Both brothers exchanged surprised glances, not expecting the question.
Gabriel scratched his head, trying to come up with an age-appropriate explanation. "Uh, well, it's when two people like each other and spend a lot of time together."
Lucas nodded in agreement. "Yeah, it's like when two people become really close friends."
Sora tilted her head, looking a bit confused but satisfied with the answer. "Oh, okay!"
Lucas couldn't help but smile at her innocence. "Hey, kid, what are you doing out here alone?"
Sora shrugged her tiny shoulders, her doe-like eyes widening in innocence. "I'm here waiting for my awesome big brother to fetch me some ice cream, and then I got all curious about your mysterious grown-up talk."
Gabriel playfully messed up her hair. "Well, little miss curiosity, how about we all hang out together until Oni-chan brings the ice cream?"
"Okay," Sora chirped with an adorable smile.
"Mission Check: Strike team 1 in position," crackled a muffled electronic voice through a hidden radio in a car parked across the street.
"Mission Check: Strike team 2 in position," echoed another voice from a group of espers hidden behind the ice cream shop.
"Any Espers around?" questioned the boss.
"Nah, but there are some kids and a couple of cops nearby. Once the alarm rings, we'll have an Esper on our tail in around 2 minutes," the team leader responded.
"Set an alarm for 1 minute and 30 seconds. We'll move in, snatch what we need, and make a clean getaway," instructed the boss, his eyes on his watch.
The restaurant buzzed with its usual activity, providing a backdrop for Strike Team 1's swift and calculated operation. Aoyama, immersed in his thoughts, found himself suddenly seized by the operatives, who efficiently ushered him into a waiting hovercraft just outside the establishment.
The craft's engines whirred to life, propelling it upward. Meanwhile, Gabriel and Lucas, mere paces away, zeroed in on the unfolding scene, their instincts kicking into high gear.
Gabriel's hand clenched into a fist, his resolve tightening, while Lucas' expression turned steely with determination. Without hesitation, Lucas extended his hand, conjuring a metal ball seemingly out of thin air, manipulating it with his Esper ability. His attention shifted between the abduction by Strike Team 1 and the approaching Strike Team 2, moving with purpose toward Sora.
"Gideon, get a distress signal to Master Silvers immediately," Lucas commanded as he instructed the EMI(Esper Monitoring AI) coming to life inside the floating metal ball.
The siblings exchanged a fleeting yet charged look, acknowledging the imminent danger the little girl faced.
Seven villains disembarked from the parked craft across the street and swiftly closed in on Sora.
As Aoyama's hovercraft began its ascent, Sora, her heart racing, felt a surge of panic grip her. Her gaze locked onto the hovercraft, her brother struggling within.
Driven by a potent mix of fear and determination, Aoyama's clenched fists found their mark, shattering a nearby window. He swiftly rose, his voice slicing through the chaos, a plea resonating with raw urgency. "Let my sister go! Somebody, help her!"
The commotion spread like wildfire among the restaurant's patrons and staff, a wave of shock and alarm rippling through the air.
Aoyama's priorities were clear, even if it meant putting his own life on the line â his sister's safety took precedence above all else.
Lucas's mind raced as he devised a strategy on the spot. "The vehicle is out of my range. Gabriel, incapacitate them first with your stun, then pursue the Hovercraft using Godspeed. I'll handle the girl's safety. Gideon, detach a portion of yourself and link it to Gabriel so we can track his position in real-time."
In a split second, Gabriel's eyes crackled with electric intensity as he harnessed his Lightning Manipulation skill-Stun. The theory behind the ability was fascinating: as he released a controlled burst of lightning energy, it affected the neurons and synapses of the enemy's nervous system, overloading them momentarily.
This sent a powerful surge of pain through their bodies and incapacitated them for a precious five seconds. It was an effective technique, designed to create an opening in battle.
As the villains rushed toward Sora, Gabriel extended his hand, fingers splayed in a conductor's gesture. Electricity surged from his palm, lancing through the air like ethereal tendrils.
Upon contact with his foes, it sent them crashing to the ground, limbs twitching and convulsing as their muscles fought the sudden influx of energy.
"Uhh, the pain." said seven of them as they clutched their heads tightly.
Meanwhile, Lucas moved with a quiet intensity. His power over Gravity Manipulation was formidable, and he used it to create a protective barrier around himself and Sora.
He harnessed the gravitational forces to create a defensive zone, making it nearly impossible for the villains to approach. A sphere of altered gravity formed, making their movements sluggish and disoriented, giving Lucas enough time to plan his next move.
ραndαsΝοvεl ƈοm"Run, Gab, Run like the wind."
As Gabriel subdued the attackers, a surge of lightning coursed through his body, igniting his limbs like a living lightning rod. The power traveled along his bones, veins, and arteries, invigorating him with an electric energy unlike anything else. His heartbeat seemed to synchronize with the crackling energy, his perception sharpened to a razor's edge.
With a burst of blinding speed, Gabriel sprinted after the ascending hovercraft. The energy coursing through him not only heightened his senses but also propelled him forward with a velocity that seemed supernatural. The landscape blurred around him as he sprinted, each step crackling with electric intensity. His body moved like a bolt of lightning.
The villains slowly rose from the ground, their blurred vision and ringing ears gradually subsiding as time passed.
"Redlight," Lucas whispered, observing the villains stirring.
As the assailants struggled to their feet, they suddenly found themselves immobilized, their movements restricted as if they had been turned into statues. The once-fluid motions of their bodies were now locked in stasis, leaving them helpless and trapped.
"Seems like you're all ears now. Let's have a chat, shall we? Who are you folks, and why the sudden interest in these kids?" Lucas inquired, his voice laden with a gravity that demanded answers.
As Lucas' question hung in the air, the villains exchanged uneasy glances, their expressions shifting from defiance to reluctance. It was clear they were not eager to spill the beans, their silence speaking volumes about the secrets they held.
"Seems like we need to encourage some chatter," Lucas remarked, a steely resolve in his tone.
"Gideon, pull up Article 18 from the Esper's Code of Conduct."
"In cases involving child abduction, apprehended culprits can face capital punishment(death row). As part of the investigative process, an Esper is authorized to employ extreme measures to extract information," responded Gideon mechanically.
With a sharp snap of his fingers, one of the seven Espers felt an abrupt twist in his neck, caused by an unseen force resulting in his death.
"Is that motivation enough to move your mouths?"
None of them showed any signs of yielding.
"Still not convinced, huh?"
"Now, how about now?" Lucas inquired.
"You guys better appreciate this, 'cause I'm actually being pretty nice here. Giving you a quick and painless exit is practically a gift, given how much you deserve a brutal beatdown. But I don't want little Sora here scarred for life, So I am being very elegant. Yes, that's it I will call it Elegant Snap." I suppose.
Only three remained standing.
The three villains stood frozen in a mixture of shock and terror, their eyes wide and mouths agape. Their faces turned ashen, sweat forming on their foreheads. It was as if they were confronted by a force beyond their understanding, something that had shattered their confidence and exposed their vulnerability.
"Is he really an 18-year kid or a demon hiding in human skin?"
Their quivering lips struggled to form words, their breaths coming in shallow gasps, and their bodies visibly trembling under the weight of fear. In that moment, they realized that they were in the presence of an esper who possessed not just physical power, but the ability to instill sheer terror with a mere snap of his fingers.
"Do you surrender?" Lucas inquired, a wicked grin playing on his lips.