Back in the room, Faust and the saber dolls were trying to get information about the figure which Bloodberry saw. Lorelei, after hearing the terrible news that Cherry's otome kairo has been stolen as well, lost consciousness and fainted in the hands of Tamasaburou, and as a result, had to be brought back into her room to rest. Otaru, on the other hand, after hearing the bad news, sunk into a corner of the room and buried his head into his hands.
Senmai, whom Bloodberry had brought into the castle, is in a shock as well. As he was still shaking from what has happened earlier, Baikou had to instruct another marionette in the caslte to bring him a hot drink. It was some half an hour later when he regained his composure. On seeing he was fit to talk, Faust approached him and asked, "Senmai, are you able to tell me what exactly happened in Otaru's house?"
"Oh… I had not seen Lime for a very long time… and I heard from the villagers that Lime has fallen ill so I was very worried. I wanted to go down to the temple to get an amulet and pray for Lime's recovery. Then I went to Otaru's place. I met Cherry only. I went in to see Lime and I passed the amulet which I got from the temple to Cherry and I left. But I when I had walked barely ten steps, I heard a scream from the house which seems to be Cherry's. Hence I ran back to the house and when I opened the door, I saw… I saw… Cherry lying on the floor and … and … a glimmering purple glow from the amulet I just gave her…"
"Faust sama…" Luchs responded.
"Yes. The amulet must have contained plasma energy within which can be controlled by a remote, just like a bomb. So that amulet…"
Upon hearing until this point and convinced that the amulet was the reason why Cherry's otome kairo is stolen, Otaru stood up and shot a look at Senmai, his eyes filled with rage and his hands closed into a fist and trembled. On seeing that, Bloodberry knew it spelt trouble.
Then, without anybody's warning, he ran up and grabbed Senmai by the collar, yelling, "THEN WHAT THE HECK WERE YOU DOING WITH THAT AMULET! WHERE DID IT COME FROM! WHY DID IT CONTAIN PLASMA? DID U PLOT THE WHOLE THING? WHAT IS YOUR MOTIVE? WHAT? WHAT?!" As he demanded the answers, his voice became more and more uncontrollable by the minute and as he said the last word, he raised his other hand which closed into a fist and gave Senmai a punch on the nose which sent blood running from the old man's nose. Knowing that Otaru had lost his senses, Bloodberry quickly rushed up and held Otaru and prevented him from delivering more punches.
Otaru, by this time, was like a madman without any reason or logic. While being held forcefully by Bloodberry, he yelled to be let go and struggled with unleashed energy that had never before been displayed by him. Realising that Bloodberry is having difficulty tying Otaru down, the Saber Dolls came up and assisted Bloodberry. It was after sometime when Faust, getting irritated over the way the situation has become, walked up to Otaru and gave him a slap.
"WHAT DID YOU DO THAT FOR FAUST?" Otaru yelled, and struggled harder still.
"You really must learn to control your emotions, you boor." Faust replied in a cold tone, displaying a tinge of annoyance in his voice.
"WHAT DO YOU KNOW? THIS ENEMY KNOWS EVERYTHING ABOUT US… …AND ITS NOT YOUR MARIONETTES BEING STOLEN… … Lime… Cherry… I had not been able to protect them…" Otaru, starting to lose strength from the struggle he put up, became a small boy again without defence as his tone softened. Panther and Luchs then loosened their grip and eventually let go, but Tiger held on, just in case.
Bloodberry, by this time, also let go of her grip from Otaru, came in front of him and bowed. "Gomenasai, Otaru … … Honto ni… … if only I had not been tricked by the enemy. If I had not left Cherry alone… If only… …" Bloodberry could not take any more of this either. The events that happened over the past few days had worn her out completely and she felt really helpless. As she bowed, she could not control her emotions and she started sobbing.
On seeing her like that, Otaru sank onto the floor as Tiger loosened her grip on him. He half crawled towards Bloodberry and held her in his arms.
"You're the only one left… …you're the only one… …please promise me… …promise me nothing… nothing will happen to your otome kairo… nothing…" As he said that, a shimmering reflection of light appeared from the side of his eye and the tear dropped and landed on Bloodberry.
"Well, Otaru, I believe we have not gone to the end of the story yet. If you are fit enough to listen again, I would like to ask Senmai to continue. By the way, Baikou, how is Senmai's nose?"
"Hai, Faust san, his injuries are superficial and he is all right now."
"Arigatou. Now, Senmai, what happened after you saw Cherry on the floor?"
"I was surprised and I decided to go outside to get help. So I ran outside, shouting for help at the same time. Then I saw Bloodberry running in my direction and I told her what happened. But when we rushed back, we found… …we found… …that Cherry's front has been opened and her otome kairo has been stolen."
Silence enveloped the room after Senmai made his last statement. Everyone was engrossed in their own thoughts. It was some time when Faust broke the silence.
"Right, now that we've gotten the whole story of what's happened. Bloodberry, please stay in this room with Otaru and take a rest. Tiger, stay with them. Luchs and Panther, you two help Senmai into a room to rest to. Baikou, can you come with me as I go and look for Lorelei and see how she is doing. I think everybody is worn out now. We'll think of what to do tomorrow.
"Hai! Faust sama," the Saber dolls replied simultaneously.
As Luchs and Panther helped Senmai out, Otaru suddenly called out "Senmai Ojii!"
The rest watched as Senmai turned and faced Otaru. Otaru half blushed as he spoke, "Uh… uh…I think I hurt you badly just now… uh… sumimasen… I…" he broke off, surprised to see Senmai returning a smile to him. "Daijoubu… Otaru, do a good job to get back your marionettes or I'll make sure all the villagers will return this punch to you." And he turned and left with the saber dolls. Otaru kept his head bowed until he was out of sight. Arigatou, Ojii…------------------------------------------------------------------------
That night, Faust came into Lorelei's room where she had been lying since she fainted. On seeing Faust, Lorelei sat up and asked, "Faust, how's Otaru and Bloodberry?"
They've calmed down and I told everyone to rest today before we come to a decision tomorrow. Senmai has told me everything that happened in Otaru's house during that time."
"Senmai Ojii? What is he doing there?"
"He was over at Lime's place and he passed an amulet to Cherry. But when he left, the amulet emitted plasma energy which is the reason why Cherry lost too."
"What? But how did Senmai Ojii end up with such an amulet?"
"This is what I feel strange about too. Lorelei, when we meet them tomorrow, I want you to listen carefully to Senmai's voice."
"What? You don't mean to say… … But it can't be… Senmai has known them for a long time. Besides, I don't think…"
"I will not take any risks. Should there be a possibility that Senmai is a spy or even worse, the mastermind, Bloodberry would be in a dangerous position. I've allocated different rooms for Otaru and Senmai. Bloodberry is staying with him with Tiger. On the other hand, I've told Luchs and Panther to stay with Senmai."---------------------------------------------------------------------
The next day, Faust gathered everyone into a room which seems to be the one Ieyasu used to hold those international meetings. He even instructed Tamasaburou to bring the marionette troops and stay guard outside the room. This certainly rose the amount of tension in the room.
Time passed as everyone sat down in the room and waited for Faust to come. As they did so, the tension in the room increased by the minute. It was after some time when Faust finally appeared with Lorelei.
After he came in, Otaru asked, "Hey Faust, you're pretty late you know. And what's the purpose of placing these marionettes next to us?" Faust did not give him a reply but instead gave an order to Panther and Luchs, "Hold him down."
Nobody was given a second warning when suddenly Senmai was pinned down on the table. He struggled, and Faust came in front of him and spoke, "I want to hear no lies from you. Tell me, what is your motive for kidnapping Lorelei and stealing the Marionettes' otome kairos?"
"Senmai!" Otaru exclaimed.
"Matte, Faust!" Bloodberry followed.
"I did not do anything…" Senmai managed to say in the midst of his struggle.
"Faust, wait…there must be some mistake…" Otaru began.
"No mistake. I had been very suspicious of you. First, how could the timing be so coincidental? Bloodberry saw a shadow and she ran after it and not long after you came when Cherry is alone. Second, why and what were you doing with such a strange amulet that contained plasma energy? You do not mean to tell me that all the amulets from the temple were like that, do you? I'll ask you one more time. Did you or did you not get this amulet from the temple yourself. If you are innocent, prove it to me now." Faust interrogated, his eyes getting smaller as he spoke.
It was at this time Lorelei intercepted. "Stop it! Faust… …Senmai is already so old… …and besides… I'm sure the voice I heard was somebody else…"
Faust then instructed his marionettes to let go of Senmai and he sank to the floor, gasping for breath. After a while, Faust spoke, "Sorry if I wronged you in any way. But I need an explanation from you."
Senmai still gasped for breath a moment longer, before he finally managed to say, "You're right. I did not get the amulet from the temple myself."
"What? Then - " Otaru exclaimed.
"But it has never been my intention to harm Cherry. I had wanted to go to the temple and get an amulet for myself. My new apprentice had accompanied me the way up there. However, while we were on our way up the temple, I suddenly felt weak in the knees and had to stop to rest. My apprentice then suggested that I take a rest under a tree while he go to the temple and pray on my behalf instead. And I let him do so… …"
"Then where is your apprentice now?" Faust pressed on.
"He never came back. As I rested, I felt dizzy and soon dozed off. When I woke up, I saw the amulet by my side and a note from him. This is the note." As he said that, he took the note from his pocket and showed it to Faust. It read : I'm sorry. I need to go. Take care of yourself. I have got this amulet for you as the last thing I will do for you. Take care and bye. Arigatou.
"So it seems that your apprentice is one fishy character isn't he?" Faust said after reading the note.
"Sigh… come to think of it he really was a funny character, popping out of nowhere… He behaved very strangely too… but I did not bother with that as I was so impressed with his talent for mechanics. Many of my designs became a reality after he came…"
"Then… …then has he ever told you where he came from?" Lorelei spoke, pressing her hands against her chest, her heart beat faster as she waited for Senmai's answer.
"Iie, never once did he tell me about his stuff. But he was a good boy… sigh…"
"Yes…thanks for clearing our doubts." With that, Faust gave a signal to Luchs and with a swift blow, she knocked Senmai unconscious.
"FAUST! What did you do that for?" Otaru exclaimed, shocked at what they just did.
"Senmai has provided us with what we needed to know. I'm sure you do not want to implicate him further, do you?" Faust looked up, again cross at Otaru's ignorance. "But to prevent him from falling into the hands of the enemy, we'll keep him in one of the rooms here to rest. Don't worry. He'll be in good hands. Sorry for all that security outside. I needed to be sure if he's friend or foe…"
"Faust is right. Otaru, now we must not waste anymore time. Quick, get Lime into the repair room immediately. Bloodberry, please stay here. Panther and Tiger, you two go over to Otaru's house and carry Lime over."
The whole party is in the Marionette repair room. This is where all the marionettes go when they are damaged. Here, Lorelei repairs them in compartments. Marine is currently lying in one of the marionette compartments. Her otome kairo has been damaged for about a year now. On an occasion that nobody will forget. NSM-X1, the only marionette with 3 otome kairos encased within - who would have thought that her ultimate purpose was to stop plasma from destroying Terra 2? Despite whatever Lorelei tried, she was still not able to repair Marine's otome kairo and hence she slept … until now.
"Lorelei, what's the extent of Lime's damage?" asked Otaru, who is looking intently as Lorelei is checking her otome kairo.
"Not too good. She had strained her 1st chip quite badly and it looks worn out already. Even if the 2nd chip is inserted back in, there's no guarantee that she'll wake immediately."
"It's just like a human brain suffering a concussion. Even if the person is out of danger, there can be no guarantee that the person will wake from his coma immediately. The otome kairo functions exactly the same way." Faust added.
"What!" Otaru was shocked. He never expected the truth to hit him that hard. It had not been in his wildest dreams that Lime's otome kairo stolen would mean that he might say goodbye to Lime forever. He turned and looked at Marine sleeping soundly back at the other compartment. He then turned and looked at Lime, sleeping just as soundly.
"Kuso! That can't happen … " He thumped his hands on Lime's compartment and his whole body shook in frustration as he thought of his incompetence in protecting his marionettes. As he thought, he got angrier and hurled a punch at the nearest wall before leaning on it, cursing.
"Don't worry too much, Otaru… …besides, I have not finished yet." Lorelei walked over and looked at Otaru.
"The rest depends on Lime now. I cannot replace the chip for fear that she might have to live with new memories, but if she survives the ordeal and wakens, Her otome kairo would be able to adjust to the new changes and life can go on as before." Lorelei added, giving Otaru a smile. "It's really up to her now. Her waking up might take a few weeks, a few months, even a few years. It all depends on her will power."
"Lorelei …" Otaru looked up. Lorelei's smile was so sweet, it looked exactly like Lime's… … it was as if Lime were assuring him herself, promising him that she will wake up from her coma. He cheered up. "I understand. Arigatou."
After Lorelei has completed the operation to insert back the chip back into Lime's otome kairo, the whole party left the room together. As Otaru walked out of the room, he looked back and saw that Lorelei had moved Marine's compartment together to be with Lime's compartment. Yokatta… He thought, at least somebody will be with Lime. Gambatte! Lime…------------------------------------------------------------------------
The next day, everybody sat down in the room and discussed plans to save Cherry. They had moved Cherry's shell back into Japone castle too so that the 3 marionettes will be together. However, everybody is aware that this time round the mission to rescue Cherry's otome kairo would be so much more difficult than Lime's.
Even though it had been 2 days since Cherry's otome kairo has been stolen, there were still no emotional reaction felt by Bloodberry.
"Gomenasai, Otaru. I am not able to sense anything. But its strange… it cannot be… its not possible for Cherry's otome kairo to sleep that long…" Bloodberry began.
"The otome kairo come in sets of 3. When something goes wrong to one of them, the other two will be able to sense the reactions emitted by the latter simultaneously; but with only one left, it might be very difficult, even impossible." Lorelei spoke, deep in thought.
"Kuso! And we can't let the otome kairos of Lime and Bloodberry combine for fear it might cause further damage to her otome kairo…" Otaru thumped his hands on the table and cursed.
"That's really bad. It means that we have no means to locate the kidnapper at all. And we can't possibly look for it back in the forest because that is the last place the kidnapper would think of returning to." Lorelei said.
"I do not think so…" the voice came from Faust, who has been thinking and not contributing since the discussion started.
"What? Do you mean to say you have an idea?" Lorelei asked. Everyone's eyes lit up. Hopes had rose up.
"It's a strategy. It all depends on Otaru now to approve it." Faust continued.
"Well what is it? Quick say it!" Otaru, eager to hear the idea, was getting impatient.
"Well let us all think. Why do you think my marionettes had initially been attacked but now not a single attack has befell us? Why is it that Lime is the first marionette to have her otome kairo stolen? Why was it that Cherry had to be the second marionette to be kidnapped? What was the purpose of abducting Lorelei? Have you ever thought of the purpose behind it?" Faust paused, allowing the rest to think through the questions that he fired at them.
"It's a pattern…" Bloodberry began.
"He intends to steal a full set of otome kairos…" continued Lorelei.
"Precisely. I'm sure, without me telling you, you all would know who his next target would be."
Silence. Bloodberry raised her hand to her chest and felt her otome kairo ticking away inside her.
"Bloodberry, you're the only one who can save Cherry now. If you're willing to be the bait, I'm sure we will be able to lure him out." Faust turned to Bloodberry.
"No way. Nothing must happen to Bloodberry's otome kairo." Otaru said.
"We do not have a choice. Besides, she will be protected this time. We can easily attach a tracking system in her otome kairo so at the same time, we can trace the whereabouts of the kidnapper and at the same time, protect Bloodberry."
"No. Nothing must happen to Bloodberry's otome kairo." Otaru insisted, his eyes widening and determination to protect that last marionette filled his eyes.
"But Otaru, we do not have a choice. This is the only way left." Lorelei began.
"Otaru, let me do it. We have to save Cherry's otome kairo too!" Bloodberry pleaded.
"No. NOTHING must happen to your otome kairo. NOTHING. Please, Lorelei, please do not do it. Please…" Otaru pleaded. Faust looked on and gave a sigh.
"All right. It is indeed too dangerous for Bloodberry to act as bait for him. Then I suppose we must head for the labs to find a solution. And we better do it fast before he strikes again."
"Sigh… I suppose you're right. Otaru don't worry. We'll make sure nothing will happen to Bloodberry."
After Lorelei and Faust had left the room, Bloodberry questioned Otaru, "Well, why couldn't you just agreed to it? It'll be much faster. Don't you want to find Cherry fast?"
"As I said, nothing must happen to your otome kairo." Otaru insisted stubbornly.
"But Otaru, Cherry is in danger too! Aren't you worried also?"
"Lime's otome kairo has been damaged. Cherry's might also have been damaged by now. You're the only one left now." Otaru said, his back facing Bloodberry.
"THAT'S WHY YOU SHOULD LET ME DO IT! CHERRY IS IN DANGER!" Bloodberry flared.
"WHO IS THE MASTER HERE?" Otaru's tone turned fierce too. He turned around and shook Bloodberry violently, shouting, "YOU ARE BREAKING YOUR PROMISE TO ME! Didn't you promise that nothing will happen to your otome kairo?"
"Please… Bloodberry… please… don't let anything happen to your otome kairo. I've lost them already… Lime… Cherry… please don't let me lose you…I must protect you… " Otaru ended his words with a fierce hug on Bloodberry, repeating, "please…"
"Otaru…" Bloodberry managed to say before Otaru closed his arms and held Bloodberry even tighter still.-----------------------------------------------------------------------
That night, while Otaru was asleep, Bloodberry stole away to the room where Lime lay with Marine. She sat down beside Lime's compartment and took a long look at Lime before saying, "Well, if you were me, what will you do?"
She took at another look at Marine sleeping next to Lime. She already had friends and she had a heart. What made her so determined to go into the crater to prevent the plasma crisis? She knew that by doing that, she would die… … But she did that to save her friends… …her friends…
Bloodberry left Lime's compartment and walked over to the second compartment where Marine lay. She peered into Marine's face. Her face is a smile. She had been smiling like this ever since her otome kairo had been spoilt. Bloodberry stood up, her expression different this time. Thank you, Marine…------------------------------------------------------------------------
In the Laboratory, Faust, Lorelei and the Saber dolls are hard at work. Bloodberry opened the door slightly and took a small peek at them. She then turned and went back into the room where Otaru slept.
She bent down and looked at Otaru sleeping soundly. She gave herself a small laugh, "Finally I have you all to myself, " she said softly. She bent down and planted a kiss on his cheek. "Gomene, but I cannot be so selfish. I'll get everyone back to share you together. Trust me. Sayonara."
Bloodberry went out from the room and begun running back to the Lab. She flung the door open, which caused the heads of Lorelei and Faust and Saber dolls to turn.
*E*N*D* *O*F* *P*A*R*T* *3*continue?