Rachel? What if their paths are the opposites of one another? Even so will you still chase after her?"
Bam's face showed his wavering emotions. He couldn't answer that. Rachel was the first but Eve was… That scene popped up in his mind, the bits of his conversation with Khun.
"You're lucky to have her Bam."
"Yes… I truly am lucky to have her."
He couldn't choose. Both were just as important to him. Or at least that's what he's trying to make himself believe. Endorsi had expected this. The best she can do is give advice to him and hope he picks the best for him. Well, second best. Since she was the best option. Maybe trying to get him while Evolet was gone wouldn't be such a bad idea. Though she knows she's going to fail that anyway. "You should think about it carefully, Bam. There will be a time where you need to make that decision."
If he had known what Eve's existence meant to him that time, would she still leave? Would he chase her instead?
Endorsi exited the room, leaving Bam to think for himself. Little did she know- Bam will inevitably make his decision too late in the future.
In an attempt to let Rachel who had failed because she was injured pass the test; Bam revealed the fact that he was an irregular and opted to take the Administrator's test. The others also followed suit, convinced by Khun's acting to trick them. In theory, the test should've gone well. Or at least it would've if there wasn't any interference. As if one interference wasn't enough, there had to be two. Yuga, an assassin from Jahad's Royal Enforcement Division or RED who infiltrated as the Wave Controller teacher and Princess Yuri Jahad along with her team. Fortunately, Yuri's motive for coming to Evankhell's floor was to only search for Bam and Evolet along with retrieving her Black March. She even had one of her team members eliminate Yuga whose objective was to kill the fake Princess, Anaak Jahad. Seeing that the nuisance was taken care of, Yuri was about to leave. But in his last moments, Yuga had spoken out something that made Yuri stop in her tracks.
"The person that you're looking for, is it Bam, the irregular? I sent the Bull."
Everyone present there was shocked by that news. "Sorry, it's a waste of his talents… but we can't let the irregular stay alive… hehehe. That boy… will not be able to come back alive, Princess. Even killing me won't stop it. You might have noticed this is one of the skins that I use… my real body is already far away. Hehehe- see you again…"
Yuri contemplated for a bit and decided she finds this too annoying to her taste. "Evan. I can't stand this anymore. I'll finish this absurd game. I'll rip this whole stage apart."
Evan was frantic to stop her. "Princess!! S-stop it, Princess!"
"Stop what? This test didn't make sense from the beginning. I'll blow the whole thing up and bring Bam and Eve back."
"That's enough… Princess. Any more interference, and he automatically fails the test. And I'm sorry to say this but, Ms. Euterpe is no longer here."
Unexpectedly, Hansung jumped into the conversation which Evan didn't expect. His last sentence also made Yuri narrow her eyes. "So you're the director of this test? What… do you mean by Eve is no longer here?"
Yuri's question sounded more of a threat. Even Hansung was miffed by it, for once. "It's just as I said, Princess. Ms. Euterpe left of her own accord."
That wasn't believed by Yuri in the least. "Evan-"
Evan didn't let Yuri finish her sentence and cutted in. "No, Princess. I cannot see Evolet's path so I cannot guide you to her. And the director is right, Princess. The test is being carried out as the guardian planned. That twisted assassin and our intervention is all part of the test. Our role in the test ended when the furball died. We're done. At this point it's up to Bam. It's his job to finish the test. Trust him, milady. So that he can pass the test by himself!"
Still not fully convinced, Yuri turned to Endorsi and asked her. "Hey, sister. Do you think Bam can pass the test?"
With a cheeky grin on her face, Endorsi answered Yuri.. "Bam… will survive. Because I told him that I'd date him if he comes back alive."
Yuri couldn't hold her laughter at that. "Think twice, sister. You'll have to get through Eve first to do that."
Endorsi huffed indignantly at that response. Turning to Shibisu, Yuri threw him a badge from the Wolhaiksong. "Hey, sweatsuit. Take this. When Bam comes back, give this to him and tell him to come to the 77th floor when he becomes a Ranker. Tell him Urek Mazino is waiting. Did you hear that?"
The shocked Shibisu could only stutter out, "H-huh?! Yes!"
Yuri also took the liberty to "hold on" to the Green April, telling Anaak that it was too heavy to carry for her at the moment and that she'll return it once Anaak was ready. "Evan! Guide the way! We still need to search for Eve!!"
Anaak's shouts of "No" were ignored by Yuri. And despite the splitting headache Evan got from Yuri's attitude, he still answered her with an affirmative to her order.
Meanwhile, in the bubble. Bam had successfully defeated the bull with little to no wounds on him; courtesy of Evolet's gift that somehow acted like an automated defense system. Bam almost felt like Evolet was there, by his side; almost. But it just wasn't the same. Her Baang went invisible again as soon as the battle was over, and he was tired from using too much Shinsu during the battle. The exit was in sight, and Bam was elated. Rachel was here. He'll focus on Rachel first and bring her up the Tower. With his own hands- like how he caught the light.
"Rachel, let's go together."
"Wherever you wanna go… I'll take you."
Rachel stared at Bam's outstretched hand. Her expression seemed like she was touched by what Bam said, and her own hand was reaching out towards Bam's. Except…
ᵢₜ wₐₛ ₐₗₗ ₐ ₗᵢₑ
Rachel had truly come to realize. After seeing Bam taking down the bull; she knew.
ₛ̶ₕ̶ₑ̶ ̶c̶ₐ̶ₙ̶'̶ₜ̶ ̶b̶ₑ̶c̶ₒ̶ₘ̶ₑ̶ ̶ₜ̶ₕ̶ₑ̶ ̶ₛ̶ₜ̶ₐ̶ᵣ̶ ̶ᵢ̶f̶ ̶B̶ₐ̶ₘ̶ ̶ᵢ̶ₛ̶ ̶ₜ̶ₕ̶ₑ̶ᵣ̶ₑ̶
Bam's eyes widened from shock and disbelief. Instead of taking his outstretched hand, Rachel had stood up on her "injured" legs. And she reached farther than the palm of his hand, pushing him into the deep abyss below.
Bam couldn't comprehend why. He could only stare at Rachel as he sank deeper in the water; eyes flashing hurt from the unexpected betrayal. As Bam started to disappear out of Rachel's view, Evolet's Baang had come to live once more. It cocooned Bam in a Shinsu capsule in an attempt to protect him. His eyes started to close, unable to take the exhaustion from the battle added with the shock of betrayal. Strangely enough for him, the only thing that came into his mind as his consciousness faded away was Evolet's voice calling out to him.